In The Spotlight | Circle of Support Child Advocacy Center helps child-abuse victims tell their stories
by Patrick Buchnowski
When the Circle of Support Child Advocacy Center opened in July 2015, the organization hoped it would help 100 victims of child abuse each year.
From July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, the case load hit 319.
“That's a lot,” Executive Director Diana Grosik said.
“Truly, I think it speaks to the need in the community.”
The goal of the Child Advocacy Center, located at 865 Eisenhower Blvd. in Richland Township, is to reduce the trauma for victims and their families during child abuse investigations. The walls of the center are lined with children's drawings and tiny chairs and toys – making the office look much like a play land.
CAC works with law enforcement, the Cambria County District Attorney's Office, Children and Youth Services, rape crisis centers, mental-health providers and medical centers.
Child victims range in age from 2 1/2 to 18 years of age.
“Kids come in here and talk about sexual abuse,” Grosik said. “It's not easy. It's not fun. We centralize everything through our center, which most importantly, minimizes the number of times the kids are interviewed and the number of people they're being interview by.”
Grosik's team includes a case manager, a forensic interviewer and a victims advocate.
CAC funding comes from federal, state and county government – along with fundraisers and donations.
The majority of cases involve sexual abuse. Many times, Grosik said, the abuser is a trusted adult – possibly a family member.
This reality clashes with the notion of “stranger danger,” Grosik said.
“The misconception is that it's people lurking in the park or hiding in the bushes who are sexually abusing our children,” she said. “It's not. It's going to be someone they trust.”
When the abuser is a trusted adult, that relationship adds to the trauma, Grosik said.
“It makes the child more likely to keep it a secret,” she said.
Abusers sometimes threaten children, pressuring them into keeping silent, she said.
“That's a lot of pressure for a little kiddo to take on their shoulders,” she said. “That's why we get involved at the earliest stages, to make sure they're connected with the right support system.
“That initial reaction when a child confides in you means everything,” Grosik said. “You might be the only person they've chosen to disclose the abuse to. It's crucial for them to feel supported.”
‘Closure they need'
Raising awareness of child abuse is part of the center's mission.
In April, Brownie Troop 16341, of Ebensburg, took part in “Pinwheels for Prevention,” a national campaign held during Child Abuse Awareness Month, to shed light on child abuse.
The Brownie troop raised money for pinwheels to be distributed throughout the community.
“The pinwheel is fun, pretty and fascinating,” Grosik said. “It symbolizes that healthy, happy childhood that every child should have.”
The girls learned about child abuse while helping to blanket the community with pinwheels.
“They might have friends who have parents or somebody who is hurting them,” Grosik said. “My hope is, with education and prevention efforts, we will see a decrease in child abuse.”
Help now for children means healthier adults later, she said.
“I think, long term, we're going to minimize future substance abuse for some kids who are not sure how to cope,” she said. “We're getting them connected with therapy now so that when they're 18 or 19 they're not having other mental health concerns or abusing drugs.”
She stressed that abuse victims can recover.
“We've been here along enough to know that with treatment they will be OK,” she said.
“When they successfully complete therapy, or the case is prosecuted, it gives them the closure they need to move on.
“I think the importance of knowing our center exists will hopefully make more victims comfortable to come forward,” she said.
Law on children's right: Preventing child abuse or merely imposing punishment
by Maryam Qarehgozlou - The Tehran Times
The law on children's right is very near to be approved by the Majlis [Iranian parliament] and now some burning questions will arise: will it really help prevent child maltreatment, will it help in timely recognition of abuse or it solely crackdowns on criminals and administer punishment?
The Majlis passed a law on children's right in 2002 comprising 9 articles which criminalized child maltreatment. However the law sounded inefficient due to lack of clarity in the law and ineffective legislative strategies which prompted the parliamentarians to start to revise the law in 2006. In 2009 a bill on children's right including 54 articles was proposed to the cabinet. A year later the bill was submitted to the parliament with its articles decreased to 49.
And now after years of hesitation the general outlines of the bill was approved on July 24 and the parliament members are now discussing the details of the law with 51 articles.
World Health Organization (WHO) explains that child maltreatment is the abuse and neglect that occurs to children under 18 years of age. It includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence and commercial or other exploitation, which results in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Exposure to intimate partner violence is also sometimes included as a form of child maltreatment.
The problem is global. Child maltreatment is complex and is not easy to study.
Child maltreatment consequences can be catastrophic both for the children and the country. Child maltreatment can bring suffering to children and families and can have long-term consequences. Maltreatment results in stress that is associated with disruption in early brain development. Extreme stress can impair the development of the nervous and immune systems. Consequently, as adults, maltreated children are at increased risk for behavioral, physical and mental health problems including: perpetrating or being a victim of violence, depression, smoking, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, unintended pregnancy, and alcohol and drug misuse.
And these behavioral and mental health consequences can contribute to heart disease, cancer, suicide and sexually transmitted infections. And beyond the health and social consequences of child maltreatment, there is an economic impact, including costs of hospitalization, mental health treatment, child welfare, and longer-term health costs.
Adopting restrictive laws to criminalize child abuse, tasking different bodies and organizations to protect children who were victims of maltreatment, and handing out fitting punishment for child maltreatment are certainly necessary and should the legislative body and the judiciary as well as other organizations such as Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the Welfare Organization succeed in implementing the law and fulfilling their responsibilities it can greatly deter the violators from abusing the children.
However, preventing child abuse along with timely recognition of abusive behaviors and injuries must also become an issue. Many cases of child abuse will never be reported and the victims will carry the scars forever. This is while the law is primarily concerned with meting out the punishment.
The children are extremely vulnerable and are the least powerful to protect themselves. Parents as the main guardians of the children are the first people who
should be trained to learn parenting skills. Improving parents' child-rearing skills, increasing their knowledge of child development, and encouraging positive child management strategies can have promising effects on curbing child maltreatment. Parents should teach their children that it is their job to protect them.
While parents are mainly in charge of the children's mental and physical health they can be ones who abuse their children.
Programs to prevent child abuse which could be delivered at schools can also help a great deal. Teaching children how to say “no”, how to recognize an abusive situation and also disclosing abuse to a trusted adult can also prevent maltreatment.
And there are labor children who have no parents and are being sexually or economically exploited and this is where the responsible bodies should play a bigger role. Allocating generous budget to both governmental and nongovernmental organization and granting them with official authorization will certainly set the scene for protecting these helpless children.
Creating and sustaining safe environments for children will guarantee a better future for all societies.
Hospitals Gear Up For New Diagnosis: Human Trafficking
by Michelle Andrews
The woman arrived at the emergency department at Huntington Hospital on New York's Long Island after she was hit by her boyfriend during an argument. Her situation raised concerns among the medical staff, which had recently been trained to be on the lookout for signs of sex trafficking.
An undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, she worked at a local cantina frequented by immigrants. Her job was to get patrons drinks and to dance with them, but many workers in those jobs are expected to offer sex, too. Her boyfriend didn't want her to work there, and that led to the fight, one doctor recalled.
As part of the intake process, the emergency staff asked the 36-year-old woman a series of questions about whether she'd ever had sex for money, or whether she had to give someone else part of what she earns, among other things. The screening questions were part of a new program at Northwell Health, a 23-hospital system in the New York metro area that includes Huntington Hospital, to train staff and provide them with tools to identify and support victims of human trafficking.
There are few hard figures for how many people are harmed by human trafficking, the term used when individuals are forced to work or have sex for someone else's commercial benefit. Polaris, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for these people and runs help lines for them, says calls and texts to its national hotlines have steadily ticked up in recent years , increasing the number of cases 13 percent to 8,759 between 2016 and 2017.
But health care providers frequently fail to recognize these patients' situation. According to a 2014 survey of about 100 survivors of sex trafficking, 88 percent said that while they were being trafficked they had contact with a health care provider, typically someone in an emergency department.
"When trafficking victims come through the health care system but we don't identify them, it's a big missed opportunity," says Dr. Santhosh Paulus, a family physician who is the site director of the Huntington Hospital's family medicine residency program and who started the program at Northwell.
Northwell is one of a growing number of hospitals and health care systems that are putting such programs in place. They want to alert staff to be on the lookout for trafficking, much as they watch for signs of child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse.
Since last spring, nearly 300 staff members at Huntington Hospital and a family clinic have received training in how to spot trafficking victims and how to help them.
Training is given not only to doctors and nurses but also to registration and reception staff, social workers and security guards. Restore NYC, an organization that assists people caught up in sex trafficking, provided the initial training to key staff, and a hospital task force trains the others. During the next few years, similar efforts will be rolled out at all of Northwell's 23 hospitals, Paulus says.
Identifying victims of trafficking is not unlike identifying victims of other forms of violence, says Dr. Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, director of the Human Trafficking Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
One of the big red flags is when people delay coming in for medical care, such as waiting weeks to come in to get an injured ankle or sexually transmitted infection checked out, Macias-Konstantopoulos says. Or it may be a pattern of injuries that don't make sense. Sometimes people are reluctant to explain their injury, or they come in with someone who seems overbearing.
"Having a high index of suspicion is the first step," she says. "If we're not asking about it, we're just not going to see it."
Starting in October, health care providers can also start using new diagnosis codes in their records to differentiate trafficking from other types of abuse. This will help track the number of victims and provide appropriate treatment.
Asking may not be enough, however. Depending on what's going on in their lives, these patients may not be willing or ready to acknowledge that they need help, says Holly Gibbs, human trafficking response program director for Dignity Health, a health care system with nearly 40 hospitals in California, Nevada and Arizona.
Gibbs knows the issue well. She was forced briefly into prostitution in Atlantic City, N.J., after meeting a man at a shopping mall as a 14-year-old and running away with him. The man persuaded Gibbs to go with him with promises of a new, glamorous life as a musician or model.
At the time, Gibbs says, she thought that what happened to her was her own fault, a result of choices she made. No health care or law enforcement professional connected her to social services that could have helped her understand otherwise. She was reunited with her family by law enforcement personnel, who arrested the man, who was later convicted.
Dignity Health has implemented a human trafficking response program in the emergency departments and labor and delivery areas of each of its hospitals. Now it's rolling out the program at clinics and physicians' offices as well.
A key priority is to help clinicians know how to talk to patients about any violence they may be facing and to connect the patients with outside sources of help.
But in the end, if these patients don't want assistance, "you respect their wishes," Gibbs says. "They may not be ready to accept help now, but you may plant seeds so they'll be able to accept it later on."
Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation that isn't affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can follow Michelle Andrews on Twitter: @mandrews110
The Far Right's Pedophilia Smear Campaign Is Working
How Mike Cernovich and his troll army are manufacturing outrage to take down Hollywood liberals.
by Christina Cauterucci
Right-wing activists are on a pedophile-hunting spree. Over the past several days, supporters of Donald Trump have targeted a series of left-leaning celebrities for tweets and jokes that make light of child rape. Trump-hating filmmaker James Gunn, who was set to direct the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie, was fired by Disney on Friday after Mike Cernovich, Jack Posobiec, and other far-right trolls resurfaced years-old tweets in which Gunn joked about sex acts and children, including one in which he wrote, “I like when little boys touch me in my silly place.”
In the wake of Gunn's ouster, Cernovich, Posobiec, et al. began circulating a 2009 video that showed Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon pretending to sexually assault a baby doll.
Harmon, who has ranted about Trump's pandering to Nazis on his podcast, apologized and deleted his Twitter account. Adult Swim, which airs Rick and Morty, has stood by Harmon.
While Harmon reportedly filmed the video as a low-budget send-up of Dexter , Trump fans on public-facing platforms like Twitter said the clip was evidence of his perverse sexual fantasies and/or his lack of concern for survivors of childhood abuse. In the privacy of their own forums, they told a different story. The Guardian reported that a 4chan user defended the decision to publicize the video by referencing Roseanne Barr's ouster from her eponymous ABC sitcom after she compared black Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape. “If they get to take scalps for someone making racist jokes,” the user wrote, “we get to take scalps for them making pedophilia joke.”
To understand the nature of these public and private conversations, start by looking back at Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory that Cernovich and Posobiec helped spread just after the 2016 election. That myth, which took hold in the white-supremacist fringes of the internet, held that Washington pizzeria Comet Ping Pong was a cover for a pedophilic sex-trafficking ring led by Democratic Party leaders, including Hillary and Bill Clinton. The propaganda campaign eventually inspired a believer with an assault weapon to shoot up the pizza place, claiming he was there to free the captive kids. Since that incident, Cernovich has deleted his Pizzagate-related tweets, while Posobiec—who went to Comet to livestream an “investigation”—later claimed that he never believed the conspiracy theory.
The attacks on Gunn, Harmon, and Comet Ping Pong are all examples of the same bizarre phenomenon: a bad-faith, right-wing fixation on pedophilia as a panic-raising ploy to discredit and silence progressive celebrities. While the Pizzagate gunman had clearly convinced himself that something sinister was going on in the back rooms of Comet Ping Pong, we should take Posobiec at his word that he thought the rumors were “stupid claims.” Similarly, it's impossible to imagine that Cernovich, Posobiec, and their ilk genuinely believe that Gunn's tweets are anything more than bad jokes. Cernovich's tweets comparing Barr and Gunn (“Roseanne made an accidental racial joke. Once. Gunn had a patter and history going back years”) made it clear he was playing a political game. Posobiec, meanwhile, started the hashtag #JamesGunnMovieTitles on Tuesday morning—his own entries included “Illegally Blonde,” “KinderGuardians of the Galaxy,” and “Mad Max: Felony Road”—seamlessly transitioning into making jokes about child rape after spending a couple of days decrying jokes about child rape.
Right-wing pedophile-accusers are simply grasping for the easiest way to tarnish someone's name. While adult women are unsympathetic as a victim class—otherwise, Cernovich's own history of rape tweets might have forced him to fire himself from his job as an inveterate tweeter—but imaginary children are just right. Once the word pedophilia is uttered, a risk-averse corporation like Disney is going to do what a risk-averse corporation does. (Adult Swim deserves credit for not falling for this ploy.) This is the same tactic Cernovich pioneered during Gamergate, the movement in which a group of mostly men targeted mostly women who wrote feminist analyses of the video game industry and gamer culture. In one case, Cernovich successfully lobbied Gawker advertisers to end their arrangements with the site after a Gawker writer tweeted an obvious joke about bullying gamers.
The same strategies that worked back then—target individuals critical of your movement, make their identities known to a large group of angry people, embarrass their employers—are still effective now. In both Gamergate and this current wave of pedophilia accusations, far-right agitators have ginned up legitimate-sounding pretexts (ethics in games journalism, child rape) to abet their goal of harming their political enemies. With the help of social media platforms that allow them to spread disinformation to millions of users and bots, these guys can easily win the numbers game that convinces companies that firing a progressive employee—like Sam Seder, who was briefly let go from MSNBC after Cernovich found a 2009 tweet joking about Roman Polanski—is the smart thing to do.
Pizzagate and pedophile-smearing also have something in common with the day care– and satanic-abuse hysterias of the '80s and '90s. “Moral panics function somewhat like parables: They validate a group's anxieties in a dramatic way, they exonerate the anxious from culpability, and they assign blame,” wrote Richard Beck, author of We Believe the Children: A Moral Panic in the 1980s , of the relationship between Pizzagate and those earlier conspiracies. Alt-right and men's rights activists are nothing if not anxious—anxious about falling white birth rates, the increasing prominence of communities of color, the entrance of feminist rhetoric into mainstream discourse, growing visibility and rights for LGBTQ people, the election of a black president and the near-election of a female one, and mounting pushback against people who say racist and sexist things in public. By accusing progressives of pedophilia, men scared of losing power can convince themselves and their like-minded peers that they have legitimate reasons to orchestrate their opponents' downfall.
The day care abuse hysteria, Beck noted, was similarly rooted in anxieties about gender equality and perceived threats to the heterosexual nuclear family. “As the institution that cared for the children of working mothers during the week, day care became an object of suspicion for people who believed that a woman's proper place was at home with the kids,” he wrote. People who suspected that day care pedophilia rings were sweeping the country were partially preoccupied with the idea of gay people existing around children. Gay people like day care worker Bernard Baran and the lesbians of the San Antonio four were unjustly prosecuted on account of their sexuality under the guise of a crackdown on pedophilic abuse. Likewise, Pizzagaters latched on to Comet Ping Pong as a supposed site of child rape in part because the owner is a gay man, an easy target for accusations of pedophilia. The white supremacists who went after the pizza place dug up pictures of drag queens who performed there and presented a gay bartender's personal Instagram post of two men sharing a slice of pizza as apparent proof that something depraved was going on there.
Cernovich, Posobiec, and the other right-wingers who have now made vocal anti-Trump comedians their main targets—including, in recent days, Patton Oswalt and Michael Ian Black —aren't saying the so-called pedophiles they're exposing are gay. But their followers have been quick to link one moral outrage with the other.
People on the right are hungry for a win on the family-values front, a morals-based excuse to vote and advocate for the profoundly immoral.
In a forum on HLTV.org on Sunday, users discussing Harmon's video joked that the LGBTQ acronym should be changed to “LGBTP.” “Those people need to be slaughtered,” one person wrote. On FFTodayForums.com, a user who quotes Trump in his profile posted a link to the video under the title, “#Himtoo Dan Harmon next up for being a pedophile.” Farther down the thread, others commented that “this is the crew constantly moralizing at the rest of us” and that “Hillary spent half her campaign hanging out with them … they couldn't trot enough of them out on the stage at the DNC.” It's not entirely clear to whom them refers in that comment, but it's most likely trans people. (The July 2016 Democratic National Convention was the first in history to feature a transgender speaker.) Another user explicitly linked pedophilia to the issue of trans bathroom access, which the GOP has tried to restrict through legislation: “You mean you are opposed to your little girl using the same restroom as a grown man who decides to take a little extra peek between the door crack when hes walking by and hears her going tinkle? Bigot.”
It's tempting to dismiss the pedophile-pushers as fringe actors—nuisances whose fake pedophile hunts will peter out when they run out of bad tweets to trumpet. But they've already gotten themselves a sympathetic audience in Congress: Sen. Ted Cruz has tweeted multiple times that Gunn should be prosecuted “if he's telling the truth” about molesting children in his joke tweets. Cernovich has been tweeting and retweeting requests for members of Congress to schedule a hearing on child sex abuse in Hollywood. It wouldn't shock me if such hearings actually took place.
People on the right are hungry for a win on the family-values front, a morals-based excuse to vote and advocate for the profoundly immoral. Our Republican president allegedly liked to make surprise tours of his pageant dressing rooms to ogle the half-naked teenage contestants. He also once speculated about the size of his 1-year-old daughter's future breasts and has told several young girls that he'd be dating them in a few years. That's not to mention the more than 20 women who've accused the president of sexual harassment or assault.
With this unabashedly abusive man leading the GOP from the White House, and with a literal Nazi and a credibly accused child molester representing the party on the ballot, mainstream right-wingers are sick of holier-than-thou liberals scolding the GOP. Cernovich and his acolytes aren't interested in the right developing a conscience. They'd rather do away with moral authority altogether than try to reclaim some semblance of it for themselves.
Chupak: Protecting our youth on MSU's campus
by David Chupak, Youth Programs Director at Michigan State University
Summer brings a younger set of students to college campuses for tours, sports camps and creative and academic enrichment programs. For Michigan State University, these activities are a great way to deepen our service to Michigan families in the spirit of the university's land-grant heritage. While youth safety has always been our top priority, for very good reasons it is receiving increased scrutiny from within and without.
Michigan State has had a youth programs policy since 2013 and was among the first universities in the Big Ten to add a full-time youth programs director when I was appointed in November 2017. We are updating our youth program policies and practices based both on our own experience and a broader evolution in understanding of best practices for protecting children.
Beyond training program staff to identify and report child maltreatment, today they are being tasked with an increasingly broad spectrum of concerns, including how to recognize “red flag” behaviors in personnel selection processes, how to identify and reduce bias and discrimination and even what to do in an active shooting incident. Importantly, program personnel must create an environment in which children feel safe telling an adult if something is wrong.
Safety today on this campus is treated as a shared obligation requiring everyone's engagement. Society still tends to treat sexual abuse in particular as something that happens in isolation and out of view. But high-profile cases at Penn State and Michigan State demonstrated how serial offenders groom both minors and adults to deflect suspicion and gain trust. Failure to recognize such methods increases the vulnerability of minors.
Eliminating lapses of scrutiny where such abusers thrive requires awareness of the problem and knowledge of how to respond. Those working with youth must be empowered to act once they suspect child maltreatment. Fear of filing a report without absolute certainty, especially when an offender is suspected, is a high barrier. Many would-be reporters either fear retaliation or don't want to defame another person.
Individuals who feel inclined to investigate before reporting create two problematic situations. First, interviewing survivors can compound trauma and exhaustion, deterring survivors' participation in official investigations. Second, delays grant offenders time to commit additional abuse. To connect survivors with timely support and prevent further abuse, employees and program volunteers must start by believing survivors and contacting law enforcement immediately.
To begin replacing a culture of fear with one of safety, leaders can educate their communities about immunity laws shielding those who report suspected abuse. They must set a clear tone that suspicions and disclosures of abuse must be reported to the authorities immediately.
We must also educate the youth and families we serve. By having age-appropriate conversations with children participating in youth programs, we can help them set healthy boundaries. Informing them about community standards and encouraging them to tell a supervising adult when maltreatment occurs can create an environment in which minors feel empowered to seek help.
Campus communities have a responsibility to safeguard minors in our care. Educating employees and volunteers about the policies, practices and expectations essential to this effort can eliminate gaps that enable offenders. Crucial conversations with children can empower them to speak up. Reporting both suspicions and disclosures of abuse creates opportunities for support and justice. Ultimately, everyone's commitment to do what is required to protect children advances the culture of safety for campus communities.
These practices also apply broadly to all organizations that serve youth. For the statewide child abuse reporting phone number and information about the Michigan Child Protection Law, mandatory reporting and preventing child maltreatment, visit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website at www.michigan.gov/mdhhs.
David Chupak is the youth programs director at Michigan State University
Domestic abuse victim wins legal challenge against policy denying her right to compensation
Court rules 'same-roof' rule, which denies compensation to domestic abuse victims who lived in same home as their attacker before 1979, 'incompatible' with human rights laws
by May Bulman. Social Affairs Correspondent
The Independent Online The woman, who could not be named for legal reasons, successfully challenged the policy after it denied her the right to damages because she lived in the same home as her attacker before 1979 ( Shutterstock )
A woman who suffered serious abuse at the hands of her stepfather has won a legal challenge against a policy which denies some victims the right to compensation.
The Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that the so-called “same-roof” rule, which denies compensation to domestic abuse victims who lived in the same home as their attacker before 1979, was “incompatible” with human rights laws.
The woman, identified only as JT for legal reasons, successfully challenged the policy after it denied her the right to damages because she lived in the same home as her attacker before 1979.
Campaigners welcomed the ruling, saying it was another step closer to an overhaul of the "unfair and illogical" Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS).
JT's stepfather, who abused her when she was aged between four and 17, was convicted of eight offences including rape and sexual assault in 2012 and jailed for 14 years.
But when she applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which pays damages to victims of violent crime, she was refused a payout.
Lord Justice Leggatt, who heard the appeal with Sir Terence Etherton and Lady Justice Sharp, said the rule was “arbitrary and unfair”.
“A scheme under which compensation is awarded to (the other victim) but denied to JT is obviously unfair," he said.
“It is all the more unfair when the reason for the difference in treatment - that JT was living as a member of the same family as her abuser, whereas (the other victim) was not - is something over which JT had no control and is a feature of her situation which most people would surely regard as making her predicament and suffering even worse.”
The same-roof rule was originally brought in to ensure that abusers did not benefit from compensation paid to victims they lived with.?
It was varied in 1979 so that any future child victims of domestic crimes could claim compensation, but the change was not applied retrospectively.
Reforms were made in 2012, but the same-roof rule was maintained amid fears that scrapping it could see an increase in the number of claims.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse recommended in its interim report in April that the rule should be scrapped.
Lawyers representing the CICA had argued that the Government's decision not to extend the compensation scheme to pre-1979 victims was “justified”.
Following the court's ruling, Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan, Victim Support's CEO Diana Fawcett and Director of Liberty, Martha Spurrier said in a joint statement: “This victory brings us another step closer to an overhaul of the unfair and illogical Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS).
“The outdated ‘same roof' rule has prevented survivors of child sexual abuse from claiming compensation because their abuser was someone they lived with before 1979. Since 2015 the CICS has refused 180 applications. Today's ruling paves the way for them to receive the justice they deserve, so they can move on with their lives.
“However, the CICS is still failing victims. It tells children they consented to their own abuse, denies compensation to victims of online exploitation and restricts pay-outs for people with completely unrelated criminal convictions. The Government must urgently rewrite the CICS guidance to make it fit for purpose.”
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), also welcomed the ruling, saying: “To suffer abuse as an innocent child at the hands of a trusted adult is the worst of horrors. To be denied compensation on the basis of living with the perpetrator just compounds the profound injustice.
"Today's ruling will be welcome news for those that have survived child abuse in the home before 1979. This policy needs to be changed to enable other domestic victims to be compensated.”
Silent lambs: Child sexual abuse and the Jehovah's Witnesses
by Amy Parsons-King
Best known for their door-to-door evangelising, Jehovah's Witnesses are on a quest to save the ‘wicked' from damnation. For victims of sexual abuse within the organisation, however, that quest has seen perpetrators shielded from justice. Amy Parsons-King has met several survivors as part of an investigation for The Spinoff. These are their stories.
This feature was made possible thanks to reader contributions via the Spinoff Longform Fund. Click below to support our investigative journalism . The video documentary is part of the Frame series presented by The Spinoff and Wrestler, directed by Amy Parsons-King and Rebekah Parsons-King, and made poss ible thanks to funding from New Zealand on Air.
The stories below include accounts of sexual abuse.
E verything changed for Naomi Burnett in 1982. Born and raised as a Jehovah's Witness in Christchurch, Naomi's earliest memories are of a happy childhood, a loving, caring upbringing. And then, when she was 10, her uncle and aunt moved in.
“They'd been living in another country and were looking at relocating back to New Zealand, and we offered them the flat at the back of our house. That's when things changed.”
At first Naomi enjoyed having her extended family so close by. They had a baby daughter, whom she adored. Alan Parkes, Naomi's uncle by marriage, lavished attention on her. “I really relished it because I looked after my brothers a lot and was more the ‘carer' than being cared for growing up,” Naomi says.
“I didn't understand the attention I was getting from him was more sexual than I could understand.”
The sexual abuse began almost immediately, and continued across the years Parkes and his family lived in the flat. Even after he and his wife found their own home, still it continued.
“He would get me over to babysit, but he'd still be there. He used to lure me into his photo studio where he'd take photos of me and do things to me,” Naomi explains, fidgeting with a bracelet weaved between her fingers. To this day she says she can't bear to get her photo taken; it triggers too many ugly memories.
“When we'd go away on conventions, the families would combine a holiday house and that was another opportunity for him to abuse me.”
When Naomi was 15, her father, a senior member, or “elder”, of their New Brighton Jehovah's Witness congregation, became aware of the abuse. He was furious and asked fellow elders to investigate.
Under Jehovah's Witnesses protocol, when a member of the organisation is alleged to have committed a serious “wrongdoing”, elders are instructed to confront the accused. When presented with the allegations, Parkes admitted to sexually abusing her, Naomi says. Parkes confirmed the abuse took place when The Spinoff spoke to him earlier this year. At the time, Parkes' confession meant a judicial committee was formed to determine his level of repentance, and what disciplinary action should be taken.
The hearing was held at Parkes' congregation. Naomi attended with two male elders, as did Parkes. “I basically had to say everything that happened in front of four men and my abuser,” she says.
Despite Parkes' confession, the blame was shifted onto her, Naomi says. “He made comments that I seemed older than what I was, and that I enjoyed the attention he gave me. I did enjoy it in the beginning. He'd brush my hair and talk to me, but I took nothing from that. There's nothing I put out there as a 10-year-old girl to sexually entice him. He pretty much made me feel like I asked for it.”
Naomi describes the experience as “petrifying”. She felt like a “little mouse” placed before the male elders and the man she accused of molesting her, she says. The elders insisted she recount details of the abuse alone and without any support person present, not even her mother.
Elders ruled that Parkes' punishment for sexually abusing Naomi across several years was to be “disfellowshipment”, a sanction which sees a wrongdoer excommunicated, with members directed to cease all links. Protocol requires that elders advise the congregation that the disfellowshipped person is no longer a Jehovah's Witness. In Parkes' case, as in others investigated by The Spinoff, church members say they were not made aware of the nature of the offending that led to the disfellowshipment.
The judicial committee's proposed compensation for Naomi's trauma, to “help get her through”, was extra Bible studies.
Parkes's alleged offending against Naomi was never reported to the Police.
N aomi's experience is not unique. It fits a pattern of experiences recounted in recent years by people who allege they were sexually abused as children within the Jehovah's Witness organisation. In her case, and in others, the process by which such allegations were dealt with emphasised internal investigation, judgment and punishment, without recourse to criminal prosecution.
Jehovah's Witness boasts 8.3 million members worldwide. According to the most recent census figures, there are approximately 18,000 adherents in New Zealand. Direction on policy and practices filters down from an eight-man governing body based in Warwick, New York. Under the “two witness rule”, victims were for decades told by church elders that allegations of sexual abuse could not be internally investigated unless substantiated by two or more witnesses. Often they felt re-victimised – being summoned, like Naomi, to recount graphic details of the abuse to an audience of male elders, as well as their perpetrators.
Across eight months, an investigation by The Spinoff has sought to find out whether procedures identified in other parts of the world, in which victims of child abuse have spoken out as part of the “Silentlambs” movement, are mirrored within the Jehovah's Witnesses in New Zealand. Interviews with former members, including 10 people who described their experiences of childhood sexual abuse, point to a culture of discouraging victims from going to secular authorities and an aversion to involving Police, in an echo of the findings across the Tasman by the recent Australian Royal Commission Inquiry into Institutional Responses in Sexual Abuse.
After four years of investigating schools, Police, community and government organisations, churches and sports clubs across Australia, the Commission identified over 1000 cases of unreported sexual abuse against members of Jehovah's Witnesses since 1950. In its report the Commission concluded that the policies, practices and procedures of handling sexual abuse claims are dangerously ineffective. This is of more than passing relevance to the situation here, as the New Zealand branch of Jehovah's Witnesses has been formally under Australian jurisdiction, in the form of The Watchtower and Tract Society of Australia, since its Auckland headquarters closed in 2012.
A ccording to one former Jehovah's Witness elder the child protection policies within the organisation are so lacking that some estranged members describe it as “a paedophile's paradise”. Paul Quilter, who spent 47 years as a member of the organisation, including 10 years as an elder in a Hamilton congregation, told The Spinoff that when he first saw that description used on an ex-Jehovah's Witness forum he thought it was outrageous. “But then when you actually read the reports of victims and you see how they were told to only trust fellow Witnesses because, everybody outside the organisation was worldly and ‘bad' and therefore not to be trusted, you realise this type of mentality makes reporting child abuse to authorities almost impossible.”
The organisation demands strict and literal adherence to its Bible, The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures . Any perceived wrongdoing of Jehovah's Witnesses including “fornication, adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, apostasy, and similar gross sins” are investigated through what is called a “judicial committee”. For such a proxy court to even be established, a 2000-year-old biblical principle is applied to substantiate the wrongdoing. This “two witness rule” derives from scriptures such as Deuteronomy 19:15, which states: “No single witness may convict another for any error or any sin that he may commit. On the testimony of two witnesses or on the testimony of three witnesses the matter should be established.”
The process, recalls Quilter, went like this: “If an allegation of child sexual abuse is made to the body of elders, two elders would be selected from the body to investigate the matter. They would go and talk to the victim and ask them details about who was involved, and did anyone else see it? At that point if there are no witnesses to the abuse – as there most likely isn't in a case of sexual abuse – they go to the perpetrator and they ask him, ‘did this happen?' If he denies it they don't have two witnesses, as the abuser is considered one witness, and the victim the second. Without two witnesses the elders would say there's nothing we can do about it.”
This feature was funded by readers through the Spinoff investigations fund
For Debbie Oakley, the words “Bible studies” carry an unimaginable weight. Under the guise of that activity, Owen Tutty sexually abused Debbie and her older sister.
“My stepfather would take us into the bedroom and we'd have Bible study lying on his bed,” Debbie recalls.
“I remember Mum would walk past, but then the door started being closed. Study was always done from The Great Teacher Book , which is a little pink book. He would have that on a pillow on his lap and be doing things to my sister and me.”
It began shortly after he married her mother in March 1972. “I was four years and three months old,” says Debbie, pointing to a faded photograph of herself and her sister, sitting side-by-side. The sisters sport cropped curls, one blonde, one brunette, with white dresses and mary-jane shoes. “That's when I started wetting the bed,” she says. “I did that for the next 12 years.”
When Debbie was 12, her mother walked into the room just after Tutty had assaulted her.
“I didn't know what I was supposed to do. He went to the bathroom and I was just lying there with no pants on. Mum asked me, ‘What are you doing?' and told me to get my pants on and go to my room, so I did. My sister was in the bedroom that we shared and I remember us saying, ‘She's going to leave him, she's going to leave him,' but there was no arguing, no yelling, there was nothing. Just silence.”
It was daylight when Debbie was sent her to her room and darkness had fallen when her mother crept in, whispering to her daughter, “if you can forgive him, so can I.”
“That's all she said. We didn't understand. It was never talked about again, we got up the next day as if nothing had happened.”
Debbie believes her mother and Tutty went to the elders for direction about how to deal with the situation.
“They would have been thinking, ‘You always go to elders if you've got a problem,' and this was of a serious nature. I'm assuming they went straight to elders that night because we didn't hear them yell, or her hitting or trying to kill him as most mothers would, finding their husband sexually abusing their daughter. The elders would have guided her to forgive him and not bring reproach to Jehovah's name. They would have said, ‘this is how we're going to handle it, no one needs to know and we'll punish him our way'.”
Soon after the sexual abuse was discovered, an announcement was made at a Jehovah's Witness meeting that Tutty was no longer in the senior role of ministerial servant in the congregation.
“No one was told why he'd been stood down, but I assumed it was because of what he'd done to me, and that this was his punishment – a wee slap on the hand and he's no longer got privileges.”
Debbie had hoped that her mother would be vigilant in protecting her from her stepfather from then on. Instead, the abuse continued for another 18 months.
“At one point Owen said, while he was abusing me, ‘I know what I'm doing is wrong, but I can't help myself.' What could I do at that point? I can't tell my mum, nothing happens. I can't tell the elders, nothing happens.”
Elders were again made aware of Tutty's sexual offending when Debbie was 16 and she and her sister decided to become baptized Jehovah's Witnesses. As part of their preparation for baptism they were advised to “clear their consciences” to elders. It was then they disclosed the abuse.
Shortly after their disclosure Tutty was involved in a serious accident, hospitalising him for several months with severe burns. Debbie and her sister heard nothing more in regard to what they'd told the elders, but assumed no action was being taken after learning of a public appeal for congregation members to visit Owen in hospital.
While Tutty was recovering the girls' mother contacted them and asked, “Do you hate me that much that you wouldn't come and visit your stepfather?” The girls agreed to go to the hospital, where they found Tutty remorseful and apologetic. “This is Jehovah's way of punishing me”, Debbie recalls him saying. “I'm sorry for what I did to you girls.”
After he was discharged from hospital, Tutty returned to his congregation. “There were absolutely no consequences for what he'd done to us,” Debbie says.
It wasn't until Debbie was 28 that she decided to try and prosecute Tutty, motivated by concern he could be sexually abusing her youngest sister, one of Tutty's biological daughters.
“For years and years I'd wake up and find myself screaming out the window. Every night I'd end up with bloody hands and nails, and a broken bed. I told my husband I couldn't live like this any more and went to the Police.”
Two years later, the case went to trial, and on February 10 1998 Tutty was convicted on seven counts of sexual offending against his stepdaughter and sentenced to six years' imprisonment. He was also disfellowshipped as a Jehovah's Witness.
Tutty sought to appeal the conviction, but it was rejected by the sentencing judge who observed that “Mr Tutty had held the girl in his ‘thrall' for a period of between five and seven years until she was 12 years of age. He had used her as his “sexual plaything”.
The judge added: “A detailed psychologist's report discloses how far-reaching the effects of the abuse has been. It has affected every aspect of the victim's physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being; her whole ‘sense of self-hood'. It has left its mark in numerous ways on her sexuality, her ability to trust and maintain relationships, and ‘her sense of who she is'.”
It was not until her counsel's final argument that Debbie became aware Tutty had a history of sexual offending. In 1968 it transpired that he had been sentenced to a fine and probation for offending of a “similar nature”. In court documents viewed by The Spinoff the trial judge notes that “there were complaints to the church authorities, but in the long run nothing appropriate was done.”
After Tutty was imprisoned, Debbie's mother left the Jehovah's Witnesses. To Debbie's dismay her mother told her she'd learned that elders knew of Tutty's prior offending against young girls before they married. Debbie, now in her early fifties, remains appalled that this was not disclosed to her mother, in the interests of protecting her children.
An individual who has been disfellowshipped is not cast out forever. The elders' instruction manual Shepherd the Flock of God states: “The committee should be careful to allow sufficient time, perhaps many months, a year, or even longer, for the disfellowshipped person to prove that his profession of repentance is genuine.”
One who found his way back, The Spinoff has established, is Owen Tutty. A twice-convicted paedophile, he has yet again been reinstated as a Jehovah's Witness and is currently an active member of a South Island congregation.
J asmine Grew is a striking presence, with a blunt blonde bob, cool aquatic-blue eyes and tattoos stretching across her arms. Now a hairdresser living in Nelson with three children, she was two years old when the Jehovah's Witnesses preyed on her solo mother, she says. Jasmine describes her upbringing as “happy but dysfunctional”. Upon becoming part of the organisation they instantly gained a large extended family. They would socialise together; sharing pot-luck dinners and games nights. It also meant she came into contact with a man we'll call Michael (his name has been changed) who sexually abused her from the age of five to eight.
Jasmine's mother, Sally, became good friends with another single mother and Jehovah's Witness who lived in Westport, and their family would often visit in the school holidays. The two single mums engaged Michael to look after their four children, and it was while babysitting that Michael molested Jasmine and her friend Tania (not her real name).
So terrified were the two girls, Jasmine recalls, that they would barricade the door to Tania's bedroom so he couldn't get in.
“I remember we wrote a sign out and it said specifically, ‘No one allowed, especially Michael'. And we put that on the door. I also remember him trying to get in the door and us just pushing it back. We did not want him in there at all… It felt violent.”
On one occasion Michael came into Tania's room while both girls were there, Jasmine says. With Tania distracted, he put Jasmine on his knee to read her a book, then sexually assaulted her. When he left, Tania asked her what had happened.
“She asked, ‘Did he touch you? What did he do to you?' She said, ‘He's touched me too, so you can tell me.' But I didn't. I just said no.”
Jasmine didn't disclose the abuse until she was 12, when she confided in a friend at a sleepover. The girl immediately informed her dad, who in turn told Jasmine's mother.
Sally went to elders, and the next thing Jasmine knew she was being pulled aside after a congregation meeting and interrogated by four male church elders. “It was just me and these four elders, and I was absolutely petrified. They asked me questions like: Was it hard? What was he saying to me? Did I enjoy it?” Jasmine recalls.
“I remember a lot of my abuse involved him grabbing my hand and doing things, and they were very, very interested in that – if I enjoyed it was the main thing. They were really uneasy questions that I don't think any 12-year-old girl needed to be asked. It was extremely inappropriate.”
At no time was it suggested Police become involved. Her mother hadn't approached them directly, knowing that notifying secular authorities was contrary to protocol within the Jehovah's Witnesses, Jasmine says. “If there's conflict with your family you go straight to the elders and they'll help you deal with it.”
Unlike Naomi, Jasmine wasn't even offered Bible studies. It was never spoken of again, she says. She is not aware of Michael facing any repercussions.
Jasmine didn't disclose the abuse again until she was 14. One day at school she was sent to the dean's office for wearing ripped jeans.
“I had a breakdown at school and everything just came out,” she says. “I was an absolute mess.”
The dean referred Jasmine to Rape Crisis where she spent a year in therapy before deciding she wanted to prosecute Michael, and went to the Police.
Jasmine has twice attempted to have Michael prosecuted, once on her own, and later with another of his alleged victims in 2011. Both times, however, she was advised that it was a historical case, and there was insufficient evidence to proceed, she says. At the time of the second Police investigation Michael was a high-ranked public employee. Three days after the investigation began Michael – who has not responded to requests for comment – resigned his position. He now lives in Australia.
T he Australian Royal Commission Inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard that since 1998, under Watchtower rules victims of sexual abuse are no longer required to face their abuser. Documents show that in 2002 elders were advised by the governing body to let a victim know they could go to authorities if asked, then in a letter to elders in September 2017 they changed their policy to state that victims should be explicitly told they have a “absolute right” to go to Police, and no sanctions would be placed on them if they do.
The letter also advises elders who are made aware of sexual abuse claims to immediately call their branch office for legal advice. Former elder Paul Quilter is unconvinced, seeing it designed to determine whether they are legally obligated to report child abuse in their country or state. “They want to protect their butts to stop themselves getting sued, because they know that their policies have got holes right through them,” he says.
The experiences shared with The Spinoff are consistent with the evidence presented to the Australian Royal Commission, which found that Watchtower Australia had on file reports or complaints of sexual abuse against 1006 members, none of which had been reported to authorities, even in states where mandatory reporting laws applied. Of these cases, 579 perpetrators actually confessed to their offending, while 125 reports did not even reach the prerequisite for a judicial committee, because they didn't have the two or more witnesses.
The Royal Commission itemised 77 adverse findings. They concluded that the Jehovah's Witnesses do not meet all the standards of best practice when it comes to sexual abuse claims, that their current documented process for responding to allegations is focused largely on the rights and comfort of the accused, with little regard to the needs of a victim, and that the organisation presented members with “conflicting and ambiguous teachings regarding their relationship with secular authorities, thereby fostering a distrust of such authorities.” The overarching finding was that children are not adequately protected from the risk of sexual abuse and that the organisation is not responding adequately to allegations of this nature.
As a result of the inquiry one former Jehovah's Witness in Western Australia has been charged with sexually abusing four boys across two decades, while another current member, also in Western Australia has been charged with historical sexual abuse against an 11-year-old girl.
First Ministers from the Australian state and territory governments will respond to the 409 recommendations made by the Royal Commission Inquiry this month. The Victorian Government has already acted on several of the recommendations, including abolishing the ‘Ellis defence' which protects church assets from abuse victim claims.
The commission heard that the Jehovah's Witnesses had referred 15 of 17 child abuse allegations raised since the inquiry to Police, noting that two of the adult survivors did not want to report. Watchtower Australia has since implemented a child safeguarding policy. They refuse, however, to consider any change to the two-witness-rule, stating in their submission to the Royal Commission: “Jehovah's Witnesses consider that the requirement for two witnesses is not a matter for debate as it is based on Scriptural requirements found in the Mosaic Law and reiterated by Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul.”
While New Zealand has requirements for the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse, they extend only to government organisations and the majority of non-profit organisations.
The law also applies to staff members of hospitals, institutions or residences where a child is living. Anyone who is over 18 and aware of child abuse occurring in a household they live in, or are a member of, must take reasonable steps to protect that child from death, serious harm or sexual assault. This loophole in legislation means anyone made aware of a child being sexually abused, including Jehovah's Witness elders are not obligated by law to report it-that is, unless they're actually living with the victim.
Section 15 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 enables the reporting of child abuse, but it is not mandatory.
The New Zealand children's commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, told The Spinoff Jehovah's Witness practice of dealing internally with sex abuse allegations was deeply concerning.
“I would encourage anyone with a concern about child abuse to contact appropriate authorities. It is irresponsible for any New Zealand community group to have its own private investigation system,” he said.
“Allegations of child abuse cannot be left to an amateur internal investigation… It's inconceivable and indefensible that in modern society, knowing what we know about the effects of sexual abuse and its incidence that any organisation can even begin to justify a ‘do it yourself' approach.”
The two-witness rule, he said, demonstrates “irony and naivety” about the nature of such abuse, particularly as concerns the “manipulative and cunning behaviour” of perpetrators.
Becroft issued a “public plea to the Jehovah's Witnesses”, urging the organisation to “act promptly and responsibly to implement a clear set of protocols for reporting allegations of sexual abuse to the authorities, and including independent and external investigations. If not, it is a terrible disservice for the children in their organisation.”
New Zealand also lags behind other countries in terms of criteria for checks on those working with children. According to the Vulnerable Children's Act 2014 all children's workers at organisations which receive central or local government funding must be scrutinised. However members of “religious” groups such as the Jehovah's Witnesses are not required to undertake child safety checks, even if they hold senior congregational roles.
Asked for their views on the Jehovah's Witness “in-house” investigation processes the NZ Police provided a generic statement.
“Police takes sexual abuse complaints very seriously and would encourage anyone who has been a victim of, or is aware of sexual abuse-regardless of what organisation they may be a part of, to report it directly to the Police,” said Inspector Dave Kirby, manager adult sexual assault and child protection.
“Police are the professionals for investigating this type of serious criminal offending and has trained investigators who will investigate allegations from any sector of society.”
The Spinoff approached the Watchtower and Tract Society of New Zealand (Now Australia) for an interview regarding the allegations of the victims we interviewed and the wider issues. That request was refused. “Out of consideration for the privacy of the individuals concerned, we are not able to accommodate your request,” they said. The Spinoff also emailed direct questions several weeks ago. Again, there was no response.
The organisation did, however, offer one comment. “Any victim of abuse or their family are perfectly entitled to go to the authorities to report any matter,” said a representative over the phone.
“Jehovah's Witness will report the matter to the Police where that is mandated. That's to handle the crime. The crime of child abuse is handled by the authorities, not Jehovah's Witness. Jehovah's Witnesses don't handle crime, they handle sin. Their guidelines for handling sin are scriptural. It's a Christian concept, it's not a legal concept.”
In an online document explaining the “scripturally” based position of the church on child abuse, posted in May, it is stated that “Jehovah's Witnesses abhor child abuse and view it as a crime. (Romans 12:9). We recognise that the authorities are responsible for addressing such crimes. (Romans 13:1-4) The elders do not shield any perpetrator of child abuse from the authorities.”
I n 2009, Naomi again came face-to-face with her abuser. He was in the Christchurch District Court, on trial for historical sexual abuse against another girl, over the years 1975 to 1980, when she was aged seven to 12. Naomi's father had informed her that her uncle was facing trial and she was there for the sentencing. Alan Parkes was found guilty on four counts of indecent assault, three of which were at the upper end of the offending scale. He was sentenced to nine months' home detention and ordered to pay $5,000 to a charity of the victim's choice. He was separately disfellowshipped as a member by the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Almost a decade on from that conviction, Naomi's uncle is back in the protective fold of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Spinoff spoke to him in April this year, when he confirmed he is an active member of a South Island congregation, although he said he does not hold a position of responsibility, owing to his history of sexual offending.
Naomi says she is appalled to hear Parkes, much like Debbie's abuser Owen Tutty, has been reinstated within the Jehovah's Witnesses. “There are plenty of children in the congregations, there always are,” she says.
“He could be sitting next to one right now.”
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
The wound at the heart of Afrikanerdom: Koos Kombuis describes how a new book about child abuse helped him solve his identity issues
by Koos Kombuis
I recently flew back home from yet another Afrikaans arts festival in the platteland. As it was the last day of the festival, the flight was full of Afrikaans celebrity performing artists. I remember overhearing one of them saying, as we were boarding: “As hierdie vliegtuig vandag val is die hele Afrikaanse kultuur in sy moer.”
I sat on the plane, surrounded by people I knew from my past, having collaborated with many of them, and knowing a lot of their personal lives. It struck me how almost all of us shared certain traits. We had all struggled to get where we were. Many of us, especially those of us who had set out moving boundaries and setting new trends, were filled with ambivalent feelings about our own culture.
Being an Afrikaner has always implied, to me, to have a love-hate relationship with oneself.
And, speaking of relationships: I realised that day, as I looked at my friends and colleagues from the entertainment industry, what a surprising number of us had had turbulent personal lives. Some had struggled with drugs or alcohol. Some had survived messy divorces.
Apart from the personal problems, there was also lots of hostility bubbling under the surface. Though, on the face of it, we all got along with one another, we all knew about the factions, the petty rivalries, the in-fighting and gossip. Oh, yes, we all smiled at each other, but our smiles were hiding so much hurt, so much resentment, so much personal baggage.
Fortunately, the plane did not crash, and we all arrived at our destination, plus all our luggage AND baggage.
It is the year 2018, and the Afrikaners, as a group, are possibly more isolated from the outside world than ever before. We are isolated from our fellow South Africans, we are isolated from the rest of the planet, and we are isolated from ourselves.
That is a surprising paradox, given the fact that our arts industry is thriving. We are making CDs, writing books, producing films. We are creating new works in great quantity and of great quality.
Yet our paradise has a dark side. We may be doing well for ourselves, but we are in hell. There is something rotten in the state of modern Afrikanerdom, and we are powerless to do anything about it. We somehow cannot break free to make real contact with others, to truly connect with ourselves.
The one ray of light in this dark diagnosis is the fact that, as a group and as a nation, we are not all that unique. Many nations have a dark side. Both the British and the Americans are suffering, collectively, from deep inner divisions, and the fact that they voted for Trump and Brexit tells the sorry story of their schizoid states. The Germans are haunted by the shadows of their own history. South African blacks, of course, have their own demons to fight as they struggle to overcome the cultural and economic wounds inflicted by apartheid.
Few nations, however, are as ignorant of the true causes of their own suffering as the Afrikaner. We all know how we feel, but we are not sure why we feel like this.
This ignorance and denial is mirrored in the selective way many of us have chosen to deal with the historical fact of apartheid.
Take Afri-Forum, for instance. Oh, we all love to hate Afri-Forum. We hate them, because they say out loud what many of us secretly think but are afraid to admit to ourselves. They say things like: “Oh, apartheid wasn't all that bad. It certainly wasn't a crime against humanity.” (This same sentiment is often uttered around the ritual braaivleis fires of Afrikanerdom, and often in much less nuanced language.)
I have often thought whether there is a deeper reason for our vehement denial of the pain caused by apartheid. The answer, when it hit me, came from the most unlikely source imaginable.
A few months ago, I happened to meet a prominent counselling psychologist during drinks with friends in a Kalk Bay restaurant. She mentioned that she had just had a book published in America.
“Congratulations! What is the book about?” I asked her.
“It is about survivors of sexual abuse in childhood,” she said.
“What a terrible thing that must be to endure in childhood!” I exclaimed. “I have had a rotten childhood myself, but thank God, I was never sexually molested.”
It was only when I started reading her book, weeks later, that I learnt the terrible truth about my own denial.
In the opening chapters of Working with Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), psychologist Liezel Anguelova outlines eighteen different types of child sexual abuse and classifies them in three categories: “very severe”, “severe” and “less severe”. Among the “less severe” she lists occurrences such as “touching of clothed breasts or genitals”, “use of child as an emotional partner”, and “use of enemas”. Among the “very severe” she lists “genital sex”, “penetration with an object”, “depiction of sexual acts”, et cetera.
It was a heading under the middle section (“severe”), however, that caught my eye: “pornography”.
When I was a very young boy, there was a paperback publication with photographs of scantily-clad women lying around our house. At some stage I picked up the book and glanced at the pictures with interest.
That, however, was not what caused the scar.
It was the day some of my family members brought me the book, forced me to page through it, and stood around laughing at me while I did it, that caused the scar.
It was an incident I had confronted my father with already years before, while he was still alive. I did not realise, at that stage, how much damage he had caused with his age-inappropriate deed. For years, I had thought my problems with relationships, my weakness for voyeurism and my inability to connect the sexual act with emotional intimacy was caused simply by lack of self-control or immaturity.
Once having identified this one incident as the pivotal moment the wound was inflicted, as I read through Anguelova's book, a pattern emerged and I started connecting the dots. My family's obsession with purgatory medicines. The numerous enemas. The time, when I was a toddler, my father taunted me by embracing in front of me in a suggestive way, dressed only in his underpants.
After finishing the book – I read every part of it, also these which did not apply to myself, I thought of how the ultra-strict Calvinist dogmas of my youth had actually caused the impact of the pornography incident to be more severe. Sex was depicted as something evil and naughty, and masturbation was considered a sin.
This teaching in itself, according to Anguelova's system, could be categorised under “less severe” or “psychological” molestation.
Anguelova's book changed everything. I had thought I had worked through all my youth traumas. I had already forgiven my parents. It was all there in a corner of the room: the cardboard boxes filled with notebooks in which I had worked through the pain.
After reading this book, I filled one more notebook. I put it in the top box, and closed it one final time.
And I was free. Finally free. The truth had set me free.
How many of my fellow Afrikaners, not only those of my generation but also many younger than me, carry the scars of their upbringing with them?
You see it all the time, the horror effects of a patriarchal system based on outdated tribal values. The family killings and suicides. There are too many victims, too many cases like Henri van Breda, too many of my friends who simply cannot fix their damaged relationships with their parents and siblings.
Is this what lies at the heart of our hostility to our fellow South Africans? Because the real cruelty of apartheid was not simply the most obvious incidents of torture, murder and jail. Apartheid was a social engineering tool that separated families, degraded peoples' self-respect, and, through the homelands system which virtually forced adult males to seek work on the mines, created an entire generation of blacks who had grown up with absent fathers.
It seems preposterous, on the face of it, to link apartheid with sexual abuse, yet I can see it now, I can see it clearly, and it makes me sick and nauseous to even think of it.
After meeting up with Liezel Anguelova, and reading her book, I sent her one email, asking her: “How many people you treat for childhood sexual abuse are Afrikaners?”
And she replied: “Many. Most of them.”
This, I believe, is the real wound. This is the real reason we are still in denial about apartheid. It's not simply the fact that we cannot face the pain we caused others. More importantly, it's the fact that we cannot face our own pain.
Of course, there is hope. As the era of the Verwoerds and the Bothas recede further into the past, and as many South Africans from different backgrounds start mingling socially or at the workplace, young Afrikaans-speaking people are developing a different perspective on the world. Both my children have had school crushes on, and friendships with, children who are not white. This is the kind of thing that would have caused an uproar as late as the 1990's. In the years between 2000 and 2010, it might have been frowned upon. Today, it is hardly noticed.
It will take a long time for the scars to heal. We will not be a completely normal society until they heal. But perhaps we are slowly getting there.
I sit here, staring at those closed cardboard boxes in the corner of my study, and I think: there, buried inside those boxes, lies my old agonised and bitter self. It is finally dead and dying, like apartheid, even as a new me is being born, a new me who will hopefully find his feet in a new country, finally freed from the hurt and the hell of the four decades after 1948.
NAASCA in the News
Survivor says male sexual abuse needs more attention
by Alayna Chapie, KOMU 8
JEFFERSON CITY - Male sexual abuse happens to one in six boys by the time he is 18, and a survivor says the issue needs more attention.
"I was sexually abused starting at the age of 6 by a family member," Greg Holtmeyer said.
Ninety-five percent of male sexual abuse survivors are abused by a close family member or a close family friend, according to the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA).
Holtmeyer said the abuse went on for a number of years and was traumatizing as a child.
"When you don't announce it at that point in time, when you don't disclose to someone that you're abused, after a while you decide, 'Well it's too late now, why should I?' and you keep that secret and you just bury it with the idea to just forget about it and it will go away--which it never goes away. It's always there," Holtmeyer said.
Holtmeyer didn't say anything to anyone about the abuse until he was 45. He was a teacher at the time and a woman who volunteered at the school noticed something was off.
"I texted her one day and I said, 'I need to talk to you today' and I went down to her room and within minutes, I was doing the proverbially spilling my guts and it was a two-hour session," Holtmeyer said.
The director of Childhood Advocacy for Missouri, Kelly Schultz, said most of the time there aren't any physically signs that a child has been abused.
"What we see are the behavioral concerns, hyper-vigilance, so always head on a swivel. Hyper-vigilant about their own safety and it is often mistaken for hyperactivity. We also see chronic headaches (and) chronic stomach aches, that physically sign of stress that the child is under," Schultz said.
When Holtmeyer was abused, he said it brought on a lot of distrust, insecurities and anger. But at the same time, he was trying to please everyone because he didn't want violence in his life.
In 2011, Holtmeyer decided it was time to help others who have been abused.
"At first, a lot of state agencies and organizations, legislators didn't want to talk to me. They said it's just too controversial for them to talk about. No one wanted to hear about it," Holtmeyer said.
Male sexual abuse is a taboo topic, Holtmeyer said. Males aren't supposed to be victims and abuse isn't something that is supposed to happen to them. When it is brought out to the open, they don't know what will happen.
"Part of the reason a lot of men won't come forward, it's the fear of the unknown. They would rather live a very unhappy life the way that they are versus coming out and talking about it and not knowing what friends and family would say," Holtmeyer said.
Schultz said talking to your child about sexual abuse can begin in the summer.
"You're putting swimming suits on a kid and you just pause and say the parts that are covered by the swimming suit are special. They are private," Schultz said.
Holtmeyer has had a very successful year so far, giving presentations in many different states across the country and bringing awareness to male sexual abuse.
If you or someone you know has been abuse you can contact Greg Holtmeyer at email@example.com
There has also been a GoFundMe page set up to support male sexual abuse advocacy.
Female Sex Offenders are More Common Than You Think, Revels Study
Researchers say the data gives an insight into the one-dimensional stereotype of women
by Sarah Young
A US study has revealed that female sex offenders are more common than first thought.
While cultural stereotypes lead us to consider sexual offences by women as rare, a team of researchers at the UCLA School of Law have found this to be far from the truth.
Led by Lara Stemple, the researchers analysed data from four large-scale federal agency surveys and found that these types of cases against both male and female victims are surprisingly common.
Published in Aggression and Violent Behaviour the researchers stress that while they are in no way intending to minimise the impact of sexual violence perpetrated by men, that their results are vital when considering “stereotypes between sexual victimisation and gender.”
Looking at data from the Center For Disease Control's Survey, researchers found that in 2011 equal numbers of men and women reported being forced into non-consensual sex.
Similarly, the 2010 survey showed comparable results estimating that nearly 4.5 million men in the US had, at some stage in their lives, been forced to penetrate another person – and that in 79.2 per cent of cases, the perpetrator forcing the sexual act was a woman.
Stemple's team also considered data from the U.S. Census Bureau which revealed that in 2012, a study of a percentage women and men who admitted to forcing sex found that 43.6 per cent of that subset were women, compared to 56.4 per cent of men.
Most recently they pointed to a 2014 college study of 284 men and boys which found that 43 had been sexually coerced into unwanted intercourse, with 95 per cent of the perpetrators reported as being female.
The researchers say that the data gives an interesting insight into the stereotype of women being considered only as passive or harmless. Instead, it highlights the reality that, while at a lesser rate, women can and do sexually offend.
“We call for feminist approaches – expansively interpreted – to challenge these stereotypes, making room to consider women who are abusive, power seeking, and sexually aggressive, while taking into account the troubled background many such women possess,” the researchers concluded.
“Those victimised by women are doubly harmed when we fail to treat their abuse as worthy of concern.”
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is the target of new allegations of sexual misconduct
by Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer -- Wash Post
A month after the Vatican suspended Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from ministry, saying the prominent former D.C. archbishop had been credibly accused of sexually abusing a teenager decades ago, four additional complaints about sexual misconduct by the cardinal have surfaced.
Once a globe-trotting representative of the Catholic Church worldwide and one of the architects of the church's policy on sexual abuse, McCarrick's precipitous fall over the past month has shocked Catholics, especially in Washington, where he was a popular archbishop from 2001 to 2006.
McCarrick's future now rests with Pope Francis, who as pontiff oversees the cardinals. Many church-watchers think this is a make-or-break moment for Francis because of McCarrick's stature and the fact that Catholic clerical sex-abuse crises are exploding in Chile and Honduras.
In the most recent allegation, a Virginia man accused McCarrick of abusing him for nearly 20 years, beginning when he was about 11 years old. The man filed a police report on July 17 with the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, a copy of which The Washington Post has seen.
Three other allegations have also surfaced against McCarrick, from men who said he sexually harassed or abused them early in their religious careers decades ago when they were young adults. Two were seminarians and one was a young priest at the time.
The highest-ranking U.S. Catholic leader to be removed for a child-sexual-abuse allegation, McCarrick declined through his canon lawyer Michael Ritty to comment last week. Susan Gibbs, his former archdiocesan spokeswoman, said that she had spoken with him and that he said he was committed to following the Vatican process.
Last month, when the New York Archdiocese said McCarrick had been credibly accused of groping a 16-year-old altar boy in the early 1970s and suspended him from the priesthood, McCarrick released a statement saying he had no recollection of the incident and asserted his innocence.
Then came more allegations.
The Virginia man, now 60, told The Post on Friday that his family was close with McCarrick when he was young. “I liked his attention. He had this aura,” said James, who spoke on the condition that his last name not be used.
“I was raised in a way to trust priests, to trust the Catholic Church. I was to believe they were always going to help me,” he said.
One summer when he was 11, James said that McCarrick walked in on him changing in his family's house in New Jersey after swimming in the pool. James turned around to hide his nakedness, and McCarrick told him to turn to him, he said. Then McCarrick dropped his own pants, James recalled. He said, “See, we're the same. It's okay. We're the same.”
It was the start of an abusive relationship that lasted well into James's adulthood, said James, whose story was first reported by the New York Times. He said it drove him to alcoholism as a teen. He is now long sober but said the abuse has haunted him since.
“What he did to me was he ruined my entire life. I couldn't break the hold. I couldn't live up to my ability — to stay employed, married, have children. I lost all those opportunities because of him,” James said. Breaking into tears, he said, “I try to be a really good kid every day.”
Vatican representatives Greg Burke and Paloma García Ovejero did not respond to several requests for comment.
The day the Vatican announced McCarrick's suspension, the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark said that in the 2000s they had received three complaints of sexual misconduct by McCarrick toward adult men. Two resulted in settlements to the accusers, they said.
On Friday, in response to James's complaint, Metuchen Bishop James Checchio said he was hearing about it for the first time.
“The abuse of anyone who is vulnerable is both shameful and horrific,” Checchio said in a statement, adding that “the abuse of a minor by a priest is an abomination and sickens and saddens us all.”
Both New Jersey settlements involved seminarians who were training to become priests in McCarrick's dioceses decades ago. The Post spoke to one of the two seminarians and also reviewed a lawsuit filed by a third man, a young priest, that was later withdrawn. All accused McCarrick, who was their superior, of varying levels of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Robert Ciolek, now a lawyer in his 50s, told The Post that when he was a seminarian in New Jersey in the 1980s, McCarrick would invite small groups of men to a beach house, then ask some of them to sleep in his bed — and more. He said McCarrick would touch him and other seminarians, and order them to give him back rubs. Ciolek said he did not experience or see touching below the waist or kissing.
“I didn't want him doing that. I didn't like it. I wished it didn't happen,” he told The Post. But he said he felt powerless to say no to a bishop's request.
Ciolek said he decided to come forward for the first time in the early 2000s, after the Boston Globe's exposé of child sexual abuse in the church. He said he first told the Diocese of Metuchen about a religion teacher at his Catholic high school who abused him when he was a teenager and then told the diocese about McCarrick. In 2004, the church paid him $80,000, he said, in a process he described as a cold “numbers game.”
“There was no discussion or questioning or disbelief or awe,” he told The Post. “Never any words of sorrow or expressions of sorrow from anyone as it related to McCarrick.”
The Post has extensive files on the case of a second seminarian, including letters between officials of the Metuchen Diocese and therapists who examined the man, and the man's own writings about McCarrick's inappropriate sexual behavior toward him.
The man, who had gone on to become a priest, admitted in the 1990s that he had touched two minors himself. He said his confused sexual behavior was the result of the abuse he'd suffered by McCarrick in the 1980s and other clerics while he was a seminarian.
Clinicians at a church-run treatment facility, the St. John Vianney Center in Pennsylvania, wrote in their evaluations that they believed he had been a victim of sexual misconduct by “the former bishop of his diocese.” The man later wrote to then-Metuchen Bishop Edward Hughes a detailed letter in 1994 about a fishing trip with McCarrick. “This great ‘honor' turned out to be a horrible nightmare,” he wrote.
McCarrick later took him to dinner in New York City and to an apartment, where there was one bed, he wrote Hughes. Feeling “totally frightened and trapped,” he went to bed, and McCarrick rubbed his crotch, he wrote.
Hughes wrote back to the therapist saying that he found the allegations “very troubling” but that he wasn't sure he believed them. “At the present time, I do not have sufficient factual basis for making such a determination.”
Hughes died in 2012.
The church paid the man $100,000, the New York Times reported. He was eventually removed from ministry in the mid-2000s. The Post does not name victims of sexual abuse without their consent. Calls made to the man were not returned.
In August 2011, a Brazilian priest filed a complaint against the Newark and Metuchen dioceses, saying that in the 1990s McCarrick invited him to a beach house in Sea Girt, N.J., and “inappropriately used his power .?.?. by forcing Plaintiff to engage in sexual acts.” The complaint says the then-bishop “persuaded” the man to take off his clothes, forced “unwanted” sexual activity on him — both at the beach house and at the Waldorf Astoria.
“Plaintiff was fearful and repulsed,” said the complaint filed in Superior Court of New Jersey. “Cardinal McCarrick, through manipulation, deception and fraud .?.?. attempted to convince Plaintiff that engaging in the sexual relationship with Cardinal McCarrick was a necessary and accepted practice in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.”
According to the complaint, the man told another priest of the diocese, as well as Hughes — who was the Metuchen bishop — who “advised Plaintiff to forget about the sexual incidents conducted by Cardinal McCarrick and to forgive him for the good of the Roman Catholic Church.”
Phone calls and an email to the Brazilian priest were not returned.
In 2012, the Metuchen Diocese sued the Brazilian priest, saying he had misused parish funds and had put leaflets on cars around Middlesex County, N.J., falsely alleging top clerics in the diocese were gay. It was unclear how that lawsuit was resolved.
Based on the allegations about his client's behavior, the priest's attorney Evan Goldman said he opted to withdraw his client's suit against the church. However, he recalled the priest sobbing in his office and church officials locally “pooh-poohing it. They weren't taking it seriously based on the way it came about. .?.?. It impacted him tremendously. None of his complaints were being listened to.”
Asked about the three cases, Metuchen spokeswoman Erin Friedlander, who said she was also speaking for the Archdiocese of Newark, said each claim that came to them about McCarrick was reported to law enforcement. She said that the first complaint about him came in 2004 and that the two settlements were reached quickly and reported to the Vatican — its representatives in Rome and in Washington.
She did not respond to questions about the earlier complaints in the 1990s made to Hughes or why McCarrick was allowed to remain in ministry, despite the complaints and settlements, until a few weeks ago.
Friedlander said the current Newark archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, “has expressed his intention to discuss this tragedy with the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to articulate standards that will assure high standards of respect by bishops, priests and deacons for all adults. We can confirm that the highest level of the Holy See is investigating a number of points raised in the ongoing questioning.”
Ciolek said he met with Tobin this month and offered to actively help work to combat clerical abuse. After many years of public silence, he said, he was speaking out in part “to help promote the change.”
The Rev. Boniface Ramsey, a New York City priest, said in the 1980s he had joined the faculty of Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., when he began hearing reports from seminarians, including some who told him they had firsthand experiences, with McCarrick, the local archbishop, inviting a group to the beach and having one bed short so one man had to sleep with him.
Ramsey said he called the Vatican's U.S. representative, Gabriel Montalvo, in the fall of 2000 and told him what he'd heard about McCarrick, who had just been named to the post of D.C. archbishop. Montalvo strongly encouraged Ramsey to put everything in writing, Ramsey said. Ramsey later told Montalvo that he was afraid McCarrick would find out. “He told me: ‘Send the letter! What do you think we are — fools? Send the letter.' So I sent the letter. I never got a response.”
Montalvo died in 2006.
In March 2015, Ramsey said he ran into McCarrick at the funeral of Cardinal Edward Egan of New York City and became upset that the cardinal was still out and about, he said. He wrote a letter a few months later to Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, one of Francis's key advisers on preventing clerical abuse, saying the issue was about “a form of sexual abuse/harassment/intimidation or maybe simply high-jinks as practiced by Theodore Cardinal McCarrick with his seminarians and perhaps other young men” when McCarrick was in New Jersey.
Within a few days, Ramsey received a note back from the Rev. Robert Kickham, O'Malley's secretary. O'Malley, Kickham clarified, as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, is responsible for “evaluating child protection policies and procedures .?.?. and to offer recommendations to improve” those policies. Commission members don't review individual cases that fall under local authorities, he wrote. “Please know of our appreciation for your care and concern for the good of the Church and the people of God.”
Ramsey provided copies of his letter to O'Malley and Kickham's response to The Post. O'Malley and his spokesman declined to comment.
“People are sick and tired of the subject, but feel more liberated than they did in the past to talk about it,” said Russell Shaw, a longtime spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and author of several books about the priesthood and American Catholicism. That said, even after the crisis that began nearly two decades ago, Shaw said, many Catholics “still want to continue to believe in the priesthood and its impermeability toward this kind of corruption. A lot of ordinary Catholics continue to hang on to their instinctive trust longer than facts warranted.”
Sister Katarina Schuth, considered one of the country's leading experts on priest training, said the lofty position of McCarrick is shaking even Catholics left cynical by the crisis. “This is not one more thing. I think it's having a stronger impact.”
Man Says Cardinal McCarrick, His ‘Uncle Ted,' Sexually Abused Him for Years
by Sharon Otterman -- New York Times
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick was removed from ministry last month over a substantiated allegation that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old altar boy in 1971. Mannie Gracia/Reuters
James was 11 years old when Father Theodore E. McCarrick came into his bedroom in Northern New Jersey, looking for the bathroom. Father McCarrick, then 39 and a rising star in the Roman Catholic church, was a close family friend, whom James and his six siblings called Uncle Teddy. James was changing out of his bathing suit to get ready for dinner.
“He said, turn around,” James, who is now 60, recalled in an interview last week. “And I really don't want to, because I don't want to show anybody anything.” But he did, he said, and was shocked when Father McCarrick dropped his pants, too. “See, we are the same,” James said he told him. “It's O.K., we are the same.”
It was the beginning of a sexually abusive relationship that would last nearly 20 years, James said in the interview, the first time he has spoken publicly about the trauma. He asked that his last name be withheld to protect a sibling.
As the decades passed, Father McCarrick became Cardinal McCarrick, one of the most prominent public faces of the Catholic Church in America. He was suddenly removed from ministry last month over a substantiated allegation that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old altar boy in 1971.
The news changed James's life. “I got down on my knees and I thanked God that I am not alone and it is going to be O.K.,” James said, through sobs, recalling the moment. “And I can tell somebody and someone is going to believe me.”
Interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times after Cardinal McCarrick's removal showed that some in the church hierarchy had known for decades about allegations that he was sexually harassing and touching adult seminarians. On Monday, The Times reported that a former priest, Robert Ciolek, had received an $80,000 settlement in 2005, in part over allegations that Cardinal McCarrick, as a New Jersey bishop in the 1980s, had sexually harassed and inappropriately touched him. Another former seminarian received a $100,000 settlement for similar allegations in 2007.
But James' allegations — that he was repeatedly sexually abused as a minor — are the most explosive yet to be leveled against the cardinal, who is now 88 and living in seclusion in the Washington, D.C., area. On Monday, James filed a police report detailing his accusations against the cardinal with the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office in Virginia, where he lives.
Cardinal McCarrick, through a spokeswoman, Susan Gibbs, said on Wednesday that he had not been notified of the accusation, so he could not respond. But she said he was committed to following the process the church has put in place for abuse allegations.
James said he had tried to tell his father that he was being abused when he was 15 or 16. But Father McCarrick was so beloved by his family, he said, and considered so holy, that the idea was unfathomable.
James was baptized by Father McCarrick on June 15, 1958, two weeks after he was ordained as a priest, records from Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tenafly, N.J., show.
“He had chosen me to be his special boy,” James said in the phone interview, with his lawyer, Patrick Noaker, listening. “If I go back to my family, they tell me that it's good for you to be with him. And if you go to try to tell somebody, they say ‘I think you are mistaken.' So what you do is you clam up, and you stay inside your own little shoe box, and you don't come out for 40 years.”
After James learned the cardinal had been removed, he began to tell his siblings what had happened to him. His sister Karen said in an interview that her brother had been particularly close to the young priest.
“It was explained to us how Jimmy was special to Father McCarrick, because of that very special thing that happened, that he was his first baptism,” Karen said.
The connection between Father McCarrick and James's family was deep. The cardinal has talked in interviews about how his best high school friend was from a Swiss family, and how the two men spent a year in Switzerland after graduation. That friend was James's uncle.
Karen, now 62, remembered that the young priest would bring her family marshmallow candies each Halloween and hard candy each Christmas.
“I never thought about him other than Uncle Teddy,” she said. “He was equal to the other uncles, and very much a part of our lives.”
When the family moved to Hillsborough, Calif., in 1971, Father McCarrick visited repeatedly, James recalled. James had a difficult transition to his new home, and was struggling in school and getting into trouble. In 1972, James asked Father McCarrick to write him a recommendation to a boarding school. He did, James said.
By then, James said, Father McCarrick had begun abusing him sexually. When he was 13, he said, the priest first touched his penis. At 14, he said, Father McCarrick masturbated him in a beach parking lot. When he was 15, James said, Father McCarrick took him to a restaurant in San Francisco, the Tonga Room, and poured vodka in his drinks. He then brought him back to his hotel room and masturbated him and brought himself to orgasm, James said.
“I was absolutely disgusted, afraid,” James said. “I felt fear. What have I done?"
On visits to the East Coast, James, then 16 or 17, said he would go with other boys with Father McCarrick to a fishing camp in Eldred, N.Y., identical to the one described by adult seminarians who said McCarrick abused them there. On these visits, they would sleep together naked, James said, and Father McCarrick would touch him.
When James turned 18, he joined the Navy, and was stationed outside Chicago. When Father McCarrick, who became a bishop in 1977, was in town, he would call James to his hotel. When James was transferred to San Diego, Bishop McCarrick would invite him to the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles, James said.
“He introduced me to the most incredible people in the whole wide world,” James said, adding that the bishop introduced him as his nephew. “Bob Hope. I met the scarecrow from the ‘Wizard of Oz.'”
James described repeated sexual touching that always stopped short of intercourse. There was no kissing, no holding hands, which is also how the adult seminarians had described their alleged abuse. Like James, they said the bishop called himself “Uncle Ted” and them his “nephews.”
James left the Navy in 1980, he said, and moved back to the East Coast. He said he would sometimes stay overnight with Bishop McCarrick in the rectory in Metuchen, N.J., and later in Newark, after Bishop McCarrick was promoted to archbishop in 1986.
By then, James said he was drinking heavily and doing drugs, habits that began in his teenage years. He said he tried to dissociate himself from the archbishop in 1985, after meeting a woman he went on to marry.
The last time he visited Archbishop McCarrick, in 1989, he asked for money, he said; McCarrick refused, and never called him again. By then, James was 31.
Instead of feeling relief, James said, he spiraled downward. “I am done,” he said. “He has thrown me away.”
His marriage fell apart, and in 1991, he said, he attempted suicide. He landed in detox and has been sober since, he said.
Through his life, James said, he only told a few people that the priest had abused him. His younger brother. His uncle, Cardinal McCarrick's former friend, now deceased, who advised him to take the secret to his grave. As James became sober, he also told his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor and a therapist, he said.
But now James wants to take action against Cardinal McCarrick, to give courage to others who might have been abused, and to find some justice for himself, he said.
His lawyer, Mr. Noaker, said that James's police report will be forwarded to sex crimes investigators in San Francisco, New Jersey and possibly New York. He provided The Times with a copy of the report's receipt, dated Monday. The statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes may block criminal charges or civil lawsuits, but Mr. Noaker is hopeful. He will also seek compensation from the church.
James's sister, Karen, said that she was horrified and surprised when he told her in late June that the cardinal had abused him. She recalled how she had attended Bishop McCarrick's installation as archbishop of Washington in 2000 as part of his official entourage. “We were part of a superstar's life,” she said.
But she said she believed James “100 percent.”
“My brother has had such a horrible life,” she said, “it just doesn't make any sense, that his life would have been so different from his six siblings. Father Ted was supposed to fix this horrible boy, and he sure fixed him.”