#MeToo News, 2021-22

 

Note: This near-daily summary of #MeToo and related sexual assault news has been divided up to encompass below news stories beginning in 2020. For previous periods extending back to 2018, kindly visit these links:  2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

 

2022

 

August

Aug. 16

ny times logoNew York Times, Pain Doctor Who Sexually Assaulted Patients Found Dead at Rikers Jail, Jonah E. Bromwich and Jan Ransom, Aug. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Ricardo Cruciani was found dead just weeks after his conviction. His lawyer had called for him to be put on suicide watch minutes after he was convicted.

A doctor found guilty last month of sexually assaulting patients was found dead at the Rikers Island jail complex Monday even though his lawyer had called for him to be put on suicide watch just minutes after he was convicted.

The doctor, Ricardo Cruciani, a 68-year-old neurologist, was found early Monday morning sitting in a shower area of the jail with a sheet around his neck, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. Shortly afterward, medical staff arrived to attend to him. He died about an hour after he was discovered, the documents show.

Mr. Cruciani is the 12th person to have died this year either while being held in the city’s jails or shortly after being released. His death came about two weeks after a jury found him guilty on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and other crimes, stemming from his treatment of six patients that he saw around 2012.

In a statement, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, Louis A. Molina, said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of this person in custody.”

“We will conduct a preliminary internal review to determine the circumstances surrounding his death,” he said in the statement, which did not identify Mr. Cruciani. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones.”

Aug. 14

washington post logoWashington Post, Most abortions are done at home. Antiabortion groups are taking aim, Kimberly Kindy, Aug. 14, 2022. Two top antiabortion groups have crafted and successfully lobbied for state legislation to ban or further restrict the predominant way pregnancies are ended in the United States — via drugs taken at home, often facilitated by a network of abortion rights groups.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, 14 states now ban or partially ban the use of those drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, which are used in more than half of all abortions.

But the drugs remain widely available, with multiple groups working to help provide them even to women in states with abortion bans. Students for Life of America and National Right to Life Committee, which have played leading roles in crafting antiabortion laws, hope to change that with new legislation.

The groups are pursuing a variety of tactics, from bills that would ban the abortion-inducing drugs altogether to others that would allow family members to sue medication providers or attempt to shut down the nonprofit groups that help women obtain and safely use the drugs.

Their strategy reflects the reality that abortion access today looks vastly different from that of the pre-Roe world, one without easy access to abortion medications from out-of-state or overseas pharmacies.

“We knew we couldn’t just go back to pre-Roe laws,” said James Bopp Jr., attorney for National Right to Life. “We knew new approaches were needed.”

Both organizations have long opposed medication abortions, but Students for Life’s legislative efforts did not gain traction until 2021, when seven states passed bills modeled after legislation crafted by the group to create legal barriers to the medications. In some cases the laws also banned them from college health clinics. A new wave of these proposals are expected to be introduced — or reintroduced — in statehouses across the country when most legislatures reconvene in January.

ny times logoNew York Times, Will Abortion Issue Sway Voters’ Choices? N.Y. House Race Poses Test, Grace Ashford, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). An Aug. 23 special election to replace a Democrat, Antonio Delgado, could help answer one of the biggest questions of the midterms.

In New York’s Hudson Valley, ubiquitous lawn signs underscore how an upcoming special election for an open House seat has taken on outsize implications.

“Choice Is on the Ballot,” one sign says, the white lettering cast over a background of pink and blue, and a smaller line beneath it for the Democratic candidate, Pat Ryan.

The Aug. 23 contest for the seesaw district, which routinely wavers between Democratic and Republican control, had initially been cast as a potential bellwether of President Biden’s stature among swing voters.

But the race — among the first House special elections in a swing district since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — has quickly morphed into a closely watched test case of how important abortion rights may be in a tossup general election.

Mr. Ryan, a combat veteran who serves as executive of Ulster County, is in favor of protecting abortion access nationwide. Marc Molinaro, the Republican executive of Dutchess County, is not.

 

 

Former Miss America Cara Mund, now a congressional candidate in North Dakota, poses at the state capital, Bismarck (Associated Press photo by James MacPherson).Former Miss America Cara Mund, now a congressional candidate in North Dakota, poses at the state capital, Bismarck (Associated Press photo by James MacPherson).

ap logoAssociated Press, Ex-Miss America Mund: Abortion ruling prompted US House run, James MacPherson, Aug. 14, 2022. Former Miss America Cara Mund said Wednesday that her concern about the erosion of abortion rights prompted her independent bid for the U.S. House in her home state of North Dakota.

Mund, who is running against the odds in deeply conservative North Dakota, told The Associated Press that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the constitutional right to abortion was “just a moment where I knew we need more women in office.”

The 28-year-old recent Harvard Law School graduate announced her candidacy Saturday, just weeks before early voting begins in the state where Republicans hold every statewide office.

Her run comes as North Dakota’s only abortion clinic is Fargo prepares to relocate across the border to Minnesota to avoid recrimination if courts allow a law banning all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the pregnant woman to be enforced.

Having the government “make women have to travel across state lines is going to impact women, and women of lower social economic status,” she said.

Acting as her own campaign manager and without any fundraising machinery, the Bismarck native has begun gathering the 1,000 signatures she needs to get on the ballot. If she makes it, in November she will face Republican U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, who has held the state’s lone House seat since 2019, and Democrat Mark Haugen of Bismarck, a University of Mary graduate adviser who has long worked as a paramedic.

Aug. 13

southern baptist convention logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. investigating Southern Baptist Convention handling of sex abuse, Michelle Boorstein, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The Southern Baptist Convention, the second-largest faith group in the country, said Friday that the Justice Department is investigating multiple arms of the denomination following an internal report that showed mishandling of sexual abuse cases.

The investigation is related to a recent bombshell third-party report commissioned by the SBC, a spokesman said late Friday. The report concluded that sex abuse survivors were often ignored, minimized and “even vilified” by top clergy in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Southern Baptist leaders covered up sex abuse, kept secret database, report says

“The SBC Executive Committee recently became aware that the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, and that the investigation will include multiple SBC entities,” the statement issued Friday by 14 SBC leaders from multiple top entities said. “Individually and collectively each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation.”

The third-party report, which involved an examination of the period from 2000 to 2021, focused on actions by the executive committee, which handles financial and administrative duties. Southern Baptist churches operate independently from one another, but the Nashville-based Executive Committee distributes more than $190 million through its cooperative program in its annual budget that funds its missions, seminaries and ministries.

The 300-page report, the first of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC, showed how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. Evidence in the report suggests leaders also told Southern Baptists they could not maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse while secretly keeping such a list for years.

Anger over the report in June led the SBC’s huge annual meeting to pass a recommendation to create a database to track sex abusers and a formal group to handle sex abuse accusations going forward.

Aug. 10

 nebraska map

ap logoAssociated Press Politico, Nebraska woman charged with helping daughter have abortion, Staff Report, Aug. 10, 2022 (print ed.). Investigators uncovered Facebook messages in which the two allegedly discussed using medication to induce an abortion. The prosecutor handling the case said it’s the first time he has charged anyone for illegally performing an abortion after 20 weeks, a restriction that was passed in 2010.

politico CustomA Nebraska woman has been charged with helping her teenage daughter end her pregnancy at about 24 weeks after investigators uncovered Facebook messages in which the two discussed using medication to induce an abortion and plans to burn the fetus afterward.

The prosecutor handling the case said it’s the first time he has charged anyone for illegally performing an abortion after 20 weeks, a restriction that was passed in 2010. Before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, states weren’t allowed to enforce abortion bans until the point at which a fetus is considered viable outside the womb, at roughly 24 weeks.

In one of the Facebook messages, Jessica Burgess, 41, tells her then 17-year-old daughter that she has obtained abortion pills for her and gives her instructions on how to take them to end the pregnancy.

The daughter, meanwhile, “talks about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body,” a detective wrote in court documents. “I will finally be able to wear jeans,” she says in one of the messages. Law enforcement authorities obtained the messages with a search warrant, and detailed some of them in court documents.

In early June, the mother and daughter were only charged with a single felony for removing, concealing or abandoning a body, and two misdemeanors: concealing the death of another person and false reporting. It wasn’t until about a month later, after investigators reviewed the private Facebook messages, that they added the felony abortion-related charges against the mother. The daughter, who is now 18, is being charged as an adult at prosecutors’ request.

When first interviewed, the two told investigators that the teen had unexpectedly given birth to a stillborn baby in the shower in the early morning hours of April 22. They said they put the fetus in a bag, placed it in a box in the back of their van, and later drove several miles north of town, where they buried the body with the help of a 22-year-old man.

The man, whom The Associated Press is not identifying because he has only been charged with a misdemeanor, has pleaded no contest to helping bury the fetus on rural land his parents own north of Norfolk in northeast Nebraska. He’s set to be sentenced later this month.

In court documents, the detective said the fetus showed signs of “thermal wounds” and that the man told investigators the mother and daughter did burn it. He also wrote that the daughter confirmed in the Facebook exchange with her mother that the two would “burn the evidence afterward.” Based on medical records, the fetus was more than 23 weeks old, the detective wrote.

The group National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which supports abortion rights, found 1,331 arrests or detentions of women for crimes related to their pregnancy from 2006 to 2020.

In addition to its current 20-week abortion ban, Nebraska tried — but failed — earlier this year to pass a so-called trigger law that would have banned all abortions when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

A Facebook spokesman declined to talk about the details of this case, but the company has said that officials at the social media giant “always scrutinize every government request we receive to make sure it is legally valid.”

Facebook says it will fight back against requests that it thinks are invalid or too broad, but the company said it gave investigators information in about 88% of the 59,996 times when the government requested data in the second half of last year.

He and the police cautioned that details remained sparse, and Mr. Assed noted that at least one of the victims was Sunni.

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Hawaii Man Charged in 1982 Cold Case Kidnapping, Rape and Murder of 15-Year-Old California Girl Found Stabbed 59 Times, Colin Kalmbacher, Aug. 10, 2022. Karen Stitt was only 15 years old when she was raped and repeatedly stabbed to death as summer waned on a night in 1982.

Now, nearly 40 years later, law enforcement in various jurisdictions have finally charged and arrested the man they say is responsible.

Gary Ramirez, 75, stands accused of kidnapping, rape, and murder in the first degree over the death of the girl from Palo Alto, Calif.

Aug. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Major Indiana Employers Criticize State’s New Abortion Law, Lora Kelley, Aug. 7, 2022 (print ed.). The drug company Eli Lilly said it “will be forced” to look outside the state for employment growth. The engine maker Cummins said the law will “impede our ability to attract and retain top talent.”

On Friday, the governor of Indiana signed into law a near-total abortion ban, making the state the first to approve sweeping new restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

On Saturday morning, one of Indiana’s biggest employers, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, issued a strong objection to the new restrictions. “Given this new law,” it said in a statement, “we will be forced to plan for more employment growth outside our home state.”

The company, which employs more than 10,000 people in Indiana, began by saying that “abortion is a divisive and deeply personal issue with no clear consensus among the citizens of Indiana.” It noted that Eli Lilly has expanded its employee health plan coverage to include travel for reproductive services. But, it added, “that may not be enough for some current and potential employees.”

It was among the first major employers in the state to weigh in on the new law.

Shortly after, Jon Mills, a spokesman for Cummins, an engine company that employs about 10,000 people in the state, said: “The right to make decisions regarding reproductive health ensures that women have the same opportunity as others to participate fully in our work force and that our work force is diverse. There are provisions in the bill that conflict with this, impact our people and impede our ability to attract and retain top talent.” He added that Cummins’s health care benefits cover elective reproductive health procedures, including medical travel benefits.

Mr. Mills also said that, “prior to, and during the legislative process, we shared our concerns about this legislation with legislative leadership.”

After the Supreme Court’s decision, few companies weighed in directly on the ruling. Far more did say they would expand their employer health care coverage to cover travel and other expenses for employees who may need to seek reproductive health care out of state.

Some companies with a large presence in Indiana have previously stated that they will cover travel for employees.

ny times logoNew York Times, Some Women ‘Self-Manage’ Abortions as Access Recedes in the U.S., Roni Caryn Rabin, Aug. 7, 2022. The information and medications needed to end a pregnancy are increasingly available outside the health care system.

In states that have banned abortion, some women with unwanted pregnancies are pursuing an unconventional workaround: They are “self-managing” their abortions, seeking out the necessary know-how online and obtaining the medications without the supervision of a clinic or a doctor.

At first glance, the practice may recall the days before Roe v. Wade, when women too often were forced to take risky measures to end an unwanted pregnancy. But the advent of medication abortion — accomplished with drugs, rather than in-office procedures — has transformed reproductive care, posing a significant challenge to anti-abortion legislation.

Even before the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, medication abortions accounted for more than half of abortions in the United States. Federal regulators made access to the pills even easier during the pandemic by dropping the requirement for an in-person visit and allowing the drugs to be mailed to patients after a virtual appointment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Can Biden, an Uneasy Champion on Abortion, Lead the Post-Roe Fight? Michael D. Shear, Aug. 7, 2022. A practicing Catholic, President Biden has long sought a middle ground on abortion. Activists think Democrats have tiptoed too carefully around the issue.

The Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to an abortion in the United States after nearly 50 years has set in motion a generational struggle over Republican efforts to ban the procedure in states across the country.

But inside the West Wing, President Biden has made it clear that he is uncomfortable even using the word abortion, according to current and former advisers. In speeches and public statements, he prefers to use the word sparingly, focusing instead on broader phrases, like “reproductive health” and “the right to choose,” that might resonate more widely with the public.

Mr. Biden, a practicing Catholic who has drawn on his faith to shape his political identity, is now being called on to lead a fight he spent decades sidestepping — and many abortion rights advocates worry that he may not be the right messenger for the moment.

Aug. 6

 

indiana map

ny times logoNew York Times, Indiana Lawmakers Pass Near-Total Abortion Ban, the First Post-Roe, Mitch Smith and Julie Bosman, Aug. 6, 2022 (print ed.). The bill divided Republicans. Some of them said the measure was too restrictive; others objected to the limited exceptions for rape and incest.

Indiana lawmakers passed a near-total ban on abortion on Friday, overcoming division among Republicans and protests from Democrats to become the first state to draw up and approve sweeping new limits on the procedure since Roe v. Wade was struck down in June.

The bill’s passage came just three days after voters in Kansas, another conservative Midwestern state, overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would have stripped abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, a result seen nationally as a sign of unease with abortion bans. And it came despite some Indiana Republicans opposing the bill for going too far, and others voting no because of its exceptions.

republican elephant logoThe end of Roe was the culmination of decades of work by conservatives, opening the door for states to severely restrict abortion or ban it entirely. Some states prepared in advance with abortion bans that were triggered by the fall of Roe. Lawmakers in other conservative states said they would consider more restrictions.

But, at least in the first weeks since that decision, Republicans have moved slowly and have struggled to speak with a unified voice on what comes next. Lawmakers in South Carolina and West Virginia have weighed but taken no final action on proposed bans. Officials in Iowa, Florida, Nebraska and other conservative states have so far not taken legislative action. And especially in the last few weeks, some Republican politicians have recalibrated their messaging on the issue.

“West Virginia tried it, and they stepped back from the ledge. Kansas tried it, and the voters resoundingly rejected it,” State Representative Justin Moed, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said on the House floor before voting against the bill. “Why is that? Because up until now it has just been a theory. It was easy for people to say they were pro-life. It was easy to see things so black and white. But now, that theory has become reality, and the consequences of the views are more real.”

The Indiana bill — which bans abortion from conception except in some cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality or when the pregnant woman faces risk of death or certain severe health risks — now goes to Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican who encouraged legislators to consider new abortion limits during a special session that he called. Beyond those limited exceptions, the bill would end legal abortion in Indiana next month if it is signed by the governor. The procedure is currently allowed at up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

“If this isn’t a government issue — protecting life — I don’t know what is,” said Representative John Young, a Republican who supported the bill. He added: “I know the exceptions are not enough for some and too much for others, but it’s a good balance.”

The bill’s passage came after two weeks of emotional testimony and bitter debates in the Statehouse. Even though Republicans hold commanding majorities in both chambers, the bill’s fate did not always seem secure. When a Senate committee considered an initial version of the bill last week, no one showed up to testify in support of it: The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana called it a “cruel, dangerous bill,” Indiana Right to Life described it as “weak and troubling,” and a parade of residents with differing views on abortion all urged lawmakers to reject it.

Aug. 5

ny times logoNew York Times, DeSantis Suspends Tampa Prosecutor Who Vowed Not to Criminalize Abortion, Patricia Mazzei, Aug. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida suspended the top prosecutor in Tampa on Thursday, accusing him of incompetence and neglect of duty for vowing not to prosecute those who seek or provide abortions.

ron desantis oMr. DeSantis, right, a Republican, suspended Andrew H. Warren, the elected state attorney of Hillsborough County. In June, Mr. Warren, a Democrat, joined 83 elected prosecutors across the country who vowed not to prosecute those who seek or provide abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Florida imposed a 15-week abortion ban in April.

Mr. DeSantis said that the statement and other actions by Mr. Warren — including a policy of not prosecuting crimes that begin with an encounter between police officers and someone riding a bicycle or on foot and engaging in a noncriminal violation — amounted to “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties,” and that the prosecutor’s approach to the job left him with no choice but to suspend him.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida accused the prosecutor of incompetence and neglect of duty for vowing not to prosecute those who seek or provide abortions.

Mr. DeSantis appeared at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, where he was flanked by a gaggle of uniformed sheriffs and police officials. The law enforcement officials expressed frustration with Mr. Warren for not prosecuting certain crimes. “Andrew Warren is a fraud,” said Brian Dugan, a former chief of the Tampa Police Department.

Other Recent Headlines

Aug. 3

 

Gretchen Van Winkle tears up while discussing her case in the living room of her home in White River Junction, VT (Cheryl Senter for the Washington Post).

Gretchen Van Winkle tears up while discussing her case in the living room of her home in White River Junction, VT (Cheryl Senter for the Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Police accused her of making up her rape, then destroyed the evidence, Justin Jouvenal, Aug. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Gretchen Van Winkle was transfixed as the hit Netflix series “Unbelievable” played across her TV screen in 2019. The dramatized version of a true story of one woman’s rape and betrayal by police was so similar it could have been hers.

Just like the protagonist, Van Winkle was sexually assaulted in her apartment by a knife-wielding intruder, who bound and gagged her. Van Winkle remembered the same kinds of searing questions lobbed at her, as detectives accused the woman on screen of making up her assault.

“Unbelievable” ends with a measure of justice: A partial DNA match helps identify the victim’s rapist and proves she was telling the truth all along. That moment had eluded Van Winkle for more than two decades.

Van Winkle had already asked Virginia authorities to take a fresh look at her 1995 assault case, and now she pressed for new DNA testing. But any hope of an “Unbelievable”-style ending was soon dashed by a stunning series of calls and texts from a Fairfax County police cold-case detective.

Van Winkle’s rape kit had been destroyed, in what police officials later concluded was a violation of department policy. So had the knife, her bloody bedsheets and the clothes she wore when she was attacked. In fact, police said detectives scoured the property room and found every bit of physical evidence in her case was gone.

What Van Winkle worked to uncover was worse than she had imagined — an accounting by Fairfax County police found the same detective who probed her case had marked evidence for destruction in dozens of unsolved felony sexual assault cases. Victims remain unaware.

Why it happened, whether the evidence was improperly destroyed and the impact on cases is still not fully known.

Aug. 1

 

victor pena WBZ

 lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Boston Man Who Kidnapped Woman and Raped Her for Three Days Will Spend Decades Behind Bars, Marisa Sarnoff, Aug. 1, 2022. A Massachusetts man convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman repeatedly while keeping her inside his home for days will spend up to nearly 40 years behind bars.

Victor Pena, 42 (shown above in a courtroom photo via WBZ-TV), was convicted on July 26 on 10 aggravated rape charges and one kidnapping charge stemming from a 2019 incident in which he held Olivia Ambrose, 23, for three days inside his home in Boston.

Local news website MassLive had reported that Pena had abducted Ambrose after she left a bar on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. According to the story, Ambrose appeared highly intoxicated at the time. Prosecutors said that after leaving the bar with a man, who then left with his friends, the victim was walking “alone in the snow.”

The victim reportedly remembered waking up on a bare mattress in a dirty apartment, MassLive reported. She tried to get her things and leave, but according to prosecutors, Peña threatened her and took her phone. He then spent the next three days raping and sexually assaulting the woman, prosecutors say. He also made her drink alcohol, demanded that she read the Bible out loud in Spanish and forced her to take photos with him.

According to WCVB, a digital forensic expert said that more than 300 photos and six explicit videos of the victim were found on Pena’s phone.

Ambrose’s family filed a missing person report on Sunday evening. Using surveillance video, police were able to track Ambrose to Pena’s apartment: the two were seen on camera boarding public transportation and then heading toward the housing development where Pena lived.

Until he took the stand, Pena had stayed out of the courtroom during testimony, WCVB reported. He had apparently had multiple disruptive outbursts, including an incident during jury selection when he appeared naked on a monitor in the courtroom, appearing to be engaging in a lewd act. That jury pool was excused, WCVB reported.

Pena had previously faced charges of indecent assault of two teenagers in New York City, according to MassLive. He was also reportedly subject to three restraining orders from Boston women in the last 15 years.

 

peter strickland

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Florida Man Preyed on Minor Girls at Group Home, Traded 'Items of Value' to Sexually Abuse Victims as Young as 13: Sheriff, Jerry Lambe, Aug. 1, 2022.  A 32-year-old public utilities worker in Florida is behind bars this week after he allegedly admitted to filming himself sexually abusing multiple children as young as 13 from a local a group home in exchange for “items of value,” authorities say. Peter James Strickland was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with one count of unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, a second-degree felony, according to a press release from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation into Strickland began on July 6, 2022, when the sheriff’s office received a delayed sex offense complaint involving multiple minor victims all of whom resided at a group home in Palm Coast. Investigators quickly uncovered evidence that the case involved human trafficking.

Strickland allegedly confessed to “having sexual relations” with the minor victims approximately 15 times over a two-year period. He allegedly said that the victims ranged in age from 13 to 17 years old.

Law&Crime, 3 Girls Found Dead in Pond Near Where They Lived, Texas Authorities Say, Alberto Luperon, Aug 1, 2022. Three young girls — reportedly sisters — were found dead in a pond early Saturday after going missing. Authorities in Texas are now investigating how the lives of Zi’ariel Oliver, 9, Amiyah Hughes, 8, and Temari Oliver, 5, were tragically cut short.

Investigators in Cass County said that the children were reported missing at around 10 p.m. on Friday, according to KSLA. Agencies including Texas Parks and Wildlife, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, and volunteer firefighters responded.

Investigators made the tragic discovery several hours later on a private pond near Highway 77.

“We located items of clothing around a pond and in a pond,” Texas Game Warden Shawn Hervey reportedly said. “So, we centered the search around that small body of water, and with the use of divers we were able to recover three victims at approximately 2 a.m. this morning.”

“A pair of shoes was found at the edge of the pond, leading investigators to search the water,” Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe said, according to The Texarkana Gazette.

Politico, Opinion: More Republican Women Than You Think Have Had Abortions. Here’s How I Know, Samantha Zaleski, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Sam Zaleski had an abortion in the last few weeks of her senior year at a Catholic school in southeast Michigan. "It took my own pregnancy for me to accept that I was in a controlling relationship," she writes.

politico CustomWe pretend my story is rare among conservatives. It's not, and Republicans should stop acting like it.

In the last few weeks of the school year during my senior year at a respected Catholic school in southeast Michigan, our religion teacher had our class watch “Juno.” In my Catholic community, “Juno” was seen as a pro-life story: The main character learns she is pregnant at 16 and ultimately chooses adoption.

It was during that class, watching “Juno,” that I first experienced the nausea. In the next few weeks, that nausea turned into vomiting, and then into dehydration. I was hospitalized, and soon learned the reason for these vomiting spells. I was pregnant.

I ultimately had an abortion, and I don’t regret the decision. It made me a firm believer in the importance of abortion rights — for economic mobility, for autonomy, for mental health. I did choose life when I chose to have an abortion — my own life.

That decision ended up setting me on a path where I’d spend the better part of my career committed to helping Republicans win elections as a pollster, data analyst and strategist. As a result, I know numbers, and I know politics. And I know that statistically, I can’t be that rare; many women who have supported Republicans have had abortions. Many women who agree with various conservative policies, too, have had abortions. There are men and women in the party, too, who might not have personal experience with abortion, but still have complicated feelings about the procedure.

Sam Zaleski has a decade of experience working in political campaigns and advocacy with expertise in media, research, and analytics. In 2018, she was named a rising star by Campaigns & Elections magazine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Indiana’s cruel abortion bill is a warning of post-Roe reality, Ruth Marcus, right, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). On ruth marcusSaturday, the Indiana Senate voted to make abortion illegal in the state. The measure passed with the bare minimum number of votes — not because lawmakers flinched at outlawing abortion but because so many of them believed the bill, with its exceptions for rape and incest, wasn’t strict enough.

Welcome to the new abortion debate, in which no restriction short of an absolute, unyielding ban will satisfy some abortion opponents. So much for the gauzy vision of a European-style consensus in which states would make abortion freely available up to a certain point in pregnancy, say 15 weeks, the limit imposed by the Mississippi law that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority used in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as a vehicle for eliminating abortion rights. The legislative landscape is still unfolding, but the new reality is that abortion is likely to be prohibited or unavailable after the first few weeks of pregnancy in almost half the states.

Abortion is now banned in these states. See where the laws have changed.

Indiana is one of the first to consider abortion legislation in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, so the fate of the measure that passed Saturday is instructive. Republicans enjoy a comfortable supermajority in the state legislature, with 39 of 50 Senate seats. But Indiana Republicans were a party divided — 18 voted to eliminate the exceptions for rape and incest — and ultimately just 26 voted for final passage. Now the measure heads to the Republican-dominated House, which has a chance to make it even worse.

To some extent, antiabortion forces are like the dog that caught the car — after all these years of cost-free railing against Roe, they are in the uncomfortable position of having to make real-world, and politically dicey, choices about what restrictions to impose in its absence.

washington post logoWashington Post, States may revive abortion laws from a time when women couldn’t vote, Gillian Brockell, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, it invalidated antiabortion laws in many states. Now that the Supreme Court has struck it down, these states face questions about whether and how the old laws will take effect again.

Some states avoided this confusion by taking preemptive action. In the half-century that the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to abortion, a number of states passed trigger laws automatically restricting abortion if Roe were ever overturned; now those laws are going into effect. Other states passed laws codifying abortion rights in the event Roe was reversed.

But a few states did nothing at all, and now confusion reigns about whether the old laws are kicking in again.

In Arizona, a 15-week abortion ban will go into effect this fall, but the Republican state attorney general is trying to enforce a stricter 1901 law immediately.

In West Virginia, a law from 1849 — before West Virginia was even a state — which makes providing an abortion a felony, is enforceable, according to the Republican state attorney general.

And in Wisconsin, the Democratic attorney general is fighting enforcement of a law, also from 1849, making it a felony to provide an abortion unless it is needed to save the life of the mother. The Democratic governor has said he’ll grant clemency to anyone charged under it.

For many women, it’s jarring to contemplate resurrecting laws from a bygone era when women’s rights were drastically curtailed.

In 1849, West Virginia was still part of Virginia. (The Trans-Allegheny region didn’t break off until the Civil War.) Women of any race or class had difficult lives and few rights.

In 1850, there were about 10,000 enslaved Black women in the counties that became West Virginia. These women had no control over their financial, professional, political or sexual lives. They could not legally marry, and there was no legal protection against sexual assault. Many enslaved women, particularly in Virginia, were subjected to rape and forced breeding. They had no right to travel, so they could not have crossed state lines for an abortion. Some enslaved people brought recipes for abortion-inducing drinks with them from Africa, but access to these would have been inconsistent at best.

washington post logoWashington Post, Some Republicans fear party is too extreme on abortion and gay rights, Hannah Knowles, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). West Virginia legislature inches toward abortion ban with few exceptions. Following the end of Roe v. Wade, many in the GOP have embraced uncompromising positions and loaded rhetoric out of step with mainstream public opinion.

Republicans in Congress this month blocked a bill protecting the ability to cross state lines for an abortion, despite strong public support for such a measure.

The Texas attorney general said he would be willing to defend the state’s defunct anti-sodomy law, while a GOP Senate candidate in Arizona has called for a nationwide abortion ban — two positions also out of step with public opinion.

And some of the party’s most vocal members traffic in extreme and inflammatory rhetoric — from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) claiming that heterosexual people will disappear while denouncing “trans terrorist” educators, to Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) calling abortion rights protesters ugly, “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”

Uncompromising positions and loaded rhetoric on key social issues are escalating concerns within GOP circles that the party is moving too far out of sync with popular opinion, projecting new hostility to gay people and potentially alienating women voters in high-stakes races. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and ending a nationwide right to abortion last month has spawned strict new bans and stirred fears that gay rights and access to contraception could be next — shifting the focus from other culture-war battles where Republicans felt they had a winning message.

ny times logoNew York Times, A New Yorker’s Opposition to Abortion Clouds Her House Re-Election Bid, Jesse McKinley, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). As the lone Republican in the New York City congressional delegation, Representative Nicole Malliotakis has adopted certain stances that would make her an understandable outlier in a deeply Democratic city.

Just days after taking office in early 2021, she voted to discard the legitimate 2020 election results, voting for a debunked conspiracy theory that claimed President Donald J. Trump actually won the election. She followed up by voting against Mr. Trump’s second impeachment as a result of the deadly Capitol riots of Jan. 6, 2021.

nicole malliotakis oBut as she seeks re-election in November, Ms. Malliotakis, right, has tried to tread a finer line around guns and abortion, two polarizing social issues that have taken on added prominence in light of recent Supreme Court decisions. (In June, the court overturned the federal right to abortion, as well as a New York law governing concealed weapons.)

On guns, for example, Ms. Malliotakis has voiced some support for new regulations, even voting for several Democratic gun control bills proffered in the wake of the massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. She later, however, voted against the omnibus bill package, contending that it was “constitutionally suspect” and “represented a partisan overreach.”

Ms. Malliotakis opposes abortion rights, favoring restrictions on using taxpayer funding for the procedure and on late-term abortions. But she has said that she believes that abortion should be allowed under certain circumstances, such as when the life of the mother is at risk.

But Ms. Malliotakis has also tried to maintain some distance from the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, saying in a recent interview that she “didn’t weigh in on it.” Yet earlier this month, the congresswoman voted against a pair of bills that would have banned states from restricting abortions and prohibited them from blocking access to out-of-state abortion services.

Republicans, who are expected to fare well in November’s midterm elections, have long fought to overturn Roe. Yet some of the party’s candidates have not rushed to embrace the Dobbs ruling, wary of alienating voters who, according to polls, may be swayed by social issues in ways that help Democrats.

Ms. Malliotakis is a prime example. Her district encompasses Staten Island and a swath of southwest Brooklyn, some of the city’s most conservative areas. Yet New York remains an overwhelmingly Democratic city, and the recent Supreme Court rulings were profoundly unpopular here.

max rose nicole malliotakisMs. Malliotakis is expected to easily win her Republican primary next month against John Matland, a badly underfunded rival, setting her up for a likely rematch against Max Rose, the former Democratic congressman whom she unseated in 2020.

Mr. Rose, (shown in 2018 photos with Ms. Malliotakis) a combat veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan and awarded the Bronze Star, has sought to tie Ms. Malliotakis to the extreme elements of the Republican Party, including Mr. Trump, and to the Capitol riot by the president’s supporters, saying he is running to protect “the soul of America.”

“Everything that our country was built upon wasn’t just spit at: They tried to destroy it,” he said during a campaign walkabout on July 11 in Bay Ridge. “And even after — even after — Nicole, and everyone else in Congress who were almost killed, they still voted to decertify.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Kansas Abortion Vote Tests Political Energy in Post-Roe America, Katie Glueck, Aug. 1, 2022 (print ed.). On Tuesday, Kansans will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that could lead to far-reaching abortion restrictions or an outright ban on the procedure.

In the final days before Kansans decide whether to remove abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, the politically competitive Kansas City suburbs have become hotbeds of activism.

kansas map in usIn neighborhoods where yard signs often tout high school sports teams, dueling abortion-related messages now also dot front lawns. A cafe known for its chocolates and cheese pie has become a haven for abortion rights advocates and a source of ire for opponents. Signs have been stolen, a Catholic church was vandalized earlier this month and tension is palpable on the cusp of the first major vote on the abortion issue since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.

“I’m really sad that that happened,” said Leslie Schmitz, 54, of Olathe, speaking of the abortion access landscape. “And mad. Sad and mad.”

 

July

July 31

washington post logoWashington Post, States may revive abortion laws from a time when women couldn’t vote, Gillian Brockell, July 31, 2022. When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, it invalidated antiabortion laws in many states. Now that the Supreme Court has struck it down, these states face questions about whether and how the old laws will take effect again.

Some states avoided this confusion by taking preemptive action. In the half-century that the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to abortion, a number of states passed trigger laws automatically restricting abortion if Roe were ever overturned; now those laws are going into effect. Other states passed laws codifying abortion rights in the event Roe was reversed.

But a few states did nothing at all, and now confusion reigns about whether the old laws are kicking in again.

In Arizona, a 15-week abortion ban will go into effect this fall, but the Republican state attorney general is trying to enforce a stricter 1901 law immediately.

In West Virginia, a law from 1849 — before West Virginia was even a state — which makes providing an abortion a felony, is enforceable, according to the Republican state attorney general.

And in Wisconsin, the Democratic attorney general is fighting enforcement of a law, also from 1849, making it a felony to provide an abortion unless it is needed to save the life of the mother. The Democratic governor has said he’ll grant clemency to anyone charged under it.

For many women, it’s jarring to contemplate resurrecting laws from a bygone era when women’s rights were drastically curtailed.

In 1849, West Virginia was still part of Virginia. (The Trans-Allegheny region didn’t break off until the Civil War.) Women of any race or class had difficult lives and few rights.

In 1850, there were about 10,000 enslaved Black women in the counties that became West Virginia. These women had no control over their financial, professional, political or sexual lives. They could not legally marry, and there was no legal protection against sexual assault. Many enslaved women, particularly in Virginia, were subjected to rape and forced breeding. They had no right to travel, so they could not have crossed state lines for an abortion. Some enslaved people brought recipes for abortion-inducing drinks with them from Africa, but access to these would have been inconsistent at best.

washington post logoWashington Post, Some Republicans fear party is too extreme on abortion and gay rights, Hannah Knowles, July 31, 2022 (print ed.). West Virginia legislature inches toward abortion ban with few exceptions. Following the end of Roe v. Wade, many in the GOP have embraced uncompromising positions and loaded rhetoric out of step with mainstream public opinion.

Republicans in Congress this month blocked a bill protecting the ability to cross state lines for an abortion, despite strong public support for such a measure.

The Texas attorney general said he would be willing to defend the state’s defunct anti-sodomy law, while a GOP Senate candidate in Arizona has called for a nationwide abortion ban — two positions also out of step with public opinion.

And some of the party’s most vocal members traffic in extreme and inflammatory rhetoric — from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) claiming that heterosexual people will disappear while denouncing “trans terrorist” educators, to Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) calling abortion rights protesters ugly, “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”

Uncompromising positions and loaded rhetoric on key social issues are escalating concerns within GOP circles that the party is moving too far out of sync with popular opinion, projecting new hostility to gay people and potentially alienating women voters in high-stakes races. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and ending a nationwide right to abortion last month has spawned strict new bans and stirred fears that gay rights and access to contraception could be next — shifting the focus from other culture-war battles where Republicans felt they had a winning message.

ny times logoNew York Times, A New Yorker’s Opposition to Abortion Clouds Her House Re-Election Bid, Jesse McKinley, July 31, 2022. As the lone Republican in the New York City congressional delegation, Representative Nicole Malliotakis has adopted certain stances that would make her an understandable outlier in a deeply Democratic city.

Just days after taking office in early 2021, she voted to discard the legitimate 2020 election results, voting for a debunked conspiracy theory that claimed President Donald J. Trump actually won the election. She followed up by voting against Mr. Trump’s second impeachment as a result of the deadly Capitol riots of Jan. 6, 2021.

nicole malliotakis oBut as she seeks re-election in November, Ms. Malliotakis, right, has tried to tread a finer line around guns and abortion, two polarizing social issues that have taken on added prominence in light of recent Supreme Court decisions. (In June, the court overturned the federal right to abortion, as well as a New York law governing concealed weapons.)

On guns, for example, Ms. Malliotakis has voiced some support for new regulations, even voting for several Democratic gun control bills proffered in the wake of the massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. She later, however, voted against the omnibus bill package, contending that it was “constitutionally suspect” and “represented a partisan overreach.”

Ms. Malliotakis opposes abortion rights, favoring restrictions on using taxpayer funding for the procedure and on late-term abortions. But she has said that she believes that abortion should be allowed under certain circumstances, such as when the life of the mother is at risk.

But Ms. Malliotakis has also tried to maintain some distance from the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, saying in a recent interview that she “didn’t weigh in on it.” Yet earlier this month, the congresswoman voted against a pair of bills that would have banned states from restricting abortions and prohibited them from blocking access to out-of-state abortion services.

Republicans, who are expected to fare well in November’s midterm elections, have long fought to overturn Roe. Yet some of the party’s candidates have not rushed to embrace the Dobbs ruling, wary of alienating voters who, according to polls, may be swayed by social issues in ways that help Democrats.

Ms. Malliotakis is a prime example. Her district encompasses Staten Island and a swath of southwest Brooklyn, some of the city’s most conservative areas. Yet New York remains an overwhelmingly Democratic city, and the recent Supreme Court rulings were profoundly unpopular here.

max rose nicole malliotakisMs. Malliotakis is expected to easily win her Republican primary next month against John Matland, a badly underfunded rival, setting her up for a likely rematch against Max Rose, the former Democratic congressman whom she unseated in 2020.

Mr. Rose, (shown in 2018 photos with Ms. Malliotakis) a combat veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan and awarded the Bronze Star, has sought to tie Ms. Malliotakis to the extreme elements of the Republican Party, including Mr. Trump, and to the Capitol riot by the president’s supporters, saying he is running to protect “the soul of America.”

“Everything that our country was built upon wasn’t just spit at: They tried to destroy it,” he said during a campaign walkabout on July 11 in Bay Ridge. “And even after — even after — Nicole, and everyone else in Congress who were almost killed, they still voted to decertify.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Kansas Abortion Vote Tests Political Energy in Post-Roe America, Katie Glueck, July 31, 2022. On Tuesday, Kansans will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that could lead to far-reaching abortion restrictions or an outright ban on the procedure.

— In the final days before Kansans decide whether to remove abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, the politically competitive Kansas City suburbs have become hotbeds of activism.

In neighborhoods where yard signs often tout high school sports teams, dueling abortion-related messages now also dot front lawns. A cafe known for its chocolates and cheese pie has become a haven for abortion rights advocates and a source of ire for opponents. Signs have been stolen, a Catholic church was vandalized earlier this month and tension is palpable on the cusp of the first major vote on the abortion issue since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.

“I’m really sad that that happened,” said Leslie Schmitz, 54, of Olathe, speaking of the abortion access landscape. “And mad. Sad and mad.”

July 29

ny times logoNew York Times, Pain Doctor Is Found Guilty of Sexually Assaulting Patients, Troy Closson, July 29, 2022. Manhattan prosecutors said Ricardo Cruciani took advantage of his patients’ pain. A jury found him guilty on 12 counts of sexual assault and other crimes.

For more than a decade, Ricardo Cruciani built a reputation as a gifted and esteemed physician who could relieve chronic pain when other doctors could not.

But then a string of alarming claims began to surface: Dozens of patients accused him of sexually abusing them during exams after he offered sometimes dangerously high amounts of medication to maintain control over them, prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office said during a trial this month. When they resisted, he would withhold their prescriptions.

On Friday, a jury found Mr. Cruciani guilty on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and other crimes, after about three days of deliberations. Mr. Cruciani’s monthlong trial centered on the stories of six women he treated around 2012 at Beth Israel Medical Center, now known as Mount Sinai Beth Israel, in Union Square and in New Jersey and Pennsylvania facilities.

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, said in a statement Friday that Mr. Cruciani, 68, had violated the public’s trust in medical workers by abusing his power over patients and intentionally taking advantage of their pain.

“Dr. Cruciani left in his wake six survivors who continue to suffer from debilitating diseases, and now, years of trauma,” Mr. Bragg said. “Although we can never undo his horrific actions, I hope this conviction serves as a measure of justice.”

Fred Sosinsky, a lawyer for Mr. Cruciani, said in a statement Friday that he believed the trial court committed “a good number of legal errors,” and that he planned to appeal the verdict.

July 28

washington post logoWashington Post, Girl, 12, challenges W.Va. lawmakers on abortion: ‘What about my life?’ Timothy Bella, July 28, 2022. Addison Gardner, 12, spoke out on Wednesday against the abortion law proposed by West Virginia lawmakers that would restrict abortion in almost all cases.

Despite the impassioned plea from Gardner and other abortions rights supporters in and outside of the chamber, the West Virginia House overwhelmingly passed the bill by a vote of 69 to 23.

samuel alitohuffington post logoHuffPost, Justice Alito Mocks World Leaders Who Criticized Court's Abortion Ruling, Sara Boboltz, July 28, 2022. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito used part of the keynote speech on religious liberty he gave last week to joke about the criticisms he received from world leaders for overturning abortion rights in the United States.

Speaking from Rome at an event hosted by Notre Dame Law School, Alito, rigth, said the abortion rights case prompted “a few second thoughts” on his belief that American judges have no business critiquing other countries’ court rulings.

Politico, Court may pare back secrecy in campus sexual misconduct suits, Josh Gerstein, July 28, 2022 (print ed.). At issue is a lower-court judge’s denial of a former MIT student’s request that he and his accuser, another student, be identified by pseudonyms in court filings.

politico CustomA federal appeals court in Boston heard arguments on Wednesday in a case that could make it harder for students to maintain their anonymity when suing colleges over the handling of complaints related to sexual misconduct.

Lawyers for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former computer engineering student at the prestigious school squared off over a lower-court judge’s denial of the former student’s request that he be allowed to proceed as “John Doe” in the case and that the fellow student who accused him of misconduct also be identified by a pseudonym in court filings.

Attorney Philip Byler told the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns requiring that the plaintiff either file under his true name or dismiss the suit was unfair and contrary to the custom in such cases. “This is the standard practice in the field,” Byler told the three-judge panel. “I think we’re all flabbergasted by what the district judge wrote here.”

A ruling declining to disturb Stearns’ decision stripping secrecy from the case could discourage some suits against colleges and universities over their campus discipline processes, particularly in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual assault.

The suit that led to Wednesday’s arguments was filed last year after MIT kicked out a male student accused of having sexual intercourse with a former girlfriend while she was asleep. The school also found the male student engaged in sexual harassment of the same woman, but the breach-of-contract suit alleges that the investigation and the process were severely biased.

Byler said the tradition of allowing parties to proceed by pseudonyms in litigation involving intimate matters goes back decades.

“Roe v Wade has been in the news,” he observed. “That is a case where pseudonymity was recognized.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Daniel Snyder faces House committee questions under oath, Mark Maske, Liz Clarke and Nicki Jhabvala, July 28, 2022. Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder will participate remotely in a sworn deposition Thursday with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, after he and the committee agreed on the terms of the interview following weeks of deliberations.

The committee announced the agreement early Thursday morning after negotiations involving attorneys on both sides continued late Wednesday night. Snyder is scheduled to give a voluntary deposition under oath on issues related to the team’s workplace at 8 a.m. Thursday without accepting service of a subpoena.

“The Committee’s deposition of Mr. Snyder will go forward today,” a committee spokesperson said in a written statement. “Mr. Snyder has committed to providing full and complete testimony, and to answer the Committee’s questions about his knowledge of and contributions to the Commanders’ toxic work environment, as well as his efforts to interfere with the NFL’s internal investigation, without hiding behind nondisclosure or other confidentiality agreements. Should Mr. Snyder fail to honor his commitments, the Committee is prepared to compel his testimony on any unanswered questions upon his return to the United States.”

Thursday’s deposition will not be public. The proceedings will be transcribed. It is not clear whether the transcript will be released publicly at any point; that is at the committee’s discretion. The deposition will be conducted by committee staffers, most of them lawyers, and is expected to last longer than the 2½-hour public hearing last month at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was questioned by lawmakers rather than by lawyers.

 washington post logoWashington Post, 19-year-old turns Gaetz insult into $115,000 abortion rights fundraiser, Andrew Jeong, July 28, 2022 (print ed.). Days after being publicly insulted by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Twitter, Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old abortion rights advocate, wrote him a tongue-in-cheek thank-you note on the platform.

“Dear Matt, Although your intentions were hateful, your public shaming of my appearance has done nothing but benefit me,” she wrote after his tweet about her spurred a load of harassment — as well as a flood of donations to her reproductive rights advocacy organization.

In just about a day, she’s helped raise approximately $115,000 for the nonprofit Gen Z for Change.

At a rally last weekend in Tampa, Gaetz had mocked abortion rights activists, calling them “disgusting” and overweight. Olivia Julianna, who uses her first name and middle name publicly because of privacy concerns, criticized the remarks on Twitter, noting the sex-trafficking allegations against Gaetz. In apparent retaliation, Gaetz then tweeted an image of her next to a news story that mentioned his comments from the rally.

Gaetz is an ally of former president Donald Trump and was first elected to Congress in 2016, representing a district in the Florida Panhandle, an area that has voted heavily Republican in recent decades. He has expressed opposition to abortion and abortion rights advocates, and this month voted against two bills aimed at ensuring access to abortion. In May, Gaetz drew criticism for saying that those protesting the overturning of Roe v. Wade are “overeducated, under-loved millennials.”

July 26

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, ‘Go Die’: 7-Year-Old Girl Has Choice Words for Ohio Man Sentenced to Decades in Prison for Rape and Kidnapping, Colin Kalmbacher, July 26, 2022. An Ohio man will spend at least 45 years in prison after kidnapping, raping, and trying to kill a 7-year-old girl last year.

Charles Castle, 57, knew the victim well.

While the defense and the prosecution went back and forth about the strength of DNA evidence tying the defendant to the 16 crimes of which he was accused, the girl’s testimony was said to be dispositive.

“The point is the girl is steadfast and when her interview she looked him right in the eye and she pointed at him right down there,” Hardin County Prosecutor Bradford Bailey told jurors. “That is not based on some fleeting moment, some guy comes to her house one time. That’s on the guy that’s been for over 60 days consistently over six and a half, seven years of her lifetime. She knows who Charles Castle is.”

Earlier this month, the defendant was found guilty of every single extant charge against him by the 12-person jury.

Those charges include seven counts of kidnapping, one count of rape, one count of attempted murder, one count of felonious assault, one count of breaking and entering, one count of endangering children, one count of burglary, and three counts of tampering with evidence.

According to Columbus, Ohio-based NBC affiliate WCMH, Castle was initially indicted on 17 charges in late 2021. Prosecutors dropped one count of possession of criminal tools just before deliberations.

The victim, who hails from Kenton, Ohio, was taken away from her home in November 2021. She was found almost two days later in an abandoned building in a rural part of Hardin County.

After being recovered, the girl was examined at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. There, a child abuse pediatrician who testified made note of numerous injuries to the victim including a purple ligature mark across her neck, several spots from burst blood vessels on her face, and bruising and scratching across her body.

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Texas Man Will Serve Three Life Sentences for Two Brutal Cold Case Murders and Arson Intended to Destroy Evidence, Colin Kalmbacher, July 26, 2022. A Texas man took a plea deal that will likely see him spend the rest of his life in prison over two brutal cold case murders.

Jose “Joe” Baldomero Flores III, 41, was facing the prospect of the death penalty and jury selection was set to begin on Monday, July 25 when he pleaded guilty to killing two women in 2005 and 2011.

Heather Willms was 21 years old when she was raped and killed inside the bedroom of her own apartment in the San Antonio-surrounded enclave of Leon Valley, Texas. Her hands had been severed and, according to neighbors, an argument and struggle with a man had preceded the violence, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

In comments to MySanAntonio.com, then-Leon Valley police chief Joseph Salvaggio said the neighbors described “shuffling sounds then silence,” that occurred at around 5:00 in the morning on that fateful early February day. The woman’s clothes had been burned in an apparent effort to conceal evidence. Friends reported their concerns to law enforcement after being unable to contact her the next day.

“The friends entered her apartment through a sliding glass door and everyone’s worst fears were realized, as they found Heather’s body in her bedroom,” Salvaggio said. “Mr. Flores was a purported friend of Heather’s, having gone to high school with her and staying in touch with her afterwards. [He] was one of the last to see her alive.”

Flores was questioned at the time because of his relational proximity to the first victim, but law enforcement did not arrest him.

Years later, he raped and killed 30-year-old Esmeralda Herrera in the bedroom of her own apartment on the Southwest Side neighborhood of San Antonio proper. Her body was found tied to her bed in early March. She had been bludgeoned and strangled to death. Another fire had been set to conceal evidence, this time set in multiple places and large enough that firefighters arrived to put down the blaze.

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Dozens of Inmates Raped, Assaulted, and Harassed After Jailer Sold Male Prisoner a Key to Women's Wing, Federal Lawsuit Claims, Colin Kalmbacher, July 26, 2022. At least 28 women have filed federal civil rights lawsuits alleging they were attacked, harassed, and sexually assaulted in a southern Indiana jail after an officer sold access to the woman’s wing of the lockup facility. Several additional plaintiffs are said to be on the way.

One complaint alleges that “multiple female inmates of the Clark County Jail” were assaulted by male inmates on the night of Oct. 24, 2021 and names Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel as the lead defendant. Also named is the since-fired employee who allegedly provided access by way of selling a key for $1,000. Several currently unidentified members of the sheriff’s department are also in the lawsuit’s crosshairs.

“The males threatened, assaulted, and raped the females over the course of multiple hours,” the first lawsuit filed last month on behalf of 20 women says. “The male inmates gained access to the females pods through use of a key provided by corrections officer David Lowe. As a direct and proximate cause of the actions of Defendants, [the female inmates] suffered horrific physical and psychological injuries.”

The newer lawsuit, filed Monday, says the incident began on the night of October 23, 2021 and carried on into the early morning hours of the next day — “resulting in significant physical and emotional injuries.”

“Amazingly, even though there were surveillance cameras positioned in locations that showed the male detainees accessing the woman’s Pods, and even though the incident involved multiple male detainees and dozens of victims over an extended period of time, not a single jail officer on duty that night came to the of Plaintiffs and the other victims,” the newer lawsuit alleges.

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, R. Kelly's Former Manager and Adviser Pleads Guilty to Stalking One of the Singer's Victims and Her Mother, Adam Klasfeld, July 26, 2022. R. Kelly’s manager and adviser pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a years-long campaign to stalk one of the disgraced singer’s victims and her mother.

Donnell Russell, 47, faces up to five years in prison for his admission to making interstate threats in a case tried in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. That is in addition to another possible five-year sentence on his recent conviction by a jury in another interstate threats case in the Southern District of New York on July 22.

July 25

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

Guardian, Ghislaine Maxwell moved to low-security prison in Florida, Emine Sinmaz, July 25, 2022. Disgraced socialite serving 20-year sentence for procuring teenage girls for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse.

Ghislaine Maxwell has been sent to a low-security prison to serve her 20-year prison sentence for procuring teenage girls to be abused by the financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The 60-year-old has been moved to FCI Tallahassee in Florida, according to the Bureau of Prisons. She will be eligible for release on 17 July 2037.

Maxwell, the daughter of the publishing baron Robert Maxwell, had been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center, New York, since her arrest in July 2020 on charges that she lured girls as young as 14 into Epstein’s abusive orbit.

Her lawyers repeatedly complained that conditions at the Brooklyn jail were “reprehensible”. They claimed Maxwell was subjected to such invasive surveillance that it “rivals scenes of Dr Hannibal Lecter’s incarceration” from the film The Silence of the Lambs.

They also alleged that Maxwell was deprived of water and fed food infested with maggots. They claimed that raw sewage permeated her cell, which was plagued by rats, and that guards prevented her from sleeping by shining torches into her eyes every 15 minutes.

Her lawyers requested that she serve her sentence at FCI Danbury in Connecticut, a minimum security prison that was the inspiration for the hit Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. Experts have previously described the jail as being “like Disneyland” compared with the Brooklyn institution.

Alison Nathan, who oversaw Maxwell’s trial, had recommended that Maxwell be moved to FCI Danbury following the request, but the Bureau of Prisons ultimately made the decision.

FCI Tallahassee opened in 1938 and houses women only.

Prosecutors argued in June that Maxwell should be imprisoned for at least 30 years. But in submissions before her sentencing hearing, her lawyers said she should face no more than four to five years, arguing it would be “a travesty of justice for her to face a sentence that would have been appropriate for Epstein”.

In their bid for leniency, Maxwell’s lawyers contended that her jail conditions were harrowing, alleging: “An inmate in Ms Maxwell’s unit threatened to kill her, claiming that an additional 20 years’ incarceration would be worth the money she’d receive for murdering Ms Maxwell.”

They also argued that an emotionally abusive childhood at the hands of her father primed her for Epstein’s influence.

Epstein was arrested by federal authorities in July 2019 on sex-trafficking counts. He killed himself while awaiting trial in a New York City federal jail.

The judge handed down a 20-year sentence, saying Maxwell “repeatedly, and over the course of many years participated in a horrific scheme to traffic young girls, some the age of 14”.

Nathan said it was important that although “Epstein was central to this scheme” she was not being sentenced “as a proxy” for him. She said: “The defendant’s conduct … was heinous and predatory.”

July 24

 

The late fashion designer Jean Luc Brunel, right, and the late fellow underage sex traffickers Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, their recently convicted accomplice are shown in a file photo (U.S. Justice Department evidentiary photo).

The late fashion designer Jean Luc Brunel, right, and his fellow underage sex traffickers Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell are shown in a file photo displaying a scene from one of their trips (U.S. Justice Department evidentiary photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I survived Epstein and Maxwell’s sex ring. Then the gaslighting began, Sarah Ransome, below left, July 24, 2022 (print ed.). Sarah Ransome is the author of “Silenced No More” about her ordeal in Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking operation.

When I heard the eerie clink of shackles as Ghislaine Maxwell entered her sentencing hearing in a New York courtroom last month, I thought: “I will never doubt myself again.”

sarah ransomeMaxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls, and she continues to insist that she is being punished for his crimes, even after the jury’s guilty verdict. I read a statement at the sentencing to make clear that Maxwell is guilty of her own crimes, and to speak up for all victims — both underage and those, like me, who were “of age” when trafficked.

News coverage of Epstein and Maxwell’s sex crimes has mostly focused on the young girls recruited near Epstein’s Florida mansion and the rich and powerful men who visited his Caribbean island.

I struggled with this because the trafficking operation snared not only underage girls, who were coerced into nude massages, masturbation, oral sex and intercourse. There was also a large group of women like me who were trafficked and raped for more than three decades. I was 22. And when you’re a legal adult, you face a barrage of “you should have known better” victim-blaming and “you deserved it” gaslighting. Since coming forward in 2016, I have been called a “gold digger,” a “whore” and a “prostitute." Even my own father said, “You made your bed, you can lie in it.”

I didn’t know the FBI began investigating Epstein in 2005. I wish I had. I was recruited in 2006 by a woman I thought was my friend. She told me Epstein and Maxwell could help get me into fashion. I didn’t know I’d have my passport and phone taken away when I boarded Epstein’s private plane to his island. He wasn’t some old geezer in a bar saying, “Come to my island.” It was a carefully scripted, well-oiled machine. This was a professional sex trafficking ring. Epstein and Maxwell taught girls to recruit girls, women to recruit women. They knew what they were looking for.

I was born into a generationally dysfunctional family. Alcoholism runs in my family. I was first sexually abused when I was 11 by a man my mother brought home. At 14, I was raped by another student. All I’ve ever known is rape, abuse, trauma. Being a child like that, you don’t know what’s normal and what’s not. Your boundaries are broken down.

I was the perfect target. But even if you were from a “good family” you could be snared. Several women over 17 or 18 who were abused by Epstein and Maxwell have stated that they were offered work as Victoria’s Secret models through a scouting agency run by Epstein’s associate, Jean-Luc Brunel. Both men were jailed on sex crime charges they denied and hanged themselves in prison while in custody awaiting trial.

July 18

ny times logoNew York Times, The Unraveling of an Award-Winning Documentary, Jane Arraf, July 18, 2022. In a pivotal scene of the 2021 documentary “Sabaya,” two men rescue a young woman named Leila from a Syrian detention camp for the families of ISIS fighters, bundling her into a car and driving her to safety as shots are fired behind them.

In interviews with BBC Radio and others, the film’s Iraqi-Swedish director, Hogir Hirori, recounted the tension of the rescue and the terror of the ride as they raced from Al Hol detention camp with the young woman, one of thousands of women and girls from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS.

The dramatic scene helped the Swedish-government-funded film garner glowing reviews and awards, including best director for a foreign documentary at the Sundance Film Festival last year.

But following an investigation by a Swedish magazine, Kvartal, Hirori has admitted that he was not there when Leila was freed, that he substituted another woman instead and that he lied to a BBC interviewer.

The admissions follow findings by The New York Times last year that many of the traumatized women either did not initially consent to be in the film or refused but were included anyway. The director’s admissions have also renewed accusations that the documentary played down the coerced separation of mothers from their young children, born during enslavement by ISIS — and turned the very men responsible for that separation into heroes for rescuing them.

While Yazidi women sexually enslaved by ISIS were welcomed back by their communities after ISIS was defeated, the children were not. Some women did not want the children, but for most, the forced separations have had serious repercussions, including suicide attempts.

In a statement issued after the Kvartal investigation, Hirori acknowledged that he had depicted Leila’s escape “using a rescue scene of another woman which I participated in.” He said the woman who was presented as Leila, the main character, did not want to be filmed after the rescue and so he did not mention her in the documentary.

Speaking in Swedish through an interpreter, he told BBC Radio last year, “It was important for me to film it as it was happening because that was the reality.” In the interview, one of several in which he expressed the same sentiment, he also spoke of the Yazidi women: “They aren’t just numbers, they are people just like you and me.”

The BBC has removed the lengthy interview from its website after press queries. A BBC spokesperson said it was being reviewed. Hirori said in his statement that he regretted not telling the BBC the truth about the rescue scene.

A timeline by Kvartal also showed that in three scenes that included news reports about the battle against ISIS and a Turkish invasion, audio was inserted from events that had occurred several months earlier or weeks later. In at least one of the scenes, the film’s hero reacts to news from the car radio that he could not have been hearing.

The issue of forced separations is the single most contentious one among Yazidis. While the Yazidi Home Center featured in “Sabaya” was responsible for finding and caring for hundreds of Iraqi Yazidis freed from ISIS captivity, the organization, acting on instructions from Yazidi elders in Iraq, also arranged for the children to be taken from their mothers. Most were sent to an orphanage in northeastern Syria that the women were not allowed to visit once they returned to Iraq.

The director of “Sabaya,” about Yazidi women who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS, says that he wasn’t present for a key scene and substituted footage.

July 17

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans’ hasty attacks on women show they were never pro-life, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 17, 2022. Just when jennifer rubin new headshotit seemed that forced-birth advocates could not be any more cruel or disdainful of women’s lives, Texas’s Ken Paxton stepped up to confirm this crowd is anything but pro-life.

The Post reports that the Republican state attorney general “sued the Biden administration over federal rules that require abortions be provided in medical emergencies to save the life of the mother, even in states with near-total bans.”

Texas Republicans are apparently outraged by the administration’s recent reminder that under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, emergency rooms must screen, stabilize and treat patients at risk of death before transferring them to another facility. In the case of pregnancy complications (e.g., preeclampsia, premature rupture of the membranes), an emergency abortion may be recommended to prevent serious permanent injury or death. How could any public official who claims to be “pro-life” seek to impede such a lifesaving intervention?

As White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday, “This is yet another example of an extreme and radical Republican elected official. It is unthinkable that this public official would sue to block women from receiving life-saving care in emergency rooms, a right protected under U.S. law.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: What made Harvey Weinstein a monster? Does it matter? Caetlin Benson-Allott, July 17, 2022 (print ed.). Ken Auletta widens the lens on the sordid tale and inadvertently humanizes its villain.

Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence

By Ken Auletta

Penguin Press. 466 pp. $30

In horror movies, the monster (almost) always rises from the dead for one final scare. One could be forgiven for feeling the same way harvey weinsteinregarding books and articles about Harvey Weinstein, right. What is to be gained, one wonders, from reading another thousand or hundred thousand words about the studio executive-slash-sexual predator who raped or otherwise assaulted more than 100 women between the 1970s and 2010s?

His crimes have been well covered in newspaper and magazine stories and in books by the journalists behind those exposés, not to mention multiple podcasts and documentaries. Inasmuch as each new commentary extends Weinstein’s notoriety and postpones his obsolescence, it arguably serves his core desires: fame and influence.

A similar point has been made many times about true crime and serial killers; as Teen Vogue’s Sandra Song put it, “When we focus so much on the murderer — their neuroses, their troubled pasts — we ignore the fact that the victims of these crimes were also people.”

ken aulettaKen Auletta, left, certainly does not ignore the victims in Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence, his new biography of the former film producer, now serving 23 years in prison. But in hunting for Weinstein’s “Rosebud,” Auletta both aggrandizes the monstrous mogul (by analogizing his megalomania to “Citizen Kane”) and extends the cultural conversation around the perpetrator and what makes him tick.

As a biography, Hollywood Ending focuses more on Weinstein himself than the issues of sexual misconduct and professional intimidation featured in Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement” and Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators. In those books, the journalists who broke the story of Weinstein’s serial sexual abuse in 2017 explain how their reporting for the New York Times and the New Yorker, respectively, finally exposed Weinstein and led to his arrest, conviction and imprisonment. Kantor, Twohey and Farrow concentrate on the assault survivors and their bravery in exposing a predator. Notably, these authors also contextualize Weinstein’s downfall within the #MeToo movement.

By contrast, Auletta zooms out from the 2017 revelations about Weinstein to identify the producer’s other victims: the employees he bullied, the business partners he exploited and the brother he belittled.

Auletta also plumbs Weinstein’s childhood and early adult years to uncover factors that might have contributed to the mogul’s criminal behavior. Was it his angry and overbearing mother? Was it, as Weinstein himself puts it, growing up “poor, ugly, Jewish,” always the outsider and the underdog (positions, it should be clear, that Weinstein also embraced)?

Who cares? As anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie knows, ex post facto explanations of the monster’s pathology are beside the point. The revelations about Norman Bates’s terrible childhood at the end of Psycho do nothing to help Marion Crane, the victim of Bates’s murderous “shower scene” attack. Nor do such revelations prevent future Normans from assaulting future Marions or teach women how to avoid Normans altogether.

Like all of Auletta’s work, Hollywood Ending is thoroughly researched and eminently readable. Auletta is a highly skilled journalist whose ability to assemble compelling narratives from scores of sources helps him craft well-rounded characters and juicy prose. A prime example is his description of Weinstein’s “unhinged, Shakespeare-worthy relationship with his younger brother, Bob Weinstein, which gyrated from an impregnable partnership to screaming matches, stony estrangements, and, at least once, bloody blows.” Bob co-founded Miramax and the Weinstein Company with Harvey and initially shared Harvey’s mercurial temper and verbally abusive tendencies. Yet over the course of Hollywood Ending” Bob Weinstein emerges as an emblem of redemption. Whereas Bob too once berated staff and even paid the settlements to some of Harvey’s victims (ostensibly without realizing that their claims involved assault), he entered treatment for alcoholism in 2004 and later tried to guide his brother toward addiction recovery as well. What Bob knew and how much he enabled Harvey remains unclear, but in Auletta’s hands his character demonstrates that rehabilitation is possible, that Harvey could have changed but didn’t.

By exploring Harvey’s relationship with his brother and other men, Auletta humanizes the monster, which makes his approach feel fundamentally misguided. As Auletta himself is the first to admit, he failed to expose Weinstein’s sexual predations in a 2002 profile for the New Yorker. Auletta admirably addresses that shortcoming in his book and praises Kantor, Twohey and Farrow for eventually breaking the story he couldn’t. Yet Hollywood Ending persists in emphasizing the same bullying behavior Auletta uncovered in 2002: temper tantrums, verbal abuse of staff and colleagues, and profligate eating, smoking and spending. Perhaps this is the Harvey that Auletta knows best, or perhaps Auletta is quietly reasserting the significance of his 2002 profile and the revelations it contained.

Either way, I found myself wondering why I should care about Weinstein’s corporate power struggles, such as whether he was insubordinate to Michael Eisner after Disney bought Miramax in 1993. Maybe Miramax didn’t make as much money for Disney as the Weinstein brothers claimed, and maybe Harvey did refuse to acknowledge Eisner as his boss. But broken budgets and tyrannical arrogance are less grievous offenses than rape and sexual assault, and “Hollywood Ending” implicitly conflates them. For instance, in a 28-page chapter on “The Culture of Silence,” which protected Weinstein in the mid-1990s, Auletta devotes only eight pages to criminal sexual behavior. The other 20 inventory Miramax’s successes with “Pulp Fiction,” “Sling Blade,” “The Piano” and “Scream.” Auletta proposes that those successes are the reason Weinstein’s contemporaries protected him, but in devoting more pages to Weinstein’s business dealings than his victims, the author perpetuates a value system that prizes art over the people hurt by its maker. Certainly Weinstein should not have yelled at colleagues, started a whisper campaign to diminish the Oscar chances of “Saving Private Ryan,” or forcibly kissed, stripped and molested actresses and his employees. These offenses are not commensurate, however, and in his rush to document all of Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior, Auletta, however inadvertently, suggests that they are.

Hollywood Ending is a finely crafted biography of an ignominious sexual predator. It is not a prurient book, yet I could never stop questioning its approach to its subject. Like most true-crime reporting, it exists because women suffered.

Yet its main topic is neither those survivors nor the noble reporters and prosecutors who ended a monster’s reign of terror. It is, still, the monster himself. I am not convinced that knowing Weinstein better will help women “gain some sort of power over culturally endemic narratives in which girls and women are brutalized” — a common rationale for the genre that Tanya Horeck references in her book Justice on Demand: True Crime in the Digital Streaming Era. So read Hollywood Ending if you’re interested in how power is amassed and exploited in the U.S. film industry, but don’t read it expecting answers about sexual violence or how to stop it. The monster has nothing to teach you.

Caetlin Benson-Allott is a professor of English, film and media studies at Georgetown University and the author of “The Stuff of Spectatorship: Material Cultures of Film and Television.”

Reuters, Judge in Twitter v. Musk made rare ruling: ordering a deal to close, Tom Hals and Hyunjoo Jin, July 15, 2022. The judge overseeing elon musk 2015Twitter Inc's (TWTR.N) $44 billion lawsuit against Elon Musk, right, has a no-nonsense reputation as well as the distinction of being one of the few jurists who has ever ordered a reluctant buyer to close a U.S. corporate merger.

reuters logoKathaleen McCormick took over the role of chancellor or chief judge of the Court of Chancery last year, the first woman in that role. On Wednesday, she was assigned the Twitter lawsuit which seeks to force Musk to complete his deal for the social media platform, which promises to be one of the biggest legal showdowns in years.

"She already has a track record of not putting up with some of the worst behavior that we see in these areas when people want to get out of deals," said Adam Badawi, a law professor who specializes in corporate governance at the University of California Berkeley. "She is a serious, no-nonsense judge."

twitter bird CustomIn contrast to Musk's brash and volatile behavior, she is known as soft-spoken, approachable and amiable -- but a person who also stands her ground. She advocates respect among litigants and integrity at legal conferences.

"We've always had each other's backs, we've always gone out for drinks after arguments and maintained this level civility," she told a gathering at the University of Delaware this year.

After weeks of confrontational tweets suggesting Twitter was hiding the true number of fake accounts, Musk said on Friday he was terminating the $54.20-per-Twitter share acquisition, worth $44 billion. On Tuesday, the social media platform sued.

Judges have ordered reluctant buyers to close corporate acquisitions only a handful of times, according to legal experts and court records. One of those was McCormick.

Last year, McCormick got the attention of Wall Street dealmakers by ordering an affiliate of private equity firm Kohlberg & Co LLC to close its $550 million purchase of DecoPac Holding Inc, which makes cake decorating products.

She described her ruling as "chalking up a victory for deal certainty" and rejected Kohlberg's arguments that it could walk away because of a lack of financing.

The case has many parallels to the Twitter deal. Like Musk, Kohlberg said it was walking away because DecoPac violated the merger agreement. Like Musk, Kohlberg argued in part that DecoPac failed to maintain ordinary operations.

There are also differences. Musk's deal is magnitudes bigger, involves a publicly traded target company in Twitter and might have implications for Tesla Inc , the electric vehicle maker that is the source of much of Musk's fortune.

In other cases, she has come down on the side of shareholders when they clashed with management.

Last year, she prevented energy company The Williams Cos Inc from adopting a so-called poison pill anti-takeover measure, saying it breached their fiduciary duty to shareholders.

A graduate of Notre Dame Law School, McCormick started her career with the Delaware branch of the Legal Aid Society, which helps low-income people navigate the court system.

She went into private practice "mainly for financial reasons," she told the Delaware Senate during her confirmation hearing, joining Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, one of the state's main firms for business litigation.

She joined the Court of Chancery in 2018 as a vice chancellor and became the first woman to lead the Court of Chancery last year.

July 16

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: What a rape allegation in Congo says about Vatican efforts to fight abuse, Chico Harlan and Alain Uaykani, July 17, 2022 (print ed.). The 14-year-old girl returned on the back of a motorbike to the convent where she lived and studied in congo flagthe Democratic Republic of Congo

Sobbing and in pain, she pulled aside a nun.

The girl said she’d just been raped by the priest who dropped her off.

The nun, Henriette Okitanunga, tried to comfort the girl. She said she then followed the new rule laid out by Pope Francis for handling such a report: She alerted her superior to a possible crime.

“Your Excellency,” the nun recalled texting to Nicolas Djomo, the local bishop.

After clerical abuse scandals that have rocked much of the Catholic world — generally in nations with the resources to pressure and expose the church — attention is turning to regions where the scale of abuse remains both a mystery and a cause for trepidation. The Vatican’s hope is that bishops in the developing world, trained in new guidelines, can avoid the mistakes that have so badly damaged the Roman Catholic Church elsewhere.

The text Okitanunga said she sent to Djomo’s phone in March 2020 raises a defining question for the church’s future: In places where Catholic leaders have fewer checks on their power, how are they responding?

Djomo’s response, unfolding over the past two years, provides one answer — and it shows the potential for the public crisis to proliferate in new parts of the world. For all the pope’s attempts at reform, a bishop such as Djomo still has significant authority in his diocese — and there remains little recourse for those who disagree with his handling of a claim.

A Washington Post investigation into the case — based on interviews and on a review of letters and emails sent to Djomo and other church officials — shows that the bishop failed to follow the Vatican’s guidelines. The nuns, priests and the alleged victim who pressed Djomo about the accusations say he orchestrated a coverup that upended the life of the victim, kept his own reputation intact and absolved the alleged abuser within the church’s own system.

Some of those involved say Djomo demanded they stay quiet. Those include the nun who first informed him and, later, the alleged victim, who says he beseeched her in a one-on-one meeting to forgive the priest, an encounter that made her feel “sick.”

The girl’s uncle alleges that after the family pressed ahead with a court case, Djomo offered him $15,000 — an enormous sum in a nation where most people live on less than $2 a day — to persuade his relatives to resolve the matter. The uncle, a priest who worked for Djomo, said the bishop eliminated his job after he refused.

Separately, when the nuns supported the girl, their founder says, Djomo retaliated by disbanding their association.

After the girl’s family took the case to police, Djomo did take at least one disciplinary measure, barring the accused priest, the Rev. André Olongo, from ministry and from having unsupervised contact with minors. But that sanction, implemented eight months after the alleged rape, proved to be short-lived. This year, Djomo sent his findings on the case to the Vatican, after a diocese-run investigation that did not include an interview with the alleged victim. The Vatican weeks ago determined there were insufficient grounds to show wrongdoing, Djomo said.

“He has been acquitted. It was absolutely false,” Djomo said in a brief interview.

Djomo cut short an initial conversation with The Post, saying he had to prepare for Mass, and declined further questions, referring them to the Vatican. He did not respond to a list of questions about his handling of the rape accusation.

The Vatican said its Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith had “been able to deal with this case based on the evidence that was provided to it” and had determined it could not “proceed any further.”

“Should further, certain evidence be supplied by civil authorities, by the accusers, or by other witnesses, it would unfailingly be taken into due consideration,” the Vatican’s statement said.

Olongo, the priest who was accused, declined to speak with Post reporters. Faustin Abedi, a lawyer who has helped to represent Olongo during the case, said the priest says he is innocent.

The Post does not publish the names of alleged victims of sexual violence. The girl, now 17, is an aspiring nun still living with the disbanded association — the Sisters Servants of Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted — whose remaining members have fled rural Tshumbe and Djomo’s diocese for Kinshasa, Congo’s capital, where they pray and study in a small concrete building in a slum near the airport.

July 14

Daily Beast, Jesse Watters Pats Himself on the Back After Suggesting Child Rape Story Was Hoax, William Vaillancourt, Updated July 14, 2022. Indiana’s Republican attorney general, meanwhile, is pledging to look into whether the doctor who performed the 10-year-old’s abortion could face criminal charges.

daily beast logoFox News host Jesse Watters on Wednesday tried to take credit for putting “pressure” on the investigation into the rape of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who then had to travel out-of-state for an abortion, despite suggesting two days ago that the story was a “hoax” and a piece of “politically timed disinformation.” Earlier on Wednesday, authorities arrested the girl’s alleged rapist.

“Primetime covered this story heavily on Monday, put on the pressure, and now we’re glad that justice is being served,” Watters claimed before showing several clips from that day’s show. The final clip cuts off before the Fox host says that if “the mainstream media and president of the United States [are] seizing on another hoax, then this is absolutely shameful, and fits a pretty dangerous pattern of politically timed disinformation.”

Watters then turned his attention to Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana obstetrician-gynecologist who performed the abortion, and suggested that she may be subject to a “criminal charge” over how she handled the case.

Watters raised this question with Indiana’s Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, who proceeded to label Bernard an “abortion activist acting as a doctor” and claimed she has a “history of failing to report” child abuse cases.

“This is a horrible, horrible scene caused by Marxists and socialists and those in the White House who want lawlessness at the border,” Rokita claimed. The suspected rapist, a 27-year-old Guatemalan national named Gerson Fuentes, is in the country illegally, The Daily Beast learned Wednesday. “This girl was politicized—politicized for the gain of killing more babies. That was the goal, and this abortion activist is out there front and center.”

Rokita also attacked “fake news,” which to him includes the Indianapolis Star, which first reported on the rape and subsequent abortion, which occurred after Roe v. Wade was overturned and Ohio’s trigger law went into effect. “They were right there jumping in on all of this, thinking that it was going to be great for their abortionist movement when this girl has been so brutalized.”

July 13

Law&Crime, Arizona Man Sentenced for Brutal Murder of Kindergarten Teacher Who Offered House as Collateral to Bail Him Out of Jail, lawcrime logoJerry Lambe, July 13, 2022. A 32-year-old Arizona man will spend the rest of his life behind bars. He admitted that he brutally killed an elementary school teacher after she put up her house as collateral to bail him out of jail five years ago.

Charlie Malzahn was ordered to serve a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for the 2017 murder of 44-year-old Cathryn arizona mapGorospe, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Malzahn, whose stepfather is the chief of police in Williams, Arizona, in June reached a deal with prosecutors and agreed to plead guilty to one count each of first-degree murder and abandonment of a human body. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors reportedly agreed not to pursue a death sentence.

Ray Gorospe, Cathryn’s father, read an emotional victim impact statement prior to the sentencing.

“I didn’t know it was possible to feel so much pain without being physically injured,” he said while sobbing, according to the Arizona Daily Sun. “People talk of closure. To me, there will be never be closure, only the terrible pain of losing my daughter.”

Law&Crime, Chiropractor Sexually Assaulted Seven Female Patients, and There May Be More Victims: Prosecutors, Alberto Luperon, July lawcrime logo13, 2022. A chiropractor sexually assaulted seven female patients at a California clinic, prosecutors say. Authorities expressed concern that he might have hurt more women elsewhere in the state and even across the country.

Lincoln Esguerra Carillo, 60, faces seven felony counts of felony sexual penetration by means of fraudulent representation of a professional purpose, four counts of sexual battery by fraudulent representation of a professional purpose, and 12 misdemeanor counts of touching an intimate part of another person.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced charges on Wednesday.

Carillo worked at Twins Chiropractic in the city of Irvine for approximately four years, prosecutors said.

“During the course of his employment, Carillo treated a female patient multiple times for chronic neck pain between April and May 2021,” authorities said. “During seven of the visits, Carillo is accused of sexually assaulting the woman. The woman reported the sexual assaults to the Irvine Police Department in May 2021.”

Irvine cops learned of six more sexual assault survivors treated by Carillo at Twins Chiropractic between January and August of 2021, prosecutors said. This included a woman who needed care after getting hurt in a car accident.

Twins Chiropractic did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment.

Authorities said Carillo might have even more victims. They described him as having links to chiropractic offices in sprawling locations: Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and even on the East Coast, in Virginia. More specifically, authorities pointed out the offices were in in Artesia, Los Angeles, Fountain Valley, Seal Beach, Long Beach, Irvine, Orange, Upland, Cerritos, Costa Mesa, Placentia, Garden Grove, Riverside and Herndon, Virginia.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The administration clarifies emergency room laws around abortion, Rachel Roubein, July 13, 2022 (print ed.). The Biden administration is reminding doctors that they must terminate a pregnancy if doing so is necessary to stabilize a patient in an emergency medical situation.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued updated guidance yesterday — an attempt to clarify when providers can perform an abortion in states with bans on the procedure.

Did the memo contain new policy? No, it didn’t. The federal health department was pretty clear on that point. “This memorandum is being issued to remind hospitals of their existing obligation to comply with EMTALA and does not contain new policy,” a note at the top of the document states.

Instead, the guidance sought to cut through the confusion and arm physicians with a defense if they get sued by their state. Federal law trumps state abortion bans and protects clinicians’ judgment when administering treatment, regardless of the state they’re practicing in, HHS said.

Some providers welcomed the assurances, although it's unlikely to subdue Democratic activists’ calls for the White House to push the limits of what it can do to respond to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade’s decades-old protections. President Biden signed an executive order last week aimed at directing cabinet secretaries to take a number of steps to bolster abortion rights, which including shoring up emergency care.

Rolling Stone, Conservatives Called an Ohio Rape Case Fake News. Now an Arrest Has Been Made, Nikki McCann Ramirez, July 13, 2022. Right-wing commentators and politicians cast doubt on a report that a 10-year-old girl who traveled to get an abortion was raped. Law enforcement says the alleged perpetrator has confessed

rolling stone logoAn arrest has been made in the case of a 10-year-old girl who sought an abortion in Indiana after services were allegedly denied to her in Ohio. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Gershon Fuentes, age 27, was arrested on Tuesday. Law enforcement officials say Fuentes confessed to raping the child — whose identity has not been released to preserve her privacy — on at least two occasions, and has been charged with rape.

In the weeks leading up to the arrest, prominent right-wing pundits and government officials attempted to discredit the story as a liberal pro-abortion fantasy. The narrative exploded after a July 5 viral Twitter thread by Megan Fox, a writer at right-wing outfit PJ Media, claiming the “TIMING of this horrific story is too on the nose,” and questioning why sources were unwilling to publicly disclose sensitive information regarding the rape of a child.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler also criticized the widespread coverage the story received and questioned if the Indianapolis Star had done appropriate diligence in confirming the existence of the girl. “An abortion by a 10-year-old is pretty rare,” Kessler wrote in his fact-check of the story.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem tweeted last Friday that the story “was fake to begin with. Literal #FakeNews from the liberal media,” after being questioned about it by CNN’s Dana Bash. Rolling Stone reached out to Governor Noem’s office, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Why Overturning Roe Will Unleash a Legal Storm for the Supreme Court, Harry Litman (below right, a former U.S. harry litman msnbc screenshotattorney and deputy assistant attorney general), July 13, 2022 (print ed.). While laying waste to 50 years of abortion jurisprudence, the Supreme Court — or at least four of the five members of the new hard-right majority — took pains to reassure the country that it had executed an isolated hit on an “egregiously wrong” precedent that would not reverberate in other areas of constitutional law.

But the court will not fully control whether and when it will have to confront demands for similarly breathtaking changes. In fact, the justices’ agenda will be driven primarily by the political ferment in red states that are racing to capitalize on one of the most conservative blocs of five justices in at least 100 years.

And that in turn means that overturning Roe v. Wade will not take the issue of abortion out of the courts but rather intensify the battle there. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will let loose a whirlwind of red-state lawmaking that will blow to the court’s door in the coming years, as will other constitutional cases of the sort the court tried to bracket off in Dobbs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The Senate returns, post-Roe, with few options, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer, July 13, 2022 (print ed.). The Senate is back in town for the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — with no clear legislative path to respond.

Unlike House Democrats, their Senate counterparts don't plan to move any abortion-related bills over the next four weeks they're in session, mostly because they lack the support of 10 Republicans needed to overcome a filibuster.

July 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden has put the forced-birth crusaders on notice, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 10, 2022. If there was any lingering jennifer rubin new headshotdoubts about President Biden’s commitment to abortion rights, he squashed them on Friday.

Biden slammed the Supreme Court, declaring that its decision to overturn abortion rights wasn’t "a constitutional judgment”; instead, he argued, it was "an exercise in raw political power.” And he brought the legal and historical receipts, accurately dinging the court for “playing fast and loose with the facts.” As he noted, “Even 150 years ago, the common law and many state laws did not criminalize abortion early in pregnancy, which is very similar to the viability line drawn by Roe.”

Biden was on target when he declared that "the court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women, period.” He added that the ruling "practically dares the women of America to go to the ballot box and restore the very rights they’ve just taken away.”

While Democrats and other defenders of women’s rights have been irate over Biden’s rhetorical reticence until now, there should be no argument that the immediate solution at the federal level is to produce Democratic majorities in the midterms that will codify Roe v. Wade and, in the Senate, carve out an exception for the filibuster to restore women’s fundamental rights. Biden has issued multiple executive orders on the issue, such as protecting interstate travel and access to FDA-approved abortion medication, but critics are off base in imagining there is some storehouse of executive powers that can override the Supreme Court and state law.

Politico, How Abortion Is Sundering Amy Coney Barrett’s Hometown, Adam Wren, July 11, 2022 (print ed.). South Bend, Indiana, is a blue city home to a conservative Catholic University. And both sides are taking their former neighbor’s vote on Dobbs very personally.

politico CustomLike in many American towns, protestors and celebrants poured into the streets and city plazas of this northern Indiana city in the hours and days after the Supreme Court reversed abortion rights.

On Friday evening after the Dobbs decision came down, in the John Hunt Plaza in front of the Morris Civic Auditorium, the protesters began hoisting the now-familiar signs: HANDS OFF MY UTERUS. ABORTION IS HEALTHCARE. OUR BODIES OUR CHOICE. KEEP IT LEGAL. KEEP IT SAFE.

Unlike in a lot of towns, though, the jeerers and the cheerers happened to have a onetime neighbor and fellow South Bender as a justice on the court: Amy Coney Barrett, who still keeps a presence in the town, having only relatively recently sold her 3,800-square-foot brick home in the leafy and pristine Harter Heights neighborhood near her former employer, the University of Notre Dame Law School.

Politico, Biden’s abortion response curbed by fears of another Supreme Court showdown, Adam Cancryn, July 11, 2022. The potential impact of the high court has left the White House feeling restricted by what post-Roe actions it can take.

politico CustomLast month, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Now, that same body is scaring the Biden administration from responding with bolder steps.

As President Joe Biden faces calls for more drastic action on abortion, the legal team vetting his options has found itself preoccupied by a single pressing concern: That any action they could take would simply be struck down by the very court that put them in this place.

Those fears have complicated and slowed the White House’s post-Roe actions, with officials worried a more aggressive response from Biden could backfire, further entrench anti-abortion restrictions and open the door to even more severe limits on his executive power.

The administration already has rejected ideas pushed by the left — like a health emergency declaration and opening abortion clinics on federal land — over concerns about the legal implications. But the concern over litigation is so significant that the White House has also closely guarded the options under discussion to prevent GOP attorneys general and anti-abortion groups from preparing lawsuits ahead of time, a person with knowledge of the discussions said.

Nearly everything the White House tries or has considered is at risk of drawing a court challenge, administration officials and legal experts said. The end result: More than two weeks after the Supreme Court abolished federal abortion rights, Biden advisers are still trying to determine what in their arsenal has the best shot of survival in a court system that appears stacked against them.
Biden announces executive order to protect abortion access

“I know it’s frustrating and it made a lot of people very angry,” Biden said in a Friday speech. “But the truth is, and it’s not just me saying it … when you read the decision, the court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women.”

The administration’s cautious approach has disheartened Democrats who note the White House had months to prepare for this very scenario. It’s also prompted questions in some corners of the party about whether Biden is capable of meeting a crisis moment for reproductive rights and Americans’ broader faith in the courts.

washington post logoWashington Post, Buttigieg says officials like Kavanaugh ‘should expect’ public protest, María Luisa Paúl, July 11, 2022. The transportation secretary was asked about protesters gathering at a Morton’s steakhouse where the Supreme Court justice was dining. Two days after Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh fled abortion rights protesters at a Morton’s steakhouse in D.C., Chasten Buttigieg — husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — tweeted his assessment of the incident.

“Sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions,” Chasten Buttigieg wrote, alluding to Kavanaugh’s recent vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that had guaranteed abortion access on the basis of Americans’ right to privacy.

The tweet drew criticism from some conservatives, including former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who decried what he called an endorsement of “the use of mob intimidation tactics” as “wildly irresponsible.” But Pete Buttigieg defended his husband’s remarks during a Sunday interview with Fox News’s Mike Emanuel.

July 9

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘I Felt Trapped’: Investigating Sexual Abuse of Teens in the Military’s J.R.O.T.C. Program, Mike Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Ilana Marcus, Photographs by Mary F. Calvert, July 9, 2022. Former students say military veterans who led J.R.O.T.C. classes in U.S. high schools fashioned themselves as mentors, then used their power to manipulate and abuse.

With the rifle skills she honed in the Mississippi backwoods, Victoria Bauer had a path to escape the trap of drugs and dead-end jobs she saw most everywhere around her. Her future was in the Marines, she decided, and she had an idea about how to get there.

Across the way from her freshman algebra class, Ms. Bauer approached Steve Hardin, the retired Navy intelligence officer who guided the high school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a leadership program sponsored by the U.S. military at high schools across the country. He welcomed her into the fold, she said, and seemed interested in how her family, which traced roots back to the Four Winds Cherokee of Louisiana, had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Soon, her 45-year-old J.R.O.T.C. instructor was messaging her on Snapchat late into the night, telling her that it would “drive the guys crazy” if she wore a “small bikini” during the trip to their next out-of-state shooting competition. Then one night in 2015 as he drove her home from rifle practice, she told investigators, Mr. Hardin pushed his hand into her pants and penetrated her with his fingers — the start of what she said was months of sexual assaults. Ms. Bauer, who was 15 at the time, feared that resisting him would jeopardize her shot at advancement through the J.R.O.T.C. ranks or a military career.

“I gave all the body-language signals that I didn’t want it,” Ms. Bauer said in an interview. “I didn’t feel like I had a choice.”

For more than a century, the J.R.O.T.C. program has sought to instill U.S. military values in American teenagers, with classes in thousands of public high schools that provide training in marksmanship, life skills, hierarchical discipline and military history. School officials endorse the classes, typically offered as electives during the regular school day, as a way to galvanize students who are struggling with direction and motivation.

But a New York Times investigation — which included an examination of thousands of court documents, investigative files and other records obtained through more than 150 public disclosure requests — has found that the program has repeatedly become a place where retired military officers prey on their teenage students.

In the past five years, The Times found, at least 33 J.R.O.T.C. instructors have been criminally charged with sexual misconduct involving students, far higher than the rate of civilian high school teachers in jurisdictions examined by The Times. Many others have been accused of misconduct but never charged.

The senior military veterans who make up the J.R.O.T.C. ranks are certified by the military but deploy to high school classrooms with little oversight and scant training for the actual work of being a teacher. Many states do not require J.R.O.T.C. instructors to have a college degree or a teaching certificate. Schools are expected to monitor the instructors and investigate complaints, but they have struggled to adequately oversee a program that largely operates on the fringes of their campuses.

Victims have reported sexual assaults in classrooms and supply closets, during field trips or on late-night rides home, sometimes committed after instructors plied students with alcohol or drugs. One former student said her instructor told her that sexual submission was expected of women in the military. A recent cadet in Tennessee said her J.R.O.T.C. instructor warned that he had the skills to kill her without a trace if she told anyone about their sexual encounters. In Missouri, a student said she was forced to kneel at her instructor’s bedside, blindfolded, with a gun to her head.

The Times interviewed 13 victims, many of whom had strikingly similar stories: They were teenagers who came from disadvantaged backgrounds or who otherwise saw the military as a pathway to a promising future, then found that the instructors who fashioned themselves as mentors exploited their positions to manipulate and abuse.

J.R.O.T.C. leaders declined requests for interviews but pointed to research indicating that the program had a positive effect on school attendance and graduation rates. The U.S. Army Cadet Command, which sponsors the largest J.R.O.T.C. program, said in a statement that its instructors went through a “strenuous” vetting process and that any allegations of misconduct were investigated, typically by the school districts that hired the J.R.O.T.C. instructors as civilian employees.

July 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Jerry Harris Sentenced to 12 Years for Sex Crimes Involving Minors, Sarah Bahr, July 7, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Harris, a star of Netflix’s “Cheer,” pleaded guilty to charges related to soliciting child sexual abuse imagery and illegal sexual conduct with a minor.

A judge in Chicago sentenced Jerry Harris, the Navarro College cheerleader who became a breakout star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to 12 years in prison on Wednesday on guilty pleas to two of seven federal charges related to sex crimes involving minors in February.

Mr. Harris, 22, had reached a plea deal in February in which prosecutors agreed that after sentencing on the two counts — the charges that he persuaded a 17-year-old to send him sexually explicit photos for money and traveled to Florida “for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct” with a 15-year-old — they would ask that the remaining charges be dropped. He had initially pleaded not guilty to all seven charges in December 2020.

Mr. Harris’s plea agreement noted that sentencing guidelines “may recommend 50 years in prison” for the offenses, though Judge Manish S. Shah had noted that he might decide differently. Judge Shah also ordered Mr. Harris to serve eight years of court-supervised release following his prison term.

A lawyer for Mr. Harris, Todd Pugh, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

In a memo filed before the hearing, prosecutors had asked Judge Shah to sentence Mr. Harris to 15 years in prison, arguing that Mr. Harris took advantage of “his status as a competitive cheerleader, his social media persona, and eventually his celebrity and money, to persuade and entice his young victims to engage in sexually explicit conduct for him or with him.”

Mr. Harris’s lawyers had requested a six-year prison term, to be followed by eight years of supervised release, arguing that Mr. Harris had himself been sexually abused as a child in the world of competitive cheerleading and therefore had a “skewed version of what he understood to be appropriate relationships.”

The sentencing caps a case that began nearly two years ago in September 2020, when Mr. Harris was arrested and charged with production of child pornography, months after the release of “Cheer,” which follows a national champion cheerleading team from a small-town Texas community college.

Around the same time, he was sued by teenage twin brothers who said he had sent sexually explicit messages to them, requested nude photos and solicited sex from them. (Mr. Harris befriended the boys when they were 13 and he was 19, USA Today reported.)

July 5

ny times logoNew York Times, Solveig Gold Is Proud to Be the Wife of a ‘Canceled’ Princeton Professor, Anemona Hartocollis, Updated July 5, 2022. But she also wants to be known as more. At dinner with the aspiring public intellectual and her “cabal.”

Solveig Lucia Gold was setting the table in her backyard, next door to the house once occupied by Albert Einstein. Her yard is a sweeping field of emerald green grass leading down to the 18th-century blacksmith’s cottage with stone floors that houses her home study.

princeton resized logoMs. Gold, 27, was preparing for an intimate dinner with some of the few people — “our little cabal,” she said — who publicly admit to being on friendly terms with her and her husband, the recently fired (she prefers “canceled”) former Princeton classics professor Joshua Katz.

Most of the guests were much older than Ms. Gold. This included Dr. Katz, who is 52 and was once her professor. They married last July, four years after she finished Princeton with a summa cum laude degree in classics, and one year after Dr. Katz began his public fight with the campus left.

July 3

 

 

Norma McCorvey, left at center, the anonymous plaintiff named

Norma McCorvey, left at center, the anonymous plaintiff named "Roe" in historic abortion litigation before the Suprem Court, celebrates with lawyer Gloria Allred, dressed in blue, as shown in a J. Scott Applewhite photo for the Associated Press used in an FX documentary, as in many other places.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Norma McCorvey, the woman at the center of Roe v. Wade, led a conflicted life, as seen in her personal papers, Joshua Prager, July 3, 2022 (print ed.). Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe at the center of Roe v. Wade, was an imperfect plaintiff.

When she undertook Roe as a young single woman in Dallas, she gave no thought to the fight for reproductive rights. She was barely getting by as a waitress, had twice given birth to children placed for adoption, and simply wanted an abortion. She later lied about how she got pregnant, saying that she had been raped. When, more than a decade later, she came clean and wished to join in earnest the movement she had come to represent, its leaders denied her a meaningful part in their protests and rallies.

“I think they’re embarrassed,” McCorvey told Texas Monthly in 1993. “They would like for me to be college-educated, with poise and little white gloves.”

Still, Roe remained central to McCorvey’s life, bound to her by those same two crosscurrents that would frame the abortion debate in the United States — religion and sex.

norma mccorvey jane roe 1989McCorvey, shown in a 1989 photo, had hundreds of partners, nearly all of them women, she said. She also worked for a time as a prostitute in Dallas. But she had been raised a Jehovah’s Witness and saw sex as sinful. That her plaintiffship had made abortion legal left her fearing for her soul. That was part of the reason she became born again in 1995, she said — the better to join the fight against Roe.

Still, despite her public reversal, McCorvey — like a majority of Americans now — felt that abortion ought to be legal through the first trimester. She shared this in the first interview she ever gave, days after Roe, and she shared it again in her last, speaking with me from a hospital bed at the end of her life. (During my decade of research for “The Family Roe,” a book on Roe and its plaintiff, I spent hundreds of hours interviewing McCorvey.)

Her private papers — which I found in the garage of her former partner, just before the house was lost to foreclosure — offer a firsthand insight into McCorvey as she really was: a woman whose torments and ambivalences about abortion mirror those that divide the country, and who continues to be relevant in the new, post-Roe world.

McCorvey was 13 in October 1960 when she checked into a motel room with a female friend who then accused McCorvey of trying “inappropriate things” with her. The Juvenile Court of Dallas declared McCorvey “a delinquent child,” as this document attests.

McCorvey was sent to a Catholic boarding school, and later, at 16, to a state boarding school for “delinquent girls.” She enjoyed being away from her family, and had a run of girlfriends. But her mother, Mary Sandefur, beat her for being gay, Sandefur said in an interview, and McCorvey came to see sex and her sexuality as sinful and illicit. Years after she got pregnant for the third time, and sought an abortion, she told people that she been raped, presenting herself as not a sinner but a victim.

McCorvey was the third consecutive generation in her family to get pregnant out of wedlock, according to documents and interviews with members of her family. Her grandmother quickly married, while her mother was made to leave town, give birth in secret and surrender her child to her parents.

In January 1972, McCorvey’s brother Jimmy visited her in Dallas. The 20-something siblings were poor, and Jimmy noted his every expense in his daily planner.

McCorvey worked many jobs to get by — waitress and drug dealer, prostitute and painter, respiratory therapist and bond-runner. Money was a constant struggle. And when, in 1969, she got pregnant and found an unlicensed doctor who would perform an abortion, she could neither afford his $500 fee nor the cost of flying to California, where abortion was legal.

southern baptist convention logoA few days after the Roe ruling, in January 1973, The Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke with McCorvey. It was her first-ever interview. She said she believed it wrong to have an abortion at any point after the first trimester.

In time, McCorvey turned her plaintiffship into a career, and changed her public stance repeatedly, depending on her audience. But her private opinion on abortion did not change: On the day after her Christian rebirth, as well as at the end of her life, she repeated what she had first told The Baptist Press in 1973: that abortion should be legal through the first trimester.

 

June

June 29

washington post logoWashington Post, You scheduled an abortion. Planned Parenthood’s website could tell Facebook, Tatum Hunter, June 29, 2022. The organization left marketing trackers running on its scheduling pages.

The Supreme Court’s decision last week overturning the nationwide right to an abortion in the United States may have sent worried people flooding to Planned Parenthood’s website to learn about nearby clinics or schedule services.

facebook logoBut if they used the organization’s online scheduling tool, it appears Planned Parenthood could share people’s location — and, in some cases, even the method of abortion they selected — with big tech companies.

An investigation by Lockdown Privacy, the maker of an app that blocks online tracking, found that Planned Parenthood’s web scheduler can share information with a variety of third parties, including Google, Facebook, TikTok and Hotjar, a tracking tool tiktok logo square Customthat says it helps companies understand how customers behave. These outside companies receive data including IP addresses, approximate Zip codes and service selections, which privacy experts worry could be valuable to state governments looking to prosecute abortions.

Big Tech silent on data collection as workers call for post-Roe action

In a video shared with The Washington Post, Lockdown founder Johnny Lin visited the Planned Parenthood website, opened the scheduling tool, input a Zip code and selected “surgical abortion” as a service. As he clicked around, a development tool let him see how data such as his IP address was being shared with Google, Facebook and many other third-party companies. Only the companies would know for sure how they use our data, but any data sitting on servers is vulnerable to potential cyberattacks or government subpoenas. In a criminal abortion case, an IP address would be pertinent because with the help of internet service providers, law enforcement can trace IP addresses back to individuals.

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in prison, Shayna Jacobs, June 29, 2022 (print ed.). Maxwell, 60, groomed and peddled girls and young women to financier Jeffrey Epstein for at least a decade.

Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking young sexual abuse victims to financier Jeffrey Epstein, a recognition of her extensive role in recruiting the girls and young women and facilitating their encounters.

U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan had calculated the federal sentencing guidelines to suggest a 15-to-19-year prison term for Maxwell, 60, who as Epstein’s longtime girlfriend managed an evolving roster of victims to give him daily sexualized massages.

But after hearing from several victims who said they are still affected by the abuse they suffered, and from Maxwell herself, Nathan imposed a two-decade sentence. She said it was “important to note [Maxwell’s] lack of acceptance of responsibility” for the abuse, which occurred between 1994 and 2004.

ny times logoNew York Times, For Many Women, Roe Was About More Than Abortion. It Was About Freedom, Julie Bosman, June 29, 2022. After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, some women are reconsidering their plans, including where they live, and wondering how best to channel their anger.

Countless women wept. Some spent the weekend burning white-hot with rage, commiserating with friends and mothers and sisters. Many were fearful, recognizing the feeling of a freedom being taken away and thinking to themselves: This could only get worse.

Millions of American women spent the past five days absorbing the news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade, erasing the constitutional right to a legal abortion that had held for nearly a half-century.

The decision instantly reordered the lives of women across the country.

Some women, especially conservative Christians, reveled in the decision as a moral and legal victory. But a poll released on Sunday revealed that a sizable majority of women in the United States — 67 percent — opposed the court’s ruling to overturn Roe, and 52 percent of Americans said it was a step backward for the nation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Illinois Abortion Clinics Prepare for a Rush of Patients After Roe, Allison McCann, June 29, 2022. The 67 clinics operating in neighboring states could stop offering abortions or close altogether, sending thousands more patients to Illinois.

illinois mapIllinois is quickly emerging as an island of abortion access for people in the Midwest and the South, as neighboring states move to ban the procedure after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion. Providers in the state had been preparing for a surge of people seeking abortion services, but many said this week that they were still overwhelmed by patients’ reactions to the decision.

There were roughly 50,000 abortions performed in Illinois in 2020, and around one in five was for a patient traveling from out of state. There are currently 29 abortion providers in Illinois, but as clinics in surrounding states stop providing abortions or close altogether, these providers say they may not be able to meet the demand.

Four of Illinois’s neighbors immediately banned abortion after the court’s decision on Friday, and two others — Ohio and Tennessee — now restrict the procedure to six weeks into a pregnancy. A ban in Michigan is temporarily blocked by a court there, and lawmakers in Indiana and Iowa are expected to consider abortion bans in the coming months.

ny times logoNew York Times, After Rapes by Russian Soldiers, a Difficult Quest for Justice, Valerie Hopkins, June 29, 2022. Women who were attacked in a village near Kyiv face daunting challenges in getting such crimes prosecuted. “I want them to be punished,” said one victim.

Every day, Viktoriya has to walk past the house where she was raped by a Russian soldier the same age as her teenage son.

Russian troops arrived in her two-street village, near the Kyiv suburb of Borodianka, in early March. Soon afterward, she said, two of them raped her and a neighbor, killed two men, including her neighbor’s husband, and destroyed several homes.

“If you do not think about it all, you can live,” Viktoriya said in an interview in the village on a recent rainy day. “But it is certainly not forgotten.”

June 24

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Top Stories

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

 ny times logoNew York Times, SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS ROE V. WADE, Adam Liptak, June 24, 2022. Ends Constitutional Right to Abortion; Draft Opinion Had Leaked.

The Supreme Court on Friday overruled Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years in a decision that will transform American life, reshape the nation’s politics and lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

The ruling will test the legitimacy of the court and vindicate a decades-long Republican project of installing conservative justices prepared to reject the precedent, which had been repeatedly reaffirmed by earlier courts. It will also be one of the signal legacies of President Donald J. Trump, who vowed to name justices who would overrule Roe. All three of his appointees were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.

The decision, which echoed a leaked draft opinion published by Politico in early May, will result in a starkly divided country in which abortion is severely restricted or forbidden in many red states but remains freely available in most blue ones.

john roberts oChief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, voted with the majority but said he would have taken “a more measured course,” stopping short of overruling Roe outright. The court’s three liberal members dissented.

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, concerned a law enacted in 2018 by the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute, a calculated challenge to Roe, included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sued, saying the law ran afoul of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding.

Lower courts ruled for the clinic, saying the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which prohibited states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, currently about 23 weeks.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

“The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

The decision, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion after almost 50 years, will lead to all but total bans on the procedure in about half of the states.

It will also be one of the signal legacies of former President Trump: All three of his appointees were in the majority ruling.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here’s which could be next, Caroline Kitchener, Kevin Schaul, N. Kirkpatrick, Daniela Santamariña and Lauren Tierney, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court released a decision on Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, touching off a cascade of antiabortion laws that probably will take effect across roughly half the country.

Without the landmark precedent in place, the national abortion landscape will change quickly. First, 13 states with “trigger bans,” designed to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next, with lawmakers moving to activate their dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be brought back to life.

ny times logoNew York Times, Thomas’s concurring opinion raises questions about what rights might be next, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 24, 2022. Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, laid out a vision that elicited fears about what other rights could disappear: The same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

samuel alito oIn the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, left, the court said that nothing in its decision “should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” Justice Thomas said he agreed with that.

However, he noted that in its rationale, the court’s majority found that a right to abortion was not a form of “liberty” protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

Then, he took aim at three other landmark cases that relied on that same legal reasoning: Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that declared married couples had a right to contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case invalidating clarence thomas HRsodomy laws and making same-sex sexual activity legal across the country; and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case establishing the right of gay couples to marry.

Justice Thomas, right, wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. Then, he said, after “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.

This kind of language is just what advocates for reproductive rights and for L.G.B.T.Q. rights have been fearing. Defenders of the right to abortion have repeatedly warned that if Roe fell, the right to contraception and same-sex marriage would be next.

Abortion opponents, who fought hard to overturn Roe, have insisted they have no interest in trying to undo the right to contraception.

But already, states like Missouri are trying to restrict access to contraception by banning public funding for certain methods: intrauterine devices and the so-called morning after pill. And some Republicans, notably Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, have said that the Griswold case was wrongly decided. Earlier this year, Ms. Blackburn called Griswold “constitutionally unsound.”

 

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmer

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Biden says restoring abortion rights is up to voters, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, June 24, 2022. Newsom, West Coast governors pledge ‘sanctuary’ for abortion rights; Dick’s Sporting Goods to reimburse travel expenses for employees who seek abortion; Dispatch from Jackson, Miss: Vow to keep seeing patients.

President Biden called the Supreme Court’s decision a “tragic error” and implored voters to elect candidates in November who will support abortion rights and broader rights to privacy.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

The U.S. Supreme Court, protected from protesters by fencing (Photo by Douglas Rissing).

Steady, Commentary: A day at the Supreme Court that shakes America to its core, Dan Rather (right, author and former CBS Evening News dan rather 2011anchor and managing editor), June 24, 2022.

What to say that hasn’t been said but needs to be said again, and again, and again:

dan rather steady logoThis is not a court of humble jurists who are bound in any way by fidelity to precedent, the law, or common sense. There is nothing “conservative” about these damaging decisions, or the men and woman who have imposed their extreme views upon the American populace.

Right-wing politicians decry “elitism,” but what is more elitist than unelected and unaccountable activists using the language of legal argumentation as a fig leaf for their naked exercise of power?

There is no way that these decisions would pass a vote of the American public. Indeed, a majority of the justices were installed by presidents who lost the popular vote. And the polling on the issues these rulings tear asunder suggests that what these justices are doing is unpopular — in many cases, very unpopular.

But they sneer from their echo chamber of extremism. They are emboldened by a system that has been fixed, with the complicity of Mitch McConnell and others, to advantage minority viewpoints by leveraging a branch of government not designed to be a political actors' stage in order to circumvent the legislative and executive branches.

Where to begin, and where will it end?The Supreme Court has further cemented its role as a reactionary force in American life.

Today it was abortion, on top of recent decisions on gun regulations, public funding for religious schools, and Miranda rights. Soon they will likely gut environmental regulations, and we can guess at what comes next — gay marriage? Contraception?

We can’t let this moment pass without recognizing what a horrific decision today's is, and how it will relegate women to second-class status in decision-making over their own bodies. This will lead to a host of suffering and likely death. It will imprison women where control will be imposed by the state. It is the opposite of freedom. It is a right that existed — and still should.

The Supreme Court depends on its legitimacy, and today that is as tattered as the constitutional rights on which it has trampled. The Roberts court will be marked as a cabal of intemperance that made America far less safe and far less free. It will be noted for its zealotry and its cynical embrace of the ends justifying the means.

But as with all chapters of history, how our present is ultimately viewed depends on what comes next. Will these rulings lead to outrage-fueled activism that upends the political system, or apathy and defeatism? Will the majority mobilize? Will there be reforms? Will there be a recalibration of the current balance of power?

I leave you today with the words of Sherrilyn Ifill, civil rights lawyer and president and director-counsel emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She has experienced the fight from the trenches of justice, and her perspective mirrors my own. I could not have expressed it better.

Remember that we have never seen the America we’ve been fighting for. So no need to be nostalgic. Right on the other side of this unraveling is opportunity. If we keep fighting no matter what, take care of ourselves & each other, stay strategic & principled, & use all our power.

washington post logoWashington Post, With Roe’s demise, abortion will soon be banned across much of red America, Caroline Kitchener, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the landmark precedent will prompt immediate changes to the country’s abortion landscape. The tremors from Friday’s sweeping Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will ripple across the country almost immediately, with roughly half of all states poised to ban or drastically restrict abortion.

Thirteen states will outlaw abortion within 30 days with “trigger bans” that were designed to take effect as soon as Roe was overturned. These laws make an exception for cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but most do not include exceptions for rape or incest.

In many states, trigger bans will activate as soon as a designated state official certifies the decision, which Republican lawmakers expect to happen within minutes.

“They just need to acknowledge, ‘Yes, this has occurred,’ ” said Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who has championed much of his state’s antiabortion legislation, including its trigger ban. “I’ll be happy to see the butcher mill in Little Rock, Arkansas, shut down for good.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Supreme Court eviscerates abortion rights and its own legitimacy, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 24, 2022. While we jennifer rubin new headshotknew from the leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion that Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of constitutional precedent were hanging by a thread, and yet when the opinion came down Friday morning — a virtual copy of the leaked draft — many Americans no doubt felt a wave of disbelief, anger, dread and fear.

The court’s decision is so emphatic, and so contemptuous of the principle of stare decisis, that one wonders whether the unvarnished radicalism of the decision will finally rouse millions of Americans to the threat posed by a court untethered to law, precedent or reason.

 As the dissent (by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) made clear, the majority opinion is as radical as any in its history: “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”

National Public Radio (NPR), All Things Considered Interview: Former governor whose bill was at the center of Roe ruling reacts to SCOTUS' npr logodecision, Mary Louise Kelly, June 24, 2024. NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with Phil Bryant, the former governor of Mississippi, who signed a bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, let's turn now to the state that brought us to this moment, Mississippi.

KELLY: Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only abortion provider in the state and the defendant in the case that the Supreme Court decided today. It concerned a state law enacted in 2018. The governor who signed that bill into law was then-Governor Republican Phil Bryant, and he joins me now. Governor Bryant, welcome.

PHIL BRYANT: I'm glad to be with you. It's a glorious day for those of us that are very pro-life.

KELLY: Well, I think people will have already gathered that this is the ruling you were hoping for. Can I ask your first thought when you heard the news?

BRYANT: Well, I was prayerful. To God be the glory, as - which I told everyone. There'll be a lot of politicians, and rightfully so, people who've helped that would try to take credit for this. That will be those that are campaigning for office that would say, that's exactly what I would have done. But when we had the opportunity in 2018 to protect innocent lives starting at 15 weeks, and of course, we then - we passed a more stringent anti-abortion bill after that. But we just believe that it's murder. We believe that it's a tearing apart of the human body in the womb. And so we were very happy, I was, and I know many of us that heard that ruling today.

KELLY: Walk me through what exactly changes now in Mississippi. You have a trigger law that kicks in.

BRYANT: We do.

KELLY: Mississippi, as we mentioned, only has one clinic providing abortions. What do these next days look like in your state?

BRYANT: Well, I think people will start thinking about something called individual responsibility. I think they're going to have to take into consideration that I might not be able to get an abortion on demand. I might not be able to do that just for my convenience. And so I think - I hope and I believe that there will be adults who will be more responsible and not bring about a life that they do not want.

This is not the most complicated thing in the world. Any seventh and eighth grader probably begins to realize where babies come from. And so for an adult female to say, well, you know, I just don't - I don't think this is what I want to do right now, I hope they will see more clearly through that process. And I know things happen. Look. I'm just saying that the life of that unborn child was where we were thinking and what we were doing when all of this began and even into today.

KELLY: In your years in office, you, of course, were governor for everybody in Mississippi, whatever their politics.

BRYANT: Correct.

KELLY: What do you say to Mississippians, like some of the ones we heard in that tape from outside the clinic today, who believe it is the right of women to decide what happens inside their own bodies and who are devastated...

BRYANT: I...

KELLY: ...At today's decision?

BRYANT: I would say first you need to kneel and pray to God, who is the God of everyone, that in your heart, you can understand that that is a living human being. And so try as you might to find God in this. Try to pray and have him open your eyes and come into your heart and realize this is your child. This is a human being who has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And you're about to take all that away for your convenience. Pray. That's what I would tell them. Pray hard.

KELLY: When you say women are choosing an abortion because it is for their convenience, I just want to push you on that, because there are a lot of women who would say, this is not about my convenience. This is not a choice anyone wants to make. This is about my right to control my body.

BRYANT: And I would tell men and women that you have a responsibility. We all did, and all of us are - fall short of the grace of God. But please consider your responsibilities. And, men, take the responsibility of being the father. So we don't want to wish - we're not hardhearted. We understand these difficult situations. It's why we work so hard here to make adoption easier for families who can't have children and families who want desperately to have a child. So look. I'm not mad at anyone. I'm not judging anyone. I am just saying that the Supreme Court upheld a law today that said that the states have the right to regulate abortions and that we will continue to do that within the confines of the Constitution of the United States laws.

KELLY: Phil Bryant. He was the governor of Mississippi from 2012 to 2020. Governor Bryant, thank you.

BRYANT: Thank you.

KELLY: One of many voices we are hearing from today as we cover this landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Overturning Roe could threaten rights conservatives hold dear, Julia Bowes, June 24, 2022. Parental rights stem from the same liberty that the Supreme Court just began rolling back.

Recent Headlines

June 23 

 

dan snyder jacket

washington post logoWashington Post, Washington NFL owner conducted ‘shadow investigation’ of accusers, House panel finds, Mark Maske, Liz Clarke and Nicki Jhabvala, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and members of his legal team conducted a “shadow investigation” and compiled a “dossier” targeting former team employees, their attorneys and journalists in an attempt to discredit carolyn maloney ohis accusers and shift blame following allegations of widespread misconduct in the team’s workplace, according to the findings of the investigation conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Moreover, Snyder (shown above in a Washington Post file photo) hired private investigators and lawyers to unearth inappropriate emails and evidence aimed at convincing the NFL and Beth Wilkinson, who was conducting a league-sponsored investigation into sexual harassment in the organization, that Snyder’s longtime team president Bruce Allen was primarily responsible for any workplace issues.

The preliminary findings were detailed in a 29-page memo from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, the committee’s chairwoman, to fellow committee members ahead of Wednesday’s Capitol Hill hearing on the Commanders’ workplace at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to testify under oath. Snyder has declined to take part, objecting to the date and the terms.

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trial

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Seek at Least 30 Years of Prison for Ghislaine Maxwell, Benjamin Weiser June 23, 2022. Ms. Maxwell, who will be sentenced next week, showed an “utter lack of remorse” for helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit and abuse girls, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, writing that Ghislaine Maxwell had made the choice to conspire with Jeffrey Epstein for years, “working as partners in crime and causing devastating harm to vulnerable victims,” asked a judge on Wednesday night to sentence her to at least 30 years in prison.

Ms. Maxwell, 60, is to be sentenced on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan. If the judge follows the government’s recommendation, she could spend much of the rest of her life in prison.

Ms. Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five of the six counts she faced, including sex trafficking, after a monthlong trial in which witnesses testified that she helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and abuse underage girls.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, in a brief last week, asked the judge, Alison J. Nathan, to impose a sentence below the 20 years recommended by the court’s probation department. The lawyers suggested that the government had decided to prosecute Ms. Maxwell after Mr. Epstein’s jailhouse suicide in 2019 to appease his victims and “repair the tarnished reputations” of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons, in whose custody the disgraced financier died.

The defense also suggested that blame for Ms. Maxwell’s conduct lay with Mr. Epstein and her father, the late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who they said was a cruel and intimidating parent.

The government, in its letter on Wednesday to Judge Nathan, dismissed those claims, asserting that if anything stood out from Ms. Maxwell’s sentencing submission, it was her failure to address her criminal conduct and her “utter lack of remorse.”

“Instead of showing even a hint of acceptance of responsibility,” the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote, “the defendant makes a desperate attempt to cast blame wherever else she can.”

The prosecutors said Ms. Maxwell’s attempt “to cast aspersions on the government for prosecuting her, and her claim that she is being held responsible for Epstein’s crimes, are both absurd and offensive.”

ny times logoNew York Times, What’s the Plan for the Tampon Shortage? Anna Grace Lee, June 23, 2022 (print ed.). As some consider switching to reusable menstrual products, factors like cost, accessibility and long-held personal preferences could be barriers.

The tampon shortage is the latest supply chain issue to affect daily life for women, just weeks after a shortage of baby formula left many families scrambling.

June 21

washington post logoWashington Post, Document reveals details of 2009 sexual assault allegation against Daniel Snyder, Will Hobson, June 21, 2022. An employee for Washington’s NFL team accused Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her on a team plane, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Washington Post. The allegations, which Snyder has denied, led to a $1.6 million settlement previously reported by The Post.

An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused owner Daniel Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her in April 2009, three months before the team agreed to pay the woman $1.6 million as part of a confidential settlement, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Washington Post.

The woman accused Snyder of asking her for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to a letter sent by an attorney for the team to the woman’s lawyer in 2009. The woman alleged the assault occurred in a private, partitioned area at the back of one of the team’s private planes during a return flight from a work trip to Las Vegas.

Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, the letter states, and a team investigation accused her of fabricating her claims as part of an extortion attempt. But Snyder and the team eventually agreed to pay her a seven-figure sum as part of a settlement in which she agreed not to sue or publicly disclose her allegations.

  • Washington Post, What to expect when Roger Goodell testifies in House probe of Commanders

washington post logoWashington Post, Entertainer Bill Cosby sexually abused teen in 1975, jury in civil trial finds, Reis Thebault and Praveena Somasundaram, June 21, 2022. A California jury on Tuesday found that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1975.

The decision in the civil case is the latest defeat in a long legal saga for the 84-year-old comedian, who was once one of America’s most beloved entertainers but has faced dozens of assault allegations over the past two decades. Cosby was freed from prison nearly a year ago, after his 2018 sexual assault conviction was thrown out, overturning the results of a high-profile #MeToo-era case. Cosby’s spokesperson said Tuesday he plans to appeal the latest decision.

Outside the Santa Monica courthouse, Judy Huth, now 64, celebrated the culmination of her years-long legal battle.

“I was elated,” Huth told reporters, describing her reaction to the verdict. “Seriously, it’s been so many years, so many tears, just a long time coming.”

Jurors awarded Huth $500,000 in damages and found that Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact with Huth, who was then a minor. One of Huth’s attorneys, the prominent feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, said in a statement that her client “won real change” by showing that Cosby “should be held accountable for what he did to her.”

While not a criminal ruling, the successful civil case “shows there is another avenue of justice,” Allred said in a brief post-trial appearance.

Cosby did not attend the proceedings, and he has denied Huth’s allegations. Cosby’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment on the outcome.

Huth filed her lawsuit in 2014. She first met Cosby in April of 1975, when he was filming a movie in San Marino, Calif., court documents say.

Earlier this month, Huth testified that Cosby molested her after he gave her and her friend Donna Samuelson a tour of the Playboy Mansion and game room, the Associated Press reported. Samuelson, who was 17 at the time, took photos that evening and was a witness in the trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top executives quit Pornhub’s parent company amid more controversy, Lateshia Beachum, June 21, 2022. Two top executives at MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, have resigned amid allegations that the site does not immediately or sufficiently remove content involving nonconsensual and underage sex.

MindGeek confirmed the departures of CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Tassillo in a statement Tuesday.

“Antoon and Tassillo leave MindGeek’s day-to-day operations after more than a decade in leadership positions with the company,” the company told The Washington Post. “MindGeek’s executive leadership team will run day-to-day operations on an interim basis, with a search underway for replacements.”

News of the departures come about a week after a New Yorker article detailed people’s attempts to get Porhhub to remove sexually explicit content that involved underage and nonconsensual participants. Announcement of the departures is not related to the piece, MindGeek told The Post.

washington post logoWashington Post, Deshaun Watson agrees to settle 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala, June 21, 2022. The NFL said the civil settlements will have no bearing on the league's disciplinary process.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached settlement agreements in 20 of the 24 active civil lawsuits filed against him by women who accused him of sexual misconduct, the attorney for the women announced Tuesday.

Lawyer Tony Buzbee called the settlement terms confidential and said he expects the remaining four lawsuits to be resolved in court.

“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” Buzbee said in a statement. “We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”

June 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Feminism Made a Faustian Bargain With Celebrity Culture. Now It’s Paying the Price, Susan Faludi (a journalist and the author of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women, among other books), June 20, 2022. One month almost to the day after Americans learned of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion that would eviscerate the constitutional right of women to control their bodies and so their lives, millions sat glued to their screens to witness the verdict in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial, in which the jury awarded more than $10 million to Mr. Depp.

In a statement afterward, Ms. Heard said she was “disappointed with what this verdict means for women.” “It sets back the clock,” she said, “to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.”

The ruination of Roe and the humiliation of Ms. Heard have been cast as cosmic convergence, evidence of a larger forced retreat on women’s progress. “Johnny Depp’s legal victory and the death of Roe v. Wade are part of the same toxic cultural movement,” a Vox article asserted. “These examples may seem disparate, but there’s an important through line,” a USA Today reporter wrote, citing academics who linked the Alito draft opinion, the Depphead mobbing and, for good measure, the “public consumption” of cleavage at the Met Gala (held the same night the Supreme Court draft leaked): “This is backlash.”

Backlash it may be. Even so, putting the pillorying of Ms. Heard in the same backlash-deplorables basket as the death rattle of Roe is a mistake. Lost in the frenzy of amalgamation lies a crucial distinction. There’s a through line, all right. Both are verdicts on the recent fraught course of feminism. But one tells the story of how we got here; the other where we’re headed. How did modern feminism lose Roe v. Wade? An answer lies in Depp v. Heard.

June 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortions in U.S. rose in 2020, ending decades-long decline, report says, Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha, June 16, 2022 (print ed.). A survey by a group supporting abortion rights showed an 8 percent increase over 2017. The number of abortions in the United States rose in 2020, ending a 30-year decline, according to a new report from a research and advocacy group that favors abortion rights.

The Guttmacher Institute, which surveys abortion providers every three years, said the number of abortions increased 8 percent in 2020 from 2017, to an estimated total of 930,160. It concluded that about 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in abortion in 2020.

The report was released as a deeply divided public awaits a ruling from the Supreme Court that could overturn the 50-year-old legal right to abortion established by its decision in Roe v. Wade. A draft of the court’s impending ruling that leaked last month appeared to show that a majority of the nine justices favor upending Roe.

A number of states already have passed, or are considering, highly restrictive abortion laws in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling, which could come as soon as this month.

June 15

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Democrats push legislation to protect abortion access for military women, Rachel Roubein, with research by McKenzie Beard, June 15, 2022. There’s a new abortion fight brewing among congressional spending bills.

This time, we’re not referring to the Hyde amendment, the long-standing policy rider barring the use of federal funds for most abortions. We’re talking about a policy House Democrats, for the first time, tucked into their 140-page draft bill to fund the Department of Defense released yesterday.

The new provision is aimed at banning military commanders from denying service members and civilian employees leave to get an abortion or to a significant other who requests time off to help their partner seek an abortion. Specifically, the language says none of the funds available may be used for such denials. (A spokesperson didn’t return a request for comment on how the policy would work in practice.)

It’s exceedingly unlikely that any such measure makes it into a final spending package, since it’d need the support of 10 Senate Republicans. But it aligns with a broader Democratic push to shore up abortion access for military personnel — particularly women stationed in red states — in the face of a potential Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. cadets suing shipping company, alleging rape and harassment at sea, Michael Laris, June 15, 2022 (print ed.). One woman’s anonymous online account of assault last year raised concerns on Capitol Hill, prompting a temporary pause in the program. Before graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy this Saturday, Hope Hicks said she had a piece of unfinished business as a cadet: Suing Maersk, the shipping giant she says failed to protect her from being raped.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Nassau County (N.Y.) Supreme Court, Hicks alleged Maersk Line, Limited, a U.S. subsidiary, put her in danger while she was stationed aboard a company ship as part of her education. Hicks’ anonymous online account last year of assault raised concerns on Capitol Hill, prompting the on-the-job “Sea Year” training to be temporarily paused — a move that echoed a 2016 halt that was intended to bring change.

Hicks said she decided to go public with her name now to signal to fellow cadets that they can take similar actions to defend themselves.

Hicks said she was raped by a supervisor on the M/V Alliance Fairfax in 2019 when she was 19. Hicks’ lawyers also submitted a second suit, on behalf of a woman who said she faced sexual harassment and unwanted touching as a cadet aboard the same vessel two years later. She would lock herself in the bathroom and sleep on the floor at night while holding a pocketknife for protection, her lawyers wrote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Brutal Beating of Women in China Highlights Risk of Saying ‘No,’ Vivian Wang, June 15, 2022. Graphic footage of an attack fueled online debate about the growing awareness of women’s rights and how divisive feminism still remains.

China FlagThe man walked into a barbecue restaurant in northern China and approached a table of three women. He put his hand on the back of one, who shook him off. In response, he slapped her — then, with several other men, savagely beat her and the other women, hitting them with chairs, kicking them and dragging them outdoors.

The security camera footage of the brutal attack, which took place in the city of Tangshan on Friday and left two women hospitalized, spread rapidly online and has continued to dominate public conversation in recent days. Women flooded social media with their outrage and terror at the threat of sexual violence that looms over everyday life. Just three of many related hashtags on the Twitter-like platform Weibo have been viewed more than 4.8 billion times.

The intensity of the public response made clear the growing attention to sexual harassment and gender-based violence in China, where conversations about equality are increasingly common.

But almost simultaneously, other narratives that played down the gender angle emerged. Some legal scholars said the incident was about public safety writ large, not just for women. State media outlets focused on the possibility of gang violence. Weibo deleted hundreds of accounts, accusing their users of seeking to stoke enmity between genders.

The conflicting interpretations underscored how divisive feminism remains, both for the general public and for a government that sees any independent activism as a potential challenge to its control.

washington post logoWashington Post, A school made girls wear skirts. A court ruled it unconstitutional, María Luisa Paúl, June 15, 2022. At a North Carolina charter school, all students follow the same curriculum. But their gender-specific uniform requirements — pants for boys, and skirts, skorts or jumpers for girls — separate them in a way a federal court on Tuesday deemed unconstitutional.

The dress code at Charter Day School in Leland, N.C., no longer can be enforced, Senior Circuit Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote in a majority opinion. The school founder’s claim that the uniform rules promote chivalry “based on the view that girls are ‘fragile vessels’ deserving of ‘gentle’ treatment by boys” was determined to be discriminating against female students in the 10-to-6 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

“By implementing the skirts requirement based on blatant gender stereotypes about the ‘proper place’ for girls and women in society, [the school] has acted in clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause,” Keenan wrote in the opinion.

The decision followed a seven-year effort to end the school’s skirt requirement for female students.

In 2015, Keely Burks, then a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Charter Day School, launched a petition with her friends to change the uniform policy. They ultimately collected over 100 signatures, she wrote in 2016, but the document “was taken from us by a teacher and we never got it back.”

June 14

washington post logoWashington Post, In Japan, abortion is legal — but most women need their husbands’ consent, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Julia Mio Inuma, June 14, Japan2022. Japan’s male-dominated society has been slow to grant women the reproductive rights taken for granted in many other developed countries.

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to overturn a 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, there is a global spotlight on reproductive care — including in Japan, which has some of the tightest restrictions on abortion among wealthy nations.

June 13

 ny times logoNew York Times, Poland Illustrates Risks for Women When Abortion Is Banned, Katrin Bennhold and Monika Pronczuk, June 13, 2022 (print ed.). One unintended consequence of Poland’s ban is that doctors are sometimes afraid to remove fetuses or administer cancer treatment to save women’s lives.

It was shortly before 11 p.m. when Izabela Sajbor realized the doctors were prepared to let her die.

polish flag wavingHer doctor had already told her that her fetus had severe abnormalities and would almost certainly die in the womb. If it made it to term, life expectancy was a year, at most. At 22 weeks pregnant, Ms. Sajbor had been admitted to a hospital after her water broke prematurely.

She knew that there was a short window to induce birth or surgically remove the fetus to avert infection and potentially fatal sepsis. But even as she developed a fever, vomited and convulsed on the floor, it seemed to be the baby’s heartbeat that the doctors were most concerned about.

“My life is in danger,” she wrote in a string of distressed text messages to her mother and husband that was shared with The New York Times by her family’s lawyer.

“They cannot help as long as the fetus is alive thanks to the anti-abortion law,” she wrote only hours before she died. “A woman is like an incubator.”

June 11

 

 

kay jewelers

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Owner of Kay, Jared jewelers settles gender-discrimination lawsuit for $175 million, Drew Harwell, June 11, 2022 (print ed.). The class-action case representing 68,000 women alleged unfair pay and promotion practices and became a hallmark of #MeToo activism

Sterling Jewelers, the American diamond empire that owns Jared and Kay Jewelers, has agreed to pay $175 million to settle a long-fought class-action lawsuit alleging that the company had for years discriminated against tens of thousands of women in their pay and promotion practices.

The case, filed in 2008, became a hallmark of #MeToo activism after some of the women revealed to The Washington Post in 2017 that they had been pressured to cater to their bosses’ sexual demands to get promoted or stay employed.

The class was composed of about 68,000 women who had worked, mostly as sales associates, in the jewelry stores between 2004 and 2018. Their lawyers argued that the company’s rules on pay rates adversely affected women and that women got promotions far less often than they deserved.

A trial in private arbitration was scheduled for September, said the women’s lawyers, who announced the settlement Thursday. The lawsuit has faced so many years of delays that one of the case’s 15 named claimants passed away before it was resolved.

Sterling runs some of the country’s biggest retail jewelry chains and has for years been famous for its shopping-mall boutiques and TV ads, including “Every kiss begins with Kay.”

The suit’s claims were limited to sexual discrimination in pay and promotion, not sexual harassment or assault. But as part of the case, women filed sworn statements saying they had been regularly groped, harassed and coaxed into providing sexual favors, including at boozy corporate retreats.

“If you didn’t do what he wanted with him,” one former associate said in a 2012 statement, “you wouldn’t get your [preferred] store or raise.”

June 10

ny times logoNew York Times, For Cleveland Browns, Deshaun Watson Is a $230 Million Question Mark, Emmanuel Morgan and Remy Tumin, June 10, 2022 (print ed.). Revelations about Watson, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, have drawn silence from the Browns and left some of the team’s fans in anguish.

Toward the end of the introductory news conference in March for his team’s new quarterback, the Cleveland Browns’ general manager, Andrew Berry, sat near a microphone with his arms crossed and publicly supported Deshaun Watson with carefully chosen words and without completely defending him.

The Browns had just traded three first-round draft picks and two other selections to the Houston Texans for Watson, betting the team’s immediate future on the quarterback. They had signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract, the largest of its kind in N.F.L. history, even though more than 22 women were suing him, alleging sexual harassment or assault.

When asked if he thought Watson did anything wrong, Berry said, “We feel very confident in Deshaun the person, and we have a lot of faith in him.”

That faith is being tested as the Browns consider new revelations from accusers and new questions from fans about Watson’s conduct.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lifestyle Perspective: Behind the visible queerness in women’s sports — and why it matters, Frankie de la Cretaz, June 10, 2022. It’s a dynamic that is exclusive to women’s sports culture, sometimes making team dynamics complicated. But it’s not just gossip that makes these romances of interest — this kind of insular, interconnected relationship web is very common in lesbian and lesbian-adjacent culture at large.

June 8

 From left, the U.S. gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols testifying on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Pool photo by Saul Lloeb of Agence France-Presse).

From left, the U.S. gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols testifying on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Pool photo by Saul Loeb of Agence France-Presse).

ny times logoNew York Times, Nassar Victims Suing F.B.I. for Early Failures in Sexual Abuse Investigation, Katie Benner, June 8, 2022. The plaintiffs say Larry Nassar abused them after the F.B.I. failed to act. The suits come after the Justice Department declined to prosecute two former agents.

More than 90 women who say they were sexually assaulted by Lawrence G. Nassar, the former doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics who was convicted on state sexual abuse charges, were planning to file lawsuits on Wednesday against the F.B.I. for its failure to investigate him when it received credible information about his crimes.

The lawsuits come two weeks after the Justice Department decided not to prosecute two former F.B.I. agents accused of bungling the bureau’s 2015 investigation into Mr. Nassar, allowing him to assault girls for more than a year before Michigan authorities arrested him. The agents were accused by the Justice Department’s own watchdog of making false statements about the matter.

The plaintiffs include the Olympic gymnastics gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney and the national gymnastics medalist Maggie Nichols, as well as the former University of Michigan gymnast Samantha Roy and the former gymnast Kaylee Lorincz, who now works as an advocate for sexual assault victims.

“My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us — the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S.A. Gymnastics, the F.B.I. and now the Department of Justice,” Ms. Maroney said in a statement. “It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process,” she added.

June 7

 

felicia somnez dave weigel

Media Confidential, WaPo Reporter Dave Weigel Suspended Following Retweet, Edited by Tom Benson, June 7, 2022. Washington Post politics reporter Dave Weigel (above at right) has been suspended following uproar over a sexist joke he retweeted, reports The NY Post.

The newspaper suspended Weigel Monday without pay, CNN reported, after he reposted a tweet from Youtuber Cam Harless that stated, “Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual.”

Colleague Felicia Sonmez (above left), who also covers national politics, then blasted Weigel for sharing the off-putting joke, tweeting, “Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!” with a screenshot of Weigel’s retweet.

Later that day Weigel removed the tweet.

“I just removed a retweet of an offensive joke,” Weigel said. “I apologize and did not mean to cause any harm.”

It’s unclear how long the suspension will last, but an email to Weigel seeking comment led to automatic reply that said he was out of the office and returning July 5.

Weigel’s retweet led to weekend-long turmoil at the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper. Another Washington Post reporter, Jose Del Real, admonished Sonmez for calling out Weigel publicly. That led to a back-and-forth between the two.

Sonmez was briefly suspended by the newspaper in January 2020 after she mentioned a rape allegation against NBA legend Kobe Bryant after he, his daughter and seven others died in a helicopter crash. She was reinstated after colleagues rallied to her defense.

She also sued the news organization last year claiming she was the victim of discrimination after the newspaper barred her from covering high-profile cases involving sexual misconduct, though a judge threw the case out in March. In 2018, Sonmez, who at the time was at the Wall Street Journal, alleged that a then-Los Angeles Times reporter, Jonathan Kaiman, 31, groped her and sexually assaulted her in Beijing.

The Washington Post barred Sonmez from covering sexual assault cases because the newspaper felt there was a conflict of interest.

June 3

 

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp during their marriage.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp during their marriage.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Amber Heard Verdict Was a Travesty. Others Will Follow, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 3, 2022 (print michelle goldberg thumbed.). The verdict in Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard is difficult to explain logically.

The confounding part isn’t that the jury sided with him over her; this is the country that elected Donald Trump, where the convicted domestic abuser Chris Brown is still a major pop star, and where a man in Indiana recently won a local Republican primary while in jail awaiting trial on charges of murdering his wife.

The explosion of defiant, desperate feminist energy that was #MeToo has now been smothered by an even fiercer reaction. #MeToo was a movement of women telling their stories. Now that Heard has been destroyed for identifying as a survivor, other women will think twice.

What’s baffling is that the jury ruled the way it did even though, in at least one instance, it appeared to believe Heard.

Yet that same jury ruled that Heard had defamed Depp when she described herself, in a Washington Post opinion essay, as a “public figure representing domestic abuse,” and awarded Depp more than $10 million.

Perhaps this contradictory verdict was a result of jury-room horse-trading; the finding for Heard could have been a sop to convince a few holdouts to get on board with a unanimous decision. But its meaning is clear: It might be impossible to dismiss all the evidence against Depp, but he’s still the more sympathetic figure.

The repercussions of this case will reach far beyond Heard. All victims of domestic or sexual abuse must now contend with the possibility that, should they decide to tell their story publicly, they could end up bankrupted by their abusers. Depp’s friend Marilyn Manson is already suing the actress Evan Rachel Wood, one of a number of women who have alleged sadistic abuse at his hands. He won’t be the last.

As the Daily Beast noted, few of the Hollywood figures who spoke up during the height of the #MeToo movement are showing any solidarity with Heard, a stance that would require a modicum of courage given the power of the #MeToo backlash and Depp’s evident popularity. She may well be ruined for good. One of the statements in her Washington Post essay that was deemed defamatory was, “I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.” The trial that she lost proved her point.

 

May

May 31

washington post logoWashington Post, Sexual misconduct report on Canadian military slams ‘deficient’ culture, Amanda Coletta, May 31, 2022 (print ed.). Sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian military should be exclusively investigated and prosecuted by civilian authorities, a blistering report from a former Supreme Court justice concluded Monday.

canadian flagThe government-commissioned report from Louise Arbour, who also served as the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, came during a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against top military leaders that have rocked the armed forces and eroded public trust.

“The exposure of sexual misconduct in the [Canadian Armed Forces] has shed light on a deeply deficient culture fostered by a rigid and outdated structure that did little to modernize it,” Arbour wrote in the report.

A danger of the military’s operating model, she wrote, is a “high likelihood that some of its members are more at risk of harm, on a day-to-day basis, from their comrades than from the enemy.” She said the crisis “has caused as much damage as defeat in combat would have to demoralize the troops and shock Canadians.”

Among the report’s 48 recommendations were calls for sexual harassment complaints to be turned over to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and for officials to explore whether there should be an alternative to military colleges, which Arbour wrote “appear as institutions from a different era.”

May 29

ny times logoNew York Times, The Fall of the ‘Sun King’ of French TV, and the Myth of Seduction, Norimitsu Onishi, May 29, 2022 (print ed.). Patrick Poivre d’Arvor has been accused by more than 20 women of rape, sexual assault and harassment in France’s belated #MeToo reckoning.

France’s most trusted anchorman for decades, he used to draw millions in an evening news program that some likened to a religious communion. In an earlier time, he embodied an ideal of the French male — at ease with himself, a TV journalist and man of letters, a husband and a father who was also, unabashedly, a great seducer of women.

Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, nicknamed the Sun King of French TV, seemed so confident of his reputation that last month he sued for defamation 16 women who had accused him of rape, sexual assault and harassment, saying that they were simply “jilted” and “bitter.”

Angered, nearly 20 women appeared together this month in a TV studio for Mediapart, France’s leading investigative news site, with some recounting rapes or assaults that lasted minutes, carried out with barely a few words.

May 27

Pro Publica, Alaska Charges Former Acting Attorney General With Sexual Abuse of a Minor, Kyle Hopkins (Anchorage Daily News), May 27, 2022. Ed Sniffen faces three counts of sexual abuse of a minor for having sex with a 17-year-old girl he coached in high school in 1991.

pro publica logoThis article was produced for ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network in partnership with the Anchorage Daily News. Sign up for Dispatches to get stories like this one as soon as they are published.

A special prosecutor has charged Alaska’s former acting attorney general with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor for having sex with a 17-year-old girl he coached on a high school mock trial team in May 1991.

The charges were filed Friday in Alaska state court in Anchorage against Clyde “Ed” Sniffen, who served as acting attorney general from August 2020 to January 2021. Gov. Mike Dunleavy asked the Department of Law to appoint an independent investigator to review the case after the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica first reported in January 2021 that a woman had accused Sniffen of sexual misconduct.

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Sniffen resigned as the newsrooms were preparing the article. In his resignation letter, Sniffen wrote that he had decided to step aside “after discussions with family, and for personal reasons.” Sniffen’s attorney declined comment and said he would not make his client available for an interview.

Dunleavy had appointed Sniffen as his permanent attorney general, subject to confirmation by the Legislature, days before his resignation. At that time, the governor said Sniffen “has a long and proven record of leadership within the Department of Law and I am proud to appoint him to serve as our state’s next Attorney General.”

Sniffen replaced former Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, who resigned after the Daily News and ProPublica reported he had sent hundreds of questionable texts to a female colleague. In his resignation letter, Clarkson wrote, “I regret that my actions and errors in judgment in interacting with a state employee have become a distraction to the good work and good people working in the state’s and your service.”

Nikki Dougherty White, now 48, told the news organizations that Sniffen first had sex with her during a mock trial team competition in New Orleans and continued their sexual relationship upon returning to Anchorage. Those allegations form the basis for the felony charges filed Friday.

White had come forward publicly for the first time after learning that Sniffen had been appointed attorney general.A Republican Tried to Introduce a Commonsense Gun Law. Then the Gun Lobby Got Involved.

May 26

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. won’t charge FBI agents accused of botching Larry Nassar case, Devlin Barrett, May 26, 2022. Two former FBI agents accused of mishandling sex-abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar (shown below in court with an attorney) will not be charged with a crime, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

larry nassar gymnastics plea

In a statement, officials said that after a “careful re-review of evidence,” the department “is adhering to its prior decision not to bring federal criminal charges,” adding: “This does not in any way reflect a view that the investigation of Nassar was handled as it should have been, nor in any way reflects approval or disregard of the conduct of the former agents.”

FBI logoJohn Manly, a lawyer for many of Nassar’s alleged victims, called the decision “incomprehensible” and said the FBI agents “violated their oaths of office and colluded in the cover up of the worst sexual assault scandal in the history of sports.” He said the timing of the announcement — shortly before a holiday weekend, and during coverage of a school shooting — “is one more cynical attempt by the [Justice Department] to cover up FBI complicity” in the Nassar scandal.

The decision marks the third time that federal prosecutors examined whether a senior FBI official and a case agent should be charged with lying about their work on the Nassar case. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco opened the review after several world-famous gymnasts in September gave tearful testimony to Congress, describing in horrifying detail the abuse they endured and their incredulity over the FBI’s decision not to further investigate Nassar after the allegations against him first surfaced.

Monaco, in announcing the review, said officials would look again at the issue because new evidence had surfaced. Though she did not specify what that evidence was, lawmakers have sharply criticized the Justice Department for not pursuing charges after the agency’s inspector general concluded a supervisory agent and his boss lied to internal investigators in a bid to cover up their failures.

It is rare for the Justice Department even to consider reopening a case that was closed without charges. One of the Nassar agents retired years ago and the other was fired last summer in the wake of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s scathing report, which found major missteps in the FBI’s handling of allegations against Nassar in 2015 that allowed him to victimize more patients before he was arrested by state authorities the following year.

In its statement, the Justice Department said it will “continue to learn from what occurred in this matter, and undertake efforts to keep victims at the center of our work and to ensure that they are heard, respected, and treated fairly throughout the process, as they deserve,” and said it wanted to work with Congress to address unspecified gaps in the law to “help prevent events like this from taking place in the future and hold perpetrators accountable.”

richard blumenthal portraitSens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), left, and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) called the decision “infuriating.” In a joint statement, they said: "FBI agents who knew of Larry Nassar’s abuse, did nothing, and then lied about it will face no legal consequences for their actions. Dozens of athletes would have been spared unimaginable abuse if these agents had just done their jobs. Their actions demand accountability.”

Simone Biles, below left, and three other high-profile gymnasts (Mykala Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, shown below left to right in a pool photo by Saul Loeb of AFP on Sept. 15, 2021) gave emotional testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last year about Nassar’s abuse and the FBI’s failure to act.

simone biles mykala maroney aly raisman maggie nichols saul loeb afp pool 9 15 21

More than 330 girls and women have come forward to say they were victimized by Nassar under the guise of medical treatments. He was ultimately convicted of state sex abuse and federal child-pornography charges, and is serving an effective life sentence in prison.

Northwest Florida Daily News, Gaetz family extortion attempt: Stephen Alford’s sentencing gets postponed for fifth time, Tom McLaughlin, May 26, 2022. Sentencing for Stephen Alford, an oft-convicted felon facing up to 20 years in federal prison for attempting to extort millions from the politically powerful family of Congressman Matt Gaetz, has been pushed back to Aug. 22.

Alford was arrested in August 2021 and charged with wire fraud and attempting to prevent seizure of an electronic device. He pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud on Nov. 21 of last year.

He was originally scheduled for sentencing Feb. 16. The date has been pushed back five times, most recently from June 1 to July 13 and then again to the August date.

Charging documents state Alford "falsely reported" to Don Gaetz, a former Florida Senate president and father of Matt Gaetz, that he could arrange a presidential pardon for the congressman in exchange for $25 million that he would use to free a former CIA agent held hostage by the Iranian government.

Alford pleads guilty:Man accused of attempting to extort millions from Gaetz family pleads guilty to wire fraud

Latest on the congressman:Gaetz called abortion rights protestors 'over-educated, under-loved.' His opponents responded.

"He would get that pardon" the congressman might need to avoid being federally indicted on sex trafficking charges, charging documents said.

matt gaetz officialMatt Gaetz, right, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, has been under federal investigation for more than a year based on allegations he had sex with a 17-year-old girl. Gaetz is also reportedly being looked at for obstruction of justice and having dealings with other women who received drugs and/or money in violation of prostitution and sex trafficking laws.

Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector and Gaetz associate, has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking in the case and is said to be cooperating with prosecutors in the Gaetz investigation.

No charges have been filed against Gaetz, and he points to Alford's attempt to extort money from his family as evidence the allegations against him are baseless.

ny times logoNew York Times, Kevin Spacey Faces Sexual Assault Charges in Britain, Alex Marshall and Julia Jacobs, May 26, 2022. Mr. Spacey, 62, faces four counts of sexual assault against three men. He cannot be formally charged unless he enters England or Wales.

kevin spaceyThe British authorities are bringing criminal charges against Kevin Spacey, right, on four counts of sexual assault against three men, the country’s Crown Prosecution Service announced in a news release on Thursday.

Rosemary Ainslie, head of the service’s special crime division, said in the release that Mr. Spacey, 62, had “also been charged with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.”

The authorization of charges followed a review of the evidence collected by London’s police force. Mr. Spacey cannot be formally charged unless he enters England or Wales, a spokesman for the service said in a telephone interview. The spokesman declined to comment on whether the service would pursue extradition proceedings if that did not occur.

The news release said the charges concerned three complainants. The incidents dated from March 2005, August 2008 and April 2013, it added — a time when Mr. Spacey was artistic director of the Old Vic theater in London. All the incidents occurred in London, except one from 2013, which occurred in Gloucestershire, England.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ Writer Is Convicted of Murdering Husband, Mike Baker, May 26, 2022 (print ed.). Nancy Brophy, a 71-year-old romance novelist, was accused in the shooting death of her husband. She said prosecutors had sketched a flawed plotline.

A romance novelist who wrote about “How to Murder Your Husband” was convicted in her husband’s killing on Wednesday following a contentious trial in which prosecutors leaned on a “puzzle” of circumstantial evidence to portray the author as a duplicitous spouse who spent months quietly plotting the perfect crime.

Nancy Brophy, 71, stood quietly, a pandemic mask covering her nose and mouth, as the verdict was handed down, seven weeks after the trial began in Portland, Ore.

Prosecutors had built their case with evidence showing that Ms. Brophy had acquired gun pieces in the months before the killing of her husband, Daniel Brophy, including one extra component that prosecutors said could ensure that the bullets used in the shooting would not be traced back to her gun. Prosecutors contended that Ms. Brophy shot her husband in his workplace, where there would be no cameras or witnesses, then moved to collect on lucrative life insurance policies in the days that followed.

“She had the plan in place,” Shawn Overstreet, a deputy district attorney, said in closing arguments this week. “She had the opportunity to carry out this murder. She was the only person who had the motive.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Josh Duggar Sentenced to 12 Years for Downloading Images of Child Sex Abuse, Alyssa Lukpat, May 26, 2022 (print ed.). Josh Duggar, a onetime star of the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” about a large family guided by conservative Christian values, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on Wednesday for downloading child sexual abuse imagery.

The sentencing, in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville, Ark., concluded Mr. Duggar’s downfall from the eldest sibling on one of the most popular cable reality shows to a convicted criminal, capping a reversal that began with his arrest in April 2021.

Prosecutors said that, in May 2019, Mr. Duggar installed a password-protected partition on the hard drive of his desktop computer at his used-car lot in Springdale, Ark., to avoid software that detects explicit images of children.

Mr. Duggar, 34, who is married with seven children, downloaded around 600 photographs and seven videos of violent child sexual abuse, according to a sentencing memorandum filed this month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas.

He was caught after a Little Rock police detective found an I.P. address that had been sharing child sexual abuse material, according to a memorandum opinion filed by Judge Timothy L. Brooks in August 2021. The detective sent the information to an agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who later tracked the I.P. address to Mr. Duggar, Judge Brooks wrote.

From 2008 to 2015, Mr. Duggar and his siblings starred with their parents in “19 Kids and Counting,” a reality show following the family’s life in Arkansas. TLC canceled the show after In Touch Weekly reported on a 2006 police report that said Mr. Duggar had molested several girls when he was a teenager.

Representatives for Discovery, the company that owns TLC, did not immediately return emails or phone calls on Wednesday.

Mr. Duggar was not charged in connection with those earlier allegations, for which the statute of limitations had passed. Mr. Duggar’s parents told Fox News in 2015 that four of the five girls he molested were his sisters.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Amber Heard Describes Impact of Online Attacks: ‘I’m a Human Being,’ Julia Jacobs, May 26, 2022. Ms. Heard, who is being sued by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, for defamation, said the mockery of her previous testimony on social media had been “agonizing.”

One day before the jury is expected to start deliberating on the defamation case between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, Ms. Heard took the stand on Thursday to address what she described as the persistent harassment and mockery of her abuse accusations against Mr. Depp, her ex-husband.

“I am harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day,” Ms. Heard said. “People want to kill me and they tell me so every day.”

Ms. Heard, 36, and Mr. Depp, 58, have filed dueling defamation lawsuits claiming that false statements about their relationship have ruined their reputations and hindered their careers. Ms. Heard spoke about harassment in the aftermath of statements calling her accusations a hoax, made by a lawyer representing Mr. Depp at the time, which are at the center of her legal claim.

She also spoke about harassment she has experienced during the trial itself — which has been televised and livestreamed — calling the online ridicule of her testimony “agonizing” and saying she had gotten thousands of death threats since the trial began.

ny times logoNew York Times, Her Tennis Coach Abused Her. Could the Sport Have Prevented It? Matthew Futterman, May 26, 2022 (print ed.). Adrienne Jensen does not know Pam Shriver, the 22-time Grand Slam doubles champion, but both say tennis needs to change its approach toward predatory coaches.

The grooming of Adrienne Jensen began with an invitation to train with a top junior tennis coach at a well-regarded tennis academy in suburban Kansas City in 2009.

To Jensen, then a promising teenage player from Iowa City who had struggled to find elite training, the offer felt like the ultimate good fortune, even if accepting it meant upending her family’s life.

Early on that fall, Jensen’s gamble seemed to be paying off as she trained with the coach, Rex Haultain, and played deeper into increasingly competitive tournaments.

“I felt like he was my ticket,” Jensen, now 27 and about to begin a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, said in a recent interview.

May 25

 

southern baptist convention logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Key takeaways from the bombshell sex abuse report by Southern Baptists, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, May 25, 2022 (print ed.). Southern Baptist leaders for decades both ignored and covered up sex abuse allegations while claiming to have little power to address them, a shocking third-party investigation released Sunday found.

The nearly 300-page report included confidential emails and memos between longtime lawyers for the 13-million member denomination and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention’s administrative arm. The product of an eight-month probe requested by Southern Baptists at their annual meeting in Nashville in 2021, it includes several key takeaways.

Southern Baptist leaders covered up sex abuse, kept secret database, report says

1. Top leaders repeatedly tried to bury sex abuse claims and lied about what they could do

The report describes how key Southern Baptist leaders engaged in a pattern of ignoring, stonewalling and even “vilifying” sex abuse survivors. The report details multiple instances when Southern Baptist leaders shot down requests by survivors and other concerned members to maintain a database of abusers. Publicly, the leaders said they couldn’t because of “church polity,” or the denomination’s decentralized structure. But the report found that their attorneys had advised them that they could keep such a list and that the leaders did so in secret.

The most recent list of sex abusers prepared by a staff member contained the names of 703 alleged abusers, with 409 believed to be SBC affiliated at some point, according to the report. Guidepost, the firm that conducted the investigation, found that nine people who were accused are still in ministry, two of whom are still associated with an SBC church. Despite collecting these reports for more than 10 years, the report said, “there is no indication leaders took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Southern Baptists to Release List of Ministers Accused of Sexual Abuse, Ruth Graham, May 25, 2022 (print ed.). The existence of the secretly maintained list was revealed in a bombshell report on the denomination’s handling of sexual abuse over the past two decades.

southern baptist convention logo 2One of the report’s most shocking revelations was the existence of an internal list of 703 people suspected of abuse, compiled by an employee of the denomination’s executive committee, its national leadership body.

According to the report, an executive committee staff member compiled and maintained the list over the course of a decade and shared it with D. August Boto, the committee’s former vice president and general counsel. Mr. Boto and the staff member both retired in 2019. Mr. Boto could not be reached immediately for comment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Abortion Questions for Justice Alito and His Supreme Court Allies, Linda Greenhouse (shown at right on the cover of her memoir), May 25, 2022. Ms. linda greenhouse cover just a journalistGreenhouse, the winner of a 1998 Pulitzer Prize, reported on the Supreme Court for The Times from 1978 to 2008 and was a contributing Opinion writer from 2009 to 2021.

Now that the Oklahoma State Legislature has voted to ban abortion from the moment of conception, I have a few questions for Justice Samuel Alito and any others who would join him in overturning Roe v. Wade:

What is your reaction to the news from Oklahoma? The State Legislature gave final approval last Thursday to a bill that would prohibit nearly all abortions, starting at fertilization. It now awaits the signature of the governor, who has pledged to make Oklahoma “the most pro-life state in the country.”

I suppose we’ll be able to infer the answers to my questions once Justice Alito’s leaked draft opinion in the Mississippi abortion case is tidied up and properly released.

If Justice Alito and his allies care to look, they will see a future in which American women, traveling to states where abortions are still readily available, are pursued by vigilantes seeking bounties.

Justice Alito likes to invoke history — although many of the historical references in his draft opinion were misleading or downright bizarre. Has he ever heard, for instance, of the Fugitive Slave Act?

I hope my law school friends and colleagues will forgive me, but I am tired of talking about the right to abortion in terms of constitutional doctrine. I have spent years, as they have, in urgent conversation about due process and undue burdens, extrapolating from the opacities of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that against all odds reaffirmed the essence of Roe v. Wade, thanks to three Republican-appointed justices who were supposed to do the opposite.

It hasn’t worked. The current Supreme Court majority will do what it will do, which is to say what it was put there to do.

The message of the Alito draft is that the age of constitutional argument is over. There’s a case to be made that it died a long time ago, but in any event, here is my final question to the justices: What, other than raw power, will take its place?

May 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The report on Southern Baptist abuses is a portrait of misogynist evil, Michael Gerson, right, syndicated columnist and former chief speechwriter for GOP President George W. Bush, May 24, 2022 (print ed.). michael gerson file photoIn nearly 300 pages, a third-party investigator has produced the Warren Commission report, the 9/11 Commission report, of Southern Baptist Christianity. And the scale of malfeasance is truly shocking.

Southern Baptist leaders covered up sex abuse, kept secret database, report says

At issue is sexual predation by Southern Baptist pastors and the further abuse of victims by indifferent and hostile church officials. According to the “Report of the Independent Investigation,” credible accusations of sexual abuse that came to Southern Baptist leaders were routinely ignored to avoid legal liability or were referred back to unprepared local congregations.

southern baptist convention logo 2Survivors’ calls and emails, the report asserts, were “met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility.” When victims organized to draw attention to their suffering, some church officials treated them as instruments of Satan, intent on distracting the church from its real mission of evangelism.

The main responses of the SBC, described in the report, have been to minimize allegations and undermine victims. Some Executive Committee members have referred to survivors as “Potiphar’s wife” — a biblical character who makes a false accusation of rape.

This is not Christianity. It is a culture of brutal chauvinism that has grown up for generations around Christianity. When it comes to protecting abusers, the largest American Protestant denomination is in the same vile category as the Catholic Church. An utter failure to prioritize abused women and children is the largest crisis of institutional religion in the United States.

The Southern Baptist Convention must have realized it was dealing with highly explosive information. For years, it denied keeping a list of abusers. That turned out to be a lie. By August 2018, staff at the Executive Committee had a file of 585 possible abusers. But the purpose of that internal list was institutional self-protection from lawsuits.

There is a warning here for any organization — what might be called the irony of institutional identity. When the primary mission of an institution is to defend itself, it is at grave risk of losing itself. Self-serving moral compromises come easier and easier. The Nixon White House believed that saving the United States required saving its administration through increasingly bold criminality. The Catholic Church believed that its holy mission required the burial of grave crimes against the innocent.

 

amber heard 5 5 2022 trial

washington post logoWashington Post, Depp-Heard trial returns to the much-discussed severed finger, Emily Yahr, May 24, 2022. Defense testimony continues as the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, shown above in a pool photo, enters its sixth week.

May 22

southern baptist convention logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Southern Baptist leaders covered up sex abuse, lied about secret database, report says, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, May 22, 2022. The findings shine a light on how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. Among the findings was a previously unknown case of a pastor who was credibly accused of assaulting a woman a month after leaving the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention on Sunday released a major third-party investigation that found that sex abuse survivors were often ignored, minimized and “even vilified” by top clergy in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The findings of nearly 300 pages include shocking new details about specific abuse cases and shine a light on how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. They also lied to Southern Baptists over whether they could maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse when top leaders were secretly keeping a private list for years.

The report — the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC — is expected to send shock waves into a conservative Christian community that has had intense internal battles over how to handle sex abuse. The 13 million-member denomination, along with other religious institutions in the United States, has struggled with declining membership for the past 15 years. Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Bapitists was small.

The investigation finds that for almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention’s administrative arm to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff members.

The report, compiled by an organization called Guidepost Solutions at the request of Southern Baptists, states that abuse survivors’ calls and emails were “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility” by leaders who were concerned more with protecting the institution from liability than from protecting Southern Baptists from further abuse.

May 21

 amber heard leaves stand

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Humiliation of Amber Heard Is Both Modern and Medieval, Jessica Bennett (professor of journalism at New York University), May 22, 2022 (print ed.). There was a moment in a Virginia courtroom this month when the actress Amber Heard (shown above) paused mid-sniffle on the stand. She was testifying about abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her movie star ex-husband, Johnny Depp, when she wiped her nose with a tissue — then seemed to freeze as her face was illuminated by a flash, as if she were instinctively posing for a photo.

It was a split second that probably would have gone unnoticed under normal circumstances, except that nothing about this trial is normal, starting with the fact that it is being broadcast live online like a spectator sport. So whether this was a glitch in the livestream or an actual pose, or just a thing that looked to be something it wasn’t, it didn’t really matter, because the moment was isolated and freeze-framed and shared, which meant that it was internet-real.

“Had to make the fake crying seem more believable,” a commenter said on Instagram.

“This woman should be in jail,” said another.

That seems to be the public consensus as it pertains to Ms. Heard, at least on social media — that everything she does is scripted, conniving, manipulative. Mr. Depp, meanwhile, seems to have so far successfully played the part of quirky, misunderstood romantic who is wrongfully accused.

While much of the circus surrounding the Depp-Heard trial feels entirely of this moment — a livestream that regularly draws half a million viewers, the rhetoric around “believing women,” the sheer power of Mr. Depp’s fans to shape the narrative —in many ways what we are witnessing is a story as old as time.

Whatever you think of Ms. Heard’s actions, or whether you choose to believe her, this is a good old-fashioned public pillorying — only memes have replaced the stones.

Legally speaking, the case between Ms. Heard, 36, and Mr. Depp, 58, that has been playing out in a courtroom for five weeks is a defamation case. In 2018, during the height of the #MeToo movement, Ms. Heard — then nearly two years divorced from Mr. Depp — wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in which she called herself a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” That article did not name Mr. Depp, but his lawyers say the implication was clear — and that their client lost lucrative acting roles, including in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Mr. Depp is seeking $50 million in damages. Ms. Heard is countersuing him for double that amount, also claiming defamation, because his lawyer called her allegations a “hoax.”

There’s something almost pornographic about the voyeurism involved, with a kink for every predilection: fame, beauty, drugs, extreme wealth, a private island, five penthouse apartments, fecal matter left on a marital bed, bloody messages written on walls, even an appearance by the moment’s most controversial man, the billionaire Elon Musk, whom Ms. Heard dated briefly.

All of this, of course, is taking place against the backdrop of the very particular cultural moment we are living through, in which a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion on abortion invokes a 17th-century British jurist, Sir Matthew Hale, who presided over actual witch trials, and some of the most prominent #MeToo cases are in various states of disarray.

May 18

 amber heard leaves stand

washington post logoWashington Post, Depp attorney tries to discredit Heard as cross-examination concludes, Travis M. Andrews, May 18, 2022 (print ed.). Cross-examination of Amber Heard, above, by one of Johnny Depp’s attorneys concluded Tuesday afternoon in Fairfax County in the bitter defamation trial between the film celebrities. Depp attorney Camille Vasquez’s rapid-fire questions sought to discredit Heard’s testimony and continuously categorized her as abusive toward her ex-husband during their tumultuous relationship and marriage.

Depp sued Heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed she published in The Washington Post, which alleged domestic abuse from an unnamed person. He claims the piece has ruined his reputation and his career and contends that he never physically or sexually abused Heard. She countersued him for $100 million after his lawyers said her allegations were false. (The Post is not a defendant in the lawsuit.)

Vasquez presented the jury with a knife Heard gave Depp for his birthday engraved with the phrase “till death” in Spanish. “This is the knife you gave to the man who would get drunk and violent with you,” Vasquez said.

“I wasn’t worried he was going to stab me with it,” Heard said.

As she would throughout her cross-examination questions Tuesday, Vasquez then quickly pivoted, bringing up another, unrelated incident. She questioned Heard’s testimony concerning a particularly brutal incident she alleged took place in Australia, in which she claims she was sexually assaulted with a liquor bottle and the tip of Depp’s finger was severed. Depp alleges Heard cut his finger by throwing a vodka bottle at him, while the defense suggests Depp injured himself.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Amber Heard and the Death of #MeToo, Michelle Goldberg, right, May 18, 2022. There are ambiguities in the sordid conflict michelle goldberg thumbbetween the divorced actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, but some things are clear.

Depp texted a friend that he wanted to kill Heard and then have sex with “her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead.” There is a video of Depp smashing kitchen cabinets while Heard tries to calm him, saying, at one point, “All I did was say ‘sorry’!” In an audio recording, she tells him to go put his “cigarettes out on someone else,” and he responded, “Shut up, fat ass.”

In 2018, The Sun, a British newspaper, called Depp a “wife beater,” and he sued for libel. Proving libel is much easier in Britain than in the United States, because there the burden of proof rests with the defendant. Depp lost his case. A judge, evaluating 14 incidents of Depp’s alleged abuse of Heard, found that 12 of them had occurred and concluded that The Sun’s words were “substantially true.”

Now Depp is suing Heard in Virginia for $50 million, saying that she defamed him when she described herself, in a Washington Post opinion essay that didn’t mention Depp, as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” His case seems absurd, since even if he were entirely innocent, the British verdict was well known, and Heard was referring to what she symbolized, not what she allegedly endured. (She is countersuing for $100 million.)

May 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Women settle lawsuit against Liberty University, Tara Bahrampour, May 16, 2022 (print ed.). Twelve women had accused Liberty University of fostering an unsafe environment and mishandling sexual assault and harassment cases.

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed in federal court last summer against Liberty University by 12 women who accused the Christian institution of fostering an unsafe environment and mishandling sexual assault and harassment cases.

liberty university sealA notice of dismissal filed Wednesday by a lawyer for the plaintiffs and a statement by Liberty on Thursday said the case had been settled but did not provide details of the terms.

The women, former students and employees at the university in Lynchburg, Va., filed suit anonymously and were identified as Jane Doe 1-12. Their allegations, which spanned more than two decades, included descriptions of being raped or sexually harassed and having their cases mishandled or effectively ignored. One woman alleged pregnancy discrimination.

The evangelical university’s statement outlined recent changes it has undertaken to improve campus security and review its response to incidents of sexual harassment or violence. Liberty is facing other lawsuits with similar allegations. It recently acknowledged that the U.S. Education Department is reviewing its compliance with the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to maintain and disclose crime statistics and security information.

May 12

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: WMR, It was the Republicans who "groomed" underage teens for sex and WMR exposed it, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen, left, author of 21 books, syndicated columnist and former Navy intelligence officer and special temporary FBI agent investigating sex trafficking in the military, May 12-13, 2022. Grooming Old Pederasts has been a thing in the Republican Party for over four decades.

wayne madesen report logoRepublicans across the country have been making spurious charges that Democrats are "grooming" students for LGBTQ lifestyles as part of public school curricula, selection of library book reading lists, or what teachers say in passing remarks to their students.

Such unfounded grooming charges have resulted in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis enacting a "Don't Say Gay" law, the result of which has resulted in sanctions by Florida against Disney World, which opposes the new law. Similar laws are being considered in other states, including Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, and Ohio.

It is not Democrats who have groomed underage teens for sex. That distinction belongs to top Republican members of Congress. It was Republicans who invented equine terms like grooming and stabling for sexually preying on underage teens.

As WMR reported in 2006, it was a network of Republicans in the U.S. Congress who groomed male staffers by "stabling" them in Republican Senate offices for later assignment as pages for Republican members of the House. Such House Republicans included the then-Speaker, Dennis Hastert, who was later convicted on federal charges of making structured bank withdrawals to pay hush money to a high school student he molested.

As Speaker, Hastert was aware for eleven months that Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) was sending inappropriate messages regarding masturbation and erections to underage male pages for 11 months but refrained from taking any action.

 

First-term Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorne, who represents Western North Carolina and professes an ultra-conservative family-values brand of politics, is shown above wearing women's undergarments in one of several recently disclosed unflattering if not scandalous news accounts afflicting him after he complained publicly about alleged drug and sex orgies involving unnamed older political colleagues. He has described the above photos as a harmless prank on a cruise.

First-term Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorne, who represents Western North Carolina and professes an ultra-conservative family-values brand of politics, is shown above wearing women's undergarments in one of several recently disclosed unflattering if not scandalous news accounts afflicting him after he complained publicly about alleged drug and sex orgies involving unnamed older political colleagues. He has described the above photos as a harmless prank undertaken while on a cruise. Also released have been sex-oriented tapes, one with graphic nudity, each involving another man, including one of his House staffers

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside the Republican campaign to take down Madison Cawthorn, Isaac Arnsdorf, May 11, 2022 (print ed.). The freshman congressman picked a fight with top GOP leaders in his state. They gave it to him.

Last November, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) texted his state’s junior senator, Thom Tillis, about a tweet from the senator’s wife. Cawthorn had just announced that he was planning to switch districts, and Susan Tillis took to Twitter to criticize the move.

“Why is your wife attacking me on Twitter?” the House freshman demanded in his text exchange obtained by The Washington Post.

The senator replied that he hadn’t seen his wife’s tweet, but suggested Cawthorn didn’t need to look far for a possible reason.

“Just spit ballin here,” Tillis wrote, “but maybe because you’ve attacked her husband?”

“I don’t feel like I’ve attacked you that much,” Cawthorn replied. “I think I’ve said I don’t think your conservative enough, did not realize that made us enemies.”

In fact, Tillis isn’t the only powerful enemy Cawthorn has made in his own party. The 26-year-old congressman has, in his few years in politics, sparked public outrage with his support for former president Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, inflammatory speeches, repeated driving and gun infractions, and even a nude video. But his falling-out with top Republicans in North Carolina and Washington also arose from more humdrum blunders such as neglecting constituent services and insulting party elders, according to GOP officials and operatives in the state.

Now, those Republican enemies are openly lining up to take him down.

May 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Celebrity chef Mario Batali found not guilty of sexual assault in Boston trial, Tim Carman, May 11, 2022 (print ed.). Mario Batali was found not guilty on Tuesday of charges of indecent sexual assault and battery following a two-day trial in which the celebrity chef never took the witness stand in his own defense.

mario batali book simple mealsThe case against Batali, 61, was a #MeToo landmark: the first time a chef accused of sexual misconduct faced criminal charges in court. On Monday, the first day of the trial, Batali, shown at left on the cover of one of his cookbooks, waived his right to a jury trial, opting to leave his fate in the hands of Judge James Stanton, who on Tuesday said that evidence showed the accuser was motivated by financial gain.

Mario Batali’s accuser details alleged assault as his trial begins

The case hinged almost exclusively on the testimony of Natali Tene and the selfie photos she took with Batali on April 1, 2017, at a restaurant in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, not far from Eataly, an Italian marketplace that counted Batali among its owners.

“It’s an understatement to say that Mr. Batali did not cover himself in glory on the night in question,” Stanton said in announcing his ruling. “His conduct, his appearance and his demeanor were not befitting a public person of his stature at that time.”

But Stanton said it is the court’s job to determine how much weight to give to the testimony of witnesses. “The complaining witness has significant credibility issues,” he said. “The issues were highlighted in her testimony.”

On Monday, Tene testified that, while dining at Towne Stove and Spirits, she was caught trying to take a furtive photo of the chef who, before the #MeToo era, was a multimedia star. He wrote cookbooks, appeared on daytime television, was a regular on “Iron Chef America,” had his own cookware and was known virtually everywhere he went for his iconic footwear: orange Crocs.

After Batali motioned her over to his bar stool, Tene testified, she was prepared to apologize for snapping his picture without permission and even ready to delete it. But Batali, she said, encouraged her to take selfies with him. Off and on, over the course of three minutes or so, she testified, she snapped photos and short videos with Batali, who remained seated while she stood next to him.

May 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Mario Batali Goes on Trial in Sexual Misconduct Case, Kim Severson, May 9, 2022. Proceedings began Monday in Boston for the celebrity chef on charges that he groped a young woman in a bar.

Mario Batali, once considered the best-known celebrity chef in the United States, went on trial Monday in Boston on charges of indecent battery and assault connected to what began as a selfie session in a Boston bar in 2017.

Several prominent chefs and restaurateurs have been accused of sexual harassment and abuse since the #MeToo movement spread into the world of restaurants and hospitality in the fall of 2017, but Mr. Batali is the only one who has faced criminal charges.

If convicted, he could face up to two and a half years in the Suffolk County House of Correction and be required to register as a sex offender.

Jury selection had been scheduled to begin on Monday, but in the morning Mr. Batali told Judge James Stanton that he would waive his right to a jury trial and instead leave the verdict to the judge, The Boston Globe reported. Testimony was underway by midmorning.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Pamela Anderson, Amber Heard and the Limits of the Feminist Redemption Plot, Jessica Bennett, May 9, 2022. To look the part of Pamela Anderson in “Pam & Tommy,” the Hulu series, the actress Lily James sat through four hours of makeup each day and reportedly went through 50 pairs of 34DD prosthetic breasts, which had to be switched out repeatedly during filming and were at times so sweaty, they almost fell off.

The series recounts the whirlwind marriage of Ms. Anderson and her ex, the Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and centers on the honeymoon sex tape that was stolen from their home and distributed to the masses. But this retelling of their story, created without their involvement, purports to be the empowering version of events — an attempt to depict Ms. Anderson’s struggle in the aftermath and “provoke a conversation about how we treat women,” as Ms. James has put it.

So if the camera seems a little too interested in lingering on those prosthetic breasts? Don’t worry — this is feminist art.

And it’s the kind of art that seems to be everywhere in Hollywood these days, part of a slate of projects that aim to “reclaim,” “redeem,” “reframe” and “reconsider” famous, beautiful, usually white and always misunderstood women from our semirecent pasts, who were at one point vilified, usually over something sexual in nature. As the logic (and marketing language) tends to go, by retelling (and consuming!) these women’s hardships through the more enlightened lens of today, we are helping women reclaim their power.

“Pam & Tommy” is not the most recent example of this genre, though it is perhaps the most controversial — in part because Ms. Anderson wanted nothing to do with it. But by the time it was announced, in 2018, there was a whole host of other successful projects like it: a biopic and documentary about Anita Hill, recounting her treatment in her sexual harassment claim against Clarence Thomas; “I, Tonya,” about the figure skater Tonya Harding, now treated as more complex than just a low-class villain; and “Lorena,” about Lorena Bobbitt, who today goes by Lorena Gallo and who we now see was not merely the woman who chopped off her husband’s penis but also a victim of domestic abuse.

monica lewinskyWe owe some of this redemption framework to Monica Lewinsky, right, of course, whose affair with the president was the backdrop to my teen years and whose return to the public eye I arguably helped facilitate once I was old enough to recognize its complexity. I wrote about Ms. Lewinsky in 2015, shortly before she delivered a TED Talk on public humiliation, and then again last year, when she became the subject of the FX series “Impeachment.”

So I am not immune to the appeal of this redemption arc. And yet …

At what point does the fictional depiction of that spectacle, and our viewing of it, become just as bad as watching it in the first place?

There are enough tales of wronged women in history that we could keep telling these stories forever. But are we really any better off today for having heard so many of them?

May 5

andrew wilhoite nikki wilhoiteMediaite, Republican Candidate Charged with Murdering Cancer-Stricken Wife Wins Primary from Jail, Michael Luciano, May 5, 2022. Andrew Wilhoite won a Republican primary in Indiana on Tuesday night after being arrested in the murder of his wife Nikki Wilhoite, who had just finished her last round of chemotherapy. They are shown above.

In March, police said the couple had a heated argument that ended with Andrew hitting Nikki in the head “with a blunt object” before dumping her in a creek. Her body was discovered in the early hours of March 26, partially submerged.

“She just finished chemo and stuff,” a neighbor told WXIN of the late 41-year-old. “She was trying to get well and for him to do something like that to her it’s not right.”

Andrew Wilhoite, 40, received 60 votes and will appear on November ballot for the Clinton Township Board. There were two other winners in the primary to fill the three available seats. He will remain in jail until his trial – at the very least. A trial date has not been set.

“There is no legal reason he can’t be a candidate,” an Indiana election official told the Tribune Star. “Under our system you are innocent until you are proven guilty. If a person is convicted of a felony, then they are no longer eligible to be a candidate and are ineligible to hold office.”

WXIN reported that Nikki had filed for divorce a day before her last chemotherapy treatment.

Andrew said that Nikki attacked him during their argument and that he swung at her face “with a gallon-sized concrete flower pot.”

 

amber heard 5 5 2022 trial

ny times logoNew York Times, Amber Heard Testifies About a ‘Pattern’ of Violence by Johnny Depp, Julia Jacobs, May 5, 2022 (print ed.). Ms. Heard, shown above, took the stand for the first time in the defamation case filed against her by her ex-husband, who says he was damaged by an op-ed she wrote.

Amber Heard, an actress defending herself against a defamation lawsuit filed by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, took the stand on Wednesday, recalling how a whirlwind romance that started on a movie set descended into a “pattern” of violence perpetrated against her by the actor.

The couple first got to know each other in 2009 on the set of “The Rum Diary,” a movie that Mr. Depp produced and starred in, and they fell in love on the movie’s press tour, Ms. Heard testified. But by 2012, she said, Mr. Depp was repeatedly accusing her of infidelity and his anger would often escalate to physical attacks, despite her denials.

“He would explode,” Ms. Heard said, recounting how Mr. Depp would punch walls next to her head, shove her to the ground and slap her repetitively.

Ms. Heard often grew emotional during her testimony as she explained the physical confrontations in graphic terms, at times appearing chagrined as she gave reasons for staying in the relationship despite her misgivings.

May 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Education Department probes Liberty University amid assault claims, Susan Svrluga, May 4, 2022. The private university has faced complaints about its handling of sexual assault reports.

Federal officials are looking into Liberty University, school officials acknowledged recently, in the wake of complaints about how the school handles reports of sexual assault.

“Liberty University welcomes the U.S. Department of Education’s review of our Clery Act compliance program,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “We have pledged our full cooperation and look forward to the opportunity to strengthen and enhance our program through this assessment process. We have also committed to work collaboratively with the Department to address any potential compliance gaps identified through the review.”

liberty university sealThe federal law is intended to provide timely information about campus safety, mandating that colleges participating in federal financial aid programs disclose crime statistics and other information about security on campus.

The inquiry was first reported by ProPublica.

A spokesman for the Education Department said the agency “does not comment on institutional oversight activities, program reviews, or investigations — including the acknowledgment that they exist — until the outcome officially has been communicated to the institution.”

The university has faced complaints in recent months over its handling of sexual assault allegations. Last summer, 12 women filed suit against Liberty, claiming the school failed to help them after they reported sexual assaults or sexual misconduct.

A ProPublica story in October about women’s experiences at the private university in Virginia amplified concerns.

Last week, a former student sued the university, alleging that the university failed to investigate her claim of rape and retaliated against her for reporting it — and that the university’s student code of conduct leads victims of sexual assault to worry that they will get in trouble for breaking campus rules if they report an attack. The lawsuit claims the university violated federal Title IX law prohibiting discrimination based on sex at schools that receive federal funding.

May 1

 

madison cawthorn resized hunting amazon

ny times logoNew York Times, Pressure Mounts on Madison Cawthorn as Scandals Pile Up, Jonathan Weisman and Annie Karni, May 1, 2022 (print ed.). The North Carolina representative, once a young star in the conservative firmament, finds himself besieged by accusations.

Besieged by multiplying scandals and salacious accusations, Representative Madison Cawthorn, Republican of North Carolina, is under mounting pressure from both parties to end his short career in Congress.

In rapid succession, Mr. Cawthorn, who entered Congress as a rising star of the party’s far right, has been accused of falsely suggesting that his Republican colleagues routinely throw cocaine-fueled orgies, insider trading and an inappropriate relationship with a male aide. This week, he was detained at an airport, where police said he tried to bring a loaded handgun onto an airplane, the second time he has attempted that.

That came just days after pictures surfaced of him wearing women’s lingerie as part of a cruise ship game, imagery that might not go over well in the conservative stretches of his Western North Carolina district. And last month he was charged with driving with a revoked license for the second time since 2017.

The deluge of revelations and charges have left him on an island even within his own party. A political group supporting Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, has been pouring money into an ad campaign accusing Mr. Cawthorn of being a fame-seeking liar. The group is supporting the campaign of a more mainstream Republican, State Senator Chuck Edwards, who is running against Mr. Cawthorn. And the far-right, anti-establishment wing of the party now views the first-term congressman with similar skepticism, as someone who is falsely selling himself as a gatekeeper in his state to former President Donald J. Trump.

 

April

April 30

ny times logoNew York Times, How ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Took On Murder and the Mormon Church, Austin Considine, April 30, 2022 (print ed.). A new FX mini-series adapts the investigative book by Jon Krakauer. He and the creator, Dustin Lance Black, talked about their efforts to get at the truth.

Dustin Lance Black still gets emotional when he talks about the time he left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, around three decades ago. It was hard, he said, because he loved the church. But his Mormon father had run off to marry his own first cousin, leaving behind a wife and three children. And when his stepfather became physically violent, local church leaders circled the wagons and told his mother, who was paralyzed from polio, to leave the police out of it.

So he had questions. And eventually, doubts.

He also still recalls when he first read Under the Banner of Heaven (2003), a book of investigative journalism by Jon Krakauer that is now the basis of an FX mini-series on Hulu, which Black created. Black had come out as gay by then and was trying to make it as a young screenwriter. “Banner” shined a clarifying light into corners of church practice and history that had always been hidden to him.

“It felt so true to me and then had all of these layers that I hadn’t yet examined about my childhood faith — my family’s faith still — and how I had grown up in it,” Black, 47, said in a three-way video call earlier this month. “It was formative for me.”

Krakauer, who was also on the call, had just seen the first several episodes of Black’s series, which debuts on Thursday. His knowledge of Black’s script was minimal; he had no official role in the series. He could tell, he said, that the show’s depictions of how church leaders encouraged women to stay in abusive relationships was rooted in experience.

April 29

ap logoAssociated Press via The Hill, Former Idaho lawmaker found guilty of raping intern, Rebecca Boone, April 29, 2022. A former Idaho lawmaker was convicted Friday of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dramatic trial in which the young woman fled the witness stand during testimony, saying “I can’t do this.”

The intern told a Statehouse supervisor that Aaron von Ehlinger raped her at his apartment after the two had dinner at a Boise restaurant in March 2021. Von Ehlinger said the sex was consensual.

republican elephant logoAt the time, the Lewiston Republican was serving as a state representative, but he later resigned.

Von Ehlinger, 39, was found guilty Friday of rape. He was found not guilty of sexual penetration with a foreign object.

Von Ehlinger sat calmly as the verdict was read, as he has throughout the trial.

Afterward, 4th District Judge Michael Reardon told the jury: “This has been an unusual case attended by many unexpected circumstances, but I appreciate your attention … and hard work.”

A felony rape conviction carries a minimum sentence of one year in prison in Idaho. The maximum penalty can be as high as life in prison, at the judge’s discretion. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 28.

As von Ehlinger was remanded into custody and handcuffed, he talked quietly with his attorney who removed items from von Ehlinger’s pockets.

The prosecution remained stoic as they left the courtroom, but once they reached a lower floor they stopped to briefly to congratulate each other on the verdict.

Von Ehlinger’s attorney, Jon Cox, could not be immediately reached for comment after the trial.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted, and has referred to the woman in this case as “Jane Doe” at her request.

In a press conference, Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Jan Bennetts thanked the jury, investigators and the prosecutors who handled the case.

“Last but not least, it took an incredible amount of courage for the victim in this case, Jane Doe, to come forward,” Bennetts said. “I want to acknowledge the courage that she took in coming forward.”

Doe testified on the second day of the trial. She haltingly described the moments the alleged assault began, before abruptly leaving the witness stand.

“He tried to put his fingers between my legs and I closed my knees,” Doe said.

At that, she stood up.

“I can’t do this,” she said, quickly walking out of the courtroom.

The judge gave the prosecuting attorneys 10 minutes to find her to determine if she would return and resume her testimony.

When she did not, the judge told the jurors they had to “strike (Doe’s testimony) from your minds as if it never happened,” because the defense could not cross-examine her.

During the press conference, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Katelyn Farley said the moment Doe left the trial was “heart-wrenching,” but said she and deputy prosecutor Whitney Welsh had prepared for trial knowing that Doe may not be able to testify.

“I think it’s important that she decided to walk in the room, and she also decided to walk out — those were her choices,” Welsh said.

During his testimony Thursday, von Ehlinger often spoke in a clear, loud voice directly to jurors, saying he and Doe decided to return to his apartment to “hang out” after eating at a fancy Boise restaurant. Then they began making out on the couch, he said.

“Things were going well, and I asked (Doe) if she would like to move to the bedroom,” von Ehlinger said. “She said ‘Sure.’ We got up, held hands and walked into the bedroom.”

Deliberations stretched for seven hours until nearly 8 p.m. Thursday before the jury decided to break for the evening. At one point, the judge summoned the attorneys to his chambers because the jury asked a question. No details were made public about the jury’s inquiry.

When the allegations became public — largely because of the legislative ethics investigation — Doe faced unrelenting harassment from some of von Ehlinger’s supporters. Her name, photo and personal details about her life were repeatedly publicized in “doxxing” incidents. One of the people who frequently harassed her was in the courthouse to attend the trial, but law enforcement banned the man from the floor where the case was being heard.

During closing arguments, Farley told jurors that the case was about “power in the wrong hands” used to the “great devastation” of Doe. Von Ehlinger had social, political and physical power over the petite intern, Farley said.

“He used that power to rape and forcibly penetrate her,” Farley said, pointing at von Ehlinger. Doe resisted in several ways, she said, highlighting the testimony of law enforcement investigators and a nurse sexual assault examiner who interviewed Doe after the alleged assault.

ny times logoNew York Times, Officials are rushing resources to Ukraine to help prosecute sex crimes that have occurred during the war, Lara Jakes, April 29, 2022. The rape happened in the hours after midnight on March 14, in a classroom of a school outside Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. Two days later, Yulia Gorbunova interviewed the victim and helped persuade her to report the attack, which could ultimately be prosecuted as a war crime committed by invading Russian forces.

Ms. Gorbunova, an investigator with Human Rights Watch, spoke with the victim several more times by phone and later in person to document her trauma and obtain photos of bruises and cuts that the woman said had been inflicted by a Russian soldier who had raped her repeatedly. The victim — mother to a 5-year-old daughter — submitted at least some of the evidence to local authorities in Kharkiv.

But this week, Ms. Gorbunova also brought the attack to the attention of Ukrainian war crimes prosecutors in Kyiv, the capital.

“They were very interested, because they said that it has been difficult to get survivors of sexual violence to come forward,” Ms. Gorbunova said in a telephone interview from Kyiv on Wednesday. She has been documenting human rights abuses in Ukraine since 2014, when Russia began supporting separatists in the eastern part of the country, and was alerted to the rape near Kharkiv by local activists.

She added: “I am not aware of any successful prosecution of cases of rape in the context of armed conflict, specifically in Ukraine.”

In the first two weeks of April, about 400 cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers were reported to Ukraine’s ombudswoman for human rights, Lyudmyla Denisova. A U.N. mission has received at least 75 allegations of sexual violence against Ukrainians, including children, by Russian troops in Kyiv alone since Feb. 24, the start of Moscow’s invasion.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ukraine’s top human rights official is determined to track war crimes and make sure Russians are held to account, Carlotta Gall, April 29, 2022. When Lyudmyla Denisova became Ukraine’s human rights commissioner four years ago, a job that she thought would round out a career in public service, it rekindled a youthful ambition. “I really wanted to become a prosecutor,” she said.

With no idea of the horrors to come, she could hardly have imagined how well life had prepared her to meet this moment, with a lawyer’s mind, a prosecutor’s zeal, a politician’s skill at communicating and organizing, and personal insight into the workings of Russia.

She has been working in overdrive since Russian troops invaded in February, identifying, documenting and bearing witness to human rights violations. In parallel to the police and prosecutors, she interviews prisoners and traces missing persons, while also mobilizing teams countrywide to coordinate assistance to victims of the war.

“I myself was in Bucha and saw everything with my own eyes,” she said of the suburb of Kyiv where she said 360 unlawful killings had already been recorded. “I saw all these graves myself. It’s scary when you find a size 33 sneaker there” — a child’s size in Ukraine.

On a conference table she spread the papers of her daily report and read out some of the cases that had come to her office in the last 24 hours. They included separate cases of a 45-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl, both suicidal after being sexually assaulted on the street by Russian soldiers and blaming themselves for what happened, she said.

“Even if a person died in the bombing, this is also a war crime,” she said in one of two recent interviews. “The very fact that the Russian Federation invaded and began bombing is already a war crime of aggression.”

She is also tracing reports of sexual violence and gang rape by Russian soldiers, as well as the fate of 400 Ukrainians, including children, who she says were taken against their will to a camp in Penza in central Russia. And she is pushing to bring charges of genocide against Russia’s leaders.

 

kathleen kane fileap logoAssociated Press via KYW-FM (Philadelphia), Former state AG Kathleen Kane back in jail for alleged probation violation, Jim Melwert, April 29, 2022. She turned herself in after, according to an affidavit, she had been drinking before a crash in March

A former Pennsylvania attorney general who served jail time for leaking grand jury material and lying about it was taken into custody Friday on an alleged probation violation, more than a month after she was charged with drunken driving, officials said.

Kathleen Kane, 55, is behind bars at Montgomery County Correctional Facility outside Philadelphia, said Kelly Cofrancisco, a county spokesperson. Additional details were not immediately available.

A message was left for her attorney in the drunken driving case.

Once a rising star in Pennsylvania politics, Kane became the first Democrat and the first woman elected as state attorney general.

She resigned as attorney general after being convicted in 2016 of perjury, obstruction and other counts for leaking secret investigative files to embarrass a rival prosecutor.

Kane was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in jail, serving her time at Montgomery County Correctional Facility in the Philadelphia suburbs. She was released in 2019.

She was still on probation when police in Scranton were called to the scene of a two-car crash on March 12 and said they found Kane behind the wheel of an Audi.

Kane told responding officers she was a designated driver, but surveillance video showed Kane herself had been drinking alcohol at a Scranton restaurant shortly before the crash, according to an affidavit.

Kane had watery, bloodshot eyes and slurred her words — police said she had trouble saying the word “designated” — and failed a field sobriety test, the documents said.

Sources tell KYW Newsradio that Kane checked herself into rehabilitation for 30 days. She turned herself in on Friday and was charged with drunken driving and careless driving. A Montgomery County judge subsequently issued a bench warrant for her arrest.

  • Editor's Note: The Wayne Madsen Report has published on-the-ground reporting that Kane was systematically targeted by colleagues in unusual fashion as retribution for her seeking to prosecute sexual criminals who held high positions.

April 23

 

andrew tate graphic

Daily Beast, Police Raid MAGA ‘King of Toxic Masculinity’ in Human-Trafficking Investigation, Will Sommer, April 23, 2022. The raid was prompted by reports that an American woman had been abducted.

Romanian police raided the home of prominent pro-Trump online personality Andrew Tate this month as part of a human-trafficking investigation, bringing new attention to Tate’s ties to leading figures in the American MAGA movement.

daily beast logoBefore the April 11 raid, Tate was best known as a kickboxer and vocal Trump supporter in the online far right. On social media, Tate portrayed himself as a wealthy cigar-smoking playboy, prompting one admirer to dub him the “king of toxic masculinity.”

But Tate’s treatment of women had an ugly side. In 2016, he was booted off the British version of Big Brother over a video of him hitting a woman with a belt. This March, Britain’s Daily Mirror tabloid profiled him and his brother Tristan Tate and their Romania-based business which used webcam models to trick men into sending the brothers tens of thousands of dollars. In one video on his YouTube channel, Andrew Tate said “40 percent” of the reason he moved to Romania was because Romanian police were less likely to pursue sexual assault allegations.

Tate’s unsavory activities didn’t stop him from building links with the stars of the Trumpian right. In 2019, Tate palled around Washington, D.C. with prominent online Trump activists and conspiracy theorists. He shared a meal with far-right cable news commentator Jack Posobiec and Infowars host Paul Joseph Watkins, and appeared multiple times on Infowars shows.

In Trump’s Washington hotel, Tate posed for a picture with Brexit advocate Nigel Farage, and sat in a group in the Trump hotel lobby with the likes of Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich and future Jan. 6 protest organizer Ali Alexander. Cernovich visited the Tate brothers in Romania later that year, describing them as his “friends” in the description of his podcast.

While Cernovich built his name online by making false human-trafficking claims about a Washington pizzeria, the Tates may soon be accused of genuine human trafficking. In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism said the raid on the Tates’ house was part of an investigation that began after a woman was reported to be held at the house against her will.

As the probe continued, it escalated to include “crimes of human trafficking and rape.”

Video from the raid show police officers armed with rifles milling among the Tates’ sports cars, with a neon “TATE” logo on a wall in the background. Another video showed Tate and his brother being shoved into vans by police officers before being driven away from their homes.

A Romanian newspaper reported that the raid was sparked over reports that an American woman was being held captive at the Tate house. Police found both the American and a Romanian woman in the building during the raid, according to the report. In a statement on the raid to The Daily Beast, a U.S. State Department spokesperson alluded to a reported abduction of an American citizen but declined to comment further.

“We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen held against their will in Romania,” the spokesperson said. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment."

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Tristan Tate disputed the Romanian media report that police found women in house who were there against their will.

“No girls were found in my house, and nobody was arrested,” Tate said.

Andrew Tate’s pro-Trump colleagues—Cernovich, Watkins, Posobiec, and Alexander—also didn’t respond to emails from The Daily Beast.

Andrew Tate appeared to address his arrest in an Instagram picture posted after his arrest, featuring him smoking a cigar in a staged interrogation room as faux-police officers loomed over him. Tate added a caption: “Officer...l think we can all agree that bitches love to lie.”

The raid on the Tates’ villa isn’t the first time that the “manosphere,” the far-right men’s online community that Tate belongs to, has been tied to serious criminal activity. In December, a prominent manosphere personality went on a killing spree in Denver, murdering five people before being fatally shot by a police officer.

Associated Press via Politico, Split verdict in first-ever Air Force general military trial, Staff Report, April 23, 2022. Officials said the verdict marks the first court-martial trial and conviction of a general officer in the Air Force’s 75-year history. An Air Force major general in Ohio has been convicted by a military judge of one of three specifications of abusive sexual contact in the first-ever military trial of an Air Force general.

The charge faced by Maj. Gen. William Cooley during the weeklong court-martial at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio had three specifications, one alleging a forcible kiss and two alleging forcible touching in 2018. Cooley was convicted Saturday of the forcible kissing specification but acquitted of the other two.

Officials said the verdict marks the first court-martial trial and conviction of a general officer in the Air Force’s 75-year history.

A former commander of Air Force Research Laboratory, Cooley was charged with abusive sexual contact in an encounter with a woman who gave him a ride after a backyard barbecue in New Mexico nearly four years ago. Officials said the woman is a civilian who is not a Department of Defense employee.

Cooley was to be sentenced Monday morning and could face as much as seven years in jail as well as loss of rank, pay and benefits.

Cooley had the option of a trial by court member jurors or by military judge, and chose to have the case heard by the judge.

“Today marks the first time an Air Force general officer has been held responsible for his heinous actions,” the woman’s attorney Ryan Guilds, said in a statement, the Dayton Daily News reported. “... Hopefully, this will not be as difficult for the next survivor.”

Cooley was fired from his research laboratory position in January 2020 after an Air Force investigation and has worked in an administrative job since then. A message seeking comment was left for his attorney Saturday.

“This case clearly demonstrates the commitment of Air Force leaders to fully investigate the facts and hold Airmen of any rank accountable for their actions when they fail to uphold Air Force standards,” Col. Eric Mejia, staff judge advocate for Air Force Materiel Command, said in a statement.

April 20

ny times logoNew York Times, New Jersey Diocese Agrees to Settle Sex Abuse Claims for $87.5 Million, Ed Shanahan, April 20, 2022 (print ed.). The settlement involved hundreds who accused clergy members of sexual abuse, and is among the largest such agreements with the Catholic Church in the U.S.

The Diocese of Camden, N.J., said on Tuesday that it had agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims made by hundreds of people who accused clergy members of sexually abusing them, one of the largest such settlements involving the Catholic Church in the United States.

In what may be a first for such litigation, the ultimate payout to the plaintiffs could be substantially higher, lawyers representing them said, because the settlement allows for further litigation against insurance companies for the diocese and related entities like parishes and schools.

“This is a triumph of courage, with all credit to the survivors for staying unified and strong,” Jeff Anderson, a lawyer for about a quarter of the roughly 300 plaintiffs, said.

In a statement announcing the settlement, Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan, the leader of the diocese, said, “I want to express my sincere apology to all those who have been affected by sexual abuse in our diocese.”

April 19

William

Legal Schnauzer, Investigative Commentary: In the wake of Birmingham attorney's shocking suicide, attention turns to possible obstruction of justice, criminal roger shuler and murphyconcealment, and civil RICO cases, Roger Shuler, right, April 19, 2022. The suicide last week of Balch & Bingham attorney William "Bo" Lineberry, shown above, was a stunning and perhaps telling event in the years-long effort to unwind apparent scandal in the Alabama corporate, legal, judicial, and law-enforcement worlds.

Where does attention turn next? Ban Balch Publisher K.B. Forbes provides clues, under the headline "After Suicide, National Media and Feds Zero in on Alleged Obstruction and “Criminal Concealment;” RICOs Coming?" The sub-headline -- "Suicide. Resignations. Internal turmoil. Corporate strife" -- provides insight into the unrest that seems to be roiling elite circles in Birmingham and beyond. Writes Forbes:

Since November, Birmingham is seeing what appears to be the collapse of the house of marked cards allegedly propped up by the deep resources of Alabama Power. The Three Stooges (Balch & Bingham, Drummond, and Alabama Power) have seen their dominance stumble.

High-level sources told us in late October that Mark A. Crosswhite, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power and a former partner at embattled law abdul kallonfirm Balch & Bingham, was an alleged target of an obstruction investigation.

Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon, left, resigned along allegedly with two Assistant U.S. Attorneys earlier this month, while Balch partner Bo Lineberry committed suicide last week.

What enormous pressure and worry caused Lineberry to end his life? Was he facing unbearable consequences? Was there an offer on the table that was too brutal for Lineberry to accept?

Seasoned law enforcement authorities tell us the Lineberry suicide spoke volumes about the depth and seriousness of the alleged federal probe.

Attention appears to be spreading beyond Alabama. Writes Forbes:

Now national media are focused on the alleged unsavory and criminal misconduct and alleged abuse of power surrounding the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. once run by disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, who resigned in 2020.

Concurrently, federal investigators are allegedly looking at obstruction of justice and accusations of “criminal concealment.”

In what looked like sheer panic with the rebirth of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, the illustrious Mark White, Mark Crosswhite’s go-to criminal attorney, fumbled the ball and showed how concealment appears to be part and parcel of the work product and a standard operating procedure of the Three Stooges and their hired guns.

As we reported about the “Tale of Two Marks” in January of 2021:

alabama power logo[Alabama Power’s] team of attorneys at White, Arnold, & Dowd, led by white-collar criminal attorney Mark White, filed an avalanche of court pleadings in December [2020] at the courthouse office, over the counter as if it were 1950 not 2020. (We wonder if Mark White still uses a rotary phone, stencil duplicator, and Royal typewriter.)

The delay and “hiding the goods” tactic failed. The paper court pleadings were [immediately] scanned and uploaded by the clerk to Alacourt where we, the CDLU, were able to download them.

Concealment might be an unfamiliar legal term to the general public, but it seems to be central to the unfolding Birmingham story:

Concealment has been a consistent element.

Concealment was discovered in January when Alabama Power’s multi-million-dollar secret contracts (no invoicing required) with obscure political consulting firm Matrix and its founder “Sloppy Joe” Perkins were exposed.

Attorneys for “Sloppy Joe” attempted to call the secret contracts “trade secrets” and sent worthless demand letters to an environmental group and blog that published the concealed million-dollar agreements.

Allegations of non-disclosure and concealed indemnity agreements tied to Alabama Power and Balch have swirled since 2017.

Absolute concealment was achieved when ex-Drummond executive David Roberson’s $75-million civil lawsuit was sealed in its entirety in the Winter of 2021 in an attempt to hide alleged criminal misconduct. The secretive Star Chamber does not allow anyone to follow or read proceedings in the case.

The conservative Alabama Supreme Court reinstated Balch as a defendant in Roberson’s civil case this past February. Bloomberg reported that Balch must face fraud claims due to “misrepresention and concealment.”

chase espyBalch terminated an alleged pedophile months before he was arrested for soliciting a child online. Ex-Balch attorney Chase T. Espy, left,  had worked at the embattled firm for eight years [Emphasis added]. He then went on to work briefly for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey when he was kay ivey current 2022arrested and immediately fired last August. What caused Balch to fire Espy? What did Balch conceal from the public and the governor, right, regarding Espy?

The biggest concealment appears to be Alabama Power’s alleged secret deal during the North Birmingham Bribery Trial in which the company was “unmentionable” during the trial and criminal defense attorneys allegedly had to clear any mention of Alabama Power with Mark White.

The federal statute of limitations for obstruction of justice is five years. The timing of the alleged federal investigation makes sense. The trial happened in July of 2018. The statute would expire in the summer of 2023.

Those aren't the only worries likely knocking around Birmingham board rooms. Writes Forbes:

Now Alabama Power and their sister-wife Balch & Bingham appear to have even bigger issues coming.

If obstruction of justice indictments are handed down and/or alleged criminal information is disclosed related to the alleged federal probe and the Matrix Meltdown, expect a federal civil RICO lawsuit or two against Balch, Alabama Power, and others.

The first civil RICO lawsuit will be based on the Newsome Conspiracy Case, a travesty of justice in which an innocent man, Burt Newsome, was allegedly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by Balch in an attempt to steal his law practice providing legal services to banks.

Newsome was arrested by a cop who was the son of a now-retired Alabama Power executive. Ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town allegedly blocked four investigations related to the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Another, separate civil RICO lawsuit could be filed on behalf of “fall guy”and ex-Drummond executive David Roberson.

Either way, the Three Stooges and their defenders are exposed in the open no matter how many concealed deals, secret smear campaigns, or Star Chambers they create.

April 15

 

charles herbster facebook

ny times logoNew York Times, Nebraska State Senator Says Candidate for Governor Groped Her, Azi Paybarah, April 15, 2022 (print ed.). A Republican state senator in Nebraska said on Thursday that she had been groped three years ago by a fellow Republican who is now a leading candidate in the party’s primary election for governor next month.

The candidate, Charles Herbster, above, denied the allegations from the state senator, Julie Slama, calling them “100 percent false.”

Ms. Slama issued her statement after The Nebraska Examiner published an article about the alleged incident, which she said had occurred at a Douglas County Republican Party dinner in April 2019.

republican elephant logo“Today’s Nebraska Examiner report about Charles Herbster sexually assaulting me in 2019, when I was 22 years old, is true,” Ms. Slama said, adding that she had “prayed I would never have to relive this trauma.”

She said that when the news outlet asked her about what had happened, “I was not going to deny the truth.” In February, she referred to the alleged assault during a speech on the floor of the Legislature, though she did not name Mr. Herbster at the time.

pete ricketts CustomMr. Herbster, who owns a large agricultural company and was endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump ahead of the May 10 primary election, said in a statement that the allegations were “a ridiculous, unfounded dirty political trick” being carried out by his political opponents in the state, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, right, also a Republican.

“For over 30 years, I’ve employed hundreds of people,” Mr. Herbster said. “I’ve respected and empowered women to run my company, my farm and now my campaign. Not once has my integrity EVER been challenged in this manner.” Later, he told a local radio station: “They did it with Brett Kavanaugh. They certainly did it with Donald J. Trump and now they’re trying to do it with Charles W. Herbster.”

Mr. Herbster’s campaign manager, Ellen Keast, issued a separate statement that “unequivocally” denied the allegations and accused Mr. Ricketts at greater length of being behind the story. Ms. Keast noted that Mr. Ricketts and Ms. Slama had political ties; she worked as press secretary on his 2018 campaign for governor before he appointed her to the Legislature the next year.

Asked to respond, Mr. Ricketts said in an interview: “Well, I would read the article. I have rarely seen an article on this topic that is so extensively corroborated by witnesses.” Referring to Ms. Slama’s decision to speak publicly about the alleged incident, he said, “It’s probably one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen.”

washington post logoNew York Times, As G.O.P. Candidates Face Accusations, Rivals Tread Carefully, Jonathan Weisman, April 15, 2022.  In several states, Republican candidates are contending with allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault. Few of their primary rivals want to talk about it.

When fresh allegations of domestic violence were lodged against former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, left, last month, one of his Republican rivals for the state’s open Senate seat, Representative Vicky Hartzler, stepped up and called for him to end his campaign.

eric greitens oThen she moved on to an issue perhaps more resonant with Republican primary voters: transgender women in sports.

“Eric Greitens is a toxic candidate unfit to hold office,” Michael Hafner, a spokesman for Ms. Hartzler’s Senate campaign, said, before declaring the central message of her campaign: “Missouri family values, freedom, and taking back our country.”

In Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and now Nebraska, Republican men running for high office face significant allegations of domestic violence, stalking, even sexual assault — accusations that once would have derailed any run for office. But in an era of Republican politics when Donald J. Trump could survive and thrive amid accusations of sexual assault, opposing candidates are finding little traction in dwelling on the issues.

Political scientists who have studied Republican voting since the rise of Trumpism are not surprised that accused candidates have soldiered on — and that their primary rivals have approached the accusations tepidly. In this fiercely partisan moment, concerns about personal behavior are dwarfed by the struggle between Republicans and Democrats, which Republican men and women see as life-or-death. Increasingly, Republicans cast accusations of sexual misconduct as an attempt by liberals to silence conservatives.

The candidates who do speak of their opponents’ domestic violence and assault allegations often raise them not as disqualifications in looming Republican primaries, but as matters ripe for exploitation by Democrats in the fall.

“It’s a horrible problem; he’ll never be elected, and that’s the educational process we’re going through right now,” Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, said of domestic violence and assault allegations leveled at Herschel Walker, his Trump-backed Republican rival to take on Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in November. “There’s a great desire for Republicans to get their seat back. Electability is going to be the issue over the next six weeks.”

Democrats, including President Biden and Keith Ellison, the attorney general of Minnesota, have weathered their own accusations of misconduct in the past — and where such charges have proven difficult to discount, the party has shown itself more willing to jettison its candidates.

April 14

 

Inna Makarenko, 44, Oleh Makarenko, 21, and Yevhen Makarenko, 43, are charged with attempted murder under Florida’s “hate crime” enhancement law. - Broward Sheriff's OfficeInna Makarenko, 44 (left to right), Oleh Makarenko, 21, and Yevhen Makarenko, 43, are charged with attempted murder under Florida’s “hate crime” enhancement law (Photos via Broward Sheriff's Office).Inna Makarenko, 44 (left to right), Oleh Makarenko, 21, and Yevhen Makarenko, 43, are charged with attempted murder under Florida’s “hate crime” enhancement law (Photos via Broward Sheriff's Office).

Miami Herald, Three Family Members Blind Gay Man in Brutal Hate Crime, Authorities Say, David Ovalle, Updated April 13, 2022. Three family members have been charged with a hate crime after kidnapping and beating a gay man so severely that he was permanently blinded, Broward prosecutors said Tuesday.

Two parents and their son were formally charged Tuesday on counts of first-degree attempted murder, burglary with battery and kidnapping “with prejudice” — all charges enhanced under Florida’s “hate crime” law. That means they all face up to life in prison on each count.

Charged so far are Inna Makarenko, 44, Yevhen Makarenko, 43, and Oleh Makarenko, 21, all of Pompano Beach. They have been in jail since last month, records show. They’ve already pleaded not guilty, according to court records. The family’s defense attorney did not initially respond to a request for comment. TOP VIDEOS × Another son, Vladyslav Makarenko, 25, was jailed in Alabama, transferred to Broward County on Monday and is awaiting a decision from prosecutors on whether he’ll also be charged under the hate crime statute.

 

charles herbster facebookNebraska Examiner, GOP state senator, seven other women say Charles Herbster groped them; he denies allegations, Aaron Sanderford, April 14, 2022. Charles Herbster, above, a Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate, speaks to a crowd Wednesday at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in North Platte. Donald Trump Jr. was his guest at the event. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Time after time, Charles Herbster worked the crowds as he attended events, either as a candidate for Nebraska governor, a significant Republican donor or a beauty pageant judge.

He would go up to a group and introduce himself. Often wearing his signature cowboy hat and suit, he would extend a handshake to the men. But when young women reached out for a handshake, as well, on at least several occasions he pulled them into an embrace instead.

Herbster, the CEO of Conklin Co. and now a frontrunner in the 2022 GOP primary race, sometimes went further, according to eight women who spoke with the Nebraska Examiner.

During an event in 2019, for example, Republican State Sen. Julie Slama confirmed that as she walked by Herbster, he reached up her skirt, without her consent, and touched her inappropriately. The incident happened in the middle of a crowded ballroom at the Douglas County Republican Party’s annual Elephant Remembers dinner.

At the time, Slama had been recently appointed to the District 1 legislative seat representing southeast Nebraska. Herbster owns a farm and a house in the district.

Another person attending the 2019 event saw Herbster reach up Slama’s skirt and had told the Examiner about it. That witness and two others said they saw Herbster grope another young woman on her buttocks at the same event.

When the Examiner asked Slama on Monday if the two incidents at the event had been described accurately, and whether Herbster had touched her under her skirt, Slama said: “Yes, confirmed,” but declined to discuss the incidents further.

Six women, including the woman Slama saw being groped at the Elephant Remembers dinner, told the Nebraska Examiner that Herbster touched them inappropriately when they were saying hello or goodbye to him, or when they were posing for a photograph by his side.

The women said Herbster groped them on their buttocks, outside of their clothes, during political events or beauty pageants. Each woman said she was grabbed, not inadvertently grazed, by Herbster.

A seventh woman said Herbster once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly.

All the incidents occurred between 2017 and this year, according to those involved. The women ranged in age from their late teens to mid-20s at the time of the incidents.

Herbster’s campaign manager, Ellen Keast, in a statement issued Wednesday evening, said Herbster denied the women’s allegations “unequivocally.” Keast said that “this is a political hit-piece built on 100% false and baseless claims.” Keast blamed the “political establishment” for “smearing and trying to destroy him with lies.”

“Charles W. Herbster has a lifetime record of empowering women to lead,” Keast said in her statement. “His company, farm, and campaign are all run by women. Despite leading hundreds of employees, not once has his reputation been attacked in this disgusting manner.”

Keast, who said her family has known Herbster for nearly a decade, said she had never experienced anything like the women described. “Never,” she said. “He’s an honest, respectful man.”

All of the women except Slama spoke to the Examiner on the condition that their names be withheld. The Nebraska Examiner grants anonymity to those alleging sexual assault, unless they consent to be named.

Several of the women said they feared Herbster’s wealth and power. Three said they were concerned about their careers if they reported the behavior. Three worried about the reaction of their parents and churches.

 

cuba gooding

ny times logoNew York Times, Cuba Gooding Jr. Pleads Guilty to Forcible Touching, Benjamin Weiser and Colin Moynihan, April 14, 2022 (print ed.). The actor, above, must complete six more months of treatment with no new arrests under his plea deal.

The actor Cuba Gooding Jr., who had been accused by more than 20 women of groping or forcibly kissing them in encounters that dated back more than two decades, pleaded guilty in Manhattan on Wednesday to one count of forcible touching.

The count, a misdemeanor, charged that he had forcibly kissed a woman at a nightclub in Manhattan in 2018.

Under terms of the plea, Mr. Gooding must continue for six more months in alcohol and behavior modification treatment that he has been undergoing since 2019, and he must have no new arrests, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

If he fulfills the terms of the plea, he can then withdraw the plea and plead to a lesser charge of harassment, a violation, with a sentence of time served, the office said. Also, the record of the plea will not be sealed, the office said.

Mr. Gooding had faced a criminal trial on charges of unwanted sexual touching of three women in Manhattan restaurants and nightclubs in 2018 and 2019. The Manhattan district attorney’s office had asked a judge to admit as witnesses 19 other women who it said had come forward to accuse Mr. Gooding of such conduct.

Mr. Gooding’s “prior acts demonstrate that his contacts with their intimate parts are intentional, not accidental, and that he is not mistaken about their lack of consent,” the district attorney’s office wrote in a court filing in October 2019.

In court, Mr. Gooding’s lawyer, Frank Rothman, said his client was also prepared to apologize to the women in the two other incidents.

One of those accusers — the woman in the incident at the hotel in 2019 — addressed the court on Wednesday. “I won’t lie,” the woman, who identified herself as Kelsey Harbert, said. “I’m very disappointed that we are here today discussing a plea deal.”

Ms. Harbert said that she wanted to talk about what had happened to her and also to explore some broader issues, which drew an objection from Mr. Rothman, who said she should not be “making a statement for the rest of society.”

Ms. Harbert, saying she would limit her comments to her own experience, told the court that she had been “super excited” to see Mr. Gooding and then encounter him while she was out one night with friends. Her excitement turned to dismay, however, when she felt his hand on her breast, she said.

“I was mortified,” she said. “My body was being placed under the dominion of someone else without my consent.”

Ms. Harbert said it was “very devastating” to her that Mr. Gooding would have the chance to “move on” after six months, while she has experienced continuing feelings of trauma and violation as a result of her contact with him.

After Ms. Harbert completed her statement, the defense lawyer, Mr. Rothman, spoke again, saying he had watched a video recording depicting the events at the hotel. “What she said happened here for the last 20 minutes is a product of her imagination in large part,” Mr. Rothman said.

After court, Mr. Rothman said in a phone interview, “This case should have been resolved years ago.” He said that he had met with the new district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, after he took office in January, who “took a harder and more in-depth look at the pros and cons of the prosecution.”

“We reached an agreement that all sides could live with,” Mr. Rothman said. “It’s fair and appropriate under all of the circumstances.”

Mr. Gooding, a Bronx native, had his first major success playing the lead role in the 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood,” and he won an Academy Award in 1997 for his supporting role in “Jerry Maguire.” He played O.J. Simpson in the 2016 television series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

April 12

 

Britney Spears and her father and former conservator, James Spears (Associated Press file photos).

Britney Spears and her father and former conservator, James Spears (Associated Press file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, Britney Spears, Out of Conservatorship, Says ‘I Am Having a Baby,’ Julia Jacobs, April 12, 2022 (print ed.). During her successful effort to end her conservatorship, the performer had complained that the team appointed to supervise her had blocked her from having additional children.

Months after Britney Spears was released from the conservatorship that she said was restricting her from having a third child, the pop star announced Monday in an Instagram post that she is pregnant.

In explosive testimony last year, Ms. Spears called the conservatorship that had governed her life for 13 years “abusive,” saying the people who managed it had refused to let her get her IUD removed so she could try to have another child.

“I want to be able to get married and have a baby,” Ms. Spears said last June. “I was told right now in the conservatorship I am not able to get married or have a baby.”

The singer’s assertion about her birth control device was among the most stunning in her speech, during which she said she had been drugged and compelled to work against her will. Reproductive rights advocates condemned the situation as a violation of her rights.

April 8

The Hill, Ex-GOP Senate staffer sentenced to more than 12 years in child porn case, Dominick Mastrangelo, April 8, 2022. A former GOP Senate staffer has been sentenced to more than a decade in prison after pleading guilty in a case involving child pornography.

ruben verastigui headshotA federal judge sentenced Ruben Verastigui, 29, right, of Washington, D.C., on Thursday to 151 months in prison on a federal charge of ruben verastigui white housereceipt of child pornography, the Department of Justice announced.

Verastigui, shown below visiting the Trump White House during Christmas seas, was arrested in February last year and pleaded guilty the following July.

Federal prosecutors say Verastigui, formerly a digital strategist with the Senate Republican Conference, was active in an online group devoted to trading child pornography and discussing child sexual abuse.

The Senate Republican Conference has previously said Verastigui “has not worked at SRC since July 2, 2020.”

From April 2020 through February 2021, Verastigui shared child pornography videos with another member of an online group and made numerous comments about sexually abusing children, prosecutors said.

Verastigui became a subject in a Homeland Security Department investigation during a larger probe of more than a dozen other people who, police believe, exchanged messages about trading child pornography.

After completing his prison term, Verastigui will be placed on five years of supervised release, a federal judge ruled. He also will be required to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years.

April 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Iowa Man Who Faked His Death to Avoid Trial Is Arrested, Johnny Diaz,April 7, 2022 (print ed.). Jacob Greer, 28, had been on the run since 2016, fleeing trial on child sexual abuse imagery charges.

After nearly six years on the run, an Iowa man who slipped out of an ankle monitor and faked his own death has been arrested 1,700 miles from his grandmother’s home, where he had been awaiting trial on child sexual abuse imagery charges, the authorities said.

The man, Jacob Channce Greer of Des Moines, was found on Monday and arrested in Spanaway, Wash.

Mr. Greer, 28, was described by the authorities as a survivalist.

 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested him on charges of receipt and possession of child sexual abuse imagery, the Marshals Service said. He was released on bond and went to live with his grandmother in Des Moines. Under the terms of his pretrial supervision, he was required to wear an ankle monitor.

But on May 31, 2016, his probation officer received an alert that Mr. Greer’s ankle device had been removed, the authorities said.

April 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Sarah Lawrence Cult Leader Convicted of Trafficking and Extortion, Colin Moynihan, April 6, 2022. In 2010, Lawrence Ray moved into his daughter’s dormitory, gathered a circle of young followers around himself and began years of domination. For a decade, Lawrence V. Ray exerted near-total control over a group of young people he met after moving into a dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College, prosecutors said. He presented himself as a mentor, isolating students from their parents, pressuring them into degrading acts and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from them.

lawrence raySome remained loyal, even after a story in New York magazine in 2019 detailed a host of abuses ascribed to Mr. Ray, right. But during a nearly monthlong trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan, four former followers provided detailed testimony about how he indoctrinated and exploited them.

On Wednesday, three of those witnesses watched from the gallery as the jury forewoman announced that Mr. Ray had been found guilty of all 15 federal counts, including extortion, sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy.

Mr. Ray, 62, wearing a blue shirt and dark-colored dress pants, was impassive as the verdict was announced. Afterward, defense lawyers declined to comment.

Mr. Ray is scheduled to be sentenced in September. The sex-trafficking charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of life.

The verdict, which came after about four hours of deliberation, brings some resolution to a bizarre series of events that began in 2010, when Mr. Ray emerged from a New Jersey prison where he had served time on charges related to a child-custody dispute. Prosecutors said he then moved into the dormitory where his daughter, Talia Ray, lived on the campus of Sarah Lawrence, in Westchester County, just north of New York City.

Soon, Mr. Ray was cooking meals and leading conversations about the importance of honesty and morality, former students said. In summer 2011, several students began sleeping at an apartment where Mr. Ray was living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, witnesses said, taking part in “therapy” sessions that Mr. Ray said were meant to improve their lives.

 

Julie K. Brown rachel maddow

Florida Bulldog, Private eye slams ruling worth over $350K to Miami author Julie K. Brown who wrote book about Jeffrey Epstein drama, Noreen Marcus, April 6, 2022. A case about who did what to produce a sensational book rehashing the story of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein entered a new phase in a new forum, Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

jeffrey epstein hands handsAn arbitrator rejected private detective Mike Fisten’s $350,000 claim for his work on Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story, Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown’s book about the rich serial pedophile.

Jailed in New York for sex trafficking, Epstein, right, apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in August 2019.

Brown and Fisten, a former Miami-Dade County police detective, contracted to split a $1 million publisher’s advance 50-50. Instead, she gave him $150,000 and kept $850,000.

Arbitrator David Lichter agreed with Brown, shown above during an interview on MSNBC, that Fisten breached their contract by failing to perform investigative perversion of justice miami herald logotasks that were supposed to generate material for the book. Published last year, it expands upon and updates Brown’s award-winning 2018 newspaper series, also called “Perversion of Justice.”

Lichter wrote in his Dec. 30 ruling that Fisten contributed no more than a “negligible” 4.3 per cent of the book’s contents. He criticized as “improper messaging” Fisten’s list of completed tasks and disputed many of them.

After a hearing, Lichter found Brown more credible, though “some of her actions were less than laudatory.” He didn’t elaborate, but he referenced the confidential testimony of lawyer Bradley Edwards, who represents many Epstein victims and was a source for Brown.

Still, Fisten’s “credibility was damaged far more substantially [than Brown’s] and in far more significant ways,” Lichter concluded in his 34-page ruling.

Later he ordered Fisten to pay $58,570 in attorney fees as punishment for discovery violations and for breaching a confidentiality clause by speaking out publicly about the case.

Brown’s lawyer, Steven Peretz, sent Florida Bulldog a statement that says the arbitration award “represents a complete vindication for Ms. Brown.” He noted that Lichter “also awarded substantial attorney fees to Ms. Brown as a sanction against Mr. Fisten for his conduct during the case.”

“We will be moving forward to have the award confirmed in court and we expect the court will readily do so given the arbitrator’s comprehensive and detailed ruling,” Peretz wrote.

Fisten called the ruling “biased and negligent.” He wrote in an email that Brown “made numerous misstatements” in her testimony. “It is for these and many other reasons that we feel we will prevail in our appeal.”

Peretz, when asked about Lichter’s assertion that some of his client’s actions were “less than laudatory,” wrote this: “The arbitrator was unclear about what actions he was referring to … so I cannot comment on that point.”

Florida Bulldog asked Edwards to share his testimony about Brown, the testimony Lichter cited in his ruling.

“Other than being called as a witness and asked questions by both parties, I don’t know enough about the dispute to comment,” he wrote. Edwards said he hasn’t read the arbitration ruling and hasn’t worked with Fisten, once his valued lead investigator, for a decade.

On March 31 Fisten filed a motion in Miami-Dade Circuit Court to vacate the Dec. 30 arbitration award, which both parties had treated as confidential. Lichter’s ruling is an exhibit attached to the motion, making it a public record.

In the motion, Fisten’s lawyer, Andrew Kassier, previews his upcoming appeal. It will be based on Lichter’s “evident partiality” toward Brown and his “misconduct” directed at Fisten. Also, Lichter “refused to hear evidence material to the controversy.” Kassier provides no details.

Fisten has tried to focus public attention on Brown.

Chiefly, she takes credit for single-handedly identifying more than 60 Epstein victims and persuading four of them to do on-camera interviews for the Miami Herald series. But Fisten insists he tracked down almost all the victims, who later became plaintiffs and witnesses, while working as Edwards’s investigator.

In Edwards’s own book, Relentless Pursuit / My Fight for the Victims of Jeffrey Epstein, published in 2020, he writes about meeting Brown in 2017 after she approached him asking for help. At that point he’d already spoken to more than 50 victims, he wrote.

“I had accumulated all of the evidence in these cases and done all of the work,” Edwards wrote. “Unable to imagine the scope of that decade-long task or how voluminous the materials were and how complicated piecing it together was, Julie, like other reporters, wanted to start with my just spoon-feeding her everything and making it simple.”

He wouldn’t do that because he wanted her to appreciate the complexities, Edwards wrote. Instead, he made a list of documents for her to review –- and she persevered. “She followed the road map and stayed on course.”

Edwards praises Brown in his acknowledgements: “Thank you for having the courage to finally publish what other major publications would not. You made the public listen when all other journalists were scared.”

But he’s more fulsome in his praise of Fisten: “No good investigation can be done alone. While I had numerous investigators along the way, you were in the trenches with me during crucial times.

“In addition to game-planning with me, tracking down witnesses, and coordinating surveillance on Epstein, you also guarded my house and my family when things got hairy, for which I am forever grateful,” Edwards wrote.

Fisten isn’t the only one to raise questions and concerns about how Brown pursued and told the Epstein story.

Two victims are suing her for defamation in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Haley Robson alleges that Brown threatened her when she declined to be interviewed for the Epstein book, then made good on the threat by falsely portraying her as a member of Epstein’s inner circle.

courtney wildThe other plaintiff, Courtney Wild, left, claims Brown falsely stated in her book that after Epstein raped Wild when she was underage, she had sex with him.

Wild’s lawyer, Jeffrey Gutchess, wrote that she suffered abuse by Epstein but never had sex with him. The lawsuit seeks significant money damages and a public apology from Brown.

Wild has been a leader among the Epstein victims, battling for years to undo his shady 2008 plea deal and make him answer to sex-trafficking charges. Wild also pushed for a victims’ compensation fund.

“Brown has sought to take credit away from the victims,” her lawsuit states. “Knowing Ms. Wild had spearheaded each of these major achievements, and not Ms. Brown as she claimed in her book, Ms. Brown sought to debase and defame Ms. Wild,” Gutchess wrote.

April 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Sarah Lawrence College sex cult trial shows devastated young lives, Shayna Jacobs, April 5, 2022. Lawrence Ray is accused of manipulating and abusing his daughter’s college friends and others he brought into his circle.

An Ivy League-educated doctor exchanged a promising career for years of physical and psychological torment, allegedly at the hands of Lawrence “Larry” lawrence rayRay, a man decades her senior. Another woman worked as a prostitute, giving Ray $2.5 million of her earnings even as he allegedly told her — falsely — that she owed him more. The younger brother of the aspiring doctor dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College after being brainwashed by Ray, who allegedly beat him with a hammer and held a blade to his neck.

Ray, right, now 62, is accused of corrupting the lives of these and other promising young adults — three of them siblings — between 2010 and 2020, dragging them into a life of servitude and maniacal rituals. His trial on racketeering, sex trafficking, money laundering and other charges is expected to wrap up on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, with jury deliberations beginning after that.

Prosecutors say Ray amassed blackmail material on his victims — often by getting them to admit to shameful conduct that they had not actually carried out. He stored recordings of their confessions to use against them if they thought about disobeying him or leaving the cultlike group that he had organized and that he referred to as a “family.”

The case is reminiscent of the 2019 prosecution in Brooklyn federal court of Keith Raniere, who led the Albany, N.Y.-based self-improvement network NXIVM. He was convicted on racketeering and sex trafficking charges involving a group of women he called his “slaves,” but he is appealing the guilty verdict and his 120-year sentence.

Like Raniere, Ray was seen as a source of experience and knowledge who guided his emotionally vulnerable followers through life’s difficulties. “In addition to violence, Ray used classic techniques of coercion to manipulate his victims, such as isolating people from their friends and family, using means of financial control, taking away basic human agency like food and sleep,” said Moira Penza, a former federal prosecutor who tried the case against Raniere.

St. Louis Public Radio, Sheena Greitens says she has photos, records to document abuse by former Missouri governor, Rudi Keller of the Missouri Independent, April 5, 2022. sheena greitensFormer Missouri First Lady Sheena Greitens, right, says in a new court filing that she has photos and other evidence to back up her claims that former Gov. Eric Greitens physically abused her and their children as his political career unraveled.

In a statement embedded in a court filing Thursday in Boone County Circuit Court as part of her ongoing child custody battle with the former governor, Sheena Greitens said she tried to resolve differences without a public fight. But she said that Eric Greitens’s attacks on her character, push for records to be sealed and demands that the case be sent to mediation show he cares more about his campaign for U.S. Senate than his sons.

Her attorney, Helen Wade, wrote in the latest filing that Sheena Greitens asked for mediation on eight previous occasions and her ex-husband refused.

The abuse claims, made in an affidavit filed March 21, stated that as he faced criminal charges and possible impeachment in 2018, Eric Greitens repeatedly threatened to commit suicide unless she showed “specific public political support” for him. In one incident of child abuse, that she swore in the affidavit occurred in November 2019, one of their sons came home from a visit his father with a swollen face, bleeding gums and loose tooth and said his father had hit him.

Eric Greitens, both publicly and in court filings, has challenged those statements, noting that prior to their divorce in 2020, Sheena Greitens signed a document stating there were no undisclosed material facts and agreeing to a parenting plan of joint custody. In his first statement issued after the filing, Eric Greitens called his ex-wife “a deranged individual” and said she had “a documented history of mental illness and emotionally-abusive behavior.”

But in last week’s filing, Sheena Greitens said she did report and document the abuse. She only agreed to the parenting plan as the best option to move with their two boys to Texas.

“In fact, they were reported to multiple lawyers, therapists, and our mediator, in 2018 and afterward,” Sheena Greitens said. “I will provide contemporaneous documentation of the relevant communications, as well as photographic evidence of my child’s 2019 injuries, to the court at an appropriate time.”

She also challenged his characterizations of her mental health. The “documented history” is therapy she sought from January 2018 to April 2020, first in an attempt to save their marriage and later to cope with her ex-husband’s behavior.

eric greitens oIn the filing, Wade wrote that Eric Greitens, left, “has launched an all-out, calculated, and purposely public attack on (Sheena Greitens) – outside the confines of the courtroom, off the witness stand and notably without being under oath.”

Sheena Greitens is trying to move court control of the child custody case from Missouri to Texas, where she works as an associate professor at the University of Texas. At the time of their divorce, she was employed at the University of Missouri.

The allegations of domestic violence come as Eric Greitens is attempting a political comeback as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in a crowded Republican primary.

Prior to the allegations becoming public, Greitens was leading in polls. Since then, he has slipped into a statistical dead heat with his leading rivals, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

The affidavit overshadowed another event, a guilty plea from former FBI agent William Tisaby admitting evidence tampering in the 2018 investigation, that Greitens had hoped would boost his image as a man wronged by political enemies.

Greitens has used right wing media to tie the two events together, accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former presidential advisor Karl Rove as masterminding the affidavit.

In her latest filing, Sheena Greitens denied she had consulted with any of her former husband’s political enemies prior to filing her abuse claims.

April 2

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein porch

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

washington post logoWashington Post, Ghislaine Maxwell denied new trial despite juror with childhood history of sexual abuse, Shayna Jacobs, April 2, 2022 (print ed.). Ghislaine Maxwell will not get a new trial after it was revealed that a juror in the sex trafficking case involving minor victims had a childhood history of sexual abuse that he did not disclose during jury selection, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan held a hearing March 8 at which Juror No. 50 was questioned about the content of news interviews he did after the verdict in which he detailed a history of sexual abuse, information he did not disclose when he was explicitly asked about it in a 30-page questionnaire all juror prospects completed.

In denying Maxwell a new trial, Nathan said that the juror, a 35-year-old who works in the finance industry, was truthful when he took the witness stand and admitted he was distracted and rushed through the written survey, which was issued to juror candidates under oath.

Maxwell juror omitted history of sexual abuse during trial screen

“He appeared to testify frankly and honestly, even when the answers he gave were the cause of personal embarrassment and regret,” Nathan wrote in her 40-page decision. “His incentive at the hearing was to testify truthfully or face criminal perjury charges.”

Nathan also noted the juror would not have been automatically eliminated from the pool for cause based on his history. He testified under an immunity agreement for the incorrect responses on the jury form but was open to liability for perjury if he lied at the proceeding.

The judge noted that in past trials, rape victims have served on sexual assault cases and family members of murder victims have been empaneled for homicide trials.

Lawyers for Maxwell argued that Juror No. 50′s place on the panel poisoned its integrity and deprived her of a fair trial. Dozens of jurors were dismissed outright without further questioning based on answers they gave on the same questionnaire. Attorneys for Maxwell and the juror did not respond to requests for comment. An attorney for the juror did not respond to a request for comment.

Jeffrey Pagliuca, one of Maxwell’s attorneys, said in a statement: “Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers were not allowed to examine Juror No. 50 and many critical questions remain unanswered. The quality, bias, and reliability of any examination dictates the quality, bias and reliability of any result.”

Juror No. 50, speaking in front of a courtroom packed with journalists last month, called his carelessness in the process “one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” Despite his history, which involved being sexually abused by a relative as a boy, he said it did not affect his judgment. He testified that he was not aiming to get picked on the case by tailoring his responses.

 

March 2022 Update

March 30

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, A Small-Town Polish Mayor and the Head of an Anti-Trafficking NGO on the Horrific Human Trafficking at Ukraine’s Borders, Vicky Ward, March 29, 2022. Yesterday, I was privileged to be on a zoom call with Wojciech Bakun, the mayor of Przemyśl (pronounced “Shemesh”), which is a provincial town of 60,000 people on the border between Poland and Ukraine. In the past four weeks, Przemyśl has become base camp for 1,200 volunteers from all over the world who have received and cared for over 800,000 refugees— many of them arriving on foot and in danger of freezing to death.

Mayor Bakun recently made headlines because he publicly shamed Matteo Salvini, the Italian right-wing leader, as a “friend” of Putin during Salvini’s public visit to Przemyśl to see the thousands of refugees streaming in to the town.

Bakun has scarcely slept these past few weeks. Much of what he had to say about his experiences was both horrifying (at one point, he said he just didn’t have the words to describe the scenes of inhumanity) and yet also uplifting, given the extraordinary efforts Poland has gone to in order to welcome an influx of what is now said to be nearly four million Ukrainian refugees.

I was particularly interested to hear what he had to say about human trafficking at the border because that is one of the more recent horror stories to be reported out of the war—one that is emerging to shockingly enormous in scale. Here’s a short part of what he said on the call. (I have edited his language for clarity.)

BAKUN: Trafficking was one of the biggest problems we saw from the very first day. We saw a lot of people coming here to the train station [and elsewhere]. They had boards offering free transport to Germany or France or somewhere else. So we were worried. And we talked with the police, we talked with the border guards and they checked a lot of these people out. But about two to three thousand cars come here every day with people looking for people—which creates a tough situation.

I saw one woman going off with a man, and I’d heard that they didn’t know each other. So I asked [her], “Do you know this man? Is he or family or something like that?”

She said, “No.”

I said, “But you’ve met him before?”

And she said, “No, we just met on Instagram. I am talking to him about transportation.”

I said , “It's not safe to take transportation with someone unknown.”

But she told me that it was none of my business.

And that's the truth. The people coming through the border are free people. They move [into] Poland, and they are free. They can do whatever they want—they can take a bus, they can take a train or go with someone unknown by car. So that that's a problem for us. We now have a system for hopefully preventing it by having every refugee coming to a center to be registered, as well as every [volunteer and] driver, so that if a car takes two, three, four, five people, we have a record of that. We keep that data for long time in case something bad should happen. And also we try to follow up with people by phone and ask, “Are you safe?” Obviously, we can’t do it for everyone. But I think the system is helpful. It’s very important for us that people reach their destination safely.

This was a visceral insight into a topic I’d been thinking about since last week when the first reports of human trafficking at the border emerged and I happened to meet Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, the President of the NGO Global Strategic Operatives, who told me about the challenges her organization is facing on the Ukrainian border.

Below is my conversation with O’Hara-Rusckowski, edited and condensed for clarity.

March 28

 

madison cawthorn cropped oRaw Story, Madison Cawthorn draws questions after allegations of GOP sex and drugs parties in Washington, Sarah Burris, March 27, 2022. "The sexual perversion that goes in Washington, I mean it being kind of a young guy in Washington with the average age of probably 60 or 70," said U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), above.

raw story logo square"And I look at all these people, a lot of them that I, you know, I've looked up to through my life. I've always paid attention to politics guys that, you know, then all of the sudden you get invited to like, well, hey, we're going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes. You should come there, like... What, what did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they're asking you to come to an orgy. Or the fact that, you know, there's some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country and then you watch them doing, you know, a key bump of cocaine right in front of you and it's like wow this is wild."

As one observer noted, Cawthorn doesn't generally "hang out" with Democrats. He hangs out with other Republicans, so his observations are coming from those he's observed.

Republican strategist and Bulwark columnist Tim Miller revealed that he had contacted Cawthorn's office to ask if Cawthorn intends to reveal the person who invited him to the orgy.

March 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Former judiciary workers urge Congress to protect court employees from discrimination and harassment, Ann E. Marimow, March 18, 2022 (print ed.). Former law clerks and other federal judiciary employees shared highly personal stories of workplace harassment and discrimination Thursday, urging Congress to pass legislation that would better protect such workers and ensure an impartial system for reporting misconduct.

Lawmakers from both parties said that, despite efforts by the U.S. courts to overhaul their system, problems persist because the judiciary’s more than 30,000 employees still lack the same legal rights as other government and private-sector workers.

“Judicial branch employees continue to be harassed and discriminated against with little recourse,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said during the House Judiciary Committee hearing. “Time and time again, representatives of the judiciary have told us that there isn’t a problem, that we should let them handle it themselves.”

Three former federal judiciary employees — a law clerk, public defender and high-level administrative official — told the committee about a workplace culture that has discouraged reporting, describing harassment they had endured and what they said are shortcomings in the process for resolving misconduct claims.

Last year, lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation to extend to judiciary employees the same anti-discrimination rights afforded to other government employees and to protect whistleblowers. The proposal would create an independent special counsel to investigate workplace complaints and report its findings to Congress and an oversight commission made up of people with experience enforcing civil rights laws.

Roberts says federal judiciary has some issues but doesn’t need congressional intervention

Leaders of the federal judiciary acknowledged their work is not done, but said Thursday that sweeping legislation is unnecessary and inappropriate. The court system, said U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson, has already made “significant strides and improvements and has done so expeditiously” by creating new paths for reporting, providing confidential guidance for employees and expanding protections against abusive conduct.

“Some changes don’t occur overnight. This is a continuing effort, and we expect some changes will need time to take root,” said Robinson, a member of an advisory group, which has recommended a long list of changes in judiciary policies.

Robinson and Judge M. Margaret McKeown echoed concerns of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. about Congress interfering with the inner workings of a separate, equal branch of government.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he understands the separation-of-powers concerns and the imperative for the judiciary to retain independence.

“Self-rule by a separate branch” of government is “acceptable, but it has to be comparable, accountable and transparent,” he said, adding “we have to hold everyone accountable.”

Laura C. Minor, who worked for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for more than two decades, told lawmakers that the judiciary has long struggled to deal with misconduct. The judiciary’s proposed changes are insufficient, she said, and many complaints are still not reported because people fear retaliation.

“From what I can see today and what we all have heard, the judiciary’s insistence on self-policing only serves its interest in self-protection,” said Minor, who was the equal employment opportunity officer for the court’s administrative office and former secretary of the Judicial Conference, the policymaking body for the federal courts.

March 15

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: The Case That Killed #MeToo in Sweden, Jenny Nordberg (a Swedish journalist and author based in New York), March 15, 2022. In 2017, Cissi Wallin, a Swedish journalist, posted a now infamous mirror selfie to her tens of thousands of followers on Instagram.“The powerful media man who drugged and raped me in 2006 is named Fredrik Virtanen.” She would soon learn how much trouble naming the man would cause. cissi wallinThe post led to a maelstrom on social media and in the news. Cissi Wallin convicted of gross libel.

As Flight SK946 rounded the southern tip of Greenland, with her husband and 2-year-old son quietly sleeping next to her, Cissi Wallin felt her resolve begin to harden. Two generations of silence was enough.

Her mother and her grandmother, too, told her they had mostly kept quiet when they’d been mistreated by men. It’s what women did back then, they’d said.

But as the plane carried Ms. Wallin, a Swedish writer and actor, from Chicago back to Stockholm that night in October 2017, her thoughts were on what was happening in America. Harvey Weinstein had just been exposed and was fired within days. Something seemed to be gathering momentum. Within a few weeks, women across the country and the world would be saying it out loud: Me Too.

sweden flagA week after the flight, after working out, skipping her shower and drinking several mugs of strong coffee at a cafe near her house, Ms. Wallin posted a mirror selfie to her tens of thousands of followers on Instagram. “The powerful media man who drugged and raped me in 2006 is named Fredrik Virtanen,” the caption began.

Today — more than four years later — Mr. Virtanen has never been charged with any crime in connection to his encounter with Ms. Wallin. (He has denied her allegations.) She, meanwhile, is a convicted criminal, at risk of prison time.

In 2019 she was charged with and convicted of defamation, after Mr. Virtanen reported her to the police. Other Swedish men have pursued similar tactics: At least 12 criminal convictions have followed of women who had told their own stories since the #MeToo movement began.

And now, in what might be a low point in Ms. Wallin’s quest for the right to speak about what she says happened to her, she’s about to be prosecuted again — after self-publishing a memoir about her experience. Although the book doesn’t name the man, if she’s convicted, the government will seek to have all unsold hard copies of her book destroyed.

Even today, in the post-Stieg Larsson era, Sweden retains its reputation as the feminist capital of the world. Much of that reputation is deserved: In Sweden, 480 days of parental leave is standard; fathers can be spotted pushing strollers around on any given day in the capital’s parks; sexual encounters are — in theory, at least— governed by a consent law; the government even officially proclaims itself “feminist.”

And still, the outpouring of testimonials at the height of #MeToo was striking. More than 60,000 Swedish women signed appeals, many of which detailed personal stories ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault at workplaces and beyond.

But what marked the Swedish version of #MeToo as unusual is that this outpouring of testimonials took place almost completely anonymously: few women were willing to come forward to be identified as the victims, and only a handful of the accused men were named.

March 13

ny times logoNew York Times, Trinity Church’s Conductor Put on Leave Amid Investigation, Javier C. Hernández, March 13, 2022. Julian Wachner has been accused of sexually assaulting a Juilliard School employee during a music festival in 2014. He denies the accusation.

Trinity Wall Street, one of New York’s wealthiest and most powerful churches, said on Saturday that it was placing its high-profile director of music on leave as it investigates an allegation of sexual misconduct against him.

The director, Julian Wachner, a highly-regarded conductor, composer and keyboardist who has been a fixture at the church for more than a decade, has been accused by a former Juilliard employee, Mary Poole, of sexual assault. Ms. Poole said in an interview with The New York Times that during a music festival in 2014, Mr. Wachner pushed her against a wall, groped her and kissed her, and that he ignored her demands that he stop. Mr. Wachner denies the accusations.

March 12

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New allegations echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Then and Now: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.Y. judge rejects Trump’s attempt to countersue E. Jean Carroll, Shayna Jacobs, March 12, 2022 (print ed.). A New York judge has rejected a bid by Donald Trump to sue author and columnist E. Jean Carroll, right, on the grounds that her defamation case against him in 2019 was baseless — a ruling that accused the former president of causing repeated delays to keep a sensitive matter from moving closer to trial.

e jean carroll twitterCarroll’s lawsuit has also been held up by the Justice Department’s bid to intervene as counsel on Trump’s behalf, an effort based on the argument that he was acting in his official capacity as a federal employee when he made comments disparaging e jean carrollCarroll, shown at right in a file photo and below left in one more recent.

Trump’s remarks were in response to Carroll’s allegation that he had raped her in Manhattan decades prior — an accusation Trump denies.

Allowing Trump’s counterclaim against Carroll to proceed “would make a regrettable situation worse by opening new avenues for significant further delay,” U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote in a ruling that was docketed Friday.

Carroll’s sole claim of defamation “could have been tried and decided — one way or the other — long ago,” the ruling said.

e jean carroll cover new york magazineTrump’s obstructive actions in the Carroll proceeding, which began in a New York state court three years ago, “have had a dilatory effect and, indeed, strongly suggest that he is acting out of a strong desire to delay any opportunity [Carroll] may have to present her case against him,” donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaKaplan added.

Trump’s allegedly damaging comments — calling Carroll a liar and insisting that he had never even met her — were made in response to allegations in her 2018 memoir What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal,” excerpted in the New York Magazine cover story at left

Carroll wrote that Trump, as shown in a graphic, right, then a well-known real estate tycoon, raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s after a chance encounter.

March 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Accused Leader in Sarah Lawrence Cult Case Is Set to Stand Trial, Colin Moynihan, March 6, 2022. For about 10 years, Lawrence V. Ray abused and extorted a group of his daughter’s classmates at the college, prosecutors say.

In 2010, Lawrence V. Ray walked out of a New Jersey prison and into the lives of a group of students at Sarah Lawrence College, a small school just north of New York City.

Many of those students would never be the same.

Mr. Ray, who was then 50, moved into the dormitory of his daughter, Talia Ray, telling her friends stories of his wild life and manipulating them with what prosecutors would later describe as bogus “therapy” sessions, where he pretended to solve their psychological problems.

Over the next 10 years, prosecutors said, he subjected the students and others in his circle to abuse: He extorted money from them, compelled some to have sex with strangers, and forced a young woman into prostitution — on one occasion, inside a Midtown Manhattan hotel, Mr. Ray placed a plastic bag over her head, restricting her breathing.

Now, nearly three years after an article in New York magazine, “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” revealed Mr. Ray’s cult-leader tactics, he will stand trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Ray, indicted in 2020, will be tried on 17 counts, including sex trafficking, extortion, racketeering conspiracy and violent crime in aid of racketeering. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday.

geoffrey berman sdny“For nearly a decade, Lawrence Ray exploited and abused young women and men emotionally, physically, and sexually for his own financial gain,” Geoffrey S. Berman, left, then the United States Attorney in Manhattan, said after Mr. Ray was arrested.

The trial could shed new light on the bizarre saga of an ex-convict who became a Pied Piper figure on a leafy liberal arts campus in Bronxville, an affluent New York City suburb. Prosecutors said in court filings that they planned to introduce statements by Mr. Ray’s accused co-conspirators, including Isabella Pollok, a former Sarah Lawrence student who prosecutors said became Mr. Ray’s “trusted lieutenant,” as well as Mr. Ray’s daughter.

Ms. Pollok, who has been charged with conspiracy related to sex trafficking, extortion and racketeering, has pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.

Mr. Ray’s daughter, who has not been charged, was first described as a co-conspirator in a recent court filing. Prosecutors wrote that she had profited from and supported Mr. Ray’s misdeeds and cited an email they said she sent him in 2013 that said: “What you have done with my friends is the most amazing and beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

Actions described by prosecutors show that Mr. Ray used methods of control similar to those employed by cult leaders like Keith Raniere of Nxivm. Both men were said to have led others to believe they were broken, then isolated them from their families while indoctrinating them. While under Mr. Ray’s influence, several of the students were said to have stopped communicating with their parents.

March 4

 

brian beck mugshotLaw & Crime, Judge Allows Former Deputy Accused of Raping 14-Year-Old Girl to Avoid Prison and Sex Offender Status, Chris Spargo, March 4, 2022. Brian Beck will not serve time after a plea deal in his rape case (mugshot above from 2018 via Germantown Police).

Brian Beck, shown above, will not serve time after a plea deal in his rape case (mugshot above from 2018 via Germantown Police).

pro publica logoAfter striking a plea deal with prosecutors, a onetime Tennessee sheriff’s deputy who was accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl over a period of 20 months will serve no time in prison and does not have to register as a sex offender.

Brian O. Beck, 47, pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated assault on Monday, according to court records filed in Shelby County Court. That plea was part of a deal between Beck and prosecutors, a member of the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office confirmed to Law&Crime.

The judge in the case suspended Beck’s nominal four-year prison sentence and said the defendant would instead serve three years probation, a sentencing order provided to Law&Crime by the prosecutor’s office indicates. If Beck fails to live up to the terms of his probation, he could be incarcerated for the aforementioned four-year term, according to the probation order itself and a statement from the prosecutor’s office to a local television station. The order also requires Beck to serve 150 hours of community service, submit to random drug screening, and have no contact with the victim.

The judge’s order, in essence a perfunctory form document with boxes to check and a few blank lines to fill, offers but a glimpse into the reasoning behind the moves.

The document says “the defendant is not likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct” — at least “to the satisfaction of the Court” — and that “the ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that the Defendant shall presently suffer the penalty imposed by law by incarceration.”

Judge Lee Coffee signed off on the document.

Beck will also not have to register as a sex offender, according to the order.

  • Law & Crime, Tennessee Couple Murdered Infant Girl Who Died from ‘Acute Methamphetamine Toxicity’: Authorities

denny doyleLaw & Crime, Former Oregon Mayor, Once Honored as ‘Citizen of the Year’ by Boy Scouts, Possessed Child Pornography of Minor Under the Age of 12: DOJ, Chris Spargo, March 4, 2022. The former mayor of an Oregon city has been hit with a federal child pornography charge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon hit 73-year-old Dennis “Denny“ Doyle (D) with the charge of possession of child pornography.

pro publica logoThe details of the case are currently under seal, but Law&Crime obtained a copy of the information sheet filed by prosecutors on Thursday.

The filing, submitted to the court by U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug and Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie K. Wight, claims that the incident in question occurred “[b]etween on or about November 2014, and continuing until on or about December 2015.”

It is during that time that Doyle “knowingly and unlawfully possessed material containing child pornography,” according to the information sheet.

Prosecutors claim that the child pornography Doyle is accused of possessing “included a depiction of a prepubescent minor or a minor who had not attained twelve years of age.” The DOJ press release said that the illicit material included “images depicting minors under twelve.”

The forfeiture notice included in the information sheet requested that Doyle surrender “one purple 64GB Lexar USB thumb drive.”

Doyle served three terms as the mayor of Beaverton and was in office at the time of this alleged offense. His bid for a fourth term failed when he lost in a run-off back in 2020, according to Portland NBC affiliate KGW.

In 2008, then-Beaverton City Councilor Doyle was honored by the Boy Scouts of America as “Citizen of the Year.” The Oregonian published a small item about Doyle getting that honor. It read:

Doyle was recognized during an Oct. 22 ceremony for his longtime community service and work with youth sports. He founded Westside Metros Soccer Club, served on the Westside Recreational Soccer Club Board, and has been a board member of the Beaverton Baseball and Softball Association.

The Westside Metros Soccer Club is a “premier competitive and community oriented soccer club, providing exceptional soccer programs for Male and Female players 6-18.”

These charges are a result of Project Safe Childhood, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Doyle now faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. His first court appearance was scheduled for Friday.

March 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Art Briles steps down as Grambling’s offensive coordinator days after being hired, Des Bieler, March 1, 2022 (print ed.). Just days after being hired to be Grambling’s offensive coordinator, Art Briles stepped down from the position. The former Baylor head coach, who was fired from the school in 2016 amid criticism of his handling of sexual assault allegations against a number of his players, said in a statement Monday that he didn’t want to be a distraction for Grambling’s program.

 

February Update

Feb. 21

vicky ward investigates

Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (Photo via U.S. Department of Justice).

The late model agency owner Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, also shown below right during a separate meeting (Photos via U.S. Department of Justice).

Vicky Ward Investigates, Jean-Luc Brunel’s Suicide Shuts One of the Main Doors to Unraveling the Mysteries of Jeffrey Epstein, Vicky Ward, Feb. 20-21, 2022. With the apparent prison suicide of Jean-Luc Brunel—the owner of the model agency MC2 and a business associate of Jeffrey Epstein—early jean luc brunel ghislaine maxwell rompSaturday, one of the main doors to unraveling the mysteries that still surround Epstein, two and half years after Epstein’s own controversial suicide, just closed.

“Brunel knew everything—he knew everybody’s secrets,” one businessman who knew both men and partied with them in the 1980s told me over the weekend. “He was more integral to the sex-trafficking ring than Epstein was. He was there first.”
Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell // DOJ

(Brunel’s lawyers maintained his innocence, even after his death. "Jean-Luc Brunel has never stopped claiming his innocence. He has multiplied his efforts to prove it. A judge had released him a few months ago, and then he was re-incarcerated in undignified conditions," his lawyers said in a statement released after his death.)

But during the reporting of “Chasing Ghislaine,” my podcast and documentary series which focused on the mystery of the powerful men who propped up Epstein’s enterprise, Brunel’s name came up again and again—as not just a critical part of Epstein’s alleged sex-trafficking operation, but as the originator.

Kira Dikhtyar, the Russian gymnast-turned-supermodel who recently claimed that, at just 15, she was raped by the late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and who is now lobbying the UN for a universal age of consent, told me that it was Brunel who first introduced her to Epstein soon after she arrived in America—in a way that was certainly not straightforward.

kira dikhtyar vicki ward bucketeer public imagesVicky Ward, right, with Kira Dikhtyar during the taping of “Chasing Ghislaine.”

Here is some of our conversation, edited for clarity:

WARD: You worked for MC2?

DIKHTYAR: I was recruited by Jean-Luc. I was in Miami for [a] Cosmopolitan shoot and I had lunch with Jean-Luc. And he says, "I'm gonna hook you up with somebody from Victoria's Secret." [Victoria’s Secret was owned by the retail billionaire, Leslie Wexner, who was one of Epstein’s business clients. Wexner has not been accused of any wrongdoing].

Every day, I used to get a call sheet, which was typical in the modeling industry. And I was living in the building that a lot of the models from MC2 lived in.

Well, one day my cast sheet from Jean-Luc said “Jeffrey Epstein” and an address on 51st Street. There was no explanation for this. So I thought maybe Epstein might be [a] photographer because the agency was trying to introduce us to as many photographers as possible for castings.

WARD: But you knew he might have to do with Victoria's Secret?

DIKHTYAR: I kind of put it together after, but I didn't really understand. It was written “on the request of Jean-Luc” on this paper.

WARD: Right. So what happened when you went to that big house in New York?

Feb. 20

Feb. 20

NBC News, Modeling agent linked to Jeffrey Epstein found dead in prison cell, Nancy Ing and Rhoda Kwan and Diana Dasrath, Feb. 20, 2022. A French modeling agent linked to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell on Saturday, the Paris prosecutor's office told NBC News.

It appeared that Jean-Luc Brunel, 75, “died by suicide because he was discovered dead from hanging himself with his sheets,” they said in a telephone call.

A police investigation has been opened to determine the exact cause of death as would be the case in all deaths in prison, they added.

Brunel, who headed several modelling agencies including the famous Karin Models Agency, was charged with sexual harassment and the rape of at least one minor over the age of 15 in December 2020. Earlier that month he was detained at Charles de Gaulle Airport as he was preparing to take a flight to Senegal.

Feb. 19

Daily Mail Online, Jeffrey Epstein's pimp Jean-Luc Brunel dies in prison 'suicide,' Peter Allen and Emer Scull, Feb. 19, 2022. Frenchman who procured 'a thousand women' for pedophile financier and slept with Virginia Roberts 'hangs himself' -- a week after Prince Andrew settlement.

jean luc brunelJeffrey Epstein's French modelling agent friend Jean-Luc Brunel, right, who allegedly procured more than a thousand women and girls for the paedophile financier to sleep with, died today in an alleged prison suicide.

It comes days after Prince Andrew, 62, agreed to settle Virginia Roberts's lawsuit accusing him of sex abuse after they met allegedly through Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Roberts accused Brunel, 76, of procuring more than a thousand women and girls for Epstein to sleep with and he was awaiting trial in France for raping minors.

jean luc brunel matrix picturesHis death in an alleged hanging will fuel conspiracy theories around the Epstein affair after the financier also died in prison while awaiting trial in what authorities concluded was a hanging.

Controversy over Epstein's death has been fueled by the fact that prison video cameras at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correction Center were not running at the time Epstein died in the cell he shared with another inmate.

Prosecutors in Paris confirmed Brunel, who is not believed to have been on suicide watch, was found hanging in his cell in La Santé, in the south of the capital city, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Brunel, shown at left in younger years in a photo via Matrix Pictures with some of the models he represented, is thought to have been alone at the time of his death and there were no cameras to record his final hours, according to an investigating source at La Santé – one of the toughest jails in France.

'A night patrol found his lifeless body at about 1am,' said an investigating source. 'A judicial enquiry has been launched, and early evidence points to suicide.'

Following the news of his death, Virginia Roberts said she was 'disappointed' that she was not able to face Brunel at a 'final trial to hold him accountable' and added that his alleged suicide 'ends another chapter.'

Taking to Twitter following the news of his death on Saturday, she wrote: 'The suicide of Jean-Luc Brunel, who abused me and countless girls and young women, ends another chapter.

'I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to face him in a final trial to hold him accountable, but gratified that I was able to testify in person last year to keep him in prison.'

It was in December 2020 that Brunel was indicted after two days of interviews by an examining magistrate and specialist police from an anti-paedophilia unit.

He was arrested at the city's Charles de Gaulle airport on while trying to board a plane to Dakar, Senegal, telling detectives 'I'm going on holiday.'

While CCTV is commonplace in the corridors and gateways of French prisons, the vast majority of cells are not under video surveillance. This is ensure a degree of privacy, and to make sure that European human rights legislation is not violated.

Inmates are sometimes known to record events using devices including mobile phones, but Brunel is thought to have been in a single occupancy cell, said the source.

'There is an investigation going on to confirm all this, but at the moment it looks like he killed himself alone, and it was a routine patrol that found his body hanging,' he said.

The source added: 'There were no obvious fears for the prisoner's health, and he was not on a suicide watch, having already been in prison for many months.'

The official enquiry into Brunel's sudden death was on Saturday being carried out by offices from the 3rd Judicial Police district in Paris. An autopsy was set to be carried out, to establish the exact cause of death.

Forensic officers were meanwhile examining the cell where Brunel died. La Santé, which was built in the 19th Century, has housed some of the most dangerous prisoners in recent French history.

There is a so-called 'VIP section' where inmates include 'super terrorist' and mass killer Carlos the Jackal, whose real name is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez.

Brunel was originally indicted and placed in pre-trial detention in December 2020 for the 'rape of a minor over 15 years old' and harassing two other women.

He was also suspected of being a 'pimp' for Epstein, after becoming a close friend of the billionaire financier.

Brunel had been placed under the intermediate status of assisted witness for acts of 'human trafficking' and 'exploiting minors for the sexual purposes.'

Brunel committed suicide because he was 'crushed' by the allegations against him, his defence lawyers said in a joint statement.

'His distress was that of a 75-year-old man crushed by a media-judicial system which it should be time to question,' said Mathias Chichportich, Marianne Abgrall and Christophe Ingrain.

'Jean-Luc Brunel has continued to proclaim his innocence. He multiplied his efforts to prove it. His decision [to end his life] was not driven by guilt, but by a deep sense of injustice.'

ghislaine maxwell trump melania other womanOthers involved in the ring include Epstein's ex-girlfriend, the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, who is currently in prison in the USA after being found guilty of sex trafficking. She is shown at left with future U.S. President Trump and his wife, Melania.

A Dutch model, Thysia Huisman, who was 18 when she first stayed with Brunel, said she was raped by him in 1991.

She is now one of at least four alleged victims represented by Anne-Claire Le Jeune, a Paris barrister, who said Brunel being in custody was a huge relief, because their complaints now 'take on meaning,' she said.

After news of Brunel's death broke Ms Huidman said she felt disappointed by the 'completely different ending without any real justice for his victims.

Brunel was suspected of having been part of a global underage sex ring organised by the late American multi-billionaire Epstein.

A French judicial enquiry into Brunel's conduct was opened in August 2019, when prosecutors heard allegations that Brunel and the Queen's second son Prince Andrew shared a lover.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an American, has told lawyers she was employed as a 'sex slave' when she was forced to sleep with the Duke of York after being trafficked to him at least three times when she was 17.

Almost all of the accusations leveled against Brunel were from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, meaning they fell outside the 20-year limit for prosecuting sex crimes in France.

This meant that Brunel was considered 'untouchable' by police who nicknamed him 'The Ghost' as he carried on living and working in the French capital, while frequently traveling abroad on scouting assignments and holidays.

But in November 2020, Giuffre responded to an online English language appeal by French magistrates for alleged victims to come forward.

Giuffre said she had 'sexual relations with Brunel on several occasions', between the ages of 16 and 19, according to legal papers filed in America and France.

The rape of a minor is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in France, while aggravated sexual harassment comes with a three-year prison sentence and a fine equivalent to around £40,000.

Giuffre said Epstein told her he had slept with 'over a thousand women that Brunel brought in,' in an NBC Dateline special that aired in 2019.

Brunel, who denied any wrongdoing, was being held in custody until a criminal trial on a date to be fixed. In 2015, Brunel denied involvement 'directly or indirectly' in any of Epstein's offences in a statement issued in 2015. It said: 'I strongly deny having committed any illicit act or any wrongdoing in the course of my work.'

Brunel was also suspected of using his contacts in the fashion industry to provide victims to Epstein and his friends. He is said to have flown three 12-year-olds from a Paris housing estate to America so they could be abused by Epstein as 'a birthday present.'

Feb. 16

 

jeff zucker cnn

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Secret Assault Allegation Against an Anchor Upended CNN and Jeff Zucker, Emily Steel, Jodi Kantor, Michael M. Grynbaum, James B. Stewart and John Koblin, Updated Feb. 16, 2022. The network’s top-rated host and its president were forced out following ethical lapses, an office romance and a letter from a lawyer for “Jane Doe.”

Late in the day on Nov. 30, Jeff Zucker, above, the president of CNN Worldwide, summoned his star anchor and friend, Chris Cuomo, to a meeting in the network’s skyscraper overlooking the Hudson River.

CNNMr. Zucker was joined by the network’s chief marketing officer — and his secret romantic partner — Allison Gollust. They had to deliver a delicate message.

chris cuomo cnnMr. Zucker told Mr. Cuomo that CNN was suspending him because of his unethical interactions with his brother, New York’s governor.

Mr. Cuomo, right, was shocked and offered to resign. Mr. Zucker countered that the anchor might be able to return at some point, according to people with knowledge of the conversation. Mr. Cuomo felt reassured. He and Mr. Zucker were confidants, their fortunes entwined. Mr. Cuomo didn’t bother to consult a lawyer.

Barely 24 hours later, a letter arrived at CNN. It was from a lawyer representing a woman who had worked with Mr. Cuomo years earlier at ABC News. She said he had sexually assaulted her and that, in the heat of the #MeToo movement, Mr. Cuomo had tried to keep her quiet by arranging a flattering CNN segment about her employer at the time. The letter described it as an “abuse of power at CNN to attempt to silence my client.”

While a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo denied the allegations in the letter, it set in motion a chain of events that would quickly upend one of the world’s most powerful news networks.

By week’s end, Mr. Zucker had fired Mr. Cuomo, telling him that a drumbeat of scandals had become “too much for us.”

Two months later, Mr. Zucker was forced to resign. On Tuesday, CNN announced that Ms. Gollust, too, was leaving the network.

Publicly, Mr. Zucker blamed the failure to disclose his relationship with Ms. Gollust. But other forces had set the stage for his downfall.

CNN had skidded into third place in cable news ratings. A key investor had criticized the network’s opinionated, personality-driven programming. Mr. Zucker had clashed with a top executive at CNN’s parent company. And he had made powerful enemies out of Mr. Cuomo and his brother, the former New York governor.

By the time of Mr. Cuomo’s ouster, the law firm that had been hired to investigate his behavior had turned its attention to Mr. Zucker and his management of a network where his intimacy with sources and employees had been both his calling card and Achilles’ heel. Mr. Zucker’s abrupt departure has thrown the future of CNN into chaos, just as it was poised to introduce a highly anticipated streaming service and to come under new corporate ownership.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Prince Andrew Settles Sexual Abuse Lawsuit With Virginia Giuffre, Benjamin Weiser, Feb. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Virginia Giuffre accused Prince Andrew of raping her when she was a victim of the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Terms of the settlement were not revealed.

Prince Andrew, the disgraced second son of Queen Elizabeth II, has settled a lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre, a woman who had accused him of raping her when she was a teenage victim of Andrew’s friend, the notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to a new court filing in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The amount that Andrew, 61, will pay Ms. Giuffre is confidential, the parties said in a joint statement attached to the filing.

Andrew also “intends to make a substantial donation” to a charity “in support of victims’ rights,” the statement says.

The deal comes just weeks before Andrew was scheduled to sit for a deposition, in which he would have been questioned under oath by Ms. Giuffre’s lawyers. Andrew did not admit to any of Ms. Giuffre’s accusations against him in the statement announcing the settlement.

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, Prince Andrew Settles to Keep Giuffre Case Out of the Courts, Vicky Ward, Feb. 16, 2022. As I wrote last week, I have bounced a lot of the legal activity around the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell off of former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida-turned-litigator David S. Weinstein, who has been a wise sounding board.

I asked him about today’s news that Prince Andrew has settled with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who had accused him of sexual abuse when she was a minor. In just weeks, Andrew was scheduled to give a deposition.

Here’s my conversation with Weinstein, condensed for clarity.

WARD: You said you foresaw this settlement. Why?

WEINSTEIN: Because of the high stakes that were involved. The stakes were very high for Prince Andrew in this, and you saw how he was prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 2001trying to avoid any litigation whatsoever because of the fact that he filed his motions to dismiss—he was doing whatever he could to keep this case out of the courts. When that didn't work, he had to answer the complaint, and they were getting ready for the deposition. He certainly didn't want to sit down under oath and answer any questions. So he was faced with a difficult choice: He could reach a settlement and pay Virginia Giuffre or he could pay his lawyers to keep fighting this. But then it would keep staying in the public view.

Above, right: A photograph appearing to show Prince Andrew with a then-17-year-old Virginia Roberts Giuffre and, in the background, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Feb. 15

 

melissa blair

WATE-TV, McMinn County woman indicted on 18 child rape charges, Gregory Raucoules, Feb. 15, 2022. An Englewood woman, shown above, has been indicted on more than 20 sex charges after investigators say she traded items for sexual encounters with male students who attend McMinn Central High School.

Melissa Blair, 38, is charged with 18 counts of aggravated statutory rape, four counts of human trafficking by patronizing prostitution and one count of solicitation. She turned herself in Tuesday and was booked into the McMinn County Jail on a $100,000 bond. She is not, nor has she ever been, a school employee.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said in a Tuesday press conference that Blair traded items for sexual encounters from spring 2020 through late 2021. Guy said the encounters began through communication on social media.

McMinn County Director of Schools Lee Parkison said the investigation began after an anonymous letter was left in his office. “Without them this could still be going on,” Parkison said, thanking whomever wrote the letter.

Parkinson said Blair was not employed by the school but was involved with school clubs, “… like other parents are.”
No change to ‘Maus’ ban at McMinn County Schools despite backlash

“But most importantly we want to offer support and resources to the victim and their parents as we move forward.”
McMinn county sheriff joe guy

Officials said seven of the nine victims are juveniles while two are now legal adults.

“We suspect there may be additional juvenile victims and we encourage them or their parents to contact us. There may possibly be other victims who are now adults, and we also encourage them to contact us,” Sheriff Guy said. “This type of case is difficult and shocking even to us seasoned detectives, and I want to commend our staff for the many hours of identifying, locating, and interviewing victims and their families, as well as the many days of putting together the search warrant subsequent case file. But most importantly we want to offer support and resources to the victim and their parents as we move forward.”

Feb. 11

 vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, The Last Word on the New Yorker and Isaac Chotiner, Vicky Ward, Feb. 11, 2022. This is the last time, I hope, I refer to the misleading article that Isaac Chotiner wrote in the New Yorker about my reporting on Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell over the last twenty years.

What I want to point out is that, strangely, if you bother to read Chotiner’s article closely, it shows that—amid a whole lot of opinionated, fact-less nonsense about my integrity—the answer to the central question of who buried Maria and Annie Farmer’s allegations of Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse back in 2002, and then again in 2011, is…drumroll…Graydon Carter. Further, it shows that when Carter was asked about this, his answers were disproven by the time-stamped emails and transcripts I sent to Chotiner and New Yorker fact-checkers.

So how and why then does the article, on an initial reading, make it appear that I am a liar, an unreliable journalist, while Carter is just brushing off a poor memory?

I’m going to give you the facts about what happened during the reporting of this because I am entitled to defend myself and my reputation when it’s under attack. First, why did Chotiner even write this piece? I’ve had many puzzled phone calls with people asking, What is the point of this piece? The news value? The public interest? It’s a head-scratcher.


________________________________________

 

vicky ward epstein vanity fair 2003 cover mansion

 

Vicky Ward: My 2003 Vanity Fair article, “The Talented Mr. Epstein”
________________________________________

The first thing I should say is that it is just completely false for Chotiner to say that “many of the things that she told me—and had told her podcast listeners—turned out to be untrue.” There was one notable mistake I made—about the use of the word “peccadilloes” in my blog. I actually pointed that out to Chotiner, not vice-versa. I told him I found it in the original draft; I don’t know how it got through vetting. It’s a bad mistake, but I owned it and I immediately informed Audible about it as well.

Does he mention my transparency—as compared with the cover-up by Carter? No.

What Chotiner is trying to milk here is that, during the reporting of his piece, he called me often— catching me on the fly at 10pm, or in transit—and so, when he asked me did I remember X from 20 years ago—or things from even one year ago—I was honest that I couldn’t recall off the top of my head. On the spot, I couldn’t remember every precise date and time and fact from the last 20 years. Could you? Once I was back at my computer with the records of the scripts of my podcast and two decades of emails and transcripts in front of me, I corrected what I had made my best guess at on the fly. But he decided to nitpick and say that I “chang[ed] my story from year to year and at times from day to day.”

No. What happened is he’d talk to me when I was without my computer. I’d then go and look at my computer and phone him back with what the documents supported.

And what those documents showed was that I had the Farmers on the record in early drafts of my 2003 article (contrary to what Carter claimed—he said I was late); that those allegations were supported by others (contrary to what Carter claimed); that I was right to believe the Farmers over Epstein (Carter believed Epstein over the Farmers); that editors at Vanity Fair did email that Carter needed to see the 2011 blog prior to publication (he said he never read it); and that changes were made to the blog—with the critical changes of the deletion of the Farmers’ allegations and the insertion of the word “I” by someone other than myself.

I sent all this to Chotiner, most of it after he spoke to Carter who had made his assertion the Farmers were not in my first draft. Chotiner told me he believed he had gotten his story wrong, because an email I showed his fact-checker conflicted with that. Chotiner then castigated me for not previously sending over all my numerous emails from 2002. How was I supposed to know, in advance, what Carter would claim about my reporting? I was bewildered, and I knew Chotiner could not possibly have the right facts. Chotiner then asked me to send over all the records that I had.

So I spent an entire weekend and several nights going through old email records and transcripts, trying to piece together from hundreds of old records exactly what the facts said.

As I was undertaking that journey, I occasionally wondered aloud to Chotiner, via email and phone, if there was Possibility A or B in some cases. I was trying, openly, to get to the actual facts for him—a really time-consuming effort for me, but one I thought was important—and yet he turned around and completely mischaracterized that effort as me being inconsistent. I think that is dishonest.

 

nfl logo cropped

washington post logoWashington Post, NFL tells Congress that Commanders are blocking access to documents from workplace probe, Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala, Feb. 11, 2022 (print ed.). The NFL told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in a letter that the Washington Commanders, not the league, are impeding the committee’s access to many documents related to the investigation of the team’s workplace, another sign of increasing tension between the team and league over the handling of the probe.

carolyn maloney oThe letter — dated Wednesday and sent to Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), right, the committee’s chairwoman, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) — reiterates the league’s assertion that “[d]ecisions related to the findings of the investigation have been made by the NFL, not the team.” The NFL also defended its decision to have attorney Beth Wilkinson, who beth wilkinsonconducted the investigation, submit only oral findings to the league rather than a written report.

The NFL said that it entered into a “common interest agreement” with the team to avoid having to restart the investigation after taking over the probe from the team. And as the committee now seeks information related to Wilkinson’s investigation, the league wrote that the team is responsible for blocking access to more than 100,000 documents.

In sharp rebuke, NFL plans independent probe of sexual misconduct allegations against Daniel Snyder

The NFL sought approximately 109,000 team documents related to the investigation that were previously shared with Wilkinson’s firm, Wilkinson Stekloff, and are in the possession of a third-party vendor, the league’s attorneys wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

“That vendor refused to provide the NFL or even Wilkinson Stekloff with access to the documents unless the team consented because of its concern that it could be sued by the team or its owner," the attorneys wrote. "The NFL promptly directed the team to provide its consent to the vendor, but the team repeatedly has refused to do so.”

The team denied the allegation.

Feb. 9

 

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, What the New Yorker Got Wrong, Vicky Ward, Feb. 9, 2022. Around New Years, following the verdict in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial, New Yorker staff writer Isaac Chotiner reached out to me. He asked if I would do an interview with him about my coverage over twenty years of Maxwell and Jeffery Epstein, starting with my 2003 Vanity Fair profile of Epstein.

I paused.

On the one hand, I became a journalist because I believe in truth-telling.

On the other hand, I was concerned that Conde Nast—the parent company of the New Yorker—is also the owner of Vanity Fair. The same lawyers who were responsible for vetting my 2003 Vanity Fair article are still at Conde Nast. Is this the right venue to explore what really happened back then with Graydon Carter, one of the most influential—and highly paid—editors in the firm’s history?

It turns out, I was right to be doubtful. The piece has landed and it quickly abandons any attempt at exploring how Vanity Fair buried my 2003 reporting on Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of the Farmer sisters in favor of smearing my reputation as a journalist.

The backstory is that, in 2002, I was assigned by Vanity Fair what I thought would be a straightforward story—to find out where Jeffrey Epstein’s money came from. But very quickly, things started to get complicated. I had been the first journalist to talk with two women—sisters Maria and Annie Farmer—who had on-the-record sexual abuse allegations against Epstein. I put those allegations into the story. They were ultimately removed shortly before the piece went to press. In 2015, I wrote an article in the Daily Beast in which, with cooperation from Annie Farmer, I finally got the Farmer sisters’ allegations published.


________________________________________

 

vicky ward epstein vanity fair 2003 cover mansion

 

My 2003 Vanity Fair article, “The Talented Mr. Epstein”
________________________________________

The events of what happened leading up to the removal of the Farmers’ allegations from the Vanity Fair story are a large part of what the New Yorker story gets wrong.

Carter’s and Vanity Fair’s explanations for what happened have changed over time. At the time of the original 2003 piece, Carter told me he believed Epstein (Carter said, on tape, that he was a “trusting person” because he was Canadian) and that Epstein was clearly “very sensitive” about the women. My line editor at the time told me they felt the piece read better as a business piece. In more recent years, Carter has claimed that I didn’t have the reporting to back up the Farmers’ allegations and that my reporting didn’t meet the “legal threshold” for Vanity Fair. (I disagree. I had Maria and Annie Farmer and their mother all on the record, using their names. I had artist Eric Fischl on the record, too, and businessman David Schafer. Maria had spoken to them all contemporaneously, and then Annie had confided in her mother and sister. They were terrified that Epstein—with his money and power and connections—would rip into their credibility. And, sure enough, that’s exactly what he did.) Carter’s response to my 2015 allegations was that “Epstein denied the charges at the time and since the claims were unsubstantiated and no criminal investigation had been initiated, we decided not to include them in what was a financial story.” He’s gone on now to tell the New Yorker, “My staff, to a person, did not trust her.” (And yet I worked for Vanity Fair for a decade after this. That—and the rest of my record—speaks for itself.) Carter also, according to Chotiner, has suddenly “suggested that he had not been involved in decision-making about the article.”

At no point in the process did anyone at Vanity Fair say to me that I didn’t have the reporting. If anyone had ever said that to me, I would have asked them what they needed in order to meet that standard and then I would’ve gone out and gotten it. (A point I made to Chotiner that, apparently, he felt was moot).

What I do know is that, after I’d filed a draft, Epstein went into Carter’s Vanity Fair office and had a meeting—the content of which was never discussed with me. (If he asked Carter about that, Chotiner didn’t bother to put Carter’s response in the piece. I guess what happens in the offices of senior male executives at Conde Nast is off-limits to a New Yorker staff writer.) But a few weeks following that—a period of time during which my records show that Epstein and Carter continued to communicate—the Farmers and their allegations were cut out of the article.

Given Carter’s shifting story, that mysterious meeting, and the New Yorker piece’s inaccuracies and mischaracterizations, I’ve decided to share lengthy excerpts from the transcripts of my conversations with Jeffrey Epstein and with Graydon Carter himself so that you can read them for yourself and judge what you think actually happened at Vanity Fair back then.

To be clear: I supplied Chotiner with these time-stamped transcripts of conversations I had of conversations with Epstein, and of conversations with Carter. I also supplied Chotiner with emails that have their time and date clearly marked. But I began to suspect during the fact-checking process that Chotiner didn’t appreciate my transparency about the fallibility of memories from 20 years ago. I may not have immediately recalled things he asked me (especially when phoning me up at 10pm, as he did during reporting), but I have all the “receipts” supporting my story. I have kept my transcripts and emails for years, and I was able to go back and painstakingly reconstruct the timeline—to the point that, when Chotiner shared said timeline with Carter, Carter realized he had gotten his own story wrong and is quoted in the piece as saying, “Well, this is my mistake, then. Remember, this was almost 20 years ago.”

That’s precisely why the actual documentation is so important.

Feb. 3

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lawsuit alleges D.C. police leaders flagged FOIA requests from journalists and activists, Radley radley balko catoBalko, right, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, shown below, Feb. 3, 2022. In March 2019, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department held a public hearing for officer Sean Lojocano, who was accused of performing unneeded and unnecessarily invasive genital searches of city residents.

Among the attendees was Amy Phillips, an MPD critic and public defender in the District. Three days later, Phillips filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a transcript of the hearing. Within less than 90 minutes, the department denied her request, arguing that releasing the transcript would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

That seemed odd to Phillips. The hearing was public, so the transcript should have been public, too. She appealed the denial to the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, which directed the department to produce the transcript, but allowed some redactions. Almost three years after the public hearing, the department still hasn’t provided an unredacted transcript.

radley balko warrior coverIn the police department’s actions, Phillips had noticed a pattern: The police had stonewalled or denied her other FOIA requests, too — and the denials were usually quick. In 2020, she learned why, courtesy of a whistleblower: Vendette Parker, the department’s head FOIA officer from October 2017 until her retirement in January 2020.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in D.C. federal district court, Phillips — citing a sworn declaration from Parker — alleges that then-D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham instructed the department’s FOIA compliance officers to inform him of all incoming requests, and to flag any requests that could embarrass Newsham or the department. The chief and other senior officials would then meet with the FOIA officers to discuss strategies on how to delay, deny or otherwise frustrate those requests. (Disclosure: Phillips is a friend. She also says her lawsuit is not related to her job with the D.C. Public Defender Service.)

According to her declaration, Parker says that on her first day as a FOIA officer, she was told to flag any requests from reporters who had written or aired negative stories about the police department, any people or groups engaged in litigation against the department, any requests for the personal emails of Newsham or D.C. Police Chief Operating Officer Leeann Turner, and any other requests that could reflect poorly on the department or its leadership.

Parker’s declaration provides examples of people and groups whose requests received added scrutiny, including Phillips, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Anti-Defamation League, and reporters with the city’s CBS and Fox affiliates. Parker alleges she was also told to flag any requests for information related to stop-and-frisk policies, disciplinary hearings and the city’s controversial Gun Recovery Unit.

According to Parker, Turner told her not only to flag such requests, but to also write up possible responses that would justify the department denying or obstructing those requests. In other instances, she was asked to just delay potentially damaging requests until D.C. police officials could formulate a response. She claims she was also told to bring her proposed responses in hard copy form so there would be no record of them.

“While we haven’t been formally served with the suit, MPD will not discuss specific allegations due to the pending litigation,” said Officer Hugh Carew, a police spokesman. “We do acknowledge the serious nature of the claims. Transparency with our community partners is necessary to maintaining trust and agency accountability. A thorough review of the assertions will be completed and appropriately acted upon.”

 

The late Jeffrey Epstein and Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown (Photos via CNN).The late Jeffrey Epstein and Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown (Photos via CNN).

Florida Bulldog, Two victims of sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein sue reporter and author Julie K. Brown for defamation thru false statements, alleged threat, Bob Norman, Feb. 3, 2022. Miami Herald journalist and author Julie K. Brown has been widely lauded for her reporting on billionaire sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, which created a media frenzy and led to a million dollar book contract.

But now Brown is being sued for defamation by two Epstein victims that she has been credited for championing.

Courtney Wild and Haley Robson, who were both underaged victims of Epstein’s abuse and who played prominent roles in the case, allege Brown defamed them in her recently published book, Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story. Contained in the lawsuit are allegations that Brown falsely wrote that Wild was raped by Epstein and had sex with him afterward and that Brown had threatened Robson when she refused to participate in her book.

“Brown falsely stated that Ms. Wild was raped by Epstein and then had sex with Epstein multiple times after the rape. Neither is true,” wrote Miami attorney Jeffrey Guchess, who filed the complaint on behalf of Wild and Robson. “More egregiously, when Robson refused to sit for an interview for the book, Brown threatened her, saying her refusal would be the ‘biggest mistake of your life.’”

The eight-page lawsuit alleges that Brown “fulfilled her threat” against Robson in the book, portraying her “not as the teenage victim she was, no different than dozens of other victims, but rather as a mini-Ghislaine Maxwell and a member of Epstein’s inner circle, despite knowing that to be a false narrative.

“Brown’s libelous attacks on these two victims will have lasting effects as both have children and family members who will suffer regular attacks by those in the community who read or hear of these defamatory statements.”

Brown, who received a million-dollar advance from Harper Collins for the book, texted the Bulldog Thursday that she was traveling and had not seen the lawsuit yet.

“I’ve put in a call to my lawyer & will have to get back to you,” Brown texted.

The lawsuit alleges Brown mischaracterized Robson in the book as punishment for her refusal to participate in it.

Haley Robson, left, and Courtney Wild (shown at right).Haley Robson, left, and Courtney Wild

“With the publication of Perversion of Justice, Ms. Brown carried out her threat by characterizing Ms. Robson not as a victim but rather as an eager participate and co-conspirator in Epstein’s crimes,” Guchess writes. “She wrote repeatedly that Robson was ‘working’ for Epstein, that Robson viewed Epstein as her ‘boss’ and was a member of Epstein’s inner circle of associates who was ‘giddy with excitement’ to participate in his scheme.”

The portrayal “constitutes a gross misrepresentation of the sexual and mental abuse and manipulation suffered by Robson as one of Epstein’s victims,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges that Brown sought to “debase” Wild in a bid to take credit for the latter’s extensive efforts to bring Epstein to justice before he hung himself in jail in 2019. Wild was a key participant in Brown’s Miami Herald newspaper series in November 2018 that led to a media frenzy about the case.

Wild spent years trying to expose the highly criticized federal plea agreement between Epstein and the federal government, according to the lawsuit, urging authorities to again charge Epstein, provide compensation for his victims and assist them in obtaining settlements.

“Knowing Ms. Wild had spearheaded each of these major achievements, and not Ms. Brown as she claimed in her book, Ms. Brown sought to debase and defame Ms. Wild,” Guchess wrote in the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges Brown mischaracterized the sexual abuse Wild suffered at Epstein’s hands. In the book, she wrote that Wild “told the FBI the times that she had sex with him when she was underage” and that Epstein had “raped” her and that ultimately she “didn’t have to do the sex anymore,” the lawsuit quotes.

“In fact, Ms. Wild never had sexual intercourse with Epstein and was never raped by Epstein,” Guchess wrote.

The lawsuit alleges that Brown knew her characterizations of Wild and Robson were false based on previous interviews with both and her own research and that Brown’s “primary intention” was “harming Ms. Wild and Ms. Robson for vindictive and other malicious reasons.”

“Because of these statements, Ms. Wild and Ms. Robson’s mental anguish and suffering were exacerbated, and their mental health was affected as a result of being re-victimized by Defendant after years of trauma due to Epstein’s abuse and collusion with the government that ultimately failed to bring him to justice,” the lawsuit alleges.

Wild and Robson are seeking a public apology from Brown and unspecified financial damages.

Al.com, Roy Moore trial: Both sides claim victory after jury says neither party defamed the other, Paul Gattis, Feb. 3, 2022 (print ed.). A jury on Wednesday morning found that neither Roy Moore or Leigh Corfman defamed the other person over claims that Moore had sexually abused Corfman when she was a teen and he was an assistant prosecutor in Etowah County.

The jury issued the ruling after an eight-day trial over a defamation lawsuit filed by Corfman in 2018 and a countersuit filed by Moore.

Roy Moore ScreenshotThe jury found that Corfman did not defame Moore, right, with her allegations of sexual abuse and that Moore did not defame Corfman in his public denials of the abuse. The jury deliberated for about three hours before returning the verdict.

Immediately after the verdict, Moore claimed “a huge victory” and a “complete vindication.”

One of Corfman’s lawyers, Neil Roman, said he did not see how Moore could claim this as a vindication.

“To be clear, this is not a victory for Roy Moore,” Roman said. “It’s not a vindication of him. Although we are disappointed that the jury did not find that Mr. Moore statements rose to the level of defamation, we are gratified that the jury necessarily found that Leigh was telling the truth about her experience with Mr. Moore in 1979.”

The jury could have found in favor of Corfman in that she was defamed by Moore’s denials. Or the jury could have found in favor of Moore in that he was defamed by her allegations made against him. Instead, the jury determined no defamation from either side took place.

“We’re very happy with the outcome,” Moore said.

“It’s a great big victory,” Moore attorney Julian McPhillips said. “There’s no other way to interpret this.”

Corfman said it was significant that the jury found she did not defame Moore. Asked if there was something good to be taken out of the finding, Roman said, “Sure, the jury believed Leigh.” Corfman added, “And that’s important.”

Roman said the fact that Circuit Judge John Rochester determined months before the trial that Corfman was a limited-purpose public figure made it more difficult for the jury to find she had been defamed. Such a legal designation raises the bar to prove defamation.

“If what Ms. Corfman said was false, there is no way what she said about him was not defamatory,” Roman said. “She accused him of abusing her as a 14-year-old girl. If that’s false, that’s defamatory. The jury did not find that.”

 

Feb. 2

 

jeff zucker cnn

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeff Zucker Exits CNN After Relationship With Senior Executive, Michael M. Grynbaum, Feb. 2, 2022. The relationship came up during the network’s investigation into the former anchor Chris Cuomo. “I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t,” Mr. Zucker wrote in a memo to colleagues.

Jeff Zucker resigned on Wednesday as the president of CNN and the chairman of WarnerMedia’s news and sports division, writing in a memo that he had failed to disclose to the company a romantic relationship with another senior executive at CNN.

CNNMr. Zucker, 56, is among the most powerful leaders in the American media and television industries. The abrupt end of his nine-year tenure immediately throws into flux the direction of CNN and its parent company, WarnerMedia, which is expected to be acquired later this year by Discovery Inc. in one of the nation’s largest media mergers.

In a memo to colleagues that was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Zucker wrote that his relationship came up during a network investigation into the conduct of Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor who was fired in December over his involvement in the political affairs of his brother, former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.

“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” Mr. Zucker wrote. “I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.”

“As a result, I am resigning today,” he wrote.

Mr. Zucker was referring to Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer and one of the highest-ranking leaders of the network, who is closely involved in major business and communications decisions.
Daily business updates The latest coverage of business, markets and the economy, sent by email each weekday. Get it sent to your inbox.

Ms. Gollust said in a statement on Wednesday that she was remaining in her role at CNN.

“Jeff and I have been close friends and professional partners for over 20 years,” she wrote. “Recently, our relationship changed during Covid. I regret that we didn’t disclose it at the right time. I’m incredibly proud of my time at CNN and look forward to continuing the great work we do everyday.”

Both Mr. Zucker and Ms. Gollust are divorced.

In a memo to WarnerMedia employees, Jason Kilar, the company’s chief executive, acknowledged that he had accepted Mr. Zucker’s resignation, adding, “We will be announcing an interim leadership plan shortly.”

 

January Update

Jan. 31

ny times logoNew York Times, Cyprus Overturns Conviction of Woman Who Accused Israelis of Rape, Jenny Gross, Jan. 31, 2022. More than two years after a British woman was convicted of fabricating claims, Cyprus’s top court reversed the decision and said that she had not received a fair trial.

The Supreme Court of Cyprus on Monday overturned the conviction of a British woman accused of fabricating claims that a group of Israeli tourists raped her in a hotel room in Cyprus.

In 2019, less than two weeks after the woman told the Cypriot police that as many as a dozen Israeli tourists had raped her, she was arrested on charges of making a false accusation. Her case drew widespread attention in the British and Israeli news media, and she was convicted and given a four-month suspended sentence.

Lewis Powell, the woman’s lawyer, said in an interview on Monday that the decision was a watershed moment for victims of sexual assault and that his client had received the justice she deserved. The Supreme Court had ruled that faults in the woman’s trial were sufficient reason to overturn her conviction, he said.

He said the woman, who was 18 when she first went to the police, and her family were “absolutely delighted” and relieved by the decision.

ny times logoNew York Times, Australian Megachurch Leader Steps Down After Charge Over Father’s Sexual Abuse, Yan Zhuang, Updated Jan. 31, 2022. Brian Houston, who was the leader of Hillsong, is accused of concealing past abuse by his father, who later died and was never charged.

The leader of Hillsong, the Australian megachurch that has attracted throngs of young people and celebrities worldwide, has stepped down as he prepares to fight a criminal charge of concealing historical child sexual abuse by his father.

The church’s leader, Brian Houston, said in a statement published on Hillsong’s website on Sunday that he had agreed to give up “all ministry responsibilities” until the end of 2022 to focus on his legal battle following the advice of Hillsong’s legal advisers.

The Australian police charged Mr. Houston in August 2021 with one count of concealing a serious indictable offense by his father, Frank Houston. The police alleged that the younger Mr. Houston, now 67, “knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police.”

Mr. Houston has vigorously denied the accusation and reiterated in his statement on Sunday that “these allegations came as a shock to me, and it is my intention to vigorously defend them.”

Jan. 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s estate is seeking $20 million for two private islands, Matthew Goldstein, Jan. 28, 2022. When Jeffrey Epstein died, he left behind an estate with an estimated value of $600 million. There were vast financial holdings, a private jet, and palatial properties including an island hideaway, a grand Manhattan mansion and a 7,600-acre New Mexico ranch.

But taxes, property upkeep and temperature-controlled storage for his art collection — as well as $121 million in settlements to more than 135 women who accused him of sexually abusing them when they were young — have since cut into the size of Mr. Epstein’s estate. It’s now worth about a third of its value when the financier, 66, hanged himself in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges two and a half years ago.

jeffrey epstein sex offenderThe biggest continuing expense is legal costs: $30 million so far to law firms brought in to clean up Mr. Epstein’s affairs. Lawyers have helped hand out settlements, liquidate assets and sift through the complicated holdings of a man who once set up his own offshore bank.

The work won’t be over anytime soon. The estate must still resolve a civil fraud lawsuit, brought by the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, who claims Mr. Epstein used the territory to facilitate a criminal enterprise by bilking it out of more than $70 million in tax revenue.

Not until all that is over will the estate dispense whatever is left, according to the terms of a secret trust that Mr. Epstein set up and named in a will drawn just two days before he died.

The details of the trust are not public. But Karyna Shuliak, Mr. Epstein’s girlfriend and the last person he spoke to on the phone before killing himself, will be one of the main beneficiaries, The New York Times previously reported. Ms. Shuliak, a native of Belarus, is a dentist who shared an office on the island of St. Thomas with Mr. Epstein’s Southern Trust Company. A lawyer for Ms. Shuliak declined to comment.

The estate has paid $9 million to the lawyers and their team who established and oversaw the victims restitution fund, and $21 million to at least 16 law firms for services and expenses, according to a review of quarterly financial statements filed by the estate in Superior Court in the Virgin Islands.

Five firms — Troutman Pepper, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, White & Case, McLaughlin & Stern and Kellerhals Ferguson Kroblin — have each taken in fees that exceed the nearly $900,000 average award to victims from the compensation fund. A lawyer for nine accusers who submitted claims took issue with the size of those legal bills.

“It is appalling that lawyers divvying up the estate of Jeffrey Epstein are profiting more than his victims,” said the Florida lawyer, Spencer Kuvin, who has been seeking compensation for some of Mr. Epstein’s accusers for more than a decade.

Daniel Weiner, a lawyer with Hughes Hubbard, which has billed the estate over $6 million, said it was wrong to compare the legal fees and the settlement amounts. He said the estate’s executors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, had put no limitations on the amount of money handed out by the restitution fund, which an independent administrator oversaw.

The victims who participated, he added, were able to avoid litigation costs that could have reduced the amount they received. (Victims’ lawyers are being paid out of the awards; a one-third share is typical.)

ny times logoNew York Times, A #MeToo Moment Shakes Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox, Isabel Kershner, Jan. 28, 2022 (print ed.). An acclaimed religious children’s author was accused of abusing women and children. Then he killed himself, shocking the conservative community.

Jan. 27

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A pope complicit in sex crime coverups bids moral authority goodbye, David Von Drehle, right, Jan. 27, 2022 (print ed.). david von drehle twitterEveryone with open eyes can now see that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church never underestimated the problem of priests as sexual predators. They weren’t taken by surprise. Church leaders have known for decades exactly how vast the issue was, how all-consuming, from the humble parish all the way to the top in Rome.

They knew, because they tried to cover it up.

A church-authorized investigation in Germany has produced a multivolume report on sexual abuse in the archdiocese of Munich. In it, pope benedict XVI 2010 10 17 4we see the archbishop himself at meetings more than 40 years ago, weighing the future of a criminally abusive priest — without a thought, it appears, of turning the man in to the police.

It is a sadly familiar story: secret conclaves of men in collars, flouting the laws of one nation after another to shuffle the abusers and launder their crimes.

Only in this case, the archbishop of Munich was Joseph Ratzinger, who now goes by the title Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (shown at right in a 2010 file photo). After the report was published, the elderly retired pontiff was forced to admit that his testimony was false when he told investigators he had not attended one especially egregious coverup meeting.

Jan. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Prince Andrew’s legal peril puts focus on how he’ll pay, including sale of ski chalet, Greg Miller, Jan. 25, 2022. Prince Andrew has been stripped of his military titles, royal honorifics and any illusion that his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, will stand by him in a sexual abuse lawsuit now moving forward in U.S. federal court.

Assets including a chalet in Switzerland could soon be gone as well, sold off to raise cash for legal fees and the prospect of a multimillion-dollar judgment or settlement in a case alleging that he had sex with a teenager without her consent two decades ago.

prince andrew august 2014Andrew quietly cleared the way to sell his seven-bedroom Swiss lodge with an indoor swimming pool late last year, paying millions he owed the previous owner to remove a court claim that would have impeded putting the property on the market.

The Duke of York had for years failed to pay the final $8 million installment of the $29 million purchase, citing a lack of funds, said Isabelle de Rouvre, a French national who sold the property to Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, in 2014.

They finally came forward with the money two months ago, de Rouvre said, “only because they want to sell.” Noting Andrew’s mounting legal troubles, she said in an interview with The Washington Post, “you can see where [any proceeds] are going to go.”

A spokesperson for Prince Andrew declined to comment for this article “on what are private financial matters.”

The Swiss property is one of the few obvious sources of revenue available for a prince long accused of living beyond his means and associating with problematic elites, including Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier and convicted sex offender accused of arranging sexual encounters for Andrew.

Jan. 21

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: For the sake of a visa, I was forced into marriage in Arizona — at age 15, Sasha K. Taylor (a forced child marriage survivor and former FBI analyst based in D.C.), Jan. 21, 2022. When I was 15 years old and living in Arizona, I was forced by my family to become a visa bride.

I am a U.S. citizen, ethnically Pashtun, born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in Arizona. In the early 1990s, I was a girl like any other — one who loved writing in her diary, Stephen King novels and the New Kids on the Block (especially Joey).

Then one day, I got off the school bus and everything changed. My grandmother told me to dress for a dinner party at my uncle’s home. After dinner, a chair was placed in the center of the family room, and I was asked to sit. A woman walked up to me, put a gold chain around my neck and asked if the marriage proposal was okay. I didn’t understand. My grandmother and mother flashed me stern looks. I gazed down and didn’t speak.

Soon everyone started hugging and saying “mubarak” — congratulations. My heart sank. I realized I had just been forced into a marriage proposal, or “rishta” — a prelude to a “nikah,” or Muslim wedding — to a man who needed to stay in the United States when his visa expired. He was seven years older than me. I’d never met him.

The nikah, a religious contract, is not legally recognized under U.S. marriage law. But Arizona’s marriage law and loopholes in U.S. immigration law meant my family still had avenues by which they could exploit and force me — a U.S. citizen and a minor — into marriage.

Marriage before age 18 is legal in 44 of 50 states, according to Unchained at Last, an organization working to end child marriage in the United States. In states with no age minimum, children as young as 10 have been forced into marriage. At the time of my engagement, the legal age of consent to marry in Arizona was 15. (Now it’s 16 with parental permission or legal emancipation.)

But let’s be clear: “Consent” simply cannot apply in this context. When minors are pressured by their families and have zero legal authority, it’s impossible for them to consent.

Within months of my forced engagement, I was married in an Arizona courthouse. Because I was a minor, my husband became my legal guardian and was able to fill out his own visa application, naming me as his sponsor.

The United States tolerates the forced marriage of minors in other contexts as well. Had Arizona refused to marry me, I still could have been forced into a nikah abroad, then had that marriage legally recognized by the United States — where the law says marriages are valid for immigration purposes if they’re valid under the law of the jurisdiction in which they’re performed.

In my family, there have been three generations of forced marriages. My grandmother was married off while in a refugee camp in Karachi. My mother was forced into marriage, also at 15, in Karachi. Many of the girls arriving from Afghanistan in recent months may be free from the brutality of the Taliban, but they are not free from families who believe in a culture of forced marriage.

I spent my high school years living with my family but legally married. Once I’d moved into my husband’s family home, I couldn’t leave unless he was with me. I stopped seeing my family, though they lived 15 minutes away. His family would go out so he could be “alone” with me. Let there be no doubt about this: Girls forced into marriage are raped.

Victims of forced marriage face severe lifelong consequences including physical, sexual and economic abuse; medical and mental health problems; denial of education; and a loss of freedom to make their own futures. The United States must act to protect children from this fate.

Congress should reform immigration law by raising the minimum visa sponsorship age to 18; bills under review in the House and Senate would do just that. It should also close the loophole that allows families to isolate and exploit their children who are U.S. citizens by sending them abroad — first to marry, then to be used as visa sponsors.

To ensure against coercion, any visa application should require an in-person interview with a U.S. visa official for a minor about to be married, with no family member allowed to be present. And Congress should protect children across the country by passing legislation raising the minimum age of marriage to 18, with no exceptions.

I escaped my forced marriage in 1996. Recently, I started a media company to tell stories of perseverance among South Asian women in the United States who have survived the worst of the worst. First up is a project on the women in my family — survivors all.

Jan. 19

robert anderson chart

ny times logoNew York Times, University of Michigan to Pay $490 Million to Settle Sexual Abuse Cases, Alan Blinder, Jan. 19, 2022. The accord is among the largest ever agreed-to by an American university to compensate victims of sexual abuse. The agreement comes after more than 1,000 people accused a doctor who worked with football players and other students of sexual abuse.

The University of Michigan said Wednesday that it had agreed to pay $490 million to more than 1,000 people who had accused a doctor who worked with football players and other students of sexual abuse.

The agreement, among the largest ever by an American university to settle allegations of sexual abuse, was reached this week and made public on Wednesday morning, more than three years after a former student wrote to Michigan’s athletic director and reported misconduct that dated to the 1970s.

That former student, and, eventually, scores of others, said that Dr. Robert E. Anderson had molested them during physical examinations, many of which were required to participate in athletic programs at Michigan. In some instances, investigators concluded, Anderson performed examinations that were unnecessary and improper; he insisted, for instance, on a pelvic exam for a woman who had complained of a sore throat.

Last June, a son of Bo Schembechler, the football coach who died in 2006 and retains mythic status on the campus in Ann Arbor, said he, too, had been one of Anderson’s victims.

“The University of Michigan has accepted responsibility financially and otherwise for harm that was caused by Anderson to so many young people that could have been avoided,” Jamie White, a lawyer for many of Anderson's victims, said in a statement. “The university should be commended and not condemned.”

He added: “Most of our clients had a strong love for the University and did not want to see permanent damage, but wanted accountability.”

Michigan said in February 2020 that it was investigating whether Anderson had abused students and asked people who had been victimized to come forward. By then, university officials had been conducting an inquiry in secret for more than a year, after a former student sent a letter to Michigan’s athletic director and accused Anderson of wrongdoing.

Michigan’s plea for information led to more than 100 reports across two weeks. Last May, a law firm hired by the university concluded that Anderson, who died in 2008 and was never prosecuted for any abuse, had “engaged in sexual misconduct with patients on countless occasions.”

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein porch

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell’s Bid for a New Trial Faces a Major Hurdle, Benjamin Weiser, Jan. 19, 2022. The rule that a trial judge cannot ask what happened in the jury room could block an attempt by Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers to overturn the guilty verdict.

The judge was questioning potential jurors for the Ghislaine Maxwell sex-trafficking trial when she asked a 35-year-old Manhattan man, identified as Juror 50, whether he had any doubt about his ability to be fair to both sides.

“No,” Juror 50 replied.

The judge pressed him: Did he have any reason to think he could not be impartial?

“I do not,” replied the man, who ended up as a member of the jury that convicted Ms. Maxwell on five of the six counts she faced.

But revelations in the news media that Juror 50 and a second juror each disclosed personal histories of childhood sexual abuse to their fellow jurors during deliberations have clouded the verdict and led to a flurry of new court filings focused on jury impartiality.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, citing Juror 50’s comments in the news media, have said they will seek a new trial. The judge, Alison J. Nathan of Federal District Court, has asked both sides for their views on whether a court inquiry is appropriate, and, if so, what its nature should be.

In trying to assess the impact of the jury room disclosures that Juror 50 described in the news media — and potentially those of the second juror as well — the judge is likely to be blocked by one of the legal system’s most stringent and time-honored rules: She cannot ask the jurors what happened during their deliberations. And the jurors are not allowed to tell her.

The only exception, the Supreme Court has said, is where overt statements during deliberations show a juror was motivated by racial animus in voting to convict.

Jan. 14

 

Donald and Melania Trump, and Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, 2000. (Davidoff Studios / Getty Images)

Jacobin, Commentary: The Full Extent of Jeffrey Epstein’s Crimes Are Slowly Being Revealed, Branko Marcetic, Jan. 14, 2022. The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was disappointing for those hoping it would blow the lid off the Jeffrey Epstein sex ring. But the trial and new reporting have shown Epstein's relationship with political elites runs even deeper than we already knew.

The past few years have been disappointing for anyone hoping the public would learn the full scope of Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex trafficking operation. Epstein himself is dead, having mysteriously pulled off a suicide during a high-security prison stay filled with unexplained irregularities, and prosecutors targeting his coconspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, opted for a fairly conservative case that has kept a lid on details that might have revealed more of the picture of who was involved.

But it’s easy to overlook the fact that, as minimal as it was, the trial has added to our understanding of the Epstein case, principally through the unsealing of more years of the financier’s flight logs and some details in witness testimony, coupled with years of reporting on the case.

We’ve long known about Epstein and Maxwell’s long friendship with Donald Trump, but the trial has made clear just how extensive these connections were.

The big headline news of the release of Epstein’s flight logs last December was that Trump flew on Epstein’s private jet — the one nicknamed “The Lolita Express,” a knowing wink at Epstein’s predilection for underage girls, whom he would transport on the plane — far more than was previously known. Trump flew on the plane at least seven times, and on two occasions took his children, Eric and Tiffany, as well as his ex-wife Marla Maples and a nanny.

Another log shows Trump flew in April 1993 with Epstein and Erin Nance, who is explicitly identified as “Miss Georgia, runner up Miss USA.” Nance, who was indeed crowned Miss Georgia Teen USA in 1993 but fell short of the top prize later that year, had thirteen phone numbers listed in Epstein’s second address book, whose existence had been unknown until Business Insider obtained it last year, including several numbers for her parents (both home and work numbers).

Three years after that flight, Trump would buy the Miss Universe Organization, which included the Miss USA pageant that Nance (now Erin Hill) competed in, as well as the Miss Teen USA pageant, owning them until 2005. Besides picking the finalists and winners, Trump’s been accused by numerous former contestants of ogling them, kissing them, and barging into a dressing room while they changed — a charge made by multiple Miss Teen USA contestants, and one Trump freely admitted to in a 2005 interview with Howard Stern.

In the course of the trial, one of Maxwell’s accusers, known only by the synonym “Jane,” testified that not only had she taken part in one of the Miss Teen USA pageants owned by Trump, but that Epstein took her when she was only fourteen years old to Mar-A-Lago, where he introduced her to the future president. (It’s not clear in what order these discrete events took place).

This isn’t Epstein’s only link to the beauty world. We know now the sex offender used his close and still-mysterious relationship with Leslie Wexner, the Ohio billionaire and former owner of Columbus-based Victoria’s Secret, to lure victims, posing as a talent scout for the company. For years, Victoria’s Secret worked with models represented by a talent agency owned by Epstein associate Jean-Luc Brunel, which one Epstein survivor alleged in court he used to traffic underage girls into the United States from overseas (Brunel has now been arrested and charged with rape of a minor as part of a probe into Epstein). In her 2015 book TrafficKing, investigative reporter Conchita Sarnoff wrote that Epstein used the “modelling business to source underage girls for sex.”

Another Trump connection in the logs is Celina Midelfart, a Norwegian heiress and socialite, who Epstein’s former pilot and Maxwell’s former assistant both testified had dated Epstein in the mid-90s while he was in a relationship with Maxwell, and who later reportedly dated Trump until he met his current wife, Melania. Midelfart has vehemently denied dating either man, though she shows up numerous times on flights without Maxwell present — a relatively uncommon occurrence in the logs — and has numerous phone numbers listed in Epstein’s black book, including that of her summer house and her mother.

All of it hints at a much deeper and potentially even sleazier relationship between the two men. Trump had infamously told New York magazine in 2002 that he’d known Epstein, a “terrific guy,” for fifteen years, and that he “likes beautiful women as much as I do,” with many of them “on the younger side.” As photos and video footage suggests, for years the two partied together, including one instance in 1992 when Trump had dozens of women flown to Mar-a-Lago for a “calendar girl” competition where only he and Epstein were the audience.

As Trump was running for president in 2016, he was hit with a lawsuit by a woman alleging both Trump and Epstein raped her in 1994 when she was thirteen, at parties held by the latter, a charge backed up by an affidavit from a woman who “recruited” her for Epstein. She later dropped the suit, according to her lawyer, because of a flurry of death threats and hacking attempts. Epstein also reportedly claimed to have introduced Trump to Melania, at the time a Slovenian model, a claim strongly denied by one of Trump’s friends who takes credit for the pairing. Last year, Business Insider reported on the presence of Suzanne Ircha (now Johnson), Melania Trump’s best friend, in Epstein’s address book from the 1990s.

Despite all this, Trump and the oligarch-backed movement behind him have managed to redirect outrage around the Epstein case into the absurd QAnon mythos, which Trump and his political allies have taken to winking at in public. QAnon, whose entire basis is a series of anonymous message board posts, puts Trump, perversely, at the head of a secret battle against a pedophilic elite that’s, conveniently, made up exclusively of Democrats, prominent liberals, and other political opponents of the former president.
Clinton Cash

Of course, one of the defining features of the Epstein case is that the financier pedophile wasn’t aligned with just one political faction, but was cozy with US elites across the political spectrum, a fact further reinforced by recent revelations.

Most prominent was Epstein’s friendship with former Democratic president Bill Clinton, whose presence on Epstein’s flight logs made waves when they were first revealed years ago. The expanded release prompted by the trial shows Clinton aide Mark Middleton — whose many phone numbers appear in both of the Epstein address books unearthed — flew four times on Epstein’s plane in May 1994 alone, and once with Trump, his then-wife Marla, and their daughter.

bill clinton jeffrey epstein ghislaine maxwellClinton had previously claimed he had only met Epstein a handful of times, even as evidence quickly emerged that he had been raising money from and meeting with him from the start of his presidency. Roughly the same time in 2019, unearthed records from Epstein’s 2008 prison stint showed he was visited at least twenty times by Arnold Paul Prosperi, a longtime Clinton associate and fundraiser who was among the flurry of controversial pardons the former president made in his final days in office, commuting his prison sentence for fraud to house arrest.

"One of the defining features of the Epstein case is that the financier pedophile wasn’t aligned with just one political faction, but was cozy with US elites across the political spectrum."

While Maxwell’s trial was going on last December, the Daily Mail revealed through a FOIA request that Epstein (shown at right with Clinton and Ghislaine Maxwell) had visited Clinton’s White House at least seventeen times, his first visit in February 1993 coming through an invitation from “Rubin,” most likely Robert Rubin, the Wall Street banker who later became Treasury secretary and helped engineer the 2008 financial crisis. Those visitor records also show Epstein numerous times visited Middleton, who went on to tar Clinton with scandal by using his presidential connections to cash in after leaving the White House in 1995.

At least some of Middleton’s activities were for official Clinton business. Middleton, who raised money for and served as the director of the Clinton Birthplace Foundation, also worked on soliciting funds for Clinton’s future presidential library, refusing to cooperate in a subsequent GOP-led Congressional probe of Democratic fundraising. According to one book on Epstein, the seed money for another of these post-presidential projects, the Clinton Foundation’s Global Initiative, may have come from Epstein.

Further illustrating how closely connected this Epstein-linked strata of American society is, among the presidential library’s files was a copy of The Art of the Deal given to Middleton and personally inscribed by — who else? — Trump. Lest we forget, years later as he weighed up jumping in the Republican presidential race, Trump was personally encouraged by Clinton to do so.
Dems the Breaks

Clinton is by no means the only Democrat. Former Senate majority leader George Mitchell (D-ME), who prominent Epstein survivor Virginia Giuffre has accused of sleeping with her, shows up five times on the flight logs between 1994 and 1995, three of those times with his wife.

In other words, Mitchell, who later called Epstein “a friend and a supporter” who “organized a fund-raiser for me once,” was consorting with the sex trafficker in at least his final year in one of the country’s most politically powerful roles. Mitchell went on to oversee the Philadelphia archdiocese’s payment of compensation for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of priests, assailed by critics at the time as a ploy to get abuse victims to sign away their right to sue.

Another former congressman listed on the flight logs is former representative Tom McMillen (D-MD), who’s listed as flying on Epstein’s jet twice on January 29, 1993 — twenty-six days after he left Congress. McMillen went on to have a prolific and controversial career in the private sector, with the Baltimore Sun comparing him to a “carnival barker” as he attempted to cash in on the burgeoning homeland security industry in the wake of September 11 with a “blank check company” — firms without any business plan, that exist to raise money from investors for a future, unspecified deal.

Numerous phone numbers for McMillen, who appears to have had a home in Epstein’s fiefdom of Palm Beach, are listed in both of Epstein’s address books. One lists him as a congressman, while the other lists his email at Washington Capital Advisors, the private equity firm he owned and served as CEO for since 2004, according to SEC filings, suggesting their acquaintance extended well past that one day in January 1993.

The logs also suggest how Epstein’s still-never satisfactorily explained relationship with Leslie Wexner — who gave Epstein unilateral control of his finances and practically gifted him his Manhattan home — drew in a wider world of elites. The July 5, 1992 log, for instance, shows Steve Tuckerman, the local construction executive who built the Georgian homes in Wexner’s idyllic, affluent neighborhood of New Albany, flying with his wife Judy from Aspen (where Wexner owned a home) to nearby Columbus. Wexner’s wife Abigail, who Judy Tuckerman has called a friend, flew on two of the legs of that trip.

Also flying with Epstein were Yehuda and Zipora Koppel, jetting together with the Tuckermans to Paris in September 1997. The Koppels are the parents of Abigail Wexner, making them the in-laws of the man widely believed to be the chief source of Epstein’s mysterious wealth.

In 2007, as Epstein was being charged by prosecutors in what would end up his first, remarkably lenient prison stay, Abigail Wexner formed and then quickly dissolved the YLK Charitable Fund, named for the initials of her father. It soon received a $47 million donation from Epstein at the same time that he sold his New Albany home to the couple for $0, and just one month before he was replaced as Leslie Wexner’s financial manager.

Epstein’s connection to the Koppels has gotten little notice until now. Yehuda Koppel, who died in 2006, had been a prominent Israeli military figure during the 1948 war that led to the country’s founding (and to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians). Afterward, he oversaw the development of Israel’s state-owned airline, El Al, in the United States, becoming its director.

Like many airlines in the Cold War era, El Al had a close relationship with its national intelligence agency, operating at times as a front for Mossad operations, most notably in the arrest of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960. Its connection to the intelligence world appeared to continue decades later, when leaked South African spy cables showed the country’s intelligence services backing up a whistleblower’s claims that the airline was a cover for spy work.

ghislaine maxwell lady dianaEpstein’s relationship to Koppel is only one of several of his possible murky connections to the Israeli national security establishment. Most notable is the late Robert Maxwell, the newspaper magnate and father of Ghislaine (shown at left meeting the UK's Princess Diana), who according to multiple reports was the one who introduced Epstein to his daughter and, according to the deposition of Brunel’s bookkeeper, “started” Epstein’s wealth.

"Epstein’s relationship to Koppel is only one of several of his possible murky connections to the Israeli national security establishment."

Famed Israeli spy Rafi Eitan (who incidentally led the Eichmann operation) told Gordon Thomas, author of a history of the Mossad, that he used Maxwell for the “crowning achievement” of his spying career: selling rigged terrorist-tracking software to foreign governments that allowed Israeli intelligence to secretly vacuum up the data they were all collecting. Thomas later put the claim in an affidavit.

Four sources, including Epstein’s former business partner, told journalist Vicky Ward that Epstein worked for various governments, including Israel, and that Maxwell had introduced Epstein to Israeli leadership, who decided they could make use of him. Ward had earlier reported that Alexander Acosta, Trump’s labor secretary and the prosecutor who had cut Epstein his lenient non-prosecution deal back in 2008, had explained that he’d been told Epstein “belonged to intelligence.” Authorities later found a fake passport used to enter several countries in the 1980s, along with diamonds and cash in a safe, in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.

The Cue for Q

The Jeffrey Epstein saga is the story of the world’s most prolific child sex trafficker who operated more or less unhidden for decades, but was able to consistently escape media scrutiny, legal punishment, and, finally, justice by dying before he went to trial. In a normal world, this tale of sprawling criminality and public corruption would be the subject of an intense, wide-ranging government investigation that would expose the conspiracy’s full scope and the identities of those involved.

Instead, information about the case continues to come in dribs and drabs, thanks only to the work of a few dogged reporters and the occasional fortuitous legal disclosure, limited in this most recent trial by the judge’s order to avoid “needless” naming of names, and prosecutors’ decision to leave tens of thousands of photos seized from Epstein’s home by the FBI unreleased. The public may end up having to wait for the civil suit against Prince Andrew or for Maxwell herself to strike some kind of deal to learn more.

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, A Source Speculates a Suicidal Prince Andrew May Not Even “Make It” to His Deposition, Vicky Ward, Jan. 14-15, 2022. A friend and long-time advisor of Prince Andrew (now to be known as the Duke of York, given he’s been stripped of his “HRH” title) tells me that his family—especially his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, who cohabitates with him and has been his staunchest ally—is deeply concerned about his mental health and whether or not he will even “make it” to the deposition he’s now slated to give in his legal battle against Virginia Roberts Giuffre.

prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 2001Giuffre—who was introduced to the prince in 2001 when she was just 17—alleges that the prince had unwanted sex with her three times: first, on the night they met in London, when that now-infamous photo (right) was taken, and then at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse and on Epstein’s private island in Little St. John.

Prince Andrew has denied meeting or having sex with Giuffre. But behind closed doors, the prince is said to have finally realized “the impossibility” of the position in which he has now found himself, without any apparent way to escape confronting Giuffre’s claims. My source told me, “There's nothing much more you can do to him. The family turned against him—apart from his mother, and his ex-wife and the daughters. Everyone's against him. I would be concerned there's going to be a tragedy here. I really would be concerned. And I'm not saying that lightly.”

Even though it was the Queen who told Prince Andrew face-to-face that he was being stripped of his royal titles and privileges, I am told the prince knows that his mother still loves him as her son. But other relatives including Prince Charles and Prince Edward have completely cut him off. “It was the numbers in the end within the family that forced the Queen’s hand,” my source says.

The source continues, “He's lost everything. Everything. He's ruined… The three women most closely involved—Sarah, Beatrice, and Eugenie—have been absolutely devastated about the whole thing.”

Jan. 13

 

robert adrian

washington post logoNew York Times, Judge Tosses Teen’s Sexual Assault Conviction, Drawing Outrage, Maria Cramer and Isabella Grullón Paz, Jan. 13, 2022. Drew Clinton, 18, faced four years in prison under Illinois sentencing guidelines. But the judge, Robert Adrian, overturned his conviction this month, saying the sentence was “not just.”

Last October, a judge in western Illinois convicted an 18-year-old man of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while she was unconscious at a graduation party.

The man, Drew Clinton, faced a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison, but at a hearing earlier this month, Judge Robert Adrian reversed his own decision and threw out the conviction. The nearly five months Mr. Clinton had served in jail, the judge said, was “plenty of punishment.”

The decision, which was reported by the Herald-Whig of Quincy, Ill., has dismayed organizations that help survivors of sexual assault, the Adams County state’s attorney’s office and the girl who reported the assault, who told a local television station that she was present when Judge Adrian overturned Mr. Clinton’s conviction.

“He made me seem like I fought for nothing and that I put my word out there for no reason,” she told WGEM-TV. “I immediately had to leave the courtroom and go to the bathroom. I was crying.”

In a statement, Gary L. Farha, the Adams County state’s attorney, said the girl had endured “a trauma beyond what should be required of anyone and a system that traumatized her and victimized her again.”

“She did nothing to warrant this attack,” Mr. Farha said. “She is deserving of our support. She is worthy of our respect.”

Andrew C. Schnack III, a lawyer for Mr. Clinton, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Mr. Clinton was charged with criminal sexual assault on June 1, 2021. The girl reported that he sexually assaulted her after she became intoxicated at a party on May 30, according to court records.

During the bench trial, she testified that she was unconscious and woke up to find a pillow covering her face and Mr. Clinton assaulting her.

“She at no time gave consent,” Anita M. Rodriguez, the assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted the case, said during Mr. Clinton’s sentencing hearing on Jan. 3, according to a transcript. “In fact, earlier in the evening, she had specifically indicated that she did not want any sexual contact with this defendant.”

Mr. Schnack argued that mandatory sentences take away a judge’s discretion.

“Every individual should be judged by the court in doing its sentence and not by a legislator years and hundreds of miles removed,” he said, according to the transcript.

He also said that prosecutors had not proved their case against Mr. Clinton and that the girl was able to consent. Mr. Schnack said that she made many decisions that night, including drinking and stripping down to her underwear to go swimming.

“They weren’t the best decisions,” he said. “She did know what was going on.”

Judge Adrian said he knew that, by law, Mr. Clinton was supposed to serve time in prison, but in this case, the sentence was unfair, partly because Mr. Clinton turned 18 just two weeks before the party and, until his arrest, had no criminal record.

“That is not just,” Judge Adrian said during the Jan. 3 hearing, according to the transcript. “There is no way for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections. I will not do that.”

He said that if he ruled that the sentence was unconstitutional, his decision would be reversed on appeal. Instead, he said, what he could do was “find that the people failed to prove their case.”

Judge Adrian chastised the parents and other adults who he said provided liquor to the teenagers at the party and failed “to exercise their parental responsibilities.”

This is what happens, he said, “when we have people, adults, having parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool.”

“And, no,” the judge added, “underwear is not the same as swimming suits.”

Carrie Ward, the chief executive of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the judge’s comments and his decision to throw out Mr. Clinton’s conviction were “a clean and clear example of victim blaming.”

By highlighting the girl’s clothing and chastising the hosts of the party, the judge shifted “100 percent of the blame from the perpetrator, from the actual person who committed the sexual assault, to everyone else, including the victim,” Ms. Ward said.

 

Donald Trump, Melania Knauss (future Melania Trump), Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at a party at Mar-a-Lago (Getty / Davidoff Studios).

Donald Trump, Melania Knauss (future Melania Trump), Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (left to right) at a party at Mar-a-Lago (Getty / Davidoff Studios). No information has surfaced publicly that Trump was involved in any misconduct with Virginia Roberts, then a 17-year-old "towel girl" at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club when she met Epstein.

The Independent, Ghislaine Maxwell no longer fighting to keep names sealed from Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit, Nathan Place, Jan. 13, 2022. ‘She does not wish to further address those objections,’ writes Laura Menninger, one of Maxwell’s attorneys.

Ghislaine Maxwell is no longer fighting to hide information – including eight names – from Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit against her, her lawyers say.

Lawyers for Ms Giuffre, who has accused Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein of sexually abusing her, have long fought to unseal the names of eight “John Does” mentioned in their 2015 civil lawsuit.

 

Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, attends the funeral or Prince Philip, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021 (Pool photo by Chris Jackson via Reuters.)Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, attends the funeral or Prince Philip, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021 (Pool photo by Chris Jackson via Reuters.)

ABC Network / Good Morning America, Queen Elizabeth revokes Prince Andrew's military titles, royal patronages amid Epstein scandal, Katie Kindelan, Jan. 13, 2022. Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has had his military titles and royal patronages revoked just one day after his attempt to have a lawsuit dismissed from alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre was denied.

Buckingham Palace announced Thursday that Andrew's titles and patronages have been returned to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

"With The Queen's approval and agreement, The Duke of York's military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen," the palace said in a statement. "The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen."

Prince Andrew, the second youngest of Queen Elizabeth and the late Prince Philip's four children, served for 22 years in the Royal Navy.

Stripping him of his military titles is "hugely significant," according to ABC News royal contributor Robert Jobson.

Andrew's honorary military titles included Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, one of the oldest regiments in the British Army; Honorary air commodore of RAF Lossiemouth; Colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment; Colonel-in-chief of the Small Arms School Corps; Commodore-in-Chief of the Fleet Air Arm; Royal colonel of the Royal Highland Fusiliers; Deputy colonel-in-chief of The Royal Lancers; and Royal Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
PHOTO:

"It's clear to me there's no way back from this for Andrew as a public figure," Jobson said. "The reality is, as the queen is not only head of state but also of the armed forces, she will have taken note of the unrest amongst the military affiliated with the duke and acted appropriately."

"The last sentence, referring to him as a private citizen in an official statement, is unheard of and shows that he has clearly been cut adrift by the royal family," Jobson added.

The Duke of York will no longer use the style 'His Royal Highness' in any official capacity, a royal source told ABC News.

Andrew's military and patronage roles will be redistributed among members of the royal family, according to the source.

Jan. 12

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, Money Man: What Epstein’s Wealth Meant to Prince Andrew, Vicky Ward Investigates, Jan. 12, 2022. My in-box has been dinging all day about the latest news in the legal battle between Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Prince Andrew.

Judge Lewis Kaplan has ruled that the prince does not have grounds to get the case dismissed, which means the battle is now set to go ahead in New York’s Southern District. David Boies, the lawyer for Giuffre, emailed me that “the parties have agreed that he will be deposed in London and she will be deposed in Australia. She will testify live at trial. It will be up to him and the judge whether he comes to trial. He should come for his own sake. If he doesn’t, it will be up to the Court whether to compel him to come—in civil cases, sometimes courts do, sometimes courts don’t.”

Most people are focused on the sexual allegations that Giuffre has made in this case—and, rightly so. Giuffre—who was introduced to the prince in prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 20012001 when she was just 17—alleges that the prince had unwanted sex with her three times: first, on the night they met in London, when that now-infamous photo was taken (in 2001, left, with Ghislaine Maxwell also), and then at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse and on Epstein’s private island in Little St. John. (Prince Andrew has denied meeting or having sex with Giuffre.)

Now it’s no secret that Prince Andrew was partial to pretty women. “Randy Andy” was a much-remembered headline of my childhood growing up in Britain.

But there is another reason, according to my reporting, that explains why Prince Andrew was enamored of the world of not just Jeffrey Epstein and Maxwell but of Donald Trump, whom he met around the 2000s, according to my sources, and was wildly impressed by. “Andrew raved about Mar-a-Lago,” says one person who has dinner with him often.

The reason is: Money.

I’ve spoken to several close friends of Prince Andrew during my reporting, and they’ve shared some interesting background.

The fact that Prince Andrew’s former wife, Sarah Ferguson, got into debt and once even had Epstein pay a former employee she owed money to, is no secret. It was widely reported in 2011.

What’s less well known is that the prince himself wanted to make money and saw Epstein—and Trump—as possible tickets to a successful career, according to my sources.

Jan. 10

 

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to court by U.S. Department of Justice).

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

Bloomberg, Opinion: Ghislaine Maxwell’s Conviction Can Survive a Juror’s Disclosure, Stephen L. Carter (Professor at Yale Law School), Jan. 10, 2022. Why Jeffrey Epstein’s co-conspirator won’t get a new trial. 

The news that a juror in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial apparently failed to disclose that he was a victim of sexual abuse might be stunning, but as a legal matter it’s likely to blow over. Courts hesitate to delve into jury deliberations, and defendants who plead juror misconduct hardly ever win. And the reasons we draw a curtain around the jury room help preserve the myth of impartiality that attaches, even in our angry age, to the great majority of jury verdicts.

Maxwell was convicted Dec. 29 of trafficking charges. Afterward, a juror to whom the press is referring only as “Scotty David” told media outlets that he himself had been a victim of sexual abuse, and that he told his fellow jurors about the experience.

Let’s suppose Scotty David did exactly what he says he did. That doesn’t mean the verdict is tainted. As I tell my Evidence students every spring, the jury room is the ultimate black box, and the criminal justice system revolves around the rest of us not knowing too much about what happens once the bailiff shuts the door. The law is constructed to make scrutinizing the deliberations all but impossible.

Because Maxwell was tried in federal court in New York, the judge will be guided by a 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The case involved a juror in a fraud trial, who subsequent to the verdict admitted that she had intentionally concealed, among other facts, that she was a lawyer; that her law license had been suspended; and that both she and her husband had prior criminal convictions.

In overturning the conviction, the panel emphasized that the juror not only lied but did so “precisely in order to gain a place on the jury.” Her conduct was motivated by a desire to make herself “marketable” as a juror so that she might convict the defendant.

But the standard is a high one. That a would-be juror lied wasn’t enough. That she was biased wasn’t enough. The verdict was overturned because she lied and was unable to set aside the bias in deliberations.

Why isn’t a juror’s lie enough to force a new trial? Maybe because the opposite rule would leave few convictions standing. By the most cited estimate, an astonishing 25% of those in the jury pool lie either on the questionnaire or during examination in the courtroom. That figure comes from research conducted during the 1990s, but nobody imagines that we as a nation have a greater tendency toward truth today than we did then.

It also might not matter that the information Scotty David failed to disclose was relevant to the charges in the case. To take just one of the many pertinent examples, in 2011 the Alabama Supreme Court refused to disturb a murder conviction where a juror failed to disclose that her own father had been murdered.

Nor will a verdict be overturned simply because a juror brings into the room a life experience that isn’t part of the evidence. In a 2003 case involving domestic assault, for example, a Nevada court refused to find misconduct where a juror who worked as a nurse told her fellow jurors that the small bumps on the victim’s head resembled those she’d seen on women whose hair had been violently pulled.

None of these examples led to a new trial because of the import that we attach to preserving that black box. In the much-quoted words of an earlier Second Circuit decision, “The jury as we know it is supposed to reach its decisions in the mystery and security of secrecy.” One reason for the mystery, the court wrote, is to protect the jurors from retribution.

Stephen L. Carter is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Yale University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. His novels include “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” and his latest nonfiction book is “Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster.”

Jan. 7

ap logoAssociated Press, Ex-Michigan House Speaker Chatfield accused of sex assault, David Eggert, Jan. 7, 2022. State police in northern Michigan were investigating Thursday after a woman accused former state House Speaker Lee Chatfield of sexually assaulting her multiple times, beginning when lee chatfieldshe was 14 or 15 years old.

The accuser, now 26, filed a criminal complaint with the Lansing Police Department, which referred it to state police earlier this week. Her lawyer, Jamie White, confirmed the nature of the allegations first reported by Lansing City Pulse, including that Chatfield began molesting her more than a decade ago and the sexual contact continued until last year.

The alleged assaults began when the then-14 or 15-year-old girl attended Northern Michigan Baptist Bible Church and Northern Michigan Christian FBI logoAcademy near Burt Lake, about 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) northeast of Traverse City, White said. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they choose to come forward publicly.

Chatfield taught and coached at the school and was the athletic director between 2010 and 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile. His father is pastor of the church, the school superintendent and a teacher.

Phone and text messages seeking comment were left by the AP Thursday night for Chatfield, 33, who left the House in 2020 due to term limits.

republican elephant logo“She did what she’s supposed to do. She went to the immediate jurisdiction that she thought was appropriate,” White said. “Her and her family, they’re working through it. They’re looking forward to working with law enforcement to bring this allegation to conclusion and (bring) accountability for others that have been harmed.”

Chatfield, the youngest House speaker in more than a century, was the Republican leader for two years and was among seven Michigan GOP lawmakers who met with then-President Donald Trump at the White House as Trump tried to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the state.

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein porch

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, The Dilemma of the Journalist Who Talked to the Maxwell Juror, Vicky Ward, Jan. 7-8, 2022. I got a call last night from Australian freelance journalist Lucia Osborne-Crowley. I had gotten to know Lucia, who is 29, while covering the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. Lucia was always upbeat; always thoughtful and alert.

Lucia Osborne-Crowley (Photo by Sara Hciksonr)Her reporting and work ethic impressed me so much that I wrote to Rolling Stone editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman about her. I suggested she could be a potential star reporter and writer for him.

But, last night, she was very upset.

“I’m in turmoil,” she said. “What do I do?”

Lucia had broken the world-wide exclusive that has had the potential to cause a mistrial in the Maxwell case. In other words, she had done something very difficult, journalistically speaking.

It was Lucia who first reported in Britain’s Independent newspaper that Juror Number 50 (who asked that he be identified with his first and middle names: "Scotty David") had himself suffered sexual abuse and talked about it in the jury room.

Significantly, according to Lucia’s reporting, David said he couldn’t remember the details of the preliminary questionnaire potential jurors had to fill out—which asked jury candidates whether they or family members or friends had been victims of sexual abuse, assault, or harassment—but he was sure he had filled it in correctly.

The consequence of Lucia’s reporting is that Maxwell’s defense team has asked for a new trial, implying—we don’t know for sure—that David answered incorrectly.

David is now lawyered up. And Judge Nathan has asked for motions from both sides in the coming weeks. And the U.S. Attorney General is reportedly now investigating what happened. So we have to wait and see whether there will be a do-over.

But poor Lucia, meanwhile, has been savagely attacked by those who have accused her of deliberately sabotaging the trial, suggesting she is part of a pro-Maxwell conspiracy.

Lucia’s dilemma touches on an incredibly profound issue to do with the difficulty of reporting the truth in a climate in which, given current polarizations, the truth is not always welcome.

Jan. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, The Boy Scouts’ $2.7 Billion Settlement Plan Is at Risk of Failing, Mike Baker, Jan. 6, 2022 (print ed.). Of the tens of thousands of victims of sexual abuse who voted on a settlement plan, 73 percent supported it, just below a critical threshold of 75 percent.

A $2.7 billion plan to give the Boy Scouts of America a pathway out of bankruptcy while compensating tens of thousands of sex abuse victims was at risk of failing on Wednesday, with more than one-quarter of claimants voting to reject the plan in a preliminary tally of votes.

boy scouts logo customThe Boy Scouts have been seeking support from 75 percent of victims to help the youth organization win final approval from a bankruptcy judge, but the preliminary tally showed that 73 percent of victims supported the agreement. The Boy Scouts said in a statement that they were continuing to engage in discussions to supplement the agreement and potentially win further support.

“We are encouraged by these preliminary results,” the organization said. About 54,000 people cast votes out of some 82,000 victims who came forward with sex abuse claims during the bankruptcy proceedings.

The $2.7 billion settlement plan for victims was the product of months of high-stakes negotiations, with much of the money coming from insurance companies along with more than $800 million contributed by the Boy Scouts and their wide network of local councils. The Boy Scouts are expected to put in cash, property and other assets, including a prized collection of Norman Rockwell paintings.

Jan. 5

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trial

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Maxwell Verdict Is Clouded After Juror’s Disclosure of Past Sexual Abuse, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Benjamin Weiser, Jan. 5, 2022. The revelation, which the juror said figured in the deliberations at Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial, led prosecutors to seek an inquiry and the defense to call for a new trial.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday asked the judge who oversaw Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial to investigate the process by which one of the jurors was chosen, after he told news outlets he was a sexual abuse victim and had discussed his experience during deliberations.

The prosecutors’ request, in a letter filed with the court, raised the possibility of additional inquiry into how jurors who voted to convict Ms. Maxwell had been selected and the prospect of Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers moving to have a mistrial declared in the closely watched case.

Later on Wednesday, Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers indicated they planned to do just that, saying in two letters to the judge that their client would seek a new trial and that the judge “can and should order” one without holding a hearing, as the government had requested.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers said Ms. Maxwell planned to make her request under a federal rule that grants a judge the power to grant a new trial when the “interest of justice so requires.”

The dueling requests, and the disclosure that prompted them, threatened to cloud the conviction of Ms. Maxwell, who was found guilty last month of five counts related to what prosecutors said was her role in procuring teenage girls for the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse.

In another potential complication, a second juror described in an interview with The New York Times having been sexually abused as a child. This juror, who requested anonymity, said that they, too, had discussed the experience during deliberations and that the revelation had appeared to help shape the jury’s discussions.

The two jurors’ disclosures could be particularly problematic if they failed to note their experiences to the court during jury selection. All the potential jurors in the case were asked in a confidential questionnaire whether they or any relatives or friends had been the victim of sexual abuse or harassment.

Jan. 4

 ny times logoNew York Times, Cuomo Will Not Be Prosecuted in Groping Case, Albany D.A. Says, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Grace Ashford, Jan. 4, 2021. The district attorney described the woman who said former Gov. Andrew Cuomo had groped her as “credible,” but he said proving her claim would be difficult.

Former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will not be prosecuted in the criminal case involving allegations that he groped a former aide in the Executive Mansion in 2020, the Albany County District Attorney announced on Tuesday.

andrew cuomo 2019The move to drop the case marked a reprieve for Mr. Cuomo, right, who was expected to be arraigned in court on Friday, even as the prosecutor described the former aide, Brittany Commisso, as credible and said he was “deeply troubled by allegations like the ones at issue here.”

“While many have an opinion regarding the allegations against the former governor, the Albany County D.A.’s Office is the only one who has a burden to prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” David Soares, the Albany County district attorney, said in a statement. “While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial.”

The Albany sheriff’s office had filed a criminal complaint in October charging Mr. Cuomo with forcible touching, a misdemeanor sex crime that carries a penalty up to one year in jail, but it had remained unclear whether Mr. Soares would pursue the case.

His decision to decline to prosecute Mr. Cuomo, a development that was first reported by the Times Union of Albany on Monday, made him the third district attorney in recent weeks to close a criminal investigation into Mr. Cuomo’s treatment of women.

Prosecutors in Westchester and Nassau counties recently announced that they would not pursue charges against Mr. Cuomo after their offices investigated separate sexual misconduct allegations against him. Those and other allegations were corroborated in a damning 165-page report by the state attorney general’s office that led Mr. Cuomo to resign in August.

The Manhattan district attorney has also closed an investigation into Mr. Cuomo’s handling of nursing home deaths toward the start of the pandemic, a lawyer for Mr. Cuomo who was briefed by prosecutors said on Monday.

 

2021

December

Dec. 30

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein porchSex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Maxwell Unfiltered: The Full Transcript from My 2002 Interview with Ghislaine Maxwell, Vicky Ward, Dec. 30, 2021. Vicky Ward, shown above, is a journalist working at the intersection of power, money and corruption. She has been a New York Times bestselling author, is working on her fourth book and is host and reporter of "Chasing Ghislaine" streaming on Audible / Discovery.

So, it’s over. This chapter of the Jeffrey Epstein saga, at least. Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted on five counts out of six charges that constitute hideous sex crimes against children. She was reportedly emotionless as she heard the verdict. The mystery is what is going on inside her head.

We never got to hear from Maxwell herself this whole trial. Her defense’s strategy was to undermine the credibility of the accusers, not to explain her narrative.

So I went back and looked over the transcript of my 2002 interview with Maxwell about Maria and Annie Farmer, the latter who so bravely testified a couple of weeks ago. It was the one and only conversation I had with her on the topic of Annie and Maria Farmer.

It’s very revealing because it tells us—in her own words—who Maxwell really is and what she values. (It also shows that she lied to me about not giving Annie Farmer a massage.)

Here, for the first time, is our conversation, which was transcribed from micro-cassettes by a professional transcription service. The only redaction is the name of an employee who worked at Zorro Ranch, Epstein’s home in New Mexico.

WARD: Hi.

MAXWELL: Hi. Listen, I just got faxed something from the fact checker at Vanity Fair...the implication of which is so outrageous and disgusting to me that I cannot understand for the life of me why you would put something like that in it and not even [Overlap/Inaudible]

....

MAXWELL: Okay. Terrific. Bye.

WARD: Okay. Bye.

So, there you have it—in full, just as Maxwell insisted.

Her false denials condemn her almost as much as the credible testimony of Annie Farmer, which I believed then as now and which was entitled to be told, and all the others.

After my call with Maxwell, I submitted the story to my bosses at Vanity Fair—with the Farmers' description of events and a general denial from Epstein and Maxwell included. I did my journalistic duty: telling both sides of this ugly story. As I was taught from Day 1, journalism lets the readers to decide.

But Vanity Fair had other plans.

There was no subsequent conversation between Maxwell and myself because, shortly after my interview with the Farmer sisters and the follow-up with Maxwell, Epstein paid a visit to Graydon Carter at the Vanity Fair offices, and the Farmers’ allegations were cut from my article and a subsequent blog—to my eternal regret. I have felt deeply for the Farmers ever since. (Carter has said I didn’t have sufficient reporting. I disagree.)

But what this conversation shows is Maxwell’s entitlement—and her belief that money trumps all. It was “crazy” that I could believe strangers over her and report the on-record allegations. It was also outrageous to think she would have time to give people massages. And how lucky these two girls were to benefit from Epstein’s generosity.

Right there, in this conversation is everything you need to know. This is the narrative that was missing from the courtroom these past weeks, but it does validate the jury’s verdict.

“Use your common sense,” AUSA Maurene Comey had told the jury during her closing arguments.

Apparently, they did.

Vicky Ward's documentary series “Chasing Ghislaine” (based on her Audible podcast of the same name) started streaming on discovery+ on November 22nd and has been be available on DiscoveryID since Dec. 3. She has been a senior reporter at CNN, the editor at large of HuffPost and HuffPost’s long-form magazine, Highline, as well as at Town & Country magazine. I was also a contributor to Esquire, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair for eleven years, and a columnist for the London Evening Standard. In June 2020, she joined the Council on Foreign Relations. Her most recent book — Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (St. Martin’s Press, 2019) — was an instant New York Times bestseller.

Dec. 29

 

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trial

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, left, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Ghislaine Maxwell Found Guilty of All But One Charge in Sex Trafficking Case, Benjamin Weiser and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Dec. 29, 2021. After deliberating for several days, jurors delivered their decision Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Manhattan.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of a British media mogul and the former companion to the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, was convicted on Wednesday of conspiring with him over a decade to recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls.

A federal jury in Manhattan found Ms. Maxwell, 60, guilty of sex trafficking and the four other charges against her. She was acquitted of one count of enticing a minor to travel across state lines to engage in an illegal sexual act.

As the verdict was read, Ms. Maxwell -- seated next to one of her lawyers, Jeffrey Pagliuca -- appeared to look straight ahead, without moving. Once it was done, she leaned in, poured some water from a bottle into a paper cup, and drank it.

The jury acquitted Maxwell of one count -- No. 2 -- which charged her with enticing a minor to travel with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity. This count also related to the accuser referred to in court only as Jane, the first of four accusers who testified for the government.

The three other counts for which Maxwell was found guilty were all conspiracy counts, which carry a potential maximum sentence of 5 years each.

Another of the counts on which Maxwell was convicted, No. 4 -- transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity -- carries a potential maximum of 10 years in prison. This count applied to an accuser known only as Jane.

Of the five counts of which Maxwell was convicted, Count six is the most serious, carrying a potential maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Count 6, the most serious, charged sex trafficking of a minor, in this case of Carolyn, who testified using only her first name. The judge has just adjourned court for the day. No sentencing date has been set yet.

Dec. 27

CovertAction Magazine, Investigative Commentary: Sex Crimes of the CIA — Unreported, Unrepented, and Unpunished, John Kiriakou, right, Dec. 27, 2021. The john kiriakouCIA rivals the Vatican in covering up sex crimes against children and then protecting the members of its organization who commit them.

Buzzfeed reported early this month that, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the CIA revealed that 10 employees and a contractor had committed sex crimes against children—but only one was ever charged with a crime.

Considering how well the CIA knows how to cover up what it does not want to be known, we may reasonably speculate that those crimes represent only the tip of an iceberg—and I say this as someone who served 15 years in the CIA.

The evidence that the CIA released to Buzzfeed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit shows that the 10 employees and one contractor committed crimes including child rape, the purchase of violent child pornography, and viewing as many as 1,400 photos of nude children on a CIA CIA Logocomputer while overseas on a work assignment.

The contractor had arranged to have sex with an undercover FBI agent who he thought was a child. The only CIA officer prosecuted for child sex crimes had also mishandled classified information. Four of the other accused employees and the contractor were fired, four were “disciplined administratively,” and the status of one is unknown.

Let’s be clear about these crimes.

These were not “he said, she said” allegations. They were serious sex crimes against children.

The Buzzfeed information, which includes both internal CIA documents and a declassified Inspector General’s report, say that besides the contractor, CIA officers admitted to, “using a government laptop to view photographs and videos of girls as young as 10 being abused by an older guy;” having sexual contact with two girls, ages two and six, and downloading illicit photos of other children; downloading 63 videos of sex between adults and children between the ages of 8 and 16; and distributing lewd photos and videos of children to other pedophiles.

One CIA officer told investigators that he “did not know it was a violation of Agency policy to access child pornography.” He was not prosecuted.

For its part, the Justice Department elected to do practically nothing, notwithstanding a statement to Buzzfeed that, “The occupation or employer of the Justice Department log circularsuspect does not factor into that evaluation” (of whether or not to prosecute.) “While we cannot comment on the reasons why specific cases were declined, we do take very seriously any allegation that our prosecutors declined a potential case based on an improper assessment of the relevant factors.”

That’s nonsense. The truth is that the Justice Department was afraid of graymail. That’s the threat of a CIA officer on trial “accidentally” saying something classified or something that compromises sources and methods. It’s not worth the risk to the CIA to prosecute most cases. And the bottom line is that the CIA doesn’t care one whit about the children.

I spent 15 years at the CIA. It is a highly-sexualized environment full of type A personalities, sociopaths, and psychopaths. We had an old joke that, when you went into a meeting, you should never touch the conference room table because you didn’t know who was having sex on it the night before.

There was one incident in a war zone overseas while I was there where CIA officers were passing around to each other a sexually-transmitted disease unique to the CIA. A CIA doctor had to fly to the country to tell them to stop and to remind them to practice safe sex.

Further afield, it was a common occurrence for CIA case officers developing foreign officials for recruitment to offer them trips to southeast Asia, where both could partake of prostitutes and indulge in whatever sexual fantasies they had.

I note in my first book, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror, that one of my senior bosses, with whom I had had a dispute, tried to lighten the mood by telling me to take some money out of petty cash to pay for oral sex. I declined, angrily.

Case officers get promoted for recruitments and for the development of classified information. They don’t care about human trafficking. They don’t care about prostitution. And as it turns out, they don’t even care about abused children.

It’s accurate to say that I was “shocked but not surprised” when I read the Buzzfeed allegations.

All Americans should be sickened by them. I know that I sound like a broken record when I ask, “Where is the Congressional oversight?”

Why aren’t there hearings or investigations about child sex crimes at the CIA? Why aren’t the House and Senate Judiciary Committees investigating why the U.S. Attorneys refuse to take up the cases? Why are children not being protected?

It’s easy enough to say that we get the government we deserve. But somebody has to stand up for children. The CIA won’t do it. The Justice Department apparently won’t. Now that the cat is out of the bag, where do we go next?

John Kiriakou, right, was a CIA analyst and case officer from 1990 to 2004. In December 2007, John was the first U.S. government official to confirm that john kiriakouwaterboarding was used to interrogate al-Qaeda prisoners, a practice he described as torture. Kiriakou was a former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a former counter-terrorism consultant. While employed with the CIA, he was involved in critical counter-terrorism missions following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but refused to be trained in so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” nor did he ever authorize or engage in such crimes.

After leaving the CIA, Kiriakou appeared on ABC News in an interview with Brian Ross, during which he became the first former CIA officer to confirm the existence of the CIA’s torture program. Kiriakou’s interview revealed that this practice was not just the result of a few rogue agents, but was official U.S. policy approved at the highest levels of the government.

Kiriakou is the sole CIA agent to go to jail in connection with the U.S. torture program, despite the fact that he never tortured anyone. Rather, he blew the whistle on this horrific wrongdoing.

Dec. 21

 

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to court by U.S. Department of Justice).

Sex trafficking defendant Ghislaine Maxwell, right, in an undated photo with her onetime lover and boss Jeffrey Epstein (Photo submitted to jury by U.S. Department of Justice).

washington post logoWashington Post, In closing arguments, Ghislaine Maxwell portrayed as both abuser and wrongly targeted victim, Shayna Jacobs, Dec. 21, 2021 (print ed.). Jurors began deliberations in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial late Monday, after hours of summations that painted her alternately as a predator who did Jeffrey Epstein’s evil bidding by procuring his child victims, or an innocent bystander to a decade of regular abuse.

If a verdict does not come before Thursday, when the court will close for the long Christmas weekend, the panel will return next week to continue reviewing evidence from the high-profile trial. It must sort out whether to convict Maxwell on a number of serious charges, including conspiracies related to the trafficking of girls for illegal sex acts.

Prosecutors argued at the close of the trial that Maxwell was intimately involved in the recruitment of underage girls to be sexually abused by Epstein, a multimillionaire financier who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting his own sex-trafficking trial.

As Epstein’s longtime partner and “right hand,” prosecutors alleged, Maxwell deliberately sought out “young girls from struggling families” from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s and dazzled them with gifts, attention and praise.

In a two-hour closing statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe said the girls then became “trapped” in uncomfortable and terrifying sexual encounters, in which they were paid to touch Epstein and be touched by him during sexualized massages he demanded.

“Maxwell was a sophisticated predator who knew exactly what she was doing,” Moe said. “She caused deep and lasting harm to young girls.”

Moe also argued that Maxwell was handsomely paid for her willingness to commit crimes for Epstein. In several installments beginning in 1999, he wired more than $30 million to her accounts, according to financial records that were admitted as evidence.

Defense attorney Laura Menninger painted a drastically different version of events for the jury, saying that the memories of the women who accused Maxwell of wrongdoing were molded by decades of outside influence and a memory-science theory known as “post-event suggestion.”

“The stories relied on by the government are the product of erroneous memories, manipulation and money,” Menninger argued.

 

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Dispatches from the Maxwell Trial: The Great Lesson in Law, Vicky Ward, Dec. 21, 2021. Yesterday at the Ghislaine Maxwell trial was like being at the finals of the U.S. Open for the legal profession.

As I had predicted, AUSA Alison Moe and Maxwell defense attorney Laura Menninger both gave masterclasses in oratory, deploying very different styles for their closing arguments.

Moe’s opening salvo was completely devastating. By the time Moe had finished (two and a half hours later), summing up a story wherein the power lay in its horrific simplicity, her argument was that we’d heard four different women tell versions of exactly the same story of underage exploitation and abuse.

I personally felt “game over.” I couldn’t see a way for Menninger to counterpunch.

And yet Menninger did. In her very matter-of-fact, understated way she laid out, point by point on screens, how there were multiple reasons not to believe every single accuser. The evenness of her tone disguised the magnitude of what she was claiming to the jury: that, essentially, every one of the alleged victims was a liar who was in this for the money— specifically Epstein’s money—and that she had all of their previous testimony about Epstein to prove it.

After Menninger finished, the consensus in the peanut gallery was we had now reached a tie.

But then AUSA Maurene Comey stood up and gave her a rebuttal. And, just, Wow.

Dec. 20

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Commentary: Closing Arguments In Maxwell Trial, Vicky Ward (Journalist working at the intersection of power, money and corruption; NYT bestselling author; Host/reporter of "Chasing Ghislaine" on Audible/Discovery), Dec. 20, 2021.

The defense in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial rested on Friday—an event which felt rather like the calm before the storm. Day Two of the defense’s case brought another character witness in support of Maxwell— Michelle Healy, a former receptionist for Jeffrey Epstein—and, as I had previously speculated, Dr. Eva Andersson-Dubin, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend and who later became his close friend.

The point of the testimony of both Healy and Dubin was partly so they could refute the suggestion that they’d participated in what AUSA Alison Moe termed “group sexualized massages” described by Accuser Number One—“Jane”—who had mentioned an “Eva” and a “Michelle” among other names.

And, in Dubin’s case, she was asked if she could recall seeing “Jane” on flights for which flight logs listed them both. Dubin testified that she could not. But—and it’s a big but—it emerged on cross-examination that her memory is failing.

A very high percentage of this trial has taken place without the jury present because the lawyers have been locked in numerous battles about what evidence should and should not be admissible. (And, obviously, the deciding role of the judge, Alison Nathan, in all of this has been critical.)

So the jury may not realize, at the outset at least, that today’s closing arguments will be a showdown by the two lawyers who appear to bear the most personal animus toward each other: defense attorney Laura Menninger and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Moe.

Dec. 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Peloton drops Chris Noth ad amid assault allegations, Sonia Rao, Dec. 18, 2021 (print ed.). Peloton dropped its ad featuring “Sex and the City” actor Chris Noth on Thursday after he was accused of sexually assaulting two women in separate incidents. Later that same day, actress Zoe Lister-Jones referred to him as a “sexual predator.”

The Hollywood Reporter detailed the allegations against Noth in an article published Thursday, stating that the women had reached out earlier in the year in response to the promotion of “And Just Like That...,” the “Sex and the City” reboot that premiered last week.

According to the publication, the press cycle “stirred painful memories” of the alleged incidents, said to have occurred in Los Angeles in 2004 and New York in 2015. Both women remained anonymous. Noth, whose representatives haven’t returned The Washington Post’s request for comment, said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that the allegations were “categorically false” and described the encounters as consensual.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein testifies for Ghislaine Maxwell, Shayna Jacobs, Dec. 18, 2021. The defense rested its case in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial on Friday, with the socialite and longtime companion of Jeffrey Epstein asserting that she had “no need” to testify because the prosecution failed to demonstrate her guilt.

Maxwell, in a standard exchange with U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan that is required to inform a defendant of their right to testify, went beyond what a defendant usually says when prompted to confirm her decision.

“Uh, your honor,” Maxwell said, making her first public utterance of the three-week trial. “The government has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and so there is no need for me to testify.”

The U.S. attorney’s office rested its case a week ago after calling 24 witnesses, including four women who testified to varying degrees about the role Maxwell allegedly played in recruiting and grooming them to be Epstein’s victims. Two of the women also described unwanted sexual touching by Maxwell herself.

Other witnesses corroborated elements of the accusers’ testimonies, which spanned events from the 1990s and early 2000s.

Maxwell’s defense lawyers on Thursday and Friday presented several witnesses who tried to cast doubt on elements of the prosecution’s case.

Eva Andersson-Dubin, a physician and the wife of a prominent hedge fund manager, testified under subpoena Friday saying she knew Epstein for years and never saw anything “inappropriate” between him and teenage girls.

Dec. 17

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein seated trial evidence

Photos displayed during Ms. Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial show her in an apparently happy relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, her notorious former companion. A series of undated pictures like this one, entered into evidence in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial, show Ms. Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein together (Photos via U.S. Attorney's Office via Reuters).

ny times logoNew York Times, The Photos That Ghislaine Maxwell Didn’t Want the Jury to See, Colin Moynihan, Updated Dec. 17, 2021. The images could have come from the scrapbook of any relatively affluent couple: a graying man and slightly younger woman in casual, unrehearsed moments — standing on a wooden footbridge, astride a motorcycle, at a table with a drink.

What sets them apart are the people they depict: Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who killed himself in a federal jail cell in 2019 while he was being held on sex-trafficking charges, and Ghislaine Maxwell, his onetime girlfriend, who is currently being tried on sex-trafficking and other charges in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein smiling young trialMore than a dozen of the photographs were displayed last week during Ms. Maxwell’s trial, showing the carefree surface of a relationship that, according to witness testimony, masked much darker depths. They were introduced by the government over defense objections, as prosecutors sought to document, through the images, Ms. Maxwell’s longstanding relationship with Mr. Epstein.

Now, as the defense prepares to present its case when the trial resumes on Thursday, lawyers for Ms. Maxwell will attempt to convince jurors that the woman in the pictures is little more than a scapegoat for Mr. Epstein, one of the most notorious sex offenders in recent American history.

Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers have not said publicly who they will call to testify, but said they will put on a case that is expected to last no more than four days. In court filings, they suggested that they want to present at least one expert witness to counter testimony from an expert called by the government who described a process known as “grooming” that is used by sexual predators to target victims and acclimate them to abuse.

But the timeline implies that Ms. Maxwell herself is unlikely to testify, and jurors will not hear firsthand about her relationship with Mr. Epstein, which in many ways is at the center of the case.

Four women have testified that when they were teenagers, Ms. Maxwell helped prime them for abuse by Mr. Epstein, with two saying she pretended to be a friend or mentor introducing them to her life of money and glamour. The government has contended that Ms. Maxwell was Mr. Epstein’s “best friend and right hand,” even after a “personal intimate relationship” ended. She was described during an opening statement as his willing accomplice: Ms. Maxwell, a prosecutor said, “walked the girls into a room where she knew that man would molest them.”

The photographs shown in court are part of a trove found in 2019, when F.B.I. agents searched Mr. Epstein’s townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where some of that abuse was said to have taken place. Prosecutors said at the time that the authorities had seized hundreds of pictures of nude or partially nude young women and girls, some of which had been stored in a safe.

Defense lawyers objected last week to the photographs of Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell being shown in court, saying that there was no testimony that the images were unaltered and suggesting that it was not necessary for the government to enter multiple pictures into evidence.

“You don’t need 20 photographs to say what two might just as well say,” one of Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers, Laura Menninger, argued.

Maxwell’s lawyers tried to keep the jury from seeing a trove of romantic snapshots.

But a prosecutor, Alison Moe, told the judge overseeing the case that the relationship between Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein “is central to this case.” Because the defense had “repeatedly tried to distance Ms. Maxwell from Mr. Epstein and his affairs and argue that things were compartmentalized,” she said, a large number of photos were needed to show that Ms. Maxwell had been more than a functionary in Mr. Epstein’s world.

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, Maxwell Trial: The Defense Opens, Vicky Ward (pioneering author and investigative reporter in the Jeffrey Epstein scandals), shown above), Dec. 17, 2021. This will be a short dispatch for two reasons. First, yesterday’s session in court lacked the tension of the previous two weeks, leaving some journalists, at least initially, to wonder: Is this all the defense has?

They opened with Cimberly Espinosa, who was Ghislaine Maxwell’s executive assistant from November of 1996 to 2002. Espinosa’s opinion of Maxwell was very different from the testimony we’d heard from the four accusers the prosecution presented previously.

Espinosa not only liked Maxwell, but she respected her.

The bulk of the day was focused on the testimony from “false memory” expert Professor Elizabeth Loftus, who had a resume that was 47 pages long, single-spaced (literally).

Loftus was a compelling character, but I found her testimony about how memory can be manipulated extremely dull. Other journalists said they felt the same, and it occurs to me that perhaps because we spend so many hours comparing our memories to our notes and tape-recordings, we have an innate understanding of the failings—or lack thereof—of memory that other professionals may not.

The jurors, I noticed, were riveted by what Loftus had to say.

Even more riveting, however, was the cross examination of Loftus by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz, who delivered the tour de force performance of the prosecution to date. When she asked Loftus if she had made millions by marketing herself as an expert for the defense, a few jurors’ eyebrows noticeably lifted.

Dec. 16

jeffrey epstein ghislaine maxwell motorcycle

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (Undated photo introduced by prosecution at trial).

The Unz Review, Investigation: Meet Ghislaine: Daddy’s Girl, Whitney Webb, right, Dec. 16, 2021 (4,500 Words). Introduction: Absent from mainstream discourse on Ghislaine Maxwell’s ongoing trial is any mention of the ties, not only of herself, but her family, to Israeli whitney webb twitterintelligence. Those ties, forged by Ghislaine’s father Robert Maxwell, are critical to understanding Ghislaine’s history and her role in Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual blackmail and trafficking network.

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, the alleged madam of Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual blackmail and sex trafficking network, has attracted considerable mainstream and independent media attention, though not as much as one might expect given the level of media attention that surrounded Epstein’s 2019 arrest and death or given the public interest in the Epstein/Maxwell scandal and its broader implications.

Unsurprisingly, the broader implications of the Epstein/Maxwell scandal have been largely, if not entirely absent, from mainstream media (and some independent media) coverage of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial as well as absent from the case itself. For example, despite physical evidence of sexual blackmail stored at Epstein’s residences being shown by the prosecution (with the names of those incriminated being notably redacted), the prosecution chose not to mention even the potential role of blackmail in Ghislaine Maxwell’s activities and motives as it related to her involvement in sex trafficking activities alongside Jeffrey Epstein. Not only that, but the names of Ghislaine’s close contacts and even some of her defense witnesses, along with considerable information about her role in Epstein’s network that is very much in the public interest, is due to be filed under seal and forever hidden from the public, either due to “deals” made between the prosecution and the defense in this case or due to rulings from the judge overseeing the case.

Going hand in hand with the blackmail angle of this case is the specter of Ghislaine Maxwell’s family ties to intelligence agencies, as well as the intelligence ties of Jeffrey Epstein himself. Given that blackmail, particularly sexual blackmail, has been used by intelligence agencies – particularly in the US and Israel – since the 1940s and beyond, it is deeply troubling that neither the blackmail or intelligence angle has played any role in the prosecution’s case or in the mainstream media’s coverage of the trial.

To remedy this lack of coverage, Unlimited Hangout is publishing a 2-part investigative report entitled “Meet Ghislaine”, which is adapted from this author’s upcoming book on the subject. This investigation will detail key aspects of Ghislaine Maxwell’s links to intelligence agencies and sexual blackmail activities that are relevant to the case against her and perhaps explain the silence from the prosecution and their interest in sealing potentially incriminating evidence against Ghislaine from public scrutiny. Part 1 of this article will focus on Ghislaine’s father, Robert Maxwell, a “larger than life” figure who straddled the worlds of both business and espionage and whose daughters inherited different aspects of his espionage contacts and activities as well as his influence empire following his 1991 death.

Dec. 15

 

dan snyder redskins com

washington post logoWashington Post, Snyder worked to disrupt NFL investigation, records and interviews show, Will Hobson and Liz Clarke, Dec. 15, 2021 (print ed.). The Washington Football Team’s owner, shown above, took former employees to court, deployed private investigators and was accused by the league's investigator of trying to “silence” a key accuser.

In July 2020, just a few days after prominent D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson began investigating allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the Washington Football Team workplace, she learned of a decade-old allegation of sexual misconduct against team owner Daniel Snyder.

Snyder had for years privately denied the woman’s claims. But the existence of an allegation against him, which had been kept secret by a confidential $1.6 million settlement, had the potential to rock a franchise already reeling from scandal. A few weeks later, Wilkinson sought to interview the former nfl logo croppedteam employee who had made the accusation, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Then Snyder and his team stepped in.

Despite the owner’s public pledge to cooperate “with all aspects of the investigation,” his attorneys attempted to prevent Wilkinson from speaking to Snyder’s accuser, according to a letter the woman’s attorney wrote to Snyder’s lawyers that was filed in federal court.

The Washington Post has not reviewed this letter, which was filed under seal as part of a legal dispute between Wilkinson, left, and a former lawyer for the team. The letter was described by people with knowledge of its contents.

beth wilkinsonAccording to these people, the woman’s lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, accused Snyder’s lawyers of offering his client more money beyond the $1.6 million the team paid in 2009, if she agreed not to speak to anyone about her allegations against Snyder and her settlement with the team. In court filings, Wilkinson later described phone calls to Sullivan from Snyder’s lawyers as an attempt to “silence” the 2009 accuser. Wilkinson and Sullivan declined to comment.

Snyder’s attorneys, in their own sealed letter filed in court, denied trying to block the interview and offering the woman more money, according to people familiar with that letter.

In a statement released after this story published online, A. Scott Bolden of the law firm Reed Smith, which represents Snyder and the team, said, “Untrue. It did not happen. Absolutely no effort was made by me or any Reed Smith lawyers to dissuade anyone from speaking with Beth Wilkinson or otherwise cooperating with her investigation, nor was any money offered to anyone not to cooperate. Anyone suggesting something to the contrary is lying.”

Snyder declined an interview request. Lawyers representing Snyder and the team declined interview requests.

Daniel Snyder pushed back as the NFL probed. Here are takeaways from The Post’s reporting.

The alleged effort to block the interview is one of several instances in which lawyers and private investigators working on Snyder’s behalf took steps that potential witnesses for Wilkinson viewed as attempts to interfere with the NFL’s investigation, according to a review of hundreds of pages of court records and interviews with more than 30 people, including current and former team and league officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The NFL’s silence about Daniel Snyder says plenty about its principles, Sally Jenkins, right, Dec. 15, 2021 (print ed.). At this sally jenkinspoint, the bigger problem for the NFL is not the stinking algae bloom that is Daniel Snyder but rather the strong whiff of its own toxic cleansers. Commissioner Roger Goodell, you see, knows the Washington Football Team owner was accused of sexual misconduct on his plane and settled a claim over his alleged behavior. Yet the league office has said nothing, not to the team’s legion of victims of sexual harassment, nor to the public that foots the NFL’s bills. If silence can have bad breath, Goodell’s reeks.

The promises of “transparency” were all bamboozlement. What a con. You hire a former federal prosecutor, Beth Wilkinson, to do a supposedly “independent” investigation of Snyder’s sordid workplace, then tell her not to document anything. Question: For exactly how long have league officials known about the accusation against Snyder, and what were the specifics and merit of it?

ny times logoNew York Times, Landlord Accused of Demanding Sex From Tenants to Pay $4.5 Million, Karen Zraick, Dec. 15, 2021. A federal civil rights suit had accused Joseph Centanni of demanding sexual acts from tenants in Elizabeth, N.J. He denied wrongdoing, but agreed to pay.

One woman went to the landlord of her building for help because she was worried she wouldn’t be able to pay her rent. Another tenant was having trouble finding a new home and wanted to know if she could stay in her apartment.

The landlord, who owned several buildings in Elizabeth, N.J., helped both of them — but only after they performed the sexual acts on him that he demanded, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit that was settled this week for $4.5 million, the vast majority of which is supposed to go to victims.

If the agreement is approved by a judge, federal officials said it would be the largest settlement the Justice Department has ever secured in a case involving sexual harassment in housing.

The suit, filed last year, accused the landlord, Joseph Centanni, 74, of harassing tenants in the nearly 20 buildings he owned in and around Elizabeth for at least 15 years. Many of the tenants were vulnerable or in precarious situations, including older people, low-income families and people with disabilities.

Mr. Centanni accepted federal housing vouchers and received more than $100,000 monthly in voucher payments, the authorities said. He has been forced to sell his rental properties as part of the settlement.

Mr. Centanni, who lives in Mountainside, N.J., also faces separate criminal charges. He was arrested in March and charged with numerous counts of sexual assault and criminal sexual contact. He was accused of coercing more than a dozen tenants into sex acts in exchange for “financial relief,” according to the Union County prosecutor and the Elizabeth Police Department.  Mr. Centanni was arrested again in July and now faces 35 charges related to accusations from 20 people between 22 and 61 years old.

CT Insider, CNN fires Connecticut producer accused of offering to train girls to be ‘sexually submissive,’ Tara O’Neil and Peter Yankowski, Dec. 13, 2021.  CNN said it has fired a Connecticut producer accused in a federal indictment of trying to lure women to his Vermont ski home to train their daughters to be “sexually submissive.”

CNN said it has terminated John Griffin, a long-time staffer and producer from Connecticut indicted last week on federal charges alleging he tried to lure women to his Vermont ski home to train their daughters to be “sexually submissive.”

“The charges against Mr. Griffin are deeply disturbing. We learned of his arrest Friday afternoon and terminated his employment today,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement Monday to Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

Griffin’s attorney, Joseph Martini, declined to comment when reached on Monday.

Griffin, 44, of Stamford, was arrested Friday by the FBI after a federal grand jury in Vermont charged him with three counts of using a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to entice minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity.

The FBI's office in Albany, N.Y., announced the charges against Griffin Friday in a tweet.

"The allegations are deeply disturbing, and our office is committed to working with our partners at the United States Attorney's Office District of Vermont to ensure Mr. Griffin is held accountable for his actions," Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany office, said in a statement. "The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively investigate those who victimize the most vulnerable in our communities."

According to his LinkedIn profile, Griffin had been a CNN employee since 2013.

Griffin was once a producer for the Chris Cuomo show and was most recently a producer for CNN senior political analyst John Avlon.

Property records indicate Griffin purchased the Vermont home on the eastern slope of Okemo Mountain through an LLC in February 2020, paying just under $1.8 million.

About two months later, Griffin began using the alternative website, alt.com, to seek women who were “submissive” and “open-minded,” according to his indictment.

Griffin then used messaging features on Kik and Google Hangouts to communicate with some of the women, pretending to be the parents of underage girls. In the communications, Griffin tried to persuade parents to let him “train their daughters to be sexually submissive,” the indictment stated.

In June 2020, Griffin told a mother of 9- and 13-year-old girls that she needed to have her daughters “trained properly,” the indictment stated. Griffin then transferred about $3,000 to the woman for plane tickets so she and her 9-year-old could fly from Nevada to Boston’s Logan airport, the indictment stated.

The mother and child flew to Boston in July 2020. Griffin picked them up and drove them to his home in Ludlow, Vt., where prosecutors said the girl was forced to engage in illegal sexual contact.

Dec. 13

 

mckayla maroney saul loeb pool reuters

U.S Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Saul Loeb/POOL via Reuters). See , McKayla Maroney's gut-wrenching statement to Congress about FBI's handling of Nassar abuse, (7:51 min. video). "They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," she said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gymnasts abused by Larry Nassar reach $380 million settlement with Olympic organizations, Les Carpenter and Rick Maese, Dec. 13, 2021. Gymnasts abused by former U.S. national team doctor Larry Nassar reached a settlement Monday that will require the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and their insurers to pay them $380 million.

The settlement, announced in an Indianapolis bankruptcy court, also requires USA Gymnastics to provide a seat on its board for a gymnast who had larry nassar gymnastics pleabeen abused by Nassar, shown at left in a court hearing.

But it comes at an emotional cost for those who said they were abused while being treated by Nassar, many of whom had to reveal the details of that abuse publicly, including gold medalists Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman. It also comes after the leadership of USA Gymnastics and the USOPC were assailed by gymnasts for turning a blind eye to Nassar, who is serving what is essentially a life sentence in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting children and possessing child pornography.

The settlement was revealed in court Monday morning and became official in the afternoon after Judge Robyn Moberly took several hours to read the agreement.

“We prevailed for one simple reason, the courage and tenacity of the survivors,” John Manly, the attorney for many of the girls and women assaulted by Nassar, said in a statement. “These brave women relived their abuse publicly in countless media interviews so that not one more child will be forced to suffer physical, emotional or sexual abuse in pursuit of their dreams.”

The legal fight started in 2016 when 2000 bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher sued the USOPC and USA Gymnastics over their failures to protect her from Nassar’s abuse, leading to suits from hundreds of girls and women against those two organizations as well as Michigan State University, where Nassar worked. Michigan State paid $500 million in 2018 to settle more than 300 claims.

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, Outstanding Questions from the Maxwell Trial, Part One: The Money, Vicky Ward, Dec. 13, 2021. Friday at the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell saw two momentous events.

The first was the testimony of Accuser Number Four, Annie Farmer, to whom I first spoke about Epstein in 2002 and whose allegations about Epstein I only managed to get into print at a different publication in 2015.

As I wrote last week, I expected Annie to be cool under pressure, not least because her story about what happened to her one weekend on Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico has never changed even in one detail from the story she told me almost twenty years ago.

Farmer’s value to the prosecution is not so much her story (the judge told the jury in advance of her testimony that nothing they would hear about Maxwell from Farmer was illegal) but her character. When asked by AUSA Lara Pomerantz about the money she had received from the Epstein’s compensation fund ($1.5 million), Farmer didn’t pretend that it was meaningless. She said, “It’s a very significant chunk of money. It’s a security for myself and my family, and it’s already been helpful in providing that.”

The second momentous event was that the prosecution rested, about a week ahead of schedule. This means the defense will open its case next Thursday (Judge Nathan has a conflict Monday through Wednesday), and it will last two to three days. The defense team wants to call witnesses who, according to attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca, have been phoning and asking to testify under a pseudonym.

Nathan will only rule on this by Wednesday night, so Thursday is likely to be a nail-biter. Complicating matters is the timetable surrounding the holidays. Nathan has instructed both sides to be ready with closing arguments as soon as the defense rests. This means that it is possible jurors will be asked to start assembling with just four hours to go before the break for Christmas begins. The defense has objected to this.

I’ve been asked in various TV and podcast interviews for my take on where we are in the trial at this point. Because I know so much about Epstein and Maxwell, I have questions that the jurors, who have been presented with a very narrow—I would say disturbingly narrow—picture of Epstein’s world, may not have.

To me, there are three major questions that this trial has made more even complicated. One is about Epstein’s money, the second is about the role of men in Epstein’s life, and the third is the role of the absent women in the trial: namely, Virginia Roberts and Sarah Kellen. (Neither Roberts nor Kellen has been charged with wrong-doing.)

I will address each matter over the next few days as court is adjourned, and I will start here with the money.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell’s Unusual Request: Allow Anonymous Defense Witnesses, Benjamin Weiser, Dec. 13, 2021. Three of Ms. Maxwell’s accusers testified anonymously. Now her lawyers are asking that three defense witnesses also be able to conceal their identities.

Three accusers who testified against Ghislaine Maxwell in the first two weeks of her sex-trafficking trial in Manhattan were allowed to shield their identities to protect their privacy in the public courtroom. Two, “Jane” and “Kate,” used pseudonyms, while a third, “Carolyn,” used only her first name.

Now, three of the defense’s witnesses have also asked to testify without revealing their identities, Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers say.

The unusual request, which prosecutors oppose, according to a letter to the judge from one of Ms. Maxwell’s attorneys, Bobbi C. Sternheim, came as Ms. Maxwell’s defense team prepared to present its case in the closely watched trial. Ms. Maxwell is accused of helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit, groom and in some cases sexually abuse underage girls. She has pleaded not guilty.

The government rested its case against Ms. Maxwell on Friday after two weeks of testimony from four accusers (one of whom testified under her true name) and former employees of Mr. Epstein and other witnesses.

It is not yet clear what sort of defense Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers might mount or whether she might testify in her own defense, but in the letter to Judge Alison J. Nathan, Ms. Sternheim suggested that some potential defense witnesses might not be willing to testify if they had to do so using their real names.

“The court’s ruling on this issue may impact the willingness of these witnesses to testify,” Ms. Sternheim wrote on Sunday, “thereby compromising Ms. Maxwell’s right to present her defense.”

It is not unheard of for prosecutors to seek anonymity for witnesses in cases like Ms. Maxwell’s, which involve alleged sexual assault victims, or in trials with testimony from undercover officers or agents or vulnerable informants.

But legal experts interviewed on Monday said they were not aware of trials in which defense witnesses had appeared under a pseudonym or a partial name, as Ms. Maxwell’s witnesses are requesting to do.

Ms. Sternheim’s letter did not identify the three witnesses or explain why they were requesting anonymity.

The three were among 35 witness names the defense provided to the government — but did not release publicly — on Friday evening, according to a government court filing on Sunday. On Friday, another of Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers said in court that the defense was paring its witness list, given that the prosecution had rested its case earlier than expected and had not called “a significant number of witnesses.”

Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School and a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, said she did not believe Judge Nathan would grant a defense request for anonymity even in a high-profile case without a showing of exceptional circumstances.

“There are lots of cases where witnesses would prefer not to be entangled in something,” she said, “and I just don’t think that that’s an adequate reason for anonymity.”

“It has to be something more,” she added, like a legitimate fear of retribution or a witness who was an underage victim of a crime.

Dec. 11

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, Final Epstein accuser, Annie Farmer, says Maxwell groped and pressured her, Shayna Jacobs, Dec. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Prosecutors finished presenting evidence Friday in the sex-trafficking trial of former British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, after testimony from a psychologist about how Maxwell and the late Jeffrey Epstein groped and fondled her when she was a teen.

Maxwell, 59, Epstein’s longtime companion, is accused of helping him recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage victims. She has pleaded not guilty to charges that carry a combined maximum prison sentence of 70 years.

Her lawyers say she is being unfairly scapegoated in the trial because Epstein — a wealthy financier who died by suicide while awaiting his own sex-trafficking trial in August 2019 — can no longer face consequences.

But Farmer and three other accusers who testified over the past two weeks relayed a variety of graphic stories about the interactions they claimed they had with Maxwell and Epstein, including how Maxwell allegedly recruited and groomed them and, in some cases, engaged in sexual touching with them.

Farmer, 42, told jurors in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that she was 16 when she met Epstein in New York in 1995. She had traveled to the city to visit her older sister, who worked for Epstein. He paid for her travel and bankrolled at least some entertainment for the sisters, Farmer said. Portraying himself as a mentor, he seemed interested in her education and her plans for the future.

“He seemed very nice when I met him, and what he said about wanting to help me was reassuring and exciting,” Farmer said.

But Epstein also allegedly got physical with Farmer on that trip. She said that when she was alone in a room with him, he “caressed” her hand and rubbed her legs.

“I was very nervous and anxious,” Farmer testified during the start of direct examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz. “I felt sick to my stomach. It was not something that I was at all expecting.”

Witness alleges Ghislaine Maxwell groped her as a teenager

In a handwritten journal entry she wrote shortly after the encounter — an exhibit shown to the jurors — Farmer downplayed the experience as not “a big deal” by suggesting that Epstein, maybe, “likes to flirt or was being fatherly or something.”

“I was trying to come up with excuses or justifications in my mind to make it seem okay,” she said.

The New York trip was followed by an invitation from Epstein for Farmer to go to his sprawling ranch in New Mexico. That, she testified, is where she met Maxwell. Farmer said she believed Epstein would not be in a position to make her feel uncomfortable at the ranch. Maxwell was Epstein’s girlfriend, and Farmer said she “didn’t think he would do anything like that when they were together.”

Prosecutors have argued that Maxwell’s presence helped put Epstein’s victims at ease and that she arranged travel for victims to Epstein’s various estates, also showering them with gifts and praise.

Farmer said Maxwell and Epstein surprised her by acting playful and flirtatious in front of her at the ranch, and made efforts to engage her that she didn’t know how to reject.

On cross examination, Maxwell’s attorneys sought to cast doubt on the women’s motivation for testifying and exposed some inconsistencies in the details of their stories. But Farmer’s testimony was consistent with her past statements about how she was treated.

Farmer, who was the only alleged victim not to testify using a pseudonym or only a first name, was direct and composed on the witness stand, only rarely appearing slightly flustered.

Prosecutors, who called roughly 20 witnesses, may also put on a rebuttal case after the defense presents its witnesses. The defense team has said its presentation could take up to four days but will likely be shorter.

Dec. 9

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Dispatches from the Maxwell Trial Day Eight: "Ghislaine is the Best At What I Need," Vicky Ward, Dec. 9, 2021. “I advise every one of my clients that they should have their own planes. … Everyone should.”—Jeffrey Epstein to Vicky Ward, Fall 2002

Ever since Jeffrey Epstein’s death, portions of his flight logs have serially leaked out, showing a host of VIPS whom Epstein flew. We know they include, to mention a few: Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, musician Itzhak Perlman, Prince Andrew, Chris Tucker, and Kevin Spacey).

And they also include, of course, females. Many, many females.

Then Epstein’s flight logs appeared on-screen in court in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. We knew it was coming. We had all been waiting for this. And the testimony of Epstein’s long-time “chief pilot” David Rodgers yesterday gave us even more information than we’d had before.

The numbers were a point of discussion. Assistant U.S. attorney Maureen Comey emphasized to jurors just how many times Rodgers recalled Ghislaine Maxwell flying with Epstein on private planes over the years (a very great deal), how many times Virginia Roberts had (32 times), and how many times “Jane”—the pseudonym for Accuser Number One, who said she was 14 when she first got on Epstein’s plane with both him and Maxwell—had (according to the logs, four times between 1996 and 2002). Interestingly: Epstein hired another “Jane” on his staff in 2003, and the defense made the most of that possible confusion, despite the fact that Rodgers said he would not have confused the two “Janes” because he met them in completely different time periods.

As I listened. I remained bewildered by the question I was first tasked with in 2002 when I investigated Epstein and still have not answered: How did he make the money for the planes, the homes, all of it?

I was reminded of some of the conversations Epstein and I had had in 2002 about flying private. After court, I checked the transcripts of our conversations, and I remembered that he told me he’d had his own plane since the 1980s. T

ap logoAssociated Press via Washington Post, Jury begins deliberating in Josh Duggar child porn trial, Staff Report, Dec. 9, 2021. A federal jury in Arkansas has begun deliberations in the trial of former reality TV star Josh Duggar, right, who is accused of receiving and possessing child pornography.

josh duggar mugThe jury deliberated for about five hours Wednesday, a week after the trial began in northwest Arkansas. Deliberations will resume Thursday morning.

Duggar, 33, faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts if convicted. He was featured on TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” which was pulled in 2015 over revelations that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter.

Duggar was charged in April after child pornography was discovered on a computer at his workplace.

Defense attorneys for Duggar have argued that someone else downloaded or placed the child pornography onto the work computer, noting that no child pornography was found on Duggar’s phone or laptop.

In closing arguments Wednesday, defense attorney Justin Gelfand told jurors that federal agents “were so star-struck about the possibility of prosecuting Josh Duggar” that they ignored other evidence.

But federal prosecutors showed jurors detailed logs showing, minute by minute, the activity on Duggar’s computer that alternated between him allegedly sending personal messages, downloading child porn and saving pictures of notes. Prosecutor Dustin Roberts told jurors the defense intended to “get you looking anywhere but the facts. This is not a complicated case.”

Duggar’s trial is happening as his father, Jim Bob Duggar, runs in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in northwest Arkansas. Jim Bob Duggar was also featured prominently on the TLC show and previously served in the Arkansas House.

Dec. 8

vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Day Seven Dispatches from the Maxwell Trial: “An Expletive That Rhymes with ‘Front,’” Vicky Ward (author and pioneering reporter in Jeffrey Epstein scandal whose extensively daily report is excerpted as follows), Dec. 8, 2021. Some of the most fascinating moments in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial have not actually happened in front of the jurors, but in conference between Judge Alison Nathan and the prosecution and defense teams, who have grown increasingly combative—to the point that, at the end of the day yesterday, Nathan instructed both sides “to behave.”

Tension had started building at 8:45am when the pre-trial conference began. Maxwell defense lawyer Laura Menninger, whose demeanor has been cool and unflappable for most of the trial thus far, was visibly furious as she told Judge Nathan that she’d been notified early that morning—very early, 3 a.m.— that prosecutors had met with “Brian”—the brother Accuser Number One, “Jane”—on Monday night, and it had emerged that Jane and Brian had communicated with each other since Jane’s testimony.

Witnesses are not supposed to talk to one another.

Suffice it to say, by the end of the day, the prosecution said they were no longer planning to produce “Brian” and that, further, they will rest—most likely by the end of Thursday.

Now, that is quicker than most of us had thought. It means that most of the government’s case is now already out there. Have they proven that Maxwell is guilty on all of the six counts she is charged with in terms of enabling Epstein to abuse and traffic underage girls—and done so beyond reasonable doubt?

Part of the prosecution’s argument was establishing a pattern of abuse. We heard yesterday from Accuser Number Four, whose first name is Carolyn, who told a heart-wrenching story of sheer poverty: being addicted to drugs and alcohol, having an alcoholic and drug-addicted mother, being convicted of a couple of felonies, having a child at 16.

The other part of the prosecution’s argument is dependent on the narrative that, as some witnesses have suggested, Epstein and Maxwell had a relationship that went far beyond the merely professional or platonic.

I wrote yesterday how it might be that photos are more powerful than words. And when photographs of Epstein and Maxwell— taken from images on CDs found by the FBI at Epstein’s house when they raided it after his arrest in July 2019—were shown in court, yes, you could clearly see that this was a couple who were extremely sexual, over a number of years, judging by the change in haircuts and facial lines.

Dec. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Third Accuser Says Maxwell Facilitated Years of Abuse By Epstein, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Colin Moynihan, Dec. 7, 2021. A woman identified only as “Carolyn” said she was underage when Ms. Maxwell began booking her to give sexual massages to Jeffrey Epstein.

The third of four accusers took the stand late Tuesday morning in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial, beginning her testimony by briefly recounting a difficult childhood in Palm Beach, Fla., where she dropped out of middle school, she said, and became addicted to cocaine and pain pills.

The accuser, testifying using only her first name, Carolyn, is identified in the indictment as Minor Victim-4 — the subject of the sex-trafficking count Ms. Maxwell faces. She spoke in a soft, halting voice, and the judge at times asked her to speak up.

Carolyn testified that she met Jeffrey Epstein through a female friend when she was 14 years old. That friend, Virginia Roberts, asked her if she wanted to make money by giving massages to her friend who lived on Palm Beach Island.

When the two girls arrived at Mr. Epstein’s house, Ms. Maxwell met them at the door and told them to go upstairs to Mr. Epstein’s bathroom. The first time, Ms. Roberts got fully undressed and Carolyn asked to keep on her bra and underwear. Then, Mr. Epstein entered the massage room and lay down.

Forty-five minutes later, Mr. Epstein turned over, Ms. Roberts got on top of him and they had sex, Carolyn told the jury, her voice cracking. Carolyn watched from a nearby couch, she said.

Afterward, Carolyn said they were both paid, in hundred dollar bills left at the bathroom sink, and Ms. Maxwell took her number.

Ms. Roberts, now known as Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has become one of Mr. Epstein’s most vocal accusers. She is not believed to be one of the four victims on which the charges against Ms. Maxwell are based and is not expected to testify at trial.

Carolyn testified that she gave Mr. Epstein hundreds of massages over the next four years. Ms. Maxwell, she said, would call to set up appointments, which her then-boyfriend would urge her to take.

Each time she went over to the house, Mr. Epstein would first lie on his stomach while Carolyn gave him a massage and they spoke about her troubled upbringing. At the end, he would roll over, touch her, sometimes with a sex toy, and masturbate.

ny times logoNew York Times, Books of The Times: She Survived a Tough Childhood. Then She Met Jeffrey Epstein, Alexandra Jacobs, Dec. 7, 2021 (print ed.). To the heinous charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy for which the English socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is currently standing federal trial, add one more: impersonating an editorial coach.

sarah ransome“You’re a decent writer,” Maxwell praised Sarah Ransome, in the latter’s bitter telling, after reviewing her hopeful drafts of an application essay to the Fashion Institute of Technology. “Well done, you.”

This feels a particularly cruel class flex: Maxwell, the daughter of a newspaper mogul, who attended Oxford, spoke the Queen’s English and mingled with royalty, acting as literary arbiter to Ransome, a young woman of broken home and reduced circumstances who had bounced from South Africa to Scotland to early-aughts New York with visions of “Sex and the City” dancing in her head. (Has any production besides “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” snookered so many female out-of-towners?)

Ransome would soon find herself on the very opposite of Fantasy Island: Little St. James in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a.k.a. Hades. Her host was the high-flying, pedophiliac financier Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was the program director, or so many have alleged. And they would not be collecting seashells.

In her early 20s when she entered into a nine-month rotation of coerced massages and far worse on the island and back in Manhattan, Ransome was older than many of Epstein’s victims — ensnared, she theorizes in her new memoir, to help paint a veneer of adult consensuality over his serial sexual offenses. A decade after her escape, emboldened by other legal action against Epstein and Maxwell, the author sued them, receiving an undisclosed settlement in 2018. (She is among those questioning that his death in prison a year later was suicide.) She has called her book (Silenced No More), which helps fill out a rapidly growing body of published literature and documentaries about Epstein’s crimes, “my day in court.” It’s also her afternoon on the analyst’s couch: identifying the psychological roots that she believes made her more susceptible to abuse.

Now in recovery, Ransome describes bouts of her own drinking and drug use; desperate to make ends meet and get through college, she also worked unhappily as an exotic dancer and escort. Epstein, to whom she was introduced by a young female recruiter she met in a nightclub, seemed to offer a more refined form of patronage, though Ransome got an inkling that not all was well when she observed him and a girlfriend having sex in full view of other passengers on his private plane, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”

As if anxious to lend it credence and weight, Ransome pads her account liberally and maybe unnecessarily with quotations from poetry, psychology books and the press. More powerful are jarring first-person anecdotes of Frédéric Fekkai cutting her hair and Sergey Brin, the Google founder, showing up at dinner with his then-fiancé, Anne Wojcicki. That even powerful people failed to blow the whistle on a clearly depraved scene is a puzzle of group behavior that maybe only literature can begin to address.

Maxwell looms most menacingly over the narrative, characterized by turns as Mary Poppins, the Loch Ness Monster and Glinda the Good Witch.

Dec. 6

 

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang / Reuters)

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang/Reuters)

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: Why Peng Shuai Has China’s Leaders Spooked, Leta Hong Fincher (Dr. Hong Fincher is the author of Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China and Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China), Dec. 6, 2021 (print ed.). Ms. Peng’s celebrity certainly has driven interest in her case. But her allegations also are groundbreaking.

Four years after the #MeToo movement rocked global halls of power, one of its most politically consequential cases to date is unfolding in the unlikeliest of places: China. And unsurprisingly, the government there is trying to silence the dissent.

Yet the Chinese Communist Party’s choreographed response to a tennis star’s sexual assault allegations has backfired spectacularly. Instead of squashing a scandal, it is fueling China’s feminist movement — it could ultimately pose a challenge to the party itself.

On Nov. 2, Peng Shuai, a former Wimbledon doubles champion, accused China’s former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. “Like an egg hitting a rock, or a moth to the flame, courting self-destruction, I’ll tell the truth about you,” she wrote in a lengthy post on Weibo, China’s popular social media platform. Then she disappeared.

State censors quickly restricted searches for Ms. Peng’s name on the Chinese internet and deleted the post, but not before it was shared around 1,000 times. In the following hours, netizens logged nearly seven million searches for the post.

Journalists started asking about Ms. Peng’s whereabouts at Chinese Foreign Ministry briefings. #WhereIsPengShuai trended on Twitter. Beijing dodged for days. But then state-controlled media released a series of bizarre images and videos purporting to show Ms. Peng safe and sound: at a restaurant; cuddling a cat; signing children’s tennis balls at a teenagers’ tournament.

If Beijing thought those measures would settle matters, it was sorely mistaken. So far Ms. Peng has not made any public comment. Steve Simon, the chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association, said on Wednesday that the women’s professional tennis tour would suspend all tournaments in China, including in Hong Kong, in response to Ms. Peng’s disappearance, citing “serious doubts” that she was free and safe.

Ms. Peng’s celebrity certainly has driven interest in her case. But her allegations also are groundbreaking: They are the first to implicate such a high-ranking Chinese official, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s highest ruling body.

The upper echelons of the Chinese Communist Party have been largely impenetrable to scandal and enjoyed relative respect from much of the population. But Ms. Peng’s allegations raise the specter that not all is well within the elite ranks and that maybe she’s not alone: More women could speak up. The floodgates could open. And the party can’t have that.

That might help explain the heavy-handed reaction to Ms. Peng’s allegations: They were a clear attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to protect itself and its legitimacy in the eyes of the people.

 

ghislaine maxwell uniform dress jeffrey epsteinny times logoNew York Times, Partners or Partners in Crime? Maxwell-Epstein Bond Is Key to Her Trial, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Benjamin Weiser, Dec. 6, 2021. The first week of testimony at Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial revealed the case’s key question: What was her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (shown above with her in a file photo)?

Larry Visoski, the silver-haired pilot who flew Jeffrey Epstein and his prominent friends all over the world, believed Ghislaine Maxwell and Mr. Epstein had been a couple at some point, he told jurors last week at Ms. Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial.

And Ms. Maxwell had unique authority, Mr. Visoski said: In Mr. Epstein’s households, she was second in command only to Mr. Epstein himself. She was his “No. 2,” he said.

Later, when one of Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers cross-examined Mr. Visoski, the questioning zeroed in on the specifics of the relationship between Mr. Epstein and Ms. Maxwell. It “wasn’t totally clear” if they were ever in a romantic relationship, Mr. Visoski acknowledged. He had never seen them kiss or hold hands, he said. At one point he described Ms. Maxwell as merely “one of the assistants” in Mr. Epstein’s office.

It was the first of several moments of testimony during the first week of Ms. Maxwell’s federal trial in Manhattan that underlined how the trial may hinge at least in part on the precise nature of her partnership with Mr. Epstein, whose shadow looms over the case even in death.

Beginning with opening statements and the questioning of witnesses, the crux of the case has become clear: Were Ms. Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein partners, or partners in crime?

The first week of testimony showed prosecutors are trying to convince the jury that Ms. Maxwell was not only Mr. Epstein’s household manager and key employee but also his close associate who had unique access to his private life. And the defense has sought to divorce Ms. Maxwell from Mr. Epstein’s infamy, arguing that her presence in his life does not make her complicit.

Ms. Maxwell, 59, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she recruited, groomed and ultimately helped Mr. Epstein abuse young girls. He was awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges when he died in a Manhattan jail cell.

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, Investigative Commentary: Week Two of Maxwell Trial, Vicky Ward (author and pioneering reporter in Jeffrey Epstein scandal), Dec. 6, 2021. As we head into week two of the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, I am more confused than ever as to the government’s strategy.

Friday morning saw Maxwell’s defense attorney Jeffrey Pagliuca destroy the credibility of Epstein’s “butler,” Juan Alessi, who, it emerged, had previously stated under oath in 2009 that he had burgled Jeffrey Epstein’s home twice back in 2003. However, on Thursday at the Maxwell trial, also under oath, Alessi said he had only committed one burglary. I saw at least one juror shake his head at the obvious inconsistency, which undermined the powerful testimony he’d given the day before: that he’d seen two underage girls with Epstein and Maxwell at Epstein’s home in Palm Beach. Alessi’s 2009 testimony had also given different accounts and, crucially, dates about the times he’d seen the girls around than what he testified in court this week.

While all salacious, does this evidence put Maxwell (as opposed to Epstein) at the heart of sexual abuse and trafficking of minors?

Looking forward, week two will likely include the testimony of Accuser Number Two, Annie Farmer, whom I know and first spoke to back in 2002.

Annie Farmer, who is now 41 and a psychotherapist, is remarkable in that her public allegations about what happened to her when she was 16 on Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico have never deviated in even one detail from what she said to me all those years ago, when she was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. She was extraordinarily composed back then, and, when I saw her again two summers ago, I noticed she still has that calm, unflappable manner, without being aloof.

My gut tells me it will be much harder for Maxwell’s defense to find inconsistencies in Annie’s story than it was for them to poke holes in Jane’s. What I suspect they will argue is that 16 was the age of consent in New Mexico when Farmer was there and that “what happened in New Mexico is not illegal conduct,” as defense lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim said in her opening statement.

Dec. 4

Numerous Anti-Trafficking and Youth welfare groups, Rally for the victims of Jeffery Epstein, Nick Bryant (author and lead organizer, right), Dec. 4, 2021, New nick bryant hsYork, NY. Organizers' statement:

Jeffrey Epstein trafficked underage girls for 25 years, and he’s the most prolific American child trafficker ever acknowledged by law enforcement. The media has sanitized the Epstein trafficking network by ostensibly determining that the youngest Epstein victims were 14 years old, even though multiple accounts state that they were as young as 11 or 12 years old.

A Sheer Post article published in August by Nick Bryant, “The Jeffrey Epstein Coverup: Pedophilia, Lies and Videotape,” demonstrates that more than two years after Epstein’s death federal law enforcement has utterly ignored indicting the procurers and perpetrators in the Epstein network.

Since Epstein’s death, over two years ago, the Justice Department and FBI have only indicted one of the perps—Ghislaine Maxwell—in the Epstein network. The many procurers and perps who colluded with Epstein have been unscathed by federal law enforcement. Epstein’s victims have courageously sought justice through civil litigation, but should the demand for justice fall solely on the shoulders of Epstein’s victims?

No! And you can help. Please sign our petition that is supported by seven Jeffrey Epstein victims, 40 anti-trafficking organizations and thousands of concerned citizens, demanding that the procurers and perpetrators in the Epstein trafficking network be brought to justice.

As a country dedicated to children’s safety, we must make a stand and pressure the government to bring the Epstein procurers and perpetrators to justice. We cannot send a message to the world that perpetrators in America who have wealth and power can molest our children with impunity. And if we allow the Justice Department to be apathetic and unresponsive to victims in a proven trafficking case, that sends a message to millions of victims that they have no voice and no hope for justice. Victims in the United States and around the world need to see that these child molesters are brought to justice.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," said Martin Luther King, Jr.

The New York Police Department is issuing a permit for us to assemble in front of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, located at 1 Saint Andrews Plaza on Saturday December 4, 2021.

The rally will be held a week after Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial commences. Our assembly will be peaceful and politically non-partisan. The Justice Department under four presidential administrations—George W. Bush, Barak Obama, Donald Trump, and now Joseph Biden—have failed to indict the perpetrators in Epstein’s pedophile network. #KidsToo/EpsteinJustice is not about politics, it's about the protection of our children.

Silence merely empowers perpetrators. Email a question to the organizers or ask for info about organizing a rally in your community.

Dec. 2vicky ward investigates

Vicky Ward Investigates, Investigative Commentary: Less Than Total Recall, Vicky Ward (author and pioneering reporter in Jeffrey Epstein scandal), Dec. 2, 2021. In the past two years while I’ve been researching “Chasing Ghislaine,” my Audible podcast and discovery+ documentary series (airing in back-to-back episodes on ID starting at 8/7c this Friday, December 3rd), sources close to Maxwell’s defense team have told me consistently that they are unbothered by the fact that the Southern District of New York’s conviction rate is extraordinarily high—reportedly over 95 percent.

“I don’t care what the statistics are,” someone close to Maxwell and her lawyers told me nine months ago. “Ghislaine is innocent, and we will prove that.”

At the time, I thought this person was crazy.

The charges against Maxwell are so heinous, and the notoriety of the case so great. Plus, the fact that Jeffrey Epstein, who Maxwell is accused of aiding in his abuse and sex-trafficking of minors, died in jail pre-trial has led almost every New York lawyer I speak to to say they believe the government really, really doesn’t want to lose in the wake of that. There is just too much at stake.

Now, however, I’m beginning to see why the defense appears so confident in the way they handle themselves in the courtroom. By contrast, the four prosecutors look absurdly young. “Are any of them out of their 20s?” a lawyer, a veteran prosecutor herself, who was sitting next to me asked rhetorically. “Why didn’t they add one person, at least, who was more experienced?”

Yesterday in court, the defense didn’t just prevail—they hammered yesterday’s shocking testimony by Maxwell Accuser Number One, who is going under the pseudonym “Jane.” The most oft-repeated phrase of the day was “I don’t recall,” uttered by Jane when asked by Maxwell’s attorney Laura Menninger to explain the contradictions between Tuesday’s testimony and the prior statements Jane had made to the FBI in the past two years.

It's understandable one wouldn’t have perfect recall of traumatic events from twenty years ago. It’s quite another not to be able to recall what happened just months ago—a point Menninger got at in her clever, dogged way.

If the last three days showed the best opening the government has got, I can see why Maxwell’s defense has been quietly confident for so long. I cannot reveal my source, but I have been told that the most pressing question on their minds this past year is if they can find an unbiased jury. If so, they have always said, they believe they will win.

I, like most people I know, ignored that.

Now, I am paying attention.

Dec. 1

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein accuser says Maxwell and Epstein groomed her, Shayna Jacobs, Dec. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Maxwell was often in room during abuse, The woman recalled meeting Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein at an arts camp in 1994.

A 41-year-old woman told jurors Tuesday how Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly helped groom and recruit her into the life of financier Jeffrey Epstein decades ago, including watching at times as Epstein forced her into sexual acts.

The woman — testifying under the pseudonym Jane — was the first of four alleged victims who will testify at Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. She gave a mostly matter-of-fact account of being lured into Epstein’s world of daily erotic massages as a 14-year-old and globe-trotting on private jets.

Maxwell, 59, who was Epstein’s longtime associate and paramour, has pleaded not guilty.

Epstein died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting his own federal trial

On the witness stand, Jane, now a professional singer and actress, said she met Maxwell and Epstein at a prestigious summer camp for music students for which Epstein was a benefactor.

The pair invited the girl and her mother to tea at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., and earned the mother’s trust as potential mentors for her daughter, prosecutors allege. Eventually, Epstein paid for the girl’s schooling and an apartment in New York where she and her family stayed.

Jane testified that she visited Epstein’s mansion about every other week. Initially, she said, the visits were “casual” — centered around trips to the movies and poolside hangouts. The woman said she was first exposed to sex acts with Epstein when he led her into the pool house during a discussion about calls he could make to his influential friends to help her launch her career. There, he exposed himself, she said, using her as a prop as he masturbated.

“I was frozen in fear. . . . I was terrified, I felt gross and I felt ashamed,” she testified, saying it was the first time she had seen male genitalia.

Maxwell’s defense team began to cross-examine Jane late Tuesday afternoon and will continue Wednesday.

Laura Menninger, one of Maxwell’s lawyers, suggested in her initial questioning that Jane had exaggerated her family’s financial distress around the time she met Epstein and Maxwell in 1994 at the Interlochen Center for the Arts summer camp in Michigan.

Menninger also pressed Jane on why she waited until 2020 to take her allegations about Epstein and Maxwell to law enforcement. By then, Menninger noted, she was represented by a personal injury attorney.

Jane answered that she was reluctant to tell many people because her story was “embarrassing” and “shameful.”

Defense lawyers said in opening statements that they will seek to undermine the credibility and motives of Maxwell’s accusers, presenting testimony about how memory can change over time and about alleged financial incentives the women may have had in coming forward. Jane recently was awarded $5 million by a fund set up to administer payments from Epstein’s estate to his victims. After attorney fees and deductions, she kept about $3 million.

 

 

supreme court Custom

supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Reports: Justices to hear arguments over Miss. abortion law challenging 'Roe v. Wade,' Ann E. Marimow and Amy B Wang, Dec. 1, 2021. The Supreme Court on Wednesday is taking up the most serious challenge in decades to the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973. The Mississippi law at issue bans most abortions after 15 weeks into pregnancy and has not taken effect because lower courts said it violated Roe and the subsequent decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which said states may not ban abortion before viability, usually between 22 and 24 weeks.

Mississippi has only one abortion clinic in the state, and one of its doctors sued, saying the ban imposes an undue burden on the right to abortion. Mississippi told the court that allowing the 2018 law to stand would “scuttle a half-century of precedent.” The state says the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion and that the court’s precedents are “grievously wrong, unworkable, damaging and outmoded.”

Here’s what to know:

  • In accepting the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court said it will decide whether all prohibitions on abortion before viability are unconstitutional. Abortion opponents believe this is their best chance in decades.
  • The justices could overturn Roe or find another way to uphold the Mississippi law. The state suggested the court could hold that the law does not impose an “undue burden” on a significant number of women because the Mississippi clinic performs abortions only up to 16 weeks.
  • Past court rulings, public appearances and other public comments by the nine justices give insight into their thinking on abortion and court precedents.
  • Mississippi is represented by recently hired Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart, a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas. The abortion provider is represented by attorney Julie Rikelman, litigation director for the Center for Reproductive Rights. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar will also argue on behalf of the abortion provider.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-D.C. priest in prison for sexual abuse found guilty in separate case, Jasmine Hilton, Dec. 1, 2021 (print ed.). A former assistant pastor at a Catholic church in Northwest Washington who is serving a prison sentence for sexually abusing children was found guilty Monday in a separate case of sexually abusing an adult parishioner, officials said.

After a one-day trial in D.C. Superior Court and hearing a victim impact statement, Judge Juliet McKenna sentenced Urbano Vazquez, 49, to the maximum sentence of 180 days on one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse, officials said. That term will be served consecutively to a 15-year sentence that was imposed after Vazquez was convicted in 2019 of four felony counts of child sexual abuse, according to a statement by the District’s U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves and Police Chief Robert J. Contee III.

 

alice sebold black enterprise

washington post logoWashington Post, Author Alice Sebold apologizes to man wrongfully convicted of her rape, Jaclyn Peiser, Dec. 1, 2021. For eight days, author Alice Sebold (shown above) remained quiet about the exoneration last week of the man convicted of raping her in 1981. Sebold’s 1999 memoir Lucky, which describes in searing detail the attack in Syracuse, N.Y., when she was a college freshman, propelled her into a successful career as a novelist. She would go on to write The Lovely Bones, which sold millions of copies and was made into a 2009 film directed by Peter Jackson.

But after Anthony Broadwater spent 16 years in prison and decades struggling to move forward while tethered to the state’s sex offender registry, a New York Supreme Court judge freed him from the conviction.

On Tuesday, Sebold broke her silence. In a statement first released to the Associated Press and later posted on Medium, the author apologized directly to Broadwater, 61, but cast equal blame on “our flawed legal system.”

“I deeply regret what you have been through,” Sebold wrote to Broadwater. “I am sorry most of all for the fact that the life you could have led was unjustly robbed from you, and I know that no apology can change what happened to you and never will.”

“I will remain sorry for the rest of my life that while pursuing justice through the legal system, my own misfortune resulted in Mr. Broadwater’s unfair conviction,” she continued.

Soon after the release, Broadwater’s lawyer told Syracuse.com that his client was moved to tears by Sebold’s words.

“It comes sincerely from her heart,” Broadwater said in an interview with the news site. “She knowingly admits what happened. I accept her apology.”

 

kirk shipley washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: They trusted a coach with their girls and Ivy League ambitions. Now he’s accused of sex abuse, Lizzie Johnson, Dec. 1, 2021 (print ed.). Kirk Shipley, above, the rowing coach at Walt Whitman High in Bethesda, Md., held onto his job through two investigations into his behavior. Then he was arrested.

The rowing season had already ended by the time the seven girls began drafting a letter that they hoped would get their coach fired.

They’d spent years competing for the crew team affiliated with Walt Whitman High, one of the Washington region’s highest-achieving public schools. In an affluent Maryland suburb fixated on success, their team was a juggernaut, regularly winning medals at Philadelphia’s prestigious Stotesbury Cup Regatta — the world’s largest high school racing competition — and sending its rowers on to Brown, MIT, Yale and other top colleges.

Many credited the team’s accomplishments to its longtime head coach: a Whitman High social studies teacher named Kirk Shipley. At 47, he was a three-time All-Met Coach of the Year who’d led the parent-funded club program for nearly two decades. He’d cultivated a loyal following, becoming drinking buddies with rival coaches and accepting invitations from rowers’ parents to dine at their Bethesda, Md., homes. They trusted him with their daughters — and their Ivy League ambitions.

Now, three days after their graduation from Whitman, the seven rowers decided to send a missive to the parent board, a group of mothers and fathers who volunteered to oversee the program. In just a few weeks, one girl was headed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; at least three others had earned scholarships to row in college. None of them wanted other students to have the same experiences they’d had with Shipley.

The coach, the seven warned in the letter they sent June 15, “has taken advantage of his role on the team and used his position to create a toxic, competitive atmosphere that fosters negativity and tension among the athletes. ... He very clearly plays favorites, and when athletes spoke up or criticized his actions, their boat placement was often affected. This could be seen all three years we were on the varsity team.”

They detailed the times he’d pitted girls in different boats against each other, called them names, asked probing questions about their boyfriends and delved into their personal lives in ways that felt invasive and inappropriate. After one of their teammates attempted suicide, they told the 14-member parent board, Shipley had bluntly asked her, “So, how did you try to do it?”

This wasn’t the first time Shipley, who declined an interview request through his attorney, had been the target of a complaint about the way he operated. He’d been investigated in 2018 after being accused that spring of creating a toxic culture — a claim he denied, arguing in an email to the complaining parent that it was just “the competitive nature of the Women’s program at Whitman.”

 

marjorii taylor greene gun

washington post logoWashington Post, Marjorie Taylor Greene, in feud with Nancy Mace on Islamophobia, launches personal attack over abortion, Rachel Pannett, Dec. 1, 2021. House Republicans Nancy Mace and Marjorie Taylor Greene (shown above in a fund-raising ad) are in a public and highly personal feud over abortion and religion, amid the ongoing fallout from Islamophobic remarks by some GOP lawmakers.

Greene (Ga.) denounced her colleague as “the trash in the GOP conference” — appearing to accuse Mace of being aligned with Democrats on religious and abortion issues, rather than her own party.

nancy maceShe wrote on Twitter Tuesday that Mace, right, is never attacked by Democrats or moderate Republicans “because she is not conservative, she’s pro-abort.”

Mace (S.C.), who is a rape survivor, supports restrictions on abortion. Greene’s suggestion that her colleague was “pro-abort” appears to stem from how as a state representative, Mace championed exceptions to an abortion ban for victims of rape and incest.

washington post logoWashington Post, German court gives life in prison to ex-ISIS fighter for death of 5-year-old in first ‘genocide’ trial, Loveday Morris, Dec. 1, 2021 (print ed.). A German court sentenced a former Islamic State member on Tuesday to life imprisonment for the killing of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl at his home, marking the first conviction for committing genocide against members of the minority religious community.

german flagTaha al-Jumailly, 29, an Iraqi citizen, was also found guilty of genocide and war crimes resulting in death at the court in Frankfurt. He was ordered to pay the child’s mother $57,000 in damages.

His 30-year-old German wife, Jennifer Wenisch, was sentenced last month in a separate trial to 10 years in prison in relation to the killing.

German court convicts ISIS bride for ‘crimes against humanity’ in death of 5-year-old Yazidi ‘slave’

According to the indictment, Jumailly joined the Islamic State sometime before March 2013. He and his wife were accused by prosecutors of purchasing the child, Reda, and her mother as “slaves” when they lived in the Islamic State-occupied Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2015. Both Reda and her mother were subjected to violent beatings and other abuse by Jumailly.

 

chris cuomo cnn

washington post logoWashington Post, CNN suspends Chris Cuomo ‘indefinitely’ after documents detail help he gave his brother, Sarah Ellison and Jeremy Barr, Dec. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The decision follows revelations that he was far more involved in the efforts of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo than previously known.

CNN has suspended Chris Cuomo, above, one of its biggest stars, a day after the release of documents that detailed his efforts to help his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, fend off allegations of sexual misconduct.

CNNTranscripts from the New York Attorney General’s office on Monday showed that the cable host was far more involved in the governor’s crisis-management efforts than the younger Cuomo had previously acknowledged.

The network and its president, Jeff Zucker, had previously backed Cuomo for months, even as details accumulated about his role advising his brother, who eventually resigned in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo calls sexual harassment investigation a 'political firecracker' during farewell speech
During his farewell address on Aug. 23, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) derided the investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed 11 women. (The Washington Post)

In May, The Washington Post reported that Cuomo had joined conference calls to discuss how to handle the allegations. At the time, the network said it was “inappropriate” for Cuomo to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff; the host acknowledged his error in doing so and pledged not to do so again.

 

November

Nov. 30

 

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang / Reuters)

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang/Reuters)

ny times logoNew York Times, China’s Silence on Peng Shuai Shows Limits of Beijing’s Propaganda, Amy Qin and Paul Mozur, Nov. 30, 2021. Officials have struggled to respond to a sexual assault allegation that hits at the heights of its buttoned-up political system.

When the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai accused a former top leader of sexual assault earlier this month, the authorities turned to a tried-and-true strategy. At home, the country’s censors scrubbed away any mention of the allegations. Abroad, a few state-affiliated journalists focused narrowly on trying to quash concerns about Ms. Peng’s safety.

Beijing seems to be relying on a two-pronged approach of maintaining the silence and waiting for the world to move on. The approach suggests that the country’s sprawling propaganda apparatus has limited options for shifting the narrative without drawing more attention to the uncomfortable allegations Beijing hopes would just disappear.

On China’s social media platforms and other digital public squares, the censors’ meticulous work has left almost no sign that Ms. Peng had ever accused Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier, of sexual assault. Like a museum to a previous reality, her social media account remains, without new updates or comments.

These tactics have worked for China in the past, at least at home. In recent years, officials have relied on heavy censorship and a nationalistic narrative of Western meddling to deflect blame for issues including the outbreak of Covid-19 to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Like Fresh Meat’: Sexual Harassment Detailed in Australian Parliament, Yan Zhuang, Nov. 30, 2021. A sweeping report described a cloistered, alcohol-fueled environment where powerful men violated boundaries unchecked. Men strutting down corridors looking women up and down. Women carrying fake binders to block unwanted advances. Forcible touches, kisses, comments about appearance. Fears of speaking out.

australian flag wavingA sweeping review of the workplace culture in Australia’s Parliament paints a damning picture of widespread sexual harassment, with employees sharing harrowing stories of an alcohol-soaked atmosphere where powerful men blurred lines and crossed boundaries with impunity.

The report, released on Tuesday, was commissioned by the Australian government in March, shortly after a former employee’s account of being raped in Parliament House sent shock waves through Australia’s halls of power. It found that one-third of parliamentary employees — 40 percent of women — had experienced sexual harassment. About 1 percent of the more than 1,700 people who participated in the review said they had been the victim of attempted or actual sexual assault.

In response, Australia’s sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, who conducted the study, proposed a series of measures to address the power imbalances, gender inequality and lack of accountability that she said had made Parliament a hostile workplace for many employees, especially young female staff members.

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial Opens, With Jeffrey Epstein at Its Center, Benjamin Weiser and Rebecca Davis O’Brien. Ms. Maxwell is charged with trafficking women and girls for her longtime partner, the disgraced financier Mr. Epstein, who died in prison in 2019. A prosecutor described Jeffrey Epstein and his longtime girlfriend and associate, Ms. Maxwell, as “partners in crime.”

More than two years after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in a jail cell, Ghislaine Maxwell — the woman who prosecutors say helped him to recruit, groom and abuse young girls — went on trial on Monday in Manhattan.

Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein were “partners in crime,” a federal prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, told the jury. Ms. Maxwell sexually exploited young girls by developing their trust, helped to normalize abusive sexual conduct and then “served them up” to Mr. Epstein in a decade-long scheme, the prosecutor said.

“The defendant and Epstein made young girls believe that their dreams could come true,” Ms. Pomerantz said in Federal District Court. “They made them feel special, but that was a cover.”

“Behind closed doors,” Ms. Pomerantz said, “the defendant and Epstein were committing heinous crimes. They were sexually abusing teenage girls.”

WhoWhatWhy, Investigation and Analysis: Will Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Reveal Jeffrey Epstein Secrets? Gabriella Lombardo, Nov. 29-30, 2021. Long before she became public enemy No. 1, Ghislaine Maxwell was an heiress with a dark past. Her motivations are as difficult to determine as her life is difficult to believe.

whowhatwhy logoGhislaine Maxwell is used to being the woman of the hour. The 59-year-old British aristocrat was a fixture of the London and New York social scenes throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, rubbing shoulders and champagne flutes with an international cast of power players that included two US presidents and at least one prince. In her jet-setting, party-hopping days, she allegedly lived a double life as a groomer of girls, serving up underage victims to Jeffrey Epstein and the megawatt men who moved alongside him.

All eyes are again on Maxwell as her trial opens in Manhattan federal court, just steps from the lower Manhattan jail where Epstein was found dead in his cell two years ago. The charges against her for her role in Epstein’s decades-long international sex abuse ring include six counts related to child sex trafficking in the decade spanning 1994 to 2004, involving four girls — the youngest aged 14. The alleged crimes occurred at Epstein’s residences in Manhattan, Palm Beach, and New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s London apartment.

Maxwell faces a separate trial, as yet unscheduled, for an additional two counts of perjury for statements she made in connection with a long-settled 2015 defamation suit against her. If convicted on all counts, Maxwell could face 80 years in prison. She has always denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, Epstein’s crimes, and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Epstein’s death in federal custody in 2019 left Maxwell bearing the brunt of public outrage at the chronic mishandling of his sex crimes by law enforcement and the courts. Still, Maxwell’s time with Epstein raises many questions: If she did indeed assist in his crimes, what motivated her?

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi, Rick Rojas, Nov. 30, 2021. The clinic, busier than ever, is at the center of a Supreme Court case that could lead to one of the most consequential decisions on abortion rights in decades.

The clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has long negotiated measures intended by the Legislature to discourage women from obtaining abortions and to make it difficult for providers to operate. They include the requirement that doctors warn patients about a link between breast cancer and abortion, though the American Cancer Society says “scientific evidence does not support the notion.”

Now the culmination of those legislative efforts — a state law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy — has thrust the clinic into the center of a case that may lead to one of the most consequential rulings on abortion rights in decades.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What ‘My Body, My Choice’ Means to the Right, Michelle Goldberg, right, Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Here’s a bit of evidence that we michelle goldberg thumblive in a simulation controlled by someone with a perverse sense of humor: At the very moment that Roe v. Wade could be overturned, the American right has become obsessed with bodily autonomy and has adopted the slogan “My body, my choice” about Covid vaccines and mask mandates.

Feminists have always known that if men — or at any rate cis men — could get pregnant, abortion would be a nonissue. The furious conservative reaction to Covid mitigation measures demonstrates this more than any hypothetical ever could. Many on the right, we can now see, believe it’s tyranny to be told to put something they don’t want on or in their bodies in order to save lives.

There is, to be fair, at least one prominent illiberal conservative, Harvard’s Adrian Vermeule, who has defended vaccine mandates, writing, “Even our physical liberties are rightly ordered to the common good of the community when necessary.” More typical on the right, however, is a paranoid sense that the vaccines are tied up with occult forces of social control.

In “Why I Didn’t Get the Covid Vaccine,” an essay in the Catholic anti-abortion journal First Things, the theologian Peter Leithart quotes a book called “The Great Covid Panic”: “A very effective way to dominate people is to convince them they are sinful unless they obey.” He invokes totalitarian “biopolitical regimes” that seek to exercise power over the body: “Once upon a time, the ruler bore a sword; now, a syringe,” he writes.

Of course, many American women will soon be faced with an infinitely more invasive form of biopolitical control, courtesy of First Things’ allies. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case dealing with Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. It’s possible that the justices could gut Roe without overturning it outright, but after they let Texas’ abortion bounty law stand, at least for the time being, I’m expecting the worst. If Roe is tossed out, most abortions will instantly become illegal in at least 12 states, and they will be severely restricted in others.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: My Book Was Censored in China. Now It’s Blacklisted — in Texas, Andrew Solomon (a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia and a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale and the author of “The Noonday Demon” and “Far From the Tree”), Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Andrew Solomon never expected his books to come under threat in America. But as he writes in this essay, attacks on books are on the rise here, and one of his is under investigation by a state legislature.

On Oct. 25, the Texas state representative Matt Krause sent notice to the Texas Education Agency that he was initiating an inquiry into “school district content.” He appended a list of about 850 books and asked each district to indicate how many copies of each book it had, where in the school those copies were located and how much the district had paid for them.

Quoting Texas law, the letter stated that the state’s Committee on General Investigating, which Krause chairs, may undertake inquiries “concerning any ‘matter the committee considers necessary for the information of the Legislature or for the welfare and protection of state citizens.’” Most of the books on the list deal with race, sexual orientation, abortion or gender identity. Krause is one of several candidates hoping to unseat the incumbent Republican attorney general, and this bit of extremist theater is a maneuver to raise his profile among the ardent Trumpists and social conservatives likely to be G.O.P. primary voters.

My 2012 book Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity was on Krause’s list. Finding my work thus blacklisted disturbingly evoked a childhood during which I was shunned and abused for being gay, in which I felt ashamed, defenseless, sad and epically vulnerable. I had written my book to help people, and now it was being held up as derelict and unpatriotic. The story of my life as a gay person — which had been elevated (along with those of many others) by the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized gay marriage nationally — was relegated anew to a margin I thought I had finally escaped. Could my book’s additional demonstration of familial compassion for transgender children injure the society within which I had long fought to be recognized and accepted?

I have had my work censored before, but never in the United States. My Chinese publishers censored two of my books — Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression — without informing me, despite being contractually required to reveal any editorial changes. They deleted references to the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989 in Tiananmen Square, as well as every reference to my being gay. The publishers had simply assumed I wouldn’t find out.

I try to serve the various communities of which I am a part, including L.G.B.T.Q. people and those who confront mental illness. To find that my depression book had been stripped of references to homosexuality felt like a betrayal of gay people in China, whose challenges I have reviewed in my work with the L.G.B.T. project at Human Rights Watch. But I didn’t want to take the books out of circulation. My royalties from Chinese translations are minuscule, so my eagerness to see the book published in Mandarin stemmed primarily from a desire to offset China’s limited and sometimes nearly sadistic mental-health-care system and its persecution of gay people. In the end, my agent negotiated new contracts for both books from other Chinese publishers, and they were retranslated in new, inclusive editions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Farm Housing Mennonite Boys Engaged in Human Trafficking, Lawsuit Says, Neil Vigdor, Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). In a federal lawsuit against the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church, two plaintiffs said they were deprived of food and restrained with zip ties at a forced-labor farm.

Two men filed a federal lawsuit this month against the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church, saying that they were victims of a human trafficking scheme while they lived at a forced-labor farm for troubled boys run by a church member.

The lawsuit said that the men, who were 14 and 18 when they first joined the farm, worked six days a week with no pay, and that they were physically and mentally abused when they stayed at Liberty Ridge Farm in McAlisterville, Pa. The lawsuit said they were denied food and zip-tied at times while at the farm.

The farm is about 40 miles northwest of Harrisburg, Pa., in Juniata County, which is home to several churches and schools affiliated with the Mennonites, a conservative Christian denomination known for its agrarian lifestyle and disconnect from technology.

Now in their mid-20s, the men were identified only by their initials in the lawsuit, which was filed on Nov. 17 in U.S. District Court in Allentown, Pa. The complaint said that the men were frequently punished after the people in charge told them that they had not worked hard enough or that they had acted “against the Bible.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Elizabeth Holmes Says Former Boyfriend Abused Her, Erin Woo and Erin Griffith, Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth Holmes briefly crumpled her face as she spoke, her voice breaking.

Ramesh Balwani, her former boyfriend and business partner, emotionally and physically abused her, Ms. Holmes testified in court on Monday. He was controlling, she said, prescribing the food she ate, dictating every minute of her schedule and keeping her away from her family. And he forced her to have sex with him against her will, she said.

“He would force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would say that he wanted me to know he still loved me,” Ms. Holmes said on the stand, while crying.

elizabeth holmes twitter photoIt was the most dramatic moment in a three-month trial, with Ms. Holmes (shown in her Twitter portrait) accused of lying and faking her way into hundreds of millions of dollars for her failed blood testing start-up, Theranos. Since September, prosecutors have tried to show a jury that Ms. Holmes, who presented herself publicly as a wunderkind of business and technology, had misled investors, doctors and patients about the efficacy of Theranos’s blood testing technology.

She was indicted in 2018 alongside Mr. Balwani, who is known as Sunny, her secret boyfriend for more than a decade and the former chief operating officer of Theranos. Last year, Ms. Holmes’s lawyers successfully argued to split their fraud cases; Mr. Balwani will be tried next year. At her trial’s start, Judge Edward Davila of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, who is overseeing the case, instructed jurors not to speculate as to why Mr. Balwani was not present. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The trial has been held up as a parable of Silicon Valley hubris and “fake it till you make it” culture taken to a dangerous extreme. Few start-up founders who stretch the truth to raise money or secure business deals are ever charged with fraud. A guilty verdict could embolden regulators to further crack down on the tech industry at a moment when it has amassed enormous wealth and power. Ms. Holmes faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

With the new accusations about her relationship with Mr. Balwani, Ms. Holmes has potentially upended the narrative around her alleged wrongdoing and changed the jury’s perception of what happened. Thus far, her lawyers have painted Ms. Holmes as young, inexperienced and unqualified to run a research lab. They have only hinted at Mr. Balwani’s role in the fraud.

“Trusting and relying on Mr. Balwani as her primary adviser was one of her mistakes,” Lance Wade, Ms. Holmes’s lawyer, said in opening statements in September.

Nov. 29

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

WhoWhatWhy, Investigation and Analysis: Will Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Reveal Jeffrey Epstein Secrets? Gabriella Lombardo, Nov. 29, 2021. Long before she became public enemy No. 1, Ghislaine Maxwell was an heiress with a dark past. Her motivations are as difficult to determine as her life is difficult to believe.

whowhatwhy logoGhislaine Maxwell is used to being the woman of the hour. The 59-year-old British aristocrat was a fixture of the London and New York social scenes throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, rubbing shoulders and champagne flutes with an international cast of power players that included two US presidents and at least one prince. In her jet-setting, party-hopping days, she allegedly lived a double life as a groomer of girls, serving up underage victims to Jeffrey Epstein and the megawatt men who moved alongside him.

All eyes are again on Maxwell as her trial opens in Manhattan federal court, just steps from the lower Manhattan jail where Epstein was found dead in his cell two years ago. The charges against her for her role in Epstein’s decades-long international sex abuse ring include six counts related to child sex trafficking in the decade spanning 1994 to 2004, involving four girls — the youngest aged 14. The alleged crimes occurred at Epstein’s residences in Manhattan, Palm Beach, and New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s London apartment.

Maxwell faces a separate trial, as yet unscheduled, for an additional two counts of perjury for statements she made in connection with a long-settled 2015 defamation suit against her. If convicted on all counts, Maxwell could face 80 years in prison. She has always denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, Epstein’s crimes, and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Epstein’s death in federal custody in 2019 left Maxwell bearing the brunt of public outrage at the chronic mishandling of his sex crimes by law enforcement and the courts. Still, Maxwell’s time with Epstein raises many questions: If she did indeed assist in his crimes, what motivated her?

Law & Crime, Jeffrey Epstein’s Ex-Pilot Takes the Stand as Witness Testimony Kicks Off in Ghislaine Maxwell’s Sex Trafficking Trial, Adam Klasfeld, Nov. 29, 2021. The debut witness at Ghislaine Maxwell’s long-awaited sex trafficking trial, Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot testified on Monday that he flew his former boss around to his various properties about “every four days.”

Flight records from Epstein’s travels around the globe and in between his properties sparked international controversy and the reputation of “Lolita Express.” Members of the international elite who reportedly have taken rides on Epstein’s aircraft included former President Bill Clinton, former President Donald Trump, the U.K.’s Prince Andrew, billionaire Bill Gates, actor Kevin Spacey, and model Naomi Campbell.

One protester lampooned the airplane outside of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse on the same day its former pilot, Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr., took the witness stand, but he invoked none of those famous figures during Day One of his testimony.

Visoski told jurors that he couldn’t always tell who boarded the jet.

Referring to those approaching the plane by car, Visoski said: “I could see the driver and perhaps maybe the passenger; 99 percent of cars in Florida have tinted windows, so I probably couldn’t see the passengers as well, but depending upon how the car approached the aircraft, if I’m sitting in the cockpit looking down, I would be able to see the driver of the car.”

Questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, Visoski quickly identified Maxwell inside the courtroom, and he described her relationship to Epstein as “more personal than business.”

Nov. 27

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Abortion Law Complicates Care for Risky Pregnancies, Roni Caryn Rabin, Nov. 27, 2021 (print ed.). Doctors in Texas say they cannot head off life-threatening medical crises in pregnant women if abortions cannot be offered or even discussed.

A few weeks after Texas adopted the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, Dr. Andrea Palmer delivered terrible news to a Fort Worth patient who was midway through her pregnancy.

The fetus had a rare neural tube defect. The brain would not develop, and the infant would die at birth or shortly afterward. Carrying the pregnancy to term would be emotionally grueling and would also raise the mother’s risk of blood clots and severe postpartum bleeding, the doctor warned.

But the patient was past six weeks’ gestation, and under the new law, an abortion was not an option in Texas because the woman was not immediately facing a life-threatening medical crisis or risk of permanent disability.

“So we look at them like a ticking time bomb and wait for the complications to develop,” Dr. Palmer said of her patients.

Nov. 26

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Military’s Broken Culture Around Sexual Violence and Suicide, Cybèle C. Greenberg, Nov. 26, 2021. Ms. Greenberg is a fellow with the editorial board and a former active duty Marine officer.

Anne Vassas loved being a Marine.

She was always smiling. Younger members of her unit saw Corporal Vassas, 20, as something like a mother. Stationed in Iwakuni, Japan, she was re-enlisting for a second tour.

So it came as a shock when Corporal Vassas took her own life in August 2019, a month before her 21st birthday.

Six months after her death, her father was surprised to discover among her belongings pages from a sexual assault report she filed in October 2018. A military investigation into Corporal Vassas’ death later found that she may have been sexually assaulted on three occasions while serving in uniform.

The death of Corporal Vassas, and other deaths like hers, raises questions regarding the military’s ability to care for its service members who experience sexual trauma. In many cases, untreated trauma can have deadly consequences.

There are numerous misconceptions about military suicide. Despite the stereotypes, there is no significant association between combat deployments and the rate of suicide, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry.

Some experts say that it would be more accurate to blame the problem on the military’s culture of intensity and violence that extends well beyond the battlefield. That includes toxic relationships between service members and continued stigma surrounding those seeking help. It is perhaps no coincidence that the Army and the Marine Corps — the two branches founded on an infantry culture, in which the perception of strength trumps all else — experience the highest suicide rates.

A report by the Defense Department inspector general this month indicates that although the number of sexual assault complaints has doubled in the past decade, the services often cut corners when it comes to investigating and prosecuting them.

Sexual trauma is associated with an increased risk of suicide and is more likely than combat to lead to post-traumatic stress for both men and women. While combat troops get time to recover from their deployments, victims of sexual trauma are often sidelined or forcibly discharged, according to Don Christensen, a retired Air Force officer who is president of Protect Our Defenders, a nonprofit that works to end sexual violence in the military.

In a July report, the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military found that many of those who reported sexual violence regretted doing so. The backlash often compounds the trauma of the actual assault.

Worse still, some service members attempt suicide after speaking up and seeking help. Studies show that the perception of betrayal by the military bureaucracy in the aftermath of sexual assault is associated with severe depression and self-inflicted violence. Women who served in the military are at 2.5 times the risk for suicide compared to their counterparts who did not.

Nov. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. professor steps down after firestorm over study into adults who are attracted to minors, Nicole Asbury, Nov. 25, 2021 (print ed.). Allyn Walker, an assistant professor of sociology, was previously placed on administrative leave.

Old Dominion University professor Allyn Walker, whose research into adults who are sexually attracted to minors drew protests and threats, has agreed to step down, Walker and the school announced in a joint statement Wednesday.

Walker, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, had been placed on administrative leave Nov. 16. They now will remain on leave until the expiration of their current contract in May.

Walker’s research into “minor-attracted people” and their use of that term had been met with an outcry from students and others online, who claimed that such language destigmatized sex offenders. Walker has maintained that their work was intended to better understand would-be sex offenders and prevent child sexual abuse.

Nov. 23

 

  jeffrey epstein gurney cropped emergency room

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s Final Days: Celebrity Reminiscing and a Running Toilet, Benjamin Weiser, Matthew Goldstein, Danielle Ivory and Steve Eder, Nov. 23, 2021. Newly released records provide the most detailed look yet at the last days of the disgraced financier, and show mistake after mistake made by jail and bureau officials.

The disgraced financier, jailed in Manhattan on federal sex trafficking charges involving teenage girls, was found unconscious on the floor of his cell one morning in July 2019, a strip of bedsheet tied around his bruised neck. He is shown on a gurney above.

In the hours and days that followed that suicide attempt, Jeffrey Epstein would claim to be living a “wonderful life,” denying any thoughts of ending it, even as he sat on suicide watch and faced daunting legal troubles.

“I have no interest in killing myself,” Mr. Epstein told a jailhouse psychologist, according to Bureau of Prisons documents that have not previously been made public. He was a “coward” and did not like pain, he explained. “I would not do that to myself.”

But two weeks later, he did just that: He died in his cell on Aug. 10 in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, having hanged himself with a bedsheet, the medical examiner ruled.

djt epstein hand on shoulderAfter a life of manipulation, Mr. Epstein, shown at right with future president, Donald Trump, created illusions until the very end, deceiving correctional officers, counselors and specially trained inmates assigned to monitor him around the clock, according to the documents — among more than 2,000 pages of Federal Bureau of Prisons records obtained by The New York Times after filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The detailed notes and reports compiled by those who interacted with Mr. Epstein during his 36 days of detention show how he repeatedly assured them he had much to live for, while also hinting that he was increasingly despondent. The clues prompted too little action by jail and bureau officials, who made mistake after mistake leading up to Mr. Epstein’s death, the records reveal.

Beyond the legal and administrative matters, the collection of records provides the most intimate and detailed look yet at Mr. Epstein’s final days, and offers something often missing from public accounts: his voice.

He passed many days closed in a conference room with his lawyers, avoiding the confines of his dank and dirty cell. In conversations with psychologists and other inmates, he spoke of his interest in physics and mathematics and offered tidbits of investment advice. He reminisced about socializing with celebrities, even as he complained about the running toilet in his cell, the orange prison garb, his difficulty sleeping, his dehydration and a numbness in his right arm.

Inmate Epstein was also upset about wearing an orange jumpsuit and being treated like "a bad guy" when he did not do anything wrong in the prison. Custody and security concerns were addressed with inmate Epstein including why he has to wear his orange jumpsuit (due to his being housed in SHU).

And where Mr. Epstein had once rubbed shoulders with politicians, scientists and Wall Street titans, now he was left to converse about the food in the 12-story detention center. “Epstein wants to know who’s the best cook on 11 North,” one inmate wrote.

The newly obtained records offer no support to the explosion of conspiracy theories that Mr. Epstein’s death was not a suicide. They also shed no light on questions raised by his brother and one of his lawyers that he might have been assisted in killing himself. But they do paint a picture of incompetence and sloppiness by some within the Bureau of Prisons, which runs the federal detention center.

An intake screening form erroneously described Mr. Epstein as a Black male (he was white), and indicated that he had no prior sex offense convictions, even though he was a registered sex offender with two 2008 convictions in Florida, for solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors to engage in prostitution. A few social phone calls he made were not recorded, logged or monitored, records show, an apparent violation of jail policy.

The night he killed himself, Mr. Epstein lied to jail officials and said he wanted to phone his mother — who was long dead. He instead called his girlfriend. Jail personnel left him alone in his cell that night, despite an explicit directive that he be assigned a cellmate.

Two days after the suicide, William P. Barr, then the U.S. attorney general, said there were “serious irregularities” at the correctional center, but did not elaborate. He later blamed “a perfect storm of screw-ups.”

A 15-page psychological reconstruction of Mr. Epstein’s death, compiled by bureau officials five weeks later and never before made public, concluded that his identity “appeared to be based on his wealth, power and association with other high-profile individuals.”

Nov. 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Filipino megachurch founder forced girls and women into sex, saying it was ‘God’s will,’ feds say, Andrea Salcedo and Regine Cabato, Nov. 19, 2021. Between 2002 and 2018, Apollo Carreon Quiboloy — the founder of a Philippines-based megachurch — and his accomplices recruited women and girls as young as 12 to work as Quiboloy’s personal assistants, or “pastorals,” prosecutors said.

Under Quiboloy and his accomplices’ orders, women and girls prepared his meals, cleaned his multiple residences in the Philippines and the United States, gave him massages and accompanied him on trips around the world, court records state.

For over 15 years, the victims were forced to devote their lives and bodies to the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name by writing “commitment letters” to Quiboloy, prosecutors state.

Quiboloy, an ally of the Philippine president who has referred to himself as “the Appointed Son of God” and is believed to be 71, allegedly forced the women and girls to regularly engage in sexual acts with him in what he called the “night duty.” Quiboloy, also known as “sir” and “pastor,” and his accomplices would tell his victims that obedience to Quiboloy was “God’s will” and that “night duty” was considered a privilege and a means to salvation, court records state.

Now, Quiboloy and two of his top administrators, Teresita Tolibas Dandan, 59, and Felina Salinas, 50, have been charged with orchestrating a sex-trafficking operation, federal prosecutors announced this week. Girls and young women were forced into sex with the church’s leader under threats of “eternal damnation,” according to a superseding indictment unsealed on Thursday and filed in the U.S. Central District of California.

washington post logoWashington Post, Time’s Up group to ‘rebuild’ after criticism for role in Cuomo accusations, Michael Scherer, Nov. 19, 2021. The anti-workplace harassment advocacy group Time’s Up will lay off nearly all of its 25 remaining employees and restructure, after an internal report prompted by the group’s involvement with former New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo identified significant internal failures.

“We are going down to the studs to completely rebuild,” said Ashley Judd, an actor and author who serves as one of the group’s four remaining board members. “We can overcome our organizational lapses to serve the needs of women of all kinds. This organization is bigger than any one person. The movement is bigger than any one person.”

The decision to effectively restart from scratch a group founded by Hollywood and political leaders in 2018 follows revelations this summer that senior leaders consulted with Cuomo advisers after the Democratic governor had been accused of sexual harassment by a former aide. At one point, then-CEO Tina Tchen, who previously worked in the White House during the Obama presidency, told her colleagues to “stand down” from a plan to release a statement supporting his accuser after two people connected with the group spoke with the governor’s aides.

Nov. 18

 

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang / Reuters)

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang/Reuters)

washington post logoWashington Post, Women’s Tennis Association casts doubt on purported statement of Peng Shuai, calls for Chinese star’s safety, Des Bieler, Nov. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The head of the Women’s Tennis Association said Wednesday that a statement purporting to be from missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai only raises his “concerns as to her safety and whereabouts.”

The 35-year-old Peng, a two-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, has reportedly not been heard from since she shared a post online earlier this month in which she accused a prominent Chinese political figure of sexual assault. Her comments were highly unusual for that country in terms of their candor and the position held by the subject of her allegations.

The Washington Post was not able to confirm the post’s authenticity, but it appeared to have been quickly scrubbed from China’s Weibo social media platform, and tight controls were placed on searches and commentary regarding Peng and former vice premier Zhang Gaoli.

On Sunday, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon issued a statement in which he said his organization commended Peng for “her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward” and that it expected her allegations to be “investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship.” The men’s ATP Tour followed Monday with a statement supporting the call for “a full, fair and transparent investigation” and expressing concern for “the immediate safety and whereabouts” of Peng.

China Global Television Network, a state-owned news service, then posted Wednesday what it claimed were the contents of an email sent by Peng to Simon. In a typed note shared by CGTN, the author self-identified as Peng and stated the allegation of sexual assault was “not true.” The author added: “I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.”

In response, the WTA issued a statement in which Simon said, “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.”

ABC News, Turpin sisters describe living in 'house of horrors': 'I thought I was going to die,' Christina Ng, Tess Scott, Acacia Nunes, Brian Mezerski and Lauren Effron, Nov. 18, 2021. Jennifer and Jordan Turpin share their stories for the first time in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer.

After enduring more than a decade of horrific abuse and captivity, Jennifer Turpin and her 12 siblings had just watched California sheriff’s deputies take their parents away in handcuffs.

The frail and malnourished Turpin children were now in a hospital, where they received food, clean clothes, medical treatment, kindness from strangers -- things the siblings rarely, or in some cases never, had before.

abc news logo colorLooking around her hospital room that January morning, Jennifer Turpin realized for the first time they were finally free, and she danced.

“Music was playing, I got up,” Jennifer Turpin, now 33, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview. “I made sure there was a little bit of a floor cleared out and I danced.”

Watch the Diane Sawyer special event, "Escape From A House Of Horror," on Friday, Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC and stream on Hulu.

Jennifer Turpin, and one of her sisters, Jordan Turpin, are telling their story for the first time in an exclusive interview with Sawyer. They are the first of the 13 Turpin children to share their stories. In their interview, the Turpin daughters described years of their parents, David and Louise Turpin, abusing them and their siblings, some of whom were shackled to beds for months at a time, and being deprived of food, hygiene, education and health care.

It was Jordan Turpin who managed to escape on Jan. 14, 2018, and call 911, freeing herself and her siblings from the family’s house of horrors in Perris, California.

“I knew I would die if I got caught," said Jordan Turpin, now 21. "I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying."

David and Louise Turpin are now in prison. They pleaded guilty to charges including torture and false imprisonment. In 2019, they were sentenced to 25 years to life.

When the abuse started

When Jennifer, the eldest Turpin child, was an infant, she said she and her parents lived in a nice neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. Her father worked as an electrical engineer and her mother was a homemaker. Both were originally from West Virginia and grew up as devout members of the same conservative pentecostal church.

Their new house eventually became filthy, Jennifer Turpin said, covered in mold, dirt and trash. The mother she used to adore started having violent mood swings when she was still very little, she said.

“I never knew which side I was going to get of her,” she said. “If I was going to ask her a question, [is] she going to call me stupid or something… and then yank me across the floor or [is] she going to be nice and answer my question.”

Jennifer Turpin said she attended public school from first through third grade, but then her parents took her out. During that time, she said she was sent to school unwashed, often wearing the same dirty clothes over and over. The other students “didn’t want to be my friend,” she said.

“They called me skinny bones and acted like they didn’t want to be around me,” she said. “I probably smelled. But I didn’t realize at the time I smelled, but that stench clings to you… because we would literally live in houses piled with trash.”

Nov. 17

 

South Dakota billionaire Denny Sanford greets South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem March 18, 2021 (Joe Sneve Sioux Falls Argus-Leader).  T. Denny Sanford with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on March 18, 2021 (Photo by Joe Sneve of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader).

T. Denny Sanford with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on March 18, 2021 (Photo by Joe Sneve of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader).

Pro Publica, Investigation: Court Records Show That Emails and Phone Data Were Searched in Child Porn Probe of Billionaire Denny Sanford, Robert Faturechi and Isaac Arnsdorf, Nov. 17, 2021. ProPublica won access to search warrants showing a child pornography investigation of South Dakota’s richest man, confirming our reporting from last year.

Authorities seized phone, email and internet data in a child pornography investigation of South Dakota’s richest person, T. Denny Sanford, according to court records obtained by ProPublica.

The records, which were kept under seal for more than a year, confirm ProPublica’s reporting from last year on the existence of the investigation. The search warrants were unsealed after a unanimous ruling last month by the South Dakota Supreme Court, which affirmed what ProPublica had argued when it first tried to obtain the records last summer: that search warrants and related documents are available to the public under state law.

No charges have been filed and the status of any investigation is unclear. In a statement, Sanford’s lawyer, Marty Jackley, declined to address Sanford’s underlying conduct. “The ultimate fact remains that the investigating authorities have not found information to support criminal charges,” Jackley said.

It was Jackley, a former state attorney general who is running to reclaim the position in 2022, who asked a judge to stop ProPublica from reporting on the Sanford investigation last year.

“This is an extraordinary victory for press freedom and the public’s right to know how the government investigates society’s most powerful,” ProPublica’s general counsel, Jeremy Kutner, said. “But the road was a deeply troubling one. We battled under near-total secrecy for over a year, overcoming attempts by a billionaire to keep us from publishing and to have us held in contempt, and a bar on talking about the case itself, all to free information a state law said we should have had all along. We are grateful that the courts ultimately championed openness, but 15 months in the shadows is far too long.”

Sanford, 85, is a towering presence in South Dakota, and he maintained relationships with powerful government and business leaders even after ProPublica first reported on the child pornography investigation in August 2020. This March, Gov. Kristi Noem met with Sanford to accept $100 million in scholarship funds from him and his companies. A spokesperson for Noem, who is widely viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party, did not immediately respond to questions.

Sanford made his fortune in credit cards; he controls First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard, a major issuer of high-interest credit cards for high-risk borrowers. He became one of the country’s top philanthropists, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to children’s organizations and other charitable groups, including a major hospital system based in South Dakota that bears his name. He has supported Republican candidates and causes, and he has ties to top state and federal political figures.

The warrants reveal new details about the investigation.

South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation obtained five search warrants for emails, internet logs and phone data. The warrants name Sanford “in the matter of possession and distribution of child pornography” and indicate that investigators and a judge concluded there was probable cause to believe that the data would contain evidence of a crime. The affidavits describing the basis for probable cause were not disclosed.

The first search warrant, from December 2019, sought email records, including messages, images and location logs, linked to an AOL account throughout 2019. Investigators followed up in March 2020 with three more search warrants that zeroed in on specific times: internet signatures at two specific seconds on June 27, 2019, and phone calls, messages and location data on that date and two others.

The documents do not specify what, if anything, investigators found in the searches. They also do not reveal what initially prompted the investigation.

Acting on a tip, ProPublica originally called the county courthouse in Sioux Falls to obtain the search warrants in July 2020. An official in the clerk’s office initially said no records related to Sanford could be found in their system. A source outside the office told ProPublica that the clerk’s office became concerned that the request had been improperly denied. When ProPublica called back again the next week, the clerk’s office said it needed permission from the judge to release the records.

The judge, James Power, invited ProPublica, the state’s attorney general and Sanford to make arguments on whether to unseal the records. Sanford’s lawyer, Jackley, then asked the judge to block ProPublica’s reporting and publication. “Freedom of the press is not an absolute right,” Jackley wrote, calling into question the integrity of the criminal investigation given that ProPublica had learned about it through sources. “And under the troubling circumstances of this situation, a restraint on ProPublica’s publication is appropriate.”

The judge recognized ProPublica’s First Amendment right to report and publish what it learned independently, but he kept the case under seal while the proceedings continued.

Even without the warrants, in August 2020 ProPublica was able to report, citing four sources familiar with the probe, that Sanford was investigated for possible possession of child pornography. The state attorney general had been overseeing the case before referring it to the U.S. Department of Justice for further investigation. Federal authorities have not indicated what they’ve done with the case. A DOJ spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

After the story was published, Sanford filed a motion with the judge asking for ProPublica to be held in contempt. The judge refused, and he ultimately ruled that the records should be released. Sanford appealed to the state Supreme Court but lost in a ruling filed on Oct. 27. “The question we confront here is not a close one,” the court wrote, ruling that the state law clearly says search warrants are public records. The Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper, joined the case on ProPublica’s side.
Billionaire T. Denny Sanford Was Under Investigation for Child Pornography

After ProPublica’s story published, some of the beneficiaries of Sanford’s charity initially distanced themselves. The San Diego-based National University announced it was holding off on plans to rename itself after Sanford. Sanford Health, the hospital system named after the billionaire, said it was “deeply concerned” and that “there’s nothing more sacred than the innocence of children.” But the hospital chain went on to accept more than $650 million from Sanford, with its CEO saying, “We took those media reports seriously and are satisfied that they were not substantiated.” In a statement to ProPublica Wednesday, the CEO, Bill Gassen, stood by that remark and added, “We are grateful for Mr. Sanford’s generosity and the many ways his commitment to Sanford Health will benefit our region for generations to come.”

Academic and research institutions across the country are named after Sanford. In South Dakota’s largest city, Sioux Falls, the 12,000-seat indoor sports and events arena bears Sanford’s name, as do several of the largest buildings in town. Outside the castle-like Sanford Children’s Hospital, a statue named “For the Love of Children” depicts Sanford kneeling beside two small boys and a girl. Another statue, “Chasing Dreams” at the Sanford Sports Complex, portrays children running toward the billionaire with basketballs.

“My primary bent, in terms of philanthropy, is directed at small children, to give them the opportunity to realize a full life,” he told the Argus Leader in 2004.

priscilla giddings

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 49 to 19 to censure Representative Priscilla Giddings, shown above, for posting the personal information of a 19-year-old student intern online. (Photo by Darin Oswald of the Idaho Statesman via Associated Press.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Idaho Lawmaker Is Censured for Doxxing Intern Who Reported Rape, Amanda Holpuch, Nov. 17, 2021. Priscilla Giddings, an Idaho state representative, shared a student intern’s personal information after the teenager accused another lawmaker of rape.

An Idaho lawmaker who shared the personal information of a 19-year-old student intern online after the teenager accused another lawmaker of rape was formally censured by the Idaho House of Representatives on Monday.

The representative, Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from White Bird, Idaho, was stripped of a committee assignment because she had shared an article that included the intern’s personal details on Facebook and in a newsletter with her supporters.

Ms. Giddings, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, shared the information after the intern in March accused State Representative Aaron von Ehlinger of sexual assault.

Mr. von Ehlinger, 39, who resigned in April, has denied any wrongdoing. He pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault charges this month and is scheduled to stand trial in April 2022.

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 49 to 19 to censure Representative Priscilla Giddings for posting the personal information of a 19-year-old student intern online.Credit...Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman, via Associated Press

Sharing a person’s information online without their consent, a practice called doxxing, has often been used against women speaking out about sexual abuse. In May, Colorado made it illegal to share the personal information of public health workers and their families online for the purposes of harassment.

During a two-hour debate in the Idaho Statehouse on Monday, Ms. Giddings said she had not done anything wrong. “I would not have done anything differently,” she said. “I think my intent was pure.”

There was boisterous clapping and cheering from the public gallery after she spoke.

In an email, Ms. Giddings did not comment directly on the censure. She criticized Representative Scott Bedke, who is the speaker of the House, the lawmaker who oversaw the censure hearing and her opponent in the lieutenant governor primary race. “Stopping this kind of unabashed corruption is exactly why I serve in the legislature, and it’s exactly why I’m running,” she said.

 

chris belter

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who raped four teenagers gets no jail time, judge says: ‘Incarceration isn’t appropriate,’ Timothy Bella, Nov. 17, 2021. A New York man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual abuse for assaulting four teenage girls during parties at his parents’ home will not face jail time after a judge Tuesday sentenced him to eight years probation.

matthew murphyNiagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, right, said he “agonized” over the case of 20-year-old Christopher Belter, above, who was accused of committing the crimes when he was 16 or 17. Belter pleaded guilty in 2019 to felony charges that included third-degree rape and attempted first-degree sexual abuse, as well as two misdemeanor charges of second-degree sexual abuse.

Although Belter faced a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, Murphy concluded that jail time for the man “would be inappropriate” in a ruling that shocked the courtroom.

“I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain. There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case,” Murphy said, according to WKBW. “It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”

Belter, of Lewiston, N.Y., will have to register as a sex offender as part of his sentence. Murphy told Belter in court that the probation sentence would be “like a sword hanging over your head for the next eight years.” The judge did not elaborate on why he did not impose jail time.

Steven M. Cohen, an attorney for one of the victims, denounced the judge’s sentencing, saying to reporters Tuesday, “Justice was not done here.” He told The Washington Post on Wednesday that his client, who was joined by some of the other victims in the courtroom, was “deeply disappointed” in the sentencing.

“My client threw up in the ladies room following the sentencing,” Cohen said. “If Chris Belter was not a White defendant from a rich and influential family, in my experience … he would surely have been sentenced to prison.”

Barry N. Covert, Belter’s attorney, declined to comment. At the sentencing hearing, the defense attorney said that Belter regretted what he did as a teen.

The crimes took place between February 2017 and August 2018 at Belter’s parents’ home in a wealthy neighborhood of Lewiston, a few miles outside Niagara Falls. During that time, three 16-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl were assaulted in four separate incidents, according to the judge.

The “party house” label at Belter’s family home was fueled by his mother, Tricia Vacanti, now 50; his stepfather, Gary Sullo, 56; and Jessica M. Long, 42, a family friend, who allegedly supplied teen girls with alcohol and marijuana, according to state police. The three adults, who police say helped groom the women for sexual assaults by Belter, have pleaded not guilty in Lewiston Town Court to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and unlawfully dealing with a child. None of them responded to requests for comment Wednesday.

Nov. 16

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images)

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s Companion, Goes on Trial, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Benjamin Weiser, Nov. 16, 2021. Jury selection is set to begin on Tuesday in the federal sex trafficking trial, following a flurry of motions that began to bring the scope of the proceedings into focus.

In the weeks leading up to Ghislaine Maxwell’s federal sex trafficking trial in Manhattan, her lawyers have raised issues about the “reprehensible” conditions in her Brooklyn detention facility and the ordeal she undergoes whenever she is brought to court.

They asked to interview F.B.I. agents about previous investigations into her longtime companion, Jeffrey Epstein. They took issue with an expert witness’s planned testimony on sexual abuse. And they asked the federal judge overseeing the trial to preclude federal prosecutors from referring to her accusers as “victims.”

The flurry of recent motions, hearings and rulings has begun to define the playing field for Ms. Maxwell’s highly anticipated trial. Jurors, who will begin to be chosen on Tuesday, will hear Ms. Maxwell’s accusers testify that she recruited them as minors for sexual acts with Mr. Epstein and others, in a trial that is widely seen as a proxy for trying Mr. Epstein himself.

Ms. Maxwell, 59, the daughter of a British media mogul and once a fixture in New York’s social scene, will be tried on six counts, including transporting minors to engage in criminal sexual activity. She has steadfastly maintained her innocence, and her lawyers have sought to undermine the credibility of her accusers and question the motives of prosecutors — efforts they have indicated they would continue at trial.

Their concern about the use of the term “victim” was rooted in fairness, her lawyers have argued. “In some criminal cases, the parties agree that an accuser was the victim of a crime,” they wrote to Judge Alison J. Nathan this month. “This is not one of those cases. Rather, Ms. Maxwell denies that she victimized anyone. And there is ample evidence to support her defense.”

But as with most of the motions filed on Ms. Maxwell’s behalf so far, Judge Nathan did not agree. She ruled that prosecutors will be allowed to describe the accusers as “victims” and, in another win for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, the accusers will be allowed to testify under pseudonyms; courtroom artists are prohibited from sketching their likeness.

washington post logoWashington Post, OnlyFans and similar sites gave these adult content creators more control. Now they worry about losing it, Lateshia Beachum, Nov. 16, 2021. Amid the job losses of the pandemic, thousands signed up to produce adult content for sites. Now some adult performers say their income is threatened by new regulations intended to fight child sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

Sites for creators of adult content have proliferated in recent years. They differ from traditional pornography sites because they eliminate talent scouts, producers and camera crews, allowing performers to take home a larger share of money earned from the content they post.

Last month, Mastercard began requiring the sites to introduce content review processes and verify identities, ages and proof of consent for people appearing in the content. Anti-trafficking groups such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Exodus Cry are pushing Visa, Discover and other credit card companies to impose similar requirements.

But, although the policies are aimed at protecting those who might be forced into sex work, content creators and their advocates say they could hurt legitimate performers.

Nov. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Another state, another clergy sex abuse scandal, Editorial Board, Nebraska’s attorney general recently identified 57 priests and other Catholic officials responsible for allegedly sexually abusing more than 250 victims, mainly boys, over decades while the church’s hierarchy shrugged or covered up the crimes. The number of clerics who will be criminally prosecuted is zero.

Yes, it’s an old story. And no, the sheer repetitiveness of what is by now a well known pattern of conduct within the church should not cauterize the outrage nor inure lawmakers to the urgency of action.

As in other states, and many countries, prosecuting clerical abusers in Nebraska for crimes committed years ago is impossible because the criminal statute of limitations has closed or the abusers themselves are dead. Most of the instances of reported abuse documented by the state attorney general’s office took place in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s and tapered off over the past 20 years. Nebraska has changed its laws to eliminate any time limit on prosecutions for future child sex assaults, but past cases remain off limits both for criminal charges and for lawsuits.

It’s an old story; it’s also a current one. Sexual abuse is notoriously under-reported, especially when the victims are children unaware, or not fully cognizant, that what they have experienced is a crime. Typically, the victims, whose abusers are often authority figures, say nothing for years. Today’s youthful victims, in the Catholic Church or any other setting, might not come forward for a decade or two.

In Nebraska, the hair-raising details of Attorney General Doug Peterson’s report reflect the depth of the church’s arrogance and impunity. It’s noteworthy that one of the state’s three dioceses, based in Lincoln, for years refused to participate in the church’s own annual reviews of sexual misconduct. Incredibly, the church tolerated it. It was in Lincoln that church higher-ups knew about multiple allegations of sexual abuse for at least 15 years against James Benton, a priest who continued on in ministry until his retirement in 2017. Some of the allegations against him dated from the early 1980s.

The number of victims of clerical abuse who have come forward to report abuse exploded after a major investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, which published a report on it in 2018. The next year, allegations of past abuse quadrupled, to more than 4,400, and stayed roughly in that range in 2020, according to the latest annual report on the subject by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Despite those reports, and that scrutiny, just about 10 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that allow victims to file lawsuits for past abuse, by briefly suspending the statute of limitations in “lookback windows.” Amazingly, Pennsylvania, where the grand jury documented roughly 300 priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 children, is not one of those states.

It is true that the U.S. Catholic Church has been more proactive than its counterparts in almost every other country in identifying clerical sex abusers and cooperating with investigative authorities. Yet the U.S. bishops have also continued spending tens of millions of dollars annually lobbying state lawmakers to prevent changes in law that would allow lawsuits for past clerical sex crimes — and enable a measure of justice and healing for victims. That is morally indefensible.

Nov. 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia’s senators call for federal investigation into Liberty University over sexual misconduct claims, Susan Svrluga, Nov. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Virginia’s senators called for an investigation into Liberty University over the school’s handling of sexual misconduct claims.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) said Wednesday he was deeply troubled by a ProPublica story describing women’s experiences at the private evangelical liberty university sealschool. “Recent reports only underscore the need for federal policymakers to improve transparency, consistency, and accountability at our institutions of higher learning,” he said in a written statement. Liberty’s leaders should act quickly to prioritize the needs of survivors, he said, and it would be appropriate for the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to look into the school’s procedures for dealing with sexual assault cases.

A dozen women sued the university this summer, claiming the school violated federal Title IX law prohibiting discrimination based on sex at schools that receive federal funding, failing to help them and making the campus more dangerous.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D) also urged the Education Department to take action. “Any campus policy that deters or discourages a survivor of sexual assault from speaking out and seeking justice is wrong,” he said in a written statement. “Students who bravely speak out deserve to be heard and to have their claims taken seriously.”

“Liberty University has been very clear about how seriously it is taking the allegations made in the Jane Doe lawsuit but these allegations, some twenty years old, should not give the misimpression that Liberty University isn’t fully compliant with all laws with regard to its title IX policies and procedures today,” a Liberty spokesman responded in an emailed statement.

“Nonetheless, the university is conducting an independent review of its processes to determine if any policies or procedures need to be modified.” The university invites the senators to visit campus and discuss their concerns with university leaders, he said. “We hope the Senators’ comments do not represent an unhelpful politicization of such a serious issue.”

Nov. 4

 

Anton

Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, shown above in a screenshot from Fox News, has been Fox News pundit and GOP strategist who recently worked on the 2020 campaign for Republican candidate Lacy Johnson in Minneapolis.

washington post logoWashington Post, A GOP strategist was charged with sex trafficking of minors. Then he tried to ‘threaten’ law enforcement, judge says, Jonathan Edwards, Nov. 4, 2021.  Anton “Tony” Lazzaro had already been accused of paying underage girls for sex when the up-and-coming Republican political strategist, according to a federal judge, tried to leverage some information he’d dug up.

While jailed without bond, Lazzaro told one of the Minneapolis police officers investigating his case that he knew where the officer lived, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz wrote in an order filed Tuesday. Lazzaro also allegedly told the officer he’d tried to find similar information before his arrest about djt maga hatan FBI agent, but came up empty because the agent was “a ghost” with no online presence.

The federal judge called Lazzaro’s comments to Officer Brandon Brugger an “attempt to threaten and intimidate” and “very troubling.” The judge cited it as one of the reasons he was denying Lazzaro’s request to reconsider giving him a bond. Schiltz ordered that Lazzaro remain locked up pending trial.

“There is no legitimate reason — none — for Lazzaro to be collecting home addresses and other personal information about the law enforcement officers involved in his case,” Schiltz wrote in his decision.

Lazzaro, 31, was arrested Aug. 12 on sex trafficking charges. Prosecutors are accusing him of orchestrating a sex trafficking scheme in which he paid Gisela Castro Medina, a 19-year-old university student, to scout and recruit at least six underage girls during an eight-month period in 2020, promising tony lazarro djtthem that Lazzaro would be their “sugar daddy.” Once Lazzaro allegedly lured them to his luxury condo in downtown fox news logo SmallMinneapolis, prosecutors claim he — in exchange for sex acts — provided them with cash, alcohol, vape pens and other items.

Before the sex trafficking allegations, Lazzaro was a rising star in Minnesota GOP circles. The self-described entrepreneur had donated to state Republicans and posed in photos with high-powered conservatives like TV host Tucker Carlson, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former president Donald Trump.

He’d made multiple appearances on Fox News programs, and posted photos of himself sitting on top of a private jet, gassing up a Ferrari and posing shirtless with hundred-dollar bills.

  • Washington Post, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy halts at-sea training as it reckons with sexual assault allegations, Ian Duncan, Nov. 4, 2021.

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Do Gun Rights Depend on Abortion Rights? That’s Now Up to the Supreme Court, Linda Greenhouse, (shown at right on the cover of her memoir, "Just a Journalist"), Nov. 4, 2021. It might linda greenhouse cover just a journalisthave looked like a coincidence that questions of abortion and guns both reached the Supreme Court in the same week. But it wasn’t, really. Powerful social movements have devoted years to steering these two issues toward a moment of truth in a court reshaped in large measure by those same movements.

Recall that in the Rose Garden ceremony in September of last year in which President Donald Trump introduced his third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to the country, he couldn’t refrain from observing that “rulings that the Supreme Court will issue in the coming years will decide the survival of our Second Amendment.” The president didn’t mention abortion. Given his nominee’s well-known opposition to Roe v. Wade, he didn’t have to.

So, perhaps inevitably, it has come to this: One right, established for nearly half a century, faces erasure, while the other, extracted 13 years ago from a contorted reading of an 18th-century text, may be poised for an ahistoric expansion.

Little emerged in the arguments this week to knock the rights to abortion and gun possession off these apparent trajectories. Although the consensus seems to be that a majority of the justices may not permit Texas to get away with walling off its appalling anti-abortion law from judicial challenge, the fate of the actual right to abortion itself depends not on the pair of Texas cases the court heard this week, but on the case from Mississippi it will hear on Dec. 1.

And on the Second Amendment case, a challenge to New York State’s limits on licenses for carrying a concealed weapon, there was little surprise that a majority appeared ready to interpret the Constitution to require a substantial expansion of individual gun rights.

Still, something interesting did emerge from the proximity of the week’s arguments. The Texas law, S.B. 8, seeks to take state officials out of the role of enforcing the ban on abortion that the law imposes at roughly six weeks of pregnancy. Instead, any individual may bring a private damages action for at least $10,000 against anyone who provides or enables an abortion in violation of the law. At least while Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey remain as precedents, the six-week ban is flagrantly unconstitutional.

The idea of turning every citizen into a potential vigilante is to immunize state officials from a federal court lawsuit that would challenge the law’s constitutionality, on the theory that no official has anything to do with the law’s enforcement.

But what about blue states? A brief filed against Texas by a gun-rights group, the Firearms Policy Coalition, raised the prospect that if the state’s vigilante mechanism prevails, states favoring limitations on gun ownership contrary to Supreme Court precedent could enact their own copycat laws authorizing individuals to sue gun owners.

Nov. 3

Virginian-Pilot, Lead pastor at Virginia Beach’s Rock Church steps down after being charged with soliciting sex with minor, Jane Harper, Nov. 3, 2021. A day after news broke that the lead pastor of Virginia Beach’s Rock Church had been charged with soliciting sex from an underage girl, the church announced he will step away from all ministerial duties until the case is resolved.

The statement was released Wednesday morning, five days after Pastor John Blanchard was arrested in a sting operation in Chesterfield County.

Police said the operation targeted 17 men who’d been communicating online with someone they believed was a teenage girl but was actually a police officer.

When the men went to meet the girl at a motel room for sex, they were greeted instead by several police officers, said Mike Louth, a major with the Chesterfield County Police Department.

Nov. 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: Huma Abedin Has Been to Hell and Back. Now She’s Gingerly Telling the Tale, Susan Dominus, Nov. 1, 2021.  “Both/And” may not be the most introspective memoir, but it gives readers a front-row view of heartache and humiliation.

When Huma Abedin was a young, single aide to Hillary Clinton, she was already a subject of great fascination. “Hillary’s Mystery Woman: Who Is Huma?” ran a 2007 headline in The New York Observer. Abedin was known to be private, savvy and stunning — all of which contributed to the firestorm that ensued when the man she eventually married, then-Congressman Anthony Weiner, self-immolated via serial sext.

At first, Weiner was simply a goofy tabloid villain; but his compulsion eventually landed him in prison — and possibly cost Clinton the presidency, as an investigation of his case sparked yet another investigation (soon dismissed) related to Hillary’s emails just days before the election. The original set of questions about Huma — What was she whispering in Hillary’s ear? And how did she get to be the chosen whisperer? — was replaced with another: Why would someone like her marry someone like him? Why did she hang on as long as she did? And how did she remain standing through all of it?

In her new memoir, Both/And, Abedin attempts to answer some of these questions, with varying degrees of success. One senses at times that when she falters, she lacks insight rather than sincerity, which is itself a kind of honest answer: Abedin may be one of the most politically astute and well-traveled women in the world, but she portrays herself as far from worldly, at least in affairs of the heart.

It’s clear from the outset that this book is not a sidekick’s tale, but the story of a person of substance — someone determined to tell her own story, with her name pronounced correctly, for once: She clarifies that it is more like “Humma” than “Hooma.”

Abedin begins with tales of her childhood in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where her Indian father and Pakistani mother had moved, after meeting and starting a family in the United States, to pursue prestigious jobs in academia. She contrasts her relatively cloistered days in Saudi Arabia with carefree summers back in the States, setting up the unusual background that would prove so valuable in government service (and also explains, in part, the title of her book).

Abedin delivers on the promise stated in her preface to “track the migration of a family across the course of generations,” introduces relatives who prized women’s education, presents the early, tragic loss of her father, and ultimately arrives at her seemingly destined path working for Clinton. I made it a dozen pages into her first two years working at the White House, started to grasp just how much ground Abedin intended to cover over the course of this 500-page book — and then did what perhaps you are tempted to do right now as you read this review: I skipped ahead to the more dramatic events of her personal life.

Abedin’s life in the White House and the Clintons’ orbit could theoretically have been compelling enough to stave off that urge: Abedin was by Clinton’s side through many of her own soul-trying years in politics, accompanied her on historic visits to hot spots and to events attended by the most elite guests.

But even when I went back and read Both/And in its entirety, I had the sense that in the sections about Clinton, the book was serving as a kind of body woman — that Abedin could not help functioning, even in her own memoir, as someone habitually burnishing Clinton’s image for posterity. (Here is Huma on the moment Clinton recognized that Obama had won the nomination: “When it was time to concede, she would do it as she always conducted herself: with grace.”) Even those who consider Clinton extraordinary will pause to wonder if she has weaknesses beyond the few Abedin acknowledges (such as: French fries with dinner — sometimes). Abedin says she served Clinton by “helping her to tell the story she thought was important at each of these destinations,” and she is still messaging, rather than writing with the kind of voice that brings a reader close to history.

Abedin herself does not fully come to life on the page until she actually meets Weiner — which is when the reader also better appreciates how much her upbringing as a faithful Muslim distinguished her in the circles in which she moved. Weiner, whom she started seeing at age 30, appears to be the one and only romantic involvement she ever had, short of a few chaste dates that went nowhere. Weiner was witty, curious, competent and ambitious, and wooed her with the full force of his charisma.

The catalog of her Job-like suffering — the shame to which she was subject for actions other than her own — is at times excruciating to read; but it is as if in uttering those episodes aloud, she ensures that they do not own her. Huma still fascinates, not because of any lurid details she exposes but because her story serves as a parable, a blinking billboard of a reminder that no one is exempt from suffering. She is far from psychologically minded; but there is, somehow, something comforting in her refusal to find bright sides of the story or purport to share great wisdom as someone who is still standing despite it all. The only way out, she seems to say, was through, which is perhaps not original, but has the benefit of being true.

 

October

Oct. 30

 virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Prince Andrew Mounts Attack Against Woman Who Accused Him of Sexual Abuse, Benjamin Weiser and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Oct. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, said the woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre (shown above in an NBC interview and below left in 2001 at age 17 with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell) was seeking financial gain from one of the world’s best known royal families.

United Kingdom flagLawyers for Prince Andrew on Friday issued a blistering attack on a woman who has accused him in a lawsuit of sexually abusing her when she was still a minor and he was a guest of Jeffrey Epstein.

The lawyers for Andrew, 61, denied in a new court filing in Manhattan that their client, who is also known as the Duke of York, had ever sexually abused prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 2001or assaulted the woman, Virginia Giuffre, who has been one of Mr. Epstein’s most prominent accusers.

Andrew’s lawyers argued in the court papers that Ms. Giuffre’s lawsuit was part of an effort by her over more than a decade to profit from allegations she had made against Mr. Epstein and others. Andrew’s lawyers claimed that Ms. Giuffre had sold articles and photographs to the news media and entered into secret agreements to resolve her abuse claims.

“Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him,” Andrew’s lawyers wrote. “Most people could only dream of obtaining the sums of money that Giuffre has secured for herself over the years.”

The lawyers added that “accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press.”

Andrew’s lawyers issued their attack on Ms. Giuffre as part of a brief asking the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, to dismiss her lawsuit, which was filed in August in Federal District Court.

prince andrew jeff epstein news syndication CustomIn the lawsuit, Ms. Giuffre, 38, claimed that Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, sexually abused her when she was under 18 on Mr. Epstein’s private island, Little St. James, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and at his mansion in Manhattan.

She also accused Andrew, along with Mr. Epstein (shown together in a file photo at right) and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, of forcing her to have sexual intercourse with Andrew at Ms. Maxwell’s home in London.

Mr. Epstein, 66, was arrested in July 2019 on sex-trafficking charges. One month later he was found dead by hanging in his jail cell in Manhattan. The medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.

Oct. 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Sexual Misconduct Complaint Is Filed Against Andrew Cuomo, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 28, 2021. A criminal complaint was filed accusing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of forcible touching, a spokesman for New York State’s court system said. Mr. Cuomo resigned in August after a state attorney general report concluded that he had sexually harassed multiple women.

andrew cuomo 2019A criminal complaint accusing former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, of forcible touching has been filed in Albany City Court, a spokesman for New York State’s court system said on Thursday.

“A misdemeanor complaint was filed in Albany City Court against the former governor this afternoon,” said the spokesman, Lucian Chalfen.

The complaint came more than two months after Brittany Commisso, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo, filed a criminal complaint against him with the Albany County sheriff’s office. She accused him of groping her breast while they were alone in his residence late last year.

The complaint, signed by an investigator from the Albany County sheriff’s office, Amy Kowalski, said Mr. Cuomo did “intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim and onto her intimate body part.” It said Mr. Cuomo touched the victim’s left breast “for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires, all contrary to the provisions of the statute.”

Oct. 26

 

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Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DeSantis's big secret is emerging from the shadows, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 26, 2021. An October 25 wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallreport in Hill Reporter. com, an affiliate of Meidas Media Network, described an incident involving [Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] DeSantis in 2001 at the Darlington private K-12 school in Rome, Georgia. DeSantis taught history at the school for a year.

A photograph from 2001 has surfaced showing a 22-year old DeSantis (shown above in file photo) partying with female Darlington students, some of whom were seniors who graduated in 2002. Such behavior would have been in violation of Darlington's code of conduct for members of its staff.

The Hill Reporter article stated that DeSantis "had a reputation among students for being a young 'hot teacher' who girls loved." The website also reported that DeSantis has another problem. Not only was DeSantis's socializing off campus with the Darlington students a violation of school policy, but the girls were also underage and DeSantis was an adult. The socializing also, according to The Hill Reporter, involved alcohol, which was also illegal.

And this fact makes the role of DeSantis's relationship with his 2018 gubernatorial top campaign political adviser even more curious. It was Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), currently under federal investigation for underage sex trafficking involving girls the same age as those seen partying with DeSantis in 2001, who arranged for DeSantis's campaign appearances in the state.

WMR's informed sources in Florida have reported that the federal investigation of Gaetz also involves DeSantis as a potential target and not merely for financial, campaign donation, and lobbying crimes. Gaetz's former "wing man," former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, was convicted on May 17, 2021 on six federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg is reportedly singing to prosecutors in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.

Oct. 21

kim hak soon

Kim Hak-soon, right, in 1992 at a weekly protest that she and others started in Seoul to demand that Japan apologize for brutalities toward women during World War II (Associated Press Photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Overlooked No More: Kim Hak-soon, Who Spoke for ‘Comfort Women,’ Choe Sang-Hun, Oct. 21, 2021. Her testimony about the horrors of sexual slavery that Japan had engineered for its World War II military encouraged other survivors to step forward. This article is part of Overlooked, a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

On Aug. 14, 1991, a woman who lived alone in a flophouse here faced television cameras and told the world her name: Kim Hak-soon. She then described in gruesome detail how, when she was barely 17, she was taken to a so-called comfort station in China during World War II and raped by several Japanese soldiers every day.

south korea flag Small“It was horrifying when those monstrous soldiers forced themselves upon me,” she said during a news conference, wiping tears off her face. “When I tried to run away, they caught me and dragged me in again.”

Her powerful account, the first such public testimony by a former “comfort woman,” gave a human face to a history that many political leaders in Japan had denied for decades, and that many still do: From the 1930s until the end of the war, Japan coerced or lured an estimated 200,000 women into military-run rape centers in Asia and the Pacific, according to historians. It was one of history’s largest examples of state-sponsored sexual slavery.

Kim died of a lung disease when she was 73, on Dec. 16, 1997, just six years after the testimony. But she left a long-lasting legacy and inspired other former ​sex slaves to come forward in Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Australia and the Netherlands.

“Nothing that I wrote could come close to the impact of the personal firsthand account given publicly by Kim Hak-soon 30 years ago,” Gay J. McDougall, a former United Nations special rapporteur whose 1998 report defined Japan’s wartime enslavement of comfort women as crimes against humanity, said this year at a conference about Kim’s legacy.

Oct. 18

ny times logoNew York Times,Investigation: Axel Springer removes a top editor after a Times report on workplace behavior, Ben Smith, right, and Melissa Eddy, Oct. 18, 2021. The ben smith twitterGerman media giant Axel Springer said on Monday that Julian Reichelt, the editor of Bild, its powerful tabloid, had been removed from his duties after The New York Times reported on allegations that he had behaved inappropriately with women at the publication.

The Times reported on Sunday on details of Mr. Reichelt’s relationship with a trainee, who testified during an investigation sponsored by the company that he had summoned her to a hotel near the office for sex and asked her to keep a payment secret.

bild logoMr. Reichelt had “not clearly separated private and professional matters, even after the compliance proceedings were concluded in spring 2021,” and had misled the company’s executive board on the subject, Axel Springer said in a statement. Mr. Reichelt has denied abusing his authority.

The company’s chairman and chief executive, Mathias Döpfner, praised Mr. Reichelt for his leadership but said retaining him had become impossible. He said his replacement, Johannes Boie, would combine “journalistic excellence with modern leadership.”

Mr. Reichelt, shown at right in a 2018 photo, was also removed from his duties at Bild TV, a television network introduced in August, said julian reichelt 2018Deirdre Latour, a spokeswoman for Axel Springer.

Axel Springer — whose leading publications pride themselves on their ability to dig up exclusive news before others do — also said in its statement that it would take legal action against third parties who it claimed tried to illegally influence the company’s compliance investigation, “apparently with the aim of removing Julian Reichelt from office and damaging Bild and Axel Springer.”

Despite the apparent threat, Ms. Latour said that “they will not go after whistle-blowers or anybody who brings forward complaints.”

Pressure built in Germany after the Ippen media group, a competitor of Bild, decided on Friday to pull its own in-depth investigation into Mr. Reichelt. That revelation stirred outrage among reporters in Berlin, leading one to ask Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman at a news conference on Monday whether that decision had raised concerns in the German government that freedom of the press could be in danger. Ms. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, declined to comment.

Ippen said in a statement on Monday that it had decided not to publish its investigation to avoid the appearance that it wanted to harm a rival publisher. Bild is the flagship publication of Axel Springer, a titan of German media since after World War II. The company is now focusing much of its energy on the United States and digital publishing. In 2015, the company bought Business Insider (now called Insider) for $442 million. This summer, it announced that it had purchased Politico for $1 billion.

ny times logoNew York Times, In-Depth: At Politico’s New Owner, Allegations of Sex, Lies and a Secret Payment, Ben Smith, Oct. 18, 2021. Axel Springer, a German media giant, seems stuck in the past when it comes to the workplace and deal-making, our columnist Ben Smith writes.

A high-level editor at the powerful German tabloid Bild was trying to break things off with a woman who was a junior employee at the paper. He was 36. She was 25.

politico Custom“If they find out that I’m having an affair with a trainee, I’ll lose my job,” the editor, Julian Reichelt, told her in November 2016, according to testimony she later gave investigators from a law firm hired by Bild’s parent company, Axel Springer, to look into the editor’s workplace behavior. I obtained a transcript through someone not directly involved.

bild logoJust before the editor spoke those words, another woman at the paper had lodged a sexual harassment complaint against the publisher of Bild. But Mr. Reichelt’s relationship with the junior employee continued, she testified, and he was promoted to the top newsroom job in 2017.

Mr. Reichelt then gave her a high-profile job, one she felt she wasn’t ready for, and he continued to summon her to hotel rooms near the gleaming Berlin tower occupied by Axel Springer, she said.

“That’s how it always goes at Bild,” she told the investigators. “Those who sleep with the boss get a better job.”

This account is drawn from an interview conducted in the spring by a law firm retained by Axel Springer for an investigation that quickly closed, clearing Mr. Reichelt. A spokeswoman for Axel Springer and Mr. Reichelt, Deirdre Latour, said the woman’s testimony included “some inaccurate facts,” but declined to specify which ones.

Mr. Reichelt did not, as he feared, lose his job when his relationship with the woman, as well his conduct toward other women at Bild, became public. Instead, Mr. Reichelt, who denied abusing his authority, took a brief leave and then was reinstated as perhaps the most powerful newspaper editor in Europe after the mathias döpfnercompany determined that his actions did not warrant a dismissal.

Bild is the flagship publication of Axel Springer, a titan of German media since after World War II. The company is now focusing much of its energy on the United States. American media types may know it mainly for its leader, Mathias Döpfner, right, a charismatic chief executive who moved more swiftly than most traditional publishers to embrace the internet.

In 2015, the company bought Business Insider (now called Insider) for $442 million. This summer, it announced that it had purchased Politico for $1 billion. Axel Springer aims “to become the leading digital publisher in the democratic world,” Mr. Döpfner told me in an emailed statement.

Oct. 16

 

djt jeffrey epstein headshots

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is coming back to haunt Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 16, 2021. Jeffrey Epstein’s remaining secrets died with him in that prison cell – or did they? We’ve all been waiting to see whether or not the ongoing criminal case against Epstein’s longtime sidekick Ghislaine Maxwell ends up unearthing Epstein’s remaining secrets. But in the meantime, Epstein’s ghost is resurfacing in a new and strange way.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Wolff’s new insider book claims that Steve Bannon was terrified of the secrets that Jeffrey Epstein was holding onto about Donald Trump, and that Bannon in fact admitted as much to Epstein. Of course this kind of insider chatter always raises questions about just who would have told Wolff about this, why this source would have such information, what their motivation would be for providing it, and how slanted it might be as a result.

But those questions aside, you can’t overlook the timing. Steve Bannon is just a couple days away from facing federal criminal prosecution for his failure to testify to the January 6th Committee – and he’s trying to dodge that testimony because he’s afraid of further incriminating himself in the ongoing criminal case against him in New York.

Bannon is on track for prison either way, and we can’t imagine he’s willing to take the fall by himself. If anything, a snake like Bannon will end up spilling his guts around everyone and everything in order to try to reduce or eliminate his own prison time. So if Bannon really does know what Epstein knew about Trump, he may end up giving it up as he tries to get himself off the hook. The thing about these types is they’re never loyal to each other for any longer than they have to be.

michael wolff too famous landslide covers

 Oct. 15

stefan bieret fairfax policeDaily Beast, Assistant House Sergeant at Arms Arrested on Child Porn Charges, Corbin Bolies, Oct. 15, 2021. An assistant to the House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms faces multiple charges of child pornography, police in Fairfax County, Virginia, said Thursday.

daily beast logoStefan Bieret, 41, shown above in a Fairfax County mug shot, was arrested Thursday on 10 felony counts of child pornography, his arrest stemming from a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after it noticed an illicit upload from a Dropbox account.

Search warrants revealed the account belonged to Bieret, leading to a search of his home. Bieret was later transferred to a Fairfax County jail, where he is being held without bond. Police said they are still examining the evidence obtained from Bieret’s home and will use it to determine whether any other charges can be pressed.

Punchbowl News reporter Jake Sherman said on Twitter that Bieret was a known figure at the House. “Capitol insiders will know Stefan very well,” he wrote. “A longtime employee of the House Sargent at Arms. If you’re in the Capitol on a regular basis, you will have seen this face.”

Bio Backgrounder: Washington Scholars Program: A Man of Achievement: Mr. Stefan J. Bieret, right, shown in a 2003 photo.  I serve in the office of the chief law stefan bieret 2003enforcement and protocol officer for the U.S. House of Representatives-the Office of the Sergeant at Arms (HSAA). I currently hold the position of Assistant to the HSAA for Operations. This is a position which I could not have obtained without my experience from the Washington Scholars Program.

My interest has always been in the law enforcement and investigative realms-the professions where one serves the public by maintaining law, order, and safety. This was not common in the area where I grew up, where most families' livelihoods directly depended on the happenings of Wall Street and the financial world. Throughout my life, Washington, DC was an unfamiliar place often described in textbooks and newscasts. It was a place that may have been out of reach, had it not been for Washington Scholars.

I learned of the program through a Washington Scholars alumnus, who enthusiastically recommended the program as a valuable means to begin to build one's professional credentials. In 2003, I moved from the center of the financial world to the epicenter of our democracy to begin my internships at the National Defense PAC and the Heritage Foundation (Center for Legal & Judicial Studies). After exploring various career options and receiving guidance from Admiral Carey, I reenrolled in the Washington Scholars internship program in 2004 with a placement at the House Sergeant at Arms and an additional placement at the Heritage Foundation.

With my placement at the House Sergeant at Arms, I began to learn how a federal law enforcement agency (such as the U.S. Capitol Police) functions, including daily operations and the considerations that go into the decision-making process. After seven years, I am still learning. In my current role, I handle inquires from Members of Congress and their offices regarding security, access control for entry into the House complex, and joint activities with the US Capitol Police to facilitate legislative branch activities. In this respect, I also work with other law enforcement agencies and the military.

michael wolff too famous landslide coversDaily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Bragged Bill Barr was in Charge, Not Trump, Lachlan Cartwright, Oct. 15, 2021. The pedophile told Ehud Barak he had “direct knowledge” that Barr was in charge in DC, according to a new book that also claims Steve Bannon gave Epstein advice on his PR strategy.

daily beast logoA controversial new book from the journalist Michael Wolff claims that the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein bragged that Bill Barr was the man in charge during Trump’s time in office and that the president “lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

The tome, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious and the Damned, also claims that Steve Bannon and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak tried to help Epstein rehabilitate his image, even suggesting that he try to get favorable coverage on Rachel Maddow or 60 Minutes.

According to Wolff—who reportedly tried to buy New York Magazine with Epstein and disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein—Barak asked Epstein the million-dollar question of who was in charge at the White House. “‘What I want to know from you all-knowing people is: Who is in charge, who is,’ [Barak] said, putting on an American accent over his own often impenetrable Israeli one, ‘calling the shots?’ This was a resumption of the reliable conversation around Epstein: the ludicrousness and vagaries of Donald Trump—once among Epstein’s closest friends. ‘Here is the question every government is asking. Trump is obviously not in charge because he is—’”

Wolff claims that Epstein interrupted the former politico and called Trump—his former playboy party pal—a “moron,” then confided, “At the moment, Bill Barr is in charge.” The pedophile financier continued: “It’s Donald’s pattern...he lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

Barak allegedly pressed, “But let me ask you, why do you think this Barr took this job, knowing all this?”

“The motivation was simple: money,” Epstein replied. “Barr believes he’ll get a big payday out of this ... If he keeps Donald in office, manages to hold the Justice Department together, and help the Republican Party survive Donald, he thinks this is worth big money to him. I speak from direct knowledge. Extremely direct. Trust me.”

The book also claims that Epstein and Barak, along with Epstein’s lawyer Reid Weingarten, called Steve Bannon—“a new friend [who] had been introduced in December 2017”—and talked over a PR strategy with him to rehabilitate Epstein’s image after the damaging expose by The Miami Herald dredged up allegations that Epstein had molested and raped dozens of underage girls at his properties in Palm Beach, New York, and on his private island in the Caribbean. (Bannon told The New York Times that he disputed Wolff’s account of the conversation and that he “never media-trained anyone.”)

Wolff claims that Bannon laughed to Epstein, “You were the only person I was afraid of during the campaign,” and that Epstein replied, “As well you should have been.”

The pair had “deeply bonded,” the book says, “partly out of a shared incredulity about Donald Trump ... Bannon was often astonished by what Epstein knew.”

Wolff paints Bannon as a man who was eager to advise Epstein on rehabbing his image, despite the many serious accusations against him that he’d serially preyed on very young and very vulnerable girls. “‘So where is the comms piece in this?’” the book quotes Bannon as asking. “‘Who is handling it? Who’s on point? Are these your people, Reid?’”

The book says Bannon pressed Weingarten, Epstein and Barak about why there was “no communications team” and asked “What was the response from Jeffrey’s side to the Florida story? Who engaged? ... He probably can’t be hated any more. We’ve flatlined on this. He can’t get deader. While the chances of reviving him are remote, what’s the alternative?”

washington post logoWashington Post, Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd resigns after internal fight over sex abuse investigation, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Oct. 15, 2021. Ronnie Floyd, the acting CEO of the business arm for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has resigned from his position as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee after a weeks-long internal battle over how the denomination should handle a sex abuse investigation.

Although Southern Baptist churches operate independently from one another, the Nashville-based Executive Committee handles the business of the SBC, including its $192 million cooperative program that funds its missions and ministries.

Floyd’s resignation comes after weeks of intense debates that played out on Zoom and Twitter over an internal investigation into how the Executive Committee has handled sexual abuse allegations.

The SBC has been rocked by reports of hundreds of sexual abuse cases revealed in a 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle. It has ousted churches that employed pastors who were abusers and set up resources for churches to prevent sexual abuse. However, several sexual abuse survivors have said the denomination has not done enough to investigate and prevent more abuse from happening, because it does not have a way of tracking abusers within its network of churches.

During Executive Committee meetings over the past several weeks, some members argued against waiving attorney-client privilege, which would have given investigators access to records of conversations on legal matters among the committee’s members and staff. They said doing so went against the advice of convention lawyers and could bankrupt the SBC by exposing it to lawsuits. Some committee members resigned over the issue.

Raw Story, Alabama pastor who raped, impregnated and married 14-year-old won't face jail time: report, Matthew Chapman, Oct. 15, 2021. On Friday, The Birmingham News reported that an Alabama pastor who raped, impregnated, and married a teenage girl will not face jail time, after cutting a plea deal with prosecutors.

"Jason Greathouse, who used to minister in Enterprise but now lives in Tennessee, reached a deal with the Coffee County District Attorney's Office on Thursday that downgrades his charge from second-degree rape, a felony, to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, according to court records," reported Howard Koplowitz. "Greathouse, a resident of Henderson, Tennessee, agreed to serve two years of unsupervised probation for the 2018 incident, which occurred when he was 20 and the victim was 14, records showed. The pastor also does not have to register as a sex offender under the agreement's terms."

Greathouse had married his victim at her parents' demand, the report said.

According to Coffee County District Attorney Tom Anderson, the deal was so generous because "there were extenuating circumstances that would have been allowed to be presented by the defense that very likely could have resulted in a mistrial or even a not guilty by jury nullification."

This comes after earlier this year, another Alabama pastor, Mack Charles Andrews, who was convicted of torturing and raping children, was released after serving just one third of his 15-year prison sentence.

Daily Beast, Mom Accused in Drunken Teen Sex Parties, Allison Quinn and Justin Rohrlich, Updated Oct. 15, 2021. Shannon O’Connor, 47, is accused of a breathtaking array of crimes in Los Gatos, a wealthy Silicon Valley suburb where prosecutors say she lured young teens to “secret” parties, plied them with booze, and encouraged them to engage in “sometimes nonconsensual” sex acts. She was arrested last weekend on a fugitive warrant in Eagle, Idaho.

daily beast logoThere were 10 underage boys and two underage girls at the home where O’Connor was staying when she was arrested—and most of them had spent the night, according to authorities.

O’Connor, who also goes by the name Shannon Bruga, faces a total of 39 charges in Santa Clara County, California, where prosecutors plan to extradite her. The charges include felony child abuse, sexual assault, and providing alcohol to minors.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called the allegations against O’Connor “deeply disturbing” in a press release this week. O’Connor is now locked up in a Boise jail awaiting her return to California. She is also facing felony fraud charges in a separate case, accused of running up more than $120,000 in unauthorized expenses on a company credit card while working as an administrative assistant at Aruba Networks.

Court documents filed by California prosecutors describe O’Connor as someone who habitually threw alcohol-soaked parties for her eldest son and his friends, who were all young teens. She allegedly organized the get-togethers through text messages and Snapchat and supplied booze to the kids, who regularly drank until they either vomited or passed out.

O’Connor is also accused of setting aside certain rooms at her home where the teenage partiers could have sex with each other. If a girl refused, according to the court filings, O’Connor would coax and wheedle them until they succumbed to her pressure. A 15-page criminal complaint alleges that O’Connor took part in sexual abuse herself, while also apparently facilitating it.

Oct. 12

virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, British police drop investigation into Prince Andrew over sexual abuse claims, Jennifer Hassan, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). British law enforcement officials are dropping their investigation into Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, following a review of sexual assault allegations sparked by an American woman who says convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince on at least three occasions.

United Kingdom flagVirginia Giuffre (shown above in an NBC interview and below left in 2001 with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell) filed a lawsuit in August in New York against the prince, alleging that she was first trafficked at the age of 16 by Epstein, who was found dead in a jail cell in August 2019.

prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 2001The lawsuit, which described the impact of the alleged abuse on Giuffre as “severe and lasting,” prompted British officials to review the allegations. Giuffre says the abuse by the prince first took place in London, at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime companion.

In an email to The Washington Post on Monday, London’s Metropolitan police service said it was “taking no further action” but that it would continue to “liaise with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein.”

The lawsuit in New York remains ongoing, and the prince has until Oct. 29 to respond to the claims, per the Associated Press.

prince andrew jeff epstein news syndication CustomAndrew (shown at right with Epstein) has denied the allegations and said he had no recollection of meeting Giuffre or having sexual encounters with her. A photo of the prince with his hand around Giuffre, apparently taken in London when she was 17, first surfaced in 2011 and posed huge questions for Buckingham Palace.

On Monday, British police also confirmed that they had “reviewed information” separately passed to them by a local broadcaster and that no further action would be taken against the prince.

In June 2021, Channel 4 News reported that Epstein and Maxwell sexually abused, trafficked and groomed multiple women and girls in Britain over a period of 10 years — including to London, where Giuffre alleged Andrew abused her.

Following the report, British police said they would review the claims of rape and sexual assault, which Channel 4 said came from “a combination of publicly available documentation (including court papers), witness accounts, and interviews.” In its report, the broadcaster also explored claims that the royal’s ties to the sex abuse scandal may have influenced Britain’s handling of the case.

The decision by British police to drop their investigation comes at a period of intense scrutiny of Britain’s police force and its treatment of crimes against women. Earlier this year, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving police officer — sparking widespread calls for police reform.

Andrew, who is the second son of reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, announced in 2019 that he would be quitting his public duties “for the foreseeable future.”

The announcement came following an interview the prince gave to the BBC in which he attempted to defend his friendship with Epstein. The interview was widely criticized by viewers on both sides of the Atlantic, with one royal watcher calling it “nuclear explosion level bad.”

Oct. 6

washington post logoWashington Post, Catholic clergy in France likely abused more than 200,000 minors, independent commission estimates, Rick Noack and Chico Harlan, Oct. 6, 2021 (print ed.). A major report released Tuesday said that French Catholic clerics had abused more than 200,000 minors over the last 70 years, a systemic trauma that the inquiry's leader described as deep and "cruel."

French FlagThe report’s findings could trigger a public reckoning in a country where church officials long stalled efforts to investigate complicity. The findings also add to the picture of country-by-country trauma within a religion that has tended to find abuse on a stunning scale anywhere it has looked.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, set up more than two years ago with the approval of French church officials, examined decades of accusations in much the manner of other landmark reports — whether from Ireland, Germany, Poland, Australia, or the United States.

Commission leader Jean-Marc Sauvé said his team had identified only a small percentage of victims, but academic research and other sources meant that the real number is likely around 216,000, or even around 330,000 if one includes sexual abuse by lay members. The vast majority of the victims were male, according to the report. The authors cautioned that the margin of error could be several tens of thousands.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: First Vatican sexual abuse trial absolves a former altar boy who served the pope, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Oct. 6, 2021.  Gabriele Martinelli had a years-long sexual relationship, but there was no evidence of coercion, the judges said.

The Vatican’s first sexual abuse trial concluded Wednesday with judges absolving a former altar boy who served the pope, saying that Gabriele Martinelli had engaged in a sexual relationship with a slightly younger peer while living in the city-state but that there was no evidence of coercion.

The court found evidence of another crime — corruption of a minor — but said that the statute of limitations had expired.

A rector who had been accused of coverup, the Rev. Enrico Radice, 72, was also acquitted.

The Vatican’s determinations marked the closure of a year-long trial that examined one of the Catholic Church’s most unusual alleged abuse cases. In this instance, the abuse was said to have taken place between 2006 and 2012 inside a Vatican palazzo, a residence for preteens and teens — many with priestly aspirations — who served as altar boys during papal Masses.

A teen was accused of abuse inside Vatican City. Powerful church figures helped him become a priest.

Numerous Vatican higher-ups, including Pope Francis, had received written warnings of a potential crime starting in 2013. But the Vatican brought indictments against Martinelli and Radice only six years later — after a wave of Italian media coverage. By then, Martinelli had been ordained.

A Washington Post investigation earlier this year detailed how Martinelli, now 29, had risen to the priesthood — with the help of prelates who brushed off the initial accusations and conducted only a cursory investigation.
Gabriele Martinelli participates in Pope Francis's first Mass inside the Sistine Chapel. (Vatican Media)

The Vatican tribunal on Wednesday pinpointed one of the leaders in that initial probe, Bishop Diego Coletti, as having responded to the claims in an “absolutely superficial manner,” so as to “reach a quick dismissal.” Radice had worked with Coletti during that inquiry, the Vatican tribunal said, but could face no punishment because of the statute of limitations.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than a dozen prominent Trump allies to host fundraiser for Ohio congressional candidate facing domestic violence allegations, Felicia Sonmez and Eugene Scott, Oct. 6, 2021. Several of the co-hosts declined to comment when asked whether they still plan to attend in light of the accusations against former Trump White House aide Max Miller, who through his lawyer has denied the allegations.

More than a dozen high-profile Republicans are co-hosting a fundraiser next week for Max Miller, an Ohio congressional candidate and former Trump White House aide who faces allegations of domestic violence.

In a Washington Post op-ed, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday accused her former boyfriend of being violent toward her during their time working in the White House. She did not name him. But within hours of the piece’s publication online, Miller sued Grisham, alleging defamation. Through his lawyer, he denied the allegations.

According to an invitation obtained by The Washington Post, the fundraiser will take place in Alexandria, Va., on Oct. 13. News of the event was first reported by Politico.

The main hosts listed on the invitation are Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Mercedes Schlapp, the former White House director of strategic communications.

More than a dozen other Republicans, many of whom have close ties to former president Donald Trump, are also listed. They include Reps. Ronny Jackson (Tex.) and Billy Long (Mo.), former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.

One of the co-hosts, Bondi, said Wednesday that she still plans to attend the fundraiser.

“I have full faith Max Miller will be a great congressman for Ohio,” Bondi said in a text message. “I have not read Grisham’s book, nor will I, because it was intended to hurt many good people including Melania Trump.”

Bondi recently replaced former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as head of the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action super PAC, after a Trump donor accused Lewandowski of repeatedly groping her and making unwanted sexual comments at a charity event in Las Vegas. Lewandowski’s lawyer denied the allegations.

Oct. 5

 

mckayla maroney saul loeb pool reuters

U.S Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Saul Loeb/POOL via Reuters). ABC News, McKayla Maroney's gut-wrenching statement to Congress about FBI's handling of Nassar abuse, Staff edits, Sept. 15, 2021 (7:51 min. video).  "They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," she said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. reviewing earlier decision not to charge FBI agents in failed Nassar case, Devlin Barrett, Oct. 5, 2021. The Justice Department is reviewing its decision not to charge FBI agents who failed to properly investigate sex abuse allegations leveled against Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor who sexually abused his patients, including world-famous gymnasts.

FBI logoDeputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco made the announcement at a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers on the panel have sharply criticized the Justice Department for not pursuing false-statements charges against a supervisory FBI agent and his boss for what the agency’s inspector general concluded were lies to internal investigators to cover up their failures.

Monaco told the committee that the newly confirmed head of the criminal division, Kenneth Polite, “is currently reviewing this matter, including new information that has come to light.” She did not say what the new information was but said the review is being conducted with “a sense of urgency and gravity.”

Washington Post, Biles gives tearful testimony to Congress about Nassar, FBI failures

It is rare for the Justice Department to even consider reopening a case that has been closed without charges. In the case of the Nassar agents, one retired years ago; the other was fired this summer in the wake of a scathing report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz that found major missteps in the FBI’s handling of allegations against Nassar in 2015, allowing him to victimize scores more patients before he was arrested by state authorities the following year.

Simone Biles, shown in a pool photo by Saul Loeb at the hearing on Sept. 15, 2021,The Justice Department review comes less than a month after Simone Biles, shown at right in a pool photo by Saul Loeb at the hearing on Sept.15, 2021, and three other high-profile gymnasts gave emotional testimony to the Judiciary Committee about how they had been abused by Nassar and how the FBI had failed to act on the allegations.

“I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles told the committee.

More than 330 girls and women have come forward to say they were victimized by Nassar under the guise of medical treatments. He was ultimately convicted of state sex abuse and federal child pornography charges, and is serving an effective life sentence in prison.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Monaco apologized to those Nassar victimized, saying, “I am deeply sorry that in this case the victims did not receive the response or the protection that they deserved.”

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray offered a similar public apology to the gymnasts at the hearing where they appeared last month, saying: “I’m especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed, and that is inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Tuesday that Monaco had shown “profound disrespect” for the victims by declining to testify at that earlier hearing, despite being invited to appear. “I mean no disrespect, senator,” Monaco replied.

Nassar has paid little to victims from prison, while spending more on himself. The key conduct at issue in the Nassar case occurred well within the federal statute of limitations for prosecuting those involved.

 

Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I told the Trumps my relationship with a White House staffer had turned abusive. They didn’t seem to care, Stephanie Grisham, Oct. 5, 2021. Stephanie Grisham served as chief of staff to the first lady, press secretary and communications director in the Trump White House. Her book “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House” publishes Tuesday.

stephanie grisham coverAfter being by their sides for almost six years, I knew Donald and Melania Trump about as well as anyone, or so I thought. And they knew me. A hungry gossip, the president showed an ongoing interest in my relationship with my boyfriend, a fellow White House staffer, and asked intimate questions about our relationship.

He and the first lady invited us as a couple to events, with Trump conferring on us his stock compliment, “right out of central casting.” They knew when we got a dog for my birthday. They knew when we broke up.

They also knew when the relationship turned abusive — and they didn’t seem to care.

One day, while meeting with Mrs. Trump alone, she asked how I was holding up after our breakup. My eyes started to well up. I had been holding in the fact that the end of our relationship had become violent, reaching its worst point on the day I left. I told the first lady that he got physical with me.

She asked me if I had called the police and I said no, explaining that this close to the election, it wouldn’t be good to have yet another domestic abuse scandal hanging over the administration. I also had no proof. She nodded and did not push the matter further. As far as I know, she told no one.

A few weeks later, after the first presidential debate, I was with President Trump on Air Force One. Noting that my ex was also in our entourage, the president asked me if it was tough to have seen him at the debate. He then began to tell me how broken up my ex had been about the split and expressed sympathy for him.

Oct. 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Rogue Americans stashed assets offshore, eluding victims and impeding investigators, Debbie Cenziper and Will Fitzgibbon, Oct. 4, 2021. The Pee Wee football coach lives in the same nursing home as his grandmother. 

Mark Ryan, not yet 42, sits in a wheelchair, drinks from a sippy cup and gestures with the one arm he can still move freely. “I BELIEVE,” reads a plastic sign hooked to the top of a customized iPad his parents bought him early on, sometime after he settled into the sterile room with a stuffed bear and a relentless parade of sitcoms.

marc collins rector 2007 mugshotRyan was an 18-year-old athlete when he went to Hollywood and 20 when he returned home, hooked on pain pills and alcohol, and too afraid to tell his parents what had happened to him and the other young men invited to extravagant Los Angeles parties hosted by entertainment executive Marc Collins-Rector, shown at right in a 2007 mugshot.

icij logoRyan and two others eventually sued, saying they had been drugged, threatened and raped by Collins-Rector and his associates in what would become one of the largest Hollywood sex abuse scandals of the 1990s. They won a multimillion-dollar default judgment from a California court — money that would have helped pay for the care Ryan needed after seizures and a stroke, brought on by an abrupt withdrawal from the alcohol and pills, forced him into the nursing home just after his 30th birthday.

Ryan never received the money from Collins-Rector.

In 2000, while under criminal investigation, Collins-Rector fled the country. He was captured at a beach resort in Spain and returned in 2003 to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to transporting minors across state lines to engage in criminal sexual activity but disputed the civil judgment against him. He left the country again in 2007 and has not been seen publicly in years.

What the Ryan family never knew — after searching for Collins-Rector and his money — was that the elusive sex offender moved some of his assets offshore to one of the world’s most notorious tax havens.

For a fee of $500, Collins-Rector set up a trust in the Central American country of Belize through a financial and corporate services firm that grew into a one-stop shop for American clients, including at least a dozen who sheltered assets while facing criminal investigations or costly lawsuits.

Robert Durst, convicted last month for the execution-style murder of a close friend in 2000, was a client. So was a mob accomplice; a dentist charged with defrauding Medicaid; a producer of adulterated drugs; and the founder of a cruise company accused of negligence by the families of 31 sailors who drowned during a hurricane.

All were identified by The Washington Post and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) through one of the largest-ever troves of secret financial documents, known as the Pandora Papers.

The documents expose how a prolific offshore operator in Belize accepted and served suspect American clients by setting up trusts and shell companies. The records also underscore the challenges faced by government investigators probing cases of fraud, tax evasion and corruption and the struggles of victims trying to find and claim money.

Oct. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, National Women’s Soccer League calls off upcoming games amid allegations of abuse, Molly Hensley-Clancy, Oct. 1, 2021. The NWSL has recently seen allegations of sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. 

The National Women’s Soccer League on Friday called off all of its weekend games in the face of multiple reports of alleged abuse of players and amid claims that the league has systematically failed to address allegations of sexual coercion by a male coach.

After the players’ union demanded an end to “systemic abuse plaguing the NWSL” on Thursday, the NWSL announced it would suspend the matches.

“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. “I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect.”

The union issued a statement Friday noting that trauma, and saying its goal is to prioritize players’ mental health.

Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke was fired Tuesday following a league investigation into allegations of verbal and emotional abuse that were first reported in The Washington Post. On Thursday, Courage coach Paul Riley was fired following a harrowing account of multiple allegations of sexual coercion published in the Athletic. Riley denied the allegations to the Athletic.

The reporting led to a public outcry of anger and frustration from dozens of NWSL players, including stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. The Athletic reported that Riley had been dismissed from a previous team after misconduct allegations, only to be hired by another NWSL team within months.

In total, four NWSL teams have seen their male coaches leave after allegations of misconduct this summer. One coach, OL Reign’s Farid Benstiti, was asked to resign following allegations that he had spoken abusively to players, though at the time, OL Reign’s CEO, Bill Predmore, said only that he had resigned and thanked him for his contributions.

“Men, protecting men, who are abusing women,” Rapinoe said Twitter on Thursday. “Burn it all down. Let all their heads roll.”

 

September

Sept. 30

ny times logoNew York Times, A Congresswoman’s Story: Raped at 17, ‘I Chose to Have an Abortion,’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 30, 2021. After a legal setback for abortion rights, three Democrats and one Republican shared their personal stories with a House panel.

Representative Cori Bush, right, a Democrat from Missouri, is known on Capitol Hill as a nurse, a pastor, a Black Lives Matter activist and a member of a “squad” of cori bush oprogressive women lawmakers. On Thursday, she told a House panel that she is also a rape survivor who had an abortion after she was attacked on a church trip when she was 17.

Ms. Bush said she is no longer ashamed. “In the summer of 1994,” she declared, “I was raped, I became pregnant and I chose to have an abortion.”

With the right to abortion under threat after a major Supreme Court setback, Ms. Bush was one of three Democratic congresswomen who sat at a witness table to share their personal experiences with terminating a pregnancy. The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform reflected a sharp cultural divide, with Republicans accusing Democrats of “glorifying and normalizing” abortion, and Democrats making their point — that abortion is a decision best left to women and their doctors — in matter-of-fact terms.

pramila jayapal resized oRepresentative Pramila Jayapal, left, Democrat of Washington, got an abortion when she was a young mother caring for a very sick child and struggling to recover from postpartum depression so severe that she considered suicide. Her doctor told her that carrying a second child to term would be extremely risky for both her and the baby.

“I very much wanted to have more children,” she told the panel, “but I simply could not imagine going through that again.”

Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, was the first Black cheerleader in her high school and a promising student with good grades when she got pregnant before abortion was legal in the United States. Her mother sent her to a friend in Texas, who took her for a “back alley” abortion at a clinic in Mexico.

barbara lee“A lot of girls and women in my generation didn’t make it — they died from unsafe abortions,” she said.

But Representative Kat Cammack, a freshman from Florida and the lone Republican member of Congress to testify, offered a starkly different personal story, telling her colleagues that she “would not be here” if her mother, who suffered a stroke after having her first child, had not rebuffed a doctor’s advice to have an abortion.

“You can imagine the feeling, the disappointment, the struggle, the internal anguish that my mother felt,” Ms. Cammack said, adding, “She chose life. That wasn’t an easy decision for a single mom.”

The debate over abortion rights has flared up again on Capitol Hill after the Supreme Court refused earlier this month to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions. With other states rushing to enact similar restrictions, and the court, now dominated by conservatives, preparing to take up a case that could overturn the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, Democrats are making the issue a centerpiece of their campaign strategy for next year’s midterm elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Extradition hearing for Peter Nygård, fashion mogul wanted in the U.S. on sex trafficking charges, to open in Canada, Amanda Coletta, Sept. 30, 2021.He cast himself as the “quintessential self-made man,” the son of an immigrant family whose drive and vision had “created a standard of excellence” for women’s fashion while funding a life of fame and luxury.

Now Peter Peter Nygard, peter nygard 2016shown in a 2016 file photo, the Canadian retail mogul whose multimillion-dollar women’s fashion empire and jet set life imploded last year amid allegations of sex trafficking and other sexual misconduct, faces extradition to the United States to face charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Nygård in Manitoba last December at the behest of U.S. officials seeking to try him on racketeering and sex trafficking charges involving dozens of alleged victims in several countries over a quarter century. The extradition hearing is set to begin in Winnipeg on Friday.

The 80-year-old retail mogul, who founded the women’s fashion company Nygård International in 1967, denies the allegations. He was not granted bail and has been jailed since his arrest.

Nygard’s lawyers, asked to comment, responded in an email noting that the hearing Friday would be streamed with a 10-minute delay and that there would be a media availability afterward.

Nygård stepped down as chairman of his company in February 2020 after federal and local law enforcement authorities raided his firm’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan as part of an investigation into the sex trafficking allegations.

Nygård International filed for bankruptcy in Canada and in the United States the following month. At the time, the company operated around 170 stores in North America and 6,000 more shops inside department stores. It employed more than 1,400 people.

Sept. 29

washington post logoWashington Post, S.D. Gov. Kristi Noem dismisses conservative website’s claims of extramarital affair with ex-Trump adviser, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 29, 2021. South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) on Wednesday dismissed a conservative media outlet’s claim that she is having an extramarital affair with Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump adviser who is also advising Noem.

kristi noem“These rumors are total garbage and a disgusting lie,” Noem, right, said in a tweet. “These old, tired attacks on conservative women are based on a falsehood that we can’t achieve anything without a man’s help. I love Bryon. I’m proud of the God-fearing family we’ve raised together. Now I’m getting back to work.”

A conservative website, American Greatness, published a piece Tuesday claiming that, according to “multiple” sources, Noem has been having an affair with Lewandowski “for months.” The website did not identify any of the sources.

corey lewandowskiLewandowski, left, was Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign manager. He was fired by the campaign in 2016 but remains part of the former president’s inner circle and ran the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action super PAC.

Noem and Lewandowski have traveled extensively together across the country for political events, and he has promoted her to members of the media. At one event in January, they were spotted partying together late in a hotel bar.

Separately, a Trump donor is accusing Lewandowski of repeatedly groping her and making unwanted sexual comments at a charity event in Las Vegas last week.

“He repeatedly touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful,” the donor, Trashelle Odom, said in a statement provided to The Washington Post.

“Corey bragged multiple times about how powerful he is, and how he can get anyone elected, inferring he was the reason Trump became President,” she added. “Corey claimed that he controls access to the former president. He said he is in charge of the donors and the Super PAC. . . . He also made it clear that if he was crossed, he has the power to destroy anyone and ruin their lives.”

The accusations were first reported by Politico.

Late Wednesday, a spokesman for Trump said Lewandowski has been pushed out of the former president’s political operation after the allegations.

“Corey Lewandowski will be going on to other endeavors and we very much want to thank him for his service. He will no longer be associated with Trump World,” Taylor Budowich, Trump’s director of communications, wrote in a message on Twitter.

Budowich said former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi will run the pro-Trump super PAC.

John Odom, Odom’s husband, said that he wants “accountability now” from Lewandowski and that the couple is exploring their legal options “to make sure he cannot harm anyone else.”

“Corey called me on Monday evening,” John Odom said in a statement. “He sounded distraught and scared. He said he had been intoxicated. He was sorry for his actions, wanted to know how he could make it go away, and that he would do anything to make it right with Trashelle and our family.”

The Odoms’ statements were provided by a public relations person representing them. The couple themselves could not be reached for comment.

David Chesnoff, a Las Vegas-based attorney for Lewandowski, said in an email Wednesday afternoon: “Accusations and rumors appear to be morphing by the minute and we will not dignify them with a further response.”

Noem, who is considered a potential 2024 GOP vice-presidential contender, has recently come under scrutiny for a meeting she organized for her daughter and the state employee charged with leading the agency that moved to deny her application to become a certified real estate appraiser. The meeting prompted allegations of abuse of power among some state lawmakers, and South Dakota’s attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, is reviewing the matter.

Sept. 28

R. Kelly during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois (Pool photo by Antonio Perez via Getty Images).

R. Kelly during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois (Pool photo by Antonio Perez via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Black Women Around R. Kelly’s Case Feel About His Conviction, Troy Closson, Sept. 28, 2021. The case could represent a turning point for the Me Too movement, which some women felt had not focused much attention on crimes against people of color.

When the singer Sparkle testified in a Chicago courtroom 13 years ago, she offered jurors a jarring account of sexual abuse: A man seen in a video urinating on and having sex with her teenage niece was R. Kelly, one of the biggest names in R&B music.

But even after others shared similar stories during Mr. Kelly’s first criminal trial, in Chicago in 2008, jurors acquitted him of the child pornography charges against him.

And so, a decade later, when the Me Too movement’s reckoning around sexual misconduct swept the country, Sparkle said she did not feel that it represented her experience. That changed on Monday, when Mr. Kelly, on trial in New York, was convicted of all nine counts against him.

“I didn’t even know that the Me Too movement was for us, Black women,” Sparkle, whose real name is Stephanie Edwards, said in an interview after the singer’s conviction. “Back then — and still today — Black women aren’t really cared about.”

Mr. Kelly’s case has been widely viewed as a crucial moment for Me Too, serving as the first high-profile trial since the movement took hold to feature an accuser whose victims were primarily Black women.

In the days and weeks that preceded the jury’s verdict, many observers said they feared the stories from a group of Black accusers, no matter how harrowing, might be dismissed.

Instead, Mr. Kelly’s conviction on Monday was viewed by many as a powerful validation of the accounts of both those who took the stand against him and others whose stories have never been made public.

But whether Mr. Kelly’s conviction represents a broader shift toward better treatment of Black victims of sexual abuse is still unknown.

“This moment will go one of two ways,” said Mikki Kendall, an author from Chicago who has written about feminism and intersectionality. “Either we will finally say that Black women and girls deserve to be protected. Or we’re going to say again, as we have, this idea that Black girls are ‘unrapeable’ because of their skin color.”

When Tarana Burke, a Black woman, started the original iteration of “Me Too” around 2007, she hoped to use the phrase to raise awareness of sexual assault and connect victims to resources.

Sept. 27

 Federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes points to R. Kelly during closing arguments in the trial in a courtroom sketch, Sept. 22, 2021 (Jane Rosenberg for Reuters).

Federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes points to R. Kelly during closing arguments in the trial in a courtroom sketch, Sept. 22, 2021 (Jane Rosenberg for Reuters).

Huff Post, R. Kelly Found Guilty On All Counts In Sexual Abuse Trial, Alanna Vagianos and Taryn Finley, Sept. 27, 2021. This is the first time the R&B singer has been convicted for sex crimes against minors and young women.

r kelly twitterR. Kelly, right, the R&B singer who rose to fame in the 1990s, has been found guilty on all counts by a jury in the Brooklyn federal case against him for racketeering and charges relating to sex trafficking.

After nine hours of deliberation, a jury of seven men and five women found Kelly guilty on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting individuals across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. The verdict came in around 3:15 p.m. Eastern on Monday afternoon during the seventh week of the trial.

The sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Eastern on May 4, 2021.

The trial, which began mid-August, lasted six weeks. The jury heard testimony from 50 witnesses; 45 were called by the prosecution and only five were called by the defense. Out of the 45 witnesses who testified for the prosecution, 11 were accusers, six of whom testified they were underage at the time of their alleged sexual encounter with Kelly. Witnesses for the defense included a former security guard, Kelly’s accountant and an up-and-coming artist who says he worked with Kelly for over a decade.

The testimonies of the eight Jane Does and two John Does were the most memorable parts of the trial. Nearly all of the accusers described a terrifying environment of control and fear when they were in a sexual relationship with the R&B singer. Several testified that Kelly implemented strict rules that included calling him “Daddy,” subjected them to physical beatings, and controlled the clothes they wore, what they ate and where they were allowed to travel. One Jane Doe said Kelly punished her by making her smear her own feces on her face and in her mouth as he recorded her.

“He could put the fear of God in me very quickly,” one victim said of Kelly during her testimony.

Sept. 24

anita hill 2013 documentary poster

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford have a lot to talk about. A new podcast lets us listen in, Margaret Sullivan, right, Sept. 24, 2021. margaret sullivan 2015 photoTheirs is a club of two. A club that neither of them ever would have asked to join.

Thirty years ago next month, Anita Hill (shown above in a poster for a 2013 documentary) testified before the all-White, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, accusing Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her when he was her boss in two federal workplaces.

Twenty-seven years later, Christine Blasey Ford, below left, testified before the committee that another Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

christine blasey ford oath uncreditedIn both cases, the testimony riveted the nation. Hill’s was televised and seen by a huge audience. Ford’s, taking place in a thoroughly transformed media environment, was the focus of nonstop cable TV and social media coverage and partisan commentary that was as immediate as it was intense. Both Thomas and Kavanaugh denied the women’s statements, and Thomas called the committee proceedings “a high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks.”

During a recent conversation recorded for a new podcast, Hill, now 65 and a Brandeis law professor, told Ford, 54 and a psychology scholar at Stanford and Palo Alto University, that she felt a sense of overwhelming kinship as she watched the 2018 testimony — a feeling that she knew was shared by a large community of like-minded women.

“A spiritual solidarity,” Hill called it.

Their conversation is a high point in “Because of Anita,” a new four-part podcast series that debuts in October. I listened to a segment of it Thursday and found it moving, instructive and — as podcasts sometimes can be — surprisingly intimate. The two had met and spoken before but not, until now, for the public to hear.

The conversation took place on Zoom in late August with Hill and Ford in their home offices in Massachusetts and California. The podcast hosts — activist and scholar Salamishah Tillet and journalist Cindi Leive, longtime editor of Glamour magazine — were in San Diego and Brooklyn.

Hill and Ford discussed the intensity of their experiences, and how it lingered far beyond their moments in the harsh spotlight — moments remembered by many Americans as a still image of each woman with her right hand raised.

They also agreed on their motivation: that it was not, at heart, to persuade those who would vote for or against the nominees but rather, a desire to be clear and honest about their experiences — to simply say what they knew and not to be attached to the outcome.

The most obvious outcomes, of course, were similar. Thomas and Kavanaugh both were confirmed by narrowly divided Senate votes: 52 to 48, and 50 to 48, respectively.

But both Hill and Ford sound as if they have made their peace with that — and say they would do it again, though they acknowledge how much the searing experiences have changed their lives.

Sept. 23

Daily Beast, Tough-on-Crime Republican DA Charged With Ambushing, Raping Woman, Justin Rohrlich, Sept. 23, 2021. Jeffrey Lynn Thomas, Somerset County, Pennsylvania’s top cop, is now facing a slew of charges for the alleged attack.

A Republican district attorney in Pennsylvania who styled himself as a tough-on-crime prosecutor—while refusing to pursue charges against anyone cited for disregarding state mask mandates—now stands accused of violently raping a female acquaintance in her own home, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

daily beast logoSomerset County DA Jeffrey Lynn Thomas, 36, allegedly attacked the unidentified woman on Sept. 18, having first contacted her on Snapchat to say he’d be coming over in a few minutes, according to police. A criminal complaint obtained by the Somerset County, Pennsylvania Tribune-Democrat states that the woman knew Thomas in a professional capacity and that she had for years rebuffed his persistent sexual advances.

jeffrey lynn thomasThomas, right, sent the Snapchat message at around 11 p.m. last Saturday, the complaint explains. She replied that he was not welcome there, and to please stay away. Soon after, Thomas walked into the woman’s home with an armload of beer cans and handed her one, according to cops.

The woman asked Thomas to leave, but he reportedly refused and became “agitated.” After she slapped him, Thomas hit her in the face and gave her a nosebleed, the complaint states.

After the woman told Thomas again to leave, he pulled down her top, undressed himself, and raped her, according to a press release issued by the State Police.

“During the assault, Thomas grabbed her by the neck making it hard to breath [sic],” the complaint alleges.

The woman’s child was home during the attack, police said. Thomas finally left, but only after the woman promised him she wouldn’t report him to the police, according to investigators. She reported the rape to Pennsylvania State Police on Monday.

Thomas’ alleged victim told investigators that she and Thomas had smoked marijuana together prior to the attack, but the complaint did not specify whether this meant the night in question or some other time in the past. Recreational marijuana remains illegal in Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, detectives searched the woman’s home and found beer cans along with the clothing she had been wearing at the time of the alleged attack. Thomas was booked into the county jail shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday. In addition to rape, he was charged with indecent assault, strangulation, simple assault, and criminal trespass. He was “unable to post” bail of $5,000, according to court records, which Thomas’ lawyer said Thursday is no longer an issue.

 

robert anderson chart

washington post logoWashington Post, In Larry Nassar’s shadow, a larger sex abuse case at the University of Michigan, Lenny Bernstein, Sept. 23, 2021. U.S. senators listened intently last week as four world-class gymnasts told Congress of the harrowing impact of sexual abuse by former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar.

Sixty miles from Nassar’s one-time office, a similar but much larger case of sex abuse is playing out with little of the same attention. More than 950 people have come forward to accuse the late University of Michigan doctor Robert E. Anderson (shown above) of abusing them while he was on staff between 1966 and 2003, according to lawyers who represent the survivors.

That total surpasses the scale of the molestation at Michigan State, as well as similar incidents at the University of Southern California and Ohio State University. Attorneys for the University of Michigan survivors contend the allegations against Anderson constitute the largest example of sexual exploitation by one person in U.S. history.

A number of Anderson’s alleged victims, most prominently former football players, have publicly told stories of the physician fondling them and repeatedly performing unnecessary rectal and genital exams during their years at the school. As a result, his conduct over decades as the football team doctor has drawn the most attention since the story broke in February 2020, a dozen years after his death.

university michigan medical centerBut the small group of attorneys bringing the case said they also have claims spanning decades from athletes on the wrestling, basketball, track and field, hockey, swimming and tennis teams. Pilots and air traffic controllers have accused Anderson of abuse during physicals he conducted in his private practice for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Anderson, who died in 2008 without facing charges, also allegedly molested nonathlete students as a physician for the university’s health service; men who sought Vietnam War draft deferments by claiming to be gay; the estranged son of iconic football coach Bo Schembechler, who said he was violated when his father sent him to Anderson for a sports physical at the age of 10; and a former chairman of the university’s Board of Regents, who was a student at Michigan in the 1960s, according to investigative reports and public statements from survivors.

The vast majority of survivors are men, but Anderson also is accused of abusing women, including a player on the first Michigan women’s varsity tennis team in 1973, who has spoken publicly.

In public accounts and two investigative reports, the survivors said they complained to coaches, trainers and administrators, and nothing was ever done. The Washington Post contacted each of the named victims in this story or their lawyers and all affirmed their accounts.

“The university knew, the enabler, the institution — not one time, not 10 times, but knew for decades,” said Mick Grewal, who said he represents about 250 people who have reported abuse by Anderson. “ . . . How can you know this and not report this to law enforcement?”

The university has apologized for the pain survivors suffered and is in mediated talks with their attorneys about how to compensate them. It also has instituted a number of reforms aimed at preventing future abuse.

One factor that unites Anderson with Nassar and other doctors accused of abusing people on college campuses, lawyers and an expert said, is the easy access they had to a large number of young and powerless people.

“Medicine is unique among professions in that every physician has the right to say, ‘Please undress, we’re going to be alone in a room together and I’m going to touch you’,” said James DuBois, director of the Bioethics Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis, who has conducted one of the few recent reviews of physicians who commit sexual abuse. “Every physician has the means to abuse that other professionals do not.”

Such abusers prey on people they believe are least likely to report, lawyers said, including athletes required to have physical exams to keep their spots on a team.

“You’re at a very powerful institution, away from home, required to see a prominent doctor, first of your family to go to college, you’re probably under scholarship, and this doctor was able to have his way with you,” said Parker Stinar, an attorney who said he and his colleagues represent more than 200 claimants.

 

mckayla maroney saul loeb pool reuters

U.S Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Saul Loeb/POOL via Reuters).

ABC News, McKayla Maroney's gut-wrenching statement to Congress about FBI's handling of Nassar abuse, Staff edits, Sept. 15, 2021 (7:51 min. video).  "They had legal, abc news logolegitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," she said.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Two miscarriages of justice reveal a sickening disparity, Ruth Marcus, right, Sept. 20, 2021, Sept. 23 print ed. Two individuals allegedly made false ruth marcus twitter Customstatements to federal investigators. One now faces trial on a felony charge. The other does not. I defy you to read about their cases and conclude that justice is served in either instance, or that it is being applied even-handedly.

Let’s start with the person who has been let off the hook, because the decision is so infuriating and underscores so dramatically the unfairness of the other prosecution. W. Jay Abbott was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office in 2015, when it received reliable reports that USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar had sexually abused multiple gymnasts.

One of Nassar’s victims, McKayla Maroney, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week about describing how Nassar had repeatedly molested her to one of Abbott’s agents, only to have the agent reply, “Is that all?”

What happened next? For months, nothing, as far as the FBI was concerned. Abbott’s office was supposed to refer the allegations to the FBI’s Lansing, Mich., office, the city where Nassar worked. But that never happened — and Nassar went on to abuse at least 70 more young athletes until he was arrested by Michigan state police 16 months later.

During that time period, Abbott met and corresponded repeatedly with the head of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, about a tantalizing job prospect, heading up security for the entire U.S. Olympic Committee.

FBI logoWhen the Justice Department’s inspector general interviewed Abbott, since retired, about the bureau’s handling of the Nassar case, he “made multiple false statements” about both the conduct of the investigation and his job talks, in violation of the federal false statements law, the inspector general concluded in a searing report released in July.

Abbott claimed he had spoken with FBI counterparts in Detroit and Los Angeles about the Nassar allegations; both agents denied such conversations, and there was no documentation they occurred.

olympics logo 2018 winterThe inspector general “found no evidence” to support Abbott’s claims — and further concluded that “Abbott’s false statements were knowing and intentional.”

But Abbott also insisted to the inspector general that he had never applied for or taken other steps to secure the Olympics job. This was, according to the inspector general, untrue, deliberately so, and stretched across two sworn interviews, including after Abbott was confronted with evidence to the contrary.

“Abbott, by his own admission, was concerned that applying for a job with the U.S. Olympic Committee posed a conflict of interest with the FBI’s handling of the Nassar investigation, which was a high profile, sensitive matter,” the report noted. “Under this circumstance and given the risk involved, we found it highly unlikely that Abbott forgot about his ultimate decision to apply for the job.”

The inspector general asked the Justice Department’s criminal division to prosecute Abbott for false statements. It declined in September michael sussmann perkins younger2020. The lesson? You can lie to federal investigators with impunity.

The second case, with an opposite outcome, involves Michael Sussmann, right, a Washington lawyer who represented the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and a tech company executive during the 2016 election. Sussmann, a former Justice Department official with expertise in cybersecurity, sought a meeting with FBI general counsel James Baker to pass on information about digital connections between a computer linked to the Trump Organization and a Russian bank with ties to the Kremlin.

Justice Department special counsel John Durham, left, appointed by former attorney general William P. Barr to probe whether there was FBI or intelligence john durham Customcommunity wrongdoing relating to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, obtained the indictment announced last week, the second criminal charge arising from his two-year probe.

It alleges Sussmann told Baker at the meeting, on Sept. 19, 2016, that he wasn’t doing work on those allegations “for any client.” That led Baker “to understand that Sussmann was acting as a good citizen merely passing along information, not as a paid advocate or political operative,” when in fact, according to the indictment, Sussmann was acting on behalf of the tech executive and the Clinton campaign.

Sussmann’s “lie was material” — meaning that it could have affected the investigation — because it “misled” FBI officials “concerning the political nature of his work and deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis,” the indictment alleges.

As former federal prosecutor Randall D. Eliason has noted, this single false statement, before a single witness, is about as weak as a case can get. Whatever he told them, FBI officials knew full well that Sussmann represented Democrats and the Clinton campaign.

Justice Department log circularBaker didn’t take notes of the meeting. The evidence of Sussmann’s alleged misstatement, such as it is, comes from handwritten notes of the conversation made by another FBI official later that day. Sussmann also billed the meeting to the Clinton campaign, according to the indictment, an assertion his lawyers contest.

Sussmann has said he told Baker he was there on behalf of the tech client. Baker, testifying before House committee in 2018, said “I don’t remember him specifically saying that he was acting on behalf of a particular client” — a far cry from recalling a specific assertion from Sussmann that he wasn’t representing a client.

But assume that Sussmann did lie. Is there a reason to make a federal case out of it? There’s no indication, in the 27 discursive pages of the indictment, that Sussmann was knowingly trying to peddle false information. There’s no indication that the FBI, had it known the identity of Sussmann’s clients, would have proceeded much differently: it looked into the allegations and decided there wasn’t anything to them. What harm did the alleged lie cause?

Further, the Sussmann prosecution contradicts the entire predicate of Durham’s investigation. The probe was launched, more than two years ago, on the theory that the FBI was somehow hijacked by “deep state” conspirators who concocted the “Russia hoax” to prevent Donald Trump’s election. But in Durham’s retelling in the Sussmann indictment, the FBI was not a bad actor but a hapless victim of outside forces.

And consider: If the lesson of the Abbott non-prosecution is that you can repeatedly lie to federal investigators and get away with it, the lesson of the Sussmann indictment is that you bring information to the attention of federal investigators at the peril of your career and your freedom.

Where, you might ask, is Attorney General Merrick Garland in all this? In an exquisitely difficult position. Even though Durham is a Barr-appointed special counsel, Garland retains the power to supervise his investigation. But stepping in to prevent Durham from seeking this flimsy indictment risked generating a political uproar, with unsettling echoes of Barr’s heavy-handedness. Now, it is too late.

While Abbott collects his government pension, Sussmann, who has resigned from his law firm, faces ruin. These twin miscarriages of justice, each wrong on its own, are sickening when taken together.

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly’s Trial Is Captivating a Black Audience Online. Here’s Why, Troy Closson, Sept. 23, 2021. On the internet, both supporters and detractors of the singer have shown intense interest in the criminal trial in Brooklyn.

The trial of the R&B superstar R. Kelly, right, has featured some 50 witnesses across more than a month of testimony — a blizzard of sordid and sometimes grotesque r kelly twitteraccusations and counterclaims.

For help making sense of it all, hundreds of thousands of viewers have turned to YouTube, where a host who posts videos as thePLAINESTjane offers near-daily recaps that sometimes stretch 90 minutes long and include the same images and documents seen in the courtroom.

“Come on in, have a seat on my bus,” the presenter said at the outset of one recent video, sitting next to a house plant, a collage featuring a courtroom sketch of Mr. Kelly superimposed over her shoulder. “I’m going to pick you up and give you the rundown.”

The channel is just one cog in an expansive online ecosystem that has grown around Mr. Kelly as the accusations against him gained intense public attention in recent years. Now, his criminal trial in Brooklyn is at the center of a swirling social media world centered in Black communities where fierce critics of Mr. Kelly squabble with steadfast supporters, digging into details from the courtroom.

Thousand-member Facebook groups dissect PDF transcriptions of each individual witness’s testimony; accounts on Instagram post updates on the court day against colorful backgrounds; TikTok users break down the legal underpinnings of the racketeering charge against Mr. Kelly.

The online interest in Mr. Kelly’s trial stands apart from earlier high-profile cases involving rich and famous men accused of sexual misconduct and underscores the unique racial and generational dynamics at the center of the case.

The singer’s smooth melodies and charismatic persona captivated many Black households from the mid-1990s to early 2000s. And the majority of Mr. Kelly’s accusers are Black women — many of whom were adolescents or young adults when they say Mr. Kelly abused them.

“R. Kelly had a particular talent to make songs that resonated with Black audiences,” said Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of Black popular culture at Duke University. “When you think about a song like ‘Step in the Name of Love,’ that’s something you were apt to hear at a 5-year-old’s birthday party and also a 50th wedding anniversary party.”

He added: “Many Black folks grew up in a context where R. Kelly was literally the soundtrack of their lives.”

In previous high-profile Me Too cases — the downfall of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, which helped ignite a national reckoning, and the conviction of the comedian Bill Cosby that unfolded in its aftermath — most of the accusers were white women.

Sept. 22

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly Says He Won’t Testify in Trial as Closing Arguments Begin, Troy Closson, Sept. 22, 2021. A Brooklyn jury will decide whether the R&B superstar was at the center of a criminal conspiracy to abuse women and girls. Follow updates here.

r kelly twitterR. Kelly, right, manipulated not only the women and girls in his orbit, but his own employees as well for more than two decades, prosecutors told jurors at the start of their closing arguments in Mr. Kelly’s criminal trial in New York.

“For many years, what happened in the defendant’s world stayed in the defendant’s world,” Elizabeth Geddes, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the jurors in her final arguments to jurors at Federal District Court in Brooklyn. “But no longer.”

The portrayal came at the end of a five-week trial that featured nearly a dozen accusations of physical and sexual abuse of women and underage girls and boys.

Ms. Geddes homed in early in her summation on the vast circle of employees, entourage members and managers who surrounded the singer across his career. She used a large blackboard with the photos of his accusers on one side and Mr. Kelly on the other, with a network of associates surrounding him, showing jurors that they played critical roles in enabling his abuse and allowing it to persist.

“Over the past two decades, the names of the individuals have changed. But their roles have remained the same,” Ms. Geddes said. “And from the beginning, the defendant has been the leader.”

She also described a system of control that entrapped his accusers and blocked them from speaking out.

Ms. Geddes said that system included letters written by Mr. Kelly’s accusers that she said were filled with lies absolving him of crimes. The letters were locked away because he intended to use them in the future, Ms. Geddes said.

When women “crossed him” and opted to go public with their allegations, Ms. Geddes said, Mr. Kelly “used his henchmen to lodge threats and exact revenge.”

Referencing a slide show playing in the courtroom for jurors, she directed their attention to the transcript of an audio clip they had heard during the trial. In the snippet, Mr. Kelly warned any accusers who he believed had stolen from him, saying “people get murdered” for that behavior, using an expletive.

“That was a threat,” Ms. Geddes said.

The racketeering charge itself and the unusual nature of the case against Mr. Kelly, once one of pop music’s biggest stars, has been a key target for Mr. Kelly’s defense team.

But Ms. Geddes painstakingly broke down the racketeering charge the singer faces for jurors. “The law recognizes when someone commits a crime as part of a group, he’s more powerful — more dangerous,” she explained, later adding that “without his inner circle, the defendant could not have carried out the crimes he carried out for as long as he did.”

Sept. 21

gabby petito fiancé bian laundrie

Travel blogger Gabby Petito is shown with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, now missing and being sought by authorities, who describe him as a person of interest in her homicide.

washington post logoWashington Post, Autopsy scheduled on body believed to be Gabby Petito as authorities continue search for fiance, Kim Bellware and Timothy Bella, Sept. 21, 2021. An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday on the body found in Wyoming that authorities say resembles the description of Gabby Petito, as investigators continue to search for her fiance, Brian Laundrie, nearly three weeks after he returned from a cross-country van trip without her.

The Teton County coroner will determine whether the remains discovered Sunday in a remote area of Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming are those of the 22-year-old whose disappearance has attracted national attention.

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Signs of sloppiness at Christopher Wray's FBI go beyond the USA Gymnastics probe; they date at least to a botched background check on Brett Kavanaugh, Roger Shuler, Sept. 21, 2021. That's a story that seemingly will not go away. Perhaps it's driven in part by Wray's curious background, which includes alarming ties to Russian interests and right-wing bad actors who tend to have an outsized influence in Alabama's political and legal worlds.

From a Legal Schnauzer post in October 2018:

FBI director Christopher Wray has professional ties to Russia, and that likely explains a Brett Kavanaugh background check that widely is being described as a "sham," according to an Alabama political insider.

Donald Trump nominated Wray to lead the FBI in June 2017, having fired James Comey roughly one month earlier. In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Wray to lead the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Before going into public service, Wray was a partner at King and Spalding, an Atlanta-based law firm with 10 offices around the country -- plus 10 international branches, including one in Moscow. . . .

FBI logoHow sketchy was the FBI supplemental background check on Kavanaugh? It probably would have to improve to merit being called "cursory". According to one report, FBI agents interviewed nine individuals -- but they apparently did not include chief accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, nor any of her corroborating witnesses. From a report at New York magazine:

Several people who reached out to investigators to offer information said they were also left hanging. NBC News says dozens of potential witnesses have come forward to FBI field offices, “but agents have not been permitted to talk to many of them.” The New Yorker spoke to several people who were also unable to get an audience with the FBI despite their ability to corroborate [Deborah] Ramirez’s story and information refuting claims Kavanaugh made during last week’s testimony.

The FBI/Kavanaugh story continues to percolate, as evidenced by a report last week from the UK Guardian:

The FBI director, Chris Wray, is facing new scrutiny of the bureau’s handling of its 2018 background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, including its claim that the FBI lacked the authority to conduct a further investigation into the then supreme court nominee.

At the heart of the new questions surrounding Wray . . . is a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding that the FBI has recently said constrained the agency’s ability to conduct any further investigations of allegations of misconduct.

It is not clear whether that claim is accurate, based on a close reading of the MOU, which was released in court records following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The FBI was called to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation process in 2018, after he was accused of assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who knew Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. He also faced other accusations, including that he had exposed himself to a classmate at Yale called Deborah Ramirez. Kavanaugh denied both accusations.

The FBI closed its extended background check of Kavanaugh after four days and did not interview either Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh. The FBI also disclosed to the Senate this June – two years after questions were initially asked – that it had received 4,500 tips from the public during the background check and that it had shared all “relevant tips” with the White House counsel at that time. It is not clear whether those tips were ever investigated.

The FBI said in its letter to two senators – Sheldon Whitehouse and Christopher Coons – that the FBI did not have the authority under the 2010 MOU at the time to “unilaterally conduct further investigative activity absent instructions from the requesting entity”. In other words, the FBI has said it would have required explicit instructions from the Trump White House to conduct further investigation under the existing 2010 guidelines on how such investigations ought to be conducted.

Justice Department log circularBut an examination by the Guardian of the 2010 MOU, which was signed by the then attorney general, Eric Holder, and then White House counsel, Robert Bauer, does not make explicitly clear that the FBI was restricted in terms of how it would conduct its investigation.

The MOU, which was released in court documents in 2019 as part of Freedom of Information Act litigation brought against the US government by Buzzfeed, also does not explicitly state that the White House had the power to set the process parameters on any investigation.

What about the ties of Wray's former law firm to Russian mobsters, domestic mobsters, and unsavory characters in the Alabama political/legal firmament? From our 2018 post:

King and Spalding's extensive ties to Russia should raise eyebrows about the cursory supplemental background check of Brett Kavanaugh by Christopher Wray's FBI, says Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired lawyer from Rainsville, Alabama. In a Facebook post yesterday, Simpson notes King and Spalding's ties to a number of dubious characters and activities related to Russia.

They include Sergei Millian, a one-time Russian translator who has headed the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (Russia Am Cham, based in Atlanta) and reportedly was a primary source of information for the Trump-Steele dossier. In short, Millian likely has loads of blackmail-worthy dirt on Trump, and guess what law firm has represented Russia Am Cham? It's King and Spalding, of course, says Simpson.

The firm also has ties to Trump-affiliated mobster Felix Sater, and Simpson says the firm (via Russia Am Cham) was involved in a failed lottery deal -- involving oily Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and his associate, Robert Sigler -- that fleeced the late Milton McGregor, attorney Tommy Gallion, and other prominent Montgomery business types out of about $40 million. King and Spalding, says Simpson, has ties to Russian oligarch/mafia figure Oleg Derispaska, one-time Trump campaign chair and convicted felon Paul Manafort, and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions.

That is a lot ugly, nasty stuff -- threatening America's democracy, and Christopher Wray, via his association with King and Spalding, is tied to all of it. Writes Simpson:

FBI director Christopher Wray should be forced to resign over [the Kavanaugh supplemental background check]. It was Wray's firm, King and Spalding, that used to host the Russia Am Cham conferences for Oleg Deripaska, Mr Millian, and Mr. Sater -- the Riley/Sessions Gang attended when they beat Milton McGregor and his buddies out of $40 million for a fake Russian lottery.

Wray's firm represents the Russian Oil and Gas Business firm that Vladimir Putin directs. Also, Christopher Wray was a Yale Law School graduate, just like Kavanaugh, and has been buddies with the Kavanaugh, Rove, and Sessions crowd for years.

The FBI's Kavanaugh background check is just a report done by a member of the Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump Russian Mafia. I tried to say last week it would be bullshit, due to Wray's ties to the Russian Mafia. His old firm is a big part of Putin's legal team. Until we as a country crush the New York/Alabama/GOP Russian Mafia, we are going to continue seeing this level of corruption.

washington post logoWashington Post, Women within the Southern Baptist Convention allege they were sexually abused and the church covered it up, Megan Botel, Sept. 21, 2021. An investigation of the church’s handling of allegations is moving forward. Women have been telling their stories for years.

Tens of thousands gathered in June at the Music City Center in Nashville for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual conference. For the many women who have been speaking out about sexual assault within the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, the conference marked a long-awaited change of course: The Southern Baptist Convention nearly unanimously approved a third-party audit of sexual abuse allegations within its more than 47,000 churches. It also authorized an investigation into a suspected widespread coverup by the Executive Committee.

This week, Southern Baptist executives reaffirmed the probe into the church’s handling of sex abuse allegations, and a vote on whether it’ll waive attorney-client privilege for the purposes of the investigation is expected.

These developments come after a landmark investigation in 2019 by the Houston Chronicle revealed that more than 250 pastors and church leaders in the SBC had been charged with sex crimes in the past 20 years, affecting more than 700 victims. Overwhelmingly, the victims were children. Most of them were girls.

[ Probe of Southern Baptist sex abuse response moves forward]

The persistence of sexual abuse among conservative evangelical denominations like the SBC is rooted both in theology and in culture, according to Diane Winston, a religion and media professor at the University of Southern California. Bound by the ideals of male headship and extreme sexual purity, she said, evangelical men in power are often held even less accountable than men in other institutions.

For years, Southern Baptist delegates resisted reform. They rejected proposals to track predators in SBC churches and to investigate survivors’ allegations. But the decision at its June conference was a marked change in course.

“All these survivors have been telling their stories for years now,” said Grant Gaines, a Southern Baptist pastor in Murfreesboro, Tenn., who raised the motion for the audit. “Now, let’s try to right those wrongs so we can move forward.”

[ Southern Baptist leaders called Kamala Harris a ‘Jezebel.’ That’s not just insulting, it’s dangerous, experts say.]

Here are the stories of three women who allege that the Southern Baptist Convention failed to protect them from abuse. Two of them are sisters who both say their father, a Southern Baptist minister, abused them for years. Another woman says she was assaulted by her youth pastor more than two decades ago.

washington post logoWashington Post, Imam charged with sexually assaulting girl who sought his help, police say, Justin Jouvenal, Sept. 21, 2021. An imam from an Annandale mosque has been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting an underage girl who sought his help in 2015, Fairfax County police said Tuesday.

Said Shirzadi, 36, of Maryland, is facing one count of indecent liberties by a custodian after the victim disclosed the alleged unlawful contact in May and detectives launched an investigation, police said.

Sept. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How Trump mobilized women — including me, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 20, 2021. This essay was adapted from the book “Resistance: jennifer rubin new headshotHow Women Saved Democracy from Donald Trump” by Jennifer Rubin, shown below at left and to be published this week by William Morrow/HarperCollins.

Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 came as a shock to Republican-leaning women like me who had crossed party lines to vote for Hillary Clinton.

I had always voted Republican for president — from my first vote, for Ronald Reagan, to my last, for Mitt Romney. I admired mainstream Republicans who were dedicated to victory in the Cold War. I looked to free markets for expanded economic opportunity and embraced free trade and robust legal immigration.

If I differed with “movement conservatives” on some issues, I appreciated their preference for incrementalism and resistance to allowing centralized power to bigfoot the “laboratories of democracy.” I shared their wariness that the executive branch had aggrandized power at the expense of Congress. And I held the deep conviction that character matters in leaders, that public virtue is not an oxymoron and that truth is not relative.

jennifer rubin book resistanceGiven that I actually believed in these things, I watched in horror in 2016 as Republicans embraced a racist bully bent on undermining our democracy and promoting White Christians’ quest for political dominance. I witnessed one conservative “intellectual” and “respectable” publication after another deny, then rationalize, then defend and then laud a detestable figure who repudiated principles and positions that once animated them.

I saw social conservatives who demonized Bill Clinton swoon at the feet of a serial liar, adulterer and racist whose cruelty became a central feature of his presidency. Republicans who once insisted character was a critical factor in selecting leaders seemed almost giddy when Trump unleashed his personal viciousness on their progressive opponents.

For months, I harbored some hope that Republicans would come to their senses and deny Trump the nomination. That fantasy faded with each primary victory. With no hesitation, I concluded I could not remain in a party that embraced a character so at odds with American (let alone conservative) values. In May 2016, I wrote a column “breaking up” with the GOP. I wrote it because I was still “a believer in America’s ability and obligation to do good in the world; in the wonders of the free market — including free trade and legal immigration; in limited but energetic government (although not all centralized at the federal level); and in the rule of law and individual rights” and I could no longer remain in a party warped by Trumpism. I took a step that permanently severed my bonds with many past allies.

leon black jeffrey epstein

Leon Black, left, CEO and co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein (file photos).

Vanity Fair, Billionaire Leon Black Allegedly Raped a Woman in Epstein’s New York Mansion, New Legal Documents Claim, Gabriel Sherman, Sept. 20, 2021. The woman, identified in the documents as “Jane Doe,” says Black brutally assaulted her in the third-floor massage room of Jeffrey Epstein’s townhouse in 2002. “Complete fiction,” says Black’s spokesperson.

This time last year, Leon Black, the then CEO and cofounder of private-equity giant Apollo Global Management, was one of the most powerful men on Wall Street and a pillar of New York society. The then 69-year-old billionaire was board chairman of the Museum of Modern Art, a trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Today, in new court documents, a former model is accusing Black of violently raping her at Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in 2002.

The woman, identified in the documents as “Jane Doe,” says Epstein arranged for her to give a $300 massage to Black when she was a financially struggling single mother living in New Jersey. But instead, she alleges, Black brutally assaulted her shortly after they entered the massage room on the third floor of Epstein’s mansion. A number of weeks later, she claims, Black paid her $5,000 cash to “help with her credit card debt.” The suit says Doe didn’t report the rape at the time because a friend warned her no one would believe her.

The harrowing new allegation is included in documents filed today in New York Supreme Court by a former Russian model named Guzel Ganieva. In June, Ganieva sued Black for defamation after Black publicly denied Ganieva’s claims that Black “sexually harassed and abused” her. Ganieva’s lawsuit included allegations that linked Black to Epstein’s sex trafficking ring for the first time.

On September 8, Black’s lawyers filed a 72-page answer to Ganieva’s suit that vehemently denied her allegations, including that Black trafficked Ganieva to Palm Beach to have sex with Epstein. Black’s filing stated that Black had irrefutable evidence that bolstered his denial, including extensive correspondence and flight records; third-party testimony from Epstein assistant Sarah Kellen; and an alleged audio recording in which Ganieva denied ever meeting Epstein. “While a lurid potboiler starring Jeffrey Epstein may be good for grabbing tabloid headlines, the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence in this case betrays the utter falsity of these allegations,” Black’s court filing said.

Black has been on a downward spiral since January, when he announced he would resign as CEO of Apollo. An investigation commissioned by Apollo’s board revealed that Black had paid Epstein $158 million for “tax advice” between 2012 and 2017—after Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. The consensus on Wall Street was that it was a preposterous sum to pay for even the most sophisticated estate planning.

ap logoAssociated Press via Yahoo News, Michigan rep to fellow lawmaker: I hope 'your car explodes,' Staff Report, Sept. 20, 2021. A Michigan lawmaker told another lawmaker that he hoped her “car explodes on the way in,” according to text messages filed in court to support a request for a personal protection order.

“You’re truly the worst human being I’ve ever met. I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Just a parasite,” Rep. Steve Marino told Rep. Mari Manoogian.

Marino, a Macomb County Republican, and Manoogian, an Oakland County Democrat, had a personal relationship that ended more than a year ago.

Manoogian, 29, obtained a protection order last week from a judge, a few days after Marino, 32, was removed from House committees for alleged abuse. State police are investigating.

There was no indication in the court file when the text messages were written, The Detroit News reported.
Related video: Two teens charged after making false threats at high schools
Scroll back up to restore default view.

Marino said he hoped Manoogian’s “car explodes on the way in” and warned her to “hide on the House floor” in a series of texts in which they also discussed issues being handled by a state House committee.

“After trying to ignore Steve’s threats and harassment for 21 months, and begging him to stop texting me in this harassing manner countless times, I had no choice but to report his abuse to my Democratic leader,” Manoogian said in a court filing.

Marino said he's a victim of “character assassination.” His attorney, Mike Rataj, said they would challenge the protection order.

“These statements are so out of context, and we’re simply going to move to set it aside,” he said.

The order could conflict with Marino's ability to vote on the House floor if Manoogian is present. Lawmakers will be in Capitol on Tuesday.

 

Sept. 15

mckayla maroney saul loeb pool reuters

U.S Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Saul Loeb/POOL via Reuters).

ABC News, McKayla Maroney's gut-wrenching statement to Congress about FBI's handling of Nassar abuse, Staff edits, Sept. 15, 2021 (7:51 min. video).  "They had legal, abc news logolegitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," she said.

Introduction: Gymnast McKayla Maroney testified to Congress about the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar case. Nassar, a former doctor, was sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse of hundreds of women and girls. Maroney, a 2012 Olympic medalist, has said Nassar repeatedly abused her. The Justice Department's inspector general said in a report the FBI's investigation included major missteps. This is a transcript of Maroney's opening statement to Congress.

Good morning. Thank you Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley and members of the Judiciary Committee for inviting me to speak today.

As most of you are probably aware, I was molested by the U.S. Gymnastics national team and Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar. In actuality he turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor.

What I'm trying to bring to your attention today is something incredibly disturbing and illegal. After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said.

After reading the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) report, I was shocked and deeply disappointed at this narrative they chose to fabricate. They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me, but countless others.

My story is one in which special agent in charge Jay Abbott and his subordinates did not want you to hear, and it's time that I tell you.

In the summer of 2015, like I said, I was scheduled to speak to the FBI about my abuse with Larry Nassar over the phone. I was too sick to go meet with anyone in person, and talking about this abuse would give me PTSD for days, but I chose to try to speak about it to try to make a difference and protect others.

I remember sitting on my bedroom floor for nearly three hours as I told them what happened to me. I hadn't even told my own mother about these facts, but I thought as uncomfortable and as hard as it was to tell my story, I was going to make a difference and hopefully protecting others from the same abuse.

I answered all of their questions honestly and clearly, and I disclosed all of my molestations I had endured by Nassar to them in extreme detail.

They told me to start from the beginning. I told them about the sport of gymnastics, how you make the national team and how I came to meet Larry Nassar when I was 13 at a Texas camp. I told them that the first thing Larry Nassar ever said to me was to change into shorts with no underwear because that would make it easier for him to work on me, and within minutes, he had his fingers in my vagina.

The FBI then immediately asked, "Did he insert his fingers into your rectum?"

I said, "No, he never did."

They asked if he used gloves.

I said, "No, he never did."

They asked if this treatment ever helped me.

I said, "No, it never did. This treatment was 100% abuse and never gave me any relief."

I then told the FBI about Tokyo, the day he gave me a sleeping pill for the plane ride to then work on me later that night. That evening, I was naked, completely alone, with him on top of me molesting me for hours. I told them I thought I was going to die that night because there was no way that he would let me go. But he did. I told them I walked the halls of Tokyo hotel at 2 a.m., at only 15 years old.

I began crying at the memory over the phone, and there was just dead silence. I was so shocked at the agent's silence and disregard for my trauma.

After that minute of silence he asked, "Is that all?"

Those words in itself was one of the worst moments of this entire process for me. To have my abuse be minimized and disregarded by the people who were supposed to protect me, just to feel like my abuse was not enough.

But the truth is my abuse was enough, and they wanted to cover it up. USA Gymnastics in concert with the FBI and the Olympic Committee were working together to conceal that Larry Nassar was a predator.

I then proceeded to tell them about London and how he'd sign me up last on his sheet so he could molest me for hours twice a day. I told them how he molested me right before I won my team gold medal, how he gave me presents, bought me caramel macchiatos and bread when I was hungry. I even sent them screenshots of Nassar's last text to me, which was, "McKayla, I love how you see the world with rose-colored glasses. I hope you continue to do so."

This was very clear, cookie-cutter pedophilia and abuse. And this is important because I told the FBI all of this and they chose to falsify my report and to not only minimize my abuse but silence me yet again.

I thought given the severity of the situation that they would act quickly for the sake of protecting other girls. But instead, it took them 14 months to report anything when Larry Nassar, in my opinion, should have been in jail that day. The FBI, USOC and USAG sat idly by as dozens of girls and women continued to be molested by Larry Nassar.

According to the OIG report, about 14 months after I disclosed my abuse to the FBI -- nearly a year and a half later -- the FBI agent who interviewed me in 2015 decided to write down my statement, a statement that the OIG report determined to be materially false.

Let's be honest: by not taking immediate action from my report, they allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year, and this inaction directly allowed Nassar's abuse to continue.

What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?

They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they're not going to protect me, I want to know, who are they trying to protect?

What's even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself.

Yet no recourse has been taken against them -- the Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why? Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco couldn't even bring herself to be here today, and it is the Department of Justice's job to hold them accountable.

I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough, and we deserve justice.

These individuals clearly violated policies and were negligent in executing their duties, and in doing so, more girls were abused by Larry Nassar for over a year.

To not indict these agents is disservice to me and my teammates; it is a disservice to the system, which was built to protect all of us from abuse; it was a disservice to every victim who suffered needlessly at the hands of Larry Nassar after I spoke up.

Why are public servants whose job is to protect getting away with this? This is not justice. Enough is enough. Today, I ask you all to hear my voice.

I ask you, please, do all that is in your power to ensure that these individuals are held responsible and accountable for ignoring my initial report, for lying about my initial report and for covering up for a child molester.

In closing, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the United States Senate, a very powerful institution that from the very beginning has fought for us rather than against us. Thank you and I welcome any questions.

 

larry nassar gymnastics plea

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI fires agent who failed to pursue tips about sex abuse by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, Devlin Barrett, Sept. 15, 2021 (print ed.). An FBI agent accused of failing to properly investigate former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar — and lying about it later — has been fired by the FBI, days before a high-stakes public hearing into the bureau’s flawed investigation of the child sex-abuse case involving Simone Biles and other world-famous gymnasts.

Michael Langeman, who as a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s Indianapolis office interviewed gymnast McKayla Maroney in 2015 about her alleged abuse at the hands of Nassar, lost his job last week, two people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because FBI logothey were not authorized to discuss personnel matters.

A July report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz harshly criticized Langeman — without naming him — as well as his former boss, Jay Abbott, for their handling of the Nassar case, saying the FBI failed to pursue it and then lied to inspector general investigators when confronted with those failures.

IG report: FBI failed to pursue Nassar sex abuse allegations

At the time, officials said Langeman had been removed from the duties of an FBI agent — a move often taken before the bureau fires someone. FBI firings are relatively rare; most investigators facing serious discipline choose to retire or resign before they can be terminated.

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly Pressed Victims to Write Letters Absolving Him, Prosecutors Say, Emily Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. Many of Kelly’s accusers say he pressured them to write letters that said he was innocent of the sexual abuse that they now say he committed.

r kelly twitterFive months after R. Kelly’s 2019 arrest, federal agents searching a locked safe in a Chicago storage facility discovered a stack of the singer’s personal papers in protective sleeves. Among them: a seven-page handwritten letter from a woman who began living with Mr. Kelly when she was 17.

Calling Mr. Kelly, right, a “great man,” the woman wrote: “At the age of 17 I never had sex with Robert Kelly,” then proceeded to tick off a list of specific sex acts that she said she had not participated in with the R&B superstar.

But less than two years later, when the woman who had written the letter testified under a pseudonym during Mr. Kelly’s federal trial in Brooklyn, she said she had experienced coerced and recorded sexual encounters with the singer starting when she was 17. He hit her often, she said, and forced her to abort a pregnancy.

The letters that investigators found, she said, had been filled with lies, written under pressure from Mr. Kelly in an effort to conceal his abuse.

Again and again during Mr. Kelly’s trial in Brooklyn, women who have accused him of abuse have shared the same curious detail: While they were sexually involved with the singer, they have testified, he had them prepare letters that appeared designed to exonerate him from precisely the accusations they are now leveling against him.

Mr. Kelly, who has been trailed by sexual misconduct accusations for years, appeared to be attempting to ward off prosecution, or laying the foundation for an eventual defense. Instead, the letters have been presented by prosecutors as evidence of coercion and manipulation that even suggest he long knew his activities could land him behind bars.

Every letter introduced by prosecutors at trial came from Mr. Kelly’s own collection, discovered in the storage facility and his Chicago apartment, signed by women who now are at the heart of the case against him.

Sept. 14

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's involvement with Epstein reflects on a past littered with ties to pedophiles, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Sept. 14, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2021. According to a new book by Donald Trump biographer Michael Wolff, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon coached the late pedophile and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein for a planned CBS "60 Minutes" interview in the months prior to Epstein's arrest by federal authorities in 2019.

According to Wolff's book, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned," Bannon conducted 15 hours of practice interviews with Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse [known as the Wexner Mansion, named for Epstein's benefactor Leslie Wexner, the clothing retailing mogul and shown above in a WMR graphic].

We have previously reported that Epstein's New York residence was the scene of the 1994 rape of two girls, one 12 and the other 13, by Epstein and Trump. Bannon has, for quite some time, been under our radar for his past association with pedophiles. In 2005, Bannon was affiliated with a Hong Kong-based company alexander acosta o cropped Customcalled Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) [whose silent partner included Marc Collins-Rector].

There is a common thread that extends far and wide within Trump's circle of friends and associates. U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta, right, whom Trump named as his Labor Secretary, the government's chief monitor for underage sex trafficking, was more interested in burying the criminal activities of pedophiles like Epstein, Trump, and Rector than in protecting children from predators with large bank accounts.

Sept. 12

Police Officer Heather Weyker in 2016 (St. Paul, MN Pioneer Press photo).

Police Officer Heather Weyker in 2016 (St. Paul, MN Pioneer Press photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: If the Police Lie, Should They Be Held Liable? Often the Answer Is No, Shaila Dewan, Sept. 12, 2021. Federal agents and police officers are often immune from lawsuits, even for serious violations. The Supreme Court is being asked to re-evaluate that.

In 2010, Officer Heather Weyker of the St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota had the biggest case of her career: a child sex-trafficking ring said to have spanned four states and involved girls as young as 12. Thirty people, almost all of them Somali refugees, were charged and sent to jail, many of them for years.

Then the case fell apart. It turned out, the trial judge found, that Officer Weyker had fabricated or misstated facts, lied to a grand jury and lied during a detention hearing. When three young women unwittingly got in the way of her investigation, according to their court filings, she had them locked up on false charges.

“She took my life away,” said one of the women, Hamdi Mohamud, who was a senior in high school at the time.

But there is little Ms. Mohamud can do. For decades, the Supreme Court and Congress have declined to close the many legal loopholes, like qualified immunity, that protect the police from accountability. Now legal advocates say that an increasingly conservative Supreme Court has emboldened lower courts to close off the few avenues that plaintiffs once had to seek redress.

“If a federal law enforcement officer lies, manipulates witnesses, and falsifies evidence, should the officer be liable for damages?” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit wrote of Officer Weyker, whose investigation ultimately resulted in no convictions. The answer was no.

More than 20 civil lawsuits have been filed against Officer Weyker, a former vice officer who is still the subject of an internal department investigation. Some of the suits failed because she was granted qualified immunity, a doctrine created by the courts that shields officers from lawsuits unless they violate a “clearly established” right.

In others, the courts found that if the facts before them were to be believed, she had indeed violated people’s rights. But she was shielded by an even more robust immunity offered to federal law enforcement officers — even though she is not one.

The protection extends not just to federal agents but to state and local police officers who, like Officer Weyker, serve on one or another of the numerous joint task forces that bring state, local and federal agents together to fight problems like terrorism, gang violence or human trafficking.

Federal law allows state and local officers, but not federal agents, to be sued for rights violations, even when their actions are the same. That is why a federal judge recently told the Black Lives Matter organization that it could sue the local — but not the federal — police officers who violently cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in Washington in June 2020.

Sept. 11

Baltimore Sun, He swallowed the the evidence, then as FBI went to arrest him in case of illicit images of a child, Caroline County judge killed himself, Justin Fenton, jonathan newellSept. 11, 2021. An Eastern Shore judge, who had been on a leave of absence for more than a month amid an investigation into illicit images of children, took his own life Friday morning as federal agents moved in to arrest him.

Judge Jonathan G. Newell, 50, right, was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m. from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced. A judge since 2016 and before that Caroline County’s top prosecutor for more than a decade, he was to be taken into custody on federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child, prosecutors said.

A boy that Newell took on a hunting trip on Hoopers Island discovered a hidden camera in the bathroom on July 23, and his parents reported it to police, which The Sun reported last week. When confronted by investigators, Newell is believed to have chewed up and swallowed a camera memory card, authorities said in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday.

A neighbor of Newell posted pictures on Facebook saying the FBI was outside his Henderson, Md. home asking him to come out over a loudspeaker. The neighbor, Kimberly Keith, said that she heard flash bangs and what she believed to be gunshots, and later an ambulance.

FBI logoThe FBI interviewed several young males, who said they had been to the hunting lodge with Newell and that while in the bathroom, Newell checked their bodies for ticks, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court and unsealed Friday following his death.

“At least two of the males stated they were naked when Newell checked them for ticks — one stated that he moved his own genitalia for Newell to look for ticks, and the other initially did not recall if Newell touched his genitalia, but later stated that Newell once or twice moved the minor’s genitalia to look for ticks,” FBI Special Agent Rachel Corn wrote in the criminal complaint.

Authorities searched Newell’s home, truck and judicial office, and located a hard drive in his den that they said contained numerous videos of young men showering. Newell can be seen on the footage setting the camera up, the FBI said. In one video clip, he can be seen searching a young man’s naked body for ticks.

When confronted by authorities, Newell denied knowledge of a camera, and asked if he could plug his phone into a charger in another room and make some calls. They saw him reach down multiple times, but believed he was holding the phone charger into an outlet. A few moments later, the investigator observed Newell’s right hand closed in a fist and saw him place his fist to his mouth.

“The investigator heard a loud, distinguishable, ‘crunch,’ sound from the area of Newell’s mouth. After another minute or two, the investigator heard the same ‘crunch’ again from Newell’s mouth, followed by Newell immediately reaching for and drinking from a cup located on his dresser,” the FBI wrote in charging documents.

They took him to a hospital and obtained a warrant to have a CT scan performed, which revealed a “foreign object” had been ingested. The SD card from the camera discovered by the boy was missing, and the FBI believes Newell chewed it up and swallowed it.

republican elephant logoNewell, a Republican, has been Caroline County’s only Circuit Court judge, earning $174,433 annually. The county, population 33,000, also has an appointed family magistrate judge, and civil case examiners.

Newell began his law career as a public defender in 1999, then became the deputy state’s attorney for Kent County. He held both positions for two years each. He was elected state’s attorney for Caroline County in 2003, a position he held until 2016 when Gov. Larry Hogan appointed him to be a judge. He retained that position in 2018 and was serving a 15-year term.

Keith, Newell’s neighbor, said rumors about the ongoing investigation were “very well known around here.” Before the investigation, Keith said she found Newell’s Facebook posts to be “very odd.”

“All he ever posted on Facebook was about boys,” she said.

Sept. 9

ed henry former chief white house correspondent

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Ex-Fox News Anchor Ed Henry Must Face Sex Trafficking Suit, as Judge Advances Multiple Claims Against Him and Network, Adam Klasfeld, Sept. 9, 2021. Ex-Fox News anchor Ed Henry (shown above in a file photo) cannot dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of sex trafficking, as a federal judge advanced several claims against him and the network in a ruling on Thursday.

The developments came in a lawsuit filed by ex-associate producer Jennifer Eckhart roughly a year ago, which opened with a “Trigger Warning” cautioning readers with blaring red text in block capital letters that the complaint contained “Highly Graphic Information of a Sexual Nature, Including Sexual Assault.”

“She asserts that [Henry] is liable for sex trafficking because she says he used empty promises of career advancement to defraud her into coming to his hotel room, then used force to cause her to have sexual intercourse with him,” U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams summarized in a 52-page opinion and order.

The judge, who is the sister of Law&Crime’s founder Dan Abrams, noted that Eckhart’s allegations are not what traditionally comes to mind when the public thinks of the statute.

fox news logo Small“To be sure, this is not a conventional claim of sex trafficking,” the judge wrote. “Eckhart has not alleged, for example, that Henry forced her into prostitution or sexual slavery.”

During oral arguments in July, Eckhart’s lawyer Michael John Willemin described Henry’s conduct as “Weinstein-esque, but worse.”

“He hit her,” Willemin said, referring to Henry and his client. “He handcuffed her. He bruised her up. He called her a ‘whore.’ He told her she doesn’t have a choice.”

Ultimately, Judge Abrams found that Eckhart’s allegation fell under the “relatively broad language of the applicable statute,” classifying sex trafficking as the use of “force” or “fraud” to cause a person to “engage in a sex act” for a “thing of value.”

The judge also advanced multiple harassment-related counts against Fox News, though not the sex-trafficking one.

“At this juncture, the Court concludes that Eckhart has plausibly alleged that the network knew or should have known about Henry’s sexually harassing behavior but not necessarily the specific conduct that amounts to sex trafficking,” Judge Abrams found.

Eckhart’s lawyer said he and his client are “very pleased with the Court’s decision.”

“Neither Fox News nor Ed Henry succeeded in their early attempts to escape liability as to Ms. Eckhart’s allegations of rape, sexual assault and unlawful termination,” Willemin told Law&Crime in an email.

Sept. 8

Anton

Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, shown above in a screenshot from Fox News, has been Fox News pundit and GOP strategist who recently worked on the 2020 campaign for Republican candidate Lacy Johnson in Minneapolis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Teen suing GOP donor claims he offered $1,000 in hush money after alleged sex-trafficking crime, lawsuit says, Julian Mark, Sept 8, 2021 (print ed.). By all appearances, Anton “Tony” Lazzaro was living the dream. The 30-year-old political strategist, self-described entrepreneur and prominent donor to Minnesota Republicans posed in photos alongside famous tony lazarro djtGOP figures like Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former president Donald Trump.

He also posted photos of his lavish lifestyle — sitting atop a private jet, putting gas in his red Ferrari and posing shirtless with wads of $100 bills.

Then, on Aug. 12, federal agents arrested Lazzaro on charges that he recruited minors for sex. Arrested alongside Lazzaro was 19-year-old Gisela Castro Medina, a University of St. Thomas student who a grand jury indictment alleges trafficked the minors with Lazzaro. Through his lawyer, Lazzaro has denied the allegations.

djt maga hatNow, an alleged victim is suing the embattled politico, claiming in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Medina lured her into having sex with Lazzaro when she was 16. The lawsuit also claims that Lazzaro hired lawyers to offer the alleged victim and her family $1,000 for the girl’s silence.

The lawyer representing Lazzaro in the criminal case did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday, and court records do not list an attorney for Medina.

Before his arrest, Lazzaro was active in Minnesota politics. He operated a political action committee called Big Tent Republicans, whose stated goal is “broadening the appeal of the Republican Party,” according to Lazzaro’s website. Lazzaro has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns and political committees, the Star Tribune reported.

fox news logo SmallYet while Lazzaro pursued his political ambitions, prosecutors say he conspired with Medina to recruit and solicit sex from six minors. The abuse allegedly took place between May 2020 and December 2020.

It is unclear whether the alleged victim who filed the lawsuit is connected to the indictment, which offers few details about the federal investigation into Lazzaro. But her account is the first to publicly detail how Lazzaro and Medina allegedly lured a minor during that same time period.

According to the lawsuit, Lazzaro met Medina on a “sugar dating” website, where wealthy people meet younger people willing to exchange companionship for financial support. In 2020, Lazzaro allegedly gave Medina “money and gifts” to help him find underage women for sex, the lawsuit says. In May 2020, the lawsuit alleges, Medina began grooming the plaintiff, whom Medina had met two years before. Medina allegedly introduced the 16-year-old to Lazzaro, whom she portrayed as a “powerful, prominent, and wealthy businessman and political figure,” according to the lawsuit.

The father declined the offer and contacted law enforcement.

The allegations have roiled the state’s GOP over the past month, and many Republicans have attempted to distance themselves from Lazzaro. Multiple state legislators have donated Lazzaro’s contributions and publicly denounced him.

Lazzaro’s arrest also led to the ouster of Jennifer Carnahan, the state’s GOP chair, whose close ties to Lazzaro invited wider criticism of her leadership. She denied knowing about the allegations being leveled at Lazzaro.

“I found out when you guys found out,” she said, according to WCCO. “I was shocked and disgusted. I think Mr. Lazzaro is going to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

keith raniere nxivmny times logoNew York Times, Sex Cult Leader’s Top Deputy Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison, Colin Moynihan, Sept. 8, 2021. Nancy Salzman, the Nxivm “prefect,” left 20 years of “trauma and destruction” in her wake, a judge said on Wednesday.

For 20 years, Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere were business partners and allies who promised to improve people’s lives.

They led the self-help organization that they co-founded in the 1990s as it grew into the cultlike group Nxivm, and when it fell apart in 2018, Ms. Salzman and Mr. Raniere became co-defendants, accused of running a criminal enterprise that subjected women to sexual abuse.

Mr. Raniere was convicted on several charges and sentenced to 120 years in prison; Ms. Salzman pleaded guilty to a single count of racketeering conspiracy, and former Nxivm members have described her as an enabler who made Mr. Raniere’s abuse possible.

But as Ms. Salzman’s sentencing hearing approached, she sought to publicly distance herself from Mr. Raniere. In a letter to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, Ms. Salzman’s lawyers portrayed her as Mr. Raniere’s dupe, writing that she had been “fooled, controlled, humiliated, and ultimately led to engage in criminal conduct by an egotistical, self-important, sex fiend.”

But Judge Garaufis did not appear to be persuaded, and on Wednesday Ms. Salzman was sentenced to 42 months in prison — slightly more than the sentence prosecutors had sought.

Before being sentenced, Ms. Salzman made a statement to the court in which she said that under Mr. Raniere’s influence, she had begun to “rationalize and overlook the wrongdoing around me.”

“I apologize to everyone I hurt, intentionally and not,” she added. “I don’t know that I can ever forgive myself.”

Judge Garaufis acknowledged that Ms. Salzman had been the first of Mr. Raniere’s co-defendants to plead guilty. But he also said that she had shared power with Mr. Raniere, facilitated his crimes and betrayed and harmed others.

“You positioned yourself alongside Mr. Raniere atop the Nxivm pyramid,” he said, adding: “In 20 years at Mr. Raniere’s side, you left trauma and destruction in your wake.”

In the more than two years since her guilty plea, Ms. Salzman had largely escaped the attention paid to co-defendants like the liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, who refused to disavow Mr. Raniere, or Allison Mack, who was described as having inducted women into a clandestine group of “slaves,” some of whom were directed to “seduce” Mr. Raniere and branded with his initials.

But as Ms. Salzman’s sentencing approached, former Nxivm members began speaking out. They described her as indispensable to Mr. Raniere’s control of the group and said she had played a central part in crafting his philosophical ideas into teachings that spread Nxivm’s code to followers.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: OnlyFans Is Not a Safe Platform for ‘Sex Work.’ It’s a Pimp, Catherine MacKinnon (lawyer, scholar, writer, teacher and activist. She teaches law at the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School and works for sexually violated people around the globe), Sept. 8, 2021 (print ed.).

We are living in the world pornography has made. For more than three decades, researchers have documented that it desensitizes consumers to violence and spreads rape myths and other lies about women’s sexuality. In doing so, it normalizes itself, becoming ever more pervasive, intrusive and dangerous, surrounding us ever more intimately, grooming the culture so that it becomes hard even to recognize its harms.

One measure of this success is the media’s increasing insistence on referring to people used in prostitution and pornography as “sex workers.” What is being done to them is neither sex, in the sense of intimacy and mutuality, nor work, in the sense of productivity and dignity. Survivors of prostitution consider it “serial rape,” so they regard the term “sex work” as gaslighting. “When the ‘job’ of prostitution is exposed, any similarity to legitimate work is shattered,” write two survivors, Evelina Giobbe and Vednita Carter. “Put simply, whether you’re a ‘high-class’ call girl or a street walkin’ ho, when you’re on a ‘date’ you gotta get on your knees or lay on your back and let that man use your body any way he wants to. That’s what he pays for. Pretending prostitution is a job like any other job would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.”

“Sex work” implies that prostituted people really want to do what they have virtually no choice in doing. That their poverty, homelessness, prior sexual abuse as children, subjection to racism, exclusion from gainful occupations or unequal pay plays no role. That they are who the pornography says they are, valuable only for use in it.

Pornography’s power became clear once again last month, when OnlyFans, the London-based subscription service, announced that it would ban the “sexually explicit” from its platform, before abruptly reversing course amid criticism. “OnlyFans has been celebrated for giving adult entertainers and sex workers a safe place to do their jobs,” Bloomberg News observed. According to the A.C.L.U., a longtime defender of pornography, “When tech platforms like OnlyFans see themselves as arbiters of acceptable cyber speech and activity, they stigmatize sex work, making workers less safe.” On the contrary, it is the sex industry that makes women unsafe. Legitimizing sexual abuse as a job makes webcamming sites like OnlyFans particularly seductive to the economically strapped.

OnlyFans became a household name during the pandemic, when demand for pornography skyrocketed. People started living their lives online, domestic violence exploded, women lost their means of economic survival even more than men, and inequalities increased. OnlyFans, niche pornography as mediated soft prostitution, was positioned to take advantage of these dynamics.

OnlyFans has been to conventional pornography what stripping has been to prostitution: a gateway activity, sexual display with seeming insulation from skin-on-skin exploitation, temporary employment for those with their financial backs against the wall and few if any alternatives. It offers the illusion of safety and deniability for producer and consumer alike. But the outcry over the proposed ban made clear that only explicit sex — mostly, the sexual consumption of feminized bodies, usually female, gay or trans — sells well in pornography’s world. As Dannii Harwood, the first so-called content creator on OnlyFans, told The New York Times, “Once subscribers have seen everything, they move on to the next creator.” Empirical research has also documented that dynamic.

Van Christopher Havis and Holly Deboard via WHNT

Law&Crime, Alabama Man and Woman Set to Spend Rest of Their Lives in Prison for ‘Physically Repulsive’ Abuse, Bestiality, Alberto Luperon, Sept. 8, 2021. Authorities are closing the book on a truly sickening case. A man and a woman in Alabama (shown above) received quite lengthy sentences this week for abusing another man who authorities described as living with mental disability.

Van Christopher Havis, 55, received a term of life in prison with the possibility of parole for charges of sodomy and sexual torture, and a six-month punishment for bestiality, which is a misdemeanor, Marshall County District Attorney Chief Investigator John Young told Law&Crime. Co-defendant Holly Renae Debord, 37, received 99-year punishments each for sodomy and sexual torture, plus a year for bestiality, lead prosecutor Jennifer Reynolds Bray said in a Facebook post. Because the sentences all run concurrently, the total sentence is 99 years.

“In Alabama, it’s a possibility he can pop up in five years,” Young said of Havis, “but in our experience with these types of cases, he is going to be there for a while.”

The pair is reportedly eligible for parole.

Havis worked out a plea deal in which he was going to testify against Debord, Young told Law&Crime. Ultimately, both of them chose to admit guilt rather than face jurors. They were charged with abuse so disgusting that authorities have opted to discuss it in general terms. Bray said that Debord possessed 19 sickening videos of the crime.

“I’m so relieved that this case is over,” Bray wrote. “[All through] throughout my career I’ve seen some very disturbing things, nothing compares to the 19 videos Holly DeBord had on her phone of this heinous crime that lasted for hours. The first time I watched the video evidence in this case, it almost physically made me sick.”

Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims was also vague when discussing the bestiality charge.

“This is a different, unique type case from what it involved,” he said when Havis and Debord were arrested in January 2020, according to WHNT. “I’m sure one of the charges is not what you often hear, called bestiality. I’ll just say it involves a domesticated animal and leave it at that.”

Video of the abuse spread through Facebook messenger, texts, and email, authorities said.

“This is one case that was just physically repulsive,” Bray told WHNT. “You know, it made your stomach churn watching these videos. It is so violent and so aggressive. And what they’re doing to this victim, again it’s just awful. Words can’t describe it.”

Sept. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Supermodels Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment, Elizabeth Paton, Sept. 7, 2021. As former models prepare to testify against Gérald Marie, their former agency boss, big names like Carla Bruni and Paulina Porizkova are offering support. On the eve of fashion month, six women, all former models, flew into Paris from across the world — not to walk runways but to be interviewed by the child protection unit of the Paris police.

Their testimonies, set to be heard Sept. 7, include allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against Gérald Marie, who for three decades was one of the most powerful men in the fashion industry. A former European chief of Elite Model Management who was once married to Linda Evangelista and who now lives in Ibiza, Mr. Marie has long denied the allegations that have mounted against him over the years from at least 24 women.

Now, however, a year after prosecutors in France opened an investigation into the alleged incidents, which are said to have occurred in the 1980s and ’90s, a chorus of new and high-profile voices has emerged to support Mr. Marie’s accusers — and to demand more robust labor regulation to protect young and often vulnerable models whose work can take them far from home and supervision.

“Enough is enough — I stand with Carré and the other survivors of Gérald Marie as they come to Paris to testify against their abuser,” said Carla Bruni, one of the most famous models of the ’90s and the former first lady of France. She was referring to Carré Sutton, a onetime American supermodel who is leading the group of women testifying in Paris.

“No industry is immune from sexual abuse,” Ms. Bruni continued. “There is so much work to do in France and around the world to ensure that women are protected from sexual violence on the job.”

Helena Christensen said she stood with these “brave women all the way.” Paulina Porizkova added that in the early days of her career, young models were taught to view “sexual harassment as a compliment.”

“As models, we weren’t paid for our talents,” Ms. Porizkova said. “We were renting our body and face. Your body wasn’t your own.” She applauded the women who had traveled to Paris and who would, she said, “relive some painful memories to stand up for a better industry and the women who haven’t been able to come forward.”

Ms. Bruni, Ms. Christensen and Ms. Porizkova had decided to speak up at the urging of the Model Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group for fashion workers. The organization has offered resources to Mr. Marie’s accusers, including weekly Zoom meetings where the women have had access to legal counsel.

keith raniere nxivm

ny times logoNew York Times, Nxivm’s Second-in-Command Helped Build a Culture of Abuse, Survivors Say, Colin Moynihan, Sept. 7, 2021. Nancy Salzman awaits sentencing, some who fell prey to the Nxivm cultlike group say Ms. Salzman’s enabling made the group’s misdeeds possible.

Three days after Ivy Nevares told a Brooklyn jury last fall about the lasting pain that the Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere had inflicted on her, she got a phone call.

The caller did not want to talk about Mr. Raniere, who had just been sentenced to 120 years in prison. He called, according to a letter Ms. Nevares later sent to a judge, with a warning: Do not talk about Nancy Salzman.

“I felt intimidated and, after the call, was deeply upset for days,” Ms. Nevares wrote.

Years after Nxivm was exposed as a cultlike criminal enterprise built to conceal Mr. Raniere’s sexual, physical and psychological abuse of women and girls, the details of Ms. Salzman’s role within the organization has remained largely shrouded. But her influence was significant: Ms. Salzman co-founded Nxivm’s predecessor group with Mr. Raniere and stood as his second-in-command for 20 years.

She was eventually indicted on several charges related to the group and pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.

Now, as Ms. Salzman’s own sentencing hearing approaches on Wednesday, testimony from Mr. Raniere’s trial, assertions in a lawsuit, written statements submitted to the court and interviews with former Nxivm members show the power she wielded to advance Mr. Raniere’s agenda.

Ms. Nevares and other former Nxivm members say the woman known as Prefect was not only Mr. Raniere’s business partner and confidant but his abettor and protector. She managed many of Nxivm’s operations, they say, and helped Mr. Raniere control the group’s members and avoid accountability.

ny times logoNew York Times, Human Rights Campaign Chief Is Fired for Advising Andrew Cuomo, Maggie Haberman, Updated Sept. 7, 2021. The L.G.B.T.Q. group fired Alphonso David over a report that he aided efforts against a woman who accused the former New York governor of sexual harassment.

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organization, was ousted by the group’s board on Monday night over a report revealing that he had advised former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on how to handle sex harassment allegations.

Mr. David, the group’s first Black president, was terminated “for cause” in separate votes by the boards of the Human Rights Campaign and its affiliated foundation after the two boards held a joint meeting. Beyond two abstentions from the foundation board, the votes were unanimous.

andrew cuomo 2019Mr. David’s removal is the latest fallout from the report by Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, describing allegations of sexual harassment by Mr. Cuomo, left, and efforts by his aides to retaliate against the former governor’s accusers. Mr. Cuomo resigned in August after the report outlined 11 allegations and described a toxic work environment.

Mr. David, who had worked as a lawyer in Mr. Cuomo’s office, was identified in the James report as involved in efforts to undermine Mr. Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan. Despite no longer working there, Mr. David had a memo in his possession containing confidential information about Ms. Boylan’s employment history. He shared the memo with one of Mr. Cuomo’s communications advisers who were hoping to release details to reporters. Mr. David has maintained that he had an obligation as a lawyer to do so.

Mr. David also suggested edits to a letter intended to malign Ms. Boylan that was being circulated among Mr. Cuomo and his aides, and said that he would collect signatures for it from former aides. He declined to sign it himself, however, and he later said that he did not know the extent of the allegations against Mr. Cuomo. He called for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation after the report came out.

Mr. David said he would fight his firing. “As a Black, gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up,” he said in a Twitter post late Monday. “Expect a legal challenge.”

Sept. 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick to be arraigned for past sex assault of teen in Massachusetts court, Michelle Boorstein and Kurt Shillinger, Sept. 2, 2021. Theodore McCarrick, 91, is scheduled to appear in public — in a Massachusetts courtroom — on Friday for the first time since 2018, when the former Catholic cardinal and global power-broker began his fall amid a wave of sex abuse allegations. He will be arraigned on three counts of sexually assaulting a theodore mccarrickteen in the 1970s, the first U.S. cardinal to face criminal charges of abuse.

Now in his early 60s, the accuser plans to be with supporters in the courtroom, the first time McCarrick, right, will publicly face one of the more than a dozen people who say the once-powerful cleric sexually abused or harassed them as boys or young seminarians or clerics. Prosecutors say McCarrick abused the man when he was 16, in a coat room at the man’s brother’s wedding in Wellesley, Mass.

The sight of McCarrick, who now lives at a suburban Missouri treatment center, in regular street clothes and facing criminal charges in the state that put clergy sex abuse in the public consciousness, is also symbolically powerful. Advocates for clergy abuse survivors plan to gather outside the Dedham District Court.

Sept. 1

ny times logoNew York Times, After Supreme Court Silence, Texas Clinics Face Near-Total Abortion Ban, Adam Liptak and Sabrina Tavernise, Sept. 1, 2021. The law went into effect after the Supreme Court failed to act on a request to block it, prompting clinics in the state to begin to turn away women. The justices may still rule on the request, which is just an early step in what is expected to be an extended legal battle over the law.

texas mapA Texas law prohibiting most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday after the Supreme Court failed to act on a request to block it, ushering in the most restrictive abortion law in the nation and prompting clinics in the state to turn away women seeking the procedure.

The justices may still rule on the request, which is just an early step in what is expected to be an extended legal battle over the law. In the meantime, though, access to abortion in Texas has become extremely limited, the latest example of a Republican-led state imposing new constraints on ending pregnancies.

The law, known as Senate Bill 8, amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in Texas, one that will further fuel legal and political battles over the future of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.

supreme court buildingIn an emergency application urging the justices to intervene, abortion providers in the state wrote that the law “would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics ultimately to close.”

Supreme Court precedents