Category: Uncategorized

Cardinal Pell, Vatican Treasurer, Convicted of Sexual Assault in Australia

by John McKiggan

In December it was reported that Australian Cardinal George Pell has been convicted of five criminal charges of sexual assault involving two boys at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne Australia in the 1990’s.

There is very little information about the trial available publically because the Australian court took the unusual step of issuing a “super injunction” which prohibited all media in Australia from reporting on the trial.

This is actually Pell’s second trial on the same charges. The first one ended in a hung jury.

Preventing Childhood Sexual Abuse in Schools

by John McKiggan

While the majority of adults working in schools across Canada are unequivocally dedicated to making schools a safe, positive environment for children, there are those who seek to use their position of power for more nefarious purposes. Tragically some teachers have used the positions of trust and authority to abuse the children in their care. The survivors of childhood teacher sexual abuse, often carrying the burden and shame of these encounters for the rest of their lives.

In 2014, Statistics Canada conducted a general social survey of Canadians which included a sample size of approximately 33,000 individuals over the age of 15. Specific questions asked respondents to self-report abuse taking place in their childhood (before they turned 15). The results revealed that 8 percent of the respondents self-reported childhood sexual abuse — a figure that corresponds to approximately 2.4 million Canadians having been sexually abused as children.

Survivors: An Underrepresented Minority

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Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony and Brett Kavanaugh: Echoing The Stories of Sexual Assault Survivors Everywhere

by John McKiggan

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States has dominated headlines in the last week due to allegations of sexual assault brought forward by Christine Blasey Ford. Even as Kavanaugh vehemently denies the allegations made against him, and President Trump openly mocks her allegations, what makes her heroic testimony so important for survivors of sexual assault in Canada and beyond?

Ford’s willingness to come forward and break her silence as a survivor teaches us an inspiring lesson about tenacity in the face of public adversity, as well as the hurdles that many survivors must overcome to share their stories. In an era of unprecedented visibility for survivors, it is important now—more than ever—to listen to survivors whenever they are ready to share their stories.
Why Did Dr. Ford Wait So Long to Come Forward?
Many of the questions/concerns voiced about Dr. Ford’s allegations center around why it took so long for her to disclose an incident that happened decades ago during her and Kavanaugh’s teenage years.

In addition to public skepticism, Ford was openly questioned by Republican Senators regarding the credibility of her disclosure during and after her September 27th testimony.

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Study Finds More Than 1000 Children Abused by Catholic Priests in Pennsylvania

by John McKiggan

A recent report published by the New York Times found that more than 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania had sexually abused over 1,000 children over a period of 70 years. The report covers six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses, the Grand Jury Report is the broadest investigation ever carried out by a government agency of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Evidence of Cover-up Within the Church

Even more unsettling than the horrifying number of victims is the fact that bishops and other church leaders—well aware that sexual abuse was happening within their ranks—covered up the abuse by persuading victims against reporting their abusers, and convincing law enforcement officials not to investigate any claims made.

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Sexual Abuse in Canada’s Athletics: A Brief Overview

by John McKiggan

While sports are commonly thought to “be a safe, healthy environment which contributes to the positive development of young people, it is also an area where violence can manifest itself in various ways, including sexual assault.” Between 2 and 8 percent of all Canadian athletes are victims in sexual abuse at some point in their careers, a number which may come as a surprise to sports fans and sexual abuse prevention advocates alike.

Concerns for the safety and wellbeing of child and young adult victims have seen a sharp rise in recent years as incidents of sexual abuse in any environment—including athletics—are brought to the public’s attention thanks to the #MeToo movement and similar visibility efforts.

In as many as 98 percent of these incidents, the perpetrators of sexual abuse were coaches, teachers or instructors of the victims, violating the sense of trust and kinship that is highly valued in the context of an athletic team.
Is Sexual Abuse in Elite Sports a Hidden Epidemic?

Courtesy of Toronto Star

Archdiocese withdraws problematic legislation

by John McKiggan

On Tuesday I posted an article about my concerns surrounding proposed legislation introduced by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax .

The legislation would grant unusual powers to the Bishop to be able to create and control parish corporations. The stated intention was to transfer assets currently held by the Diocese to the newly created parish corporations.

My concern was that the Archdiocese could, if it wished use these parish corporations to divest itself of all of it’s assets and make itself “judgement proof”. In other words, if an abuse survivor obtained a judgement against the Diocese for compensation for childhood sexual abuse the Diocese might be able to avoid paying the judgement, claiming that it had no assets.

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Halifax Archdiocese seeks to pass legislation that could hurt sexual abuse survivors.

by John McKiggan

Today I appeared before the Private and Local Bills Committee at the Nova Scotia legislature. Why?

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax has introduced legislation through a private members bill that, if passed, would give the Archdiocese sweeping powers with respect to the way in which it manages it’s corporate affairs and could have drastic effects on the ability of survivors of sexual abuse by priests of the Archdiocese to receive compensation for their injuries.

The proposed legislation can be found here.

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Pope decides not to prosecute Bishops who covered up for priest sex abusers

by John McKiggan

For years now the Catholic Church has been facing criticism around the world for its inaction in failing to prevent sexual abuse of children by Catholic Priests. Furthermore, the Church has been criticized for failing to hold Bishops who failed to prevent the abuse accountable.

Pope FrancisTherefore, advocates for sexual abuse survivors were cautiously optimistic when Pope Francis announced plans to create a tribunal to prosecute Bishop’s under Canon law who covered up sexual abuse by Priests.

However, last week the Pope backed off on his proposal to criminally prosecute Bishops. Instead the Pope issued an apostolic letter to “clarify” the proper procedures available under Canon law to punish Bishops who have been found to have violated the Canon code.

3 Priests to stand trial for covering up sex abuse: Now what about the rest?

by John McKiggan

Three Franciscan priests have been ordered by a Judge in Pennsylvania to stand trial on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy for covering up sexual abuse by a fourth Priest.

The priests are charged with enabling Brother Stephen Baker to sexually abuse a number of boys at Bishop McCort High School. According to witness testimony during the priests’ preliminary inquiry, the accused, Father Giles Schinelli, Father Robert D’Aversa and Father Anthony Criscitelli knew that Baker was a pedophile and yet the accused priests continued to assign Baker to jobs where he would have contact with children.

Systemic cover up?

Jian Ghomeshi and the Burden of Proof in Sexual Abuse Claims

by John McKiggan

Ghomeshi sexual abuse claims come to court today

Jian Ghomeshi’s criminal trial starts today. He is charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. Ghomesi has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

I found it interesting that CBC news has reported Ghomeshi was facing charges relating to assaults on other women but the charges were withdrawn because the Crown determined there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

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