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Will Cardinal Pell face a trial by jury in sex abuse case?

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 02:03 PM PDT

AUSTRALIA America Gerard O'Connell April 27, 2018 On May 1, Cardinal George Pell will know whether he has to stand trial to face allegations of historical sexual offenses or not. On that day, the Australian magistrate, Belinda Wallington, who heard the case, will announce her verdict. She will do so after having listened to the case during four weeks of committal hearings in Melbourne Magistrates' Court in March and April, almost half of which were held behind closed doors, as is normal in such cases. She will decide whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial by jury or whether to dismiss the case. If she decides to send him for trial, she is also likely to announce the charges. The names of the complainants, the details of the allegations and evidence, as well as the charges against the cardinal are not known publicly, and the Australian press and other media have been prohibited by law from publishing either. The media could only report what happened in the public sessions when the cardinal's defense lawyer, Robert Richter, arguably Australia's foremost defense counsel, cross-examined witnesses who were not the accusers. From the open court sessions, however, it is evident the prosecution has suffered some major setbacks: One of its witnesses has died, another withdrew from the case for reasons of serious illness, while a third made a fresh statement to the police and so his case will now be considered separately as part of a new investigation. The prosecutors also withdrew some potential charges but indicated that they are likely to resubmit them at a later date, which would seem to suggest another trial.

Nazareth House orphanage sisters 'beaten until they bled'

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:58 PM PDT

SCOTLAND BBC News Three sisters were beaten until they bled and called derogatory names on their first day at an orphanage, an inquiry has heard. The claims were made by a woman in her 60s, who cannot be named, who lived at Nazareth House in Aberdeen from 1967. She told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry how nuns at the Catholic-run home put on a show of "niceness" when the sisters arrived. But they became violent as soon as their social worker left the building

Megachurch Pulls Out of Willow Creek's Global Leadership Summit Over Bill Hybels

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:56 PM PDT

ILLINOIS Christian Post By Leonardo Blair , Christian Post Reporter | Apr 27, 2018 Citing the event's "high identification" with Willow Creek Community Church founder Bill Hybels, who has been accused by several women of sexual misconduct, an Illinois megachurch pastor announced that his church will no longer serve as a host site for Willow Creek Association's annual Global Leadership Summit set for this summer. In a statement cited by the Daily Herald, Daniel D. Meyer, senior pastor of the multi-campus Christ Church Oak Brook and Downers Grove, said the church was "taking a purposeful pause" from the two-day leadership-building event set to attract nearly 500,000 participants globally, as a result of the multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct that forced Hybels into early retirement this month. "Both the Christian and the American traditions have seen the value of stopping normal activities to observe a moment of silence ... or to lower a flag to half-staff ... or to issue a collective cry of lament — in the face of significant crisis, turmoil, or loss," Meyer said in his statement. "We believe that the stories of the women that are now being told are deserving of this pause to listen, reflect and change," he continued. "We feel that unless we stop to listen, some stories that need to be heard will not be told and we as a community will lose the opportunity those voices can give us to become more compassionate, just and holy."

Vatican: Pope meets Chile victims in climate of 'reparation'

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:49 PM PDT

VATICAN CITY Associated Press April 27, 2018[ by NICOLE WINFIELD VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis opened several days of talks Friday with Chilean sex abuse survivors in what the Vatican said was a climate of "reparation for suffering," after the pope deeply wounded them by discrediting their claims of abuse cover-up by a bishop. The three men — Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo — are staying at the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel as guests of Francis. Their VIP treatment is evidence of the complete about-face that Francis has made after admitting he made "serious errors of judgment" in the case of Bishop Juan Barros. Over the coming days, the men are to meet individually and collectively with the pope, though the Vatican said Friday there are no fixed schedules or pre-established agenda items. In a statement, spokesman Greg Burke said Francis himself asked that the Vatican release no information about the content of the encounters because "his priority is to listen to the victims, ask their forgiveness and respect the confidentiality of these talks."

Pope Francis begins personal meetings with Chilean abuse victims

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:43 PM PDT

VATICAN CITY America Gerard O'Connell April 27, 2018 Pope Francis has begun his face-to-face, "personal encounters" with the three Chilean abuse victims that accepted his invitation to come and talk with him, the Vatican announced this Friday evening, April 27. The three victims—Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andrés Murillo—are staying in Santa Marta, the Vatican guest house where the pope lives. He will first meet each of them individually, one or more times, and when they have said all they want to say, Francis will meet them as a group. In a statement issued this evening, the director of the Vatican Press Office Greg Burke said Pope Francis' "priority" is "to listen to the victims, ask pardon and respect the confidentiality of these conversations," and so at his expressed wish "no official communique of the content of these [personal encounters] is envisaged." Francis wants to emphasize that this is serious business, not a public relations exercise. The statement said that "in this climate of trust and of reparation for the suffering [of the victims], Pope Francis wishes to let those invited speak for all the time that is necessary, in such a way that there are no fixed times nor pre-established contents [for the conversations].

DIOCESE OF GREAT FALLS BILLINGS SETTLES SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUIT FOR $20 MILLION

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:49 PM PDT

MONTANA Tamaki Law Offices April 27, 2018 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 27, 2018 MEDIA CONTACT: TAMAKI LAW OFFICES 509-248-8338 Vito de la Cruz vito@tamakilaw.com cell (509) 952-7271 Bryan G. Smith bsmith@tamakilaw.com cell (509) 307-7197 Blaine L. Tamaki btamaki@tamakilaw.com cell (509) 307-5804 The Diocese of Great Falls/Billings has agreed to settle 86 sexual abuse claims for $20 million, ending a lawsuit that began in 2011. The lawsuit alleges that multiple priests and nuns working for the diocese sexually abused children from the 1950s through the 1990s. The Diocese filed for bankruptcy in March of 2017, just months before the first of many jury trials were scheduled to begin. The cases that would have been tried first involved Fr. Joseph Heretick. In that case Plaintiffs alleged that the Diocese knew that Fr. Heretick was a danger to children, ignoring complaints from parents about his conduct around children. Documents produced in the lawsuit revealed that the Bishop of the Great Falls Diocese sent Fr. Heretick to a treatment center for pedophile priests in the 1980s and that the treatment center recommended that Heretick not be put back in the ministry. Plaintiffs alleged that the Bishop ignored these recommendations. Settlement discussions continued throughout the bankruptcy and resulted in a settlement on April 24, 2018, after a mediation before the Honorable Gregory Zive, a bankruptcy judge who agreed to serve as mediator in the case. Tamaki Law Offices represents 38 of the 86 plaintiffs, more than any other law firm in the case, and was lead counsel on the first cases set for trial. Tamaki Law attorneys also served as lead counsel in the bankruptcy case, representing 4 of the 8 members of the Creditor's Committee (comprised of abuse survivors) who negotiated the final settlement with the Diocese. This is the 15th bankruptcy filed by a Catholic Diocese in the U.S., and follows a bankruptcy filed by the Diocese of Helena (covering Western Montana) in 2012. According to Tamaki Law attorney Vito de la Cruz, "the abuse my clients suffered at the hands of Diocesan and religious order priests and nuns has caused profound suffering, hardship, and despair over their entire lives. However, after seven years of litigation,and facing the prospect of trying 86 separate jury trials which would have taken years if not decades, my clients are hopeful that this small measure of justice and accountability will bring peace and healing to the abuse survivors who had the courage to come forward and tell their story." According to Tamaki Law Attorney Bryan G. Smith, "Our clients have carried the weight of sexual abuse and betrayal at the hands of trusted clergy for decades. While no amount of money can make up for the anguish they have endured over the years, this payment by the Diocese of Great Falls Billings is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing,which is an important part of the healing process for my clients. It is through this type of acknowledgment and accountability that positive changes are made, which results in safer environments for children." According to Blaine L. Tamaki, the founder of Tamaki Law, who was also lead counsel in the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province bankruptcy which resulted in a recordbreaking settlement of $167 million, "Every abuse survivor in this case should be commended for their courage to come forward and tell their story. They suffered in silence for so long, thinking they were alone, but through this case they were able to have a voice and be heard, acknowledged, and validated, which is such an important part of the healing process." For Interviews and more information contact: TAMAKI LAW OFFICES 509-248-8338 Vito de la Cruz vito@tamakilaw.com cell (509) 952-7271 Bryan G. Smith bsmith@tamakilaw.com cell (509) 307-7197 Blaine L. Tamaki btamaki@tamakilaw.com cell (509) 307-5804

Montana Diocese reaches $20M settlement with Catholic sex abuse victims

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:50 PM PDT

MONTANA Billings Gazette April 27, 2018 By PHOEBE TOLLEFSON ptollefson@billingsgazette.com After six years of litigation and three attempts at mediation, victims of Catholic clergy sex abuse in Eastern Montana have reached a settlement with the church. The tentative $20 million agreement between victims and the Great Falls-Billings Diocese was announced in a press release on Friday issued by attorneys for the victims. The claims cover allegations of sexual abuse between the 1940s and the 1980s at ministries throughout the eastern half of the state, from the St. Labre Indian School on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation to the small town of Absarokee. Daniel Fasy, a Seattle-based attorney representing some of the claimants, applauded his clients in a prepared statement. "Justice is long overdue, and the survivors have shown a tremendous amount of resilience and courage throughout this process. They stood up and spoke truth to power, and their efforts will no doubt lead to the protection of future generations of children," Fasy said.

Diocese of Great Falls-Billings settles sexual abuse claims for $20 million

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:23 PM PDT

MONTANA KTVQ Apr 27, 2018 BILLINGS - The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings has agreed to pay $20 million to settle 86 sexual abuse claims. The law firms representing the victims issued a press release Friday morning announcing the settlement. The claims, initially filed in 2011, alleges priests and nuns working for the diocese sexually abused children for four decades beginning in the 1950s. The settlement was reached on Tuesday following mediation. According to the press release, The Diocese filed for bankruptcy in March 2017, just months before the first of many jury trials were scheduled to begin. The Diocese later asked to dismiss the bankruptcy action.

Great Falls-Billings Diocese reaches settlement terms with sex abuse victims for $20 million

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:20 PM PDT

MONTANA Great Falls Tribune Seaborn Larson, slarson@greatfallstribune.com April 27, 2018 Attorneys for the 86 sex abuse victims who filed claims against the Great Falls-Billings Diocese announced on Friday the parties have reached a settlement of $20 million dollars. The announcement comes just over a year after the diocese filed for federal bankruptcy in order to reorganize its finances to reach such a deaL. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jim Papas has yet to approve the deal, but Missoula attorney for a group of victims, Molly Howard, said diocese officials have approved the financial terms of the settlement. The only remaining details yet to be approved by the church are the non-financial terms. In a statement released Friday, Bishop Michael Warfel said a substantial amount of the settlement would come from the diocese's insurer, Catholic Mutual, and the diocese with "additional financial assistance from other members of the Catholic community within the Diocese." "This is part of our continuing efforts to reconcile with survivors of childhood sex abuse while carrying on with the essential mission of the Chruch," Warfel said. "We are hopefuly that this settlemetn without the necessity of yeras of future litigation will continue the healing process with the abuse survivors."

Diocese of Great Falls-Billings settles sexual abuse lawsuit for $20 million

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:06 PM PDT

MONTANA KULR Apr 27, 2018 GREAT FALLS, Mont. - The following is a Press Release from TAMAKI LAW OFFICES. The Diocese of Great Falls/Billings has agreed to settle 86 sexual abuse claims for $20 million, ending a lawsuit that began in 2011. The lawsuit alleges that multiple priests and nuns working for the diocese sexually abused children from the 1950s through the 1990s. The Diocese filed for bankruptcy in March of 2017, just months before the first of many jury trials were scheduled to begin. The cases that would have been tried first involved Fr. Joseph Heretick. In that case, Plaintiffs alleged that the Diocese knew that Fr. Heretick was a danger to children, ignoring complaints from parents about his conduct around children. Documents produced in the lawsuit revealed that the Bishop of the Great Falls Diocese sent Fr. Heretick to a treatment center for pedophile priests in the 1980s and that the treatment center recommended that Heretick not be put back in the ministry. Plaintiffs alleged that the Bishop ignored these recommendations. Settlement discussions continued throughout the bankruptcy and resulted in a settlement on April 24, 2018, after a mediation before the Honorable Gregory Zive, a bankruptcy judge who agreed to serve as the mediator in the case. Tamaki Law Offices represents 38 of the 86 plaintiffs, more than any other law firm in the case, and was lead counsel on the first cases set for trial. Tamaki Law attorneys also served as lead counsel in the bankruptcy case, representing 4 of the 8 members of the Creditor's Committee (comprised of abuse survivors) who negotiated the final settlement with the Diocese. This is the 15th bankruptcy filed by a Catholic Diocese in the U.S. and follows a bankruptcy filed by the Diocese of Helena (covering Western Montana) in 2012.

Pope holds first meeting with sex abuse survivors from Chile

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 01:01 PM PDT

VATICAN CITY Crux Inés San Martín VATICAN CORRESPONDENT Apr 27, 2018 ROME - Pope Francis's encounters with three victims of clerical sexual abuse from Chile, whom he once accused of "calumny," began in the Vatican on Friday. The conversations will take place at different times throughout the weekend and on Monday. The three survivors, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Andres Murillo, have been invited by Francis to stay in the Santa Marta residence within Vatican grounds where he's lived since the beginning of his pontificate. According to a statement released Friday by Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, at the pope's request and in an effort to respect "the confidentiality of the conversations," no official comment on the substance of conversations Francis will have with the victims of abuser priest Fernando Karadima will be released. "[The pope's] priority is to listen to the victims, to ask for their forgiveness and to respect the confidentiality of these conversations," the statement said, which was issued in Spanish.

Men say LI priest who led singing group abused them in mid-1970s

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 06:02 AM PDT

NEW YORK Newsday By Bart Jones bart.jones@newsday.com April 27, 2018 Eight men who were members of a popular youth folk group at a Catholic church in St. James in the 1970s have filed reports with the Suffolk County district attorney saying they were sexually abused as boys by the charismatic priest who ran the group. The men filed the accusations as part of the second phase of a program established by the Diocese of Rockville Centre to compensate clergy sex-abuse victims, according to Manhattan-based attorney Michael Reck, who is representing them. Phase Two of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program is for people who never previously filed complaints with the diocese or law enforcement agencies. All eight were members of the PJ Folksingers group at Saints Philip and James Roman Catholic Church. They allege the Rev. Peter Charland, who died in 2004 at 58, abused them as the group soared in popularity, packing churches, cutting an album and even going on a three-week tour of Romania. The folk group grew from about 10 members to 160 in just three years, according to people who belonged to it.

Bye Bye Bill Cosby

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 04:23 AM PDT

UNITED STATES Times of Israel APRIL 27, 2018 Michael J. Salamon ill Cosby finally had his day in court and he lost. I remember the first time I heard about Bill Cosby. He had recently released a comedy album that a friend had purchased. My friend played the album for our group and Cosby's Noah routine was hilarious. Cosby was a cool spy on an early TV show and I even remember occasionally watching him as the kindly family man and caring doctor on a television show. And, I also remember seeing him at Radio City Music Hall with a group of friends doing his one man show. His act was both humorous and brilliant. Cosby is intelligent. Johnny Carson the late-night talk show and comedian used to introduce him as someone with a doctorate in education, which he received from University of Massachusetts. His thesis was based on using Fat Albert, a cartoon creation of his, as a teaching tool. He was a smart well rounded highly successful family man. Or was he? Fifty-eight women accused Cosby of sexual assault ranging over a period of 50 years. I heard rumors about him and his predatory behaviors at least 15 years ago. It is hard to believe that this icon, this model of intellect, humor and apparent concern for others actually was, is, a now convicted sexual predator. But in reality, it is not that incomprehensible.

Pushing for passage

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 04:20 AM PDT

NEW YORK Manhattan Times April 26, 2018 Survivors of child sex abuse recently have made themselves heard across New York in recent weeks, as they push for passage of the state's Child Victims Act (CVA), legislation that would increase both the criminal and civil statute of limitations on sex abuse cases. In March, rape survivor and CVA Kat Sullivan unveiled three digital billboards, calling out her rapist and New York's outdated laws on child sex abuse. Currently, child survivors in New York have until the age of 23 to bring their abusers to court. After their 23rd birthday, they have no legal recourse. If passed, the CVA would raise the statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse in New York and provide a one-year look back window for survivors of any age to bring their abusers to court.

St Thomas pastor on sexual assault rap to appear in court May 11

Posted: 27 Apr 2018 04:14 AM PDT

JAMAICA Jamaica Observer April 26, 2018 ST THOMAS, Jamaica — A St Thomas pastor who was arrested in March and charged with several sexual related crimes, is scheduled to appear in the St Thomas Parish Court on May 11. According to police reports, 21-year-old Ricardo Brown, who is from Cottage Pen, Morant Bay in St Thomas, was charged with five counts of abduction, rape, assault at common-law, grievous sexually assault, abduction of child under 16, robbery with aggravation and unlawful wounding. Lawmen added that detectives from the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) are currently carrying out further probes.