Category Archives: Abuse of Power

Systemic Evil

  • Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on YouTube. A large volume of child erotica is being monetized on YouTube [1].  The YouTube algorithm unwittingly works to favor child sexual abuse imagery.  Disney, AT&T, Hasbro, Nestle, and McDonald’s have pulled advertising over the fact their ads are running on videos of young girls which pedophiles have sexualized.  YouTube is blocking predatory comments, but not taking down these videos though social media is often used to facilitate grooming.
  • Violation by Labor Secretary of Crime Victims’ Rights Act.  Judge Kenneth Marra has ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he arranged a plea deal for multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein without informing victims [2].  Despite having engaged in human trafficking and the abuse of more than 80 underage victims, Epstein was sentenced to a mere 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail.  Acosta, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, not only failed to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, but denied victims their opportunity to oppose the plea deal in open court or appeal it.  Moreover, the secret plea deal shut down an ongoing FBI investigation, and guaranteed Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.
  • Known Sexual Predator on Government Payroll for Decades.  Investigation by Frontline and the Wall Street Journal confirms that Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber was moved from reservation to reservation by the US Indian Health Service (IHS) for over twenty years despite allegations that he was abusing Native American boys [3][4].  The IHS serves a largely impoverished population with little or no other access to health care.  Weber supplied victims with money, alcohol, and opioids.  He was finally convicted in 2016 of assaulting two Montana boys.  Many of Weber’s victims have spent years in and out of prison and/or struggling with addiction.  In its defense, the IHS indicates it was desperate for medical staff.  Other physicians have been hired with drug problems, criminal convictions, or a history of violence.
  • Catholic Church Sex Scandal.  Although widespread clergy abuse has been uncovered in the United States, Chile, Ireland, Germany, and Australia, there is little hope that the current Conference on the Protection of Minors will result in genuine – and long overdue – reform by the Catholic Church [5].  Clergy abuse in India, Africa, and elsewhere in the undeveloped world has yet to be addressed.  Pope Francis attributes abuse to clericalism, i.e. an excessive deference to clergy and the assumption of moral superiority on their part despite all evidence to the contrary [6][7].  However, the failure to put universal mandatory safeguards in place has played a large role.  Recommendations by the earlier Commission for the Protection of Minors were approved by the Pope, then ignored by the Curia. Subsidiarity allows the bishops in each country to make their own decisions about reform.  Meanwhile, the rape of nuns by priests and bishops has been reported to church hierarchy for 25 years, but is only now coming to light [8][9][10].

Whether corruption is governmental, ecclesiastical, or otherwise, it can become so blatant and pervasive as to undermine any good that may be accomplished by an organization or institution.

But victims are not without recourse, in the face of systemic evil.  Public outcry in the form of protest and boycott can be extremely powerful.  The only question is whether the public will can be marshaled.

[1]  USA Today, “AT&T, Disney, Epic Games drop YouTube ads over concerns of pedophile comments on videos” by Mike Snyder, 2/22/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2019/02/22/at-t-disney-epic-games-pull-youtube-ads-child-exploitation-concerns-pedophiles/2948825002/.

[2]  Slate, “Judge: Alexander Acosta, Now a Trump Official, Broke Federal Law in Brokering Jeffery Epsteing’s 2008 Plea Deal” by Molly Olmstead, 2/21/19, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/02/jeffrey-epstein-sex-trafficking-plea-deal-alexander-acosta.html.

[3]  PBS, “A Pedophile Doctor Drew Suspicions for 21 Years. No One Stopped Him.” By Christopher Weaver, Dan Frosch, and Gabe Johnson, 2/8/19, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/patrick-stanley-weber-sexual-abuse-pine-ridge-blackfeet-reservation/ .

[4]  PBS, “Predator on the Reservation”, 2/12/19, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/predator-on-the-reservation/.

[5]  The Atlantic, “What to Watch for During the Catholic Church’s Sex-Abuse Meeting” by Rachel Donadio, 2/20/19, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/02/pope-francis-hosts-catholic-church-meeting-sex-abuse/583129/.

[6]  Vatican News, “Protection of Minors: Card. Salazar says bishops’ responsibility ‘inescapable’ ” by Linda Bordoni, 2/21/19, https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2019-02/protection-minors-meeting-abuse-cardinal-salazar-vatiab.html.

[7]  Aleteia, “What is ‘clericalism’?” by Nicholas Senz, 8/23/18, https://aleteia.org/2018/08/23/what-is-clericalism/.

[8]  CNN, “The abuse of nuns is ‘going to explode’ ” by Christiane Amanpour, 2/22/19, https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2019/02/22/marie-collins-child-sex-abuse-survivor-vatican-summit-pope-francis-amanpour.cnn .

[9]  NPR, “ ‘I Just Froze’: Former Nun Talks About Experiences of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse”, 2/9/19, https://www.npr.org/2019/02/09/693062479/former-nun-talks-about-experiences-of-abuse-in-germany.

[10]  AP News, “Nuns in India tell AP of enduring abuse in Catholic Church” by Tim Sullivan, 1/2/19, https://www.apnews.com/93806f1783f34ea4b8e9c32ed59cdc06.

The series Returning to Toxic Relationships will resume next week.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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What Is A Man?

The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him” (Prov. 20: 7).

Abuse must not blind us to the good in men.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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R. Kelly

“It’s too late. They should have did this s__ 30 years ago.”
– R. Kelly, Facebook Live [1]

The Lifetime channel recently aired a documentary series called “Surviving R. Kelly” which explores the R&B singer-songwriter’s reputation for preying on young girls [2].  The program contains statements by several of Kelly’s underage victims.  The young women describe having been groomed, abused, then finally abandoned.

A number of journalists have reported on R. Kelly’s reprehensible behavior.  Kelly was acquitted of child pornography in 2008, though a tape allegedly showed him having sex with and urinating on a 14 y.o.

The program sheds light not only on the singer’s pattern of predation, but the roots of this behavior.  It, also, exposes the complicity of others in the music business. Continue reading

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Unbiblical, Part 2 – Sin Nature v. Abuse-Related Guilt

Woman with a broken heart, Author Nevit Dilmen, Source Sunset 02459.jpg and Broken Heart symbol.svg (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christians speak regularly about the “sin nature” of mankind, the inclination by human beings to do wrong, as illustrated by wars and crime.

The following verses on the topic are typical:

“…[T]he imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen. 8:21).

“ ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…’” (Jer. 17:9).

“ ‘Then I will…take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in My statutes…’ ” (Ezek. 11: 19-20).

“ ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’ ” (Matt. 15: 19).

If anyone has experienced that sin nature, abuse victims have.  Victims, however, have been more sinned against than sinning.

Unfortunately, the continuous emphasis on sin is likely to sound like condemnation to victims, when what they need is love, encouragement, and hope.

Christians should remember that abuse leaves behind deep scars.  Victims of abuse may struggle with gender identification, sexual addiction or dysfunction, self-neglect, anxiety, depression, dissociation and related amnesia, drug or alcohol addiction, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, binging, and other issues.  The majority of prostitutes are thought to be runaways, with a history of abuse.

Dealing with major problems like these is not for the faint of heart.  Nor is it for the self-righteous.  Merely living ordinary lives can take enormous effort and enormous courage by abuse victims.  That victims, for the most part, accomplish this is amazing.

Victims should not be made a topic of gossip.  Nor should they be subjected to snap judgments, whether about their morality or mental state.

Above all, victims should be reassured that they were not the guilty party in abuse; that, as children, they were wholly incapable of consent to whatever was done to them; and that God still loves them, despite all they have been through.

Originally posted 3/15/15

This series will continue next week with Humility v. Lack of Worth

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

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Sexual Violence Among Children On Base

Related image

Photo courtesy James Worthington/Pinterest

The Senate has ordered an independent evaluation of how the Defense Dept. deals with child sexual violence on military bases [1].  This follows an Associated Press investigation which exposed multiple failures, in instances with underage victims and assailants [2].

The US Armed Forces have attempted to come to terms with the rape of female soldiers for the past 10 years.  But reports of rape and sexual assault among children on base often die a slow death, under mountains of paperwork and red tape.  Some are deliberately buried.

The Defense Dept. does not, it seems, even track such reports for statistical purposes.  The Associated Press, however, managed to uncover nearly 600 cases between 2007-2018. Continue reading

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A Long Silence

Broome County Courthouse, Binghamton, NY, Author Doug Kerr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Statutes of Limitations are time limits under the law within which accusations can be criminally prosecuted or civil damages pursued.

Purpose

Statutes of Limitations serve a dual purpose.  They encourage investigation while evidence is still available and memories fresh.   And they allow society to move forward in an orderly fashion, with old disputes resolved.

Tolling

Murder has consistently been viewed as the exception.  The crime is considered so grave by society that it warrants investigation whenever uncovered…even after many years.  The question we must ask is how closely other allegations parallel this.

Most states suspend or “toll” their Statutes of Limitations to allow injured minors to reach majority.

Many states have made special provisions for child sexual abuse cases – in part because of the breadth and heinous nature of such crimes, in part because victims are often reluctant to come forward for years, and in part because there may be repressed memories involved [1].

A Long Silence

Systemic suppression of the truth – as, for instance, by the Catholic Church – may result in a long silence.  That does not ensure societal peace…much less justice.

[1]  National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “State Civil Statutes of Limitations in Child Sexual Abuse Cases”, 5/30/17, http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/state-civil-statutes-of-limitations-in-child-sexua.aspx.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Predator Priests, Part 3

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, former Archbishop of Boston who resigned in response to the Catholic Church sex scandal, Author City of Boston Archives, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofbostonarchives/9519694234/ (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Whether in the Roman Catholic Church or evangelical church, clergy abuse is a fundamental betrayal of Christian belief.

The Good Shepherd

Christ the Good Shepherd, the Suffering Servant, sacrificed Himself for our sake.  The sinless Savior took on our sins, and went to the cross in our place.  Predator priests do the opposite.  They prey on the innocent, targeting the weak and vulnerable under their care, for the sake of perverse self-gratification.

This is perhaps the lowest, most despicable form of abuse.  Not only does it destroy a child’s confidence and self-esteem, but a child’s very faith in God.

The Priest/Penitent Relationship

The relationship between a priest and penitent is intended to be sacred, on a par with the relationship between a father and child.  It is meant to mirror the relationship between God and man, and is or should be based on trust.  When that trust is violated, the wound is deep and lasting.

Qualifications for Christian Leadership

And a servant of the Lord must…be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth…” (2 Tim. 2: 24-25).

“A bishop…must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior…not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle…one who rules his own house well…not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.  Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3: 2-7).

“For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but…a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1: 7-9).

Scripture lays out the necessary characteristics for Christian leadership.  These include self-control, gentleness, humility, fidelity, and genuine holiness (as distinguished from the mere appearance of piety) .

Predator priests lack every one of these. Continue reading

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Predator Priests, Part 2

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The Roman Catholic Church is not alone in facing accusations of clergy abuse.

Pastor, Heather Larson and elders of the Willow Creek Community Church, a Chicago-based megachurch, recently resigned amid a sexual abuse scandal involving church founder, Rev. Bill Hybels, and multiple women [1][2A].  Hybels resigned in April, but denies the accusations made against him.

Willow Creek meanwhile paid $3.25 million to settle lawsuits against a volunteer who sexually abused two disabled children [3].  The volunteer, Robert Sobczak, Jr. pled guilty, and is currently serving a seven-year prison term. Continue reading

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Predator Priests, Part 1

Facade of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Author Alessio Nastro Siniscalchi (CC BY-SA 2.5 Italy)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, this week released the results of what may be the most comprehensive state investigation into child sexual abuse and cover-up by the Roman Catholic Church in the nation’s history [1A].

Examining over 70 years of church records, the grand jury investigation identified 301 predator priests, and more than 1000 child victims, across six dioceses (Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton).  Sexual abuse by priests was earlier uncovered in two other Pennsylvania dioceses (Philadelphia and Altoona).

Background

The Catholic Church sex scandal first began to surface in the 1980s [2].  A seminal investigation by the Boston Globe in 2002 led to the criminal prosecution of five predator priests [3].

Subsequent investigations revealed a widespread pattern of abuse across the United States and the globe, with an institutional cover-up extending to the Vatican.  Despite complaints, predator priests were moved seamlessly from parish to parish, and allowed to continue in ministry, sometimes for decades.

As Shapiro expressed it:

“Church officials routinely and purposefully described the abuse as horseplay and wrestling and inappropriate conduct.  It was none of those things.  It was child sexual abuse, including rape [1B].”

Some 17,000 victims have come forward in the US.  Papal apologies and new protocols have done little to correct the situation.

Victimized

Victims were primarily boys.  However, girls were victimized, as well.  One 9 y.o. had his mouth washed out with holy water after oral sex [6].  Another victim was 18 months of age, and still in diapers.

Along with oral sex, abuse included groping, forced masturbation, vaginal and anal penetration.

When complaints were made to church hierarchy, victims were accused of fabricating lies (or seduction, if pregnancy resulted).

Continue reading

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Shelter

“Unaccompanied minors” at south Texas border, Author US Customs and Border Protection (PD as work product of US Dept. of Homeland Security)

Levian Pacheco of Casa Kokopelli – one of eight federally funded private shelters Southwest Key operates in Arizona – has been accused of sexually molesting at least 8 migrant boys between the ages of 15 and 17 at that facility [1].

Fernando Negrete, also employed by Southwest Key, has meanwhile been charged with groping a 14 year old migrant girl [2].

The Arizona Dept. of Health has cited Casa Kokopelli for failure to complete background checks on employees.  Yet, Southwest Key has received over $1 billion in funds for its shelters.

Police nationwide have responded to hundreds of calls reporting sex crimes against immigrant children held by the government at shelters.

Tragically, this is not the only situation in which illegal immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation.  Fleeing poverty and violence, an estimated 17,000 to 19,000 immigrants are trafficked into the United States each year [3]. Continue reading

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