When it's Time to Get Help

Church Knew About Canada’s Worst Pedophile Priest

by stemwebadmin

I just watched the CBC’s documentary “The Good Father” about one of the worst pedophile priests in Canadian history, Charles Sylvestre.
The heartbreaking stories of Sylvestre’s victims are similar to those I have heard from the many sexual abuse survivors that I have represented. Watching the documentary one finds it incredible that Sylvestre could openly sexually abuse hundreds of little girls, that the Church knew about the sexual abuse for four decades, and did NOTHING to protect the children in Sylvestre’s parishes.
You can watch the documentary online here.
The unfortunate fact is that the Church’s cover up of Sylvestre’s abuse appears to be more the rule than the exception.
You can learn about Pope John XXIII’s instructions to maintain a policy of “strictest secrecy” about sexual abuse by priests on the Clerical Whispers blog or you can read it yourself here:

Do Children Lie About Sexual Abuse?

by stemwebadmin

This interesting article was written for teachers to assist them in investigating allegations of sexual abuse. While it contains some helpful information including a “validity checklist” to assess children’s statements, I thought the best advice in the entire article was contained in one sentence:
“…education staff are not in a position to investigate possible abuse, and child protection procedures should always be followed when a child discloses abuse.”
I have been representing victims of sexual abuse for almost two decades. I have found that in most cases, persons in authority who were charged with “investigating” the allegations, simply did not take the allegations seriously, or worse, ignored or covered up the allegations.
It bears repeating that sexual abuse is a serious crime and ANY allegation of abuse must, by statute, be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Diocese Sues Law Firm that Represent Sexual Abuse Victims

by stemwebadmin

If anyone had any doubt about the lengths to which the RC church will go to prevent disclosure of sexual abuse by priests, take a look at this story.

Talk about excessive! The Archdiocese of St. Louis has sued a law firm that represents victims of sexual abuse.
I guess the Diocese must think the best defence is a good offense. They are right…it is pretty offensive…

Clerical Whispers an Interesting Read

by stemwebadmin

I found an interesting blog the other day about the “uncomfortable truth and news from the inside” of the RC Church in Ireland. The blog, titled “Clerical Whispers” is written, supposedly, by an RC priest who goes by the pen name Sotto Voce.
While the blog covers any news dealing with the RC Church, it also contains links and posts dealing specifically with the problem (crisis?) of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
Take a look at http://clericalwhispers.blogspot.com

Diocese says Reporting Child Sexual Abuse is not Discretionary

by stemwebadmin

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London, Ontario has drafted a code of conduct with the goal of:

“…the prevention of sexual abuse, the protection of the vulnerable, the pastoral care of those wounded by misconduct, along with the protection of the rights of the accused and the appropriate action toward those who have committed sexual misconduct.”

You can read the report, and learn how to submit your comments, here: www.rcec.london.on.ca/abuse/draft%20policy.htm
The policy requires that ALL complaints of sexual abuse against a minor MUST be reported to the Children’s Aid Society. The draft goes on to state:

Can Sexual Abuse Cause Brain Injury?

by stemwebadmin

It is strange how looking to help a client with a problem often leads to answers that can help a client with a very different problem.
I was doing some research for a client with a Minor Traumatic Brain when I came across an article in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.The article is titled: Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Neuropsychological and Cognitive Function in College Women.
The authors conducted neuropsychological tests on female students, and compared the results to tests conducted on female students who had been victims of sexual abuse. A strong association was found between the duration of the sexual abuse and memory impairments. The results of the study indicate that childhood sexual abuse appears to be associated with a constellation of neuropsychological deficits usually found in victims of M.T.B.I.
Those of us that represent victims of abuse often struggle with how to explain the effects of the abuse to a judge or jury.
This study provides us with another tool.
Read the whole article athttp://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/18/1/45

Sex Abuser Teacher had “Relationship” with Victim?

by stemwebadmin

Today I saw a story in the Arizona Republic by E. J. Montini commenting on the case of a 26 year (female) teacher charged with sexual abuse of one of her teenage students. The teacher was described by the prosecutor as having a “relationship” with the victim.
Here’s the full story: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0506montini0506.html
As an attorney with a special interest in representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse I agree wholeheartedly that there is a double standard with punishment received by female sex abusers. One only has to look at the statement of the judge who sentenced 43 year old teacher Pamela Moore, who was convicted of sexually assaulting one of the 13 year old boys in her class:

“I really don’t see the harm that was done here, and certainly society doesn’t need to be worried. I do not believe she is a sexual predator. It’s just something between two people that clicked beyond the teacher-student relationship.”

Can you imagine the howls of outrage from the public if a judge said a male teacher (or a priest) wasn’t a sexual predator because he had “clicked” with a thirteen year old girl? Sexual abuse of a child is a crime and whether the abuser is male or female the trauma caused by the abuse can destroy a child’s life.

News Anchor Admits to Being Sexually Abused by Catholic Priest

by stemwebadmin

A recent story on CNN.com caught my attention. CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts described the abuse he suffered as a teenager at the hands of Father Jeff Toohey.What struck me was Thomas’s statement about his decision to publicly talk about the abuse he had suffered:I was scared. I was scared of being so honest and televising this journey. What would people think? Would I ruin my career? But I came to the conclusion that I will not be scared anymore. I will not be scared of telling the truth because it might be uncomfortable for people to hear.
If this story compels even one person to seek help for being sexually abused, then it is all worth it. All it takes is telling one person. From there, strength grows and you can tell a second person and so on. Then you can finally have control of your life back.I commend Mr. Thomas for his courage. You can read the whole story here. In my practice representing sexual abuse survivors I cannot count the number of times that a survivor has told me that their healing began the first time they disclosed to someone what had happened to them.Child abusers prey on their victims’ fears. Their fears of what family and friends will think of them; their fears that people will not believe them. Child abusers are able to destroy people’s lives because of a wall of silence. The only thing that can break down that wall is for victims of sexual abuse to tell someone!Here’s a link to the Government of Canada’s Directory of Services for Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse.

15 Ways to Protect your Child from Sexual Abuse

by stemwebadmin

Listen to your child and believe what they tell you. When your child tells you he or she doesn’t want to be with someone, pay attention!
Participate in your child’s activities and get to know your children’s friends and their parents.
Get to know the people where children gather in a community like Churches and sports facilities.
Never leave your child unattended, especially in the car.
Be open when your child asks questions about sex. Make sure the answers age appropriate. Be alert for any talk that shows premature sexual understanding.
Pay attention to changes in your child’s behavior or attitude.
Pay attention when someone shows what seems to be greater than normal interest in your child.
Make unannounced visits to your child’s babysitter, day care or school. Make certain they will release your child only to you or someone you officially designate.
Check to see if your child’s school includes sex-abuse prevention training.
Let your child express affection on their own terms. Do not insist that your child hug or kiss people.
Pay attention when an adult uses social occasions to focus on befriending your child or taking your child away for private time that seems out of the ordinary.
Do not allow your child to go alone on vacation, drive around or spend the night with anyone that has not proven to be trustworthy.
Do not assume that a person is trustworthy because of their position, title or because they work in a place where children gather.
Trust your instincts.
Pay attention!

Child Sexual Abuse in Canada

by stemwebadmin

Here’s a link to the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, a publication of the Public Health Agency of Canada:
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ncfv-cnivf/familyviolence/html/nfntsxagrsex_e.html
The article contains some frightening facts:

The most extensive study of child sexual abuse in Canada was conducted by the Committee on Sexual Offences Against Children and Youths. Its report indicates that, among adult Canadians, 53 percent of women and 31 percent of men were sexually abused when they were children.
Most offenders are not strangers to their victims. In most cases, they are well known to their victims.
Some offenders have abused more than 70 children before any of the victims disclosed the abuse. In cases in which one offender has abused a large number of victims, the abused children are more likely to be male.

The article contains good advice about abuse prevention, support services as well as recommended reading.

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