Category Archives: Sexual Abuse

Life

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139: 16).

Abuse survivors have not always experienced life at its best.  But life remains a priceless gift.  We must cherish it.

Mother Teresa (standing all of 4’11” and weighing less than 100 lbs) worked among the poorest of the poor in India.  Yet she maintained a positive view of life.  The poem below is by her.

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.”

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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.

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Credibility

Detail from “Allegory of Justice” by Claude Laprade (1702), Museo Nacional Machado de Castro, Portugal, Author P.Lameiro (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Given the recent #MeToo Movement, the Roman Catholic Church sex scandal, and the growing frequency of child abuse allegations in the context of custody disputes, the issue of credibility is crucial.

False allegations – whether of rape or child abuse which did not occur – are a serious concern.  Lives and careers can be destroyed by them.

Signs of Truthfulness

There are factors which tend to support the truthfulness of victims.  These include the following:

  • A complaint to authority, in close proximity to the alleged event.
  • Documented physical injury, in close proximity to the alleged event.
  • Changes in the behavior of a child, in close proximity to the alleged event.
  • Detailed descriptions of sexual interaction by a young child.
  • Multiple victims, unrelated to one another.
  • Recurrent victims, when an accused relocates or is reassigned.

None of these factors, by themselves, assure that allegations are grounded in fact.  Each, however, carries some weight.  All are present in the Catholic Church sex scandal. Continue reading

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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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A Good Life

Bleeding hearts (dicentra spectabilis), Author Wildfeuer (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Most parents want a good life for their children.

Good parents want their children to grow up in peace and security; want them to express their personalities, and develop their talents; want them to become fine young men and women, capable of loving others and contributing to the world.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was not such a parent.  Authorities in New Mexico have found eleven malnourished children in rags, at a derelict compound in the desert [1][2].

The makeshift compound, surrounded by tires, had no electricity or running water.  Wahhaj though was heavily armed.  Evidence suggests that he and another man, Lucas Morten, were training the children to conduct school shootings [3].

There were, also, three women present at the compound.  Preliminary indications were that the women had been brainwashed.

The children, themselves, range in age from one to fifteen.  What are thought to be the remains of Wahhaj’s four year old son were found buried nearby.  Evidently, Wahhaj had believed the boy (who was physically and mentally handicapped) possessed by demons. 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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The Rights of a Child

Children being treated by Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets after chemical attack.  Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international agreement which lays out the social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights of children everywhere.  Since its adoption in 1989, the Convention has been signed by 194 countries.  But its interpretation and adherence vary widely across the globe.

Under the Convention, every child – boy or girl – has the right to life and survival; to protection against violence, abuse, and neglect; and to an education.

Right to Life

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb
” (Ps. 139: 13).

The American Convention on Human Rights declares human life as beginning at conception.  Abortion is, however, legal for some 60% of the world’s population.

The United States has performed over 45 million abortions since 1970 [1].

China performs approximately 23 million abortions annually [2].  Although pre-natal sex determination is now illegal there, it is thought that sex-selective abortions (heavily weighted against females) are a key factor in China’s widely disproportionate number of men.

Right to Survival

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’  Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age” (Mark 5: 41-42).

Over one third of child deaths worldwide are related to malnutrition [3].  Another 2  million children or more die annually of readily preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.

Protection against Violence

Thus says the LORD:  ‘Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor.  Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place’ “ (Jer. 22: 3).

During the 10 year period from 1986 – 1996, it is estimated that 2 million children were killed; 4-5 million disabled; and 12 million left homeless by war and conflict [4].  As recently as April of this year, Pres. Bashar al-Assad of Syria again killed dozens of his own men, women, and children in a chemical attack [5].

As many as 300,000 youngsters worldwide have been compelled by government or rebel forces to become child soldiers [6].

In the United States, 2710 children were killed by guns between 2014 – 2017 [7].  This ranged from gang violence to school shootings [8A].  Nearly 6000 children are treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds in this country, annually [8B].

Continue reading

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Facade

Jonathan Allen and his wife, Ina Rogers, of Fairfield are accused of torturing 10 children. Photo: Solano County Sheriff's Office

Photo: Solano County Sheriff’s Office

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Like the infamous David and Louise Turpin, Jonathan Allen and Ina Rogers of California are alleged to have tortured and mistreated their 10 children. 

The children, aged from 6 months to 11 years, were “continuously punched, strangled, bitten, shot with BB guns, hit with sticks and bats, subjected to ‘waterboarding’ and splashed with scalding water [1].”  They bear scars and the evidence of broken bones.  One child under the age of 14 has disclosed sexual abuse. 

Garbage, feces, and rotten food were found scattered around the home the family occupied.  However, Allen and Rogers maintain their innocence.  Allen declared to the press, ” ‘I’m not 100% perfect, I’m not perfect, no one is perfect.  But I am not an animal, I’m not a torturer and I’m not a monster.  I’m just not [2].’ ”

There are many good men in the world, more than those of us abused as children or adults dare believe.  But there are others masquerading to the world as good men, and leading a double life.

These men can pass as good employees.  They may work hard; may dress appropriately, wear a suit and tie.  They can live in nice neighborhoods.  Their homes may look attractive from the outside.  They may even attend church, be considered pillars of the community.

Such men maintain a façade of normality, all the while taking out their hostilities and frustrations at home.  Jonathan Allen seems to have been one [3].   But his carefully crafted facade has been shattered.

Despite what he is thought to have done, Allen is not an animal.  Animals do not torture their offspring.  No, Allen is not an animal.  He is a moral agent, responsible for his actions, whether he chooses to acknowledge that responsibility or not.  His self-delusion cannot shield him from guilt.

But neither are his children animals.  They did not deserve treatment like this.  Not even an animal would have deserved that.

[1][2]   Angeles Times, “New Charges Against Father Who Allegedly Tortured His 10 Children” by Brittny Mejia, 5/24/18, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-fairfield-father-20180524-story.html.

[3]  Allen did have a 2011 domestic violence conviction.

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