September 20, 2013 Comments Off on Historic child abuse inquiry opens in Australia
Historic child abuse inquiry opens in Australia
By Amy Coopes
Published September 15, 2013
SYDNEY (AFP) – An Australian inquiry into church and institutional child abuse began public hearings Monday, with warnings that widespread and “shocking” allegations would be heard against places of worship, orphanages, community groups and schools.
Justice Peter McClellan opened the hearings in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, announced by the government last November, saying that thousands of people had so far come forward.
“It is now well known that the sexual abuse of children has been widespread in the Australian community, however the full range of institutions in which it has occurred is not generally understood,” McClellan said in an address….
The inquiry was established by former prime minister Julia Gillard in response to a series of child sex abuse scandals involving paedophile priests, though she insisted the probe would be much broader than the Catholic Church….
McClellan said a hotline set up for survivors of abuse to contact the commission had so far received 4,301 relevant calls….
the first of five public sessions to be held before the end of the year, will examine the “case study” of convicted paedophile Steven Larkins, who headed an Aboriginal children’s charity and was also a Scout leader.
Larkins pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting two boys — aged 11 and 12 — in separate incidents in 1992 and 1997, and is currently in jail for child pornography offences and forging a declaration of his fitness to work with juveniles.
February 20, 2012 Comments Off on Boy Scouts sued in sexual abuse case, Scouts to turn over files in case
Boy Scouts sued in sexual abuse case
A Santa Barbara County boy was sexually abused by his Scout leader in 2007. A judge overseeing the lawsuit brought by the boy’s family has ordered the Boy Scouts to hand over confidential files detailing allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders around the nation.
By Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times February 19, 2012
The mother of a Santa Barbara County teenager says he was wronged twice – once by the 450-pound Boy Scout leader who sexually abused him in 2007, and then by a local Scouts executive who she says told her not to call police.
“He said that wasn’t necessary, because the Scouts do their own internal investigation,” said the woman, whose name The Times is withholding to protect her son’s identity. “I thought that was really weird…. I thought it was really important to call the sheriff right away.”
So she did, triggering an investigation of volunteer Scout leader Al Steven Stein, then 29, who was charged with abusing her 92-pound son and two other boys. In 2009, he pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment. He was put on probation but later went to prison after authorities found pictures of nude children on his cellphone data card.
Stein’s criminal case is closed….
Nor is it over for the Boy Scouts of America, which is being sued by the boy’s family for negligence in a case whose ramifications could reach well beyond Santa Barbara.
The lawsuit contends the Scouts knew or should have known that Stein had put the boy at risk and cites the executive’s reluctance to call police as evidence of an effort to conceal widespread sexual abuse….
In January, after reviewing some of the files, a Santa Barbara Superior Court judge rejected the Scouts’ argument that the documents are irrelevant to the lawsuit and ordered the organization to turn over the most recent 20 years’ worth of records to the boy’s lawyers by Feb. 24, with victims’ names removed. The judge ordered the lawyers not to disclose the files publicly.
Known as “ineligible volunteer files,” the documents have been maintained since the 1920s and are intended to keep suspected molesters and others accused of misconduct out of Scouting. Scouts officials have steadfastly resisted releasing them and won’t discuss their contents, citing the privacy rights of victims and the fact that many files are based on unproven allegations.
They strenuously dispute that the files have been used to conceal sexual abuse….
According to the lawsuit, Stein had a history of inappropriate behavior with children he’d met through Scouting, including “making sexual jokes and comments” in front of Scouts and in some cases pulling down their pants. In November 2007, he abused the Santa Barbara County boy, who was 13 at the time….
In early 2008, Stein was charged with a felony, committing a lewd act upon a child, and two misdemeanors including child pornography for photographs he took of a boy’s genitals. Two of the victims were Scouts; the third was the son of a family friend.
Stein struck a deal to plead no contest to felony child endangerment and one misdemeanor. He was placed on five years’ probation but violated it by having the photos of nude children on his cellphone card. He was sentenced to two years in prison but was paroled early and has been in no trouble since, said Steven Balash, his attorney in the criminal case and the lawsuit….
But the boy’s mother said her son has been deeply affected, in part because other families from the troop accused him of lying or “hallucinating” about the abuse. He refuses to go out in public and is now tutored at home, she said….
Scouts to turn over files in Calif. sex abuse case
Associated Press 2/19/12
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — A judge overseeing a lawsuit brought by the family of a California boy molested by his troop leader in 2007 has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to hand over confidential files detailing allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders around the nation….
The trial is scheduled for April, nearly five years after the boy, then 13, was molested by volunteer troop leader Al Stein at a Boy Scouts Christmas tree sale in Goleta. Stein pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in 2009….
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, contends the Scouts knew or should have known that Stein had put the boy at risk and cites Tate’s reluctance to call police as evidence of an effort to conceal widespread sexual abuse….
The boy’s lawyers contend the files will expose the Scouts’ “culture of hidden sexual abuse” and its failure to warn boys, their parents and others about pedophiles in the ranks of one of the nation’s oldest youth organizations….
Some of the estimated 5,000 files have surfaced in recent years as a result of lawsuits by former Scouts accusing the organization of failing to exclude known pedophiles, detect abuses and report offenders to police, and allowing predators to remain at large.