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Star Wars helped fight director Nicholas Harrison survive the Dark Side of child abuse

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:28 PM PST

VANCOUVER (CANADA) Georgia Straight November 29th, 2017 By Janet Smith When Nicholas Harrison was nine years old, he saw Star Wars—a movie that didn't just change his life but, as he puts it, saved it. He'd been invited to his first birthday party, to watch Smokey and the Bandit with some other boys, and started wandering between the theatres of the multiplex. Something caught his attention on one of the big screens: two robots were walking across a sand dune, and one said, "We were made to suffer. It seems to be our lot in life." The words struck a nerve in the boy, who had endured more suffering than any child should ever have to face—almost five straight years of unspeakable physical and sexual abuse by the teachers, nuns, and priests at his Catholic elementary school. Later, another line hit him just as hard: the elderly Obi Wan Kenobi telling the evil Darth Vader "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." "Seeing this old man go up against Darth Vader: it was amazing to me, having this courage," Harrison recalls, sitting with the Straight in a West Broadway coffee shop. "So I had to go back and watch it all the way through with my dad. It gave me hope that this small group of misfits could win against an organization like the Empire. The Empire has order and discipline—it even has black robes…" The preteen Harrison figured that if he could just use the Force, he would be able to protect himself. "I wanted to know more about what that Jedi was; I kept going back to 'What was this Jedi?'" Harrison would follow that dream into adulthood, becoming as close to a modern-day Jedi as might be possible on 21st-century Earth. In his youth, he began studying martial arts. He would go on to pursue kendo, the Japanese martial art that inspired Star Wars' light-sabre battles, even fighting professionally on the British kendo team. He would become a fight director, working for companies like Vancouver Opera and Bard on the Beach, as well as an actor and a stuntman. "A lot of people say 'How did you become a fight director?' " he says. "And I'm always like, 'Do you want the short or the long version?' " It's a story of survival and hope that he turned into his doctoral thesis at UBC. And now, at the encouragement of some of his theatre colleagues, finally into a one-man show—How Star Wars Saved My Life. A father of two, and a teacher with his PhD, Harrison has put his world strongly back together, but when he talks about the secrets he carried with him in childhood, the raw emotion is, understandably, still near the surface.

For evangelicals, sin is redeemable — but can that allow sex offenders to dodge their actions?

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:25 PM PST

UNITED STATES VOX November 29, 2017 By Tara Isabella Burton Many of Roy Moore's evangelical supporters see alleged "sins of the past" as no longer relevant. Onetime Alabama Senate frontrunner (and longtime Christian theocrat) Roy Moore has managed to hold onto his evangelical base, despite being embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct with at least eight teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Several major evangelical figures, including Jerry Falwell Jr., and Franklin Graham, both of whom serve on Donald Trump's unofficial evangelical advisory council, have spoken in support of Moore, and, according to the latest Fox News poll, 65 percent of white evangelicals in Alabama still plan to vote for him. Why? Evangelical support for Moore is based on a variety of factors. There are those who think that the allegations against Moore are the result of a political smear campaign, or — worse — that diabolical "forces of evil" are attempting to push God out of government, in this case by muddling a staunch Christian politician's chances of winning a Senate seat. There are those who think that "courting" a teenage girl just isn't that big a deal. There are those who believe the good Moore can do in office — like working to ban abortion — outweigh the bad in his personal life. But, perhaps most importantly, an alarmingly common evangelical approach to sexual misconduct — and misconduct more generally — is deeply rooted in theological concepts of sin, redemption, and forgiveness that make it easy to dissociate a wrongdoing individual from his past misdeeds on the grounds that he has already been "forgiven." When it comes to the allegations against Moore, this narrative has been pervasive among evangelical supporters. In line with the aforementioned Fox News poll, Dottie Finch, a Moore supporter interviewed by CNN shortly after the allegations came out, took this view: "And if it has happened, I believe the good Lord has forgiven him and he has the right to continue to prove himself." An Alabama retiree and Moore supporter quoted by the Huffington Post took a similar tack: "And if he had done it, it doesn't matter in God's eyes because he'd have been forgiven." Kenneth Frost, a Baptist deacon, agreed, telling the Los Angeles Times, "I have to forgive him, just like God forgave me."

Caldey Island abuse inquiry call by Darren Millar AM

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:23 PM PST

CALDEY ISLAND (WALES) BBC News November 29, 2017 There has been a new call for an independent inquiry into historical abuse on Caldey Island to be launched. Eleven women claimed they were abused by Father Thaddeus Kotik when they were children. He died in 1992. Welsh Conservatives children's spokesman, Darren Millar, said the Welsh Government should instigate an investigation. But he was told during Wednesday's plenary in the Senedd that a police investigation was under way. A support group has also called for an inquiry. It comes after allegations of abuse against Kotik were made to the Pembrokeshire island's abbey in 1990, but were not passed on to police. Officers were told about the abuse in 2014 and 2016, but could not prosecute as the monk had died.

Pupils ‘not protected from abuse’ at Ampleforth

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:20 PM PST

ENGLAND ITV News November 29, 2017 Several former pupils at a prestigious Catholic boarding school in North Yorkshire have told an inquiry that they were not protected from sexual abuse at the hands of priests and teachers. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has heard there were 40 alleged perpetrators of abuse at Ampleforth College near Thirsk between 1953 and 2016. A former pupil sexually abused by music teacher Dara De Cogan between 2007 and 2010 told the hearing in London that child protection at the school was "very poor." The victim said he was physically inappropriate with her in front of other staff and it was widely known they spent a great deal of time alone together during many evenings, but nothing was done.

Catholic nuns 'sexually abused boy and beat friend, 6, to death for playing with match'

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:19 PM PST

ENGLAND Mirror November 28, 2017 By Hilary Duncanson and Lucinda Cameron A six-year-old boy died 10 days after he was beaten by a nun at an orphanage, a child abuse inquiry has heard. A witness, who cannot be named, told the inquiry his friend was kicked on the body and head by the Catholic sister. He was giving evidence at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry which began a new phase of hearings in Edinburgh on Tuesday. It is hearing evidence about institutions run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, which has issued an apology to anyone abused in their care. The man said he was sexually abused by a nun and another member of staff and beaten for bedwetting and not eating his food at Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark, Lanarkshire. The witness entered the orphanage in 1959 when he was aged around two. A witness has told an inquiry how he was abused at Smyllum Park orphanage in Lankarkshire, Scotland, in the 1960s

Child abuse inquiry: Boy 'abused' by head of Catholic school

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 01:16 PM PST

ENGLAND BBC News November 29, 2017 A head teacher of a Catholic boarding school invited a young pupil into his study and then sexually abused him, the inquiry into child abuse has heard. The hearing heard the boy was told to pretend to go to bed in his dorm at Ampleforth College, in North Yorkshire, and then to get up and go to his study. Two other ex-pupils also talked about being abused and beaten at the school. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is currently examining abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The Church is one of 13 public organisations being scrutinised by the public inquiry, which is being headed by Prof Alexis Jay. The third day of hearings into allegations involving the Church examined abuse at Ampleforth College, a private school run by Benedictine monks.

Therapy for sexual misconduct? There’s no evidence to back it up

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:52 AM PST

UNITED STATES New York Times November 28, 2017 By Benedict Carey The recent surge in accusations of sexual harassment and assault has prompted some admitted offenders to seek professional help for the emotional or personality distortions that underlie their behavior. "My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons," the producer Harvey Weinstein said in a statement in October. The actor Kevin Spacey announced that he would be "taking the time necessary to seek evaluation and treatment." Whatever mix of damage control and contrition they represent, pledges like these suggest that there are standard treatments for perpetrators of sexual offenses. In fact, no such standard treatments exist, experts say. Even the notion of "sexual addiction" as a stand-alone diagnosis is in dispute. "There are no evidence-based programs I know of for the sort of men who have been in the news recently," said Vaile Wright, director of research and special projects at the American Psychological Association. That doesn't mean that these men cannot change their ways with professional help. The evidence that talk therapy and medication can curb sexual misconduct is modest at best, and virtually all of it comes from treating severe disorders, like pedophilia and exhibitionism, experts said — powerful urges that cannot be turned off. Still, there is reason to think that these therapeutic approaches can be adapted to treatment of the men accused of offenses ranging from unwanted attention to rape. "You're really looking at two categories of people," said Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA, who has a clinical practice focusing on sexual problems. "One is what I call sexually compulsive behavior. The other is reserved for people committing nonconsensual acts — sex offenders."

#ChurchToo: Online movement highlighting sexual abuse in religious communities

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:37 AM PST

FARGO (ND) Valley News Live November 28, 2017 By Melanie Palmer FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The #MeToo campaign is now spreading to your church. A new social media hashtag is aiming to bring attention to sexual assault in religious communities. It's called #ChurchToo. People are speaking out about their experiences, but an area church is working to prevent these incidents before they even happen. Twitter is at it again. Except this time, users are hoping to raise awareness on what they call, a hidden crime. It's sexual assault at church, and the numbers show that people between the ages of 12 and 34 are at the highest risk of being raped or sexually assaulted. "85% of the people who do abuse are actually known by the victim. We tend to think, it won't happen here because we know everybody but that's not the case," says Bethel Church Senior Associate Pastor, Gary Siefers. We tried contacting a rash of churches in the F-M area. Many of them didn't want to talk, they say it's a tricky subject. But at Bethel Church in Fargo, staff members work hard to ensure no incidents like these happen. "We do background checks on volunteers and check references through an application process. For the staff, we have training on how to recognize abuse and not put themselves in a situation where that might happen," says Siefers.

Ex-priest who was fired from Cheverus, went to prison faces new sex charges in Maine

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:31 AM PST

PORTLAND (ME) Press Herald November 28, 2017 By Dennis Hoey An indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges that James Talbot engaged in a sexual act with a minor in Freeport nearly 20 years ago. A former Jesuit priest who taught and coached at Cheverus High School for nearly two decades before being fired in 1998 is scheduled to be arraigned in Portland on charges he sexually assaulted a minor in Freeport nearly 20 years ago. A grand jury indictment dated Nov. 9 and obtained by the Press Herald on Tuesday identifies the priest as 80-year-old James Francis Talbot of Dittmer, Missouri. The indictment charges Talbot with gross sexual assault, a Class A offense, and with unlawful sexual contact, a Class C offense. The indictment alleges that Talbot engaged in a sexual act with a minor and subjected the minor, who was 8 or 9 years old at the time, to sexual contact on or between May 1, 1997, and June 14, 1998. The indictment said the alleged crimes took place in Freeport, but offered no information about a specific location, Talbot's relationship to the minor, or why Talbot was in Freeport. It also was not clear why the charges are being brought now or whether this is the first time Talbot has been charged in Maine. According to Maine statute of limitations, a prosecution for incest, unlawful sexual contact, sexual abuse of a minor, rape or gross sexual assault may be commenced at any time if the victim was not 16 at the time of the alleged crime.


Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:28 AM PST

SANDPOINT (ID) Priest River Times November 29, 2017 By Keith Kinnaird SANDPOINT — Criminal proceedings are resuming against a Bonner County man accused of ritualized and sexual abuse. A preliminary hearing in the case against Dana Andrew Furtney is set for Dec. 6, court records show. Furtney is charged with lewd and lascivious conduct, sexual battery of child involving lewd conduct and ritualized abuse. The case against Furtney was put on hold earlier this fall when questions were raised about his capacity to understand the proceedings and assist in his own defense. Chief Deputy Public Defender Susie Jensen moved for the mental health evaluation because Furtney's strongly held spiritual beliefs, his belief that he has a personal relationship with God and that his actions were guided by God's will, court records indicate. Furtney, however, has now been deemed fit to proceed in the criminal case, court records show. He remains held at the Bonner County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. Furtney, 48, is accused of sexually battering a girl in 2013 and 2014, when she was 16 years old. He's also accused of engaging in lewd conduct with a 14-year-old girl during the same time frame and engaging in ritualized abuse by forcing a boy to consume feces and urine when he was between the ages of 11-12 years old. The allegations against Furtney, also known as Andrew Furtney, emerged last month, after some of the alleged victims had relocated to Ohio, according to court documents.

Called in house for oblation, priest rapes woman

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:25 AM PST

PATIALA (INDIA) The Times of India November 29, 2017 By Bharat Khanna PATIALA: Police here have booked a priest for raping a 38 year old woman in her house while performing the oblation. The victim woman in her statement to the police had alleged that priest was called in house by her husband to offer the prayers and bring out a solution for the problems being faced by the family including the financial crisis and repeated fever to the victim. She told the police that accused priest Vinay Sharma of Deep Nagar in city assured her husband of solution to their problems with his religious and occult practices. The priest send victim's husband outside home to bring some commodities required for the oblation while he send the children on roof of the house. Now finding her alone in the house the accused Vinay Sharma allegedly raped her and threatened her to kill her children if she revealed anything to anybody. Police claimed that victim claimed that she was raped next day again by the priest who reached their house to collect his Rs 65000 fees for oblation and other practices.

Former Salesian College, Rupertswood, principal Frank Klep to stand trial

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:21 AM PST

VICTORIA (AUSTRALIA) Herald Sun November 29, 2017 By Shannon Deery A FORMER school principal of one of Victoria's most infamous Catholic colleges will fight charges of molesting students. Former priest Frank Klep, 74, is charged with sexually assaulting three students of Salesian College, Rupertswood, at Sunbury during the 1970s and 1980s. He was this week committed to stand trial but is fighting all charges. Mr Klep's lawyer Antony Trood told the County Court on Wednesday Mr Klep denied some of the charges and could rely on an alibi in relation to others. "Immigration records are being sought to see if Mr Klep was indeed in the country at the relevant time," he said. It is alleged all the assaults took place at the college while Mr Klep was a priest and teacher. Students of the school say a sickening club of paedophiles roamed its grand halls and manned its dormitories for more than four decades between the 1950s and 1990s. In 2004, the Australian chapter of the Salesians, the world's second largest Catholic order, was engulfed in scandal after it was alleged local superiors knowingly moved priests accused of sexual assaults across international and state borders to evade authorities. The order denied that they moved Mr Klep to Samoa after investigations into sex assault allegations first surfaced.

SNAP issues apology to priest and St. Louis Archdiocese

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:19 AM PST

ST. LOUIS (MO) National Catholic Reporter November 28, 2017 By Brian Roewe The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests issued an apology Monday to a St. Louis priest and the St. Louis Archdiocese "for any false or inaccurate statements" made in relation to sexual abuse allegations brought against the priest that courts have found false. The apology was part of a settlement reached in October between SNAP and Fr. Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang, who in 2015 brought a civil rights suit against the abuse victims advocacy group and the parents of a boy who accused him of sexual abuse. That allegation, made in 2014, was the second against Jiang, following one made by a teenage girl in 2012 accusing him of improper contact. Each accusation led to criminal charges and civil suits against the priest. In both instances, the criminal charges were dropped and the civil suits ruled in Jiang's favor. In the apology, released by the St. Louis Archdiocese, SNAP said that false claims of clergy sexual abuse do occur, and that neither of its leaders named in the suit, former executive director David Clohessy and current executive director Barbara Dorris, had personal knowledge of complaints against Jiang. "SNAP acknowledges that false claims of clergy sexual abuse injure those clerics falsely accused and the Roman Catholic Church. SNAP apologizes for any false or inaccurate statements related to the complaints against Fr. Joseph Jiang that it or its representatives made which in any way disparaged Fr. Joseph Jiang, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Monsignor Joseph D. Pins and the Archdiocese of St. Louis," the statement read. Dorris told NCR that SNAP still maintains it did not make false statements about Jiang.

Ex-priest fired from Maine school accused of assaulting minor

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:17 AM PST

BANGOR (ME) Bangor Daily News November 29, 2017 By Callie Ferguson A former Catholic priest who was fired from Cheverus High School in Portland in 1998 and served time for molesting boys in Massachusetts was indicted this month for sexually assaulting a minor in Freeport 20 years ago. James F. Talbot, 80, has been charged with one count of gross sexual sexual assault with a minor under the age of 14, and one count of unlawful sexual contact with a minor under the age of 14. The allegations against Talbot have been known to the Portland community for some time, after the Boston Globe's Spotlight team brought the alleged molestation to light in an the early 2000s investigation of sex abuse inside the Catholic Church. Talbot already has served time for assaulting teenage boys while he was their wrestling coach at Boston College High School, according to the Patriot Ledger. He was released in 2011 after serving six years of a five- to seven-year sentence, according to the paper.

Beauty and the Priest: Former priest going on trial for 1960 cold case

Posted: 29 Nov 2017 09:14 AM PST

EDINBURG (TX) CW39 November 28, 2017 By Tammy Feldstein EDINBURG, Texas - After 57 years, the murder of a south Texas beauty queen may finally be solved. The accused? The priest who heard her last confession. Jury selection will begin for the trial of former Priest John Feit, 85. Fifty Seven years ago Feit was a visiting member of the clergy at Sacred Heart Church in Mc Allen, where 25-year-old Irene Garza was last seen alive. The young school teacher was well-known in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and lived down the street from Sacred Heart with her parents where she went to confession every Saturday. On Easter weekend in 1960, Garza went to church and never came home. More than 500 members of the community helped police search for Garza. First, they found her shoe, then her purse and days later they found her body floating in a canal. Garza's autopsy revealed had been raped and beaten. Police also found a clue; a small slide projector near her body that belonged to Feit.