News Story of the Day

Former priest pleads guilty in child sex case

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.

Family of late Stone Mountain priest settles child molestation suit

By Joshua Sharpe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 3, 2018
When a 47-year-old man decided to sue a former DeKalb County priest in 2017, he dreamed of facing his alleged abuser in court. But it turned out Father Stanley Idziak, who’d been accused of molesting multiple children in Dunwoody and Stone Mountain, had died months earlier, leaving the only legal recourse suing his estate.
On Tuesday, the plaintiff withdrew the complaint after receiving a settlement from the priest’s family, attorney John Burdges said.

How do churches address sexual misconduct by clergy members?

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.

Manhattan DA Cy Vance joining fight to enact law allowing child sex abuse victims to seek justice

London Catholic school abuse survivor speaks of 'constant violence'

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.

Pope Francis Visits Chile and Peru: Sex Abuse, Politics and Opus Dei

By Betty Clermont,

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’

By Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune, December 30, 2017

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.

Jury to hear case against Mormon Church, officials

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.

Sexual misconduct scandals remind clergy victims of 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.”

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