Compensation Program Unveiled For Alleged Child Abuse Victims Of Catholic Priests
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Six California Catholic dioceses announced Monday a new compensation program that they said aims to support alleged child abuse victims of Roman Catholic priests — allowing victims to file for compensation without having to sue the church.
Victims of abuse within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the Dioceses of Fresno, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino and San Diego have until Jan. 31 of next year to file a claim that will be assessed by a group of independent administrators who have previously handled victim compensation funds including one for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The six participating dioceses comprise more than 10 million Catholics, about 80% of the state's Catholic Church
The fund is open for claims from people who allege they were abused by priests in any of these six dioceses as a minor. There is no time limit on when the alleged abuse occurred — even if the statute of limitations has already passed for criminal prosecution. Alleged victims do not need to proof of citizenship to file.
For victims who choose to come forward, the cases will be confidentially reported to police. As for compensation, the administrators of the fund have sole discretion over the amounts with no cap, and the church said it would comply with their recommendations.
The compensation program is being paid for by the church, but is being operated by administrators Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camille S. Biros, who run similar programs for dioceses in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Colorado.
The program will be overseen by an Independent Oversight Committee consisting of former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former California Governor Gray Davis, and business leader and former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet.
“We can never erase the pain that you have endured, but we can assist you in the ongoing process of healing and recovery,” Panetta said during a news conference unveiling the program. “Our fervent prayer is that this process in the end can provide some semblance of justice for the victims of crimes that for too long went unpunished.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests was critical of the program when it was initially announced back in May, and today issued a release that stated in part that punishment and compensation should be “meted out by courts, not the institutions that allowed the wrongdoing to happen.”
“We hope that survivors in California will take steps to learn about their legal rights and the potential pitfalls of compensation programs before signing on,” SNAP said in a statement. “Regardless of what steps they take towards compensation, we hope that all victims will first make a report to police, district attorneys, and the California Attorney General's office.”
In a release announcing the program, the dioceses said they would be contacting victims who previously reported allegations of abuse to make them aware of the new program.
Building Hope Today Child Abuse Training
Idaho Falls -- Law enforcement in Idaho Falls is being better equipped to help fight child abuse.
Building Hope Today, along with the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office, is hosting a two day training event for local law enforcement and victim care providers.
Building Hope Today is an Idaho Falls based non-profit that helps prevent and reduce childhood sexual abuse.
They have gathered a team of trainers for the event to help equip local law enforcement and victim care providers; in holding offenders responsible and educating the community.
The event has six trainers with interactive training sessions, with some sessions focusing on best practices when talking to a victim of child abuse.
Mental health counselor and forensic interviewer Anne Tierney says that "it's really important that there is an understanding, that there is a lot of training that goes behind forensic interviewing, it's not a conversation you go in and wing" when interviewing a victim of child abuse.
Child sex abuse victims "re-traumatized by frustrating, hostile and futile' battle for compensation, inquiry finds
by Gabriella Swerling
Child sex abuse victims are being retraumatized by fighting a “futile” battle for compensation, a government-ordered inquiry has found.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its report on the Accountability and Reparations strand of its wide-ranging investigations on Thursday.
The researchers concluded that survivors are often retraumatized during what can prove to be a “frustrating, hostile and ultimately futile” legal battle for justice through the courts.
One victim, Peter Robson, who waived his right to anonymity during the IICSA hearings told the panel: “I feel I need a lifetime of help... I don't like myself. There's times I hate myself.”
The IICSA panel also found that survivors regularly miss out on compensation owed to them by perpetrators. According to the latest available Ministry of Justice (MOJ) data just 0.02% of criminal compensation orders (CCOs) made between 2013 and 2017 were in relation to child sexual abuse cases.
CCOs can be made when a person convicted of an offence pays money to their victim for personal injury, loss or damage arising from it. None of the victims who gave evidence to the panel said they had received CCOs at the end of court hearings.
For example, in 2017 there were a total of 124,835 CCOs, 6,861 child sexual abuse offenders and just 26 CCOs in child sexual abuse cases - number which has stayed relatively stable since 2013.
The IICSA listed a series of recommendations for improvement. Among them, it suggested that the MOJ consult with the Sentencing Council, the Judicial College, the Crown Prosecution Service and other relevant bodies to make more use of CCOs.
The panel added that police should "draw the possibility of compensation to a victim's attention and gather the necessary information" if a victim is seeking a CCO.
Professor Alexis Jay, Inquiry chairwoman, said: "For victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, the suffering does not stop when the abuse ends.
“In our investigation we found that the criminal and civil court proceedings for redress can be frustrating, hostile and ultimately futile.
"Many are left retraumatized and deeply unsatisfied with the often lengthy and confusing litigation. Equally concerning is the lack of clear signposting for the compensation and support which survivors could be entitled to.
"The panel and I hope this report and its recommendations can help make seeking redress a less complex and distressing process for extremely vulnerable people."
Among its eight recommendations, the panel also called for increased signposting of criminal and civil compensation and a national register of public liability insurance policies.
A Government spokesperson said: “Victims of child sexual abuse show immense bravery in coming forward and it is vital they receive the support they need to recover from their ordeal.
“We are reviewing the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to ensure it can better serve victims of such horrific crimes, and will carefully consider the Inquiry's recommendations.
Abuse survivors hope to have voice heard following diocese's bankruptcy filing
by Andrew Hyman
ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) - Carol DuPre says she was molested by a priest while serving at St Gregory's Catholic Church in Marion when she was just 14 or 15 years old.
'You know it happened, and it lives in the back of your mind,' DuPre said.
She says speaking these words are freeing, but at one time, were words only her mother believed. According to DuPre, her parents were going through a divorce, which she says, was uncommon in the 1960s. She says the situation left her vulnerable and a priest took advantage of that.
'It just shatters your image of a good, and loving God,' DuPre said.
So when she saw that New York State passed the Child Victim's Act, she says, it gave her and other survivors the power to speak up.
But now, with the Catholic Diocese of Rochester's decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, fellow child sex abuse survivor Pete Saracino says, a survivor's voice could be robbed.
'That was a profound betrayal of children, catholic families, and their very mission to be the face of God on earth,' Saracino said.
Saracino says he was sexually abused by a priest in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Geneva, New York. The location is now a resort called Geneva on the Lake.
Saracino spoke during a press conference Thursday ahead of the diocese's own press conference. He was guided by attorneys Steve Boyd and Jeff Anderson.
'This is not going to stop us and the survivors from revealing the truth, the history that is in some way known to us and the survivors and excavating that and revealing that,' Anderson said.
DuPre's attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, said this 'will not prevent victims from pursuing their rights through the bankruptcy proceeding against the Diocese of Rochester.'
DuPre added, she's not surprised by the filing but thinks the diocese is hiding their heads in the sand. She is keeping positive though.
'I would like to see whatever transpires for me or for anybody else to work for their good, as well as ours,' DuPre said.
Saracino says any good does not have to include money. In fact, he says he does not want people to lose their faith or support for the church, but wants them to be held accountable. He believes there could still be predator priests in power and kids are still not safe.
'I would say again to the catholic community, if you are not willing to stand up to church leadership, who will be there for you if it's your child or your grandchild next?' he said.
DuPre says she wants affirmation and an apology: two things, she says, she never got from the church.
'Like, I'm sorry this happened to you and I'm sorry we didn't do anything for you at the time.
France's Catholic child abuse probe flooded with messages
PARIS, Sept 20 — A commission set up by the French Catholic Church to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by clerics received about 2,000 messages in its first three months, chairman Jean-Marc Sauve said today.
The independent body, looking into abuse claims dating back to the 1950s, was set up last year in response to a number of scandals that shook the Church in France and worldwide.
Composed of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians, the commission began work in June, when it called for witness statements and set up a telephone hotline.
Since then, “we have received 2,000 telephone calls, emails and letters,” Sauve told AFP, and 650 people have agreed to fill out a detailed questionnaire.
“Sixteen victims or witnesses of abuse have already been heard by the commission,” he added, and so far, 15 cases have been identified that will be forwarded to the commission.
They concern allegations that have not yet been the subject of a criminal trial.
The commission has said it will deliver its conclusions by the end of next year.
“We were very surprised by the flood (of messages) from the very first days,” said Sauve, a former vice president of France's highest administrative court.
“All of these testimonies reveal much suffering and great distress,” he added.
Most of those who have come forward were older then 50, and two-thirds were men, he said.
The commission was formed after Pope Francis passed in May a landmark measure obliging those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors.
A few months earlier, a French cardinal, Philippe Barbarin, was handed a six-month suspended jail sentence for failing to report sex abuse by a priest under his authority.
Last month, the Vatican's former number three, Australian Cardinal George Pell, lost an appeal against his conviction for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys at a Melbourne cathedral in the 1990s.
Cardinal Pell makes final attempt to quash sexual abuse convictions
Cardinal George Pell has launched a final bid to overturn his convictions in Australia for child sexual abuse.
Pell was jailed for six years in March after being convicted of abusing two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s.
The former Vatican treasurer is the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of such crimes, but he has consistently maintained his innocence.
After losing an earlier appeal, Pell now hopes his case will be heard by Australia's top court.
However, there is no guarantee that the High Court of Australia will agree to review it.
Last December, a jury unanimously convicted Pell of sexually abusing the 13-year-old boys inside Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral. The convictions included one count of sexual penetration and four counts of committing indecent acts.
The verdict was kept secret from the public until February , when additional charges of sexual offences against Pell were withdrawn by prosecutors.
The Australian cleric filed his application in the High Court of Australia on Tuesday.
In his failed first appeal, Pell asserted that the guilty verdict had relied unreasonably on the testimony of one victim. His second victim died of a drug overdose in 2014.
The grounds for his latest appeal bid have not been made public.
Pell's conviction has rocked the Catholic Church, where he had been one of Pope Francis's closest advisers.
He was demoted from the Pope's inner circle last year, but the Vatican continues to face calls for Pell to be defrocked.
Pell will be eligible for parole in October 2022.
Kasur rapes and killings: Will Pakistan ever be safe for its children? When will I get an answer?
Is there effort to understand why Kasur has produced a series of child rapists, killers?
There is nothing worse than the death of a child. There is nothing worse than a parent burying a child.
There is nothing worse than inflicting violence on a child.
There is nothing worse than sexual abuse of a child.
There is nothing worse than the rape of a child.
There is nothing worse than the rape of a child and then killing that child.
After raping and killing the child, the body is thrown on a heap of garbage. That is what happened in the case of the seven-year-old Zainab. After raping and killing the child, the body is buried in a field. Sometimes, wild animals dig up the freshly buried body. Sometimes, it is a farmer whose shovel strikes a decaying skeleton as he works in a field. Sometimes, it is a daily wage earner who finds in a deserted industrial site the body and skeletal remains of not one, not two, but three children.
That is how Pakistan learned that there were children missing again in Kasur, this time in its tehsil Chunian, children from poor families whose disappearance would have remained a back-page story if they had not been found as dead bodies – tortured, raped and killed.
I do not have words to express the enormity of what I feel when I read about the rape and murder of a child. No human being with even an iota of humanity is able to even begin to comprehend a crime that defies all fathomable dark twists of the mind that unleashes cruelty on a being weaker than him. Sexually attacking a child is neither falling prey to uncontrollable lust nor is it to satisfy an overpowering sexual urge. Killing a child is neither an act of power nor a submission to a maniacal homicidal tendency. What it is, it is beyond the limits of my mind as a human being, as a woman and as a mother.
The only thing that I understand is that the rape and murder of even one child should have jolted Pakistan out of its collective apathy to ensure that never again a child is kidnapped, tortured, raped, killed and buried in a deserted industrial site.
But it has happened again and again. And it happens all over Pakistan.
Many cases go unreported. There are parents who never find out what happened to their child. The number of parents who report and wait for their missing child to come home is so high in a country with a weak legal system and an ever weaker conscience that it is a miracle why Pakistan has not collapsed inwardly because of the wails of those parents. Abuse of children is rampant, and so is the certainty that nothing will happen to their abusers.
Every day ten children are abused. That is the number of reported cases as per the NGO Sahil. In 2017, Sahil reported that there were 3,445 cases of reported child abuse. In 2018, the number of cases–reported, I emphasize–increased to 3,832. That is 387 more abused children. Try to imagine. It is three thousand eight hundred and thirty-two children, more than the number of children in any big school. All over Pakistan, this was the number of cases that made it to a newspaper. No one will ever know the exact number of children who were sexually abused. By someone in the family, a family friend, a relative, a teacher, a social acquaintance, a complete stranger.
What the law says
Laws exist. Punishments are given. The rapist and killer of the seven-year-old Zainab was found, tried in a court, sentenced, and executed. Imran Ali became the face of the darkest side of a society where the most inhuman acts take place but not much changes.
<< for the full article see the link below>>
Prince Andrew accuser says she was forced to perform sex acts at 17
by Tara John, CNN
London(CNN) Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of several women who accused the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein of sex crimes, has revealed new details of her alleged sexual abuse by Britain's Prince Andrew.
Giuffre tells NBC's Dateline she was forced to perform sex acts with Andrew when she was 17-years-old, after the British royal gave her vodka in a London nightclub.
Giuffre said the incident took place at the house of Ghislaine Maxwell, a British woman who has been accused of assisting Epstein.
"The first time in London, I was so young, Ghislaine woke me up in the morning and said 'you are going to meet a prince today,'" she told NBC.
"I didn't know at that point that I was going to be trafficked to that prince," she said, adding that Andrew got her vodka that evening as they partied in London's Club Tramp.
Giuffre has previously alleged that she was forced to perform sex acts with Andrew and other famous men. All have denied the allegations.
Court documents show that Giuffre accused Epstein of keeping her as a teenage "sex slave." Epstein, 66, died by suicide in jail in August awaiting trial on charges that he abused underage girls.
Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, has repeatedly rejected all accusations leveled against him in connection to the Epstein case.
In response to Friday's allegation Buckingham Palace told CNN it had nothing to add to its previous statement: "It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."
In another statement released last month Andrew said he met Epstein in 1999 and "saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year." Andrew also said that he stayed at "a number of his (Epstein's) residences."
But Andrew added that it was a "mistake and an error" to see Epstein in 2010, two years after the financier first pleaded guilty to sex crimes.
Giuffre alleged in the NBC interview that after leaving the club in London, Maxwell told her in a car ride with Epstein that Andrew "is coming back to the house and I want you to do for him what you do for Epstein."
According to Giuffre, "the abuse moved from the bathroom to a bedroom" of Maxwell's home.
"He was not rude or anything about it, he said thank you and some kind of soft sentiments like that and left," she said. "I just couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe that even royalty were involved."
Giuffre said she was abused by Prince Andrew two more times: once in Epstein's New York mansion and another time at his Virgin Islands' estate.
"He denies that it ever happened and he's going to keep denying that it ever happened, but he knows the truth and I know the truth," she said.
Former New Mexico Priest Gets 30 Years for Child Sexual Abuse
by KEITH COFFMAN
(Reuters) - A former Roman Catholic priest who fled to Morocco before he was returned to the United States and convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy in New Mexico in the 1990s was sentenced on Friday to 30 years in prison, prosecutors said.
U.S District Judge Martha Vazquez imposed the sentence in Albuquerque federal court on Arthur Perrault, 81, a onetime Air Force chaplain and colonel, U.S. Attorney John Anderson said in a statement.
"There are few acts more horrific than the long-term sexual abuse of a child,” Anderson said. “At long last, today's sentence holds Perrault accountable for his deplorable conduct.”
Perrault's trial attorney, Samuel Winder, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Perrault was convicted by a federal jury in April on six counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact with a minor in 1991 and 1992 at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, prosecutors said.
The victim, now an adult, testified that Perrault befriended him when he was 9 years old, showering him with gifts and trips before sexually assaulting him, prosecutors said.
Although he was convicted of abusing just one victim, prosecutors alleged in court filings that Perrault was a serial child molester who abused numerous young people over more than 30 years as a priest in New Mexico and Rhode Island.
At his trial, seven other alleged victims testified that Perrault, ordained in 1964, abused them during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The Roman Catholic Church has been roiled by allegations of sexual abuse since 1992, when the Boston Globe newspaper revealed a decades-long cover-up by church hierarchy of sexual misconduct by its clergy.
The U.S. Catholic Church has paid out more than $3 billion to settle clergy abuse cases, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the issue.
Under federal law, a convicted defendant must serve at least 85% of a sentence, meaning Perrault will likely die in prison.
Perrault fled the United States in 1992 when his criminal conduct became public, prosecutors said. He was located in Morocco, where he was arrested in 2017 following his indictment on the sex charges, and was extradited to New Mexico.
Linda Card, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, said Perrault served in the Air Force Reserve Chaplain Corps, and for a time was on active-duty status.
Bail revoked for father in West York 'house of horrors' child-abuse case
by BILL KALINA and LIZ EVANS SCOLFORO
One of two West York parents accused of creating a "house of horrors" for five of their seven young children is back in prison for allegedly violating his bail conditions, according to county court records.
Charles M. Benjamin, 72, formerly of the 1300 block of West Market Street and recently of Parkway Boulevard in York City, had been free on $250,000 bail. His bail conditions required he have no direct or indirect contact with his underage children and their mother, co-defendant Janay Fountain.
Their seven children remain in protective custody, including twin babies who police did not list as victims of any crimes, according to court records.
The couple's five other children — ages 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 at the time they were taken into protective custody on Feb. 6 by York County child caseworkers — are listed as victims in court documents.
York County probation officers earlier this month asked presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness to revoke Benjamin's bail, alleging Benjamin violated his bail conditions by making threatening statements toward Fountain about "turning state's evidence against him," according to court records.
Ness ordered Benjamin's bail revoked on Sept. 13; that order was docketed by county clerks on Sept. 16.
On Friday, Sept. 20, Benjamin was remanded to York County Prison, court records state.
Probation officers allege he called Fountain's family members and was trying to speak with her.
Benjamin's defense attorney, Clarence Allen, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Comments made? Fountain reported that Benjamin "made threatening comments to her on Sept. 4, 2019," according to court records, which allege it happened in the waiting room of the county's adult probation services department.
Benjamin's probation officer noted in her court filing that she specifically told Benjamin on that date that he was forbidden to have any contact with Fountain.
"He had mentioned multiple times during this meeting that he heard that Ms. Fountain had 'turned State's evidence ... against him,'" the filing states.
Benjamin remains charged with five counts each of aggravated assault and child endangerment, plus one count of false imprisonment of a minor by a parent — all felonies. He also is charged with five misdemeanor counts each of simple assault and reckless endangerment.
Fountain, 26, is also free on bail. She remains charged with felony counts of child endangerment for allegedly allowing her children to be abused.
Mike Folmer: Republican state senator charged with possession of child sex abuse images
Detectives arrest 63-year-old after receiving tip-off from Tumblr
by Zamira Rahim
A Republican state politician has been arrested and charged with possession of child sexual abuse images, police officers said.
Mike Folmer was detained on Tuesday, after Tumblr, the social media site, tipped off authorities about the Pennsylvania state senator's online behavior.
Detectives searched his home and allegedly found two indecent images of minors on his mobile phone.
Tumblr approached the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in February.
The site told officials that a user had uploaded at least one image containing alleged child sexual abuse in December 2017.
Detectives then traced the account to Mr Folmer's email address and home.
The 63-year-old was charged on Tuesday with possession of the images and criminal use of a communication facility.
“Michael Folmer stated that he had been dealing with some personal problems/issues and that he had received child pornography through his Tumblr blog,” an agent from the Pennsylvania attorney general's office wrote in court papers.
“I will continue to say it - no one is above the law, no matter what position of power they hold,” Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's attorney general, said in a statement.
“I will continue to work to protect children and hold those who abuse them accountable.”
The 63-year-old did not respond to requests for comment but his fellow state Republicans plan to strip him of his chairmanship of the senate state government committee.
The politician was elected to a fourth term in the Pennsylvania senate in November 2018.
He is considered one of the most conservative members of the chamber, known for regularly pulling a miniature copy of the US Constitution from his suit pocket.
Mr Folmer had recently opposed legislation which would have helped victims of historical child sexual abuse sue institutions such as the Catholic Church.
His bail was set at $25,000 but it is unclear if it has been paid.
Home Office to fund use of AI to help catch dark web pedophiles
Money will go towards testing tools including voice analysis on child abuse image database
by Jamie Grierson
Artificial intelligence could be used to help catch pedophiles operating on the dark web, the Home Office has announced.
The government has pledged to spend more money on the child abuse image database, which since 2014 has allowed police and other law enforcement agencies to search seized computers and other devices for indecent images of children quickly, against a record of 14m images, to help identify victims.
The investment will be used to trial aspects of AI including voice analysis and age estimation to see whether they would help track down child abusers.
Earlier this month, the chancellor, Sajid Javid, announced £30m would be set aside to tackle online child sexual exploitation, with the Home Office releasing more information on how this would be spent on Tuesday.
There has been debate over the use of machine learning algorithms, part of the broad field of AI, with the government's Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation developing a code of practice for the trialling of the predictive analytical technology in policing.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has made a crackdown on crime the central plank of his domestic agenda. His hardline approach will increase police officer numbers, put up the use of stop and search and incarcerate more offenders, handing down longer sentences.
Law enforcement bodies have welcomed the greater resources but critics described the approach as cynical populist politics designed to sway voters before a possible general election.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, said “vile predators who prowl the internet abusing children are cowards who need to be caught and punished”, adding that the money would make sure “online pedophiles are no longer able to hide in the shadows preying on our society's most vulnerable”.
National Crime Agency statistics showed 2.88m accounts were registered around the world on child sexual abuse sites on the dark web last year, with at least 5% believed to be in the UK.
The UK also plans to co-host a summit on child sexual abuse in Ethiopia in December to look at how leaders around the world can work together to tackle the crime.
A paper by the security thinktank Rusi, which focused on predictive crime mapping and individual risk assessment, found algorithms that are trained on police data may replicate – and in some cases amplify – the existing biases inherent in the dataset, such as over- or under-policing of certain communities.
The paper also highlights the risk of “automation bias”, whereby police officers become overreliant on the use of analytical tools, undermining their discretion and causing them to disregard other relevant factors.
Calls to child abuse hotline rise 12 per cent as adults worry about children's safety
Calls and emails to the NSPCC Helpline from adults worried about the safety of a child rose 12 per cent in the last year.
The free helpline received nearly 73,000 contacts in the last financial year from people reporting concerns about a child, almost half of which were referred on to police and social services to take further action.
The charity said there could be a number of reasons for such a substantial increase, including more adults being worried about a child and greater awareness among adults of the importance of speaking up and seeking professional advice if they are concerned about a child.
In Yorkshire and the Humber, the change was less significant, though calls still rose 2.3 per cent.
Mike McGrath, head of partnerships at the NSPCC, said the helpline provided “a critical service” across the UK.
He said: “It's vital that we can continue to provide this support to adults so that they know there is somewhere they can go if they are concerned for the safety of a child.”
The charity's Helpline hears from worried adults every day and night of the week, with concerns ranging from child neglect to sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
The overall rise in contacts is also reflected in the figures for sexual abuse, which has seen an 11 per cent jump in the past year. In the Yorkshire and the Humber region, 439 referrals were made in connection with sexual abuse during that time.
On Thursday, the government announced £30m of funding to help track down online pedophiles and tackle online grooming by adding artificial intelligence to the UK's world-leading Child Abuse Image Database.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Vile predators who prowl the internet abusing children are cowards who need to be caught and punished. That's why it's essential we give our law enforcement agencies the support, resources and powers they need to bring them to justice."
This comes after the NSPCC also urged primary schools to take part in a free program to help keep children safe.
In Yorkshire and the Humber the children charity's volunteers visited 593 primary schools and spoke to 131,425 children in the last academic year alone.
Nine in ten primary schools have taken part in the “Speak out. Stay safe.” program, but the charity wants the 3,500 schools nationwide that are yet to receive the program to get in touch.
In the average primary school class, at least two children have suffered abuse or neglect.
From next year, all schools will be required to ensure that children know how to report concerns or abuse and have the vocabulary and confidence to do this by the time they go to secondary school.
Karen Squillino, head of schools service at the NSPCC said: “It can be difficult for teachers and parents to know how to tackle this sensitive but incredibly important subject. Through our ‘Speak Out, Stay Safe' program we talk to children about the different types of abuse and let them know there are people out there who can help them.
“This new school term we want to encourage any schools that have not received a visit from us to sign up, so that we can empower as many children as possible to recognize and report any worries they have.”
As well as its helpline for adults and other programs, the NSPCC also runs Childline, 24-hour, 365-day counselling service that provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to.
Irish abuse survivor disappointed with global reforms, accountability
by Christopher Gunty
BALTIMORE (CNS) — Clergy sexual abuse survivor Marie Collins kicked off a five-city U.S. speaking tour on “The Catholic Tipping Point” in Baltimore Sept. 10, noting that she is disappointed with the results of the Vatican summit on child protection and efforts toward accountability and transparency.
Collins, who was one of the original members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, resigned from that group in 2017 because she was concerned that promised reforms were not being implemented and Vatican leaders were impeding the commission's work.
Speaking to a crowd of about 100 people at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, she said the abuse crisis has brought the church to a tipping point. “The church has come to a crossroads,” she said. “It's got to decide where it's going to go next because if it doesn't change, it's going to lose everything.”
And this change, she said, needs to come from the laity.
Collins told the group she had been molested by a hospital chaplain in Ireland when she was 12.
She said when she finally reported the abuse to a local priest many years later, she was told that she must have tempted the priest who abused her. The priest later lied about that meeting, she added.
Ten years later, she reported the incident to the Dublin Archdiocese and the hospital where the abuse occurred. The hospital offered counseling and reported the allegation to the police; the archdiocese said at the time that the priest had never had any such allegations against him, which was later was found to be false.
“I was lied to in the worst way,” she said. When the archdiocese made a statement that it had followed church guidelines in reporting and dealing with the abuse, Collins said she later met with the archbishop, who told her that the archdiocese was allowed to ignore the guidelines because they had no bearing in canon or civil law.
She said that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the next archbishop of Dublin, set up a strong child protection office — a “gold standard” that other bishops should follow. At the archdiocese's invitation, she joined a committee drafting child protection guidelines. “You can't criticize if you're not willing to help if asked,” she said. The committee later voted to disband when the committee was encouraged to weaken the document.
“The document released was very weak,” Collins said, and it noted that a complaint against a layperson would be reported to civil authorities, but a complaint against a priest would be handled internally.
In 2014, she was invited to be part of a new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and she agreed to participate in the group, which was half laypeople and half clergy. Collins was the only member who was a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.
“Sadly, the promises were not kept,” she said. The commission could not get adequate staffing and resources or access to other Vatican departments. She resigned in 2017 when she said it was clear the commission wouldn't be able to do what it had intended.
“We put forward a lot of good recommendations to the pope,” she said. “They were sent to the Curia. None of the recommendations from 2014 to 2018 were implemented.”
She praised Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who chaired the commission, for doing what he could. “I don't believe he's a liar,” but she thinks Pope Francis has people “whispering in his ear” who don't have the best interests of children as a priority.
“I believe the pope is doing his best,” she added, “but I believe he's not being told the truth.”
She said she met with Pope Francis when he visited Dublin in August 2018 for the World Meeting of Families and on his flight back to Rome, she said the pope said: “Marie Collins is fixated about accountability.”
“I am,” she said, to applause. “I take pride in that.”
She also told the Baltimore audience that the church “cannot continue to be an institution where clerical secrecy and total dysfunction can continue.”
The church needs to remove anyone who would abuse children, she said. “They should all be cleaned out and any colleagues who protected them.”
The laity have power in the church, she said. “It's our church. It's our children. We must act.
‘He became our best friend': how we survived Larry Nassar's systematic abuse
Olympic medalist Tasha Schwikert and US national team member Jordan Schwikert reveal their experience as sisters and survivors of Larry Nassar's abuse, including an unthinkable week Tasha spent in the predator's home
As told to Abigail Pesta
At first we found it hard to believe. Larry Nassar, the famous Olympic doctor, had been accused of sexually abusing young girls. We thought, What? Larry? No way. He was the good guy. The one who listened. The one who cared. Amid all the brutal coaching and training in gymnastics, he was our trusted friend.
It didn't immediately register that he had abused us too. It took some time. It's a strange feeling when you come to realize, as an adult, that you were abused as a child. Especially when the abuser is your doctor, the person who is supposed to have your best interests at heart. It was difficult to grasp that this had happened to us. As gymnasts, we had been taught to be tough.
We weren't alone in our initial disbelief. Many women had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that he had abused them as children. He was a renowned doctor. He said he was doing a medical treatment. We trusted him.
The two of us grew up putting our faith in coaches and doctors. They were our world. We started gymnastics as toddlers, going to Mommy and Me classes with our mom in our hometown of Las Vegas. She encouraged us to try different sports – tennis, T-ball – but we loved gymnastics. We're pretty close in age, and we progressed in the sport together. Our coach, Cassie Rice, was great. Her goal was to make us the best athletes – and the best people – we could be. That was more important to her than any awards.
By our early teens, we had climbed to the elite level of the sport. When we made the US national team, the training got toxic. We spent a lot of time at the Karolyi Ranch, the training center for the national team and Olympic team, based in Texas. We dreaded going there. The coaching was all negative – verbally and emotionally abusive. You weren't allowed to be exhausted, to be human. If you got injured, the coaches made you feel useless, so everyone hid their injuries, taking medications to mask the pain. None of us had a voice. It was such an extreme environment, Aly Raisman once said she was scared to ask for a bar of soap.
Our parents weren't allowed at the ranch. But Larry Nassar was there. He was always on hand for the training camps, and he became our best friend. We could go to him and be human. His training room was our safe place; the door would shut, and we would confide our problems. That's how he drew us in.
For me, Tasha speaking here, the abuse started when I was fifteen, after an incident at the ranch. We were all doing the “oversplits”, in which you elevate one or both of your feet, forcing your body to go down deeper than the regular splits. Coach Bela Karolyi pushed me down too hard, but I held back my tears. I had just watched Bela shouting at Jamie Dantzscher, calling her a “baby”. The next day, limping from pain in my groin area, I got sent to Larry. He massaged and penetrated me with his bare hands, claiming it was a medical treatment that would loosen my muscles. I trusted him because he was a respected doctor, and I had known him for years. Also, in the world of gymnastics, you're extremely isolated. I didn't know about sexual abuse. And there's no time for dating; I had no experience with boys or sex. None of us did.
It's like a job, and if you make a misstep, you are highly aware that you're replaceable – you are often reminded of that.
When I was seventeen, I had an achilles injury that became so bad, I could barely walk. Larry made a generous offer: He said he could treat me at his home in Lansing, Michigan, for a week. Desperate to get back on my feet, I thought, Wow, as a top athlete, I'm getting the LeBron James treatment. I went and stayed with him, his wife, and his children for five days. They made me feel right at home. It was like staying with family, visiting a trusted uncle. He worked on me every day, either in his basement, where he kept a massage table and medical supplies, or at a training room at Michigan State University, where he also worked. He did an MRI, acupuncture, electrical nerve stimulation, ultrasound. Every session involved a massage. He would start at my achilles tendon and work his way up my leg, eventually penetrating me. He said, “Everything is connected,” claiming that applying pressure to one part of my body would help another. He performed this abusive “treatment” on me three times a day – morning, noon, and night.
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‘It's my job to convince a survivor of sexual abuse that it wasn't his fault'
I support men who have experienced sexual violence, including those living on the streets. Sometimes I struggle.
by Katherine Cox
My run to work – at Survivors UK, a charity that supports men who have experienced sexual violence – is crucial in setting me up for the day. When I arrive, I wash in the basin (there's no shower) and meet with one of the independent sexual violence advisers.
His client, Bernie, has made a suicide attempt and we think together about how we can help. He's going through the criminal justice process; it can often leave everyone feeling angry and helpless.
'It's hard to help a refugee with PTSD who is 112th in line for a council flat'.
Then I counsel some clients. I worry about Mark – his thoughts of suicide are increasing because he can't see his kids. Terry is terrified to have children at all, in case people think he will abuse them. Jay is really struggling with drugs and sex, and is now injecting crystal meth on a weekly basis. These are all different ways of trying to live with the impact of being sexually abused.
Today I am working with clients who are in supported accommodation, usually placed straight from being homeless. Gary's use of heroin and crack is worryingly high. Homeless since he was 13 after running away from a violent alcoholic father who sexually abused him, he was gang raped on the street when he was a teenager.
Gary sobs at the loss of contact with his mother, who chose his father over him. He is angry and also feels he failed to protect his mum from his dad. “I let him rape me so he wouldn't hurt her but he raped her too.” How do I convey to him that he was a child and his dad is the one responsible? I feel angry too. I go home and chop carrots for soup. It helps.
There is an on-call message from the person staffing our webchat service. She had a WhatsApp conversation with a 16-year-old living in Wales who said he had just been raped. He was distraught and very unsure what to do. We ensure he is given all the relevant local agencies as well as a chance to speak about what has just happened.
In the evening I attend a play followed by a Q&A panel discussion. The play covers sexual trauma, HIV, chemsex and homophobia, and the struggle to create meaningful relationships with these as a backdrop.
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Children's books are tackling dark and taboo topics. Morris Gleitzman says that's nothing to be afraid of.
by Anna Kelsey
Children's authors are now writing about dark and controversial issues. But is that what kids should be reading?
In a Grimms' fairy tale from the early 1800s, two brothers are instructed by their father on how to kill a pig.
Later, the older brother slits the throat of his sibling; his enraged mother, in turn, stabs him. By the end of the story, the whole family is dead.
The story, How Some Children Played at Slaughtering, was pulled from subsequent editions of Grimms' Fairy Tales, perhaps deemed too dark and gruesome.
And though it's a far cry from the children's stories of today, debate about what kids should be reading remains.
Jo Lampert from La Trobe University's School of Education says these days we see everything from sexual abuse to death and terrorism in the pages of books for kids.
"I feel that there probably are no topics that are off limits," she says.
But should children's literature have limits? And if so, where should we draw the line?
Morris Gleitzman on tackling taboos
Celebrated author Morris Gleitzman says we shouldn't shy away from "taboo areas", or stories that are complex, confronting or dark.
"If we slam the lid down on certain areas of the world that they inhabit and already know a fair bit about … well, there's nothing more fearful for a young person than to see that an adult they trust and love just doesn't want to talk about some aspects of life," he says.
"That's monsters-under-the-bed time."
Gleitzman's books have discussed, among many other things, homosexuality, Holocaust survival and living with AIDS.
He believes topics considered taboo in children's literature shouldn't be avoided, but rather understood.
"Adult anxiety, where children are concerned, most often comes from love. And it's worth remembering that," he says.
He's compassionate, but firmly reproving, too.
"To attach taboos to subject matter is missing a lot of the points and doing a disservice to young people and their reading," he says.
Rather than shutting down complex topics, Gleitzman wants adults to use them to start a conversation with young readers.
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In the world of sex trafficking, justice is hard to find
by Gianluca D'Elia and Marion Callahan
The death last month of accused trafficker Jeffrey Epstein is just a public example of how justice is delayed, or nonexistent, for victims of human trafficking, advocates say.
No form of justice could satisfy most victims of human sex trafficking, local victims advocates say.
Days, months or years of trauma can't be erased, so when a victim steps out to fight for justice and an investigation crumbles, the suffering deepens, they say.
The Aug. 10 death of Jeffrey Epstein, accused of abusing and trafficking young women and girls for decades, sent shock waves through victim advocacy communities because it meant that he will not stand trial. This comes after he dodged a long prison sentence a decade ago, despite an abundance of evidence showing he abused girls at his Palm Beach mansion.
"When something like Epstein happens, it shows this offender again took control and silenced victims that could have been heard," said Charity O'Reilly, a longtime trauma counselor. "For victims, it feels like another silencing. It's a microcosm of what happens to victims every day."
There's a wider impact, too. Kate Lee, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, said the public missed out on an opportunity to learn more about an elusive crime that's often hidden in plain sight.
"Epstein helped us to hear a lot more about what it's like to be lured and tricked," Lee said. "Survivors didn't just miss out on justice, their day in court and seeing him face to face. We, as a general public, didn't get to understand everything that happened. It would've carried on and done a lot for our culture."
Getting enough evidence to make an arrest in a sex trafficking case is already an uphill battle, according to Newark-based FBI victim specialist Keyla Muñoz. It's hard to know how many human trafficking cases are prosecuted in New Jersey because alleged traffickers might be arrested for other crimes like sexual assault or organized crime. There's also a distrust in the system among victims, and once they're recovered, it's usually difficult to reintegrate into society, Muñoz said. Some victims often don't see themselves as victims.
"There's an element of belief that this is the best they can do," Muñoz said. "At a certain point in victimization, there's very little turning back for them — mentally and emotionally — where it's almost like a Stockholm Syndrome."
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Sting highlights ‘devastating' reality of human trafficking in Garfield County
by Thomas Phippen
Unsealed court documents reveal the simple details of an undercover operation that rounded up nine people accused of seeking sex with children in Glenwood Springs last weekend.
Agents posed as guardians of two fictitious girls, one 14, and one 13, and offered to sell them for sex at a Glenwood Springs hotel.
When the nine men showed up, they were arrested. In about two days, nine people showed up, most of them from Garfield County.
Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling brought the idea of an undercover operation to local law enforcement partners some time ago, and in June and July, got other state and federal agencies on board to conduct the undercover operation.
“I really have a place in my heart for kids,” Schilling said. “I know this stuff goes on, so it was important for me to do what we could to tide any flow of people preying on kids.”
Each arrest proceeded similarly, according to court documents from eight of the arrests.
When the suspects allegedly responded to ads posted on unidentified websites, via text message, several “chatters” from Colorado Bureau of Investigation would communicate with the suspects, negotiate prices for different acts, set minimal rules and arranged meeting places.
In each conversation, the chatters made it clear that the girls were underage, and asked the suspects to choose one or both fictitious girls, according to the court documents.
One man allegedly negotiated to have sex without protection for a higher price. Another made a request for multiple encounters with both children, and requested the girls wear perfume.
Many negotiated prices using “roses,” which is a term for dollars, according to the court documents.
According to court documents, when the men arrived at the rendezvous point, they would meet with the undercover officer and be given a key card to a hotel room. When they entered the hotel, they were arrested.
The men charged as a result of the operation run the gamut of class and race.
Schilling was not surprised at the number of people arrested in the operation.
“Actually, I think that we would have had quite a bit more if we had done Friday and Saturday instead of Thursday and Friday,” Schilling said.
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Using the Internet for grooming teens for sex trafficking
by CHRISANNA MINK
Last year, when a Modesto mom, Andi, was using her family's shared iPad, a strange encrypted message popped up. She clicked on the icon, which looked like a calculator but was a disguise for a chat room. This led her to graphic anatomical pictures of adult men who were looking for sex with young girls.
One of those young girls, it turned out, was her 12-year-old daughter, Anna.
“I found she had taken (explicit) pictures of herself and was sending them in response to requests from men,” said Andi, who asked that their full names not be used, to protect her children.
She said she was overwhelmed with concern that Anna was involved in this. She immediately deleted all of the pictures of her daughter and the men, as well as the apps. She feared that Anna was being groomed for sex trafficking and wanted to remove any chance of a predator finding her.
Anna was terrified and in tears — she hadn't realized she was a victim.
Andi took Anna and the iPad to the Modesto Police Department. Without any of the apps, MPD wasn't able to track down the predators.
“Don't do that,” Andi warned other families about her mistake in deleting all photos and apps. “The police need it for evidence.”
Computers, smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices offer kids easy access to the Internet. And they provide predators easy access to kids.
“Many children don't understand the danger they could be in online,” said Sgt. Brian Kleiber, specials victim's unit supervisor at the MPD. He said parents need to monitor their kids online and have the difficult conversations about the risks.
WHO GETS TARGETED FOR TRAFFICKING?
Anna is a high achiever, competitive athlete and has an intact family. She's a beautiful girl, with an athletic physique and flawless skin. She is also trusting and naive.
Like Anna, the majority of victims of human trafficking are girls and young women. However, youth of any sex and gender identities can be targeted. In fact, LGBTQ youth are at higher risks for being lured into an inappropriate sexual relationship with an adult, according to The Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“My 16-year-old son was trying to video chat using Instagram,” said Lynn. “He was sending and receiving d--k pics.”
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