4/11/14: Today’s Round-up of Child Sex Abuse in the News


Fullerton, CA – Junior high teacher, 28, accused of molesting teens in classroom and sending them pornographic images of herself pleads not guilty
A 28-year-old math teacher has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting three male students at a California school.  Melissa Nicole Lindgren is accused of sexually assaulting students at Nicolas Junior High School in Fullerton, where she worked for six years before her arrest in February.  The victims, ranging in age from 13 to 15 years old, claim the teacher molested them and sent them sexually explicit texts.Lindgren is charged with five counts of lewd acts on a child, two counts of lewd acts on a child younger than 14 and three counts of distributing pornography to a minor in incidents that occurred both on campus and off.Read more here:

San Luis Obispo, CA – Attempted sexual assault in Cal Poly dorm
Police say a man tried to assault a female Cal Poly student, grabbing her from behind, putting his hand up her skirt and then fleeing.”If you are attacked, do exactly what she did last night which is make as much noise as possible and to fight back as much as possible to fight your attacker off,” Cal Poly Police Chief George Hughes said.  Some students say despite the accessibility of the apartment-style dorms, they have not felt unsafe in the past.  Sexual assault advocacy groups were surprised to hear the news too, as they say about 80 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim already knows, according to RISE. In this case, the victim told police she did not know the man who attacked her.  University police say there have been two other incidents similar to this one earlier this year.Read more here:

Sacramento, CA – Our View: California teachers union blinks on discipline bill
The threat of a ballot initiative did the trick, persuading the California Teachers Association to negotiate a new process for teacher dismissal.  EdVoice, an educational advocacy group based in West Sacramento, titled its proposed initiative: “Stop Child Molesters, Sexual Abusers and Drug Dealers from Working in California Schools Act.”Voters surely would have approved this initiative, after the Legislature in 2012 and 2013 had shown itself unable to buck CTA opposition to pass a bill streamlining the current labyrinthine teacher dismissal process.  Even the high-profile case of Mark Berndt, an elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children from 2005 to 2010, couldn’t persuade the Legislature to come up with a reasonable process for handling allegations of egregious misconduct.  But now the old one-size-fits-all process that treated dismissal for lewd acts or drug dealing the same as chronic tardiness is gone in a new bill, Assembly Bill 215 by Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo.  Read more here:


Salem, OR – Former massage therapist does not enter plea to sex abuse charges in court
A former massage therapist charged with sex abuse was in Marion County Circuit Court Wednesday for a plea hearing, but he did not enter a plea.  Bryce Cioffi, 23, of Turner, faces seven counts of sex abuse in the third degree and seven counts of invasion of privacy after clients accused him of touching them inappropriately during a massage.Read more here:

College Park, MD – I’m Ready to Stop Hiding My History of Sexual Abuse
Trigger warning: This post contains description of sexual violence.  My therapist probably doesn’t want me to write this. When you’re trying to heal, it’s not particularly healthy to reopen the wound. I’m not writing this because it’s healthy; I’m writing because I need to stop hiding. Sexual abuse makes you into a good liar; you’re constantly assuring yourself that everything is fine. I can manage. It’s okay. But it’s not okay, and I need to accept that before I can move on.Read more here:

St. Louis, MO -New lawsuit alleges sexual abuse in 1970s at Chaminade College Prep
A new lawsuit against a member of the Marianist Catholic order and school alleging sexual abuse of a minor was filed on Wednesday.The lawsuit alleges that Chaminade’s John Woulfe, a member of the Marianist order who is now dead, sexually abused plaintiff Chris Boisaubin, 59, when he was a minor.  Woulfe, a school counselor, met Boisaubin about 1970 when he first became a boarding student at the school, according to the suit.Read more here:

Gloucester, NJ – Pine Hill Teacher Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse of 17 Middle School Students
Charles Reilly, 45, pleaded guilty to three counts of Official Misconduct, 17 counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child and a count of Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.  Reilly admitted to engaging in inappropriate sexual communications with 17 male Pine Hill Middle School students from 2006 to 2011. The victims ranged in age from 12 to 16 years old.   The communication included conversations during which Reilly asked the students to bring semen stained tissues to school so he could make art projects with them.Read more here:

Washington, NJ – Ex-music teacher accused of sexual assaulting teen in 2007 to go on trial
A former music teacher will go on trial next month over allegations he sexually assaulted a then-15-year-old girl nearly seven years ago.  David Scheck was indicted in Sept. 2009 on charges that he sexually assaulted a West Morris Central High School student at her Washington Township home and at the school in 2007, The Star-Ledger previously reported.  Scheck was initially arrested in Nov. 2007 and charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, child endangerment and witness tampering. Scheck was later indicted on those charges as well as official misconduct, according to the state Department of Education.Read more here:

Farmington, UT- Former teacher sentenced; student says she’s a survivor, not a victim
A man who taught and coached girls basketball at a Kaysville charter school was sentenced Thursday after he pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual activity and conduct with a minor female student.Steve Niedzwiecki originally faced 11 charges relating to an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl. In January, he struck a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to four reduced charges.The case became far more public when the victim decided to speak out, hoping to encourage more victims to seek justice. “When the judge read his finding, I started crying because I was so happy that justice was going to get served and that he couldn’t hurt any other young women,” said Jaime Heiner, who is now 18 years old.Read more here:

Galesburg, IL – Sexual assault prevention initiatives changing culture on campus, but goal is still far off
Sexual assault prevention initiatives having positive influence on campus culture but mandatory reporting requirement and lack of transparency in sexual assault investigations must be addressed, students say.  On Jan. 22, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden spoke at an event for the Council on Women and Girls. Their comments were in no small part about reexamining sexual violence on college campuses.  At the same time, the Knox College administration has instituted measures to address such cases that hit closest to home.Read more here:

Ft. Myers, FL – FGCU play benefits sexual assault nonprofits
College students as a group statistically are at a higher risk for sexual assault, yet Florida Gulf Coast University lacks a rape-crisis center.  During a project in a civic engagement class, student Dawn Larison discovered that, if a student were assaulted, she or he would have to navigate without guidance through a bewildering maze of administrative departments and outside agencies to get help, which was further exacerbated by the fact that many students commute to campus from another county. Read more here:

New York, NY – Columbia Accused of Silencing Sexual Assault Protest as Prospective Students Watch
Members of a Columbia University student group called No Red Tape say they were blocked Sunday from distributing information about sexual violence on campus to prospective students at an activities fair. The altercation took place as admitted-students month coincides with renewed interest in sexual assault policies at several Ivy League universities. Nine members of the group entered the admissions-sponsored gathering bearing letters addressed to admitted students and with red tape covering their mouths—an emblem of the bureaucratic red tape that they say silences survivors of assault on campus.  Read more here:

Cambridge, MA – Our Harvard Can Do Better Teaches, Recruits Students at Teach-In
Less than a week after members announced they had filed a federal Title IX complaint against the University, organizers from Our Harvard Can Do Better, a student group advocating for modifications to Harvard’s sexual assault policy, held a teach-in event Wednesday.  The event aimed to educate students about Title IX, the rights that it grants, and the alleged problems with the Harvard’s current policies, as well as enlist interested students in the group’s cause.Read more here:

Madison, WI -Proposals to change campus sexual assault policies include allowing victim to appeal
Victims of sexual assault who file complaints with the university are currently not allowed to appeal the decision made in a misconduct hearing, while the accused retains the ability to lodge an appeal.But as universities across the country are reviewing their policies to fall in line with new federal regulations, the University of Wisconsin is looking to give victims that right.  As the University of Wisconsin works to meet federal and state requirements, the Dean of Students Office has proposed nine new procedures which would regulate investigations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating/domestic violence and stalking to mandate an equitable process for victims, Carmen Hotvedt, violence prevention specialist and project director at University Health Services, said. Read more here:

Chapel Hill, NC – Department of Education on campus investigating UNC’s handling of sexual assault
U.S. Department of Education investigators have arrived on campus, looking for student input as part of an inquiry into UNC’s handling sexual assault.  DOE officials are looking to meet with students this afternoon, particularly minorities and those in the LGBT community, to discuss how UNC handles sexual assault cases, said Andrea Pino, a sexual assault survivor and activist.  The student input is part of an investigation by the DOE that started last April into UNC’s compliance with the Clery Act — a law that requires colleges and universities to publish campus security policies and crime statistics.  Read more here:

Chicago, IL – Martial arts instructor charged with molesting student, 8
A taekwondo instructor has been charged with molesting an 8-year-old student, reports CBS Chicago. Prosecutors said that, on three occasions, 61-year-old Triantafilos “Terry” Tottas kissed, fondled, and groped a boy who took lessons at his taekwondo studio in Skokie, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. Tottas allegedly told the 8-year-old victim to keep what he was doing “a secret,” according to the station.Read more here:

Lexington, KY – Lexington Police Arrest Ft. Knox Soldier Accused Of Sexually Abusing Child
Lexington police have arrested a man whom they say was a Ft. Knox drill sergeant accused of sexually abusing a young relative.  According to court documents, Aaron F. Walker, 40, admitted to another sergeant that he tried to carry out a sex act on a 4-year-old girl in the fall of 2013. Read more here:

Port Canaveral, FL – Crew member accused of molesting teen on Disney Dream cruise ship
A Disney Cruise Line crew member will face a judge Friday morning, accused of molesting a teenage girl aboard a Disney cruise ship.  Canaveral Port Authority police responded to Cape Canaveral around 8 a.m. Thursday in reference to a lewd or lascivious molestation that occurred aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship. The incident happened just as the ship was returning to Port Canaveral following a four-night voyage through the Bahamas.  Ahmed Sofyan, 36, of Jakarta, Indonesia, was arrested and charged with two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of false imprisonment on a 13-year-old girl. Read more here:

Tucson, AZ – Daycare operator charged with child molestation and sexual abuse
Disturbing new details are being released in the case of daycare operator, Gary Talkington, charged with child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor and sexual abuse.  The Pima County Sheriff’s Department served search warrants at the in-home day care off Silverbell and W. Camino Del Cerro on April 4th.  Detectives with the Crimes Against Children Unit confiscated attendance logs, DNA swabs, and a jar of candy from the home, according to the search warrants just released on Wednesday.  According to the Interim Complaint, detectives went to the daycare called “Cricket’s Kids Pre-school” operated by Gary Talkington and his wife after a child under the age of five, disclosed to her parents that Talkington had touched her in her “private areas”.Read more here: