1-24-20 More on Epstein
The Virgin Islands government has sued to force the estate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to forfeit two islands near St. Thomas worth $86 million. The suit says Epstein trafficked hundreds of young women and girls, some as young as 11, to the islands.
1-23-20 Jessica Simpson reveals childhood sexual abuse
US singer Jessica Simpson has revealed how being sexually assaulted as a child led to a reliance on drugs and alcohol. The 39-year-old had top 10 UK chart hits in the noughties with I Wanna Love You Forever, These Boots Are Made For Walkin' and With You. In an excerpt of her new memoir Open Book, published in People magazine, she admitted to self-medicating for years to deal with the "trauma". "I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills," she said. Simpson quit drinking alcohol in November 2017 when she realised it was "making things worse". "Giving up the alcohol was easy," she went on. "I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb." The abuse she suffered began when she was six years old when she shared a bed with the daughter of a family friend. "It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable," she wrote. "I wanted to tell my parents. I was the victim but somehow I felt in the wrong." Six years later she plucked up the courage to tell her parents during a car journey. Her mother reacted by slapping her father's arm and yelling: "I told you something was happening." "Dad kept his eye on the road and said nothing," wrote Simpson. "We never stayed at my parents' friends' house again but we also didn't talk about what I had said". Simpson found fame as a teenage pop star in the late 1990s before starring in MTV reality series Newlyweds: Nick And Jessica alongside her former husband Nick Lachey. She's now married to former American football player Eric Johnson, with whom she has three children. The star, who used therapy to allow herself to finally "feel the traumas" she'd been through said she'd been on "a long hard deep emotional journey".
1-21-20 How a boy from Vietnam became a slave on a UK cannabis farm
It was a horrifying death for the 39 Vietnamese nationals found in the back of a trailer in an industrial park in Essex, in October last year. The story shone a light on the subterranean world of people smuggling and human trafficking, reports Cat McShane, specifically the thriving route between Vietnam and the UK. Ba is slight for 18. His body shrinks into a neat package as he recalls his experiences. We're sitting in a brightly lit kitchen, a Jack Russell dog darting between us under the table. Ba's foster mum fusses in the background, making lunch and occasionally interjecting to clarify or add some detail to his account of his journey here from Vietnam. She wants to make sure his story is understood. Ba's lived here for nearly a year. He was placed with his foster parents after being found wandering, confused and scared, around a train station in the North of England, with just the clothes he was wearing. "You feel safe now though, don't you?" his foster mum asks, needing affirmation that the mental and physical scars Ba wears will heal with enough care. His story is one both extraordinary, and typical of the growing number of Vietnamese men and women recognised as being potential victims of trafficking in the UK. For several years, Vietnamese have been one of the top three nationalities featured in modern slavery cases referred to the National Crime Agency, with 702 cases in 2018. The Salvation Army, which supports all adult victims of modern slavery in the UK, says the number of Vietnamese nationals referred to them over the last five years has more than doubled. It's estimated 18,000 people make the journey from Vietnam to Europe each year. Ba believes it was a Chinese gang that trafficked him to the UK. He was kidnapped off the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, where he was a street child, an orphan who slept in the bend of a sewage pipe. He sold lottery tickets for money, although older men sometimes beat him and grabbed his takings. A 2017 Unicef report described Ho Chi Minh City as "a source location, place of transition and destination of child trafficking". And a 2018 report by anti-trafficking charities said numerous trafficked Vietnamese children had reported being abducted while living on the streets.
1-19-20 When sexual abuse was called seduction: France confronts its past
An 83-year-old French writer once feted by the Paris intellectual set now finds himself ostracised because of his writings about sex with teenage boys and girls. From the 1960s onwards, Gabriel Matzneff made no secret of his passion for seducing adolescents. But a new book by one of the teenagers he slept with in the 1980s has led to a criminal investigation for rape of a minor. And now debate is raging in France about who is more to blame: Matzneff himself or the world he moved in. The moment that Gabriel Matzneff realised that the moral wind was turning against him came on 2 March 1990 when he appeared on France's famous TV book programme Apostrophe to discuss the latest of his published diaries. The footage can easily be found on the internet. In a jocular tone the programme's respected presenter, Bernard Pivot, asks Matzneff (then aged 53) what it is like to be a serial "collector of young chicks". All bald-headed suaveness, Matzneff explains how he prefers school-age girls who have yet to be "hardened" by disillusionment over men. He says they come to him because he listens and takes them seriously. The panel nods understandingly. A Catholic woman who is there to defend fidelity in marriage laughs, as if at a charmingly naughty child. But then Pivot turns to a woman who has so far been silent, a Canadian writer called Denise Bombardier, and the atmosphere suddenly changes. "I feel like I am living on a different planet," says Bombardier coldly. And she launches into a devastating attack on her neighbour. Does he not understand anything about the rights of children, she asks. Has it never occurred to him that these young girls may end up damaged? "For me, Mr Matzneff is abject. We all know how some girls can become besotted by men with a certain literary aura," says Bombardier. "Some older men like to attract little children with sweets. Mr Matzneff does it with his reputation."
1-17-20 Oregon woman sues church
An Oregon woman is suing the Mormon church for informing the police that her husband was molesting their daughter. The woman, unnamed to protect her daughter, says her husband confessed to a church group to “repent for his sins.” A group member told police, and her husband was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The woman wants $9.5 million to compensate for her husband’s lost earnings, “companionship, society, love, [and] affection.”
1-10-20 Ignoring the crimes of our intellectual elite
#MeToo has finally come for Gabriel Matzneff, said Marie-Estelle Pech. The 83-year-old French author has been writing and talking about his sexual relationships with teenage boys and girls for decades. In the 1970s, he published a notorious essay titled The Under-16s, and on TV appearances he made no secret of his sex tourism trips to Asia, where he preyed on young boys. In a 1990 talk show appearance—footage of which is now being shared widely online—Matzneff explained that he preferred innocent girls because he had no success with jaded women of 25. These confessions “offended nobody in the literary and journalistic world” at the time. Matzneff was even given a yearly public stipend to live on, because his works, though they never sold well, were considered to have “contributed to the influence of French-language literature.” Today, though, we are looking at Matzneff with new eyes. One of his alleged victims, Vanessa Springora, now 47, has just published Consent, a memoir that details how Matzneff groomed and overpowered her when she was 14 and he was in his 50s. The Paris prosecutor last week opened a statutory rape investigation against Matzneff. Will this self-proclaimed pedophile spend his final years behind bars?
1-10-20 Tayyaba abuse case: Pakistan judge and wife's sentences cut
A Pakistani judge and his wife jailed for torturing their 10-year-old maid have had their sentences slashed. Judge Raja Khurram Ali and his wife, Maheen Zafar, were both serving three-year sentences after the girl was found with multiple injuries back in 2016. The case horrified Pakistan, where pictures of the girl went viral. But the Supreme Court has now cut the couple's sentences to a year - meaning they could soon walk free. Prosecutors are appealing against the reduction. The judge and his wife were initially sentenced to 12 months in jail after being found guilty in April 2018. That was then increased to three years by the Islamabad High Court in June 2018, following an appeal by prosecutors. At the time, judges said the couple were "not worthy of any sympathy" because "they deliberately and consciously made an innocent and helpless child to suffer tremendously". The girl, named only as Tayyaba, had been sent to work for the judge and his wife in the capital, Islamabad, by her family, who were struggling to make ends meet after her father lost a finger. She was one of an estimated 12 million child workers in the country. Children are not legally allowed to work in most businesses in Pakistan, but in the vast majority of the country, there is no law banning them from working inside homes. Tayyaba had worked at the house for two years when neighbours alerted police. The girl was found with severe injuries, which the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science said included burns to her hands and feet. Pictures of the girl, then 10, also showed cuts and bruising to her face, along with a swollen left eye. She told prosecutors she was beaten for losing a broom. Ali - who has been struck off as a judge - and Zafar always denied all allegations. (Webmaster's comment: The sentence should instead be increased by one year for every instance of abuse! There can be no excuse for child abuse!)
1-10-20 Jeffrey Epstein: Jail CCTV erased by 'technical errors'
Surveillance video from disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein's first suspected suicide attempt was destroyed by accident, prosecutors say. US prosecutors say the jail mistakenly saved footage from the wrong cell. Epstein, a convicted sex offender, first tried to kill himself in July last year, then hanged himself in jail in August while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges. He had pleaded not guilty to abusing dozens of girls, some as young as 14. Soon after Epstein's death, in August, two of the CCTV cameras outside his cell had malfunctioned and were being examined by the FBI, US media reported. Epstein was found semi-conscious in his prison cell with injuries to his neck on 25 July. After this incident, he was placed on suicide watch. Eventually, Epstein was moved to a different cell, where he died on 10 August. Two prison guards have since been accused of failing to check on him during this time and falsifying records to say that they had. There have been ongoing questions over the July recording, which was initially deemed missing and then was said to have been located by jail staff. A letter filed by Assistant US Attorneys Jason Swergold and Maurene Comey said "the footage contained on the preserved video was for the correct date and time, but captured a different tier than the one where Cell-1 was located", New York City media report. (Webmaster's comment: Jeffrey Epstein was obviously murdered while in prison!)