Death of girl, 10, shines spotlight on child abuse in Japan
by Euan McKirdy and Junko Ogura, CNN
Tokyo (CNN) — The death of a 10-year-old girl, allegedly at the hands of her abusive father after authorities failed to respond to pleas for help, has prompted soul searching in Japan as the country comes to terms with a record number of child abuse cases.
Mia Kurihara was found dead at her home in Noda, near the capital Tokyo, on January 24.
She had previously made allegations of violence in a confidential school questionnaire, writing a note to her teacher that her father, Yuichiro Kurihara, was abusive and pleading with her school to help her.
"I've been receiving physical violence from my father," the note read.
"He wakes me up in the middle of the night. When I'm awake, he hits and kicks me. Teacher, can you do anything for me?"
She was placed in protective custody and then lived with a relative. But officials decided to send her home when her father produced a letter, purportedly from Mia, which exonerated him.
According to Hitoshi Nihei, the head of Kashiwa Child Welfare Center, who read the letter out a press conference on February 5, it read: "It was a lie that I was hit by my father. Please do not come to see me, I don't want to see the staff from Child Welfare Center."
Nihei said that even then, authorities believed Kurihara may have forced his daughter to write the letter. "We were aware it was highly possible that her father insisted she write it."
Mia was returned to her family in March 2018 but no child welfare or education officials made a home visit to check on her, Nihei said. Less than a year later, she was found dead.
A Chiba prefectural police spokesman said Kurihara, now 41, was arrested on January 25 on suspicion of inflicting the injuries that led to his daughter's death.
When she failed to show up at school after the winter break, her father allegedly told school officials that she was staying with relatives in the southern island prefecture of Okinawa, where the family originally came from. Her body was discovered in the family home on January 24.
Her mother Nagisa was also arrested earlier this week, accused of conspiring to inflict injuries. The couple, who also have a 1-year-old daughter, are still under investigation.
According to local media reports, Yuichiro has denied that he abused his daughter, telling police he used strict parenting methods but didn't do anything wrong. Local media reports that Nagisa, the mother, has told police that she was also abused by her husband and covered up his abuse of Mia out of fear for her own safety.
Both parents remain in police custody, and CNN has been unable to contact them or determine if they have a lawyer yet.
Local authorities 'committed a fatal mistake'
The deputy headteacher of the Noda City Education Board, Masahiko Yabe, said he had been intimidated by Mia's father, who demanded a copy of the note the schoolgirl gave to her teacher.
"I felt compelled to give him a copy, as if mentally forced into a corner," he said during a formal apology.
"We could have protected the girl's life but failed to do so and committed a fatal mistake because of my decision. I am deeply sorry."
Nihei echoed his regrets. "Our role is to protect children's lives," he said at the same press conference. "We are truly sorry."
In conservative Japan family matters are often considered private and inviolable. Outraged social media users have expressed disgust at a culture that they say values privacy over preventing abuse.
"What happened to Mia Kurihara is not someone else's problem. I many times thought I would be killed. I thought of killing myself too," one user wrote.
"Where can we find saviors who won't give in the poisonous parents and intervene to the closed society called 'family?' Who can protect the children who have to come back home scared every day?"
Another user tweeted: "Mia's death is delivering a terrifying message to the children (who have) difficulties -- that adults break promises easily when children admit bullying and abuse to their school. The (numbers of) kids with nowhere to go only increases."
Child abuse cases on the rise
While overall crime in Japan is at an all-time low, police in 2018 reported the suspected abuse of a record 80,104 minors to child welfare authorities -- an increase of 22.4% from the previous year, and the highest number since comparable data became available in 2004, in part due to growing awareness of the issue.
On Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting of ministers involved in child abuse issues, and expressed regret that local authorities had not acted on Mia's pleas.
"My regret (is) that the school, Board of Education and Child Welfare Center, who are supposed to protect children, failed to respond to the SOS calls that Mia had courageously sent," he said.
"I want to call for efforts to eradicate child abuse to protect children's lives as a top priority.
Pope Acknowledges Nuns Were Sexually Abused by Priests and Bishops
Pope Francis for the first time said that priests and bishops in the Catholic Church had sexually abused nuns, and that some priests had been suspended.
by Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the Roman Catholic Church had faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the issue.
Catholic nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in recent years in India, Africa, Latin America and in Italy, and a Vatican magazine last week mentioned nuns having abortions or giving birth to the children of priests. But Francis has never raised the issue until he was asked to comment during a news conference aboard the papal plane returning to Rome from his trip to the United Arab Emirates.
“It's true,” Francis said. “There are priests and bishops who have done that.”
The pope's admission opens a new front in the long-running scandal of sexual abuse by priests, recognizing nuns who have tried for years to call attention to their plight. With the #MeToo movement going strong, and Francis under pressure for neglecting the victims of child abuse, the nuns' pleas have gained traction.
In November, the organization representing the world's Catholic women's religious orders, the International Union of Superiors General, publicly denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that contributed to abuse, and urged nuns to report abuse to law enforcement.
A top official in the Vatican office that handles sexual abuse allegations resigned last month after a former nun accused him of making sexual advances during confession. The official, the Rev. Hermann Geissler, chief of staff in the Vatican's doctrinal office, denied the allegation, the Vatican said.
An article last week in Women Church World, the women's magazine of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, blamed the abuse on the outsize power of priests.
“The abuse of women results in procreation and so is at the origin of the scandal of imposed abortions and children not recognized by priests,” wrote the article's author, Lucetta Scaraffia, a feminist intellectual and the editor in chief of Women Church World.
Asked about these developments on Tuesday, Francis said that it was a continuing problem and that the Vatican was working on the issue. Some priests, he said, have been suspended.
“Should more be done? Yes,” Francis said. “Do we have the will? Yes. But it is a path that we have already begun.”
Francis recalled that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, had been “a strong man” who he said had sought to remove priests who committed sexual abuse and even “sexual slavery.”
Francis spoke about a case in which Benedict dissolved an order of nuns “because a certain slavery of women had crept in, slavery to the point of sexual slavery on the part of clergy or the founder.”
A Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said later that Francis was referring to the Contemplative Sisters of Saint-Jean, a small group in France that confronted a variety of problems.
Even though the abuse of nuns gets less attention than the abuse of children and young men, it is not new. In the 1990s, as the child sex abuse crisis was starting to emerge in the United States, leaders of women's religious orders wrote several reports calling attention to cases of priests abusing nuns.
Many examples came from Africa, where priests were said to have turned to nuns for sex during the spread of AIDS. One sister at the time, Maura O'Donohue, wrote of a case in Malawi where priests impregnated nearly 30 sisters in one congregation. When they complained to the archbishop, she wrote, they were replaced.
Last year, a nun in India accused a bishop of repeatedly raping her between 2014 and 2016. The bishop was arrested after she reported him to the police, a decision that divided the local Catholic community. Many priests celebrated when the bishop, who faces trial this year, was released on bail.
In a high-profile case in Chile, the Vatican is investigating reports that priests abused nuns. Current and former nuns said the women had been removed from the order when they reported the abuse.
Last summer, an investigation by The Associated Press found cases of abuse of nuns in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, and reported that the Vatican had not adequately punished offenders or supported victims.
At a conference in Pakistan recently, Sister Rose Pacatte, who is based in Los Angeles, spoke to leaders of women's religious orders on how to prevent abuse.
“Don't report to bishop or priest as the first step to deal with the situation,” warned one slide in her presentation. “They may be the abusers or may protect them.”
Last year, Mary Dispenza, a former nun who works with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a victims' advocacy group, helped popularize the hashtag #nunstoo on Twitter. She intended to gather stories of people abused by nuns, but started to hear from nuns about abuse by priests.
“I'm really angered by the words of the pope just now,” Ms. Dispenza said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “I am angered by the Pope not standing up and really speaking out about the tragedy, and actions he will take.”
The majority of the pope's visit to the United Arab Emirates was focused on interreligious dialogue with the Muslim world, and it culminated with the signing of a sort of manifesto for brotherhood with Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's influential Al Azhar mosque.
Asked on the plane home about conservative criticism that he had been Pollyannaish in his approach to the Middle East and been taken advantage of by the Muslim sheikhs, Francis joked, “Not only the Muslims,” and noted that his critics felt he had been manipulated by just about everyone.
But he said the document he signed was on strong theological footing.
“I want to say this clearly, from a Catholic point of view, the document has not moved a millimeter” from church teaching codified in the Second Vatican Council. He said he took the extra step of having the document vetted by a tough Dominican theologian, who approved it. “It's not a step backward,” he said. “It is a step forward.”
He also made it clear that he had continued to voice his concerns about the persecution of Christians in the region — which he said his flock knew all too well — but that either “me or another Peter,” meaning a successor pope, would surely visit more Muslim countries.
Earlier Tuesday, the pope celebrated Mass at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi before roughly 135,000 Catholics, many of them migrants from India, the Philippines and South America, who had come to the Emirates to work.
The Mass, also attended by 4,000 Muslims, was the largest public celebration of a Christian rite in the history of the Muslim country, where the worship of other faiths is tolerated but is not typically done in such a public way.
The next major event on the pope's schedule is a meeting with presidents of the world's bishops' conferences at the end of February in Rome to focus on a response to the global sex abuse crisis that is threatening the pope's legacy and the moral capital that is the currency of his pontificate.
Sexual abuse of minors pervades Canadian youth sports
MONTREAL: More than 200 coaches of amateur sports in Canada have been convicted of sexual crimes against minors over the past 20 years, the public television network CBC reported Sunday.
The network´s survey, covering a period from 1998-2018, found that 340 coaches were accused of sexual offenses, which resulted in 222 convictions in cases involving more than 600 youths under the age of 18.
It added that 34 more cases were still working their way through the courts.
CBC/Radio Canadia said it went through thousands of case files and visited numerous courts around the country to compile its database.
Sandra Kirby, a sociology professor at the University of Winnipeg and a former Olympic athlete, said the CBC findings were "just the tip of the iceberg" because sexual abuse is often not reported.
She said "massive reform" was needed to ensure youths can safely participate in organized sports.
"It´s pretty gut-wrenching to see the findings," Lorraine Lafreniere, head of the Coaching Association of Canada, told CBC. "There is a misguided sense of security when you drop your child off at the clubhouse."
CBC said the offenses it reviewed ranged from sexual abuse, to sexual exploitation to the production or possession of child pornography.
Nearly all of those convicted -- 213 to 222 -- were men but the victims were both boys and girls.
Canada´s most emblematic sport, hockey, had the most cases of sexual misconduct by coaches -- 86, of which 59 resulted in convictions.
Soccer, which attracts the largest number of youthful participants in Canada, was second with 40 people accused of sexual offenses and 27 convicted.
But cases of sexual abuse of minors turned up in every sport, the CBC said.
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 Rebecca Ratcliffe
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.
Ungodly abuse: The lasting torment of the New Tribes missionary kids
The accused sexual predators are living freely in communities around the U.S., their sordid pasts known only to a few
by NBC News
When the clock struck 8 p.m. inside the Aritao boarding school in the Philippines, the children would gather in a common area for their evening routine.
A nightly devotional. A Bible reading. Prayers.
The children were the sons and daughters of American evangelical missionaries. The sessions were led by mission caretakers known as the "dorm dad" and "dorm mom."
When the prayers were over, the boys and girls as young as 6 would march off to bed. Sometimes, the dorm dad would trail behind the girls, slip into their rooms and do ungodly things to them in the dead of night.
He would put "his hands under the covers and would touch me," recalled Joy Drake, who says the sexual abuse started when she was 9.
"I would pretend that I was sleeping because I was terrified that he would get angry or something worse would happen if I moved. So I'd hold my breath and wait till it was over."
The Aritao school was run by a Florida-based group formerly known as New Tribes Mission, one of the largest Christian missionary organizations in the world.
New Tribes missionaries have operated in more than a dozen countries, spreading the gospel in some of the most remote corners of the globe.
Devoting one's life to God in this way requires a particular sacrifice. Missionary parents would often go several weeks in the field without seeing their young children, leaving them in the care of New Tribes boarding schools in places like the Philippines, Senegal and Brazil.
Some of the schools, former students say, employed missionaries who were like wolves in sheep's clothing.
In interviews with NBC News, more than a half-dozen women said they were sexually abused by New Tribes staffers while attending the mission schools in the 1980s and '90s.
The women say New Tribes covered up the abuse for years and scared the victims into silence by telling stories of Africans going to hell or missionaries ending up in foreign prisons if the allegations ever got out.
The organization, after facing pressure from abuse survivors, did eventually commission an independent, pull-no-punches probe of one of its schools, in Senegal. The 2010 report painted a damning portrait of New Tribes, accusing the organization of creating a culture of systemic abuse that included sexual harassment and abuse of more than 20 children.
But the report, released long before the #MeToo movement triggered a national reckoning over the abuse of women and girls, garnered little attention.
Nearly a decade later, the accused sexual predators are living freely in communities around the U.S., their sordid pasts known only to a few.
Because the alleged abuse took place overseas and was never reported to local law enforcement authorities, the men have never stepped foot in a jail or appeared on any sex offender registry.
"The scariest thing is thinking that they're still out there," said Jaasiel Mashek, 38, who says she was abused by the dorm dad at the Philippines school. "Who knows what has happened since they've been back?"
NBC News tracked down one of the accused pedophiles to a tiny town in Georgia, where he has given sermons at a local church. The man, David Brooks, was identified in the Senegal report as the school's most prolific perpetrator of sexual abuse, preying on one girl alone more than 50 times. Brooks declined to comment to NBC News.
"I feel that in so many ways justice has failed," said Boz Tchividjian, a former sex crimes prosecutor who leads Grace (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), the organization that investigated the New Tribes school in Senegal and that focuses on rooting out abuse in Christian organizations.
"You have individuals who physically and sexually abused children who have gone on to live quote-unquote 'normal lives.' You have an organization that had to deal with some press and people talking about it but in large part has moved on and continues to do their work around the world."
"And then," added Tchividjian, who is a grandson of the evangelist Billy Graham, "you've got the scores and scores of missionary kids. So many of them are struggling to get by in life, struggling to comprehend, why is this man who sexually abused me not in jail, not in prison? Why is this man serving in church, living what appears to be a normal life?"
SILENT NO MORE
Missionary kids. That's what they call themselves.
They grew up overseas, in exotic environments and often strict boarding schools, many seeing their parents only in sporadic bursts.
Some missionary kids had glorious childhoods filled with adventure and close friends, surrounded by caring, supportive adults. But others had a very different, darker experience, where they suffered abuse that was physical, emotional and sometimes sexual.
Several missionary groups, not just New Tribes, have been battling to keep a lid on their own ugly pasts, according to Tchividjian. He said he's "lost count" of the number of people who have reached out to him with stories of physical and sexual abuse within various mission organizations.
"I think high-risk offenders are drawn to that environment because these groups are often in desperate need of staff, there's minimal accountability and significant numbers of vulnerable people," Tchividjian said. "That's a perfect recipe for a sexual offender."
The former students who spoke to NBC News said a "culture of silence" was built into their childhoods. Their reluctance to speak out spanned decades. But more and more are stepping out of the shadows.
Those little boarding school girls are now grown women — teachers and nurses and youth mentors, some of them with daughters of their own. Five former New Tribes students spoke to the "Today" show, telling their stories to a national TV audience for the first time.
They want the world to know what they suffered through as missionary kids so no one else ever has to.
"If we don't speak up, it's going to keep happening," Mashek said. "And we're going to pass on that mentality of covering it up to the next generation. It's got to stop."
"GAMBLE ALL FOR CHRIST"
Founded in 1942, New Tribes Mission set out to bring Christianity to the world's most isolated communities — no matter the risks.
"By unflinching determination we hazard our lives and gamble all for Christ until we have reached the last tribe regardless of where that tribe might be," the group said in the May 1943 issue of its official magazine, "Brown Gold."
Missionaries flooded countries in Asia, Africa, South America and beyond. Many of them brought with them not just the teachings of Jesus Christ. Missionary parents also brought their children.
Bonnie Cheshire was just 2 when she arrived in Senegal with her parents, both New Tribes missionaries, in 1981. She grew up in a river village surrounded by forest and miles away from a major city.
"It was an amazing life. It was absolute freedom," Cheshire said. "Outside all day, in trees all day."
By age 6, she was living with other children of New Tribes missionaries at the Fanda school where boys and girls were split into separate rooms. There was a "big girls" room and a "little girls" room, each one accommodating about six to eight girls.
Like all of the New Tribe boarding schools, American missionaries who were not sent out in the field were assigned to take care of the children and lead them in Bible study and prayer.
Brooks and his wife held the role of Fanda dorm parents in the mid-1980s, according to the Grace report.
Cheshire said Brooks would sometimes play the "seashell game" when he was alone with the children outside, hiding a shell in his bathing suit and urging the girls to find it.
Soon he was also showing up in her room late at night, Cheshire said. "You need to find a way to relax to go to sleep," she recalls him telling her.
Brooks would then start touching her, Cheshire said, noting that she was 7 when the abuse started. It seemed innocent at first, she said, but became anything but.
"I knew that it was not right," Cheshire said.
Kari Mikitson said she was 8 when Brooks began appearing at her bedside to tuck her in at night. Mikitson said she had only one roommate at the time — Brooks' own daughter — but that didn't deter him.
"She would fall asleep, and he would just sit on my bed and stay too long," Mikitson recalled.
After molesting her, Mikitson said, Brooks would tell her it was "our secret."
For years, Mikitson dared not speak up. She and the other former students said they were taught reporting negative things could jeopardize their parents' work and strip the locals of the chance to have their souls saved.
"Deeply religious organizations are great places for pedophiles to hide," she said. "The culture of silence was built into the training. Do not gossip, do not speak about anything that doesn't edify. It's just a recipe for abuse."
Mikitson said Brooks abused her for roughly one year. Cheshire said he preyed on her for two years.
They had no way of knowing that other young girls were being allegedly sexually assaulted at a different New Tribes school thousands of miles away.
"IT WAS A HELL I STILL LIVE WITH"
Prowling the dorms at the boarding school in Aritao, Philippines, was a different man with a similar predilection for young girls.
Jaasiel Mashek says she was only 6 when a dorm dad named Les Emory began preying on her.
Mashek told NBC News that she still remembers heading to her bedroom and seeing "Uncle Les" sitting nearby and "waiting for us."
She says she was too young to remember details of the abuse but Emory sent her a letter in 1993 admitting that he had molested her.
"I need to send this letter to you and beg your forgiveness for my sin against you," he wrote. "Please forgive me for letting my desires control me."
For Joy Drake, the details of the attacks have been seared into her memory. She was a few years older than Mashek when she says Emory began sneaking into her room late at night, setting a chair next to her bottom bunk bed and touching her sexually.
Drake says she became so desperate to avoid the attacks that she sometimes went to sleep in an upper shelf of her closet. "I'd put my blanket and my pillow up there and sleep up there in the cupboard, because I didn't want to be in bed," Drake said. "And I figured it would be hard for him to find me in the dark."
Another former student, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was 11 when Emory would show up in her room and watch her undress. The woman said she and her friends eventually ditched their own rooms and moved in with one another in an effort to deter the creepy ogling.
"I didn't feel safe so I wanted to be with my friends," she said.
Escaping the abuse was nearly impossible for Kelly Emory. Les Emory is her father.
Kelly says her dad raped and molested her for three years starting at age 6. She says she was also forced to endure the horror of being in the same room as her father sexually abused her roommates inside the Aritao dorm.
"I had to pretend I was sleeping," Kelly said. "It was a hell I still live with."
Kelly said nothing about her father's attacks until she was 15. In March 1993, with Kelly struggling in school and wrestling with thoughts of suicide, she says she told her dorm mother.
The woman reported the allegations, Kelly said, and days later three New Tribes field leaders showed up at the school to question her.
"They asked me to describe what had happened, and I told them," Kelly said. "And they told me to not say anything. It was my duty to protect my family, to protect my dad, and if I did say anything, if I did tell anybody anything, my dad would be thrown in a Filipino jail."
Within a week, Kelly said, her family was shipped out of the Philippines and flown to Missouri to attend therapy sessions with a mission counselor.
"After two weeks we were pronounced healed and whole," Kelly said. "Those were their words."
Emory was ordered to leave the mission, Kelly said, but the real reason for the family's sudden relocation was kept secret from all but a few in the organization.
"You try to do the right thing," Kelly said. "We got shushed and rushed out of the country. They made us all stay quiet. They silenced us."
"WHEN I FOUND OUT I WASN'T THE ONLY ONE, MY LIFE DID A 180"
Kari Mikitson's family left Senegal in the late 1980s when she was 11. Not long after they settled in Colorado, Mikitson confided in her sister and then told her parents about the abuse.
Mikitson's father, John, said he called New Tribes around 1989 to report Brooks, and the response left him stunned.
"You are going to ruin this man's ministry if you keep talking about this," he said he was told.
"They wanted to defend this perpetrator, not our daughter," John Mikitson said in an interview. "I can only assume their focus was keeping the ministry alive."
Brooks was removed from the organization by 1990, a spokesperson said.
According to 1992 New Tribe field committee notes obtained by the Grace investigators, the group did have a policy on child sexual abuse that expressly stated allegations should not be reported to police and imposed different guidelines for different kinds of acts:
"If it is a homosexual act with a child, the person will be dismissed immediately and may never be considered for membership in the mission again. If it is a heterosexual act the person will be dismissed immediately but could be considered for ministry again in the future depending on the case. If it occurs in the field, it is not necessary to report it to the Senegalese or U.S. authorities. It must be investigated as not doing so could be ruinous for the mission."
Even if New Tribes had reported abuse to American authorities in the early 1990s, there was little that law enforcement could do. It wasn't until Congress passed the Protect Act in 2003 that the U.S. government could prosecute Americans for sex crimes committed overseas without going through the onerous and often impossible task of proving the suspect had traveled to that country for the purpose of abusing kids.
The Mikitson family ultimately dropped the matter, but roughly 20 years later, it came roaring back when Kari Mikitson moved back to Senegal.
She met up with her childhood best friend for the first time in years, and when Brooks came up in conversation, Mikitson said she learned she wasn't the only one harboring a painful secret.
"When I found out I wasn't the only one, my life did a 180 instantly," Mikitson said. "For the first time I realized this was not my shame, it was this man's. I felt powerful when I learned this."
Mikitson and Cheshire launched a blog in 2009 with twin goals: to create a network for abuse survivors and pressure New Tribes into acknowledging its sins.
"I made it clear on the blog — I wanted a genuine apology," Mikitson said. "I was not looking for money. This was not a shakedown. I wanted genuine repentance, in the words of evangelical Christianity."
The blog quickly attracted attention, and soon people who had attended New Tribes boarding schools around the world were detailing their own stories of sexual abuse. Mikitson said she received reports about schools in more than a dozen countries.
With the blog gaining in popularity, the organization invited Mikitson to its headquarters in Sanford, Florida, for a face-to-face meeting with board members.
Mikitson says she wasn't satisfied by the response from the New Tribes officials, but they ultimately hired Grace to investigate abuses at the school in Fanda, Senegal.
The report surprised Mikitson and other survivors with its unvarnished account of the child sexual abuse at the school, identifying seven alleged perpetrators by name and outlining in excruciating detail the acts they carried out.
"David Brooks often talked with these children about his close walk with the Lord while simultaneously sexually abusing them," the report says. "He told these children not to tell, because bad things would happen and no one would believe them."
The report offered specific recommendations — including firing the alleged sexual abusers, alerting the "appropriate authorities" of their conduct, and setting up a $1 million fund to cover counseling costs for victims.
In a statement, New Tribes said it took a series of actions after the report.
"We made improvements in our child protection policies, implemented recurring child safety training for all members, and hired an independent team to review or investigate our ministry locations around the world," the statement said.
New Tribes said the organization "carried out termination and disciplinary action and set up a perpetual fund to assist victims with counseling."
The group also claimed to have reported Brooks and Emory to several authorities, but the local law enforcement offices in the mens' hometowns both told NBC News they had no idea an accused pedophile was living within their jurisdiction.
In the case of Emory, New Tribes said it made a report to the Florida Abuse Hotline in 1993 (Emory has never lived in Florida). New Tribes said it didn't take any other action until nearly 20 years later when it contacted an FBI office in Missouri, in 2011, and the Department of Homeland Security, in 2012.
As for Brooks, New Tribes said it reported him to "state authorities in Florida" and his state of residence. The organization also said it submitted a report in person to his local sheriff's department.
But the sheriff's office in Pike County, Georgia, where records show Brooks has lived since the 1990s, said it had no record of any such report.
"If someone told us there's an accused pedophile living in our jurisdiction, that would be information we would like to know for the safety of our community," Maj. David Neal of the sheriff's office said.
New Tribes did pay for some counseling sessions, according to the women, but they came to an abrupt end after reaching a financial limit.
New Tribe's relationship with the team of investigators behind the Grace report also came to an end.
The mission went on to establish its own process, called IHART, to "research historical allegations with care and professionalism."
New Tribes hired someone to assemble a team and lead investigations into other schools. But the team has released only two reports thus far, in Bolivia and Panama, which were overseen by a special education lawyer from Colorado with a missionary background and presented before a panel that may include former New Tribes staffers prior to release.
"For some allegations, we are fairly confident that we found the truth," says the introduction of both reports. "For others, the truth is hidden in the fog of history and memory so that we could not be sure exactly what happened — the final truth will come out when God reveals the hidden things."
A now 46-year-old woman, who says she was molested by the director of the Bolivia school when she was 11, dismissed the IHART report as a half-hearted inside job.
"People were led to believe it was an impartial investigation, but, being aware of their guilt, which they are, (New Tribes Mission) would never hire independent or impartial anything, risking their own asses, and the result of this IHART investigation shows it," she said.
A CHILD ABUSER SPEAKS
Brooks and Emory, meanwhile, have gone on with their lives. More than 25 years have passed since they returned to the U.S., and neither has run afoul of the law in their hometowns.
When NBC News reached Brooks outside of his home in Williamson, Georgia, he refused to comment about the allegations. "No response whatsoever," he said.
Emory was much more willing to talk.
In a 13-minute phone interview, he was remarkably candid about his conduct in the Philippines. He admitted to molesting girls under his care, said he had undergone extensive therapy and expressed remorse for the harm he had done to the victims.
"Nobody else is involved. Nobody knew anything about it," he said. "It basically happened at night and everybody was sleeping."
Emory said he preyed on a total of eight girls, but he denied ever abusing his daughter.
Emory also said he was interviewed by a Department of Homeland Security agent around 2011 but nothing came of it.
"I am so eternally sorry for what I did to them girls and I have no excuse," he added. "Like I said, I was going through a selfish, ugly, sinful time and I pray to God that he'll keep me walking with him, so I don't think about it again."
New Tribes changed its name to Ethnos 360 in May 2017.
The organization now operates only three boarding schools, with a total of eight students. Most of the missionaries home-school their children, a spokesperson said.
Jaasiel Mashek, one of Emory's alleged victims, said she's still troubled by the way the organization handled the allegations of abuse. "It's not just about the perpetrators, but it's the people that covered it up," she said.
Kari Mikitson, who along with Bonnie Cheshire reached a settlement with the group, said she thinks it should pay for victims' counseling costs in perpetuity. "You destroyed these lives. Rebuild them," she said. "And if it takes every penny you have, so be it."
Nearly 30 years after the attacks, Joy Drake still builds a fortress of pillows around her body when she goes to sleep, an extension of her days trying to keep away her abuser.
She said the organization's leaders didn't just fail her and her fellow abuse survivors. "They "failed to protect everybody after us. Because these men are still out there."
"I haven't lost my trust in God," she said. "I lost my trust in people that claim to be godly
South Korea unveils biggest ever investigation into abuse in sport
Human rights commission to interview possibly thousands of adults and children in wake of abuse
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.
South Korea sports chief apologises after Olympic speed skater alleges coach raped her
“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.”
Catholic archbishop in Brazil bans priests from being alone with children
Decree follows court order forcing archdiocese to pay almost £2.5m in compensation over sexual exploitation of minors
by Tom Embury-Dennis
A Brazilian Catholic archbishop has banned priests in his district from being alone with children.
Manoel Delson, archbishop of the northeastern state of Paraiba, signed the decree on Wednesday following a court order forcing the archdiocese to pay almost £2.5m in compensation over the sexual exploitation of minors.
Mr Delson's decree prohibits priests from being in the company of children and vulnerable adults unaccompanied by their parents or guardians.
It also states they are not allowed to offer parish accommodation to minors, while “spiritual care” must be done in confessionals or locations that “ensure safety and visibility”, according to Brazilian newspaper Globo.
The decree was signed the same day Pope Francis for the first time admitted the Catholic Church has an ongoing problem with priests and even bishops who sexually abuse nuns.
Speaking to reporters, he said some nuns had been used as sex slaves, and more needed to be done within the Church to prevent it.
“It is true ... there have been priests and even bishops who have done this. I think it is still going on because something does not stop just because you have become aware of it,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
“We have been working on this for a long time. We have suspended some priests because of this.”
Pope Francis has summoned key bishops from around the world to a summit later this month at the Vatican to find a unified response on how to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy
Nobel winner Kailash Satyarthi's new campaign: to protect children from online abuse
Kailash Satyarthi won global acclaim with his fight against child labor. Now he has a new target — online abuseIndian earned global acclaim for his fight against child labor.
He spoke to Arab News while in Dubai to promote "The Price of Free"
by AMNA EHTESHAM KHAISHGI
DUBAI: Clad in a neat white kurta, Kailash Satyarthi comes across as an unassuming man. But when the Nobel Peace Prize winner starts to speak, it is impossible not to be gripped by his story of a four-decade struggle against child labor and slavery.
Earlier this month, the 65-year-old Satyarthi was in the UAE for a private screening of his documentary, “The Price of Free,” winner of the 2018 US Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film traced his work fighting for children's rights, but now he has a new aim: A campaign for international laws to protect the young from online abuse and exploitation.
“The way the Internet and smartphones have penetrated our lives — regardless of whether you are rich or poor — is unbelievable,” he said. “This digital explosion has also led to many serious problems. Online child abuse is certainly one of them.”
Satyarthi has written to political leaders across the world, calling for a new convention on the issue. “Given that online crimes transcend borders, extra-territorial jurisdiction for the proposed law is absolutely essential. We need a dedicated, toll-free international helpline for reporting cases related to online child sexual abuse, under the supervision of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and other relevant agencies,” he said.
After graduating as an engineer, Satyarthi started campaigning for child rights where he lived, in a small town near Bhopal in central India. “In 1981, a poor Muslim family knocked on my door. They needed help to find their 15-year-old daughter, who was enslaved,” Satyarthi recalled.
With the help of local villagers and his friends, he worked to have her freed. The family and the girl are still in touch with him: “They are part of my family now.”
That was where he began. Supported by a group of fellow activists, he would raid sites where children were forced to work and free them, sometimes with the support of the authorities, but often with only the help of local villagers.
Battling an unresponsive system, he survived multiple attacks, and now travels around the world, throwing his weight behind efforts to free children from forced labor and slavery. In India alone, Satyarthi and his foundation have been credited with freeing 87,000 children.
In 1996, he began a campaign for an international law against child labor. This led to a “Global March Against Child Labor” in 1998, in which he walked 80,000 km across 103 countries. As a result, in 1999, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted Convention 182: Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
Yet, the struggle continues. According to the latest ILO estimates, 152 million children are involved in child labor, including slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of work, and forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography and other illicit activities.
Even in the Arab world, 1.2 million children are working as child laborers and 616,000 are involved in hazardous work. Despite being the lowest figure of any region in the world, it still means about 3 percent of children are involved in child labor.
Africa ranks highest, both in the percentage of children in child labor — around 20 percent — and the absolute number of children — 72 million. Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest on both these measures, with 7 percent of all children and 62 million in absolute terms.
Globally, 64 million girls and 88 million boys are still in child labor, accounting for almost 10 percent of all children worldwide. Making things worse, almost half of all them are in hazardous work that threatens their health and safety.
For Satyarthi, though, it is not all bad news. In fact, he has reason to believe that his struggle is bearing fruit. “It has been a long journey, but a fulfilling one. In the year 2000, there were 260 million children working. And in 2018, the number has come down to 152 million,” he said.
According to Satyarthi, child labor is linked to poverty and illiteracy. “If we need to fight against child labor, we need to work on illiteracy and poverty eradication,” he said.
This is precisely what his organization, the Children's Foundation, has been doing in 144 countries for more than 20 years. The fight has not been easy anywhere, but he found the sub-Saharan African region the most difficult. “Weak governance, apathy and corruption,” he said. “Rehabilitation of these children has always been an issue because of a lack of resources and facilities.”
Satyarthi's dedication to the cause also brought him to the Middle East, where his primary focus has been on protecting child refugees. Of the 166 million children living in the region, 61 million are living in countries affected by war. According to Satyarthi, governments around the world, especially in Europe, are unnecessarily reluctant to host refugees, especially children.
“Please do not assume that you are doing any favors to these (refugees). They are not going to take anything from you. These poor souls are victims of circumstance. It is the responsibility of the world to take care of them,” he said.
He recalls a meeting with a 10-year-old Syrian boy in a refugee camp in Germany. The youngster — who had lost both his arms and had no parents — somehow reached Germany with the help of family friends.
“Despite what he had been through, the child looked confident and positive. He told me he is not going to live in Germany forever. He wanted to go home to Syria. He wanted to become an engineer and build new houses for his countrymen who have lost theirs.”
Satyarthi also had words of appreciation for Arab governments and their efforts in taking care of the refugees. “Arab governments are sensitive about the issue. They are taking care of Arab refugee children very well. They are spending money to make sure they remain safe.”
He also took the opportunity to urge compassionate leaders, governments and businesses in the Gulf to extend their fullest support to refugee children and their communities “so that they are protected, sheltered and nurtured for a promising tomorrow.
“Otherwise an entire budding generation will be wiped out,” he said.
Satyarthi has always believed that refugees are a global responsibility and much more needs to be done to safeguard their interests. Moreover, several layers of support need to be established to improve things.
“Though the problem is regional, it should not be treated as so. It is a global responsibility,” he said.
“Every border should be open. Every treasury should be free and every heart should be open for children.”
“The Price of Free” is available for screening on YouTube.
For more information, visit https://priceoffree.com
Former swimming champ sentenced for child rape, sexual abuse
BORDEAUX, France (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.
Leroyer was a French national champion, specializing in backstroke, in the 1970s before injuries derailed his career. He went on to manage the Rouen Hockey Club, which won five national championships during his tenure.
The three-day trial highlighted how success as an athlete and sports administrator helped open doors that otherwise likely would have remained closed to the single man with no family or children of his own.
Prosecutors said he targeted families with marital difficulties and with fathers who were often absent for work and preyed on the children, with offers to help take kids to hockey games, for burger meals, on holiday and even to tuck them in at night.
In summing up the case against Leroyer for the jury, prosecutor Martine Cazaban-Pouchet said: "It helped the families to have someone who said, 'I'm available.'" She had asked for a prison sentence of 12 to 14 years.
Facebook Says It Needs to Collect All Your Data to Protect Against Terrorism and Child Abuse
by Matt Novak
Facebook was slapped with a ruling in Germany today that limits how the social media giant can collect data across its multiple platforms, like WhatsApp and Instagram. And Facebook is not happy about it, to say the least. The company says it's collecting all of that data for your own good. They're simply using their data sharing methods to protect you against terrorism and child abuse, according to Facebook. Seriously.
The Bundeskartellamt, Germany's federal regulator of business competition, ruled that Facebook can no longer use data that it collects across different platforms without explicit permission from users. Facebook users in Germany and elsewhere previously had no way to opt out of the sharing of data between platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, and third party apps not owned by Facebook.
“The previous practice of combining all data in a Facebook user account, practically without any restriction, will now be subject to the voluntary consent given by the users,” Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellam, said in a statement.
The German regulator noted that it didn't take issue with Facebook-owned services like WhatsApp and Instagram collecting data. It just didn't like that one company was aggregating all of that data across multiple platforms. And the Bundeskartellamt alleges that Facebook has used this data collection in anti-competitive ways.
“The company has a dominant position in the German market for social networks,” the regulator said in a statement on its website this morning. “With 23 million daily active users [in Germany] and 32 million monthly active users Facebook has a market share of more than 95 percent (daily active users) and more than 80 percent (monthly active users).”
The German regulator also noted that Google+ would be shutting down in April of 2019 and that Facebook's other competitors like Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitter only offer “parts of the services” that Facebook does.
But Facebook, which history will no doubt judge harshly as being a net negative for humanity, is pushing back and maintains that there's real competition among social media platforms in the country.
“The Bundeskartellamt underestimates the fierce competition we face in Germany, misinterprets our compliance with GDPR and undermines the mechanisms European law provides for ensuring consistent data protection standards across the EU,” Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook claims that “over 40 percent of social media users in Germany don't even use Facebook,” which seems like an odd claim since 60 percent market share would be considered monopolistic in almost any other industry. For example, Standard Oil had roughly 64 percent market share in 1911 before it was broken up by the U.S. government for being a monopoly.
Facebook insists that combining all of that data is actually great. In fact, the company says, it's keeping everyone safe from stuff like terrorism and child abuse.
From Facebook's statement this morning (emphasis ours):
Facebook has always been about connecting you with people and information you're interested in. We tailor each person's Facebook experience so it's unique to you, and we use a variety of information to do this – including the information you include on your profile, news stories you like or share and what other services share with us about your use of their websites and apps. Using information across our services also helps us protect people's safety and security, including, for example, identifying abusive behavior and disabling accounts tied to terrorism, child exploitation and election interference across both Facebook and Instagram.
By the end of Facebook's statement the company leans heavily into the claim that everybody else is doing it, so why can't they—which may be the most terrifying point.
“Every day, people interact with companies that connect and use data in similar ways. And all of this should be–and is–a legitimate area of focus for regulators and policymakers around the world. Yet the Bundeskartellamt is trying to implement an unconventional standard for a single company,” Facebook said.
Facebook has come under fire for playing fast and loose with the mountains of data that it has collected on users over the years. The story broke wide open in March of 2018 when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had used Facebook data to target Americans and help swing the 2016 presidential election for President Donald Trump. Since then Facebook has faced countless questions about its privacy practices from governments around the world. Most recently, Facebook was caught putting spyware on the phones of teenagers for “research” purposes.
Facebook plans to appeal the ruling in Germany. But not just for its own corporate self interest, the company insists. Facebook only wants to make sure that everyone can “benefit” from a world filled with more Facebook services.
“This is the point we'll continue to make to the Bundeskartellamt and defend these important arguments in court, so that people and businesses in Germany can continue to benefit from all of our services,” Facebook said.
Chabad Rabbi Speaks Out About Childhood Abuse
by AMY SPIRO
Chabad Rabbi Avrohom Zippel spoke out on Tuesday for the first time about his experience with childhood sexual abuse.
Zippel, who is stationed in Salt Lake City, Utah, appeared in court on Tuesday and testified that his childhood nanny, Alavina Florreich, sexually abused him for around 10 years. Zippel, now 27, told the Deseret News that he was inspired to speak out about his long-held secret by the #MeToo movement, and by gymnast Aly Raisman, who testified against her abuser in court last year.
After seeing a therapist, Zippel finally opened up to his family several years ago, but said he was resistant to turn to the police after keeping the pain and shame bottled up for so long. Zippel is among the first Orthodox rabbis to speak out about publicly being a survivor of sexual abuse.
“I was worried about not being accepted if I told the truth. I was worried about falling apart,” Zippel told Deseret News. “I didn't know what ‘sexual abuse' meant in this world, in this culture. I didn't know if it was OK, if I would be banished and divorced or worse. I had never entertained the hypothetical idea that there was such a thing as an observant Jew from a Chabad community being a survivor of sexual abuse. It was not something talked about to one's spouse, to one's parents. It was a non-idea.”
But watching Raisman's testimony, he said, gave him the strength to change his mind.
“Watching a person who had gone through so much of what I had gone through break that spell – that was the first time I thought to myself, ‘What if I could do that too?'” he told Deseret News.
And so last year – less than two weeks after Raisman appeared in court – he picked up the phone and told the Salt Lake City Police Department what happened.
Two months later, in March 2018, Florreich was arrested on suspicion of 131 counts of child abuse. She was later charged with five counts of aggravated sex abuse of a child and two counts of forcible sexual abuse. On Tuesday, the judge ruled that there was enough evidence for the case to advance.
According to police reports cited by Deseret News, Florreich told police she was teaching Zippel “to be a good husband” and that it was “all part of the boy's curiosity.”
Zippel has met several times with Elizabeth Smart, a Salt Lake City native who was kidnapped as a child and held captive for nine months. Smart, now 31, has become an activist for child safety and missing persons.
“I think he's a hero for speaking out,” Smart told Deseret News on Tuesday, appearing in court to support Zippel. “The amount of courage it takes to get up there – I know, I've done it – the amount of courage it takes to stand up in that box and talk about what happened openly, I mean, it's terrifying. So he's a hero, and he can become a voice for so many victims who are too scared to speak out.”
While it was a struggle for Zippel to come forward, he told the newspaper he hopes he can set an example for other survivors of sexual abuse, both in and outside the observant Jewish community.
“If I can help one person, if I can bring some sort of healing to one person by telling my story, then it's worth it,” he said.
Imam jailed in UK for sexual abuse of children, torture
An Imam found guilty of sexually abusing two young girls who he privately tutored has been jailed in United Kingdom.
According to Metropolitan Police, Hafiz Azizur Rehman Pirzada, 76 (19.08.42) of Laughton Road, Northolt was sentenced to a total of eight years' imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday, 21 January for child abuse offences.
Pirzada will also have to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life and a Sexual Harm Protection Order was issued.
He was found guilty of seven counts of sexual assault of a child, and two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity after a trial at the same court in September 2017.
During the trial, the court heard how the victims, both sisters, came forward to speak to police in July 2015.
Between 2007 and 2009 the two girls, aged between nine and 11 when the abuse took place, were taught the Quran by Pirzada when he was an Imam appointed by the family.
On 28 July 2016, Pirzada was arrested at his home address and bailed pending further enquiries. He was later charged with all ten counts on 16 March 2018; eight counts of sexual assault with a female under 13, and two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
Detective Sergeant Tony Killeen, from the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Team, said: "This is a case which dates back more than ten years, but despite the length of time since the incidents Pirzada has been convicted of his crimes.
"Pirzada exploited the trust placed in him as a religious leader to assault these two young girls.
"The victims have shown great courage, persistence and determination in securing the conviction, having persevered with the allegation and supporting the police investigation.
"The victims have had to live with this trauma and the appalling abuse they endured for the years they were taught by Pirzada, and will have to live with these memories for the rest of their lives.
"I would urge anyone who has been a victim of Pirzada to contact police; specially trained officers will be there to support you."
When a relative raped a child, her family agreed to keep it quiet, investigators say. When she learned he was working at a school, she went to police.
by Harrison Grimwood
A rape victim came forward to law enforcement, nearly four years after agreeing with family members to keep the abuse quiet, after she discovered the man who had allegedly raped and abused her was teaching again.
Jayson Daniel Larremore allegedly sexually abused the girl, who was a relative, when she was between the ages of 9 and 16.
Creek County prosecutors charged Larremore after a joint investigation by Sapulpa police and county sheriff's deputies. Larremore was charged on Wednesday with child sexual abuse, lewd molestation and rape by instrumentation.
After the victim, then 16 years old, disclosed the sexual abuse, the family initially decided to not report the allegations to law enforcement, according to a probable cause affidavit.
“(Investigators) learned that after the disclosure of the abuse, a family meeting was conducted to address the allegations,” police state in the affidavit.
The victim and Larremore were present at that meeting. Larremore allegedly admitted to the abuse during that meeting, according to an affidavit. Larremore in the meeting reportedly agreed to quit teaching, resign from the ministry and seek counseling.
During that meeting, approximately four years ago, the victim's family members decided the issue would be “handled within the family.” At least two people present at the meeting declined to speak to investigators when contacted in January. At least one person did not respond to investigators' requests to speak.
The victim, now in her early 20s, learned recently that Larremore had continued teaching after their previous agreement. Larremore, 43, was listed as a principal at Kiefer Public Schools, according to Tulsa World records.
He was hired July 2018 after being employed eight years in another school district, according to Kiefer Public Schools, before which he worked 10 years as a professor. According to online records, Larremore taught at Oral Roberts University.
Kiefer Public Schools Superintendent Mary Murrell said in a statement that Larremore's background check “did not disclose any prior criminal charges” and followed encouraging recommendations from his previous places of employment. Murrell explained that the then-unreported allegations against Larremore were not discoverable through federal or state background checks. “It is important to note that none of the alleged criminal behavior Mr. Larremore has been accused of occurred during his short term of employment at KPS,” Murrell said.
The abuse is alleged to have occurred in various places in the region, including around Creek County, Sapulpa and Broken Arrow. A Sapulpa police investigator was provided with a handwritten letter that “appears to be a confession letter,” according to the affidavit. Larremore reportedly provided the letter to the victim's parents.
The victim told authorities that the most recent abuse occurred when she was around 16 years old at a Creek County residence. It occurred while she was staying with a relative. Larremore allegedly entered her room at night and touched her genitalia, according to the probable cause affidavit.
She disclosed to other investigators that the abuse occurred at the Sapulpa residence and residences in Creek County and Broken Arrow.
Larremore was arrested on the outstanding complaints and has since posted a $40,000 bond.
'Leaving Neverland': New documentary details child sex abuse claims against Michael Jackson
by ANDREW CLARK
A documentary that details allegations of child sexual abuse against the late Michael Jackson will air on HBO March 3-4.
The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January and has sparked uproar from Jackson's estate, fanbase and friends over its focus on two men who claim the pop music icon sexually abused them when they were children.
Here's everything you need to know about the controversial documentary:
What is 'Leaving Neverland' about?
The film focuses on two men — Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40 — who had long-running relationships with Jackson. They allege that Jackson began sexually abusing them when they were 7 and 10 years old, respectively. The two men, along with their mothers, wives and siblings, were interviewed for the film, according to a press release from HBO.
The film, directed by British filmmaker Dan Reed, "crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, and explores the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after each had a young son of his own," the press release reads.
Robson and Safechuck each filed lawsuits against Jackson's estate in 2013 and 2014, respectively, although judges denied both for technical reasons and did not evaluate the merits of the allegations.
Jackson, a Gary, Indiana, native, was acquitted of molestation charges involving another child in a 2005 trial. He also settled out of court over similar claims in a 1993 civil lawsuit.
What does 'Leaving Neverland' allege?
The film alleges there was a lot of sexual activity at Neverland Ranch, according to USA Today.
Safechuck says in the film that Jackson would give him jewelry in exchange for sexual acts. Robson says Jackson ordered him to get rid of his underwear from the night before, when they allegedly had sex in a hotel room. Robson said he was 14 years old at that time.
How have people reacted to 'Leaving Neverland'?
Jackson's estate has slammed the documentary, calling it "just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations." It also said the film is "yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson."
The Jackson estate's lawyer delivered a 10-page letter to HBO on Feb. 8, seeking a meeting with the network to discuss its claims that HBO failed to comply with "journalistic ethics," failed to thoroughly vet the two accusers, and allowed itself to be used as a "tool" in the men's ongoing litigation against the Jackson estate.
"We know HBO and its partners on this 'documentary' will not be successful," the letter reads. "We know that this will go down as the most shameful episode in HBO's history ... This 'documentary' will say a lot more about HBO than it ever could
about Michael Jackson."
In a response the same day, HBO said: "Our plans remain unchanged" and the film will air as scheduled. "(Director) Dan Reed is an award-winning filmmaker who has carefully documented these survivors' accounts. People should reserve judgment until they see the film."
The film has also received intense backlash from many of Jackson's fans and friends. Corey Feldman told the Associated Press he doesn't want to watch the film.
"I was friends with Michael. I don't know anybody from our group of friends that ever saw him that way," Feldman said. "It feels like a big stab in the back."
However, Feldman didn't completely shut down the accusers, saying: "It could be true, it could be true. I don't know, I wasn't there. From my own experiences, that's not the guy I knew."
Mark Lester, an actor who was close to Jackson for decades before the singer's death in 2009, said during an appearance on British TV show "This Morning" that the allegations against Jackson "are just not the man I knew."
How can I watch 'Leaving Neverland'?
The 4-hour, two-part film will air on HBO March 3-4. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes certifies the film as Fresh, and gives it a 92 percent approval rating from critics
'I love incest': Paedophile jailed for child sex films
by Candace Sutton
A young accounting executive who 'loved incest' and lured people to film themselves sexually assaulting their own children has been jailed.
An accounting firm executive who claimed "I love incest" and lured others into filming themselves sexually assaulting their underage children or relatives has been jailed.
By day Hayden Elstob, 25, worked as a divisional administration co-ordinator for a Melbourne-based international accounting firm.
He has now been exposed as a "depraved" paedophile who convinced children and adults to practise and film incestuous paedophilia on their family members.
In his spare time, Elstob posed as "Jessica", a young woman who posted explicit photographs of her young sister "Ariel" being sexually assaulted.
On social media, "Jessica" encouraged others to film themselves sexually assaulting their own children or family members and to send her the images.
Elstob fooled people into doing this in Australia, New Zealand and the US.
He told one American boy, "I love incest so much. You and your sister are playing for me.
"I love it and I love you. I'm going to ask my mum if we can move to where you are."
The boy was later prosecuted for abusing his younger sister.
United Arab Emirates
In heart of Muslim world, Pope calls for true religious freedom
ABU DHABI - Opening an historic visit to the heart of the Muslim word, Pope Francis on Monday pulled no punches in the United Arab Emirates, calling for true religious freedom while condemning the use of the name of God to justify violence.
“No violence can be justified in the name of religion,” he said. “We need to be vigilant lest religion be instrumentalized and deny itself by allowing violence and terrorism.”
“I would like to emphasize religious freedom,” he said. “Without freedom, we are no longer children [of God] but slaves.” One cannot proclaim fraternity, Francis said, and then act in the opposite way.
The pope also denounced the building of walls as well as what he called the militarization of the human heart.
His remarks came during an interreligious meeting at Abu Dhabi's Founder's Memorial in his first public remarks in the United Arab Emirates. Also joining him were the crown prince and de facto leader of the UAE, Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, and professor Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and a key Islamic theologian.
The memorial is an installation dedicated to the founding father of the country, the late president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
“We are here to desire peace, to promote peace, to be instruments of peace,” Francis said, speaking in a nation which, until December, was part of a coalition bombing neighboring Yemen.
An estimated nine percent of UAE's total population is Catholic, representing some 900,000 people. Most, if not all of them, are immigrants, including roughly 60 priests who serve in nine churches.
He urged the 700 religious leaders on hand, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs to enter the “ark of fraternity” in the name of God in order to safeguard peace as one family, much like, according to the Old Testament, Noah put two of each animal species in an ark to save creation from the flood.
“The point of departure is the recognition that God is at the origin of the one human family,” the pontiff said. “Fraternity is established here at the roots of our common humanity, as a vocation contained in God's plan of creation. This tells us that all persons have equal dignity and that no one can be a master or slave of others.”
To honor the creator, Francis argued, it's necessary to cherish the sacredness of every person. Recognizing that every human being has the same rights, he said, is to glorify God.
On religious freedom, Francis said it must go beyond freedom of worship. Religious tolerance, he argued, is an expression of fraternity, and it cannot be replaced by a forced uniformity nor a “conciliatory syncretism.”
“What we are called to do as believers is to commit ourselves to the equal dignity of all, in the name of the Merciful One who created us and in whose name the reconciliation of conflicts and fraternity in diversity must be sought,” he said.
Being part of one human family does not mean giving up one's individual identity, but instead demanding the “courage of otherness,” involving the full recognition of the other person.
“Without freedom we are no longer children of the human family, but slaves,” he insisted. “As part of such freedom, I would like to emphasize religious freedom. It is not limited only to freedom of worship but sees in the other truly a brother or sister, a child of my own humanity whom God leaves free and whom, therefore, no human institution can coerce, not even in God's name.”
Francis also said the human family must hang together.
“There's no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will be no future,” Francis said. “Religions, in particular, cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures.”
Religions, he said, must help the human family fostering reconciliation, a vision of hope and offering concrete paths for peace, which can only come through education and justice.
Francis also said that he looks forward to “concrete opportunities for encounter,” not only in the UAE but the entire region, which he called “a focal point of the Middle East.”
“I look forward to societies where people of different beliefs have the same right of citizenship and where only in the case of violence in any of its forms is that right removed,” he said.
Finally, Francis issued a call for protecting minors, which, he said, must be a universal effort.
Coming back from Panama a week ago, Francis said that an upcoming February 21-24 summit of presidents of bishops' conferences and other Church leaders would address, but not put an end to, the crisis of sexual abuse of children.
The problem of abuse, he said, “will continue. It's a human problem. But a human problem everywhere,” a human drama the world needs to become conscious of.
“Even us, if we resolved the issue within the Church and becoming conscious of it, we may be able to help solve it in society, in families,” he told the journalists travelling with him. “But firstly, we need to become conscious of it, have the protocols, and move forth.”
On Monday, he noted that last year Abu Dhabi held the first Forum of the Interreligious Alliance for Safer Communities, on the theme of child dignity in the digital world. The event recalled one held in Rome earlier in 2018 with the pope's support and dedicated to the protection of minors from all forms of abuse, including sexual.
“I assure [all the leaders engaged in this field] of my support, solidarity and participation and that of the Catholic Church, in this very important cause of the protection of minors in all its forms.”
Francis closed his remarks saying it's necessary to grasp the “miserable crudeness” of the word “war,” the consequences of which are “before our eyes.”
“I am thinking in particularly of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya,” the pontiff said.
All four countries have been marred by violence: Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS decimated Syria and Iraq, while they were also being crippled by foreign actors, including Russia and the United States; and then there's the case of Yemen, bombed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the point that the country today is considered by the United Nations as the world's worst man-made disaster.
As brothers and sisters, Francis said, the human family “willed by God,” should commit against the logic of “armed power, against the monetization of relations, the arming of borders, the raising of walls, the gagging of the poor.”
To oppose these forces, he said, the human family has “the sweet power of prayer and daily commitment of dialogue.”
Religious leaders gathered together in the UAE, Francis closed, can offer a “message of trust, an encouragement to all people of good will, so that they may not surrender to the floods of violence and the desertification of altruism.”
Religions, he said, cannot postpone their aid to the flourishing of the seeds of peace that are a fraternal living together founded on education and justice and human development rooted on inclusion and human rights.
Perhaps like never before, Francis said, religions are called to actively contribute to “demilitarizing the human heart.”
“The arms race, the extension of its zones of influence, the aggressive policies to the detriment of others will never bring stability,” the pope said. “War cannot create anything but misery, weapons bring nothing but death!”
During the event, the prince announced that together with the Pope and the Imam he would sign a “Human Fraternity Document,” describing it as a historic document on dialogue among the followers of different faiths. He also announced a new “Human Fraternity” award for people who work “tirelessly and ceaselessly to bring people together,” with the first such prize going to Francis and al-Tayyeb.
The imam said Islam's recent experience brings home the importance of striving for peace, including peace among the followers of different faiths.
“We hoped the third millennium could bring the end of violence, terrorism and the killing of women and children,” he said. “But we were disappointed with the attack against the World Trade Center,” describing it as a “crime committed by a handful of criminals” that led the international media to describing Islam as a “bloodthirsty religion and Muslims as savage barbarians, a threat against humanity.”
Al-Tayyeb called for the region to “get rid of this culture of suppression of minorities,” and, specifically addressing Christians, said, “You are full citizens.
How safe are teen apps?
Beyond WhatsApp and Facebook, there are many other platforms used by children and teens that may be open to abuse
by Chris Stokel-Walker
Since 14-year-old Molly Russell killed herself in 2017, the apps and services our teenagers and children use – and their safety – have become a key concern for parents. Last week, the digital minister, Margot James, stated that “the tragic death of Molly Russell is the latest consequence of a social media world that behaves as if it is above the law”. James went on to announce plans to introduce a legally binding code and duty of care towards young users for social media companies.
Britain's children are not just using the likes of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat on a daily basis. There is a wealth of apps targeted at teens and children that have their own ecosystems and controversies.
What is it?
In essence, a multi-person Skype or FaceTime video conversation. The screen – the app can be used on smartphones or laptops and desktops – is split into up to eight different tiles. It's the preteen equivalent of a conference call, with participants talking over one another – a way for the day's gossip to continue beyond the school gates.
How safe is it?
You can connect on calls not only with friends, but friends of friends (with an on-screen warning about “stranger danger”). Different levels of security can be set on the account that limit the type of people who you can chat to, but some may choose to chat to anyone. “That would worry me,” says Dr Victoria Nash, deputy director of the Oxford Internet Institute, who has researched child safety online. “It combines live streaming video with stranger danger.” There is discouragement of dubious behaviour, though; users are asked to enter their phone number when registering, theoretically making them trackable.
The phone number tie doesn't stop criminals: two Mancunian children aged 11 and 12 were reportedly confronted by men who exposed themselves to other users in one chat in 2017. Anti-child sexual exploitation agencies in Rochdale have also investigated the app after preteen users were alleged to have been targeted by adult men using the app.
What is it?
Kik has been around for the best part of a decade, but the text messaging app still remains popular among teenagers and children, partly because it allows anonymous sign-ups that don't require tethering an account to a phone number. Which is an immediate red flag.
How safe is it?
Kik's anonymity makes it particularly problematic. Users can create accounts and groom children (or send explicit messages and images) without fear of being traced. “On Kik, people can't be traced if they're on it for nefarious reasons; that's concerning, definitely,” says Nash. An investigation by the UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) found that it was the seventh most recorded method used by child groomers last year (the first six were Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, text messages, WhatsApp and face-to-face conversation). And even if it's not grownup users trying to communicate with children, there are still risks. The lack of an easily accessible digital trail makes it a boon for cyberbullies.
Last September, it was reported that British police forces had investigated more than 1,100 child sexual abuse cases involving the app in the last five years.
What is it?
TikTok – a Chinese app with hundreds of millions of users – is a successor to the defunct video sharing app Vine. Originally called musical.ly, the app allows children to lip-sync to their favourite songs and is a hotbed for memes: short, sharable, community-driven posts that mimic a theme.
How safe is it?
A significant proportion of TikTok's users are children and teenagers, which is a draw to predators. “There's something weird about the performative nature of TikTok,” explains Kyle McGregor, assistant professor at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University Langone Health, who has studied the impact of social media on children. “How do we make sure there aren't risque, provocative, potentially illegal things being shown on this platform?” It's something that concerns Nash too. “I worry about age-inappropriate content, which might be song lyrics, for example, or sexualised content. Young children mouthing along to adult songs doesn't sit well with me.” TikTok has introduced a “Digital Wellbeing” feature that is meant to limit young users' access to inappropriate content but its effectiveness is moot.
The app has battled negative headlines in recent months after journalists discovered that older users were soliciting nude images from underage users and that it was being used to host neo-Nazi propaganda. In a world where personal data is treasured like a prize, Nash also worries about the app being owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. “I have concerns about how far they would comply with GDPR, even though they're bound by it,” she says.
Twitch (and Discord)
What is it?
Twitch was formerly called Justin.tv and has become the home for video game streaming. Users can watch “streamers” play games while on camera, interacting with fellow fans in text comment sections that run alongside the video.
How safe is it?
The main concern around Twitch is common to most platforms: that users your children meet on Twitch may have bad intentions and aim to take the interaction offline. There's also a text-based chat app popular with gamers called Discord, which features chatrooms, often containing hundreds of participants. “Peer pressure via text chat on video streaming services is one of the things we need to be aware of, particularly with online grooming,” says Nash. “It's encouraging people to commit acts they might not necessarily think of as sexual. People who do this deliberately are clever and manipulative people.”
Some of Twitch's biggest controversies aren't around security flaws but stem from the opinions it hosts. Critics have said that the text chat that accompanies video streams is a hotbed of racism, with casual slurs tossed around – potentially warping young users' beliefs. “Children can be exposed to inappropriate content that's posted or broadcast in real time,” explains an NSPCC spokesperson. “It's important the government considers how it ensures these types of sites are moderated properly.”
What is it?
An eBay-like app for selling unwanted goods. Load up the app and you're presented with a grid of perfectly presented pictures showing off colour-coordinated clothes you can buy with a minimum of friction. More than 10 million users – most teenagers and in their early 20s – log on to the app to buy and sell.
How safe is it?
Relatively so, unless you think capitalism is dangerous. You may regard it as teaching children important business skills – marketing, negotiation, pricing and so on.
Platforms selling items are often used to market contraband, and Depop is no different. In 2016, Depop users were offering ritalin and dextroamphetamine as well as unlicensed “smart drugs” such as modafinil for sale through the app, despite Depop's no-tolerance rule on restricted sales. The issue persists; last year, an investigation found laughing gas, imported cigarettes, vodka and cannabis on sale.
Squad is similar to Houseparty, but differs in one key aspect: you can share your screen with the other participants on your call. That feature helps replicate the way teens interact in real life: digital gossip and drama bleeds into the offline world. Squad's screen sharing is a great idea, but the ability to share anything is a worry.
Released this spring, Byte is the ballyhooed brainchild of Dom Hofmann, the co-founder of Vine. Vine 1.0 gave the world Jake and Logan Paul, so savvy teenagers may see it as a springboard to superstardom. But the risk with that is that children embarrass themselves on camera, to a potentially massive audience. As with all these apps, using them is fraught with danger.
Security Minister condemns ‘unjustifiable' objections to data-sharing crime law
The Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill seeks to tackle a 700% rise in child abuse being reported by tech companies in the last five years.
Security Minister Ben Wallace has condemned “unjustifiable” objections to a new law aimed at helping police catch paedophiles.
The Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill seeks to tackle “an epidemic” of child abuse by allowing quicker access to data held in computer servers in the United States.
MPs have given their backing to the Bill, but Mr Wallace warned a Lords amendment insisting on assurances over the death penalty could still wreck the legislation and allow paedophiles to walk free.
Peers have previously defeated the Government in a bid to prevent electronic data being supplied to the US in cases which could involve the death penalty.
The Bill allows law enforcement agencies to apply for a UK court order to get stored electronic data from overseas in a bid to counter serious crime and terrorism.
Speaking to the Press Association ahead of the Bill's return before peers on Monday, Mr Wallace said the “glitterati in the House of Lords” needed to get real and drop the amendment.
He said: “It is horrendous. To stand in the way of police officers getting timely access to that data is just unjustifiable.
“It's not about political division, it's about protecting children.
“The point is some people have decided to try and exploit this Bill to play ideological posturing on the back of security and that is not acceptable.
“Indulging in theoretical and gilded isolation from some in the House of Lords goes against everything the Labour Party and the Tory Party stand for.”
The Security Minister has previously warned the Commons of a 700% rise in child abuse being reported by tech companies in the last five years, and told MPs accessing data would mean child rapists and others could be caught within days, not years.
He said: “I had to listen to a paedophile plot via an online chatroom to kidnap, rape and kill a seven-year-old girl, about the same age as my daughter.
“If that wasn't sickening enough, I could sense the frustration of detectives who needed data from overseas to stop the abuse being committed, because in case after case timing is everything in these investigations.
“At the moment the system we use is slow and clunky and can take months and often years.
“I hope this Bill will lay the way for that treaty that allows us to go from years and months, and sometimes not being able to continue with a case because the data has gone, down to days and weeks.”
There are people live-streaming abuse and the quicker we get the data the quicker we can stop it
The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates there are up to 80,000 predators who pose a threat to children, the minister said, with 1,600 police referrals in 2014 rising to 10,000 referrals in 2017.
Urging the Lords to “come into the real world” Mr Wallace stressed how delays meant children would continue to be abused and in the worst cases, crucial data had been erased before it could be obtained by police.
“There are people live-streaming abuse and the quicker we get the data the quicker we can stop it,” he said.
“In some cases we have not progressed paedophile cases because we simply haven't been able to get hold of the data in time.
“In other cases abuse is happening while we are still trying to get to the bottom of it because it takes so long to get the data – that's a real, unnecessary and awful tragedy.
“In other cases abuse is happening while we are still trying to get to the bottom of it because it takes so long to get the data – that's a real, unnecessary and awful tragedy.
“We have cases where we have managed to safeguard the children but we haven't been able to stop the person doing it because we still haven't got the data.”
Mr Wallace said plans begun under US President Barack Obama would allow British prosecutors to bypass foreign courts and apply directly to the 99% of tech companies based outside the UK for data relating to child abuse.
But the Security Minister said the treaty enabling this had to be “no strings attached” because the Americans were doing the UK a favour.
Mr Wallace labelled the Lords' fears over the death penalty “unfounded”,”theoretical” and “implausible”, adding that in cases over the last 20 years there was “not a single occasion where any of this would be a problem”.
He said: “Asking for this data and for the Americans to remove the current obstacles on our behalf, which has never been done before, but then suddenly asking for lots of strings attached is not a place that the United States is prepared to go.
“They are doing us a favour, we are not doing them one.
“I would appeal to the Lords to recognise the strength of feeling in the House of Commons and to recognise that at its heart it's about safeguarding our citizens.”