The 2016 Summer Olympics have dominated news coverage the last few weeks and will continue to do so as athletes return home to celebrate their accomplishments. The sacrifices Olympians make to reach the ultimate goal of winning a gold medal is well-documented by the media. Rarely talked about is the sexual abuse these athletes sometimes face.
Sexual abuse can be an issue in any industry or area of life, but one of the most devastating places where it can occur is at the doctor’s office. A recent investigation at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed sexual abuse within the medical community is common and could rival the abuse that occurred within the Catholic Church.
One of the former presidents of Chaminade High School, a prestigious Catholic school in Long Island, New York, was recently suspended after an investigation revealed allegations of sexual abuse made against him in 2015 are credible. The accusations against Father James Williams, who continues to deny the allegations, were investigated by the Society of Mary and found to be credible, leading to his dismissal.
In response to lawsuits filed by victims’ families alleging sexual abuse of 30 children in two different elementary schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to pay $88 million in settlement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire is the latest elite preparatory school to be forced to deal with the aftermath of sexual abuse allegations against its teachers and staff. The school announced in mid-April that is was firing a second teacher after he reported inappropriate relations with students that occurred decades ago.
Recently, a Louisville man filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused by his scoutmaster in the 970s when he was a member of the Boy Scouts of America. The man, known only by his initials, filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court, claiming Timothy Fleming, former leader of Troop 364, committed several acts of sexual abuse that occurred during out of town trips, at a church, and at the scout leader’s home.
According to news reports a former teacher at the Pingry School, an elite preparatory school in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is under investigation for sexual abuse of students that allegedly occurred throughout the 1970s. Accusations of the abuse were made by alumni from the school. Officials from the school contacted law enforcement in response to the allegations and the school has agreed to assist with the investigation, in addition to hiring its own independent investigators to address the issue. (Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/pingry-school-investigates-sex-abuse-allegations-against-ex-teacher-thad-n547731)
According to news reports, a recent grand jury report addressed rampant abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown-Pennsylvania Diocese of the Catholic Church. The community is still in shock as it considers the ramifications of the abuse that occurred over the years. According to the report, two Roman Catholic bishops who led the Pennsylvania diocese assisted in the cover up of the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 priests and other religious leaders during a 40-year period.
In the 2010 trial of Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America, my co-counsel Kelly Clark and I exposed the very serious and long-standing problem of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. The case also resulted in a 19.9 million dollar verdict against the Boy Scouts.
The YMCA is known for providing services within the community and helping children and families from all walks of life learn, grow, and participate in physical fitness. Though the majority of YMCA volunteers and employees serve the children in a nurturing and professional manner, some have taken advantage of their position of trust and authority and sexually abused the children participating in the YMCA programs, This exploitation is similar to what has happened in the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Club and similar institutions of trust.
The movie Spotlight recently received significant and well-deserved accolades during this year’s Academy Awards, winning Best Picture of the Year and exposing many people to the epidemic of sexual abuse, not only in the Catholic Church, but in a variety of institutions and organizations.
As an attorney who has advocated on behalf of sexually abused children for decades, I am often asked by parents and others: how can I protect my child from being sexually abused. In response, I tell them the most important thing to understand is how the average child molester thinks and operates. When you have some basic knowledge of these perpetrators, you will be better able to protect your child.
During this period of reflection on Justice Scalia, most news stories just skim the surface of his legal thinking, opting to just describe him as a conservative, brilliant justice and citing a few of his opinions. For me as a child advocate, there was one case, which represents his quintessential legal philosophy. (In full disclosure, I worked on the amicus brief of Thompson v. Oklahoma for a consortium of mental health organizations.)
After three days of trial, on January 29, 2015, the Boy Scouts and the plaintiff settled this sexual abuse case. This case followed the same path as better than 99% of sexual abuse cases. Parties settle because it is in their best interests to do so – and obviously here that was the case. But this settlement illustrates why the trial in 2010 in Portland, Oregon was so unique. There we litigated the case for over 6 weeks, spending hours upon hours going through numerous BSA Perversion files. In Santa Barbara there was much fanfare concerning the release of the BSA Perversion files from 1991-2007. Some media outlets portrayed it as a Pandora’s Box however those reporters obviously forgot that over 1200 files from 1965-1985 were already released and in the public domain as a result of the Portland case.
Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal has been in a running battle with the Archdiocese of New York over the closure of a number of parishes for the putative purpose that the Archdiocese needs to save money – so poor they have to close parishes but not poor enough to sell the Cardinal’s mansion. While on the subject of the Archdiocese finances the inevitable came up with the Diocese rep basically saying that the problem of sexually abusive priests in NY was not as bad as in for example Boston. He unfortunately left out that the Archdiocese along with the other NY area Dioceses were primarily responsible for defeating bill after bill which would have amended NY’s harsh statute of limitations. As an attorney who focuses his practice on representing victims of sexual abuse, Paul Mones understands that institutions like the Catholic Church need to be held accountable for their actions in not preventing their employees from molesting innocent children. Victims of sexual abuse in New York of not just the Catholic Church but also of the Boy Scouts, various Orthodox Jewish Temples and Yeshivas, private schools and youth sports programs should be entitled to their day in court. The NY Statute of limitations needs to be changed to allow these victims to have real justice.