Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Child Abuse Victims caught between two New York Senate Bills

Advocates for Child Victims Act

Child sexual abuse must be stopped, and the abusers punished. No one disagrees with that statement.  Right now, many victims cannot get justice because of the statute of limitations – a time limit on when a lawsuit can be brought against the abusers. We need a law to get rid of the statute of limitations in New York.  According to constitutional scholar and Cardozo Law School Professor Marci Hamilton, New York is one of the worst states in the nation for child sexual abuse statutes of limitation.

But what is the best way to do this? There are two bills up for approval in New York State -- but only one will become law. Why should we be concerned about which child abuse bill becomes a law?  Advocates for abused children have been trying for many years to get the Child Victims Act (CVA) to be law. Sponsored by democrats, the CVA has never passed the republican senate in New York.  Recently, a new bill was introduced by a republican senator and has met with quick approval by other republicans. Is this because the true sponsors are overjoyed with a bill that lets all the offending institutions evade their responsibility as abusers? 

Will one of these bills be more helpful to child abuse victims than the other? The rules proposed for each bill need to be looked at closely.
The Child Victims Act (CVA) is New York Senate Bill S809, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman (D). This bill does away with statutes of limitations for prosecuting child sexual abuse crimes and for filing civil lawsuits for damages against individuals, public institutions, and private institutions. Importantly, it also creates a one-year period during which victims who were abused and missed the statute of limitations reporting time period can seek the justice they have been denied.  This is easy to understand: no statutes of limitations and a window for those who missed out on getting justice.
The other bill is more complicated, will have financial consequences for New York taxpayers, and will allow some of the abusers to avoid any responsibility for their horrendous actions.
New York Senate Bill S8736  sponsored by Senator Catharine Young (R) sets up a fund that will be used to compensate victims that file an application and who meet requirements determined by officers chosen by lawmakers.

Some facts from Young’s bill:
The bill states that due to the amount of time that may have passed since the abuse took place, the claim can’t be pursued as a regular lawsuit.  Who is deciding this? Such a decision should be based on the individual case and discussion is between the victim and his/her lawyer.

Young’s Bill may help some people in cases where their sexual abuser has no money, can’t be found, or is dead. Many others will not be helped such as those whose abuse happened a long time ago and where the perpetrator was from an institution like the Catholic church. Institutions can be sued even if the perpetrator is dead.  Marci Hamilton said on Twitter: “Sen Young's bill is actually a New Joke for child victims  It should be called the Institutional Subsidy Act  Lets all institutions off the hook  Loved by Dolan and insurance companies.”
Young’s Bill would allow people who were abused to be represented by a lawyer. But the requirements of the bill decrease the chance that a lawyer would really be interested in the case.  The lawyer would have to conform to the rules of Young’s bill. 

Because institutions like the Catholic church, Boy Scouts, yeshivas, and insurance companies would not be financially responsible, compensation would be limited to what the rules allowed. It’s a fact that lawyers want to get paid for their services and with this bill, with its fixed compensation, they will not want to take these cases. Then the victim will be dependent only on NY State rules.

The CVA would open a one-year window for people who missed the statute of limitations, but each person would have an interested lawyer and a better chance of success.   
In Young’s Bill the claims cannot include punitive damages. Punitive damage awards are meant not to compensate the victim but to punish the offending party for reckless or shocking conduct*. Courts have held that punitive damages can be awarded only where the conduct to be punished approaches criminality.  

*This bill will not help me.  After being raped by a Catholic priest along with my brother, I was tortured for months by Dominican nuns. I was smothered with a pillow by a nun with intent to kill me.  I was in a coma for many months and left with brain damage that affects my speech, vision and hearing. My brother killed himself because he couldn’t accept what they did to both of us.  I personally know of others who were abused in New York and who were crippled or died. The perpetrators need to be forced to stop abusing and murdering children and hitting them in their pockets is an effective way to do it.

The process of choosing the decision makers and what the victim has to go through is unacceptable. It is open to prejudiced interpretations by those who make the decisions – the victim would have to “go through the mill” and be re-victimized.  The victims, if they want a lawyer will most likely have to pay the lawyer’s retainer fees unless they qualify for free help.  Will the victims have to go through a financial evaluation, another stress on already abused person?

The chief administrator of the plan is selected by the NY state comptroller along with leaders of the senate and assembly.  So, this means that lobbyists and others with their own agendas can influence the “leaders” and the comptroller.  We will then get a chief administrator who is under the influence of those who chose him/her.  Then, like a domino effect, the people chosen down the line are also suspect.
The chief administrator then appoints the Hearing Officers who will decide the merits of each victim’s request. 

The chief administrator is authorized to accept contributions by individuals, businesses, or “other entities” to add to the $300 million compensation fund. The fund money comes from the more than $700 million in asset forfeiture funds controlled by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.'s office.  These forfeiture funds come from money taken from terrorist activities, drug related crimes, and other criminal and civil offenses. Again, here is the opportunity for special interest influence on the outcomes of victims’ requests.  Who are these “other entities”?  Do they include for example the Catholic Archdiocese of NY, other religious denominations, schools and universities?  So the abusers can control the money.  Do you trust them?

Senator Hoylman questions whether it is legal to take funds from Vance's office. Even if it is legal, it is taking money from worthy criminal justice programs like the purchase of rape test kits and cameras for public housing at the expense of protecting "child sexual abusers and institutions who harbor them."  So more people are abused by the mis-use of the money. It is not clear whether any of the processes and the use of money allocated for other things will put some type of tax burden on New York residents.

When the victim files a claim he/she must say why they are eligible for compensation and how much money they want.  These are people with complex histories and multiple disorders – even difficult for teams of experts to understand. Some of them, like my husband have complex post-traumatic stress disorder, others have psychological damage or physical disabilities.  Will the Hearing Officers have the qualifications to really understand whether a victim is eligible? Will they have to hire “experts” – also of their choosing and spend more taxpayers’ money. 

Will the amount of money in the fund be enough?  Will these Hearing Officers or their superiors change limits on the amount of compensation if the money runs out?  Even with the 5% allotted to the fund yearly and possible contributions the administrators of the fund will necessarily be frugal with the amount. Will they award victims what they deserve?
Members of the clergy will have to report to the district attorney any information they have that a child was abused by a clergy member within 20 years prior to the bill becoming law. My husband was abused 70 years ago. Or they must report if they know that a clergy member who is still active in the institution has abused a child.  My husband’s abusers are all dead, but the Church is still in business. The clergy member does not have to provide this information if came from confidential communications (like confession) or was under privileged law or if the abuser is dead. It seems that the clergy member would not have much to say – the designers of the rules appear to want it that way.

I know that all the abusers and especially the institutions would like to see the victims die off before they get justice or fair compensation.  Everyone – voters, lawmakers, child abuse advocates, victims and their families should work together to ensure that the best Bill – the one that will help the most victims gets passed this time. We are hoping it is the Child Victims Act.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

In Memoriam: Earl Baker Wert, M.D. (1913-2001)

Earl and me cooling down after a race

Earl and me running on track

Earl was my closest friend, the best one I had in my life. I think about him often and wanted to let you know that there are good people in this world.  When he walked on I was very sad.  He was also a great person who made a lot of contributions to humanity.
Earl was a star on his high school track and football teams. He went to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and became a doctor in 1940. Earl served in the United States Army (1945-47) as a pathologist at the Army Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC.  In 1947, Earl taught pathology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. 

In 1948, Earl and his wife moved to Mobile, AL.  (where I later met him in 1983). Earl was elected Mobile County Coroner and held that position for three decades.  He used to tell me that I had a lot of muscle and that he would give me a free autopsy anytime I wanted it!
Earl was an expert in clinical and forensic pathology. He was good at finding the cause of death in homicide cases and he was a pioneer in the study of vitreous humor of the eye to help determine causes and time of death.  He was Director of Pathology at the Mobile Infirmary until he retired in 1986.  He was also a Past-President and Founding Fellow of the Association of Clinical Scientists.

Earl’s scientific presentations were always timely, informative, practical, and he used gentle humor. He used to talk to me about his work and he brought me to his birthday party at the Mobile Infirmary. We walked in wearing our running clothes, he blew out the candles on his cake and then we went back out to finish our usual run.

Earl played piano and sang in a barbershop quartet. He knew foreign languages (he was fluent in French, and proficient in German and classical Greek). He loved to travel (he and wife often toured Europe, sometimes with their children).  He liked history (he studied the naval blockade of Mobile during the Civil War and the Battle of Verdun during World War I). He liked athletics (he was good at tennis and was an avid runner). He took up running again at age 65, often competed in the Boston Marathon, and held five age-group records for the Pike’s Peak Race in Colorado. He was 30 years older than me.  He had many State running records.  I just had one State championship at age 47 for the two miler.

I met Earl in 1983 at running races in Mobile, AL.  We felt like we were friends for life the first time we met.  We ran races together, he took me to the Blue Angel Marathons in Florida, sleeping in a tent.  We went to New Orleans races. We biked together for 10 miles at a time.  He had birthday party races at his home in Dog River every year.  He paddled a canoe for miles on the river and once heard a thump – it was an alligator! He was twice president of the Port City Pacers, a large running club in Mobile.  We ran on the track together many, many times. Once when we were running I fell and hurt my finger.  Earl went in his shed and made a splint for my finger out of a piece of aluminum. 

When I moved away from Mobile in 1992, I came back to visit him several times. We remembered the good times we had running together. 
Because of all his athletic activities Earl was always strong and healthy right to the end of his life. He was a true doctor of medicine and human nature. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Russell Means: a Native American legend walks on

Russell Means 1939-2012
Russell Means  was an activist, a musician, an actor, politician and a writer and  led protests that called attention to the nation’s history of injustices against Native Americans. Russell – named  Wanbli Ohitika by his mother, which means "Brave Eagle" in the Lakota language-- was born in Porcupine, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. His mother was a Yankton Dakota from Greenwood, South Dakota, and his father was an Oglala Lakota.

Russell was active outside of the United States helping other indigenous peoples in Central and South America, and worked with the United Nations for their rights. In 1992 he appeared on numerous television series and in several films, including The Last of the Mohicans, and released his own music CD. He published his autobiography: “Where White Men Fear to Tread” in 1995. Russell walked on in 2012, less than a month before his 73rd birthday.

When Russell walked on ABC News said he "spent a lifetime as a modern American Indian warrior, railed against broken treaties, fought for the return of stolen land and even took up arms against the federal government, called national attention to the plight of impoverished tribes and often lamented the waning of Indian culture."   The New York Times said Russell " was as well-known a Native American as Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse."

Being famous didn’t prevent him from being mistreated like many other Native Americans.  While at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota, he developed severe vertigo – he couldn’t walk straight. Doctors at the reservation clinic thought he was drunk. They refused to examine him for several days. Then they said he had a concussion probably due to a fight in a saloon. A visiting specialist later found that the reservation doctors missed the real diagnosis: a common ear infection. This stereotyping and neglectful behavior cost Russell the hearing in one ear.

The ashes of Russell Means were sprinkled throughout the sacred Black Hills, SD. Ruth Hopkins writing in the Indian Country Media Network (2014) about the Black hills: “To say that the Black Hills hold special significance for the Oceti Sakowin (The Great Sioux Nation) is an understatement. They’re not only our traditional homelands, where our ancestors once lived, they’re sacred. The Black Hills (K?e Sapa) are the birthplace of our Nation, where we rose from Mother Earth’s womb. Our legends took place there. The Black Hills itself is a terrestrial mirror of the heavens above and thus forms the basis of our ancient star maps and Lakota astronomy. The entirety of K?e Sapa is a sacred site. Our rituals observe the natural cycles of the planet and our Universe. There are ceremonies that we must conduct at specific locations within the Black Hills. These ancient ceremonies benefit the whole of humanity. No, we aren’t talking about dirt protected by ‘No Trespassing’ signs. K?e Sapa is holy ground. It is where we are meant to pray.”

Listening to Russell Means talk about his people ( can only put some humanity in our hearts – it should go viral; share it with everyone you know.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Pope Francis creating a child abuse scandal

Be careful what you ask for Pope Francis

Back in December 2016 the Pope told the world that bishops should enforce a zero tolerance policy for any priest who sexually abuses a child. The hidden truth is that Francis doesn’t treat all priests who abuse children equally.  Some are punished, some are not.  What happens depends on whether the priest has friends in high places.

According to Gilion Dumas, an Oregon attorney for abuse survivors: “In this Pope we have a master communicator who knows how to offer the right sound bite and the perfect photo-op. When the surface is scratched, the picture isn’t so pretty.” 

In an article published in The Week magazine, writer Michael Brendan Dougherty says that “cases of priestly abuse in Rome are now known to have two sets of distinctions. The first is guilty or innocent. The second is "with cardinal friends" or "without cardinal friends."  An example is a priest, Mauro Inzoli, accused of sexually  abusing children and defrocked by Pope Benedict in 2012. However, in 2014, Pope Francis restored Inzoli to the priesthood after Inzoli’s cardinal benefactors Cardinal Coccopalmerio and Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto both intervened on behalf of Inzoli. Pope Francis, reversing the defrocking, invited Inzoli to a "a life of humility and prayer."  I won’t bet that is what he has and will be doing while he is loose in the streets. Pedophiles are never cured, but what does Francis care?  His clergy buddies are more important.

Dougherty couldn’t believe that after giving in to the unjust requests by Coccopalmerio and Pinto that the pope then handed over authority for some child abuse cases to Pinto.  So Francis thinks that a pedophile enabler like Pinto is a good choice to protect children.  That makes Francis the chief enabler and the enemy of the children.

Civil authorities tried Inzoli, convicting him of only eight offenses because another 15 crimes hit the statute of limitations wall. Civil authorities knew what was going on with the old boy network and slammed the church for their dishonesty. The Italian press hammered the Vatican, specifically the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), for not sharing the information they had found in their own trial. “Of course, the pope himself could have allowed the CDF to share this information with civil authorities if he so desired,” said Dougherty. But he didn’t.  Of course, the pope can’t be held in contempt of court.

Remember, it is not what Pope Francis says, it is what he does – and for the abused that is worse than nothing because he is putting criminals back on the streets.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Pedophile in Argentine church killed by parents

Pedophile killed by victims' parents

Why did these people take the law in their own hands?  Was it because the law failed them?

About six years ago, in Buenos Aires  a preschool music teacher, Marcelo Fabi├ín Pecollo, 42, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually abusing five of seven children, ages 3 to 5.  Four years later, his sentence was reduced (reason not stated), and he was released from prison. He joined a local orchestra group as a trumpeter.

Pecollo, 42, was playing the trumpet in a church on October 30th when a mob of angry parents stormed in. “There is a pedophile and a rapist in the church and he is playing in this orchestra!” they yelled. He tried to run, the parents caught him and beat him and he may have been hit with his own trumpet. The parents had hung posters and wore T-shirts saying “With the children, no!”

Pecollo was hospitalized  — later falling into a coma — and died last week, according to Argentine police. A priest in the church, Jorge Oesterheld said: “I think they came to kill him.” No one has been arrested as yet. A witness said that the orchestra members did not know about Pecollo’s criminal record.  What about the church who hired him – did they ever check the background of those they let into the church?

What did he do to the children? According to complaints from several parents, the teacher organized a game for his class called “al que le toca, le toca,” which translates roughly to “whoever’s turn it is gets touched.” On other occasions, boys in the class reported the teacher would lower his pants in front of the students and inappropriately touched some of the boys.

Some Argentines tweeted and posted on Facebook in solidarity with the parents in recent days, applauding their attempts to seek justice. Others reluctantly admitted they would likely do the same, if they were in the parents’ positions. “Justice does not work like this, but if they touched my daughter I think I would have done the same thing,” one father wrote.

As far as protecting children from sexual abuse or stopping it when it happens, justice rarely works.  There are too many children in situations where they are isolated and can be abused: day care centers, schools, orphanages, churches – and by people who are considered trustworthy: teachers, coaches, scout leaders, nuns and priests.

Until this society, everywhere in the world, starts to value children and protect them and take the perpetrators off the streets permanently it will be left to us to keep them safe.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

New York is a wicked state: Cardinal Timothy Dolan where is the Child Victims Act?

Cardinal Dolan - Who Cares About the Victims?
The catholic church, its lawyers and its supporting politicians think that victims of child abuse have short memories.  But we don’t  - here is a report of “Don” an 80 year old man who says, “the pain is fresh.”  Just like my pain is fresh – I relive it every day: rape by a catholic priest, beatings and being smothered by catholic nuns, the suicide of my brother who couldn’t live with the abuse we suffered. 

Don told a priest who ran St. Michael’s Home for Children on Staten Island that one of the church employees had molested him repeatedly for two years. All he got was a lecture about damaging the man’s reputation.

Don was beaten with a thick paddle: “He beat the back of my legs like he was really mad. I thought he would never stop,” Don told NY Daily News reporter Michael O’Keeffe. 

Even though Don reported the abuse to the Archdiocese of New York a few years ago it’s unlikely that he will receive any compensation or justice any time soon. Archdiocese officials told him they were not responsible because a religious order, the Sisters of Mercy, operated the orphanage during the seven years Don lived there in the 1940s.  The Dominican nuns who abused me ran the St. Agnes Home and School in Sparkill, NY in the 1940s.  This is the same old story from the Archdiocese – that they or the Pope have nothing to do with the actions of nuns.  The Vatican regulates what nuns do – how they pray, how they spend their money, how they conduct their lives.  But they are all of a sudden “not responsible” for nuns who are facing lawsuits.  

New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan set up an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) supposedly to resolve the abuse scandal of the last 40 years. But there are strings attached:  only those victims who already reported the abuse are eligible now – others may be eligible sometime next year. The claim can’t be against a member of a religious order. The claim can only be against a priest and only a priest from the NY Archdiocese. There must be no previous settlements. It is up to the diocese to say the allegations are credible. The victim has to agree to never talk about the abusers, or ever bring another claim.  

So Don’s case was forwarded to the Sisters of Mercy. Because New York’s statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases bars victims from pursuing litigation after their 23rd birthdays, Don has no case with them.  Archdiocese Church officials said that Don was not eligible because he was sexually assaulted by a lay employee, not a priest or deacon.

 The Archdiocese says, “The IRCP has been established only to cover cases of abuse by clergy (priests or deacons) of the Archdiocese of New York. It does not cover members of religious communities, priests from other dioceses, or lay people.”

I made a report to the Archdiocese of the state where I live.  They said that since my abuse took place in New York, that it was New York’s problem.  The New York Archdiocese told me that unless I know the name of the priest who raped me and the nuns who beat and smothered me that they would not help me.  I was three and a half years old when I became a victim – too young to remember names.  The same run around and denial of responsibility.

Don’s case and my case shows that the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program is not the answer to child sexual abuse in New York. Getting rid of the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases in New York by passing the Child Victims Act is the only answer.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pope Francis came to the U.S., he saw and he did nothing

Robert Costello

Last April, before Pope Francis visited the U.S., some survivors of clergy abuse said that if he was truly interested in making reparations and healing, wasn’t Boston the best place to start? We haven’t yet seen help or justice for survivors anywhere. A few survivors wrote open letters to Pope Francis about his visit, asking if it would include Boston - published them and here is one of the letters from Robert Costello:

Why the Sudden Change?

Dear Pope Francis,

I am sure you have a copy of the Book of Gomorrah by St. Peter Damian written around 1051. In several chapters he mentions his contempt of priests’ sexual contact with boys. He speaks of the damage done to the church by these offending priests. He asked Pope Leo IX to take some form of action but his pleadings were ignored.

We are now going on 964 years and 114 Popes later with no noteworthy attempts to change the rules regarding abusive child molesting priests. The carnage is now spread worldwide!

Just how many commissions has the Vatican appointed to investigate the centuries-old appalling, despicable, sexual, physical, and mental abuse by clergy?

And what of the results from these commissions? Other than the continued need for greed, and self-preservation at the sacrifice of millions of children.

I read that, prior to your election to the Holy See, you didn’t meet with victims, survivors, or their family members. Is this true?

Why the sudden change in your core belief system? Is it because your actions and words are now under a worldwide microscope? I find the fact that you would not be open to these meetings [with survivors] severely hypocritical since your advice or instruction to the newly appointed Cardinals is to meet with the marginalized. To be “compassionate’’ to seek to “reintegrate’’ the “marginalized’’, and to “respond immediately.’’

I am the marginalized you speak of; the church you now pilot has treated me as trivial and insignificant. This communication is exactly the kind of conversation that you have been asking for. Truth no matter the cost.

I have also been an advocate for other victims and survivors of clergy sex abuse. I mention the victims because many of them never reached the level of survivor. They are dead. Dead from drug overdoses, dead from accidents they had no control over because they were under the influence, trying to erase haunting memories. Dead from suicide, like five young men, all victims of Rev. Robert K. Larson in Kansas, who took their own lives unable to see past the pain.

Will you lead by example? Will you come to have a conversation with others and me when you come to the United States?

Your appointment of Cardinal O’Malley to head yet another commission to look into the Church’s response to the clergy sexual abuse scandal has many survivors worried that the ball will just be kicked, and kicked down the road for years and years to come. After all, the commission can only make recommendations. At its beginning, this commission had no offices and no funding. How am I to believe that you truly mean to help the marginalized?

Now let’s get back to the present. You need to know what happens to a survivor when you announce that you are planning an upcoming visit to the United States. I know I am not alone in saying this, however I will speak from my own personal experiences.

When I first heard about your plan, I felt a punch in my gut, my whole body became tense, and I began to sweat. My mind began racing as my body went numb. I physically felt ill. The first emotion was one of hope, feeling that you would finally address head-on the clergy abuse scandal and maybe, just maybe, after so many years I could speak with you, the Pope, share ideas and, yes, let out my frustration. However I then remembered the institution you lead and how it keeps its hierarchy sheltered from the world. I have firsthand experiences with this policy. Ask Cardinal Law about how Fr. McCormick kept him in the dark. You would never meet with me!

The next feeling was that I need a drink! Then came the tears and utter grief of my years of wretchedness because no one listened. Nor could I speak under the threat of harm by my perpetrators. I stifled my feelings in glasses of my grandfather’s Old Grand Dad and Pepsi.

Next came the shame, shame that was embedded into my soul by an evil man who was, to me, Jesus walking the earth. And then confusion that always comes rushing forward. Jesus did this to me! He hurt me. He penetrated my body over and over again for years, even in my own home. How could an all-knowing, all-seeing God allow this to happen? I needed an answer and still do.

Blinding rage comes next. The words “they knew, they knew’’ are still pounding in my head as I write this letter. After my perpetrator, Fr. John Cotter, was discovered and before he was reassigned to another parish to prey on its children, a large party was thrown. There he was, greeting all the parishioners just at the front of the hall next to the stage. He gave a wonderful performance laughing and joking with the church’s faithful as they dropped cards filled with money into either of the large boxes at his sides. To me it seemed they were thanking him, paying him for sexually abusing their children. All this went on with his superiors knowing what kind of monster he really was. How could I tell then, with everyone thinking he was such a Holy Man?

Then an infuriating rush of outrage, that you are coming to the U.S. for the Ordinary Synod on the Family. How was I to expect any meaningful change in Vatican policy when Extraordinary Synod in Vatican City seems to have missed the point that the Roman Catholic Church has played a role in destroying families?

My feelings also included disgust, desolation, misery, and depression. I had several sleepless nights and multiple calls and meetings with my therapist trying to contain my crippling emotions. I know that the physical abuse is not happening now. However the way I was treated is only magnified with your coming to the U.S.

I saw Pope John Paul II on the Boston Common when I was in high school. Even the rain did not dampen my spirit of joy. I had buried my sexual abuse deep inside.

When I went to New York City to see Pope Benedict XVI and demonstrate my frustration at the lack of action being taken, other like-minded people joined me. When the Pope’s entourage was about to come into view someone, somehow had arranged to have garbage trucks cross the intersection and block the pope’s view of us and ours of him. The fact that trash trucks were used was telling of how survivors have been and are treated by the Roman Catholic Church.

So now you are coming to the U.S. Will you come to Boston? Come to the epicenter of the current clergy sexual abuse crisis? Did you know that there is a group of people (STTOP — Speak Truth to Power) who support survivors and they have been standing in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross every Sunday for the last 13 years in support of the marginalized? Cardinal O’Malley must have mentioned this to you. They stand on the sidewalk in front of his Cathedral. You should pay them a visit. They are still strong Catholics trying to heal a broken Church and to support the marginalized you speak of.

Others may not want you to come to Boston because it would only stir up painful memories and they have moved on. This may be true, but when you come here to the U.S. it will be all over the media. There will be no escape from the torrent of coverage that will accompany you.

You will be repeatedly asked questions regarding the clergy sex abuse crisis in the U.S. Why not come to Boston? You could come to ground zero and work your way up.


Robert Costello

Monday, July 18, 2016

#DonaldTrump and #HillaryClinton: Is #childsexualabuse an #election issue?

Right or Left Children Don't Count

Hillary Clinton doesn’t talk directly about child sexual abuse but we can figure out what she may think by looking at her history. Hillary Clinton professes to be a champion of women and girls, but one woman who was raped as a 12-year-old in Arkansas told the Daily Beast she doesn’t think Hillary deserves that honor.  In fact, she says: “Hillary Clinton Took Me through Hell.”  The woman was the victim in a 1975 sexual abuse case that was Clinton’s first legal defense – for the rapist.  This woman says Hillary knew the accused rapist was guilty but used dishonest tactics to get her attacker off with a light sentence (one year) when he could have spent 30 years to life in prison.

The victim had only spoken to the media once about her attack in 2008. She is speaking out now after she heard Clinton talk about her case on newly discovered audio recordings from the 1980s. The Washington Free Beacon found the tapes archived at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, part of thousands of pieces of Clinton history being slowly released and made public. On the tapes, Clinton appears to say that she was aware of her client’s guilt, brags about successfully getting the only piece of physical evidence thrown out of court, and laughs about it.

“He took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” Clinton says on the recording, failing to hold back some chuckles.

In a long, emotional interview with The Daily Beast,  the victim accused Clinton of intentionally lying about her in court documents, going to extraordinary lengths to discredit evidence of the rape, and later callously acknowledging and laughing about her attackers’ guilt on the recordings.

In the audio recordings, taped by Arkansas reporter Roy Reed, who for some reason never published them, Clinton tells how she discovered that investigators had cut out and lost a section of the rape suspect’s underwear that they said contained the victim’s blood. Clinton then brought the remaining piece of underwear to a blood expert in Brooklyn, NY, and tried to convince him to lend his heavyweight reputation and influence to her defense case.  Clinton said, “And so the, sort of the story through the grapevine was, if you get him interested in the case, then you know you had the foremost expert in the world willing to testify so that it came out the way you wanted it to come out.”  When she told the judge that the famous expert was willing to testify, instead of the original charge of first-degree rape, the prosecutors let the rapist plead to a lesser charge: unlawful fondling of a child. He was sentenced to one year behind bars, with two months reduced for time served. A second attacker was never charged.

In her interview with The Daily Beast, the victim told what the rape did for both her childhood and adult life. A virgin before the assault, she spent five days afterwards in a coma, months recovering from the beating that accompanied the rape, and over 10 years in therapy. She never married or had children. She turned to drugs, went to prison, but has been sober and stable for several years, living on disability.  She doesn’t believe that Clinton can be a role model for women or president of the United States.  She is concerned that speaking out will make her a target for attacks, but she no longer feels she is able to stay silent.

Some other facts give us an idea of Hillary’s mind set. Kathleen Willey is a former White House aide who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Willey told The Daily Caller about tactics she believes Hillary used to order the suppression of her deposition. Despite Hillary’s claims that she is a running a campaign of “love and kindness,” Willey said that in the months leading up to her deposition, “all I felt was fear and terror.”  She found a dead cat found on her porch, there was a man under her deck at night, and a stranger in her out-of-the-way neighborhood asking threateningly about how her children were doing.

So she was enraged when she hear Hillary Clinton say, “every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”  Willey said that nobody in the mainstream media has ever had the nerve to ask Clinton anything about what she was responsible for doing to all of the victims of Bill Clinton. Willey said, “And believe me, she is the one behind all of the terrorization, and the trashing of all of us who have suffered at his hands. She’s behind it all. She’s hired the private investigators, she’s done it all.”

Hillary has come out about campus sexual assault, saying that it needs to end. In this case she said, “I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard.”   We won’t find out whether this is just campaign speak or not – but it does sound contrary to some of her former comments.

Donald Trump

There is no specific information on Trump’s campaign website about his views on child sexual abuse. He has, however made comments that show that he puts his own interests above those of sexually abused people.  

At a rally in Pittsburgh last April, Donald Trump spoke to a group of football fans and said:

“I know a lot about Pennsylvania, and it’s great. How’s Joe Paterno?” he asked the crowd, reading from a piece of paper, “We gonna bring that back? Right? How about that whole deal?”  He was referring to the statue of football coach Joe Paterno that used to stand outside of Penn State’s football stadium.  That statue was removed when it was found that Paterno had helped cover up a sexual abuse scandal with the perpetrator his assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. So Trump was saying that sexually abusing children or covering up for such abuse, can be forgiven as long as the criminals win enough football games.  He was trying to get the crowd on his side and they enjoyed it.

Palm Beach billionaire Jeffrey Epstein manages large amounts of money and gives a lot of it to politicians. He is also a convicted sex offender who is being sued by at least a dozen of his then-underage victims. Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in jail and served 13 before being released. If people are judged by the company they keep, then we should look at Trump’s relationship with Epstein and Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton traveled at least 10 times on Epstein's private jet, called the "Lolita Express" by tabloids, and he visited Little St. James, Epstein's private island in the US Virgin Islands. The island was where many of the worst crimes against minors were committed by Epstein and friends.

Trump, although he would like to drag Bill Clinton’s dirty laundry into Hillary’s spotlight will probably not talk about Epstein.  That is because links between Epstein and Trump exist. Trump's attorney Alan Garten says Trump had "no relationship" with Epstein, and only knew him because Epstein was a member of Mar-A-Lago, Trump's private club and residence in Palm Beach. "A lot of people hung out there, including Jeffrey Epstein," Garten said. "That is the only connection."

But there is some evidence that Trump and Epstein had a somewhat stronger connection. "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy,'' Trump told New York magazine in a 2002 profile of Epstein. This was three years before Epstein began to be investigated – so Trump may not have been aware of his escapades.  At that time Trump said, "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life."

There is evidence that Trump once flew on Epstein’s private jet, that they had dinners together and Epstein knew Trump. The FBI had a copy of Epstein's private 194-page phone book with names of well-known political figures: Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, Tony Blair, former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Senator Edward Kennedy, and Henry Kissinger. Epstein's telephone book also contained the names of Trump's former wife, Ivana, his daughter Ivanka, and his brother, Robert. Under Trump’s name there were 14 phone numbers, including emergency numbers, car numbers, and numbers to Trump's security guard and houseman. Since both Epstein and Trump were businessmen with many interests, we can’t say that the phone numbers represented other types of relationships.

During Epstein’s 2009 investigation one of the lawyers for the victims served Trump with a subpoena. Trump immediately contacted him. "During the conversation, Mr. Trump was open and forthright," The lawyer said. "I cannot discuss the substance of the conversation. But I will say that it was obvious to me that he was in no way involved in any untoward activity."  It was also found that in 2007, Trump’s club Mar-A-Lago had barred Epstein because Epstein tried to pick up the underage daughter of a Mar-A-Lago club member.

Candidates and Pope Francis

Clinton: “I am not a Catholic, but I am a great admirer of the Pope, because I think what he’s trying to do is to take the venerable institution, the Roman Catholic Church, and really once again place it on a firm foundation of the scriptures—Christ’s words.”  It’s difficult to imagine that Clinton has no idea of Pope Francis’ hidden agenda of putting the church first, covering up for bishops that hide pedophile priests and talking about but doing nothing to make children safe or bring justice to the victims. Maybe she wants to pander to the catholic “faithful” so they vote for her.

Trump went to the nation’s largest Christian university, Liberty University, in January to pledge, “I’m going to protect Christians,” who he said are losing their power in American society.  So like Hillary, Trump seems to be telling Christians just what they want to hear.  He also traded “words” with the pope in a political duel – most likely both of them were trying to increase their ratings.

In a presidential election year no candidate is brave enough to fly the “stop child sexual abuse” banner for fear of losing voters. That is a sad commentary on the priorities of the United States – that everything else is more important than the children.