A formal review board cleared Judge Aaron Persky, the Santa Clara judge who ruled in the Brock Turner case, of judicial misconduct in December. Persky’s sentencing of the former Stanford swimmer to just six months in jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman embroiled him in an onslaught of social criticism and controversy. While the California Commission cleared the judge, this and his previous rulings in sexual assault cases continue to draw ire.

college abuse

In their 12-page report, the commission defended Judge Aaron Persky’s sentencing saying it was within the “parameters set by law and was therefore within the judge’s discretion.”

The Brock Turner Case

Over one million people called for the investigation and ultimate removal of Judge Persky after the Turner ruling. Jurors convicted Turner, 21, on three felony counts: intent to commit rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person. He faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison but received six months in jail. He served just three months before his release in September.

In addition to this jail time, Persky sentenced Turner to three years’ probation and required registration as a sex offender. During sentencing, Persky opined that Turner was not a danger to others. He commented that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance reviewed this and four other Persky cases. They concluded, “that there is not clear and convincing evidence of bias, abuse of authority, or other basis to conclude that Judge Persky engaged in judicial misconduct warranting discipline.”

The Public Fires Back

His fiercest critics disagree. “We believe that the record is completely clear that Judge Persky has a long record of failing to take violence against women seriously, and we will demonstrate when we launch the campaign early next year,” said Stanford law professor Michelle Dauber. “We believe that voters support the recall and replace Persky.”

In fact, the people have already moved to prevent a repeat of such a ruling. In 2016, California lawmakers expanded the definition of rape and increased penalties for offenders who assault unconscious victims. Potential jurors refused to work with Judge Persky and prosecutors removed him from a similar sexual assault case. In September, Persky requested a move from criminal cases altogether and now presides over San Jose civil cases.

So regardless of the review’s report, it is clear the public found more than enough evidence of judicial misconduct. As such, they are issuing their own forms of discipline.


A new investigative report by The Indianapolis Star revealed even more abuse by USA gymnastics affiliated personnel. The report gave details on at least 368 gymnasts alleged sexual assault or exploitation by USA Gymnastics coaches as well as other adults. Most noteworthy, the reported abuse occurred over the course of two decades with little to no intervention by officials.

sexual abuse

Released mid-December, the report is the product of a nine-month investigation by the newspaper. It comes as a result of an earlier August report detailing how the national organization’s leaders failed to alert the appropriate authorities following sexual abuse accusations against coaches.

USA Gymnastics was quick to respond to the allegations against their organization. They countered with an emphasis on internal policies that run opposite of those findings. Because such policies “mandate that when anyone affiliated with USA Gymnastics or member clubs suspect potential abuse, the appropriate legal authorities should be notified.”

Hundreds of Sexual Abuse Allegations

Research by the newspaper’s investigators uncovered hundreds of damning police and court documents in addition to testimony by former gymnasts. Those documents revealed systematic and widespread abuse across the country:

“At least 368 gymnasts have alleged some form of sexual abuse at the hands of their coaches, gym owners and other adults working in gymnastics. That’s a rate of one every 20 days. And it’s likely an undercount. …

“All told, 115 adults at every level of the sport, from respected Olympic mentors to novices working with recreational gymnasts, were accused. The alleged abuse happened in every part of the U.S. — from Maine to California, Washington to Florida, and across the Midwest. …

“Other victims included casual athletes and elite-level performers such as Olympians. They were teenagers and preteens. The youngest was 6. Almost all of them were girls.”

USA Gymnastics Response

In a response statement by Paul Parilla, chairman of the USA Gymnastics board of directors, the organization emphasized their commitment to protecting young athletes. Claims that appear to run opposite of the findings. “Addressing instances of sexual misconduct has been a top priority for USA Gymnastics for years, and we are wholly committed to promoting a safe environment for athletes. We work every day to strengthen our processes, policies, and procedures in this critical area.”

Yet such assurances appear too little, too late. This latest report comes after a series of filed lawsuits against doctor Larry Nassar. Nassar was a former long time, 20+ years, doctor for the organization, alleging sexual assault. A lawsuit bolstered by the unveiling of a Go Pro containing video of Nassar allegedly molesting girls in a pool. This is in addition to other instances of child porn.

USA Gymnastics does appear to be taking some of these issues to heart. They are calling on former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels to lead an independent review. The goal of the review is to improve and strengthen the governing body’s policies and procedures on safety. A separate review panel will then review the results and implement the recommendations and policy changes as needed.


Last November, a Texas high school senior killed herself by shooting herself in the chest as her family begged her to stop. Family and friends say the heartbreaking act came after over a year of vicious phone- and cyberbullying.

The victim’s tormentors hid behind fake Facebook accounts and messenger apps. They harassed Brandy Vela, 18, for her weight and looks. Someone even went so far as to pretend to be the teenager online, creating multiple accounts soliciting sex. This resulted in an onslaught of embarrassing and harassing phone calls.

failure to report abuse

“Sometimes she wouldn’t sleep. She’d call me at night. She’d say, Dad I can’t sleep. My phone keeps ringing,” Vela’s father, Raul Vela, told KHOU reporters. “And nobody was willing to help. The help never came.”

Family members say Brandy had reported the bullying to both the police and school authorities but nothing came of it. Authorities told the teen that the messages were sent through untraceable applications. They encouraged her to change her phone number and delete her accounts. Steps she took, but the damage had gone too far.

On the last Tuesday of November, Brandy texted and emailed family members saying she loved them and she was sorry for everything. Worried, her parents and grandparents rushed home to find Brandy in her Texas City home with a gun pointed at her chest. The pleaded with her, but she couldn’t be persuaded.

“She said she’d come too far to turn back,” explained her father. “It’s hard when your daughter tells you to turn around. You feel helpless”

INVESTIGATIONS STARTING TOO LATE

Texas City police Capt. Joe Stanton says detectives are renewing their investigations in her case. Detectives are interviewing family, following up on several new tips, and contacting persons of interest.

A spokesperson for the teen’s school district, Melissa Tortorici, says the community is “devastated”.  She explains, “Today’s young adults and teenagers have grown up with technology and they have access to it 24/7. Many times they become very bold over technology and text things they would never say directly to someone’s face.”

STOPPING CYBERBULLYING

Teenagers themselves agree. According to dosomething.org, 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than in-person bullying. Nearly 43% of kids are victims of online bullying, and a whopping 90% of teens have seen social media bullying but ignored it.

Yet, cyberbullying is a punishable crime and as such, the biggest asset anyone has to stop this type of bullying is the threat of legal action. Parents and victims of it should send a letter to teachers, school, and principles outlining the issues and concerns. Include an emphasis on why the school and school district must immediately step in and investigate. The local police department should likewise be notified and sent a copy of the letter.

Lawsuits are also applicable, alleging causes of action that include, but are not limited to, assault and battery, emotional distress, civil conspiracy, defamation, harassment, negligence, and fraud. Teachers, school authorities, and school district authorities who fail to act properly or otherwise protect a student from bullying after being placed on notice may also be included as defendants in certain cases.

Only by taking such action, will cyberbullies be held accountable and this epidemic finally stop.

If you have been the victim of bullying, and your school district or police have failed to properly investigate, please contact us for a free case review.


In 2004, a former student of convicted child molester Thomas Joseph Snider tried to warn Torrance High School of the man’s perversity. His call, made over a decade before Snider was eventually arrested, went ignored and unanswered.

coach abuse

In an October 6, 2004 memo to the principal, school secretary Theresa Hollis described the caller as nervous and upset. “He said he would be filing charges against Mr. Snider, and he wanted the school to know what kind of person he was.” She wrote, adding, “He said Mr. Snider ‘touched me, do you know what I mean?'”

Hollis included the caller’s phone number and name in the memo, and noted his stated intention was to never have another student feel the way he did. Before hanging up, she told him somebody would call him back. But no school administrator ever did.

A Decade of Unanswered Acts

It wasn’t until 2015 that police investigators finally began searching out the caller. It was then that Thomas Snider, working as head wrestling coach at Torrence High, finally got caught. Police initiated an official investigation following allegations he molested 25 13, 14, and 15-year-old-boys . These boys were members of his wrestling team between 2013 and 2015.

Ten months after those allegations came out, the Torrance Superior Court convicted Snider of multiple counts of child molestation and lewd conduct in regards to touching and examining genitalia of those wrestling students under his tutelage. The judge sentenced him to 69 years to life.

For his victims and their parents, the arrest and sentencing came way too late. Especially if it could have been prevented by more proactive school officials.

Molestation Stretching Back to 1991

The caller, now 36, told the newly invigorated investigators how Snider molested him back in 1991. At the time, he was an 11-year-old student at Madrona Middle School where Snider worked as a woodshop teacher. Snider invited him on a mountain camping trip where he sexually assaulted him during the night.

That night haunted the unnamed caller for years. He struggled with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and drug and alcohol addiction until a counselor suggested he contact Snider’s current employer, Torrance High School, and report what happened. It was then he made the 2004 call to the school.

The District Attorney’s Office filed three extra lewd conduct charges against Snider in regards to the caller’s case. However, jurors deadlocked on the case in court — due to questions regarding the statute of limitations. This led to the dismissal of charges.

It is yet unknown whether any other students of Snider will come forward. However, given the nature of these crimes, it is likely that there were other victims. Victims that could have been spared had the school reacted appropriately to the 2004 caller’s concerns.


As of October 1, 2016,  Connecticut’s school districts will begin implementing special sexual assault and abuse prevention and awareness education throughout their K-12 grades. These measures include training staff members, coordinating with activist groups, and supplying educational materials.

youth mentor abuse

The law, known popularly as Erin’s Law, is named after childhood sexual assault survivor and activist Errin Merryn. Merryn originally introduced the legislation in her home state of Illinois and it has since spread nationally. Connecticut is the 26th state to pass the law, and it is pending in 17 others.

The primary goal of the new sexual abuse law is to push public schools to implement prevention-oriented curriculum. Its popularity comes as a mounting amount of research suggests child sexual abuse is by no means a rare experience. Studies indicate that as many as 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys experience some level of sexual abuse before they turn 18. Furthermore, abuse is most often done by someone a child knows and trust, including family members and family friends. The new program is specifically aimed at breaking this cycle by teaching:

  • Students from Kindergarten to 12th-grade age-appropriate techniques to recognize sexual abuse and comfortable. They will also learn comfortable terminology they can use to tell trusted adults and stop the abuse.
  • All school personnel about child sexual abuse. This training includes how to recognize emotional, physical, and mental signs of abuse.
  • Parents and guardians about those warning signs of child sexual abuse. The law also provides for extra assistance and referral information to support sexually abused children and their families.

There have been some concerns about elementary graders being too young for this type of information.  However, advocates of Erin’s Law are quick to show its effectiveness. Just last month, an Illinois man was sentenced to 40 years after his victim told a teacher about the abuse following an Erin’s Law school presentation.

Reporting Until You Are Heard

Anyone who suspects, witnesses, or is told about sexual abuse, must follow the rule of reporting until they are heard. This includes continuing to report to higher authorities until appropriate action is taken. In situations where the child is in danger of being returned to the abuser, outcry witnesses should stay with the child, ensure they are safe, and call the police.