Category Archives: Law

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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Sexual Violence Among Children On Base

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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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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 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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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.

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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Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 2 – Faith and Fault

“The journey to eternity” by Walter Crane, National Gallery in Prague (1902) (PD-Art, Old-100)

We continue this series on abuse in Christian marriage with a few more of Satan’s lies.

“Abuse in a Marriage Is the Woman’s Fault, a Result of Her Sin”

Not only are women frequently blamed for the abuse to which they are subjected.  A Christian woman may be told that, as a sinner herself, she cannot criticize her husband’s behavior.  If anything, it is her duty to reform him.

While a clever way of shifting blame, this is circular logic.  It has no basis either in fact or Scripture.

Abuse – physical, emotional, financial, or sexual – is a deliberate act by the abuser.  It is not the woman’s fault, and not her sin.  No one deserves to be abused – not a “witch”, not a “nag”, not a “pig”, not an “old bag”, or any other offensive term the abuser may devise to excuse his reprehensible behavior.  No one.

True, a sinner will reap what he sows (Gal. 6: 7).  However, it is the abuser – not the victim – who has sown the wind, and will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8: 7).

As for reform, it may take criminal liability – if that – for an abuser to change his lifestyle. Continue reading

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Abused Men

You are a man in your 40s.  Your wife regularly beats and berates you.  She once deliberately drove over your foot. You give her everything you can manage to earn (and anything else friends and relatives will let you borrow).  But she spends all the money on herself or gambles it away.  She has falsely accused you of abuse.  You now have a police record as a result.  Yet you cannot break free.  

Some 830,000 men were victims of domestic violence last year [1A].  Many men do not recognize that they are victims.  Many more are ashamed to acknowledge the fact.

We are all familiar with the image of the “macho” male.  Society defines men as strong and dominant.  But men of all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and all occupations may be subject to abuse.  Nor is abuse confined to heterosexual relationships.

Mary Todd Lincoln was known to have fits of rage.  She once chased Abraham Lincoln around the yard with a knife.

Humphrey Bogart’s alcoholic third wife, Mayo Methot, pulled a gun on him at a dinner party.  She stabbed him during another fight – an altercation Warner Bros. attempted to keep from the public.  But the Bogarts’ tumultuous relationship was no secret.  The press referred to the couple as the “Battling Bogarts” and their home as “Sluggy Hollow”.

Forms of Abuse

“Women were significantly more likely to throw an object, slap, kick/bite/hit with fist and hit with an object.”

-Philip Cook, “Abused Men:  The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence”

Domestic violence against men can take a variety forms [2A]:

Verbal Abuse – This can range from private criticism to insults and humiliation in the presence of friends and colleagues.

Threats – These may express the intent to prevent children from seeing their father, if the abuse is reported; to harm children (or pets); or to “out” a gay or transgender individual.

False Accusations – Unsubstantiated accusations of infidelity or abuse may be made to an employer or police.

Physical Assault – This may involve hitting, punching, thrown objects, attacks while asleep, or use of a vehicle to cause injury.

Damage to Credit Rating and Finances – This can take the form of heedless spending, or deliberate default on major financial responsibilities such as a mortgage. Continue reading

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