Gov. Cuomo: Child Victims Act to be included in executive budget

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that the Child Victims Act will be included in the 2019 Executive Budget.

Gov. Cuomo vows to enact the act within the first 100 days of the new legislative session.

The legislation would ensure anyone who abuses children will be held accountable criminally and civilly and that survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a path to justice.

This legislation:

  • Increases the amount of time during which perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable;
  • Allows victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 50 years of age;
  • Provides victims whose claims have been time-barred a new opportunity for their day in court by opening a one-year window for them to commence their action;
  • Eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor;
  • Requires judicial training with respect to crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors;
  • Authorizes the Office of Court Administration to promulgate rules and regulations for the timely adjudication of revived actions.

The Governor’s office says under current law, child sexual abuse offenses cannot be prosecuted after five years from their occurrence. Civil lawsuits for this conduct must also be brought within three years from the victim’s 18th birthday.

Deb Rosen from Bivona child advocacy has been waiting for this, saying, “there’s been significant pushback from large institutions who worry about an onslaught of lawsuits that could result in bankruptcy or other repercussions.”

One of those institutions has been the Catholic church, which has taken issue with the part of the bill that would allow victims who’ve passed the statute of limitations to have a one year window to reopen their case.

The Catholic Conference released a statement in 2016 on the bill saying: “this extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed.”

Source: Gov. Cuomo: Child Victims Act to be included in executive budget

Childhood abuse increases risk of adult suicide, finds research

Boy

Largest study of its kind shows ‘devastating’ impact of sexual, physical and emotional abuse

People who experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse as children are two to three times more likely to kill themselves as adults, new research has found.

Experts said the findings confirmed the “devastating effects” of child abuse on mental wellbeing, while one suicide charity said 70% of people who had either tried to take their own life or who had thought about it had been abused.

People who were sexually abused as a child were three times more likely than others to try to kill themselves, according to the new study in Psychological Medicine.

And people who were either physically or emotionally abused or neglected in childhood were two and a half times more likely to try to end their lives.

The findings come from research undertaken by academics at the University of Manchester and South Wales University, who analysed the results of 68 previous studies on the subject from around the world.

Dr Maria Panagioti, from Manchester University who led the research, said about “one adult in every three has experienced abuse as a child. This study conclusively gives us solid evidence that childhood abuse and neglect is associated with increased likelihood that they will be at risk of suicide as adults.”

The authors said the paper was the most comprehensive review of the evidence underlying the issue. The 68 studies were based on the experiences of 216,600 adults in countries including the US, Canada and Italy, while two of the studies were from the UK.

Read more . . . 

Source: The Guardian, U.S. Edition: Childhood abuse increases risk of adult suicide, finds research

California court upholds $4 million sex abuse judgment against Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower organization

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) – A California appeals court has affirmed a more than $4 million judgment against the nation’s leading body of Jehovah’s Witnesses in favor of a woman who claims she was molested as a child in by a church elder.

Source: California court upholds $4 million sex abuse judgment against Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower organization

Vatican hid pedophilia of “Legionaires for Christ” founder for 63 years

Marcial Maciel

El prefecto de la Congregación para los Institutos de Vida Consagrada, el cardenal João Braz de Aviz, reconoce ahora que el Vaticano tenía desde 1943 documentos sobre la pederastia del fundador de los Legionarios de Cristo, Marcial Maciel. El religioso fue investigado entre 1956 y 1959. “Quien lo tapó era una mafia, ellos no eran Iglesia”, ha dicho al ser entrevistado por la revista católica Vida Nueva. João Braz estuvo en Madrid hace un mes para clausurar la asamblea general de la Confederación Española de Religiosos (Confer). “Tengo la impresión de que las denuncias de abusos crecerán, porque solo estamos en el inicio. Llevamos 70 años encubriendo, y esto ha sido un tremendo error”, sostiene.

. . . Read more (original)

Google translation below:

The prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, now recognizes that since 1943 the Vatican had documents on the pedophilia of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel. The religious was investigated between 1956 and 1959. “Who covered him was a mafia, they were not Church,” he said when interviewed by the Catholic magazine Vida Nueva. João Braz was in Madrid a month ago to close the general assembly of the Spanish Confederation of Religious (Confer). “I have the impression that allegations of abuse will grow, because we are only at the beginning. We’ve been hiding for 70 years, and this has been a huge mistake, “he says.

The Legionaries of Christ are reborn from their ashes, with a new structure, after 12 years of atonement and ten since the death of its founder, the priest Marcial Maciel, friend of several popes and the greatest sexual predator in the recent history of the Church . Presented for years by John Paul II as an apostle of youth and pampered by countless bishops and cardinals, many of them Spaniards, Benedict XVI told him in 2006, months after the death of the Polish pontiff, to retire to Mexico for the rest of his life , dedicated “to penance and prayer”. He died without apology two years later, when a commission of inquiry had already unequivocally revealed his criminal activities and a life of debauchery tolerated by the Vatican.

EL PAÍS published in 2006 that the Legionary founder had been investigated between October 1956 and February 1959 on behalf of Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, then the great Roman inquisitor. Maciel had studied at the Pontifical University of Comillas, then based in Cantabria, where he was expelled with one of his classmates without the Jesuits taking additional measures. The Vatican inspection was supervised by the Basque Claretian and future Cardinal Arcadio Larraona. During that time, Maciel was suspended as superior general, and expelled from Rome. Larraona sent his inspectors to the Ontaneda seminary, among other centers. He did not solve anything and Maciel returned to the old ways, with more power. Neither did Ratzinger act in 1999, despite the evidence deposited on his desk as president of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Office of the Inquisition of the past.

The denunciations of his countless victims, to which those of the women with whom the priest Maciel had had children later joined, increased until they became unbearable for the Vatican. Nobody took action. “A friend of the Pope is not processed,” argued those who had to intervene, first of all Cardinal Josep Ratzinger, today Pope emeritus. Maciel was also his friend, as well as confessor of the Polish Pope on many occasions. “They waited for God to get them out of the quagmire with the death of John Paul II or the accused,” said one of his victims and complainant, Alejandro Espinosa, who had the misfortune of being the favorite prey of the Legionary founder in the cold house. of the Ontaneda seminary (Cantabria).

. . . Read more (original)

Sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses (orig. in German)

Original article appears in German; translated through Google Translate:

Victims of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witness religious community have turned to the Report Mainz editorial board. They report that they have been abused as children and that the community has tried to cover it up. Anyone who talks gets pressure and is excluded from the community, so the conclusion.
Around 40 reports of victims of sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany are in the newsroom, including a letter from a young woman reporting that her grandfather, an elder in the community, has lost to her cousins, to a total of ten people, Report Mainz is also the so-called Elder Book of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an internal book whose content is reserved in the religious community only the elders. After that, there must be two or three witnesses who confirm the act. Without such confirmation nothing could have been done, they say.
The article describes how the religious community covers up such cases, which methods are used. A spokesman for the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany denies this and rejects the allegations. Thousands of such cases are reported worldwide.

Content:
Part 1: Sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses
Part 2: Text of the article

Unfortunately reported clearly harmless (Kai Binder) 27.11.2018, 23:23
It’s good that this topic has been researched and sent. Likewise, a fair tenor was cultivated without recognizable prejudices. However, the ultimate problem is that perpetrators whether recognized by ZJ as such (ultimately exclusively by confessions, since it is almost impossible in reality, that there are two eyewitnesses) or just not recognized (no confession and no 2 or 3 eyewitnesses) protected are not sufficiently clear. The question is to which audience this report should apply. Line loyalty ZJ will have switched off the program already at the first set. The mention that former CJs have their say in the report is the catalyst for that. Who did you want to reach? People who
are not ZJ and do not want to convert anyway or ZJ who are in the community and know nothing about it? In the latter they have already failed with the first sentences.

Since you should better research before, how to proceed. Nice that they have mentioned the approximately 1000 perpetrators in Australia. But even there is no mention (or their lack of knowledge about the background), that these are probably documented cases in which a judicial committee (the aforementioned tribunal, which handle the matter internally) was formed. Such a committee is only used and makes a decision if there is a confession or the two eyewitnesses. Despite this documented knowledge, these cases were not reported (as far as the statement, child abuse is considered a criminal offense).

Unfortunately, this approach is typical of the world east; perpetrators are protected in that they keep their misconduct in the smallest circles and concealed to the outside. So nobody else in the congregation can actively protect themselves from such a perpetrator, because nobody knows about it. Not to mention help for the victims. It does not exist. What’s missing: Deuteronomy 22: 25 & 26! No two witnesses in cases of abuse!

Link: https://www.swr.de/report/im-namen-des-herrn-sexueller-missbrauch-bei-den-zeugen-jehovas/-/id=233454/did=22650586/nid=233454/1d4gkkr/index.html  [Im Namen des Herrn – Sexueller Missbrauch bei den Zeugen Jehovas]

Legislative Pressure and Culture Change among Jehovah’s Witnesses

by Harvinder Singh, University of Birmingham, UK

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, or as they are more commonly known as Jehovah’s Witnesses have been criticised by the Australian Royal Commission in 2015 for their handling and practices of child safeguarding. This centralised international religious organisation defends its practices with first-century biblical principles, claiming that it possesses spiritual truth. My study tests the hypothesis of whether this religious organisation adjusts to local variations of child safeguarding laws in the United States of America, England and Australia. This organisation’s local adaptations to child safeguarding laws in these three countries are a challenge to their universal truth.

The methodology of my enquiry includes an analysis of textual sources ranging from WatchTower’s child safeguarding policy, letters, magazines and civil court cases concerning child abuse, in addition to the findings of the Australian Royal Commission and the response submitted on behalf of WatchTower. My exploration of civil court cases and the elder’s correspondence documents in section 5, offers an insight into where WatchTower has adapted their previous doctrinal practices of requiring a victim of child sexual abuse to confront their abusers.

My study finds that WatchTower has adapted its child safeguarding practices by introducing new methods which no longer requires victims of child sexual abuse to make an allegation by having to confront their perpetrators. In addition to this, victims of abuse can now be accompanied by a support person of any gender to make an allegation against a perpetrator of abuse to an elder. Thus, the analysis of this enquiry has established areas of WatchTower’s theocratic position which has been adjusted due to local legal pressures in these three countries. The legal framework of this dissertation has demonstrated that the elders responsibility to safeguard children vary due to the local legal requirements.Thus, states in America and particular provinces in Australia require different responsibilities from elders, in the form of acquiring background checks and adhering to mandatory reporting legislation. Of which, WatchTower confirms that they are willing to comply with. This study finds through the double hypothesis that if there are local variations from the global Jehovah’s Witnesses’ instructions, there are local legal requirements in these three countries. Where there are no local legal requirements, this study also finds that there are no local variations in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ documents and practices. This thesis finds that this religious organisation does not respond or adjust its doctrinal practices of child safeguarding in the face of criticism and recommendations of scholars, the mass media and the secular courts unless legislation requires it. The findings of my study therefore urge legislators to set clearer legal expectations for clergy penitent privilege. I argue that a Jehovah’s Witness elder and the penitent child abuser should both enjoy the privilege of confidentiality. However, on the contrary, any other elder who becomes aware of such abuse outside of that privilege, should be required mandatorily by law to report it to the authorities to ensure that children are protected from sexual abuse.

[Editors: Note Harvinder Singh’s Academic Paper on Jehovah’s Witnesses, PDF 76 pages]

Harvinder Singh, (BA, MA)

School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion

Department of Theology and Religion,University of Birmingham

Clergy Abuse

In light of the news surrounding the sexual abuse of children by members of clergy or religious organizations across the country, the Department of Justice is gathering information from the public regarding complaints of this nature in California.

Source: Clergy Abuse

Why I am a SCAARS Supporter (M.P.)

by Michael Paddock

For many years, I ministered as an elder in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs). Looking back, I can say one thing for certain – we were not adequately trained to deal with complex issues. There were schools and letters specifically created by those guiding the religion that I was raised in to help elders manage complicated situations. Nonetheless, the instructions were focused on organizational policy, not how to assist people with serious psychological issues as a result of child sexual abuse or other severe mistreatment.

For instance, survivors of child sexual abuse need ongoing support and help to recover from this most devastating attack on their innocence. Although this appears like an obvious statement, too many individuals in today’s world ignore this stark reality and do not back or assist efforts to provide appropriate care.

JWs are a prime example of their leaders not meeting the challenge of assisting those who are suffering from the many debilitating effects due to child sexual abuse. This is because within this religion, there aren’t any trained and paid clergy. Elders [only males] are “volunteers” who are taught how to spiritually “care for the flock” and instructed in how to perform mundane tasks aimed at operating a place of worship.

The psychological effects of child sexual abuse include lower levels of self-esteem, higher rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), self-mutilation, and suicide. Each of these categories requires a specialized level of training for anyone hoping to adequately address these issues. The effects are life-altering and can devastate the victims for decades.

The focus of the training elders receive about abuse issues is merely on the internal procedures developed by JW leaders of what to do when a JW accuses another JW of sexual abuse. These procedures include elders:

  1. talking to the victim to hear the “accusation” of abuse.
  2. calling JWs Legal Department, which represents their legal corporation, the Watchtower, to see if the “accusation” should be reported to the authorities.
  3. assessing whether the “accused” should face an internal judicial committee made up of three JW elders.

In the past, a JW victim of child sexual abuse tragically had to face and accuse their JW abuser of wrongdoing face to face. Although this practice recently changed, it demonstrates the lack of understanding and assistance common in their internal policies.

Reporting a case of child sexual abuse to JW elders is still a needlessly stressful event for victims since they are expected to recount their abuse in front of at least two male elders. Often, the elders ask very uncomfortable, and sometimes inappropriate questions to determine whether sexual abuse occurred, the frequency of the act and whether the victim was a willing participant.

Furthermore, since JWs are trained to view all outside organizations as being part of
“Satan’s world,” they will not encourage a victim to seek professional counseling. This lack of training and support leaves victims in an impossibly difficult position.

SCAARS believes that anyone who volunteers for a position of authority in an institutional setting that might include hearing reports of child sexual abuse, must receive suitable training to understand how to properly support the abused; and volunteers must insist that the victim or caregiver report the abuse to the authorities.
Victims need a safe environment as described in the document, “Child Safe Organizational Cultures” (https://scaarscaorg.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/child-safe-organizational-cultures-revised.pdf).

If individuals truly want to help victims of child abuse survive and thrive beyond their
abuse, they should be thoroughly and properly instructed as to how to meet the challenge.

Why I am a SCAARS Supporter (B.P.)

by B.P. in Illinois

My father was a man of great integrity who abhorred religious hypocrisy. In his youth, he boldly marched in front of churches in Brooklyn, NY, with a sign that read, “Religion is a Snare and a Racket.” He never backed down from speaking against the piousness of the clergy or the sins they committed in God’s name. As a matter of fact, it was his favorite subject!

Therefore, I was raised with the conviction that devotion to God and to truth was to be first in my life. Whenever I had any questions, Dad would always tell me to do the research. He was convinced that he had found “the truth” and it could stand up to any scrutiny. “Don’t take my word for it – look it up.” he’d say.

Sadly, my father died in 1988, before the Internet made it so easy to do research. If alive today, I think he’d be appalled to learn that child sex abuse had infiltrated powerful religious institutions. I can just imagine his anger to find out how religious leaders covered-up this crime, and that perpetrators were protected by using spin and legal posturing.

Like my father advised, “Do the research to find the truth,” that’s what I did when I began to question the structure of religion; claims of ecclesiastical privilege, along with what I saw as an immense misuse of power.

After discovering that many religions were founded not on candor with transparency, but largely on “malfeasance of office” and sanctimoniousness, I realized that a secret and dangerous culture developed over the centuries. This has culminated in some of the most scandalous cover-ups we’ve ever seen in our time.

Events of the past have proven that appealing to the clergy’s moral principles and humanity has not worked in changing their culture. Therefore, it is our belief that the best way to end sexual and spiritual abuse is by effective action to change secular laws. For instance, if Grand Juries were convened in the 50-states, (similar to the Australian Royal Commission), more crimes would be uncovered which would force institutions into supporting the weak and taking humane actions toward the injured. It is only then that healing of the innocents can begin.

As I became acquainted with the founders of the SCAARS group (Stop Child Abuse – Advocates for Reform and Safety), I realized that we were kindred spirits. Years before the #MeToo Movement began, these courageous people showed their devotion to justice in behalf of those less fortunate, by exhibiting a spirit of activism both in word and deed. Like my colleagues, I have never been sexually abused, but feel the need to speak out with them on behalf of those who have.

As a Victim’s Advocate and a Mandated Reporter, I’m committed to the cause of helping individuals crushed by religious institutions that abuse power. And I am honored to champion truth-telling and to help bring about cultural change with my friends at SCAARS. If my Dad was still alive, he surely would be proud of all of us who are determined defenders of truth and advocates for reform.