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ABOUT TOWN: Stoughton Police Get Education on Child Exploitation (And More...)

Welcome to "About Town with Mark Snyder," a column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what's going on around town. If you see or hear something we could use here, let us know by sending an e-mail to pmpco@aol.com.

STOUGHTON POLICE GET EDUCATION ON CHILD EXPLOITATION: Three Detectives joined Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey recently as the Norfolk Advocates for Children, the DA and dozens of local police and service agencies launched a joint effort to combat the recruiting and selling of young girls for sex in this region.

“The internet has taken what was, years ago, thought of as an urban problem and made it an everywhere problem,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “We need a coordinated, thoughtful effort to combat it and help these children…the most common age that girls are being drawn into the commercial sex trade and sold is now middle school.

The task force launching from this training will be developing information and guidelines for how providers and law enforcement can identify girls who are being targeted, and how to respond to best protect and help the victims while holding the abusers accountable, Morrissey said.

The District Attorney said he was very encouraged to have 80 members of regional law enforcement, school departments and social service providers—including Stoughton Police Detectives Donna McNamara, James O’Connor and , and Stoughton district court probation officers Jennifer Brady and June Connor – attend the all-day “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: Identification and Response” training he and the Norfolk Advocates for Children hosted at the Bank of Canton auditorium on April 3.

“This was an important move forward in helping these kids,” he said.

Stoughton Police Chief told About Town, "The most vulnerable people in our town—the children and elderly—are well served by all the resources we can bring. DA Morrissey has been a great ally, can't say enough good things about him. When children are a victim of crimes, it takes a great amount of skill to obtain materials needed in court. This additional training will help them better serve the victims. It's a partnership with the prosecution. We need to be on the same page.

“We are seeing your girls. We are seeing girls from a number of Norfolk County communities,” Lisa Goldblatt Grace said at the opening of the conference. Grace is the founding co-director of the “My Life My Choice” program in Boston, which provides outreach and intervention to target populations – like group homes, programs and schools – to help those children avoid the traps that pimps use to bring young girls into situations where they can be exploited.

The program also helps girls escape, and stay free, if they are already trapped “in the life,” according to program associate director Audrey Porter. “I come from the era of the combat zone, era when young girls were charged with prostitution,” and their pimps and johns were able to buy and sell sex with children with impunity.

Porter was targeted by a pimp as a young teen and was exploited for about 15 years before a medical crisis brought her to help – and that experience is invaluable in mentoring girls who are trying to break free.

The fact that Norfolk County prosecutors do not have many of these cases entering the courts is more a concern than a cause for re-assurance, District Attorney Morrissey said. “It is happening, the exploitation is happening, but out in the communities it is too often going undetected. If it is not being reported to us or law enforcement, there is no opportunity to intervene; that is one of the obstacles we need to break down.”

"Prostitution has gone indoors,” Grace said. “Girls are sold on web sites…girls are more invisible than ever before.”

"We are at the kind of precipice today that we were at 30 years ago in how society, law enforcement, the courts and service providers viewed domestic violence, and how all of those attitudes had to be redrawn,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “We need a new framework and a new partnership across society to deal with the rampant commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Norfolk DA’s Office, Norfolk Advocates for Children and our community partners are dedicated to pushing that forward.” 

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STOUGHTON NATIVE RUNS MARATHON FOR MENTORING PROGRAM: Stoughton High Athletic Hall of Famer Jeff Russell, better known these days as the Chief Operating Officer of the , finished the Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day for the Mass Mentoring Partnership, and did well. 

In the wilting heat, Russell placed 1051 in his age category.  He placed 12,342 among men, and 21,260 overall.  On a day when thousands didn't make it, he deserves a big round of applause! 

The 59-year-old West Bridgewater resident tells About Town, "I believe so much in mentoring that I accepted MMP’s invitation to assist them in raising funds to support mentoring by running the 116th Boston Marathon. I set a goal to raise $10,000 in donations to assist MMP in furthering their work in mentoring.”   He is very close to his goal.  There's still time to donate!

Russell continues, “I am asking for your support in this effort by making a donation to the Mass Mentoring Partnership and returning it directly to my attention at Old Colony YMCA; 320 Main Street; Brockton, MA 02301. Although our Organization benefits directly from them, checks should be made payable to MMP with “J. Russell/Marathon” noted on the note line. You may also go to my MMP Marathon web site and make a donation on line, http://www.razoo.com/story/Jeff-Russell?referral_code=share."

To see how the 10 Stoughton residents fared in Monday’s Boston Marathon, .

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TUESDAY EXHIBITION: An Exhibition called "Unfamiliar Faces: Photographs of Vanishing Wildlife" is being held TODAY, Tuesday, April 17, from 1-5 p.m. at the Mass Audubon Visual Art Center. Cost is $4 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. The Center is located at 963 Washington Street in Canton. 

The photographs on display are by Kevin Schafer. Schafer is an award-winning natural history photographer, whose photographs appear in all of the major science and nature publications in the US, including National Geographic, Smithsonian, Natural History and National Wildlife. He also works regularly with conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund, and is a founding Fellow of the Int'l League of Conservation Photographers.

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BELATED BIRTHDAYS: 

  • Saturday, April 14 : Jackie Hausman daughter of Ahavath Torah Rabbi Jonathan Hausman and his author wife, Susan Komisar Hausman ("Kisses from Dolce"), turned 17. And, Eric Boykin, son of FinCom Chair Holly and her husband Bill, turned 6.
  • Sunday, April 15: Evan Schulze, son of Ahavath Torah Congregation President David Schulze and his wife Wendy, turned 15. Christine Hoffman, Curry College grad, who works at Talbots, also celebrated on Sunday

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Jerry Cibley, former Stoughton resident and the owner of the now closed Odyssey Solutions stores.  Cibley's son Jordan, who attended Stoughton High before moving to Foxboro, was killed in a car accident while talking on the phone with Jerry. He has appeared on many national TV Shows, and has worked hard to , here and around the country.   

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