Sunday, March 24, 2019

Powerful anti-gay cardinal sexually abused two boys

Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty in Australia of sexual offences against children, making him the highest-ranking Catholic figure to receive such a conviction.
Pell abused two choir boys in Melbourne's cathedral in 1996, a jury found. He had pleaded not guilty.
As Vatican treasurer, the 77-year-old Australian was widely seen as the Church's third most powerful official.
Pell, due to face sentencing hearings from Wednesday, has lodged an appeal.
His trial was heard twice last year because a first jury failed to reach a verdict. A second jury unanimously convicted him of one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16.
The verdict was handed down in December, but it could not be reported until now for legal reasons.
Pell was swarmed by media and heckled by onlookers as he left a court on Tuesday.
The Vatican later confirmed that Pell was prohibited from public ministry, and had been banned from having contact with minors. He has to abide by these rules until any appeal is over.
They added that while the ruling was "painful", and the Church has the "utmost respect" for the Australian authorities, Pell has the right to "defend himself to the last degree".
The Catholic Church worldwide has in recent years faced a damaging series of allegations relating to sex abuse by priests, and claims that these cases were covered up.

What did the court hear?

Pell was archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 when he found the two 13-year-old boys in cathedral rooms following a mass, the County Court of Victoria was told.
After telling them they were in trouble for drinking communion wine, Pell forced each boy into indecent acts, prosecutors said. He abused one of the boys again in 1997.
The court heard testimony from one of the victims. The other died of a drug overdose in 2014.
A jury rejected an argument by Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter QC, that the allegations were fantasies contrived by the victims.

What has been the reaction?

In a statement on Tuesday, Pell's surviving victim - who cannot be named - called the case stressful and "not over yet".
The man said he had experienced "shame, loneliness, depression and struggle" because of the abuse.
"Like many survivors it has taken me years to understand the impact upon my life," he said.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said the conviction had "shocked many across Australia and around the world", reiterating its vow to make the Church "a safe place for all".
Abuse survivor groups welcomed the verdict.
The Vatican said the ruling was "painful", but added that Pell had the right to "defend himself to the last degree".
"We reiterate the utmost respect for Australian judicial authorities," spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said in a statement, which he read out in a press conference.
"In the name of this respect, we now await the outcome of the appeal process."
He added that "Cardinal Pell has reaffirmed his innocence and has the right to defend himself to the last degree".
"It is painful news that, we are well aware, has shocked many people, not just in Australia," he added. "As we await the definitive verdict, we join the Australian bishops in praying for all victims of abuse, reaffirming our commitment to do everything possible so that the Church is a safe home for everyone, especially for children."

What has Pell said?

"Cardinal George Pell has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so," read a statement issued on his behalf on Tuesday.
Pell would await the outcome of his appeal, the brief note read.

Why was the case kept secret?

Last May, a judge handed down a legal order which prevented any reporting of Pell's trial and conviction.
It was designed to prevent a separate trial - which will no longer go ahead - from being influenced by the first trial.
The abandoned trial was to hear unrelated allegations - strongly denied by Pell - that he had indecently assaulted boys in the 1970s. Prosecutors withdrew their case on Tuesday, citing insufficient evidence.
The collapse of the second trial led to the lifting of the publication ban.
Presentational grey line

Cardinal 'didn't flinch' in court

Hywel Griffith, BBC News Australia correspondent
George Pell would sit in the dock with his notebook, listening, writing, but never really betraying any emotion.
As the court heard vivid descriptions of how in 1996 he had forced himself upon two victims, pushing his archbishop's robes to one side in order to expose himself, he didn't flinch.
After two trials, one hung jury and many months of waiting, the results of this long process are now public.
The pace of justice has felt slow at times, but it has resulted in one of the Church's most prominent figures being held to account.
Presentational grey line

Who is Pell?

The Australian cleric rose in prominence as a strong supporter of traditional Catholic values, often taking conservative views and advocating for priestly celibacy.
He was summoned to Rome in 2014 to clean up the Vatican's finances, and was often described as the Church's third-ranked official.
But his career has been dogged first by claims that he covered up child sexual abuse by priests, and then later that he was himself an abuser.
Pell was demoted from the Pope's inner circle in December. His term as Vatican treasurer expired on Sunday.

What is the wider picture?

The sexual abuse of children was rarely discussed in public before the 1970s, and it was not until the 1980s that the first cases of molestation by priests came to light, in the US and Canada.
In the decades since, evidence of widespread abuse has emerged globally. In Australia, an inquiry heard that 7% of the nation's Catholic priests had abused children.
Pope Francis has established a committee to tackle sexual abuses. In recent days, he has promised concrete action, calling clergy guilty of abuse "tools of Satan".
But critics say he could do more to combat paedophiles and those who conceal abuse.

Thousands of migrant children were sexually abused in U.S. custody

This story has been updated with the most recent statement by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  
Washington — Thousands of migrant children allegedly suffered sexual abuse while in U.S. government custody over the past four years, according to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documents released Tuesday by Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch. 
According to the documents, over a thousand allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors in HHS custody were reported to federal authorities each fiscal year since 2015. In total, between October 2014 and July 2018, 4,556 sexual abuse complaints were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — an agency within HHS in charge of caring for unaccompanied migrant minors. 
An additional 1,303 complaints were received by the Justice Department between fiscal years 2015 and 2018, but it's unclear whether these complaints overlap with those reported to ORR. 
The documents offer a fragmented portrayal of the allegations of sexual abuse. The overall numbers of the allegations reported to ORR do not reveal specific information about the alleged perpetrator, who may be someone unknown to the child, another unaccompanied minor or a caregiver in a U.S. facility. On the other hand, the data of allegations reported to the Justice Department does provide specific information about who the alleged perpetrator was. 
The documents reveal that over the past four fiscal years, in 178 cases reported to the Justice Department, adult caregivers at U.S. facilities were reported to have sexually abused migrant minors. More specifically, there were 49 allegations of sexual abuse involving adult caregivers in U.S. facilities reported to the Justice Department in both fiscal years 2017 and 2018. 
"The gravity here is a systematic concealment of children being sexually abused, children being exposed to those kinds of acts," Democratic California Rep. Lou Correa told CBS News Tuesday afternoon, as he left a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Trump administration's family separation policy near the southwestern border. 
Correa said the government has the legal responsibility to prevent children under its custody from being abused or harmed and accused the Trump administration of a "systematic cover up." The California Democrat said the government documented these allegations but failed to elevate them to the highest levels of the administration. It was only when House Democrats requested the documents in January that the government revealed the statistics, he added. 
"We're supposed to have transparency, we're supposed to work and make things better. If you make mistakes, you fess up to that and you move on," Correa said. "But to cover up something like this — child abuse — is just beyond my imagination."
One of the documents, which details the allegations of sexual abuse by adult facility staff during fiscal years 2015 and 2016, describes incidents in which unaccompanied minors reported they had been shown pornographic material, forcibly kissed, or inappropriately touched or fondled. Most of the accused facility members were immediately removed from duty and some cases were referred to law enforcement, according to the document. Some facility staff members were terminated, but others were reinstated. 
According to an ORR memorandum, the agency began collecting sexual abuse data on unaccompanied minors in its custody in October 2014. Per ORR policy, care providers have to report allegations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and retaliation against allegations no later than four hours after learning of the alleged incidents.
An HHS official told CBS News that, under agency policy, providers have have to report all allegations of sexual abuse to ORR, state and child protective services, the Office of Inspector General for HHS and the FBI. Additionally, the official said, providers must suspend employees accused of sexual abuse from duties that allow them access to minors.
In a statement to CBS News Tuesday afternoon, HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said background checks for all facility employees are mandatory and that the safety of migrant youth is the agency's "top concern."
"These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and ORR fully understands its responsibility to ensure that each child is treated with the utmost care," Oakley added. "When any allegations of abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect are made, they are taken seriously and ORR acts swiftly to investigate and respond."
Late Tuesday evening, HHS released a new statement accusing Deutch of mischaracterizing the data, particularly in saying that federal staff members from ORR were the ones being accused of sexual abuse. 
"This was totally false," Jonathan Hayes, Acting ORR director said in the statement. "His knowing mischaracterization of the data—and his impugning of the ORR federal staff—was an immoral and indecent insult to all of the career civil servants who are dedicated to ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of the children in the unaccompanied alien children (UAC) program."
In his statement, Hayes was likely referring to Deutch's comments during Tuesday morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing, in which the Florida Democrat revealed the documents obtained from HHS. "These documents tell us there was a problem with adults, employees of HHS, sexually abusing children," Deutch said during the hearing. 
But Hayes pointed out that of the 178 allegations over four years of sexual abuse against migrant youth by facility personnel, "none of the allegations involved ORR federal staff."
All care facilities for unaccompanied minors operate under both state and federal oversight. 
Correa, the California Democrat, said his party will continue to hold the administration accountable on these allegations. He said the House Judiciary Committee, which he is a member of, is actively "looking" at several questions left unanswered by the documents, including the disparity between the number of sexual abuse allegations reported to ORR and the number reported to the Justice Department.
"It is my hope that they understand that there's a new sheriff in town — and oversight is not a joke," Correa added. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

White Women Less Likely to Help Sexual Assault Victim If She's Black

You're at a house party off-campus—perhaps you're coming out of the bathroom after finally breaking the seal or you're walking out of the kitchen, drink in hand—and you notice a black woman who looks much more wasted than you do, being led into a bedroom by a relatively sober guy. Being the good feminist you are, you register that the situation looks suspect. What do you do?

According to a new study, white women aren't likely to intervene and help. The study, published in The Psychology Of Women Quarterly, posed a similar scenario to 160 white female undergraduates. The students were randomly assigned whether the intoxicated woman in the story had a "distinctively black name"—LaToya—or an ambiguous name—Laura, as a control.
When asked to report on their intent to intervene and how they viewed the situation and the potential victim, the white undergrads said they would be less likely to help when they perceived the woman who was at risk of being sexually assaulted was black, because they felt "less personal responsibility." Secondarily, they also "perceived that [the black victim] experienced more pleasure in the pre-assault situation" at a slightly higher rate than the control group. (The control group given the scenario with the non-racialized name uniformly perceived the victim to be white.)
"We found that although white students correctly perceived that black women were at risk in a pre-assault situation, they tended not to feel as personally involved in the situation," the researchers at SUNY Geneseo, Jennifer Katz and Christine Merrilees, said in an interview with PsyPost. In other words, "despite their shared status as women, white female bystanders in the current study may have felt that a Black woman's plight was not as personally relevant because race has a more powerful effect than gender on intent to intervene and feelings of responsibility to intervene," they write in the study.

Previous research has found that white people, in general, are less likely to help black victims. A 2008 study on racial bias in helping behavior troublingly found that "as [a situation's] level of emergency increased, the speed and quality of help white participants offered to black victims relative to white victims decreased." When the victim was black, the white participants also viewed the situation as less severe.
"Within US society generally, we have long debated whether people of different racial and ethnic identities who are in vulnerable situations deserve protection and support. Within the social science literature, some types of people are perceived as more vulnerable and deserving of protection than others," the researchers told PsyPost.
Katz and Merrilees said they wanted to conduct a study on racial bias in bystander intervention because college campuses teach it as the primary method of rape and sexual assault prevention. At schools where the majority of the student body is white, the results of their study could indicate that this tactic doesn't account for the safety of women of color. "Our main conclusion is that it is vital for educators to explicitly address the role of race and ethnicity in bystander intervention because a failure to do so disadvantages students of color on predominantly white campuses," they said.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The other F-Word


Gay men have complicated relationships with the word “faggot.” While we’re at a moment in time where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are slowly gaining rights and visibility, that doesn’t mean the stigma surrounding gay identity has dissipated. And, for some, the words that have historically been used to inflict pain on our community still hold a lot of power.
Some find power in taking back or reclaiming words — like “queer.” We use the word queer because we find it the best way to describe the vast spectrum of experiences and identities that receive visibility in our section — and because we think the word is the most inclusive.
However, the word “faggot” still inspires a mixed response among gay men, and that response is often due to context and intent.
Cut Video brought 30 gay men together for a word association exercise and asked them to respond to the word “faggot.” Predictably, their responses were mixed and often times emotional.
“[It’s] the last sort of acceptable kind of dirty word that people still say in public a lot,” one middle-aged gay man says. “Not even if you’re apparently gay but I guess if you’re just suspected to be gay, it’s very common. So I look at it as a very abusive, vocal assault.”

I will fight you


This is going to be a shock for many of you but, as much as it pains me to tell you, the unthinkable happened: Donald Trump lied. No one saw that coming. During his campaign he assured the LGBT community that he would fight for them but now that he is in office he seems to rather fight them. Trump’s administration this week rescinded federal guidelines put in place last year by Obama to protect transgender students at school – including when it comes to using the bathroom. Supposedly out of fear that trans kids are just pretending to be transgender so they grab other kids by the genitals–something that literally never happened, not even once. But you know who grabbed other people down there without their consent? Yup…

YouTube just got a Queer Filter


Queer content creators have accused YouTube of hiding their videos with a new “restricted mode”. The video sharing site introduced the feature to automatically filter out “offensive content”.
According to Google, the company uses “community flagging, age-restriction, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content”.
Rowan Ellis is one of many LGBT creators who have criticised YouTube for the feature, arguing that it means their content is being blocked. Ellis made a video hitting out at YouTube, and when restricted mode is turned on the video is hidden. She said that move by YouTube implies a “bias” because it “equates LGBT with ‘not family friendly’.”
 NeonFiona, another LGBT creator posted screen shots of her channel without the mode, and with the mode. Videos with the words gay, lesbian and bisexual were all hidden from her channel with the mode switched on. Trans YouTuber SeaineLove also found her videos were hidden with the feature. She considers the videos that were hidden to be “pretty G rated”.
The YouTubers who are finding that their content is being censored have expressed that they’re not worried about the effect on the ratings, but the effect on young people seeking out their own LGBT education. Seaine said she wanted young LGBT identifying people to “be able to watch my videos and go ‘Hey, I feel the same way! That’s how I am too!”
NeonFiona added: “Kids who want to know about different orientations and definitions and about the history of LGBT people, etc, they can’t access that when their videos are being restricted. Restricting these videos makes it harder for these kids to find information they need and the community that they’ve been missing.”
A spokesperson for Google said: “Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a very small subset of users who want to have a more limited YouTube experience. Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.”
YouTube has always claimed to be queer friendly. But it’s making it seem that all videos that talk about someone’s sexual, romantic or gender identity – aren’t appropriate, even when they don’t show it in a sexual way.