News Story of the Day
By DON LEHMAN, The Post Star, January 5, 2018
BALLSTON SPA — A defrocked former Catholic priest who lived at a “retreat” in Washington County pleaded guilty Friday to two felony charges for having sexual contact with an underage boy.
Michael R. Hands, 51, pleaded guilty to counts of third-degree criminal sexual act for sexual contact with a child younger than the age of 17 in the town of Charlton last July. He had also been accused of sharing pornography with the teen.
The charges were brought because the teen was too young to legally consent to sexual relations.
By Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans, Lancaster Online
Recently a group of 140 evangelical women representing diverse theological and social perspectives released a statement asking churches to break their silence on violence against women.Yet when it comes to addressing sexual assault, it’s not only conservative Christian denominations that are in denial, say experts.
Former Kirk moderator Dr Andrew McLellan hits out over "astonishing" delay in abuse response from Catholic Church
By Stephen Naysmith, Herald Scotland
THE Catholic Church has been accused of failing to establish contact with victims of historic child abuse as it pledged to do in response to an independent review.
By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, January 1, 2018
A man who was abused as a child at a Catholic school in London has spoken of a “culture of violence” at the institution, where a former headmaster was jailed just before Christmas for rape and other sexual offences.
“The threat and infliction of violence was constant. You couldn’t escape it – it was completely normalised,” said the survivor, who gave evidence in court against Andrew Soper, known as Father Laurence.
By Betty Clermont, December 30, 2017, The Open Tabernacle
This is the pope’s sixth trip to the region with which he is most familiar. But this one is different. This is the first time he will face a populace aware of both his indifference, at best, to victims of sexual abuse and, at worse, his efforts to shield the perpetrators. In addition, there is a consistent pattern of issues, as well as an alliance of powerful elites from church and state, in both countries.
Pope Francis will face significant hostility when he visits Chile Jan. 15 – 18. Demonstrations have been planned to protest his response to clerical sex abuse.
After dispute over epitaph, tombstone at Catholic cemetery reads: ‘She supported priest sexual abuse victims’
A son says his late mother finally will be able to rest in peace now that a dispute with a Catholic cemetery over her controversial grave marker has been resolved.
Marguerite Ridgeway, of west suburban Lisle, was a faithful Catholic before church sex abuse scandals came to light, including decades-old trauma recounted by her daughter-in-law. Before her 2015 death, Ridgeway closely followed the stories of abuse victims locally and across the country, and her outrage ultimately spurred a break with the church she once loved, according to her son, Jack Ruhl, of Kalamazoo, Mich.
BY KELSIE LEROSE, December 28, 2017, The Journal
MARTINSBURG–A Berkeley County jury will hear the accusations and evidence against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church, and local church officials in early January for allegedly covering up allegations that the son of local church officials sexually abused 12 children over the course of more than five years.
The case against the church was initially investigated after Christopher Michael Jensen, of Martinsburg, was found guilty and sentenced on July 29, 2013 to 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors–4 and 3 years of age at the time of the abuse.
Associated Press, Dec 23, 2017, Crux
PORTLAND, Oregon - When stories of sexual misconduct by powerful men began to fill the news this fall, Manny Vega immediately flashed back to his childhood.
He saw strong similarities between the recent allegations against producers and politicians and his own abuse as a child by his parish priest.
“The parallels are in the power dynamics,” said Vega, a former police officer and decorated Marine who lives in Oxnard, California. “Whether you’re the leader of a church or the leader of a film studio, you’re going to be someone people look up to and someone people go to for guidance. It puts the victim at a horrible disadvantage.”
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.