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Uncovering child abuse and protecting our young is a very important issue that we hear little about in the press. One man has made it his life's mission to help bring attention cover-ups and lack of proper protection of the abused to the awareness of state and federal officials. This hero has endured a rocky road for the last 25 years in his pursuit to right this wrong in society.
Dr. James Singer has been a psychologist for over 20 years. His practice and life was very normal and prosperous in Central Pennsylvania until one night in 1986.
Singer was working as a psychologist at the DuBois Regional Medical Center in DuBois, Pa. After a family therapy session with the family of patient, Singer said the patient's sister revealed to him that she was being sexually abused by her father.
After the victim also revealed the abuse to the attending physician, Singer said that he reported the abuse to the state’s Child Protective Services agency.
Dr. Singer, as a required mandated reporter, advised the appropriate authorities. Not only was his report ignored, but soon after, in retaliation, the Pennsylvania Psychology Board prosecuted Singer, put him on probation, but eventually suspended his license to practice psychology, to retaliate after he filed an appeal to expose crimes, later confirmed by a state police lieutenant.
And according to a letter written by the alleged victim to Singer, she credits him with saving her life.
“I told her [the CPS case worker] that I went to Dr. Singer three weeks ago and asked him for help. I told her that if it weren’t for him, I’d be dead right now. She asked why and I told her I’d run away or commit suicide or both.”
Singer said he wasn’t merely duty bound by medical ethics and humanity to report the abuse, but by the law.
“I would have been prosecuted if I didn’t report the abuse,” Singer said.
Instead, Singer said his name was leaked not only to the abuser but some of his other patients. In 1991, speaking anonymously to a local investigative reporter about Singer’s case, here’s what an individual that also reported child abuse recalled CPS agents saying to her:
“They [CPS officials] kept pressuring me to say something against him [Singer] and I kept telling them I didn’t know him. They then proceeded to tell me that Dr. Singer had reported child abuse.
In the same report, a female patient, also given anonymity, also claimed that CPS officials attempted to pressure her into saying bad things against Singer.
As a psychologist and medical professional, Singer was mandated to report the abuse. By law, a failure to report would result in criminal and civil penalties. As a mandated reporter, he was also due protections like anonymity.
In an April 12, 1994 letter from then Congressman Tom Ridge to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, Ridge cited Singer’s case, noting that: “Mandated reporters fear retaliation, and their fear is legitimate enough that they are willing to risk children’s lives by ignoring the abuse.”
Last year, a news story pointed to Singer’s case as one reason why Pennsylvania has the lowest rate of reported child abuse in the nation. “Pennsylvania remains a statistical outlier in when it determines a child has been a victim of child abuse — 1.2 per 1,000 Pennsylvania children were victims of child abuse in 2011 whereas nationally 9.1 per 1,000 children were victims,” according to a letter written by a child advocacy group to state legislators.
For more than 20 years James Singer has sought for federal or state officials to investigate his allegation that Pennsylvania child welfare officials retaliated against him for making the report as well as ignore other alleged cases. Pennsylvania state police Lt. Ivan Hoover wrote a 33-page report in 1997 that outlined possible criminal violations by state officials against Singer.
Many national organizations have worked with Singer to uncover unreported sexual and physical abuse, human trafficking and mistreatment of minor children. Described as a hero and honored accordingly by one national agency, Singer has devoted himself to protecting children by helping to promote legislation to expose government cover-ups and lack of proper handling of various horrendous abuse cases.
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