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House Oversight Committee opens probe into sexual abuse of gymnasts

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:12 PM PST

WASHINGTON (DC) The Hill February 8, 2018 Nassar has been sentenced to up to more than a century in prison for serially sexually abusing young gymnasts who sought treatment for their sports injuries. A total of 156 women testified about his abuse at his sentencing hearing last month, as well as another 60 women at another sentencing hearing last week. Oversight Committee leaders are asking entities involved, including the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, for documentation of how they handled complaints against Nassar. "To ensure this never happens again, the Committee is seeking to understand what failed within our Olympic and collegiate systems, and why," a letter from Oversight Committee members to USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry reads.

Letter: 'I am a mom who was in the room while Larry Nassar treated my daughter'

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:08 PM PST

INDIANAPOLIS (IN) Indianapolis Star via USA Today February 9, 2018 By Kristen Chatman I am a mom who was in the exam room while Dr. Larry Nassar treated my daughter. She had extreme back pain — to the point that it was difficult to walk. So of course, we called Larry. There was no other option in our minds. He was world-renowned. THE gymnastics doctor. Simply the best. No question. You see, we had been his patients at that point for nearly three years. So, we trusted him implicitly. Frankly, I had been a bit skeptical of those in the medical profession — for a lot of reasons. We had seen numerous doctors on numerous occasions with the same outcome. No help. From inaccurate diagnoses to no diagnosis at all, our experiences jaded me. I was untrusting. Even cynical. Until I met Larry. On our very first visit, he gave us an accurate diagnosis and charted a course of action as well. And it worked. And then, when another issue arose, we called Larry again. True to form, he helped solve the problem and put my daughter on the road to healing. This happened off and on for years. No problems. No questions. And then the back pain came. Desperate for answers and relief, we called our favorite doc, Larry. Due to our mutually busy schedules, we met him off hours. "How nice of him!" we thought. Little did we know that this was a pattern of his behavior. He proceeded to evaluate my girl and then gave her (the) treatment.

Michigan State turns over 45,000 pages to AG, gets extension from lawmakers

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:02 PM PST

LANSING (MI) Lansing State Journal February 9, 2018 By Justin A. Hinkley Michigan State University was expected on Friday to have turned over some 45,000 pages of documents to investigators at the Michigan Attorney General's Office, with more to come on "a rolling basis," according to a letter from the university's attorneys to investigators. Meanwhile, lawmakers on Friday gave the university until Wednesday to hand over documents in their own investigation into how MSU officials responded to Larry Nassar scandal. According to a letter penned by attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and posted online by the university, among some 20,000 pages to be turned over Friday to the Attorney General's Office were: • University investigatory files related to former MSU physician and convicted sexual abuser Larry Nassar and other MSU employees, • Personnel files for employees involved in the Nassar case, • Policies for MSU doctors and the university's sexual misconduct policies, • Organizational charts, and • Nassar-related documents that MSU has released through the state's Freedom of Information Act.

How Larry Nassar’s Trial Made the Case for Cameras in the Court

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 11:57 AM PST

NEW YORK (NY) New York February 8, 2018 By Jeffrey Toobin Cameras in the courtroom used to be a hot topic. In the nineteen-eighties and early nineties, many states began to allow broad media access to their judicial proceedings, and even the federal courts were experimenting with cameras. Court TV, a network devoted almost exclusively to live coverage of trials, was flourishing. But then the momentum stopped with a thud, and everyone remembers why: the trial of O. J. Simpson. One can debate, and I have, whether the cameras in Judge Lance Ito's courtroom during the case, in which Simpson was charged with the murder, in 1994, of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, affected the conduct of everyone involved and the verdict. (Simpson was acquitted.) Advocates for cameras saw the case as an opportunity for public education about the judicial process; opponents regarded the cameras as accessories to, and a cause of, a demeaning circus. But there is no doubt that the case poisoned the atmosphere for multimedia access to trials. In the two decades since, the trend has been toward fewer cameras, not more. New York is a prime example. The state allowed cameras in its courts for a decade, from 1987 to 1997, but then, post-O. J., forbade them again. (An experiment with expanding access is only now under way.) Court TV died a much mourned death, in 2008. To the extent that the subject of cameras in the courtroom came up at all, the negative example of the Simpson case drowned out much of the debate on the matter. But recent events in Michigan serve as a reminder that cameras can be better than a necessary evil: they can be a positive good. Over the course of several days last month, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina allowed the victims of Lawrence G. Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University sports-medicine doctor, to recount the stories of the abuse they suffered at his hands. (Michigan gives judges the discretion to allow or prohibit cameras in their courtrooms.) More than a hundred and fifty victims testified, and their stories were harrowing. Sometimes standing with family members, sometimes alone, the young women told of how Nassar abused the trust they had placed in him and how their lives had been shaped, and often shattered, by what he did to them. Their stories reverberated well beyond the courtroom. As a result of the outrage people around the country expressed, the president of Michigan State University and the entire board of USA Gymnastics were forced to resign. With all respect to the power of the printed (and pixelated) word, this might never have happened if coverage had been limited to the stories produced by the journalists who covered the proceedings. We live in a culture that is saturated with video, from movie theatres to our phones, and we have come to expect to see news events for ourselves. Judge Aquilina did the right thing, and justice was served. (Nassar received multiple sentences, totalling well over a hundred years.)

The Smearing of Woody Allen

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 11:46 AM PST

NEW YORK (NY) New York Times February 9, 2018 By Bret Stephens Soon after Rolling Stone published a sensational — and, as it turned out, false — account of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, Richard Bradley, the editor of Worth magazine, suspected that something was amiss. Basic journalistic rules, such as seeking comment from the alleged perpetrators, had not been observed, he noted on his blog. Details of the assault, one of which seemed ripped from "Silence of the Lambs," were lurid past the point of plausibility. But what most stirred Bradley's doubt was how perfectly the story played "into existing biases," especially the sorts of biases Rolling Stone readers might harbor about fraternity life at Southern universities. Since the account of the rape "felt" true, it was easy to assume it was. Since the alleged victim had supposedly suffered grievous harm, it was awkward to challenge her version of events. Since important people took the story on faith and sought to press it into the service of an undeniably noble cause, the story's moral truth overwhelmed its factual one. All this, Bradley knew, was the surest way to fall for the biggest lies. It's a caution that could serve journalists and the wider public well in the case of Woody Allen's alleged molestation, in 1992, of his then-7-year-old adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow.

Trump, Saying ‘Mere Allegation’ Ruins Lives, Appears to Doubt #MeToo Movement

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 11:43 AM PST

NEW YORK (NY) New York Times February 10, 2018 By Mark Landler President Trump complained on Saturday about allegations that he said were destroying the lives of those accused — appearing to express doubts about the #MeToo movement after the resignations this week of two White House aides facing claims of domestic violence. In an early morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump did not name the former aides, but said: "Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused — life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?" Mr. Trump's claim ran counter to the White House's portrayal of its actions in response to the abuse allegations. Administration officials maintained that they acted decisively in the cases of Rob Porter, the staff secretary, and David Sorensen, a speechwriter, both of whom stepped down after their former wives accused them of emotional and physical abuse. But the president's defense is in keeping with the White House's initially defensive reaction to the charges against Mr. Porter — as well as his tendency to dismiss allegations made against him and other powerful men by women who say they were sexually harassed.

Church expert: #Metoo, Chile bishop scandal a wake-up call

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 11:37 AM PST

VATICAN CITY Associated Press via Bozeman Daily Chronicle February 9, 2018 By Nicole Winfield The #MeToo movement and the controversy over a Chilean bishop show the need for a broader response to "the abuse of power and conscience," the head of the Catholic Church's leading center on preventing priestly sexual abuse said Friday. The Rev. Hans Zollner spoke at the graduation ceremony for students who have completed a course in safeguarding people from abuse held at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University. In addition to his role at the Gregorian, Zollner is also one of the founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Pope Francis' hand-picked group of experts on sexual abuse.

Cardinal George Pell's lawyers seek access to complainants' medical records

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:35 AM PST

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA) Australian Broadcasting Corporation February 9, 2018 By Emma Younger Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell are seeking access to the medical records of complainants in the case against him. Cardinal Pell, 76, is set to face a four-week committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court next month as he fights historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants. No other details of the case against him can be reported for legal reasons. One of Cardinal Pell's defence barristers, Ruth Shann, made what she described as a "responsible and considered" application to access the medial records of complainants in the case. Ms Shann told the court the records would have substantial probative value, meaning they would contain important evidence to the case. She said a complainant may not be in the best position to describe their own mental health.

Cardinal Pell's lawyers want access to his accusers' medical records

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:30 AM PST

LONDON (ENGLAND) The Guardian February 9, 2018 Pell's legal team denies their request for access to records of those who have accused the Cardinal of sexual offences is a "fishing expedition" Cardinal Pell's legal team argued the particular features of the case warrant access to the information, including that it involved a high-profile person. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP Cardinal George Pell's lawyers want access to the medical records of people who have accused him of sexual offences, denying it is "a fishing expedition". Prosecutors oppose the defence application for access to the complainants' treatment information. The crown Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC said there was no substantial probative value in the material being provided. "It's tantamount to a fishing expedition rather than having a legitimate forensic purpose," Gibson told Melbourne magistrates court on Friday. The defence application came three weeks before a hearing that will determine if Australia's most senior Catholic stands trial on historical sexual offence charges.

Funding suspended to St John of God order in Malawi

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:01 AM PST

DUBLIN (IRELAND) Irish Times February 4, 2018 By Elaine Edwards Charity 'extremely concerned' about allegations involving Irish Brother A charity has suspended its funding to the St John of God Order for a project in Malawi following allegations of child abuse against a former school principal and member of the order. Misean Cara, which gets funding from the State's overseas development programme Irish Aid, said it was "extremely concerned" about issues raised involving Brother Aidan Clohessy. It said it had requested "a number of clarifications" from the order. Br Clohessy was head of St Augustine's, a school for boys with special needs in Blackrock, Co Dublin, from 1970 until 1993, when he was relocated to Malawi. The first serious child-abuse allegation was made against him in 1985 and two new claims by former St Augustine's pupils emerged as late as last month. The St John of God order has confirmed it has told the Garda Síochána about the new allegations.

Taxpayers’ funding to St John of God mission in Africa is suspended

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 08:59 AM PST

DUBLIN (IRELAND) Irish Mail on Sunday via NewsScoops.org February 4, 2018. By: Michael O'Farrell [Note from BishopAccountability.org: See also a PDF of the newspaper version of this article.] The provision of Irish taxpayer funds to the St John of God order in Malawi has been suspended in the wake of the coverup of child abuse allegations, exposed by the Irish Mail on Sunday. The order's Malawi operations are supported by Misean Cara – a missionary charity that distributes a 16m euro block grant from the taxpayer-funded Irish Aid each year. Misean Cara's accounts show the St John of God order got more than €2.3m in public funds since 2009 – an unknown proportion of which went to Malawi. In order to receive the funds for Malawi the order – currently led by Brother Donatus Forkan – signed contracts that included statements that child safeguarding policies are being implemented. Failure to make a declaration of compliance would have disqualified St John of God (SJOG) from eligibility for funding.

Catholic Brother left to work with street kids in Malawi as allegations of child abuse mounted

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 08:53 AM PST

MZUZU (MALAWI) Nyasa Times January 26, 2018 By Michael O'Farrell and Collins Mtika [Note from BishopAccountability.org: The text below is a brief introduction to Part 2 of this feature. See the full report in PDFs of the original newspapers, with photographs, a timeline, and survivor profiles: • Brother Accused of Abuse Was Left in Africa, with related articles, by Michael O'Farrell et al. (January 21, 2018) • Breaking 35-Year Silence on Abuse, with related articles, by Michael O'Farrell et al. (January 28, 2018) • Taxpayers' Funding to St John of God Mission in Africa Is Suspended, by Michael O'Farrell (February 4, 2018)] The St John of God order covered up 20 child abuse allegations against a school principal and allowed him to work and live with vulnerable children in Malawi for decades – even as payouts were made to his Irish accusers. Brother Aidan Clohessy was principal of St Augustine's in Blackrock in south Dublin – a school for special needs boys – from 1970 until 1993 when he was relocated to a Mzuzu city in Malawi. The first serious child abuse allegation was made against Brother Aidan in 1985 and claims continue to emerge. As recently as this week, two new sets of allegations of sex abuse against Brother Aidan – unearthed by the Irish Mail on Sunday – have been referred to Irish police called gardaí and child and family agency Tusla for investigation. The newspaper has also confirmed that a number of alleged victims in Ireland received compensation through the Redress Board – even as Brother Aidan remained working and living with children in Malawi. Despite this the order appear to have ignored the danger Brother Aidan may have posed to children in Mzuzu city, Malawi – where many children were housed at the brother's home – and its own childprotection guidelines. As a result of one allegation in Ireland, the order says it instructed Brother Aidan 'not to work with children' in 1997.

St John of God order reports allegations against former principal to Garda

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:15 AM PST

DUBLIN (IRELAND) Irish Times January 21, 2018 By Elaine Edwards [Note from BishopAccountability.org: This article cites as source an unnamed "newspaper report." That report is Brother Accused of Abuse Was Left in Africa, by Michael O'Farrell, Irish Mail on Sunday, January 21, 2018. The article also alludes to Bringing hope to Africa's poorest, by Eithne Donnellan, Irish Times, December 14, 2010.] Br Aidan Clohessy 'still worked with children in Africa' after Irish sex abuse claims The St John of God order has said it has told the Garda Síochána about new allegations of child abuse against a former school principal who subsequently went to work with children in Africa. Br Aidan Clohessy was head of St Augustine's, a school for boys with special needs in Blackrock, Co Dublin, from 1970 until 1993, when he was relocated to Malawi. The first serious child-abuse allegation was made against him in 1985; two new claims by former St Augustine's pupils emerged as late as this week, a newspaper report said on Sunday. The report claimed that up to 20 allegations were made against Br Clohessy up to 2014, and that when the State established the Residential Institutions Redress Board, in 2002, payouts were made to Irish accusers of Br Clohessy but he continued to work with children in Africa after that time. It also alleged that he had converted a garage at his home to house boys who had been on the streets.

Brother Accused of Abuse Was Left in Africa

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 08:38 AM PST

DUBLIN (IRELAND) Irish Mail on Sunday via NewsScoops.org January 21, 2018 By Michael O'Farrell [Note from BishopAccountability.org: The text below is a brief introduction. See the full report in PDFs of the original newspapers, with photographs, a timeline, and survivor profiles: • Brother Accused of Abuse Was Left in Africa, with related articles, by Michael O'Farrell et al. (January 21, 2018) • Breaking 35-Year Silence on Abuse, with related articles, by Michael O'Farrell et al. (January 28, 2018) • Taxpayers' Funding to St John of God Mission in Africa Is Suspended, by Michael O'Farrell (February 4, 2018)] The St John of God order covered up 20 child abuse allegations against a school principal and allowed him to work and live with vulnerable children in Africa for decades – even as payouts were made to his Irish accusers. Brother Aidan Clohessy was principal of St Augustine's in Blackrock in south Dublin – a school for special needs boys – from 1970 until 1993 when he was relocated to a city in Malawi. The first serious child abuse allegation was made against Brother Aidan in 1985 and claims continue to emerge. As recently as this week, two new sets of allegations of sex abuse against Brother Aidan – unearthed by the Irish Mail on Sunday – have been referred to gardaí and child and family agency Tusla for investigation. The MoS has also confirmed that a number of alleged victims in Ireland received compensation through the Redress Board – even as Brother Aidan remained working and living with children in Malawi.

Former member of Vatican abuse commission says trust in pope “undermined” by Chile scandal

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 07:36 AM PST

DENVER (CO) Crux February 7, 2018 By Charles Collins Marie Collins, who was a founding member of Pope Francis's Commission for the Protection of Minors but resigned in early 2017, says his handling of a letter from a Chilean abuse survivor has "definitely undermined credibility, trust, and hope" in the pontiff. "He has said all the right things and he has expressed all the right views on abuse, and the harm and the hurt, but in this case at least it would seem his actions have not matched the words, and that is sad," she said. In 2015, the Irish abuse survivor personally handed the letter from Juan Carlos Cruz to Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Boston archbishop who heads the commission, in an attempt to stop Francis from transferring Bishop Juan Barros to the Diocese of Osorno. In the eight-page letter, Cruz detailed the abuse, kissing and fondling he says he suffered at the hands of Father Fernando Karadima, Chile's most notorious priest-abuser.