Hell, Pell

Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has gone right to the top, nearly. Cardinal George Pell haas just been imprisoned in Australia.

Stuff:  Cardinal George Pell spending his first night in jail for sexually abusing choirboys

Cardinal George Pell has been taken into custody and will spend his first night in a jail cell for sexually abusing two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral.

Pell was found guilty in December of orally raping a 13-year-old boy and molesting another after Sunday mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne in 1996.

He became the highest-ranking Catholic to be convicted of such crimes.

Pell’s defence team submitted 10 character references, including from former Australian prime minister John Howard.

“These people love him; none of them believe he is capable of these offences,” Richter said.

Richter said Pell was a man of the “highest character”.

“He relates to everyone from a prime minister to street beggars,” he said.

It’s not how he relates to ex Prime Ministers that’s at issue here, it’s how he related to choir boys.

“Cardinal George Pell has not applied for bail today,” lawyer Paul Galbally said in a statement.

“He believes it is appropriate for him to await his sentencing.

“Despite the unprecedented media coverage, Cardinal Pell has always and continues to maintain his innocence.”

His lawyers have lodged an appeal on three grounds, including that the jury verdict was unreasonable.

Robert Richter QC has argued his alleged offending was at the low end of the scale.

“This is no more than a plain, vanilla sexual penetration case where a child is not volunteering or actively participating,” he said.

What the hell?

Richter also said a “temporary loss of judgment” could not be ruled out.

But Judge Kidd pushed back, saying Pell had engaged in shocking conduct that allowed no “innocent explanation”.

“At the moment I see this as callous, brazen offending. Blatant,” the judge said.

“It leaves to me only one inference, which is at the time he thought he was going to get away with it.

He nearly did. He did for a long time. Protected by his power in a sexually corrupt Catholic Church.

Pope Francis admits of abuse of nuns, sexual slavery

The Catholic Church has struggling with huge problems due to the exposure of sexual abuse by priests over decades if not centuries.

For some time the church, and more recently Pope Francis, have been criticised for doing far too little about the problems.  But the Pope has brought up another dirty secret in the church.

BBC:  Pope admits clerical abuse of nuns including sexual slavery

Pope Francis has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

Last November, the Catholic Church’s global organisation for nuns denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that prevented them from speaking out.

The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News.

In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted that priests had behaved “in ways that went against chastity” with several women in the order, according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix.

In a separate case in India last year, a bishop was arrested over allegations that he raped a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who headed the diocese in Jalandhar in the northern state of Punjab, has denied the accusations.

In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse.

Last year, the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa.

Just days ago the Vatican’s women’s magazine, Women Church World, condemned the abuse, saying in some cases nuns were forced to abort priests’ children – something Catholicism forbids.

Pope Francis has admitted…

…that clerics have sexually abused nuns, and in one case they were kept as sex slaves.

He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was forced to shut down an entire congregation of nuns who were being abused by priests.

It is thought to be the first time that Pope Francis has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy.

He said the Church was attempting to address the problem but said it was “still going on”.

Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the pontiff admitted that the Church had an issue, and the roots lay in society “seeing women as second class”.

He said that priests and bishops had abused nuns, but said the Church was aware of the “scandal” and was “working on it”, adding that a number of clerics had been suspended.

“It’s a path that we’ve been on,” he said.

“Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it – slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery – on the part of clerics or the founder.”

Pope Francis said sexual abuse of nuns was an ongoing problem, but happened largely in “certain congregations, predominantly new ones”.

“I think it’s still taking place because it’s not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away.”

While shocking it isn’t surprising that nuns have also been victims of abuse.

More shocking is the Pope’s admission that “”I think it’s still taking place”.

CBS News: Pope Francis confirms priests’ abuse of nuns included “sexual slavery”

The pontiff conceded that it was a problem and said more action was needed. He insisted the will to confront the abuse is there, and stressed that the problem is not new, and that the Church has been working to address it for some time.

“It’s a path that we’ve been on. Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it — slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery — on the part of clerics or the founder,” the pope conceded.

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press center, later confirmed to CBS News that the order of nuns dissolved under Benedict was the Community of St. Jean in France. The reason the order was dissolved had not previously been made public.

That was in 2005. Shut down due to sexual slavery. Kept secret.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

And why is the church “working on it”? More importantly, why aren’t the police working on it? Have the Catholic priests, bishops and pope learned nothing from the unravelling scourge of scandals?

The Catholic Church has lost all moral credibility.

Pope moving slowly towards addressing abuse scandals

The Pope has been justifiably criticised for his tardiness in addressing multiple abuse scandals in the Catholic Church around the world.  He seems to be slowly moving towards being seen to be doing something about it.

Pope Francis is insisting that bishops attending his high-stakes sex abuse prevention summit will learn the laws to use against predators, how to care for victims and will make sure that no cleric abuse cases are covered up again.

The Vatican on Wednesday provided details about the Feb. 21-24 meeting, saying its main aim is to guarantee that bishops around the world “clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors.”

It’s extremely late to be making sure that bishops understand laws related to sexual predators, but at least it is happening.

Francis announced in September that he was inviting presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world to attend the summit amid a crisis in his papacy over his own botched handling of sex abuse cases and a new explosion of the scandal in the U.S., Chile and beyond.

Francis has a blemished record on handling sex abuse cases.

As a cardinal in Argentina, Francis commissioned an external legal study into the case of a popular priest accused of abuse whose conviction was upheld by the country’s supreme court. Last year, he strongly defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering for a notorious predator.

The Pope himself has had a major learning curve on this.

Francis has also been accused of turning a blind eye to the sexual misconduct with adults by the American ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. And the pope is now under the spotlight because an Argentine bishop whose career he promoted, first in Argentina and now at the Holy See, is under investigation for sexual misconduct with seminarians.

The Vatican spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said Francis realized the problem is global and must be addressed globally by the church.

The problems (plural, many, over a long time) have not been dealt with abysmally up until now.

The summit may be a move in the right direction but there looks to be a long way to go for the pope and the Catholic Church to repair extensive damage that has been done, both to many lives of victims over decades, and also to the reputation of the church.

Cartoons provoke sexual assault debate

Cartoon by Bruce McKinnon

The Star: Halifax cartoonist’s response to Kavanaugh hearing goes viral

MacKinnon said he was compelled to draw the cartoon, which was published in the weekend edition of The Chronicle Herald, to illustrate what he believes to be a crucial example of how allegations of sexual abuse are treated in North America.

“In a year that was so dominated by the #MeToo movement and the changes that I think we all hope will come from that, this seems to be an almost watershed moment and a very pivotal one for America”.

“I think it’s important that people face up to it. It is disturbing. But it’s exactly the scenario (Ford) described.

“So if we don’t talk about it, if we turn away from it and pretend it isn’t there, we’re not going to solve the problem.”

“I was surprised by the response and really encouraged by the fact that there was so much discourse that came from it, so much open debate,” he said.

“There was a lot of nasty stuff out there too, no question. It does underscore the deep divide and the real polarization of opinion here and in the U.S., but that’s what an editorial cartoon is for: to provoke debate, and hopefully, in the larger picture, some things get worked out.”

A similar cartoon:

But this issue has other important considerations that can’t be ignored either.

Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse

An important item in Sunday last night on male sexual abuse – they claimed that 1 in 6 males have been victims of abuse.

In this item the abusers were men, women, children, teens.

Male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Brave Kiwi guys, sharing their stories in the hope that others will seek help.

Brave men coming out and speaking about this in public.

Stuff:  Neil Sorensen’s years of abuse: ‘I had this horrible, big secret – and it was unbearable’

“People pretend this stuff doesn’t happen, but it does, and it ruins lives,” he says. “This story needs to be told, so that more people can get help.”

Sorensen, the former general manager of New Zealand Rugby, reveals the extent of his abuse in an interview with TVNZ’s Sunday this weekend.

Awful. As are the experiences of the other two.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Safe to Talk – 0800 044 334 (24/7) text 4334, or email support@safetotalk.nz

Rape Crisis – 0800 88 33 00 (will direct you to a nearby centre), click link for information on local helplines

HELP – 09 623 1700 – support services for sexual abuse and assault survivors

Victim Support – 0800 842 846 (24hr service)

The Harbour, online support and information for people affected by sexual abuse

Women’s Refuge (For women and children) – crisis line available on 0800 733 843

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust  03 377 6747 (For men)

If it is an emergency, or you or someone you know is at risk call 111.

Former general manager of New Zealand Rugby, Neil Sorensen says "I'm able to talk to guys and say, 'look, you can suffer ...

Former general manager of New Zealand Rugby, Neil Sorensen says “I’m able to talk to guys and say, ‘look, you can suffer trauma, survive, get help and still be a good person’.”

Catholic Church abuses under increasing scrutiny internationally and locally

Pope Francis and the Catholic Church are under increasing pressure for their woefully inadequate handling of sexual abuse by priests, and their many failures in trying to keep the abuses secret within the church.

This is happening in many countries around the world, and has been highlighted as an insidious problem locally as well. It seems to be a systemic problem within the Catholic Church.

A recent damning report in the US has prompted action there – Stirred by Sexual Abuse Report, States Take On Catholic Church

Attorneys general across the United States are taking a newly aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents.

On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation.

The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamoring for more transparency from their church, demanding that bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure.

In the three weeks since the release of the Pennsylvania report, the attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico have also said they will investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have asked local dioceses for records. Most bishops have been saying they will cooperate.

Cooperation by bishops has been badly lacking in the past.

And criticism goes right to the top of the church – What has Pope Francis covered up?

The Catholic Church is confronting a series of interconnected scandals so shameful that its very survival is threatened. Pope Francis himself is accused of covering up the activities of one of the nastiest sexual predators ever to wear a cardinal’s hat: his close ally Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington, DC.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are also implicated; they did nothing, or almost nothing, while McCarrick was seducing every seminarian he could get his hands on. (‘Hide the pretty ones!’ they used to say when he visited seminaries.) Yet powerful cardinals kept quiet and are now suspected of lying their heads off after McCarrick’s crimes were recently made public.

McCarrick is the world’s only ex-cardinal. He was forced to resign in July when sexual abuse allegations against him were found to be ‘creditable and substantiated’ by American church authorities. But now the Pope is also being urged to step down — by his own former apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò says he told Francis in 2013 that McCarrick had ‘corrupted generations of priests and seminarians’. The Pope ignored him and lifted sanctions that Benedict, who’d been told the same thing, had imposed.

Last month – Pope in Ireland: Francis speaks of Church’s failure to tackle clerical abuse ‘scandal’

The pope has spoken of his pain and shame at the failure of Church authorities to tackle the grave scandal of clerical abuse in Ireland.

On the first day of his historic Irish visit, the pontiff said people had a right to be outraged at the response of senior figures in the Catholic Church to the “repugnant crimes” inflicted on young people.

But:

Responding to the pope’s speech at Dublin Castle, victims advocacy group BishopAccountability.org said the pontiff’s remarks “gave little comfort to heartsick victims and Catholics hoping that he has a plan for ending the abuse and cover-up crisis.

“The pope again chose to commit to no specific solutions. Nor did he acknowledge his own responsibility for the crisis.”

And a day later – ‘I won’t say a word about it’: Pope silent on abuse claim letter

Pope Francis has declined to confirm or deny claims by the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the United States that he knew in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop of Washington.

The pope was dismissive of the 11-page text by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, saying that it “speaks for itself” and that he would not comment on it.

Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal last month, after a US church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

Since then, another man has come forward to say McCarrick began molesting him starting when he was 11, and several former seminarians have said McCarrick abused and harassed them when they were in seminary.

The accusations have created a crisis of confidence in the US and Vatican hierarchy.

Here in New Zealand over the last month the Otago Daily Times has published a series of articles revealing that abuse has also been perpetrated and hidden within the Catholic Church in Dunedin, around New Zealand and Australia. It appears to have been a deliberate plan to cover up abuses over decades.

Yesterday: Scale of abuse, suffering revealed

It started with one bad apple – a paedophile priest from Dunedin who abused four boys and was jailed for his crimes. But the story of Fr Magnus Murray’s crimes has opened the floodgates, releasing a torrent of torment and abuse held back for decades.

Mr Klemick can still recall every detail of four years of abuse at the hands of Ian Thompson, a teacher at St Paul’s High School, beginning in 1979 when he was just 12 years old.

The memories are of sodomy and sex acts, including the ones he was forced to perform on another young boy, also a victim of Mr Thompson.

The experience has left him battling post-traumatic stress disorder and, despite counselling, the urge to try to take his own life again.

Michael Haggie has a similar story of torment to share.

There is much more.

Now, after a months-long investigation by ODT Insight, a clearer picture of the scale of sexual offending within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin is emerging.

It began with revelations Fr Magnus Murray, a paedophile priest from Dunedin, had many more victims than previously thought.

Fr Murray was jailed in 2003 for offences against four Dunedin boys, but ODT Insight found he could have up to 15 victims on the Taieri alone, as well as others in Australia and the North Island.

But, when ODT Insight also revealed offending by Br Desmond Fay and a second Christian Brother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – in Dunedin, more victims soon came forward.

Br Fay was accused by the mother of one victim of driving her son to suicide, but the story prompted three more men to reveal they, too, had been targeted by Br Fay.

But Br Fay, who has since died, was not alone, the man said.

He also recalled being punished by former St Edmund’s principal Br Vincent Sullivan, who “put me over his knee and gave me a light spanking and then fondled my buttocks while Br Fay watched”.

The man fondled in the swimming pool by Br Fay had also learned, years later, three of his friends had been abused by Christian Brothers in Dunedin.

Two had, separately, confided in him that they had been molested by Br Francis Henery, a teacher and rugby coach at St Paul’s High School in the 1970s, he said.

THIS week, ODT Insight has confirmed another paedophile priest from Dunedin, Fr Kevin Morton, was quietly stripped of his priestly faculties in 2002 after allegations of historic abuse emerged.

A complaint in 2002 prompted the then-Dunedin Bishop Len Boyle to strip Fr Morton of his priestly faculties, but he did not defrock him.

It was the same sanction handed down to Fr Magnus Murray, who also remained a priest in retirement despite his conviction.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley, asked about Fr Morton this week, confirmed the diocese had “full records” of the complaint and Fr Morton’s punishment.

He would not elaborate, citing privacy, but Fr Morton was “dealt with through the approved complaints procedure”.

The procedure seems to have been to keep it covered up within the church, and allowing perpetrators to continue to offend elsewhere.

In 1993, Fr Robin Paulson, a fourth-form teacher at St Peter’s College in Gore, admitted six charges relating to historic offences against three boys in Southland.

He was sentenced to periodic detention, then returned home to England, where he remains a member of the Rosminians, the Catholic order beset by their own abuse scandals in Britain.

Teaching alongside Fr Paulson in Gore at the time was another man also later convicted of offences against boys.

In 1977, Patrick Thwaites was a deacon at Holy Cross College in Mosgiel, studying to be a priest, when he was dispatched to St Peter’s in Gore to teach third and fourth-formers.

In 1999, Fr Thwaites was a priest in Christchurch when he was found guilty of offences against schoolboy parishioners in Christchurch and on the West Coast, dating back to the 1980s.

Fr Thwaites has been removed from public ministry, but also remains a priest in retirement.

But ODT Insight has also been told of other allegations, including one by three men who shared the same story of abuses committed by a former top-level, long-serving member of the Dunedin diocese, who has since died.

There seems to have been many bad apples in the Catholic barrel.

And many victims are still suffering as the church fails to take anything like full responsibility.

BISHOP Dooley, speaking to ODT Insight last month, responded to the revelations of historic abuse within the Dunedin diocese by apologising to the city.

But, asked how big the list of offenders could be, he doubted it would mirror the revelations seen in other countries.

“I don’t believe that’s our case here, certainly not in the Dunedin diocese. I see no evidence for it and I’d be very surprised if their are further offenders.”

He confirmed the diocese kept records of every complaint received, but would not say how many there were or how much money the diocese had paid to victims.

The dirty secrets are being uncovered, but the Church still seems reluctant to deal with it openly or adequately.

Victims said the sexual offending in Dunedin was only part of a wider picture of violence at St Paul’s and other schools at the time.

Men like Br Fay, Br Wellsmore and Mr Thompson were notoriously bad-tempered and violent towards boys at the schools where they taught, they said. Several men have described how Mr Thompson would erupt over the smallest infractions and beat those responsible.

Chris Gamble, a St Paul’s pupil, remembered Mr Thompson as “the most heinous, violent man”.

And Suicide to avoid exposure

A Catholic school in Dunedin has been accused of a historic cover-up, after a teacher who sexually abused pupils for more than a decade took his own life when finally confronted, victims say.

Three men – all former pupils at St Paul’s High School in Rattray St – have told ODT Insight the teacher, Ian Thompson, targeted pupils at the school throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

The Christian Brothers had employed Mr Thompson after he was forced out of a Marist Fathers seminary in the North Island, allegedly after affairs with other seminarians, a third pupil said.

That seems to be a common pattern – moving a problem priest to fresh pastures where abuses continued.

Another article today – What victims want most: justice

Dunedin’s new Catholic Bishop, the Most Rev Michael Dooley, seems like a good and honourable man.

He has fronted media and his parishioners, expressed shock and pain at recent revelations, apologised to victims and the city for past events and urged those still suffering in silence to come forward.

But he remains reluctant to answer some tough questions.

Bishop Dooley won’t say how many complaints have been received, or how many past offenders he is aware of, within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin.

That information will only be revealed to police or the Royal Commission, not to media, the bishop  says.

He is also not yet prepared to discuss some allegations levelled against clergy, including those aimed at one of the most senior figures within the diocese in recent times.

Instead, he has insisted Dunedin’s problem remains small compared with  the shocking revelations seen in other countries, from the United States and Ireland to Australia.

But, as he does so, the list of alleged offenders from the Deep South keeps growing.

The pattern is repeated elsewhere, including in the North Island, where Hamilton Bishop the Most Rev Steve Lowe also remains tight-lipped.

The Catholic Church still seems reluctant to address a massive issue that is severely damaging the church.

For men like Paul Klemick, abused as a young pupil by a Catholic teacher at St Paul’s High School, what happened is not historic.

It remains an everyday reality  and as painful as it was when they were innocent children.

But as they speak, one word keeps coming up.

Justice.

Men like Paul Klemick want their experiences acknowledged and they want compensation.

But, most of all, they want the Catholic Church to answer for what happened.

Which is exactly why the Catholic Church, and churches of all stripes, need to be part of the Government’s pending Royal Commission into historic abuse.

But the Government is moving slowly on the Royal Commission: Cabinet yet to hear abuse inquiry proposal

Three months after receiving a report on its proposed terms of reference, Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin is yet to complete the next step in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in state care.

Martin, alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, announced the inquiry as the “final commitment” of the coalition Government’s 100 day plan at the beginning of February. At the time, the stated time-frame for it to begin to consider evidence was mid-to-late 2018.

However, in a letter addressed to law firm Cooper Legal – which represents more than 900 people with claims of abuse under state care – Martin reveals she is yet to finalise her proposal to Cabinet on the inquiry. The proposal is supposed to take into account Commission chair Sir Anand Satyanand’s report on public submissions about the draft terms of reference. While Satyanand submitted his report on May 30, Martin is yet to follow this up with a proposal to Cabinet.

Before the inquiry can proceed to evidential stage, Cabinet must decide on its final terms of reference, additional commission members, and budget. That decision-making process is due to begin once Martin makes her formal proposal on the inquiry to Cabinet.

In the meantime, the many victims continue to suffer.

 

 

 

From #MeToo to #WhatNext?

The #MeToo campaign has done well to raise the profile of the insidious history of sexual abuse, but Jacinda Ardern has made a good point – how to translate the initial impetus into ongoing action in New Zealand,

The Spinoff: ‘We need to say, OK, what next?’ Jacinda Ardern on the impact of #MeToo

The New Zealand prime minister has called for the energy of the #MeToo movement to be translated into action. Speaking to the Spinoff as part of a new podcast series in collaboration with the Auckland Museum, Jacinda Ardern said that the sharing of stories risk equating “to nothing in real terms” if there is no resulting change.

“What we need to do is then say, OK, well what next?” Ardern told Noelle McCarthy in the first of the podcast series Venus Envy. “You don’t want a movement, really, of women continually feeling like they need to tell stories that then equate to nothing in real terms. And so that’s the question that I’m interested in asking: what next?”

The challenge was to change the view around what was acceptable behaviour, she said.

“That to me comes back to that respect question, of how we treat one another, of conversations around consent and healthy relationships.”

These were “things we should be talking about in our schools, in safe places, where we learn and kind of our social norms, before people are entering into the workplace”.

The solutions to the issues raised in recent months needed to have both a cultural and policy dimension, she said.

“When you’ve got a country where you have such high rates of violence against women, you want to remove every barrier so a woman can make a choice, have a choice about her future. And, so long as we have women over-represented in low-paid work, or unsupported as carers, the choice is removed.”

Ardern is diverting onto a largely separate issue there.

There continues to be alarming levels of abuse and violence against women, but that’s not all. It is also a major problem for children, and men also victims, both directly and indirectly.

The anti-violence, anti-abuse and anti-discrimination  messages need to be repeated over and over if New Zealand society is to become a decent society for most citizens. At the moment we are falling well short of a decent society.

And this decency needs to also become far more apparent in our discussions and debates, in Parliament, in the mainstream media and in social media.

This is not a political issue apart from needing more politicians to speak up and act. It is largely a social issue, which means all of our society should be acknowledging the problems and contributing to finding better ways of interacting and better ways of behaving towards each other.

Russell McVeagh abuse report due out today

Hints of “shocking abusive bullying” and “abuses of power” seem to have leaked out in advance of the review of alleged sexual abuse and abuse of power at Russell McVeagh.

RNZ: Russell McVeagh review details to be released today

RNZ understands the review details incidents of “shocking abusive bullying” and “abuses of power”.

Partners at the firm have been walked through the findings in a fraught meeting with Dame Margaret Bazely, with some left in tears.

The review is looking into the sexual harassment claims of 2015/2016 and the firm’s response, any other sexual harassment claims or any other improper conduct and the firm’s response to those claims, the firm’s standards, systems and policies relating to the management of staff, the firm’s implementation of those policies and whether they adequately safeguard staff from sexual harassment and the culture of the firm.

The review will be made public at 10am. Following the release, Dame Margaret Bazely will brief Russell McVeagh staff.

RNZ details the background to revelations being released:

  • On 14 February, Newsroom published a story detailing three sexual assault complaints involving interns and two older male lawyers at leading law firm Russell McVeagh. It was reported the incidents took place two years ago. That summer there were ten clerks on the summer intern programme. Five of the clerks were female and they declined full-time job offers from the firm after the programme.
  • In the following days, Victoria University confirmed several of its students on internships at Russell McVeagh reported being sexually assaulted by lawyers. The police were involved but no charges resulted.
  • At the time, Russell McVeagh senior partner Pip Greenwood said the firm’s board was aware of the allegationsand conducted an internal investigation. The men involved no longer work at the company, she said.
  • Just over a week after the initial story broke, new allegations were made of inappropriate sexual conduct between university students and senior lawyers at Russell McVeagh. In a social media post, AUT law lecturer Khylee Quince said the Auckland University students described an evening where there was heavy drinking between students and lawyers, leading to sex on a boardroom table.
  • At the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s annual review in late February, National MP Melissa Lee raised questions over the government’s continued use of Russell McVeagh.

If the pre-release reports are accurate it sounds like tough times for Russell McVeagh.

At least it appears to be being addressed, so some good may come out of this if it is dealt with properly by the law firm.

Newsroom also pre-empt the release of the report: Four things the Russell McVeagh review must address

Questions have been raised about when Russell McVeagh knew and responded to allegations ranging from sexual assault to rape by five summer interns. The claims relate to at least two incidents and involved two lawyers employed by the firm at the time. Bazley has been tasked with reviewing and giving recommendations relating to the allegations, plus Russell McVeagh’s policies around sexual harassment and the wider culture of the firm.

The main things Bazley’s report must address:

  1. How Russell McVeagh handled the complaints
    Russell McVeagh has ensured the review is independent, but there is no indication whether Bazley has been given full and complete access to all of the firm’s records.
  2. Reference for one of the men involved
    One of the lawyers went on to work at Duncan Cotterill, the other went on to share an office with other lawyers.Duncan Cotterill said it had no idea of the allegations at the time the man was hired. Duncan Cotterill said it was led to believe by a reference check that the incident was minor.
  3. Continuing to use one of the men for legal work 
    One of the men was receiving Russell McVeagh work once he left the firm. Russell McVeagh told Newsroom it was ethically obliged to keep him on a case, even though the law firm had to ban female staff from working on that account and bar the former senior staffer from attending meetings at its office.
  4. Why Russell McVeagh did not inform the Law Society 
    The Law Society was first informed of the claims in October 2016 when one of the women told the society, almost 10 months after the incidents. The firm’s partners may have breached their legal obligations under the Lawyers Conduct and Client Care Rules by failing to report the alleged misconduct immediately.

We may or may not get answers to these questions today.

Research: 15% of NZ men abused

The Mosaic charity working with men recovering from abuse claims that research shows that at least 15% of men have suffered from sexual abuse.


New Research on Sexual Abuse of Males in NZ

1 in 6 – that is 15 per cent, or up to 300,000 – New Zealand males have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime, says Mosaic.

Mosaic, is a New Zealand charity based in Wellington. They work with males of all ages and backgrounds to assist them to recover from the effects of sexual abuse.

“The research we launched today validates the anecdotes that are common in this field that New Zealand’s rate is far higher than commonly reported”, said Mr. Jeffrey, spokesperson for Mosaic Wellington. “The Government quotes a figure of 3% but this does not reveal the true extent of the issue”, he said.

We are confident that Mosaic’s figures are reliable because they match other studies conducted overseas, which also show a similar rate of 1 in 6. This means that more than the number of men who smoke cigarettes in New Zealand have experienced sexual abuse.

Male survivor groups have been working in New Zealand for over 25 years now, and we have supported thousands of men. “This research confirms we are only dealing with the tip of the iceberg. We know that the methods used by Mosaic work and improve the well-being of guys that have the courage to reach out to us.

“The real tragedy is the thousands of men that we don’t see, who suffer alone. In New Zealand society child sexual abuse towards boys isn’t always recognised. This study also shows that only 10% of New Zealanders consider males to be at risk of sexual abuse. In that environment it is very difficult for boys and men to come forward. Often they are not believed which can set back their recovery by years, or in some cases decades”, said Mr. Jeffrey.

 New Zealand men need to know that they are not alone if they have been the victims of sexual abuse, no matter what age they are. There are services in place to help and Mosaic is one of them. Partners, whanau and friends are welcome to support males or receive support themselves.

Prevelance_and_Public_perception_of_Abuse_of_NZ_Males.pdf


On Facebook: Mosaic – Supporting Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Wellington NZAotearoa

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Abused men

Sexual abuse of women and abuse of children generally now gets a lot of attention and condemnation, but while abuse of boys and men by women may be not as prevalent it can be just as damaging for the victims.

The Herald highlights this in Men who were sexually abused by women tell their stories.

Aaron Gilmore was not even a teenager when he was sexually abused by a family friend he regarded as a second mother.

But when he reported it to police years later they told him they couldn’t see what crime had taken place.

Ken Clearwater was 12 years old when he said he was sexually violated by a woman and asked to do things he could never comprehend and was left scarred, ashamed and broken.

He never reported that abuse or named the woman involved.

Both men carried a deep shame for years, worried that police and society wouldn’t believe that they had been abused by women.

Both men believe this is why males don’t report it.

It’s a big thing for these men to talk about this publicly. Hopefully it will help other male victims to report abuse.

It’s not only men who feel shame and don’t think they will be believed, women and children can have these same problems, but that doesn’t diminish the difficulties faced by abused men.

In 2005 New Zealand law was changed to raise the maximum jail term to 10 years for any “sexual connection” with a person under 16.

Sexual offence law should  generally be gender neutral, abuse is abuse no matter who the victim is.

The police reaction was one he will never forget.

“The officer said ‘I’m failing to see a crime here’ and my partner lost it,” he said.

Although justice was eventually served, Gilmore said it has been a long road to recovery and he still struggles with society’s view of sexual abuse.

He also said people needed to stop thinking men or boys enjoyed such abuse or that it was “good practice” as that wasn’t helping men talk about it.

An important point – trivialising and excusing and joking about it is seriously detrimental to dealing with a serious issue.

Non-consensual sex is serious abuse no matter what the gender of the perpetrators and the victims are.

And female sex offenders are more common than had been thought. The size of the problem has been hidden by societal pressure to down play or ignore the problem.

Female sex offenders
While female sex offenders may seem rare, research released this month showed it’s a lot more common than previously thought.

A survey in the US found that a similar amount of women reported being raped in a 12-month period as the amount of men who were “made to penetrate” a female offender.
A new paper titled Sexual Victimisation Perpetrated by Women: Federal Data Reveal Surprising Prevalence, contradicts the idea that female sexual perpetration is rare.

Researchers used data from four main surveys, including from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, to reach their conclusion.

Using CDC data, they found that women and men reported nearly equal rates of non-consensual sex in a 12-month period.

It found 1.6 per cent of women in the US reported being raped in the past 12 months (1.9 million), which is a similar rate to the 1.7 per cent of men (1.9 million) who reportedly were “made to penetrate a perpetrator”.

Sexual abuse and rape are serious problems for men as well as for women, and for children regardless of their gender.

Ministry of Health:

Abuse

Everyone in a family needs to feel safe and have relationships that are supportive, nurturing and trusting.

Family violence is when a family member is abusive towards others. As well as physical assault, it includes sexual violence, emotional abuse and controlling behaviour. It can be very unsafe and frightening for those involved.

  • Physical abuse – assaulting an adult or child. Includes hitting, punching, kicking, using a weapon, slapping and pulling hair.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse – includes verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, damage to property, allowing children to see or hear domestic violence, and controlling someone’s contact with friends.
  • Sexual abuse – includes forced sexual contact without a person’s permission, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.

Family violence is a health issue. Any experience of family violence can result in physical and mental health consequences for victims, perpetrators and children who are witnesses. Exposure to family violence increases the likelihood of other health risk-associated behaviours: smoking, substance abuse, overeating and unsafe sex.

Getting help

If abuse is happening in your family or you’re worried about someone else – a friend, neighbour, workmate or child’s friend – then get help now.

Call the Family Violence Information Line  0800 456 450.

They’ll put you in touch with organisations in your area that can help. The information line is available seven days a week, from 9 am to 11 pm.

http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/abuse