6-14-19 Chemical castration
Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law this week requiring offenders convicted of a sex crime against children under 13 to begin chemical castration treatment as a condition of parole.The nonpermanent procedure reduces testosterone to prepubescent levels without causing sterilization. Alabama parolees must foot the bill, which can be $1,000 a month, until a judge deems the treatment no longer necessary. Six other states—including California and Florida—authorize chemical castration for sex offenders, though most don’t make it mandatory. Researchers have found slightly lower recidivism rates among treatment recipients, who can also experience hair and bone loss, weight gain, breast growth, and depression. Critics say it’s inhumane, but the bill’s author, Republican Steve Hurst, said he’d prefer permanent surgical castration: “If they’re going to mark these children for life, they need to be marked for life.” (Webmaster's comment: Why shouldn't permanent surgical castration be mandatory for all pedaphiles? These are men who have deliberately chosen to harm chldren for their own pleasure who should not be allowed to reproduce, ever!)
6-14-19 Child rape, murder case
Six Hindu men were convicted this week in connection with the 2018 rape and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim girl, in a case that horrified the country. Three of the men, including a 61-year-old temple priest, were sentenced to life in prison. The others, all police officers, were given five-year terms for destroying evidence. A member of a tribe of Muslim herders, the girl was abducted while tending her family’s horses, held in the temple for days, drugged, raped, and ultimately bludgeoned to death. Prosecutors said the grisly crime was meant as a warning to her tribe, which had been arguing over land with the Hindu-majority community in Kathua. Outrage over the case prompted the government to add the death penalty as an option for child rapists last year, and many Muslims are now asking why the attackers won’t be executed. (Webmaster's comment: And so am I.)
6-14-19 Netherlands: Should a mentally ill teen be allowed to die?
“It was a story too horrible to be true,” said Naomi O’Leary in Politico.eu: A 17-year-old rape victim struggling with severe depression had been euthanized in the Netherlands. “And indeed it wasn’t true.” Noa Pothoven, who suffered from anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from multiple sexual assaults, did die last week, several days after she began refusing all food and drink. Her parents respected her wishes not to be force-fed or resuscitated, and she passed away at home. Her death was not a result of active euthanasia, but while the Dutch media reported the cause correctly, the foreign press did not. An alarmist headline in Britain’s Daily Mail, “one of the most popular English-language sites in the world,” proclaimed that a Dutch teen rape victim had been “legally euthanized,” and the story spread like wildfire from there. Newspapers and news sites from the U.S. to Australia to India claimed the teen had been killed at an “end of life” clinic. In fact, Noa had sought euthanasia a year earlier at a Dutch clinic, but she was turned away. You might ask why loving parents would let their daughter end her life, said Romy van der Poel in NRC Handelsblad (Netherlands). Because Noa had been in agony for years. She said that she was sexually assaulted at a school party at age 11 and raped by two men at age 14, after which she sank into anorexia and depression and was placed in a group home for mentally ill children, where her condition only worsened. She wrote a book, Winning or Learning, to describe her anguish. Last year, she stopped eating and was placed in a medically induced coma and force-fed, a trauma she said she would never again experience. “After years of fighting and fighting, it is finished,” she told her 10,000 Instagram followers shortly before her death. “After many conversations and assessments, it was decided that I will be released because my suffering is unbearable.”
6-14-19 Australian cult: The Family leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne dies
Australian cult leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne has died in Melbourne at the age of 98. Her cult, The Family, was accused of imprisoning and brainwashing children in the 1970s and 80s. Hamilton-Byrne thought she was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ and blended drug-taking with mysticism and Christianity. For most of the accusations against her, she never faced trial and suffered from dementia in her later years. Originally a yoga teacher, she founded the cult in the late 1960s; it operated for more than 20 years, until police raided its property in the state of Victoria in 1987. She and her husband Bill Byrne took children through adoptions, allowing the cult to assemble and imprison them in a strict home-schooling environment at a rural property near Eildon in Victoria. Allegedly administering drugs to the minors, the cult was also accused of subjecting them to beatings, starvation and brainwashing. The children wore identical clothes and had their hair dyed blond; they were told that one day they would take over the world. "Growing up, it was Anne and Bill, they were mum and dad; and then there were foster kids, and they were kids of other sect members, who would either come up on weekends or stay there for stints of a couple of years," Ben Shenton, a former Eildon child, told the BBC's Storyville programme. "The greatest amount of kids at any given stage was 28," he added. "We all had blonded bleached hair - not all of us, some had red hair, because Auntie Anne [Anne Hamilton-Byrne] was actually naturally red-headed," Roland Whitaker, who also spent time at Eildon as a child, told Storyville.
6-13-19 'Silenced' children of priests to share stories with French bishops
Children of Roman Catholic priests who felt "silenced" by the Church for decades will share their stories with bishops in Paris for the first time. Bishops will meet members of the French association Les Enfants du Silence (The Children of Silence) on Thursday. At their own request, the sons and daughters of priests will speak about their fathers, neglect and suffering. Their existence is a sensitive issue for the Church, which expects priests to adhere to a strict rule of celibacy. In an unprecedented series of meetings beginning on Thursday afternoon, children who say they have been "silenced" and "humiliated" by the Church will have the opportunity to share their experiences. A spokesman for the bishops' conference in the French capital, Vincent Neymon, said it was time to "realise people have suffered and are still suffering". Speaking ahead of the conference, the daughter of a priest, now aged 50 and named only as Maya, told news website Franceinfo that she felt obliged to stay silent after learning of her father's position at the age of seven. "When you live as the child of a priest, you have an obligation of silence," she said, adding that her father was absent for much of her childhood, like someone who spends a lot of time "on the road". Maya said she also kept quiet to protect her family, fearing that if the truth about her parents became known she could have been taken into care. Marie-Christine Miquel, another of the children, said that she did not meet her father until she was nine, when he left the priesthood. "I was like most children who live in a non-conforming situation, I did not ask questions," she said. "No doubt the ears of the Church are more open today," he said, adding: "The Church must recognise that these people exist." Thursday's agreed meetings are likely to expose more of these stories.
6-11-19 Chemical castration brought in for some paedophiles in Alabama
Alabama has signed into law a bill that requires some convicted paedophiles to undergo chemical castration. Under the law, those found guilty of a sex offence against a minor under the age of 13 will have to start medication a month before release on parole. A court will decide when it is no longer necessary. There are now seven states, including Louisiana and Florida, with chemical castration laws. The procedure involves medication that lowers sex drive. Offenders will be forced to pay for the medication. The bill was signed into law by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Monday. "This is a step toward protecting children in Alabama," she said. The measure was proposed by Republican representative Steve Hurst. He said that he had been affected by hearing an account from a foster care organisation of a small child being sexually assaulted. The bill has been criticised by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama. Executive Director Randall Marshall told AL.com: "It's not clear that this actually has any effect and whether it's even medically proven. "When the state starts experimenting on people, I think it runs afoul of the Constitution." The US is not the only country where some sex offenders are chemically castrated. In 2016, Indonesia passed a law authorising chemical castration, minimum sentences and execution for convicted paedophiles. South Korea enacted a chemical castration law in July 2011. 6-10-19
Kathua child rape and murder: Three men given life sentences
Three men have been jailed for life for the rape, torture and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Indian-administered Kashmir. Three police officers were found guilty of destroying evidence and sentenced to five years in prison. The victim, who belonged to a Muslim nomadic tribe, was found in a forest near Kathua city in January 2018. The case sparked widespread anger and made headlines when Hindu right-wing groups protested over the men's arrest. Eight people, including a former government official, four policemen and a minor, were charged in connection with the crime. One of them has been acquitted and the minor is set to be tried separately. All of them had pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. The case became one among many high-profile ones that prompted India to pass a new law which introduced death penalty for anyone convicted of raping a child under 12. But it is still left to the judge's discretion to decide whether or not to hand out a death sentence. The eight-year-old girl went missing in the new year of 2018 and her battered body was discovered almost three weeks later. According to investigators, the child was confined to a local temple for several days and given sedatives that kept her unconscious. The charge sheet alleged that she was "raped for days, tortured and then finally murdered". They added that the child was targeted because the men wished to terrorise the tribe - known as Gujjars - into leaving. A child is sexually abused every 15 minutes in India, (Webmaster's comment: That's 35,000 per year.) according to government crime figures up to 2016, and there has been a steady rise in offences against children. The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says India is home to the largest number of sexually abused children in the world, but there is a reluctance to talk about the topic so the real number of cases could be much higher. (Webmaster's comment: In America 1 in 4 girl children and 1 in 6 boy children are sexually abused under the age of 18. That works out to 800,000 sexually abused children every year in the United States!)
6-5-19 La Luz del Mundo church leader charged with child rape in US
The leader of an international religious organisation is being held in the US on charges of human trafficking, child rape and other felonies. Naasón Joaquín García, who heads La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church, was detained at Los Angeles airport, California prosecutors said. Mr García, known as "the Apostle" among his followers, and his three female co-defendants are facing 26 charges. La Luz del Mundo said it was confident Mr García would be proven innocent. The organisation, which has headquarters in Mexico, says it has baptised more than five million people around the globe. It claims to have at least 1.8 million followers in Mexico alone. However, only 188,326 people stated their religion as being Luz del Mundo, says Mexico's official census (in Spanish) carried out in 2010. In recent years the church's influence has spread to the US, particularly in parts of California with large Hispanic populations. In a statement released on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Mr García, a Mexican national, and the three women allegedly committed 26 felonies in southern California between 2015 and 2018. These included human trafficking, production of child sex abuse images and forcible rape of a minor. The defendants are accused of coercing underage girls into performing sex acts. The girls were reportedly told that if they went against the wishes of "the Apostle" they would be going against God. "Crimes like those alleged... have no place in our society. Period," Mr Becerra said. "We must not turn a blind eye to sexual violence and trafficking in our state." Mr García's co-defendants have been named as Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Meléndez and Susana Medina Oaxaca. They are all affiliated with La Luz del Mundo. Among them only Ms Meléndez remains at large.
5-29-19 Ellen DeGeneres opens up about sexual abuse
Chat show host Ellen DeGeneres has spoken about how she was sexually assaulted as a teen by her stepfather. DeGeneres said the abuse took place when she was 15 or 16, after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. "He told me... he'd felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breasts," she told interviewer David Letterman. DeGeneres first spoke about the abuse in 2005, but said she was now going into more detail "because I want other girls to not ever let someone do that". Speaking on Letterman's Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, the 61-year-old explained that her late former stepfather had first assaulted her when her mother was out of town, telling her he needed to check for lumps. "I didn't know about bodies. I don't know that breasts are all different," she said. "Anyway, he convinced me that he needs to feel my breasts and then he tries to do it again another time, and then another time he tries to break my door down and I kicked the window out and ran 'cause I knew it was going to go more to something." The comedian said she did not tell her mother at first because she didn't want to upset her. "I should never have protected her," she said. "I should've protected myself, and I didn't tell her for a few years and then I told her, and then she didn't believe me and then she stayed with him for 18 more years." DeGeneres explained that her mother did ultimately leave her husband after he kept changing his version of events. The TV star hopes other young girls will benefit from hearing her tale. "That's the only reason I think it's important to talk about it," she said. "Because there's so many young girls and it doesn't matter how old you are. "When I see people speaking out, especially now, it angers me when victims aren't believed, because we just don't make stuff up. "And I like men, but there are so many men that get away with so much."
5-24-19 A child’s safety trumps your sleep
Canadians are supposed to be community-oriented, said Emma Teitel. Yet last week, after an Amber Alert caused cellphones across Ontario to shriek at 4:57 a.m. with an alarm about a missing 3-year-old boy, many Canadians reacted by thinking only of themselves. They began calling 911 to complain “about how rude the police are” in cutting short their beauty sleep. Many demanded to be taken off the alert list, as though first responders were “telemarketers selling window treatments.” Their petulant calls clogged up the emergency lines, and police were forced to send out a stern warning reminding Canadians that 911 is for life-threatening situations only, and being awakened a bit early is not a police emergency. It’s not the first time we’ve reacted so selfishly. When an alert went off during a Maple Leafs hockey game a few months ago, viewers at home similarly took to 911 to complain. There is simply no excuse for such behavior. If you don’t want to be part of a society that will mobilize to find a child, then just turn off your phone. The little boy was found, by the way. Be grateful “it’s not your kid’s name flashing on millions of strangers’ screens in the dark.”
5-24-19 An ‘open secret’
An independent report published this week found that Ohio State University team doctor Richard Strauss sexually abused at least 177 men between 1979 and 1996. It concluded that more than 50 athletic department staffers, including two athletic directors, were aware of Strauss’ actions but did nothing to stop him. Strauss, who killed himself in 2005, was the team physician for several men’s sports; the greatest number of victims, 48, were on the wrestling team. He required students to undergo needless genital examinations, while routinely showering with players and loitering in their locker room. Former students said Strauss’ actions were an “open secret” on campus. Yet a 1994 investigation by Ohio State’s sports medicine director, John Lombardo, said the accusations amounted to “unfounded rumors.” Strauss was finally removed from his post in 1996 but remained a professor emeritus at the time of his death.
5-24-19 Starving kids
As Venezuela descends further into deprivation, more and more children are dying of malnutrition. With inflation at more than 1 million percent, most families can’t afford to buy meat, and they resort to eating cow’s hooves and offal when they can get it. The child-mortality rate has increased 140 percent since 2008. After The New York Times published a photo last week of an emaciated 2-year-old girl on Toas Island whose mother couldn’t take her to the mainland for treatment, Fabiola Molero, a Venezuelan nurse with the Catholic charity Caritas, hitchhiked 20 miles to supply the child with food and medicine. She said the child’s neighbors gathered around to ask her for food, too. “We’re working by the strength of our nails here,” Molero said, “We barely have any resources.”
5-23-19 Fifty children saved as international paedophile ring busted
Fifty children have been rescued and nine people arrested after an Interpol investigation into an international paedophile ring. The arrests were made in Thailand, Australia and the US and more are expected, Interpol said. The investigation began in 2017 and focused on a hidden "dark web" site with 63,000 users worldwide. Police believe 100 more children have suffered abuse and are working to identify them. Operation Blackwrist was launched by Interpol after it detected images showing 11 boys aged under 13 being abused on a site where people can use encrypted software to maintain secrecy. The dark net is an internet area beyond the reach of mainstream search engines. The US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) department traced the IP address of the website, which was hosting photos and videos of abuse. Police say the abusers uploaded new images on a weekly basis and often masked the children's faces to make it harder for investigators to identify them. The first arrests came last year, when the site's main administrator, Montri Salangam, was detained in Thailand, and another administrator, Ruecha Tokputza, was caught in Australia. Salangam, who abused one of his nephews, was sentenced to 146 years in prison in Thailand, while an accomplice, a pre-school teacher, got 36 years. Tokputza was sentenced to 40 years on Friday after pleading guilty to 51 charges against 11 babies and boys, the heaviest sentence ever handed down in Australia for child sex offences. Police found thousands of images taken in both Thailand and Australia on his devices. In some of them Tokputza was the main abuser. The youngest victim to be identified was 15 months old. "You are a child's worst nightmare, you are every parent's horror, you are a menace to the community," Judge Liesl Chapman said in Adelaide.
5-23-19 US border: Sixth death of migrant child in custody
A 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died in US custody last year, a previously unreported case that brings to six the number of migrant children known to have died after being detained by border authorities in eight months. The girl had a history of congenital heart defects and died in September at a hospital in Nebraska, officials say. Her name, when and how she had entered the US have not been disclosed. Meanwhile, Democrats have demanded an investigation into the deaths. President Donald Trump has vowed to clamp down on illegal immigration at the US-Mexico border amid an increase in the number of people trying to cross the frontier in recent months. He has repeatedly criticised Democrats for their opposition to his plans on immigration and declared a national emergency in February to bypass Congress and appropriate funds for a border wall. The girl entered the care of an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in San Antonio, Texas, in a "medically fragile" state on 4 March 2018, Mark Weber, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said in a statement. The HHS provides care to unaccompanied minors. Following an unspecified surgical procedure, complications left her in a comatose state, he added. After her release from hospital in May, the girl was sent to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona, for palliative care. On 26 September, she was transferred to a nursing facility in Omaha, Nebraska, to be "closer to her family", Mr Weber said. She died three days later due to "fever and respiratory distress". Officials are not required to announce the deaths to the public. This case marks the first death of migrant child in federal custody since 2010. (Webmaster's comment: Killing off immigrants, one child at a time.)
5-22-19 A cognitive neuroscientist warns that the U.S. justice system harms teen brains
Skills like resisting peer pressure and avoiding risk may not develop until a person’s 20s. A teenager’s brain does not magically mature into its reasoned, adult form the night before his or her 18th birthday. Instead, aspects of brain development stretch into a person’s 20s — a protracted fine-tuning with serious implications for young people caught in the U.S. justice system, argues cognitive neuroscientist B.J. Casey of Yale University. In the May 22 Neuron, Casey describes the heartbreaking case of Kalief Browder, sent at age 16 to Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City after being accused of stealing a backpack. Unable to come up with the $3,000 bail, Browder spent three years in the violent jail before his case was ultimately dropped. About two-thirds of his time in custody was spent in solitary confinement — “a terrible place for a child to have to grow up,” Casey says. Two years after his 2013 release, Browder died from suicide. Casey uses the case to highlight how the criminal justice system — and the accompanying violence, stress and isolation (SN: 12/8/18, p. 11) that come with being incarcerated — can interfere with brain development in adolescents and children. Other recent stories of immigrant children being separated from their families and held in detention centers have raised similar concerns (SN Online: 6/20/18). Studies with lab animals and brain imaging experiments in people show that chronic stress and other assaults “impact the very brain circuitry that is changing so radically during adolescence,” Casey says. An abundance of science says that “the way we’re treating our young people is not the way to a healthy development.”
5-22-19 Farishta: Outrage over Pakistan child murder
The family of a 10-year-old Pakistani girl who was abducted and murdered have said they were ignored by police when they tried to report her missing. They say police told them the child might have eloped, and they were made to carry out errands for officers. Farishta vanished in Islamabad on 15 May and a body believed to be hers was found on 20 May. Police are investigating if she was raped and tortured, and protests are being held to demand justice. The individual police officers involved deny wrongdoing. Hundreds protested in central Islamabad on Tuesday calling for justice. The case has been compared to the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Ansari in January 2018 - which sparked outrage and protests across the country. Calls for action are being made on social media, under the hashtag #JusticeFor Farishta. "The police didn't help us at all," Farishta's father Ghulam Nabi told the BBC at Tuesday's protest, which blocked a major intersection. "They would ask me to clean their office, to move their furniture, and to go get fruit for their Iftar [fast-breaking] dinner from the market. "I was so distressed during those [four] days that I couldn't tell night from day." On Wednesday, a case was formally registered against several police officials, alleging negligence. The chief of Shahzad Town police station, Muhammad Abbas Rana, has been suspended. But he defended his and his officers' conduct, saying they had pursued the case and interviewed the family and neighbours on 16 May. He said the family were responsible for the delays in registering the case and that they did not follow it up properly. He denied they had been made to clean the police station. Separately three people have been arrested in connection with Farishta's disappearance, Dawn newspaper reports.
5-22-19 Italian teen released after killing abusive father
Prosecutors in Italy have released from house arrest a 19-year-old who killed her violent father at their home north of Rome. Deborah Sciacquatori acted in self-defence in an episode of domestic abuse, the local prosecutor decided. Initially accused of manslaughter, she now faces the lesser charge of culpable excess of legitimate self-defence, but that may also be dropped. The prosecutor said she had begged her father to stop the abuse. "It is possible in the next fortnight that the investigating judge may be asked to close the case because the young woman, according to what we currently know, acted in self-defence," said Tivoli prosecutor Francesco Menditto. The man who died, 41-year-old ex-boxer Lorenzo Sciacquatori, was reportedly known as a violent man. He had served a jail term for assaulting a police officer in 2016 and his parents-in-law said he had beaten their daughter for 20 years. Deborah Sciacquatori is also said to have suffered years of abuse, but her mother had not reported it out of fear that her daughter would be taken into care. Her family have supported the young woman for defending the family.According to local reports, Sciacquatori had returned home drunk in the early hours of Sunday and shouted at his wife and daughter for several hours. Deborah Sciacquatori had initially locked herself in a room with her grandmother to prevent an attack. But when he approached them, the prosecutor said she had warned her father: "Dad, stop, don't do any more." She then fought back, hitting him over the head. He had taught her boxing and she was passionate about the sport. She tried to leave the house with her mother and grandmother, but her father is said to have threatened them. She then hit him and cut his neck with a knife she had taken from the kitchen, causing a fatal injury. (Webmaster's comment: Good!)
5-22-19 US border: Calls for inquiry after teen dies in detention
US Democrats have demanded an inquiry after a 16-year-old migrant died on Monday at a detention centre on the border with Mexico. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vásquez is the fifth child to die after being held since December. Democratic Texas congressman Joaquin Castro spoke of an "epidemic of death" in the border area. President Donald Trump has vowed to clamp down on illegal immigration at the southern border. In February, Mr Trump declared a national emergency to appropriate funds for a border wall. There has been an increase in migrants trying to cross the frontier this year, and border agents say they are struggling to process the numbers. Border agents apprehended the Guatemalan teenager for illegally crossing the border on 13 May and took him to a central processing centre in McAllen, Texas. He was travelling alone. On 19 May, the teenager was diagnosed with flu and given medicine. He was transferred to the Welasco Border Patrol Station, reportedly in order for the illness to be contained. On Monday, he was found unresponsive. An official cause of death has not been announced. The day after his death the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the McAllen centre had been temporarily closed after a "large number" of those held began to show flu-like symptoms. The centre will not take any more migrants for the moment "to avoid the spread of illness", the CBP said. A brother of Carlos in New Jersey told broadcaster CBS News of his shock, that he would die in a country where he had come for a better life. Under federal law, minors should normally be transferred to a Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter within 72 hours of their detention. (Webmaster's comment: Obviously when sick children should immediately be sent to a healthcare facility. Not just left in their beds to see if they live or die.)
5-21-19 India election 2019: 'I want child marriage to end'
Saidabo Sayyad, a first-time voter in southern India, is determined to become a lawyer and help end the practice of child marriage. Until then, she says, she will vote for anyone who wants to do the same. Child marriage was banned in 2006 in India, but is still widespread. (Webmaster's comment: With parental consent a child as young as 12 can get married in the United States.)
5-18-19 Ohio State University doctor 'abused 177 male students'
An athletics team doctor sexually abused at least 177 male students from 1979 to 1997, an investigation by Ohio State University in the US says. Dr Richard Strauss, who died in 2005, is accused of groping and performing "unnecessary examinations" on young men while treating athletes in 16 sports. The report stated that university officials failed to prevent the abuse despite complaints from students. It adds that "inadequate efforts" to investigate were "unacceptable". In the report published on Friday, investigators said the abuse was carried out at various locations across the campus, including examination rooms, locker rooms, showers and saunas. Various athletes reported unnecessary genital exams and some students said they believed Dr Strauss' actions were an "open secret" on campus. "We are so sorry that this happened," Ohio State President Michael Drake said at a news confe But he also sought to distance Ohio State from the events of more than two decades ago. "This is not the university of today", he added. A number of former students are suing for unspecified damages and have called on the university to take responsibility for the harm they say was inflicted by the doctor. "Dreams were broken, relationships with loved ones were damaged, and the harm now carries over to our children, as many of us have become so overprotective that it strains the relationship with our kids," Kent Kilgore, a former Ohio state swimmer, said in a statement. Dr Strauss retired in 1998 and took his own life in 2005. In May 2018, Michigan State University agreed to pay $500m (£371m) to 332 gymnasts who were abused by ex-team doctor Larry Nassar.
5-18-19 Colonia Dignidad: Germany to compensate Chile commune victims
Germany will pay compensation of up to €10,000 (£8,700; $11,000) to victims of a notorious and abusive commune in southern Chile. Colonia Dignidad was founded by former Nazi soldier Paul Schäfer in 1961. The commune, which was located 350km (220 miles) south of Santiago, was run as a secretive cult and dozens of children were sexually abused there. Hundreds of German and Chilean survivors will now be eligible for compensation. The decision to pay the victims was made by a government commission in Berlin on Friday. A fund of €3.5m will be set aside to do so. It comes a week after prosecutors dropped their investigation into a German doctor who worked at the commune. A court in Chile had found Hartmut Hopp guilty of complicity in child sex abuse committed by Schäfer, but he fled to Germany before he could be jailed. German prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to uphold the ruling. Colonia Dignidad was a colony set up by Schäfer in the remote Maule area. He ran it as a secretive cult with members living as virtual slaves and prevented from leaving by armed guards with dogs. At its peak, 300 Germans and Chileans were living in the 137 sq km (53 sq mile) compound surrounded by wire fencing and overlooked by a watchtower with searchlights. Children were forced to live separately from their parents and dozens were sexually abused by Schäfer. It was not just members of Schäfer's sect who suffered abuse. Under the military rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet, Colonia Dignidad became a clandestine detention centre. About 300 opponents of the regime were interrogated and tortured in its underground tunnels both by members of the Chilean secret police and Schäfer's associates. At least 100 people are thought to have been murdered there. One of those believed to have been killed at the site is US academic Boris Weisfeiler, who went hiking in Chile in 1984.
5-9-19 Pope Francis makes it mandatory for clergy to report sex abuse
Pope Francis has made it mandatory for Roman Catholic clergy to report cases of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups to the Church. In an Apostolic letter, which is set to become Church law, he makes clear that any sexual advance involving the use of power will now be considered abusive. The clarification is being seen as a message to the Church hierarchy that no-one will be exempt from scrutiny. The Pope promised in February to take concrete action to tackle abuse. The new Apostolic letter makes clear that clerics should also follow state law and meet their obligations to report any abuse to "the competent civil authorities". The new guidelines were welcomed by some Vatican commentators, who argued that they broke new ground in attempts to end Church sexual abuse. The Pope's decree is meant to change the way the Church investigates cases of abuse. For the first time, clerics and other Church officials will be obliged to disclose any allegations they may have heard. Previously, this had been left to each individual's discretion. Reports are expected to be made within 90 days to offices within Church dioceses. The decree also defines the covering-up of abuse as a specific category. The Church's senior leaders - its bishops - are specifically included in this. That is because in many documented cases bishops covered up crimes of priests who reported to them. The decree does not change the penalties for crimes committed. "The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful," the Pope writes in the letter. The guidelines further cover "actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil investigations or canonical [Church] investigations, whether administrative or penal, against a cleric or a religious" for sexual abuse.
5-7-19 Keith Raniere: Trial begins for Nxivm 'sex cult' leader
A Brooklyn courtroom has heard opening statements at the sex trafficking and conspiracy trial of Keith Raniere, the leader of a suspected sex cult. Speaking in court on Tuesday, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Hajjar called Mr Raniere a "predator" who exploited women, including a 15-year-old girl. Prosecutors have alleged that Mr Raniere oversaw a "slave and master" system in his group, called Nxivm. Mr Raniere, 58, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he could face life in prison. "The defendant took advantage of them emotionally and sexually," Ms Hajjar said, according to local media. "He sold himself as the smartest, most ethical person in the world." Ms Hajjar said on Tuesday that Raniere's victims included three Mexican sisters, one of whom was only 15 years old. According to prosecutors, another sister was confined in a room for two years. Marc Agnifilo, one of Mr Raniere's lawyers, said his client's sexual encounters with women were consensual and he denied child pornography and sexual exploitation charges. Speaking in court on Tuesday, Mr Agnifilo told jurors that women joined the group voluntarily, describing Mr Raniere as a strict taskmaster, not a criminal. "This is something these people signed up for," Mr Agnifilo said, according to US media. "Control can be very bad. Control can also make Marines. Control can make gold medal winners." Five women, including US actress Allison Mack, have already pleaded guilty to their involvement with Nxivm. The United States attorney's office opened an investigation into the group following an investigation by the New York Times. Investigators claim that women were recruited as "slaves" and were allegedly expected to perform menial chores for "masters" and have sex with Mr Raniere, who was known as "The Vanguard".
5-6-19 YouTuber Austin Jones gets 10 year prison sentence
A former YouTube star has been sentenced to ten years in prison in the US after pleading guilty to a charge of receiving indecent images of children. Austin Jones admitted encouraging six underage girls to send him sexually explicit videos in private messages, telling some they needed to "prove" that they were his biggest fans. Jones had built up a profile based around his covers of famous pop songs. The 26 year-old had 500,000 subscribers on YouTube and 225,000 on Twitter. Both accounts have now been deleted. YouTube blocked Jones' channel from carrying advertising following his arrest in 2017 but was criticised for being slow to remove it completely. Jones, from Illinois, had also admitted to using Facebook on around 30 other occasions to entice underage girls to send him explicit photos and videos. He told some of his victims that the videos were part of a modelling opportunity and others that he would help them to boost their Instagram accounts. "Production and receipt of child pornography are extraordinarily serious offences that threaten the safety of our children and communities," said Assistant US Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh in a statement. "Jones's actions took something from his victims and their families that they will never be able to get back."
4-29-19 Should these school clubs be kept secret from parents?
Should parents be told if their children are members of gay-straight alliances - student-run peer support groups for LGBT students and allies in their school? In one Canadian province, that question has sparked fierce debate. Gay-straight alliances - or GSAs - were first established in the US in the 1980s. The student-run clubs are meant to be a place where LGBT and other students can socialise and offer peer support. Research on GSAs suggests they create a "safe space" for students at a greater risk of mental health issues and discrimination, and can reduce bullying and harassment in schools where they're established. Some 30 years after the first one was founded by a history teacher and a student at Concord Academy in Massachusetts in 1988, thousands of GSAs exist in middle and high schools across North America. Despite their proliferation, these peer support groups have also faced resistance. One protracted battle over GSAs has been playing out in the Canadian province of Alberta - an issue debated in the provincial legislature, in the courts, and in the media. The latest flare up began during the recent provincial election in the province. At issue was a policy proposed by United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Jason Kenney to undo some legal protections for the school clubs, notably one that bars school officials from telling parents if their child has joined such a group. Critics of Kenney's plan say school staff could "out" LGBT students to parents who might not be supportive of, or might even be discriminatory of, their sexuality or gender identity - with potentially damaging consequence. Kenney - whose UCP swept the election and who will soon be premier - argues his proposal is a compromise between supporting GSAs and respecting parental authority. In his election night victory speech, he said that "parents know better than politicians what is best for their kids".
4-26-19 ‘Perversion files’ grow
The Boy Scouts of America have kept secret files showing that since 1944 nearly 8,000 Scout leaders have been accused of sexually abusing children, attorneys for a group of victims announced this week. More than 200 new accusers have come forward since three law firms began running TV and online ads urging victims to contact them; in December, it was reported that the Boy Scouts face Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which could halt existing and future litigation. The attorneys are also calling for the complete release of what became known as the “perversion files”—records the organization kept since World War I of volunteers banned for abusing scouts. An expert hired by the Boy Scouts recently reviewed those files, and counted 7,819 alleged perpetrators and 12,254 victims. Victims’ rights attorney Jeff Anderson said the organization, “hoarded” the files at its Texas headquarters but “never alerted the community.”
4-20-19 Turpin trial: Couple jailed for life for 'inhuman' child abuse
A couple from the US state of California have been sentenced to life in prison for starving and torturing all but one of their 13 children. David and Louise Turpin were arrested in January 2018 when their 17-year-old daughter escaped their home in the city of Perris and raised the alarm. The children had been abused for at least nine years and some were found chained up in filthy conditions. But several of the children told the court they had forgiven their parents. The couple are expected to serve the rest of their lives behind bars, unless they are granted parole in 25 years. The Turpins wept as they heard victim-impact statements from four of their children at Friday's hearing. One child recounted being haunted by the ordeal. I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up," said his statement. "Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that had happened such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. "That is the past and this is now. "I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things they did to us." Another child, in a statement read by her brother, also forgave her parents for the abuse. "I love both of my parents so much," she said. "Although it may not have been the best way of raising us, I am glad that they did because it made me the person I am today."But not all the children were so conciliatory. One daughter, who was visibly shaking, said: "My parents took my whole life from me, but now I'm taking my life back. "I'm a fighter, I'm strong and I'm shooting through life like a rocket." She added: "I saw my dad change my mom. They almost changed me, but I realised what was happening."
4-18-19 Secret graves
After clearing trees downed by Hurricane Michael, workers discovered 27 possible clandestine graves about 165 yards from the infamous Dozier School for Boys, a government report revealed last week. Researchers had already excavated 55 graves from a burial site on the 1,400-acre rural campus, far more than any official tally of deaths at the school. Florida shuttered its oldest reform school in 2011 following reports of horrific abuse by school staff during Dozier’s 111-year history, during which delinquent and orphaned boys sent to the “White House” were chained or tied up, sexually abused in a “rape room,” and beaten mercilessly or killed if they tried to escape. Graves previously exhumed were found to be misidentified or filled with comingled bodies. Jerry Cooper, 74, says guards lashed him 135 times as punishment one night in 1961. “Mark my words,” he said, “there are more bodies out there.”
4-15-19 George Pell case: Australian media defend 'contempt' allegations
Dozens of journalists and major news outlets in Australia have begun defending accusations that they breached a reporting ban on the sexual abuse trial of Cardinal George Pell. Pell, the ex-Vatican treasurer, was convicted in December of abusing two boys in 1996. The media was barred from reporting the verdict until February. Prosecutors say 23 journalists and 13 publishers committed contempt of court. The case could have a "chilling effect" on "open justice", defence lawyers say. If found guilty, the defendants face up to five years in jail and fines of about A$96,000 (£52,000; $69,000). They include journalists from many of Australia's largest news organisations, including the editors of newspapers The Age and the Herald Sun, as well as prominent TV and radio presenters. Defence barrister Matthew Collins told a court on Monday that the case was unprecedented in Australian legal history. A judge banned the media from reporting on Pell's trial, in order to prevent any influence on a planned second trial. In December, the cardinal was convicted by a jury of sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne in 1996. The verdict prompted many Australian media outlets to publish articles that referred to the case in some way - although none named Pell. Several non-Australian publications did identify him. The reporting ban, known as a suppression order, was lifted earlier this year after prosecutors dropped the planned second trial. Pell has launched an appeal against his conviction.
4-13-19 Dozier School for Boys: Dozens more suspected graves found
Excavators have found up to another 27 suspected graves near the grounds of a notorious reform school in Florida. Workers hired to clear up a fuel storage site detected new "anomalies" buried near the state-run Dozier School for Boys, officials said. The school became infamous for the alleged abuse and murder of children over its 111-year history. It was one of the largest institutions for young offenders in the US, eventually closing in 2011. If confirmed, the latest finds would bring the total number of known burials on the campus to 82 - although researchers believe more than 100 children could have died at Dozier School. Contractor New South Associates was preparing to clean up pollution in Marianna, Florida, using ground-penetrating radar in March when workers found what could be more burial sites near the school. Their report, obtained by Florida newspaper the Tampa Bay Times, said the possible graves did not follow any pattern. "This randomness might be expected in a clandestine or informal cemetery," the report says. New South recommended treating the area as a graveyard until a more thorough investigation could be conducted. Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis has asked state authorities to "develop a path forward" to understand the findings. A group of former students known as the White House Boys first brought claims of abuse at the institution to the public eye in the 2000s. "We've been trying to tell the state of Florida that there's more bodies out there for a long time," Bryant Middleton told the Tampa Bay Times. Another former Dozier School student, Terry Burns, told Action News that if they scanned the entire campus, "I guarantee they will find another 200 to 300 dead boys buried on them grounds".
4-11-19 Ex-Pope Benedict XVI blames 1960s revolution for sex abuse
Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published a letter which blames clerical sex abuse on the "all-out sexual freedom" of the 1960s. He said that cultural and historical change had led to a "dissolution" of morality in Catholicism. The sexual revolution in the 1960s had led to homosexuality and paedophilia in Catholic establishments, he claimed. Some allegations of child sex abuse by priests that have emerged date back to decades before the 1960s. The only solution to the problem, the former Pope said, was "obedience and love for our Lord Jesus Christ". At a summit in February, the current pontiff called for "concrete measures" to tackle the crisis, not just "simple and obvious condemnations". As he had "served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the church" when more cases emerged, Pope Benedict XVI said he wanted to "contribute to a new beginning". Published in the German Catholic magazine Klerusblatt, the 5,500-word letter is divided into three parts. 1. Paedophilia 'allowed and appropriate'. 2. Sexual revolution led to 'homosexual cliques'. 3. Society without God 'loses its measure'. (Webmaster's comment: How any so-called Christian person could think that Paedophilia was allowed and appropriate is unbelievable! This is just criminals looking for excuses!)
4-10-19 Claire's employee alleges pressure to pierce children without consent
Piercing boutique Claire's says it is reviewing its consent policy after an employee said she was told to pierce children's ears without their consent. Canadian Raylene Marks says her manager told her she should have pierced a seven-year-old's ears even though the girl, who was with her mother, clearly did not want her ears pierced. The girl eventually left without getting pierced. However Ms Marks says she quit over her manager's response. "The girl pleaded and sobbed for 30 minutes not to be pierced. Despite Mom saying, 'Honey, we can go home whenever you want' she was not letting her daughter go home," Ms Marks said in an open letter to the company posted on Facebook. "I'm inclined to respect a child's right to say, 'NO', to any adult forcing any kind of non-medical contact on them, so I told the other piercer I wouldn't be part of the ear piercing for this girl." The girl left the store in Edmonton, Alberta without having her ears pierced. When Ms Marks' manager asked her about the incident the following day, she told her manager that if the mother had insisted on staying, she would have refused to perform the procedure. "You would have had no choice but to do it," she says her manager told her. Claire's, which has boutiques across North America and in the UK, said in an email response that it was investigating the matter and "reviewing the policy to ensure that the intent is clear". (Webmaster's comment: Children clearly have the right to say no to a non-medical procedure!)
4-9-19 Trump: Court defeat on asylum policy 'unfair to US'
US President Donald Trump has lashed out at a federal judge for blocking his policy of sending migrants awaiting US asylum hearings back to Mexico. "A 9th Circuit judge just ruled that Mexico is too dangerous for migrants," he tweeted. "So unfair to the US." His policy would have returned migrant families to Mexico to await court bids for the right to stay in the US. It comes as numbers of migrants stopped at the US-Mexico border have surged to the highest level in over a decade. US immigration officials have estimated border apprehensions in March topped 100,000. The San Francisco ninth district judge's order against the migrant policy is not due to go into effect until 12 April, giving US officials a chance to appeal the ruling. Monday's court ruling comes as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which implements Mr Trump's immigration directives, is in turmoil following a major shake-up by the administration. The agency's Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen quit on Sunday after being summoned to the White House by the president. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley called on Mr Trump on Monday to halt the leadership purge at the agency. The senior senator told the Washington Post he is "very, very concerned" about reports of possible further DHS dismissals. "The president has to have some stability and particularly with the number one issue that he's made for his campaign," Mr Grassley said. "He's pulling the rug out from the very people that are trying to help him accomplish his goal." There are rumours that DHS management undersecretary Claire Grady, now the senior-most Senate-confirmed official in the agency, as well as director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Lee Francis Cissna, and DHS general counsel, John Mitnick, could be next to go. Speaking to Fox News on Monday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said: "It's time to do things a little differently. This would give migrant parents awaiting immigration hearings a choice: agree for their child to be held separately, or be detained together, possibly indefinitely, until their court date. (Webmaster's comment: Separating the children will give ICE more opportunity to sell them into sex slavey. See: 'Thousands of US child migrants sexually abused')
2 4-2-19 Child brides: Heather was only 15 when she said 'I do'. She was also pregnant
In some American states, all it takes is parental permission for a child to marry an older man. Heather was a beautiful bride. She said her vows outside under a wooden veranda, dressed in a lilac gown, wearing a tiara, with her hair curled gently around her face. Her dad made a speech wishing the happy couple luck. But Heather was only 15 when she said "I do". She was also pregnant. The groom, Aaron, was 24 when they married in August 2015. Heather's mum had been against the marriage from the start, but her dad and paternal grandparents, who Heather lived with, believed the unborn child's parents should be married, and so researched states in which it was legal for a 15-year-old to marry with only one parent's consent. They also thought that, by marrying, Aaron could avoid a charge of statutory rape and possible prison sentence. A new BBC Three documentary investigates what happens when the law allows young people under the age of consent to marry, as well as the parents who allow this to happen. Sex in most states in the US is illegal under the age of 16-18. But, as of January 2019, 17 American states have no legal minimum age for marriage providing certain conditions – like pregnancy, and consent from a judge or family – are met. This means that, with parental permission, girls as young as 12 can be legally wed to men much older than they are – but only if they’re pregnant. Keri, from South Carolina, was a teenager when she married a man almost a decade older. She met Paul, 24, at a party on her 15th birthday back in 2013. They slept together just once – and Keri became pregnant. "It was [Paul’s] idea to get married. So that he didn’t go to jail for statutory rape," she says. Keri's dad's consent was needed for them to marry, and he gave it when Paul asked. In photos taken of the couple a week before the wedding, the braces on Keri’s teeth are clearly visible. She says she had them on her wedding day. She admits that her home life with her dad was deeply unhappy, and she took a gamble on a life with Paul in a new home being better. "I just couldn’t handle it no more," she says. Looking back, she thinks the law that allowed her to marry Paul is "stupid". "I don’t think it’s right. You should stay a child for as long as you can." She adds that she wishes she'd finished school – "You can’t even get a job at McDonald’s without getting a high-school diploma" – and that her marriage to Paul was "horrible", with him treating her "like a maid". Keri is now 21, and lives with her new husband, Mason, and has three kids – one is from that first marriage, which lasted about two years. (Webmaster's comment: This reads like a bad soap opera! These children and their parents were far to ignorant to ever get married and have children.)
4-2-19 Consider your child’s future before you share that ‘hilarious’ image
Gwyneth Paltrow has incited debate by posting a photo of her daughter on social media. We need to consider how such images may one day be viewed, says Linda Geddes. “MOM we have discussed this. You may not post anything without my consent.” These words, posted on Instagram by 14-year-old Apple Martin in response to an image of her shared by her mum, Gwyneth Paltrow, have reignited the debate over whether it is ever OK to put pictures of your children online. Apple’s words could become a common refrain as the current generation of children grows up. Many of them will have had digital footprints before they could even walk. About 98 per cent of mothers and 89 per cent of fathers report having uploaded photos of their child to Facebook, according to a 2012 US study. Concerns mainly revolve around two issues. First, safety. According to Australia’s eSafety commission, about half of images shared on paedophilia sites were taken from social media sites. The advice is simple. Don’t post photos of your child in a state of undress, and avoid images in which their school uniform or location is identifiable, which could leave them vulnerable to grooming, says UK children’s charity, the NSPCC. Avoid posting personal information to minimise risk of identity theft, and ensure that your privacy settings are strict. You might also consider using a pet name for your child online, making it harder to link information to them. A second issue, as Apple astutely notes, is that of consent. What would your child want to see about themselves online in the future? Videos of them mid-temper tantrum may be amusing now – but could be used by bullies. Given that employers often use social networking sites to research candidates, it is also worth considering how they might view such information. (Webmaster's comment: Any child image, especially those exposing a little skin, will be food for all sorts of sexual predators and male brutes and there are 50 million of them in the United States! Keep your child images off the internet and keep them safe!)