Violence against children is a scourge that we must all fight
There will be one billion victims this year and their trauma will linger for life. World leaders must do more to help them, say Zoleka Mandela, Etienne Krug and Howard Taylor.
At the World Health Assembly in May, we made the case for why governments and United Nations agencies need to spend more on preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), injury, and violence against children.
One of us — Zoleka Mandela — spoke of losing her 13-year-old daughter to a drunk driver, and of suffering sexual violence as a child.
“It was an abuse of power, and it was a violation of trust,” she told the assembly. “It left me emotionally and mentally scarred.
"It led me to self-harm and to try to take my own life several times. It led to alcohol- and drug-dependency.”
We hope this personal account of trauma will remind leaders around the world that violence, mental and sexual trauma, and substance abuse are interrelated issues that have a lasting impact on children.
The evidence is overwhelming. This year, one billion children will experience physical, sexual, or psychological violence at home, in school, online, and in their communities.
One in four will suffer physical abuse; if they are girls, one in five will suffer sexual abuse.
Violence against children is persistent and pervasive, regardless of gender and geography.
If we open our eyes, we will see a constant stream of stories about its victims.
They come from all walks of life: from a young girl in India who reports that her family sold her to sex-traffickers to the French actor Thierry Beccaro, who was brutally beaten by his father throughout his childhood.
These trauma stories show that the impact lasts long after the abuse itself. Victims often experience lifelong social, emotional, and cognitive consequences.
They are at higher risk not just of depression, anxiety, and suicide, but also heart disease, obesity, and HIV/AIDS.
And these effects are regularly passed down to the next generation, because children who grow up in abusive homes are more likely to become abusers, and to be in abusive relationships as adults.
Still, prevention is possible, response services can be made more available, and the political will to address the problem is at an all-time high.
As part of the Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015, world leaders committed to ending all forms of violence, abuse, and neglect against children by 2030.
To defend the right of every child to live free from fear, neglect, abuse, and exploitation, the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, and its associated fund, were established in 2016.
The same year, the World Health Organisation issued its INSPIRE report, outlining seven strategies that have reduced violence against children.
Health policy is a crucial component of progress, and there are some encouraging signs.
In 2017, for example, India's National Health Policy identified gender violence as one of the country's seven major public-health concerns.
Likewise, Rwanda's national reproductive health strategy now includes prevention and response to sexual violence as a top priority.
In addition to these examples, there is a broader effort to promote universal health coverage for children, and to coordinate policies between ministries of health and child protective services.
More governments and public-health agencies are recognising the link between violence and mental health, and are providing psycho-social support for victims.
But the battle is not won. Violence-prevention and response services are still absent in many areas; where services are available, children are too often treated without the benefit of evidence-based protocols.
From medicine and counselling to criminal justice, large segments of the public sector in some countries lack appropriately trained professionals to care for child survivors of violence.
The global health community has confronted similar challenges before. There has been tremendous progress toward ending childhood deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, and other preventable diseases.
These gains are the result of political and financial commitments, and of sustained attention and action on the part of governments and multilateral institutions.
The same level of commitment and action is needed to address the scourge of violence against children.
Making the investments needed to end violence against children will also accelerate progress toward a number of other sustainable development goals.
But if we do not make those investments, the hard-fought progress that has been made toward universal health care, high-quality education, and other SDGs will be offset, or even reversed.
Nelson Mandela once observed that, “There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
To keep the momentum from the WHA's 72nd session this year, we must appreciate the personal stories and shocking statistics about the scourge of violence against children.
Finding inspiration in the progress made so far, world leaders must redouble their commitment to ensure that all children are afforded the safety and opportunities they deserve.
India toughens law to protect children from sexual abuse
NEW DELHI — The Indian government has toughened a law against child sexual abuse and child pornography.
The law amended this week has increased the maximum penalty for child sex abuse to capital punishment from 20 years in prison.
The government also defined child pornography for the first time and made the penalties more stringent, with a maximum punishment up to three years in prison.
The amendments prohibit administering hormones or chemical therapies to children to hasten their sexual maturity for the purpose of sexual intercourse. The updated law clarifies that children are protected from sex abuse even during natural disasters.
The ruling amends the 2012 gender-neutral Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, which says a child is anyone younger than 18 years old.
Indonesia Frees Canadian Accused of Using Magical Powers to Abuse children
by Richard C. Paddock
BANGKOK — A Canadian educator who has said he was wrongfully sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of sexually abusing children at a Jakarta school has been granted clemency and returned to Canada, his family said on Friday.
Neil Bantleman, an administrator at the prestigious Jakarta Intercultural School, was convicted in 2015 along with six Indonesians on the basis of what critics contended was a flawed police investigation and preposterous evidence.
Among the evidence submitted at trial were claims that Mr. Bantleman had used magical powers to seduce the children and render the scenes of his crimes invisible.
“Five years ago I was wrongfully accused and convicted of crimes I did not commit and furthermore never occurred,” Mr. Bantleman said in a statement.
“I applied for clemency, which I am pleased was granted by Indonesia last month upholding essential justice and human rights,” said Mr. Bantleman, who spent most of the past five years behind bars.
The high-profile trial called into question the competence of the police, the fairness of Indonesia's judicial system, and the desirability of Indonesia as a place for foreigners to live and work.
The office of President Joko Widodo said Mr. Bantleman was granted clemency on June 19.
The six Indonesians convicted in the case — a teacher's aide, Ferdinand Tjiong, and five school janitors — who also maintained their innocence, have not been granted clemency, though one was released on parole this year after serving half of his sentence, local news media reported.
The allegations were initially brought by the mother of a 6-year-old boy who said that he had been sexually abused at school
During questioning, the boy told the police that Mr. Bantleman had kept him from feeling pain during attacks by inserting a “magic stone” in his anus, and that Mr. Bantleman had conjured the stone from the sky. No stone was ever presented as evidence.
The boy also told the police that the school's employees had sexually assaulted him and other victims in “secret rooms” on campus that were later “hidden.” A police search of the school never found any sign of a secret room.
Eventually, the families of nine boys alleged that they had been abused, and that attacks had taken place during the middle of the school day in visible locations, including a glass-walled office, restrooms and an open kitchen area, as well as the secret rooms.
The police charged Mr. Bantleman and Mr. Tjiong with raping three of the boys, and at trial, each was convicted on all three counts.
The police never interviewed employees who worked in the school office, a busy place full of staff members and students during the school day.
The defense contended that the questioning of the boys by parents, the police and counselors had led them to develop stories that were fantastic and implausible.
Expert studies have found that children can come up with elaborate stories that they firmly believe are true based on repeated suggestive questioning, a phenomenon that has occurred in other high-profile cases, such as the McMartin preschool case in California in the 1980s.
But the court, which held the trial behind closed doors, rejected defense testimony from foreign experts on the suggestibility of children in abuse cases.
Mr. Bantleman, Mr. Tjiong and the five janitors were convicted in separate trials and sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 11 years.
A sixth janitor died in police custody during a break in his interrogation. Photographs of his body showed signs of physical abuse, but no autopsy was conducted.
Four janitors confessed to the crimes but later retracted their confessions, saying that they had been extracted under torture. Another janitor, the only woman charged in the case, has always maintained her innocence.
The sexual abuse was said to have occurred in 2013 or the first half of 2014, but the police never established specific dates on which any of the incidents were alleged to have occurred, making it impossible for the defendants to present alibis.
The children also said they were videotaped during the attacks, but no recordings were ever found.
The defense argued that there was no medical evidence indicating that any of the children had been abused. But the court refused to accept a report by a Singaporean doctor who examined the boy whose statements prompted the investigation and found no signs of abuse.
The police said they found no connection between the two staff members and the five janitors, except that the boy alleged he was victimized by all of them.
The boy's mother sued the school for $125 million, but the suit was later dismissed. This year, she filed a similar $120 million suit against the seven convicted in the case.
The Jakarta High Court overturned the convictions of Mr. Bantleman and Mr. Tjiong in 2015 and ordered them released. But six months later, the Supreme Court reinstated their convictions and added another year to their sentences.
The school community rallied behind Mr. Bantleman and Mr. Tjiong, and the United States ambassador at the time, Robert O. Blake, was an outspoken advocate on their behalf.
Rully P. Iskandar, a spokesman for the Jakarta Intercultural School, said the school was pleased with Mr. Bantleman's release and would continue to support Mr. Tjiong, the janitors and their families.
The school, which the United States helped establish, attracts students from over 60 countries, including the children of wealthy Indonesians, foreign business executives and diplomats.
In his statement, Mr. Bantleman gave thanks to the Canadian government for helping to secure his release, and to his wife, Tracy, who defended him relentlessly throughout his ordeal.
“Thank you to our family and friends around the world and to all our colleagues in the international school community who have held us up and kept us strong and true to our values throughout this entire ordeal,” he said. “Tracy and I are very happy to be home and reunited with our family.
Child sexual abuse
by KISHWAR ENAM
ALL over the world, child sexual abuse is an offence. If a child is raped, a report is made to the state. The latter ensures not only that the child receives physical and mental treatment, but also that the environment he/she is returning to is safe. The perpetrator, more often than not, receives appropriate punishment.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in Pakistan even though it is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We are least interested in safeguarding the rights of our children, and child protection services are virtually non-existent here. That said, child protection legislation does exist in Pakistan. In fact, with some amendments to the Sindh Child Protection Act, 2011, and incorporation of the missing child alert system (which has been tabled in the National Assembly as a separate bill) Sindh can expect to have a reasonable child protection system.
Sindh has the laws but not the will to protect its children.
The problem is the will, or lack thereof, to implement this law. The Sindh Child Protection Authority and the Sindh Child Protection Commission lie dormant. According to the Sindh Social Welfare Department, each of Sindh's 29 districts has a Child Protection Unit. The reality is that these units are nonfunctional. A child protection officer is supposed to be the point of liaison between the departments of child protection, police and the law. However, here there is no coordination between these departments; each department handles cases of child abuse independently. Ideally, a child protection officer, a police officer and a magistrate should be sitting at the Child Protection Unit so that every case is solved efficiently. The biggest deficiency is the lack of government shelters in Sindh; without these no child protection service can survive.
In 2011, the health ministry passed an order for all government hospitals to set up child protection committees. The purpose other than prevention and identification of child abuse was to have better coordination with the government. However, this was only partially implemented for a short period. This order should be reinforced not only in public but also private hospitals. Child protection committees should be established in schools, madressahs and orphanages. This would strengthen the partnership between the child protection units and institutions which deal with children.
According to recent data from the NGO Sahil, more than 10 children are abused every day in Pakistan. This is based on data collected from reported cases in newspapers and online, as well as cases received at their offices. However, as is the situation with other reported crimes, this is grossly underestimated. Most child abuse cases that come to hospitals go unreported because parents are unwilling to register an FIR. Until and unless a law is passed which makes it mandatory for doctors, teachers and other professionals who take care of children to report cases of suspected child abuse, we will not be able to obtain accurate data. A large number of children are not even brought to a medical facility out of fear of stigmatisation. In addition, there are pockets in the country where child sexual abuse occurs in plain sight, yet the bystanders prefer to keep silent.
The dismal state of affairs leads us to question the direction of our country. The only solution is to keep pushing the government to pay attention to the future of Pakistan. Presently, however, to curb this unfortunate condition we must take preventative measures. As a paediatrician, I urge parents to take this responsibility and be on guard for the sake of their children and others.
Some important advice for parents is: talk to your child about sexual abuse. If you are not sure about how to go about this, take help from your paediatrician/ doctor. Teach your child which parts of the body are private. Let them know their body belongs to them and to yell “NO” if someone threatens them sexually.
Make sure you know the adults and children your child spends time with. Most important to note is that in eight out of 10 reported cases of child abuse, the offender is someone the child knows. It could be someone as close as the father, sibling, grandparent, uncle or cousin of the child. Never leave small children alone with domestic staff. If, all of a sudden, your child does not want to see or greet an individual do not force them to do so and try to figure out the reason by communicating with the child. Never send children alone to the market and other public places.
And lastly, listen to your child when he/ she is trying to tell you about an incident. Do not silence them by telling them to keep it a secret. Instead, let them know you trust them and will support them fully.
As parents and guardians, it is our responsibility to ensure that no one is allowed the opportunity to compromise the safety of our children, and to raise our voice against the inaction of the government.
Aid worker jailed in Nepal for child sexual abuse
A Canadian national sentenced to nine years in jail a month after he was convicted of sexually abusing children.
by Liz Gooch & Mellissa Fung
A high-profile Canadian aid worker has been sentenced to nine years and seven years in jail in Nepal, to be served concurrently, after being found guilty of sexually abusing two boys.
A court in the central Nepal district of Kavre on Monday also ordered Peter Dalglish to pay a fine of $9,112, more than a year after his arrest and a month after his conviction.
"The verdict sends an important message to humanitarian predators everywhere - if you prey on vulnerable children in Nepal, the Central Investigation Bureau will investigate and the courts will prosecute," said Lori Handrahan, a humanitarian expert who has written about the sector's failings.
"The criminal verdict opens a path for Dalglish's victims to sue for civil damages so that they may enjoy restorative justice and heal from the crimes committed against them," she told Al Jazeera.
The sentencing comes amid fears that Nepal has become a target for foreign paedophiles acting under the cover of aid work or philanthropy.
Nepalese police said the sentence imposed on Dalglish, the subject of an investigation by Al Jazeera's 101 East programme, was a landmark decision.
"It helps spread the message to the world that Nepal is not safe for paedophiles," said Kabit Katawal, deputy superintendent of the Nepal police.
Local community shocked
Dalglish, who spent almost 20 years working with some of the world's poorest children in Africa, Afghanistan and Asia, plans to appeal the guilty verdict, his lawyer said.
Over the course of his career, the Canadian was employed by major aid organisations like the United Nations, set up his own charity, Street Kids International, and won prestigious awards for his work.
But Dalglish's career was brought to an abrupt halt in April last year, when police burst into the home he built in the foothills of the Himalayas, about two hours' drive from the capital, Kathmandu. Police found two boys aged 12 and 14 inside and took Dalglish into custody.
In an interview last October with Al Jazeera's 101 East at a prison outside of Kathmandu, Dalglish insisted he was an innocent man caught up in a police crackdown.
"I will win my freedom," he said. "I love this country. I will continue to fight to protect kids. Girls as well as boys. I'm not a paedophile. And I've never abused or touched any child inappropriately."
When Al Jazeera travelled to the village near Dalglish's home, local elder, Bikram Tamang, said his arrest had shocked the local community.
'A wake-up call'
International aid organisations have come under fire in recent years for their handling of sexual abuse cases.
Handrahan, the humanitarian expert, believes Dalglish's case should be a wake-up call, but she fears it's largely been ignored.
"Right now, the international aid sector is refusing to look at Dalglish's arrest or any of the many warning signs, reports and allegations that child sex abuse is rampant in our profession," she said.
"Whistleblowers are silenced and forced out. Cover-up, deny, protect the predator remain the norm."
Handrahan said the aid community needed to be more aware of how predators operate, groom and access victims through working in humanitarian jobs, and conduct comprehensive background checks, liaise with law enforcement and monitor their staff's use of electronic networks.
Allegations about aid workers abusing children and women have also emerged from countries such as Haiti, where Oxfam staff were accused of paying earthquake survivors for sex.
A report released in July last year by British members of parliament found that the aid sector has been aware of sexual exploitation and abuse by its own personnel for years, but that it has failed to adequately address the problem.
Paedophiles to be chemically castrated in sweeping new laws on child abuse in Ukraine
Paedophiles will be chemically castrated in new laws to reduce libido
UKRAINE has introduced sweeping new laws to forcibly castrate convicted paedophiles by chemical injection. The legislation will potentially apply annually to thousands of men aged between 18 and 65 found guilty of raping or sexually abusing minors.
by WILL STEWART
Paedophiles will face “coercive chemical castration” under the the new system. This “involves the forced injection of anti-androgen drugs consisting of chemicals that should reduce libido and sexual activity”, reported Ukrinform news agency. The law will apply to all child rapes including “unnatural” rape and sexual abuse of children above and below the age of puberty
In 2017 official figures showed 320 child rapes in Ukraine but the numbers of paedophile sex abuse cases are believed to run into the thousands.
National police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said this week: “Five children were raped in four regions of Ukraine…. within just 24 hours.
“And these are the crimes which parents reported to police despite their fear and anxiety to do so.
“We can only guess how many latent sexual crimes against children we have in the country.”
In one horrific recent case, 11 year old Daria Lukyanenko, from Odessa region, was killed after she “fought back” against an alleged rape attempt by a family friend Nikolay Tarasov, 22.
Her body was found after a six day search in a village cesspool.
The man was detained for attempted rape and murder.
Hundreds attended her funeral and the suspect's mother Maria publicly “disowned” her son.
Earlier armed police intervened after his family home was besieged by angry locals.
Under the new laws, Ukraine is also to set up a public register of paedophiles jailed for child rape and sexual abuse of minors.
Such criminals will be monitored for life by police after release from jail.
In another move, the maximum jail term for raping a child was increased from 12 to 15 years.
The toughening of the law on sex crimes involving children was passed at a special session of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament.
Radical Party leader Oleg Lyashko who proposed the castration move said: “Ukrainian law does not have a life term or death penalty for sex crimes against children.
“And it is very unlikely that the rapist would not be back to his ‘business' again after release from jail.”
Trial of B.C. man accused of murdering daughters hears troubling past child abuse allegations
by Sean Boynton and Rumina Daya Global News
The Vancouver Island Man accused of allegedly murdering his two daughters in 2017 fought for years against a series of allegations of child abuse levied by his then-partner, the jury at his murder trial heard Friday.
Those allegations — which were all deemed to be unfounded after multiple investigations — prevented Andrew Berry from seeing his daughters without supervision, making him frustrated, a social worker testified.
Berry has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey Berry, whose bodies were found on Christmas Day 2017 in his Oak Bay apartment.
Luc Van Hanuse, a child protection social worker for the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), confirmed a list of allegations were made against Berry dating back to 2013.
The prosecution laid out the series of alleged events that brought social workers to the home of Berry and his then-partner Sarah Cotton over concerns about the girls' well-being.
Van Hanuse agreed that each of those visits and subsequent investigations took place, and that the various allegations were made.
Van Hanuse confirmed the ministry was first called by Cotton to the home in September 2013.
Berry was arrested and later released on conditions not to be at the home or have any contact with Cotton.
Ultimately, no charges were ever filed, and the allegations were determined to be unfounded.
Two years later, in October 2015, Van Hanuse confirmed Cotton called the ministry again. This time, she alleged “possible inappropriate touching” of Aubrey by Berry
Van Hanuse testified he advised Berry of the allegations, which were again deemed unfounded after an investigation by the ministry and Oak Bay police.
During the investigation, Berry was only allowed supervised contact with both of his daughters.
A month later, in November 2015, a physician's office reported the same allegation of possible inappropriate touching that also involved Aubrey, Van Hanuse confirmed to the jury.
Once again, the ministry said the allegations were unfounded.
In January 2016, Victoria General Hospital contacted the ministry about a bruise on Aubrey's head from an indoor playground while she was under Berry's supervision.
Berry was once again prohibited from having contact with his children unless supervised while the ministry investigated the incident, which happened while the second allegation of inappropriate touching was also being investigated.
Van Hanuse confirmed the prosecution's statement that Berry expressed “disbelief” and “frustration” over the allegations.
“Just to be clear, with respect to the allegations of possible inappropriate touching, MCFD did not believe that inappropriate touching took place?” Crown lawyer Patrick Weir asked.
“Correct,” Van Hanuse said.
In May 2017, a judge awarded Berry 40 per cent custody of Aubrey and Chloe. Seven months later, the girls were found dead.
During her three days of testimony earlier this week, Cotton agreed with the defence's argument that things were “better” in the days leading up to the girls' deaths than they had been in the past.
Crown's theory is that Berry's world was unraveling due to a problem with online sports betting. He was depressed over his inability to pay rent and hydro, which threatened his ability to keep custody of his kids.
Prosecutors have argued Berry, who the court heard was in his bathtub with self-inflicted wounds when the girls were found by police, had tried to commit suicide after killing the girls.
Defence has argued Berry didn't commit the murders and the real killer got away, who they say was allowed to escape after police zeroed in on Berry as the prime suspect.
The trial is expected to continue into August.
Children's Trafficking and Exploitation is a Persistent, Dreary Phenomenon
Children's trafficking and exploitation is a widespread phenomenon that is causing enormous suffering throughout the world. It can take several forms such as forced labor, sexual exploitation and child begging, among other practices
by César Chelala
Child trafficking and exploitation are again in the news after the Wall Street trader Jeffrey Epstein was charged on July 8 with sex trafficking crimes involving dozens of minors. Among the latest accusation is one by Jennifer Araoz, 32, who said that Epstein raped her when she was 15, and she had been working at his home giving him massages. After the incident, Araoz became profoundly depressed, had anxiety and panic attacks, and had to drop out of school shortly afterward. Her case is just one of the many cases being investigated against the New York financial adviser.
Children's trafficking and exploitation is a widespread phenomenon that is causing enormous suffering throughout the world. It can take several forms such as forced labor, sexual exploitation and child begging, among other practices. It is estimated that 4 million women and girls worldwide are bought and sold each year either into marriage, prostitution or slavery. Over one million children enter the sex trade every year. Although most are girls, boys are also victims.
The extent of the problem
A report presented to the European Parliament showed that in Egypt criminal gangs kidnap African migrants and subject them to the worst kind of abuses, and reclaim steep ransoms from their families. It is estimated that between 25,000 to 30,000 people were trafficked in the Sinai Peninsula between 2009 and 2013.
In the United States, as many as 50,000 women and children from Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe are brought to the country and forced to work as servants or prostitutes. The US government has prosecuted cases involving hundreds of victims. In other countries where this problem is frequent, the prosecution rate is lower.
Child sex tourism is an aspect of this worldwide phenomenon, and it is concentrated in Asia and Central and South America. According to UNICEF, 10,000 girls annually enter Thailand from neighboring countries and end up as sex workers. Thailand's Health System Research Institute reports that children make up 40% of those working in prostitution in Thailand. And between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepali girls are transported across the border to India each year and end up in commercial sex work in Mumbai or New Delhi.
Commercial sexual exploitation
Although the greatest number of children forced to work as prostitutes is in Asia, Eastern European children from countries such as Russia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic, are increasingly unwilling victims.
As a social and pathological phenomenon, prostitution involving children does not show signs of abating. In many cases, not only individual traffickers but also organized groups kidnap children and sell them into prostitution, with border officials and police frequently serving as accomplices.
Because of their often undocumented status, language deficiencies and lack of legal protection, kidnapped children are particularly vulnerable in the hands of smugglers or corrupt and heartless government officials. "Trafficking is a very real threat to millions of children around the world, especially to those who have been driven from their homes and communities without adequate protection," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children is a growing problem worldwide. The reasons include increased trade across borders, poverty, unemployment, low status of girls, lack of education (including sex education) of children and their parents, inadequate legislation, poor law enforcement and the eroticization of children by the media, a phenomenon increasingly seen in industrialized countries.
Consequences of sexual exploitation of children
Social and cultural reasons force children into entering the sex trade in different regions of the world. In many cases, children from industrialized countries enter the sex trade because they are fleeing abusive homes. In countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, children who became orphans as a result of AIDS frequently lack the protection of caregivers and become, therefore, more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.
In South Asia, traditional practices that perpetuate the low status of women and girls in society fuel this problem. Children exploited sexually are prone to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. In addition, because of the conditions in which they live, children can become malnourished, and develop feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and depression.
Besides the moral and ethical implications, the impact that sexual exploitation has on children's health and future development demand urgent attention. Throughout the world, many individuals and nongovernmental organizations are working intensely for the protection of children's rights. Many times, their work puts them in conflict with governments and powerful interest groups.
Policies to protect children
There is general agreement that a victim-centered human rights approach is the best possible strategy to address this problem. Its focus should be punishing the exploiter and protecting and rehabilitating the child.
UNICEF has been particularly active in calling attention to children's exploitation and in addressing its root causes. This organization provides economic support to families so that their children will not be at risk of sexual exploitation; it improves access to education, particularly for girls, and is a strong advocate for children's rights.
The work of nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies should be complemented by governments' actions. Those actions should include preventing sexual exploitation through social mobilization and awareness building, providing social services to exploited children and their families, and creating the legal framework and resources for psychosocial counseling and for the appropriate prosecution of perpetrators. The elimination of children's exploitation is a daunting task, but one that is achievable if effective policies and programs are put in place.
Winnipeg organization using international help to crack down on child sexual abuse online
by Sam Thompso
A project trying to pull images of child porn off the internet is dealing with a backlog of suspected cases.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection said its Project Arachnid sends reports to online content providers when it finds images of child sexual abuse, and that the volume of reports is very troubling – its automated platform detects 10,824 new images of child sexual abuse online every 12 hours.
Lloyd Richardson, IT director for the centre, told Global News the project has flagged 10 million images since its inception, and is getting international help to deal with the volume of reports.
“We've actually signed on a few other countries to assist us with this classification process,” he said.
“We have seven countries around the world that all assist us here in little Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to work with this backlog. We're quite proud of the way this is developing.”
Richardson said the goal of Project Arachnid is not necessarily to put offenders in jail, but instead to prevent re-victimization of children whose images are being shared online.
The centre said the trouble is that the industry isn't always quick to respond when abusive images are flagged, so there's still work to be done.
“Current practices to tackle the removal of child sexual abuse images are not working,” said Lianna McDonald, the centre's executive director.
“More needs to be done by industry to detect and expeditiously remove child sexual abuse images. The overwhelming pace at which technology has progressed, along with the enormity of this problem, has resulted in a failure to properly safeguard children on the Internet.
BEHIND THE WALLS: Sexual abuse in American men's gymnastics
Scott M. Reid
When Chris Reigel was 14, and already the boy wonder of American gymnastics, his home town of Reading, Pennsylvania, had co-marshals for its 1979 Christmas parade. Riegel shared the honor with Pittsburgh Pirates star, National League and World Series MVP, Willie Stargell.
To the parade's organizers the pairing was a natural: the slugger who had just won the World Series and the kid destined to conquer the world.
At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds Stargell was more than a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than Riegel and seemed even larger that day dressed in a cowboy hat and a full-length fur coat. Riegel, already used to the national spotlight, did not shrink in Stargell's presence.
“What I hear about you is incredible,” Stargell said as the parade was about to start, Riegel recalled.
“Willie, what you haven't heard about me is even more incredible,” Riegel said.
“And he said ‘Say, what?' and I just said ‘Never mind,'” Riegel continued.
“Even there I was already commentating verbally in a vague way of the ridiculousness of my life.”
Riegel was arguably the best teenage male gymnast in the world, the kid from Reading's blue collar Southside neighborhood seemingly headed to Olympic glory if not in Moscow in 1980, then certainly in Los Angeles four years later.
He was also being routinely sexually abused, Riegel alleges, by the very man who was trying to make him an Olympic champion — Larry Moyer, his coach.
Moyer began exposing himself and masturbating in front of Riegel when the gymnast was just 8 years old and then masturbated and performed oral sex on him between the ages of 11 and 16, Riegel alleges in a series of exclusive interviews with the Southern California News Group and according to U.S. Center for Safe Sport and USA Gymnastics documents obtained by SCNG.
Coaches and officials with USA Gymnastics, then known as the U.S. Gymnastics Federation, and U.S. Olympic Committee staff were aware of Moyer's sexual abuse, Riegel alleges, but took no steps to stop it or report Moyer, a U.S. national team coach, to law enforcement during Riegel's career.
“I was sexually abused by my personal coach from 1973 to 1981, and due to the absolute failures of the USGF (USAG) and USOC, it wiped away my youth, cut short my career, and left me with wounds that never heal,” Riegel wrote in a letter to USA Gymnastics and SafeSport last October.
Neither location nor occasion deterred Moyer's abuse, said Riegel, speaking publicly on the record for the first time about his alleged abuse. The abuse took place at Moyer's apartment, Riegel alleges, at local hotels and racquet clubs, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, the U.S. Military and U.S. Air Force academies, the night before Riegel, at 12, was launched onto the global stage at Madison Square Garden, at U.S. championships, and while competing for the U.S. national team at international competitions in foreign countries.
“It was never ending,” Riegel said.
“He'd lay there and masturbate in front of me,” Riegel continued. “And I'm 14 years old in a hotel room and I'm right there. ‘I'm standing right here what are you doing?' And he'd say ‘oh, you know you want it, come on.' And the next day I'm out on the podium competing with ‘USA' on my chest.”
At 15½, Riegel began building walls to keep Moyer away from him.
Even on Team USA trips, Moyer made sure he roomed with Riegel, the former gymnast said. To prevent Moyer abusing him in the middle of the night, Riegel started sleeping between the hotel or dorm room wall and a protective barrier of overturned glass coffee tables, couches, recliners, dressers, and suitcases. A row of drinking glasses filled with water placed atop the wall served as a warning system.
“My thought was there's no way he can be successful with me in the middle of the night while I'm sleeping,” Riegel recalled. “Water spilled on me in middle of night. I woke up. ‘Get the (expletive) off me.' And I did that every night during that trip and he never got to me again. And that was my fortress of glass.”
The problem is that Moyer wasn't the only one kept out by the barriers Riegel built. Old friends, teammates, family members, wives, none of them were allowed to get close to him. The fortress became a prison of his own design.
“He always has this guard up,” his mother Mary Riegel said.
Nearly 40 years after his account of stacking furniture and luggage between himself and Moyer, Riegel still lives his life behind the walls he has erected, a sort of self-imposed solitary confinement; a man alone with his ghosts.
In recent months Riegel began alluding to his abuse in poems, posting them on his Facebook page like coded messages snuck through the cracks of his prison wall.
Thru hanging beads, sight couch to bed
You hoped I would enjoy
My emotions learning to play dead
Knew not how you'd destroy
Viewing things not seen before
Nor understanding why
The man who built me since age 4
Brings me to his home to die
Riegel is going public now out of frustration over the way USA Gymnastics handled his case both when he was a teenager and since he filed a complaint with the sport's national governing body last fall.
“I have never sought restitution, heads to roll or explanations,” Riegel wrote USA Gymnastics and U.S. Center for SafeSport. “I seek no lives to be ruined. All the ruined lives in the world will not give me mine back.”
Moyer was forced out of the sport in 1993 by Mike Jacki, president of what was then called the U.S. Gymnastics Federation. Jacki confirmed the move, but the expulsion was not an official act and was never formally announced or made public, and Moyer is not listed on USA Gymnastics or the U.S. Center for SafeSport's banned lists, something Riegel wants to change.
Moyer “could still go and coach anywhere,” said Jessica O'Beirne, founder of the influential podcast GymCastic, who has chronicled sexual abuse in the sport for more than a decade.
Riegel, an eight-time U.S. national team member and three-time U.S. champion, has not heard from USA Gymnastics since filing a complaint with the organization on Oct. 2. SafeSport is investigating Riegel's allegations, according to emails obtained by SCNG.
USA Gymnastics, Riegel said, “still act like I don't exist.”
USA Gymnastics confirmed it received a complaint from Riegel last October.
“At that time, USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Department promptly forwarded the letter to the appropriate legal authorities and the U.S. Center for SafeSport,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “The matter remains with the Center.”
Abuse of boys in gymnastics: A ‘huge issue'
Riegel also hopes that by coming forward his story will start a conversation about the sexual abuse of young male gymnasts by their male coaches. He has been repeatedly encouraged to share his story over the past two years by members of what he describes as the growing #boystoo movement within gymnastics.
“Boys being homosexually abused by their gymnastics coaches is an issue that has been rampant for many, many years and, as far as we're concerned, it does not get the ‘press' it needs to and should,” Riegel wrote to USA Gymnastics last October. “It has been the Silent Cancer for decades. That will change, soon.”
The sexual abuse of boys by their coaches and the reluctance to discuss that abuse, O'Beirne said, “is a huge issue” in American gymnastics.
“And the reason we don't know about it is because in a lot of ways there's an extra layer of social shame against men who come forward and that makes it difficult,” O'Beirne said.
Riegel's going public has the potential to remove some of that stigma, O'Beirne said.
“It's amazing that he's coming forward,” she said. “I think a lot of victims are going to be empowered by this and once one victim comes forward the flood gates usually open.”
Riegel was not Moyer's only victim, Riegel and Joe Accordino, a former teammate, allege in interviews. Riegel listed three potential victims in an email to SafeSport. The three alleged victims mentioned in the email did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Accordino said in an interview that a former gymnast from Reading told him Moyer masturbated and performed oral sex on him when he was in his teens. The man died in 1999, according to government records.
Accordino, winner of five gold medals at the 1980 U.S. Junior Olympic Championships, alleges when he was 12 Moyer began rubbing his back while was sleeping in a Philadelphia hotel room during a competition.
“I was freaking out,” said Accordino, who added that he spent the rest of the night in another room.
Accordino is cooperating with the SafeSport investigation.
Riegel also wants to change a culture within American gymnastics that both enabled the sexual abuse of young gymnasts and covered it up. A culture that was already deeply rooted within U.S. gymnastics, former Olympians and U.S. national team members said, decades before anyone had heard of Larry Nassar.
Those with Eyes Chose Not to See
Opting Rather to Ignore
The Bell of Truth now Tolls for Thee
A 2018 USOC commission investigation by Ropes & Gray, a national law firm found that USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny “kept the vast majority of USAG personnel in the dark about” U.S. Olympic and women's national team physician Larry Nassar's alleged sexual abuse and that USA Gymnastics “also failed to implement any systematic child-protective measures to ensure that Nassar would be stopped from further abusing athletes while under investigation for serial sexual abuse.”
Four decades earlier, many people in the sport, Riegel said, ignored the pleas for help from a young gymnast who said he was being abused by another Larry.
Riegel said he reached out to U.S. national team coaches, USOC staff at the Olympic Training Center, competition judges, officials and coaches at other clubs about Moyer. No one would help him, he said. He even wrote a letter detailing his abuse to Bud Wilkinson, the three-time national championship winning Oklahoma football coach who was named USGF president in 1981. Wilkinson did not respond to him, Riegel said. Wilkinson died in 1994.
“Stop acting like this is all new,” Riegel said. “This stuff. It goes way beyond these current young ladies. It goes way beyond Larry Nassar. It goes beyond girls, it's boys too and it goes way the hell past 10 years ago. It goes back as far as the mid-70s at least with me. I'm sure there's some who can say it happened to them in the 50s.
“It's been going on since at the least mid-70s and they have been covering it up.”
Coaches and officials, however, weren't the only ones who ignored Moyer's abuse, Riegel said. Riegel confirmed Moyer's misconduct to his parents when he was 14 after his father confronted him following a U.S. Gymnastics Federation trip to France. Moyer accompanied Riegel on the trip. Although Larry Riegel, Chris' father, threatened to kill Moyer, neither of Riegel's parents confronted Moyer or reported him to law enforcement or the U.S. Gymnastics Federation, Riegel and other family members said.
“It was almost like, ‘How can this be true?'” Mary Riegel recalled thinking. “'I only heard it one time so I guess it's over with, maybe it's not that bad.'”
Moyer recently turned 77. He lives in a red brick row house on a quiet tree-lined street next to a cemetery in Allentown, 35 miles from Reading.
“I don't want Moyer in jail,” Riegel said. “He's an old man. He's on death's door. He'll meet his maker.”
In a recent telephone call, a SCNG reporter told Moyer that Riegel alleged that he had been sexually abused by him as a boy.
“Oh, my God,” Moyer said before pausing for several seconds.
“I have no comment, sir,” he continued.
Did he sexually abuse Riegel, Moyer was asked.
“I have no comment,” he responded.
There was again silence for several seconds.
Was he denying he had sexually abused Riegel, he was asked again.
“Yes,” Moyer said, hanging up.
Riegel is now 54 and lives in suburban Chicago. He works as a national sales representative for a gymnastics equipment company and spends much of his time in gyms around the country.
He dismisses the concerns some friends and family members have about the impact coming forward could have on his career or his mental health.
“I don't view this as courage now,” he said. “I'll tell you when you need courage. You need the courage to sustain some sort of progress (in gymnastics) and success in your career. That's what takes courage. It takes courage not to kill yourself when you're so low. I think now I'm just talking about the courage that that boy had. I mean what can they take from me now? What can happen to me? What am I risking? Nothing.
“I don't want to say my life ended as a teenager, but just knowing that boy's story, this is nowhere near the courage that that boy had.”
The future of men's gymnastics
There was already a buzz within American gymnastics about Riegel when the 12-year-old stepped into the spotlight of Madison Square Garden for the American Cup in March 1977. As he entered the arena beside Japan's Mitsuo Tsukahara, a five-time Olympic champion, and Kurt Thomas, a year away from becoming the first U.S. male to win a World gymnastics title, young girls waved “I'VE FLIPPED FOR CHRIS RIEGEL” bumper stickers and wore over-sized political style buttons with his photo.
“Chris Riegel was the future of men's gymnastics,” said Chris Sey, a former U.S. junior national team member. “No question about it.”
Riegel lived up to the advance billing, competing as an “exhibition” athlete next to world class gymnasts in all six events over two days that would confirm his rock star status.
Riegel's recounting of that weekend followed a pattern that emerged in his recollections throughout multiple interviews: his voice at first was full of confidence, picking speed and volume like he's racing down the vault runway pedal to the metal, and then there's a silence, and a sigh. His speech resumes but is staggered with a ring of caution as if he's hitting the breaks after suddenly rushing up on a blind corner he forgot about. He continues speaking with the hesitation of a man still clearly haunted, his voice growing ever quieter; whispers in the darkness.
“I was sexually brutalized on the night before this event in the New York Hilton, the host hotel,” he said. “Debased at night. The USGF's boy star the next day. Contradiction and hypocrisy in their purest definitions.”
The circumstances in New York would be repeated over and over again throughout Moyer's abuse, Riegel said. In Reading and Colorado. At West Point. In France. Riegel said he would try to fight off Moyer's alleged assault and then afterward threaten to expose Moyer and his abuse.
Moyer, however, was always dismissive of the threats, Riegel said, responding instead with the arrogance of a man who viewed himself as the sole keeper of his pupil's dream.
Riegel's own drive to become an Olympian, to get out of Reading, his own infatuation with his growing fame, the screaming girls, the autograph seekers, his fear of how he would be viewed in the often homophobic circles of his working class neighborhood, were all hammers Moyer wielded over him to pound down any threats of going to the police, to his parents, anyone.
Moyer, Riegel said, believed — as did Riegel — that he controlled the direction his star's life would take:
To the Olympic Games.
Or back to Southside.
“And he'd say,” Riegel recalled “‘And what will happen then if I don't coach you? You'll be nothing, you'll be nothing! Nothing! You're going to be in the steel mill, the factory like your dad, and his dad and his dad.'”
Larry Riegel, Chris' father, worked the day shift on the line at Carpenter Technology, one of the largest steel plants in the country.
“He used to come home with bloody knuckles,” Chris Riegel said. “Wore the hard hat.”
After work Larry Riegel and his friends would stop off at the bar at the Slovak Catholic Sokal, a social club and fraternal organization, two blocks from the Riegel home in Southside.
“My dad's watering hole,” Riegel said.
The Sokal was more than just a bar. The building opened as the Laurel Motion Theatre in 1914, one of Reading's first movie houses. Later it was renamed the Palm and then the Rivoli before closing during the Depression. It reopened as the Slovak Catholic Sokal in 1932 and became the heart of the neighborhood. Wedding receptions, parties, wakes, activities for the local kids were held there.
“Everyone in my parents' social circle were part of this same fabric that started at the Slovak Catholic Sokal,” Riegel said.
When Riegel was 4 his parents enrolled him in tumbling lessons at the Sokal, 25 cents a class.
“While Dad's in the bar with his buddies, I'm in next room where all the accordion type mats were lined up end to end and it began with those tumbling lessons for a quarter,” Riegel said. “And basically I'm being babysat for an hour and then we'd walk home with my dad.”
The tumbling classes were taught by Moyer, a former swimmer at East Stroudsburg University in eastern Pennsylvania.
“Moyer was never a gymnast,” Riegel said. “He developed his gymnastics knowledge as a student of it and many times we were his test pilots for technique, technical ideas and we'd crash and burn.”
Riegel, however, mainly soared.
“He just went in and just was winning everything,” Mary Riegel said.
The U.S. Naval Academy began recruiting Riegel when he was 10. By 11, he had won 13 U.S. Junior Olympic titles and was featured in Sports Illustrated. By the time he was 12 powerhouse college programs had joined the pursuit of the 4-foot-11, 91 pound superstar. Coaches from Oklahoma and Penn State traveled to Reading to watch Riegel train at Gymnastrum, a club Moyer opened. Five-time U.S. Olympic team coach Abie Grossfeld at Southern Connecticut State was also interested.
“He had talent to be as good as anybody, to be honest,” said Kathy Johnson-Clarke, an Olympic medalist.
There was a Chris Riegel fan club based in Philadelphia. Fans who filled out the postcard application and sent a $5 check fans received a “membership card, personalized 8×10 photograph and newsletter on Chris's upcoming events.”
“All the girls just went gaga over him,” Johnson-Clarke said.
Riegel, then 13, arrived in July 1978 at the inaugural National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs billed in the local newspaper as the “U.S.'s Great Mite Hope.” Riegel, the paper wrote, was America's best bet to succeed Nadia Comaneci, the perfect 10.0 producing golden girl of the 1976 Olympic Games, “as the darling of international gymnastics — if not in 1980 at Moscow, then the Olympiad four years later.”
NBC, the network of the 1980 Olympics, already had plans to televise Riegel competing at the U.S. Junior Olympic championships later that summer.
“NBC wants to build him up into a boy star,” Moyer told reporters in Colorado Springs. “They want to find a counterpart to Nadia Comaneci for the boys.
“He's a very bright little boy and a very cute little boy with everything they want — blue eyes and blond hair. He has a lot of stage appeal.”
Riegel, still two years from being allowed to compete internationally by the U.S. Gymnastics Federation, won the floor exercise against U.S. men's national team members at the Sports Festival.
“I was sexually abused on at least three different nights there, in my dorm room at the U.S. Air Force Academy, by my coach,” Riegel wrote in a complaint filed with the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
Tens did come, along with fame.
Yet with them came no joy
There are only losers in this game
And, worst all….that boy
Years of abuse by his coach
After years of grooming him, Riegel said Moyer, more than a foot taller and 130 pounds heavier than his young star, began performing oral sex on him on trips when he was 11.
“It was always middle of the night, in the dark,” Riegel said. “I'd wake up with him tugging on me with his hand or with his mouth down on me. And I'd wake up and scream and push his head away.”
Back in Reading, Moyer sexually harassed him on an almost daily basis, Riegel alleged.
With just one car and a busy schedule, Riegel's parents welcomed Moyer's regular offers to drive Chris to the gym.
“He used to call and say, ‘Oh, I'll pick Chrissy up and take him to the gym for you,'” Riegel said. “My parents thought that was fantastic, ‘Oh, thank you.' I knew what was going to happen. And we would go to his one bedroom apartment in the city and that is the subject of that one poem, ‘Thru Hanging Beads.' And he would make me something to eat, he'd go into his bedroom, he'd put on a video on one of those old projector reels and I could see it out of the corner of my eye, a homosexual video and he'd lay in there and pleasure himself with me at 11, 12, 13, right there in the room on the couch which was in plain sight of his bed.
“He used to say, ‘Do you want to help?' Which I never did. He'd finish, he'd clean the dishes and we'd go to the gym and the team would be there waiting for practice to start.”
Jan Riegel, Chris' younger brother, recalled seeing Moyer openly masturbate while the brothers stayed with Moyer on a trip to the Pocono mountains.
“I had to ask Chris what is he doing?” Jan said, “because I was 7 or 8 years old.”
Jan Riegel said he was not abused by Moyer.
Moyer also made sexual advances toward Chris Riegel on trips to swim at the Sheraton hotel in Reading or after workouts at local racquet clubs, Riegel alleges.
“Eventually we'd go to the room and he'd get a shower,” Riegel said. “Then he'd tell me to get in shower. I'd lock the door and that would make him mad because he couldn't get in and I'd come out and he'd be there on the bed masturbating. And then he'd be done, we'd get dressed and from there we'd go to the gym and the boys were there waiting for team practice.”
In the public showers at the racquet clubs, Riegel said he took to showering while wearing a Speedo swimsuit to protect himself against Moyer's advances.
“And he'd shake his head and say, ‘You're such a child,'” Riegel said. “It angers me now because I was a child.”
The advances, however, continued.
“We would be unpacking at another USA meet and I'd say don't get any ideas tonight and he'd say, ‘Oh, yeah, you would like me to, wouldn't you?'” Riegel said. “And I would say ‘I don't know what you're talking about but don't touch me.'
And the older I got, 14,15, disgustingly, I realized it became more of a romantic thing for him. I was more like his partner. And I would bicker and fight with him and sit there with my arms folded like an angry wife at the dinner table and I would refuse to talk to him.”
Yet even as Riegel rejected his advances, Moyer remained confident he still controlled the relationship, regularly taunting Riegel.
“He would say all the time, ‘Chrissy, you never going to tell anyone,'” Riegel said.
And then, Riegel said, Moyer arrogantly would count off the reasons why.
“He'd say ‘Chrissy, you're not going to tell anybody and you know why you're not going to tell anybody? Because if you do I won't be able to coach you anymore,'” Riegel said.
“He'd hold that over me too, the gymnastics.”
Riegel wouldn't tell because if he did people in Southside would think he was gay, Moyer continued, Riegel said.
“This was a time when homophobia was rampant in America, especially where he grew up,” Chris Sey said. “And it was compounded by the AIDS crisis and you already had that fear of being accused of being gay because of the sport you were in. Moyer really preyed upon Chris' sense of masculinity.”
Mainly, Moyer boasted, Reading wouldn't believe him, Riegel said.
“He was a bigwig,” Riegel said. “You couldn't escape Larry. He was everywhere in the community.
“He'd say, ‘Who's going to believe you? No one's going to believe you!'”
“I could never win.”
Moyer worked for years as a teacher in the Reading school district. He also took in foster children.
The Reading School District and Berks County (Pa.) Children and Youth Services did not respond to SCNG inquiries asking whether they had received complaints against Moyer.
To the Riegel brothers, Jan said, he was “Uncle Larry.”
“There were times when he as all pedophiles do, they capitalize, they take advantage of certain family situations,” Chris Riegel said. “He was a hero to my family. He was the guru. He spent Christmases at our house and Christmas Eves.”
The Riegels weren't the only family in Southside in awe of Moyer.
“When he had awards banquet at the end of the season for the boys he made a big production of things,” Mary Riegel said. “Big baskets of flowers and women had to come in gowns and men in tuxedos. This man showed us a lot of style and class to us blue collar people. The trophies were taller than the kids. This man was just as I said, a Santa Claus, a king.
“He showed us class. I was never exposed to that kind of thing before and I know my husband wasn't.”
For many Southside parents like the Riegels, Moyer gave them something more valuable than presents. He gave them hope. Hope that under Moyer's guidance their sons would earn a college gymnastics scholarship instead of a spot working next to their fathers at the local steel mill or factory.
When Chris was 7½, Mary took a job on the line on the graveyard shift at Continental Fiber and Drum to pay for his gymnastics after Moyer moved out of the Slovak Catholic Sokal and opened his own gym, Gymnastrum, in a converted warehouse. During summers Larry Riegel painted the sides of the facility to reduce the monthly coaching fees. Lessons were no longer 25 cents a session.
The family's investment in Chris' gymnastics was another thing, Moyer held over him, Riegel said.
“You won't tell, Chrissy, because you know how much your parents love your being a little star,” Riegel recalled Moyer telling him several times.
“I realized the responsibility I had to not blow it because I would be the first one to go to college,” Riegel continued. “I was going to be the one that got out of this steel town. So I didn't say anything to anybody. It was just my daily nightmare.”
Even when the nightmare was exposed, his parents left it up to Riegel to deal with Moyer. Riegel was 14 when the U.S. Gymnastics Federation sent he and Moyer to train with French national team as part of a goodwill tour.
“It was like I was his boyfriend for a week,” Riegel said. “We played tennis at Roland-Garros. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. We went on a boat ride on Seine.”
Upon the pair's return to Reading, Larry Riegel discovered a Playgirl magazine, massage oils and a sex toy while unpacking his son's suitcase. “To be honest with you, I didn't know what it was,” Mary Riegel said. Chris Riegel believes Moyer placed the items in the suitcase to taunt him or stashed them in the luggage because of concerns about his own bags being checked at customs.
“I'm going to ask you this one time: Are you gay?” Riegel recalled his father confronting him. “I told them both what had been going on. My dad … was going to kill him. ‘I'm going to kill him! I'm going to kill him!' My mom cried. I told them, I convinced them not to do or say anything.
“I said I'm on the Olympic path, I have it handled now, I have it handled, I will handle it because I let them know there was nowhere else to go back then.”
Mary and Larry Riegel agreed to their son's request.
“My husband would say, well you have to have gymnastics that's your college, that's the only way you're going to get to college,” Mary Riegel said. “If you don't do gymnastics you're going to end up in the factory like us.
“And of course, Moyer would say to us, if he doesn't do gymnastics, he's not going to go anywhere, he's going to be a nobody, and Chris could be a somebody.
“I was a stage mother. I did a lot of just turning my back on everything. If I didn't talk about it and if I didn't think about it, it didn't exist.”
Shame, shame on ALL who Knew
And Left the Boy to Fight
By Himself, the Monster who,
Stalked Morning, Noon and Night
Searching for help, and getting none
Riegel was confronted with a similar attitude outside of Reading.
Riegel first started to ask for help at competitions and U.S. national team training camps when he was 11.
“I did ask for help, multiple times from other coaches on the U.S. Junior national staff,” he said. “Nobody wanted to talk about it.”
“Whenever I could steal moment with another U.S. coach, or a judge, or a USGF staff member, or a USOC staff member,” Riegel wrote in a complaint with SafeSport. “I'd tell them that I needed ‘help.'”
But no one would.
“Too many people went, ‘Oh, well, I had no idea, I didn't know '” Johnson-Clarke said. “But nobody looked either. There were plenty of signs.”
Riegel wrote USGF president Wilkinson, detailing Moyer's abuse.
“Handwritten,” Riegel said referring to the letter. “My parents didn't know what was going on. I never heard back. He knew who I was, I was always being sent on international trips. I knew him. But there was no response.”
Riegel recalled pulling a U.S. national team coach aside at the 1980 U.S. boys national championships in Berkeley. He was 15.
“I said you've got to help me, you don't know what he does to me at night and I was told, ‘Oh, Chris we don't talk about such things,'” Riegel said. “That was the last time I asked anybody. I realized by the time I was 16 that I was on my own with this.
“I had given up asking or telling anybody. Message taken. I got the hint for years. ‘You're on your own Chris.'”
So Riegel started building walls.
“My depression of four or five years began to morph into anger,” Riegel wrote to USA Gymnastics and SafeSport last October. “The shame NEVER leaves, though, I can confirm this. It stays inside you like a dormant volcano waiting to erupt. That night, after Berkeley nationals, in the hotel room (just he and I again, of course), I took action for the first time. No more asking others for help…I built my Fortress of Glass.”
In the middle of the night was awoken by water from the glasses he placed on top of the furniture spilling on him.
“He grabbed me by my waist, picked me up, and threw me onto the bed,” Riegel wrote in the account that was the same as he provided SCNG in interviews. “He tried to get into my Speedo. For the first time, I began wildly punching and kicking. My Speedo was ripped right off me. My foot connected with, as I learned in the morning's light, his eye. For the first time, since I was 8, he was not successful.
“He and I flew back from San Francisco to Pa. …in complete silence.”
Accordino said Riegel pulled him aside and gave him advice before Accordino traveled alone with Moyer to the U.S. Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska. Sleep with a Speedo on, Accordino recalled Riegel telling him, “and pull the (draw) strings as tight as you can.”
Back in Pennsylvania, Riegel took steps to put even further distance between himself and Moyer.
In the summer of 1981, Moyer shut down Gymnastrum and merged with Parkettes, a world renown club in Allentown, Pa., 35 miles from Reading.
Parkettes, directed by the by the husband and wife coaching team of Donna and Bill Strauss, has been both celebrated and criticized within the sport. The club produced Jennifer Sey, a seven-time Team USA member, Olympic medalist Kristen Maloney and another Olympian Hope Spivey.
But Parkettes has also long been the target of allegations of emotional abuse and bullying young athletes into competing injured. “Achieving The Perfect 10,” an August 2003 CNN documentary, and “Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams,” Jennifer Sey's 2008 book, exposed the Strauss' high pressure coaching methods (and how the methods were often endorsed by Parkette parents). The CNN documentary showed a 7-year-old gymnast training on a broken ankle with her parents' approval.
While Riegel trained at Parkettes he was no longer coached by Moyer, training instead on his own, a move virtually unheard of in world class gymnastics.
“I wouldn't let him near me nor speak to me,” Riegel said.
The move, however, was not well received by many in the sport who were increasingly viewing him as arrogant and cocky. Riegel remembers Jim Hartung, a two-time U.S. Olympic team member and later a teammate at Nebraska, telling him during warm-ups at a meet, “So, you're too good for your coach, huh?”
Riegel, Jennifer Sey recalled, “seemed aloof. People thought he thought he was better than everybody when he really he was just a kid trying to protect himself.”
“This was the beginning of what would develop into my reputation of being ‘high on myself,' ‘a spoiled brat,' ‘an enigma' ‘troubled,” and the one I despised the most ‘uncoachable,'” Riegel said. “The fact was, though, that I was nothing more than a damaged and angry boy who just happened to occupy a spot on the nation's biggest gymnastic stage.”
And Riegel was spending even more time in the national and international spotlight after leaving Moyer. That first year at Parkettes, 1981, Riegel was the only high school qualifier for the U.S. men's championships. Riegel, then just 16, earned a standing ovation at the meet after upsetting Mitch Gaylord to win the vault. Gaylord would go on to win four medals at the 1984 Olympic Games, including a silver in the vault, and become the first American male to post a perfect 10.0 score in Olympic competition.
A year later Riegel won the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival vault despite competing on a fractured left hip and then enrolled at Nebraska.
He won the vault as a Cornhusker freshman at the 1983 NCAA Championships, helping Nebraska win a fifth straight national team title. Riegel competed at NCAAs after receiving cortisone injections to numb the pain from a chronic wrist injury. Riegel also won the vault at 1983 U.S. Championships, posting the meet's only 10.0 score. He also finished fourth in the all-around competition, ahead of Tim Daggatt and Bart Conner. Daggatt and Conner went on to be members of the 1984 Olympic gold medal-winning team. Conner also won the Olympic parallel bars title. Riegel repeated as NCAA champion in the vault in 1984, posting only the second 10.0 score in any event in NCAA history, a feat that was not repeated in the vault in the following 17 years before the sport's scoring system was changed.
The dream of Olympic medals Riegel had chased since childhood, that drove him to endure years of Moyer's sexual abuse, was now within reach.
“I was one of the best two or three vaulters in the world and on floor (exercise),” he said. “But I was done.”
He had surgery after the 1983 U.S. Championships to remove a small bone chip from his wrist. He was back in the gym training for 1984 within three weeks.
Other wounds weren't as easily healed.
The confident persona he excluded on the competition platform was just another wall to hide a confused and damaged teenager. Riegel began seeing a Nebraska coed who became pregnant. A son was born in March 1984 and the couple married shortly before the Olympic Games.
“It makes you question your sexuality,” Riegel said of his abuse. “When you're 12, 13, 14 years old and you're asking yourself am I gay? I must be gay. Because why else would he do this to me? I must be gay when you don't know anything about sex but you know it's wrong, that it's unnatural, you start to think you're gay. And it might be the reason I got married so damn young. We had a baby. Maybe I was trying to prove to myself that I'm not gay. It messes people up. I believe you are what you are. I have nothing against anybody, anybody's sexual preference. As long as it's not kids.
“It just screws you up, it really does. It makes you crazy. It makes you look for an off ramp. Wherever you can get off and run away.”
Flunking out of Nebraska was one way out. Cornhusker coach Francis Allen told reporters in the spring of 1984 that Riegel had failed 24 hours of classes the previous two semesters. He wouldn't be back in Lincoln.
Yet for all his confusion, all the chaos in his life, Riegel in the late spring of 1984 still seemed on track to compete in that summer's Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He finished tied for fifth in the all-around at the 1984 U.S. Championships. The six-member 1984 Olympic team was selected using a formula factoring the all-around score for all six events for the U.S. Championships (30 percent) and the Olympic Trials (70 percent).
When Riegel arrived in Jacksonville, Florida on the first week of June 1984 for the Olympic Trials he hadn't seen or heard from Moyer in two years.
“I fooled myself into thinking he's in the past, he doesn't matter anymore” Riegel said.
But as Riegel stood with the other athletes on the competition platform at the start of the Trials and the crowd quieted for the national anthem a voice shouted out from his past.
“I would know his voice anywhere,” Riegel said. “He was way up somewhere near the top (of the arena).”
He was Moyer.
“I crumbled immediately,” Riegel said. “Why is he here? Why did he come? Why is he doing this?
“From that moment I felt like I was in a tunnel and I was back as that self-conscious little boy again. But it is what it is. Results are what they are.”
His all-around score (115.90) left him eighth at both the Olympic Trials and in the overall standings for the Olympic team selection. Under current international gymnastics rules where only three scores per event are counted in the team competition enabling nations to select specialists in one or two events, Riegel likely would have made the team. Instead although he was the only other athlete besides all-around champion Peter Vidmar to finish first in at least two events at the Olympic Trials, Riegel was named Team USA's second alternate.
He attended the U.S. team's pre-Olympic training camp at UCLA, but by the time Games opened he was long gone.
“I just wanted out and I after the camp, I was just gone, I quit, I didn't want it anymore and I had nothing to do with the sport,” Riegel said. “I was so angry. I didn't talk to anyone. It was like (expletive) all of you. (Expletive) this sport. I hate it. You know I hated it. I hated the sport. I hated my talent and was just leery of everybody. And I was gone. Gone. Got my Olympic leather jacket with the rings on the back, personalized inscription in it from USOC. Gone, just done. And reinvented myself. Or so I thought.”
Where are you, God? Come in my Fortress… though it is made of glass
It kept him out
But, others, too
Is there a secret pass?
Leaving the sport
While the U.S. men were winning the country's first ever team, male or female, gold medal in gymnastics as part of a still record eight medal haul, Riegel was starting the rest of his life with wife and infant son living with his in-laws in Georgia. He got divorced, worked in sales and public speaking, remarried had another son and was divorced again.
He was away from gymnastics, away from Moyer but he was still building walls.
“I don't trust people,” he said. “I think everybody has an agenda. No one gets close. There have been women, I haven't had a relationship since my (second) divorce 15 years ago. I look for something to be wrong. I'm willing to admit this to myself and about myself. I look for something to be wrong. If they want me they must be crazy. What are they up to? What's wrong with this person? I become distant. And it's over. Because I'm not trusting anybody. Everybody has an agenda. No one tells the truth. I have a real big problem with going overboard to a fault with the smallest thing I will blow up.”
For even his family there are only glimpses over his walls, barely enough to recognize him.
“He kept it all inside,” Mary Riegel said. “He's very careful about who he lets in. I think he's very controlling.
“I don't think he realizes how hard it is on him. That's why I think he needs some therapy to talk to someone honestly. Open up about it. I don't think he's ever opened up about it and talked about it to anyone honestly. I think he's done bits and pieces but he's also been very, very careful to protect himself from some of the questions.
“I don't know him. I don't know who that is.
“I don't think Chris knows himself.”
To his mother's last point, Riegel doesn't disagree.
He has spent years, decades returning again and again to the dark corners of his memory, his past, a solo search party determined to find that young boy that was lost somewhere between back room at the Slovak Catholic Sokal and Jacksonville.
“I try to remember what it felt like to be that boy before (the abuse) and the innocent and fun loving and kind to people kid, the kid who didn't know fear, didn't worry, wasn't in my own head, let's put it that way,” Riegel said. “I wasn't constantly in my own head with mistrust, with gloom, feeling of hopelessness and you're alone in this world. There's before (the sexual abuse) and after that and who knows, it could have been after the seventh time, the fourth time, the 28th time. After the pattern was happening for a certain amount of time. I was just changed and that's the person I've been since. Keeping people at a distance, mistrustful.”
Riegel decided to make a comeback in the early 1990s but needed a gym to train at. He approached Moyer about training at the National Gymnastics Training Center, a facility Moyer opened in 1988 in the Reading area after splitting with Parkettes. Moyer agreed, allowing Riegel to train on his own at the gym.
“There was never any conversation,” Riegel said. “It was two months maybe.”
In January 1991 he suffered a serious shoulder injury.
“Then I was done,” he said.
As he left gymnastics, Riegel finally found someone willing to listen.
In 1988, USGF president Mike Jacki produced a 12-page handbook dealing with sexual abuse for the federation's members titled “Child Abuse In Youth Sports.”
“It's the hope of the USGF that this document will help assist our coaches, athletes, clubs and members to deal with one of the most sensitive social issues today,” the handbook said in its introduction.
The publication was met with immediate resistance within U.S. Olympic sports.
“Hey, Mike you should called it ‘Child Abuse in Gymnastics,'” Jacki recalled a top USOC official telling him. “And I said if you think we're the only sport with a problem you're delusional.”
The handbook encouraged but did not require clubs to conduct background checks on employees. The publication also listed a series of “DO's” and “DON'Ts” that now three decades later scream out like sirens in the wake of the Nassar scandal.
“DO believe a gymnast who informs you that he or she is being or has been sexually abused. It is rare that a child will lie about sexual abuse. DO commend the child for telling you about the situation.”
If the abuse took place at a gym or during a club event or trip “DO inform the respective parents and DO inform the local authorities.”
Jacki and USGF in the late 80s also began banning individuals in the sport who had been convicted or pled no contest to sexual or physical abuse charges. The bans were not made public for legal concerns, Jacki said, so there were no lists for clubs or USGF members to check.
In 1991, Riegel reached out to Jacki about Moyer. He traveled to USGF headquarters in Indianapolis where USGF officials and attorneys set up what Jacki called a “deposition situation.”
Sitting before a court reporter, Jacki, USGF attorneys including Jack Swarbrick, now the Notre Dame athletic director and a longtime mentor and consigliere to Steve Penny, the former USA Gymnastics CEO, Riegel detailed Moyer's abuse.
“For four or five hours Chris recounted what Moyer did to him,” Jacki said. “We believed him but told him legally we can't do anything about Larry, (the abuse) was beyond the statute of limitations.”
Jacki, nevertheless, decided to run Moyer out of the sport.
“I got an airplane and went up there and told Larry that if he doesn't get out of the sport we're going to go public and we'll see what happens.”
Moyer agreed to go quietly, Jacki said.
“He was like a deer in the headlights,” Jacki said, recalling his meeting with Moyer. “I don't know if he ever thought he'd get called out on it.”
USA Gymnastics said in a statement it “is not in a position to confirm conversations that may or may not have occurred between Mr. Jacki and Mr. Moyer more than two decades ago. Any disciplinary records are confidential, and USA Gymnastics does not comment unless the resolution involves a public facing result.”
Moyer told his partners and employees at the gym he was leaving for personal reasons.”
“He just decided he had enough,” John Becker, a gym employee told the Morning Call newspaper in March 1991. “He has been in the sport a long time.”
Jacki told the Morning Call, “I think it's the right thing to have happened. It was a decision made in the best interest of USGF, the sport and the (Gymnastics Center) program.”
Jacki declined to elaborate on the move in the 1991 interview with the Morning Call.
“Larry,” Jacki said in a recent interview with SCNG “to the best of our knowledge just disappeared.”
From the sport, maybe, but not from the Riegels' lives.
Moyer is a returning presence
Moyer, no longer the threatening towering figure but an old man using a walker, showed up when Riegel was inducted into a local sports hall of fame a few years ago. At one point he sat down next to Riegel's youngest son, then 14, striking up a conversation with the boy.
“Dad leaned over to me and said, ‘Unbelievable,'” Riegel said.
Riegel's oldest son Nathan died of accidental drug overdose at 33 in November 2017. A few days later Riegel received an envelope from Moyer with a rosary, holy cards and note that said he was praying for Riegel and the family during his nightly Bible readings.
“And I was thinking, you know what, you didn't find God,” Riegel said. “It's façade. If he truly found God the first thing he would do is call and apologize to me. Ask my forgiveness. Or at least admit what he did to me, clean his soul. But to still act like you never did anything, (expletive), you found God, my ass. As you can tell it pisses me off a little bit.”
Larry Riegel died in June 2018. Riegel and his family were in the receiving line at the coffin during the funeral when Moyer walked up, this time without the walker.
“Shaking everybody's hand,” Riegel said. “And it's so offensive and it's as if nothing ever happened. And once again he played it brilliantly. How do you look like an asshole to all these hundreds of people? People who grew up in my church. People who knew Larry, that know Larry because he was the brilliant one who got all of these kids out of the blue collar town? The hero returns kind of thing. And once again doing it …”
Riegel's voice cracks and he is unable to speak for a few moments.
Moyer hugged Riegel's son, shook Jan's hand and then hugged Riegel.
“So sorry, I'm so sorry, he's with Jesus now,” Riegel recalled Moyer telling him.
Moyer then turned to Mary Riegel.
“My mom wouldn't hug him,” Riegel said. “She shook his hand, said, ‘Larry, thank you for coming.' Kept him at arm's length.”
Yet Mary Riegel admits, that like her son, Moyer still has a hold on her.
“Chris was a great little kid, very innocent,” she said with a sadness. “Very childlike little kid until now that I look back to when all this stuff started I suppose, I don't know exactly when I feel like I lost my child, I lost my great little child to gymnastics with Moyer. I feel like Moyer stole my child from me. That's how I feel about it.
“Moyer was such a great actor and still is. I feel sorry for Moyer that it's going to come up. That's sick. And sad. That's the mind game that he played with us. I didn't want Chris hurt. I stand behind Chris. It's hard and your name is going to be dragged through the mud. But at the same time I feel sorry for Moyer. That's how nice he was to us and how convincing to us as family.
“That's sick. That's very sad that I have those feelings, too, in my mind.”
There you are, God! Come in. Sit down. To say I've so much more
I'm quite older now
But, a favor to ask…
… can You, please, help me build a door?
Even behind the walls of his fortress, the teenage Riegel was never able to rest easy with Moyer nearby. All these years later sleep still does not come easy to him. Maybe it's a defense mechanism he never shook. Or maybe it's because he knows what lurks in the darkness.
“I keep having this recurring dream. In my dream I'm about 10,” he said. “I'm always trying to run away on the street in front of the house I grew up in, a row home in Reading. A one-way street, parked cars, parallel parked. Minor Street. In the dream it's dark, nighttime, somebody is chasing me, a man, I never see his face, never any speaking but I'm trying to run. And you know how they say you can't run in your dreams, you can't run away, I'm running and I'm tripping, I'm running and I'm tripping and my legs feel heavy. I'm a little boy and it's getting, the man, the monster, it gets closer and closer and closer to me and then I always wake up. It scares the hell out of me.
Home Office boosts tools to tackle online child abuse
New systems will be introduced to speed up investigations and limit the number of distressing images viewed by law enforcement officers
by Angelica Mari
The Home Office has boosted its technology stack aimed at fending off digital child abuse with three new tools.
Capability of the Child Abuse Image Database (CAID), in place since 2014, is being augmented following trials with the additional functionality, intended to speed up investigations, promote collaboration and limit the number of indecent images police officers have to view.
CAID currently holds 13 million images, and the number grows by about half a million on a bi-monthy basis. The Home Office has invested £18.2 million into the programme since its launch, with the new innovations costing £1.76 million.
“This game-changing tech will help us do this and will be vital in the fight against online child abusers,” said home secretary Sajid Javid about the new capabilities of the database.
The new features, developed in partnership between the CAID Innovation Lab and UK suppliers Qumodo, Vigil AI and Cyan Forensics, encompass a fast-forensic tool intended to rapidly analyse seized devices and find images already known to law enforcement agencies.
The fast-forensic tool is expected to free up police time, as the new tech can process 1TB of data in 30 minutes compared to the previous 24 hour timescale.
An image categorisation algorithm is also being introduced, to assist officers to identify and sort up to 2,000 illegal images an hour, from the current 200 images, under severity categories.
Machine grading is hoped to relieve officers of distress related to viewing child abuse images. The Home Office is also discussing with the senior Judiciary and other agencies how to use the technology in prosecutions to relieve investigators of psychological pressures.
In addition, capability to detect images with scene matching technology to help identify children in indecent images of children in order to safeguard victims.
The annual assessment of policing in England and Wales released this month noted that a consistent approach to technology is one of the key actions needed to avoid “unacceptable compromises in quality of service levels of public safety” and this includes online child safety.
“Most children are now more at risk in their own bedrooms than they are on the streets,” said chief inspector of constabulary Thomas Winsor. “This type of offending is not just about child sexual abuse and fraud, but radicalisation, harassment and stalking too.
“Some of the corporations in question now own and operate what, to many people, have become significant pieces of public infrastructure,” he said. “Their stewardship of these networks and systems should now be subject to appropriately stringent public interest regulation.”
To tackle the accountability issue, the government introduced the world's first framework designed to hold internet companies responsible for the safety of those using their services, as well as to tackle potential harm to users.
Child sexual exploitation is one of the key areas covered by the Online Harms white paper. Commenting on the new measures when they were launched, TechUK's head of policy, Vinous Ali, said the UK is still a long way from achieving its goals.
“The framework must be complemented by renewed efforts to ensure children, young people and adults alike have the skills and awareness to navigate the digital world safely and securely,” she said at the time.
Experts engage lay movements in fight against abuse
by Elise Harris
ROME - When it comes to child abuse inside the Catholic Church, the spotlight has been aimed primarily on clerics, yet there is an increasing push to investigate lay movements and associations, many of which have faced their own abuse scandals in recent years involving both minors and vulnerable adults.
While these movements are not yet prominent in areas such as the United States or Canada, they are exploding in other parts of the world, including many countries in South America and Europe. As they grow, there are questions as to how exactly to handle problems within these entities when they arise.
In February, the Vatican sought to tackle the abuse issue at a global level with Pope Francis's Feb. 21-24 summit on child protection, which drew the participation of presidents of all bishops' conferences worldwide. Some lay experts attended; however, the meeting's primary focus were clerics and religious.
Following that summit, the Vatican released new legislation stipulating mandatory reporting of abuse, including allegations against bishops and cardinals. The motu proprio, meaning a change to Church law on the pope's authority, was titled Vos estis lux mundi, “You are the light of the world,” and it also broadened the definition of vulnerable adults in Church law.
While the document included norms for members and leaders of societies of apostolic life and institutes of consecrated life, it was considered by some to be vague on lay movements and their leaders.
In June, the Vatican's department for Laity, Family and Life, headed by American Cardinal Kevin Farrell, held a day-long meeting with more than 100 leaders of international lay movements and associations to address the abuse issue.
Experts from various fields offered speeches on different aspects of child protection, including the connection between sexual abuse and abuses of power and conscience and which legal instruments are available to the Church to deal with abuse allegations.
Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, who heads the Center for Child Protection at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and who is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was one of the speakers who addressed the lay leaders at the meeting.
Speaking to Crux, Zollner said he believes “it is very much needed that the so-called new movements engage this,” meaning child protection, because “we are all part of this. It's not only something that concerns clergy.”
“Many of these movements work with young people and with vulnerable adults in many kinds of social, educational and pastoral ministries, so there are many areas where safeguarding is an important aspect,” he said.
Due to the vast international spread of some of these movements, there are not only different levels of awareness about the problem of abuse and accountability, but complexities can also arise from the fact that “many times it is not always clear who is the responsible superior for any person,” Zollner said, since the movements are active in a diocese, but maintain their own internal hierarchal structure.
Noting that many lay movements also have priests in their ranks, Zollner said the rules are foggy when problems arise, because in at least some cases, priests are assigned to serve in a country with their movement but remain incardinated in their home diocese.
This leaves it unclear who the responsible authority is he said, insisting that movements must be helped to understand “what they are responsible for, to whom they are accountable,” and how to deal with allegations of wrongdoing.
In the wake of the scandals that have come to light in several lay movements in recent years, many have complained there is a lack of oversight for these entities, arguing that while canon law is clear in terms of norms dealing with members of the clergy, there is almost nothing on the laity, and even less on lay people who represent the Church.
In terms of the norms dealing with lay movements and associations, Father Francis Morrisey, a Canadian expert on canon law, told Crux that “if you're talking about them in general, I'm going to say yes, there are enough, but if you're talking about the abuse situation, most of the time that's not even addressed.”
“There's no doubt at all that canon law has to be revised. It just wasn't made for these situations,” he said.
At the moment, he said, there is one tool available in canon law which stipulates that if a superior finds that someone in their community or movement is involved with minors, they can order that the person be dismissed from the community, following the correct procedures.
Under Francis's new rules, communities are now obliged to report if a member is involved with minors or with vulnerable adults. “So that's another step that's there that's trying to block” the gaps, Morrisey said, but stressed that the constitutions governing communities should not be centered on the abuse issue, “because that would send the wrong message totally.”
In the future, Morrisey said he wouldn't be surprised if the Vatican at some point revises canon law to include more legislation directly dealing with laity, however, both he and Zollner insisted that when it comes to lay movements and associations, there can be no one-size-fits-all system, since these entities are so diverse.
“We can't create a system that will cover every little aspect, because there are so many cases that will fall under conditions that will not be covered by only one rule,” Zollner said.
“There need to be clear indications on how to proceed and then to sort things out with the single and individual case,” he said, adding that “when you get to the nitty-gritty of things, it's much more complex than one can think or postulate from an overall perspective.”
Similarly, Morrisey noted that movements come in all shapes and sizes, but he insisted that, “once the bishops get the knack for what's going on with those communities, it's very simple to transpose that to the other associations.”
Much of the accountability of these movements and associations will depend on finding a balance between moral oversight and a just autonomy a group has to govern itself, he said, noting that this is “a tension” that needs to be sorted out.
Yet despite the hiccups that still exist, both Zollner and Morrisey say they believe the Vatican has made progress in knowing how to handle lay movements and associations and engaging them on the abuse issue.
Zollner said that in his view, the Vatican's department for Laity, Family and Life, which oversees the lay movements, is doing a good job.
During the June meeting between movement leaders and the department, movements were chastised for not complying with the department's request that they draft safeguarding procedures for minors and vulnerable adults by the May 2018 deadline.
In his closing address during the June meeting, Farrell noted that not everyone responded to his department's request, and that many of the responses that did come in were incomplete. He set a new deadline for Dec. 31, at which time all movements overseen by his department will be required to present their complete updated guidelines.
Apart from the guidelines, Zollner said a second step going forward will be to raise awareness among the movements, which he said also includes educational and training programs, especially for those who work with young people.
He also called for the creation of clear systems of authority “in which there are checks and balances within the structure so that neither a founder nor the present leader, nor the regional responsible persons are left on their own without any proper way of having them held accountable.”
Many movements have already put this on their agenda, so awareness is spreading, he said, adding, “I think it is high time that as a church we realize that this is something that concerns all of us: faithful, hierarchy, clergy and lay people.”
Similarly, Morrisey said he believes the fact that the Church is even talking about this issue is a sign of progress.
After going through decades of denial, “now no one can deny that these things are happening,” he said, saying that psychologically speaking, “that was a big, big step. And then the next step will be to get a will on the part of those in different offices to address the issue now that they know it's there, and then the means of addressing it.”
Morrisey said that in his view, part of the problem in terms of accountability for lay movements and lay founders accused of abuse has been the limited resources the Vatican has to handle the caseload.
“The Vatican has a very, very limited number of personnel in there, and for them to be handling every case all around the world is just physically impossible,” he said, noting that there is currently a backlog of cases at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pushing it two to three years behind.
“No one is going to send us even more cases, we can't even handle what we have now,” he said, voicing hope that Francis's restructuring of the Roman Curia will provide greater space to handle these cases, but he also said more needs to be dealt with at the local level.
“I don't think it's fair to (send these things) to the Vatican, they should be addressed locally,” he said. “Financial things, abuse, you name it. It should be much more done locally, or perhaps at the level of the conference of bishops, sort of an in-between thing.
India leads world in child sexual abuse
Participants along with the resource persons at the state level consultation on child sexual abuse.
India has the world's highest incidences of child sexual abuse. And altogether 36,022 child abuse cases were registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in 2014-2016, with Nagaland having registered 29 cases.
World Vision India (WVI) senior director Dr Anjana Purkayastha shared these details at the State level consultation on “It takes Nagaland to End Child Sexual Abuse”, organised by social welfare department and Childline 1098 at Hotal Japfu here on Wednesday.
According to Purkayastha, every 1.55 minute, a child below the age of 16 years was raped in the country, adding cases registered under POCSO Act post 2014-2016 might have increased.
Mentioning that child abuse occurred at home, schools, workplaces and institutions and in the community, she warned that such abuses during childhood had an adverse impact when a child grew up as an adult. Purkayastha said WVI wanted to reach the grassroots level and positively impact lives of 10 million most vulnerable girls and boys by 2021 to end child sex abuse. To achieve this target, she said awareness campaigns should be carried out within the communities, implementation of effective laws and policies strengthened and functioning of child protection system ensured by 2021.
In his address, school education principal director Shanavas C remarked that while the number of cases registered under POCSO Act was high, there were also many cases that went unreported. He mentioned that child sexual abuses occurred in Nagaland too, but many such cases went reported because of pressure from family members and relatives.
He pointed out that as Nagaland had special provision under the Constitution of India, many such cases were settled under customary laws, which was unfortunate. He said in such matters, the customary laws and the relevant laws of the land must be combined for ensuring stringent punishment to the perpetrators.
Shanavas emphasised that the campaign against child sexual abuse should reach the remotest corners of the State, adding that pamphlets and brochures should be printed in local dialects to make the villagers understand better about the gravity of the crime.
They should be taught to realise that the issue was too serious and could not be settled by paying fines with pigs or hens alone, he added. “Else, the heinous crime will continue to recur,” he warned.
The principal director also appealed to the church leaders to raise this issue in the church platform and educate the children, while assuring to extend all possible support from the department.
Speaking on the occasion, Nagaland State Legal Services Authority (NSLSA) member secretary Longshithung Ezung remarked that incidences of child abuse in the State were growing at an alarming rate. He said Childline Dimapur, after its establishment in 2011, had intervened in 1,457 cases pertaining to various “child protection risk areas”, including abuse, trafficking, child labour, missing, emotional support and guidance and various other distress situations experienced by children.
Mentioning that exploitation of children for domestic work was a matter of great concern, Ezung said children working in various homes had to undergo all kinds of abuses and rights violations due to ignorance of the children and their families. He said the only way to prevent these abusive incidents was to create awareness about the rights of the child.
As children were the most vulnerable group in the society, he said the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 had enlisted children as “Persons Entitled to Free Legal Services”.
And when a child was abused, NSLSA member secretary said it was entitled to receive compensation under the Nagaland Victim Compensation Scheme, 2012 like Rs 2,00,000 for loss of life, Rs 1,00,000 for rape, Rs 50,000 for rehabilitation, Rs 1,00,000 for trafficking and Rs 20,000 for injury.
Pointing out that that NSLSA alone could not prevent incidents of child abuse, he appealed to everyone to take the responsibility with all seriousness.
In her brief address, Nagaland Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson N Awan Konyak thanked WVI, social welfare department, Childline, NGOs from different districts and all the stakeholders involved for their unwavering effort to end child sexual abuse in the State.
She also administered a pledge to the gathering to end child sexual abuse.
The Latest: Arizona Teacher Gets 20 Years for Sexual Abuse
PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on the sentencing of a former elementary school teacher for sexually abusing student.
A former elementary school teacher in a suburb of Phoenix will serve 20 years in prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old student.
A judge Friday opted not to give Brittany Ann Zamora the maximum sentence possible under a plea agreement arising from multiple sexual encounters with the boy in a classroom at Las Brisas Academy in Goodyear and in her car in 2018.
They say some physical contact between Zamora, then 27, and the sixth-grader occurred during class while other students watched a video.
Zamora had faced more than 40 years in prison for her guilty pleas to sexual conduct with a minor, attempted child molestation and public sexual indecency.
Her plea deal calls for her to be sentenced to at least 20 years on the sexual conduct conviction and doesn't make sentencing recommendations.
A former elementary school teacher in a suburb of Phoenix is scheduled to be sentenced Friday for sexually abusing a 13-year-old student.
Authorities say Brittany Ann Zamora had multiple sexual encounters with the boy in a classroom at Las Brisas Academy in Goodyear and in her car during 2018.
They say some physical contact between Zamora, who was 27 years old at the time, and the sixth-grader occurred during class while other students were watching a video.
Zamora faces more than 40 years in prison for her guilty pleas to sexual conduct with a minor, attempted child molestation and public sexual indecency.
Cybercrooks will spend 'nearly £800m in Bitcoin on drugs and child abuse images' in 2019
Criminals will spend nearly £800million in bitcoin on drugs, child porn and other illicit goods on the dark web this year, according to cybercrime experts. A report from Chainalysis also claims more than £410million of the leading cryptocurrency has already been spent on sinister encrypted networks in 2019.
by SAM WEBB
A form of digital cash, cryptocurrency uses encryption to secure transactions and control the creation of new units. It uses cryptography, a form of secret coding originating from World War Two, to process transactions securely. Drug users and paedophiles use sites on the deep web to make sales and purchases anonymously using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The report also states drugs are the most popular illegal purchase, but child sex abuse images and stolen credit card details are also being traded.
Hannah Curtis, a senior product manager of data at Chainalysis, says the proportion of bitcoin transactions tied to crime is declining, adding that illegal activity has accounted for less than 1 percent of all Bitcoin activity so far this year – down from 7 percent in 2012.
Law enforcement agencies across the world are joining forces to shut down dark web marketplaces.
In May, the Wall Street Market – the world's second largest illegal online market – and the Valhalla Marketplace were taken down in simultaneous global operations by cops from the US and Europe.
But Nicolas Christin, a dark web researcher told Wired that the nature of drug addiction means online dealers will simply set up elsewhere.
He said: "History has taught us that this ecosystem is very, very resilient.
"It's part of a cycle, and we're in the chaotic part of the cycle. We'll have to see how it recovers. But if I were a betting person I would put more money on it recovering than on it dramatically changing."
The alleged marketplace kingpins are said to have received commission payments of two to six per cent of all sales using the platform.
Leo Varadkar apologises to Irish sexual abuse survivors
Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has made another apology on behalf of the Irish state to survivors of sexual abuse in day schools.
It came after a court ruled that the state misinterpreted a European Court of Human Rights judgement, causing survivors to be denied access to redress.
The case was taken by 13 people who were refused compensation.
The ruling has implications for up to 350 survivors of abuse.
"I believe that sexual abuse is the most heinous of all crimes, especially when the victims are children," Mr Varadkar told the Dáil on Tuesday.
"It stays with them forever - trust is betrayed, lives forever destroyed and families broken."
He apologised to people who were abused when they were children or in day schools before 1992.
He also said the state was sorry for its delay in acknowledging it had a responsibility to protect them.
The redress scheme would be reopened to allow survivors access to compensation, added Mr Varadkar.
Can USA Swimming address sexual abuse without a Larry Nassar moment?
Can a governing body stop sexual abuse and make a culture change without that one galvanizing media-ready moment?
by Beau Dure
As all sports try to address sexual abuse, USA Swimming's efforts raise two questions:
Can a sports governing body stop sexual abuse without nonstop scrutiny from the media, lawmakers and the US Olympic Committee?
And can prevention work best when that organization places some of its efforts toward educating parents and athletes themselves?
The spotlight still shines most intently on USA Gymnastics, which remains in the news nearly 18 months after the dramatic courtroom scenes in which scores of survivors confronted Larry Nassar, the doctor who will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison. USAG's scrutiny continues with a new lawsuit, dissection of a hiring gone wrong, a documentary on how Nassar got away with his crimes for so long, and the looming threat of decertification.
USA Swimming, on the the other hand, hasn't been publicly castigated by the US Olympic Committee, by Congress, or by the media to the same extent. When USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey appeared before a Congressional subcommittee alongside other NGB representatives in May 2018, lawmakers and the media put the bulk of the focus on USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry, who didn't last long in the job.
By that time, USA Swimming's responsibilities and tactics had already changed. The NGB released Safe Sport educational material to parents in 2017.
Over the years, USA Swimming's issues have received scattered media coverage:
In 2010, ESPN and ABC found swimming coaches easily evaded background checks and moved from club to club. The focal point was Andy King, who stayed one step ahead of investigators until his arrest in 2009. The next year, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In 2014, the same year in which an independent review of sexual abuse (Vieth Report) was released and activists stopped longtime USA Swimming executive Chuck Wielgus from being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Outside magazine ran a comprehensive piece accusing USA Swimming of having a “hands-off” attitude toward sexual abuse cases.
In 2018, the Orange County Register published an investigation claiming hundreds of swimmers have been sexually abused while USA Swimming wrestled with various conflicts of interest and an unwillingness to act.
The numbers in the Register's piece were staggering. Over a 20-year span, at least 252 coaches and officials faced either criminal charges or USA Swimming discipline for sexual abuse or misconduct against at least 590 alleged victims.
But USA Swimming has never had that one galvanizing media-ready moment such as the Nassar courtroom scenes. And one of the few lawsuits to go forward against the organization involves a coach-swimmer relationship, which – justifiably or not – just doesn't stir up the same amount of shock as a doctor taking advantage of young girls in his care. American culture has long seen joy and humor in relationships with an age and power imbalance – see the 1979 Woody Allen film Manhattan or the 2016 Saturday Night Live sketch about a teacher-student escapade.
In the swimming community itself, ending coach-student relationships requires a culture change. The Vieth Report notes USA Swimming's delegates voted against a prohibition of such relationships in 2012, only to be forced into such a ban when the USOC required it the next year. Other sports have seen prominent athletes marry their college coaches, though the relationships have usually started when the athletes were adults.
In the lawsuit against USA Swimming, 2012 Olympian Ariana Kukors Smith claims her coach started grooming her for sexual abuse at age 13 and molested her at age 16. The coach, Sean Hutchison, claims the relationship in question was consensual and didn't start until the swimmer was an adult.
USA Swimming is a defendant because lawyers claim the organization carried out a woefully inadequate investigation when alerted to the relationship. The lawsuit notes that the NGB's Safe Sport director, Susan Woessner, was forced out in 2018 for failing to disclose that she had her own relationship with Hutchison before investigating the matter.
Bob Allard, the attorney representing Kukors Smith and many other athletes, claims USA Swimming had a systemic problem with internal investigations carried out by an opaque and ineffective National Board of Review. The organization's lawyers, on the other hand, were quite effective.
One example of where the liability has fallen: A swimmer won a $1.5m settlement from a Washington parks and rec department that employed King, the coach now serving a 40-year prison term. Meanwhile, USA Swimming settled quietly with one of King's victims in California.
“There has been a concerted effort back to the 1990s on behalf of USA Swimming to quash all victims' complaints,” Allard says.
Another factor working against claimants was a side effect, intentional or otherwise, of USA Swimming forming a “captive” insurance company, US Sports Insurance Company Inc (USSIC). Captive companies are legal and were popular when adequate commercial insurance was difficult to obtain in the 1980s.
USSIC managed to limit financial risk for USA Swimming and its member clubs, making early settlements the best option for most legal complaints. The company also provided “safety rebates” that gave USA Swimming a financial incentive to be aggressive in court.
This system, Allard says, helped to enable hundreds of Larry Nassars.
What has changed?
First, USSIC was moved from Barbados to the USA and then sold.
Second, while the federation hasn't had quite as much turnover as USA Gymnastics, a few top staffers have left. Wielgus retired in 2017. (He passed away a few months later.) Woessner's resignation over the Hutchison case coincided with another departure by longtime staff member Pat Hogan.
Third, the USOC has realized that it needs to follow the same course of action with athlete abuse that it has with doping issues – spin off an independent entity that takes the role of policing away from the NGBs that face an inherent conflict of interest in policing themselves. As doping falls under the auspices of the US Anti-Doping Agency, abuse issues now fall under the US Center for SafeSport.
Fourth, federal law has changed. The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, passed in February 2018, requires NGBs to keep one-on-one interactions between minors and adults to situations with “an observable and interruptible distance from another adult, except under emergency circumstances.” The NGBs have had to figure out what this means in their respective sports.
For USA Swimming, that means new policies on locker rooms, massages and travel, all designed to virtually eliminate any possibility that a coach and a swimmer will be alone together.
Also, swimmers need to take a step back from the 21st century and copy their guardians on any communication with a coach and vice versa. That applies to social media as well. Forget those texts asking if practice has been moved or those messages of support on a Facebook page. These changes have caused a bit of confusion, particularly in regards to college recruiting.
USA Swimming continues to have a director of Safe Sport (USA Swimming adds a space in “Safe Sport” while the US Center for SafeSport does not), replacing Woessner with Abigail Howard, who has worked in several university compliance offices and worked on child abuses cases as a deputy prosecutor.
While the Center has jurisdiction over sexual abuse cases, USA Swimming's internal Safe Sport department oversees a broader range of code-of-conduct violations and works on education programs, including those designed to teach parents and athletes how to keep coaches and other officials from preying on their naivete.
“That's certainly a change for anyone involved in youth sports,” Howard says. “What we've received in feedback isn't so much that this is a bad policy but, ‘How do we do it? Is there an app we can use? Is copying that to a parent sufficient?'”
Most importantly, parents learn to be alert to any tactic predators have learned in the past.
USA Swimming still has a few watchdogs in quiet corners of the Internet, and the NGB recognizes that more progress is needed. But if Congress wants to call NGBs to another hearing on Capitol Hill, the NGBs may turn right around and ask representatives why they aren't funding the US Center for SafeSport.
And as the swimming world championships approach in July, expect to hear much more about Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Ryan Murphy than we hear about Sean Hutchison or Andy King.
Then we'll see if quiet efforts to arm families with information will stem the tide of sexual abuse.
Trump's Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigns amid Epstein plea fallout
by Nicholas Wu and David Jackson
WASHINGTON – Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned amid the fallout over a plea deal he made with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, a sex offender charged with human trafficking girls as young as 14.
President Donald Trump announced Acosta's resignation Friday morning with Acosta at his side. Trump said the secretary called him Friday morning to say that the decision to resign was his.
“I thought the right thing was to step aside," Acosta said.
Acosta added, "I do not think it is right and fair for this administration's labor department to have Epstein as the focus rather than the incredible economy that we have today."
In a tweet, Trump said Acosta "felt the constant drumbeat of press" about the Epstein case and decided it "was bad for the Administration."
Trump, who had defended Acosta after Epstein's arrest last week, praised him as a “great labor secretary, not a good one," and added, Acosta did a “very good job.”
The White House said Acosta's deputy, Pattrick Pizzella, would become the acting labor secretary.
Acosta, formerly a federal prosecutor, had defended his handling of the 2007 case and said he was "pleased" prosecutors were moving forward against Epstein, who was arrested on July 6 on charges of sex-trafficking. Epstein pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan federal court on July 8. The indictment alleges he "sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes" in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida.
Jeffrey Epstein has had a long list of friends from high places, including the likes of Stephen Hawking, Bill Clinton and President Trump. But did Epstein leverage these connections? We explain. Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
The recent charges against Epstein drew attention to Acosta's role in the 12-year-old plea deal and prompted calls for his resignation.
A Miami Herald investigation in November 2018 revealed Acosta, as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, had been directly involved in negotiating the 2007 deal with Epstein's lawyers. The wealthy and influential hedge fund manager agreed to plead guilty to two state felony prostitution charges, pay restitution to his victims, register as a sex offender and serve 13 months in county jail.
In February 2019, a federal judge ruled Acosta had broken the law in negotiating the plea deal by failing to notify Epstein's underage victims of the plea deal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among the chorus calling for Acosta to resign.
In a tweet on July 8, Pelosi said Acosta "must step down" because "he engaged in an unconscionable agreement" with Epstein, which was "kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice. This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet. #AcostaResign."
The next day, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he was "calling on Secretary Acosta to resign" during a speech from Senate floor.
President Donald Trump defended Acosta, saying he feels "very badly" for him while calling him an "excellent" labor secretary.
"I do hear there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him," the president said on July 9.
Epstein is known for his ties to powerful figures including Trump and former President Bill Clinton. However, Trump has tried to distance himself from Epstein. On July 9, he said the multimillionaire was a fixture in Palm Beach and that he knew him, but said they had a falling out about 15 years ago.
In 2002, about three years before investigators opened their first probe into Epstein, Trump told New York Magazine he had known Epstein for 15 years. Trump called Epstein a "terrific guy" and said, "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
Acosta was sworn in as Trump's labor secretary on April 28, 2017. He was the first Hispanic person to be appointed to Trump's Cabinet and led efforts to encourage apprenticeships and workforce development.
He had not been Trump's original choice for labor secretary. Acosta stepped in after Trump's first nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew from consideration following increased scrutiny of his personal life and an admission he once employed an undocumented housekeeper.
Dept of Justice
Former Cheerleading Coach Who Committed Sexual Assault on a Cruise Ship Sentenced to 6½ Years in Federal Prison
by Nicola T. Hanna -- United States Attorney, Central District of California
LOS ANGELES – A former cheerleading coach was sentenced today to 78 months in federal prison for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman on a cruise ship bound from Long Beach to Ensenada, Mexico during the summer of 2015.
Anthony Paul De La Torriente, 30, of Simi Valley, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer, who also ordered him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. In imposing sentence, Judge Fischer said, “I hope that the fact that a jury of (the victim's) peers believed her provides some comfort. I believe her too.”
On February 13, a federal jury found De La Torriente guilty of one count of sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact. In reaching the verdict, the jury found that De La Torriente knew the victim was physically unable to decline participation or she had communicated unwillingness to engage in the sexual act.
According to the evidence presented at trial, De La Torriente volunteered to stay alone in the victim's cabin with the victim, whose severe intoxication from a daytime excursion in Ensenada had worried their colleagues. Once alone with the victim, while the colleagues were away getting food on the cruise ship, De La Torriente sexually assaulted her. When their colleagues returned, they found the victim's cabin door had been double-locked from the inside. When De La Torriente eventually unlocked the door and allowed their colleagues inside, the victim identified De La Torriente as her attacker.
The victim reported the assault to the cruise ship's medical and security staff. Swabs taken from the victim's body matched De La Torriente's DNA, while swabs taken from inside and outside of his underwear matched the victim's DNA.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cassie D. Palmer of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section and Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.
from: Ciaran McEvoy, Public Information Officer