9-30-20 Nxivm: Seagram heiress Clare Bronfman jailed in 'sex cult' case
US heiress Clare Bronfman has been sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for her role in the Nxivm sex trafficking group. Bronfman, heir to the Seagram liquor fortune and a benefactor of Nxivm leader Keith Raniere, pleaded guilty in April 2019 to harbouring migrants for unpaid "labour and services". She also admitted to credit card fraud. She was taken into custody to begin her jail term immediately after the sentencing in Brooklyn, New York. Writing to the court last month, Bronfman said she "never meant to hurt anyone, however I have, and for this I am deeply sorry". However, she said Nxivm had "greatly changed my life for the better" and that she wouldn't denounce its leader Raniere. Nxivm - pronounced "Nexium" - was started in 1998 as a self-help programme. It said it worked with more than 16,000 people. On its website, Nxivm described itself as a "community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human". Despite its tagline of "working to build a better world", Raniere was last year convicted of overseeing a "slave and master" system within the group. The trial last year heard that Nxivm operated like a cult. Prosecutors told the court that members formed a secret sorority of brainwashed "slaves" who were branded with Raniere's initials and forced to have sex with him. Bronfman was on Nxivm's executive board, and gave Raniere tens of millions of dollars to run the group's intensive self-improvement classes. She also paid for the group's lawyers when a lawsuit was filed against them. Counsel acting for Bronfman argued that she should be given a lenient sentence because she wasn't directly involved in the most serious allegations against Nxivm, and that she has a pre-existing health condition that could make her more vulnerable to coronavirus in prison. However, prosecutors said she should be given a serious punishment because "Raniere would not have been able to commit the crimes with which he was convicted were it not for powerful allies like Bronfman".
9-17-20 Cheer star Jerry Harris charged with producing child sex images
Jeremiah "Jerry" Harris, one of the stars of the Netflix documentary series Cheer, has been arrested and charged with producing child sex images. Mr Harris, 21, allegedly enticed an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself, the US attorney's office said. According to court records, Mr Harris admitted to soliciting and receiving explicit images from the minor. But a spokesperson for the star has denied the allegations. Mr Harris was arrested on Thursday morning and later appeared in court in Chicago. He did not enter a plea. A judge said a hearing would be held on Monday to determine if he will stay in custody or be released on bail, according to US media reports. Mr Harris featured prominently in the popular series Cheer, which followed a cheerleading team from Navarro College in Texas as they sought a national title. Mr Harris is accused of soliciting images from the minor from December 2018 to March 2020. The victim informed Mr Harris during their initial online encounter that he was 13 years old, a criminal complaint says. If convicted on the federal child pornography charge, Mr Harris faces up to 30 years in prison. The charge comes after a lawsuit was filed earlier this week, in which Mr Harris was accused of child sexual exploitation and abuse of two alleged male victims. A spokesperson told CNN at the time that "we categorically dispute the claims" and "are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed". But court documents say Mr Harris admitted during an interview with law enforcement officials to soliciting and receiving explicit images from one of the minors and "at least between 10 to 15 other individuals he knew were minors". Officials say investigations are ongoing and have called for anyone with more information to come forward.
9-11-20 Nigeria's Kaduna passes law to castrate child rapists
Lawmakers in Nigeria's Kaduna State have approved surgical castration as punishment for those convicted of raping children under the age of 14. State governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai needs to sign the bill for it to become law in the north-western state. He has previously supported castration to prevent rapists from re-offending. Nigeria's federal law provides between 14 years and life imprisonment as punishment, but state legislators can set different sentencing rules. Stigma often prevents victims from reporting incidents of rape in Nigeria and the number of successful prosecutions is low. In June Nigerian governors declared a state of emergency over rape and violence against women and children. Since 2015, when a new law was introduced, about 40 rape suspects have been charged, according to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), which has a sex offenders list on its website. The new law broadened the scope under which sexual offences can be penalised in Nigeria and removed the time limit of two months during which rape cases had to be tried before they became ineligible to be heard in a court. The head of the agency, Julie Okah-Donli, told the BBC that as the burden of proof is on the prosecution, proving rape cases is "quite tedious and technical". Surgical castration of convicted rapists has been mooted in Nigeria for a while, especially as cases spiked during the recent coronavirus lockdown. There was widespread outrage in July following the murder of a 22-year-old university student who her family say was brutally raped and bludgeoned to death. It was one of several shocking cases within a week that led to street protests, an online petition signed by thousands and a Twitter hashtag #WeAreTired. Many Nigerians called for stiffer laws, such as the death penalty. "We feel that the new law will go a long way to curbing rising cases of rapes in our state," Kaduna lawmaker Shehu Yunusa told the BBC."If the Kaduna governor signs [this] into law, the next rapist caught in Kaduna might become the first person to be castrated under this new law," he said. (Webmaster's comment: We should have this law in the United States too!)
8-20-20 Israel investigates alleged Eilat gang rape of teenager
Police in Israel have launched an investigation into the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a hotel in the southern resort town of Eilat. Two people have been detained so far. One of the suspects said more than 30 men had sex with the girl, but denied rape, according to local media reports. The men are accused of raping the teenager while she was intoxicated. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for those responsible to be "brought to justice". "This is shocking, there is no other word. This is not only a crime against the girl, this is a crime against humanity itself that is worthy of all condemnation," he tweeted on Thursday. The teenager filed a complaint to police last Friday. According to Israeli media reports, she went to Eilat earlier this month with a friend, and met up with a group of the friend's acquaintances. They all went out to drink together before going back to a hotel, where the men allegedly raped the girl, one after the other. Authorities say the teenager's friend tried to help her, but was not able to stop the men. The identities of the two detained suspects have not been made public, but local media reports say they are Israeli residents in their 20s. One was arrested after police found video documentation of the alleged assault in messages between him and the teenager, the Times of Israel reports. The suspect has denied communicating with the girl, and says someone else was using his phone. The same suspect told police that more than 30 people were involved in the incident, but that security camera footage would prove that it was consensual. Defence Minister Benny Gantz has condemned the alleged attack. "The police investigation is still under way, but it's important that I convey a message to those who participated or bore witness to this case or others: The only thing you've proven is what depravity of your soul and morality you are capable of," he tweeted.
8-18-20 Anger in Brazil as 10-year-old rape victim's name posted
There has been outrage in Brazil after the personal details of a 10-year-old rape victim were published online. The girl's name was posted by an anti-abortion activist seeking to stop her from having a termination. Following the online post, abortion opponents gathered outside the hospital where the girl was due to have the procedure. The girl had become pregnant after being raped. Police arrested a man suspected of raping her on Wednesday. The case has caused widespread anger in Brazil and a judge has ordered Google, Facebook and Twitter to remove the personal details of the 10-year-old from their sites. Judge Samuel Miranda Gonçalves Soares ruled that the companies had 24 hours to remove the information or face a fine of 50,000 reais ($9,000; £6,900) a day. Brazil has strict laws on abortion, but terminations are allowed in cases of rape when the mother's life is at risk or when the foetus has the birth defect anencephaly - a rare condition that prevents part of the brain and skull from developing. Even though the girl had been given legal permission to have her pregnancy terminated, anti-abortion activists tried to stop it from being carried out by holding a noisy protest outside the hospital. They shouted at hospital staff, calling them "killers", and at one point tried to force their way into the building, but were dispersed by military police. The girl was smuggled onto the hospital's premises in the boot of a car and entered the building by a side door, pro-choice activists said. The BBC's South America correspondent Katy Watson says the girl's personal details appear to have been initially released by far-right activist Sara Giromini, better known under her alias of Sara Winter. It is not yet clear whether Sara Giromini will face charges for making the name of the girl public, but legal experts have told BBC News Brasil that she could be charged with incitement to violence.
8-16-20 India rape: Two men arrested for 13-year-old's rape and murder
A 13-year-old girl has been raped and murdered in India. Her body was found in a sugarcane field in northern Uttar Pradesh state, police said on Saturday. Two neighbours in the village have been arrested. Police have denied the father's account that his daughter had had her eyes gouged out and her tongue cut. Rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight in India since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in the capital, Delhi. That attack led to huge protests and changes to the country's rape laws, but there has been no sign of crimes against women and girls abating. According to recent crime figures, every fourth rape victim in India is a child. In an overwhelming number of rape cases, the victims know the perpetrators. The latest incident occurred late on Friday in Pakaria village in the Lakhimpur Kheri district, police said. The family went searching for their daughter after she failed to return from a toilet break out in the fields. They say they found her body mutilated. But police said the post-mortem examination had concluded that she had died from strangulation after being raped - but not that her eyes had been gouged out or that her tongue had been cut. "There were scratches near the eyes, likely due to the sharp sugarcane leaves where the body was found," police spokesman Satendra Kumar said. A senior member of the Opposition Congress Party, Jitin Prasada, condemned the attack as "saddening". "The inhuman act with a girl has put humanity to shame," he said, according to the Times of India newspaper. The incident comes months after the case of a six-year-old girl who was abducted outside her home in Madhya Pradesh state and raped. The attacker inflicted severe injuries to the child's eyes, in an apparent attempt to stop her identifying him. In February, a 25-year-old man was arrested for allegedly raping a five-year-old girl on the premises of the US embassy in Delhi. In November last year, the gang rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in the southern city of Hyderabad also made global headlines and triggered protests. (Webmaster's comment: United States has 1/4 the population of India, but has 4 times the number of rapes!)
8-5-20 Daisy Coleman: Assault survivor in Netflix film takes own life
Daisy Coleman, a sexual assault victim advocate and subject of the Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy, has taken her own life, according to her mother. Ms Coleman, 23, was 14 when she alleged she was raped at a party in 2012 in Maryville, Missouri. Her case drew national attention as she spoke of being bullied after the incident, but the charge against the teenage boy she accused was dropped. She was reportedly found dead after her mother called police to check on her. "She was my best friend and amazing daughter," her mother, Melinda Coleman, wrote on Facebook. "I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her. I can't. "I wish I could have taken the pain from her! She never recovered from what those boys did to her and it's just not fair. My baby girl is gone." Ms Coleman alleged she was assaulted while intoxicated by a 17-year-old boy, Matthew Barnett, at a house party in January 2012, when she was 14. Her mother said she found her daughter the next morning, left outside on the porch, with wet hair and wearing just a T-shirt and sweatpants in sub-zero temperatures. Barnett was charged with felony sexual assault, but the case was eventually dropped. Ms Coleman's family argued this was due to the local political connections of the boy's family. Barnett pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of child endangerment, arguing his sexual intercourse with Daisy had been consensual. Ms Coleman's case sparked national discussions over teenage rape cases in the US justice system as well as victim blaming and bullying. Ms Coleman and her family eventually moved out of Maryville after threats and harassment in school. She was featured in the award-winning 2016 Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy, which highlighted the bullying faced by teenage assault victims. The other girl in the film, Audrie Pott, took her own life in September 2012, days after she was sexually assaulted. (Webmaster's comment: We need to accept the word of children that they were raped! And put the bastards accused away for a long, long time!)
7-31-20 Ghislaine Maxwell-Jeffrey Epstein emails revealed in new court papers
Emails between UK socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have been revealed in a trove of unsealed court documents. Epstein tells Ms Maxwell she has done "nothing wrong" in the 2015 exchange, which appears to contradict her earlier claims of not having contacted him. And in a deposition, accuser Virginia Giuffre says Ms Maxwell was as equally involved in sex trafficking as Epstein. Ms Maxwell faces a trial in the case in July 2021 and has pleaded not guilty. She remains in custody in New York, charged with trafficking minors for Epstein and perjury. She could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted. Epstein died in prison on 10 August 2019 as he awaited his trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was determined to be suicide. Dozens of papers were ordered to be unsealed late on Thursday by a court in New York. There is a near 350-page paper containing the testimony from 2016 of Virginia Giuffre, who has alleged that she was forced into sex with Epstein and his friends. The deposition comes from her now-settled civil defamation lawsuit against Ms Maxwell. There is also an email exchange between Ms Maxwell and Epstein from 2015, which shows how concerned she was about possible fallout from the case. Police reports and flight logs from Epstein's private jets have also been unsealed. Lawyers for Ms Maxwell fought to keep the papers secret. They have managed to get a temporary block on two additional documents - a deposition from 16 April related to Ms Maxwell's sex life and another deposition, this time from an unnamed Epstein accuser. They could still be released on Monday, though, pending further court challenges. An email sent by Epstein to Ms Maxwell on 21 January 2015 carries what appears to be a statement to be used by Ms Maxwell in defence of any accusations against her.
7-17-20 Doctor Room: The counsellor helping digital sex crime victims
"Thank you for putting a brake on the life of a devil that could not be stopped." That is how one suspected ringleader of a clandestine online sextortion ring in South Korea described his relief at being caught. Cho Ju-bin, known as "The Doc," operated chatrooms where he blackmailed dozens of young women, including at least 16 minors, into making sexually explicit videos of themselves. They often featured rape and violence. He then sold these videos online through Telegram, an encrypted messaging service. Fees ranged from $200 to $1,200. But this was not the first - his "Doctor Room" was itself a copy of existing "Nth Rooms". Customers paid to access the so-called "Nth Rooms", where extorted content was uploaded, often in real time. There are countless similar chatrooms, suggesting that there are tens of thousands of paying members. According to Korean newspaper Kookmin Ilbo, each of the rooms hosted videos from three to four girls who had been blackmailed by chatroom operators. The chatroom operators contacted the girls, promising modelling or escort jobs. They would then direct the women to a Telegram account to provide personal details, which were used to blackmail the victims. Cho is facing 14 charges including rape, blackmail, coercion, and illegal production and distribution of sexual content. His trial began on 11 June, three months after he was arrested. He has admitted that he produced sex videos and distributed them on Telegram, yet he is denying that he resorted to coercion, blackmailing and violence, according to his lawyer. But while the focus is on the alleged perpetrator, his victims have a lonely struggle ahead. In socially conservative Korea, the dozens of women and children who were exploited in the videos face a long and difficult journey to rebuild their lives. One woman helping them is Lee Hyorin. She told the BBC about her work fighting digital sex crime.
7-15-20 Kenyan 12-year old girl married to two men within a month
A 12-year-old girl has been rescued by authorities in Kenya after she was married off to two men in the span of one month. The girl's father, in Narok county west of the capital Nairobi, forced her to marry a 51-year-old man. She escaped and then got married to a 35-year-old before being rescued by a children's rights campaigner and government officials. In Kenya, marrying someone who is under 18 years of age is a crime. A children's rights campaigner said he was tipped off about the girl when he was in the process of rescuing another girl. "The father gave her off to the elderly man to be married. She had no option than to get married to the younger man," Joshua Kaputah from the Narok County Peace Association told the BBC. Mr Kaputah added that poverty and the closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic have played a role in increasing cases of child marriages. "Some families are hungry and the prospect of receiving two or three cows as dowry is quite tempting," he said. Marrying off underage girls has been an issue of concern among the Maasai community who inhabit Narok County, the BBC's Peter Mwai says. He adds that Maasai girls tend to be viewed by men in-charge of households as wealth, and are married off to a man chosen by the father in exchange for cattle. The government has been cracking down on the tradition but it still thrives partly due to poor enforcement of existing laws. Kenya's Standard newspaper reports that after the first groom offered four cows as a dowry, the girl protested against getting married but was then beaten up by her male cousins. "I escaped and since I could not go back to my father's home for fear of being reprimanded, I eloped with a 35-year-old man, who was married," she is quoted as saying in the Standard.
7-8-20 Mary Kay Letourneau: Teacher who married boy she raped dies at 58
A former teacher from Washington state whose sexual encounters with a pupil led to a jail sentence and worldwide notoriety has died of cancer aged 58. Mary Kay Letourneau was convicted of second-degree child rape in 1997 after becoming pregnant by Vili Fualaau when he was 12 or 13 and she was 34. She gave birth to their second daughter in prison in 1998. After serving her prison term the couple married in 2005. They separated after 12 years of marriage. Ms Letourneau's lawyer David Gehrke told US media that she had died at home surrounded by her children and Mr Fualaau. Ms Letourneau was a married mother-of-four living in Seattle when she began to have sexual encounters with her sixth-grade student. She initially served just a few months in jail but after she was paroled she was caught having sex again with the young teenager. The former teacher was returned to prison to serve another seven years. Her two daughters with Mr Fualaau were initially raised by his family. She had reportedly been ill for six months before her death. She was brought up a Catholic and was the daughter of a conservative Republican congressman, John G. Schmitz. His political career was ended by scandal when it emerged he had fathered two children out of wedlock.
7-5-20 Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre on Maxwell arrest
A US woman who says she was brought to Britain aged 17 to have sex with Prince Andrew has said he "should be panicking" following the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell. Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's accusers, says she was trafficked to London by Epstein in 2001. She spoke to Australia's Channel Nine 60 Minutes programme following the arrest of Epstein's former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who was arrested on charges of helping Epstein's sexual exploitation of girls and young women, and also perjury. Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell both deny allegations made against them.
7-3-20 Coronavirus-denying Father Sergiy expelled by Russian Church
A Russian Orthodox Church court has expelled a coronavirus-denying cleric from the priesthood after he seized control of a convent. Father Sergiy - who calls himself Nikolai Romanov, after Russia's last tsar - took over Sredneuralsk Convent, near Yekaterinburg in the Urals, on 16 June. He posted armed guards there. The Yekaterinburg Church court found he had broken monastic rules. Fr Sergiy has condemned the closure of churches in the coronavirus lockdown. He called the Covid-19 crisis "a pseudo-pandemic" and cursed those who ordered that church services be stopped on health grounds. There have been complaints of child abuse at the convent under Fr Sergiy's leadership, and the Church court called for a thorough investigation of the allegations by the Russian authorities. The Church is also carrying out its own investigation. BBC Russian has interviewed several witnesses who stayed at the convent between 2001 and 2020, and who described physical and psychological violence towards children as routine there. The former residents said children were slapped or beaten for minor misdemeanours. Punishment was meted out for example if a girl took off her headscarf while hauling a sack of potatoes early in the morning, or if a child ran through the woods into town to get some chocolate. Some of the nuns considered administering beatings to be as routine as tending the horses or working in the refectory, they alleged. Fr Sergiy has stated that church authorities "will have to storm the monastery" if they want him to leave. The controversial cleric was barred from preaching in April. He refused to attend the court sessions. Fr Sergiy helped found the Sredneuralsk Convent in the early 2000s, and hundreds of supporters have flocked there over the years to hear his sermons. Russian authorities shut churches to worshippers on 13 April amid the ongoing pandemic, and only reopened them last month.
7-2-20 Ghislaine Maxwell 'helped exploit girls as young as 14 years old'
Ghislaine Maxwell, British socialite and ex-girlfriend of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, is facing charges in the US after being arrested by the FBI. Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, detailed the alleged role Maxwell played in the grooming and sexual exploitation of underage girls. Ms Maxwell has previously denied any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein's alleged sexual misconduct. Epstein died in prison on 10 August as he awaited, without the chance of bail, his trial on sex trafficking charges.
7-2-20 Jeffrey Epstein ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell arrested by FBI
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, an ex-girlfriend of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, is facing charges in the US after being arrested by the FBI. The six charges include enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and two counts of perjury. She was reportedly arrested in New Hampshire and is due in federal court later. She has denied any involvement in or knowledge of Epstein's alleged sexual misconduct. Epstein died in prison on 10 August as he awaited, without the chance of bail, his trial on sex trafficking charges. He was arrested last year in New York following allegations that he was running a network of underage girls - some as young as 14 - for sex. His death was determined to be suicide. Four of the charges relate to the years 1994-97 when Ms Maxwell was, according to the indictment, among Epstein's closest associates and also in an "intimate relationship" with him. The other two charges are allegations of perjury in 2016. The indictment says Ms Maxwell "assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein's abuse minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18". She is charged with conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts; enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts; conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. During the same period she groomed multiple minor girls to engage in sex acts with Epstein, the indictment says. She attempted to befriend them by asking about their lives and families and then she and Epstein built the friendships by taking minor victims to the cinema or shopping. Having built a rapport, Ms Maxwell would "try to normalise sexual abuse for a minor victim by... discussing sexual topics, undressing in front of the victim, being present when a minor victim was undressed, and/or being present for sex acts involving the minor victim and Epstein".