When I Became Free
“Leading the way with weekly news and information
empowering survivors of abuse!“
VOL 1, NO. 10 THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2020
When I didn’t give up is
Woman to Woman
Page 2 When I Became Free January 16, 2020
When I Became Free
Published online each Thursday and delivered via email to subscribers,
When I Became Free is an independent freelance
project/publication with a mission to bring awareness to issues
around abuse (child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault).
The goal of the project is to be a vehicle of inspiration and empowerment
for survivors. Subscribers of this publication help to support
services, support groups, and workshops freely provided to survivors
of abuse. All of our freelance writers are survivors of abuse.
The When I Became Free Project
was created and is managed by:
Eva Marie Woywod
Phone Number 901 949-2226
Advertising: advertising helps the When I Became Free Project to
provide free workshops, support groups and more to survivors of
abuse on their healing journey.
According to news reports little Sloan McDaniel lost his young life on January
16, 2020, at the hands of this father, Brandon McDaniel. The 20-year-old Clemmons,
north Carolina man is facing first-degree murder charges after his infant son
died from injuries consistent with child abuse, according to the Forsyth County
A family member set up a Go Fund Me page and stated; “On Monday, January
13th, Sloan was admitted to Brenner's Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC.
He fought a brave fight, but was welcomed into the arms of Jesus at 1:05pm on January
They went on to state, “We set up this Go Fund Me site because so many people
have asked how they can help. Any money raised will help with funeral and burial
expenses, as well as offset the financial burden of time away from work. All donations,
no matter how small, are deeply appreciated.”
For more information on the fundraising effort, visit: Go Fund Me -
Baby Sloan McDaniel.
In an article from the Winston-Salem Journal, they reported:
“ Brandon Scott McDaniel, 20, of Forest Line Drive in
Clemmons, was initially charged with felony child abuse,
inflicting serious physical injury on Monday after he
sought medical care for his son, Sloan Prescott McDaniel.
At the time, Sloan was 2-months and 27 days old. According
to an arrest warrant, McDaniel was accused of assaulting
his son, resulting in bleeding on Sloan’s brain
and “multiple serious injuries yet to be diagnosed.” The
arrest warrant said that the assault happened on Sunday.
McDaniel has been charged with first-degree murder.
The article went to quote Debbie McCaffrey, Sloan’s
godmother, “I would like for (people) to know we
are grateful for every day that we got to spend with (Sloan),” she said Friday. “He
was a true blessing and a beautiful and happy baby boy.”
Sloan loved to giggle and laugh and enjoyed kicking his legs and rolling over,
“It’s a sweet time when babies are
starting to come into themselves,” she
said. “He had a sweet personality. We are
all still processing. Everyone is still in
shock and we are just going to step back,
realize that it’s not in our hands anymore
and we are just going to reflect and heal
and grow and love and just overall embrace
one another during this hard time.
It’s just been really, really hard to realize
the reality of the situation but we
have all just been able to cry together and
be able to love together and realize that
he is in a better place and he’s not in pain
and that’s what matters. I was pleased to
know Sloan for the short three months
that I did."
At the time we published this edition
of the When I Became Free Weekly News
an obituary had yet to be released.
Our hearts go out to the family of little
Sloan who is now looking over children
everywhere. Rest in Peace, Little One.
January 16, 2020 WHEN I BECAME FREE Page 3
Sunsets Aren't Always Pretty
In The Twilight Of Your Life
It's a heck of a thing to get old isn't it? As age creeps up
on us, the body slowly starts to rebel and misbehave. Muscles
don't do what we want them to do. Memory lapses are
common. Bathrooms are never close enough anymore. Hair
thins in places we need it, and grows where we would
rather it didn't. As our senses fail, our ears and eyes are no
longer trustworthy sources
of valid information. Sometimes
even our minds fail on
As if that wasn't bad
enough, our risks for falling
victim to abuse increases as
we get older. Approximately
1 in 10 Americans aged 60+
have experienced some form
of elder abuse. Estimates
range as high as 5 million
cases of elder abuse per year.
Yet, it is also estimated that
only 1 in 14 cases is reported.
So, the true numbers
are likely much higher. Elder
adults who experienced
abuse had 300% higher risk
of death compared to those
who had not been abused.
The Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) defines elder abuse as: an intentional act, or
failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship
involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates
a risk of harm to an older adult. An older adult is
considered to be any person 60 years old or older.
Various Forms of Elder Abuse
There are various forms of elder abuse. Physical abuse
is one of the obvious ones with common warning signs:
bruises, broken bones, burns or other physical injuries to
the body. Other forms of abuse include psychological, financial,
and neglect. Various studies have been done to determine
which form of abuse is most prevalent. While they
don't all agree, most of them place verbal/emotional abuse
and neglect at the top of the list.
When a caregiver hits or slaps the adult he or she is caring
for, this is physical abuse. Physical abuse also can be
handling the senior too roughly, shoving them or burning
Financial abuse occurs when the caregiver illegally or
improperly uses the money or assets of the adult under his
or her care. This may be done by forging a signature on a
check, taking over the senior's source of income and using
it for personal gain or even coercing the senior to change
the beneficiary of his or her will. Sudden change in the financial
status of the senior may be a sign this is occurring.
Similar to financial abuse is healthcare fraud. This is committed
by doctors, hospital staff and other healthcare workers.
This can mean overcharging the senior or charging for
services not rendered, double-billing and falsifying insurance
Neglect is abuse by omission. Instead of taking action
against the senior, it is an inaction where one is needed.
Some examples of senior neglect are inadequate or infrequent
personal care, medications not given or not given as
prescribed, poor meal preparation, and unavailability when
care is needed.
Signs of neglect may include bedsores or pressure sores
from holding one position too long, obviously poor hygiene,
and unusual weight loss. The elderly can also be
guilty of self-neglect, but it is the caregiver's responsibility
to oversee this and remedy the situation.
Psychological abuse includes both emotional abuse and
verbal abuse since they affect the mental health of the victim.
Verbal abuse happens when the caregiver verbally
threatens or belittles the senior. Emotional abuse encompasses
humiliation, ridicule, intimidation and isolating the
Psychological abuse is hard to detect without seeing the
interaction between the caregiver and the older person. Personality
and behavioral changes are among the warning
signs of this form of abuse. Other signs include: mood
swings, inability to make decisions and unusual behaviors
such as rocking.
Family Members Can Be Abusive Caregivers
The older population is increasing. According to the
NCEA website, in the United States, the 2010 Census
recorded the greatest number and proportion of people age
65 or older in all of decennial census history: 40.3 million,
or 13% of the total population. Additionally, older women
outnumbered older men. In 2010, there were 89 men per
100 women among those aged 65-69, and 38 men per 100
women among 90 and older.
When we think of elder abuse, our minds immediately
call up an understaffed nursing home. We picture drooling
old men strapped up in wheelchairs, or unkempt old
women stuck in their beds with dirty sheets. The truth is
that it is more common to see elder abuse coming from
family caregivers. In the case of psychological abuse of the
elderly, 90% of the perpetrators are family members. Let
that number sink in... NINETY PERCENT.
So, who are these people abusing the old folks? What
drives them to such actions? They are the spouses and adult
children of the older adults. Many times they have a past
history of problems in their life already: substance abuse,
mental health issues, trouble with the law. Other risk factors
include: social isolation, financial difficulties and other
major stressors in their lives.
Some of the stressors which can increase the likelihood
of abusing an older person are time constraints, financial
difficulties, frustration, impatience and burnout. The
greater the care needs of the older adult, the greater the risk
of psychological abuse. Additionally, if the caregiver is also
responsible for raising children, the pressure of dividing attention
and loyalties can increase the likelihood of abuse
There are certain risk factors which increase the chances
of being a victim of elder abuse. An older person with low
or no social support is at risk, as well as those who suffer
from dementia, those who are functionally or physically
impaired, those who are low-income, as well as those who
live in a larger household rather than just a spouse.
Committing to be a caregiver for an older adult is a fulltime
responsibility. No matter how much love is shared between
the caregiver and the elder adult, long-term care and
responsibility is challenging. This challenge increases as
the older person's abilities decrease with age.
It's Not Easy To Be A Caregiver
The duties of the caregiver are many. They are responsible
for personal care, such as dressing and grooming, as
well as the more embarrassing tasks of bathing and assisting
with toileting. It is also their job to oversee meals and
medications. The caregiver is in charge of arranging for
necessary transportation and appointments. Housekeeping
and home organization duties are part of caring for the
elderly as well. And perhaps the most important duty of the
caregiver is companionship.
All those duties sound like a full-time day. So, how does
the caregiver handle it when he or she also has a full-time
paying job outside the home? This very scenario can be the
cause of some of the elder neglect we hear about.
Most of us, after a full day at work, can't wait to come
home, prop up our feet and relax with a half hour of television
to wind down. 8 or 10 hours at our job is stressful
enough. After dealing with a supervisor with a bad attitude
and lazy coworkers, we need a break. Our nerves may be
on edge, leaving us short-tempered.
For a caregiver, there is no time to wind down. Upon returning
home, it's time to make sure the older person has
meals and medications. He or she may need some exercise,
or just a little time to socialize. It's a lonely day with nobody
to talk to. Shopping and appointments are scheduled
for days off, leaving little time for the caregiver to enjoy
personal time, hobbies or a social life. Time management
skills are a definite necessity.
It's easy to see how this scenario can be difficult to carry
on for a long period of time without burnout. The caregiver
has essentially given up his or her life for the older person.
This was not the life they anticipated when they signed up
to be the caregiver. When one takes on the role of caregiver,
all other aspects of life are affected including work, family
life and a social life.
Elderly people don't want to be a burden to others either.
Growing older takes an emotional toll on them. The things
they once did easily are now difficult to impossible. It may
be the simple act of walking from one room to another, but
they can't do it in just a couple steps anymore. Consequently,
their self-esteem and confidence take a hit. This
can cause them to avoid social situations due to embarrassment
or simple ease of mobility. Anxiety and depression
They didn't ask to be physically or mentally challenged
and need help. They may never have expected it to happen
to them. But, there are few solutions to their problems.
They can't live alone anymore. If they can't afford a nursing
home or in-home care, they are forced to rely on family
or friends if they are to have any care at all. Reluctantly,
an adult child may offer to give them care out of a sense of
duty or compassion.
It's easy to see where the emotional / verbal abuse can
creep into the relationship. It may not have started out as
abuse. But, when the arguments are daily, the words are demeaning
or the bathing leaves bruises it becomes abuse.
Community Settings Are Not Any Safer
Nursing homes and retirement communities are not the
answer to prevention of elder abuse. According to the
World Health Organization, between 2017 and 2018, 1 in
6 elderly adults suffered some type of abuse while in a
community setting. Also, WHO notes that 2 in 3 nursing
home staff members reported they abused residents over
the past year.
Let me repeat that – 2 in 3 staff members abused residents
in nursing homes. That means over half of them are
guilty of committing some form of abuse. It's no wonder
aging adults are scared to enter nursing homes.
The CDC reports that about 70% of nursing homes are
for-profit. This may be a good reason why care in the nursing
homes is not up the standards one would expect. Instead
of prioritizing safe care for vulnerable adults, the
nursing home companies are more worried about raising
Keeping a nursing home understaffed is one way they
keep the costs down, but it costs the residents the care they
need. It can lead to quick burnout and lack of supervision
of staff. One study reported that as many as 24% of residents
experienced at least one instance of physical abuse
while in a nursing home.
So, what can be done about elder abuse? A good first
step is to educate seniors and caregivers about elder abuse.
Educating the public in general is a great idea as well. Seniors
should be instructed on what they can expect as they
age as well as what kind of care they should receive, what
their rights are and what they can do to protect themselves
from those who might prey on them. Caregivers need to
know what is expected of them and where to go for resources
when they need help with their duties.
Instructing the public can create smarter elderly for their
golden years as well as teaching them what to look for as
far as signs of abuse in older people they know. The time
to plan for your later years is when you are still young
enough to do it. Once you are there, it's too late.
Page 4 When I Became Free January 16, 2020
January 16, 2020 WHEN I BECAME FREE Page 5
Page 6 When I Became Free January 16, 2020
Woman to Woman
Getting to Know Me
When this paper began back in October, Eva had asked me for a short introduction to
include with the first edition. I had a lot going on so I wasn't able to give her exactly what
she wanted. Instead I gave her a quick “tagline biography”. Now that there are a few editions
out, it's time for me to write up the type of introduction that she asked for.
With my five younger siblings, I was raised in Necedah, a tiny village in central Wisconsin.
My father was a strict Roman Catholic while my mother converted to Catholicism
from the Lutheran church. The house I grew up in was isolated, 8 miles away from the
nearest semblance of civilization.
My father died when I was 19. My mother was incapable of handling the household,
so as the oldest I was the head of the family. I met Dan, the man who would be my husband,
6 years later in 1995. We were married in 2001 despite my mother's disapproval
I have no biological children, partly due to PCOS issues. However, Dan had 3 sons
when we met. Since he is 19 years older than I, his sons are like brothers to me. They have
10 children between them, and one has a grandson as well. Therefore, through marriage
I have 10 grandchildren and a great grandchild. Who needs biological children?
I was raised with a narcissistic mother, and a very strict authoritarian father. While
they did the best they knew how to do, I was still raised in an environment of emotional
neglect. I have lasting scars from my childhood, but therapy is helping with them.
There were a couple separate instances during my childhood when I was sexually molested.
One of the molesters was a trusted member of the religious community my parents
participated in. Monsters don't wear labels and dark overcoats. They can be anyone.
When I was 21, I moved into my own apartment to try to start a life of my own. However,
my life was still very strongly entangled with my birth family since they still needed
help and guidance. It was while I lived here that I first encountered a woman in an abusive
Even as young and naive as I was, I knew she needed help. She and her three children
lived with me for a while as she tried to get herself free. It wasn't to be at that time, but
later she did finally leave him and start life anew with the man who would love her as she
At the same time, one of my sisters was engaged to a man we knew would not be good
for her. In 2018, 28 years later, after years of abuse during their marriage, she, along with
her youngest children, left him and came to stay with me.
So, as you can see, I'm no stranger to the many facets of abuse. It hurts my heart to
see someone not being treated with love and respect. It happens too often.
Besides writing for this paper, I also have my own blog thewriteempath.com. Writing
is my greatest interest, but there are other ways I spend my time. I am an amateur artist
and a wanna-be photographer. I monitor and run a couple different facebook groups including
one dedicated to helping with self-esteem issues. You can find it by searching for
“Good Enough For Me Is All I Need To Be”.
I welcome comments, feedback and constructive criticism. We are always learning
and I'm not afraid to admit that I don't know everything. Email me at email@example.com.
Page 7 When I Became Free January 16, 2020
Being There for Others
Kelli Bungert is from central Wisconsin, and a survivor
of childhood rape, incest, and domestic violence.
She also a survivor of adult rape and incest at the hand
of her biological father. Kelli is an advocate working to
help others through Survivors Offering Support
(S.O.S.) in and around Juneau County, Wisconsin
I want to shed some light on how S.O.S has supported
survivors in our area. I have been working with
a mother and her two boys for the past several months.
When I first met this woman she was beaten down
scared and had no one to turn to. Her husband of 18
years beat her so severely that she couldn't even look at
herself in the mirror. She felt as bad as she looked.
With no family around and only mutual friends of her
husband’s, she had absolutely no one to turn to for
A friend of mine contacted me and asked me to reach out to her and I did. When I first met her
she and her boys were living in a tent in the middle of the woods with no food and only the few
things of clothing they had time to grab. I knew she was in dire need of some help. So, I spoke
with a previous landlord that I had rented from and I was able to get her into an apartment.
Thankfully, an anonymous donor paid for their rent until March.
This mom felt defeated and alone. She thought she could never make it on her own. So my
wife and I along with help from others, filled her apartment with food, furniture, and clothing.
We are also able to get them sponsors for the holidays. They had a Christmas they will never forget.
She began to see that she really could do this on her own with a little help. We have all been
there in that place where we feel that we can't do it alone. We felt helpess scared, and worried
about where we would end up. We have had the nightmares and flashbacks of the abuse we have
endured. S.O.S changed the lives for this family and they are doing great. I am on call for them
24/7 to support them.
She has found a full-time job and is seeing a counselor weekly. She is no longer afraid. She
can breathe. She found her strengths. She knows her weaknesses, but she has choosen to be a survivor
and no longer a victim.
S.O.S consists of survivors. We all have and share simular traumas. We count on each other
for support, because, like this woman - I know what its like to feel alone and have no family and
have no where to go. I know how it feels to be beat down to almost nothing. I had absolutely no
where to turn too. But she knows she does. Don't lose hope. Don't give up because even when you
think you’re alone, you’re not.
Page 8 When I Became Free January 16, 2020
California Woman Arrested for Attempted
Murder After Reportedly Firing a Gun at Her
On Saturday, January 4, 2020, at about 6 a.m., deputies were
dispatched to a report of shots fired in the 29000 block of Highway
36 in Bridgeville. The 84-year-old victim called 911 stating that his
roommate shot at him inside the residence.
Deputies arrived on scene and met with the victim. The victim
informed responding deputies that after he was shot at, he fled the
residence and drove to Highway 36 to call 911. The victim informed
deputies the suspect was still armed with a firearm and another
unknown type rifle inside the residence.
Deputies then responded to the residence and called the suspect
out from the residence. The suspect, later identified as Kelly
Teach, exited the residence and was placed under arrest. While placing Teach in the patrol
vehicle, Teach became combative and struck a deputy. Teach was placed in the backseat of a
patrol vehicle without further incident.
Teach was later booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for Attempted
Murder, Elder Abuse likely to cause GBI/Death, Battery on a Peace Officer and
Resisting/Delaying a Peace Officer.
Her bail has been set at $500,000. This incident is still under investigation.
Anyone with information regarding this is encouraged to call the Humboldt County
Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.
Tennessee Enacts Law in Effort to
Protect Vulnerable Adults From Abuse
NASHVILLE, Tenn— Tennessee has taken a stand on
people who abuse some of the state's most vulnerable- the
elderly. With the new year came a new law the will
strengthen the penalties for those charged with elder abuse.
The Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019
last year, which went into effect on January 1st. The law increases
penalties for the most dangerous crimes involving
elder abuse as well as expands the availability of orders of
protection for elderly and vulnerable adults.
According to reports the penalties will go from a class C
to a class B felony. A class B felony conviction could result
in a prison sentence between eight to 30 years and a $25,000
fine, compared to three to 15 years in prison and a $10,000
fine under class C.
WTVF in Nashville reported that in 2019, The
Nashville Davidson Attorney General's Office County received
1300 referrals regarding abuse, neglect, financial exploitation
or sexual exploitation.
Statewide those numbers are even higher, in 2019, there
were about 10,300 cases investigated.
"Those numbers are shocking, and I believe it will be
shocking for the community to know how many referrals,
how many reports about this that we actually see," said Brittani
Flatt, a Assistant District Attorney is part of the Davidson
County District Attorney's Vulnerable Adult Protective
Investigative Team. The team is responsible for reviewing
thousands of cases of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.
A law passed in 2017 created a Vulnerable Adult Protective
Investigative Team in each judicial district. They work
alongside police the State's Adult Protective Services and
other stakeholders in helping victims as well as prosecuting
Tennessee is a mandatory reporting state. If you know of
any abuse you are required to report it to the Adult Protective
Services, you can remain anonymous.
Toll Free 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366) Or, report
suspected abuse online : https://reportadultabuse.dhs.tn.gov/
January 16, 2020 WHEN I BECAME FREE Page 9
New York DEA Diversion Investigator Charged
With Attempting To Produce Child Pornography
And Enticing A Minor To Have Sex
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Dermot Shea,
the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), Keith A. Bonanno, Special Agent
in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (“DOJ OIG”) Cyber Investigations
Office, and Guido Modano, Special Agent in Charge of the DOJ OIG New York Field Office, announced
today the arrest and filing of charges against FREDERICK L. SCHEININ. The Complaint charges that between
October 2019 and January 2020, SCHEININ attempted to produce child pornography and entice a
minor to have sex. SCHEININ was arrested on January 16, 2020 and will be presented on January 17,
2020 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker in Manhattan federal court.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As a diversion investigator at the DEA, Frederick Scheinin’s
foremost responsibility was to protect the public from illegally diverted drugs. Instead of fulfilling this
worthy mission, Scheinin allegedly spent months attempting to prey on a 14-year-old boy. This arrest exemplifies
that no one is above the law. Our law enforcement partners will continue to bring all necessary
tools to bear to apprehend individuals who wish to do harm to young children, no matter who they are.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “I want to commend the U.S. Attorney and our federal partners
who, together with our NYPD investigators, work every day to protect the innocent against such alleged
reprehensible predators. I am proud of the undercover work in this case, which has now led to criminal
charges against a law enforcement officer who allegedly betrayed his sacred oath.”
DOJ OIG Cyber Investigations Office Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno said: “The OIG and
our law enforcement partners will thoroughly investigate allegations of abuse or exploitation of children by
DOJ employees. Those who are found guilty of this type of criminal behavior will be brought to justice.”
Up until the time of his arrest, SCHEININ was a diversion investigator in the New York Field Office
of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). According to the allegations in the Complaint filed in
Manhattan federal court :
Between October 2019 and January 2020, SCHEININ used a multimedia messaging application on his
cellphone to communicate with an undercover law enforcement officer (“UC-1”) who was posing as a 14-
year-old boy. SCHEININ repeatedly sent sexually explicit images and videos to UC-1 in an attempt to
persuade UC-1 to transmit sexually explicit images, photos, and live visual depictions of UC-1 to
SCHEININ. In particular, SCHEININ repeatedly asked UC-1 to transmit images and videos of UC-1’s
penis. The Complaint further alleges that SCHEININ attempted to arrange a meeting with UC-1 at which
SCHEININ planned to have sex with UC-1. Law enforcement arrested SCHEININ yesterday in New York,
New York, at a location where SCHEININ said he would meet UC-1. SCHEININ was in possession of condoms
and lubricant at the time of his arrest.
SCHEININ, 29, of Sunnyside, New York, is charged with one count of attempted production of child
pornography, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence
of 30 years in prison, and one count of attempted enticement of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum
sentence of 10 years in prison and maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum potential sentences
in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any
sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.
* * *
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD and the DOJ OIG New York Field
Office and Cyber Investigations Office.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant
United States Attorney Nicholas Chiuchiolo is in charge of the prosecution
Former Pastor and Counselor Sentenced to
17 years in Prison for
Sexually Exploiting Children
A former pastor and counselor from Burtchville, Michigan (just outside Port Huron) was sentenced this
week to 17 years in prison for sexually exploiting preteen and teenage girls, announced United States Attorney
Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono, Federal
Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.
Sentenced was Jackie Douglas Woodburn, 64, who was the
Director of the Colonial Woods Christian Counseling Center, a
place he worked for 28 years. In addition to his prison sentence,
Woodburn will serve 5 years of supervised release upon his release
from custody. Judge Paul D. Borman imposed the sentence.
According to court records, Woodburn used an unmonitored
chatroom-based website to target and manipulate girls. Woodburn,
who pretended to be a teenage boy when speaking to preteen
and teenage girls on the website, isolated his victims by
transitioning conversations from the website to email and pop-
Jackie Douglas Woodburn
ular social media application platforms. After isolating the victims,
Woodburn used his sizable age, educational, and life
experience advantages over the girls to manipulate, pressure, coerce, and entice the girls into undressing and
engaging in sexual acts on camera. The Indictment alleged that Woodburn sexually exploited a 12 year-
Boy Scout official sentenced to 30 years of prison
old girl from Texas, a 13 year-old girl from Kansas, and attempted to entice a 9 year-old girl from Virginia.
However, the FBI’s investigation revealed that Woodburn targeted and exploited several additional victims
not identified in the Indictment.
“It’s completely reprehensible for any person — let alone a pastor and counselor — to abuse young children
in this way,” said United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. “We hope this sentencing will bring
some closure to the innocent victims and their families who were so badly harmed by the defendant.”
"By the nature of his position, Mr. Woodburn was entrusted with protecting the mental and spiritual
health of his community," said SAC D'Antuono. "But he was a wolf in sheep's clothing - looking to prey
on the most vulnerable members of our society. Our office remains committed to working with our state and
local partners to find and hold accountable this type of sexual predator."
Assistant United States Attorneys April N. Russo and Kevin M. Mulcahy of the Eastern District of
Michigan, prosecuted the case. The FBI’s Detroit Field Office investigated the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing
epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led
by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources
to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify
and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.
for Sexually Exploiting Children
Thomas Close, 39, of Shelby, was sentenced earlier this week in federal court to 30 years in prison followed
by lifetime supervised release, which included lifetime sex offender registration obligations. He was
also ordered to pay $949 in restitution and a $300 special assessment.
Close was known to many in the Boy Scouts of America as “Aqua Joe” because he was a swim instructor
as well as a troop leader. And yet, from 2011 through 2018, Close abused these positions to surreptitiously
record young boys while they changed for swimming or showers. He then transferred those
recorded images from a simple spy watch to his home computers in carefully labeled folders and file structures.
Close also victimized children in his care at the YMCA, the Willard Conservation League, the Firelands
Scout Reservation, the Ashland County-West Holmes Career Center, the Mohican Wilderness camp,
the STEM camp, and even his own home in Shelby, Ohio.
“It is difficult to imagine a more heinous crime, particularly when the ages and youthful experiences of
children were so calculatingly exploited,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “If we have not made it clear
before, let this sentence send a message to all who seek to prey on our children: there is no place we cannot
find you and we will bring you to justice.”
“This individual used his position and regular access to children to exploit the young people who he was
entrusted to take care of and protect,” said Vance Callender, HSI special agent in charge for Michigan and
Ohio. “While no amount of prison time is sufficient for the depraved abuse of trust by Mr. Close on his innocent
victims, hopefully, today’s sentencing can begin the healing process for all of those impacted.”
Additional details of these crimes were described in court filings and during today’s sentencing hearing:
In May of 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (HSI) Cleveland received information from the
Cyber Crimes Center (C3), Child Exploitation Investigations Unit (CEIU) regarding a child exploitation lead
in Sandusky, OH. C3 provided several videos that were taken of minor boys changing before or after swimming,
with a series of lockers visible in some of the pictures. The National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children (NCMEC) confirmed that these videos were seen in previous child pornography investigations but
the children depicted in the images had not yet been identified. However, the NCMEC Victim Identification
Lab was able to identify the manufacturer of the lockers as the Bradley Corp. Since only a few YMCAs
purchased lockers from Bradley Corp, C3 was able to confirm that the images were likely taken at the
YMCA facility located in Sandusky, OH.
With little to go on, agents set out to identify the boys. They focused on landmarks and the Boy Scout
logo captured in images, which let them to speak with representatives of the Boy Scouts and local YMCAs.
Both the Boy Scouts and local YMCAs assisted agents with their investigation. In speaking with the Boy
Scouts, agents were directed to an incident report in which one den leader noted Close’ frequent and unnecessary
contact with scouts during swim time.
Later, and based on this tip, agents interviewed Close. Close admitted to the following: accessing child
pornography from the TOR network; using a Russian photo sharing site to access child pornography; receiving
and distributing images of child pornography online; being sexually interested in boys as young as
five and up to 18; and possessing approximately 5 terabytes of child pornography. He also acknowledged
leaving a watch with video capability in the designated changing areas in order to record the boys as they
Agents conducted a forensic analysis of Close’s devices and confirmed that he had more than 110,000
image and video files that depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Approximately 60,000 of
those files were unique images. Close also created 1,900 images of child pornography. To date, 143 victims
have been identified, with the youngest being seven years old.
One of the identified victims, who is referred to in court filings as Minor #21, provided a recorded victim
impact statement which was played during the sentencing hearing. He stated in pertinent part: Never
have I been so sad. This whole thing lingers in my mind all the time. I wish I could make it go away. . . .
I have a question for you, Aqua Joe: Why? Why would you do this to me? Why would you do this to any
kid? How dare you do this to a kid that can’t defend himself. I don’t understand. I’m supposed to be able
to trust the people that I’m told I can trust. You took advantage of me and you spied on me. Now I don’t
trust anyone. You ruined part of my life! And I hate you. . . . I especially hate you for hurting my mother.
You broke her heart – and mine. . . . I hope someday I can forget about you.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children
Task Force (ICAC) and the Shelby Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol M.
Page 10 When I Became Free January 16, 2020
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Dating Abuse Helpline
National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Human Trafficking Resource Center/Polaris Project
Call: 1-888-373-7888 | Text: HELP to BeFree (233733)
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
www.nrcdv.org and www.vawnet.org
Futures Without Violence:
The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011
Childhelp USA/National Child Abuse Hotline
Children’s Defense Fund
Child Welfare League of America
National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Child Protection and Custody/Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Center for Judicial Excellence
Love is respect Hotline:
Break the Cycle
Domestic Violence Initiative
(303) 839-5510/ (877) 839-5510
Deaf Abused Women’s Network (DAWN)
WOMEN OF COLOR
Women of Color Network
Women of Color Against Violence
Casa de Esperanza Linea de crisis
24-horas/24-hour crisis line 1-651-772-1611
National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities
The National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project
National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
Indigenous Women’s Network
Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV)
Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
January 16, 2020 WHEN I BECAME FREE Page 11
The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute
LESBIAN, BI-SEXUAL, GAY, TRANSGENDER,
The Audre Lorde Project
LAMBDA GLBT Community Services
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans,
Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse
ABUSE IN LATER LIFE
National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life
Legal Network for Gender Equity
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
Suicide And Crisis
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides referrals to
support groups, mental health professionals, resources on loss and suicide
prevention information. Phone: 888-333-2377
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects callers to trained crisis counselors
24/7. They also provide a chat function on their website.
Mental Health Conditions
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) provides information
on prevention, treatment and symptoms of anxiety, depression
and related conditions. Phone: 240-485-1001
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) provides information
on bipolar disorder and depression, offers in-person and online support
groups and forums. Phone: 800-826-3632
International OCD Foundation provides information on OCD and treatment
referrals. Phone: 617-973-5801
National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (NCEED) provides
up-to-date, reliable and evidence-based information about eating disorders.
TARA (Treatment and Research Advancements for Borderline Personality
Disorder)offers a referral center for information, support, education
and treatment options for BPD. Phone: 888-482-7227
National Center for Elder Abuse
National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS)
A Call to Men
Men Can Stop Rape
Men Stopping Violence
Battered Women’s Justice Project
National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
1-800-903-0111 x 3
Pae 12 When I Became Free January 16, 2020