breasts at heart of appeal
potential child sex abuse in Malta
A controversial schoolbook that tackles sexual development in young students has already uncovered potential cases of abuse since it was introduced last year, according to the authorities.
The Voyage Continues after Childhood hit national headlines last week when a mother uploaded a video to Facebook raising the alarm about its contentious content.
The parent took issue with the book which she said unnecessarily “sexualised” children by exposing them to gratuitous references to explicit behaviour.
In her video, which has since been widely viewed and shared on social media, the concerned mother takes issue with a section of the book which includes “a conversation between a boy and a girl who look about 11 or 12”.
The video is not in English so is not included here.
“They discuss how the boy feels when they are near each other, how he feels when she is near him and when she is pressing on him, and the same for her. This is what is being taught in Year 6,” she says.
Other sections in the book ask young students to write down how a child their age would feel if they received a photo of another classmate in their underwear, or if an adult were to walk into the bathroom while they were in the shower.
'Potentially serious issues flagged'
Education officer Stephen Camilleri, who co-authored the workbook, told Times of Malta that these were all realities facing children today.
Like it or not, he said, 11-year-old children were potentially being exposed to issues of a sexual nature.
“Children that age do not live in a vacuum. And in fact since its introduction we have had potentially serious issues flagged thanks to these classes,” he said.
Some students, Dr Camilleri said, had told their teachers that they themselves had experienced some of the ‘problem scenarios’ detailed in the workbook.
Content based on UN and WHO guidelines
Asked how the course and its content were drafted, Dr Camilleri said it was based on United Nations and World Health Organisation guidelines.
It was also “very similar” to classroom content offered in other EU states to students of the same age.
“These books are not something that we come up with out of the blue. The courses start much earlier than Year 6 and we introduce the subjects gradually, in-line with international best practices,” Dr Camilleri said.
He added that the book, which is used in Personal Social Career Development (PSCD) classes, had been co-authored by another education officer and a local expert in sexual health.
Meanwhile the irate parent who had taken exception to the book’s content has also appeared on an online political discussion hosted by fringe political group Alleanza Bidla.
On the program, the mother, as well as another parent, describe the book as “diabolical” and “filth”, insisting that they had wanted their children not to sit for the class but had been refused this by their children’s respective schools.
Asked about this, a spokesman for the Education Ministry said the PSCD course was not optional and was based on the principle of inclusive education.
“Our objective is for students from diverse backgrounds all have a sense of inclusion in the classroom,” the spokesman said.
This is a very complex and contentious issue. Certainly some sex education is necessary in order for children to be aware of paedophiles and their heinous tricks. Children in, or approaching their teens, also need to be aware of the possible consequences of sex, ie diseases, pregnancy, psychological changes, possible changes in relationships with each other and with parents and friends.
What children do not need is for diverse expressions of sexuality to be glorified and made to appear normal, or to be invited to experiment.
An Israeli court has told the prosecution in the ongoing case of alleged child sex offender Malka Leifer it has one day to decide whether to accept written testimony from defence witnesses or whether it wishes to cross-examine them.
Wednesday's court hearing follows from a decision three days ago to deny prosecution witnesses court time.
The witnesses presented were from a private investigation into Leifer's mental health, carried out in 2017, which collected evidence she was living a normal life.
This evidence is contrary to the defence's claim she is mentally unfit to stand extradition trial and face the 74 charges of child sex abuse and rape waiting for her in Australia.
Manny Waks, the Chief Executive Director of Kol V'oz, an NGO preventing child sex abuse in the Jewish community, described Wednesday's court hearing as chaotic, referring to the defence lawyers yelling at the judge and prosecution, and scrambling for any way to extend the court process further.
"Today's hearing, number 52 in total, was symptomatic of what we have witnessed to date ... only this time the judge was clearly frustrated and repeatedly attempted to regain control of the situation, with mixed results," Waks told AAP following the hearing.
The defence continued to argue that the interpretation of the private investigation was "wrong" and they believe the conclusions drawn were taken out of context or based on a particular time when Leifer was feeling 'well.'
"I suspect that [the defence] would want the additional witnesses to say 'we've seen her, she's crazy, she's lying down most of the time," Waks said.
The defence witnesses are Leifer's brother, sister and a neighbour.
If the prosecution agrees to accept a written testimony from the defence witnesses, prosecutors will have 30 days to write a concluding argument.
They should never agree to that, and the judge should get control of this courtroom and dismiss unruly lawyers. There is so much corruption and interference in this case it's become a joke, a sad, sick joke, and a very sorry commentary on Israel's justice system.
At the time of the repeated offenses, the child victim was between the ages of 5-13.
According to the court, the abuse involved touching the child's intimate areas and acts classed under law as sexual intercourse.
In addition to the prison sentence, the defendant was ordered to pay the victim damages totaling 14,000 euros.
The court ordered that the transcripts of the trial proceedings remain sealed until 2079.
4 years for 8 years of child sex abuse and what should be called rape! And the child was 5 when it started! The victim will probably still be a minor when the pervert gets out. How fair is that?
Of the 91 independent investigations that form part of the Independent Office for Police Conduct's (IOPC) Operation Linden, 64 investigations – more than 70 per cent – are now complete.
The next step is for the IOPC to share all of the completed investigation reports with South Yorkshire Police for their comment.
The 27 ongoing investigations include the investigation the IOPC began last July into allegations that senior officers failed in their statutory duty to protect children between 1999 and 2011.
An IOPC spokesman said: "We continue to analyse the evidence we have gathered so far about the actions carried out by the senior command team, after allegations they received reports highlighting child sexual abuse was being carried out in Rotherham.
"At this stage, we haven’t served any current or former officers with notices that their conduct is under investigation, and our enquiries continue."
Director for Major Investigations Steve Noonan said Operation Linden continues to make good progress.
He said: "This operation is unprecedented in terms of size, scope and sensitivity and we still continue to receive referrals of complaints made by survivors. I would like to thank all those involved, especially the survivors of the horrific abuse they suffered, for their patience and understanding while we finalise our investigations.
“To protect the integrity of this operation, and due to its sensitivities, we will not provide ongoing comment about the progress of each individual investigation, or any potential conduct matters. However, the people directly affected by our investigations are kept regularly updated. At the appropriate time, we will produce an over-arching report that pulls together all of the findings, outcomes and learning from Operation Linden.
“Our ultimate aim is to ensure that all those affected can be confident that their complaints have been comprehensively investigated, and for South Yorkshire Police and indeed all forces across the country to learn from our findings.”
Operation Linden is the second largest independent investigation ever conducted by the IOPC, the largest being the Hillsborough investigation.
Currently 13 officers remain under investigation, however this figure will continue to fluctuate as we progress our investigations.
The evidence being compiled and reviewed by the Operation Linden team dates back as far as the early 1990s and so far, the team has reviewed 19,345 documents; logged 1,334 exhibits, and processed 838 statements.
A convicted pedophile and former member of the neo-Nazi terrorist group National Action, who plotted to stab to death a UK Labour politician with a machete, has been sentenced to life in prison.
Jack Renshaw, 23, from Skelmersdale in Lancashire was handed a minimum sentence of 20 years at the Old Bailey in London on Friday for planning the murder (7th story on link) of Labour MP for West Lancashire, Rosie Cooper.
In a victim impact statement, Rosie Cooper MP said: “To be informed that a stranger wished to decapitate you...is something out of a horror movie, not life as I know it.”
Renshaw gave a Hitler salute as he was sent down, with his supporters in the public gallery shouting “we're with you Jack” as he was led to the cells, local media reports.
Sentencing Renshaw, Justice McGowan said: “Your perverted view of history and current politics has caused you to believe it right to demonise groups simply because they are different from you.”
Renshaw was foiled by whistleblower Robbie Mullen, from Widnes, Cheshire who was in the same pub when he hatched his chilling plans in July 2017. He told fellow extremists of his plan to take hostages in a pub after the murder of the MP and lure police detective, Victoria Henderson, who investigated him for child sex offenses – and kill her too.
Renshaw was jailed for 16 months in June 2018 after he groomed two underage boys online.
BANGKOK, Thailand – Southeast Asia is in the grip of a fresh surge of paedophile activity with predators orchestrating and watching abuse on live-streaming sites and via webcams, and paying for it with near-untraceable cryptocurrency, victims and children's charities warn.
With widespread poverty, lax laws, and creaking judicial systems, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines have long been seen as soft spots by foreign and local pedophiles seeking out underage sex in person.
Tougher policing and greater awareness has deterred some offenders, but technology has shifted the patterns of abuse in a region with growing access to broadband internet and encrypted technology.
Pedophiles can now use an array of mobile and online tools – including social networks, video-sharing sites, and the dark web – to direct and watch child rape and sexual abuse with anonymity, experts warn.
"Predators watch the rapes on large platforms that are not likely to close," said François Xavier Souchet, of Thai-based NGO Terre des Hommes.
"It's live, nothing is recorded... everything is encrypted. They pay more and more in Bitcoins, encrypted money makes their transactions as secure as possible," he added.
This week online giants including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are giving evidence to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA), which is being held in London and will look at how to prevent online sex crimes as part of its remit.
'I want to die'
Demand for child sexual abuse via webcam is an increasing cause of human trafficking, according to a UN report, with suggestions Thailand has become a hub in the trade, as well as the Philippines.
Cassie, a Filipina victim, said she was just 12 when she was forced to commit sexual acts – both with an adult man and alone – in front of a webcam.
She moved to Manila to work as a maid but was exploited by her mother's employer. The torment went on for five years.
She said "I felt trapped, betrayed and alone. I was thinking, 'I want to die, I want to die because of this pain, but I can't'."
Her abuser received a two year jail term in 2017. And, no doubt, is already back at work raping more children for money.
Last month, advocacy and legal aid group International Justice Mission (IJM) warned Philippine children were at risk of being forced into live streamed sex abuse, where paedophiles pay to direct so-called "shows" online.
"Easy access to the web and money transfer services make the country a global hotspot for this problem," said IJM, noting that it is often parents or family members that organise or even commit the abuse.
Terre des Hommes drew attention to the problem using a computer-generated girl nicknamed "Sweetie" that hung out in chatrooms and was approached by about 20,000 people – mostly men – in a matter of weeks.
Last year a report by the Internet Watch Foundation found online child abuse imagery had increased by a third in 2017.
In March, a teacher was arrested and charged in his native France with rape, abuse of minors and possession of child pornography.
The 51-year-old, who worked in schools in Asia, is alleged to have befriended kids in a working-class Bangkok neighborhood before building a rapport on social networks, police sources told AFP.
The same month, prosecutors charged another Frenchman with ordering videos of rape and sexual assaults of Filipino children.
The suspect, a 55-year-old former police officer, was arrested after a seizure of computers and live-streaming equipment in the Philippines.
In late April, former British Army officer Andrew Whiddett, 70, was found guilty by a London court of spending thousands of pounds paying for live-streamed sexual abuse of children from the Philippines.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates 80,000 people in the UK present some kind of sexual threat to children online.
The cyber-abuse phenomenon is reaching "Cambodia and Vietnam", warned Damian Kean, of the Thai-based NGO ECPAT, which specialises in combating the sexual exploitation of children.
In hyperconnected Vietnam, foreign pedophiles are increasingly targeting young victims online, often on social media.
The communist state last year instated harsher penalties to combat the crime -- anyone guilty of molesting a child under 16 faces 12 years in prison, while child rape comes with a maximum sentence of death.
But catching a pedophile requires help from the communities within which they operate - communities which are often marginalised, poor and mistrustful.
Souchet of Terre des Hommes explained: "Particularly ethnic minority communities across the region do not trust local authorities."
It sounds crazy, but I am inclined to believe 3rd world countries should go completely offline - at least for homes and small businesses, or risk losing a generation to the devastating trauma of child sex abuse.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin says it's reasonable to believe that James Oler knew the 15-year-old girl would be subject to sexual activity when he arranged her marriage to an older member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Oler was acquitted in 2017 by a judge who was not convinced Oler did anything within Canada's borders to arrange the girl's transfer to the U.S.
But the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the decision, saying that proof of wrongdoing in Canada was not necessary, and ordered a new trial.
Oler was self-represented and did not call any witnesses or make a case in his defence during the retrial.
Lawyer Joe Doyle, who is serving as a friend of the court to ensure a fair trial, argued that a four-day gap in the whereabouts of the 15-year-old girl is enough to dispute whether she was removed from Canada in 2004.
A special prosecutor argued Oler should have known the girl would be subject to sexual activity following her marriage based on the nature of church doctrine and the disempowered role of women in the faith.
Stephanie Taylor · The Canadian Press
Zach Miller, now 24, was 10 years old when he was abducted and sexually assaulted by Peter Whitmore in 2006.
Whitmore already had a record as a prolific sex offender who posed a high risk to reoffend when he kidnapped Miller and a 14-year-old boy from Manitoba.
He locked them in an abandoned farm house near Kipling, Sask., for two days and abused them repeatedly before he was arrested following a police standoff.
Whitmore is serving a life sentence.
The post on Canadian Inmates Connect says Whitmore is lonely, has cancer and is seeking friendship. "I am a very caring and loving person who cannot begin to describe my loneliness. I hope you will take the time and get to know me and allow me the privilege of getting to know you," the post reads. "I will never be released ... this is by my choice."
Miller, who had a publication ban lifted on his name in 2015 so he could share his story, thinks Whitmore is being manipulative.
"Every time he comes up, he's trying to make people forget that he's a bad guy ... I'm frankly getting tired of it," Miller said. "It's absolutely disgusting. Why are we letting someone like this talk to people out there? You don't know who he's going to be talking to. You don't know who's going to talk to him."
A spokesperson for Child Find Saskatchewan said the agency is concerned because the post does not include information about Whitmore's pedophilia.
The profile says the 48-year-old is behind bars for kidnapping and sexual assault. It says he is 14 years into his sentence at the Bath Institution, a medium-security facility in Ontario.
"On a human level ... who would want to correspond with somebody who has been incarcerated for 20 years for being a pedophile and victimizing numerous children?" asked Child Find's Sue Ramsay.
Court documents filed as part of Whitmore's past cases outline how prison psychologists have characterized him as a manipulative liar, unwilling to admit that he'd ever harmed anyone.
Miller said he understands prisoners have a right to communication, but he wants websites to vet users to ensure offenders who have a history of preying on the vulnerable are not welcome.
The profile lists Whitmore's hobbies as playing video games and collecting photographs of people, castles and homes from the Victorian era. "I have numerous health problems, including leukemia. I use a walker for stable mobility due to problems with my legs and feet due to diabetes," the profile says.
Melissa Fazzina of Toronto runs Canadian Inmates Connect and said she understands some victims may be upset to read an offender's profile. She charges inmates $35 for an annual membership to the site.
While she requires prisoners to be honest about their convictions, their profiles don't list specifics of their crimes, she said. "If you want all the details, you have to Google them or ask them."
Fazzina, a woman and a mother, said crimes such as Whitmore's don't sit well with her. "It comes down to it's a human right for anybody who's incarcerated, regardless of what they're in prison for, it's a human right for them to join the website and correspond with people who want to correspond with them."
Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society, says child-sex offenders have a tough time in prison and are often isolated. She believes it's important for them to have relationships with people other than criminals. "You want them to have some pro-social, non-criminal contacts and to reinforce that pro-social way of living," she said.
In a statement, Correctional Service Canada noted that inmates' incoming and outgoing mail is opened and searched to ensure it is free of contraband.
Whitmore isn't the only infamous criminal to post a profile on the website.
Justin Bourque, who shot dead three Mounties in Moncton, N.B., in 2014, described himself in a profile as "a blue-collar dude with a passion for music."
Luka Magnotta, who killed and dismembered a university student in Montreal in 2012, had a profile that said he was looking for his "prince charming."
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that 1,491 complaints were filed against police officers, special constables and police community support officers (PCSOs) across 33 forces in England and Wales between 2012 and 2017, or 2018 in the case of the Metropolitan Police in London, which took a year to respond to the FOI request by the Observer.
Of these cases, 371 were upheld, resulting in the sacking or resignation of 197 officers, special constables and PCSOs. Ten police forces did not provide data.
Derrick Campbell, regional director of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, told the Observer in a statement: “Police personnel who abuse their position for sexual purpose have no place in policing, and we are aware from our own research that this is one of the top areas of police conduct that concerns the general public.
“We are working hard to ensure police forces refer all allegations of abuse of position for sexual purpose to us, and we will continue to provide guidance and knowledge to help identify this abuse of trust as early as possible.”
The “upheld” cases are those where the investigating force has decided based on the evidence that there is a case to answer. It does not automatically mean that the accusation has been proved in its entirety – but only a handful of such cases end without disciplinary action or the accused resigning from the force.
The largest force, the Met, accounts for 594 complaints, of which 119 were upheld, leading to 63 dismissals, retirements and resignations. Greater Manchester Police received 97 complaints, of which 16 were upheld, triggering seven departures from the force. Devon and Cornwall Police upheld 26 of 77 complaints, with 14 defendants leaving the force as a result.
Many police forces have been forced to take action against officers accused of abusing their power to develop sexual relationships with vulnerable people and victims of crime. The Observer has identified such cases at Greater Manchester, Gwent, West Mercia, Durham, and Devon and Cornwall forces, as well as the Met.
An officer in Durham resigned after being accused of abusing his position when attending incidents to try to develop intimate relationships with vulnerable members of the public, while a Devon and Cornwall officer was dismissed following accusations he attended a victim’s address, stripped off uninvited, and joined the victim in the shower.
A Met officer was dismissed after a rape victim complained that the appointed investigating officer in her case “took advantage of her vulnerability and had sex with her on two occasions and sexual contact on others, while still the officer in the case”. Another Met officer was dismissed following allegations of a sexual relationship with a resident of a women’s refuge.
And paedophiles too
Special constables resigned in both Northumbria and Greater Manchester over allegations of child abuse, while a Greater Manchester officer was dismissed over an “alleged physical relationship with a young person”.
In the Met, 27 officers, special constables and PCSOs had cases upheld against them relating to allegations of downloading indecent images of children, online grooming, and rape of under-16s. All resigned, retired or were dismissed.
The figures also show evidence of a sexist culture among some officers, with numerous complaints by colleagues of sexual harassment and sexual assault. One Met officer resigned after being accused of sexually assaulting two female colleagues at a work-related function. The description of another case affecting the Met states: “It is alleged that the officer stated to a colleague he has had a cast made of his penis and that multiple dildos have been made from the cast. He is alleged to have asked the officer if she would like one herself.” The accused officer quit the force.
Another Met officer was dismissed after putting his tongue in the ear of two females on the civilian police staff. A survey published last year of nearly 1,800 Unison members working as civilian police staff found that 12% had witnessed or been the subject of unwelcome touching, kissing or hugging.
A Unison spokesman said: “Employees who witness or experience this behaviour need reassurance they will be listened to, and believed, and effective action will be taken to end the harassment.”
The Observer’s data covers two kinds of complaints procedure – public complaints and internal conduct matters. Internal conduct matters are those raised by members of the police against their colleagues.
Internal conduct matters relating to forms of sexual misconduct are much likelier to be upheld than public complaints. Of 663 public complaints relating to sexual misconduct, only 62 were upheld. By contrast, 310 of the 829 internal conduct matters were upheld – nearly 40%.
This may be because police complainants understand the process and required evidence better than public complainants, as well as the chance of vexatious or malicious public complaints being filed – although officials insist all complaints are investigated thoroughly.
However, once upheld, public complaints are likelier than internal conduct matters to result in the departure of the accused police officer – be it through dismissal, resignation or retirement. Two-thirds of upheld public complaints resulted in the officer’s departure, compared with half of upheld internal conduct matters.
Rule changes in December 2017 mean that officers can now be found guilty of misconduct even if they resign or retire first, ensuring they can be added to the official Barred List to prevent their re-employment by the police.
A National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) spokesman said: “When police officers or staff abuse their position for a sexual purpose, such behaviour represents a fundamental betrayal of the public and our code of ethics Sexual harassment in the workplace is similarly corrosive.”
In 2017 all police forces signed up to a plan to clamp down on police officers and staff abusing their power for sexual purposes, and this year the NPCC will release a plan focused on sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Met said: “Sexual misconduct and abuse of authority for sexual purpose will not be tolerated in the Metropolitan Police service, and its prevention and reduction are priorities for us. Expectations, advice and guidance have been, and continue to be, publicised within the service and victims are encouraged to come forward.”
However, none of them knew how the final report of the Commission To Inquire Into Child Abuse document would be received. “Frankly no,” he says this week in his Dublin home, “[it was] certainly eerie for a while”. Then the Sisters of Mercy came out and publicly accepted the report’s findings.
Others followed, even if it “took some time”, he adds. “It was only really then I began to realise what we had been doing and just how much we’d all been tied up in it.”
The document attracted global headlines, described by Mary Raftery in The Irish Times as “ a monument to the shameful nature of Irish society throughout most of the decades of the 20th century, and arguably even today”.
Looking back, the Christian Brothers-educated judge believes cruel residential institutions existed in Ireland for so long as they did because the State was in thrall to the Catholic Church.
The 2,600 page report, published a decade ago next Monday, investigated 215 institutions which saw 170,000 under the age of 16 go through their hands between 1922 and the early 1970s.
The commission, which was established in 2000, found that children had suffered neglect, physical and emotional abuse, while sexual abuse was endemic in all boys’ institutions.
“When the State was founded, 1922, you removed one element, namely the British influence, that was not in thrall to the church and the vacuum was filled by the church,” says Ryan.
“My sense is that the Catholic Church, and it’s easy to blame the Catholic Church for everything, my sense is that [their] attitude was, “this is our responsibility, we own this, butt out. But in a sense the State is us because the civil servants are all sorts of Catholic Christian Brothers’ boys, everything else and so on. And the bishop. The politicians are scared out of their wits. Nobody is going to challenge the church and the church owns the system.”
In a lengthy interview with The Irish Times he says a lesson from all that is, “who owns the system? You could say the same about the health service, education, anything you like – who owns it? The State technically had the legislative capacity to affect things but the relevant people could say, ‘oh, no you don’t’.”
In Britain all such big institutions for children were replaced with smaller homes in the 1920s.
In fairness to the Irish State, Ryan recalls how in the 1930s it “set up the Cussen Commission. It looked into the Artane boys’ home and the 800 young boys held within its walls.
“The Christian Brothers made a big submission to them. ‘How dare they?’ There were ‘alien influences’ and so on, an ‘alien and the native thing ’, a real pulling out of all the stops,” he says.
Nevertheless “the Cussen Commission recommended in 1936 that Artane be divided into four in the belief, naive in my opinion, that 200 was a reasonable number. But whatever about 200, 800 was monstrous; 800 suited the Christian Brothers – there was a huge income from it.”
It was “hugely” profitable, says Ryan, who was educated by the Christian Brothers in the O’Connell Secondary School on North Richmond Street in Dublin’s north inner city.
One of the things that stuck in his mind during the years when the commission heard evidence was the extraordinary number of people held in institutions over those decades in Ireland.
Then, of course, there were “psychiatric institutions. I mean anybody awkward was put somewhere.” Ireland was “closed, defensive, nationalistic, xenophobic”. There was “Radio Éireann, that was it. Look at the situation: extreme poverty, no jobs, no prospects, contraception unlawful, sex for procreation only, desertion among poor people widespread. A fella gets fed up of all this, he had no job and he goes to England. There were no children’s allowances until sometime in the 1940s, so the depths of need and sheer total deprivation; censorship, you couldn’t buy a book”
As to the report’s significance? He says “I think for an official report to endeavour to assess a whole system of dealing with children – that was very unusual, if not the first. And to do it on a national scale, to try to reach clear conclusions based on our evidence. The very fact that we were doing that, the very fact that the government set that up as a commission and that it followed the taoiseach’s public apology, they were the unusual features. That was already suggesting a sea change. I think it reflected it; it may have assisted it.”
Concerning the current controversy over access to documents generated by the commission, he believes there are “issues of considerable legal complexity” involved.
The Government is proposing to transfer to the national archives the more than two million documents from the commission, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee and that these be sealed for 75 years.
The Retention of Records Bill 2019 will allow for a review of the timeline on releasing the files 25 years after it becomes law.
“That’s a problem. The material will reveal the names of the survivors who participated in the commission’s work.”
He adds that “from the congregations’ point of view, they will contend that the materials that are not in the report are allegations that may or may not have been proven. What was proven and the way it was proven is the way it’s set out in the report. And that was the original intention of the legislation.
“So there could be issues, and as a lawyer, leaving aside any view I may have, I have to acknowledge that there are issues of considerable legal complexity in trying to resolve either of those interests.”
Germany will pay compensation of up to €10,000 (£8,700; $11,000) to victims of a notorious and abusive commune in southern Chile.
Colonia Dignidad was founded by former Nazi soldier Paul Schäfer in 1961.
The commune, which was located 350km (220 miles) south of Santiago, was run as a secretive cult and dozens of children were sexually abused there.
Hundreds of German and Chilean survivors will now be eligible for compensation.
The decision to pay the victims was made by a government commission in Berlin on Friday. A fund of €3.5m will be set aside to do so.
It comes a week after prosecutors dropped their investigation into a German doctor who worked at the commune. A court in Chile had found Hartmut Hopp guilty of complicity in child sex abuse committed by Schäfer, but he fled to Germany before he could be jailed.
German prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to uphold the ruling.
This must have been on an appeal. In 2017 his Chilean sentence was upheld (7th story on link) in a court in Krefeld, and he was sentenced to 5 years and a day.
What was Colonia Dignidad?
Colonia Dignidad was a colony set up by Schäfer in the remote Maule area.
He ran it as a secretive cult with members living as virtual slaves and prevented from leaving by armed guards with dogs.
At its peak, 300 Germans and Chileans were living in the 137 sq km (53 sq mile) compound surrounded by wire fencing and overlooked by a watchtower with searchlights.
Children were forced to live separately from their parents and dozens were sexually abused by Schäfer.
What else happened there?
It was not just members of Schäfer's sect who suffered abuse.
Under the military rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet, Colonia Dignidad became a clandestine detention centre. About 300 opponents of the regime were interrogated and tortured in its underground tunnels both by members of the Chilean secret police and Schäfer's associates.
At least 100 people are thought to have been murdered there. One of those believed to have been killed at the site is US academic Boris Weisfeiler, who went hiking in Chile in 1984.
In its report, released on Friday, the German commission said Schäfer "tore families apart, abused countless children and actively collaborated with Pinochet dictatorship henchmen on torture, murder and disappearances.
"The survivors still suffer massively from the severe psychological and physical consequences after years of harm caused by violence, abuse, exploitation and slave labour," the report read.
The compensation would be paid "exclusively out of moral responsibility and without recognition of a legal obligation," it added.
Schäfer fled Chile in 1997 while facing a number of lawsuits over the sexual abuse of children. He was arrested in Argentina in 2005 and convicted of serial paedophilia.
He died in prison aged 88 in 2010.
Colonia Dignidad changed its name to Villa Baviera in 1991 and has become a tourist resort with a German-themed restaurant and hotel. More than 100 people, many of them former members of the commune, live at the site with many saying it is the only home they have ever known.
APTN Investigates, National News | by Chris Stewart |
Editor’s note: The story below contains some graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. Reader discretion is advised.
The Alberta government is in court fighting a claim for compensation brought forward on behalf of thousands of mostly Indigenous people who claim they were abused either sexually, physically or emotionally while under the protection of Child Services.
People like Steven Morin and Clinton John Marty.
Morin says that while it’s not easy, he is telling his story in hopes that he can prevent more instances of abuse in the future.
He was just five years old when his foster mother’s boyfriend began sexually assaulting him. The abuse continued for five years. He says he was assaulted almost every week.
“The last time I seen him in person, he told me in the shower as he was doing his last . . . his last . . . whatever you want to call it on me. After he was done, he told me. This will be forever engraved into my memory. And I quote, “If you ever tell anyone about the things I have done to you . . . I will find you and I will kill you,” Morin told APTN Investigates.
He says he told a group home about the abuse when he was 12 years old. “They ended up getting some investigators. Nothing was done about it. It was a waste of time.”
Morin left the child welfare system at age 16. He couch surfed on his home territory, Enoch Cree Nation, just West of Edmonton.
One day he saw the face of the man in the newspaper and on the local news. John Edward Beaver was wanted in connection with over a dozen charges of sexual assault.
“I don’t know why I couldn’t look away from his photo. I had to look at his photo. I still don’t know why I had to look at his photo. And I remember waiting the next day. Did they find him yet? I remember on the fifth or sixth day, they ended up finding him. I was like ‘wow!’ The relief . . .” Morin recalled.
John Edward Beaver was charged with more than a dozen counts of sexual assault. But he would never stand trial for those charges. He died in his sleep in 2014.
Morin received a $35,000 dollar injury claim from an Alberta government fund for victims of crime. He says he was too young and foolish when he received the money. One month later, it was all gone.
He spent it on alcohol and hard drugs to help numb the pain.
“In 2015, I really fell off and I went straight downhill. I went through a really bad breakup and I started using more than just cocaine. I was using meth. I was using heroin. Smoking it. I was drinking.”
Clinton John Marty lives with his wife on the Elizabeth Metis Settlement, south of Cold Lake, Alberta.
He and his brother were put into a Catholic home in Edmonton.
“At eight years old there was a sister there. I’m not going to name her name. She might still be alive today. She did select some of the older boys to come into her room. And there they would select a little boy to go in and have oral sex with them. And once we were done, we were brought back to our bed, and told not to say anything,” Marty said.
Marty says his own father abused him and his mother informed Alberta Child Protection not to give Marty and his brother to their father. They did anyway.
“Child welfare placed us, not once but twice. And he abused us sexually, physically, and very emotionally. And he was charged for that. And he never faced the charges because he committed suicide so he didn’t have to. So we lived with that as well.”
When Marty was 12 years old, he and his brother were given back to their mother. That is very rare in cases where the government has a permanent guardianship order.
The two brothers began to fight.
“We were both very violent towards each other because of the way things were in the homes. And I had kicked my brother in the side of my head. My Mother screams out, ‘Oh my God, What has happened to my boys?’ And I can remember clear as day looking at her and saying those boys are gone a long time ago. This is what they created,” he said.
Like Steven Morin, Clinton John Marty was changed forever. Marty can’t hold down a job. He only completed Grade 5. He has nightmares. He was diagnosed with Severe Childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“There are nights where I sleep two-and-a-half hours a night. When I close my eyes, it’s flashbacks. It’s nightmares. I’m unreliable. Without my wife, who has looked after me for all these years, I probably would have been dead a long time ago,” Marty told APTN Investigates.
Lawyer Robert Lee has two class action lawsuits ongoing against the province of Alberta. He has been working to get compensation for victims of the child welfare system for 20 years.
“They shouldn’t be living in poverty,” Lee said. “They shouldn’t be living in circumstances where they have to choose between paying rent instead of buying food.”
Steven Morin has not yet joined in one of the class actions but he is considering suing the Alberta government. He has talked to Lee several times.
“As a five to nine year old, and so he told the child welfare system, this horrible thing, the most horrible thing that could happen to a child, has happened to me. And he gets no help. He goes to the system that put him there and says, you did this to me. Now help me. I’m broken. Now fix me. And they do nothing,” the lawyer said.
Lee said the provincial government is fighting him every step of the way.
“And what I thought would take six months is going to take two years. And so my clients can’t afford to pay a lawyer. I can’t afford to work for free. And that is the dilemma. If you want to go through our legal system, you better have money. And so if you don’t have money to pay for a lawyer, you are just out of luck. And that is wrong.”
Clinton Marty has not had an easy life. But he and his wife have raised four children. He says he quit drinking when they were young. He wanted to be a better parent than his were.
Good for you, Clinton. Stopping the cycle of abuse in your family. God bless you.
“To know that I’ve been with the same woman since I’ve been 16 years old. And that we made a beautiful family together, in spite of everything. I know I’ve set my children up to never ever have to experience what I’ve been through. To let them know the things I went through. I could have brought that upon them. But I didn’t. And I did it for my family, and to make sure the cycle breaks. You can’t have a repetitive cycle of abuse. Alcoholism, drug addiction. It can’t continue. Someone has to be the one to step up and say enough is enough,” Marty said.
As for Steven Morin, he is almost finished writing a book on his life. He says it helps him heal.
He has started a non-profit business called the Indigenous Children’s Mentoring Society. He want to offer a mentorship program to Indigenous children, similar to Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He is starting in his home community of Enoch First Nation. He is looking forward to starting his own family.
“I will someday, hopefully, make that family for myself. I can be the father and the parent I never got to have. I can teach my future daughter or son that I wasn’t able to teach. Like how to tie your shoe. How to swing on a swing. I’m loving life right now.
“This is healing — the next step on my healing journey. And I hope I can help others heal while I’m at it.”
Excellent! Well done Steven.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
A video of a Mountie interrogating a young Indigenous woman disclosing sexual abuse in B.C. foster care drives home in a “visceral way” a reality that Canadians should be shocked by and one that they need to see, former Truth and Reconciliation commissioner Murray Sinclair said Friday.
The 2012 video was released publicly by APTN this week as a result of a court proceeding and has prompted political reaction, including from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, who called its contents “absolutely abhorrent.”
In the video, the officer can be heard asking her questions, including whether she was “at all turned on … even a little bit” during the abuse she is describing.
The young woman replies that she was not, adding she was ”really scared.”
The apparent attitudes and techniques on display in the video were profoundly outdated, offensive and wrong, Goodale added, stressing the RCMP and all police forces must work continuously to conduct themselves appropriately.
In an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, where Manitoba’s first Aboriginal judge is now a senator, Sinclair said Friday that Canadians have been told over many years that this type of treatment continues but he’s not sure they believe it.
Any parent would be very quick to complain to the supervising officers over that interrogation, Sinclair said, noting the young woman was not an accused person and should have been treated more carefully and respectfully.
“I appreciate that there are many out there, perhaps, who say that we could make the point without people seeing the video — but we do make the point without videos like that,” Sinclair said.
“I don’t think people believe us until they see it … That’s what the official RCMP position is, that we don’t mistreat witnesses, particularly sexual-assault victims.”
Canadians want to have faith, confidence and trust in police agencies and officers, Sinclair added.
“When they see that, it should shock them,” he said. ”It should cause them to question the integrity of what it is they are being told by those agencies of policing and it should cause them to be more supportive of those who say that police officers need more oversight.”
Policing is expected to be a key theme in the upcoming report by a federal commission on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. It is scheduled to be released in Gatineau, Que. on June 3.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that the vast majority of Indigenous women who had been sexually victimized in residential schools felt they were not believed if they spoke to police, Sinclair said.
“They were of the view that not only did the officer not believe them but that he — and it was almost always a male — was disrespectful towards them,” he said.
“As a result, I expect that the same kind of evidence would have come out at the hearings of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry and so I would not be surprised that they highlight that fact again in their report.”
The video’s release also highlighted the issue of sexual abuse suffered by young people, particularly Indigenous girls, in the foster-care system.
In 2016, B.C.’s then child representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond produced a report documenting that at least 109 girls were the victims of sexualized violence while in government foster care and that 74 of them were Indigenous. The case of the teen in the 2012 recording was among them.
On Thursday, she said the video is far from an isolated case, noting that provincial and federal politicians know well there has been “major difficulty” with this issue for some time.
“The heinous way in which this young person was treated, being alone in an interrogation room, being treated as though she was a criminal, not a victim, and also the poor training, the suggestion that somehow a victim of sexualized violence is enjoying the sexualized violence, this is so fundamentally offensive but is a pattern I’ve seen again and again,” she said.
As horrible as this experience must have been for this poor girl, she can, at least, hope some good will come out of it in terms of educating police, updating their techniques, and providing much, much better facilities for debriefing a victim of sexual abuse.