Conecuh case prompting more abuse reports

Published 8:41 am Wednesday, February 1, 2006

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
The case in neighboring Conecuh County of a couple arrested for rape, sodomizing a teen and child abuse after an Atlanta woman's persistence instigated an investigation has made national news and raised local awareness of children's issues.
According to reports, Jack Wiley, 58, and Glenna Faye Cavender, 40, are in the Conecuh County Jail. Wiley is accused of raping a 3-year-old girl and sodomizing a 17-year-old boy found in his care. Cavender is charged with child abuse.
Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith confirmed Tuesday what monitoring the scanner seems to reveal: Local law enforcement agencies are getting more calls as a result of the Conecuh County publicity.
What should you do when you see suspicious behavior?
Smith said anyone who calls DHR to report abuse or neglect are protected by law as anonymous sources during investigations.
The Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center, based in Brewton, responds and investigates cases involving abuse in Conecuh, Monroe and Escambia counties and receives referrals from DHR, district attorneys and law enforcement officials from each of the counties.
Three people work at the local Advocacy Center. Officer Kenny Brazile is employed by the Escambia County Sheriff's office and is assigned to investigate offenses against children in Escambia County, Stephanie Jackson, forensic interviewer, and Kathy Hill, the director who oversees everyday operations.
Jackson said that there are certain signs to look for in a child who has been abused, neglected or exploited. She said that a child who appears to cling to a stranger is definitely a red flag.
Jackson said it is rare for an abused child call to report they have been abused. It's usually someone within the home or close to the family who reports the abuse.
She advises anyone who has a reason to be concerned about a child to immediately report it to their local DHR or law enforcement agency.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it estimates that there are approximately one in four girls and one in eight boys who experience sexual abuse in some way before they are 18.
There are certain warning signs that people should be aware of regarding a child who has been sexually abused. Physical signs that may be easier to detect by someone close to the child may include scratches, bruises, itching, rashes, cuts or injuries, especially in the genital area.
The department lists several behavioral signs that can be observed by an outsider, which can include children displaying aggressive behavior towards younger children, pseudo-mature behavior, for instance, a girl who is 8 and dresses like a 16 year-old, wears makeup and generally acts too old for her age, or the child has a fear of a particular person, place or thing.
The department also lists several behavioral signs in children who have been ritualistically or satanically abused. These children may have bizarre nightmares, be pre-occupied with death, have a constant fear of harm and extreme fear of being alone and be engaged in sadistic play, which can include mutilation of dolls or small animals.
&#8220The case in Conecuh County is causing us all to look closer,” Smith said. &#8220It reminds us that we should all pay attention, especially with our proximity to the interstate, of things that don't look right.

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