Lawsuit Names All US Catholic Bishops in Organized Abuse Scandal
Amidst a widening sexual abuse scandal, a former seminarian in Hannibal, Missouri is suing the entire US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), originally intended to be used in cases involving organized crime rings. A 1980s student at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary is suing former West Palm Beach, FL Bishop Anthony O’Connor, who was a rector at St. Thomas, and the UCCB for participating in an organized conspiracy to keep abuse claims secret, mainly through hushed financial settlements with victims. O’Connell already admitted in his March 8 resignation letter to sexually abusing Christopher Dixon, another former St. Thomas seminarian in the late 1970s. RICO has been unsuccessfully used in two other cases against the Catholic church, one of which eventually led to a $30 million settlement outside the courts.
The growing sex abuse scandal has prompted mixed responses from Catholic officials. Several seminaries are developing new training manuals to weed out potential pedophiles and sexual abusers. They have already begun to offer new courses on formerly taboo topics like sexuality, addiction and the struggle to remain celibate. The new methods include targeting “homosexual behavior” as grounds for immediate dismissal from seminary. Psychologists note that the new tactics, particularly the attempt to weed out self-identified “practicing homosexuals,” will not identify potential pedophiles or sexual abusers.
Some church members and many in the psychological community, including Rev. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist and sex abuse consultant to the USCCB, are cautioning the church against an anti-gay “witch hunt,” particularly after the Pope’s spokesperson responded to the current sex scandal by saying that the church needed to prevent gays from becoming priests. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, no evidence suggests that gay people are more likely than straight people to molest children.
Media Resources: NBC News 3/24/02; Associated Press 3/25/02 & 3/22/02 Times 3/25/02
12/9/2013 Mixed Results for Afghanistan's Anti-Violence Against Women Law - The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released their annual report on violence against women in Afghanistan yesterday, revealing mixed results of the country's Elimination of Violence against Women Law.
"A Way to Go: An Update on Implementation of the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women in Afghanistan [PDF]," found that there was a 28 percent increase in reports of violence against women from 2012 to 2013 , but only 17 percent of those were prosecuted under EVAW - a small 2 percent increase from last year.
The law, which was issued by the executive decree of President Hamid Karzai in 2009, criminalizes 22 acts of violence against women and specifies punishment for perpetrators. . . .