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Confronting Child Sex Trafficking on the Central Coast

August 23, 2016
Confronting Child Sex Trafficking on the Central Coast


A source from the FBI’s Los Angeles Division alerted the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office that the Central Coast had become a hub for commercial sexual exploitation of minors — a crime that had gone relatively undetected by local authorities. Photo: Ken Pfeiffer Photography

By Leah Bartos

Five years ago, when Lisa Conn became a mental health provider for juvenile justice in Santa Barbara County, she noticed a disturbing trend: A large number of the incarcerated girls were displaying symptoms of complex trauma and, in particular, sex trauma.

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Most Survivors Want More Rehab, Less Punishment for Victimizers

August 23, 2016
Most Survivors Want More Rehab, Less Punishment for Victimizers

Victims of violent crime are more likely to be low-income, under 30 and Latino or African American, according to a survey by Californians for Safety and Justice. Aswad Thomas, pictured above, was shot in the back twice in 2009. Photo courtesy of Aswad Thomas.

By Lily Dayton

Aswad Thomas made a quick stop at a convenience store to buy a bottle of pink lemonade on a hot summer night in 2009.

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Shelters, Clinics Work Together to Help Domestic Violence Victims

May 2, 2016
Shelters, Clinics Work Together to Help Domestic Violence Victims

“So many people won’t walk through our doors because they’re afraid,” says Jesse Torrey, associate director of RISE, an agency that serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in San Luis Obispo County. “But they will go to the doctor to get a check-up.” Photo: File/Thinkstock

By Lily Dayton

“Ask me,” begs Paula Spencer, the protagonist of Roddy’s Doyle’s The Woman Who Walked into Doors.

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Universities Lack Guidelines for Responding to Domestic Violence

January 18, 2016
Universities Lack Guidelines for Responding to Domestic Violence By Lily Dayton Studies have found that the prevalence of domestic violence and dating violence among college students is on par with the number of female college students who’ve experienced sexual assault. “About 21 percent of college students report they are experiencing violence from a current partner,” says Jessica Merrill, communications manager for California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.  

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Amidst New Regulations, California Universities Grapple with Response to Sexual Violence

January 18, 2016
Amidst New Regulations, California Universities Grapple with Response to Sexual Violence By Lily Dayton In 2014, a storm of protests erupted at Stanford University after student Leah Francis sent an email with a message that went viral: “Stanford did not expel the man who raped me.” Though the majority of a campus judicial panel had found the man responsible for committing sexual assault, they determined he would be allowed to return to campus to finish his coursework and graduate with his class after completing 40 hours of community service, a sexual assault awareness program and a five-quarter suspension, starting in summer quarter—which, Francis stated in her email, amounted to no more than a “gap year.”

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Failure to Protect: Should victims of domestic violence face child abuse charges?

October 27, 2015
Failure to Protect: Should victims of domestic violence face child abuse charges? By Leah Bartos On a late spring afternoon last year, Andrea* drove herself and her three children directly from her ex-husband’s home to the local police station, seeking protection for herself. She was shocked by what followed: a petition from the county that challenged her fitness as a parent on the grounds that she failed to protect them from an abuser.

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‘Census of the Invisible’ Documents the Plight of the Working Poor in Coastal California

October 15, 2015
‘Census of the Invisible’ Documents the Plight of the Working Poor in Coastal California By Lily Dayton Some days, Celia Díaz doesn’t want to get out of bed. But, since she’s the major wage earner in her household, she doesn’t have much choice. Six days a week, she drags herself to the Santa Cruz restaurant where she works 10- and 12-hour days as head prep cook.

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Dangerous Drift

September 2, 2015
Dangerous Drift By Lily Dayton In the predawn hours of Oct. 3, 2012, two farm labor crews arrived at fields southeast of Salinas to harvest lettuce. A light breeze blew from the north across rows of head lettuce and romaine. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the workers started to smell an acrid odor that some described as paint, others as cilantro seeds or diesel fumes. The workers’ eyes began to burn and water; many complained of nausea, headache, dizziness and shortness of breath. No pesticides were being sprayed at the time, but still, the workers were displaying classic symptoms of pesticide illness.

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Community, Farmers Split on Pesticide Regulation

September 2, 2015
Community, Farmers Split on Pesticide Regulation By Lily Dayton More than 35,000 Monterey County schoolchildren will attend schools near fields treated with high levels of potentially dangerous pesticides—including chemicals that are known to harm the brain and nervous system, cause genetic mutations and disrupt hormonal regulation.

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Probation Officer’s Love of Soccer Saves at Risk Kids

August 23, 2015
Probation Officer’s Love of Soccer Saves at Risk Kids By Lily Dayton Coach Gina Castañeda stands in a player box at the edge of the indoor soccer arena, yelling above the cheers of the crowd to the teenage boys in purple jerseys darting across the playing field. A player in mis-matched soccer cleats makes a swift pass to a team mate, who shoots the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net. Castañeda claps wildly, shouting “Good job you guys! ¡Sí se puede!

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