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Cardinal Pell accuser dies before sexual abuse trial begins

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:30 AM PST

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA) Catholic News Agency January 8, 2018 The legal case against Cardinal George Pell of Australia has taken an unexpected turn, after the death of Damian Dignan, who accused Pell of committing acts of sexual abuse. Dignan died of leukemia last week in the Australian town of Ballarat, which will likely impact a committal hearing scheduled for March 5 addressing the sexual abuse charges levelled against Pell. In March 2016, Dignan and two former classmates from St. Alipius school in Ballarat who together accused Pell of inappropriate sexual behavior when they were minors. The cardinal had previously been accused of acts of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1961. Without the sworn testimony of Dignan in court, it is possible that prosecutors could drop the case altogether. However, Victorian Police did not confirm or deny the plausibility of this happening, especially because the prosecution could still use sworn statements or evidence given under oath made before Dignan's death. In addition, up to 50 witnesses are still expected to testify during the upcoming committal hearing. Former Victorian magistrate Nicholas Papas did note that convicting Pell without Dignan is a "more difficult task," according to the DailyMail UK. Dignan's lawyer Ingrid Irwin said that it was "ridiculous" that Dignan died "without any justice," according to the Herald Sun.

Retired teacher is jailed for indecent assaults

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:29 AM PST

ENGLAND Kingsbridge and Salcombe Gazette January 8, 2018 By Roger Williams Villagers have spoken of their shock after a retired teacher was jailed for four years for indecently assaulting boys in his charge at a school in West Sussex. Peter Burr, 73, of The Square, Kingswear, admitted nine counts of indecent assault between 1969 and 1973 on young boys at Christ's Hospital School, a boarding school in Horsham, West Sussex. Burr was well-known in the area. He could often be found at the Ship Inn in Kingswear or the Windjammer in Dartmouth. Jan Henshall, chairman of Kingswear Parish Council, said: "I believe he was a member of Royal Dart Yacht Club. In the past, he attended the senior citizens lunch at Christmas in the village. He had a social life here and was well-known. From what I can gather from his friends, they are in total shock." Jason Byrne, of Kingswear Post Office, said: "He was a good customer and a very nice man. I'm surprised and shocked like everyone else. He's done wrong and will now have to pay for it. "He always kept himself to himself. If he was going away, he would not give any details. He would just say I'm going to see some friends, whereas as other people might say where they are going or have been. "Every Saturday evening, he went to church." Burr attended St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Dartmouth. Richard Rendle said: "I am disappointed because I thought he was a gentleman. I know he helped at the Regatta with classic craft and was a member of the Probus Club in Dartmouth." A physics teacher and deputy housemaster at the school, he was sentenced to four years in prison by judge Christine Henson QC, at Hove Crown Court on Friday, January 5, and was given concurrent sentences for each of the victims and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order. DC Rebecca Wilde, of Sussex Police, said; "He clearly focused his sexual attentions on boys between and 11 and 13 in his house, leaving older boys alone. "Some of the offences took place in his study during informal Wednesday and Sunday afternoon gatherings to watch TV, with tea, biscuits and cake on offer. To be invited was regarded as a great privilege and he took advantage of this, and his status, to systematically touch and molest three of the victims. "The fourth victim was assaulted in the dormitory area and at the school swimming pool. "The four boys kept these traumatic experiences largely to themselves for up to 48 years and moved on with their lives. "We were first told about Burr in February last year, when one of the victims came forward, triggered by hearing a local radio debate in London on the recently publicised football sex abuse scandal, and believing that insufficient attention was given to cases in which offenders were not public celebrities. "One of the others later came forward after the school advised ex-pupils of the ongoing investigation. "This is an important reminder that such reports will always be taken seriously, however long ago they are said to have happened."

TENSIONS AHEAD OF PAPAL VISIT TO CHILE

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:23 AM PST

LONDON (ENGLAND) The Tablet January 9, 2018 By Christopher Lamb Opinion polls say that just 36 per cent of the Catholic majority population are looking forward to the papal visit Pope Francis departs on Monday for a trip to Chile and Peru for what will be his sixth visit to Latin America, where issues of clerical sexual abuse and church renewal are likely to feature. The question of abuse is likely to loom largest in Chile where the Pope has faced criticism for appointing Osorno's Bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up abuse by a prominent priest, Fr Fernando Karadima in the 1980s and 90s. Peter Saunders, a British abuse survivor who recently resigned as a member of the Pope's child protection commission, says he plans to be in Chile to try and highlight the case. Bishop Barros' appointment has been a divisive one with 650 people turning up in protest during his ordination ceremony that saw the new bishop needing protection from ushers in order to enter the cathedral. In impromptu remarks to a group of Chilean pilgrims following a Wednesday General Audience, the Pope criticised Osorno's protesters saying leftist politicians were leading them "by the nose" and had been allowed to "fill people's heads, judging a bishop without any evidence." The Vatican judged Karadima to have abused children and sentenced him to a life of prayer and penitence. Bishop Barros, who was accused of protecting Karadima, has denied covering up.

Catholic ex-priest refuses to speak at sexual abuse trial in Germany

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:20 AM PST

GERMANY Deutsche Welle January 9, 2018 It's the second court session in which the 53-year-old declined to speak. He faces sexual abuse and other charges. He was expelled from the priesthood in 2008 but continued to pose as a cleric. A 53-year-old former priest is currently on trial in a district court in the Bavarian city of Deggendorf. Thomas Maria B., who was born in Wuppertal, is accused of having sexually abused five German boys under the age of 14 a total of 110 times between 1997 and 2016. The man is also accused of the attempted rape of an 18-year-old in Austria. The attorney defending the former Catholic priest has said that the man "feels incapable" of testifying before the court. He also refused to address the court in December. Mentally disturbed defendant Public prosecutors in Deggendorf have said that the defendant is mentally disturbed and thus cannot be held entirely responsible for his actions. Nevertheless, they see a threat that he could repeat such offenses again in the future. They are therefore calling for the man to be permanently committed to a psychiatric institution. He was previously imprisoned between 2003 and 2009 for the rape and abuse of two young girls. Entered priesthood with fraudulent documents After completing studies in theology, the man was ordained a priest in Poland in 1994. State prosecutors accuse the man of having used fake documents to fraudulently gain access to the priesthood. A church court in the German archdiocese of Freiburg removed the man from the priesthood in 2008, which officially forbade him from carrying out priestly work. That decision was upheld by another church court in Munich in 2012.

Metro East priest accused of possessing child porn

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:17 AM PST

MASCOUTAH (IL) KMOV January 8, 2018 A Catholic priest from a church in Mascoutah, Illinois is accused of possessing child pornography. Belleville police say they got a tip leading them to Rev. Gerald Hechenberger, who is the associate pastor at Holy Childhood Church and School. Investigators say he was distributing images of children under 13-years-old. He has been arrested but has yet to be charged. Police say the investigation is ongoing.

Trial set in Berkeley County on lawsuit claiming Mormon church covered up abuse

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:13 AM PST

MARTINSBURG (WV) Herald-Mail Media January 8, 2018 By Matthew Umstead MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A jury trial is slated to begin next week in Berkeley County (W.Va.) Circuit Court on a lawsuit that claims Mormon church leaders covered up the sexual abuse of several children by a member who since has been excommunicated and imprisoned. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has adamantly denied the claims, which are connected to criminal prosecutions of Christopher Michael Jensen dating to 2004 in Berkeley County and Provo, Utah. Jensen, now 26, is serving a 35- to 75-year prison sentence for his conviction in Berkeley County on two counts of sexual abuse and one count of sexual assault. Jensen was convicted in February, 2013 of sexually abusing two boys while babysitting them in 2007, but the children didn't report what occurred until 2012, attorneys said. A pool of 100 people is expected to be summoned to possibly serve as jurors in the civil trial, which is set to begin Jan. 16.

Abingdon vicar guilty of 'spiritually abusing' boy

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:06 AM PST

ENGLAND BBC News January 8, 2018 A Church of England vicar has been convicted by a tribunal of spiritually abusing a teenage boy. The Reverend Timothy Davis moved in with the boy's family in 2013 and held two-hour private prayer sessions in the boy's bedroom, the panel heard. Mr Davis, of Christ Church, Abingdon, also tried to end the boy's relationship with his girlfriend, describing her as a "bad seed". The Bishop's Disciplinary Tribunal said it would fix a penalty in due course. Church of England officials said it was thought to be the first time a tribunal had convicted a priest of spiritual abuse. Mr Davis lived with the family, who were members of his congregation, for six months in 2013. 'Unbecoming and inappropriate' During the prayer sessions in the boy's bedroom they laid hands on each other's head, shoulders, chest and back, although the tribunal ruled there was no "sexual touching". The boy's mother said she could not tell Mr Davis to stop because she was "frightened of the consequences to Tim and what God would do".

Church of England finds vicar guilty of spiritual abuse of 15-year-old boy

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:03 AM PST

ENGLAND The Guardian January 8, 2018 By Harriet Sherwood Tim Davis moved into boy's Oxfordshire home and subjected him to intense prayer and Bible sessions in his bedroom The Church of England has found a vicar guilty of spiritually abusing a teenage boy, after putting him under "unacceptable pressure" during intensive prayer and Bible-study sessions in the boy's bedroom. In the first judgment of its kind, a C of E tribunal found that the Revd Timothy Davis, the vicar of Christ Church, Abingdon, in Oxfordshire, was guilty of misconduct under clergy disciplinary measures. The ruling was published on Monday as an online survey found that two-thirds of 1,591 respondents said they had personally experienced spiritual abuse. The survey, carried out by Bournemouth University for the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS), a safeguarding charity, identified key characteristics of spiritual abuse as coercion and control, manipulation and pressuring of individuals, control through the misuse of religious texts and scripture, and providing a 'divine' rationale for behaviour". The bishops' disciplinary tribunal for the diocese of Oxfordshire said that Davis was guilty of "conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk of holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority". There was no suggestion of any sexual contact. According to the 20-page judgment, Davis, who is in his 50s, became a mentor to a 15-year-old boy, named in the judgment as W1, in 2011. Over a period of 18 months, Davis "engaged in mentoring so intense that W1 was put under unacceptable pressure having regard to his age and maturity and was deprived of his freedom of choice as to whether to continue". It added: "Under the guise of his authority [Davis] sought to control by the use of admonition, scripture, prayer and revealed prophecy the life of W1 and/or his relationship with his girlfriend." During the 18 months, Davis moved into the family home, and engaged W1 in prayer and bible study for two-hour sessions in the boy's bedroom. The vicar also went on holiday with the family. W1 described being mentored by Davis as "awful" and all-consuming, but did not feel able to challenge the priest. He told the tribunal that Davis became angry if he did not ring him or respond to texts. W1's mother, who worked at the church, also felt unable to challenge Davis because he was her boss and had made it clear that God wanted his mentoring of W1 to continue. She told the tribunal she "was scared of going against God". Davis told the panel that he was "shocked and confused" about the allegations, and had "no idea of the effect I was apparently having". Clergy guidelines acknowledge the power that priests can have over others, and state such power must not be used to bully, manipulate or denigrate. Clergy should never seek to remove autonomy from a person, nor should power be exercised inappropriately, the guidelines say.

Oxfordshire vicar found guilty of spiritual abuse

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:57 AM PST

ENGLAND Premier. January 8, 2018 By Marcus Jones An Anglican priest, who's accused of spiritually abusing a teenager, has been found guilty of misconduct by a Church court. Rev Timothy Davis, from Christ Church Abingdon, is said to have breached safeguarding procedures through an "intense" mentoring programme with the school boy who's not been identified. A tribunal, held at Southwark Cathedral, found that the frequency of contact between the vicar and the teenager had grown to inappropriate levels including contact via telephone. It also heard how mentoring sessions were held in the teenager's bedroom with the door closed - however no misconduct of a sexual nature was reported. Davis was also found to have overused scripture in conversations with the teenager. The guilty verdict on spiritual abuse is said to be the first of its kind. A decision will now be made in regards to suitable punishment.

Associate pastor of Mascoutah church taken into police custody

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:55 AM PST

MASCOUTAH (IL) Belleville News-Democrat January 8, 2018 By Kaley Johnson The associate pastor of Holy Childhood Church and school in Mascoutah was taken into police custody Monday morning, according to the state's attorney. The priest was identified as the Rev. Gerald R. Hechenberger. "We have been working with Belleville (police) and the task force for several weeks and we anticipate they will be submitting evidence collected pursuant to a search warrant we issued within the next 48 hours to be reviewed for charges involving Gerald Hechenberger," St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said. Earlier in the day, Belleville police issued a statement saying a Mascoutah resident was identified as being in possession of child pornography, but the police statement did not identify the resident. A police captain confirmed that Belleville police officers were at the church at 419 East Church St. around 7 a.m. Monday.

Nephew accuses archbishop

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:52 AM PST

GUAM The Guam Daily Post January 9, 2018 By Mindy Aguon For the last 27 years, Mark Mafnas Apuron has held onto a secret, one that resulted in him being estranged from his immediate family members and left him ashamed and petrified. "When my experience happened, I thought I was the only one," Apuron said, as he sat in an office in Hagåtña yesterday, speaking with The Guam Daily Post. But Apuron resolved to make this year different by coming forward and speaking of the past. The 43-year-old will be filing a lawsuit this week alleging that he was sexually abused in the chancery in 1990 by his uncle, now-suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron. Mark Apuron was then 16 years old and had returned to Guam with his family after his dad retired from the military. He recalls going to his "Uncle Tony's house" – the Archdiocese of Agana Chancery Office – frequently for various functions. Anthony Apuron was installed as the archbishop of Agana on May 11, 1986, according to the Archdiocese of Agana. He was also elected president of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of the Pacific in 1990. During social functions at the chancery, Mark Apuron remembers making alcoholic beverages for his family members at their request, and would occasionally take a sip. On one occasion in 1990, Mark Apuron sneaked away from the crowd to smoke a cigarette in his uncle's bathroom inside the chancery. While inside, sipping an alcohol mixed drink and puffing on a cigarette, the 16-year-old became distracted testing out the bottles of cologne displayed on his uncle's bathroom vanity. "I just wanted to enjoy myself and do it in private, where nobody could see me," Mark Apuron said, explaining that he was a teen experimenting. "I just wanted to try it." The next thing he knew, his uncle, Archbishop Anthony Apuron, was staring at him angrily. "He asked, 'What are you doing?'" Mark Apuron said. He said he froze, afraid of what trouble he was in, when his uncle allegedly pulled down his pants and pushed him onto the vanity. The teen thought he was going to get a whipping for smoking and drinking but instead, he said, his uncle raped him. He managed to shove the older relative off and get away, and stayed with his parents until they were ready to leave.

OPINION: The #TimesUp Anger the Golden Globes Black Dress Parade Can’t Hide

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:50 AM PST

UNITED STATES The Daily Beast January 8, 2018 By Tim Teeman The black attire of celebrities at the Golden Globes was supposed to make an implicit 'Time's Up' political point. But the business of showbusiness was also brutally apparent. When is a dress more than a dress? Can a dress make a political point? On Sunday night, if anything was refreshing about the Golden Globes red carpet, it was what was said, not the widely-hyped what was worn. The talk, as repetitive and halting as it was—and sometimes focused on E!'s own shortcomings as Debra Messing, Sarah Jessica Parker and Eva Longoria took aim at the network over the circumstances of the departure of Catt Sadler—was of the need for political and cultural change. Actresses and actors were dressed in black to signify support, along with pins, of the "Time's Up" movement, targeting sexual abuse, assault and harassment in the workplace. People said "Time's Up" a lot. Sure, the viewer thought at home: we're agreed on that, now what? If you were expecting revolution, the sight of dresses still costing thousands of dollars and expensive diamonds draped around perfectly proportioned necks should have provided a cooling corrective. This was, in many ways, a very traditional red carpet. There was nobody in black T shirts, sweaters and jeans. No-one came in Bermuda shorts. The fashion statement was of the most conservative kind: the celebrities attending were wearing exactly the same kind of expensive dresses and tuxes that actors and actresses wear to awards ceremonies. They just happened to be black.

Rose McGowan Blasts ‘Hollywood Fakery’ Of Black-Dress Protest At Golden Globes

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:47 AM PST

UNITED STATES The Huffington Post January 8, 2018 By Ron Dicker The actress' accusations against Harvey Weinstein helped bring attention to the issue of sexual misconduct in Hollywood. Actress Rose McGowan said Sunday that it was "Hollywood fakery" for actors to wear black to the Golden Globes as a way to protest sexual misconduct. McGowan, an actress and activist who has accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her, criticized the awards show in an impassioned Twitter exchange with Asia Argento, another alleged Weinstein victim. When Argento pointed out that McGowan had spoken out about Weinstein and inspired others to step forward, the former "Charmed" star wrote in reply: "And not one of those fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes would have lifted a finger had it not been so. I have no time for Hollywood fakery, but you I love, @AsiaArgento #RoseArmy." When word spread in December that actresses planned to wear black dresses to the awards ceremony, McGowan zeroed in on Meryl Streep. She said the Oscar winner showed "hypocrisy" for having worked with Weinstein. Streep has insisted that she knew nothing of Weinstein's alleged criminal behavior, and told HuffPost through a representative that she was hurt by McGowan's comments. Actress Amber Tamblyn said at the time that she was friends with McGowan but that those remarks had been beneath her. "Rose McGowan is a friend and while I support her kind of movement, I do not support any woman (or man) shaming or taunting the movements of other women who are trying to create change," Tamblyn tweeted.

4 former Boy Scouts file sex abuse lawsuits

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:44 AM PST

GUAM The Guam Daily Post January 8, 2018 By Mindy Aguon Four new child sex abuse cases were filed last week in the Superior Court of Guam by former Boy Scouts against the Archdiocese of Agana, the Boy Scouts of America and retired priest Louis Brouillard. Attorney Michael Berman represents four clients who allege they were sexually abused by Brouillard while they were Boy Scouts in their teens. The men filed the lawsuits using initials to protect their identities. The archdiocese now faces more than 150 sex abuse lawsuits involving alleged child sex abuse decades ago, with combined claims for damages exceeding $500 million. The accounts of abuse in these four complaints were similar as all four plaintiffs recalled alleged abuse during Boy Scout outings with Brouillard, who was a Guam priest and a scout master. M.W.M., 53, alleges he was abused in the late 1970s during regular swimming and camping outings over the course of a year. Brouillard took the Boy Scouts swimming and would routinely instruct the boys to remove their clothes and swim naked, the lawsuit states. The complaint also alleges Brouillard took photos of the boys while they were nude and swimming. M.W.M. alleges he was fondled, and contends the priest enticed them with promises of merit badges and dinner.

GuideStone summit to tackle cybersecurity, sexual abuse

Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:38 AM PST

DALLAS (TX) Baptist Standard January 8, 2018 By Ray Hayhurst DALLAS (BP)—Cybersecurity and sexual abuse in the church will be among the topics addressed at GuideStone Financial Resources' second annual Employee Benefits Summit. The Southern Baptist Business Officers Conference and GuideStone Benefits Forum merged last year to create the summit for church business leaders. The conference, slated for March 26–28 at The Westin Galleria in Dallas, offers an expanded menu of networking and training opportunities. Speakers include Holly Boullion from CapinCrouse, who will cover cybersecurity, and Kimberlee Norris from MinistrySafe to address the topic of sexual abuse in the church, along with Gayla Crain, an employment law attorney. Up to 11 qualifying hours will be available for Continuing Professional Education credit.