What does it mean when you say that the Child Abuse Services Team (CAST) has been decimated? It means that the office is closed. It means when someone calls the office, they get a recording. It means Gallegos does not permit the office to be staffed.
When the CAST office is locked up tight, and people who call get an answering machine - when kids are being sent back into abusive homes because of a lack of will and ability to prosecute the abusers, this is what you are sending them back into:
(WARNING! The language and descriptions that follow are hard to take, and are offensive. This is text from an actual case prosecuted in Humboldt County. I thought about posting the entire file, but decided not to. I have also XXX'd any names. What's important is to remember that this is only one case. Child abuse prosecution has dropped precipitously in Humboldt County under Gallegos, but this kind of thing, and worse, goes on.)
The victim, Jane Doe, was born in XXX 1994, to defendant and X.X. At the time of trial Jane was nine years old. Jane testified that when she was younger she used the term "front butt" to refer to her vagina, "back butt" to refer to buttocks, and "pyramid" to refer to a penis. Jane shared a bed with her mother and her father, and Jane would sleep in the middle. Defendant would put his hands around her back, and his "pyramid" would touch her "front butt" or "back butt." When defendant touched her this way he was wearing underwear and Jane wore pajamas. The way her father touched her felt good but her "stomach said it wasn't okay. I had some stomach burns."
Her mother was not always in bed with them. Once when her mother went to San Francisco, Jane "got a stomach burn because my body knew . . . that I was not protected from my dad." This kind of touching and stomach burn happened "more than one night."
Her father was arrested approximately a year and a half before trial, when she was in second grade. When asked whether she remembered whether her dad touched her in a way that made her stomach burn when she was in second grade, she responded: "He did it ever since I was born [*3] until he went to jail."
She demonstrated with stuffed animals how the touching occurred. Following the demonstration, Jane responded affirmatively when the district attorney asked her, "[W]hen your dad was doing this your stomach would burn?"
Jane tried to tell her mother, by saying, "I love you more than Dad," but her mother would not listen.
Jane testified she could tell that when her father put his body in position to touch her "front butt" or "back butt," he did it on purpose, not by accident.
Jane also testified that her dad touched her this way so often that she had developed a habit of masturbating, which she described as touching her own "front butt" in a way that "other people don't want to see." No one else ever touched her the way her father did, and no one else taught her to touch herself in that way.
Jane knew the difference between the way her father touched her and the way, for example, the doctors and nurses touched her. The doctors and nurses had "safe hands." She did not feel the same safety when she was in bed when her father was touching her.
On cross-examination, Jane stated that her father gave her "bad touches" every night when she was with him, "except for [*4] after he went to jail." She could not specifically remember when she did not sleep with him except on trips.
Her father sometimes gave her good touches like shaking hands, hugging, and kissing.
Besides her stomach hurting, "her heart too started to break" when she found out that he had been doing something wrong. She has since learned that her father also touched other children in bad ways. She testified that she was mad at her father about what he did, but she still loved him.
Jane's mother, X.X., testified that she married defendant three years after Jane was born. They moved from Oregon when Jane was a year and a half old. For a few years, starting when Jane was approximately two, X.X. and defendant had maintained separate residences, but defendant still stayed with them much of the time. When Jane was an infant defendant insisted, over X.X.'s objection, that Jane sleep in their bed. This practice continued until defendant was arrested. X.X. suffered from a progressive disease that caused her a lot of pain and she often got up in the night to sleep in a recliner. She also left approximately twice a month for overnight stays in San Francisco for medical treatment. Her condition [*5] made intercourse painful, and by 1999 she stopped having sexual relations with defendant.
X.X. noticed, starting at age four, that Jane had a habit of touching her vaginal area to sexually stimulate herself. After defendant's arrest, this habit increased to the point that she did it "almost everywhere" and did not seem to be aware she was doing it. Jane's counselor at the child abuse center was helping her with this problem, and she was doing it much less.
Before defendant's arrest, Jane would sometimes tell her mother that she loved her more than her father. When X.X. would dismiss this by saying, "[Y]ou just love me different," Jane would respond, " 'No, Mom, it's not scary with you,' " but she would not say what was scary.
This child was interviewed by the Child Abuse Services Team (CAST). Jane told the CAST interviewer that defendant had "touched her when she was in her pajamas or half naked when they were snuggling at night." She demonstrated by rubbing her hand across her chest. She also said defendant's "butt tube" touched her "front butt" and "back butt" more than once when they were both naked.
The defendant told the Detective "that Jane had "come on" to him on one or two occasions.
Defendant stated that Jane had tried to put his hand between her legs, but defendant pulled away, and she had briefly touched his penis.
In response to more pointed questions, defendant ended the interview, stating he was not going to admit to molesting his daughter. Thereafter, Defendant tried to interrupt (the Detective's) interview with X.X. and was arrested.
The child was treated for "posttraumatic stress disorder and depression sometime after defendant's arrest. Jane suffered, among other things, from insomnia and nightmares, and sexualized acting out behavior.
In therapy Jane told XXXXXXXX that since before [*7] she went to nursery school defendant would rub up against her when they were in bed. Jane said: "He touched me in places he shouldn't have because he is my daddy. He kept touching my vagina and my front butt and my back butt whenever I went to bed. He made me feel bad."
She told XXXXXXXX that defendant touched her "private parts, her breasts, her vagina and her butt." He touched her with his penis and genital area. Jane told XXXXXXXX that, as a result of defendant touching her, she would get stomachaches before defendant came to bed.
When her mother went for medical treatment, and Jane was alone with defendant, the stomachaches were much worse. Defendant also convinced Jane that her mother was "so fragile that she couldn't handle anything negative." His behavior gave Jane "sexual feelings" and resulted in her masturbation. In one therapy session Jane picked up a doll and said: "She is lucky. She never has to have sex."
That's what you are sending her back to - and worse.
Last May the Eureka Reporter ran a series of articles on an alarming drop in child abuse prosecutions under Gallegos. None of the other papers looked into it.
Last September, Gallegos pulled veteran prosecutor Maggie Fleming off her duties as child abuse prosecutor and put Jeffrey "yougofree.com" Schwartz in charge, claiming it is his practice to "cross-train" his felony attorneys. He recently gave Schwartz a raise, based in part on the fact that he "now is assigned to the Child Abuse Services Team. This entails working with high intensity cases, participating in child abuse interviews and contributing as a member of the Child Abuse Services Team."
"When asked about declining prosecution rates... (5/12/2006), Gallegos said, “As for a decline in prosecutions, if there are declining prosecutions, that’s because there are declining cases. If there are declining cases, we have certainly looked into that."
“... We broke it down and looked at the numbers and saw that where the decrease has been is in the stranger offenders,” he said. “So the next question is why, and we don’t have a good answer for that yet..."
ER - Former deputy DA speaks out
ER - Candidates spar over child abuse team
ER - DA's Office yet to respond to request for child abuse records
ER - CAST established with child victims in mind
ER - CAST needs support Gallegos is not providing
A matter of priorities