Category Archives: Sexual Assault

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 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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Poison

King Cobra, Author Vishnukanayathil (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras”(Deut. 32: 33).

Across time and across the globe, women have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, violated, and put to death for seeking equality with their male counterparts.

There have been political, cultural, and religious reasons given for this inequality.  But at heart is the matter of poison.  Not a chemical or biological agent of warfare (though there is a kind of war being fought), this is instead an insidious poison of the mind.

Simply put, many consider half the population of the earth – the female half, the very mothers who bore them – less worthy than the other, male half.  This toxic belief corrodes nations and cultures, along with relationships and individuals.  It establishes and enforces a power differential in favor of the male members of society which is a temptation toward abuse.

More than that, the inequality violates the laws of God.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1: 27).  

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Sin has, throughout history, distorted the relationship between men and women.

Though the Old Testament prophetess, Deborah, more than capably judged Israel; though women were faithful at the cross, and the first to arrive at the empty tomb; though Mary, Persis, Priscilla, Tryphena, and Tryphosa were just a few of the women who ministered in the early church; and though God pours out His spirit on sons and daughters alike (Joel 2: 28-29; Acts 2: 17-18), Christianity has not been immune to this distortion.

There has been a great deal of emphasis on the submission of wives to their husbands (Eph. 5: 22-24; Col. 3: 18), and very little on the requisite love by husbands for their wives (Eph. 5: 25-26, 28-29, 31; Col. 3: 19, 1 Pet. 3: 7).

This skewed emphasis by the church has done greatest damage – both spiritually and physically – in regard to abuse.  Over the centuries, women have again and again been counseled by their priests and ministers to remain in abusive marriages, even at the risk of their lives.  For many of these women, the poisonous belief that they were of less value than men proved lethal.

Abuse is, of course, biblically prohibited.  Submission to another flawed human being was never intended to supersede the right of self-defense [1].

Nor does forgiveness by the victim necessarily restore trust.  That may be lost forever.  Certainly, an abused woman is not required to return to a situation she perceives as dangerous.

Christianity is the antidote to this and other poisons like it.  Male and female, let us live our faith as Christ would have us do.  Let us treat one another with kindness and respect that the warfare between the sexes may end, and the world may see in us — men and women alike — the image of Christ.

_____

[1] The Christian concept of “headship” (Ephesians 5: 22-33) is best assessed vis a vis the servant leadership modeled by the Lord (Mark 10: 42-45).

Originally posted 5/30/12

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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A Dangerous Thing

Traditional millstone used to crush olives in making oil, Sardinia, Italy, Author Giancarlo Dessi (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18: 6 Berean Study Bible).

Sexuality is a dangerous thing.  The Weinstein scandal has reminded us of that [1].  A power differential allows those with power to exploit those without it – sexually and otherwise.

But the exploited are not always women.  An account in Vulture by a man who alleges he was sexually involved with actor Kevin Spacey at age 14 (and that Spacey, 10 years his senior, attempted to rape him) sheds light on the confusion in a child’s mind, where sex is concerned [2].  Raw though that account is, I recommend it to you.

The Vulture account makes the following points:

  • Children are trusting. They do not question the motives of adults who appear to care for them.  For that reason alone, children can be easily manipulated.  They believe the promises made to them (and lies told them) by loved ones…however farfetched.
  • Immaturity can expose children to dangers of which they are unaware. It is the reason we have statutory rape laws in place.  Immaturity can, also, cause children to assume responsibility for circumstances over which they had little or no control…circumstances in which they were, in fact, victimized.
  • Children who have been victimized once are often victimized again.  Those who are emotionally needy are most vulnerable.
  • Children may mistakenly view themselves as adults long before they possess the capacities of an adult.  But judgment and perspective require life experience.  “Sophistication” on a child’s part is no substitute.
  • Homosexuality and pedophilia are not one and the same.

Christ, Himself, condemned those who would abuse children.  One way or another, in this world or the next, those who violate that prohibition will find doing so is a dangerous thing.

[1]  According to Entertainment Weekly, 56 women had accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment as of October 28, 2017.  Included in that number are Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.  See, Entertainment Weekly, “56 Women Who Have Accused Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment”; 10/28/17, http://ew.com/movies/women-accused-harvey-weinstein-sexual-misconduct/harvey-weinsteins-accusers.  High profile men similarly accused include James Tobak, Oliver Stone, Ben Affleck, Roy Price, and Bill O’Reilly.

[2]  Vulture, “Man Comes Forward to Describe an Alleged Extended Sexual Relationship He Had at Age 14 With Kevin Spacey” by E. Alex Jung, 11/2/17, http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/kevin-spacey-alleged-sexual-relationship.html.

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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Women and Hotel Security, Part 2

“Rape Victim in ZA” by Julian Trinidad Gardea a/k/a Julian Scorpio (2016) (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

There are larger issues than crime raised, in the context of hotel security.

Why are women so often victimized by men, both in hotels and elsewhere?  Why does God allow rape and other acts of violence against women?  What are rape victims to make of God’s promises of security?  Has He abandoned them?

A.  Violence Against Women

The relationship between men and women is complex and culturally varied.  It has though been impacted by sin the world over.

While there are countless good men, who would never think of harming a woman, there are rapists, murderers, and others who take pleasure in doing just that.  Men who vent their frustrations on women, who bully and berate women, who use and desert even the mothers of their children.

B.  Gender Inequality

Many such men do not recognize their actions as evil.  They define women – all women, including their own mothers – as less worthy than men.  In effect, less human than men.

This inequality is re-enforced to varying degrees by restrictions on the activities women may undertake outside the home, diminished opportunities for women regarding education and advancement in a given society, the treatment of women by the courts, and the stigma imposed by varying religions on women who violate such norms [1][2].

But the inequality between men and women is not of God’s making. Continue reading

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Women and Hotel Security, Part 1

Front Desk, Marriott Hotel, New Orleans, LA, Author prayitno, Source Flickr (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he [the wounded man] was.  And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds…and…brought him to an inn…” (Luke 10: 33-34).

Inns offering travelers a place to rest have existed since Greco-Roman times.  Standards were, however, different in those days.

The inn might consist of a room in someone’s home, or a large building charging a fee to provide individuals or passing caravans with a meal and shelter.  A traveler would be grateful to stretch out on the ground for a night’s sleep.

Hotel Crime

Glitzy as they may appear today, hotels are not always safe places for women.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that there were on average 7840 annual hotel and motel incidents qualifying as “violent victimizations” (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated or simple assault) between 2004 and 2008 [1].

In view of the recent attack at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, it would seem we must add mass shootings to the list [2].

But hotels may not file insurance claims for all losses, or report all crimes to police [3].  Protecting the hotel brand is often considered paramount. Continue reading

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Trafficked, Part 1

“White Slave” by Abastenia St. Leger Eberle (c. 1913), Source Journal Publication (PD-ArtlOld-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The website Backpage.com made tens of millions of dollars running “adult” classified ads for escorts and erotic services (many offering children).  Faced with a Senate investigation, a grand jury inquiry in Arizona, and two federal suits in California, the site removed such ads earlier this year [1A].

That has not stopped the trafficking of children.

Amber Alert

Labels like “Amber Alert” and “Lolita” (intended to signal the involvement of children in sexual activity) may have been replaced with phrases like “100% young” and “oh daddy can I be your candy” [1B].  But ads like those under investigation continue to run in the dating section of the site, as well as elsewhere online.

Children in the Sex Trade

The majority of children involved in the sex trade come from poor and dysfunctional families.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 35% of the underage prostitutes charged nationally are African American.  In some geographic areas, that percentage is even higher.

While it is uncertain how many children are forced into prostitution annually, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates there was an 800% increase between 2010 -2015 due to the increased sale of children for sex online.

Missing

“Scared and cold,
first night on the streets
Your body hurts
from your head to your feet…

Gotta dollar-fifty,
every penny gotta spend
Make a wrong move…Boom –
your life comes to an end

-Daniel, 16 y.o., “Run Away” [4]

According to the National Crime Information Center, there are some 435,342 children currently missing in the United States.  While custody disputes account for a large percentage of the children reported missing,  the suspicion by law enforcement is that the remaining children – at least those still alive – are being trafficked. Continue reading

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Hostile Territory

Staged scene of bullying at Pres. Errázuriz Regional Institute (IRFE), Author Diego Grez (GNU and CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A security camera inside Carson Elementary School in Ohio recorded the assault on an 8 y.o. boy by a fellow student in a restroom.  Other children are believed to have struck and kicked Gabriel Taye as he lay unconscious, then stepped calmly over him. Two days later, the boy hanged himself [1].

Impact of Bullying

The victims of bullying are more likely to feel disconnected from their peers, self-isolate, and perform poorly in school [2A].  They can have low self-esteem, feelings of emptiness, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Physical problems, also, occur. Victims may have headaches and stomach aches, problems sleeping, and difficulty concentrating – all contributing to higher absenteeism (school avoidance) [2B].

In extreme cases, victims may self-harm (via cutting, alcohol, or drugs) and/or attempt to take their own lives.  Tragically, some like Gabriel Taye are successful.

School Safety

Which begs the question:  Are schools keeping our children safe?  The evidence strongly suggests they are not.

An investigation by the Associated Press uncovered an astounding 17,000 official reports of sexual assault by students in elementary and secondary schools over a four-year period [3A]. Continue reading

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