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  1. Four dozen priests who worked at Queens churches over the last half-century were accused of child sex abuse, according to a report released by a legal group representing victims. The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, however, charged that the report isn’t completely accurate. Lawyers Helping Survivors of Child Sex Abuse issued “Hidden Disgrace,” a 22-page summary which lists the names of 65 clergy members in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens who have been accused of sexually abusing children; in some cases, the abuse occurred more than 50 years ago. An examination of the report found that 48 of the priests had been assigned to Queens churches, schools and institutions. Read more:
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    Pedophile Priest With HIV who Raped 30 Children Forgiven by Church Catholic Church absolved priest after who faces no criminal charges for raping young girls under 10 A Catholic Priest has been acquitted by the church after he admitted to raping almost 30 young girls aged between 5 and 10-years-old. The priest, Jose Garcia Ataulfo, was cleared of any wrong-doing and won't face any criminal charges, despite the fact that he knew he was infected with HIV when he sexually abused all the children he admitted to raping. The mother of one of the priest's victims wrote a letter to The Pope asking to meet with him in Rome to discuss the case, but was shunned by the Vatican who declared that "the matter is closed". Ataulfo admitted to sexually assaulting well over two dozen children, many of whom were indigenous young girls from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known for its large indigenous population. Due to the significant influence that the Catholic Church wields in Mexico, the priest won't face any criminal charges, particularly for his crimes in areas populated by indigenous ethnic groups. The report which first appeared on the Spanish-language news site Urgente24.com, says the priest, was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Archdiocese of Mexico. According to Urgente24.com, only two out of the thirty rape victims have come forward to denounce the acquittal.
  2. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Source: @CARoyalComm/Twitter More than one in five members of the Christian Brothers order were alleged child sexual abuse perpetrators and 7% of Australian Catholic priests have allegedly perpetrated abuse since 1950, the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has been told. The commission reopened in Sydney today for its 50th case study, looking into the policies and procedures of Catholic church authorities. Six archbishops from across Australia have been called to give evidence in the coming weeks. It’s the 16th time the four-year-long inquiry has looked into the Catholic church and the first time figures have been released on abuse levels. Senior counsel assisting, Gail Furness SC, outlined shocking levels of child sexual abuse in her opening address, saying 4,444 people were allegedly abused between 1980 and 2015 in around 1000 different institutions. “Of priests from the 75 Catholic Church authorities with priest members surveyed, who ministered in Australia between 1950 and 2010, 7.9% of diocesan priests were alleged perpetrators and 5.7% of religious priests were alleged perpetrators,” Furness said. “Overall, 7% of priests were alleged perpetrators.” The average age of the victims was just 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys. On average, it took around 33 years from the incident before claims of abuse emerged. The widespread levels of abuse outlined by Furness over the last four decades include the Marist Brothers, which like the Christian Brothers, runs schools, and 20% of the order were perpetrators. The figure climbed to a staggering 40.4% in the St John of God Brothers order. Among the abusers, nearly 1,900 have been identified, but another 500 are still unknown. Among the perpetrators, 32% were religious brothers, 30% were priests, and 29% were lay people, with religious sisters at 5%. Data suggested 21.5% of priests from the Benedictine Community of New Norcia were alleged perpetrators. There were regional hotspots of abuse, most notably in Sale and Sandhurst in Victoria, with around 15% of priests allegedly responsible, followed by Port Pirie in South Australia, and Lismore and Wollongong in NSW. Nearly four in every 10 private sessions (37%) held with abuse survivors involved the Catholic church. Furness said accounts of abuse survivors “were depressingly similar”. “Children were ignored or worse, punished. Allegations were not investigated. Priests and religious (members) were moved,” she said. “The parishes or communities to which they were moved knew nothing of their past. Documents were not kept or they were destroyed. Secrecy prevailed as did cover ups. “Priests and religious (members) were not properly dealt with and outcomes were often not representative of their crimes. Many children suffered and continue as adults to suffer from their experiences in some Catholic institutions.” The abuse claims were made to 93 Catholic Church authorities and the Holy See blocked attempts by the royal commission to find out what action was taken by the church against priests suspected of abuse. Furness said Rome refused to release any documents on the issue, telling the commission in 2014 that it was “neither possible nor appropriate to provide the information requested”. The commission also sought documents on a named Australian priest but “was told that ‘to avoid compromising the integrity of the canonical proceeding’ it was not possible to provide all of the documents requested”. Today Furness revealed a number of senior Catholic officials who initially accepted invitations to appear before the commission have pulled out in recent weeks. Among them was the US head of child protection in the church, Deacon Bernard Nojadera, who subsequently refused to even provide a signed statement. The royal commission will spend the next three weeks on this final look at the Catholic church and its responses to abuse allegations before turning its attention to a range of other religious groups later this year, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Uniting and Anglican churches and Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi.
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  3. After receiving dozens of complaints of child abuse, including whippings, beatings and forced underaged marriage, Guatemalan forces raid 'Lev Tahor' yard; Former cult member: 'They tried to break your independent thought.' Guatemalan authorities raided a yard belonging to a community of an extreme Haredi faction Tuesday “Lev Tahor” (Pure Heart) in the country’s capital Guatemala City after a number of serious child abuse complaints. Lev Tahor is an ultra-Orthodox sect comprised of predominantly Israeli Haredi extremists who leave their families behind in Israel as part of a wider boycott of Zionism. The group is widely considered to be a cult for its extreme conduct which adheres to the strict word of Jewish scripture. Raid in Guatemala The authorities arrested the leaders of the sect and also took dozens of Israeli children and babies in their possession. Since the raid, Israel has established contacts with Guatemala to coordinate the flight of the children back home. The cult, which is headed by Shlomo Erez Helbrans, who 10 years ago was recognized as a refugee in Canada, consists of 230 members, 150 of whom are children. Until 2013, they resided in the St. Agate province in Quebec but were forced to move to Ontario. Two-and-a-half years ago the Canadian authorities thwarted an attempt by the sect to send its adherents to Guatemala after the Canadian courts decreed that some of the children be transferred to foster families due to evidence proving that they were suffering serious abuse. Raid on Haredi extremist faction However, the sect succeeded in transferring a number of the children to Guatemala giving rise to a legal battle over the last few years to expel them back to Canada. According to social services in Quebec and Ontario, they have evidence of instances of abuse including beatings, child marriage and illegal education. One former member of the faction ‘A.’ described the prevailing culture of brainwashing by the leader. “People would follow us for him and report back to him. He would then take me and others for discussions which lasted for hours. The aim was to break your independent thought and to prove how big he was,” A. recalled. According to the Guatemalan authorities, “Lev Tahor” said that members of the cult were under national police surveillance. Raid Evaluations indicate that Helbrans made a decision to secretly transfer the cult to Guatemala after Canadian authorities began waging a legal battle against it and demanded that children be placed in the care of foster care. According to families in the cult in Israel, Helbrans abused the children with clubs, coat hangers and iron rods and would sometimes lock them in basements. Moreover, social services in Quebec received reports that the children were forced to marry as young as 14. The raid in the group’s yard came at the request of the Israeli government. According to a statement by the Guatemalan authorities, the evidence compiled showed cases of, among other things, of “marriage between children, physical and emotional abuse against members of the community and against children. This evidence raises concerns about the physical and emotional well being of dozens of Israeli children currently residing in Guatemala under the sponsorship of the community.“ The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State Attorney’s Office, the Welfare Ministry and the Israel Police have been tracking the group’s development for a number of years and are all in contact with the relevant bodies, both in Canada and Guatemala. “I hope this will be the end of the nightmare for many people and children,” said A. He added that while he never witnessed any violence during his time in the cult, he heard about serious misdeeds. “I heard screaming from different houses of the cult members, and eventually I heard members telling about threatening acts such as humiliation, violence and whippings. One mother received orders to hit her child in the presence of others,” the former member recalled.
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  4. A Catholic priest has confessed he sexually abused around 20 boys decades ago on the U.S. island of Guam - but was never prosecuted. Other Church members were aware of the situation, but only suggested the priest pray and repent for his sins.
  5. On Friday three Franciscan friars charged with allowing a suspected sexual predator to hold jobs where he molested more than 100 children, surrendered in Pennsylvania. They were confronted by the mother of one of his victims who said to them her 26 year old son committed suicide because of their 'bad decision making.' 69 year old Robert D'Aversa, 62 year old Anthony Criscitelli, and 73 year old Giles Schinelli, are free on unsecured bond until an April 14 preliminary hearing on child endangerment and conspiracy charges. Each charge is a third-degree felony carrying up to seven years in prison.
  6. By David DeKok HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - Hundreds of children in western Pennsylvania were sexually assaulted by about 50 Roman Catholic priests over four decades while bishops covered up their actions, according to a state grand jury report released on Tuesday. The report found that former Altoona-Johnstown Diocese Bishop James Hogan, who died in 2005, and his successor, Joseph Adamec, who retired in 2011, worked to cover pedophile priests' tracks and that some local law enforcement agencies also avoided investigating abuse allegations, said state Attorney General Kathleen Kane. "The heinous crimes these children endured are absolutely unconscionable," Kane told reporters in unveiling the report, based on a two-year investigation. "These predators desecrated a sacred trust and preyed upon their victims in the very places where they should have felt most safe." Revelations that some priests had habitually sexually abused children and that bishops had systematically covered up those crimes burst onto the world stage in 2002 when the Boston Globe reported widespread abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. That report, which won a Pulitzer Prize and was the subject of last year's Academy Award-winning film "Spotlight," set off a global wave of investigations that found similar patterns at dioceses around the world. They led to hefty lawsuits and seriously undermined the church's moral authority. No criminal charges will be filed because the alleged incidents are too old to be prosecuted, Kane said. Advocates for victims of sex assault have long urged lawmakers to give prosecutors more time to bring charges of sex assaults of minors, noting that particularly in the case of assaults by members of the clergy, victims can take years to come forward. The report contains explicit details of scores of attacks, naming perpetrators, many of whom have since died. Many of the surviving priests were still serving parishes at the time the investigation began, Kane said, but all have since been removed by the current bishop. "This is a painful and difficult time," current Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark Bartchak said in a statement. "I deeply regret any harm that has come to children. "We're saddened but not the least bit surprised," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "It proves what we've long maintained: that even now, under the guise of 'reform,' bishops continue to deceive parishioners and the public about their ongoing efforts to hide abuse." Adamec, the retired bishop, did not respond to a request for comment. Source:
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