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Is There a Smarter Way to Think About Sexual Assault on Campus?

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 12:34 PM PST

NEW YORK (NY) The New Yorker February 12 & 19, 2018 Issue By Jia Tolentino A team of researchers at Columbia believes that small changes to college life could make campuses safer. If I were asked by a survey to describe my experience with sexual assault in college, I would pinpoint two incidents, both of which occurred at or after parties in my freshman year. In the first case, the guy went after me with sniper accuracy, magnanimously giving me a drink he'd poured upstairs. In the second case, I'm sure the guy had no idea that he was doing something wrong. I had joined a sorority, and all my social circles were as sloppy, intense, and tribal as the Greek system—the groups that made these incidents possible are the same ones that made my life at the time so good. In college, everything is Janus-faced: what you interpret as refuge can lead to danger, and vice versa. One of the most highly valorized social activities, blacking out and hooking up, holds the potential for trauma within it like a seed. I got to thinking about this—and picturing my college self as a sort of avatar in an extended risk simulation—after talking with Jennifer Hirsch and Claude Ann Mellins, at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, in Washington Heights, on a biting, windy day last December. Hirsch, an anthropologist, and Mellins, a clinical psychologist, are Columbia professors. Both women are in their fifties, have shoulder-length brown hair, and grew up in Jewish families in Manhattan. They share a sharp, maternal pragmatism—between them, they have five sons, ranging in age from fifteen to twenty-three. For the past three years, they have been leading a $2.2-million research project on the sexual behavior of Columbia undergraduates. The project is called shift, which stands for the Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation. The problem of campus sexual assault can seem unfathomable and intractable. We generally think of it as a matter of individual misbehavior, which, various studies have shown, most prevention programs do little to change. But Hirsch and Mellins think about sexual assault socio-ecologically: as a matter of how people act within a particular environment. They are doggedly optimistic that there is, if not a single fix, a series of new solutions.

Pope Francis’s Failure to Address Abuse Allegations Jeopardizes His Papacy

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:52 AM PST

VATICAN CITY TIME February 6, 2018 By Christopher J. Hale This week it came to light that Pope Francis received an eight-page letter from a Chilean man in 2015 that detailed how a priest sexually abused him, and how other priests ignored and concealed the crime, including then-Father Juan Barros, a man Francis had just months earlier appointed to be the bishop of Osorno, Chile. This revelation comes weeks after Pope Francis called accusations against Bishop Barros "calumny" and said he had received no credible evidence that Barros had covered up abuse. Francis eventually walked back his claims of calumny and sent a Vatican special prosecutor to Chile to investigate the claims of coverup. But the fact that Francis received the letter by hand by from Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, one of the Church's top-ranking officials, and either did not read the letter or did not act on it, is a stunning development that represents the biggest crisis of Francis's nearly five year papacy. Francis's surprise March 2013 election as the universal leader of the Catholic Church came on the heels of a four-minute speech he gave at the conclave where he derided Church's self-obsession. In what many have described as Francis's Gettysburg Address, the future pope said that "when the Church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light." Francis called this oversized self-importance that "worst evil" which could befall the Church. His election was seen as a rebuke of that self-referentialism and he was expected to operate an agenda of reform. In countless ways, he has furthered that agenda. The Catholic Church of 2018 looks very different from the one he inherited nearly five years ago. From everything from the new focus on the environment and the poor to an emphasis on simplicity and sobriety among the clergy, Francis has reformed nearly every corner of the Catholic Church in his image. But all that is for naught if Francis doesn't finally address the sexual abuse scandal head-on. I've been one of the Pope's biggest cheerleaders in American and global media the past five years, but I can say with conviction that if Francis doesn't transform his focus and practice on ending the systematic cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, his papacy will be a tragic failure. Sadly, his record on this issue is worse than his immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who despite his many shortcomings on the issue, was the first pope to take the cover-up scandal seriously. Pope Francis's legacy is at stake, but more importantly, the viability of the Catholic Church itself and its gospel mission is as at stake. To put it simply, a Church that systematically covers up the abuse of children by its ministers is a Church without a future. It was that way in 2002 when this scandal first exploded. It's even more so the case in 2018, when the Church's popular reformist pope has failed to accurately assess the gravity and effectively address this issue.

It’s Now the Pope’s Scandal

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:50 AM PST

VATICAN CITY National Review February 6, 2018 By Michael Brendan Dougherty What are we to make of news that Pope Francis was confronted with — and did not address — evidence of sex abuse in the Chilean Church? Well, it's now happened. The great scandal of the modern Catholic Church — its tolerance for clergy who abuse children, and its laxity when dealing with bishops who themselves tolerated or enabled priest-abusers — now touches directly on the pope himself. It's worth laying out the timeline clearly. In 2015, Pope Francis appointed Juan Barros Madrid to the bishopric of Osorno, Chile. The appointment was met with local protests, among Catholics and non-Catholics who believed that Barros was implicated in the crimes of child sexual abuse committed by his friend Father Fernando Karadima, a prominent Chilean churchman who habitually kissed and fondled boys. In the days after the installation of Barros at Osono, Pope Francis told an archbishop that there was "no objective reason at all" to oppose the appointment. The Vatican's own department governing these matters, the Congregation for Bishops, released a statement saying they had "carefully examined the prelate's candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment." In the months following the appointment, Pope Francis became extremely dismissive of complaints. "Osorno suffers, yes, for silliness," the pope said of the outrage in the media. "Think with your head, and do not be carried away by the noses of the leftists, who are the ones who put this thing together," he added.

Catholic Sunday school teacher pleads guilty to child porn, sexual battery charges

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:37 AM PST

STAUNTON (VA) News Leader February 6, 2018 By Laura Peters STAUNTON — William L. Kerr is facing years in prison after he pleaded guilty to seven charges involving possession of child pornography and aggravated sexual battery. Kerr, 75, appeared in Staunton Circuit Court on Tuesday afternoon. The Staunton man pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and six counts of aggravated sexual battery. He faces up to 125 years in prison. Nearly 45 other charges, including forcible sodomy, possession of child pornography and aggravated sexual battery, were not prosecuted. According to evidence presented by Anne Reed, the chief deputy commonwealth's attorney for Staunton, between 1990 and 2004, Kerr invited several young girls ranging in ages 7 to 11 back to his Staunton home. "Kerr would frequently invite children over to his house," Reed said. "The defendant would get the girls alone." But, to these children, he served as an authority figure and their Sunday school teacher at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Parish in Staunton. During Reed's stipulation, she said many of the girls were fearful to come forward and tell someone about the abuse. Reed said the abused children, now adults, attended St. Francis with their families. "The defendant was trusted by her parents, who worked in the church," Reed said of one of the victims. "At the age of 9 years old, the defendant started to sexually abuse her while she was at his residence. "She was afraid to say anything that was happening to her out of fear of hurting the defendant's wife, whom she cared for very much as well as concern of upsetting her parents," Reed continued. "It was not until several years later that she was able to disclose what had happened and seek counseling."

The abuse victim who has protested in the same spot for 20 years

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:34 AM PST

WASHINGTON (DC) BBC February 6, 2018 By Owen Amos John Wojnowski was abused by a priest during a Latin lesson 60 years ago. He has spent the past two decades protesting outside the Vatican Embassy in Washington DC. What keeps him going? The most surprising thing about this protester is - he doesn't want to protest. He doesn't want to spend eight hours a day on public transport, waiting for buses and trains, getting to and from Embassy Row in Washington DC. He doesn't want to hold his sign in the cold, and the dark, and the snow, and the rain. He doesn't want his face to freeze, his knees to ache, his fingers to turn numb. He was 54 when the protest started; he turns 75 in April. He has spent almost a third of his life here, on his own, holding a sign outside the Vatican Embassy. "Of course I want to stop," he says. "But they made it personal."

Catholic Church: Priest accused of abuse in Ireland sent by church to Malawi

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:31 AM PST

MALAWI (SOUTH AFRICA) Ama Bhungane February 7, 2018 By Michael O'Farrell and Collins Mtika The Catholic Church's St John of God order moved an Irish school principal accused of child abuse to Malawi, where he continued working with vulnerable children for almost 20 years, an investigation by the Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi (CIJM) and Irish newspaper the Mail on Sunday has revealed. The investigation also suggests that amid mounting allegations in Ireland, the order covered up Brother Aidan Clohessy's continued involvement with children in Malawi, where he worked between 1993 and 2012. The first serious allegation of child abuse was levelled against Clohessy in 1985, while he was the principal of St Augustine's, a school for special needs boys in Dublin. By the time the order withdrew him from public ministry in Malawi in 2012 and returned to Ireland, 14 allegations of abuse had been made against him relating to his tenure at St Augustine's. The Mail on Sunday reported that while he was in Malawi, a number of his alleged Irish victims received compensation under the "no-fault" compensation scheme run by the Redress Board set up by the Irish government. More than a week ago, the newspaper reported that two new allegations of child abuse against Clohessy had been referred for investigation to gardaí (Irish police) and child and family agency Tusla. Despite this, the 10-month media investigation heard that the brother, who was in charge of all the order's operations in Malawi, continued to be involved with children during his years there. The CIJM heard no allegations of direct physical abuse against him in Malawi. However, he is alleged to have converted a garage at his home where boys collected from the streets were housed. It is also alleged that he required the boys to shower while he supervised them. In an interview, Clohessy denied all the allegations and said he had not taken street children to his home or supervised them while they were showering. Harrison Chilale, the order's clinical director in Malawi, said "there was not even a single rumour (of abuse)".

Church: ‘No excuses’ for behavior described in priest’s child porn charges

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:27 AM PST

BOISE (ID) Idaho Statesman February 6, 2018 By Ruth Brown Catholic officials in Boise said Tuesday that they had never received complaints of sexual misconduct by the Rev. W. Thomas Faucher prior to his arrest Friday on child pornography and drug charges. In a midafternoon news release from the Diocese of Boise, Bishop Peter F. Christensen said the allegations against Faucher, if true, "are a betrayal of the trust we place in all ministers." Prosecutors say hundreds of images of child pornography and drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy and LSD were found in the retired priest's home. Some of the images allegedly involved infants and toddlers. And Faucher, 72, allegedly wrote in an online chatroom that he "desires to rape and kill children," Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Cathy Guzman said during a probable cause hearing Monday. Faucher, (pronounced foh-SHAY), is charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of distributing sexually exploitative material involving children and two counts of drug possession. All of the charges, except one of the drug counts, are felonies. If convicted, he faces a lifetime in prison.

US charges priest with sex abuse 12 years after bombshell drops

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:22 AM PST

WILMINGTON (DE) La Croix International February 7, 2018 While some of the victims were outraged at having to wait over a decade for some sort of closure others applauded the grand jury's indictment A Catholic former priest who faces allegations of sexual abuse dating back to Papua New Guinea in the 1980s is now being prosecuted in the small mid-Atlantic US state of Delaware for molesting a teenage girl over 14 years ago. The case is being heralded as a landmark because it represents the first lawsuit against a priest in the diocese since church authorities revealed in 2006 that allegations of abuse and molestation against minors had surfaced against a handful of clergy. While some of the victims were outraged at having to wait over a decade for some sort of closure others applauded the grand jury's indictment of John A. Sarro on Jan. 29. He was charged with first-degree sexual intercourse and second-degree unlawful sexual contact for fondling and engaging a young teenage girl in oral sex on several occasions from 1992-1994, The Associated Press reported. The statute of limitations does not apply in this case as Delaware's criminal code of conduct makes exceptions for particular sexual crimes, The Western Journal said. The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington in Delaware reported a list of complaints against living and deceased priests in 2006 but none have been prosecuted until now.

Father testifies in trial against Mormon Church

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:19 AM PST

MARTINSBURG (WV) The Journal February 7, 2018 By Kelsie LeRose MARTINSBURG — On Tuesday, Chris Jensen, a defendant in the lawsuit alleging The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints covered up allegations that Michael Jensen sexually abused several children over a period of more than five years, continued to dispute the timeline of when he learned of the abuse. The church contests allegations that leaders in the Martinsburg Stake were aware of Jensen's crimes for as long as five years and did not report the suspected abuse to police. Entering week four of the trial, the jury continued to hear the testimony of Chris Jensen, the father of Michael Jensen. Michael Jensen is currently serving 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors at the ages of 4 and 3. Chris Jensen maintained that no one told him about the allegations that convicted Michael until the August 2012 hearing when his son was charged with child abuse. For a majority of the time that the abuse occurred, Chris Jensen was often deployed with the military, having served for 30 years in the Army. One large focus of Tuesday morning's testimony involved a 2010 incident when Michael Jensen allegedly assaulted a family member, after which his father kicked him out of the house. He was 18 at the time. Sandra Lee Jensen, Michael Jensen's mother, testified earlier in the case that the incident was not the only reason they had kicked him out. She said it was the "accumulation" of his behavior and a "line was crossed." Chris Jensen said Tuesday that they kicked their son out due to years of "all kinds of stuff" and this incident was "the last straw, so to speak."

South Carolina Church To Pay $300,000 And Apologize In Child Sex Abuse Case

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:14 AM PST

COLUMBIA (SC) The Daily Caller February 6, 2018 By Joshua Gill A Baptist church in South Carolina settled a child sexual abuse lawsuit, agreeing to issue an apology, admit liability, and to pay $300,000 to the plaintiff. Bryan Barnes, spokesman for First Baptist Church of Columbia, S.C., said that church leadership issued the apology and explained the terms of the settlement before the congregation on Sunday, according to the Baptist Press. The case involved a boy identified only as "Joel Doe" who alleged that Andrew McCraw, a volunteer in the church's youth ministry, engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with him when he was between the ages of 11 and 16. "Today, we want to offer an apology for the inappropriate and unacceptable conduct this young man endured and express regret for what we failed to do to prevent it," church leaders said, according to the outlet. "No student should have to experience what this young man endured," the church's statement added. Doe filed the lawsuit in October 2017 through his parents against First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Wendell Estep, and McCraw. The lawsuit alleged that McCraw initiated a relationship with Doe as a young adult mentor in a church youth program, but the relationship progressed in intimacy to inappropriate touching and sleepovers at McCraw's house with no other adults or youths present.

Columbus bishop accused of sexually abusing and harassing several followers

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:11 AM PST

COLUMBUS (OH) The Columbus Dispatch February 6, 2018 By Danae King A property dispute has brought to light sexual-assault allegations against a Columbus bishop who founded a group of Pentecostal churches around the world. The allegations against Bishop Joseph White, 81, founder and presiding bishop emeritus of the Church of the Living God International (CLGI), which is headquartered in Columbus and has 102 locations worldwide, were formally made to church leaders in June 2017. The allegations were then investigated by the church's board of directors — two of whom are White's sisters — in August, but the results have not been disclosed. In a lawsuit filed in a Virginia court in December, five of White's followers — one from Reynoldsburg — accuse him of sexual abuse and harassment over more than 20 years. That same month, White retired from the church.


Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:08 AM PST

VATICAN CITY Church Militant February 6, 2018 By Rodney Pelletier Chilean sex abuse victim asserts the Pope heard from him VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Critics are claiming Pope Francis has lost credibility after reports revealed he received a letter from a Chilean sex abuse victim asking for help in 2015. The recent revelation comes only weeks after the Holy Father claimed no victims had come forward to him. Doctor Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at Catholic University of America (CUA), commented, "'Houston, we have a problem.' If the Pope indeed received a report detailing the abuse suffered by [Dr. Fernando] Karadima victims and the cover-up, then there is a huge problem, and it can be summarized with one word: credibility. Or lack thereof." Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, is claiming Pope Francis most likely "lied" when he said he had never heard from any of Karadima's victims.


Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:06 AM PST

SANDPOINT (ID) Priest River Times February 7, 2018 By Keith Kinnaird A Priest River man awaiting trial on ritualized and sexual abuse charges is petitioning to have his named changed. Dana Andrew Furtney seeks to change his name to Benaiah Joy Moses, according to a petition filed in Bonner County Magistrate Court. Furtney said in the petition that he is pursuing the name change for "prophetic and spiritual reasons." He cites two biblical passages — Revelations 2:17 and John 3:5-8. The latter passage refers to Jesus' stating that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless "they are born of water and spirit." Furtney explains in the petition that he was "born again of water and in the spirit" at 7:37 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2017, in Pod 500 of the Bonner County Jail. It appears to have occurred in the hours leading up to his arraignment in 1st District Court on 14 felony charges ranging from ritualized abuse, sexual abuse of a child, felony injury to a child and domestic battery. Furtney entered pleas of not guilty during the hearing. Furtney, 49, was arrested after the alleged victims reported the ongoing abuse to authorities in Toledo, Ohio. Furtney was originally arrested on a fraction of the offenses in October of last year. The case expanded significantly as a result of grand jury proceedings that were conducted in December.

Former Catholic priest Vincent Gerard Ryan to face trial

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 08:52 AM PST

NEWCASTLE (AUSTRALIA) The Newcastle Herald February 7 2018 By Sam Rigney A FORMER Hunter Catholic priest accused of sexually and indecently assaulting three young boys while he was the parish priest at St Joseph's at The Junction and Cessnock between 1973 and 1991 will face a trial in Newcastle District Court. Vincent Gerard Ryan, 79, of Ryde, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday via audio visual link from a suite in the Sydney Downing Centre court complex where he was committed to face a trial on six charges, including three counts of indecent assault, two counts of sexual assault and attempted sexual intercourse of a child. Three other charges, which related to alleged offences against a young boy at Cessnock between 1987 and 1991, were withdrawn by Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) solicitor Fiona Irwin. Mr Ryan is alleged to have given one boy, aged 10 or 11 in 1973 or 1974, a full glass of wine in the sacristy at St Joseph's, The Junction, while explaining the role of church altar boy, according to a brief of evidence tendered in court on Wednesday. Mr Ryan allegedly told the boy that the wine was "the blood of Christ" before introducing the boy to his "tickling games". Mr Ryan is then accused of indecently assaulting the boy and masturbating himself before telling the boy "you can see how much fun it can be being an altar boy", court documents state. A week after the alleged assault, the boy was allegedly summoned to the sacristy for altar boy training, according to court documents.

Pope was informed about accused paedophile priest

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 08:50 AM PST

VATICAN CITY AFP February 7, 2018 A former member of the Vatican's child protection panel said Tuesday that she sent Pope Francis a letter warning him about a Chilean bishop accused of covering up for a paedophile priest, contradicting the pontiff's previous remarks. During a trip to Chile in January marred by controversy after Francis hugged Bishop Juan Barros, the pope indicated that he had not heard from victims in the case. But Irish survivor of abuse Marie Collins, who quit the pope's commission on the protection of minors last year, said she travelled to Rome in 2015 with a letter written by Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of disgraced paedophile priest Fernando Karadima. In 2015, Francis appointed Barros the head of the diocese of Osorno in southern Chile despite accusations the prelate covered up for Karadima. "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will speak. There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander," the pope had said in Chile. "You tell me that there are victims, but I did not see them," he said.