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Opinion: New guardian angel protects us as we share #MeToo survivor stories

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:49 AM PST

UNITED STATES National Catholic Reporter November 21, 2017 By Amy Morris-Young On Sept. 24, when Barbara Blaine, founder and former president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (or SNAP) died, it felt to me like an era of the safe telling of this story might be ending as well. Like many other Catholic families, ours has been influenced by past clergy abuse, and felt its reverberations through subsequent generations. With Barbara Blaine gone, I worried that survivors might hold their stories tight, and keep those damaging secrets hidden, once again. I am only guessing here, but it seems Barbara has continued her mission, from heaven.

Church's plea of poverty a poor excuse, victims' lawyer says

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:43 AM PST

NEW BRUNSWICK (CANADA) CBC News November 21, 2017 By Harry Forestell Lawyer for sex abuse victims says Catholic Church has 'financial depth' The lawyer acting for victims of pedophile priests in the Archdiocese of Moncton is dismissing claims the church is running out of money. Rob Talach is representing 26 people suing the church for failing to protect them from sexual abuse, in most cases at the hands of the now-deceased Rev. Camille Leger. Recently Archbishop Valéry Vienneault told CBC News the archdiocese had essentially run out of money to compensate victims. The church spent $10.6 million on 109 claims between 2012 and 2014. "We had money — the diocese had money, but doesn't anymore," Vienneau said. But Talach claims the Roman Catholic church has financial depth and points to its substantial real estate assets as one potential source of cash.

Ex-Youth Pastor Pleads Guilty To Sexual Abuse Charges

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:39 AM PST

COVINGTON (KY) The Associated Press November 21, 2017 COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A former youth pastor and school volunteer has admitted to sexually abusing a young girl. The Kentucky Enquirer reports 56-year-old Joseph Niemeyer pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree sodomy, all against a girl younger than 12 years old. New Banklick Baptist Church pastor Tim Cochran says Niemeyer and his wife worked as youth pastors at the church in Walton, about 80 miles northeast of Louisville. He also volunteered at Independence's Twenhofel Middle School.

Judge: Boy molested at Willow Creek church can seek extra damages

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:37 AM PST

SOUTH BARRINGTON (IL) Daily Herald November 21, 2017 By Bob Susnjara Volunteer at Willow Creek molested boy with special needs in 2013 A Cook County judge has allowed an attorney to seek additional financial damages in a lawsuit against Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington on behalf of a special-needs boy who was molested there by an adult volunteer who admitted the sexual abuse. Lawyer Kevin J. Golden's case on behalf of the now 13-year-old Fox Lake boy against the church and Robert Sobczak, the volunteer in question, began in Cook County circuit court in February 2014. His client has autism, ADHD and a chromosomal disorder called DiGeorge syndrome. Golden said the case has dragged on long enough. "The church has fought this from Day One and has not taken responsibility," he said. "We look forward to our day in court."

These "Church Too" Tweets Are A Powerful Reminder That Sexual Abuse Isn't Limited To Hollywood

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:34 AM PST

UNITED STATES Bustle November 21, 2017 By Mehreen Kasana In the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against film tycoon Harvey Weinstein (who has denied accusations of nonconsensual sex), actress Alyssa Milano invited women to share their own experiences using the hashtag "Me Too." It went, understandably, viral. Shortly after the hashtag took off, reports emerged that the original idea for "Me Too" came from activist Tarane Burke who started it as a grassroots movement to support people who had experienced sexual abuse. Now, another Twitter hashtag "Church Too" is up with survivors detailing sexual harassment and abuse in places of worship like churches. The hashtag started on Tuesday and was described by one Twitter user in these words, "There's a hashtag on Twitter right now called #ChurchToo where people are sharing their stories of sexual harassment and abuse in religious (primarily Christian) settings. It's a sobering, powerful, disturbing read. Many thanks to the brave people sharing their stories." According to another user, the origin of #ChurchToo was traced to two women, writer Hannah Paasch and spoken word poet Emily Joy Allegations of sexual abuse taking place in churches aren't new. Time and again, there have been media reports of misconduct and inappropriate behavior coming from priests and pastors. But hashtag "Church Too" gives the power and control over narration to the very people who have experienced such abuse. As of this moment, the hashtag has over 2,000 tweets and it seems like it will continue to grow. Warning for people who may feel triggered by the hashtag as some of the content is disturbing.


Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:25 AM PST

UNITED KINGDOM The Tablet November 22, 2017 By Sarah Mac Donald 'The main challenge is how to live a meaningful and committed celibate life in the priesthood' A member of the Vatican's Commission for the Protection of Minors has said seminaries must pay the "greatest attention" to the protection of minors and vulnerable persons in their formation programmes and mustn't confine the matter to a one-off safeguarding lecture or workshop so that a box could be ticked. In his address on 'Formation in Safeguarding in Seminary and Religious Training' at a symposium at the national seminary in Maynooth, Professor Hans Zollner of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome's Gregorian University, said specific courses on the protection of minors must be included in seminaries' programme of initial as well as ongoing formation. The issue should not be something seminaries fear nor should it be confined to the area of sexuality, "it has to be part of our understanding of pastoral work," he said.

Filipino ex-priest faces US extradition on sex charges

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:22 AM PST

MANILA (PHILIPPINES) Agence France-Presse November 22, 2017 A Filipino ex-priest is facing extradition to the US for allegedly sexually abusing minors there in the 1990s, authorities said on Wednesday. Fernando Sayasaya, 53, was tracked down by police in a province outside Manila on Sunday nearly two decades after he fled the US and went into hiding in the Philippines. He was accused of molesting two boys in the state of North Dakota where he worked for the Catholic Church, police said. He was put on administrative leave in 1998 following the allegations, but a US court only issued an arrest warrant for Sayasaya in 2002. "He was charged of gross sexual imposition, that he (allegedly) made sexual contact on two young brothers who were aged under 15 at that time," Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras said. Before fleeing the US, Sayasaya apparently told his superiors he wanted to spend Christmas in the Philippines but never returned, Paras added.

Philippines to extradite priest accused of molesting US boys

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:19 AM PST

MANILA (PHILIPPINES) The Associated Press November 22, 2017 The Philippine government is preparing to extradite to the United States a recently arrested Filipino Catholic priest who faces charges of sexually molesting two boys in North Dakota churches in the 1990s, an official said Wednesday. Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras said Fernando Laude Sayasaya was arrested over the weekend by police in Calamba city in Laguna province south of Manila and will be flown back to the U.S., which sought his extradition under a treaty. "The apprehension of Fernando Sayasaya once again shows that the long arm of the law would reach all criminals," Paras said. "The suppression of crime is the concern not only of the state where it is committed but in any other state where the criminal may have escaped." Sayasaya is being detained at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila and could not be reached for comment. He was charged in a North Dakota court over alleged sexual advances toward two underage siblings from 1995 to 1998, including by separately touching and making them watch pornographic videos, in two North Dakota churches, according to Philippine Court of Appeals documents that cited a U.S. investigation.

Former Catholic priest to face court over alleged sexual assaults at a Dundas educational facility

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:15 AM PST

AUSTRALIA Parramatta Sun November 22, 2017 By Meg Francis A former Catholic priest will face court after being charged with the alleged historic sexual assault of seven youths at a Dundas educational facility. His arrest comes after allegations of a series of assaults during the late 1980s were raised during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Police said the man, 58, was initially arrested at his Hamilton home in New Zealand on July 31 following a three-year investigation. At about 7am on Wednesday, November 22, Rosehill police travelled to New Zealand and extradited the accused to Australia.

Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas Says Larry Nassar Sexually Abused Her Too

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:12 AM PST

UNITED STATES Huffington Post November 21, 2017 By Carla Herreria The gold medalist joins more than 100 women accusing the USA Gymnastics doctor. Gabby Douglas revealed on Tuesday that she was also a victim of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who has been accused by more than 125 women and girls of sexual abuse. This is the first time the Olympic gymnast has come forward with her own accusations of abuse. Douglas joins a growing number of gymnasts who have accused the 54-year-old doctor of sexually abusing them under the guise of medical treatment, including her Olympic teammates Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. Douglas wrote vaguely of the abuse in a statement she posted to Instagram on Tuesday in which she apologizes for a tweet she wrote last week that suggested a woman who dressed "in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd." Douglas said that she wasn't trying to victim-shame women. "I didn't view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you," the 21-year-old gymnast wrote.

Gabby Douglas opens up in Aly Raisman apology: I was abused, too

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 08:09 AM PST

UNITED STATES New York Post November 21, 2017 By Hannah Withiam Gabby Douglas added her name to the long list of female gymnasts who said they were victims of Dr. Larry Nassar's sexual abuse in a post apologizing for her misguided comments last week. In walking back her controversial response to Aly Raisman's message on victim shaming — in which Douglas said women should dress "modestly" and not provoke the "wrong crowd" — the three-time Olympic gold medalist indirectly noted she too was sexually molested by Nassar over the years he worked for USA Gymnastics. "I didn't view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you. It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar," Douglas wrote on Instagram Tuesday. "I didn't publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful. I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them."

Shattered Faith, Part III: Getting help

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 07:12 AM PST

ALBUQUERQUE (NM) KOB 4 November 22, 2017 By Chris Ramirez Editor's Note: This story is the second in a series called "Shattered Faith," in which KOB 4 Investigates examines the cases of three former Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe whose alleged widespread abuse of children decades ago not only went undealt with, but has contributed to what many mental health professionals call a mental health crisis for New Mexico. The first story in this series, "A dangerous shuffle game," can be found here. The second part of this series, "The wide circle of silence," can be found here. Read on for the final part of "Shattered Faith." ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- It's painful to talk about childhood sexual abuse, especially when the person who inflicted the pain is a member of the clergy. But talking about it, unpacking those emotions and memories, is important for the healing process. Many believe the hundreds, possibly thousands of acts of sexual acts perpetrated on children years ago have created a mental health crisis in New Mexico today.

Internet was ‘never meant for children’, says bishop

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 07:09 AM PST

ENGLAND Catholic Herald November 21, 2017 by Susan Byron It is for the Church to 'defend the dignity of children in the digital age,' Bishop Sherrington said A bishop has warned that the internet poses "multiple dangers" to children, given its origins as a "system developed for adults". John Sherrington, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, referred to the World Congress on Child Dignity in the Digital Age, a convention held by the Vatican in October. "It shows the Holy See is really concerned about the present situation, the way in which there are multiple dangers faced by children in the age of the internet," he said.

How Our Broken Justice System Led to a Sexual Harassment Crisis

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 07:06 AM PST

UNITED STATES New Republic November 22, 2017 By David Dayen A series of powerful men have been accused of serious crimes, with little legal accountability. Sound familiar? Amid the latest wave of sexual harassment allegations, you might conclude, with some relief, that predators are finally being held accountable for long-repressed abuse. But while several men have lost their jobs, there's been little accountability in a legal sense. Several cases reported in the media—from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey to Russell Simmons—would constitute crimes if proven, but thus far there haven't been any indictments. In Weinstein's case there have been reports of criminal investigations, but in general the #MeToo movement has played out in the press and on social media. This makes many uncomfortable. Each story has its own particulars, but they all inspire demands for the same conclusion: effectively, banishment from the public square. Bill Maher warned against lumping in Al Franken's alleged groping with Roy Moore's alleged stalking of minors. The mantra to "believe women" bumps up against questionable accusations, such as assault allegations against Senator Richard Blumenthal that were made by what appears to be a Twitter bot. Social media doesn't make allowances for legal concepts like the presumption of innocence, and it can justifiably lead to fears of mob rule or partisan exploitation.

After Lara revelations, Div School alumni call for investigation, reforms in letter to deans

Posted: 22 Nov 2017 07:04 AM PST

NEW HAVEN (CT) Yale Daily News November 21, 2017 By Adelaide Feibel In response to last week's news of former Yale Divinity School and Institute of Sacred Music professor Jaime Lara's history of sexual abuse as a priest, Divinity School alumni sent a letter with over 120 signatures to Dean of the Divinity School Greg Sterling and Dean of the Institute of Sacred Music Martin Jean, urging them to take concrete actions to foster a "just, hospitable and equitable" learning environment for students and a climate of accountability for faculty and staff. The letter was distributed starting last Wednesday in what Katey Zeh DIV '08, one of the letter's authors, called "a grassroots effort." By signing the letter, alumni pledged to withhold financial support from both the Divinity School and the Institute of Sacred Music until the administrations of the two institutions address the letter's requests "in good faith." "While we and many other alumni benefitted from amazing educations and transformative experiences during our time on the Quad, we are disappointed by what this news reveals — unhealthy and toxic power dynamics that too frequently characterize faculty-student encounters and relationships at YDS and ISM," the letter states.