National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Every day we bring you news articles, opinion pieces, crime stories and official information from government web sites. These are highlights, and constitute the tip of the iceberg .. a small percentage of the daily information available to those who are interested in the issues of child abuse, trauma and recovery. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" and every voice makes a big difference.
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"News of the Week"  

February 2019 - Week 4
Terri Lanahan
Many thanks to NAASCA's Terri Lanahan, Butte, Montana,
for her research into the news that appears on
the LACP & NAASCA web sites.


State considers removing child sex abuse statute of limitations


Opioid abuse and child sexual abuse in Tennessee continue to present challenges to the child welfare system, according to state officials who convened at the Southeast Tennessee Council on Children and Youth Legislative Brunch at the Museum Center in Cleveland Friday.

But a potential new law that removes the statute of limitations on past child sexual abuse may make it easier for future victims of abuse to come forward, as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their offenses.

According to the STCC's website, the organization works to ensure "all children in Tennessee are safe, healthy, educated, nurtured and supported, and engaged in activities that provide them opportunities to achieve their fullest potential" and "advocates to improve the quality of life for children and families and provides leadership and support for child advocates."

The STCC oversees Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Hamilton, McMinn, Marion, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie counties.

Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth executive director Craig Hargrow told attendees that the state has been reviewing cases where children have been in abusive situations involving drugs and sexual abuse.

Hargrow said a significant number of children in such situations later disclose they were sexually abused.

Joseph Combs, a regional administrator for the Tennessee Department of Children Services, said it is a new age in children's welfare, with drug abuse now a common theme that stresses the child welfare system.

“Years ago the problem the problems was dirty homes and some drugs,” Combs said.

Combs also said people who move from cities to rural areas are also stressing local agencies that are unaccustomed to the increased numbers of children in crisis.

Tennessee Sen. Todd Gardenhire also said the influx of cases from urban areas are presenting challenges to the system.

Gardenhire is co-sponsoring a bill that would remove the statute of limitations on child sex abuse offenses. 

According to the bill's summary, it will undo “the statute of limitations for prosecution of certain Class A or Class B felony sex offenses committed against a child on or after July 1, 2019, and deletes a provision that sets a lower statute of limitations for aggravated rape, rape of a child, rape, and aggravated rape of a child if notice of the offense is not given to law enforcement within three years of the offense.”

Gardenhire said passage of the bill will make it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to come forward in the future.

The bill, which was introduced on Jan. 29, has been placed on the March 6 agenda for the Tennessee House of Representatives' Criminal Justice Subcommittee.,95313



Uproar in Australia as lid lifted on Cardinal Pell's child sexual abuse convictions

Cardinal Pell's child sex abuse convictions finally public in Australia

One name dominated Australian media in the last week of February 2019: Pell. This followed the lifting of a court suppression order about Cardinal George Pell's conviction on five child sex offences and a pre-sentencing court hearing. The offences took place at Melbourne's St Patrick's cathedral in the late 1990s. He was sent to prison at the plea hearing.

A country divided

Many Australians have been taking sides. Opinions seem to have fallen into three categories: those condemning Pell, those asserting his innocence, and those awaiting the result of the appeal process. As crime journalist John Silvester explained: "George Pell is a polarising figure, which is perhaps why there are now two warring camps – those who want him to be guilty of historical sex offences against two choirboys and those who don't."

One commenter on a Reddit thread for the journalist's article suggested that Silvester may be in the pro-Pell group: "Given the number of times we've seen investigations buried by the Catholic faithful, I'd also appreciate knowing if the author of such a problematic article is a Catholic himself."

A number of prominent people have leapt to the cardinal's defence, including two former Liberal Party Prime Ministers. John Howard gave a reference supporting Pell to the court hearing, writing “None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal”. Overall the social media response was strident in its condemnation of the controversial former PM. This sarcastic tweet by Adam Gartrell, who works for the Labor Party opposition, echoed many others:

Adam Gartrell -- Oh he's a “lively conversationalist”? Why didn't you say so sooner, because that definitely cancels out the child rape.

Michael Koziol -- John Howard told the court that George Pell is “a person of high intelligence and exemplary character”, and said the conviction did not alter his opinion of the Cardinal.

Another former Liberal PM, Tony Abbott, revealed that he had phoned his friend Pell the day the verdict was made public. Many cartoonists were not so forgiving.

There have been numerous attacks on the so-called #PellDefenders, often suggesting they have a common cause. Wendy Bacon, a journalist, activist and former academic, used Facebook to share her thoughts about those who are sticking up for him. "I am quite disgusted by the way the right-wing Catholic lobby are mobilising to defend a now convicted pedophile. […] I also wonder how many of the defenders are allies in causes like anti-abortion, anti-equal marriage and equal sexual rights – also I wonder how many are connected to Opus Dei in Australia, one of the groups that Pell helped prosper."

Opus Dei [Work of God] is a controversial, conservative Catholic organisation with which Pell has had links.

One survivor of sexual abuse was even stronger in her condemnation of the cardinal's supporters: "Almost immediately, the parade of aggrieved, disappointed, distressed, shocked, disbelieving, sad, angry Catholics and other Pell supporters began moving like a sullen, offended beast across the media, in unedifying protest at the guilty verdict."

High profile newspaper, radio and television commentator Andrew Bolt took a leading role in attacking the jury's verdict: "But at last some of the truckload of mud thrown at him has stuck. It adds up to this: Pell, Australia's most senior Catholic, has been made to pay for the sins of his church and a media campaign of vilification. He is a scapegoat, not a child abuser."

Bolt copped considerable flak on social and other media. Sky News TV station even chose to run his Bolt Report segment on the cardinal without advertisements “to protect brands”.

Sleeping Giants Oz, campaigners ‘to make racism, bigotry and misogyny less profitable', urged a boycott: "THANK YOU @poolwerx for taking a stand to remove your ads from the Bolt Report we hope this extends to all the programs broadcast across the after 6pm offerings.

Thank you Sleeping Giants for shining the light & encouraging companies to think about who they are advertising with. Bolt was arrogant, but most people can agree his latests comments should be career ending. No one should want to advertise or be on the Bolt report.

Personal reflections

A number of longer reflections on the conviction and its aftermath soon appeared online. Patrick Marlborough remembered a victim of abuse by clergy: "Cardinal Pell has been convicted and everyone I want to call is dead. Elation slid into rage. That instant of ‘we got him' flashed and passed and made way for instants of ‘you bastards, you absolute bastards' with electric ease. Here was a man so cloaked in authority, sanctity, and righteousness for so long by so many that his abuses of power—his abuses of children—went unchecked, unmarked, and unmasked for half a century."

In total contrast, George Weigel, senior fellow of the Institute on Religion and Public Life in Washington D.C. and friend of Pell's, is outraged by the ‘perverse verdict': "If it is not reversed on appeal, that false verdict will constitute a new indictment: the indictment of a legal system that could not bring itself to render justice in the face of public hysteria, political vendetta, and media aggression."

In a disturbing indictment, Caitlin Johnston recounted the tragic life of her uncle (a rape victim whose case was allegedly covered up by Pell and those in power) in The Monster Pell Has Been Caged At Last: "The Catholic Church murdered my uncle, as surely as if they had tied the noose themselves. It was a long, drawn-out treacherous act and it took forty years to complete, but they did it. They snuffed out that beautiful spirit. And all I can think about the Church right now is, “Burn it down.”

A meme that runs through many of the reactions online concerns atheists who want Pell to burn in hell. Senior Victorian trade union official Luke Hilakari's Facebook post shared similar sentiments: "I have no faith in the Catholic Church. And frankly I'm glad that so many of these perpetrators like George Pell believe in hell, because suffering for eternity seems about right to me."

Just when the stoush [brawl] seemed to be dying down a bit, senior defence counsel Robert Richter QC fanned the furore. In an extraordinary claim at the sentencing plea hearing, Richter referred to the case as “plain vanilla sexual penetration”. He apologised the next day but: "To little, to late. The damage is done! 'Terrible choice of phrase': Robert Richter apologises for 'plain vanilla' comment."

Moving forward

A seemingly trivial question on Twitter about what to call the prisoner brought a strong response. The thread, which can be accessed by clicking on the tweet, revealed the depth of feeling in the dozens of replies: "Can journos stop referring to Pell as “Cardinal” Pell. It's long-standing accepted practise that convicted criminals are referred to by surname only, without honorific. I don't see why this child abuser should get any special treatment."

Meanwhile, the Vatican has opened its own investigation into the charges against Pell. This may lead to his being defrocked [dismissed from the priesthood].

Finally, a word from a journalist who attended the trial, Emma Younger: "The analysis of George Pell's conviction from so many who weren't in the courtroom is interesting. The victim's evidence was given in closed court. It means only the 12 jurors heard the full case. Personally, I think this one is best left to the Court of Appeal."

Doubtless, the appeal decision will generate as much heat as the guilty verdict.



Former employee at Putnam City School District accused of child sexual abuse, police say

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former employee at the Putnam City School District was arrested after being accused of child sexual abuse, according to officials with the Bethany Police Department.

According to police, detectives began investigating allegations of child sexual abuse between the woman and a 14-year-old boy on Friday, March 1. The woman was arrested and booked into the Oklahoma County Jail on several complaints, including second-degree rape and lewd acts with a child.

Police said the relationship between the victim and the woman began as a texting relationship in early 2017. The investigation has revealed the relationship did not become physical until the summer of 2018 and continued until the woman's arrest, according to Bethany police.

The woman was employed as an attendance secretary at the school district, police said.

The Putnam City School District, along with the Putnam City Campus Police Department, are fully cooperating and assisting in this investigation, police officials said.

The former teacher has been identified as Elizabeth Madrid. District officials said there is no indication that there are other victims.



More Than 2,000 Cases Of Child Sexual Abuse Reported In Chicago Every Year

by Mike Puccinelli

Chicago (CBS) —  It looks like an ordinary children's playground, but it's unlike any other in the city. The children that regularly play with these toys are victims of sexual abuse.

“Every year in Chicago we see over 2,000 reports of child sexual abuse,” said Char Rivette, executive director of the Children's Advocacy Center.

All of those young children come to the Children's Advocacy Center; with its playlots, family rooms, and teams of child advocates.

Due to its secretive nature, child sexual abuse is vastly under-reported.

“Maybe 20 to 40 percent of cases ever actually get reported. So, if you do the math, we're looking at thousands more cases that are happening in Chicago right now,” Rivette said.

Child sexual abuse is an equal opportunity destroyer; with no racial, geographic, or socioeconomic boundaries.

“If you look at the cumulative effects of abuse, and these couple thousand children multiplied by every city in this country throughout the nation, we're talking about an epidemic,” Rivette said.

Experts say this epidemic is the most widespread health problem children face. One in seven girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

Tabatha West knows that all too well. Her sexual abuse nightmare began when she was a 7-year-old first grader.

“When you're a kid and that's happening to you, you feel like you're the only one that this is happening to,” West said. “You feel like you're alone. You feel like this is just your life. It's a horrible feeling.”

A feeling felt by far more children than adults, because kids are more than twice as likely to be sexually abused.

But such assaults can be prevented, and experts say that could save up to $9 billion a year in abuse-related costs.

It's too late for West, but she believes more money for prevention could save the next child from being raped. That's why she's telling her story for the first time.

“I was young and severely depressed,” West said. “I don't know how much longer I could have lived with it.”

To report abuse, call 911 or in Illinois 1-800-25-ABUSE.

If you have a story to tell, you can reach out by emailing

In the coming weeks, CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli will sit down again with Tabatha West, who will demonstrate how she's using spoken word to conquer her demons.


United Kingdom

Inquiry Looks Into Whether Westminster Elite Covered Up Child Sex Abuse

Starting Monday, officials with MI5 and Scotland Yard along with former ministers and MPs will be called to testify in a three-week inquiry into historical “coverups, conspiracies, and a tolerance for pedophilia” at the highest level of the British government.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) will be examining “whether Westminster institutions, including political parties, government departments, law enforcement, or intelligence agencies, have failed or are still failing to protect children from sexual abuse.”

The inquiry will not look into past claims of child sex abuse that have been discredited in previous inquiries, but will instead consider “whether there was a culture in place in Westminster institutions that sought to shield people of public prominence from proper investigation, and tolerate their wrongdoing, at the expense of their victims.”

Victims are also expected to testify.


United Kingdom

Child sexual abuse inquiry to assess merit of claims against politicians

Westminster strand of IICSA opens amid criticism of ‘moral panic' and ‘witch-hunts'

by Rajeev Syal and Owen Bowcott

The public inquiry into child sexual abuse has come under pressure to establish whether or not allegations against senior politicians are well founded, as its attention turns to the world of politics.

Opening the Westminster strand of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) on Monday amid claims of “witch-hunts” and “moral panic”, the counsel for the inquiry said it would examine how political parties reacted to paedophilia claims against their members, including the late Liberal MP for Rochdale Cyril Smith and the late Conservative MP for Chester Peter Morrison.

A third case study will look at David Challenor who, the inquiry heard, was allowed to remain an active member of the Green party before being jailed for 22 years last year after being convicted of torturing and raping a 10-year-old girl.

Before the hearing began, however, the inquiry was criticised for being a “witch-hunt against dead politicians” by the family of the late Labour peer Lord Janner. The claims against Janner will be examined in a different strand of the inquiry, the hearing heard.

The lead counsel, Brian Altman QC, said the inquiry will examine how the whips' offices have operated in parliament, including “whether it is true that the whips' offices of any party failed to report or, worse, assisted in suppressing allegations or evidence of child sexual abuse”.

It will also look at the honours system, following concerns about “honours granted to individuals who had been accused of child sexual abuse”.

The Westminster strand is one of 13 being considered by the inquiry, which began in 2015 following the Jimmy Savile scandal. There followed a string of claims against both living and dead politicians.

Altman told the London hearing the inquiry will not consider allegations made by Carl Beech, who had been known as “Nick”, claiming there was a Westminster paedophile ring operating in Dolphin Square. Beech has since pleaded not guilty to charges of perverting the course of justice and fraud.

“It is our firm submission that public concern over Westminster child sexual abuse allegations neither begins nor ends with Mr Beech,” Altman said.

“We suggest, and we are confident that many of the core participants here today will agree, that there are outstanding questions of public concern in this area that it is both necessary and appropriate for this inquiry to investigate.”

Altman said a question raised by Labour's Tom Watson in the Commons in 2012, saying there was “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”, could be seen as the “catalyst for the establishment of this inquiry”.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, who represents the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, condemned the intervention of the deputy Labour leader.

“This inquiry has detected a number of cover-ups – over Sir Peter Hayman [a former diplomat who was a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange] and Cyril Smith – but the moral panic started by Tom Watson has no basis. It was smoke without fire,” he said.

Robertson called on the inquiry to clear the names of those, such as Proctor, who have been wrongly accused of abuse.

The QC also suggested libel laws needed reform because they had protected abusers such as Savile, and said police seeking a search warrant should need permission from a full-time district judge, rather than obtaining the go-ahead from a “favourite” lay magistrate.

Richard Scorer, a solicitor at the law firm Slater and Gordon who represents seven men who have made allegations against Smith, said the culture of safeguarding children had to be embedded in political parties. “The prime concern was reputational risk … No one ever seems to consider whether there are children at risk,” he said.

Sam Stein QC represents a former civil service consultant, Tim Hulbert, who claims he saw evidence of Home Office funding of the Paedophile Information Exchange in the late 1970s. The funding, he alleges, was channeled through the Women's Royal Voluntary Service because Special Branch wanted to monitor PIE members.

“We suggest that the Home Office must explain the missing [financial] records relating to millions of pounds of missing money,” Stein told the inquiry.

Samantha Leek QC, who represents the Metropolitan Police Service, told the inquiry that an 80-strong unit – Operation Winter Key – which has been looking into allegations that detectives had been prevented from carrying out investigations, had not come up with proof of any cover-ups so far. “The assessment made by the MPS is that there's insufficient evidence in any case to bring criminal or disciplinary action,” she said.

Representatives of MI5, the Metropolitan police and the Independent Office for Police Conduct will also be called as witnesses during hearings this month.

The IICSA has stressed that allegations against people accused of wrongdoing during the hearing are not necessarily true.



The Effects Of Child Sexual Abuse Can Last Long Into Adulthood


In the new HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, two men — Wade Robson and James Safechuck — describe, in detail, their accusations of child sexual abuse against Michael Jackson. Robson says that Jackson began abusing him when he was 7; Safechuck says that Jackson began abusing him when he was 10. Both men say that the abuse stopped when they were in their early teens and beginning to go through puberty. (Jackson's estate has denied all accusations.) Robson and Safechuck say the negative effects of the abuse continued into adulthood, as they do for many survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

In the documentary, both men describe struggling with their mental health in adulthood, experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia, self-isolation, self-hatred, shame, and difficulties in their romantic relationships. Safechuck also describes periods of substance abuse. “Secrets will eat you up,” Safechuck explains in the documentary. “It sucks life out of you, just deteriorates you from the inside, like a part of you is dead. It kind of took everything I had to function during the day, to let other people see me as a functioning person. It took a lot of effort to keep it together. And then I would go home and be a wreck.”

According to RAINN, one in nine girls and one in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience child sexual abuse or assault. Common long-term effects include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and drug abuse. In a statement to Refinery29, a representative for RAINN said, “Every 11 minutes, a child is sexually assaulted in the United States. Survivors of child sexual abuse may experience the effects many years after the abuse occurs, including feeling guilt or shame for not being able to stop the abuse. It's important for survivors to know that the abuse was not their fault and there is no timeline for healing."

Kristen Houser, Chief Public Affairs Officer of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, stresses that every survivor's experience will be different. Along with the effects that Robson and Safechuck describe in the documentary and the effects named by RAINN, she says that other possible long-term effects of child sexual abuse include mood disorders, eating disorders, suicidal ideations, and problems with anger. She also points out that childhood sexual abuse can disrupt a child's education, which affects their long-term career and financial prospects. In Leaving Neverland , Safechuck says that Michael Jackson encouraged his family to let him drop classes so he could focus on his goal of becoming a director; Jackson gave Safechuck funding so he could create short films, including one at Neverland Ranch. “He very much is making you depend on him, like, ‘Don't go get an education, I'll take care of it,'” Safechuck says. “And then when he went away, it kind of derailed, and I was pretty lost.”

Mic Hunter, a clinical psychologist and the author of Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims Of Sexual Abuse, explains that some child sexual abuse survivors will have difficulty saying “no” to sexual encounters as adults. “Sometimes what childhood victims learn is, Well, it doesn't do any good to say no, because things just happen anyway . So even when they get older and they have more choices because they're adults, they don't have the psychological sense that they can say no,” he says. Houser adds that some predators may target those who have already survived sexual abuse. “We know that for many people, sexual abuse is not a one-time occurrence,” she says. “It's about the fact that the defenders are looking for vulnerabilities to exploit.”

In Leaving Neverland , Robson and Safechuck say that having their own children exacerbated their mental health difficulties. For Robson, becoming a father coincided with getting his first film as a director — and the stress led to a breakdown. “I stopped being able to sleep at all,” Robson says. “Lying in bed for eight, nine hours, staring at the walls. Stressed and anxiety and fears beyond belief. It gets to the point where I'm barely operating. I removed myself from the film, I removed myself from any work, I disappeared from the world. Agents, managers don't call me. I was barely talking to my family.”

Experts say that having a child of their own can be an "eye-opener" for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and Safechuck explains why in the documentary. “I think the abuse symptoms intensify when you have kids,” he says. “It ramps up even more when you see how innocent kids are. I think having kids kind of shoves that in your face. He's getting closer to the age I was when I was abused. So that is difficult to deal with and see, watch him kind of become you at that age.”

For Robson, having his own child was the impetus that led him to begin speaking about his abuse for the first time. Safechuck had hinted at the abuse to his mother when he asked her not to defend Jackson during his 2004-2005 trial, but he didn't tell anyone the details until he saw Robson give an interview about his experiences on TV. “You have these symptoms, and then you find out that somebody else has them, and they went through something that you went through,” Safechuck says. “I really just wanted to talk to Wade, because you feel so alone.” After seeing Robson come forward, Safechuck showed his wife the interview and told her about the abuse for the first time.

It often takes child sexual abuse survivors many years to begin to come to terms with the abuse; as Safechuck explains, “They say time heals all wounds, but I don't think time heals this one. It just gets worse. You can't talk to anybody about it. You don't get advice or perspective. You're stuck keeping a secret so you don't ever figure it out. You're just stuck.” Dr. Hunter says, “Usually it just doesn't go away. People keep hoping it will. I see guys in their 60s and they say, ‘I hoped this would go away, and it came up when my son turned eight, and now my grandson is eight, and I can't sleep at night and I'm having those feelings and intrusive thoughts again, and I'm sick of it and I want to finally deal with this.'”

The experts I spoke to stressed that healing is possible. “When you feel like someone believes you and has got your back and wants to help make you whole, that too can be a life-changing experience,” Houser says. Healing looks different for everyone, she says, but there are some commonalities. “People need to feel supported and believed,” she explains. “Having those terrible experiences validated; having people help you realize you weren't to blame for it, you did not cause it, you do not have a character flaw about you that causes people to treat you that way. People often need assistance seeing themselves through the eyes of somebody who's kind to them, and giving them encouragement to recognize their strength and their resilience.”

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the
RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).


Show Business

The Michael Jackson denial of child sexual abuse carried live around the world

It was 1993, and the King of Pop had been accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy.

by Gillian Brockell

The live feed starts with a black screen and an unmistakable voice in mid-sentence, saying, “… and fans.” Then someone shouts, “Bring it up! Bring it up!” The video kicks in and we see him: the King of Pop, gaunt and pale in an oversized red shirt, sitting in front of a brownish-red background, reading from a prepared statement.

“It was a nightmare. A horrifying nightmare,” he says, voice quavering. “But if this is what I have to endure to prove my innocence — my complete innocence — so be it.”

It was Dec. 22, 1993, and two days earlier, investigators for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department had photographed Jackson's nude body after a 13-year-old boy accused Jackson of sexual abuse. The boy described specific, identifying characteristics of Jackson's genitals and buttocks, and the police were there to confirm possible evidence.

Hours after the search, Jackson decided he wanted to make a statement, according to Lee Solters, his publicist at the time. But this was long before a celebrity could post a cellphone video on YouTube or Twitter. Satellite time was purchased and uplink coordinates sent to the media all over the world. In the United States, the statement was carried live on CNN. ABC, CBS and NBC didn't carry it live but made it available for transmission by local affiliates.

Excerpts from the four-minute statement were played over and over for days on all the major networks, MTV and entertainment shows, particularly the part when Jackson said: “They [police] served a search warrant on me which allowed them to view and photograph my body, including my penis, my buttocks, my lower torso, thighs, and any other area that they wanted. … It was the most humiliating ordeal of my life, one that no person should ever have to suffer.”

Now Jackson, who died in 2009 of a drug overdose at the age of 50, is the subject of a searing new documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” about allegations he sexually abused boys. It airs Sunday and Monday nights on HBO.

In 1993, the accuser's attorney, Larry R. Feldman, told the Los Angeles Times: “They [Jackson's lawyers] say they don't want to try this case in the press, and then they hold the biggest news conference in the world, only they don't allow questions.”

Jackson attorney Howard Weitzman said the media was excluded to prevent “a circus atmosphere.” Another Jackson attorney, Johnnie Cochran, told CNN that night that Jackson was one the “most private” and “extremely modest” people in the world.

The investigation into the allegations were first reported four months earlier by a local TV station in Los Angeles. In The Washington Post, the allegations first appeared on the third page of the Style section on Aug. 24, 1993, to the right of a book review and just above a Doonesbury comic strip.

“An unnamed woman filed a complaint alleging Jackson had abused her child during a visit to the superstar's Neverland ranch,” it says.

At the time, Jackson was trying to recapture some of the superstardom he had enjoyed in his “Thriller” days. He launched a world tour for his album “Dangerous.” He performed at President Bill Clinton's inaugural ball. He did the halftime show at the Super Bowl.

But the allegations in August changed all that. The tour was canceled. Pepsi dropped his endorsement deal. And he checked into a treatment center in England for an addiction to painkillers.

Then, soon after returning to his Neverland ranch, came the strip search.

Weeks later, in January 1994, the accuser's parents reached a settlement with Jackson reportedly in the tens of millions. Months later, Jackson bounced back with his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, whom he credited with supporting him through his “horrifying nightmare.”

The police investigation continued but soon faded from the media's attention — thanks to another Johnnie Cochran client.

“It's sort of gotten a back seat since the [O.J.] Simpson case came up,” a source in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office told The Post.

Scriptwriter Alison Taylor, who wrote about the black community's perspective on Simpson, put it another way: “O.J. Simpson is the best thing that ever happened to Michael Jackson.”


United Kingdom

Child sexual abuse investigation to hear from ex-ministers

Claims will be made about whether detectives were warned off making inquiries into prominent figures

by Owen Bowcott

A three-week long investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse involving politicians and Westminster officials opens on Monday, with senior police officers, former ministers and the security services expected to give evidence.

Potentially explosive claims will be made about whether parliamentary whips' offices withheld information about criminal offences in order to exploit it and whether detectives were warned off making inquiries into prominent public figures.

The latest strand of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA), chaired by Prof Alexis Jay, will examine some of the most sensitive accusations it has received. Although it will not conclude whether, for example, the former prime minister Edward Heath did or did not commit sexual abuse, it will look at the way Westminster institutions responded to such accusations.

The first week's timetable includes evidence from the Liberal Democrat peer Dick Taverne and police officers who investigated the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London, which was alleged to have been used for child grooming.

The main areas to be examined in relation to child sexual abuse include police investigations, prosecution decisions, the roles of political parties, whips' offices in parliament, the honours system and the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange, which operated in the 1970s and 80s. One contentious issue is likely to be the extent of any public funding received by Pie.

At a preliminary hearing last year, the inquiry was told that a number of retired police officers had claimed they were indeed ‘warned off' investigating possible cases of child sexual abuse committed by senior politicians in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The main aim of the inquiry will be to establish whether any Westminster institutions, political parties, government departments, law enforcement or intelligence agencies failed or are still failing to protect children from child sexual abuse.

IICSA will also inquire into whether there was a culture in Westminster institutions that shielded prominent people from investigation and tolerated wrongdoing at the expense of their victims. MI5 officials are among those due to appear as witnesses.

Allegations against the former Labour MP and peer Greville Janner QC and against the former Liberal MP Cyril Smith are being dealt with in separate strands of the inquiry, though their names are expected to surface again in the coming weeks.

It is understood that Anthony Gilberthorpe, who has previously made allegations about procuring under-age boys for Tory sex parties, has not submitted a witness statement to the inquiry and is not being called to give evidence as a witness.



Child abuse scandal and next steps for Catholic church

Readers respond to a Joanna Moorhead article in which she claimed lay Catholics who stayed silent were complicit in the church's failure on abuse, and to a letter and editorial on the scandal engulfing the church

I agree with Joanna Moorhead (Lay Catholics are complicit in this crisis, 26 February) that all Catholics – like all adults – should take responsibility for child protection. I believe they should act as critical friends in supporting the pope's attempts to prevent and deal with child abuse. The pope has made some brave strides, and some missteps. He believed the apparently sincere and heartfelt protestations of innocence of the Chilean bishops, and reacted with anger and decisive action when he found they had been lying – he sacked them and apologised to the victims. A misstep and an apology can be a powerful message.

The pope has now made the common mistake of implying that since child abuse happens in all spheres, including the family, it is hard to prevent and we must be patient. This tactic is commonly seen as – and often is – a distraction from the main, urgent tasks that can and must be undertaken now. The RC church – and all religious bodies – should see their role as leading the way in effective child protection, rather than being dragged kicking and screaming towards decent practice. It may be a long task, but the essential first steps include use of secular justice systems, which are the fruit of long experience, careful legislation and good professional practice.

• The pope has already said that perpetrators and those who protect them should be subject to secular criminal justice systems. He must therefore urge his representative in Britain, Archbishop Edward Adams, to stop refusing to hand over crucial evidence about clerical abuse to the child sexual abuse inquiry. The Catholic church is not a democracy; yet, if every British Catholic wrote, emailed, texted or phoned Archbishop Adams with the demand that he act justly in this matter, I believe he would feel called to comply.
Hilary Cashman
Author, Christianity and Child Sexual Abuse, 1993

• Any person who is not speaking out over the crisis surrounding the Catholic ban on contraception is complicit in another tragedy. While women in rich countries ignore the ban, those in poorer ones are forced to have more children than they want or can afford. Their governments find it hard to pay for the education of the rising numbers of children, even though it would help them out of poverty. The problem will become increasingly acute as climate change makes agriculture less productive and lack of food more likely. It is difficult to see the pope's otherwise very welcome emphasis on reducing poverty as anything other than window dressing when his teaching makes poverty harder to prevent and food shortages more likely.
Helen Haran
St Albans, Hertfordshire

• While sharing Joanna Moorhead's astonishment at the silence maintained by lay Catholics over the abuse scandals, I think I can explain why many continue to attend mass and “parrot prayers”. It is because they, unlike many in the institutional church, base their faith upon the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospel and not upon the monolithic structure that is often mistaken for “the church”. We, the people, are the church; it is not a building or an institution, it is us and our anger is entirely justified. But our anger should never blind us to the many hard-working good priests who quietly and faithfully represent the best of Christianity. Sadly, we seldom hear about them.
Frances Dawbarn

• Most Guardian readers will appreciate that thanks to the ecumenical movement and united studies of disputed texts, no Christian would ever claim that Jesus Christ was “the founder of the Catholic church”, as he is described in Joanna Moorhead's article.
Rev Dr Donald W Norwood

• Dr Marcella McCarthy (Letters, 25 February) points out that other organisations, along with the church, are attractive to paedophiles, but there are very few institutions which require, for non-doctrinal reasons, new entrants, often teenagers, to forgo natural human relationships and yet require an understanding of compassion and love; prohibit, for liturgical reasons, the ordination of women and therefore a role for half the population; and have had quite such an institutionalised and systemic child abuse problem.

Dr McCarthy is correct that the causes of child abuse may be complex and extend beyond merely abolishing celibacy, but suggesting, in the light of recent experience and disclosure, that such an unreformed and unrepresentative institution can now provide effective safeguarding is itself dangerously mistaken.

• Since the early 1990s I have worked with fellow clergy promoting professional development and education. My experience as one responsible for clergy support is that “a slow process of systematic reform of laws and a change of hearts”, to quote your editorial (23 February), has begun. While the awareness of the importance of safeguarding in my small part of the UK has increased, far more needs to be done globally.

To Illustrate my point, I work alongside a full-time safeguarding officer. All our clergy have to attend frequent and regular conferences on safeguarding against sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and they are barred from working as clergy if they miss the sessions. They are increasingly aware of good practice, which is supported by a developing set of guidelines. We are also trained in identifying signs of abuse, grooming, and the legal procedure of notification to the police. I have also developed a practice of professional supervision for clergy which aims at enhancing personal accountability in all areas of work and personal development.

While serious mistakes have been made both in the UK and more widely, I do feel that a slow process of change for the better has begun, in the Catholic Church and that we are learning from our mistakes. But we can still do better.



Eleven-year-old girl charged with child abuse over death of baby left in her care

Suspect admitted fatal assault on one-year-old Paxton Davis, say police

by Peter Stubley

An 11-year-old girl has been charged with first-degree child abuse of a one-year-old boy who died after suffering serious injuries in her care.

The girl, who is not related to the victim, was left babysitting Paxton Davis at her home in Maryland near Washington DC while her mother went out on an errand.

Her family members called 911 after returning home to find the baby unresponsive.

Paxton was taken to hospital with severe injuries to his upper body and died four days later, on Thursday 28 February.

The girl was arrested following his death and admitted the assault, according to Prince George's County Police.

Major Brian Reilly, commander of the criminal investigation division, told a press conference the motive remains under investigation.

“I don't know what motive there would be in a situation like this for an 11-year-old to intentionally inflict injuries on a one-year-old,” he said.

“There are no words. There is no reason for this to take place.”

Major Reilly said the two families were friends and Paxton was left there in the care of the girl's mother on the previous Saturday. The girl had not looked after the baby before.

Babysitter who returned dead boy to mother charged with murder

“It was an innocent friendly agreement that turned absolutely tragic,” he said.

“There was a short time where the 11-year-old was left in the house where there was no parental supervision.”

Police were alerted by medical staff at 3.25pm following the baby's arrival at hospital.

“When hospital staff took a look at our one-year-old victim, they immediately called child abuse detectives due to the severity of his injuries,” said Major Reilly.

“It was clear from the beginning that the injuries Paxton suffered were not consistent with the normal play of a one-year-old.”

Police said that they would consult with the Prince George's County state's attorney's office to determine any further charges in the case.


Baptist Church

Southern Baptist Convention grapples with sexual abuse report

After two newspapers rocked the evangelical Vatican, members who work with victims say much remains to be changed

by Josiah Hesse

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), one of the largest Christian organizations in the world, is grappling with allegations that more than 250 of its leaders sexually abused more than 700 congregants over the last two decades.

A months-long investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, published this month, asserted that dozens of churches within the SBC knowingly hired sex offenders, silenced victims, neglected to fire sexually abusive leaders and declined to report cases to secular authorities, or even document them within their own organization.

The SBC is the closest thing evangelicals have to a Vatican. That has lead to the two newspapers' work being compared to the Boston Globe's 2002 revelations about sexual abuse within the Catholic church, which were retold in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight.

“It's similar to the Boston Globe story in that people have been desperately shouting about this for years and it's only just now receiving the attention has deserved,” said Boz Tchividjian, founder of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (Grace), an investigative and educational organization.

“The 700 victims revealed in this investigation are only the tip of the iceberg, since very few survivors of abuse ever come forward.”

Tchividjian is also the grandson of Billy Graham, the world's most famous evangelical preacher. For him and many others, part of what contributes to the sexual abuse problem within some SBC communities is to be found within “purity culture”, a set of principles that portray women as virginal objects for men to court, educate and marry.

Conversely, women within purity culture are often viewed as responsible for male sexual behavior through the way they dress and behave, and are therefore seen as responsible when a man succumbs to sexual temptation.

“Purity culture can discourage abused women from coming forward for fear that they'll be blamed and no longer seen as pure,” says Tchividjian. “It places distorted value on male leadership, which can lead to a circling of the wagons when a man is accused of misconduct, discrediting the victim and protecting the ministry.”

The SBC was loosely organized in 1845, during a split with northern Baptists over the issue of slavery. It has for years wrestled with efforts to reform its principles, particularly its ban on women in positions of leadership over men.

Its 47,000 churches and 15 million members adhere to a variety of principles that are at times altered in more liberal or conservative directions depending on the tides of leadership. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, leaders such as Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson lead a successful conservative takeover, seeking a literal interpretation of the Bible in all matters, particularly on the issue of women in leadership.

In 1984, the SBC adopted the Resolution on Ordination and the Role of Women in Ministry. It says: “The scriptures teach that women are not in public worship to assume a role of authority over men lest confusion reign in the local church.”

The recent SBC exposé named both Pressler and Patterson as accused perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

Efforts to contact the SBC for comment were not returned. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, interim president of the SBC executive committee, August Boto, expressed support for the investigation and “sorrow” for victims, but said the organization was unable to create a database of abusers within the church, which would help prevent abusers being fired by one church and hired by another, due to the central tenet that each church retains some level of autonomy.

Asked about his rejection of such a proposal in 2008, Boto said: “Lifting up a model that could not be enforced was an exercise in futility.”

Tchividjian finds this perspective troubling.

“If a SBC church hired an openly gay pastor or denied the divinity of Jesus,” he said, “I sincerely doubt that the church would be allowed to remain within the denomination. This tells me that the SBC has some degree of centralized authority, certainly one that could develop a database and require member churches to contribute to it.”

‘A big, flashing vacancy sign for predators'

According to the Chronicle and Express-News, the limited instances in which secular authorities were contacted about abuse within the SBC resulted in little action. Similar to the #MeToo movement, such failures to hold church leaders accused of sexual misconduct to account via conventional channels have led to social media activism that seeks justice through public outings.

Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch grew up the daughters of pastors in the early 2000s, meeting years later at Moody Bible College. Their friendship blossomed as each reevaluated the purity culture doctrine. Paasch saw how her lack of sexual autonomy played a role in her endurance of a sexual assault and reluctance to report it. Joy came to terms with the romantic grooming she experienced as a teenager from a church youth leader in his 30s, and the way in which her community swept it under the rug.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Joy and Paasch decided to share their experiences under the hashtag #ChurchToo. By morning, the move had gone viral and the two were inundated with stories of sexual abuse and psychological manipulation at the hands of church leaders.

“It seems theologically tied to the way women are treated,” Paasch said. “When I was growing up there was this idea I should consider the men who expressed interest in me, because they were men of god, they were leaders. There was this idea that men and God were deciding all that behind the scenes for me. I never felt that I had permission to say no.”

Joy said: “People want to pretend that sexual shame and purity culture has nothing to do with abuse. It not only affects how the church responds to abuse, but it's the reason it happens in the first place.

“When you have a church that's mired in purity culture, you have a group of young, naive women who are primed to doubt themselves, to doubt their own intuition, to doubt their sense of their own autonomy. They're primed to listen to men, particularly spiritual men, above their own intuition. And then there's little sex education. They don't know the word ‘consent'. All of this adds up to a big, flashing vacancy sign for predators.”

Paasch and Joy admit that being inundated with horror stories of abuse is triggering and exhausting. But they say providing a space for victims to have their voices heard and believed is an essential process.

Tchividjian is similarly troubled by the revelations of abuse throughout protestant churches. But having worked in the field for so long, both as a state prosecutor and the founder and executive director of Grace, he is aware of how much more pervasive and insidious the problem is than the public knows.

He continues to work with faith-based organizations as an independent investigator and abuse prevention specialist. The most common recommendations he gives are for church leaders to listen to and respect victims, to remove reported offenders from positions of authority, and to contact law enforcement whenever anyone is suspected of being sexually abused.

All these are actions that the SBC failed to implement, according to the newspapers' report.

“Churches should be the safest communities in the world for vulnerable people,” Tchividjian said. “Being concerned about whether your child could be harmed by a church leader is the last thing a parent should have to think about, but that is a concern that must always be on our radar screen.”


United Kingdom

Instagram The Worst As Social Media Slammed As 'A Gateway For Child Abuse'

by Zak Doffman

The leading U.K. children's charity, the NSPCC, has claimed that Instagram has become the leading platform for child grooming in the country. The research was based on freedom of information requests covering an 18-month period to September last year, during which there were more than 5,000 recorded crimes “of sexual communication with a child,” and “a 200% rise in recorded instances in the use of Instagram to target and abuse children.”

The charity's CEO, Peter Wanless, said that “these figures are overwhelming evidence that keeping children safe cannot be left to social networks. We cannot wait for the next tragedy before tech companies are made to act. It is hugely concerning to see the sharp spike in grooming offenses on Instagram, and it is vital that the platform designs basic protection more carefully into the service it offers young people.”

The primary age group being targeted was 12-15 years of age, although there were many victims under the age of 11 and some as young as five. The NSPCC expects the real number of cases to be much higher than those reported to the police. The charity has an ongoing campaign, #WildWestWeb, calling for statutory regulation of social media. “On average,” they claim, “ten online grooming offenses are recorded every single day by the police in the U.K. Social networks have become a gateway for child abuse. Unregulated and unsafe, they're simply not doing enough to protect children.”

The U.K.'s Net Aware service shows the two highest risk areas for Instagram as sexual content and bullying.

Is Regulation Now Inevitable?

Sky News quoted a spokesperson from the U.K.'s National Crime Agency spokesman saying: “It is vital that online platforms used by children and young people have in place robust mechanisms and processes to prevent, identify and report sexual exploitation and abuse, including online grooming. Children and young people also need easy access to mechanisms allowing them to alert platforms to potential offending.”

Last month, on ‘Safer Internet Day', Margot James MP, the U.K.'s Minister for Digital said that “online safety is a top priority for the Government and we want to make the U.K. the safest place in the world to be online. We will soon be publishing an Online Harms White Paper which will set out clear expectations for companies to help keep their users, particularly children, safe online.” She added that the White Paper “will set out new legislative measures to ensure that the platforms remove illegal content and prioritize the protection of users, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults.”

Also in February, 27-year-old Carl Hodgson and 38-year-old Carl Jones were both jailed in the U.K. for separate incidences of sexual contact with children. Both had used Instagram as part of their grooming campaigns.

“After 10 years of failed self-regulation by social networks,” the NSPCC's Wanless added, “it is crucial that the Government's imminent Online Harms White Paper includes new laws that tackle online grooming once and for all.”

More Of The Same

In January, Instagram was implicated in a number of teen suicides in the U.K., prompting the Children's Commissioner to write to social media organizations. “With great power comes great responsibility,” she told them, “and it is your responsibility to support measures that give children the information and tools they need growing up in this digital world – or to admit that you cannot control what anyone sees on your platforms.”

That followed a terrible 2018 for Facebook's PR machine: fake news; Cambridge Analytica; congressional hearings; the founders of WhatsApp and Instagram heading for the exit; data breaches and data leaks; and slowing growth. But then in January, the company's results for the final quarter were released, revenue and earnings were up ahead of consensus, and management, shareholders and analysts relaxed. “Facebook is done apologizing,” explained Bloomberg. “For a moment during the earnings call, I closed my eyes and swore it was the glory days of 2015.”

There was an acknowledgment with the results presentations of the value Instagram brings to the company and the need to bring it closer to the core, with a view that the photo-sharing platform could become the prime driver of Facebook's ad revenue growth in the coming years. Thus far, Instagram has pulled off the trick of appearing detached from Facebook. The ‘young and cool' are on Instagram, and whilst most also have Facebook accounts, they'll often tell you they no longer post or share on the platform. Even recent issues that have hit Instagram – a lack of transparency around paid-for posts, the hosting of dangerous imagery, the Fyre Festival – have more to do with the behavior of users than the activities of the platform itself.

But this appears to have changed. A spokesperson for Instagram has now said: “Keeping young people safe on our platforms is our top priority and child exploitation of any kind is not allowed. We use advanced technology and work closely with the police to aggressively fight this type of content and protect young people.”

An Industry Problem

This is an issue that extends across social media and is certainly not specific to Instagram. In the last few days, YouTube has responded to claims that its platform was being used to facilitate child exploitation. “We disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior,” they said in a blog post. “These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months. Over the next few months, we will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.”

The clamor for regulation of social media gets louder by the week. According to Pew Research, almost half of American teens claim to be online “almost constantly”, with the social media platforms YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter predominating. Approaching 60% of teens have been bullied or harassed online, with 90% acknowledging it as a real issue.

In an interview with Business Insider this week, U.K. Minister Margot James has said that the threat of financial sanctions against the leading social media platforms is set to become very real if toxic content and bad behaviors are not brought under control.

Already in 2019, we have seen headline after headline around data exploitation and ruthless commercialization across social media, and now this. The question is around the level of intent on behalf of the platforms to change, despite the threat of regulation. There's a fear that restrictions are unlikely to carry much weight across hundreds of countries and billions of users. Instagram parent Facebook's answer to its PR challenges of 2019 was to post a set of record financial results.


US & Canada

'Thousands of US child migrants sexually abused'

The Department of Justice reportedly received an additional 1,303 sex abuse complaints against unaccompanied minors during the same period.

Congressman Ted Deutch, who released the figures , said at least 154 claims are against facility staff members.

A spokesman for the health department said it takes the claims seriously.

"These documents demonstrate over the past three years there have been 154 staff-on-unaccompanied-minor - let me repeat that, staff-on-unaccompanied-minor - allegations of sexual assault," Congressman Deutch said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The hearing, which focused on the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that led to thousands of immigrant children being separated from their families, featured testimony from Jonathan White, the deputy director for children's program's at Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

"This works out, on average, to one sexual assault by HHS staff on an unaccompanied minor, per week," Mr Deutch continued.

Mr White clarified that those allegations are not against HHS staff, but rather against the contractors who are paid by HHS to run the underage migrant detention facilities.

"I will make that clarification. It doesn't make what happened any less horrific," Mr Deutch responded.

Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for HHS, said the shelters are run by childcare service centres that are licensed by state officials.

"These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances," she said in a statement to Axios , which first reported the documents.

"When any allegations of abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect are made, they are taken seriously and ORR acts swiftly to investigate and respond."

The allegations include sexual relationships, showing pornographic videos to children and forcible touching, according to Axios.

The figures were revealed as Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform voted to issue subpoenas to Trump administration officials involved in the now-suspended policy of separating parents from their children after they illegally cross the US-Mexico border.


Irish Christian Brothers

Science education pioneer accused of sexual abuse while teaching in Irish Christian Brothers schools

Court documents reveal that 430 people have claimed they were abused by members of the Irish Christian Brothers order.


A well-known figure in the science education world is among several Irish Christian Brothers accused of sexually abusing students at Irish Christian Brothers schools in New Rochelle in the 1960s and 1970s, lawyers for former students alleged.

Two men alleged that Brother Robert Pavlica of Iona Prep and Brother Michael John of the Blessed Sacrament High School abused them when they were students, said lawyer Mike Reck, attorney at Jeff Anderson and Associates of New York City.

Pavlica, who died in 2007, created the Authentic Science Research Program, which would later become the model for science research programs in New York and around the country.

The alleged victims are all part of a bankruptcy lawsuit filed by the Irish Christian Brothers in 2011.

A spokesperson for the Christian Brothers confirmed these allegations were a part of the bankruptcy case.

However, the bankruptcy case has put a freeze on any new suits that the recently signed Child Victims Act could have brought forward, Reck said.

"Survivors seeking transparency and accountability, they're prevented from moving forward because of the case," Reck said.

While both named clerics have since died, the naming of Pavlica sent shock waves through New York state because of his high profile in the science education world. After leaving the Irish Christian Brothers, Pavlica joined the faculty of Byram Hills High School in Armonk in 1970.

While at Byram Hills, Pavlica created the Authentic Science Research Program and the school's program bears Pavlica's name in his honor.

Byram Hills Superintendent Jen Lamia had little to say on the allegations, or what would be done with the name of the program.

"I'll be having future conversations with the board, and we'll be looking into this and investigating it," Lamia said.

Lamia had not heard of any allegations about Pavlica's behavior during his time at Byram Hills.

The Christian Brothers provided the following statement.

These allegations are not new to us because they were among the claims filed as part of the bankruptcy case in 2012. These allegations took place at schools other than Iona Prep, with the exception of one claim, which dates back to 1968 – and because of the bankruptcy settlement structure, that claim was not tested for its merits.

The Province's policy for the protection of children and vulnerable adults is aimed at the prevention of abuse and any type of misconduct. It includes a swift and open response when allegations are reported. The accused is removed immediately from their ministry and/or position, followed by an independent investigation – and full disclosure and cooperation with the appropriate authorities – to ensure complete transparency and objectivity.

Hundreds allege abuse

These allegations are the latest in a long line of people claiming abuse at the hands of Irish Christian Brothers.

As a part of the bankruptcy case, the court required the Christian Brothers to notify prior students that they could join the case.

Court documents reveal that over 430 people have claimed they were abused by members of the order. However, these claims were not investigated for credibility as part of the settlement agreement.

The Irish Christian Brothers were founded in 1802 with the purpose of evangelizing and educating young people. In addition to Iona Prep and Blessed Sacrament, the Brothers — who were headquartered in New York — have schools in New York and New Jersey as well as throughout the country.

Some other Christian Brothers schools include:

Power Memorial Academy (New York, New York)

Cardinal Hayes High School (Bronx, New York)

Bishop Kearney High School (Rochester, New York)

Sacred Heart Grammar School (New York, New York)

Notre Dame/Bishop Gibbons High School (Albany, New York)

Essex Catholic High School (Newark, New Jersey)

Bergen Catholic High School (Oradell, New Jersey)

Cantwell High School (Los Angeles, California)

Palma High School (Salinas, California)

The Chapter 11 suit, which allows the school to negotiate with creditors without having to liquidate its assets, created a $16.5 million trust that will distribute funds to abuse victims.

New state law may not help victims

Other than securing a payout for victims, the bankruptcy also protected the brothers from future suits, Reck said.

"On one hand they shielded themselves from the inquisition that's coming, and the second thing they did was a shrewd risk management decision," Reck said. "Now the Christian Brothers are effectively insulated from the Child Victims Act, because of the bankruptcy bar date."

That means if people didn't file claims against the brothers before a certain date the bankruptcy case prevents them from filing a claim against the brothers afterwards, even with the Child Victims Act.

But victims may still sue the diocese where the school was located, Reck said.

"Those survivors, can sue the diocese where the school sits," Reck said. "For example, if Iona Prep is in the New York Diocese, survivors can sue the diocese for its role in covering up and allowing the school to be there."

More: Think list of abusers who were at McQuaid is complete? Our investigation shows it's not

Two new alleged abuse claims at Iona

Reck said more people are coming forward claiming clerics at Irish Christian Brothers' schools abused them. He said his clients cited Brother John Justin O'Connor and Brother Charles Irwin at Iona Prep as clerics who allegedly committed abusive acts on their clients.

As part of the Christian Bothers' bankruptcy settlement both O'Connor and Irwin were named in a list of alleged abusers who were accused of more than one claim of abuse.

Blessed Sacrament High School closed in 2013, but Iona Prep remains open.

Bergen Catholic High School named
Others, outside the ICB suit, have claimed Irwin abused them in the past.

Irwin worked in many schools, mostly in New York, but during the mid-1960s he worked at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey.

Some of Irwin's Bergen victims were a part of a $1.9 million settlement in 2016. Each victim received between $65,000 and $115,000. The settlement was shared between 21 men who accused staff of Bergen Catholic High School of abusing them.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said then that at the time of the alleged abuse, from 1963 to 1978, his clients were between 13 and 17 years old. They are now between 53 and 68 years old.

Irwin also worked at:

St. Patrick's Provincialate Community; New Rochelle, New York

Santa Maria Novitiate-Novice; West Park, New York

St. Gabriel's Scholasticate Student; West Park, New York

Sacred Heart Community and Grammar School; New York City, New York

Cardinal Hayes Holy Family Community; Bronx, New York

Cardinal Hayes-St. Helena's Annex; Bronx, New York

Power Memorial Community and Academy; New York City, New York

Irwin died in 1997.

O'Connor worked at Bergen Catholic in the late 1980s, before he left the order.

Irish Christian Brothers

In 2017 the Irish Christian Brothers released a list of members who had more than one abuse claim against them. Claims against these men were never validated, as part of the bankruptcy settlement agreement.

Angel, Larry K. (deceased)

Barry, Gerald K. (former)

Beckstrom, Robert E. (former)

Brouillette, Robert (former)

Burton, David B. (Brother)

Carr, Michael T. (deceased)

Carroll, Francis (deceased)

Casale, Albert (former)

Chaney, John (Brother)

Cobb, Alan S. (former)

Collins, Donald Cecil (deceased)

Condon, Eugene (former)

Courtney, Edward (former)

Delamere, Frank P. (former)

Duffin, Thomas (deceased)

Dunn, James Claver (deceased)

Ferro, Salvatore (Brother)

Ford, Thomas C. (deceased)

French, Edward George (Brother)

Gardner, Stephen Justin (former)

Hanney, James (former)

Heathwood, John (deceased)

Heustis, Jerome (deceased)

Hewitt, Andrew Thomas (deceased)

Houlihan, James Alvarez (deceased)

Irwin, Charles (deceased)

Kealey, John (deceased)

Kernan, Joseph (deceased)

Lasik, Ronald (Brother)

Lawlor, John (former)

Medvit, Paul (deceased)

Murphy, Clement Adan (deceased)

Murphy, John E. (former)

Murphy, Thomas Ignatius (deceased)

Nash, Dermod (deceased)

Neary, Walter D. (deceased)

O'Connor, John J. (former)

Padilla, Ruben Mark (former)

Post, Robert (former)

Ralph, Alan Gerard (Brother)

Reycraft, Paul S. (former)

Ryan, Daniel Peter (deceased)

Satterthwaite, Robert (deceased)

Stoyles, Michael E. (deceased)

Thompson, James (former)

Thorne, Harold (Brother)

Walderman, J. Matthew (Brother)

Walsh, Michael (deceased)

Warren, James V. (deceased)


U.S. National

At Least 4,500 Abuse Complaints at Migrant Children Shelters

The government says it has received more than 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse and harassment of migrant children in shelters it managed.

by COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of accusations of sexual abuse and harassment of migrant children in government-funded shelters were made over the past four years, including scores directed against adult staff members, according to federal data released Tuesday.

The cases include allegations of inappropriate touching to staff members allegedly watching minors while they bathed and showing pornographic videos to minors. Some of the allegations included inappropriate conduct by minors in shelters against other minors, as well as by staff members.

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., released the Health and Human Services Department data amid a hearing on the Trump administration's policy of family separations at the border. The data span both the Obama and Trump administrations, and were first reported by Axios.

From October 2014 to July 2018, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a part of Health and Human Services, received 4,556 complaints, including allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and inappropriate behavior. Of those, the Justice Department received 1,303 more serious sex abuse complaints, including 178 allegations of sexual abuse by adult staff, officials said.

The number of complaints decreased during budget year 2017, but otherwise has hovered at about 1,200 per year. Refugee Resettlement officials said the majority of the allegations were "inappropriate sexual behaviors" between minors at the facilities, and shelters can often resolve these allegations through counseling and other non-criminal avenues.

Department officials said the majority of allegations weren't substantiated, and they defended their care of children. They also noted the accused staff members were not employees of the department.

"We share the concern," said Jonathan White, a Health and Human Services official who was in charge of the effort to reunify children with their parents, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. "Any time a child is abused ... is one time too many. We abide fully with the laws this Congress has passed, and we are very proud of our outstanding track record of full compliance including referring every allegation for investigation."

The Office of Refugee Resettlement manages the care of tens of thousands of migrant children who cycle through the system each year. More than 2,700 children were separated from their parents over the summer at the border, and were placed in shelters. But most of the children in government custody crossed the border alone.

Children are placed in custody until they can be released to sponsors, usually a parent or close relative, while awaiting immigration proceedings. The shelters are privately run under contracts with the government.

Youth are held for increasingly longer periods of time, currently about two months. As of the first week of February, more than 11,000 migrant toddlers, children and teens were in federal custody as unaccompanied minors, up from about 2,500 detained children three months after Trump took office.

Sexual abuse allegations are reported to federal law enforcement, though it's not clear whether anyone was charged criminally. In many cases, staff members were suspended and eventually fired.

Deutch said the data were clearly alarming.

"Together, these documents detail an unsafe environment of sexual assaults by staff on unaccompanied minors," he said.

Health and Human Services officials say all allegations are taken very seriously, and the department cooperates with all investigations.

Facilities under government contract must provide training to all staff, contractors and volunteers. Background checks are completed on potential employees, and facilities are prohibited from hiring anyone who has engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior.

But Arizona officials moved last fall to revoke licenses for one of the major nonprofits that operates migrant children shelters after it missed a deadline to show that all its employees passed background checks.

A state investigation of Texas-based Southwest Key last summer, prompted by several reports of sexual abuse of immigrant children in Arizona, found that some shelters had not conducted fingerprint checks for all employees.

Southwest Key has apologized and is working with the state to ensure it never misses a deadline again, a spokesman said.



Govt. orders checks on possible child abuse cases

Japan's welfare ministry has called on local governments to conduct new investigations into cases of possible child abuse. Officials say the safety of more than 2,900 children around the country cannot be confirmed.

An emergency survey by the ministry revealed that as of November 30, the safety of 2,936 children aged below 18 was unknown. Some of them failed to receive mandatory medical checkups. Other children could be living outside the country.

The government suspects there are serious cases of child abuse. Ministry officials on Friday asked local authorities to conduct new investigations and report to the ministry by March 11th.

The ministry is also calling on local governments to report details on each child, such as whether they are sharing information with child welfare centers and police.



Read the Pope's entire speech blasting sexual abuse within the church

by CNN

(CNN) Here is a transcript of Pope Francis' speech Sunday on the final day of a historic Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse, as posted on the Vatican's website:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As I thank the Lord who has accompanied us during these days, I would like to thank all of you for the ecclesial spirit and concrete commitment that you have so generously demonstrated.

Our work has made us realize once again that the gravity of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors is, and historically has been, a widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies. Only in relatively recent times has it become the subject of systematic research, thanks to changes in public opinion regarding a problem that was previously considered taboo; everyone knew of its presence yet no one spoke of it. I am reminded too of the cruel religious practice, once widespread in certain cultures, of sacrificing human beings -- frequently children -- in pagan rites. Yet even today, the statistics available on the sexual abuse of minors drawn up by various national and international organizations and agencies (the WHO, UNICEF, INTERPOL, EUROPOL and others) do not represent the real extent of the phenomenon, which is often underestimated, mainly because many cases of the sexual abuse of minors go unreported, particularly the great number committed within families.

Rarely, in fact, do victims speak out and seek help. Behind this reluctance there can be shame, confusion, fear of reprisal, various forms of guilt, distrust of institutions, forms of cultural and social conditioning, but also lack of information about services and facilities that can help. Anguish tragically leads to bitterness, even suicide, or at times to seek revenge by doing the same thing. The one thing certain is that millions of children in the world are victims of exploitation and of sexual abuse.

It would be important here to cite the overall data -- in my opinion still partial -- on the global level, then from Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania, in order to give an idea of the gravity and the extent of this plague in our societies. To avoid needless quibbling, I would point out from the start that the mention of specific countries is purely for the sake of citing the statistical data provided by the aforementioned reports.

The first truth that emerges from the data at hand is that those who perpetrate abuse, that is acts of physical, sexual or emotional violence, are primarily parents, relatives, husbands of child brides, coaches and teachers. Furthermore, according to the UNICEF data of 2017 regarding 28 countries throughout the world, 9 out of every 10 girls who have had forced sexual relations reveal that they were victims of someone they knew or who was close to their family.

According to official data of the American government, in the United States over 700,000 children each year are victims of acts of violence and mistreatment. According to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), 1 out of every 10 children experiences sexual abuse. In Europe, 18 million children are victims of sexual abuse.

If we take Italy as an example, the 2016 Telefono Azzurro Report states that 68.9% of abuses take place within the home of the minor.

Acts of violence take place not only in the home, but also in neighbourhoods, schools, athletic facilities and, sadly, also in church settings.

Research conducted in recent years on the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors also shows that the development of the web and of the communications media have contributed to a significant increase in cases of abuse and acts of violence perpetrated online. Pornography is rapidly spreading worldwide through the net. The scourge of pornography has expanded to an alarming degree, causing psychological harm and damaging relations between men and women, and between adults and children. It is a phenomenon in constant growth. Tragically, a considerable part of pornographic production has to do with minors, who are thus gravely violated in their dignity. The studies in this field -- it is sad -- document that it is happening in ever more horrible and violent ways, even to the point of acts of abuse against minors being commissioned and viewed live over the net.

Here I would mention the World Congress held in Rome on the theme of child dignity in the digital era, as well as the first Forum of the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities held on the same theme in Abu Dhabi last November.

Another scourge is sexual tourism. According to 2017 data provided by the World Tourism Organization, each year 3 million people throughout the world travel in order to have sexual relations with a minor. Significantly, the perpetrators of these crimes in most cases do not even realize that they are committing a criminal offence.

We are thus facing a universal problem, tragically present almost everywhere and affecting everyone. Yet we need to be clear, that while gravely affecting our societies as a whole, this evil is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the Church.

The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the Church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility. Consecrated persons, chosen by God to guide souls to salvation, let themselves be dominated by their human frailty or sickness and thus become tools of Satan. In abuse, we see the hand of the evil that does not spare even the innocence of children. No explanations suffice for these abuses involving children. We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with the mystery of evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable, for they are an image of Jesus. For this reason, the Church has now become increasingly aware of the need not only to curb the gravest cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes, but also to decisively confront the phenomenon both inside and outside the Church. She feels called to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of her mission, which is to preach the Gospel to the little ones and to protect them from ravenous wolves.

Here again I would state clearly: if in the Church there should emerge even a single case of abuse -- which already in itself represents an atrocity -- that case will be faced with the utmost seriousness. Brothers and Sisters: in people's justified anger, the Church sees the reflection of the wrath of God, betrayed and insulted by these deceitful consecrated persons. The echo of the silent cry of the little ones who, instead of finding in them fathers and spiritual guides encountered tormentors, will shake hearts dulled by hypocrisy and by power. It is our duty to pay close heed to this silent, choked cry.

It is difficult to grasp the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors without considering power, since it is always the result of an abuse of power, an exploitation of the inferiority and vulnerability of the abused, which makes possible the manipulation of their conscience and of their psychological and physical weakness. The abuse of power is likewise present in the other forms of abuse affecting almost 85,000,000 children, forgotten by everyone: child soldiers, child prostitutes, starving children, children kidnapped and often victimized by the horrid commerce of human organs or enslaved, child victims of war, refugee children, aborted children and so many others.

Before all this cruelty, all this idolatrous sacrifice of children to the god of power, money, pride and arrogance, empirical explanations alone are not sufficient. They fail to make us grasp the breadth and depth of this tragedy. Here once again we see the limitations of a purely positivistic approach. It can provide us with a true explanation helpful for taking necessary measures, but it is incapable of giving us a meaning. Today we need both explanation and meaning. Explanation will help us greatly in the operative sphere, but will take us only halfway.

So what would be the existential "meaning" of this criminal phenomenon? In the light of its human breadth and depth, it is none other than the present-day manifestation of the spirit of evil. If we fail to take account of this dimension, we will remain far from the truth and lack real solutions.

Brothers and sisters, today we find ourselves before a manifestation of brazen, aggressive and destructive evil. Behind and within, there is the spirit of evil, which in its pride and in its arrogance considers itself the Lord of the world and thinks that it has triumphed. I would like to say this to you with the authority of a brother and a father, certainly a small one and a sinner, but who is the pastor of the Church that presides in charity: in these painful cases, I see the hand of evil that does not spare even the innocence of the little ones. And this leads me to think of the example of Herod who, driven by fear of losing his power, ordered the slaughter of all the children of Bethlehem. Behind this there is satan.

Just as we must take every practical measure that common sense, the sciences and society offer us, neither must we lose sight of this reality; we need to take up the spiritual means that the Lord himself teaches us: humiliation, self-accusation, prayer and penance. This is the only way to overcome the spirit of evil. It is how Jesus himself overcame it.

The Church's aim will thus be to hear, watch over, protect and care for abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they are. To achieve that goal, the Church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.

The time has come, then, to work together to eradicate this evil from the body of our humanity by adopting every necessary measure already in force on the international level and ecclesial levels. The time has come to find a correct equilibrium of all values in play and to provide uniform directives for the Church, avoiding the two extremes of a "justicialism" provoked by guilt for past errors and media pressure, and a defensiveness that fails to confront the causes and effects of these grave crimes.

In this context, I would mention the "best practices" formulated under the guidance of the World Health Organization by a group of ten international bodies that developed and approved a packet of measures called INSPIRE: Seven Strategies for Ending Violence against Children.

With the help of these guidelines, the work carried out in recent years by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the contributions made by this Meeting, the Church, in developing her legislation, will concentrate on the following aspects:

1. The protection of children. The primary goal of every measure must be to protect the little ones and prevent them from falling victim to any form of psychological and physical abuse. Consequently, a change of mentality is needed to combat a defensive and reactive approach to protecting the institution and to pursue, wholeheartedly and decisively, the good of the community by giving priority to the victims of abuse in every sense. We must keep ever before us the innocent faces of the little ones, remembering the words of the Master: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it is necessary that scandals come, but woe to the man by whom the scandal comes! (Mt 18:6-7).

2. Impeccable seriousness. Here I would reaffirm that "the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes. The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case" (Address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2018). She is convinced that "the sins and crimes of consecrated persons are further tainted by infidelity and shame; they disfigure the countenance of the Church and undermine her credibility. The Church herself, with her faithful children, is also a victim of these acts of infidelity and these real sins of "peculation" (ibid.).

3. Genuine purification. Notwithstanding the measures already taken and the progress made in the area of preventing abuse, there is need for a constantly renewed commitment to the holiness of pastors, whose conformity to Christ the Good Shepherd is a right of the People of God. The Church thus restates "her firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification, questioning how best to protect children, to avoid these tragedies, to bring healing and restoration to the victims, and to improve the training imparted in seminaries... An effort will be made to make past mistakes opportunities for eliminating this scourge, not only from the body of the Church but also from that of society" (ibid.). The holy fear of God leads us to accuse ourselves -- as individuals and as an institution -- and to make up for our failures. Self-accusation is the beginning of wisdom and bound to the holy fear of God: learning how to accuse ourselves, as individuals, as institutions, as a society. For we must not fall into the trap of blaming others, which is a step towards the "alibi" that separates us from reality.

4. Formation. In other words, requiring criteria for the selection and training of candidates to the priesthood that are not simply negative, concerned above all with excluding problematic personalities, but also positive, providing a balanced process of formation for suitable candidates, fostering holiness and the virtue of chastity. Saint Paul VI, in his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, wrote that "the life of the celibate priest, which engages the whole man so totally and so sensitively, excludes those of insufficient physical, psychic and moral qualifications. Nor should anyone pretend that grace supplies for the defects of nature in such a man" (No. 64).

5. Strengthening and reviewing guidelines by Episcopal Conferences. In other words, reaffirming the need for bishops to be united in the application of parameters that serve as rules and not simply indications. Rules, not simply indications. No abuse should ever be covered up (as was often the case in the past) or not taken sufficiently seriously, since the covering up of abuses favours the spread of evil and adds a further level of scandal. Also and in particular, developing new and effective approaches for prevention in all institutions and in every sphere of ecclesial activity.

6. Accompaniment of those who have been abused. The evil that they have experienced leaves them with indelible wounds that also manifest themselves in resentment and a tendency to self-destruction. The Church thus has the duty to provide them with all the support they need, by availing herself of experts in this field. Listening, let me even put it this way: "wasting time" in listening. Listening heals the hurting person, and likewise heals us of our egoism, aloofness and lack of concern, of the attitude shown by the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

7. The digital world. The protection of minors must take into account the new forms of sexual abuse and abuse of all kinds that threaten minors in the settings in which they live and through the new devices that they use. Seminarians, priests, men and women religious, pastoral agents, indeed everyone, must be aware that the digital world and the use of its devices often has a deeper effect than we may think. Here there is a need to encourage countries and authorities to apply every measure needed to contain those websites that threaten human dignity, the dignity of women and particularly that of children. Brothers and Sisters: crime does not enjoy the right to freedom. There is an absolute need to combat these abominations with utter determination, to be vigilant and to make every effort to keep the development of young people from being troubled or disrupted by an uncontrolled access to pornography, which will leave deep scars on their minds and hearts. We must ensure that young men and women, particularly seminarians and clergy, are not enslaved to addictions based on the exploitation and criminal abuse of the innocent and their pictures, and contempt for the dignity of women and of the human person. Here mention should be made of the new norms on graviora delicta approved by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, which included as a new species of crime "the acquisition, possession or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors... by whatever means or using whatever technology". The text speaks of minors "under the age of fourteen". We now consider that this age limit should be raised in order to expand the protection of minors and to bring out the gravity of these deeds.

8. Sexual tourism. The conduct, the way of looking at others, the very heart of Jesus' disciples and servants must always acknowledge the image of God in each human creature, beginning with the most innocent. It is only by drawing from this radical respect for the dignity of others that we will be able to defend them from the pervasive power of violence, exploitation, abuse and corruption, and serve them in a credible way in their integral human and spiritual growth, in the encounter with others and with God. Combatting sexual tourism demands that it be outlawed, but also that the victims of this criminal phenomenon be given support and helped to be reinserted in society. The ecclesial communities are called to strengthen their pastoral care of persons exploited by sexual tourism. Among these, those who are most vulnerable and in need of particular help are certainly women, minors and children; these last however need special forms of protection and attention. Government authorities should make this a priority and act with urgency to combat the trafficking and economic exploitation of children. To this end it is important to coordinate the efforts being made at every level of society and to cooperate closely with international organizations so as to achieve a juridical framework capable of protecting children from sexual exploitation in tourism and of ensuring the legal prosecution of offenders.

Allow me now to offer a heartfelt word of thanks to all those priests and consecrated persons who serve the Lord faithfully and totally, and who feel themselves dishonoured and discredited by the shameful conduct of some of their confreres. All of us -- the Church, consecrated persons, the People of God, and even God himself -- bear the effects of their infidelity. In the name of the whole Church, I thank the vast majority of priests who are not only faithful to their celibacy, but spend themselves in a ministry today made even more difficult by the scandals of few (but always too many) of their confreres. I also thank the faithful who are well aware of the goodness of their pastors and who continue to pray for them and to support them.

Finally, I would like to stress the important need to turn this evil into an opportunity for purification. Let us look to the example of Edith Stein -- Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross -- with the certainty that "in the darkest night, the greatest prophets and saints rise up. Still, the life-giving stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Surely, the decisive events of history of the world have been essentially influenced by souls about whom the history books remain silent. And those souls that we must thank for the decisive events in our personal lives is something that we will know only on that day when all that which is hidden will be brought to light". The holy, faithful People of God, in its daily silence, in many forms and ways continues to demonstrate and attest with "stubborn" hope that the Lord never abandons but sustains the constant and, in so many cases, painful devotion of his children. The holy and patient, faithful People of God, borne up and enlivened by the Holy Spirit, is the best face of the prophetic Church which puts her Lord at the centre in daily giving of herself. It will be precisely this holy People of God to liberate us from the plague of clericalism, which is the fertile ground for all these disgraces.

The best results and the most effective resolution that we can offer to the victims, to the People of Holy Mother Church and to the entire world, are the commitment to personal and collective conversion, the humility of learning, listening, assisting and protecting the most vulnerable.

I make a heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth: this is demanded by all the many victims hidden in families and in the various settings of our societies.

Pope Francis