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"News of the Week"  

January 2019 - Week 5
Terri Lanahan
Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.

United Kingdom

Fifty-five men arrested in police investigation into child abuse in West Yorkshire

Investigators urge more victims to come forward

by Tim Wyatt

Police arrested 55 men as part of an investigation into child sexual exploitation in West Yorkshire.

The inquiry began when seven women came forward to say they were sexually abused as children in the Dewsbury and Batley area between 2002 and 2009.

The men were arrested and interviewed over the last few months, West Yorkshire Police said. They have now been released under investigation.

They are all from Dewsbury, Bradford and Batley, the force said.

Detective Inspector Ian Thornes said the operation showed the force was committed to investigating both current and historic sexual offences against children.

Detective constable failed to properly investigate child abuse claims

“Child sexual abuse and exploitation is an abhorrent and heinous crime and one which affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said in a statement. “Safeguarding and protecting children remains the top priority for West Yorkshire Police.

“We would urge anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, whether recent or historic, to report it to the police.”

The force has specialist safeguarding units across West Yorkshire, staffed by police officers dedicated to tackling child abuse and sexual exploitation, Det Insp Thornes added.

“Please be assured that you will be listened to, taken seriously and supported by professionals with experience of dealing with these kind of offences," he said.



Advocates say public needs to report cases of child abuse in wake of Saint John neglect case

by Staff, The Canadian Press

Mon, Jan 28: A report on a horrific child-neglect case has laid bare the filth, squalor and mistreatment suffered by five young children – and how New Brunswick authorities repeatedly failed to meet protection standards. Morganne Campbell brings us the latest.

Two recent reports have highlighted a case in Saint John three years ago, where five young children were found in a situation of filth and squalor where they were malnourished, suffered serious dental decay and missed long periods of their schooling.

There was human and animal feces on the walls, floors and bathtub and on the children, and there was very little food in the home.

New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate Norm Bosse says he knows there are other cases out there.

“We don't have a list. We're not the front line. We're not the Department of Social Development, but when we get calls for advocacy, for help or complaint, we know there are other cases,” he said Tuesday.

One social worker in the Saint John case told Bosse she was always busy with other crises in her caseload. In fact, when the case became a formal child protection file, it was one of the Saint John team's “more benign cases,” his report said.

Bosse said while social workers do their best to spot issues, the public needs to report anything they see in order to protect children.

“If you've seen a situation and didn't report it, don't be accusing social workers of not doing their work. They need to know or else they can't act. We all have a responsibility to report that. If you see abuse, you have to report it,” he said.

Both Bosse and consultant George Savoury have recommended changes to improve the system and help reduce social workers' caseload.

Bosse said in many social workers are spending more time in their offices doing paperwork and managing their caseloads than seeing their clients.

Savoury is calling for a Child Protection Act for New Brunswick – the only province without one – in order to put a greater emphasis on child protection.

Both are calling for an end to the provincial call centre in Moncton, so people reporting cases of abuse or neglect actually speak to social workers in their part of the province. They say such a system would get better results.

Miguel LeBlanc, executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers, said for the most part the child protection system is working, but government needs to make changes to improve service and reduce burnout among social workers.

“This is one of the most stressful and challenging jobs working with the most vulnerable individuals in our society in very difficult situations. We need to ensure that these social workers have the supports they need,” LeBlanc said.

“Currently there are a lot of social workers who are working on a casual or temporary basis. Those positions should be considered essential and be hired on a permanent basis,” he said.

LeBlanc said he hopes the provincial government uses its upcoming budget to address caseload issues and hire more social workers.

“There are other cases where children face an unbelievable amount of abuse, and that's why the public needs to report so that social workers can intervene appropriately,” he said.

In neighbouring Nova Scotia, Alec Stratford, the executive director of the province's College of Social Workers, said the system is on the brink of crisis and social workers are increasingly stressed and burning out.

“Social workers are running from crisis to crisis trying to put out fires. This puts a lot of strain on the system. Our burnouts and stress rates are increasingly high,” he said.

Stratford said more resources are needed to deal with families before they get into crisis. He said evidence continually shows that families who stay together have better outcomes.

He said one of the biggest factors is the child poverty rate.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2015 nearly 1.2 million children across Canada were living in low-income households, representing about 17 per cent of all Canadian children. That jumps to more than 20 per cent in the three Maritime provinces.

In the Saint John case, the parents were sentenced to two years in jail and the children are now living with their paternal grandparents.

Bosse said all the children are making gains physically, socially and emotionally, but the oldest boy – now 11 years old – struggles with separation from his parents and blames himself and his brothers for going into care.

“We must ensure they continue to recover from the damage of their past by supporting them in realizing their greatest potential,” Bosse said.


Los Angeles

Michael Jackson's family to fight child abuse accusers with their own movie

Jackson's nephew Taj is reportedly working on a series of rebuttal films.


Late singer Michael Jacksons family has decided to fight child abuse accusers with its own movie.

Michael's nephew Taj, 45, is preparing a "series of rebuttal films" to counter the "vicious and calculated lies" of Wade Robson and James Safechuck.

Both Safechuck, 40, and Robson, 36, claim that they were repeatedly abused in childhood by Michael, in a new documentary "Leaving Neverland".

But former boyband singer Taj -- son of MJ's brother Tito -- is planning to call on celebrities and former child companions of the superstar, including Macauley Culkin, to defend him.

A friend of the family told "The Jacksons are not taking this lying down and are working on a fight back video. Taj and his brothers knew Wade and James and spent time with them. They see their documentary as a complete betrayal and an elaborate plan for fame and attention.

"For so many years both those men said they loved Michael and denied all molestation".

The Jackson estate described coverage of director Dan Reed's "Leaving Neverland" documentary as a "public lynching" after it made a debut at the Sundance Film Festival last week.

The film contained graphic allegations of abuse by Michael against Safechuck and Robson, shocking movie critics who went along to the four-hour screening.

But Taj is insisting that MJ "died an innocent, vindicated man" and promising that his film will "conclusively destroy decades of salacious myths" about the star.

He has launched an intense defence of his uncle on a GoFundMe account, which he set up to crowdfund money for the film. The page has so far raised over 28,000 pounds and has a 590,000 pounds target.


Los Angeles

MORE VICTIMS? Michael Jackson ‘was running most sophisticated child sex operation the world has known' – and was ‘abusing kids until the day he died'

A lawyer for Jacko accusers told The Sun Online he believes there are many victims of the singer still out there

by Emma Parry

Michael Jackson was running “the most sophisticated” child sex abuse operation “the world has known”, according to legal papers.

It is also believed the King of Pop was abusing kids “until the day he died” and has “many more” victims out there, a lawyer for Jacko accusers Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, told The Sun Online.

It comes following after the bombshell documentary Leaving Neverland featuring the pair's horrifiyng child sex abuse claims against the star screened at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday.

While the singer's estate has come out and denounced the documentary and denied all child abuse claims – others believe Wade and James's accusations are just the tip of the iceberg.

“We know Mr Jackson was abusing kids for a number of years and the thing about paedophiles is that it is an affliction and a crime that you don't really age out of,” lawyer Vince Finaldi, the alleged victims' lawyer, said.

“We believe he was sexually abusing kids all the way up until the day he died – therefore there would be many more victims out there that have not come forward yet.”

The Thriller singer is also accused of setting up two companies as a front so he could find, groom and sexually abuse kids, a 2016 legal complaint obtained by The Sun Online claims.

Australian dancer Wade details seven years of harrowing abuse allegations in the lawsuit originally filed under seal in Los Angeles Superior Court in May 2013.

He claims he met Jackson after winning a dance competition when he was just five-years-old.

By age seven he began having sleepovers with the singer – where he claims Jacko shoved his hands down his underpants following a night of “pillow fighting, video games, tickling and other ‘playtime' activities”.

“That was the beginning of Michael Jackson's sexual abuse of Plaintiff which over the next seven years would regularly include sexual acts,” the lawsuit says.

The sexual acts included French kissing, masturbation, oral sex and naked showers together, the complaint states – and Jackson would allegedly make young Wade call him “Dad” and tell him he loved him.

It adds: “Michael Jackson would use the words ‘love', ‘rub', ‘penis', and ‘butt' and ‘it feels so good'. Michael Jackson would make moaning sounds.”


When Wade was just seven-years-old, Jackson said to him: “We can never tell anyone what WE are doing. People are ignorant and would never understand that we love each other and this is how we show it. If anyone were ever to find out, out lives and careers would be over.”

The alleged abuse would take place at Jackson's Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara County, California, or in a property he nicknamed the “Hideout” in the Century City area of LA.

According to the lawsuit, the singer attempted to “perform anal sex” on the then 14-year-old but it was “unsuccessful” and Jackson became less sexually interested in Wade as he went through puberty.

Now lawyers for Wade and James are trying to prove that the abuse was so widespread, Jackson even created two businesses – MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures – in order to arrange “encounters” with young children.

The two entertainment companies were “specifically designed to locate, attract, lure and seduce child sex abuse victims” an updated 2016 complaint filed in the same case states.

“MJJ Production and MJJ Ventures were held out to the public to be businesses dedicated to creating and distributing multimedia entertainment by Michael Jackson, however, in fact, they actually served dual purposes.

“The thinly veiled, covert second purpose of these businesses was to operate as a child sexual abuse operation… in fact under this dual purpose Michael Jackson and select few managing agents/ employees in MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures's inner circle designed, developed and operated what is likely the most sophisticated public child sexual abuse procurement and facilitation organisation the world has known.”

A judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2017 arguing that the two companies could not be liable – although he didn't rule on the credibility of the sex abuse claims themselves.

Lawyers are now appealing – and a decision is due this Autumn.

Californian lawyer Finaldi added: “I'm absolutely positive we're going to win this appeal and we'll be back in the trial court and what we're looking for is a trial by a jury of 12 to render a verdict as to whether these kids were abused or not.

“And if they were – the extent to which MJJ Productions – which was the production company – was responsible for that abuse.”

If the case does go to trial, the court documents contains a number of witnesses who could be called on to testify against Jackson.

Neverland estate manager Mariano Quindoy witnessed Jackson “kissing and touching” Wade and “fondling” his genitals as well as seeing “several incidences of suspicious activity” against James, according to legal papers.

A maid name Blanca Francia is described as witnessing Jackson and Wade naked in the shower together – and seeing the youngster's head pressed against the singer's stomach area.

And a Neverland security guard named Charli Michaels also claims to have found Wade's mum “crying and upset” after she was told she was not allowed to see her son on Mother's Day because he and Jackson were “rehearsing a dance routine” and could not be disturbed.

Wade describes how he was so “brainwashed” into being a “good soldier” by Jackson he didn't believe he was sexually abused until he was older – and “swore to Michael Jackson that he would go to the grave and never tell anyone,” according to court papers.

In 1993, when Jordan Chandler, another young boy, came forward and alleged Jackson had been sexually abusing him, the singer would ring Wade “nearly every day” and coach him what to say if he was ever asked.

Eventually Wade was brought in for questioning during the case and denied all sexual abuse – and the criminal charges against Jacko were dropped.

Wade also claims he was pressured to testify at Jackson's child sex abuse trial in 2005 – and he again denied any abuse.

Tragically, when Wade was 20 his dad killed himself – and the thought that his son had been sexually abused “was a huge source of anxiety and depression for his father”, according to the lawsuit.

Jackson's estate has since issued a full statement denying all the abuse allegations and calling the Leaving Neverland filmmakers “admitted liars”.


The statement said: “Leaving Neverland isn't a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact.

“These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers.



Red Mass: child abuse survivors protest against Catholic event for legal profession

Care Leavers Australasia Network calls for ‘separation of church and state'

by Melissa Davey

Child abuse survivors and advocates will stage a protest at Catholic mass events being held for the legal profession on Tuesday, saying the church and state should be separate.

Known as “Red Mass”, the annual event is attended by judges, magistrates and barristers dressed in their robes and wigs to mark the start of the legal year. Bishop Tony Randazzo will preside over the mass held at St Mary's cathedral in Sydney, while Archbishop Denis Hart will preside over Melbourne's event at St Patrick's cathedral.

Leonie Sheedy is the chief executive of the Care Leavers Australasia Network [Clan], an organisation representing children abused in orphanages and other institutions that historically cared for wards of the state. Many of those institutions were operated by churches.

“If legal professions want to go to church, they can go in their own time – not on the taxpayers' time,” Sheedy said.

“I don't think there should be any of these religious services for the start of the legal year … There needs to be a separation of church and state. There is a conflict here because many legal professionals represent the state and they're paid by the state.

“We want to know that the people hearing abuse cases involving Catholic institutions and Catholic clergy are fair and impartial.”

Guardian Australia contacted the archdiocese of Sydney for comment but was referred to the St Thomas More Society, a group of Catholic and non-Catholic legal professionals and law students who organise the Red Mass each year at St Mary's cathedral. The president of the Society, Michael McAuley, said the Red Mass had been celebrated in Sydney each year since 1931 to ask for God's blessing on those whose lives are touched by law, and that law will be accompanied by justice.

“These various services bring together different cultures and traditions in a quintessentially Australian way,” he said. “This tradition of independent and impartial justice also goes back to the ancient Greeks – without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”

Sheedy said the masses were also inappropriate given numerous Catholic-run organisations were yet to join the national redress scheme for survivors of institutional sexual abuse. The Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Charity, the Marist Brothers and Christian Brothers are among those yet to formally join.

McAuley said he was “well aware of the criticisms of the redress scheme”.

“The amendments to the Civil Liability Act passed by the NSW parliament last year provide another option, namely common law proceedings which may provide more adequate compensation,” he said.

Dr Judy Courtin, a lawyer and advocate who represents victims of institutional abuse including those abused in institutions run by the archdiocese of Melbourne, said many survivors of years of historical abuse had received woeful settlements through the archdiocese's Melbourne response scheme. She wants the archdiocese to set aside the deed of release many recipients signed that barred them from taking legal action to pursue further redress.

“And yet the archdiocese is refusing to set aside deeds, saying that the process used under the Melbourne response was fair and just and independent,” Courtin said. “They're relying 100% of the legal enforceability of those deeds, and there are hundreds and hundreds of them.

“And now, at the same time, you've got parts of the legal profession celebrating shoulder-to-shoulder with the archdiocese that continues to be so cruel and unjust to victims. The archdiocese is celebrating the new year start for the legal system – yet it has crushed victims for decades by relying on the black letter of the law.”


Seoul, South Korea

Former South Korean Governor Convicted of Sexual Abuse

A South Korean appeals court has sentenced a former provincial governor to 3½ years in prison on charges of sexually abusing his secretary, in the highest profile conviction yet from investigations triggered by the country's growing #MeToo movement.


A South Korean appeals court sentenced a former provincial governor to 3½ years in prison on Friday on charges of sexually abusing his secretary, in the highest profile conviction yet from investigations triggered by the country's growing #MeToo movement.

A Seoul High Court official said Ahn Hee-jung was found guilty on most counts after being accused of molestation, sexual assault and abuse of authority. The official did not want to be named, citing office rules.

Ahn, 54, had been considered a possible presidential candidate, and was a runner-up to current President Moon Jae-in in the ruling party's presidential primary in April 2017.

But he stepped down as governor of South Chungcheong province last March amid public anger over allegations of sexual abuse raised by his then-secretary, Kim Ji-eun. Kim said in a television interview that Ahn had raped her several times since June 2017 and that she couldn't say no because of how powerful he was.

A lower court acquitted Ahn in August, citing a lack of evidence proving that he abused his authority to force his secretary to have sex.

Ahn, who said the sex was consensual, can appeal the conviction to the Supreme Court.

After Friday's verdict was announced, Ahn told the judge that "I have nothing to say," according to Yonhap news agency, and was later escorted in handcuffs by court officials to a bus that took him to a correction center in southern Seoul.

In a statement released through her lawyer, Kim thanked the court for seeing "the truth, just the way it is," and said she hopes the verdict will give strength to other victims of sexual abuse who have struggled in their attempts to seek accountability.

Ahn is the first prominent politician to be jailed after being accused in the country's growing #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct, which has led to indictments and convictions of powerful men in arts, sports and government after victims came forward.

Last week, the Seoul Central District Court sentenced former senior prosecutor Ahn Tae-geun to two years in prison for abusing his authority by transferring junior colleague Seo Ji-hyeon to an unfavorable provincial job in 2015 after she demanded that he apologize for allegedly groping her at a funeral. Seo went public with her allegations in January last year.

South Korea's human rights commission plans to interview thousands of adult and child athletes about a culture of abuse in sports after a wave of female athletes, including two-time Olympic short-track speed skating champion Shim Suk-hee, said they had been raped or assaulted by their coaches.


Global Study

Sexual abuse of boys often overlooked by state laws, global study warns

Stronger support urged for young men affected by abuse as researchers find existing measures tailored towards girls

by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Sexual abuse of boys is “barely addressed” by the laws in many countries, according to a global study that warns of a lack of support for young male survivors.

The study, which examined child rape laws in 40 countries, found that just under half of jurisdictions lacked legal protections for boys. In many cases, laws were specific to girls and did not recognise boys as victims.

Researchers also identified a tendency for support services, including shelters and legal aid, to be geared towards women and girls.

“Often this is bundled up into an issue of violence against women, and therefore it is catering to girls rather than boys,” said Katherine Stewart, a consultant for Economist Intelligence Unit, which produced the report.

It is estimated that 18% of girls and 8% of boys globally have experienced childhood sexual abuse, according to a study conducted in 2011. However, abuse among boys is thought to be higher in some countries, such as Kenya, where a Unicef study found that two in every 10 men experienced abuse in childhood.

Social stigma, macho stereotypes and homophobia all contribute towards boys being less likely to report abuse, according to the report. The authors suggested that boys should be given tools and terminology that allow them to feel more comfortable reporting abuse or exploitation.

The report, which ranked countries according to how well they are confronting child sexual abuse and exploitation, warned that tackling abuse should be a global priority.

Greater internet access, combined with the growth of young populations in many countries, has increased the number of children at risk, the report said. Heightened instability due to armed conflict or climate change has also placed children in more danger.

According to the rankings, Britain, Sweden and Canada are the countries tackling abuse most effectively. Pakistan, Egypt and Mozambique were rated at the bottom of the list.

Across all countries, researchers found limited data on the prevalence of child abuse and exploitation. Only half of countries have produced or endorsed data on the proportion of the population that has experienced child abuse. Only five collect such data on child sexual exploitation, a form of abuse where a child receives gifts, money or affection in return for sexual activity.

In some cases, countries only collected data on girls who had experienced abuse, or did not specify the gender of the victim.

The Indian village where child sexual exploitation is the norm

The report found that the UK had improved reporting among men, with cases in England and Wales climbing from 3,819 in 2006-07 to 12,130 in 2016-17, according to the Office for National Statistics. This was prompted by increased awareness following the #MeToo campaign and high-profile cases reported in the media, such as the child sexual abuse scandal in English football.

India was cited as having the best legal framework to protect victims, due partly to the 2012 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which focuses on protecting boys as well as girls from sexual violence. According to a government survey, more than 50% of children in India have experienced one or more forms of sexual abuse.

The report described child abuse as a largely silent epidemic. Research suggests 120 million girls have been subjected to some form of sexual abuse, but only a tiny proportion – 1% – of rape survivors have sought professional help.

The study was developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit with support from the World Childhood Foundation, Oak Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation.



Vatican chief who handled sexual abuse cases resigns after accusations of sexual abuse

Female superior told nun 'we kind of have to put up with this' 

by Amy B Wang

A Vatican official who handled sex-abuse cases for the Catholic Church has quit two months after being accused of sexual abuse.

On Monday, Hermann Geissler resigned from his position as chief of staff in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a body that handles discipline in sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church, according to a statement from the Holy See's press office.

Mr Geissler maintained his innocence but said he was resigning to protect the church.

"Father Geissler decided to take this step to limit the damage already done to the congregation and to his community," the office stated.

Last year, a former nun accused an unnamed priest of making sexual advances toward her while in confessional. That woman, Doris Wagner, later identified the priest to be Mr Geissler, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Ms Wagner shared her story at a November event in Rome called "Overcoming Silence - Women's Voices in the Abuse Crisis". There, she talked about how she had moved from her native Germany at age 19 to join the religious community known as "The Work".

In 2009, a priest asked to be assigned as Ms Wagner's confessor and used it to groom her for abuse, Ms Wagner said.

"He would keep me there kneeling in front of him for hours, and he would tell me how much he liked me and that he knew that I liked him and even though we couldn't marry, there would be other ways," Ms Wagner said at the event. "At some point he would try to hold me and kiss me, and I simply panicked and ran out of the room."

Ms Wagner said she reported the behavior to her female superior and asked if she could have another confessor assigned to her.

"When I told her, actually, I was extremely relieved that she didn't blame me," Ms Wagner said. "Instead, she said something like, 'You know, I knew Father has a certain weakness for women so we kind of have to put up with this.'"

While speaking at the Rome event, Ms Wagner did not identify the priest, describing him at the time as only "another leading member of the community, a priest, who to this day is working as capo ufficio [head of the office] at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith".

However, several news outlets soon claimed she could only be referring to Mr Geissler, and Ms Wagner confirmed it was him in later interviews.

Earlier this month, Ms Wagner told the National Catholic Reporter that nothing much had happened after she had reported Mr Geissler in 2014 to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex-abuse cases within the Catholic Church.

"I got a response that stated that Father Geissler had admitted, and had asked pardon and was admonished," Ms Wagner told the religious newspaper. "And that was all."

Ms Wagner added it was "ridiculous" and "symbolic of the church's attitude toward perpetrators" that Mr Geissler remained in the high-ranking position within the church.

On Tuesday, the Holy See press office said Mr Geissler maintained the accusation was untrue. He also asked the church to continue a canonical process it had already started to look into the allegation.

Mr Geissler noted he reserved the right to take civil legal action.



Pope Calls Child Sex Abuse ‘a Human Problem,' Tamping Down Summit Expectations

by Elisabetta Povoledo

Pope Francis sought to downplay what he called “inflated expectations” for a global church summit on child sexual abuse next month, casting it as an educational workshop for bishops more than a definitive policymaking meeting.

“We have to deflate expectations,” the pope told reporters on the papal plane returning to Rome from an international event for Roman Catholic youth in Panama. “Because the problem of abuse will continue, it is a human problem.”

The summit is shaping up to be a pivotal moment in Francis' nearly six-year papacy. As abuse scandals have spread beyond the United States and Europe to Latin America and Asia, the pope has faced pressure to prove that the church is capable of removing abusive priests and disciplining negligent bishops.

The pope said that the meeting, to be held at the Vatican on Feb. 21 through Feb. 24, was intended to help bishops and the heads of religious orders better understand the procedures to follow when faced with allegations of abuse, and to impress on them the terrible suffering of victims.

If expectations are high, it is — at least in part — the Vatican's own doing. The summit was announced in September amid fresh reports that the Vatican had turned a blind eye to accused abusers in the hierarchy. In November, the Vatican ordered the United States bishops to hold off voting on new policies for keeping bishops accountable until the February summit could produce protocols that would apply to the church worldwide.

About 200 participants are expected at the summit. In recent weeks, Vatican officials have stressed that because it is a consultative meeting only four days long, the gathering should not be viewed as a panacea to the global abuse crisis.

“The meeting is a stage along the painful journey that the church has unceasingly and decisively undertaken for over 15 years,” Alessandro Gisotti, the interim director of the Holy See's press office, said this month.

Pope Francis, speaking on the plane from Panama where he participated in the celebrations for World Youth Day, a gathering of Catholic young people, said that the idea for the meeting had developed among the group of nine cardinals that serve as his closest advisers.

“We saw that some bishops didn't properly understand, or didn't know what to do, or did one thing right and the other badly,” the pope said.

“Resolving the problem in the church, we will help resolve it in society, and in families, where shame leads to cover up,” he said.

Some Catholics have called for the church to reconsider the requirement of celibacy for priests, calling it a stressor that can lead to abuse. But Francis reiterated his opposition to lifting the celibacy rule, saying it was “a gift for the church” that should not “be optional.” He cited the words of Pope Paul VI, now a saint, who said, “I prefer to give my life before changing the law on celibacy.”

But Francis showed some openness to allowing married men to serve as priests in remote areas, like the islands of the Pacific, where there are few clergymen to administer the sacraments. In exceptional circumstances, it was right to at least study the question, and pray for guidance, he said.

Another closely watched meeting will be held in October for bishops of the Amazon region, where there is a shortage of priests. One of the topics of discussion at that meeting is expected to be the possibility of ordaining older married men to the priesthood, in cases of exceptional pastoral necessity.

Despite decades of scandals involving the sexual abuse of minors by priests, the Catholic Church does not have universal rules to respond to accusations.

In 2011, the Vatican's doctrinal office issued directives telling bishops they had to establish “clear and coordinated” procedures for fighting clerical sex abuse by the following year. The response to this mandate, however, has been spotty.

“If in some countries much has been done, drastically reducing the number of cases of abuse and setting out efficacious programs of prevention and formation, we need to recognize that in many other countries, little, if anything, has been done,” wrote Rev. Federico Lombardi, the former director of the Vatican's press office, in the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica last month.

At the pope's request, Father Lombardi will moderate the meeting in February.


Texas - Catholic Church

Catholic Church in Texas Names Accused Priests

by Megan Trimble

The Roman Catholic Church in Texas has released the names of nearly 300 priests accused of child sexual abuse in one of the largest releases to follow a bombshell Pennsylvania grand jury report on abuse last year.

Church leaders on Thursday named 286 priests reported across 14 dioceses in Texas they said were credibly accused of abuse. Each diocese released its own report, and the only diocese in the state not to – the Fort Worth diocese – had done so previously. Some of the allegations dated to 1940, and many of the accused priests have since died.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement that releasing the names was "right and just," according to The Associated Press.

“The bishops of Texas have decided to release the names of these priests at this time because it is right and just and to offer healing and hope to those who have suffered,” DiNardo said. “On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology. Our church has been lacerated by this wound and we must take action to heal it.”

The disclosure is the latest amid state and federal investigations into the Catholic Church's handling of decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct by parish priests in the U.S. In August, a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailed seven decades of alleged sexual abuse against more than 300 priests and involving more than 1,000 children.

Texas is strongly Catholic, with an estimated 8.5 million Catholics in the state, according to the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.

The San Antonio archdiocese released a statement with its report, saying "allegations of clerical sexual misconduct and mishandling of some of these cases by bishops are tearing the Church apart.


South Korea

South Korea unveils biggest ever investigation into abuse in sport

Human rights commission to interview possibly thousands of adults and children in wake of allegations

South Korea's human rights commission plans to interview possibly thousands of adult and child athletes about a culture of abuse in sports after a wave of female athletes came forward to allege they had been raped or assaulted by their coaches.

The year-long investigation will cover 50 sports and include children competing from primary schools upwards, Park Hong-geun, an official from the National Human Rights Commission, said on Wednesday.

He said the commission aimed to interview all minor and adult athletes competing for scholastic and corporate league teams in speedskating and judo, which have been marred by sexual abuse allegations.

The investigation, pushed by dozens of government officials and civilian experts, could start as early as next week and could extend beyond a year if needed. It will be the commission's largest-ever inquiry into sports.

“Education processes will be a key part of the investigation because there are situations where athletes find it hard to disclose what they have been through or even recognise they had been abused or sexually harassed,” Park said. “We will have to discuss with the schools and teams to figure out how to proceed with the investigation in each sport, but we plan to build it mostly around face-to-face interviews.”

South Korean competitive sports in recent weeks have been hit by a growing MeToo movement, which highlighted a brutal training culture and highly hierarchical relationships between coaches and athletes.

It began with two-time Olympic short-track speedskating champion Shim Suk-hee accusing her former coach of repeatedly raping her since she was 17. The coach, Cho Jae-beom, was the national team coach shortly before the Pyeongchang Olympics last year and is now serving a 10-month prison term for physically assaulting athletes, including Shim. Cho's lawyers said he denies sexually assaulting Shim.

A group representing speed skating athletes said on Monday there were at least five more female skaters saying they were sexually abused by their male coaches, but did not reveal their names because of privacy concerns. Encouraged by Shim, female athletes in judo, taekwondo, football and wrestling have also accused their male coaches of sexual harassment or assault since.

Experts say abusive treatment of female athletes has long been a problem in South Korea's elite sports, which are predominantly run by men. Athletes often skip school to compete in athletic events and must live in dormitories, giving coaches often-overbearing control and leaving athletes undereducated and more vulnerable. South Korea has long associated national pride with achievement in the Olympics and other international sporting events, leaving problems overlooked as long as the athletes succeed.

After a previous inquiry into school sports, the human rights commission in 2010 recommended safeguards to the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KOC), including instructions and proposals for preventing abuse and providing better education. Choi Young-ae, the commission's chairwoman, criticised the KOC for ignoring the guideline for years, which she said worsened the abuse athletes face today.

“Physical and sexual violence in [South Korean] sports does not happen incidentally, but is generated consistently under a structure,” she said in a news conference on Wednesday. “A culture that puts medals and other awards over everything else has been exonerating violent behaviours and such violence has been closely associated with the sexual violence that occurs.



Japan abused child: Apology over death of Mia Kurihara

Mia Kurihara, 10, was found dead last week in Noda city, near Tokyo. Her father, Yuichiro Kurihara, was later held on suspicion of assaulting her.

In 2017, the girl filled out what she thought was a confidential school form, saying her father beat her repeatedly.

The father obtained the form last year, after threatening legal action.

Japan has recently seen a surge in reported child abuse, with a record 37,113 suspected cases across the country in the first six months of 2018.

Several high-profile cases, including the death of a five-year-old girl last year, have shocked the nation.

What did the Japanese officials say?

At a news conference on Thursday, Noda's local education officials apologised for showing an "extreme lack of consideration" in Mia Kurihara's case.

The officials revealed that the girl had written in the questionnaire in November 2017 that her father used "violence", the Japan Times reports.

She had mentioned that her father would wake her up "in the middle of the night" and that he "kicks and beats me when I am awake".

"Can't you do anything about this?" the girl had asked in a desperate plea for help, the newspaper reports.

After this Mia Kurihara was placed in protective custody until late December 2017, when the measure was lifted on condition that she would live at a relative's home. But the girl moved back to her parents' house last March.

The officials admitted that they had given in to pressure from the girl's father, who managed to obtain a copy of the school questionnaire last January.

At Thursday's news conference, Noda Mayor Yu Suzuki said: "We apologise for not being able to save the life of a small child."

Child welfare experts have suggested that the way the officials handled the matter might have resulted in more serious abuse of the child at home.

The girl's father has made no public comment on the issue.


Sisters of Mercy child abuse victims continue the fight for redress compensation

by Claire Moodie

They rarely talk about what happened at St Joseph's Orphanage in the Perth suburb of Subiaco — it's too painful. But these women, who still meet today for companionship and support, know they share the same scars.

Philomena Hall and Patricia Wenman were shipped out from the UK as child migrants. They now have to wear hearing aids in their left ears as a result, they say, of the standard punishment meted out by the Sisters of Mercy for sins such as answering back or talking in church.

"You could feel a bloody big pop when they did it, it just sent you flying," Patricia Wenman says.

"If you didn't get a slap across the ear, you got a big cane like this.

"Five on each hand. You couldn't write the next day, your hands were so sore."

It was the basic lack of humanity.

On arrival in Western Australia in 1947, she was issued with clothes with the number 92 marked on them. Everyone had a number at St Joseph's.

"There might have been 20 nuns there … I'd say four treated us like human beings," Ms Kruger recalls.

"In the evening … we had to sit on buckets to use the toilet before we went to bed, with the nuns standing and older girls standing, just watching us.

'That was dreadful, even for a little kid … to sit on a bucket and have an audience."

Ms Kruger didn't brush her teeth until she was 16, and not out of choice.

There were no toothbrushes at St Joseph's at that time and only one shower a week was allowed.

She says when the girls got their periods, the sisters told them they were being "punished by God".

Education was minimal. As Rose Kruger puts it: "They taught us how to work and they taught us how to pray."

When she got her first job in the outside world at 16, she had to give all her wages to the orphanage where she still lived and never saw the money again.

A double betrayal

Like many other graduates of WA's children's homes, Ms Kruger, now aged 80, has suffered from periods of anxiety and depression.

But, she is also a battler, working full-time until the age of 76.

She now lives on the pension and rents a small state housing unit in an inner city suburb of Perth.

But, it's is a more recent betrayal of trust that these women are fighting to expose.

They are part of a new push to revisit the West Australian redress scheme.

The scheme was approved by the Carpenter Labor government in 2007 with $90.2 million set aside for ex-gratia payments for people who suffered historical child abuse in state care.

But, there was outrage in 2009 when the incoming Barnett Liberal government halved the promised payments to thousands of survivors.

Victims were promised up to $80,000 as a maximum payment for the most severe abuse, but when modelling suggested there were more applicants than expected, the government dropped the payment levels to meet demand.

Philippa White, who runs Fremantle-based support service Tuart Place, says the maximum payment of $80,000 dropped to $45,000 and the minimum of $10,000 was reduced to $5000.

"As a betrayal of trust, it was as bad as it gets," Dr White says.

"Everyone had their payment approximately halved and everyone was told their abuse meant half as much.

"Some ended up owing lawyers more than they got in their final payment.

"Shortly after, the Optus Stadium was announced as a new development so there are plenty of people who call that stadium 'Redress Stadium' because they feel their money was taken to build that structure in particular."

Call for surplus to right a wrong

As a look back at Hansard records from that time shows, Labor — then in opposition — joined in the protests, urging the government to find the estimated $80 million needed to honour the original payments.

Ben Wyatt, now the WA Treasurer, told Parliament that to "change the rules in midstream" was "completely and utterly unacceptable".

Other Labor MPs called it a "second betrayal", saying the care leavers had been "dudded again".

Former party leader Eric Ripper summed it up by saying: "I can assure members that the previous Labor government would have found that $80 million."

A decade on, Tuart Place and other organisations representing former child migrants and Australian-born care leavers, about half of whom are Aboriginal, are calling on the McGowan Labor Government to use its projected budget surplus to do just that.

"Ten years have passed but that moral wrong has not changed — it's still unfinished business," Dr White said

"We're calling on the Labor Government, now back in power, now with a surplus, to make redress right … to reinstate the original payment level or to enter into discussions about whatever financial model could be put in place to make right the wrong that people feel."

For victims, it's not about the money

WA Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk has apologised to the victims in Parliament for the redress debacle.

But she declined to comment on the latest push to "make redress right".

A spokeswoman from her office said that the issue would be "considered in the upcoming budget".

Ms Kruger, like thousands of others, is not eligible for the new National Redress Scheme currently underway because the abuse she suffered was physical and emotional, not sexual.

She did receive $28,000 from Redress WA, about half what she was hoping for.

Forced to make ends meet on the pension, she says any extra funds would come in handy. But, she says her motivation is not about the money.

"The [state] Liberal government did the wrong thing by us. I think Labor should honour it for everybody that was in care."

In 1997, the Sisters of Mercy paid for Ms Kruger and other child migrants to fly back to the UK on a trip called "The sentimental journey".

In a statement to the ABC, the Institute of Sisters of Mercy Australia said it was committed to creating and maintaining an environment that was safe, supportive, caring and nurturing for all children and vulnerable people.

It encouraged anyone who may have been harmed or adversely affected in any of its current or former facilities to contact the institute.

"All allegations of abuse and harm are taken very seriously and we have comprehensive procedures in place to assist claimants," the statement said.


United Kingdom

UK child migrants sent to Australia offered $36k compensation

Exclusive: 130,000 children sent to ex-colonies up to 1970s under ‘misguided' programme

by Sarah Marsh

Child migrants from Britain sent thousands of miles from home to Australia in what was described as a “misguided” programme are to be given £20,000 (A$36,000) in compensation by the British government.

Under the programme, more than 130,000 children were sent to a “better life” in former British colonies, mainly Australia and Canada, from the 1920s to the 1970s.

The children, aged between three and 14, often faced a life of servitude and hard labour in foster homes. The majority came from deprived backgrounds and were already in some form of social or charitable care. Many ended up on remote farms, or in state-run orphanages and church-run institutions. They were often separated from siblings and some were subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

About 4,000 children were sent to Australia, a mass emigration portrayed in the 2010 film Oranges and Sunshine, which starred Emily Watson as Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham who uncovered the scandal.

In 2010, the then UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, issued an official apology, expressing regret for the “misguided” programme.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) interim report and its report on the child migration programme were published in spring 2018 and recommended the government offer financial compensation.

On Friday, in a letter seen by the Guardian, the government said it would give former child migrants £20,000. It said the compensation scheme was open to any former British child migrant who was alive on 1 March 2018, or beneficiaries of any former child migrant who was alive on 1 March 2018 but had since died.

“The claimant must have been sent by a church, state, voluntary or other organisation … and must not have been accompanied by an adult family member, or sent to live with a member of their birth family,” the government said in the letter announcing the decision.

The Child Migrants Trust would accept applications from 1 March 2019 and the scheme would remain open for two years. Later claims would be considered on a case by case basis and a late claim would not affect a person's eligibility or the amount they were paid.

In 2010, Brown said the government was sorry children “were allowed to be sent away at the time when they were most vulnerable”. He announced a £6m fund to reunite separated families. The Australian government apologised in 2009 for the cruelty shown to child migrants.

The emigration programme was set up to ease the burden on UK orphanages and to boost the populations of the colonies but it was later revealed that some migrants in Australia, who had been told they were orphans, may have relatives living in the UK.

In 1956, British officials went on a fact-finding mission to Australia, inspecting 26 institutions that took in child migrants. They delivered a critical report, noting concerns such as the remote rural locations where some children were sent. Despite this, the programme continued and the report made no mention of the sexual or physical abuse faced by a number of young people.

The letter said: “The government has long acknowledged and accepted that assessment at the time of the national apology in 2010 and in fact went further, calling it a ‘shameful episode of history and this failure in the first duty of a nation, which is to protect its children'.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The government is working closely with the Child Migrants Trust to develop and establish the payment scheme and the Trust will start accepting applications from 1 March 2019.


Bordeaux, France

Former swimming champ sentenced for child rape, sexual abuse

(AP) — A former French swimming champion and ex-manager of one of the country's most successful hockey clubs was found guilty Wednesday of child rape and sexual abuse and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Vincent Leroyer, 61, was found guilty of abusing five boys between the ages of 6 and 14 when he managed the Rouen Hockey Club from 1986-96. His victims, now in their 30s and 40s, told the court how they have since struggled with addiction and a catalog of other difficulties.

The victims hugged each other after the guilty verdict and sentence was pronounced by the court.


National Catholic Reporter

Women religious openly discuss harassment, abuse, rape of nuns by clergy

by Gail DeGeorge

Galvanized by the #MeToo movement and the sex abuse crisis commanding the attention of the Vatican, women religious are now openly discussing a subject that was once taboo -- sexual harassment, abuse and rape of sisters by clergy -- in congregational motherhouses and national conference offices.

Slowly, an era is ending in which Catholic women religious were silent victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. Consider these developments in the past year:

In Chile, the Vatican is investigating a congregation's complaints of sexual abuse by priests and mistreatment by superiors.

In India, Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar has been arrested on charges of raping a former superior of a congregation -- multiple times. He is the first bishop in India to be arrested for sexual abuse of a nun. He has denied the charges. More than 80 sisters were among 167 signers of a letter in July asking that he be relieved of his pastoral duties. Five sisters of the congregation and other supporters engaged in a highly unusual public demonstration supporting the former superior and protesting initial inaction by church and state authorities.

Statements encouraging sisters to report abuse and religious women to believe and support victims were issued by the International Union of Superiors General, the largest worldwide representation of Catholic women religious leadership; and by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the U.S.

The Associated Press published a story in July about sex abuse of sisters, drawing upon an article by National Catholic Reporter in 2001. In January, AP published a separate story focusing on India. Other media reports have surfaced about abuse in Myanmar.

In more than a dozen interviews for this Global Sisters Report article, some patterns across countries and continents emerged on how to help prevent abuse and support victims if it does occur.

"Individual sisters have to risk telling the truth if it is happening to them," said Sister Esther Fangman, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, who, in 2000, delivered an address about the sexual abuse of sisters to a Rome congress of 250 Benedictine abbots.

"Others around them have to listen and believe them and not discount it as making it up -- which is the same problem we've had in all society of sex abuse of women -- that somehow it's the woman's fault," said Sister Fangman, who holds a doctorate in counseling and has worked with victims of sexual abuse. "If the power relationship is unequal, pay attention to the person telling the story, because they are at a disadvantage and probably are telling the truth."

Absent a reporting protocol or other action by the Vatican, congregations and national conferences are quietly devising their own responses. More awareness training is being incorporated into formation and leadership programs. Pragmatic measures are being implemented, such as having written contracts for sisters working in parishes spelling out duties and hours to minimize vulnerable situations in which they would be working alone. Such protections, some congregational leaders said, even include details such as making sure sisters have money for transportation to being in a car along with priests or bishops.

The leaders said greater financial independence for congregations is vital to avoid overdependence on diocesan bishops or parish priests. Donors should be encouraged to send money directly to congregations rather than through diocesan offices. Revisions in canon law should limit or prevent bishops from creating diocesan congregations, which are subject to greater local control and potential abuse, some sisters said.

Other changes are sorely needed, those interviewed said. Protocols by dioceses and the Vatican must be established, disseminated and followed regarding abuse allegations by women religious.

But real change regarding abuse of sisters, many said, requires a fundamental shift in the church hierarchy and attitude about women. While not downplaying the pain of sexual abuse, feminist theologian Mary Hunt said the problem is symptomatic of a deeper and more widespread "spiritual abuse" perpetrated upon women by the male-dominated church.

"We have been told things that are not true," she said. "Women have been relegated to second-class citizens" in the church.

A dismantling of clericalism and elevation of women to positions of leadership is also critical, according to those interviewed. That would send a message to bishops worldwide about the status of women, particularly in developing countries.

"If the church can accept women as women -- not as instrument or tools to be used -- that would be my joy," said Sister Eneless Chimbali, a Servant of the Blessed Virgin Mary who has served as the secretary general of the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa since 2015. "Look at the Curia in the Vatican," she said regarding the male-dominated church. "Women and laity are always at the receiving end -- they are not included in the decision-making forums."

Congregations are making changes as they can. In formation programs and seminars for superiors, attitudes are shifting to better train sisters, particularly novices and postulants, to avoid vulnerable situations and report cases of inappropriate behavior. Sister Rose Pacatte, founding director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies, recently prepared a presentation for leadership and formation directors about sexual abuse, including sections about prevention, for the Major Superiors Leadership Conference in Pakistan.

The presentation, which is applicable for communities and congregations in other countries, includes sections about "grooming" of victims and role-playing exercises for sisters to practice rebuffing advances and reporting cases to their superiors. It was created with the assistance of Sister Kathleen Bryant, a Religious Sister of Charity who served as the vocation director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for 21 years and has been a leader in working against human trafficking for 18 years, and Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Suzanne Mayer, director of Pastoral Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Neumann University in Aston, Pennsylvania.

"Each community has to figure out how to present this information to their younger sisters without turning them off men or clergy -- making them wise but not afraid," said Sister Pacatte. "We have to recognize (sexual abuse of sisters) is real and come up with a protocol if something does happen."

Education of sisters is helping to change the dynamics in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and other countries in Africa, said sisters in those countries. "There is a lot of awareness; sisters are getting educated and their level of knowledge is increasing to allow them to defend themselves and to be aware of their boundaries," said Sister Chimbali.

ACWECA holds workshops that include issues about protection of children and vulnerable adults, she said. The focus is not only on sisters being abused by clergy but also on situations in which sisters may be abusing young people or those they serve, not necessarily sexual abuse but other forms of physical, mental or emotional abuse, she said.

"The issue of child protection or sexual abuse is incorporated into formation and ongoing religious life in Africa," she said.

Because of education and greater empowerment of women religious, the issue of sister abuse by clergy "has improved greatly in the last 15 years," Sister Chimbali said.

Workshops for consecrated women and men on accompanying victims of sexual violence during conflict were held in 2017 and 2018 in Congo and Uganda. They were sponsored by partnerships of religious conferences and the Union of International Superiors General in conjunction with the United Kingdom Embassy to the Holy See. During the Uganda workshop, Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu knelt and apologized on behalf of male clergy who may have abused female pastoral workers.

The National Catholic Reporter article in 2001 cited several reports, some dating back to the mid-1990s, about abuse of sisters by clergy. While cases were found in 23 countries across five continents, one report said, the problem at the time was particularly acute in Africa because of the AIDS crisis. Sisters were seen as safe sexual partners by priests and bishops.

It's not clear what the response of the Vatican was to the reports or to current revelations of sexual abuse of women religious. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has not responded to several inquiries made since September. The Vatican press office did not respond to inquiries made in January.

Years after her address became public, Sister Fangman laments that "there are still no solutions -- what is happening is that people are talking about it."

If she were to write the report today, Sister Fangman said, she would use even stronger language. In her work counseling victims, it's become much clearer how deep the wounds of sexual abuse are, particularly abuse by clergy. "It doesn't just attack their spirit," she said. "It attacks their soul also because it is the image of Christ through the priest doing this to them."

She and other sisters interviewed for this article stressed that sexual abuse of sisters is not limited to a particular geography.

"It is not an Africa problem, it is a church problem," Sister Fangman said. "It is a power issue -- the difference between males and females and those in the church who have power."

The interplay of power and church authority has been unfolding in the case in India. The former superior of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation filed a case in June against Bishop Mulakkal that he had sexually abused her multiple times at her convent in Kerala, a southern state. She has said she filed the case after complaints to church authorities brought no action.

Months passed without action by civil authorities or response by church authorities. Five members of the congregation and other supporters of the nun engaged in a public protest in September. Bishop Mulakkal was arrested Sept. 21, questioned and released. He has denied the charges and characterized the case as retaliation by the nun for his disciplinary actions against her.

The delay in action against the bishop made people skeptical about the church's claim of zero tolerance toward clergy abuse, Sister Jessy Kurian, a Supreme Court lawyer in India, told Global Sisters Report before his arrest. She was among the 167 signers of the letter in July to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai and Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India, to advise Pope Francis to relieve Bishop Mulakkal of his pastoral duties.

"Unless (the bishop) is relieved of his pastoral duties, no impartial probe can take place," said Sister Kurian, a member of St. Ann's Providence of Secunderabad who conducts training courses in human rights and Indian laws for various groups around India, including nuns.

The clergy abuse of nuns in India came to the fore at the Feb. 22, 2016, meeting of the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace, an advocacy group for women religious. Participants then wrote to bishops and religious major superiors that sexual violence of religious women had gone unaddressed while its perpetrators escaped punishment.

"This cannot be tolerated anymore," they wrote.

Little seems to have changed even after two years, although the Indian bishops' conference in 2017 promulgated "CBCI Guidelines to Deal with Sexual Harassment at Workplace" as part of its efforts to implement zero tolerance.

"Unfortunately, it is not publicized or its copies distributed even among the members of the Catholic religious in India," said Sister Noella de Souza, national coordinator of the ecumenical Indian Christian Women's Movement.

When contacted, the conference officials refused to explain how the church has implemented the guidelines. Two bishops told Global Sisters Report they had implemented the guidelines in their dioceses.

Abuse cases began to emerge after more nuns started speaking out against exploitation, said Sister Hazel D'Lima of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, a former president of the Catholic Religious of India women section. She said misconception about the vow of obedience prevents nuns from saying no when it is required. She wants postulants and novices to be taught to resist abuses from anyone, including priests and bishops.

Yet going public can open another form of abuse as accusers are criticized as being disloyal to the church. The case involving Bishop Mulakkal has splintered the Catholic community in India between those supporting the bishop or the nun. Supporters of the nun have been criticized for damaging the church's reputation. One sister belonging to another congregation who participated in the sit-in protest has been threatened with dismissal.

Even researching sexual abuse cases carries risk as Sister Esperanza Principio discovered in the Philippines. She was a co-author of a report about sexual abuse by clergy in the Philippines that was presented in 2002 to the Council of Bishops in the Philippines. The research was undertaken by the research committee of the Women and Gender Commission of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines after the bishops had asked for facts regarding anecdotal reports of abuse.

The 29 cases of violence and misconduct by priests in the report included some instances of attempted rape and sexual harassment of women religious. The Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote about the report and the presentation to the bishops in two front-page articles in November 2002.

Sister Principio, who holds a master's degree in applied research, told Global Sisters Report that she and her co-author, Maryknoll Sister Leonila Bermisa, took great care with the research and presented the findings to the bishops before any public report was made. Yet after the media coverage of the report, Sister Principio said she was criticized by a high-ranking bishop, who later became a cardinal, in a written letter sent to all congregations.

Stung by the criticism and a lack of support from within her congregation, she was prompted within a few years to change congregations and become a Maryknoll. She left the Philippines in 2005 and now ministers in Peru as part of the Global Network of Religions for Children, focusing on responding to the sexual abuse of children and adolescents.

Bringing abuse cases to light is "an energy that can be turned into a positive movement, that women now speak," she said. "The #MeToo movement is a higher strata of society -- but from the pueblos and the towns, each one has to see that abuse is not permissible in any strata or any place in the world."

In September 2018, the Philippine bishops' conference issued a statement apologizing for abuse and vowing not to cover up cases. The conference did not respond to an email request for comment or information about protocols specifically for cases involving women religious.

"It's a reality that can happen in any religious congregation," Sister Principio said.

"They must teach their sisters to define what is abuse, what is the moment you are being taken advantage of -- some sisters are so naive, some are not," she added. "It is important for women religious congregations to speak out and denounce abusers, even if they are priests."

There is no uniform training about sexual abuse or harassment -- each congregation has its own formation training program, said Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan, co-chair of the Office of Women and Gender Concerns of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines. The Office of Women and Gender Concerns offers women consciousness and empowerment seminars which include all gender issues, with religious sisters as main participants, and courses for those involved in formation so they can include gender awareness in their programs, she said.

One key to avoiding abuse lies within congregations themselves, in creating an atmosphere of trust and support so sisters feel confident coming to superiors or mentors with issues of harassment or early signs of abuse, said Sister Florence Nwaonuma, former superior general of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and former president of the Nigeria Conference of Women Religious.

Seminars and workshops that deal with topics such as sexuality, the vows of celibacy and chastity, and awareness of abuse issues are part of initial formation, and also ongoing formation with temporary and professed sisters, she said.

Congregations have to be willing to bring cases of abuse to the attention of the hierarchy and work toward resolution, she said. She said she has encountered more cases of sisters enduring abuse of power with priests and bishops than sexual exploitation.

"Men deny (abuse) and it is important that women are given a level playing field and are listened to," said Sister Nwaonuma. "Sisters must be encouraged to come and talk about (harassment or abuse) but superiors have to make the sister to trust her."

Many women religious work on ministries that focus on empowering girls and women, including anti-trafficking and domestic violence, said Sister Bryant. Those lessons have to be applied to sisters themselves, to recognize the grooming processes abusers use, often through extra attention and small gifts.

More fundamental is the need to change dynamics that reinforce the idea that priests and bishops are special, that their authority can't be questioned, she added. "We sisters have to stop the feeding of clericalism," she said. "This is our time to empower others and to befriend the victims.



I couldn't deal with it, it tore me apart': surviving child sexual abuse

As a boy, Tom Yarwood was assaulted by his musical mentor. Decades on, telling the story has not become any easier.

by Tom Yarwood

In telling of the sexual assaults I endured as a child, I have always had the sensation of speaking into the void. I usually offer only the bare bones of the story, because I want my listener to fill in the emotional content, to tell me what I felt, what they might have felt in my position. I want them to explain to me how I could have suffered, when I felt pleasure, and how I was not to blame, though I didn't resist. But their response is always underwhelming: they seem to understand so little about this kind of thing, less even than me. And it's all so exquisitely embarrassing that I soon move on, apologise for myself, repeat the usual reassurances. It was nothing, really, it didn't matter, I coped.

Each telling is a new humiliation, a new disappointment. And yet, like an idiot, I always go on to attempt another. Six months or a year later, usually when I'm drunk, at four in the morning, suddenly I can imagine it again – the moment someone will explain me to myself at last. Because on the one hand, I really do tend to think it was nothing, what happened. But on the other, it never leaves my head, the image of it, the stink of it, and he never leaves me, he is always there, the loathsome, pathetic man. And there's this enduring longing to relieve myself of the weight of my silence, my slow-burning despair.

Still, something in this picture has shifted lately, since my father's death three years ago, and my 40th birthday not long after. In childhood and youth, I knew, with the heroism of the young, that I would vanquish the effects of the abuse, by 20, then by 30, or by 35. The idea it might stay with me, in me, was as inconceivable as my own death. But now I'm closer by far to 60, the age at which my father had his first heart attack, than to 12, my age when the other man first laid hands on me. It has dawned on me that the assaults are with me for good. And so in talking about them again, I'm less inclined to defer to others. This time I will stand, for once, at the centre of myself.

As a small child, I was obsessed with classical music. My parents bought a piano from a junk shop in Ludlow, read us stories about the great composers. We didn't have a television at home on our Shropshire housing estate, and so I spent a lot of time sitting in a little green velvet chair by the record player with my eyes closed, elaborating wild fantasies about my musical heroes as I listened to their symphonies. I started piano lessons at the age of four, but rarely practised, preferring to delight the neighbours (I felt sure) with endless improvisations, generally fortissimo and con fuoco.

In the summer of 1987, when I was 11, my mother took me and my siblings on holiday to Europe. My father was working abroad at the time, as he often did. In Bruges, we came across a grand exhibition of musical instruments, where I was thrilled to have the chance to try out a harpsichord. While I played, a man approached my mother and told her I was gifted. He said he was a conductor – a specialist in baroque music – and would love to foster my talent. Phone numbers were exchanged, and a couple of cassette tapes offered to my brother and sister and me – his own commercially produced recordings of Handel and Purcell. He was evidently a prominent figure in his field.

That autumn, my father took me to London to visit this dazzling new mentor. We spent the afternoon at the conductor's house, playing the harpsichord and talking about music. I was self-conscious, and desperate to impress. He was charm itself, but I found something faintly peculiar about him. He had a manic, childlike energy, a tendency to clowning in which I detected no genuine mirth, and beneath it I sensed he was very tense. Still, we got on well enough, and my father trusted him sufficiently that I went back to see him for another day of music-making a few weeks later.

Before long, I was spending whole weekends on my own with the conductor, sleeping in his spare bedroom in London and attending rehearsals and recording sessions with him and his orchestra. There was little formal teaching, but I got to listen to some good live music, and doubtless soaked up some other valuable lessons – not least how to make tea, and set up a music stand – and occasionally we looked at scores or listened to recordings together. He would sometimes drive me all the way back to my parents' house in Shropshire himself, and stay for supper.

My anxiety around him never abated. It wasn't only the unnerving air of inauthenticity about his manner. He also seemed very driven, and he could be vituperative towards timewasters. Then there was the social gulf between us. My parents were bohemian members of the new middle class, but the conductor was an upper-middle-class product of the public school system. All was well in his world when people cleaved, outwardly, to the “sensible” values expressed by the authority figures of his childhood – headmasters, barristers, clergy. Those who made a fuss of their differences were “mad”. More unsettling still was his disdain for children of a certain kind – the vast majority, I suspected – the rude ones, the dirty ones, the ones who were not good.

He introduced me to alcohol, mixing gin and tonics for me, and cocktails sweet and heavy with cassis or curacao. I was drunk when he assaulted me for the first time. It was early on a Sunday afternoon, and he was in the kitchen, making a bland English bachelor's lunch of pork chops, potatoes and frozen peas. He seemed to find something about the peas amusing. With wildly contrived laughter, he tossed them about the kitchen, pretending he was dropping them. I was embarrassed for him. He tipped several peas down my T-shirt, and chased me into the living room and around the sofa with the rest. I'm not six years old, I wanted to say. I grew out of this sort of thing quite a while ago.

He dropped a frozen pea down my trousers and wrestled me on to the sofa, undoing my trouser button. I ceased to struggle when he grabbed my penis. “Ah, the pea!” he said, as he tugged at it. After a while, he pulled down my pants, and complimented me on my first pubic hair, which I had noticed only days before. Nothing more was said as he went about his business. I did not move a finger. Afterwards, he cleaned me up, pulled up my trousers and did up my fly, telling me meanwhile that this was what boys did, and wasn't something to worry about. We returned to the kitchen and the pork chops.

Not a single day has passed in the three decades since this incident without some effort on my part to cut through the tangle of dark thoughts and feelings it induced, and to understand the insidious effects it has had on my life. The physical sensations were pleasurable. But I did not want any kind of sexual contact with the conductor. I found him repugnant, and had he asked me whether I wanted him to continue at any point, I would have said no, and meant it. I had experimented sexually with friends in childhood; I had turned down sexual overtures from other friends. In this respect, I knew my own mind. And this is why it always seemed so strange to me that I said nothing, and didn't resist.

I still remember the all-consuming shame I felt on being manhandled by a bigger creature, at relinquishing control of my body to another person, against my will. And I remember too how destroyed I felt at the exposure of my sexuality to an adult. The secret, underdeveloped heart of my psychosomatic being – still fraught with danger, still hedged around in thorns – had been torn out and thrown quivering before me, in full public view.

But it is only in recent years that I have gained the distance from these horrors – the sense of security in myself – to acknowledge their intensity. As a child, it was impossible for me to face my victimhood, impossible to own and name what had come to light.

I withdrew into a kind of mental panic room. This is nothing, I told myself. This doesn't matter. This is him. This is not me. I will remain aloof. I will rise above. I marshalled all my contempt for the conductor and all my knowledge of sex. He thinks I find him attractive, but in fact I find him repulsive. I saw him, the adult in control of me, as a child – a “silly” child, as my mother would say, still fixated on other children's penises like this. It was an extension of his general puerility, his weird clowning, his fake laughter. How pathetic, how contemptible, how sad. I had reversed our roles in my imagination – a fatal self-deception.

The panic room became a prison, a lunatic's cell. This, I hazard, is the snare in which many victims of childhood sexual abuse find themselves – they are traumatised, but unable to face the fact. For almost three decades, I could not look back (or look down) at what the conductor did to me, but had to keep moving on, moving up, clinging to a reassuring sensation of balance like one of those weighted toys that always rights itself, no matter how hard you hit it.

Now that I can gaze more steadily at the ancient scene, I am struck by how very strange it appears. How strange it sounds, to have sex, to feel your body consumed by that fire, and actively to deny to yourself that you are involved in it at all. And how strange it looks – the child's mute stillness, and the adult's complete camouflage of his own desire, his voice never wavering from an even, nannying tone, as if he were teaching chess or changing a nappy.

The memories of the abuse still return many times a day, stirred up by chance impressions – scents like the soap the conductor used, or of his sweat, music that reminds me of his – even, of course, my own sexual thoughts and erotic sensations. And with these impressions come the associated emotions – the shame, the fear, the grief. But I always recoil instinctively from naming them, from facing the half-known horror that paralysed me during the assault. Lots of boys go through this, I might tell myself. He didn't mean any harm. I'll survive. Anything but the truth, the big taboo, the real words of power: I didn't want it, I couldn't deal with it, it tore me apart.

The loneliness was terrible. The abuse came between me and my parents, my siblings, my peers, sapped art of meaning, experience of joy. I felt a constant, immense pressure to speak, but something always seemed to intervene at the last minute, catching my words in my throat, forcing them back down, sickeningly, into my belly. I was, I can see now, the dream victim for a predatory paedophile. My father was often absent, and my mother's attention was taken up by my adopted younger sister, who had severe behavioural problems. Since toddlerhood, my older brother and I always felt that we were holding the fort: the idea of turning myself into a problem child was anathema.

After the first attack, I buried my head in the sand, imagining that perhaps it had been a one-off, like a trip to Alton Towers. But on the next visit, I woke up late at night to find the conductor sitting on the edge of the bed with one hand under my duvet, stroking my thigh. He assaulted me again, and another sleepless night ensued.

I started working on my mother, trying to communicate my distrust of him. For a while, after several more assaults, it worked: she stopped phoning him, and each time he called, she found an excuse for me not to see him. Then, to my horror, he appeared on our doorstep in Shropshire – like a sexual Terminator, quite unfazed by what I thought of as the vast gulf between my family and the city. Although it makes me feel unhinged to think of it now, I had an overwhelming fear of what might come out if he were crossed, and so I insisted repeatedly to my parents that everything was fine.

When he had me strapped into the passenger seat of his Volvo, he drove a little way, pulled into a layby, took off the Schwarzenegger shades he wore when motoring, looked at me with wide eyes (his face, as usual, too close to mine), and told me that he knew he had upset me by what he had done, and that he promised, absolutely promised, that should I please him by resuming my visits, he would never, ever touch me again.

After that – and after he had been redeemed entirely in our family conversation – the assaults started again, becoming steadily stranger. He would pick me up and carry me up the stairs like an infant, apparently expecting me to find this humiliating horseplay as amusing as he pretended it to be. He would insist on bathing me. And as the assaults escalated, he took to putting a pillow over my head so I didn't have to involve myself in what was going on – but I found this the greatest mortification thus far. It suggested he imagined I had thoughts and feelings about what he was doing, whereas I needed him to understand that I was not there.

It didn't matter to me what he did, so long as he would let me be alone, inviolate, in my head. As an adult, I notice people often want to know the mechanics of the abuse you went through, and especially whether it was painful. Did he beat you, cut you, tie you up? If not, you sense, perhaps you're making a bit of a fuss over nothing. The law also seems to operate like this, with its intricate scale of sexual transgressions, escalating in perceived severity, above and beyond the mere fact of exploiting a child for your own erotic gratification.

Pain and physical injury are traumas in their own right, but I suspect that the insult specific to sexual abuse in childhood is simply to have another person take ownership of your body against your will – to destroy your sense of sexual self-possession – after which everything can feel, indifferently, like rape.

Perhaps that is hard to imagine if you haven't been through it yourself – if you haven't felt forced, for the sake of your psychic survival, to dissociate yourself entirely from your erotic response, and then struggled to put these two aspects of your being – you and your capacity to feel – back together, to get them to work again as one.

I went to Eton on a music scholarship at 14, entering the school in the second year. The conductor had suggested it to my parents, after I was offered similar bursaries by Shrewsbury and Westminster. I came top of the music exams during my first term there, competing against boys who had spent years at choir schools and had enjoyed Eton's excellent music tuition for a year longer than me. And that term I also told a wonderful new friend about the abuse, bursting into tears as I reassured him it was nothing. He told a senior music teacher. The teacher did nothing.

The conductor assaulted me more than 20 times over the course of three interminable years. The last attack came after a gap of several months, when I was 15 – old enough to acknowledge what he was doing. I objected repeatedly, and he overruled me, repeatedly, returning to my bedroom three times through the course of a single night, and finally getting what he wanted when both of us were haggard with sleeplessness, well after dawn.

At 16, I finally plucked up the courage to tell another adult at Eton the story in person. I gave them no room for doubt that I had hated my encounters with the conductor, but they explained to me that such incidents often cropped up in boys' lives, and generally originated in the younger man's admiration for the older. If there was no force used, they said, there was no reason to suspect harm.

Though I had long feared it, the revelation that the grown-up world as a whole couldn't understand what I had been through came as a shock. My anger, my shame, and the ceaseless war between them – all this was my fault, it seemed, a fault in me. I was, in short, crazy. My immediate response was to give up music. It was a cry for help, a deliberate act of self-harm – killing off the great love of my life – but no one took much notice.

(It amazes me that I had kept going with music for so long; it is so tightly bound up with sex in our brains and bodies. My skin used to crawl every time the conductor called a favourite piece “erotic”, but somehow I had succeeded in imagining that there was music like his and music not like his, sex like his and sex not like his. Those lines became hopelessly blurred after I told my story to an adult at Eton. Touchingly naive adults such as my parents aside, the world was teeming with paedophiles and their sympathisers, and I was damned if I was going to open my body and soul to share the food of love with them again.)

I spent puberty and adolescence trying to construct in fantasy a relationship with my sexuality that was pristine, personal, free of the stain of rape. But when at last I went to Oxford and plucked up the courage to pick up another man for the first time, a friendly PhD student in his mid-30s, I was shocked to find that this mental construct had not taken root in my body. Something within me just wouldn't move, wouldn't melt, wouldn't let go. Anger followed, shame, despair – all muted by stoicism. This is just me, I said to myself, this is my fate, I'll get by. As a young adult, I developed an anxiety disorder to set beside the depression and insomnia that had plagued me since the first assault, and became prone to panic attacks.

The voices of denial – denial not that children have sex with adults, but of the fear and shame that shackle them, and of the violence of the act – always leave me feeling faintly deranged.

First came the voice in my head during the assaults. Then came his voice, explaining that the abuse was just a fact of life, an inevitable expression of my nature as a boy. And later, there were the voices of those from whom I sought help during my 20s – the mentors and teachers and parents and police and therapists and boyfriends – in whose responses I always found some admixture of bewilderment, embarrassment, incomprehension or indifference.

But only recently did I notice how closely these voices echo one another. It strikes me that our resistance to confronting the horror of child sexual abuse has common roots in human nature. The silence of victims and the general silence must also have reinforced one another over the millennia. I imagine those to whom I looked for help were simply as fearful as me – as fearful and more ignorant. I should have been bolder all along.

In 2007, when I was 31 years old, I heard from a friend that the conductor had been arrested and charged with sexually abusing four other boys in the 1980s. I am sceptical about the value of retributive justice, but I decided to join the prosecution. I needed to tell the world the truth.

The conductor was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. I had no desire to see him punished, but I took this jail term as an indication of how seriously our society regarded his crimes. It seemed rather light. In his ruling, the judge apparently drew attention to the fact that the conductor had recently married and had a child, arguing that in doing so he had entered a new phase of life.

Searching the internet for commentary on the case not long afterwards, I found the loudest voices were those raised in my attacker's defence. In classical music discussion forums, his admirers persuaded others that his “alleged” victims could well be liars, and had most likely suffered no harm anyway. And in the Observer, the poet James Fenton used his opportunity to comment publicly on the conductor's conviction – the most prominent proven case of child sexual abuse in the history of classical music – not to consider the hurt he might have caused to the talented young musicians he assaulted, to their hopes of fulfilling themselves through music, nor to ask how the music industry as a whole had so long allowed the conductor to get away with it – but to argue passionately that his mistakes in life should not be allowed to damage his career. Fenton was relieved that the judge had allowed the conductor to keep associating with children: “To be debarred for life from working with the male treble voice would have been a harsh fate.”

In all this, I saw further evidence of our culture of denial. And I see it too in the way the music industry has welcomed the conductor back since his release from jail. Singers and instrumentalists with MBEs and honorary positions at the Royal Academy of Music go on appearing with him in the world's most famous concert venues – the Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the KKL in Lucerne, and so on – and fans go on funding his performances and recordings.

They have restored to him the power and status with which they had entrusted him before, in putting their talent, labour, property and good names at his disposal. And they have done so despite the fact he abused all this – abused them – to gain the confidence of families and attack their children, and even though he called his victims “liars” and “loonies” during the trial, and has not expressed remorse.

There's nothing more we can ask of the conductor himself. He apologised to me when I was 13, and went on to assault me again: another apology would be meaningless. And he has served his time. I don't want revenge. I don't want to dwell on the past. And there are doubtless many other moderating thoughts to which I should also give voice – about the value of mercy, for instance, and about how blessed my life has been in other respects.

But it has fallen to me to say something simpler here. I did not ask to be one of the ones who had these words to speak. They were a burden given to me a long time ago. I might have felt less crazed by others' silence, or by their denial, had I spoken them earlier – shouted them from the stage of a London concert hall 30 years ago, perhaps, into the darkness of the stalls.

They are the words for which I have reached so often, the words I needed to hear when I was a child. Make of them what you will.


New York

New York passes Child Victims Act, allowing child sex abuse survivors to sue their abusers

by Augusta Anthony, CNN

New York (CNN) -- The New York State Legislature passed a bill on Monday that will increase the statute of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse.

The Child Victims Act will allow child victims to seek prosecution against their abuser until the age of 55 in civil cases, a significant increase from the previous limit of age 23. For criminal cases, victims can seek prosecution until they turn 28. The bill also includes a one-year window during which victims of any age or time limit can come forward to prosecute.

"New York has just gone from being one of the worst states in the country to being one of the best," in terms of the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases, said Marci Hamilton, CEO of Child USA and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Hamilton said the bill "represents over 15 years of work by survivors and advocates trying to get around the stiff opposition from the Catholic bishops and the insurance industry" and is a step forward in the national conversation. There are eight other states considering similar legislation.

What's the law nationally?

Many other states allow victims to sue their abusers for decades after their abuse. Oklahoma, for example, allows victims to come forward until age 45 in both civil and criminal cases.

"The fact that New York has stepped up and vastly improved its statute of limitations, it helps to pave the way for other states who haven't yet taken steps to improve their statute of limitations," said Stephen Forrester, director of government relations and administration at the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Forrester stressed the significance of the one-year window in the bill that will allow victims of all ages and time scales to come forward. "That's an aspect that really goes a long way at restoring justice," he said, and it is less common nationally. According to advocacy group Child USA, nine states have no statute of limitations for civil cases, which would allow child sex abuse victims to come forward at any point in their life -- as they will be able to during the one-year window.

New York's law will also give victims significantly more time to disclose their histories of abuse. Experts, including Forrester, say there is a need for a long statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse because it can take victims years to come forward. "For many different reasons, victims need time to come forward to report their abuse," Forrester said. Victims can often suffer from prolonged or delayed trauma.

According to statistics from Child USA, the majority of child sexual abuse victims do not choose to disclose, if they do at all, until the average age of 52.

Child USA's Hamilton said that extending the statute of limitation for civil litigation will help expand the public knowledge of how widespread child sexual abuse is. She said it is often during civil cases that experts learn about how patterns of abuse operate.

"We have this silent pandemic in this country," she said. "We didn't really understand that this was everywhere."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 7 children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the last year.

Catholic Church opposition

Monday's bill passage comes after more than a decade of opposition from the Catholic Church in New York. In a news conference on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is a Roman Catholic, blamed the church directly for preventing the bill's passage.

Speaking about why the bill took years to pass, Cuomo said, "I believe it was the conservatives in the Senate who were threatened by the Catholic Church." The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Monday. In November 2018, Democrats took over the Republican-held Senate.

Cuomo also referenced Pope Francis, who has spoken about the Catholic Church's need to confront its history of child sexual abuse. "I don't think I'm against the Catholic Church," Cuomo said, "I think the bishops may have a different position than the Pope, and I'm with the Pope," he said.

New York's Catholic Conference previously opposed the bill but dropped its opposition after the bill was amended to allow prosecution of both private and public institutions.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian has prosecuted thousands of clergy abuse cases over the past 25 years, including those stemming from the Boston Globe's investigation of the Archdiocese of Boston.

In an interview Monday, Garabedian told CNN this legislation will be hugely significant. "I think there will be a flood of litigation," he said, adding that he has more than 100 cases waiting to be filed.

"It's a model for many, many states in the United States for them to follow," Garabedian said. In a statement, he added, "There is now hope for justice, respect and validation for thousands of sexual abuse victims sexually abused in New York."

Cuomo's office said he is expected to sign the bill into law soon.