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!
What You Can Do To Prevent Child Abductions…
Continuing child abductions are striking fear into every parent or grandparent’s heart. By learning how to recognize and stop crime is the most important and first step to prevention.
One of the training and education aspects we focus on with children in grades 2-3 is “stranger awareness”. We no longer refer to it as “stranger danger” simply because children immediately think or feel that a “stranger” is the monster under the bed or an individual that appears to be not well kept (ie. clothing, hygiene, etc.). The reality is that anyone and I mean anyone is a stranger to your children unless you have personally introduced them and YOU feel and are comfortable with the person.
First and foremost with the little ones you must do role-place scenarios and remind children to check with you, the parent BEFORE going anywhere with anyone.
The objective to teach children in grades 2-3 is to – Learn to manage dangerous situations and to strengthen decision-making skills.
Share the following situations with the little ones:
- You are playing outside with your friends. An adult you do not know asks for directions to a nearby store.
- A neighbor is walking his dog. He sees you playing outside and asks if you want to walk the dog with him.
- As you are walking home from school, you notice an adult you don’t know that is following you.
- On your way home from school you see an adult you know. She/He asks if you want to go get some ice cream and then she/he will drive you home.
After each situation, ask the little ones what they think they should do. Ask them what they have learned thus far about the above situations prior to chatting with you.
You have to drill into their little minds that:
- They should not talk or go anywhere with an adult without first asking a parent or caregiver.
- They should reach out to a trusted adult to help if they ever feel afraid or uncomfortable.
- Encourage them to share any and all situations that may have happened or happen with an adult that they trust.
Finally have the children role-play telling an adult about one of the situations.
Of course we strongly recommend having your child learn physical personal safety – you would be amazed at the damage a child can do…..IF TAUGHT PROPERLY to ward off an attack or abduction. Teaching a child the S.P.E.A.R. system and how they CAN protect and defend themselves is truly awesome. Often adequate credit is not given to a child in the physical aspect – you would be surprised.
Your child is grabbed by an adult. What should they do?
- Your child’s best bet is to shout and scream and yell at the top of their voice.
- They should wriggle like mad and to kick their legs violently.
- Try it with your child…Pick your child up, encourage them to kick their legs as hard and fast.
- You will find that you shins will take a bashing and you won’t hold on for long! When the grip is broken teach the child the RUN, RUN, RUN AS FAST AND HARD AS THEY CAN.
- Pinching is a great self-defense technique for kids.
- Teach your child how to pinch the THIN skin on the inside of a thigh or arm.
- Get them to dig their nails in.
- IT REALLY HURTS!
- Teach the kids how easily it is to bend back fingers. This is a great way to get an adult to release a grab.
- After your child has broken free……TEACH THEM TO RUN LIKE HELL IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF THE ASSAILANT.
- The best self-defense for children is being our of the way of danger.
Most importantly, teach them that it is okay if they are in in fear they must do everything in their power to escape by any means necessary. And that’s it okay NOT TO BE NICE in the process.