Friday, July 31, 2009
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:46 PM on 31st July 2009
Specialist child abuse detectives at Stratford in East London have launched an investigation
Police are hunting a suspected illegal immigrant accused of raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl who had been forced to marry him.
The Bangladeshi, in his 40s, is also wanted over claims that he sexually assaulted the girl's 12-year-old sister.
He disappeared after the elder girl, now aged 17, contacted the Metropolitan Police on June 26 because she feared she was now being forced into a second marriage.
Specialist child abuse detectives based at Stratford were told that the girl, from an Asian family living in Bethnal Green in London's East End, had been the subject of a forced marriage in April 2007 when she was 15.
Officers have arrested a 53-year-old woman, believed to be another family member, on suspicion of aiding and abetting rape and actual bodily harm. The arrest for assault is linked to an attack on a six-year-old boy.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: 'The sham marriage took place at an address in the E2 area. She alleged she was subsequently raped by the man.
'Further inquiries revealed a second girl, then aged 12, had also been sexually assaulted by the man.
'A 53-year-old woman was arrested on July 7 on suspicion of aiding and abetting rape and actual bodily harm.
'She has subsequently been bailed to return on September 1 to an East London police station pending further enquiries.
'The male suspect remains outstanding and extensive police inquiries continue to trace him.'
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Orders won't have to pay a penny towards Ryan plans
By ine Kerr Political Correspondent
Wednesday July 29 2009
RELIGIOUS orders will not have to fork out any money on the Government's €25m plan for acting on the Ryan report into child abuse.
Instead, the Government will rely solely on making cutbacks and securing new funding to boost the number of social workers by 270, recruit more counsellors and inspectors and erect a memorial to the thousands of child abuse victims.
Any additional funds from religious orders will go to a trust for the victims.
With the 18 religious orders still in talks with the Government over increasing their financial contributions, the Cabinet last night appointed a three-person committee to scrutinise the accounts they have submitted.
The panel, chaired by former chairman of the Revenue Commissioners Frank Daly, will report to the Government as to the "adequacy" of the statements for assessing the resources of the congregations.
"The Government indicated that while the panel is carrying out its work, it expected the congregations to be working to produce an offer of a substantial contribution by way of reparation for the suffering of children in residential institutions," a Government statement said.
The other panel members are Catherine Treacy, chief executive of the Property Registration Authority, and John Donnelly, a former chairman of accountants Deloitte and Touche.
The additional €25m cost of implementing the recommendations is on top of the €1.3bn the Government has already paid in compensation -- a figure that is 10 times what the religious orders offered to contribute under the 2002 indemnity deal.
"The €25m will come from Exchequer funding. Any contributions from religious orders will go directly to the trust fund," said a spokeswoman for Children's Minister Barry Andrews.
CORI director general Sr Marianne O'Connor said it would be "good" if religious orders built on the funding they are already providing.
"I'm sure the congregations would consider anything that might be put forward. Everything is on the table. They have put in their statements," she told the Irish Independent.
Asked if it would be an important gesture for the religious orders to contribute towards the €25m costs of the implementation plan, Sr O'Connor said: "The congregations are making a very substantial contribution at the moment.
"For example, they have maintained care homes for former residents, they are supporting them in educational initiatives and counselling initiatives and the helpline, which has cost something in the region of €16m."
The bulk of the €25m relates to the cost of employing additional social workers and inspection staff. Savings will be achieved through "rationalisation" in the HSE but the final figures on how much must be achieved through savings will only emerge over time and in the December Budget.
"It will be a combination of provision being made through the estimates process, as well as savings having to be made," Mr Andrews said. "I'm confident the funding we need will be provided."
Child Abuse Commission to cost up to €136m
The Comptroller and Auditor General says the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse could end up costing the State as much as €136m.
The Commission was originally given a two-year timeframe in which to complete its work, which was expected to cost around €2m.
By the time it finishes, it will have lasted for more than 10 years and will cost between €126m and €136m, according to a report today from the C&AG.
He says progress was extremely slow in the initial years as the commission was hampered by delays in agreeing legal expenses and compensation schemes.
The comptroller is recommending that, in future, more attention be given to establishing information systems that will allow costs to be estimated on an ongoing basis.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
PGHIMC - Pittsburgh Independent Media Center
Iranians rape virgin girls before executing them
by elder of ziyon Sunday, Jul. 19, 2009 at 4:50 PM
Iranians rape virgin girls before executing them
Here is a sterling example of Iranian human rights, from The Jerusalem Post:
In a shocking and unprecedented interview, directly exposing the inhumanity of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's religious regime in Iran, a serving member of the paramilitary Basiji militia has told this reporter of his role in suppressing opposition street protests in recent weeks. ...
He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so "impressed my superiors" that, at 18, "I was given the 'honor' to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death."
In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a "wedding" ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard - essentially raped by her "husband."
"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," he said.
Why the regret, if the marriages were "legal?"
"Because," he went on, "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.
"I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over," he said. "I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her."
Apparently, this was known. From a book review in 2002:
It remains to be said that the fate of women in the prisons of the Iranian Islamic Revolution is worse than the fate of men. It is not necessarily because women are less resistant and less tolerant to torture, but because women are considered from the theological perspective of the Iranian regime to be an element of seduction, and their bodies a place of evil and impurity. The torture of a woman's body may take the form of rape. Despite the necessity of secrecy that imposes itself in these cases, some women political prisoners have dared to speak up in their memoirs about the torture and rape they were subjected to. However most of the women either were not given the chance to talk or have chosen not to talk. In fact, raped women were often executed. A woman's rape is frequently the last act that precedes her execution. This is explained by the rule in Iranian political prisons that the sentence of execution cannot be carried out if the woman is a virgin. Since there is a theological belief that if a woman dies a virgin she will go to heaven, the politically active virgin is forced to "marry" before her execution and thus to insure she will go to hell. She is forced to "marry" the hangman who will carry out her execution.. This marriage is conducted as a legitimate and official contract which includes, among other things, an estimated dowry. This "dowry" is subsequently paid to the family of the victim; it simultaneously becomes the equivalent of an official notification that she was executed.
Iran and children’s rights
Iran is the only country in the world where its legislations function directly against children.
Article 1210 of the constitution: The civil law sets the age of consent for girls to be 9 years of age!
Section 84, paragraph 179 of labour legislation defines the minimum age of prohibition of labour to be 15! The amendment article to this section, briefly, overrules the minimum age limits, should the parents or guardians of the children either give their consent or be the proprietors of where their children are employed! By parents’ or Guardians’ consent, children could also be contracted out and would be exempted from the minimum age restrictions.
Articles 623 to 625 relating to religious practices, authorises child chastisement up to causing death. Even where punishment by the father leads to the death of his child, the penalty for causing death by chastisement is 10 days in prison plus the payment of compensation!
In the Islamic Republic, the state has a free hand to suppress and terrorise, execute by stoning to death, and carry out hanging in public, Article 1210 of its constitution legalises paedophilia!
By lowering the age of consent, the abuse of children is legalised.
The signing of any international convention by the Islamic Republic is meaningless and it is only done in order to mislead the international community about its own internal affairs.
According to Islamic law, should a female die as a virgin, she will be considered a martyr and will be destined for heaven. Hundreds of 14-17 year old girls supporting the “The Peoples’ Mujahedeen” were forced to temporarily marry members of the “Revolutionary Guards Corps” before their execution. Some were forced to marry their own torturer and executioner. This was done to deny them going to heaven!
How could anyone expect respect for international conventions from such a brutal and medieval regime?
Forget WMDs, forget the theocracy, forget Iran's plans to dominate the world. I think we have the best reasons to topple the Islamic Republic right here.
UPDATE: While these stories appear to have taken place a few years ago, the Huffington Post has details on the apparent prison rape of an Iranian woman protester in the past month, as well as of an 18-year old boy.
And for those commenters who think I'm saying that Islam condones these acts, try to read what I'm actually saying. I'm talking about the Islamic Republic of Iran, not Islam.
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Preacher Guilty In Boy's Exorcism Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 9, 2004
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN--After deliberating just four hours, a jury convicted Ray Anthony Hemphill with felony physical abuse of a child causing great bodily harm in the suffocation death of 8-year-old Terrance Cottrell Jr.
The boy's father told reporters the ruling was "minor justice", adding that he thought prosecutors should have charged Hemphill with manslaughter or murder.
Hemphill was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs after the verdict was read Friday afternoon. He will be held in jail until his scheduled August 18 sentencing unless his family and church can post a $10,000 bail. At that time he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and five more years on extended supervision and up to $25,000 in fines.
Ray Hemphill, 47, was ordained as a pastor of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith by his brother, "Bishop" David Hemphill, who founded the church in 1977.
Hemphill told police on the night of August 22, 2003 that he had been holding a series of special prayer services, described by some as exorcisms, over the previous three weeks to remove "evil spirits" of autism from Cottrell. Hemphill, who weighed 157 pounds, described how he would sit or lay on "Junior's" chest for up to two hours at a time, whispering into the boy's ear for the "demons" to leave his body.
Three women -- including the child's mother, Patricia Cooper -- described to police how they sat on Cottrell's arms and legs while Hemphill sat on his chest. One woman said she pushed down on the boy's diaphragm several times during the service.
At some point during the service, the boy stopped breathing.
During the trial that began Tuesday, Hemphill's defense attorney Thomas Harris brought in an expert to testify that high levels of three types of medication, including an anti-psychotic drug, caused the boy's death.
Prosecutor Mark S. Williams presented a different toxicologist to state that the medication levels, while high, were not within the toxic range and did not contribute to his death.
The medical examiner who performed Cottrell's autopsy told jurors he found signs of hemorrhaging in the boy's eye, a condition seen in cases of strangulation, or increased pressure to the vascular blood supply.
During closing arguments, Williams told the jury that Hemphill knew he was hurting Cottrell because the boy was struggling to get away. Williams said that children with autism do not like to be held or touched. Williams said Hemphill simply didn't care.
None of the three women testified during the trial, citing their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify to avoid incriminating themselves. Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann had not yet decided whether to file charges against any of the women.
"Medical examiner: Autistic boy suffocated during exorcism" (Court TV)
"Exorcist's brother says God claimed autistic boy's life, not defendant" (Court TV)
"Jury finds minister guilty in autistic boy's death" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
"Terrence Cottrell: Death By Exorcism" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
Exorcism Suspected In Child Death
6-Year Old Found Severely Beaten, Stabbed, Strangled In Atlanta
Font size Print E-mail Share By John Esterbrook
Christopher Carey, charged with murder in the death of a 6-year-old girl at the Savannah Suites motel in downtown Atlanta. (Fulton County Sheriff's Dept.)
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(CBS/AP) A 6-year-old girl found dead in a motel room had been strangled, stabbed, beaten and covered in pages torn from a Bible, possibly in an attempt to "undemonize" her, police said Tuesday.
Christopher Carey, 29, and his wife Valerie, 27, were taken to a psychiatric ward Monday and charged with murder. The husband was later transferred to jail.
The Careys were arrested after they were spotted wandering the street naked in the freezing cold with a 7-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy.
The older child provided detectives with information that led investigators to the motel where the 6-year-old was discovered, police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley said.
Quigley said the adults indicated they were conducting a ritual that "had something to do with undemonizing the child."
The relationship between the two adults and three children was not immediately clear. Quigley said DNA testing would be conducted to determine whether the children were related to the Careys.
Christopher Carey was being held Tuesday at Fulton County Jail after waiving his first court appearance. His next hearing was scheduled for Feb. 3.
Valerie Carey still was being held at a hospital, said jail spokesman Lt. Clarence Huber. Both also face charges of cruelty to children, public indecency and obstruction of police.
The surviving children were placed with the Division of Family and Children Services.
The two adults apparently had been transients living at the motel for an extended period, possibly through assistance from a church, Quigley said.
If the girl was the victim of an exorcism, hers would be at least the sixth such death in the past nine years.
On March, 8, 1995, Kyung-A Ha, 25, was beaten severely during a night-long exorcism conducted by members of the Jesus-Amen Ministries in San Francisco. Kyung Jae Chung was killed in a July 4, 1996 exorcism in Los Angeles.
In 1997, a 5-year old girl in Bronx, N.Y., was forced to drink a mixture of ammonia, pepper, vinegar and olive oil because her mother and grandmother thought she was possessed. Gagged with duct tape, she died.
Charity Miranda, a teenager from Long Island, N.Y., was suffocated in a plastic bag by her mother and sister during a ceremony in 1998. Terrance Cottrell, an 8-year-old, was beaten to death during an attempted exorcism in Milwaukee last September.
Trial reveals evangelist's hidden cash, properties
By JON GAMBRELL
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
FILE - In this Thursday, July 23, 2009 file photo, evangelist Tony Alamo talks to reporters as he is escorted to a waiting police car outside the Federal Court House in Texarkana, Ark. Followers of evangelist Tony Alamo funneled all their earnings back into his ministry, building a multimillion-dollar empire that continues even today without a trace of the preacher's fingerprints. Now, after Alamo's conviction on federal sex-crime charges, testimony at that trial could be used to picked apart the financial apparatus that allowed him to prey on young girls. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)
TEXARKANA, Ark. -- Evangelist Tony Alamo, awaiting sentencing on sex abuse charges, has been running a multimillion-dollar empire that hums along without a trace of his fingerprints.
Followers who had funneled all their earnings back into Alamo's apocalyptic ministry testified during his trial about how properties, vehicles, businesses and bank accounts fueling its operations ended up in their names.
Had the jury acquitted the preacher of charges that he took underage girls across state lines for sex, it might have given prosecutors another avenue to charge Alamo, who served four years in prison for tax evasion during the 1990s.
With his conviction, it offers the Internal Revenue Service and former followers pursuing civil court judgments against the 74-year-old a clear shot at dismantling the ministry that allowed him to prey on young girls.
"We're trying to have the court order damages that actually punish them and set an example for others," said W. David Carter, a Texas lawyer handling a lawsuit by two former followers who say they were beaten. "To the extent it requires a financial dismantling of some of the ministry's businesses, we're willing and hopefully going to be able to do that."
During the trial, U.S. attorneys used a flow chart to map financial transactions in Alamo's organization, showing plane tickets and hotel rooms for him and his "wives" bought by trusted followers with their credit cards. All those cards were paid through a Texarkana bank account listed under the name of the evangelist's bookkeeper.
Some of Alamo's followers acknowledged having ministry properties in their names to avoid prying by the IRS. Others said Alamo received a $52,000 annual salary only to appease the IRS.
However, former followers testified that Alamo was informed each day what his church's take was from its various businesses and personally signed off on every expenditure, whether food, clothing or toiletries for his followers.
At times, Alamo hid cash profits inside his private bedroom, one witness testified.
Defense witnesses acknowledged multiple properties being listed in their names, ranging from a warehouse in Booneville, Ark., mobile homes in Oklahoma and houses spread through Fort Smith, Fouke and Texarkana, Ark.
Alamo's longtime driver Sanford White testified to having one home in his name but living at another address.
"You don't remember your name being on the deed of the house you actually live in?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Taylor asked.
"I don't recall ... because really we work together to provide housing," White said.
The different names likely protect Alamo from having to pay off tax liens in his name. In Arkansas' Miller County, home to his 15-acre complex in Fouke, records show the evangelist remains liable for a $100,000 civil court judgment. In Sebastian County, home to another Alamo church, clerks say numerous federal tax liens still remain active against the preacher.
David Stell, an IRS spokesman in Oklahoma City, said he didn't know whether the agency had anyone in court taking notes on witness testimony. However, he said that didn't mean the agency wouldn't be interested.
"Folks in the IRS read the newspapers, watch TV and gather information like everybody else does," Stell said. "If information comes up, that's something we'll consider."
Alamo also faces active lawsuits against the church, including a federal suit brought by Carter. That suit asks for more than $75,000 in damages and a jury trial over alleged beatings that left the two men with emotional distress and scarring.
Monday, July 27, 2009
July 16, 2009 12:41 PM
Police: Toddler's Exorcism Turns Deadly
Posted by Ryan Smith
(Family Photo)13-month old Amora Bain Carson
HENDERSON, Texas (CBS/ AP) It was the worst crime scene anybody working the case had ever seen. Authorities say it was Dec. 2, 2008, when the lifeless body of 13-month old Amora Bain Carson was found covered in blunt force trauma wounds and human bite marks, allegedly the victim of an attempted exorcism gone terribly wrong.
The child’s mother, Jessica Carson, 20, and Carson’s boyfriend, Blaine Keith Milam, also 20, both face capital murder charges and will be tried separately.
The two were arrested after sheriff's deputies say they responded to a 911 call and found Amora Carson beaten. "The mother later confessed that (her boyfriend) Milam killed the child," sheriff's Lt. Reynold Humber says, according to Tyler News-Journal.
“The child had been beaten so much we couldn’t tell how many times it was hit and then there were more than 20 bite marks on her body," Humber told the The Tyler Morning Telegraph. "The bottom line regardless of any stories is that they killed that sweet little innocent child.”
(AP/Tyler Morning Telegraph)Jessica Carson, 18, left, and Blaine Milam, 19, are led from the Rusk County courthouse in Henderson, Texas, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 after they were arraigned on capital murder charges.
The Telegraph reported the couple went to a pawn shop to sell household tools, to get enough money to hire a priest to perform an exorcism. When the two were unsuccessful, it is alleged that they took matters into their own hands.
Milam’s capital murder trial is scheduled to begin in January. State District Judge Clay Gossett just moved the trial outside of the county where the crime took place. Carson has also not yet been tried.
Both Milam and Carson remain jailed on $2 million bond.
The dead child's biological father is serving in the Army.
Man beat daughter over church refusal, court told
1:26PM Thursday Jul 09, 2009
Photo / Brett PhibbsA 55-year-old man who beat his daughter over the head with a lump of concrete when she refused to go to his Mormon church "does not understand what all the fuss is about", Hastings District Court has heard.
Uluia Muliipu appeared in court after pleading guilty to one count of assault with intent to injure.
Judge Geoff Rea said on February 22 this year Muliipu had become involved in an argument with his daughter who refused to attend church.
He chased her down the street and back into the house picking up a lump of concrete along the way.
He then whacked her over the head in a bedroom with the concrete causing skin on her head to split and start bleeding.
They were both "covered in blood" and he kicked her in the face causing bruising.
"When police arrived you told them your daughter was lucky you did not kill her," Judge Rea said.
He took his shirt off and ran into the laundry where he attempted to rinse the blood out of the shirt.
When told by police to desist he continued rinsing the shirt and blocking their way before he was pepper sprayed.
His daughter was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital with head injuries.
Defence lawyer Roger Stone told the court Muliipu had been angry his daughter refused to go to church.
He had been under stress before the incident.
He was a "proud" man who was "disappointed" his daughter had elected not to follow his Mormon faith.
Mr Stone said blood on Muliipu's shirt came from him hugging his daughter just before police arrived at his house.
Judge Rea said a probation officer's report made "grim reading" because he "still does not understand what all the fuss is about".
He had been ejected from an anger management course because of his views and had an inability to understand "whacking someone on the head is unacceptable".
In the circumstances there was only one response and that was imprisonment. Muliipu was sentenced to 12 months in jail.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Suspect priests were shielded, report reveals
By MAEVE SHEEHAN
Sunday July 26 2009
THE long-awaited report on how Cardinal Desmond Connell and other members of the Catholic hierarchy in Dublin handled child sex abuse allegations has shocked senior officials in the Department of Justice.
Officials who have seen it say it is "damning" and "doesn't pull punches" as it documents how suspect priests were moved from one parish to the next, shielded from the rigours of the law, according to sources.
The report on child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese was submitted to the Minister for Justice last week but a publication date is uncertain. The Government has asked the Attorney General for legal advice on publishing the report because it names at least two priests who face prosecution on child abuse offences.
There are fears their trials may be prejudiced.
"The report is pretty damning of the Catholic hierarchy," said the source.
Dermot Ahern, the Minister for Justice, is believed to be studying the report this weekend, now that his controversial Criminal Justice Amendment Act has been signed into law.
"The minister wants the report to be published as soon as possible. There is a legal process in place and the last thing the minister wants to see is a trial being prejudiced because of premature publication of the report," said a spokesman for Mr Ahern.
The Commission of Inquiry into the Dublin archdiocese examined the responses of 19 bishops to the alleged sexual abuse of 450 children by Catholic priests.
There were so many cases of alleged child abuse that the commission focussed on a representative sample of 46 priests, investigating in detail how they were handled by church superiors.
Dr Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, has warned that the report will shock and horrify the public once the contents become known. He has said that since 1940 more than 400 children had been abused by at least 152 priests in the Dublin area.
"It is likely that thousands of young people across Ireland were abused by priests in the period under investigation and the horror of that abuse was not recognised for what it is," he said.
The commission of inquiry was established in 2006 and was chaired by Circuit Court Judge Yvonne Murphy. The overall cost of the Commission of Investigation to date is €3.6m, a figure which covers administration, staffing costs and legal fees.
- MAEVE SHEEHAN
Offenses were from 1970-1986
July 22, 2009
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org
The former No. 2 official of the Catholic church in Chicago admitted that he knew 25 priests broke the law by sexually abusing children but did not report them, according to depositions made public Tuesday.
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Raymond E. Goedert's statements show "the lengths they went to to protect their reputation and the priest at the peril of the child," said attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents men who have sued the archdiocese over alleged childhood molestation.
"I knew the civil law considered it a crime," Goedert said in the deposition. "But I'm not a civil lawyer. I think we just relied on -- a lot on our -- we knew it was wrong, what was done. And we used our common sense and prudence with the help of people -- expert in the field to assist us in resolving these cases."
Goedert, the past president of the national Canon Law (Catholic Church law) Society, said families of the victims were not seeking to get the police involved and have the priests criminally charged -- they simply wanted to prevent any other children from being victimized. So while now the church calls police when it learns of credible allegations of abuse, in those days --the '70s and mid-80s -- it did not.
"I simply would not talk about it to anyone except those who had a right to know because of their position in the diocese," Goedert said.
The archdiocese issued a statement confirming that settlements had been reached with six survivors of abuse by priests totaling $3.9 million and that all of the abuse happened between 1970 and 1986. The priests involved were all removed from ministry by 1991 or earlier, the church noted.
Barbara Dorris, outreach director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the depositions show the church's policy of moving abusive priests from one parish to another without warning officials at the new parish and without adequately monitoring abusive priests. Goedert's deposition was taken in 2007.
"The deposition and documents show how deeply ingrained secrecy, deceit and recklessness are in this archdiocese," Dorris said. "Only a fool would believe that decades-old, deeply rooted patterns of ingrained secrecy, deceit and recklessness have magically been transformed."
The settlement documents including Goedert's deposition and a list of priests with sustained allegations of abuse are posted at bishop-accounta bility.org.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Last updated July 24, 2009 2:17 p.m. PT
Convicted pastor says he's 'one of the prophets'
By JON GAMBRELL
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
Evangelist Tony Alamo, left, is escorted from the Federal Court House in Texarkana, Ark., after a day of jury deliberations in his trial Thursday, July 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
TEXARKANA, Ark. -- Tony Alamo, a one-time street preacher who built a multimillion-dollar ministry and became an outfitter of the stars, was convicted Friday of taking girls as young as 9 across state lines for sex. Alamo stood silently as the verdict was read, a contrast to his occasional mutterings during testimony. His five victims sat looking forward in the gallery. One, a woman he "married" at age 8, wiped away a tear.
"I'm just another one of the prophets that went to jail for the Gospel," Alamo called to reporters afterward as he was escorted to a waiting U.S. marshal's vehicle.
Shouts of "Bye, bye, Bernie" - Alamo was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman - came from a crowd gathered on the Arkansas side of the courthouse. Some came from Fouke, the nearby town where Alamo's 15-acre compound sits. Others were former followers of his ministries in Arkansas, California and New York.
The jury of nine men and three women took about 11 hours to consider the charges against Alamo. The 10-count federal indictment accused him of taking his underage "wives" across state lines as early as 1994.
Jury foreman Frank Oller of Texarkana, Ark., said jurors deliberated more than a day only to ensure they considered everything. The testimony convinced them the 74-year-old evangelist kept the girls as sexual partners, not office workers as his defense team claimed.
"That was the evidence. That was proven," Oller said. "We came up with a full decision that we are quite satisfied with."
Defense lawyer Don Ervin called the evidence against Alamo "insufficient" and said the preacher would appeal. He also said Alamo's criminal history - he served four years in prison on tax charges in the 1990s - "will hurt him" at sentencing in six to eight weeks.
Prosecutors said Alamo could face a total of 175 years in prison over violating the nearly century-old Mann Act, a morality law once aimed at stopping women from being sold into prostitution. Each count also carries possible fines of $250,000.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Kyra Jenner said Alamo's conviction would end his cycle of abuse, as he told his followers God instructed him to marry younger and younger girls.
"We believe he will face the rest of his natural life in prison," Jenner said.
The five women, now age 17 to 33, told jurors that Alamo "married" them in private ceremonies while they were minors. Each detailed trips beyond Arkansas' borders for Alamo's sexual gratification.
Alamo never testified. Though he announced to reporters that he wanted to, his lawyers told him he should not directly challenge their testimony. Defense lawyers said the government targeted Alamo because it doesn't like his apocalyptic brand of Christianity.
With little physical evidence, prosecutors relied on the women's stories to paint an emotional portrait of a charismatic religious leader who controlled every aspect of his subjects' lives. No one obtained food, clothing or transportation without him knowing about it.
In the end, prosecutors convinced jurors in Arkansas' conservative Christian climate that Alamo's ministry offered him the opportunity to prey on the young girls of loyal followers who believed him to be a prophet. They described a sect that ran on the fear of drawing the anger of "Papa Tony."
Alamo, who founded the ministry with his wife Susan in the 1960s, remained defiant during the trial. He blurted out a reference to the Branch Davidian raid at Waco, Texas, muttered expletives during testimony and fell asleep even while alleged victims were testifying.
After Susan Alamo's death in 1982, Alamo began focusing his tracts on bashing Catholicism and the Vatican. His ministry, built on the backs of followers who worked in various businesses to support the church, designed and sold elaborate denim jackets for celebrities.
Federal agents seized a large portion of his assets in the 1990s to settle tax claims after courts declared his operations a business, not a church. Among items offered for auction were the plans for the studded jacket Michael Jackson wore on his "Bad" album.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Child abuse victims 'in the thousands'
Huge numbers still to come forward, say support groups
By Allison Bray
Wednesday July 22 2009
THE true number of victims of clerical sex abuse within the Dublin archdiocese is likely to number in the thousands -- not the 450 cited in the Commission of Investigation report, according to victims' group One in Four.
"We believe there's a large number of people who were abused in the Dublin diocese who haven't come forward," One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis told the Irish Independent last night.
For that reason, One in Four and other support groups for victims of clerical sex abuse are urging the Government to delay publication of the report to prepare for the anticipated onslaught of victims who will be coming to terms with its explosive findings.
The government-appointed Commission of Investigation into the handling of clerical sex abuse in the diocese was expected to hand over its long-awaited report to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday.
However, victims' support groups -- including One in Four, The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA) -- are all urging the minister to hold off on making the findings public until the autumn when they have sufficient resources in place to cope with the flood of calls they expect the report will generate.
The inquiry was established in 2006 to examine how officials in the Catholic Church and the State responded to widespread allegations of the physical and sexual abuse of children by the clergy between 1975 and 2004.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has warned that the revelations by some 450 victims will be both "shocking and horrific".
But independent support groups say they are already inundated with the unprecedented number of victims who have come forward since the publication of the Ryan Report into clerical abuse at church-run schools in May.
Ms Lewis said: "We know that only about 10pc of victims come forward so if Diarmuid Martin is talking about 450 cases it could be closer to 4,500.
"We've been completely inundated and we're concerned there will be a whole avalanche of new cases."
She and Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, have both written to the Justice Minister urging him to delay publishing the report until October.
Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said it is imperative that victims have somewhere to turn once the report is published.
It has requested emergency funding from the Government to hire additional counsellors.
In the meantime, it's believed the report will name 15 paedophile priests, including 11 who have already been convicted of abusing children.
They were among a representative sample of 46 priests who were accused of abusing children since 1975.
The first man to go public about clerical child sex abuse, survivor Andrew Madden, said the report represents a sea change in attitude.
Once the report is made public, it is incumbent on both bodies (Church and State) to do something about it, he told RTE's 'Six One News' last night.
"Even though these allegations have been coming out for years, not much has been done about it," he said. "This (report) represents the only justice many people will ever get."
- Allison Bray
Four archbishops under spotlight
By John Cooney
Wednesday July 22 2009
A TOTAL of 19 bishops have been investigated in the report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.
Immense spiritual and political power over the lives of ordinary Catholics and their children was exercised by four archbishops and 15 assistant bishops in the nation's biggest and most important diocese during the period in question.
The four archbishops at the centre of the inquiry by the commission are Cardinal Desmond Connell, 1988-2004; Kevin McNamara, 1985-87; Dermot Ryan, 1972-1984, and John Charles McQuaid, 1940-1972. Of these four prelates, only Cardinal Connell, now aged 83, is alive and living in retirement in Glasnevin on Dublin's northside.
His handling of allegations and suspicions of child abuse is expected to be put under the spotlight by the commission.
Although Archbishop Kevin McNamara's tenure lasted only two years in office, his period will be censured for the archdiocese taking an insurance policy to reduce the cost of complaints against it.
This will be considered evidence of the church authorities' knowledge of the large scale of clerical abuse.
The 12-year reign of Archbishop Dermot Ryan will also be severely examined for his failure to rein in some of the most notorious abusers, such as Fr Ivan Payne, the late Fr Noel Reynolds, and the late Fr Tom Naughton.
Although the Commission's time-frame is from 1975 to 2004, it could trace cases back to 1940, the year in which John Charles McQuaid, the most powerful churchman of 20th century Ireland, began his 33-year rule of the Dublin archdiocese.
- John Cooney
Gardai to probe 100 new cases of abuse
Wave of calls to hotline in the wake of Ryan report horrors
By Tom Brady, Senan Molony and John Cooney
Wednesday July 22 2009
GARDAI investigating allegations against clerical child abusers are now pursuing almost 100 fresh complaints.
The new lines of inquiry emerged from the telephone "hotline" set up by gardai in the wake of the publication of the Ryan report in May.
The breakthrough in the garda study of the Ryan findings was revealed last night as Justice Minister Dermot Ahern received a copy of the report on child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.
That report contains around 450 cases of abuse and will be referred by the minister to Attorney General Paul Gallagher for his advice on publication.
The dedicated Ryan contact line was established for anyone who wanted to provide information arising out of the findings.
So far, the special garda team has received about 140 calls. Some of the callers wanted details of the progress made on complaints that had already been filed.
But senior officers disclosed last night that in almost 100 other cases, they had opened new lines of inquiry and those complaints were now being actively followed up.
An estimated 60pc of the fresh complaints involve sexual abuse of children by members of religious orders while the rest refer to physical assaults.
Gardai will prepare a file on each individual investigation for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who will determine if criminal charges should be brought against the alleged abuser. Some of the clerics named in allegations received on the "hotline" are now dead.
Officers said they were conscious of the historic nature of many of the allegations and were anxious to complete their inquiries as quickly as possible. They hope to have sent files to the DPP on a substantial percentage of their inquiries by the late autumn.
The decision to set up the "hotline" was made by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy following discussions with Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.
The phone number is 01 6663612 and is being manned during office hours from Mondays to Fridays. Interested persons can also write to the Offices of the Assistant Commissioner, National Support Services, Harcourt Square, Dublin 2, marking the envelopes, "Ryan report".
Meanwhile, Mr Ahern indicated yesterday evening that the Dublin Archdiocese report was likely to be referred to the High Court. "It will be up to the court to decide whether to refer it to the DPP, the Garda Commissioner, or anyone else. That's laid out in the legislation," the minister said.
He pointed out that if it were possible to publish the entire report without lessening its contents, it would be sent automatically to the gardai.
But under the legislation he had to follow certain procedures as the report might contain material prejudicial to criminal proceedings.
"If there is anything of that nature in it, I would obviously have to discuss it with the Attorney General, and if there is anything prejudicial, we would have to ask the High Court for a direction, pending publication," he added.
It was his desire to publish the report as soon as possible but he did not want to do anything that "would cause people to get off, if they were supposed to be brought before the courts".
One of the most notorious serial priest paedophiles expected to be named in the Dublin Archdiocese report is the late Fr Noel Reynolds, who abused more than 100 children.
He had access to generations of children since 1967 when he was appointed secretary of the Diocesan Commission on Religious Instruction in Vocational Schools, and later as a Diocesan Inspector of Primary Schools.
He was appointed administrator on Inishbofin island, off the Galway coast, in 1984. Serious complaints about his behaviour with children go back to 1995 when he was parish priest in Glendalough, Co Wicklow, but he was not removed from there until two years later when he was appointed chaplain to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
After the 'Prime Time' programme, 'The Sins of the Cardinal', Cardinal Desmond Connell, apologised to the hospital for not informing the authorities there of previous complaints.
- Tom Brady, Senan Molony and John Cooney
Last updated July 21, 2009 11:20 a.m. PT
Ex-priest charged with past sex abuse of boy
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A former Southern California priest who was accused of molesting a teenager more than 30 years ago has been charged with abusing a boy in another incident in the mid-1990s.
District attorney spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder says Costa Mesa police took 75-year-old Denis Lyons into custody and booked him on Monday.
Schroeder says Lyons has been charged with four felony counts of lewd conduct with a child under the age of 14.
Prosecutors say Lyons abused the boy from 1992 to 1995 at St. John the Baptist School, starting when the child was 7.
Charges that Lyons molested a teenage boy beginning in 1978 were dropped in 2003 after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding prosecuting older sex crimes.
Lyons was removed from ministry in 2002.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Govt urged to delay publication of new abuse report
Support groups for victims of child sex abuse are calling on the Government to delay the publication of the official report into clerical abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.
The report is expected to be presented to Justice Minister Dermot Ahern today.
It is understood to identify up to 450 people abused by priests in Dublin since the 1970s.
One in Four and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have requested a delay in the release of the findings as they are already under pressure trying to help the thousands of abuse victims who have come forward since the publication of the Ryan Report in May.
IRISH TIMES REPORTERS
Tue, Jul 21, 2009
Up to 450 victims of abusers have been identified by the Dublin Diocese Commmission which is to present a key report into clerical child abuse to the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern today.
The report of the Dublin Archdiocese Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse will name 15 priests, 11 who have been convicted in the courts and four who are already well known.
Set up in March 2006, the commission has investigated how child sex abuse allegations against a representative sample of 46 priests was handled by 19 bishops in Dublin between January 1st, 1975, and April 30th, 2004.
The focus of the report is on a power culture centred on the bishops and how this influenced their handling of allegations.
It is thought likely that Mr Ahern will refer the report to Attorney General Paul Gallagher, as it deals with three men currently before the courts. Two of those men have served sentences in connection with child abuse, while the third has pleaded guilty to the latest charges against him, although a further allegation has emerged since then.
The earliest date set for the trial of any of the men is April 2010.
It is possible the Attorney General may decide to publish the report in full, and soon, with the three relevant men given pseudonyms.
Of the 19 bishops investigated in the report, seven are deceased. The 19 include four archbishops of Dublin – Most Rev John Charles McQuaid, Most Rev Dermot Ryan, Most Rev Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell. Thirteen of the other bishops were or are auxiliary bishops in Dublin. They include Bishop Joseph Carroll (deceased), Bishop Brendan Comiskey (resigned as Bishop of Ferns in 2002), Bishop Martin Drennan (Bishop of Galway), Bishop Patrick Dunne (deceased), Bishop Ray Field (auxiliary Bishop in Dublin), Bishop Laurence Forristal (Bishop of Ossory to 2007).
Also included are Bishop James Kavanagh (deceased), Bishop Jim Moriarty (Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin), Bishop Donal Murray (Bishop of Limerick), Bishop Dermot O’Mahony (retired), Bishop Fiachra Ó Ceallaigh (auxiliary bishop in Dublin), Bishop Eamonn Walsh (auxiliary bishop in Dublin and apostolic administrator to Ferns diocese from April 2002 to April 2006), and Bishop Desmond Williams (deceased).
© 2009 irishtimes.com
Monday, July 20, 2009
Nephew of notorious Rabbi Yehuda Kolko allegedly sexually assaulted a little boy.
July 20, 2009
LAKEWOOD — A camp counselor who worked at a program run at a Lakewood private school has been arrested on charges that he sexually assaulted a young boy.Yosef A. Kolko, 33, of Gefen Drive, Lakewood, who worked as a camp counselor at Yachad, a summer camp based out of Bais Hatorah School on Swathmore Drive, was arrested Sunday, authorities said.He was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.Authorities said the criminal activity occurred within the past year, and the victim was a boy under the age of 13.Bail for Kolko was set at $125,000 and if he is released on bail, he is not allowed to have contact with the victim or anyone else under the age of 18, according to the complaint.Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Senior Investigation Colleen Lynch in the special victims unit at 732-929-2027, Ext. 2905 or Lakewood Detective Thomas D'Elia at 732-363-0200.
An inquiry into child abuse by Catholic priests is published today. Its impact will be seismic, says victim and author of new book, Colm O'Gorman.
By Angela Levin
Published: 7:00AM BST 20 May 2009
In his autobiography, Colm O'Gorman courageously describes being abused by a Catholic priest Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY
Few men have made such an extraordinary personal journey. Raped and abused in his early teens by Father Sean Fortune, one of Ireland's most notorious paedophiles, Colm O'Gorman ran away from home when he was 17 and lived rough on the streets of Dublin. It was the Seventies, when both church and state were in full-blown denial that any priest could be guilty of sexually abusing a child, and Colm felt only shame and fear. His future could not have been bleaker.
Yet, with effort and determination he fought back, spoke out about the abuse, and in 2002 even tried to sue the Pope arguing that, by moving paedophile priests like Fortune to different parishes and deliberately concealing their actions from the local authorities, the Vatican had failed to protect children like him. He was outraged when the Pope claimed diplomatic immunity but, undaunted, continued to campaign that the authority of the Irish church should not be above that of the State.
The Right Reverend Hugh Lindsay
Catholics in China told to defend faith even if it means martyrdom
Irish Catholic church aide calls for more compensation to abuse victims
Tony Blair accused of using faith foundation to 'sabotage' law
Pope apologises to native Canadians over boarding school abuseToday, nearly 30 years since he was abused, Colm's hour has finally come with the publication of a long-awaited inquiry into child abuse by Roman Catholic priests. The investigation has taken nine years, during which time it has heard the testimony of thousands of former residents of state schools and orphanages over more than 60 years in the Irish Republic.
A second report, due to be published in the summer, is expected to criticise the handling of sex-abuse complaints in cases involving up to 500 priests. Colm believes the result of the inquiry will be "seismic."
"It will show that the state has an obligation of care to those who live in the country and can no longer declare that religion and politics don't mix, or that the abuse of children by Catholic priests was not a matter for the state."
The report coincides to the day with the publication of his extraordinary autobiography, in which Colm courageously describes the lows and highs of his remarkable life – a life that has included founding a charity for victims of sexual abuse, becoming a Senator, making a documentary for the BBC called Suing the Pope, and being appointed Ireland's director of Amnesty International.
"At the centre of my book is my own dreadful experience and its impact," he says. "But I also wanted it to cover wider issues. I don't want people to assume that when they see someone in a doorway they know who they are, where they have come from and where they are headed. I also wanted to address the importance of the relationship between father and son and how redeeming it is."
Colm, the second of six children, had a distant relationship with his own father, Sean, a farmer turned councillor, when he was a boy, and the two men only became close a year or so before his father died of cancer in his early sixties.
I have interviewed several sufferers of systematic sexual abuse, but Colm, almost uniquely, doesn't come across as a victim. Nor is he self-conscious or bitter. He fixes you with his eyes as he speaks and seems totally at ease with himself as we talk in a smart central London café.
Did he make a conscious decision not to be a victim? "There wasn't a moment when I thought I won't allow this to happen," he replies. "But I didn't dare address my feelings until I was in my early thirties. Until then, I only reacted to the external world, not my internal one. I believe you are only a victim because you are powerless to be anything else, and that being a survivor of sexual abuse is a positive thing to be."
Colm grew up in Adamstown, County Wexford, and was 14 when he first met Father Sean Fortune, then in his late 20s. Fortune cynically groomed the former altar boy and his mother, Josie, now 72, flattering them both and asking Colm to help him with a youth group in his parish a few miles from the seaside resort of Fethard-on-Sea, in the south-west of the county.
When Colm agreed, he drove him to his home and raped him. Colm was too scared to tell anyone. "He made it seem as though it was my fault and I knew it would be my word against his," he says. Colm was then ruthlessly abused for almost two years. The effect was devastating.
"I despised myself, lost all my confidence and any plan I had for my life, such as university and a career, went out of the window. I remember on one occasion when I was 15 and Fortune came to collect me, trying desperately to tell my mother what was happening so that I didn't have to be with him. But I was unable to find the words and, not knowing the truth, she made me go. As I got into his car, I felt absolute hopelessness."
When Colm was 16, his mother decided to leave Ireland and moved to an ashram in India, taking three of her six children with her. Colm and two other siblings stayed with their father. The marriage was effectively over, and a few months later, in February 1984, Colm ran away to Dublin. He had no money and for seven months allowed men to have sex with him in return for a night's sleep in a bed and a hot shower.
Gradually he hauled himself out of the gutter by working first as a waiter, and then fund-raising for a charity. He was reunited with his family when he was 18, confiding then to his sister, Barbara, and his father about the abuse. "My father apologised to me for not knowing what was happening. It was a tremendous thing because I had spent all my life terrified of what would happen if he found out."
His shocked father had no idea what to do and Colm let the matter rest, moving to London in 1986 where he trained as a therapist.
It was only in 1995, however, that Colm found the courage to go to the police. "It was 14 years after I was first abused, but I couldn't have done it before. I went because I was concerned others might be suffering as I did, and that the Church was condoning it by not doing anything. My statement to the detective took me two days to make and was the first time that the truth of what Fortune had done to me began to emerge.
"In the months that followed, others came forward, which was both shocking and a comfort for me because it meant I wasn't alone. It took another 18 months before I began to realise that the Church had received earlier complaints about Fortune, and that they knew that he may have abused boys before he was even ordained. But that they did nothing."
The knowledge made Colm determined to bring the priest to justice. Fortune's trial was set for March 2, 1999 when he faced 66 charges of abusing children. Eleven days into the trial, he killed himself with whisky and prescription drugs, denying his many victims their first chance to be heard.
Colm is neither vindictive, nor forgiving. "Forgiving him isn't in my gift," he says. "My understanding of forgiveness is based on a Catholic model of confession and absolution and I can't absolve him. But I have forgiven myself."
Colm went on successfully to sue the Catholic Church and received a payment of 300,000 euros and a historic public apology in court. "As for the Pope ducking out," he says, "I think it is an obscenity and I remain outraged by the failure of the Vatican. They are not responsible for what Fortune did but they should take responsibility for what they did, in concealing the issue.
"With the stroke of a pen, Benedict XVI could make a law demanding high standards of child protection across the Catholic world and do more to protect the welfare of children than any other human being, but he hasn't done it."
Meanwhile Colm's life has moved on. He has returned to Ireland and for the past 10 years has lived with Paul Fyffe, an IT teacher. They are joint guardians of two children aged 12 and 10, whose mother has died, and who live with them.
"I love family life," he says. "I am now a very happy man personally, but also delighted that there is a major change in Ireland and that people are no longer reluctant to question the authority of the Church."
Beyond Belie' by Colm O'Gorman (Hodder & Stoughton) is available from Telegraph Books for £11.99 + £1.25 p&p. To order, call 0844 871 1515 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Last updated July 18, 2009 12:30 p.m. PT
At compound, Alamo controlled all aspects of life
By JON GAMBRELL
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
FILE - In this Tuesday July 14, 2009 file picture, evangelist Tony Alamo, center, is led from the federal courthouse in downtown Texarkana Ark. following opening statements in his trial. Alamo is charged with taking underage girls across state lines for sex. (AP Photo/Texarkana Gazette, Evan Lewis)
TEXARKANA, Ark. -- In the years after evangelist Tony Alamo took the 14-year-old girl as a bride, she said, she caught glimpses of her father on the surveillance cameras that fed into the minister's office.
As her father walked by outside, monitors provided views from every angle. But even though only a few walls and doors separated them, leaving Alamo's home without permission was unthinkable.
Alamo was a prophet, she'd been taught. He was "God's chosen one." And she was scared.
"I felt uncomfortable asking Tony to see my dad," the woman, now 20, testified at his federal trial on charges that he took underage girls across state lines for sex.
"So you had to ask Tony's permission before you could go outside and see your father?" a prosecutor asked.
The woman, who left Alamo's compound in Arkansas three years ago, was one of many witnesses whose testimony offered a rare glimpse inside the evangelist's secretive ministry. They said Alamo made the decisions: who got married, what children were taught in school, who got clothes, who was allowed to eat. He also chose which of his followers to "marry," witnesses said - including one girl who was 8 years old.
"He had control over everything," testified a 30-year-old woman who said she was another child bride.
Families moved state to state at Alamo's command, living in apartments, trailers or houses owned by the ministry. The church had a language of its own: Alamo as "Papa Tony," new members as "baby Christians" and those suspect few living outside as "visiting Christians."
At his compounds in Arkansas, students learned Alamo-approved curriculums, with ninth-grade biology tossed aside because the course material discussed sex, one witness said. Alamo began separating the sexes in the 1990s, and by the time he was released from prison following his 1994 tax evasion conviction, brothers and sisters often lived separate lives, another woman said.
In the 1980s, Alamo's ministry sold elaborately designed denim jackets made by members to celebrities. At the compound more recently, followers filled out request forms for everything, whether clothing or toiletries. Alamo himself approved all expenditures, witnesses said.
Alamo's house, meanwhile, had television, a swimming pool and ponies in the backyard - unbelievable luxuries for a life one described as floating just above the poverty line. Those amenities led at least one mother to push her underage daughter to become an Alamo wife, testimony showed.
Some of the mothers and fathers drove big-rig trucks hauling goods from Alamo's side industries. While the federal government seized much of the ministry's property when Alamo was sentenced to four years in prison for tax evasion, the 30-year-old woman remembered followers being required to roll candy for the ministry's distribution company.
Families were prohibited from keeping food at their homes, the 20-year-old woman said. Alamo also banned his followers from eating meat or dairy products. At one point, on a layover at a Las Vegas airport, the woman said she and another Alamo "wife" committed a sin - they ate a cheese pizza.
Sometimes, Alamo put requests from his followers on hold in order to have money to print the church's apocalyptic tracts.
Those fliers, outlining everything from Alamo's feared "one-world government," his belief in flying saucers and his hatred of the Vatican, served as a backbone of the ministry after he stopped preaching in the wake of his 1994 tax conviction. Each person had a distribution quota, the 30-year-old woman said.
Records in Alamo's office included the "account," she said - a list that showed how much literature each follower passed out on the constant cross-country tracking trips. Alamo's defense lawyers claim many of the girls who the preacher took across state lines worked as office assistants in that endeavor.
Even from prison, Alamo received regular updates on disciplinary matters. Witnesses said he encouraged followers to report on each other. Those accused had a chance to respond in writing, but Alamo sometimes dictated decisions over the phone without seeing the letters, witnesses said.
Some were beaten with boards or faced punitive "fasts," where they would be refused food at the communal cafeteria, witnesses said.
After he got out of prison, witnesses said, Alamo's grip over his wives became even more pronounced.
Wives who crossed him over real or imagined slights ended up in a green home at his 15-acre complex in Arkansas known as "The House of Scorn," witnesses said.
There, the windows were boarded shut after the girl Alamo had "married" at age 8 ran away, the 20-year-old woman said. The former 8-year-old bride said she was helped by a waiting driver at a small store down the state highway.
One wife also got away after her mother sewed a cell phone inside her coat.
In Alamo's home, his bedroom sat just off the office, allowing him easy access to the women who would massage him to sleep some nights as a group. His wives lived up to four to a room, witnesses said. Metal grates covered the windows. Followers working as guards patrolled the grounds, keeping the curious away.
But if an unknown man approached the house, the girls knew to rush toward their shoes, neatly lined up near the front door.
"We were supposed to take our shoes and hide them so they didn't see how many people were staying in the house," one said.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
July 17, 2009
FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut sought Friday to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep under wraps sex abuse documents that could shed light on how a prominent retired cardinal handled the allegations.
Bridgeport Diocese officials asked the state Supreme Court to continue a stay on releasing the documents while it appeals to the nation’s highest court.
The state court has ruled that more than 12,000 pages of documents from more than 20 lawsuits against priests should be released. Those documents have been sealed from public view since the diocese settled the cases in 2001.
The records could reveal details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was Bridgeport bishop from 1988 to 2000. Egan’s deposition should be in the file, according to an attorney for the newspapers seeking the documents.
The diocese faced a Monday deadline to appeal before the records were disclosed.
“The diocese believes there are important constitutional issues,” said Ralph Johnson III, attorney for the church. “These are issues important to all citizens.”
Johnson acknowledged that the nation’s highest court takes up only a small percentage of cases it is asked to review.
The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and The Hartford Courant have been seeking the documents. A telephone message was left Friday for an attorney for the newspapers. Court officials declined to comment.
A Waterbury Superior Court judge ruled in 2006 that the files should be unsealed, but the diocese appealed. The high court agreed with the trial court that the documents, which include depositions, affidavits and motions, were subject to a presumption of public access.
Church officials say the ruling fails to uphold the privacy and constitutional rights of all parties to lawsuits, especially when cases are sealed, and contends that disclosure of the sealed documents is barred by the religious clauses of the First Amendment.
The state Supreme Court rejected church officials’ claim that the documents were subject to constitutional privileges, including religious privileges under the First Amendment.
In Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after church records were released detailing his role in handling sexual abuse claims.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Friday, July 17, 2009
Parliament ready to tackle Muslim re-education abroad
Friday, 17 July 2009 11:53 RC News
Parliament will soon decide whether or not to revoke the passports of Muslim children travelling abroad for 're-education' purposes
Taking away a young person’s passport will prevent the practice of them being sent back to their parents’ native countries for schooling in religious and cultural matters
Muslim children sent by family members to the parents’ native countries for the purpose of ‘re-education’ may soon face having their passports confiscated, according to Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
A majority in parliament – represented by all government opposition parties and the usual government ally Danish People’s Party – reportedly supports the idea of revoking passports for those would-be travellers suspected of being returned for re-education in an effort to curb the phenomenon.
The practice of sending children back to their parents’ homeland for long periods, often with their mothers, is common among the more conservative Muslim populations in Europe. It is supposedly aimed at instilling proper values and respect into the young people, but often results in them developing more fundamentalist and anti-Western attitudes.
According to the Foreign Ministry, 14 cases of re-education have been documented so far this year, but experts believe the true figure is far greater.
The proposal to take away passports in these instances was put forth by the Social Liberals, who believe the move is not punishment but protection for the young people.
Government parties the Liberals and Conservatives say that while the idea seems reasonable on paper, it would be too difficult to carry out in reality.
But Henrik Dam Kristensen, the opposition Social Democrats’ integration spokesman, said the move would prevent not only re-education but also forced marriages.
‘I think it’s strange for these people to have chosen to come to Denmark and then, when their child becomes too Danish, they send them back to be re-educated in the parents’ culture, religion and traditions.’
Last updated July 17, 2009 12:58 a.m. PT
Woman 'married' to pastor at age 8 to retake stand
By JON GAMBRELL
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
FILE - In this Tuesday July 14, 2009 file picture, evangelist Tony Alamo, center, is led from the federal courthouse in downtown Texarkana Ark. following opening statements in his trial. Alamo is charged with taking underage girls across state lines for sex. (AP Photo/Texarkana Gazette, Evan Lewis)
TEXARKANA, Ark. -- A 9-year-old girl was considered too young to answer the office phone at evangelist Tony Alamo's compound, but old enough for frequent sex with the ministry leader, she alleged at his federal trial on child-sex charges.
The woman, now 18, testified that she dodged security cameras and roving guards to escape the compound in 2006. Her testimony left jurors red-eyed and shaking their heads Thursday.
She is set to return to the witness stand Friday to be cross-examined by Alamo's defense team.
Alamo, 74, is named in a 10-count indictment alleging he took young girls across state lines for sex. His lawyers say the girls were moved so they could do legitimate ministry work, and claim the government has targeted him. He has pleaded not guilty.
Defense lawyers have largely left the sex and underage marriage claims unchallenged, though they have questioned witnesses' memories and whether they had been coached by authorities.
The teenage witness said Alamo "married" her when she was 8, and groped her after their wedding. She said he began having sex with her when she was a 9-year-old third-grader. He also took explicit photographs of her that year with an instant camera and, upon looking at them, called her a "whore." She said she didn't understand, but Alamo told her it was a good thing.
She said at one point she asked the minister why he had selected her.
"He said, `Because you were cute,'" she said on the witness stand. "It wasn't God's will that he married me. It's just because he thought I was cute."
The Associated Press isn't naming the woman because it generally does not identify those who say they were victims of sex crimes.
The woman described two trips to her parents' home in Oklahoma that ended when Alamo summoned her back to his Arkansas compound for sex. Those trips are mentioned in the indictment.
The woman told jurors she did some filing for the ministry early on, but that she wasn't allowed to answer the phone.
"I was too young," she said.
Her testimony came after another former underage bride said she "married" Alamo at age 14 through hurried whispers during visiting hours at a federal prison where he was serving time for tax evasion. Alamo's other wives served as lookouts.
"We would lean in really close to each other so the camera wouldn't see," she said, crying.
A Florida woman who testified against Alamo on Wednesday said she was "married" to him at age 15 and raised objections to Alamo taking an 8-year-old as a bride. A woman from Texas told jurors the minister made light of taking a young girl on the road as a wife and sex partner.
"It was flaunting that he could get away with this," she said.
If convicted, Alamo faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the 10 counts against him. He is being held without bond.
Church members jailed after exorcism kills teen
Article published on the 2009-06-25 Latest update 2009-06-25 11:20 TU
Cayenne courthouse, French Guyana, where the accused were sentenced
(Photo: F. Farine)
A French Guyana court has sentenced four members of the Celestial Church of Christ on Wednesday for performing an exorcism on an epileptic teen in 2005 that ended in his death. The members were handed down terms of three to 12 years for "wilful violence that caused death" for 15-year-old Roger Bosse.
Bosse was tortured for three days by church members, who slapped him, beat him with reeds and straps and he was attached to a cross for the final two nights before his death.
Bosse's mother, who suffered from mental illness, approached church members at the end of 2004 in order to get treatment for her son, who she considered "possessed by the devil." They decided to exorcise him.
The head of the parish, Maurice Sainte-Pierre, discovered him dead, gagged, and still attached to the cross. The autopsy revealed multiple bruises, a large hematoma over one eye and blows to the head. The coroner concluded that he could have been suffocated.
Sainte-Pierre was sentenced to 12 years in prison, while the others were handed down sentences of 9, 7 and 3 years, including two with suspended sentences.
Their lawyer announced after the verdict that he would appeal the court decision.
The Celestial Church of Christ was founded in Benin in 1947, and claims millions of followers worldwide.
Latest update 2009-07-14 17:54 TU
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Last updated July 13, 2009 2:45 p.m. PT
Catholic priest convicted of abusing Md. altar boy
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ROCKVILLE, Md. -- A Roman Catholic priest has been convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy at a Germantown church more than seven years ago.
The Rev. Aaron Cote (koh-TAY') is expected to be sentenced Oct. 14 to 10 years of probation. The former part-time youth minister at Mother Seton parish also must register as a sex offender under a plea agreement announced Monday.
Cote was convicted of a third-degree sex offense. He pleaded not guilty and was convicted by a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, who heard a recitation of undisputed facts.
The 57-year-old priest, who now lives in New York City, reached a $1.2 million settlement two years ago with the victim. The former altar boy claimed Cote had repeatedly molested him from June 2001 until June 2002.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Survivors of abuse still waiting for counselling
By Eimear Ni Bhraonain
Monday July 13 2009
NINETY survivors of institutional abuse are on a waiting list to access counselling services across the country.
The surge in calls to the National Counselling Service (NCS) since the Ryan report was published means that institutional abuse victims are waiting up to four weeks to get an initial appointment.
NCS is a free counselling and psychotherapy service to adults who have experienced trauma and abuse in childhood.
Priority is promised to survivors of institutional abuse but many have to wait four weeks for their first appointment with a counsellor.
It has also emerged that only eight out of the 10 positions for directors of counselling in each of the former health board areas are filled. A statement from the Health Service Executive (HSE) said that two HSE staff were acting as directors in the Dublin and mid-Leinster area.
Cutbacks and the HSE recruitment embargoes have affected NCS in recent years. However, NCS said they were negotiating "for increased resources in staff and finance" to meet the current additional pressure on services.
"In the week following the release of the Ryan report, the NCS received the same number of referrals that was received during the final quarter of 2008," it said.
During one week alone, NCS received 183 referrals which represents a monthly average of referrals during 2008. The majority of these people had not accessed the counselling service in the past nine years.
John Kelly, of Survivors of Child Abuse, said that the waiting times were likely to get much longer for counselling services.
"If there's 90 survivors of institutional abuse still on a waiting list, we can only imagine what it will be like when the next report comes out about the Dublin archdiocese," he said.
- Eimear Ni Bhraonain
DUP MP issues call for probe into child abuse
By Noel McAdam
Monday, 13 July 2009
A DUP MP has called for a Ryan report-style investigation into the abuse of children in religious and other institutions in Northern Ireland.
David Simpson also said he hopes to secure the support of Children’s Commissioner Patricia Lewsley later this month for a public inquiry to establish the scale of the problem in the province in the wake of the Ryan revelations in the Republic.
“Whilst there have been individual cases brought against people accused of abusing children in their care in Northern Ireland, such as the prosecution of Brendan Smyth, a member of the Norbertine Order, there has not been a serious investigation into the scale of the problem of child abuse by religious orders and other institutions in Northern Ireland,” the Upper Bann MP argued.
“The Ryan Report showed the extent of the problem in the Republic of Ireland.
“I believe we need to establish the facts surrounding just what went on in Northern Ireland.
“Many lives have been ruined by the child abuse inflicted by those who were in a position of trust.
“We need to establish how many in order to secure compensation and to help those who have suffered,” he added.
Jailed evangelist's followers sell suspect goods
By JON GAMBRELL
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
In this photo taken May 4, 2009, a house on property once owned by evangelist Tony Alamo is shown in Dyer, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
DYER, Ark. -- Evangelist Tony Alamo once said God never wanted his ministry to be poor, but money raised by his followers only seems to go his way.
As Alamo, 74, faces accusations he took five preteen girls across state lines for sex, he presides over a multi-million-dollar empire held in his followers' names. Trucking companies, residential property and a number of questionable ventures fund the work of his 100 to 200 acolytes.
"A substantial amount of income is generated that's utilized for the organization, all of which is controlled by Mr. Alamo," FBI agent Randall Harris testified at an October bond hearing. "However ... none of that property ever shows legally as being in his name."
Government agencies show Alamo built his fortune on the backs of his followers, setting them up in commercial operations rather than rely on donations like traditional ministries. By the 1980s, the Labor Department said Alamo had to pay his followers at least minimum wage; the IRS later laid claim to millions of dollars in taxes.
At the end of a four-year prison term for tax evasion in 1998 - after the government seized assets and courts rejected his charity status - Alamo paid $250,000 to cover a fine and penalties.
"How in the world could Mr. Alamo come up with a quarter of a million dollars ... when the entire time he hasn't been able to work, he hasn't held a job other than what he may have been employed in inside a federal penitentiary?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner asked during Alamo's bond hearing last October.
At its height, Alamo's ministry owned gas stations, a hog farm, grocery store, restaurant and concert venue in Alma, a town near Dyer. Alamo's Nashville, Tenn., clothing store catered to celebrities who bought elaborately decorated jean jackets. His line also carried sharkskin boots, leopard-skin jackets and sequined gowns popular with musicians at the Grand Ole Opry, which Alamo occasionally haunted in the 1980s.
His wife Susan once arrived for an interview wearing a floor-length red-and-white dress and lynx jacket. "God wants his children to go first-class," she once said.
But life at the Alamo compound could be paradise or hell, depending on who you ask. Alamo and his wife enjoyed a heart-shaped pool near a mansion in Dyer, but federal agents said they found followers' sleeping bags in a meeting room. Marshals said some workers earned $5 a day, with shifts lasting as long as 20 hours.
In the latest case, prosecutors allege girls under age 18 were taken across state lines from the current compound in Foulke and raped or sexually abused between 1994 and 2005. A trial starts this week.
If convicted, Alamo faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of 10 counts.
Whether all the business ventures linked to Alamo are legal isn't known.
Peter N. Georgiades, a Pittsburgh lawyer who sued Alamo on behalf of ex-followers in the 1990s, said ministry workers accepted donations of food near its expiration dates, wiped off the dates and resold items to grocers. "It's plain, flat-out fraud," the lawyer said.
Mary Coker, who helped ex-followers contact federal agents before a recent raid, said the ministry has been selling outdated government-donated food since it moved to Fouke in the 1990s.
In March 2007, FBI agents arrested Leslie Ray "Buster" White at the flea market he ran in Texarkana, Texas, and seized $100,000 after charging him with selling counterfeit goods including CDs, shoes and handbags. White, who has identified himself as an associate pastor at Alamo's church, pleaded guilty to trafficking and was initially sentenced to 180 days of house arrest.
On June 30, he was ordered into jail for eight weekends after health inspectors and the FBI said they found copycat designer labels and outdated food, over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics at the flea market.
Investigators say invoices listed Action Distributors and SJ Distribution as sellers of the goods. Court documents and testimony during Alamo's criminal detention hearing in October said both companies are owned by Tony Alamo Christian Ministries members.
White denounced his association with Alamo and the ministry in December, but his lawyer won't say whether he is cooperating with the government.
Also in 2007, FBI agents questioned Thomas Scarcello, who helped incorporate an Alamo-linked charity at Fort Smith, after he was found in a warehouse filled with Tempur-Pedic mattresses intended for Hurricane Katrina victims. A lawsuit says $7 million worth of donated mattresses were offered for sale from trucks and elsewhere until a federal magistrate stopped their sale.
In a deposition, Scarcello denied Alamo had any connection with the businesses, then claimed his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when asked about his business finances or where he kept his records.
Ernest Peia, a wholesaler, testified in a deposition that he bought clothes, food and candies from Scarcello. Among businesses operated by the Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation, Arkansas records show, are the Alamo Candy Co. and Wholesale Candy.
Two Fort Smith trucking companies are registered in followers' names: Action Distributors and Advantage Food Group. Federal transportation records show those companies logged more than 1.1 million miles in 2006 and 2007. The FBI said those companies likely have as many as 30 tractor-trailers.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks Alamo's church as a hate group, said it had no estimate on its net worth. Even the FBI acknowledged in court that it has trouble untangling a web of related businesses, though there's no question about who is in charge.
"It's my understanding from the interviews we've conducted that hardly a penny is spent without ultimately (Alamo's) authorization," Harris said at Alamo's hearing last fall.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Convicted sex offender Lee given compo deal from Catholic Church over claims of abuse
By Ciaran Barnes
Sunday, 12 July 2009
A sex beast who indecently assaulted a disabled teenager has won a £15,000 payout from the Catholic Church. Depraved James Lee (54) got his hands on the cash after saying he had been molested as a teenager in the De La Salle Boys Home, Kircubbin, Co Down.
Lee's allegations were never proven in court, but the Dublin-based De La Salle order sanctioned the huge secret pay-out.
And Lee received the bumper payment in February this year — eight months after he himself was convicted of a sex crime.
Sunday Life called to Lee's Hannahstown home earlier this week.
We wanted to know if he would consider donating his newly acquired £15,000 to the wheelchair-bound boy he abused.
But pervy Lee, a street trader who flogs goods outside pop concerts, refused to talk to us at his semi-detached house in Hawthorn View.
Instead his wife came out to confront our reporter.
Despite her husband's conviction she denied he was a sex abuser and said media interest in the case had driven her to the brink of suicide.
“I've been tortured. My windows have been broken and my car has been paint-bombed. I'm ready for a nervous breakdown or to drive my car into the Lagan,” said Lee's wife.
“It wasn't abuse that he was done for. James is going to appeal.”
In June last year Lee was sentenced to three months in jail and put on the sex offenders' register for seven years for indecently assaulting a disabled 17-year-old boy.
The youth was confronted by Lee after going into the public toilets at Castle Court shopping centre to change out of his school uniform to prepare for a job interview.
Lee blocked his exit and grabbed his thigh. The youth eventually managed to break free and alert his friends.
After his conviction, Lee told a local newspaper: “I’m not denying I touched that teenager’s leg, but I thought he wanted me to do it. I thought it was consensual.
“I would describe myself as bisexual, I can’t really remember what happened, but I did touch him. I’m not to going to say sorry for something like that.” Less than a month after appearing in court Lee was in trouble again.
This time he was cautioned by police for stalking a teenager.
Victims of clerical abuse have criticised the church's decision to award the convicted sex offender £15,000. Jean Carson, whose son Paul Anthony Carson committed suicide after being abused by west Belfast church sexton Martin Kerr, said: “He won't get any sympathy from me because he's become an abuser. He shouldn't have got a penny.
“I'm sick of hearing the old chestnut that abuse leads to abuse. I know loads of cases where this isn't the case,” added Jean.
The De La Salle order has never admitted child abuse took place at its boys’ home at Rubane House, Kircubbin.
But it has made a number of out-of-court payments to men
who claimed they were abused by monks while at the Kircubbin home. Belfast man John Leathem, who was abused at the same care home, sees the order's pay-out as an admission of guilt.
He asked: “Why pay money out if nothing happened? By doing this they are accepting abuse occurred.” Sunday Life has seen a copy of a letter sent by De La Salle to James Lee.
In a letter to pervert Lee, alongside his £15,000 cheque, De La Salle's Brother Francis Manning wrote: “The De La Salle Order was founded to care for abandoned, disadvantaged and deprived boys and regrets if any boy was abused while under its care.”
Sunday Life asked De La Salle did it know Lee was a convicted sex offender when it paid him £15,000, and if it now accepted child abuse occurred at Kircubbin.
When Todd Carpunky was 16, he joined the Legion of Christ. I his six years with the Catholic order, he bore witness to a culture of sexual abuse that rocked the Church. Here, he talks candidly to Peter Stanford about the secretive world created by the order's founder while the papal authorities looked the other way
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Carpunky says: 'I thought he was looking into my soul. Now I think he was checking me out'
• More pictures
The papal plane is heading for Mexico and John Paul II is busy preparing for the first of his many overseas trips. It is January 1979. At his right hand, briefing him, is the Mexican-born Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the ultraconservative Legion of Christ, one of the youngest but fastest-growing religious orders in the Catholic Church. This dapper, well-connected priest, worshipped by his adoring followers as "Nuestro Padre" ("Our Father") shares with the Polish pontiff a conviction that the liberal reform of Catholicism in the 1960s needs to be halted, especially in Latin America.
That trip was the first public sign of the extraordinary bond between Maciel and the man in charge of a church of 1.2 billion souls. In the subsequent 26 years of John Paul's reign, the Legion was regularly lauded by him for its unwavering fidelity to church teaching, its intolerance of dissent, and its conviction that only Catholicism could save the world. Maciel was a prince of the Church, in the papal inner circle, sitting on the most important Vatican committees and running his own congregation of 800 priests and 2,500 seminarians, plus the 70,000 lay members of the associated Regnum Christi movement, as it spread around the globe, including a base in London.
Much has been made of the power wielded by the secretive Opus Dei under John Paul II, not least by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, but many Vatican-watchers believe that the Legion of Christ was bigger, richer (annual budget £435m), more influential, and even more sinister.
Parents of youngsters recruited as Legionaries described it as a cult that targeted the young and naive in particular, some of them just 13, and then "brainwashed" them. But it is Maciel himself who has proved most controversial. Nuestro Padre was, according to one biographer, "a narcissistic sociopath" with a taste for flights on Concorde and five-star hotels. He is acknowledged by the Legion to have fathered at least one child – a 23-year-old daughter said to be called Norma Hilda and now living in Madrid.
It has also been alleged that he was a paedophile. The first accusation came in 1976 from the former head of the Legion in the US. By 1998, the Vatican had received sworn statements from eight men, all detailing how Maciel had abused them when they were young recruits.
Throughout the 1990s, a series of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests that had been covered up by the church authorities shook Catholicism in America, Canada, Australia, Ireland, the UK and other countries. At least two cardinals were forced to retire, dozens of paedophile priests were jailed for their crimes, and the Church paid out millions of pounds in compensation to victims. The damage to its reputation in the eyes of its own congregations has been huge, and bishops have struggled to convince sceptics that they have put into place procedures rigorous enough to ensure that such a betrayal never happens again.
Yet in Maciel's case, it took 30 years – until 2006, after John Paul's death – for the new pope, Benedict XVI, finally to issue a public rebuke, and then it was simply an order that he should see out his days in private prayer rather than face a court. The long delay is evidence, some have suggested, that the Vatican still does not take the issue of paedophile priests sufficiently seriously.
A year after Nuestro Padre's death in 2008, the Vatican announced an investigation into the Legion. An unnamed official told America's National Catholic Reporter newspaper that the total number of Maciel's abuse victims was "more than 20 and less than 100". As a team of cardinals opens the locked cupboards of an organisation that prided itself on secrecy – all new recruits had to take a unique private vow (abolished by Benedict in 2007) never to speak ill of the founder and to report to superiors anyone who did – the Catholic Church is once more mired in a scandal about the sexual abuse of minors, and the abuse of power.
Ex-priests and nuns are often easy to spot. It is something to do with how uneasy they look in civvies, and their reluctance, learnt in the seminary and the convent, to look anyone in the eye. But Todd Carpunky, a corporate lawyer in the City of London, gives few outward clues of his past as a Legionary of Christ when we meet in a bar near Liverpool Street station. Tall, blond and open-faced in his well-cut suit, this Illinois-born 34-year-old has an easy sense of humour, both about the world around him, and his six years in the Legion. "My grandmother raised me," he explains. "She was great, but so Catholic she makes the Pope look like the anti-Christ. The rest of my family was just nuts. I wanted to get away from them, and the Legion knew that."
Founded by the then 21-year-old Maciel in Mexico in 1941, almost four years before he was even ordained as a priest (he had been asked to leave more than one seminary), the Legion of Christ spread rapidly, supported by bishops who felt embattled by government anti-clericalism in Mexico, the result of a church-state spilt in 1917. Soon it was running schools and universities. Its militant, old-style Catholic spirituality was directed mainly at the wealthy with the result that it members were known as "the Millionaries of Christ".
By the 1950s, it had gone international with branches in Spain, Chile, Italy, Ireland and the United States. Carpunky came across one of its recruitment drives in the early 1990s via his grandmother. "They began visiting me at home and invited me on a summer programme. It was fun and my grandmother was delighted. She's still upset I'm a lawyer." He went to one of the Legion's boarding schools in Connecticut at the age of 16, seeing it as a means of escape from an unhappy home life. "Our contact with home was strictly limited, but that suited me. All our mail was reviewed. Even the Catholic newspapers were censored. They would have great holes in them where articles had been cut out. It was to protect our vocation, we were told."
Life at the school followed a strict schedule. "We'd get up early in the morning, shower with our bathing suits on, even though there were curtains, because apparently it was faster and more chaste. We slept in our swimming trunks under our pyjamas. There was meditation – usually on the writings of Nuestro Padre. It was all very regimented. We were not allowed free time. It was cult-like. Maciel played mind games."
All of this, Carpunky acknowledges, is said with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, he quickly moved into the noviciate and was sent to Spain to train as a priest. "I felt part of something. I was happy. I didn't rationalise."
What was Maciel like? "He had charisma. He told great stories. He was the great conspiracy theorist. According to him, he had left the seminaries in Mexico because he was misunderstood and was trying to save the Church. The Jesuits, he said, were very jealous of him. He used conspiracy theories to explain away all of these things. He had been persecuted because he was just too holy, too clever, too Catholic. He actually claimed never to have said no to God – which implies he never sinned."
Maciel was also, Carpunky claims, intent on controlling every aspect of the life of every Legionary. "We had a green book of rules of etiquette and social norms," he recalls. "We'd have classes about not piercing a vegetable with a fork when we were eating, or how to eat a banana with a knife and fork."
Carpunky was singled out for attention by Maciel. "When he came to Madrid, I was asked to serve his meal. I took it as a great honour. I thought he was a living saint. So when he would follow me with his eyes, I thought he was looking into my soul. Now I think he was checking me out because apparently he liked blonds."
The first major question mark was raised over Maciel's personal conduct as early as 1956, when he was suspended by the Vatican while charges that he was addicted to pain-killing drugs were investigated. Two years later, the inquiry was dropped and he was reinstated. Then, in 1976, Father Juan Vaca, who had joined the Legion as a 10-year-old in Mexico and risen to be its US director, but subsequently left to work as a priest in a Catholic diocese on Long Island in the States, formally reported Maciel to his bishop for sexually abusing him from the age of 12. This was a time before the sexual abuse of minors by priests had been exposed. In 1978, fearing that his accusations had been swept under the carpet, Vaca sent a long statement about what had happened to him direct to the Vatican, and even received an acknowledgement. And then, nothing.
In 1998, eight other former members of the Legion (one now dead) filed sexual-abuse charges against Maciel in the Vatican's Court of Canon Law, but Rome seemed to delay. It was only in 2004 that an official investigation, headed by canon lawyer Monseigneur Charles Scicluna, was set up. That led, in 2006, to the decision to discipline Maciel.
Was Carpunky sexually abused? "I am one of the few people who has been in Maciel's bedroom without... you know... because he has a bedroom in each of the Legion's houses, reserved for him. In the American house at Cheshire in Connecticut, he even had his own Mercedes reserved for him 'because of his back problems'. He always had these weird things. He could only drink Evian water. For medical reasons, he'd eat only steak or a specific type of chicken that had to be obtained from Spain. I wasn't sexually abused, though a friend of mine in seminary had been molested by a Brother in the Legion in his early teens. When the rector found out, he told Maciel, and within 24 hours that Brother was sent to Rome, where he was later ordained as a priest."
It raises the suggestion of a culture of sexual abuse inside the Legion, taking its lead from the founder and covered up by the "private vow". Carpunky is not convinced. "Maciel was a monster and others were abused, but they were more the exceptions than the rule."
Consider, though, the experience of Stephen Dougan – not his real name – from Belfast. Now a university student, he was wooed by the Legion as a 14-year-old. "It was hard not to be enthused by what you were shown," he recalls. "As their guest, I enjoyed good food, went on hikes, played table tennis, watched movies and did sport with happy seminarians. When I actually joined [in the early 1990s at the Legion's Dublin seminary], I did not have even a vague idea of the Legion's spirituality or its rules, only that, as I was being told, I had been called as part of God's plan."
Around the time of his 18th birthday, Dougan was summoned one night to the bedroom of his novice master. "He said he had severe cramps in his stomach. He unbuttoned his pyjama top, poured oil on his stomach and asked me to massage him. I did. Very soon he unbuttoned his pyjama bottoms and poured on more oil. He asked me to 'do it deeper'. He meant lower down. His penis was erect. I was shocked and confused. I can remember my hands in his pubic hair. I closed my eyes and prayed."
Dougan's abuse by the Father almost exactly mirrors allegations against Maciel, made by Fernando Perez, one of the eight to file charges, about what happened to him at 14. Maciel even told his victims, one reported, that he had a special dispensation from the Pope to allow him to be masturbated because of the pains he suffered as a result of his "delicate" health.
Dougan never spoke while in the Legion about what had happened, though he has subsequently reported it to the police. "The vow I had taken meant that no Legionary could in any way criticise the defects or mistakes of any superior. This included internal – in your mind – criticism." Eighteen months after the incident, he was told that he didn't have a vocation and asked to leave. "It was hard for me to adjust to normal life," he admits. "I am still battling with the belief that God has spat me out of his mouth because I left. I have been in counselling on and off ever since."
Not all ex-members – some of whom belong to the support group, ReGain – have unhappy memories. Adam Dunbar – he is not willing to use his real name because he is still in touch with former colleagues from in the Legion – is a 62-year-old bookkeeper and grandfather from Dublin. He was among the first recruits to the Legion's Irish mission which started in 1960. "What attracted me as a youngster was the energy of it, the ability to inspire, and the fact that they used young men to recruit young men and filled us full of idealism." Maciel, he reports, was "gentle, considerate, patient. My memories of him are sweet. I never had any experience of anything irregular nor did I see anything that in retrospect might be judged as misbehaviour."
Matthew Muggeridge, the 39-year-old grandson of the celebrated writer and broadcaster Malcolm, is currently working as a lawyer in the US. He joined the Legion in 1990 because he saw it as "dynamic, challenging and growing. It enthused me about my faith – and you don't get that with ordinary diocesan seminaries." Though he left six years later, he did so, he says, with no regrets and remains a supporter of the order and its defence of traditional Catholic values.
He was part of Legion plans to establish a base in London. Still a seminarian, he was sent to the affluent parish of St James, Spanish Place, in Marylebone, central London, along with an Irish Legionary priest. However, Cardinal Basil Hume, head of the local Westminster archdiocese, was not keen on their presence, Muggeridge recalls. "He tended to equate the Legion with Opus Dei, about which he also had well-recorded concerns, but we were not the same. We were so visible, whereas Opus Dei tends to act behind the scenes." The Legion is still thought to have ambitions on London. In the past year, one of its priests has been calling on parishes in wealthy areas of the capital.
Maciel had prepared himself a tomb in Our Lady of Guadalupe, the church he built in Rome in the 1950s. In the event, he was laid to rest in January 2008 in his family's modest crypt in his hometown in Mexico. The past 18 months have been a traumatic time for Legionaries. The secrecy rules meant they knew nothing of the charges against Nuestro Padre. The first they heard was when, a year after Maciel's death, Father Alvaro Corcuera, his hand-picked successor, confirmed the existence of Norma Hilda.
The Legion is tight-lipped about its current predicament. Jim Fair, its communications director, declined even to discuss the issues raised by the former Legionaries in this article. In brief written answers to questions I submitted, he said that the Legion was "grateful" for the present Vatican investigation and "sad" about the "aspects of our founder's life of which we were not aware". On the charge that the order has a cult-like approach, Fair wrote: "We listen carefully to what former members have to say. At the same time we listen to the voice of the Church and to the principles of religious life throughout the centuries as a guideline."
Adam Dunbar feels the revelations will have had a profound effect on his friends still in the Legion. "Imagine, after half a century of being told that Maciel was a living saint, you discover that this is a hall of smoke and mirrors. Who is the victim then? Apart from the sexual abuse, if it existed, what about this abuse of lives?"
Back in the City of London, Todd Carpunky has, he says, put the Legion (and his Catholicism) behind him. His doubts began when he contracted a liver infection because painful gallstones had gone untreated. His superiors advised him instead to swim and pray to Mary. Later, he was made to wait several months for an operation on a disc problem in his back that had left him disabled, because Nuestro Padre couldn't decide what to do with him. "The final straw came when I was sitting in a doctor's office and the Legionary with me admitted they had been lying about not being able to find a surgeon to see me. I was told, 'Just obey.' That's when I snapped and realised they were crazy. I checked my brain back in and left."
For him, the story of the Legion is not just another aspect of clerical sex abuse. "It really comes down to the fact that they cared more about building the Kingdom of Maciel than the Kingdom of God. The Legion calls itself Catholic but it is inhumane and really damages people. That is what distinguishes it from other religious orders." n
A catalogue of abuse
Britain Father Michael Hill (pictured) was convicted in 1997 of sexual abuse of nine children. It emerged that his local bishop, the future Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, had been aware that concerns had been raised about Hill's behaviour, but had moved him to another parish.
US Allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests were first made public in 1984. In September 2003, the archdiocese of Boston paid $85m in compensation to 552 victims. Many other dioceses have made similar payments – to an estimated total of $1bn. In 2004 the archdiocese of Portland declared itself bankrupt as a result.
Austria Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër was dismissed as Archbishop of Vienna by Pope John Paul II in 1995 after it emerged that he had abused young boys at Catholic schools over a 40-year period. One expert suggested he may have had 2,000 victims.
Ireland In May 2009, High Court judge Sean Ryan published a report of his nine-year investigation detailing the beating, rape and humiliation of thousands of children by priests and nuns in the schools they ran.
Australia In July 2008 in St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Pope Benedict XVI made an unprecedented apology for the crimes of priests against minors. "I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering." PS
The papal plane is heading for Mexico and John Paul II is busy preparing for the first of his many overseas trips. It is January 1979. At his right hand, briefing him, is Mexican-born Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the ultraconservative Legion of Christ, one of the youngest but fastest growing religious orders in the Catholic Church. This dapper, well-connected priest, worshipped by his adoring followers as 'Nuestro Padre' ("Our Father') shares with the Polish pontiff a conviction that the liberal reform of Catholicism in the 1960s needs to be halted, especially in Latin America.
That trip was the first public sign of the extraordinary bond between Maciel and the man in charge of a church of 1.2 billion souls. In the subsequent 26 years of John Paul's reign, the Legion was regularly lauded by him on account of it unwavering fidelity to church teaching, its intolerance of dissent, and its conviction that only Catholicism could save the world from ruin. Maciel was truly a prince of the Church, in the papal inner circle, sitting on the most important Vatican committees and running his own congregation of 800 priests and 2,500 seminarians, plus the 70,000 lay members of the associated Regnum Christi movement, as it spread round the globe, including setting up a base in London.
Much has been made of the power wielded by the secretive Opus Dei under John Paul II, not least by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, but many Vatican-watchers believe that the Legion of Christ was bigger, richer (annual budget £435 million), more influential, and even more sinister.
Parents of youngsters recruited as Legionaries described it as a cult that targeted the young and naive in particular, some of them just 13, and then 'brainwashed' them. But it is Maciel himself who has proved most controversial. Nuestro Padre was, according to one biographer, 'a narcissistic sociopath' with a taste for flights on Concorde and five star hotels. He is acknowledged by the Legion to have fathered at least one child – a 23-year-old daughter said to be called Norma Hilda and now living in Madrid.
It has also been alleged that he was a paedophile. The first accusation came in 1976 from the former head of the Legion in the US. By 1998, the Vatican had received sworn statements from eight men, all detailing how Maciel had abused them.