Friday, May 27, 2016

Tweet from (@BillMoyersHQ) Voter Suppression (@BillMoyersHQ) tweeted at 6:30 PM on Tue, May 17, 2016:
The path to a Trump victory may be paved with massive voter suppression, @AriBerman reports

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Tweet from Ari Berman (@AriBerman) Auto Voter Registration

Ari Berman (@AriBerman) tweeted at 7:26 PM on Tue, May 17, 2016:
Big story out of Oregon is success of new automatic voter registration law. 51k registered in 4 months

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Tweet from Ari Berman (@AriBerman)MLK SPEECH ON VOTING

Ari Berman (@AriBerman) tweeted at 8:19 AM on Tue, May 17, 2016:
59 years ago today MLK gave first major speech on voting rights, "Give Us the Ballot."

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Meet the Abusive & World's Largest Company You Never Heard of

Tweet from Ari Berman (@AriBerman) 100 Year old Mexican Born Man and 94 Year Old Wife Become US Citizens to Vote Against Trump

Ari Berman (@AriBerman) tweeted at 10:52 AM on Thu, May 26, 2016:
100-year-old Mexican-born man & 94-year-old wife become US citizens to vote against Trump

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Tweet from Ari Berman (@AriBerman) Auto Voter Registration

Ari Berman (@AriBerman) tweeted at 8:20 AM on Wed, May 18, 2016:
.@EricHolder calls for nationwide automatic voter registration. Of 75 million who didn't vote in 2012, 60 mil not registered #AVRforall

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Whole Foods Protests in New York and Los Angeles

NY Daily News, 5/13/16:

"[Matthew] Sandusky plans to attend a May 25 protest in Manhattan in support of two women who say they were raped as teens by one-time rabbinical student Marc Gafni. 'It’s obviously something I feel strongly, passionately about, to be there in person,' Matt Sandusky said. 'I love the opportunity to be there and help out.'"



Abuse Groups to Protest at Whole Foods 365 Launch in LA

Matthew Sandusky to join coordinated protest at Whole Foods in NYC. New York Times reported Whole Foods CEO link to spiritual leader, former rabbi with "troubled past"

PRESS RELEASE  MAY 18, 2016 09:00 EDT
Abuse groups, Jewish leaders to stage coordinated protests at Whole Foods in NYC and LA on May 25 -- to coincide with the chain's first 365 store launch. Matthew Sandusky, founder of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and abused son of pedophile Jerry Sandusky, to join protesters in NYC. Nonprofits SNAP (of Spotlight movie) and NAASCA to join Jewish leaders, protesting Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey's ties to Marc Gafni, former rabbi with "a troubled past," as reported by The New York Times.
New York, New York, May 18, 2016 ("> - ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Matthew Sandusky, founder and Executive Director of Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and the adopted and abused son of former Penn State football coach, convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky, plans to join protesters at Whole Foods Market Upper West Side store in New York City on May 25.
Advocacy groups SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, featured in the movie Spotlight), Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and NAASCA (National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse)​ are joining forces with New York Rabbi David Ingber of Romemu. The informal coalition plans to lead coordinated protests at Whole Foods in Manhattan, and at the highly anticipated launch of the first 365 by Whole Foods Market store in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles on May 25.
Whole Foods' public statement, 'there's nothing else to say on this matter' could not be more incorrect. For far too long we have allowed child sex abuse to remain in the shadows of silence. Perpetrators groom their victims into silence and society has reinforced that silence. John Mackey and the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors have an opportunity to reach millions with an important message.
The protests are in response to Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey's link to spiritual leader Marc Gafni, a former rabbi with a "troubled past," as reported by The New York Times in December:
"A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni 'a bold visionary.' He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni's center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch."
And of one of his accusers, "He [Gafni] added, 'She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.'"
After The Times story broke, Rabbi Ingber led a petition drive, co-authored by more than 100 rabbis and Jewish leaders, demanding that Whole Foods sever ties with Gafni, citing "many, repeated and serious allegations, both public and private, former and recent." 
Sara Kabakov came forward publicly for the first time in her opinion piece in The Forward: "I Was 13 When Marc Gafni's Abuse Began." Mackey has been widely criticized by expertsin business, academia, and survivors' advocacy work. 
Mackey's only statement, posted on his Whole Foods Market blog, says his affiliation with Gafni is "strictly a personal relationship," and includes a link to their 7-part video dialogue on Gafni's website. Whole Foods has made a parallel statement on Twitterand Facebook, defining Mackey's relationship with Gafni as "his personal business." A spokesperson for Whole Foods Market emailed: “John no longer serves on Mr. Gafni’s board and has no connection to the Center for Integral Wisdom. That being said, there’s nothing else to say on this matter.”
But leaders working to eradicate child sexual abuse think Mackey needs to say more. Survivor, author, and advocate Nikki DuBose wrote in The Huffington Post, "It’s no secret that survivors live in silence, and society has a responsibility to help end that."
The NY Daily News reported:
"[Matthew] Sandusky plans to attend a May 25 protest [at Whole Foods] in Manhattan in support of two women who say they were sexually abused as teens by one-time rabbinical student Marc Gafni. 'It’s obviously something I feel strongly, passionately about, to be there in person,' Matt Sandusky said. 'I love the opportunity to be there and help out.'"
David Clohessy, Executive Director of SNAP, from their press release:
"We disagree with the public relations staffer who claims 'there's nothing else to say on this matter.' If you've hurt people, distancing yourself from a wrongdoer isn't enough. You have a moral duty to do more. We hope to see tangible helpful action by Mackey very soon to lessen the harm he has caused by his irresponsible affiliation with and support for an admitted sex offender."
Bill Murray, founder and CEO of NAASCA:
"As a community, we need to bring light into the shadows of the taboo issues of child sexual abuse -- we must expose institutional enabling to stop the silence and change the culture. Instead of stepping out of this discussion, Whole Foods should publicly step up to the plate by taking a responsible corporate stand against child sexual abuse as soon as possible."
Matthew Sandusky, founder and Executive Director, Peaceful Hearts Foundation, and author ofUndaunted: Breaking My Silence to Overcome the Trauma of Child Sexual Abuse:
"Whole Foods' public statement, 'there's nothing else to say on this matter' could not be more incorrect. For far too long we have allowed child sex abuse to remain in the shadows of silence. Instead of maintaining the societal norm of silence around these issues, I would like to see them take a stand against child sexual abuse publicly -- to take a leadership role in getting the message across that we can no longer remain silent."
# # #
Response from The New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet is below.

Thanks so much for including me on your show and in your very important work!

Oh, and here's my story about getting reamed by Doug Rauch, co-CEO of Conscious Capitalism:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dean Baquet <>
Date: Sun, May 22, 2016 at 10:03 AM
Subject: Re: Why hasn't NYT reported news of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Child Victims Act?

Only someone quite paranoid would see such a connection. But thanks for calling this to my attention.

Sent from my iPhone

Dear Mr. Baquet,

I hope this email finds you well.

I am curious about why The New York Times has not reported on what seems to be a newsworthy story -- New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo backing proposed legislation of the Child Victims Act, led by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey:

Child sexual abuse survivor Sara Kabakov is working with Assemblywoman Markey to help champion this legislation. Ms. Kabakov came forward publicly for the first time, identifying herself as the 14-year old subject of this quote in The New York Times on December 25, 2015:

"Mr. Gafni was quoted saying they had been in love. He added, “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”

Also reported in The Times December 25 story, Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey's relationship with Marc Gafni:

"A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni “a bold visionary.” He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni’scenter, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch."

NYT Publisher and Chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger's wife Gabrielle Greene Sulzberger sits on the Whole Foods Market board of directors. According to 7/20/15 proxy statement, Mrs. Sulzberger’s 2014 Whole Foods Market cash compensation was $422,049. According to 6/18/15 SEC reporting, Mrs. Sulzberger held 64,666 shares of WFM stock, valued at approximately $2 million.

I am not saying there is a causal relationship between The Times absence of reporting on the Child Victims Act and the Sulzberger family financial interests in Whole Foods Market. But to assuage any remote concern about conflict of interest, I would like to invite The Times to closely consider what it deems newsworthy, both on the Child Victims Act, and this follow-up to The Times 12/25 story, about coordinated protests at Whole Foods in NYC and Los Angeles, May 25:

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Nancy Levine

Saturday, May 21, 2016

10 Things You Need to Know About Institutional Enabling of Child Sexual Abuse - Progress in the World Radio Show

Sunday 22 May 2016
10 AM Pacific

Call in number 310-861-2349

Walter Davis Producer  - Dr. Jill Jones-Soderman – Co – Host 
Nancy Levine – Guest

10 Things You Need to Know About Institutional Enabling of Child Sexual Abuse

We will discuss:

Social Savagery/ Absence of A Social Moral Consciousness – Family Court Facilitation

Children Transferred Into The Hands Of Abusers With:

No Due Process
No Representation
No Credibility
No Protection

Societal Attitudes Toward Child Sexual Abuse

Institutional Tolerance of Sexual Abuse &
    Other Forms Of Abuse Of Children

Willingness to Discredit Children Who Come
     Forward With Claims Of Sexual Abuse

Active Punishment of Children Who Protest Abuse

Authoritarian/Paternalistic Attitudes that Support Abuse

Contact Dr. Jill Jones Soderman

Monday, May 16, 2016

12 Warning Signs of Fascism

1. Exuberant Nationalism
2. Enemies Identified
3. Rights Disappear
4. Secrecy Demanded
5. Military Glorified
6. Corporations Shielded
7. Corruption Unchecked
8. Media Controlled
9. Rampant Sexism
10. Intellectual Bullying
11. Police Militarized
12. Elections Stolen

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Charles Stecker: A Case of Child Abuse and Survival


a case of child abuse & survival

Original Article:

Charles displayed his first acts of courage and heroism at the tender age of 4 years old by attempting to rescue his 2 year old brother.
While being brutally beaten himself-resulting in a permanently disfigured arm-he did all he could to save his brother, tragically it wasn't enough. The woman who murdered his brother and critically injured Charles had another child die in her care just 10 months prior, she never went to trial for either death or her assault on Charles. He has made it his life long personal quest to seek justice for not only his brother but all abused and murdered children. Click on the link below and read a compelling front cover news story that took the reporter six pages to encapsulate. You will learn of his lifelong journey for answers and you will be astounded at the "yet to be determined" outcome. read more here >>

This site was created as a tribute to Li'l Eddie read more>>

All through his early childhood and then through his teen years, Charles was abused in every way possible. He constantly lost family, friends and belongings. He was consistently moved from home to home leaving him feeling unwanted and unloved. He was never able to get a solid education or establish himself in a community. He was failed by his birth parents, the child welfare system, the justice system and by society as a whole. As a young man he joined the U. S. Coast Guard which aided in developing his character and leadership skills. He was honorably discharged after serving his term and is a proud veteran. Some of the issues from his childhood followed him into adulthood. Broken relationships and shallow friendships were the norm. As a result of an unwanted divorce for which he accepts his responsibility, he is estranged from his daughter and diligently attempts to bridge that gap. He's lost two other children, one to abortion and the other to adoption. Financial blunders from failed business attempts and a hopscotch type employment record are now part of his history.

With a take charge attitude Charles was able to turn his life around, overcoming his past and bringing victory not only into his life but to the lives of others as well. He has conquered addictions and low self worth. He credits the success to his mountain moving faith in God and his own willingness to do the necessary work. His absolute refusal to allow the negativity of the past keep him from a positive future is what sets him apart from others. He enjoys inspiring the youth of today, encouraging them to become the leaders of tomorrow. He brings a message of faith, hope and love to all asking for no sympathy. What he does ask though is that you be open to learning something from his experiences. His desire is to empower each individual he interacts with. His fervent hope is that a positive change will happen in your life, family and community through YOU.

When it comes to assisting anyone that may have experienced abuse he exemplifies the definition of a true servant. He has been a speaker at many seminars and rallies locally, nationally and internationally. He will tell you with a smile on his face that he has spoken from outside the White House to inside the out house and he truly has. Charles is a dynamic speaker who serves others through his thought provoking true life personal stories. His never ending fight to bring abusers to justice along with integrating rehabilitation in that process has gained him global recognition. His diverse cross cultural and multidisciplinary expertise is sought after. He has been featured on many radio talk shows, television shows, and in newspaper articles. In 2012 he was recognized as a "Difference Maker" in Philadelphia PA. for his child and community advocacy efforts. Read about it:

Charles practices Soul Centered Leadership as the Founder and Director of the International Child Abuse Prevention Task Force Inc. Where he combats crimes committed against children around the world, along the way reuniting families whenever possible. Through Chahlie's Angels, Llc, ( Yes Chahlie with 2 h's) he is an Empowering Speaker and Authority on Overcoming Adversity. He established this company as a living memorial to his brother. He has encouraged numerous people from all walks of life to heal from the traumatic effects of childhood abuse through his solution based approach.

Charles is a Hero to Multitudes, a Children's Rights Warrior, and a Parental Responsibility Advocate. In addition he is a Community Leader, Activist and Volunteer. This is a partial list of the organizations he now is a member of: The Child Welfare League of America, The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, The National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, Protecting Canadian Children, Children Without A Voice, , Community Partners 4 Kids, Stand Up For Kids and Shriner's International.

Charles' shares this Pearl of Wisdom: "The majority of choices in your childhood were chosen for you. All of your adulthood choices are chosen by you. Take personal responsibility for your choices and choose wisely"

Submitted by Charles J. Stecker Jr.

Charles Stecker: Philadelphia Man Seeks Answers 44 Years After Witnessing Brother's Foster -Care Death

Original Philidelphia Weekly Story Link

Philadelphia Man Seeks Answers 44 Years After Witnessing Brother’s Foster-Care Death

Charles Steck­er was only 4 years old when he saw his foster moth­er kill his 2-year-old broth­er Ed­die, but he re­mem­bers it like it was yes­ter­day. “She came in our room. There was a plastic pin in the crib,” re­calls Steck­er, re­fer­ring to a bowl­ing pin, a part of a chil­dren’s toy bowl­ing kit. “She picked [the bowl­ing pin] up and swung it at him and told him to shut his fuck­ing mouth. When she hit him she caught him in the back of his head.”
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Charles Steck­er was only 4 years old when he saw his foster moth­er kill his 2-year-old broth­er Ed­die, but he re­mem­bers it like it was yes­ter­day.
“[She] put my broth­er to bed and he was cry­ing pro­fusely. [Ed­die] was prob­ably in pain be­cause he was beat up,” says Steck­er, who re­mem­bers ly­ing in a bed a few feet away as his foster moth­er, Lil­lian Bed­ford, placed his broth­er in a crib, walked down­stairs and star­ted chat­ting on the tele­phone.
Steck­er watched his foster moth­er re­turn to the boys’ room, agit­ated by what she de­scribed as Ed­die’s per­sist­ent “squalling,” the Phil­adelphia In­quirer later re­por­ted.
“She came in our room. There was a plastic pin in the crib,” re­calls Steck­er, re­fer­ring to a bowl­ing pin, a part of a chil­dren’s toy bowl­ing kit. “She picked [the bowl­ing pin] up and swung it at him and told him to shut his fuck­ing mouth. When she hit him she caught him in the back of his head.”
Vari­ous news­pa­pers re­por­ted a second blow. Either way, Ed­die toppled out of the crib.
“His head bounced off the floor,” Steck­er says. “I jumped out of bed, went over and was hold­ing him … I re­mem­ber blood com­ing out of his ears and nose.”
Ed­die’s brain hem­or­rhaged. He was dy­ing.
As Steck­er, now 48, re­lays the life-de­fin­ing in­cid­ent, sen­tences flow like wa­ter­falls, peppered with de­tails culled from a memory bolstered by news­pa­per clip­pings, birth and death cer­ti­fic­ates that he car­ries around in a folder. Today, he’s also car­ry­ing a baby book with locks of Ed­die’s hair Scotch-taped to a page.
“It’s hor­rible,” says Steck­er. “Some­times I wish I nev­er re­membered any­thing.”
Steck­er says he held on to his broth­er even as his foster mom was “beat­ing me to get me off of him.” Fi­nally, she yanked him so force­fully the bones in his left arm broke—he would nev­er straight­en his arm again. Doc­tors sug­ges­ted re-break­ing and re-set­ting the bones when he was 18, but he re­fused.
News ac­counts later re­vealed that Bed­ford ti­died the floor be­fore tend­ing to the dy­ing baby. Then, Steck­er says, “she … car­ried [Ed­die] to the bath­room put him in the tub try­ing to rinse the blood off. I re­mem­ber her mak­ing a phone call; then the po­lice were there.”
Two-year-old Ed­ward John Steck­er was pro­nounced dead at Ger­man­town Hos­pit­al at 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 28, 1967. The death cer­ti­fic­ate lists the cause of death as “sub­dur­al hem­or­rhage, bi­lat­er­al.” Un­der “cir­cum­stances of sig­ni­fic­ant in­jury,” one word is typed in all caps: BEATEN. Ed­die’s fu­ner­al at St. Leo’s Ro­man Cath­ol­ic Church in Ta­cony was widely re­por­ted. He was bur­ied hug­ging a teddy bear—a gift from his big broth­er—in a small white cas­ket in Holy Sep­ulchre Cemetery. The city’s Wel­fare De­part­ment paid for the fu­ner­al and buri­al plot.
Dec­ades later, Steck­er is still try­ing to fig­ure out what happened: How did he and his broth­er end up in the hands of a killer foster mom, and what happened to her after Ed­die’s death? “The ul­ti­mate goal is for me to be able to an­swer the ques­tion of what happened to the wo­man who killed my broth­er,” he says.
“It’s been hid­den,” the South Philly res­id­ent con­tin­ues. “Every time I would try [to find out what happened], I’d run in­to brick walls.”
“I was look­ing through the po­lice, city re­cords. Every­one said, ‘There’s noth­ing on this case, it doesn’t ex­ist.’”
But every day, he re­mem­bers it. As if by im­possibly rap­id evol­u­tion, Steck­er has a tal­ent, maybe even a need, for de­tails. He rattles off full names, spellings, dates and times. The ever-ex­pand­ing file he car­ries around with him re­veals a one-man de­tect­ive try­ing to solve the mys­tery of his own life.
Steck­er, who grew up be­ing called Chuck­ie, goes by Chah­lie now, pro­nounced and spelled with the H. With a shaved head, beard, tat­toos and a gold hoop ear­ring, he looks like a TV act­or typecast as either the street-wise, get-the-job-done cop or a corner tough; the loud­mouth who starts the bar fight. But he’s none of those things. His brown eyes are kind.
“I can’t get angry,” he shrugs. “I’d like to ex­per­i­ence it. I’m a little afraid of it. I get hurt, but … I don’t have an­ger and rage. I nev­er had those things.” The only time his eyes well up is when he men­tions how Frank Rizzo, Philly’s po­lice com­mis­sion­er in 1967, once picked him up and hugged him, re­mem­ber­ing him at the scene of the crime. “We re­mained friends un­til the end of his life,” says Steck­er, voice crack­ing.
Over the years, Steck­er has made many at­tempts to dig up re­cords to fill in the blind spots: Did his foster moth­er get away with murder? Why ex­actly were he and his sib­lings en­trus­ted to the City of Phil­adelphia to be­gin with? All he knew, and not even for sure, is that “nobody ever served a day in jail” for killing his broth­er or shat­ter­ing his bones. There was “no court re­cord, no ar­rest re­cord, no re­cord of it ever hap­pen­ing,” he says.
Find­ing out about his past has be­come ur­gent for Steck­er be­cause after spend­ing his adult life work­ing a string of jobs—man­aging a Roy Ro­gers, truck driv­ing, ca­ter­ing—and rais­ing a daugh­ter in New Jer­sey, he says he had a spir­itu­al epi­phany that led him to move back to Phil­adelphia, where he wants to spend the rest of his life work­ing as an ad­voc­ate, as a voice for the voice­less.
“I came back to Phil­adelphia with the in­ten­tion, I didn’t have any dir­ec­tion mind you, but the in­ten­tion and de­sire to bring at­ten­tion to child-ab­use pre­ven­tion and aware­ness.”
Be­fore his spir­itu­al awaken­ing, Steck­er vowed nev­er to step foot any­where near his birth­place. “Phil­adelphia has no good memor­ies for me,” he says. “When I left in 1981, I swore I’d nev­er come back.” He was 18 when he lit­er­ally walked over the bridge to New Jer­sey, then joined the Coast Guard. Then five years ago, he says he was nudged by a di­vine call­ing. Then he read the book A Child Named It, the auto­bi­o­graphy of a severely ab­used child, and it in­spired him to re­turn to Philly, face his demons and find the truth. Since then, he’s been do­ing reneg­ade gigs, like help­ing foster chil­dren find their birth moth­ers. He re­cently spoke at a Chica­go Baby James Found­a­tion event, at­tends ral­lies and works with a group called Stan­dUp for Kids. He’s work­ing on cre­at­ing a non­profit called Chah­lie’s An­gel, in hon­or of his broth­er Ed­die. Cur­rently un­em­ployed, Steck­er says he’s spend­ing his $300-a-week be­ne­fits check on build­ing a web­site and ap­ply­ing for non-profit status.
“There’s a reas­on I walked through all this and I should be us­ing this for a pur­pose.”
But for Steck­er, help­ing oth­er people be­gins with shar­ing his own story. And to share it, he has to know it first.
Three years ago, he star­ted show­ing up at PPD headquar­ters (the Round­house), City Hall, Fam­ily Court, Temple Uni­versity Lib­rary, the Free Lib­rary of Phil­adelphia, the De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices of­fice and the Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice. He has even met with the Vidocq So­ci­ety, Philly’s secret cold-case club.
In Oc­to­ber 2008, Steck­er got a gig as an “am­bas­sad­or” (“AKA se­cur­ity,” he snorts) at the Uni­on League, an old-school ex­clus­ive mem­bers-only club on 15th and Moravi­an streets, where the chic and elite meet up and a pi­ano man plays to an empty hall­way. He wanted the job be­cause he real­ized it was a ro­lo­dex of power­ful Phil­adelphi­ans.
“Po­lice chiefs are in there, politi­cians. I thought, wow, what an op­por­tun­ity!”
Steck­er talked to any­one who would listen, both co-work­ers and guests about his ex­per­i­ences, his dream of help­ing oth­ers and his search for the miss­ing pieces of his story. Along the way, he met many fam­ous people: con­tro­ver­sial former U.S. Mar­ine Corps Of­ficer Oliv­er North, Su­preme Court Justice Clar­ence Thomas, Black Hawk Downau­thor Mark Bowden. He asked them all for help.
When he ar­rived at work one day in March last year, he found a sheet of Uni­on League note­pad pa­per on his desk. Scribbled on it was a court dock­et num­ber. Steck­er still doesn’t know who gave it to him.
“Once I got this, I’m like a pit­bull, I dug in­to this and I wasn’t let­ting go. I felt like something crazy was go­ing on, like who’s hid­ing what?”
 A buddy in the PPD used the dock­et num­ber to dig up the ar­rest re­cord.
“They gave me the ar­rest re­cord num­ber of the re­cord that the city said didn’t ex­ist.”
“I took this to the city and they said they still couldn’t find the re­cord. I said, ‘I have the ar­rest re­cord num­ber how could you say it didn’t ex­ist?’”
An­oth­er brick wall.
But then Steck­er had three chance en­coun­ters with former Dis­trict At­tor­ney Lynne Ab­ra­ham. Steck­er ran­domly met Ab­ra­ham at a be­ne­fit event for vic­tims of vi­ol­ence and then again at the Uni­on League. He felt he made some pro­gress with Ab­ra­ham but then he was fired for reas­ons he says he is form­ally dis­put­ing. “The doors were clos­ing again,” he says.
“[Then] I’m at Bor­ders one day, and who’s stand­ing in front of me but Lynne Ab­ra­ham?” Steck­er says.
She agreed to help. Ab­ra­ham, who doesn’t re­mem­ber Steck­er—“I meet lots of people lots of places,” she says, adding that she’s “thrilled” if she was “able to help him”—re­ferred Steck­er to Ann Ponterio, at­tor­ney and chief of the Phil­adelphia Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s hom­icide di­vi­sion. Ponterio re­ferred him to De­tect­ive Robert Byrne, who de­clined to com­ment for this story through a D.A. spokes­per­son.
“This was only three months ago,” says Steck­er. “De­tect­ive Byrne calls me with­in 24 hours of my phone call to Ann.”
“With­in a week of our ini­tial in­ter­ac­tions, [Byrne] calls me again and has the court re­cords,” Steck­er says. “[Now] all of a sud­den ar­rest re­cords are found, court re­cords found. I’m ex­cited. Fi­nally.”
Steck­er holds up his cell phone to show the re­cord of the call from Byrne. “I lit­er­ally found the out­come of [Bed­ford’s] case out yes­ter­day,” he says. “Tues­day, April 25, 2011, 10:18 a.m.”
Byrne “told me sev­er­al things I didn’t already know,” says Steck­er. “He told me that [Bed­ford] nev­er went be­fore tri­al … which would ex­plain why the court it­self couldn’t find re­cords. [Byrne] only found the in­vest­ig­a­tion re­cords. It was presen­ted be­fore the court, but her at­tor­ney kept hav­ing it post­poned.”
“Every time after that it was that she was men­tally un­fit to stand tri­al. She nev­er ap­peared in court again, he couldn’t find where she was re­manded to psy­chi­at­ric treat­ment by the court.”
One of the last art­icles cov­er­ing the case states that on March 4, 1967, Lil­lian Bed­ford was sent to Nor­ris­town State Hos­pit­al by or­der of Judge Stan­ley M. Green­berg. The hos­pit­al can’t, of course, con­firm pa­tients’ re­cords due to fed­er­al law.
“Charles can’t ob­tain the re­cords,” says D.A. spokes­wo­man Tasha Jamer­son. “I know that De­tect­ive Byrne read him in­form­a­tion over the phone but as for phys­ic­ally ob­tain­ing the re­cords, that’s not something any­body can do.”
Byrne con­firmed for Steck­er that Lil­lian Bed­ford died on Jan. 2, 1998.
About the out­come: “It is what it is,” Steck­er sighs. “All my life I had been told noth­ing ever happened to [Lil­lian Bed­ford], but I nev­er fully be­lieved it. It wasn’t a shock, I don’t have any an­im­os­ity—she’s passed away. It was a bit of clos­ure at least, fi­nally hear­ing it dir­ectly from someone who saw the re­cord. Now I know for sure.”
 Now for the oth­er puzzle piece: find­ing out how he and his broth­er ended up in Bed­ford’s care. Between the bits of doc­u­ment­a­tion he ob­tained and his moth­er’s and fath­er’s ac­counts, Steck­er has tried to piece to­geth­er his past, but his par­ents, who di­vorced shortly after Ed­die’s death, of­fer con­flict­ing ver­sions of many events.
Steck­er was born in now-de­mol­ished Nav­al Hos­pit­al Phil­adelphia in 1962, the first-born son of 21-year-old Mar­ie Steck­er (now Smith). His moth­er had a troubled child­hood: Her par­ents died when she was 9 years old, then her grand­moth­er died when she was 12. She was ad­op­ted by an aunt. “My life went down­hill after that,” says Smith, 70, from her home in Vir­gin­ia. Smith grew up in the Straw­berry Man­sion sec­tion of the city down the street from Steck­er’s fath­er and name­sake, Charles Joseph Steck­er Sr. After run­ning away and spend­ing the bet­ter part of her teen years in a school for troubled girls, she mar­ried Steck­er. He was a cook with the Coast Guard.
Right away they had Charles. Two years later, Ed­ward [Ed­die] John was born, fol­lowed by a baby girl named Donna. Pa­ging through the Steck­er fam­ily baby books, you wouldn’t guess the tra­gic turn their lives would take. The pen­man­ship looks like a teen­ager’s lop­sided scrawl. “Charlie, Jr. loves his broth­er Ed­die very much. He es­pe­cially likes to hold him with my help of course,” wrote a then 23-year-old Smith on a page re­served for her son’s “Year Two” mile­stone. Smith di­li­gently re­cor­ded de­tails such as the child’s fa­vor­ite ve­get­ables and first at­tempts at stand­ing up. The book reads like the re­cord of an at­tent­ive, lov­ing moth­er.
“It seems that way, doesn’t it?” says Steck­er, star­ing at the page. “I don’t know, maybe she was try­ing then.”
But the book, like the rest of the doc­u­ments, doesn’t tell the whole story.
“By the time I was a year old, my [birth] mom had frac­tured my skull. By the time I was 2, she had knocked out a few teeth,” says Steck­er. Un­der a page titled ‘Ill­nesses’ there are three frac­tured skull entries. “Fell out of crib on head” is marked 4/63, “clum­si­ness” is marked 11/65. A third entry in dif­fer­ent ink says “fell.”
Steck­er be­lieves the city in­ter­vened. “DHS got in­volved be­cause the Navy hos­pit­al caught the fact that I was com­ing back [to the hos­pit­al with in­jur­ies] routinely,” he says.
His moth­er in­sists it didn’t hap­pen that way; that he shouldn’t be­lieve what the pa­pers say be­cause they nev­er talked to her. “He thinks the state took him, no they did not,” coun­ters Smith, who says she signed him over vol­un­tar­ily, though she ac­cuses her ex-hus­band of trick­ing her in­to giv­ing up cus­tody of her first-born son.
“They put a pa­per in front of me and my ex-hus­band had already signed it,” says Smith. “I didn’t think to ask, ‘what’s this I’m sign­ing?’ I signed my son over.”
“They said something about ab­use, I said fine,” she adds. “Then it just snow­balled after that.”
Smith denies beat­ing her son. “There was an ac­ci­dent that happened and yes he was hurt,” she says over the phone. “Chuck had fallen and to this day I can­not re­mem­ber what happened.”
While Smith denies spe­cif­ic al­leg­a­tions of ab­use, she will ad­mit to the pos­sib­il­ity of phys­ic­al ab­use in gen­er­al terms—with the caveat that she wasn’t alone.
“What had happened at that time was not done by me alone, it was done by his fath­er too,” she says, mak­ing the point re­peatedly. Smith feels she shoulders too much of the blame from the fam­ily for everything that’s gone wrong.
Mean­while Donna, who lives in New Jer­sey, be­lieves a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the story. “I was put in foster care when I was two months old be­cause ba­sic­ally my butt looked like raw ham­burger,” she says. She also says her fath­er told her that her moth­er broke her eardrum. “I’ve nev­er been able to hear out of it, and I’m as­sum­ing that’s true,” she says. (“She’s ly­ing,” says Smith.)
The dec­ades-long dis­pute over how the Steck­er chil­dren ended up in foster care—and sub­sequently Ed­die’s death and the fal­lout—has poisoned the Steck­er fam­ily tree.
“There’s a whole big thing go­ing on in the fam­ily here … [It] stems back to Ed­die’s death,” says Smith. “And I can’t get all the pieces to­geth­er.”
Donna re­fuses to speak to Steck­er.
“[She doesn’t] like the fact that I talk about what happened.”
Donna doesn’t speak to either of her par­ents. Steck­er vis­its his bio­lo­gic­al fath­er every few months out of “ob­lig­a­tion,” but says he can’t stand it.
“He wants to tell you about things you did wrong since the day you were born,” says Steck­er. “Here’s a man di­vorced from my moth­er for 46 years and he’s still com­plain­ing about things she did when they were mar­ried. ‘Can you be­lieve she shel­lacked my bon­gos?’ This was a few months ago!”
The fam­ily situ­ation be­came “volat­ile” when Steck­er first star­ted post­ing his story on the In­ter­net in the early days of de­cid­ing to be­come an ad­voc­ate.
“I put the story on MySpace about five years ago and all hell broke loose.”
Steck­er says Donna stopped talk­ing to him “when I told her what I was do­ing with all this stuff … [She] said I was do­ing everything I was do­ing for per­son­al gain.”
“I know this sounds hor­rible but he’s been us­ing my broth­er’s death for years as a means of get­ting at­ten­tion,” says Donna. “It was a tragedy, but he needs to let it rest. He’s de­vot­ing his life to his broth­er Ed­die … I per­son­ally think it’s wrong. If this is his way of deal­ing with it, then he can deal with it but I said, ‘Leave me out of it. My ab­use days are over.’”
Steck­er didn’t see or speak to his moth­er for about 14 years, though they re­cently star­ted com­mu­nic­at­ing via text mes­sage, fre­quently quib­bling over the de­tails of bio­graph­ic­al in­form­a­tion he posts on his page.
“I said, ‘Chuck you’re mak­ing me look like trash on Face­book and I don’t like that, be­cause that’s not he way it happened,’” says Smith.
Still, she says she sup­ports her son and wants to bridge the gap. She says she hopes he finds the re­cords, to settle some scores. She also sup­ports his dream of be­ing a voice for oth­er ab­used kids.
“Chuck is try­ing to do what he couldn’t do for him­self [as a kid],” Smith says.
Phil­adelphia foster and ad­op­tion re­cords from the late 1800s to 1970 are stored in urb­an archives sec­tion of Temple Uni­versitys’s lib­rary. Last week, Steck­er met with rep­res­ent­at­ives of Turn­ing Points for Chil­dren, the agency cre­ated when Chil­dren’s Aid So­ci­ety and Phil­adelphia So­ci­ety for Ser­vices to Chil­dren merged, re­quest­ing per­mis­sion to ob­tain his re­cord. In a few weeks, he’ll have an­oth­er an­swer, but not all the an­swers. They will re­lease his re­cord to him but not Ed­die’s. Donna says she “could care less.”
When Charles, Ed­ward and Donna first ar­rived in foster care, they were placed to­geth­er with tem­por­ary foster par­ents. Press re­ports in­dic­ate that on Feb. 15, 1967, Charles and Ed­die were moved to the home of Don­ald and Lil­lian Bed­ford at 29 E. Sey­mour St. in Ger­man­town. For whatever reas­on, Smith says, the Bed­fords only wanted boys, so baby Donna stayed be­hind.
Don Bed­ford was a 45-year-old house paint­er; Lil­lian was a 42-year-old house­wife. Mar­ried 13 years, they had no chil­dren of their own. The couple re­ceived $24 a week for each child.
“So­cial work­ers … in­tro­duced us to our new mommy and daddy,” re­calls Steck­er. “When we went in, there were toys and a crib ready for us. It seemed like a good place to be to a 4-year-old.”
“Thir­teen days later, my broth­er was murdered and my left arm was shattered,” he says.
Steck­er ex­tends his arm as far as it can go, about 5 inches shy of straight. Thick dark Hebrew script is tat­tooed onto his fore­arm. It means “true ser­vant,” a concept that sum­mar­izes Steck­er’s life call­ing to help oth­ers. Be­neath the tat­tooed skin, steel pins and plates hold the bones to­geth­er.
Steck­er re­calls be­ing ter­ri­fied at the Bed­ford home. “When [Don] was around everything was peace­ful and nice and friendly, but when he wasn’t [home] she would scare us,” he says. “If you cried, you got hit, whatever you did … it was like … Je­kyll and Hyde.”
“She would hide be­hind the stairs and scare us, grabbing our ankles, yelling ‘Boo­gey­man!’” In in­ter­views with po­lice after Ed­die’s death, little Chuck­ie said his foster moth­er held their heads un­der faucets and beat them with sticks.
“You name it,” says Steck­er. “Go to bed [and you’d be] ripped out of your bed. In the tub, the hot wa­ter faucets would be turned on. Evil stuff.”
Dr. Joseph Spel­man, the city’s med­ic­al ex­am­iner at the time, told au­thor­it­ies that the bruises as­so­ci­ated with “par­ent­al pun­ish­ment” on Ed­die’s body sug­ges­ted that he had been “mis­treated phys­ic­ally” for some time lead­ing up to the fatal blow. “The re­port also in­dic­ated he had been struck re­peatedly for a day or so be­fore his death.”
Lil­lian Bed­ford con­fessed, though not right away.
Ac­cord­ing to a pub­lished ac­count of the events, “Mrs. Bed­ford at first had main­tained that Ed­ward had fallen from his crib, but his broth­er, Charles, told them, ‘My new mommy hit him.’”
Bed­ford was ar­res­ted for in­vol­un­tary man­slaughter and as­sault.
Au­thor Joe Mc­Gin­n­iss, then a pop­u­lar In­quirer colum­nist, wrote the only pub­lic nar­rat­ive of Don Bed­ford’s life after his wife’s ar­rest.
In Mc­Gin­n­iss’ por­trait, Don Bed­ford stag­gers through his day swig­ging whis­key and sob­bing, a broken man who loved his wife and al­ways wanted chil­dren of his own.
“Be­lieve it or not,” Bed­ford told Mc­Gin­n­iss, “She’s a damned fine wo­man. And I wish you could have seen how won­der­ful she was with the kids. She had a nurs­ery school class at our church and the things she did with the chil­dren there were just ter­rif­ic.”
Mc­Gin­n­iss sum­mar­ized the hus­band’s di­lemma. “It was not easy for him to de­cide what to do. At first he hated her. He had waited all his life for chil­dren and she had killed them when they came.”
“He could have walked out and said to hell with her and tried to find a new life, but in­stead he hired the best law­yer he could get.”
The Bed­fords hired A. Charles Per­uto Sr. A loc­al courtroom le­gend, the 84-year-old re­tired at­tor­ney still lives in town.
Steck­er says that he peri­od­ic­ally tried to con­tact Per­uto, and his son, Per­uto Jr.—well-known for rep­res­ent­ing re­puted mob boss Joey Mer­lino—for de­tails of the beat­ing death. “I was told he didn’t want any­thing to do with the case,” says Steck­er. Turns out, Per­uto simply doesn’t re­mem­ber.
“You’re not telling me any­thing that strikes a bell,” says Per­uto dur­ing a re­cent tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion. “I tell you I stopped count­ing murder cases that I’ve had when I hit the ma­gic num­ber 333. Oth­er­wise, you see bod­ies in your sleep, for cry­ing out loud.”
Ran­dolph E. Wise, the Wel­fare De­part­ment com­mis­sion­er in 1967, was widely quoted de­scrib­ing Ed­die Steck­er’s death as “the first of its kind in the his­tory of the city’s foster par­ent pro­gram.”
But in April 1966, an­oth­er 2-year-old died while liv­ing with the Bed­fords and though murder was not proven, it should have been a big enough red flag to dis­qual­i­fy the couple from the foster pro­gram.
Press re­ports in­dic­ate that Brent “Chuck” Gar­cia had suffered a “severe bruise” on his scalp but “the autopsy on the Gar­cia boy failed to de­term­ine either the cause of death or how the child died.” Bed­ford claimed Gar­cia’s death was a res­ult of him ac­ci­dent­ally fall­ing off a rock­ing horse.
The Med­ic­al Ex­am­iner’s Of­fice de­term­ined it could not prove “bey­ond a reas­on­able doubt” that the boy was murdered. A let­ter was sent to the Wel­fare De­part­ment clear­ing the Bed­fords. They were re-re­gistered as foster par­ents. The Steck­er boys ar­rived 10 months later.
“Cleared in ’66 Case, Foster Moth­er Is Held in Death of 2D Child” was the head­line of an In­quirer art­icle re­port­ing that Ed­die’s death ig­nited a fresh look in­to the death of Gar­cia. But after that art­icle, like with Don and Lil­lian Bed­ford, the pub­lic re­cord trail goes cold.
“It’s re­gret­table,” con­tin­ued Wise in the art­icle but, he said, it was “dif­fi­cult to pin­point where we erred.”
Wise ad­mit­ted that his de­part­ment did not see Gar­cia’s autopsy re­port and took the med­ic­al ex­am­iner’s ex­on­er­a­tion of the Bed­fords, who passed a back­ground check, “at face value.”
Steck­er can’t get over the neg­li­gence. “What happened to my broth­er is bad enough,” he says. “But the level of ir­re­spons­ib­il­ity on the part of the city to put two more boys in the care of people who had a ques­tion­able re­cord is, at best, mind-bog­gling.”
Steck­er re­calls be­ing told about his broth­er’s death while re­cov­er­ing at the hos­pit­al from the broken bones in­flic­ted by his foster mom. His tiny body—he was al­ways a small child for his age, “a pea­nut” he says—was en­cased in thick plaster casts.
“My nat­ur­al fath­er had no bed­side man­ner. He said, ‘your broth­er’s dead.’ At 4, what dead meant to me, I don’t know.”
After get­ting out of the hos­pit­al and then re­hab, four months after Ed­die’s death, in June of 1967, Steck­er was re­united with his sis­ter Donna at an orphan­age in the Frank­ford sec­tion of Phil­adelphia. That Au­gust, they were placed with the Brophy fam­ily in Over­brook, where they spent five and a half “awe­some” years. “They are part of the reas­on I am who I am today,” says Steck­er. But he had to leave. In the sixth grade, he was sent to live with the Koguts in May­fair for a year. Then in 1974 he was sent to St. Fran­cis Home for Boys for two years. At the time, the pro­gram was run by Fath­er Peter Dunne, who was later dia­gnosed as an “un­treat­able pe­do­phile.”
In Ju­ly 1976, 13-year-old Steck­er was re­turned to his bio­lo­gic­al moth­er—a bad de­cision he says.
“I re­mem­ber the verbal ab­use and threats, ‘You should have died with your broth­er,’” says Steck­er.
Asked about this al­leg­a­tion, Smith loses her cool.
“That I will dis­pute! … I would nev­er wish any of my kids dead. I’m a very calm per­son. I’ve got a bad side too that I left in Phil­adelphia.”
The list of al­leg­a­tions Steck­er has against his moth­er is long: She kicked him in the groin so hard he re­quired sur­gery; she made him watch por­no­graphy with one of her boy­friends; she at­tacked a friend and broke his ankle. Smith has a re­sponse for each epis­ode: Her son had sur­gery to cor­rect a con­gen­it­al de­fect; she doesn’t al­low porn in her house and if she did it wouldn’t have been where the kids could see it; if she broke a kid’s ankle, he would’ve sued her, wouldn’t he?
“I don’t want to make my son out to be a li­ar,” she says. “I wasn’t the per­fect par­ent. At that point my frame of mind was not the way it was sup­posed to be.”
At 18 years old, pushed to the brink, Steck­er left his moth­er’s house for good. He joined the Coast Guard. As a young adult, he lived a reg­u­lar-enough life: He met a wo­man, he fell in love, got mar­ried, had a baby, got di­vorced, got mar­ried and di­vorced again. He lived in New Jer­sey to be near his daugh­ter, swear­ing he would nev­er aban­don her.
He tried to be a nor­mal per­son, but he says the bur­den of his ex­per­i­ences shined through in small, odd ways. “It was [while] watch­ing the news, read­ing the news­pa­pers and see­ing my life ex­per­i­ences still hap­pen­ing around me and feel­ing in­ca­pa­cit­ated to do any­thing,” he says. He won­ders if what he wit­nessed af­fected him in ways he doesn’t real­ize. “I al­ways say if I had to kill to eat, I would be a ve­get­ari­an … I don’t do dead. Me and dead just don’t work out. Maybe that stems back to what happened to my broth­er.”
After grow­ing up hop-scotch­ing through houses that were nev­er quite homes, Steck­er’s back in Phil­adelphia liv­ing just blocks from the de­mol­ished hos­pit­al where he was born.
This past Feb. 28, 44 years to the day of Ed­die’s death, Steck­er re­turned to the house on Sey­mour Street. The own­er, who knows Steck­er from his plant­ing flowers along the fence every year, let him look around in­side. The house is be­ing gut­ted for renov­a­tion, but the own­er set the bathtub where Bed­ford washed the blood off Ed­die aside for Steck­er. He wants to use it as a plant­er on his lawn in South Philly.
“I felt at peace,” he says about walk­ing through the house. “When I walked out of the house I al­most felt en­er­gized, like I was 20 feet tall, to find out the end­ing of that por­tion, move on.”
Steck­er’s ex­cited about the new phase of his life. He’s in the pro­cess of get­ting Chah­lie’s An­gel up and run­ning, then en­vi­sions a book, a movie. He’s not giv­ing up on the pa­per chase, on find­ing the puzzle pieces that will al­low him to fi­nally view the big pic­ture. “I’m work­ing on get­ting re­cords re­leased to me,” he says. “I want that file … it’s just the mat­ter of mak­ing the right friends, and I will.” Steck­er says after all these years, he’s fi­nally ready. He knows bet­ter than to ex­pect a tidy res­ol­u­tion like clos­ure or justice. All he wants is in­form­a­tion.