A building that once housed a daycare center and later became a “swingers’ club” in Mineola, Texas turned into a house of horrors for four children who were forced to perform sex acts on others and each other.
Shauntel Mayo, 29, the ringleader of this unthinkable abuse, made her three kids (then age 5, 6, and 7) and her own 6-year-old baby sister perform sex acts if they wanted dinner. “The unthinkable,” said Smith County assistant district attorney Joe Murphy. “She had her kids have sex with each other and taught them to masturbate. She taught them how to strip. She withheld food from them. All so she could make money.”
According to prosecutors, the kids were groomed for sex shows in what Mayo called “kindergarten” classes. At “kindergarten,” they said they learned how to strip, dance and perform sexual acts–first on dolls, then on each other. Upon “graduating” from “kindergarten,” they were forced to have sex with each other in front of 50 to 100 adult members of a swingers’ club once a week. Before going on stage, they were given the painkiller Vicodin — which their abusers called “silly pills” — to loosen them up for their performances. The children were forced to have sex with each other or perform sexual acts for club members who paid a fee to watch. Investigators believe up to 15 other children were victimized, and are still trying to locate them.
According to the Associated Press, the police department first investigated a complaint in June 2005 in which the siblings’ foster mother said one of the girls described dancing toward men and another child said that “everybody does nasty stuff in there.”
“We learned to strip (at ‘kindergarten’),” said the 7-year-old. ” I had to touch my privates with my sister’s and brother’s privates for the people in the club.”
The mother of the three siblings and her live-in boyfriend have already been convicted in the case and were sentenced to life in prison. A third person goes on trial today to face charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, tampering with physical evidence and engaging in organized criminal activity. Four others are awaiting trial.
The siblings, who have been adopted and have gone through intense therapy, are now doing better, the welfare agency said. However, the man who gained permanent custody of the children, John Orville Cantrell, 64, of Mineola, was arrested last week for aggravated sexual assault of a child on a California case from 18 years ago.
His wife, Margie Cantrell, who has been a foster mom for 36 years, said Thursday she believes the accusations are in retaliation for their roles in the Mineola sex ring case. “What John and I want to do is continue to seek justice for the kids in this case,” she told the Tyler Paper. “And if we have to climb a few mountains to get there, it will be worth it. And at the end of all this, John will absolutely be proven innocent.”
What’s your reaction to this horrifying case?
One more reason, not that I personally need one but I WILL continue to make a bold effort to reach into communities across the country, as a Child Abuse Prevention Specialist and an authorized Facilitator for Stewards of Children through the Darkness to Light program, an organization whose mission is to train adults in every community to responsibly attack the issue of child sexual abuse. The focus of the Stewards of Children Program is to effectively shift the responsibility of recognizing and reacting to child sexual abuse to adults, and teach them how to make a local impact.
Won’t you take a stance? Won’t you be a leader in your community? Won’t you be a voice for innocent children? Enough is enough!
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Raped Cheerleader’s Suit Misses Title IX Complaint: Your Right’s and Your School’s Responsibilities…
Title IX has been pigeon-holed as a sports-equity law for schools. Wendy Murphy says an unconscionable case of sex harassment against a Texas cheerleader shows how this widespread misunderstanding of the law hinders justice.
Title IX requires schools to take “prompt and effective” steps to redress sexual harassment, sexual assault and any other form of sex discrimination. It also forbids schools from exacerbating a situation by creating or allowing a hostile environment to develop on campus in the aftermath of a reported sexual assault.
An unconscionable situation in Silsbee, Texas, has unfolded, thus far, completely unaffected by either of these two federal law mandates.
Two years ago, a 16-year-old high school cheerleader was raped by a star athlete at a house party following a football game. The guy was ultimately convicted. But not only was he not punished by the school in any way before that, he was allowed to keep playing sports while the criminal investigation was underway.
Didn’t supervisors know federal law forbids schools from delaying discipline just because a criminal case is pending?
The victim continued to cheer for the school’s teams in general, but she refused to cheer specifically for her attacker. When he did something worthy of individual recognition during a game, she stepped away from the rest of her squad and crossed her arms.
For this act of defiance, the victim was berated and sent home by the school’s principal. Days later, she was kicked off the squad completely and banned from cheerleading for the duration of her high school career.
Her parents filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming their daughter’s free speech rights had been violated. The judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the school had no duty under the First Amendment to allow the victim to cheer–or not to cheer. The judge also ordered her parents to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs to the school’s lawyers.
Title IX’s Impact on Ruling
On the limited matter of whether this amounted to a free-speech violation the court probably got it right.
But the ruling would have gone the other way if the case had been filed under Title IX. That the victim’s parents did not sue under Title IX is unfortunate but not surprising given how little has been done to educate anyone about the connection between Title IX and sexual assault.
This story has sparked loads of commentary, but so far I have yet to see a single mention of Title IX even though the law has been around since 1972.
Title IX expressly forbids sex discrimination, which includes sexual harassment, the most severe expression of which is sexual assault. Yet 9 out of 10 people asked say they believe Title IX only requires equality in athletics, as in making sure girls can try out for boys’ teams.
Other federal laws that cover discrimination against other “types” of students haven’t morphed and narrowed like this into sports-equity rules.
Schools aptly emphasize that laws forbidding racial or religious discrimination are primarily aimed at preventing targeted violence and harassment–not equal distribution of soccer balls. Presumably this is because being free from violence is far more important than scoring baskets if the goal is to achieve an equal educational opportunity.
Exposing the importance of Title IX as a violence-prevention tool is not easy when so many counter forces want girls thinking about Title IX as a sports-equity rule.
When I filed a Title IX complaint in a sexual assault case involving Harvard about 10 years ago, nobody at the university had a clue that Title IX was implicated. In fact, when the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education announced in my case that it was opening an investigation of Harvard, then-president of Harvard, Larry Summers, publicly suggested that rape has nothing to do with Title IX.
Missing the Connection
If the president of a leading university didn’t understand the connection, what are the chances sexual assault victims at other schools even know they have rights under Title IX?
My complaint against Harvard was a success, but the Office for Civil Rights did little to use the case to show the legal power of Title IX to redress sexual assault on campus. This failure of information sharing and education is why victims and parents of victimized students often end up frustrated in their quest for justice.
In the Texas case, the victim’s parents are no doubt horrified about what happened to their daughter, not only because of the violence but also because of the responses of a high ranking-school official and a federal judge. What kind of educational or legal system exacts punishment on people trying to achieve justice for a girl who was raped?
When protective institutions have things so backward, it’s time for people to rise up. As a former NFL cheerleader, I’d like to see college and professional cheerleaders take a stand in this case.
Cheerleaders claim to be serious women who don’t tolerate sexual exploitation and who care about social issues. They should come together in a show of unity and support for the girl in Texas by crossing their arms and turning their backs on the field for one minute–at halftime. Cheerleaders should want to send a very clear message that there’s a big difference between cheering for a team and making a hero out of a criminal.
It would be great if guys on the sidelines and in the stands joined in, too.
Wendy Murphy is an adjunct professor at New England Law/Boston where she teaches a seminar on sexual violence. She’s a former sex crimes prosecutor and author of “And Justice For Some.” An impact litigator who specializes in violence against women, Murphy consults and lectures widely on sex crimes, violence against women and children and criminal justice policy.
Respectfully submitted via WeNews
8-month-old missing, mom arrested; cops say she’s not talking
23-year-old mother Elizabeth Johnson left her Tempe, Arizona home with her 8-month-old son Gabriel Johnson on December 18, headed for San Antonio, Texas, according to local reports. While in Texas, Gabriel was believed to have been seen with his mother at a couple different hotels and allegedly at a six flags amusement park on December 26.
That was the last time anyone saw Gabriel Johnson. The following day, Johnson allegedly sends a text message and leaves a voicemail for Gabriel’s father and ex-boyfriend, Logan McQueary, telling him she killed little Gabriel. According to court documents, Johnson told McQueary that Gabriel was in a dumpster in a baby bag, describing the baby as blue colored and dead. Johnson then told McQueary she was planning to leave the country, and would tell McQueary where Gabriel’s body was when she had left. Johnson was arrested 3 days later in Miami Beach, Florida, but there was no sign of Gabriel.
A warrant was issued for Johnson’s arrest 2 days earlier after Johnson failed to show up to a custody hearing for her son. At the hearing, Johnson’s custody rights were revoked and full custody was given to Logan McQueary.
Is Gabriel Alive?
Despite the text and voice messages from Johnson claiming the baby was dead, police say there are indicators Gabriel may still be alive, including evidence that Johnson may have tried to give the baby up for adoption after the disappearance.
An Arizona couple contacted McQueary after the disappearance, asking McQueary to sign adoption papers for Gabriel. The couple, Tammi and Jack Smith, claim immediately after Johnson sent McQueary the text and voice messages saying she killed the baby, Johnson sent the Smiths a text message saying she only did that to get back at McQueary and that the baby was fine.
The Smiths are confident Gabriel is still alive, saying they were in contact with Johnson up until her arrest and could hear Gabriel through the phone in the background. The Smiths say they did not get McQueary involved in the adoption procedures earlier because Johnson told them he was abusive. However, there has been no documented history of abuse by McQueary. McQueary says after Gabriel disappeared, the Smiths tried to convince him into giving up Gabriel.
The Smiths say they were only passing along messages they were getting from Johnson and fully admit what Johnson did was wrong and they were only acting in what they thought was the best interest of the child based on what Johnson told them. The Smiths say they are cooperating fully with investigators and no longer believe the adoption is possible. Police say investigators currently do not plan to charge the couple.
FBI Joins The Case
Local police are working with the FBI to determine if Johnson carried out the murder, as she allegedly claimed to McQueary. Authorities continue to search for Johnson’s car, a white 1995 Oldsmobile Delta-88 with Arizona License Plate # AGZ4214. Police don’t know where Johnson was between leaving San Antonio on December 27 and her arrest December 30.
There is a possibility Johnson may have spent time in Nashville, according to some reports. Johnson remains behind bars awaiting extradition, and cops say she’s refusing to cooperate and tell cops where Gabriel can be found.
History of Violence?
The father, Logan McQueary, says Johnson had threatened to harm Gabriel in the past. During one incident, McQueary claims Johnson hid Gabriel, but told police McQueary had taken him. The baby was found hours later at the home of one of Johnson’s friends after police conducted a search for him.
McQueary had filed an order of protection against Johnson last summer because he said he was afraid Johnson would hurt him and Gabriel. That order was later dismissed after McQueary tried to work things out with Johnson. McQueary claims Child Protective Services has an open case against Johnson, allegedly investigating her for neglect of Gabriel.
Johnson was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage last year after an incident in September where McQueary claims Johnson tore a part of a baby crib, took a knife and cut up baby clothes, and cause over $4,000 worth of damage.
Johnson had broken up with McQueary on December 8…3 days later McQueary filed a request for custody of the child. McQueary says he and Johnson lived together for 2 years but broke up December 8. Johnson then called McQueary the next day December 9, telling McQueary to sign over his parental rights to a couple who wanted to adopt Gabriel.
McQueary refused to sign over his rights, and when Johnson left with Gabriel, she allegedly told McQueary he was never going to see his son again.
If you have any information, please call Tempe Police: (480) 350-8311