By Adam Baidawi
Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski are being expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
"The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Board of Governors met on [May 1] and has voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in accordance with the organization's standards of conduct," the academy said in a statement on Thursday.
"The board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy's values of respect for human dignity."
Last fall, the organization expelled Harvey Weinstein amid dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against the influential producer. He has denied the allegations.
Last week, Cosby was found guilty of aggravated indecent assault against Canadian Andrea Constand in 2004. He is currently under house arrest while awaiting sentencing.
Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor. He now lives in France.
By MARISSA NEWMAN and TOI STAFF
Eliezer Berland, 80, who served five months of an 18-month prison sentence after eluding arrest for three years, will be among the 20 rabbis who will light a bonfire at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai in Meron, where hundreds of thousands of worshipers were expected to gather Wednesday evening and Thursday.
The Religious Affairs Ministry, which contributes some NIS 15 million ($4 million) in funding to the Meron ceremonies, condemned Berland’s participation, but insisted it was powerless to stop him as the annual festival fell under police purview.
Police, in a statement, disputed the ministry’s account, saying they were responsible only for securing the event. The Israel Police “doesn’t determine the identities of the participants and lighters, since [Berland’s inclusion] does not constitute a violation of the laws of the State of Israel, and therefore the claim regarding the police is out of place and wholly unclear,” it said.
One of Berland’s victims, identified only as Adele, told the Walla news website the decision to include the rabbi in the religious ceremony was a “disgrace,” and demanded the ministry and police block him from participating.
“It’s a disgrace that a convicted sex offender and an obsessive womanizer dares appear on the stage of honor at the grave of the man who, above all, symbolizes in the Jewish tradition the sanctity of modesty. Is there no limit to the absurdity?” she was quoted as saying.
The Beit Hillel rabbinical group called on Israel’s chief rabbis, as well as all Israeli rabbis, to join together “in a call to prevent the great desecration of God’s name of a public lighting at Rashbi’s [Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s] grave by convict Eliezer Berland.”
Long considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers from the Bratslav sect, Berland fled Israel in 2013 amid allegations that he had molested two female followers, one of them a minor.
According to the indictment, Berland would often receive people in his homes in Jerusalem and its suburb Beitar Illit and hold private meetings intended for spiritual guidance, counseling or benedictions. The rabbi would sometimes take advantage of the meetings and of his position in the community to engage in sexual acts with women, including minors, according to the charges against him.
He was on the run from authorities until 2016, avoiding several Israeli attempts to extradite him. He moved between Zimbabwe, Switzerland, the Netherlands and South Africa, accompanied by a group of devout followers numbering around 40 families. Berland was apprehended by South African authorities, extradited to Israel, and detained upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport in July 2016.
Lag B’Omer is a key holiday in the Jewish mystical tradition. It is said to be the day, in the 2nd century CE, of the death of Bar Yohai’s, and also the day when he first conveyed the text of the seminal Jewish mystical work, the Zohar.
Literally meaning the “33rd of the Omer,” Lag B’Omer is a day during the seven weeks between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot that is not considered a day of mourning for the students of Rabbi Akiva, Bar Yohai’s teacher, who tradition says perished in a plague during those weeks. The period before and after Lag B’Omer is thus traditionally a time when public celebrations are eschewed.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish Israelis flock to Bar Yohai’s tomb, the second-most visited holy site after the Western Wall, on Lag B’Omer each year.
It doesn't matter what religion you preach: Judaism, Islam, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism - if you are sexually abusing women and children; you are a fake and will suffer greatly in Judgment.
Former Melbourne principal and alleged child sexual abuser Malka Leifer will remain behind bars in Israel after an extradition hearing at a Jerusalem court postponed her next trial date for a further two weeks.
Leifer fled Australia for Israel in 2008 after allegations were first raised over her time as head of the ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel girls school in Melbourne. The school was ordered to pay over $1.1 million in damages to her alleged victims in 2015.
In 2016, Leifer was declared unfit to stand trial by a Jerusalem district judge because of her mental health, but in February this year she was arrested and accused by local authorities of obstructing justice by feigning illness to avoid trial.
In the latest hearing, Judge Hannah Lomp ordered the prosecution to present the defence with all the evidence collected against Leifer, evidence the prosecution claims shows she is mentally fit to be extradited. The next extradition hearing will be held on May 16.
Defence lawyer Yehuda Fried accused the prosecution of delaying tactics and “playing for time” to keep Leifer in jail, requesting that she be released to psychiatric care while court proceedings continue.
“Read my lips,” Fried told the court, “I never received even 20 per cent of the case evidence". Fried said the prosecution could not provide the evidence because it had "nothing on her".
The prosecution said a report from the city's chief psychiatrist, along with video and recorded evidence collected by a private investigator and Israeli police showed Leifer was fit to stand to trial and had been leading a 'normal life' before her arrest.
Leifer bowed her head, with no response, and ducked under the dock for the remainder of the hearing. Her defence lawyer requested Waks be removed from court.
“Her day of reckoning is nearing,” Waks told journalists outside the courtroom.
Leifer was led away before the end of the hearing as she said she felt unwell. She appeared to collapse as she was led away in apparent distress with her hands cuffed.
Wednesday’s hearing took place on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer, where precisely a year ago, alleged victims of the former principal say she was photographed attending a mass religious gathering on Mount Meron, northern Israel – claims that sparked the private investigation into the veracity of her mental health claims.
On Dec.18, RCMP charged the 25-year-old with aggravated sexual assault. A woman had identified Bileski as the masked intruder who attacked her at gunpoint in her own home earlier that same night.
"The victim said she was 98 per cent sure of who it was," prosecutor Daryl Bode said at Bileski's bail hearing in Yorkton, according to court transcripts.
"She knew the voice, she knew the build of the body and she knew the intimate details of his private area."
Investigators collected DNA samples from Bileski, from the victim and her home in the small, east-central Saskatchewan town.
"The Crown submits [the DNA] will tie him 100 per cent to being at that location," Bode said at the time.
DNA ruled out Bileski
The DNA tests on all the samples came back to investigators on March 28. The results were negative. The samples collected from the victim's home did not come from Devin Bileski.
Within hours, all seven charges were stayed and Bileski was allowed to return to Preeceville.
Part of his bail release conditions had been that he was not allowed in the town of 1,125 about 300 km east of Saskatoon.
"It was terrible, absolutely terrible. People look at me now … people will always look at me different now," Bileski said in an interview. "That'll never change."
Bileski faced 8 to 10 years in prison
The facts of the sexual assault are disturbing. Someone broke into the victim's home on Dec. 18 at 3:30 a.m. CST, armed with a gun and wearing a mask and latex gloves.
The noise of dogs barking woke the woman and a small child in the home. The child was unharmed in the assault. The attacker sexually assaulted the young woman multiple times, at one point taping her eyes closed with duct tape.
According to facts presented at the bail hearing, the woman called RCMP immediately after the assault and identified Bileski by name.
They arrived at his home at 8 a.m. CST, and within hours arrested and charged him.
Bileski was taken from Preeceville to Yorkton, about 100 km south. After five days in a holding cell, he had a bail hearing and was denied release. From there Bileski was moved to the correctional centre in Regina.
A second lawyer applied for a bail review and, on Jan. 29, that was held in Court of Queen's Bench. This time he was released.
Defence lawyer Ron Piche represented Bileski at that hearing and, by his own account, he knew that Bileski faced an uphill fight.
"We also had a complainant who indicates that on a percentage, she was 98 per cent certain that he was the individual. There was enough, I think, in those circumstances that any jury or judge would have probably been convinced that '98 per cent is good enough for me' type of thing," he said.
"That's the scary thing, when you look at any trial, a case of aggravated sexual assault with a weapon; his jeopardy was in the area of eight to 10 years in prison."
RCMP spokesperson Natalie Gray said, "We are still actively investigating the break, enter and sexual assault." Gray would not comment on whether RCMP have any new suspects.
Ordeal cost Bileski almost $100K
More than a month after his release, Bileski says he's still trying to pick up the pieces.
He estimates that he lost close to $100,000 since December to lawyers, lost wages and repairs to broken equipment. He works in the logging industry and says that an engine blew on one of his machines while an inexperienced operator was filling in for him.
"Once I got arrested, I near lost everything," he said.
"I near lost the business, all my payments, the house. I near lost everything because of this."
The Supreme Court has rejected the prosecution’s request to appeal a three-year prison sentence handed down by a Pirkanmaa court for sexual crimes committed against a 10-year-old girl in autumn 2016.
The case attracted a great deal of attention because both the local district court and the court of appeal decided against handing down a verdict for aggravated rape.
The prosecution sought leave to appeal the verdict. It wanted a harsher conviction for the defendant – a 23-year-old asylum seeker – on the grounds of aggravated rape as well as the original verdict of aggravated sexual abuse. The prosecution also sought harsher sentencing for the man as well as heavier damages for the victim.
However the Supreme Court refused leave to appeal the conviction and sentence, leaving the original appeal court sentence unchanged.
The Pirkanmaa District Court and the Turku Appeal Court both convicted the man of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and sentenced him to a three-year custodial sentence. Both courts found that the man had had sexual intercourse with the child and had performed sexual acts with her by sending messages about sexual matters.
Both courts threw out charges brought against the man for aggravated rape. The courts ruled that there was no evidence to indicate that the sexual encounter involved violence or that the child was overcome by fear or incapacitated in any other way.
No violence or terror, so no aggravated rape despite that fact that he was 20 and she 10 years old. She will still be in her early to mid-teens when he is out of jail. What kind of message is that sending to asylum seekers and Finnish girls - it's 'open season' on Finnish girls?
At the time of the incident the victim was 10 and the defendant was 20 years old. The sexual abuse took place in a small town in the Pirkanmaa region, near Tampere.
Legal scholars baffled by ruling
The court judgments sparked spirited national debate last autumn. Legal scholars expressed bewilderment over the finding that the act was not against the victim’s will and did not involve violence. For example, Turku University’s Jussi Tapani and Matti Tolvanen of the University of Eastern Finland, both professors of criminal law, examined the jurisprudence involved in the case in the daily Helsingin Sanomat.
Tuula Tamminen, Professor of Child Psychiatry at the University of Tampere, said she was perplexed by the courts’ rulings, telling the daily Aamulehti that there is no way that a child could know what might be happening in such a situation.
In November, Yle asked members of Parliament’s Law Committee if the case warranted changes to the legal code. At the time, committee chair and National Coalition Party MP Kari Tolvanen said he supported a longer sentence for such offences. He said that the section of criminal law dealing with aggravated sexual abuse of a child should be amended.
”The amendment would introduce harsher sentences for serious sexual offences against children overall. In my view that is fully justified, for example in light of a child’s vulnerability, even if the act does not meet the threshold for rape,” Tolvanen commented.
Earlier this year, Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen called for tougher laws for sex offences against children.
Good. Now make it happen!
Died of natural causes
A retired North Wales Police superintendent only weeks into a 12-year prison sentence for historical sex abuse died in hospital of natural causes, an inquest found.
But the disgraced officer died in hospital after falling ill at HMP Rye Hill near Rugby – just 41 days after starting his sentence. Northamptonshire senior coroner Anne Pember said he suffered multiple organ failure and had pneumonia.
Anglesea was taken to Rye Hill in November 2016 following a short stay at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool. The inquest heard he was subsequently seen by nurses at the prison after complaining of abdominal pain and vomiting.
On December 7 he was taken to University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire suffering from lack of oxygen and low blood pressure. He died there on December 15.
The child sex offences took place when Anglesea – then a police inspector – ran an attendance centre in Wrexham in the 1980s. One of his victims told of how he was grabbed by the hair and indecently assaulted, while Anglesea called him “scum” and told him he had the “power to send him away”.
Trial Judge Geraint Walters said Anglesea had "grossly abused" the trust placed in him by the boys. "The consequences for them has been profound, indeed life changing," he added.
In 1994, Anglesea was awarded £375,000 in libel damages when he successfully sued The Observer, the Independent on Sunday, Private Eye and HTV – the holder of the ITV franchise in Wales – after they ran stories about his alleged links to abuse on his visits to the Bryn Estyn children’s home just outside Wrexham in North Wales.
Anglesea was finally arrested in 2013 as part of the National Crime Agency’s Operation Pallial investigation into historical abuse across North Wales.
At Mold Crown Court in October 2016 he was found guilty of three indecent assaults on one boy and one indecent assault on another. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on November 4, but later lodged an appeal against his convictions. That bid to overturn the convictions has been rejected by the Court of Appeal in London.
Following his death Anglesea’s widow Sandra had pursued the appeal, lodged with the Court of Appeal on November 18, 2016.
But his solicitor Mike Mackey, from the Manchester-based firm Burton Copeland, told Police Professional on Thursday (May 3) that the leave of appeal had been “refused” by the courts and it would not be “renewed”.
Anglesea did not escape punishment for his horrific crimes. His real sentence began December 15.
However, following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court, Chapman was convicted of three counts of rape, one charge of causing actual bodily harm and one count of making threats to kill.
Chapman’s first victim was 13 years old and in the care of Social Services when he exploited and abused her. He was 22 years old at the time. Some years later when Chapman was 38 and 40 he abused two further teenage girls.
He was arrested in 2016 and charged following an investigation by the National Crime Agency.
Fran Gough, from the CPS, said: “Tony Chapman took advantage of three young girls and used his age to manipulate and dominate them to get what he wanted.
“Chapman denied he had raped his victims or used physical force but evidence put forward by the CPS, including the victim’s accounts of the incidents, saw the jury find him guilty.
“I would like to pay tribute to the victims who came forward and supported this prosecution.”
Chapman is due to be sentenced tomorrow (Friday 4 May).
The survivor had been admitted in October last year and from March 25, he had begun availing the school van services. A maid also used to travel along with the kids in the van. Soon, the child began complaining of ill health but continued attending school. On April 4, his mother suspected something unusual and took the child for a medical checkup, where it was reveled that the child was being sexually abused.
“He is only three years of age hence he was not being able to express much about the sexual abuse that he was being subjected to. He had stopped eating and was also having problems in sleeping. Slowly and gradually, I started telling him different stories and he started speaking about the abuse he had undergone,” revealed his mother.
“I was shocked when I came to know that the maid was involved in this act, as she would also him abuse my child,” she added. However, when the parents complained to school, the school authorities negated the possibility of a sexual abuse as a maid used to travel along with the kids in the van.
“Principal Sandhya Bagla even said that, why driver will leave the maid and sexually abuse boy, which is unnatural,” they informed. Later, the principal had given the same logic to eNewsroom during a telephonic interaction.
He obviously doesn't know that studies have revealed that as many boys, if not more boys than girls are sexually abused in India. I don't completely agree with the study's findings, but it did point out that more than 50% of boys have suffered sexual abuse in one state in India.
For 15 days, parents have been pursuing the school authority to take action, but they didn’t budge. Finally, on April 21, the parent met Kuldeep Diwedi, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), who said them to lodge a formal complaint with the police.
On April 22, the medical examination of the child was done and the reports have confirmed the child had been subjected to unnatural sexual abuse. But the report is yet to be handed over to the parents or submitted before the court.
The driver has been arrested, while the maid is still free, despite being a partner in crime. The child’s mother has accused the school authority of manipulating the course of investigation.
The vigil was organized by the Jharkhand Parents Association (JPA), and a number of social organization and parents participated in the vigil, demanding justice for the toddler.
“The case got registered on April 21, but neither FIR copy was given to survivor’s parent, nor medical report submitted at the court. These negligence or loop holes raise serious question on the role of police,” said Ajay Rai, President of JPA, while talking to eNewsroom.
“We all know that school is influential and trying every trick to effect the case. The maid has also not been arrested yet.” the JPA president added.
An 81-year-old man convicted of sexually abusing three young children will spend the next four years behind bars.
Christopher Michael Rickards' offending spanned more than three decades, with the victims involved aged between 3 and 9 years when abused by him.
He previously pleaded guilty to nine charges of indecent assault.
The summary of facts highlighted that the first female victim was assaulted in the mid 1980s, abuse which started when she was a 7-year-old. Rickards also touched the skin around a 3-year-old girl's private parts before he rubbed her genitals.
The physical contact, with happened at different times over a three year period, involved skin on skin contact as well as touching over clothing.
The boy, also a pre-schooler when the offending began, was indecently assaulted by Rickards, who touched and "played" with his penis.
The summary of facts said when police spoke to Rickards he had denied any of the offending took place.
On Thursday, the New Plymouth District Court heard from the father of two of the victims. The man cannot be named to protect the victims' identities.
He said in the wake of the abuse, his son had missed school due to "angry outbursts" and had expressed thoughts of suicide. His daughter had become quiet and withdrawn.
There had been improvements for both since counselling began, he said.
The man questioned whether Rickards was truly remorseful for what he had done. "There has been no apology or acceptance of wrongdoing," he said.
The man turned to Rickards, who was standing in the dock, and said he did not hate him for what had happened but that he had been disgusted by his offending. "I abhor what you have done," he said.
After Judge Chris Sygrove imposed the four year jail term, he also advised that Rickards' name would be on the child sex offender's register for the next 15 years.