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CSA: Caught By a Predator: Woman Speaks Out 10 Years After Her Abduction

Then

January 5, 2002

http://www.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20020105missingp1.asp

 

Now

January 2012

From http://www.covenanteyes.com/pureminds-articles/caught-by-a-predator-10-years-after-her-abduction/

by Luke Gilkerson

His sweaty hand squeezed her hand tightly as they made the five-hour drive to his home, saying things like, “Shut up. Be good. The trunk’s cleaned out for you.” Terrified, 13-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz wondered how she might escape or if she would live to see her family again. Finally, late that night, Scott Tyree arrived with his captive at his home in Herndon, Virginia. He escorted her to his cold basement. There she could see sadistic devices hanging on the wall. And over the next several days Tyree would rape her, beat her, and share images of his new sex slave to his buddies over the Internet.

It has been 10 years since Tyree abducted Alicia outside her home on New Year’s Day, 2002. As she told me the details of her story, she never once said his name. She only referred to him as “the monster.” She recounted for me the details of her four-day-long nightmare.

But for Alicia, the story doesn’t begin the day of her abduction. It begins months earlier in a chat room. Parents, you won’t want to miss what she has to say.

Groomed for Abduction

Earlier in 2001, Alicia met “Christine,” a red-haired 14-year-old girl, online. They became very close, sharing secrets, problems, and girlhood crushes. To the lonely, bored Alicia, Christine represented what she really wanted in a good friend. Even after finding out that “Christine” was really a 31-year-old man named John, this only shook her for a few hours before continuing communication with him. After all, he had been a good friend to her, hadn’t he?

John introduced Alicia to Scott Tyree. He too was thoughtful, gentle, courteous, and respectful. He seem to be there for her, waiting on the other end of her computer whenever she needed him. If she got in a fight with her mom, Tyree was there to take her side. If she got a bad grade, Tyree was there to validate her intelligence. When she got in a fight with friends at school, he was there to be a friend when it seemed no one else was. Slowly, for over half a year, Tyree played on Alicia’s teenage vulnerabilities until she was convinced she needed him.

As time went on, Tyree introduced more and more sexual topics into their online conversations. She began parroting back to him the things she thought he wanted to hear. Words were exchanged. Photos were sent. At times they would instant message each other through the night. Facilitated by the anonymity of the Internet, bit by bit Tyree chiseled away at Alicia’s inhibitions.

The process is called grooming. “Grooming is essentially brainwashing,” Alicia told me. “It is taking you apart bit by bit, and putting you back together into who this person wants you to be.” Grooming is “a premeditated behavior intended to secure the trust and cooperation of children prior to engaging in sexual conduct,” says Dr. Raymond Choo, Senior Lecturer at the University of Southern Australia. Offenders, he says, “take a particular interest in their child victim to make them feel special,” and then over time introduce a sexual element to the relationship, desensitizing the child to sexual topics and behavior.

Grooming is something child predators have done since before the days of the World Wide Web, but as Alicia sadly learned, the Internet has become another medium for predators to groom potential victims.

The Million-to-One Rescue

“He was very abusive and extremely sadistic,” Alicia shared with me. “He was an absolute monster: the kind you would watch in a horror movie. He was terrifying and completely overpowering in every single way.”

The morning of January 4, Alicia was chained to the floor with a leather collar around her neck. Before leaving for work at Computer Associates International, Tyree looked into her eyes and said, “Alicia, I’m beginning to like you too much. Tonight we’re going to go for a ride.” Alicia believed this would be the last day of her life.

But Tyree had made one fatal error. The night of her abduction, shortly after arriving home, Tyree posted an instant message to an online friend in Tampa, Florida: “I got one.” He then posted a picture of Alicia using his webcam. At first the man believed it was fake, but later went to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website and found a story about a missing girl along with Alicia’s photo. He knew then Tyree was serious. Later Tyree sent images of Alicia with her arms bound above her head, being beaten, and she was crying.

The Florida man called the FBI the evening of January 3 from a payphone, saying he had information about a missing girl. The next morning the informant called back and gave investigator’s Tyree’s Yahoo screen name: “masterforteenslavegirls.” Using this information, investigators reached a Yahoo vice president in California requesting the IP (Internet Protocol) address. And after placing a call to Verizon representatives in Texas, at 11:30 a.m. they finally learned his name: Scott William Tyree.

It was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Tyree was due home any minute. Alicia remembers the moment she heard the pounding at the door. Frightened and traumatized, she crawled under the bed to hide. “We have guns! We have guns!” she heard. Entering her room they found her, stood her up, and draped her in a coat to cover her nakedness. And then—as she says in her 2007 testimony before Congress—”Then I saw the most beautiful letters in the alphabet—FBI—in bold yellow on the backs of their jackets. And I knew that I was safe.”

Scott Tyree was arrested the same day at his place of employment. He is now serving a 19-year prison sentence.

Could It Happen to Your Kids?

It has been a decade since Alicia’s abduction and rescue. After much therapy and years of healing, Alicia decided to start speaking about her experiences to teens. She’s been in countless classrooms and school assemblies. She’s helped out with educational films for the FBI, Enough is Enough, PBS, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General, to name just a few. She’s taken her message everywhere from Oprah to the U.S. legislators.

Alicia’s story may seem fantastic—like something we might see on Law and Order: SVU or a made-for-TV movie. In many ways it is fantastic, but there are also elements of Alicia’s story that are very typical of online predation.

Alicia knows by experience she is not an anomaly. In her travels to schools all over the country, she has met many teens who, like herself, have started venturing into risky relationships online.

Thanks to research funded by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Department of Justice, hundreds of case level interviews have been conducted concerning sexual offenses against minors that started with online encounters. The first wave of this research concerned cases in late 2000 and early 2001 (shortly before Alicia’s own abduction).

  • Like Alicia, who was 13 at the time, most victims (75%) were ages 13-15 years old. None were younger than 12.
  • Like Tyree, most (95%) did not try to pass themselves off as minors online. Some predators (25%) shaved a few years off their true age, but still said they were adults.
  • Like Alicia, most victims (61%) did not come from broken homes, but rather lived with both biological parents.
  • Like Tyree, most offenders (64%) spoke with their victims online for more than a month before meeting face-to-face.
  • Like Alicia, most victims (76%) first meet their offender in a chat room.*
  • Like Tyree, most offenders (80%) brought up sexual topics with their victims online, and in only 21% of cases did the offender lie about their sexual interest in the victim.

One major difference between Alicia’s story and most other cases of predation is the level of brutality and violence. Only 5% of cases 10 years ago involved any violence or the threat of violence, and only 3% involved abduction. In most cases (83%) the victim chose to go somewhere with their offender after meeting face-to-face, and most victims (73%) willingly met with their offender on more than one occasion. In fact, half of the cases involved teens who, after the offender’s arrest, said they still felt close to or in love with their offender. Most cases of online predation are cases of statutory rape.

In other words, as far as her abduction and sadistic rape is concerned, cases like Alicia’s are somewhat rare. But as far as her online interactions with Tyree are concerned, Alicia’s case is a prototype. Most cases of predation are not violent sex crimes, says Dr. David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes against Children Research Center (CCRC). “But they are criminal seductions that take advantage of common teenage vulnerabilities. The offenders lure teens after weeks of conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance, adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to encounters that the teens know are sexual in nature with people who are considerably older than themselves.”

Dr. Finkelhor says what puts kids most in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with strangers.  Kids who have a pattern of multiple risky activities online, like meeting lots of people through online text or video chat, are most at risk. Kids must avoid “behaving like an Internet daredevil,” Finkelhor says. Like Alicia, these could be the shy kids looking for someone to meet. Many of them are kids who have a lot of conflicts at home or at school. Many struggle with loneliness or depression. To these kids, a warm, affirming relationship with an adult can seem very attractive. Mix in teenage sexual inquisitiveness, and the disinhibition effect of the Internet, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Beyond Predators: Children Used for Pornography

As I spoke with her, what seemed to be on Alicia’s mind were the countless children who are enduring brutal sexual abuse, at the hands of strangers or (more likely) people they know. She asked me, “If somebody told you that the little girl down the street was being raped, would we do nothing about it?”

Some like Alicia are taken from their homes, trafficked across states or national lines, where they are either used as sex slaves or prostituted in underground brothels. Also like Alicia, images of these children are shared online.

Nonetheless, this kind of sexual brutality is far more commonly committed by perpetrators in a child’s own family or social circle. Researchers at the CCRC state that in spite of all media attention online predators have received, “offenders who victimize children and youth within their families or networks of acquaintances are much more common than those who use the Internet to meet victims.”

The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office produced a map showing the locations of half-a-million identified individuals who are trafficking in images of child pornography. Sharing this with me, Alicia was quick to correct this label: “These are actually crime scene images of child rape. I think the term ‘child pornography’ waters it down a bit.” Moreover, one in three dots on the map marks the location of a hands-on child abuser.

This map was introduced as evidence to the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. “Law enforcement knows who they are and where they are,” Wasserman Schultz said. “What shocked me the most and what compelled me to get involved in this issue is that due to a lack of resources, law enforcement is investigating less than 2 percent of these known 500,000 individuals.”

This is why Alicia has been traveling throughout the country to convince legislators to pass what has become known as “Alicia’s Law.” Having passed in Virginia and Texas, Alicia is now going after the 48 others states. This law provides law enforcement agencies the resources needed to fight crimes against children, especially when related to trafficking and child pornography.

Alicia has also helped to spearhead the Not One More Child campaign. Hoping for more immediate action, she is petitioning President Obama and the 50 state governors to declare a state of emergency to do something about the untold thousands of kids suffering at the hands of traffickers and child pornographers.

(Our readers can go to NotOneMoreChild.org and to take action.)

Alicia’s Legacy

“I certainly believe that I was rescued for a reason,” Alicia told me. As my interview with her ended, my heart was heavy, but not nearly as burdened as Alicia felt for the children who have yet to be rescued. More than anyone, she knows something of their nightmare. “They stand beside me,” she said, “the voices who’ve been silenced by fear, by shame, by the grave.”

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CSA: My Daughter was Caught By a Predator: A Word of Warning from One Parent to Another

From http://www.covenanteyes.com/2012/01/12/my-daughter-was-caught-by-a-predator-a-word-of-warning-from-one-parent-to-another/

by Mary Kozakiewicz

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

 

On New Year’s Day, 2002, my 13-year-old daughter, Alicia, was lured from our Pennsylvania home and stolen to Virginia by a man whom she had been introduced to online. For eight months, this sadistic madman masqueraded as her friend, grooming my daughter, restructuring her thought patterns through coercive mind control, and bypassing those core values which her father and I had labored to deeply ingrain. A 38-year-old computer programmer, father to his own 12 year old daughter, held my little girl captive, chained to the floor by her neck in his basement dungeon as he repeatedly raped and tortured her.

Throughout the entire grooming process, my husband and I were totally clueless, and therefore helpless to circumvent the unfolding tragedy.

Our Lives Before

The night of Alicia’s abduction was blisteringly cold. Outside of our warm family home, redolent of holiday fragrance, the winds raged and whipped snowy ice crystals against the candle-lit windows reflecting our traditional little two-parent two-child family.

It is captured forever in my mind’s eye, this golden moment in time. We were happy, secure–and desperately unprepared for what would follow. To the casual passerby, we would have appeared to be an All-American Norman Rockwell painting, and certainly, that’s what we felt that we were. As with any family, our lives were certainly less than perfection but, to this day, I miss the “us” that we were before January 1, 2002.

Looking back, I treasure my memory of our joined hands; heads bowed in prayer, as we shared those moments we were most thankful for in the year past, and our resolutions for the new.

These were our last moments of grace.

For, in the passage of these ten years, each of us has been irrevocably altered, and our lives overshadowed by the event. One does not survive every parent’s worst nightmare and remain unscathed.

The Nightmare and the Rescue

When Alicia, excusing herself from the dinner table, slipped silently out of our front door and into oblivion, she carried with her the hopes, dreams, and the expectations that for each parent begin the moment our children are born. Hours later, after police reports were made and family members had returned to their own home, we sat curled in terrified misery as through our suddenly silent home, the clock’s tick-tick-ticking counted the seconds of our precious child’s life—and our own—slip-slip-slipping away.

The specialized law enforcement which responded, The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, shared with us in the days that followed that our daughter’s chance of recovery was perhaps a million to one. It would take a miracle…

Nearly hopeless, and brought to our knees us to our knees by grief and exhaustion, we began to do the only thing left to us: we prayed. We prayed for miracles.

And they came.

Days, eternities later, Law Enforcement was able to locate the needle in the haystack that was my daughter, only because the braggart Internet Predator shared Alicia’s abuse and degradation with his fellow pedophilic perverts via streaming online video. Cutting the chains from Alicia’s neck, they returned her to freedom—and to my arms.

Parents Remain Clueless

A decade’s journey behind us, our family has risen from its knees to wage war against online sexual abuse and exploitation. Internet crimes against children have grown exponentially, and no child—or their parents—are safe from these monsters.

When Alicia was lured and abducted, the Internet was in its infancy. Most parents, myself included, knew little to nothing of this new technology that had begun to forever restructure the ways in which humanity would interact with each other. Unbeknownst to parents, schools had begun teaching our children how to surf the net, but were neglecting to teach them how to protect themselves online.

Sadly, today, having presented the Alicia Project Internet Safety and Awareness Program to thousands of children and their parents, we have found that many of them remain as clueless as we were.

This is not acceptable! Parents must educate themselves to the dangers their children are encountering each and every time they set their fingers to the keyboard. The tragedy that Alicia and our family suffered may be on the extreme end of the spectrum, but the danger that every child is constantly exposed to every time he or she goes online is no less damaging. The availability of hardcore porn, which incessantly attacks even the innocent and unsuspecting children as they surf the web, desensitizes them and endangers their future ability to maintain decent loving marriages. Indeed, young people have shared with us their Internet addiction as well as their fear that the Internet has led them to prey on younger children.

So, what can parents do? We can do a lot!

The Sexualization of Our Children

First and foremost, we must acknowledge that, through media, our children are being sexualized far beyond their ability to cope with the psychological ramifications. Subsequently, we must cease to hide behind those psychological defense mechanisms that give a false sense of security.

After Alicia’s recovery, the general public chose to believe that we were poor parents and to place the blame on our family rather than on the predator. Thus, they were able to convince themselves that if we were “bad parents” as compared to their ”good” parenting, then their resultant “good child” was safe. But quite the opposite is true.

The web is a level playing field for predators. Every child—yes, your little prince or princess—is vulnerable. Alicia’s abductor initially began the grooming process by simply being her friend and by giving her seemingly unconditional love, something that any responsible parent setting boundaries and enforcing consequences can rarely compete with.

Therefore, as parents we must strive to communicate with our children in an open and honest manner when discussing the Web and its inherent dangers. Despite the discomfiture we may feel when discussing sexually taboo areas with our children, kids need to know that they can confide in us without our becoming judgmental. Predators will use that same fear and shame as coercion.

On the other hand, we must also acknowledge that, as their safety is our responsibility, nothing should be left to chance. Privacy issues are no argument when the need for monitoring software arises. We lock our doors and our liquor cabinets. We surreptitiously sniff their breath for evidence of cigarettes or alcohol. Logically, if we hold them to geographical boundaries and curfews, we should do so on the Internet highway as well. Remember: it’s their home, but it’s our house and our computer. As such, we have the right to monitor usage.

Also, as parents, we must stand and demand effective legislation to keep our children from the hands of predators; especially those which supply funding and resources for the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, such as Alicia’s namesake, Alicia’s Law. Call your local legislators; ask them what laws they are endorsing to battle child sexual exploitation. Vote accordingly.

All too often I have been asked whether I suffered from feelings of guilt, and my answer has been that I do not. I know that I did everything that I could have to protect Alicia utilizing the information that I had been given at that time.

But I am a mother, and as parents, we are ultimately responsible, aren’t we? I would give anything to have known better, to have saved Alicia from that monster.

Consider this your wake-up call, moms and dads. How will you answer that question?

. . . .

Mary Kozakiewicz is a member of Team HOPE, dedicated to empowering the families of missing children. She is also a member of the Surviving Parents Coalition, advocating for education and legislation that will help to prevent crimes against children. Along with her husband, Charles, and daughter, Alicia, she has participated in Internet Safety films for both Law Enforcement and the private sector.

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Attention all parents: What are your children doing online?

The movie Trust is available for streaming on Netflix.  I haven’t seen the movie, so I can’t rate it.  However, I can comment on the subject of the film.  It happens all the time.  Under parents’ noses.  Without their knowledge.  It happens to “good girls.”  To bright girls.  To daughters whose mothers think it would never happen.  In high school.  In middle school.  

Learn about online dangers.  The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a great resource at www.missingkids.com/.

One study, the Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later (2006), is posted at  http://www.ncmec.org/missingkids/servlet/ResourceServlet?LanguageCountry=en_US&PageId=2530.  “As detailed in this report, the risks to children, particularly teenagers, in cyberspace include exposure to

  • Unwanted sexual solicitations (1 in 7 youth)
  • Unwanted exposure to sexual material (1 in 3 youth)
  • Harassment —threatening or other offensive behavior directed at them (1 in 11 youth)”

–Joy

Attention all parents: What are your children doing online?

From http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/bloggers/attention-all-parents-what-are-your-children-doing-online.2011128648

Wednesday 7 December 2011

If you are a parent, or even a teenager  (though what you’re doing here, reading this goodness only knows)  then I have a key piece of advice for you.

This weekend, watch the film Trust.  Produced and directed by David Schwimmer, the geeky one in Friends who almost but never quite got his woman, it is essential viewing.

If your teenager spends hours glued to their phone or buried in their rooms online on a laptop or PC, “chatting” or doing “nothing” then you have to see this film.  Because instead of just shrugging and getting on with the dishes, or smiling to yourself that you know where yours are and what they are doing, this film will show you just how at risk they really are.

Sadly, Trust didn’t get a wide cinema release this summer, so you’ll need to go and buy the DVD.  That’s because it had no major distribution backing and also because it did not fit easily into categorisation.  Indeed, David Schwimmer struggled to get a low enough rating for the film so young teens could get to see it (he failed in the end).  It contains some harrowing scenes, it has quite a lot of swearing, and also some violence.  It’s a hard film to watch, especially for parents, but it’s a must see.

The story centres on a 14 year old girl who meets a boy online who turns out to be a wolf in teenage clothing.  He is actually a 35 year old paedophile who grooms the naive and gauche 14 year old, meets her and sexually abuses her.  The film shows how it is done – how easily it is done – and then the fall-out from what happens.  Abuse has a terrible impact on children, and on whole families, whether perpetrated from within or outside their nest: at times, you will be watching through your fingers.

But the film also shows how pervasive technology is in our lives and also how sexualised our society has become.  And this is the hard bit for parents – the film also demonstrates how easy it is for us to take our eyes off the ball, to be too caught up in stuff to truly give time and space to our teenagers.

Anyone who has ever raised one will know what a tough gig that is.  They go from being engaging, enchanting creatures to cuckoos.  Too big, too awkward for themselves, never mind us, normative behaviour deserts them.  Especially speech and sharing.  Oh and being tidy, coherent, thoughtful and appreciative.  You are either glowered or grunted at.  If you are really lucky you get the odd contemptuous look.  But you have to stick with it and on the odd occasion when they actually want to communicate, drop everything and listen.

We also need to understand that the internet is simply a place.  Somewhere they go to hang out.  And if they were doing that physically, you’d want to know where they were going and who they were going with.  Parents need to start asking the same kind of questions – and ignoring the one word “nowhere” and “no-one” answers – when their teenagers go online.

Because just as when they head out the door, everytime they go onto an online space there are potential risks.  And while you cannot be there with them – god forbid, you’d want to – you should at least attempt to satisfy yourself you know where they are going and with whom.

Of course, knowing these things isn’t enough.  We also have to instil in our young people an ability to keep themselves safe.  Resilience had gone out of fashion in child care lingo but actually it is vital.  We cannot always protect our children – including the ones we don’t know – and we need to give them the skills to keep themselves safe.  Knowing how to sniff out trouble, knowing how to avoid it, and knowing how to handle it when it comes knocking are key essential life skills.

Watch the film and afterwards, go find some advice on what you as a parent should be doing to keep your child safe.  You’ll find it online, naturally.

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