Category Archives: Abuse of Power

The Mormon Maddoff – Fraud and Financial Abuse

Mugshot of Bernie Madoff, Author US Dept. of Justice, Source http://money.cnn.om (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Shawn Merriman headed an investment firm, and served as a lay bishop of the Mormon Church.  Over a period of 15 years, he scammed $21 million from friends, family, and church members – gaining a dubious title as “The Mormon Madoff” [1][2].

Affinity Fraud

Using a Ponzi scheme, Merriman duped a total of 68 investors.  Exploiting his position as a bishop, Merriman gained the trust of fellow Mormons.  Church members who had invested, then encouraged others to invest.

Like Madoff, Merriman touted his investments as both “exclusive” and secure.   Rather than investing the money he was given, however, Merriman used it to support a lavish lifestyle.

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, Religion

Philippine Children in Crisis

Philippine children, Author US Marines from Arlington, VA, Source flickr (PD as work product of federal govt.)

The Duterte Administration of the Philippines has resorted to mass arrests in its war on drugs, and is planning to broaden that hard line approach to include children [1][2].

New legislation would impose mandatory prison terms of up to 12 years on children as young as 9 y.o.  The children of the poor will be most heavily impacted, since they are more likely to join drug gangs in an effort to survive.

The US State Dept. website describes our nation’s relationship with the Philippines as “based on strong historical and cultural links and a shared commitment to democracy and human rights [3].”

According to the non-profit Human Rights Watch, however, conditions at government facilities for children are already inhumane.  This is particularly true at Bahay Pag-asa (“House of Hope”).  Locked in cages, children there suffer from skin infections suggesting inadequate diet and sanitation.

“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 36).

[1]  The Defender Magazine, Spring 2019, “Children in Crisis:  A Report from the Philippines”.

[2]  New York Times, “Philippine Law Would Make 9-Year-Olds Criminally Liable” by Jason Gutierrez, 1/22/19, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/world/asia/philippines-juvenile-justice-law.html.

[3]  US Department of State, “US Relations with the Philippines”, 7/17/18, https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-the-philippines/.

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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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty

Permanent Record

School books, Author KGV (Free Art License)

Some of us are old enough to remember the threat from a teacher that some minor disciplinary infraction might go on our “permanent record”.  The staff of Berkeley Heights Elementary School would have done well to heed that warning [1].

Amber Pack became concerned when she found bruises on her 6 y.o. daughter, Adri, and the little girl resisted returning to school.  A small recording device proved informative.

Christina Lester, a teacher at Berkeley, and two of her aides, Kristin Douty and June Yurish, were recorded threatening to knock the teeth out of the children in their care or withhold food from them.  To top things off, the school advised Pack to destroy the recording once they learned of its existence.

When prosecutors failed to press charges, Pack shared the recording on Facebook where it went viral.

West Virginia Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey subsequently filed suit against the Berkeley County Board of Education; Berkeley County Deputy Superintendent, Margaret Kursey; and Berkeley Heights Principal, Amber Boeckmann; along with Lester, Douty, and Yurish.  Their permanent record will be one of shame.

Adri has since been enrolled in a new school and is doing well.

[1]  People Magazine, “Ex-teacher, aides charged after mom secretly records abuse” by Harriet Sokmensuer, 8/19/19, https://people.com/crime/former-west-virginia-teacher-aides-charged-abuse-recording.

Of Note:  Registered sex offenders have filed suit in federal court to prevent Georgia Sheriff Gary Long from posting signs on their lawns warning children not to “trick or treat” there.  For details, see https://www.wthr.com/article/georgia-sex-offenders-file-suit-over-sheriffs-no-trick-or-treat-signs.

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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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Community, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse

Forced Panhandling

“The Old Beggar” by Louis Dewar (1916) (PD-Art, PD-Old)

Leaders of the non-denominational Imperial Valley Ministries appear to have devised a new form of clergy abuse.  They are alleged to have imprisoned dozens of homeless, forcing them to panhandle 9 hours/day on the church’s behalf [1].

The church’s programs are billed as drug rehabilitation.  Destitute men and women were lured with offers of free food and shelter, along with promises of the funds to return home.  Instead, victims were required to adhere to strict rules, and denied food if they disobeyed.

Church members held them captive in group homes with deadbolts, taking their identification documents from them.  In some locations, windows were, also, nailed shut.

Meanwhile, church leaders stole Food Stamps and Welfare benefits from victims, threatening to remove children, if their parents tried to leave.  Others were told their loved ones had abandoned them and only God loved them.

Whatever this was, it was not Christianity.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…Many will say to Me in that day, ‘…have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7: 21-23).

[1]  USA Today, “A church needed money, so members held homeless people captive and forced them to beg, prosecutors say” by N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9/11/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/11/church-held-homeless-people-hostage-forced-them-beg-feds-say/2285143001.

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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Filed under Abuse of Power, Community, Poverty, Religion

Boy Scout Sex Scandal

“We, Too, Have a Job to Do” by Norman Rockwell (Boy Scouts of America Calendar 1944), Source National Scouting Museum (c) copyright Brown & Bigelow Inc.

“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

-Boy Scout Oath

A lawsuit has been filed against the Boy Scouts of America which alleges sexual abuse on a massive scale [1].

While this is not the first lawsuit alleging such abuse against the organization, some 350 scout leaders and other volunteers are identified as pedophiles.  Most are accused of abusing multiple boys.  Eight hundred or so victims have come forward, ranging in age from 14 to 88 years.

The complaint asserts that the Boys Scouts have known for decades that sexual predation is ongoing. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Sexual Abuse

Reckoning

Jeffrey Epstein mug shot, Author/Source Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Dept. (PD as created by govt.)

A New York grand jury has indicted billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein, on charges of trafficking dozens of underage girls for sex between 2002-2005 [1].

Around 80 victims have come forward, some as young as 14 y.o. at the time.

The girls were sometimes promised modeling contracts, and sometimes given money to recruit other girls.  The promise of modeling contracts is not uncommon, among sex traffickers [2].

A Life of Luxury

Epstein, 66 y.o., led a life of luxury, regularly associating with the likes of Prince Andrew, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Alec Baldwin [3].  With unlimited funds, six opulent homes, and a private island at his disposal, Epstein lacked for nothing.

Nothing, it appears, but character. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Justice, Law, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse

Tracking

hajb.jpg

Photo courtesy of Independent Minds.

Saudi Arabian “guardianship” laws assign women a legal status comparable to that of children, in many respects.  Each woman is appointed a male guardian (generally her father, husband, or son) who must give permission for her to marry, have certain medical procedures, or obtain a passport.

A mobile application now allows men to track and restrict the movement of women [1].  Launched by the Saudi government in 2015, Absher (“Yes, Sir”) is available for download from the Apple and Google Play stores.  The app enables men to issue or revoke the travel rights of women over whom those men hold guardianship, tracking the women through airports. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Violence Against Women

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, guaranteeing Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Justice, Law, Rape, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault

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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Filed under Abuse of Power, domestic abuse, domestic violence

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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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse