#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

 

December

Dec. 6

 

 

stormy daniels djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Michael Avenatti Gets 14-Year Sentence for Stealing Millions From Clients, Eduardo Medina, Dec. 6, 2022 (print ed.). Michael Avenatti, the michael avenatti twitter photobrash lawyer known for representing the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels (shown above) in lawsuits against former President Donald J. Trump, was sentenced on Monday to 14 years in prison for stealing millions of dollars from his clients and obstructing the Internal Revenue Service’s efforts to collect taxes from his coffee business, federal prosecutors said.

Mr. Avenatti, who rose to national prominence in 2018 while representing Ms. Daniels, was also ordered to pay nearly $11 million in restitution to the four clients he stole from, including a person who is paraplegic and has mental health issues, and to the I.R.S., the Justice Department said in a news release.

Prosecutors said Mr. Avenatti obstructed I.R.S. efforts to collect more than $3.2 million in unpaid payroll taxes, which includes money that he withheld from the paychecks of employees who worked for his coffee company, Global Baristas US LLC.

His 14-year prison sentence will run consecutively to the five-year prison term he is currently serving for two separate convictions in New York, prosecutors said. He has been in prison since Feb. 7.

 

samuel rappylee bateman polygamous town arrest 221204 69

washington post logoWashington Post, Polygamist leader claimed 20 ‘wives,’ including minors, FBI says, Marisa Iati, Dec. 6, 2022 (print ed.). The self-proclaimed prophet claimed it was “impressions of Heavenly Father’s will” that spurred him to force his followers, including children, to engage in sexual acts, according to new allegations from the FBI.

samuel rappylee batemanSamuel Rappylee Bateman, right, a leader of an offshoot of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, allegedly counted his own daughter and other juvenile girls among his more than 20 “wives.” Many of them were younger than 15, an FBI agent wrote in a court document filed Friday.

Bateman’s alleged foray into polygamy began in 2019, when he was married to one woman and had a daughter who was roughly 14. While in the car one day, the daughter later told investigators, Bateman said that he felt like she was his wife and that he would make her have a child if his feelings turned out to be right.

When Bateman told his actual wife, she moved out of their home with their daughter and got a restraining order against him, according to the court filing, previously reported by the Salt Lake Tribune. But Bateman allegedly continued to tell his daughter that he wanted to kiss and touch her. From then on, the FBI agent wrote, he accumulated wives.

Bateman, 46, is in federal custody in Arizona on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly asking followers to delete his Signal phone app, which he used to communicate with them and his wives. He has pleaded not guilty to that charge and to state-level child abuse charges.

Bateman has not been charged with sex crimes, although the FBI agent said there is probable cause to believe that he engaged in criminal sexual activity with minors in 2020 and 2021. His attorneys did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday.

The FBI affidavit, filed in the Eastern District of Washington, paints a picture of a long-running setup in which Bateman tried to use God as a defense for repeatedly manipulating his so-called wives and some of his male followers into engaging in sexual acts. The allegations follow the escape — and subsequent discovery — of several girls who had been in state custody after being removed from the rest of Bateman’s roughly 50 followers.

Two people who talked with investigators — a woman who tried to help members of Bateman’s group and her husband, who was filming a documentary — told them that Bateman had driven to their home on the Arizona-Utah border in late 2020. He allegedly arrived in a large SUV filled with women and girls, the youngest of whom was roughly 9, and introduced them all as his wives.

In a separate incident, the FBI agent wrote, a recording captured Bateman saying God had told him to give “his girls’ virtue” to some of his male followers by forcing them to have sex while others watched.

Dec. 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: The #MeToo movies have finally arrived. Only one captures the truth, Monica Hesse, right, Dec. 5, 2022. “She Said,” “Tár” and monica hesse“Women Talking” exemplify the challenges of dramatizing a moment and a movement we’re still living through.

In an opening scene of the astonishing new movie “Women Talking,” a young mother in Amish-style dress bursts into a farm shed and seizes a scythe, lunging toward a group of men who are penned inside.

Soon we learn the source of her fury: These men have been raping the female members of their conservative religious order, stealing into their bedrooms at night with sedative meant for livestock. Women would awaken the next morning bloodied and sore, unable to identify their attackers or even prove they had been attacked. The young mother, played by Claire Foy, was a victim of something terrible, and so were many of her friends. Now the men have been caught, and it’s time to figure out what to do with them.

The movie is based on true events at a Mennonite colony in the 2000s, but it was filmed in the shadows of #MeToo. It’s a movie that couldn’t exist without the movement.

  • Washington Post, Five years after #MeToo, Black survivors mobilize for themselves

Dec . 2

 

joel greenberg seminole county tax collector

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Gaetz Confidant Is Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison, Eric Adelson and Michael S. Schmidt, Dec. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Joel Greenberg, above, a tax collector in Florida, had been cooperating with the Justice Department in its investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz.

A Florida tax collector who has been cooperating with the Justice Department in its sex trafficking investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, was sentenced on Thursday by a federal judge to 11 years in prison.

The tax collector, Joel Greenberg, had faced up to nearly three decades in prison for a litany of crimes he had committed, including trafficking a 17-year-old girl, stalking a political rival and stealing $400,000 in taxpayer money to buy cryptocurrencies and sports memorabilia. But in the hope of receiving a lesser sentence, he had cooperated with the government in a series of investigations, including into Mr. Gaetz.

“He has provided substantial cooperation to the government — more than I’ve seen in 22 years,” Judge Gregory A. Presnell said.

But the judge also excoriated Mr. Greenberg’s behavior.

“In 22 years, I’ve never experienced a case like this,” Judge Presnell said, adding, “I have never seen a defendant who has committed so many different types of crimes in such a short period.”

It is not clear what the sentencing means for the Justice Department’s investigation of Mr. Gaetz, who is a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump and has been under investigation for over a year and a half but has not been charged with a crime.

Mr. Greenberg has told federal authorities that he witnessed Mr. Gaetz have sex with the 17-year-old girl and that she was paid. In documents filed in connection with Mr. Greenberg’s sentencing, the Justice Department said he had “provided truthful and timely information” that led to the charging of at least four other people and “provided substantial assistance on other matters” that the government would address only in a sealed filing.

But there are several hurdles to bringing a case against Mr. Gaetz, who has denied any wrongdoing. Among the challenges is that the girl has said she does not believe she was a victim, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Mr. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, has complained that the Justice Department has not charged those Mr. Greenberg implicated in the sex trafficking. Such a prosecution would have highlighted the benefits of Mr. Greenberg’s cooperation when it came to sentencing him.

In documents filed with the court in the lead-up to Mr. Greenberg’s sentencing, Mr. Scheller said the Justice Department was unwilling to charge those whom Mr. Greenberg implicated despite trying to put Mr. Greenberg behind bars for more than a decade.

“If the government is so concerned with general deterrence, then why hasn’t it prosecuted the other individuals, including public figures, who were also involved in Greenberg’s offenses?” Mr. Scheller said. “Indeed, Greenberg’s plea agreement refers to the involvement of multiple co-conspirators, including individuals involved in his sex offense.” He added that Mr. Greenberg’s account had been corroborated “by other witnesses and records.”

Mr. Greenberg came from a well-to-do Florida family that owned a chain of dentist offices. In court on Thursday, Mr. Scheller said Mr. Greenberg struggled as a child with emotional and attention deficit issues, which he said led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder later in life.

As an adult, Mr. Greenberg tried to make it as a businessman but failed. He struggled with addiction issues but won election in 2016 in Seminole County, Fla., as its tax collector, portraying himself as a local version of Mr. Trump who could root out corruption.

But almost immediately, he started to use taxpayer money to pay for sex as he tried to ingratiate himself with up-and-coming Republicans in Florida state politics, by providing them with drugs and access to women and girls. His behavior continued to spin out of control until he was arrested in June 2020.

Mr. Scheller said Mr. Greenberg’s conduct was “bold, brazen, undeterrable but also manic” and that his behavior cannot be looked at without considering his “long history of mental health” issues.

Roger B. Handberg, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, depicted Mr. Greenberg in court as a hardened criminal who never did the job he was elected to.

ny times logoNew York Times, Greenwich Socialite Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Secret Videos of Minors, McKenna Oxenden, Dec. 2, 2022. A Connecticut socialite whose criminal case continues to be sealed from the public was sentenced on Tuesday to one year in prison for secretly recording videos of three minors in intimate situations.

Hadley Palmer, 54, of Greenwich, did not make any statement during her sentencing hearing, according to The Associated Press. She had already served 90 days in prison earlier this year as part of a plea deal.

Ms. Palmer pleaded guilty in January to three counts of voyeurism and one count of risk of injury to a minor. Under her plea agreement, Ms. Palmer will be required after her release to be on probation for 20 years and to register as a sex offender for a decade.

State records show Ms. Palmer was incarcerated at the York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Niantic, Conn., as of Tuesday.

The defendant, Hadley Palmer, 54, will be required to serve 20 years of probation after her release from prison and register as a sex offender for a decade.

According to The Associated Press, Paul Ferencek, the Stamford-Norwalk state’s attorney, revealed new details about the crimes, saying that the victims were recorded unclothed on video without their knowledge or consent and the images were used for the sexual pleasure of Ms. Palmer.

Michael Meehan, a lawyer for Ms. Palmer, did not return a request for comment.

Ms. Palmer is the daughter of Jerrold Fine, who in 1976 started Charter Oak Partners Management in Westport, Conn., one of the first hedge funds, according to a profile of him on the website of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She used to appear frequently at charity and society events in Greenwich and New York City.

Details of Ms. Palmer’s case are sparse as it has largely remained sealed under the order of Judge John F. Blawie of Connecticut Superior Court. Judge Blawie sealed the order despite multiple objections from The A.P., which repeatedly appealed for open proceedings and access to court documents over the course of the trial. Judge Blawie said that protecting the victims in the case outweighed keeping the case file open.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Abortion Diaries: Pregnant and desperate in post-Roe America, Caroline Kitchener, Dec. 2, 2022. Three women face unexpected pregnancies in states with abortion bans.

It’s a moment of panic that has played out again and again for people in more than a dozen states since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

Once they find out they’re pregnant, there isn’t much time to act. The closest open abortion clinics that once offered next-day appointments are now often fully booked three, four, even five weeks in advance. Pills purchased online can take up to a month to arrive.

Every day, the fetus gets a little bigger — and the anxiety builds.

In polarized, post-Roe America, the experiences that draw widespread attention are often the most harrowing: a 10-year-old rape victim forced to leave her state to end her pregnancy, or a woman denied an abortion for a fetus without a skull.

Often lost in the discussion are the more routine stories. The mother of two who can’t afford a third child. The teenager who can’t tell her parents she’s pregnant. The 25-year-old who isn’t ready to be a mom.

Over the next decade, if recent trends hold, more than a million people with unwanted pregnancies are likely to run up against an abortion ban. Some will find a way, traveling hundreds of miles or securing illegal pills through the mail. Others will resign themselves to parenthood.

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida Gators QB arrested on charges related to child sexual abuse, Des Bieler, Dec. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Jalen Kitna, a backup quarterback for the Florida Gators, was arrested Wednesday on five charges related to child sexual abuse. He was booked that afternoon into the Alachua County jail and, per reports, is scheduled for an initial hearing Thursday morning.

The university said Kitna, right, jalen kitnaa 19-year-old redshirt freshman, was suspended indefinitely.

According to a news release from the Gainesville Police Department, a search warrant was served at Kitna’s residence by members of the GPD and the federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Police said that Kitna, 19, admitted to a GPD detective that he shared two images on the Discord platform of child sexual abuse material. Kitna was said to have expressed the belief that it was “legal” to have done so because he found the images online, but added he realized that, based on the reaction of the Discord recipient, he should not have shared them.

Actress Amber Heard is shown in a file photo with then-husband, actor Johnny Depp.

Actress Amber Heard is shown in a file photo with then-husband, actor Johnny Depp.

ny times logoNew York Times, Amber Heard Seeks New Defamation Trial After Losing to Johnny Depp, Julia Jacobs, Dec. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Ms. Heard’s lawyers argue in their appeal that the trial was held in the wrong state, and that the judge erred in prohibiting evidence they say supports her claims of domestic abuse.

Months after Johnny Depp prevailed in a defamation case against Amber Heard, who accused him of physical and sexual abuse, he has begun testing the status of his public image, appearing in a fashion show backed by Rihanna and an awards show in which he delivered tongue-in-cheek laugh lines about his derailed career.

But in a Virginia appeals court, the legal battle continues.

Last week, Ms. Heard’s lawyers filed an appeal in hopes of overturning a jury’s verdict that Ms. Heard had defamed Mr. Depp, her former husband, in 2018 by describing herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse” in an opinion essay in The Washington Post. Mr. Depp, who was not named in the essay, was awarded more than $10 million in damages.

Dec. 1

 

todd rokita ap 2020

ny times logoNew York Times, Indiana Attorney General Asks Medical Board to Discipline Abortion Doctor, Ava Sasani and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Dec. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an OB-GYN who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim, was at the center of the nation’s abortion debate.

Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita (shown above in an AP file photo), asked a state medical board on Wednesday to discipline the doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim this summer.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, treated the girl, who had traveled from Ohio when the state enacted a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

The case became a focus of the national abortion debate after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. It also put a focus on childhood pregnancies and the emerging legal risks to doctors who provide abortions. Mr. Rotika began an investigation into Dr. Bernard; she sued in an effort to stop him from obtaining medical records of her patients as part of that investigation.

Mr. Rokita’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that he was asking the board to discipline Dr. Bernard because she had “failed to uphold legal and Hippocratic responsibilities by exploiting a 10-year-old little girl’s traumatic medical story to the press for her own interests.”

 

November

Nov. 30

 

southern baptist convention logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Pastors say Johnny Hunt, former SBC president accused of abuse, can return to ministry, Bob Smietana, Nov. 30, 2022. Disgraced former Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt plans a return to ministry after completing a restoration process overseen by four pastors, according to a video released last week.

Hunt, a longtime megachurch pastor in Georgia, was named earlier this year in the Guidepost Solutions report on sexual abuse in the SBC, which alleged that Hunt had sexually assaulted another pastor’s wife in 2010. Guidepost, a third-party investigation firm, found the claims credible.

“We believe the greatest days of ministry for Johnny Hunt are the days ahead,” said Rev. Steven Kyle, pastor of Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., in the video.

Kyle, along with pastors Mark Hoover of NewSpring Church in Wichita; Benny Tate of Rock Springs Church in Milner, Ga.; and Mike Whitson of First Baptist Church in Indian Trail, N.C., said they had worked with Hunt and his wife on an “intentional and an intense season of transparency, reflection and restoration” in recent months.

In that process, Kyle said he and other pastors had observed Hunt’s “genuine brokenness and humility before God” and deemed him fit for ministry in the future.

The allegations against Hunt caught his many admirers by surprise. At the time of the Guidepost report, Hunt was a popular speaker and a vice president at the SBC’s North American Mission Board and was beloved by many SBC leaders.

Nov. 27

washington post logoWashington Post, China sentences Canadian pop star Kris Wu to prison for rape, Joyce Lau and Claire Healy, Nov. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Chinese Canadian pop star Kris Wu was sentenced Friday to 13 years in prison by a Beijing court on charges including rape, in one of China’s more prominent #MeToo cases.

The sentence was welcomed by women’s rights advocates, who have clashed with Beijing’s growing intolerance for dissent and grass-roots activism under President Xi Jinping. Chinese lawyers said that Wu had the right to appeal his conviction. He had previously denied the allegations.

kris wuWu, right, also known as Wu Yifan, rose to fame as part of the South Korean-Chinese boy band Exo and later became a solo performer. He was detained in 2021 after multiple accusations were levied against him, which led to public widespread condemnation. At the time, luxury brands such as French fashion label Louis Vuitton and German automaker Porsche distanced themselves from the pop idol, with China Flagwhom they had commercial deals.

“It’s encouraging news, especially in the context of women’s rights in the country being continuously eroded in the past decade,” Yaqiu Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said of the sentencing. “Now, other victims of sexual assault in China can feel empowered that they, too, can come forward with their stories and seek justice.”

However, Wang cautioned that censorship of women’s rights activists in China continued. She also noted that, in the case against Wu, the prosecution was “shrouded in secrecy” and “some of the criticism of authorities’ handling of his case was scrubbed from the Chinese internet,” she said.

Nov. 23

 herschel walker informal

washington post logoWashington Post, Second woman renews accusation Herschel Walker pressured her to have abortion, Sabrina Rodriguez, Nov. 23, 2022 (print ed.). A second woman who accused Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker of pressuring her to have an abortion on Tuesday criticized the former football player for dismissing her claims and called for him to publicly meet with her ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff election.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe, participated in a news conference with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, offering more details of what she says was a years-long affair with Walker that resulted in her becoming pregnant in 1993. The woman first came forward in late October after another former girlfriend of republican elephant logoWalker’s accused him of pressuring and paying for her to have an abortion. Walker has denied allegations that he paid for abortions.
Walker accuser challenges him to meet her

The woman said she decided to speak out again and offer more evidence of their relationship after seeing Walker dismiss her allegations and suggest he didn’t know who she could be. Her remarks come two weeks before the Georgia runoff between Walker and Democratic Sen. Raphael G. Warnock.

Allred also read aloud a signed declaration of a friend who the accuser had confided in about being impregnated by Walker.

In the declaration, the friend said the woman had initially said she had a miscarriage. But the friend had suspected it was an abortion because Walker, who was married to his first wife at the time, did not want the woman to continue with the pregnancy. The friend added that, years later, the woman shared that Walker had driven her to a clinic to obtain an abortion.

The Washington Post did not independently confirm these allegations.

The woman did not appear in person at the first news conference in Los Angeles, speaking via Zoom. Days later, she showed her face in an interview with ABC News. On Tuesday, she was present for the news conference in person but continued to go by “Jane Doe,” citing concerns for her safety.

She shared that she first decided to come forward last month after seeing Walker’s handling of the first woman’s allegations that he pressured and paid for her to have an abortion. She said: “I intended to take this to my grave,” but decided to speak up when she saw him say he had never paid for an abortion and knew he was lying.

Asked if she hopes sharing her story will impact the runoff, the woman said, “I think it’s up to the voters of Georgia to decide who they want to represent them and who to believe.”

Nov. 21

armita abbasi

20-yr-old Armita A. has been missing for over 50 days. She was last seen at Imam Ali hospital -- brought in by plainclothes regime agents. CNN spoke with staff at the hospital, who say she was brutally raped. Here she is wearing a Chicago @NHLBlackhawks.

CNN, Investigation: How Iran's security forces use rape to quell protests, Tamara Qiblawi, Barbara Arvanitidis, Nima Elbagir, Alex Platt, Artemis Moshtaghian, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Celine Alkhaldi and Muhammad Jambaz, Nov. 21, 2022. Covert testimonies reveal sexual assaults on male and female activists as a women-led uprising spreads.

CNNA trickle of people passes through a normally busy border crossing in the mountains of northern Iraq. “It’s a big prison over there,” one Iranian woman says, gesturing to the hulking gate that marks the border with Iran’s Islamic Republic, which has been convulsed by protest for over two months.

A portrait of the founder of Iran’s clerical regime, Ruhollah Khomeini, looms against a backdrop of rolling hills studded with streetlights. Snatches of travelers’ muted conversations punctuate an eerie silence.

Fear of indiscriminate arrest has made many reluctant to risk the journey. Some of the few who cross say the noose is tightening: protesters gunned down, curfews in the border villages and nighttime raids on homes.

In hushed tones, they speak of female protesters in particular, and the horrors they say some have endured in Iran’s notorious detention facilities.

Iran’s government has closed the country off to non-accredited foreign journalists, regularly shuts down the internet and suppresses dissidents' voices with mass arrests. An extreme climate of fear prevails in Iran as the crackdown intensifies.

One Kurdish-Iranian woman, whom CNN is calling Hana for her safety, says she both witnessed and suffered sexual violence while detained. “There were girls who were sexually assaulted and then transferred to other cities,” she said. “They are scared to talk about these things.”

Women have played a central role in Iran’s uprising since it ignited two months ago. The slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” reverberates through anti-regime demonstrations in its original Kurdish (Jin, Jiyan, Azadi) and in Persian (Zan, Zendegi, Azadi). It is a nod to the 22-year-old Kurdish woman whose death sparked the protests — Jina (Mahsa) Amini was believed to have been brutally beaten by Iran’s morality police for improper hijab and died days later.

The rights of women have also been at the heart of debate among Iran’s clerical establishment since the protests began. Some clerics and politicians have called for the relaxing of social rules, while others doubled down, conflating the female protesters with what they call “loose women” who were merely pawns in a plot hatched by Western governments.

In recent weeks, social media videos have emerged allegedly showing Iranian security forces sexually assaulting female demonstrators on the streets. Reports of sexual violence against activists in prisons began to surface.

With media access inside Iran severely constrained, CNN went to the region near Iraq’s border with Iran, interviewing eyewitnesses who'd left the country and verifying accounts from survivors and sources both in and outside Iran. CNN corroborated several reports of sexual violence against protesters and heard accounts of many more. At least one of these caused severe injury, and another involved the rape of an underage boy. In some of the cases CNN uncovered, the sexual assault was filmed and used to blackmail the protesters into silence, according to sources who spoke to the victims.

Iranian officials have not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment on the abuses alleged in this report.

Nov. 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Allegation of Supreme Court Breach Prompts Calls for Inquiry and Ethics Code, Jodi Kantor, Nov. 20, 2022. A minister’s claim that a major contraception decision was prematurely disclosed through a secretive influence campaign underscores the court’s lack of transparency and accountability.

Lawmakers are demanding further investigation at the Supreme Court and renewing their calls for binding ethics rules for the justices, after allegations that a landmark 2014 contraception decision was prematurely disclosed through a secretive influence campaign by anti-abortion activists.

“The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, wrote on Twitter. “At SCOTUS, the problems run deep.”

A New York Times report published on Saturday chronicled yearslong efforts by the Rev. Robert L. Schenck, an evangelical minister and former anti-abortion leader, and donors to his nonprofit to reach conservative justices and reinforce anti-abortion views. In 2014, he said, he obtained advance word of the outcome and the author of the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a major case about contraception and the religious rights of corporations.

samuel alito oThat decision — like the one leaked this spring, overturning the right to abortion — was written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., left. Mr. Schenck said he learned the Hobby Lobby details from a donor who had dined with Justice Alito and his wife. Both the justice and the donor denied sharing the information.

“We intend to get to the bottom of these serious allegations,” Mr. Whitehouse and Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia, who respectively lead the Senate and House Judiciary courts subcommittees, wrote in a joint statement.

The revelations underscored the lack of accountability mechanisms at the Supreme Court. Unlike other federal judges, the justices are not bound by a written code of ethics; legislation that would create one is pending in Congress.

“While there are many potential solutions, here’s one that the Court could adopt in one minute: OPERATE UNDER THE SAME ETHICS RULES AS EVERY OTHER FEDERAL JUDGE,” Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat and another member of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted in response to the Times report.

The new revelations came amid an investigation by the court’s marshal into the extraordinary leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, as well as uproar over the role of Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, in former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to reverse the 2020 election results.

Nov. 18

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘She Said’ Review: A Quiet Thriller That Speaks Volumes, Alexis Soloski, Nov. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Maria Schrader directs this adaptation of the book about reporters’ efforts to document sexual harassment by Harvey Weinstein.

In February 2020, a New York jury found Harvey Weinstein, the producer whose films had won dozens of Oscars, guilty of criminal sexual assault and rape. Now, harvey weinsteintwo and a half years later, he is again on trial, in California, facing 11 further charges. Jurors in this trial received a particular instruction: The judge barred them from watching the trailer for “She Said.”

That’s the film adaptation of the nonfiction book of the same title. In it, the New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey describe — in pragmatic, restrained how-we-got-that-story prose — the reporting that led them to publish a series of articles detailing Weinstein’s behavior. Those articles helped ignite the #MeToo movement, in which thousands, perhaps millions, of women took to social media and other channels to detail their own stories of sexual harassment and assault. Some men have been held accountable. Others have largely eluded consequences. Debate continues about whether the movement has gone too far or not far enough. Already, some Hollywood industry leaders have observed a regression, if not an outright backlash.

This is the contentious climate in which the film arrives. “She Said,” directed by Maria Schrader from a script by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, is built solid and low to the ground, as if designed to withstand these shifts in cultural winds.

Nov. 16

ny times logoNew York Times, Hundreds of Women Set to Sue New York Over Allegations of Prison Sex Abuse, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Nov. 16, 2022. A law that takes effect on Nov. 24 allows people to sue over years-old assaults long past the criminal statute of limitations.

Hundreds of women who have accused prison guards of sexual abuse going back decades plan to sue New York State under new legislation that allows survivors to take legal action no matter how many years have elapsed.

The Adult Survivors Act, passed in May, gives people who say they were sexually abused a one-time opportunity to file civil suits long after the statute of limitations for most criminal cases has expired.

New York lawmakers anticipated that current or former prisoners would sue. Like the Child Victims Act that passed in 2019, which extended the statutes of limitations for those abused as children, the new law allows people to file allegations about mistreatment in state facilities, including prisons.

There is no cap on how much the state can pay out to settle such lawsuits, said Brad Hoylman, the New York State senator who sponsored the legislation. The money would come out of the $220 billion state budget, and possibly from the roughly $500 million reserved for unexpected expenses. California approved similar legislation in September.

Nov. 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Huge Australian health hack exposes abortion patients and others, Frances Vinall, Nov. 12, 2022 (print ed.). The major hack of an Australian health insurer’s patient data, now tied to Russian cybercriminals, escalated in scope Friday as more information identifying individuals who received abortions or treatment for mental health issues, alcoholism and addiction recovery were released on a dark web forum.

In an afternoon news conference, the head of the national police called it a crime with “malicious and far-reaching consequences,” one that has “the potential to impact on millions of Australians and damage a significant Australian business.”

australian flag wavingThose behind for the hack are believed to be in Russia, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said. “Our intelligence points to a group of loosely affiliated cybercriminals who are likely responsible for past significant breaches in countries across the world.”

The insurer, Medibank, had said in a statement that the data included names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses. Chief Executive David Koczkar said the information’s release — after a demand for ransom money was rejected — was “an attack on the most vulnerable members of our community.”

“The weaponization of people’s private information in an effort to extort payment is malicious,” he said.

Medibank acknowledged on Oct. 13 that it had been hacked. It later said the personal information of 9.7 million customers and 480,000 health claims were accessed.

The insurer announced Monday that it would not pay a ransom to keep the data private. On Wednesday, identifying information of customers who had accessed medical care, including for addiction recovery and mental health care, was released. That was followed on Thursday by information on patients who had sought and undergone abortions. On Friday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the release of more sensitive data, this time related to alcohol and mental health issues.

Details of medical procedures involving about 500 people were part of the two online file drops, according to the Conversation, a nonprofit news site. The Herald said the third drop — in a file titled “Boozy” — included details on the care of 240 people.

washington post logoWashington Post, Paul Haggis, director of ‘Crash,’ ordered to pay $7.5 million in rape case, Sonia Rao, Nov. 12, 2022 (print ed.). A New York jury found filmmaker Paul Haggis liable in a sexual assault case brought forward by a publicist who alleged he raped her at his Manhattan apartment in 2013, according to the Associated Press.

The jury ordered Haggis, 69, to pay Haleigh Breest, 36, at least $7.5 million in damages, the AP reported, noting that the jury also decided he would be responsible for paying additional punitive damages later on.

Ilann Maazel, an attorney representing Breest, said in a statement, “We are thankful and grateful for the jury’s verdict. Justice was done today. This is a great victory for Haleigh and for the entire #MeToo movement.”

Haggis’s attorney Priya Chaudhry stated that they were “disappointed and shocked by this verdict.” She said they were “not allowed to tell the jury so many critical things,” and that Haggis could not have had a fair trial.

Haggis is known for having written the films “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” the latter of which won him two Academy Awards in 2006 for best picture and best original screenplay. He also directed “Crash,” and shares a writing credit on the film with Bobby Moresco.

Breest filed the lawsuit against Haggis in December 2017 under New York City’s Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act. According to the complaint, Breest was working at a New York film premiere in January 2013 and accepted a ride home from Haggis. The document alleges that he pressured her to have a drink with him at his SoHo apartment, instead of at a public bar as she said she suggested.

Nov. 9

 

The late financier, sex trafficker and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein, left, and former longtime Harvard Law School Professor and author Alan Dershowitz (file photo).

The late financier, sex trafficker and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein, left, and former longtime Harvard Law School Professor and author Alan Dershowitz (file photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein Victim Says She May Have Made a Mistake in Accusing Dershowitz, Katherine Rosman and Jonah E. Bromwich, Nov. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Virginia Giuffre, who was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein, had accused Alan Dershowitz of abusing her. Now she says she is no longer certain.

Virginia Giuffre, a victim of Jeffrey E. Epstein who for years maintained that the law professor Alan Dershowitz had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, settled a defamation lawsuit against Mr. Dershowitz on Tuesday and said that she might have “made a mistake” in accusing him.

Virginia Roberts 2015 photoIn a joint statement announcing the settlement, Ms. Giuffre, shown at right at age 31, said, “I have long believed that I was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein to Alan Dershowitz. However, I was very young at the time, it was a very stressful and traumatic environment, and Mr. Dershowitz has from the beginning consistently denied these allegations.

“I now recognize I may have made a mistake in identifying Mr. Dershowitz,” her statement said.

The joint statement announced the end of litigation between Ms. Giuffre and Mr. Dershowitz — who had also sued her — as well as of two other lawsuits between Mr. Dershowitz and the lawyer David Boies that stemmed from Ms. Giuffre’s accusation.

Ms. Giuffre had sued Mr. Dershowitz on the grounds that he had made defamatory statements about her after her accusation. Her lawyer would not comment on the statement but confirmed that the settlement had been reached. A document confirming that Ms. Giuffre had agreed to dismiss her case was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon.

“She has suffered much at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein, and I commend her work combating the evil of sex trafficking,” Mr. Dershowitz said of Ms. Giuffre in his own statement.

And Mr. Boies, who has represented Ms. Giuffre, though not in this matter, said that “the time has come to end this litigation” and that Mr. Dershowitz “has suffered greatly from the allegation of sexual abuse made against him — an allegation that he has consistently and vehemently denied.”

The terms of Ms. Giuffre’s deal with Mr. Dershowitz were not immediately clear on Tuesday, though the statement and the court filing said that no payments were made by any of the parties.

The settlement of the defamation lawsuit, which was filed in 2019, and Ms. Giuffre’s accompanying statement represented a remarkable turnabout for Mr. Dershowitz, who has been trying to resuscitate his reputation since Ms. Giuffre first made her claim publicly in 2014. Her accusations against Mr. Epstein have been corroborated.

A longtime friend of Mr. Epstein, Mr. Dershowitz defended the financier after he was first arrested and charged with sex trafficking, attacking his client’s young accusers, and in 2008, helped to win a lenient plea deal for Mr. Epstein. After pleading guilty to two prostitution charges in state court, Mr. Epstein served about a year in a Florida jail, leaving confinement six days a week to work out of his office.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001

Giuffre accused Epstein as treating her as a "sex slave" beginning when she was 15 as part of a massive sex trafficking operation he ran exploiting girls in their mid-teens, below the legal age of consent.

Roberts, now 31, claimed that Epstein farmed her out to other men, including Prince Andrew of the British royal family, Epstein's attorney Dershowitz, and French modeling scout Jean Luc Brunel.

The California native said the photo below left portrays her at center with Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, on a trip to London when she was 17 in 2001. At right was Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite daughter of the corrupt newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who drowned in 1991 after toppling overboard from his yacht Lady Ghislaine. The death left one of the world's largest media empires with a reported $3 billion in debts.

 ny times logoNew York Times, French Cardinal’s Admission Renews Scrutiny of Church Sexual Abuse, Aurelien Breeden, Nov. 9, 2022 (print ed.). A former archbishop of Bordeaux acknowledged that he had behaved “reprehensibly” with a 14-year-old girl over three decades ago, in the latest revelation to jolt Roman Catholics in France.

A cardinal’s admission that he had behaved “reprehensibly” with a 14-year-old girl over three decades ago was one of several revelations that threw a gathering of French bishops into turmoil this week, renewing scrutiny of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in France a little over a year after a landmark report on the pervasiveness of the issue.

The admission of wrongdoing this week by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, 78, who retired in 2019 after 18 years as the archbishop of Bordeaux, was one of two recent revelations that have stunned the Catholic community in France.

The other involved Michel Santier, 75, the former bishop of Créteil. He stepped down and was disciplined last year after decades-old accusations of sexual abuse against young adults, but the church authorities had not made his case public until the French news media uncovered it. Last month, Catholics angry about that silence protested in front of churches and cathedrals around the country to demand more transparency.

In total, according to Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, the archbishop of Reims and the president of the Bishops’ Conference of France, 11 former or current French bishops had been or still were involved in sexual abuse cases handled by legal or church authorities — most of them directly accused of abuse and others of concealing it.

Nov. 5

ap logoAssociated Press via NBA, Police open investigation into allegations against Joshua Primo, Staff Report, Nov. 5, 2022. Waived by the Spurs on Friday, the former lottery pick has been accused of repeatedly exposing himself to a former team therapist.

Police have begun investigating allegations that former San Antonio Spurs guard Joshua Primo exposed himself on multiple occasions to a former team therapist during counseling sessions.

nba logoDr. Hillary Cauthen filed a lawsuit against the Spurs and Primo, claiming the 19-year-old exposed his genitals to her nine times during multiple sessions.

In addition to the civil complaint that was filed Thursday in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, Cauthen filed a criminal complaint against Primo.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office told The Associated Press it “has made contact with the victim involved in the Joshua Primo incident.” The sheriff’s office called it a “preliminary investigation into the allegations” against Primo.

In her lawsuit, the team’s former performance psychologist said the Spurs did nothing to discipline Primo or address her concerns “despite her numerous complaints about Primo’s improper sexual conduct.”

Cauthen said she had informed and requested a meeting with Spurs general manager Brian Wright after what she described as Primo’s first incident of indecent exposure in December 2021. She said her request for a meeting in January was postponed by Wright until March, during which time Cauthen continued to counsel Primo despite her concerns.

Cauthen said her role with the team was marginalized in the months that followed, culminating in her contract not being renewed in August.

Cauthen said she was angry, confused and sad that Primo had not faced any discipline for his actions until the Spurs released him an hour before their Oct. 28 home game against Chicago. Primo cleared waivers on Monday but has not signed with another team.

In a statement released shortly after Cauthen’s news conference, Spurs CEO R.C. Buford said the franchise disagrees “with the accuracy of facts, details and timeline presented today.”

Nov. 3

 Washington Commanders owners Tanya and Daniel Snyder walk on the field before a game in Dallas last month. (Photo by John McDonnell for The Washington Post).

Washington Commanders owners Tanya and Daniel Snyder walk on the field before a game in Dallas last month. (Photo by John McDonnell for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Daniel Snyder considers ‘potential transactions’ for Washington Commanders, Nicki Jhabvala, Mark Maske and Liz Clarke, Nov. 3, 2022 (print ed.).  Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder has hired an investment bank to “consider potential transactions” related to the franchise, the team announced Wednesday.

The Commanders did not specify whether Snyder and his wife Tanya Snyder, the team’s co-chief executive officer, are considering the sale of the entire franchise or a minority share. The team said in a statement that the Snyders have hired a division of Bank of America.

“Dan and Tanya Snyder and the Washington Commanders announced today that they have hired BofA Securities to consider potential transactions,” the Commanders said in their statement. “The Snyders remain committed to the team, all of its employees and its countless fans to putting the best product on the field and continuing the work to set the gold standard for workplaces in the NFL.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Politicians assumed most Latinos were anti-abortion. They were wrong, Silvia Foster-Frau and Marianna Sotomayor, Nov. 3, 2022. Experts attribute Latinos’ support for abortion rights to the community’s youth and length of time in the U.S.

For decades, Democrats and Republicans trying to attract Latino voters have been guided by widespread assumptions that the generally Democratic Latino electorate is conservative on the issue of abortion. But recent polls have debunked those long-held beliefs, finding most Latinos say abortion should be legal, often on par with White voters though trailing Black voters in support.

“I just don’t think we’re really as conservative as everybody thought,” Madrid said. “Almost everybody knows somebody who had to think about having an abortion.”

Experts credit the growing youth of the Latino population and the length of time they have been living in and adapting to U.S. culture. Those assumptions were also driven by long-held misconceptions of the role that religion, particularly Catholicism, plays in Latinos’ lives, they say.

“It’s very different than White evangelicals who want their religious beliefs coming out of the mouths of their governors. For Latino Catholics, they get their religious sermon on Sunday from the Father, and then they engage with politics separately,” said Matt Barreto, a Democratic pollster advising the White House and campaigns on reaching Latino voters.

Mitchell Republic via Daily Beast, South Dakota Candidate Accused of Molesting Family Member, Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling, Nov. 3, 2022. DISGUSTING. The 44-year-old GOP candidate faces felony child abuse charges.

joel koskinJoel Koskan, right, a local running for South Dakota state Senate in District 26, has been accused of years of child abuse in court documents. Koskan, who ran for the state Senate seat on the Republican ballot on three occasions dating back to 2018, is accused of sexually grooming and raping a family member.

He was charged Thursday with one count of exposing a minor to a foreseeable harm. “The allegation against Joel Koskan is very serious, and the South Dakota Republican Party unequivocally opposes child abuse in all forms,” Dan Lederman, chair of the South Dakota GOP, told Keloland News.

According to a signed probable cause statement, the victim claims that Koskan had been “raping her since she was a young child.” The prospective legislator allegedly instructed her to sit on his lap and kiss him from a young age, eventually installing cameras in her room, touching and raping her. “You promised you’d never do this,” Koskan texted her in May after discovering she had contacted authorities, according to a Division of Criminal Investigation report. “I’m begging you [Victim], you don’t want to do this.”

National Public Radio via Daily Beast, Indiana Abortion Doc Says AG Is Trying to Get 10-Yr-Old Rape Victim’s Medical Records, Asta Hemenway, Nov. 3, 2022. INVASIVE.

Indiana abortion doctor Caitlin Bernard filed a lawsuit Thursday against Attorney General Todd Rokita to keep him from sending subpoenas for patients’ abortion records, especially those relating to a 10-year-old rape victim she cared for. Rokita sent subpoenas for “the entire medical file” of the child, whose story became a national political football when she was forced to cross state lines to terminate a pregnancy caused by rape.

With no evidence, Rokita repeatedly bashed Bernard on Fox News, accusing her of making up the story then of not abiding by state reporting laws.

In her suit, Bernard alleges his office is now issuing sweeping subpoenas to hospitals for records based on complaints from people who aren’t patients and may live out of state. Kelly Stevenson, a representative for Rokita, said their office was following its “statutory obligation” to “investigate thousands of potential licensing, privacy, and other violations a year” and a “majority of the complaints we receive are, in fact, from nonpatients.”

 

cbs logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Les Moonves and Paramount to Pay $9.75 Million in State Case Tied to Sexual Misconduct, Rebecca Robbins and Benjamin Mullin, Nov. 3, 2022 (print ed.). The New York attorney general’s office found that CBS, whose parent company is now Paramount, concealed allegations about its former chief executive from investors.

les moonvesParamount, the parent company of CBS, and the network’s former chief executive Leslie Moonves, right, agreed to pay $9.75 million after a state investigation found that the network and its senior leadership had concealed accusations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Moonves and, in the case of one executive, engaged in insider trading related to the allegations.

Paramount said it would pay $7.25 million into a settlement fund as part of the deal. Mr. Moonves will pay $2.5 million. Separately, Paramount has agreed to pay $14.75 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit related to the claims.

Paramount confirmed in a statement that it had reached a resolution with the New York attorney general’s office without admitting wrongdoing or liability.

“The matter involved alleged misconduct by CBS’s former C.E.O., who was terminated for cause in 2018, and does not relate in any way to the current company,” the statement read.

Nov. 2

NBC News, Former Miss Argentina and ex-Miss Puerto Rico reveal they are married, Jay Valle, Nov. 2, 2022. They both competed in last year’s Miss Grand International beauty pageant in Thailand.

mariana varela fabiola valentinA former Miss Argentina and an ex-Miss Puerto Rico announced on Instagram over the weekend that they are married.

In a joint post shared to both their accounts, Mariana Varela of Argentina, at left in the adjoining photo, and Fabiola Valentín of Puerto Rico, at right, wrote, “After deciding to keep our relationship private, we now open our doors to a special day.” The message included what appeared to be their wedding date, Oct. 28, along with heart and ring emojis.

Varela, 26, and Valentín, 22, appear to have met last March, when they competed in the Miss Grand International beauty pageant in Thailand. In a joint Instagram post, the newlyweds said: "After deciding to keep our relationship private, we opened the doors to them on a special day 28/10/22."

 

October

Oct. 26

 

herschel walker informal

ny times logoNew York Times, Unnamed Woman Says Walker Pressured and Paid for Her to Have Abortion in ’93, Jonathan Weisman and Maya King, Oct. 26, 2022. The woman delivered her story anonymously in a news conference with Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer. The New York Times could not confirm the account.

A woman who did not identify herself said on Wednesday that Herschel Walker pressured her to have an abortion and paid for the procedure nearly three decades ago after a yearslong extramarital relationship. A former football star, Mr. Walker (shown above in a file photo) is running for the Senate in Georgia as an abortion opponent.

The New York Times could not confirm the account, interview the woman or inspect the evidence that Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer, asserted was proof that the woman had a relationship with Mr. Walker.

republican elephant logoThe woman told her story at a news conference with Ms. Allred, but did not appear on camera. Neither she nor Ms. Allred offered any evidence to back up the woman’s accusation that Mr. Walker, a Republican, had urged her to end her pregnancy even after she initially left an abortion clinic without going through with the procedure.

The evidence provided included a taped message from a man Ms. Allred said was Mr. Walker calling from the Winter Olympics of 1992, where Mr. Walker competed in bobsled; a number of greeting cards signed “H”; and a blurry photo of a man who Ms. Allred said was Mr. Walker in a hotel room in Mankato, Minn. She also showed what she said was a receipt for that hotel, a Holiday Inn in the city where the Minnesota Vikings, Mr. Walker’s professional football team at the time, practiced.

The woman, speaking remotely into the news conference, said she was so traumatized in 1993 after she had the abortion that she left her home in the Dallas area and did not return for 15 years.

The woman said she was a registered independent who voted for Donald J. Trump, a Republican, in 2016 and 2020. She told her story, she said, to expose hypocrisy in Mr. Walker’s campaign message and because, she said, he lied in denying another woman’s account of his urging her to have an abortion by saying that he never signed cards with just his first initial, “H.”

Shortly before the news conference, Mr. Walker broadly denied the claim at a campaign event in Dillard, Ga., about 100 miles north of Atlanta.

“I’m done with this foolishness. I’ve already told people this is a lie and I’m not going to entertain it,” he said, suggesting that this was a reflection of Democratic jitters following his performance during the Senate debate against the Democratic incumbent, Senator Raphael Warnock, this month. “The Democrats will do and say whatever they can to win this seat.”

Oct. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Female bodybuilders describe widespread sexual exploitation, Desmond Butler, Amy Brittain and Alice Li, Oct. 25, 2022. Leaders of U.S. bodybuilding’s two premier federations oversaw decades of sexual exploitation of female athletes, The Post found.

Oct. 24

 

 harvey weinstein 10 4 2022 pool etienne laurent

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein appears in court at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on October 4, 2022 in Los Angeles, California (Pool photo by Etienne Laurent).

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know About Harvey Weinstein’s Los Angeles Trial, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Lauren Herstik, Oct. 24, 2022. The former producer was convicted in New York in 2020 of rape and criminal sexual assault. He faces 11 charges in a Los Angeles trial opening on Monday.

More than two years since his conviction for rape and criminal sexual assault in New York, Harvey Weinstein, the former Hollywood producer whose downfall marked a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, faces a second sex crimes trial in Los Angeles.

Opening statements are expected on Monday in the trial, which was once seen as largely symbolic because Mr. Weinstein, 70, still has 21 years left to serve in prison following his 2020 conviction. But the stakes of the Los Angeles trial are higher following a recent decision by New York’s highest court to allow Mr. Weinstein to appeal that conviction.

If Mr. Weinstein wins in New York, the Los Angeles trial will determine whether or not he walks free. Mr. Weinstein faces a life sentence in California if convicted.

He has pleaded not guilty.

What are the charges?

Mr. Weinstein, who has been accused by more than 90 women of sexual misconduct, faces 11 charges in his Los Angeles trial, which began with jury selection two weeks ago and which is expected to last six to eight weeks total.

Oct. 22

ap logoAssociated Press via HuffPost, Alaska GOP Candidate For Governor Faces Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Staff Report, Oct 22, 2022. Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Pierce said he also had no plans to end his campaign just a few weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Alaska faces accusations he sexually harassed a former assistant while he was a borough mayor.

The lawsuit filed Friday accuses Charlie Pierce of “constant unwanted physical touching, sexual remarks, and sexual advances,” the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The case did not show up in an online court records system Saturday. The woman’s Anchorage-based attorney, Caitlin Shortell, said in an email to The Associated Press it was filed in the Kenai Superior Court, and she expected a judge to be assigned Monday.

“When an elected official abuses their power and position to sexually harass public servants, they must be held accountable,” Shortell said.

The AP does not normally identify alleged victims in sexual harassment cases.

Pierce is one of four candidates running for governor in Alaska, and all appeared at a forum Saturday morning in Anchorage. “I have no comments on future litigation,” Pierce told the AP following the debate.

He said he also had no plans to end his campaign just a few weeks before the Nov. 8 election. “I’ll be in the race,” he said.

The lawsuit also names the Kenai Peninsula Borough south of Anchorage as a defendant in the case, claiming the local government failed to protect the woman. She also claims the borough provided no way to report harassment or discrimination without fear of reprisal.

An email seeking comment was sent to the borough’s attorney, Sean Kelley.

According to the lawsuit, the woman was Pierce’s assistant for about 18 months, until June 2022.

Pierce announced in August he would resign in September to focus on his campaign for governor. The borough assembly later released a statement stating Pierce was asked to consider voluntarily resigning after an employee made what were deemed to be credible claims of harassment against him.

In the lawsuit, she claims Pierce touched her breast, made sexual remarks, falsely imprisoned her in his private office, kissed her neck and face, asked questions about her sex life and made unwanted and unsolicited embraces and massages.

The borough has paid two other former employees a combined $267,000 in settlements for separate complaints against Pierce, the Daily News reported.
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In one, the borough paid former human resources director Sandra “Stormy” Brown $150,000 in a settlement after she claimed in a lawsuit that Pierce fired her after she told him she had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. She claimed gender discrimination, disability discrimination and creating a hostile work environment.

The borough also paid $117,000 to settle a complaint from a subsequent human resources director if the employee agreed he would not make “further allegations of ‘illegal acts’ by Mayor Pierce” and rescind his allegations of bullying, the Anchorage newspaper reported.

Oct. 20

 

Anthony Rapp, left, and Kevin Spacey. Photo at left by Brendan McDermid of Reuters; Right, by Yuki Iwamura of the Associated Press.

Anthony Rapp, left, and Kevin Spacey. Photo at left by Brendan McDermid of Reuters; Right, by Yuki Iwamura of the Associated Press.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jury Clears Kevin Spacey of Battery Accusation by Anthony Rapp, Julia Jacobs and Nate Schweber, Oct. 20, 2022. Mr. Rapp had sued Mr. Spacey, accusing him of making a sexual advance in 1986, when he was a 14-year-old actor.

A federal jury in Manhattan found Kevin Spacey not liable for battery on Thursday in a civil case brought by the actor Anthony Rapp, who accused Mr. Spacey of climbing on top of him and making a sexual advance more than 30 years ago when Mr. Rapp was 14.

The 11-person jury in the Federal District Court in Manhattan spent less than 90 minutes deliberating over the evidence against Mr. Spacey, who denied the accusation on the stand. Mr. Rapp, who is best known for his originating role in the musical “Rent,” came forward with the accusation in 2017. At the time, Mr. Spacey was a star of the political drama “House of Cards” and a lauded actor who had hosted the Tony Awards months earlier.

The trial hinged on Mr. Rapp’s account of a night in 1986, when, he said, he attended a party at Mr. Spacey’s New York apartment during a Broadway season in which both of them were acting in plays. Mr. Spacey, who was 26 at the time, denied that such an encounter ever occurred.

The jury found that Mr. Spacey did not touch a sexual or intimate part of Mr. Rapp’s, meaning it could not find him liable under the Child Victims Act, a New York State law that allowed Mr. Rapp to bring his claim. The law included a look-back window during which old claims that had already passed the statute of limitations could be revived.

After the verdict was read, Mr. Spacey stood up with tears in his eyes. He hugged his lawyers briefly and shared a longer hug with his assistant. Mr. Rapp was stoic and straight-faced, as he had been through the entire proceeding.

Richard M. Steigman, one of Mr. Rapp’s lawyers, said, “The jury has spoken.”

Mr. Rapp’s claim was one of the most prominent in the early days of the #MeToo movement, as accusers started to come forward with allegations against high-profile men in the entertainment, political and business worlds. Mr. Spacey quickly experienced career blowback and was ultimately removed from “House of Cards.”

The disclosure by Mr. Rapp, which BuzzFeed News published in October 2017, was followed by more than a dozen other sexual misconduct accusations against Mr. Spacey. He has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges in Britain.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump deposed at Mar-a-Lago in case brought by sexual assault accuser, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 20, 2020 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump was questioned under oath Wednesday in Florida by attorneys for an author who in 2019 went public with an accusation that he raped her in a department-store dressing room in the mid-1990s.

e jean carrollThe author, E. Jean Carroll, right, has a pending defamation lawsuit against Trump.

Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, confirmed that the deposition happened Wednesday as scheduled. The lawyer declined to comment further.

Trump attorney Alina Habba did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. Trump and his attorneys have adamantly denied his having any encounter with Carroll, who has said she was assaulted by Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room.

Judge clears way for Trump to be deposed in defamation case

When Carroll went public with the sexual assault allegation, Trump, then in office, called Carroll a liar and suggested he would not have been interested in her sexually because she wasn’t his “type.”

 

Democratic-Republican Campaign logos

Going Deep, Commentary: Do US Voters Care About Sex Scandals Anymore? Russ Baker, right, Oct. 20, 2022. The weird, hamfisted attempt by MAGA maniac russ bakerLauren Boebert to smear her Democratic opponent with a sex-and-blackmail scandal looks doomed to fail, but is nevertheless a moral bellwether.

It might seem strange that I am writing to you during a trip to France about Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), the crude, controversial gun fanatic and MAGA firebrand who purports to be driven by God to “save” America from decline.

While I was meeting with supporters of meaningful journalism — and getting an earful about how wacky and dangerous America seems to be becoming — a particularly illustrative example of our current cultural madness came to light.

This salacious October Surprise, so far promoted mostly by right-wing media and apparently too toxic for mainstream publications to touch, lauren boebertinvolves a secret tryst and supposed blackmail scheme, the sum total of which helps Boebert, left, and damages Adam Frisch, her Democratic opponent in what seems to be a toss-up race.

First, a quick summary of the alleged “facts,” according to far-right organ Breitbart in an October 13 “exclusive.”

Todd Gardner, the owner of a storage facility/taxi dispatch center in Aspen, CO, claims that in May 2017, Frisch and an unnamed woman used a storage container there for extramarital intimate encounters.

In a video declaration shot by Boebert’s campaign and used by Breitbart as their exclusive, Gardner claims that he initially sat on the information for more than a year; but when he feared his taxi business would be hurt by a possible partnership between Lyft and local government, he threatened to release the video if Frisch, then on the Aspen City Council, didn’t vote against it.

That would be blackmail, which is illegal. But here’s Gardner, openly admitting he blackmailed Frisch, who Gardner says changed his vote and kept Lyft out of Aspen.

True or not — that doesn’t really matter at the eleventh hour in a tight race — Boebert’s campaign is clearly hoping that the story, which Frisch told The Aspen Times comes off as a “desperate ploy” from a “cornered animal,” will make the difference.

There are many questions the far-right “media” organizations covering the story don’t seem to have asked, suggesting this is all a cheap hatchet job.

Oct. 19

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know as Trump Is Deposed in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Suit, Benjamin Weiser, Oct. 19, 2022. The former president on Wednesday will be asked questions under oath in a defamation case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who says he raped her in a dressing room.

e jean carrollThree years after the writer E. Jean Carroll sued Donald J. Trump for defamation in New York, the former president is scheduled to submit to a sworn deposition on Wednesday. It is expected to take place at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence and private club in Florida.

Ms. Carroll, right, in a 2019 book and excerpt in New York magazine, accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s at the department store Bergdorf Goodman. She said that he pushed her against a dressing room wall, pulled down her tights, opened his pants and forced himself upon her.

Mr. Trump said he had never met Ms. Carroll, that she was “totally lying” and that she was not his “type.”

In her suit, Ms. Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, said Mr. Trump’s statements had harmed her reputation.

Legal Schnauzer, Former Balch & Bingham attorney Chase T. Espy pleads guilty to a charge in child-solicitation probe that produced almost 70 videos of child sexual abuse, Roger Shuler, Oct. 19, 2022. A former attorney at Birmingham's Balch & Bingham law firm has pleaded guilty to charges related to a child-solicitation investigation.

chase espyChase T. Espy, right, will not be sentenced until January, but it appears he is headed to federal prison. Possession of Child Pornography carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. According to a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will seek imprisonment of Espy consistent with the high end of the advisory United States Sentencing Guideline range as calculated by the Court at the time of sentencing.

The guilty plea was announced late yesterday afternoon.

From a report at banbalch.com: The plea agreement filed states the investigation was initiated when Espy engaged in online chats with undercover law enforcement whom Espy believed was a 15-year-old girl. Upon being arrested, Espy’s cell phone was seized, and a search warrant was obtained. From this search, approximately 69 videos and four images of child sexual abuse material were found.

Oct. 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Five years on, what happened to the men of #MeToo? Ashley Fetters Maloy and Paul Farhi, Oct. 13, 2022. A few of the men accused during the #MeToo movement went to prison. Some have disappeared. But many are rebuilding their careers. And some were barely affected.

As the #MeToo movement took on hurricane strength five years ago, Al Franken was one of the first to get swept away. The U.S. senator for Minnesota resigned under pressure from Democratic colleagues in December 2017, after eight women said that he had inappropriately touched or kissed them.

Today, Franken is representative of the movement’s ambiguous and varied outcomes. Franken has said that he regrets resigning. Many of his supporters feel the same way.

And instead of sinking into ignominy, the veteran “Saturday Night Live” comedian and author has rebuilt much of his career. He’s not back in the Senate, but he’s hosting a popular podcast and filling theaters on a busy speaking schedule (marketed, in Franken’s style of humor, as the “Only Former U.S. Senator on Tour Tour”).

Some of the most galvanizing early #MeToo cases suggested that a thorough and eternal discrediting would be the fate of every accused man, such as the now-imprisoned producer Harvey Weinstein or former “Today” show host Matt Lauer, who has barely been seen in public since his 2017 firing. But others have reclaimed some of their careers and public esteem. And outside of a bad news cycle, others haven’t really been affected at all.

Oct. 14

 

cuba gooding

ny times logoNew York Times, Cuba Gooding Jr. to Serve No Prison Time After Plea in Sex Abuse Case, Colin Moynihan, Oct. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The actor, shown above, pleaded guilty to a harassment charge after three women accused him of unwanted touching. A score of similar stories emerged after his arrest.

The actor Cuba Gooding Jr. pleaded guilty to a single count of harassment on Thursday, ending a criminal case that began when one report of sex abuse prompted additional accusations from women across the country.

Mr. Gooding, 54, who won an Academy Award in 1997 for his portrayal of a brash football player in “Jerry Maguire,” was charged in 2019 with groping or forcibly kissing three women, one of many prominent men whose behavior was exposed by the #MeToo movement. He was sentenced in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to time served.

Prosecutors had sought permission from the court to present trial testimony from 19 women who came forward after Mr. Gooding was initially charged in Manhattan. Although their accounts were not part of the criminal case, the district attorney’s office wanted them to provide evidence that Mr. Gooding’s behavior was part of a pattern.

A judge initially agreed to permit two of the women to testify, but he ultimately reversed that decision, a prosecutor said. And in April, prosecutors said that they had reached an agreement that would let Mr. Gooding plead to the harassment charge as long as he was not arrested again and continued the alcohol and behavior modification treatment that he had begun in 2019. A prosecutor said in court on Thursday that Mr. Gooding had satisfied those conditions.

Before Mr. Gooding was sentenced, the court heard statements by the three women whose accounts provided the basis for the charges against him. Each of them expressed some disappointment with the outcome of the case and described lingering trauma stemming from their encounters with Mr. Gooding.

“I want to go back to the time when I never had nightmares about fighting off an attacker,” one woman, who was not named in court, wrote in a statement that was read on her behalf by a prosecutor, Coleen Balbert.

Another woman, Kelsey Harbert, addressed the court in person, saying that “in many ways” the plea agreement with Mr. Gooding “felt like a betrayal.” Ms. Harbert elaborated further outside the courthouse, saying that Mr. Gooding was leaving as “a free man” after she had waited three years for a trial in which he would be held accountable. She added that she believed he received special treatment because of his status.

A lawyer representing Ms. Harbert, Gloria Allred, also spoke outside the courthouse, saying, “The decision of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to allow Mr. Gooding Jr. to walk away with a deal, which allows him to avoid trial and erases any criminal record, is an insult to many of the accusers.”

Although Mr. Gooding no longer faces criminal charges in Manhattan, two civil suits accusing him of abuse are active, one in State Supreme Court and the other in Federal District Court.

Oct. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge clears way for Trump to be deposed in defamation case, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 13, 2022 (print ed.). A federal judge has denied a request by former president Donald Trump to pause proceedings in a defamation case brought against him in 2019 by an author who said he raped her in a department store dressing room decades ago.

The decision clears the way for Trump, who denies the claim, to be deposed as scheduled next week.

e jean carrollIn the lawsuit brought against Trump by former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, right, Trump recently won a temporary reprieve from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which sent the case to the appeals court in D.C. to resolve whether Trump was a federal employee as defined by the law when he publicly rebutted Carroll’s story.

On Trump’s behalf, the Justice Department previously tried to intervene in the case on the grounds that he was technically an employee of the U.S. government when he occupied the White House and had legal protections from civil litigation because he was acting under the scope of his employment when he denied Carroll’s account and made disparaging comments about her.

Oct. 11

 

herschel walker informal

washington post logoWashington Post, Woman says she had to press Herschel Walker to pay for abortion he wanted, Annie Linskey and Alice Crites, Oct. 11, 2022. The account, echoed by a person she confided in at the time, deepens the questions swirling around the antiabortion Senate GOP candidate (shown above) in Georgia

The mother of one of Herschel Walker’s children had to repeatedly press the former football star and now-Republican Senate nominee in Georgia for funds to pay for a 2009 abortion that she said he wanted her to have, according to the woman and a person she confided in at the time.

“When I talked to him, I said, 'You need to send — I can’t afford to pay for this,” the woman said in one of several interviews with The Washington Post in recent days, adding that she also told him: “We did this, too. Both of us did this. We both know how babies are made.”

The woman, who lived in the Atlanta area at the time, said she became pregnant when she was unemployed and had less than $600 in her bank account. Walker sent a $700 check via FedEx about a week after the procedure, the woman said. The Post reviewed an image of the check that was printed on an ATM slip, with Walker’s name and an address matching where he lived at the time.

A copy of the check and deposit slip reviewed by The Post includes Walker’s signature and name. It was deposited nine days after the woman said she had an abortion. The Post has reviewed a receipt for $575 at a women’s medical center that day. She said she did not know exactly how much an abortion would cost and estimated the amount she told Walker she would need based on online searches.

The extended discussion over payment for the procedure to end the first pregnancy has not been previously reported. The woman and the person she confided in both spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect the privacy of themselves and their loved ones.

As previously reported, the same woman also says Walker pressured her to have an abortion again when she became pregnant a second time; she chose to give birth to her son, who is now 10. The woman sued Walker in New York in 2013 for child support after he allegedly refused to provide it, according to a person familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details. Walker, who now says he is a multimillionaire, said in that case that he made about $140,000 per year, the person said.

The new revelations deepen questions about Walker’s treatment of women and his children, as well as the conflict between his public opposition to abortion and his alleged private behavior. Walker and his campaign have denied the woman’s claims that he wanted her to have two abortions, and Walker initially claimed he did not know the woman who was making them.

“I know nothing about any woman having an abortion,” Walker said to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last week after the Daily Beast first reported the allegation about paying for an abortion. “Had that happened, I would have said it, because it’s nothing to be ashamed of there.”

Walker is running on a platform that opposes abortion in all cases, without exceptions for rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother. He has said he would vote for a national ban of the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. He has also criticized Black men for being absent parents — a criticism now leveled at him by the woman and by his grown son by another mother, Christian Walker. Herschel Walker has acknowledged having four children with four different women.

 Oct. 10

ny times logoNew York Times, Wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom of California to Testify in Weinstein Trial, Corina Knoll, Oct. 10, 2022. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary filmmaker and former actor, has accused the once-powerful film mogul, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual assault.

The second sex crimes trial of Harvey Weinstein is underway in Los Angeles and among the witnesses expected to testify is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker, former actress and the wife of California’s governor, Gavin Newsom.

Ms. Siebel Newsom is one of the many women who came forward to describe an encounter with Mr. Weinstein. Her involvement was confirmed on Monday by her lawyer, as jury selection began in a case where the once-powerful film producer faces four counts each of rape and forcible oral copulation.

Ms. Siebel Newsom, who was working as an actor and documentary filmmaker, wrote an essay for HuffPost in 2017 in which she mentioned a meeting with Mr. Weinstein during her earlier years in the industry. The article was published a day after The New York Times broke the news that he had paid off women accusing him of sexual misconduct for decades.

“I believe every word that was written in the New York Times, because very similar things happened to me,” read the headline on the essay.

Ms. Siebel Newsom, 48, described how she had received an invitation to meet with Mr. Weinstein at a hotel about a role in an upcoming film.

“I was naïve, new to the industry, and didn’t know how to deal with his aggressive advances,” she wrote.

“Staff were present and then all of a sudden disappeared like clockwork, leaving me alone with this extremely powerful and intimidating Hollywood legend.”

The experience, Ms. Siebel Newsom wrote, was one of many that inspired her 2011 documentary, “Miss Representation,” about how women are oversexualized in the media.

Oct. 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Columbia University to Pay $165 Million to Victims of Former Doctor, Hurubie Meko, Oct. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Robert A. Hadden, a gynecologist, pleaded guilty in 2016 to abusing 19 women, but got no prison time. He is currently facing federal charges.

Columbia University and its affiliated hospitals on Friday announced a $165 million settlement with 147 patients of a former gynecologist accused of sexual abuse by dozens of women. Among the people who have accused him of abuse was Evelyn Yang, the wife of the former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

columbia logoRobert A. Hadden, who according to the hospitals has not worked as a doctor since 2012, pleaded guilty in 2016 to abusing 19 women, but was spared prison time. Now, Mr. Hadden is awaiting trial on federal charges of enticing and inducing women, including a minor, to travel from outside New York State to his Manhattan offices to engage in illegal sex acts.

The hospitals will establish a compensation fund to distribute the money, according to a news release from the university. The settlement follows a $71.5 million deal reached last year between the hospitals and 79 of his former patients who had been represented by a different lawyer.

“We deeply regret the pain that Robert Hadden’s patients suffered and hope that these resolutions will provide some measure of support for the women he hurt,” Columbia University Irving Medical Center said in the release.

The settlement is “scratching the surface,” said Anthony T. DiPietro, who represented the victims.

“I represent nearly a dozen additional women who Columbia has refused to address,” he said in a call Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, a spokesman for Columbia University Irving Medical Center said the hospitals knew of only two unresolved claims brought by former patients who have been identified and are represented by Mr. DiPietro.

The investigation began in 2012 after a patient told the police that then-Dr. Hadden touched her sexually during an examination. Six women came forward with similar allegations, court records showed. In 2014, he was indicted on charges that included five counts of a criminal sexual act, two counts of forcible touching and two counts of sexual abuse.

But in a deal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Mr. Hadden pleaded guilty to a single felony count of criminal sexual act in the third degree, and a misdemeanor count of forcible touching. The prosecutor’s office agreed to not seek prison time and promised not to pursue new sexual abuse allegations against him. His sex-offender status was reduced so that it would end after 20 years and his name would not be on an online list of offenders.

That deal received scrutiny amid questions about how Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the former Manhattan district attorney, handled sex crimes — including the revelation that his office had asked for the lowest sex-offender status be given to Jeffrey Epstein in 2011.

Oct. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Judges in Ohio and Arizona Temporarily Block States’ Abortion Bans, Ava Sasani, Oct. 8, 2022 (print ed.). The decisions offered a window into which legal arguments might be working in the broader strategy to re-establish abortion rights through state courts. Abortion rights supporters won two temporary victories on Friday when judges in Ohio and Arizona suspended state laws banning the procedures.

In Ohio, a county judge indefinitely suspended a state law prohibiting most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. A few hours later, an appeals court in Arizona temporarily blocked its pre-statehood law banning the procedure.

The decisions marked progress for abortion advocates who have been fighting to restore access to the procedure in states that ban it.

The Ohio decision extends an earlier, temporary suspension of the law that was set to expire next week. The ruling means that the state’s abortion ban is suspended while the court case proceeds, providing a bit more certainty for abortion providers and women.

Without the ban in effect, abortion in Ohio is legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion this summer, states have been free to regulate the procedure. More than a dozen, including Ohio, have passed laws banning most abortions. Some include narrow exceptions for rape, incest or if a pregnant woman’s life is in danger.

Those in favor of abortion rights have worked to overturn bans and restrictions by suing in state courts.

Attorney General David Yost of Ohio, who supports the six-week ban, could still appeal the case to a higher court.

“We will wait and review the judge’s actual written order and consult with the governor’s administration,” on next steps, said a spokesman for Mr. Yost.

The ruling in Arizona blocks a near-total ban dating back to 1864. The strict law was reinstated last month by a lower court in Arizona. Though Friday’s ruling temporarily restored the injunction on the 158-year-old ban, a law passed this year restricting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy is in effect.

Read More on Abortion Issues in America

  • Risking Everything: Doctors and midwives in blue states are working to get abortion pills into red states — setting the stage for a historic legal clash.
  • A Proposed Nationwide Ban: Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy would be much earlier than many state laws. Here's how it compares.
  • In Arizona: A judge ruled that a near-total abortion ban dating back to 1864 must be enforced, throwing abortion access into question one day before the start of a 15-week ban that passed the Legislature this year.
  • Abortion ‘Abolitionists’: Activists pushing to criminalize abortion from conception as homicide are the outer edge of the anti-abortion movement. After the end of Roe, they’re looking to gain followers.

 

herschel walker informal

washington post logoWashington Post, Ga. Senate candidate Herschel Walker urged second abortion, according to report, Annie Linskey, Oct. 8, 2022 (print ed.). A woman interviewed by the New York Times said the former football star ended their relationship after she refused his request.

The mother of one of Herschel Walker’s children has said that the Georgia Republican Senate candidate ended a relationship with her in 2011 after she refused to have a second abortion as she had done two years earlier, according to an account in the New York Times. Instead, the woman gave birth to the child, according to the report.

The Washington Post has not independently confirmed the account, which builds on a story published earlier this week by the Daily Beast reporting that Walker, who is campaigning on an antiabortion platform, paid for the woman to have an abortion.

Walker denied paying for an abortion and said he did not know what woman was making the allegation.

GOP crisis in Herschel Walker race was nearly two years in the making

“I know nothing about any woman having an abortion,” Walker said Thursday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, has not responded to multiple inquiries from The Post.

georgia mapWalker’s campaign did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the Times’s report.

The revelations threaten to further complicate one of the most competitive Senate campaigns in the country and confirm fears among some Republicans that Walker’s chaotic personal history, including allegations of domestic violence, will continue to attract attention and scrutiny in the final weeks of the campaign.

Also on Friday, Walker’s campaign fired a political director over accusations that he had unauthorized contacts with reporters, according to a person familiar with the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal campaign matters.

Republicans have sought to go on offense in Georgia, releasing a new political advertisement that highlights Democratic Sen. Raphael G. Warnock’s history of opposition to abortion and other issues.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Even the most staunch Republicans are rattled’: Concerns were voiced when Walker’s campaign was in talking stages, Isaac Arnsdorf, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 7, 2022. In Georgia, Republicans are stuck with a problematic Senate candidate they saw coming but decided they couldn’t stop.

In early 2021, as football star Herschel Walker (shown above in a file photo) considered running for Senate, he approached some of Georgia’s top Republican operatives about advising his campaign. The operatives were warned about political vulnerabilities in Walker’s past — including allegations of violence against women — that were openly discussed in the state’s political circles, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Walker’s reaction to being confronted with the allegations was also troubling, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. When the consultants would ask the candidate about incidents even in the public record, he would often get simultaneously defensive and aggressive, accusing the questioner of being a Democratic plant or ally of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader.

Those consultants passed on working with Walker, but he pressed ahead with his campaign. After all, Walker’s overwhelming name recognition in Georgia as a Heisman Trophy-winning football star and backing from former president Donald Trump instantly made him so formidable that state and national Republican leaders didn’t mount a serious challenge in the primary, despite concerns about Walker’s baggage.

Now, less than five weeks before the midterm elections, they’re stuck with him as those liabilities threaten to dominate the news and derail his campaign in a state widely viewed as a must-win for Republicans to retake the Senate.

On Monday, the Daily Beast reported that Walker paid for an abortion in 2009, citing documentation including a receipt, a check image and a get-well card. The Washington Post has not independently verified the allegations. As a candidate, Walker has supported an absolute ban on abortions, with no exception for rape, incest or the health of the mother. Walker’s campaign initially denied the report and promised to sue the next day, but no lawsuit has been filed.

 Oct. 7

 

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Brave Women of Iran Deserve More U.S. Support, Editorial Board, Oct. 7, 2022. The hijabs that thousands of Iranian women and girls have been burning in defiance over the past few weeks — since the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police on Sept. 16 — are a symbol of far broader discontent with Iran’s corrupt and incompetent leaders. The protests since Ms. Amini’s death, led by women, have persisted for weeks and have brought Iranians in dozens of cities into the streets to reveal the depth of their anger. Iranians who are sick and tired of living under a tyrannical theocracy deserve the support of the United States and its allies.

ali khamenei 2022 wThe death of Ms. Amini, who was detained by the guidance patrol for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly, is an outrageous sample of the violence the Islamic Republic has visited on women since coming to power in 1979. The religious cabal that has led Iran since then, currently led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, regards enmity with the United States and keeping women in their place as critical to their survival in power.

The threat of a virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli regime obtaining nuclear weapons is real, but the diplomatic efforts to block it must go hand in hand with efforts to help Iranians who are seeking respite and change.

iran flag mapAyatollah Khamenei, right, is 83 and ailing, and he is among the last of the Islamic revolutionaries who overthrew the monarchy. His passing, however, would be no guarantee of a more liberal regime in Tehran. As Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote in a recent essay in the Times, his cohort of true believers have been largely supplanted by opportunists in search of wealth and privilege.

Global isolation may be damaging to the regime, but global integration would be dangerous, as Mr. Sadjadpour wrote. The regime might see its best chance of survival in maintaining repressive rule and “just the right amount of isolation.” Ayatollah Khamenei wants to be “neither North Korea nor Dubai. He wants to be able to sell Iran’s oil on the global market without sanctions, but he doesn’t want Iran to be fully integrated in the global system.”

Since Donald Trump ripped up the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, the Biden administration and other nations involved have been trying to revive it. That is a worthy effort, but negotiations for the deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, are at a standstill over two Iranian conditions in particular that Western negotiators cannot meet: that the International Atomic Energy Agency end investigations into traces of uranium at undeclared sites, and that the United States provide guarantees the deal will not again be killed. It is up to Iran to choose whether to revive the deal, and its decision is not likely to be swayed by American behavior.

Whatever the future of the nuclear deal, its fate should not preclude the United States and its allies from vigorously supporting the desire of Iranian protesters for global integration, through better access to the essential tools of communication, organizing and protest.

The moral case is not solely the outrageous behavior of the clerical regime. It is also the fact that so much of the economic suffering of the Iranian people — rents that have multiplied, goods that have become prohibitively expensive, a currency that has plummeted so low that Iranians need stacks of bills to do everyday shopping — is the result of waves of American sanctions.

The U.S. needs to maintain its efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and this board supports continuing diplomatic efforts that could curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program and open the door to future agreements. But some of the current sanctions have gone too far, and fallen mostly on the very activists that the United States would like to help. Indeed, the regime has used Iran’s economic isolation to further entrench its power. The United States thus has a major stake in helping Iranians to a better life, ideally one without sanctions, morality police or nuclear weapons.

The U.S. also has the ability to help improve access to one of the major tools of popular resistance — communications. Iranian dissidents have long complained that sanctions on technology hindered their ability to communicate with the outside world and with one another. Immediately after the Iranian government cut off access to the internet for most of its roughly 85 million citizens, the Biden administration did what it should have done long before, issuing a general license allowing technology firms to provide technical means for Iranians to elude government restrictions.

Making the announcement on Sept. 23, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that “we are going to help make sure the Iranian people are not kept isolated and in the dark.” The administration also imposed targeted sanctions on the morality police and senior security officials, whom it holds responsible for violence against protesters and Ms. Amini’s death. The U.S. can go further, and encourage technology companies, including Google, Apple, Amazon and others, to make tools available and expedite applications for technology sales that go beyond the general license.

washington post logoWashington Post, Arizona court halts enforcement of near-total abortion ban, Andrew Jeong, Oct. 7, 2022. An Arizona appellate court halted enforcement of the state’s near-total abortion ban late Friday, staying a lower court’s decision to reinstate an older law that does not allow victims of rape or incest to have the procedure at any time.

The order by the Arizona Court of Appeals came after Planned Parenthood Arizona, a reproductive health organization, appealed the September ruling by Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson. The stay is in place until the appellate court can hear the appeal. The lower court had lifted a decades-long injunction on the total-near restrictions, which have their roots in an 1864 law which only allows arizona mapabortions if they are needed to save the life of a pregnant person.

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

Judge Peter J. Eckerstrom, writing for the three appellate judges that issued the stay, said the lower court may have erred in resurrecting the Civil War era law, because it conflicts with more recent laws that provide abortion seekers with more leeway. A law that permits abortions for up to 15 weeks took force last month, putting it in conflict with the 1864 near-total ban. Arizona’s GOP Attorney General has previously said he plans to enforce the older law.

“Arizona courts have a responsibility to attempt to harmonize all of this state’s relevant statutes,” Eckerstrom wrote in a one-page order, adding that the “acute need of [health care] providers, prosecuting agencies, and the public for legal clarity” had prompted the order.

Oct. 5

 

herschel walker hill tv

Daily Beast, Investigation: Herschel Walker’s Abortion Accuser Also Had a Child With Him, Roger Sollenberger, Oct. 5, 2022. MUM'S THE WORD. Herschel Walker has claimed he has no idea who this woman could be. Here's why that's surprising.

Walker then spun the report as an attack from “desperate” Democrats eager to maintain control of the pivotal Senate seat. Instead of being deterred by his now-public hypocrisy, he said he now feels “energized.”

daily beast logo“They see me as a big threat, and I know that and I knew it when I got into this race. But they don’t realize that I think they came for the wrong one. They energized me,” Walker said. “They energized me, because I know how they really want to try to keep this seat.”

The anonymous woman said that defense sounded ridiculous.

georgia map“Sure, I was stunned, but I guess it also doesn’t shock me, that maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn’t remember,” she said. “But then again, if he really forgot about it, that says something, too.”

The woman, a registered Democrat whose years-long relationship with Walker continued after the abortion, told The Daily Beast that her chief concern with revealing her name was because she is the mother of one of Walker’s own children and she wanted to protect her family’s privacy as best she could while also coming forward with the truth. (Walker has publicly acknowledged the child as his own, and the woman proved she is the child's mother and provided credible evidence of a long-term relationship with Walker.)

The Walker campaign declined to comment for this story.

But even with the woman remaining anonymous, the story has still rocked Walker’s family in other ways.

republican elephant logoAfter Walker denied the report, one of his three sons, conservative social media influencer Christian Walker, released a series of angry statements and videos condemning his dad as a liar, and alleging that the University of Georgia football hero had threatened to murder him and his mother—Walker’s ex-wife.

“I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us,” Christian Walker tweeted after the abortion story broke Monday night. “You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.”

The anonymous woman said that while she’s been a “good sport” about the campaign, after Walker’s denial, she could no longer keep this information from the public.

“I’ve been very civil thus far. I keep my mouth shut. I don’t cause any trouble. I stay in the background. But I’m also not gonna get run over time and time again,” she said. “That’s crazy.”

Walker and his campaign have put out seemingly conflicting messages to battle the story, denying it on one hand as a “lie” while also appealing to themes of religious redemption and forgiveness on the other. On Wednesday, Walker put out a new ad where he discusses overcoming his struggles with mental health “by the grace of God.”

But if Walker is seeking redemption for the abortion, that would be a recent shift. He lied about his role in abortions just this year—once in a June interview with The Daily Beast, and later to a Democratic activist posing as a Walker supporter, who caught his denials on video.

Asked about the role faith played in Walker’s life, the anonymous woman, who identifies as a Christian herself, said even though Walker often talked about Christianity, he uses it “when it works for him.”

She said Walker frequently talked about being a Christian, but never once expressed any misgivings about abortion generally—or any regret about the one that they had. When she got pregnant again years later, the woman says she made a different choice, even though Walker said it still wasn’t “a convenient time” for him.

“He didn’t express any regret. He said, ‘relax and recover,’” the woman recalled, alluding to the message on the “get well” card Walker sent her along with the abortion payment.

“He seemed pretty pro-choice to me. He was pro-choice, obviously,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s anywhere in the Bible where it says ‘have four kids with four different women while you’re with another woman.’ Or where it praises not being a present parent. Or that an abortion is an OK thing to do when it’s not the right time for you, but a terrible thing for anyone else to do when you are running for Senate. He picks and chooses where it’s convenient for him to use that religious crutch,” she said.

The campaign has used the woman’s desire to remain anonymous to raise money, saying in its first fundraising email after the news broke that “Now, they’re using an anonymous source to further slander me.”

Asked how she felt about the campaign’s boast that Walker saw record-setting contributions in the hours after he called her a liar, the woman said she hoped they would give the money away.

“It would be really nice if when he loses they would turn that money over to someone who needs it,” she said. “Maybe to a mental health organization. It would be really nice of them, instead of taking that and putting it in some other politician’s pockets, they used it to help someone else.”

Walker finds his campaign in crisis as election day is a month away. The outcome of the race could tip the balance of the Senate, and polls are tight. Recent surveys taken before the abortion news broke show Walker narrowly trailing his Democratic opponent, Sen. Raphael Warnock.

But the woman’s allegation has reframed the race and sent Republicans scrambling.

According to The Daily Beast’s reporting, after Walker and the woman first conceived a child in 2009, he urged her to have an abortion and then reimbursed her for it. The woman provided a receipt from the clinic showing the date of the procedure, along with a signed personal check Walker had mailed her inside a “get well” card five days later.

 

Herschel Walker supporters pray with him

washington post logoWashington Post, Herschel Walker denies report that he paid for girlfriend’s abortion, Annie Linskey and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, on Monday denied a claim that he paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009, saying in a televised interview on Fox News Channel that the account published in the Daily Beast is a “flat-out lie.” He is shown above at right with supporters praying with him after the allegation.

Walker’s denial came after the Daily Beast published a detailed description from an unnamed former girlfriend who said that Walker encouraged her to have an abortion after she became pregnant while they were dating, wrote her a $700 check to pay for the procedure and then sent her a subsequent “get well” card.

When asked by Fox News’s Sean Hannity about the reported $700 check, Walker, who has voiced opposition to abortion rights, said he frequently gives money to others. “I send money to a lot of people,” Walker said. “I believe in being generous.”

Walker is challenging Democratic Sen. Raphael G. Warnock in one of the most closely watched Senate contests of the year. The outcome of the race, which polls show is competitive, is expected to help determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.

As he runs for the Senate, Walker has campaigned as a strict opponent of abortion rights. He has said he opposes abortion without any exceptions and has voiced support for a proposed national ban on the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Christian Walker turns his online influence against his father, Philip Bump, Oct. 5, 2022 (print ed.).  When Herschel Walker announced his candidacy in August 2021, Christian Walker was the only child he was generally known to have had; it has since been revealed that he has three others.

christian walkerChristian Walker, right, was onboard with his father’s candidacy at the outset, sharing Donald Trump’s endorsement of his father soon after the announcement and posting a video of him embracing Herschel Walker during a campaign event at Mar-a-Lago in December.

What changed, the younger Walker says, is that his father wasn’t forthright about his past. In a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Christian Walker explained the shift.

“I did one event last year when we were told he was going to get ahead of his past and hold himself accountable,” the son said. “None of that happened. Everything’s been a lie.”

Twitter, Messages from Christian Walker, Oct. 4, 2022.

@ChristianWalk1r

I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us.

You’re not a “family man” when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.

@ChristianWalk1r
I don’t care about someone who has a bad past and takes accountability. But how DARE YOU LIE and act as though you’re some “moral, Christian, upright man.” You’ve lived a life of DESTROYING other peoples lives. How dare you.

Politico, Walker’s team knew of an abortion allegation months before it surfaced, Meridith McGraw, Natalie Allison and Sam Stein, Oct. 5, 2022 (print ed.). His team was aware and had time to prepare. They just hoped it wouldn’t come out before the election.

politico CustomLiz Mair, a longtime Republican opposition researcher and consultant with corporate clients in Georgia, said she had heard the claim as far back as 2021. She is not involved in the campaign.

“I remember hearing about this very early and thinking it was like a classic oppo hit,” she recalled. “This abortion thing I heard. Having more kids than he was copping to I heard. And all of this was before we got to the point of him being [the Republican candidate]. I had heard about the alleged liabilities. And abortion was top of the list.”

 

paul lepage maine governor

washington post logoWashington Post, Maine GOP gubernatorial hopeful Paul LePage struggles to answer abortion questions in debate, Amy B Wang, Oct. 5, 2022. During his two terms as Maine governor, Republican Paul LePage, shown above in a file photo, attended antiabortion rallies, argued that “we should not have abortion” and said in 2018 that if the Supreme Court were to make a case for overturning Roe v. Wade, “let’s do it.”

But on a gubernatorial debate stage Tuesday night, LePage was much more circumspect about his views on reproductive rights, struggling to respond directly when asked what he would do if the Maine legislature introduced additional restrictions to abortion in the state. Multiple times, he avoided answering questions directly, protesting that it was a hypothetical issue or that he did not understand the question.

LePage’s awkward performance Tuesday highlights the position many antiabortion Republicans are in, four months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that for nearly a half-century guaranteed the right to an abortion in the United States. The decision has galvanized Democratic voters — and put some GOP candidates on the defensive — in a midterm election cycle that would typically favor the party not in power.

On Tuesday night, a moderator first asked whether Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) would support removing the “viability” restriction in Maine’s current abortion law, which allows abortion until the point “when the life of the fetus may be continued indefinitely outside the womb by natural or artificial life support.” After that, an abortion may be performed only when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Mills, who has served as Maine’s governor since 2019, said she had no plans to change the state law, which she said reflected Roe v. Wade.

“I believe a woman’s right to choose is just that: It’s a woman’s right, not a politician’s and most certainly not Mr. LePage’s or anybody sitting in public office,” Mills said. “As long as I’m governor, the right to reproductive health care will never be considered dispensable. My veto pen will stand in the way of any effort to undermine, roll back or outright eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.”

“I have never wavered in that position, never equivocated, never flip-flopped,” she added pointedly.

As the moderator began asking LePage the same question, he jumped in on his own.

“I served eight years as the governor of Maine. Never once did I attempt, ever, to do — even talk about the abortion bill, because I believe in — the bill that’s in place right now is a good bill,” said LePage, who was governor of Maine from 2011 to 2019. “I believe in protecting the mother’s life for rape … and incest. I also believe in the viability.”

The moderator pointed out that the question had actually been different. What would he do as governor if the state legislature were to bring a bill to him that added additional restrictions, such as reducing the viability period to 15 weeks or requiring parental consent before a minor could receive an abortion?

“I support the current law as it is,” LePage said.

“And if they brought those bills to you, you would not sign them?” the moderator asked.

“That is correct,” LePage said.

Mills interrupted: “Well, would you let it go into law without your signature?” she asked.

“I don’t know …” Le Page started.

“That’s the alternative,” Mills said. “You know that. You were governor. You know what the options are. Would you allow it to go into law without your signature?”

A visibly flustered LePage dropped his pen on the ground and then leaned over to pick it up as he shot back at Mills: “Would you allow a baby to take a breath? Would you allow the baby to take a breath …”

Mills paused and repeated her questions more slowly. “Would you let a restrictive law go into effect without your signature? Would you block a restriction on abortion?”

“Would I block? Or would-?” LePage said. “This is what I would do. The law that’s in place right now, I have the same exact place you have. And I would honor the law as it is. You’re talking about a hypothetical.”

“Oh, we’re not,” Mills replied, smiling and shaking her head.

“If you’re saying, we’re gonna take the restriction away, making it illegal for the viability?” LePage continued. “No, I would not sign that. I would veto that. The viability is in law now.”

After a brief pause, the moderator pointed out that LePage still had not answered the question. Would he veto additional restrictions that came to him? LePage asked for examples. The moderator provided them once again.

“If you’re talking about would I veto a bill that would change the viability, I would go to the medical professionals to tell me,” LePage said, shrugging. “I don’t know what you mean by 15 weeks or 28 weeks. Because I don’t know. I mean, I’m not sure I understand the question.”

There was another pause.

“I understand the question,” Mills said flatly. “I would not let such law become effective. My veto can and will stand in the way of any restrictions on the right to abortion.”

“When you say restriction — I’m, I’m trying to understand the question,” LePage said.

A different moderator asked the question one last time.

“So, Governor LePage, if the legislature came to you and said we want to change Maine’s law, and instead of viability which currently stands at 28 weeks, now Maine’s law is going to say no abortions after 15 weeks — would you veto that?” she asked.

“Yes,” LePage said at last.

 

amber heard johnny depp

ny times logoNew York Times, How Do You Measure the Impact of #MeToo? Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (reporters and co-authors of the book She Said, Oct. 4-5, 2022 (Interactive). Five years after the movement took off — five years of accusations, verdicts and consequences — what does success look like?

jodi kantor megan twohey she said coverLast spring, the fate of an entire global movement was decided in a single Virginia courtroom. Or so the story went.

The actors and ex-spouses Amber Heard and Johnny Depp (shown above in a file photo) were dueling over defamation charges. An online mob swarmed Ms. Heard. Many observers feared that other women would be intimidated from airing abuse allegations. Even before a jury decided the case mostly in Mr. Depp’s favor, obituaries for #Metoo began to appear, including in this newspaper.

“This is basically the end of MeToo,” a psychologist told Rolling Stone after the verdict. “It’s the death of the whole movement.”

The #MeToo mourners came to that conclusion even though the actors’ trial layered allegations of sexual and domestic violence with other elements — thermonuclear divorce, celebrity spectacle.

Few commenters cited another story from that week: a bombshell report from the Southern Baptist Convention admitting that high-ranking church leaders had suppressed and mishandled allegations of abuse of women and children within its ranks over two decades. The group soon revealed a file more than 200 pages long, describing hundreds of accused ministers and other church workers. The reckoning, across the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, was a broader, deeper #MeToo event than the celebrity courtroom battle, and a sign of the movement’s durability.

Five years after the #MeToo movement exploded into a global phenomenon, its success is inherently hard to measure.

The conventional way to score it follows whatever prominent accused man is falling or prevailing at the time. Harvey Weinstein, right,  is harvey weinsteinsent to prison; Bill Cosby walks free. Andrew M. Cuomo resigns; R. Kelly is convicted.

“It’s up and down and up and down all the time,” said Tarana Burke, who founded the #MeToo movement in 2006, to seek healing for Black women who suffered sexual abuse.

After The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed the allegations against Mr. Weinstein in October 2017, the phrase #MeToo didn’t just go viral — it also expanded. Ms. Burke watched as the term she had coined was used in ways that went far beyond her organization and mission. People used it to describe not only rape and workplace sexual harassment, but also domestic violence, gender bias and verbal abuse.

However, the malleability that has given #MeToo power and influence also makes it a challenge even for supporters to define clear objectives or tabulate gains and losses.

Take two episodes from this year. In April, Louis C.K. won a Grammy, provoking cringes from many fellow comedians, fans and others, especially as his accusers — female comedians with nowhere near his clout — continued to struggle. But his is also arguably one of the most settled #MeToo stories, because he admitted that the allegations against him were true. The lingering controversy is less about the facts than about whether he has been adequately punished.

After claims of sexual misconduct against the N.F.L. quarterback Deshaun Watson mounted in 2021, the Cleveland Browns signed him to a $230 million fully guaranteed contract, prompting complaints that the league wasn’t taking the allegations seriously and didn’t care about women. But this past summer, after a league investigation found that Mr. Watson had committed multiple violations of its personal conduct policy, the quarterback was suspended for 11 games and fined a record $5 million. While some saw the penalties as a slap on the wrist, they were among the most severe in league history.

These stories are shape shifters, evidence of #MeToo’s endurance or its waning influence.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sheryl Sandberg’s next chapter: Pledging millions to fight abortion bans, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Naomi Nix, Oct. 5, 2022 (print ed.). The longtime Facebook chief officer stepped down last week. Three days later, she announced one of the biggest donations for abortion rights in ACLU history.

sheryl sandberg world economic forum 2013Less than three days after she left her position as the No. 2 corporate officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg (shown at the World Economic Forum in 2013) is already remaking herself as one of the foremost philanthropists fighting the curtailment of abortion rights across the United States.

On Tuesday, Sandberg and the American Civil Liberties Union announced that Facebook’s former chief operating office was donating $3 million to fight abortion bans — money the ACLU said would be used “to protect reproductive health care in courts, legislatures, and at the ballot box over the next three years.”

The donation, one of the largest supporting abortion rights to the ACLU, marks a new chapter for Sandberg — among the most prominent female business executives in America. During her fourteen-year tenure at Facebook, she shied away from politically controversial moves.

facebook logoSandberg has long been a women’s rights advocate, championing her signature brand of corporate feminism in her best-selling book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” and her Lean In foundation. She is a major donor to Planned Parenthood and was known for promoting women to leadership positions during her 14-year tenure at the social network.

But she was also criticized during the Trump years for political timidity. She did not publicly comment when former president Donald Trump, as a candidate, made disparaging remarks about women, including bragging on tape that he would grope them against their will. She was called out for not publicly supporting or attending the Women’s March, a global gathering of millions of people in protest of Trump’s stance on women, in 2017. Facebook then spent years making extensive efforts to curry favor with the Trump administration, even going so far as to rewrite and interpret its policies to avoid conflict with the president and his followers.`

 ny times logoNew York Times, In an Uphill Battle to Hold the House, Democrats Bet on Abortion Rights, Catie Edmondson, Oct. 4, 2022 (print ed.). Vulnerable Democrats in competitive districts have leaned into abortion rights as a closing argument for their campaigns, following internal polling.

Oct. 4

 

herschel walker hill tv

Daily Beast, Investigation: 'Pro-Life' Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend's Abortion, Roger Sollenberger, Oct. 3, 2022. Not For Thee. The woman has receipts-and a "get well" card she says the football star, now a Senate candidate (shown above in a screen shot), sent her.

Herschel Walker, the football legend now running for Senate in Georgia, says he wants to completely ban abortion, likening it to murder and claiming there should be "no exception" for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

daily beast logoBut the Republican candidate has supported at least one exception-for himself.

A woman who asked not to be identified out of privacy concerns told The Daily Beast that, after she and Walker conceived a child while they were dating in 2009, he urged her to get an abortion. The woman said she had the procedure and that Walker reimbursed her for it.

She supported these claims with a $575 receipt from the abortion clinic, a "get well" card from Walker, and a bank deposit receipt that included an image of a signed $700 personal check from Walker.

The woman said there was a $125 difference because she "ball-parked" the cost of an abortion after Googling the procedure and added on expenses such as travel and recovery costs.

Additionally, The Daily Beast independently corroborated details of the woman's claims with a close friend she told at the time and who, according to the woman and the friend, took care of her in the days after the procedure.

The woman said Walker, who was not married at the time, told her it would be more convenient to terminate the pregnancy, saying it was "not the right time" for him to have a child. It was a feeling she shared, but what she didn't know was that Walker had an out-of-wedlock child with another woman earlier that same year.

Asked if Walker ever expressed regret for the decision, the woman said Walker never had. Asked why she came forward, the woman pointed to Walker's hardline anti-abortion position.

"I just can't with the hypocrisy anymore," she said. "We all deserve better."

After The Daily Beast reached out to the Walker campaign for comment, Robert Ingram, a lawyer representing both the campaign and Walker in his personal capacity, responded. "This is a false story," Ingram said in a phone call, adding that he based that conclusion on anonymous sources.

After the story published, Walker released a statement in which he called the story a "flat-out lie" and said he denied it in the "strongest possible terms."

"I'm not taking this anymore. I planning [sic] to sue the Daily Beast for this defamatory lie. It will be filed tomorrow morning," he said.

Meanwhile, Herschel's adult son, Christian Walker, lashed out on Twitter-in defense of The Daily Beast and against his father.

"Every family member of Herschel Walker asked him not to run for office, because we all knew (some of) his past. Every single one," Walker tweeted.

"He decided to give us the middle finger and air out all of his dirty laundry in public, while simultaneously lying about it.

"I'm done."

According to the $575 receipt, the abortion took place on Sept. 12, 2009.

And according to the Bank of America deposit receipt, Walker wrote the woman a check for $700 on Sept. 17, 2009. The check was deposited two days later.

The woman, who also provided proof of her romantic relationship with Walker, told The Daily Beast that he mailed her the check inside the "get well"
card.

The front of that card features a drawing of a steaming cup of tea and reads, "Rest, Relax." The message continues on the inside of the card: "Recover."

The card is signed, "Pray you are feeling better," with an "H" in Walker's distinctive autograph flourish.

The woman, a registered Democrat who still communicates with Walker, said he did not tell her about his plan to run for the Senate before his announcement in August 2021. Since then, however, one of Walker's top surrogates has asked her repeatedly if she would be willing to vouch for his character, reaching out as recently as this August.

Following the Supreme Court's repeal of Roe v. Wade in July, abortion rights have become a pivotal campaign issue across the country. The ruling fueled spikes in voter registration and turnout in contests nationwide, especially among women. A recent CBS/YouGov survey found that likely Georgia voters who said the abortion issue is "very important" were more than twice as likely to support Warnock, 67 percent to Walker's 32 percent.

washington post logoWashington Post, Herschel Walker denies report that he paid for girlfriend’s abortion, Annie Linskey and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Oct. 4, 2022. Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, on Monday denied a claim that he paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009, saying in a televised interview on Fox News Channel that the account published in the Daily Beast is a “flat-out lie.”

Walker’s denial came after the Daily Beast published a detailed description from an unnamed former girlfriend who said that Walker encouraged her to have an abortion after she became pregnant while they were dating, wrote her a $700 check to pay for the procedure and then sent her a subsequent “get well” card.

When asked by Fox News’s Sean Hannity about the reported $700 check, Walker, who has voiced opposition to abortion rights, said he frequently gives money to others. “I send money to a lot of people,” Walker said. “I believe in being generous.”

Walker is challenging Democratic Sen. Raphael G. Warnock in one of the most closely watched Senate contests of the year. The outcome of the race, which polls show is competitive, is expected to help determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.

As he runs for the Senate, Walker has campaigned as a strict opponent of abortion rights. He has said he opposes abortion without any exceptions and has voiced support for a proposed national ban on the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Christian Walker turns his online influence against his father, Philip Bump, Oct. 4, 2022. When Herschel Walker announced his candidacy in August 2021, Christian Walker was the only child he was generally known to have had; it has since been revealed that he has three others.

christian walkerChristian Walker, right, was onboard with his father’s candidacy at the outset, sharing Donald Trump’s endorsement of his father soon after the announcement and posting a video of him embracing Herschel Walker during a campaign event at Mar-a-Lago in December.

What changed, the younger Walker says, is that his father wasn’t forthright about his past. In a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Christian Walker explained the shift.

“I did one event last year when we were told he was going to get ahead of his past and hold himself accountable,” the son said. “None of that happened. Everything’s been a lie.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Soccer ‘failed’ women players, report finds, as new abuse claims emerge, Rick Maese, Oct. 4, 2022 (print ed.). Abuse and misconduct were both pervasive and systemic at the highest tiers of women’s professional soccer, and the sport’s governing us soccer logobodies and team executives repeatedly failed to heed warnings or punish coaches who abused players, according to an investigative report released Monday by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

sally yates twitterThe year-long probe by Sally Q. Yates, left, the former acting attorney general, found that some of the game’s top coaches were the subjects of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, including some that have not been previously made public. The coaches also leaned on vicious coaching tactics, Yates found, including “relentless, degrading tirades; manipulation that was about power, not improving performance; and retaliation against those who attempted to come forward."

“Players described a pattern of sexually charged comments, unwanted sexual advances and sexual touching, and coercive sexual intercourse,” Yates wrote in the executive summary of her report.

 

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Video Footage Reveals About the Protests in Iran, Nilo Tabrizy and Haley Willis, Oct. 4, 2022 (Cinemagraph). The New York Times analyzed dozens of videos circulating online for insights about what is propelling the demonstrations, and how women are leading the movement.

Protests erupted in more than 80 cities across Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, known by her first Kurdish surname Jina, iran flag mapafter her detention by the morality police under the so-called hijab law. Footage of the demonstrations posted to social media has become one of the primary windows into what is happening on the ground and revealed what is different about this latest show of resistance inside Iran.

Now in their third week, protests have continued even as dozens of people have been killed. Many of the videos appeared on ali khamenei 2022 wsocial media during the first week of the protests, before Iran’s government began limiting internet access in an effort to silence dissent.

Multiple videos show a consistent theme of protesters attacking structures and symbols that represent Iran’s government, in some cases setting fire to municipal structures. In the northern city of Amol, demonstrators set fires in the complex of the governorate building, and elsewhere took down portraits of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, and the founding leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran’s security forces have a history of using violence and brutality to suppress dissent. In many instances, authorities have shot protesters on the streets. Amnesty International has said that at least 52 people have been killed since the start of the protests, noting that the death toll is likely much higher. Videos capture men in military fatigues using Kalashnikov-type assault rifles in protest areas, as well as the sound of sustained bursts of automatic rifle fire breaking up crowds.

 

maggie haberman confidence man

The Guardian, ‘She say anything about me?’ Martin Pengelly, Oct. 4, 2022. Trump raised Ghislaine Maxwell link with aides Subject: ‘She say anything about me?’ Trump raised Ghislaine Maxwell link with aides. Then-president voiced concern after socialite’s sex trafficking arrest, according to book by New York Times’s Maggie Haberman.

At an Oval Office meeting in July 2020, Donald Trump asked aides if Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of the financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein who had been arrested on sex trafficking charges, had named him among influential contacts she might count upon to protect her.

According to a new book by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Trump asked “campaign advisers … ‘You see that article in the [New York] Post today that mentioned me?’

“He kept going, to silence. ‘She say anything about me?’”

Epstein was convicted and sentenced in Florida in 2008, on state prostitution charges. He was arrested again in July 2019, on sex-trafficking charges. He killed himself in prison in New York a month later.

Links between Epstein, Maxwell and prominent associates including Trump and Prince Andrew have stoked press speculation ever since.

Maxwell, the daughter of the British press baron Robert Maxwell, was arrested in New Hampshire on 2 July 2020.

The story which seemed to worry Trump, according to Haberman, appeared in the celebrity-focused Page Six section of the New York tabloid on 4 July 2020.

It quoted Steve Hoffenberg, an Epstein associate, as saying: “Ghislaine thought she was untouchable – that she’d be protected by the intelligence communities she and Jeffrey helped with information: the Israeli intelligence services, and Les Wexner, who has given millions to Israel; by Prince Andrew, President Clinton and even by President Trump, who was well-known to be an acquaintance of her and Epstein’s.”

Maxwell was ultimately convicted in New York in December 2021, on five of six charges relating to the sex-trafficking of minors. In July 2022, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In February this year, Prince Andrew settled a civil case brought by an Epstein victim who alleged she was forced to have sex with the royal. Andrew vehemently denies wrongdoing but has suffered a collapse of his standing in public and private.

Oct. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Silicon Valley County Battles With Uber Over Reporting of Sexual Assault, Cade Metz, Oct. 3, 2022. Uber does not inform the police of such incidents, citing advocacy group guidelines. But officials in Santa Clara County argue that it should.

uber logoIn February, Terry Harman, an assistant district attorney for Santa Clara County in California, wrote a memo detailing her concerns about sexual assaults on Uber rides.

The memo she sent to her boss, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, said that although their office prosecuted several hundred sexual assault cases each year, only one had involved an Uber driver.

Based on data released by Uber, she estimated that riders in Santa Clara County had reported as many as 60 sexual assault incidents to the company in 2017 and 2018 alone.

ny times logoNew York Times, Settlement Reached in U.S. Court on Chinese #MeToo Case, Amy Qin and Chang Che, Oct. 3, 2022. The case, involving a billionaire entrepreneur, riveted observers in China, where women alleging sexual wrongdoing by powerful men are often pilloried, silenced or both.

The Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Richard Liu has reached a settlement with Liu Jingyao, a former University of Minnesota student who accused him of rape in a Minneapolis apartment after a night out in 2018, in a case that has riveted China and been held up as a richard liulandmark episode in China’s struggling #MeToo movement.

China FlagThe agreement, which was announced in a joint statement late Saturday, came just two days before a civil trial was to begin in a Minneapolis courtroom. Lawyers from both parties said Mr. Liu, right, and Ms. Liu, who are not related, had agreed to “set aside their differences” in order to avoid further pain and suffering. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

“The incident between Ms. Jingyao Liu and Mr. Richard Liu in Minnesota in 2018 resulted in a misunderstanding that has consumed substantial public attention and brought profound suffering to the parties and their families,” the joint statement read.

The settlement marks the end of a prolonged legal battle for Ms. Liu, who was a 21-year-old undergraduate student at the time of the alleged assault. After her accusations against Mr. Liu first surfaced in 2018, she quickly became one of the most public — and divisive — faces of China’s nascent #MeToo movement.

 

September

Sept. 29

 

corey lewandowski testimony proofPolitico, Corey Lewandowski cuts deal on charge stemming from alleged unwanted sexual advances, Alex Isenstadt, Sept. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Corey Lewandowski (shown above in a file photo), who was Donald Trump's first campaign manager, allegedly touched a woman repeatedly at a Las Vegas charity dinner in 2021.

politico CustomFormer senior Donald Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski has cut a deal with Las Vegas prosecutors after he was charged with misdemeanor battery, stemming from allegations of unwanted sexual advances toward a woman during a charity dinner in Sept. 2021.

The charge came nearly a year after Trashelle Odom accused Lewandowski of repeatedly touching her, including on her leg and buttocks, and speaking to her in sexually graphic terms. POLITICO reported that Odom, the wife of Idaho construction executive and major GOP donor John Odom, also alleged that Lewandowski “stalked” her throughout the hotel where the event took place, told her she had a “nice ass,” and threw a drink at her.

The charge was filed earlier this month in Clark County, Nev., according to court records. The records show that Lewandowski agreed to a deal that will see him undergo eight hours of impulse control counseling, serve 50 hours of community service and stay out of trouble for a year. He also paid a $1,000 fine.

republican elephant logoUnder the agreement, Lewandowski did not have to admit guilt, and once the conditions are met, the charges will be dismissed.

Lewandowski was Trump’s first campaign manager and remained a key informal adviser during Trump’s time in the White House, and he remained part of Trump’s inner circle of political advisers after the former president lost reelection. But Lewandowski was quickly fired from his position running Trump’s super PAC, and he was also let go from consulting roles with other corey lewandowski kristi noemRepublican politicians, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (shown with him at right in file photos) and then-Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster.

Trump’s spokesperson said at the time that Lewandowski “will no longer be associated with Trump world,” while Noem’s spokesperson said Lewandowski “will not be advising the governor in regard to the campaign or official office.”

But Lewandowski soon worked his way back into Republican politics in 2022. Lewandowski was seen with Noem at a Republican Governors Association event in May, POLITICO reported, and he signed on to consult for GOP hopefuls this year including Ohio Senate candidate Jane Timken and Massachusetts gubernatorial hopeful Geoff Diehl. Lewandowski also attended the Mar-a-Lago premiere of a film espousing election conspiracy theories in April.

Odom was one of about two dozen major Republican donors who attended a September 2021 charity dinner at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino’s Benihana restaurant. Odom, who was seated next to Lewandowski during the dinner, alleged that Lewandowski spoke about his genitalia and sexual performance, and showed her his hotel room key. Odom’s husband was not present at the time.

Odom said that Lewandowski touched her around 10 times, and that she repeatedly rebuffed him. After leaving the dinner, she said that Lewandowski followed her, threw a drink at her and called her “stupid.” She also said that Lewandowski tried to intimidate her, saying he was “very powerful” and could “destroy anyone.”

At an after-party, witnesses said they observed Lewandowski following Odom around a bar area, while some people present tried to shield her from him. One person recalled seeing Odom in tears. Those who were present for the dinner described Lewandowski as appearing intoxicated.

Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano speaks to supporters following his victory in the state's primary to become Republican nominee for governor this year (Associated Press photo by Carolyn Kaster via MSNBC).er ap primary night via msnbcPennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano speaks to supporters following his victory in the state's primary to become Republican nominee for governor this year (Associated Press photo by Carolyn Kaster via MSNBC).

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP governor nominee once urged murder charges for women getting abortions, Mariana Alfaro and Annabelle Timsit, Sept. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Doug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator who is the GOP nominee for governor, once said that women who violated his proposed abortion ban should be charged with murder.

pennsylvania map major citiesMastriano — who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump in May — has appealed to hard-right voters, including by supporting strict abortion restrictions, calling the separation of church and state a “myth” and promoting the false claim that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Christian nationalism is shaping a Pa. primary — and a GOP shift

Mastriano has walked a fine line on abortion since he won the gubernatorial primary and the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, making the issue one of the most relevant ahead of the November election. While he has attempted to paint his Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, as “extreme” on the issue, he has also downplayed his past stances on abortion, saying the issue is up to the state’s voters.

In a 2019 interview with Pennsylvania radio station WITF, which was first resurfaced Tuesday by NBC News, Mastriano spoke about a bill he sponsored in the state legislature that would have outlawed abortion as soon as cardiac activity is detected, around six weeks of pregnancy.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 912 — which was never passed — would have significantly altered existing legislation in the state, which allows abortions up to 24 weeks and beyond in cases in which the mother’s life and health would be demonstrably endangered otherwise.

The interviewer asked Mastriano to clarify whether he was arguing that a woman who underwent an abortion at 10 weeks gestation should be charged with murder. “Yes, I am,” Mastriano replied, insisting that the fetus deserves “equal protection under the law.”

He also suggested in the interview that physicians who perform abortions after cardiac activity is detected should face the same charge. “It goes back down to the courts,” he said. “If it’s ruled that that little person is a baby, a human being, then that’s murder, and it has to go through the legal procedures.” The Washington Post could not immediately reach Mastriano for comment early Wednesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, In the House fight for the New York City suburbs, will abortion turn the tide for Democrats? Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Sept. 29, 2022 (print ed.). Several competitive House races on Long Island have become fertile ground for candidates to test out common Republican and Democratic campaign themes.

U.S. House logoA year ago, Republicans staged an uprising in the Long Island suburbs, winning a slew of races by zeroing in on public safety and suggesting that Democrats had allowed violent crime to fester.

Now, with the midterms approaching, Democratic leaders are hoping that their own singular message, focused on abortion, might have a similar effect.

“Young ladies, your rights are on the line,” Laura Gillen, a Democrat running for Congress in Nassau County, said to two young women commuting toward the city on a recent weekday morning. “Please vote!”

Long Island has emerged as an unlikely battleground in the bitter fight for control of the House of Representatives, with both Democrats and Republicans gearing up to pour large sums of money into the contests here.

Sept. 28

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Sex Assault Trial Is a Rare Moment for the Chinese #MeToo Movement, Amy Qin, Sept. 28, 2022. Richard Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, will be one of the few high-profile Chinese figures to face an American courtroom over sexual assault allegations.

richard liuLiu Jingyao, right, is not the first young woman to accuse a powerful Chinese businessman of rape. She is not the only Chinese woman to confront a man and seek legal charges against him.

China FlagBut she is one of the first to pursue her case in an American courtroom.

That could make all of the difference for Ms. Liu — and for the nascent #MeToo movement in China.

Jury selection begins Thursday in Minneapolis in the civil trial against one of the world’s most prominent tech billionaires, known as Richard Liu in the English-speaking world and as Liu Qiangdong in China. He is the founder of JD.com, an e-commerce giant in China that draws comparisons there to Amazon.

Ms. Liu, who is unrelated to Mr. Liu, says that the businessman followed her back to her Minneapolis apartment and raped her after an alcohol-soaked 2018 dinner for Chinese executives that she attended as a University of Minnesota volunteer, according to court filings. He has denied the allegations, insisting that the sex was consensual.

Sept. 27

 

The headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC

The headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump nominee is voted out as head of Inter-American Development Bank, Azi Paybarah, Sept. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Mauricio Claver-Carone’s term as IDB president was set to expire in 2025.

mauricio claver carone 2020The Inter-American Development Bank, the hemisphere’s premier international lending institution, voted Monday to fire its president. Mauricio Claver-Carone, right, was terminated following a unanimous recommendation by the 14-member executive board, the organization said.

The termination was first reported by Reuters.

In a statement, the IDB said Claver-Carone, whose term was set to expire in 2025, “will cease to hold the office of President of the Bank” effective Monday.

The statement did not refer to a well-publicized investigation into him. Two people familiar with the probe said it was the results of that investigation that led to the vote. The individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the inner workings of IDB or the results of the investigator’s report, which has not been made public.

One of the individuals said investigators found evidence to conclude Claver-Carone had a relationship with a staff member who reported directly to him, and to whom he gave raises totaling more than 45 percent of base pay in less than one year. Claver-Carone’s leadership of the organization also resulted in employees fearing retaliation from him, the person said.

Vice President Reina Irene Mejía Chacón will lead the organization until a new president is elected, the statement said.

The Biden administration appeared to welcome Claver-Carone’s ouster.

A spokesperson for the Treasury Department said the United States “supports the dismissal of the IDB President.” The department said Claver-Carone’s “refusal to fully cooperate with the investigation, and his creation of a climate of fear of retaliation among staff and borrowing countries, has forfeited the confidence of the Bank’s staff and shareholders and necessitates a change in leadership.”

Politico, Federal appeals court punts on writer's suit against Trump over rape denial, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 27, 2022. A federal appeals court handed Donald Trump an incremental win Tuesday in a libel suit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll over the former president’s denial of her claim that he raped her in a New York department store dressing room in the 1990s.

politico CustomA divided panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court judge erred when he concluded that Trump, as president, was not covered by a federal law that can be used to shield federal employees from liability over incidents related to their work.

e jean carrollUnder Trump, the Justice Department belatedly invoked that law — known as the Westfall Act — in a bid to shut down the defamation case Carroll, right, filed in 2019 stemming from statements Trump issued denying that he raped Carroll, including a declaration that “She’s not my type.” Last year, under President Joe Biden, the Justice Department stirred controversy by reaffirming the department’s earlier stance that Trump was essentially immune from suit because he was acting within the scope of his duties when fielding media questions about the alleged rape at the Bergdorf Goodman in 1995 or 1996.

In Tuesday’s ruling, the majority on the three-judge federal appeals court panel asked a local court in Washington, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, to weigh in on whether Trump’s statements are the sort of actions that employers can be held liable for under D.C. law. If not, Trump could be personally responsible for any damages awarded in the case.

Carroll’s libel suit may wind up being of secondary concern to Trump, since she has signaled she plans to file a new suit in November that directly accuses Trump of rape and seeks damages for the alleged attack itself. A New York state law set to take effect in November allows plaintiffs such as Carroll to pursue civil cases over sex crimes that would otherwise be subject to a 20-year statute of limitations.

Sept. 25

 

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

ny times logoNew York Times, Protests Surge in Iran as Crackdown Escalates, Vivian Yee and Farnaz Fassihi, Sept. 25, 2022 (print ed.). Dozens have reportedly been killed by security forces as demonstrations continue to spread across Iran. Protests began after Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the morality police

iran flag mapThe 22-year-old woman emerged from the Tehran subway, her dark hair covered with a black head scarf and the lines of her body obscured by loose clothing, when the capital city’s Guidance Patrol spotted her. They were members of Iran’s notorious morality police, enforcers of the conservative Islamic dress and behavior rules that have governed daily life for Iranians since the 1979 revolution, and newly energized under a hard-line president who took office last year.

By their standards, Mahsa Amini was improperly dressed, which could mean something as simple as a wisp of hair protruding from her head scarf. They put her in a van and drove her away to a detention center, where she was to undergo re-education. Three days later, on Sept. 16, she was dead.

Now, over eight days of rage, exhilaration and street battles, the most significant outpouring of anger with the ruling system in more than a decade, her name is everywhere. Iranian protesters in dozens of cities have chanted “women, life and freedom” and “death to the dictator,” rejecting the Iranian Republic’s theocratic rule by targeting one of its most fundamental and divisive symbols — the ailing supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In several of the videos of the uprising that have torn across social media, women rip off their head scarves and burn them in street bonfires, including in deeply religious cities such as Qum and Mashhad. In one, a young woman atop a utility cabinet cuts off her hair in front of a crowd of roaring demonstrators. In another, young women dare to dance bareheaded in front of the riot police.

“Death to the dictator,” protesters at Tehran University chanted on Saturday. “Death to the head scarf! Until when must we tolerate such humiliation?”
I
Previous protests — over fraudulent elections in 2009, economic mismanagement in 2017 and fuel price hikes in 2019 — have been ruthlessly suppressed by Iran’s security forces, and this time may be no different. Yet, for the first time since the founding of the Iranian Republic, the current uprising has united rich Iranians descending from high-rise apartments in northern Tehran with struggling bazaar vendors in its working-class south, and Kurds, Turks and other ethnic minorities with members of the Fars majority.

The sheer diversity of the protesters reflects the breadth of Iranians’ grievances, analysts say, from a sickly economy and in-your-face corruption, to political repression and social restrictions — frustrations Iran’s government has repeatedly tried, and failed, to quash.

“The anger isn’t over just Mahsa’s death, but that she should have never been arrested in the first place,” said Shadi Sadr, a prominent human rights lawyer who has campaigned for Iranian women’s rights for two decades.

Sept. 23

CelticsBlog, Brad Stevens and Wyc Grousbeck address Ime Udoka’s suspension, Andrew Doxy, Sept. 23, 2022. In a tight-lipped but still revealing conference, Celtics leadership spoke on the recent news.

nba logoAn emotional Brad Stevens and Boston Celtics co-owner and CEO, Wyc Grousbeck, held a press conference today to discuss the news that Ime Udoka will be suspended for the 2022-23 NBA season just days ahead of Media Day and training camp.

Early in the conference, Wyc Grousbeck stated that they wouldn’t dive into details for the sake of privacy for all those involved, but there were still details that could be ascertained through some of the responses that followed as questions were allowed. Before questions came into the equation, Grousbeck revealed that an independent law firm was brought in to thoroughly and impartially investigate the case as soon as the team was made aware in July.

On the suspension front, no other members of the Celtics organization are facing any penalties of any sort. Grousbeck offered that he will be meeting with female staffers to make sure that they feel supported.

At this point, the organization has made its stance clear on support for Joe Mazzulla’s character and growth over the last 13 years. What’s left is for Mazzulla himself to speak to it as he’s asked questions about it on Monday afternoon’s Media Day.

Naturally, this led to questions about Joe Mazzulla’s domestic battery case from 2009. In response, Brad Stevens spoke to confidence in Mazzulla’s character, stating that he thoroughly investigated the matter when Mazzulla was hired to the staff in 2019.

At this point, the organization has made its stance clear on support for Joe Mazzulla’s character and growth over the last 13 years. What’s left is for Mazzulla himself to speak to it as he’s asked questions about it on Monday afternoon’s Media Day.

Sept. 21

 

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health.

ny times logoNew York Times, Protests Intensify in Iran Over Woman Who Died in Custody, Cora Engelbrecht and Farnaz Fassihi, Sept. 21, 2022. Unrest has spread to dozens of cities, with at least seven people killed, according to witnesses, rights groups and video posted on social media.

Antigovernment protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody are intensifying, and dozens of cities are embroiled in unrest that has been met with a crackdown by the authorities, according to witnesses, videos posted on social media and human rights groups.

iran flag mapThe protests appear to be one of the largest displays of defiance of the Islamic Republic’s rule in years and come as President Ebrahim Raisi is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. They erupted last weekend after the woman, Mahsa Amini, died following her arrest by Tehran’s morality police on an accusation of violating the law on head scarves.

At least seven protesters had been killed as of Wednesday, according to human rights groups. Protesters have been calling for an end to the Islamic Republic, chanting things like “Mullahs get lost,” “We don’t want an Islamic republic,” and “Death to the supreme leader.” Women have also burned hijabs in protest against the law, which requires all women above the age of puberty to wear a head covering and loose clothing.

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New allegations continue to 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 in the allegations below.

ny times logoNew York Times, Writer Who Says Trump Raped Her Plans to Use New Law to Prove It, Benjamin Weiser, Sept. 21, 2022 (print ed.). E. Jean e jean carroll twitterCarroll, a former advice columnist for Elle shown at left and at right in a 1990s photo, had already sued the former president for defamation after he branded her a liar.

e jean carrollIn May, New York passed a law giving adult sexual assault victims a one-time opportunity to file civil lawsuits, even if the statutes of limitations have long expired.

Now, a writer who says former President Donald J. Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s plans to use the law to sue Mr. Trump, according to court papers made public on Tuesday.

The writer, E. Jean Carroll, had already sued Mr. Trump in 2019 for defamation, claiming that he had harmed her reputation when he branded her a liar and denied having attacked her.

She plans to file her new case against Mr. Trump on Nov. 24, the start of a one-year window in which the law allows such suits to be filed, Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan, wrote in a letter to the federal judge overseeing the defamation lawsuit.

Sept. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutor suspended over claim he pressured defendant for nude photos, Jonathan Edwards, Sept. 20, 2022. Ronnie Goldy Jr. provided a defendant with legal favors for years in exchange for her nude photos, court officials allege.

Elected prosecutor Ronnie Goldy Jr. had spent about three years helping a defendant out of legal jams in exchange for nude photos of her, but on June 15, 2018, he asked for something more, court officials said.

“When do I get to see a video?” Goldy, the top prosecutor for several rural counties east of Lexington, Ky., allegedly asked her in a Facebook message.

“When am I not gonna have a warrant hahaha,” the woman countered, according to a court report.

“Lol. Good point,” Goldy allegedly replied before sending another message: “Incentives never hurt.”

Twelve days later, Goldy followed up, telling the woman she owed him “big time,” according to a report filed last week with the Kentucky Supreme Court. When the woman asked why, Goldy allegedly responded that the “Judge is about to withdraw some warrants.”

On Friday, the state Supreme Court temporarily suspended Goldy from practicing law for allegedly engaging in a quid pro quo relationship. For seven years, he did legal favors for the female defendant, demanding nude images and “sexual favors” in return, according to a report written by Jean Chenault Logue, a state judge who served as a special commissioner overseeing Goldy’s case.

Under Kentucky law, a commonwealth’s attorney like Goldy can’t be removed from office except by impeachment.

Sept. 18

 

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step, Ellen Barry, Sept. 18, 2022. As American feminists came together in 2017 to protest Donald Trump, Russia’s disinformation machine set about deepening the divides among them.

Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick.

The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.

More than four million people around the United States had taken part, experts later estimated, placing it among the largest single-day protests in the nation’s history.

But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?

That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine.

More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.

They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other.

It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.

Over the 18 months that followed, Russia’s troll factories and its military intelligence service put a sustained effort into discrediting the movement by circulating damning, often fabricated narratives around Ms. Sarsour, whose activism made her a lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his most ardent opposition.

One hundred and fifty-two different Russian accounts produced material about her. Public archives of Twitter accounts known to be Russian contain 2,642 tweets about Ms. Sarsour, many of which found large audiences, according to an analysis by Advance Democracy Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts public-interest research and investigations.

 

chris doworth left matt gaetz joel greenberg resized facebook

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL, at center, former Florida State Rep. Chris Dorworth, left, then of the Ballard Partners lobbying firm, and former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, at right, posed for the photograph above outside the White House in June of 2019.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Matt Gaetz hasn’t been indicted (yet), Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 18, 2022. Why hasn’t Matt Gaetz been indicted bill palmeryet? We keep hearing pundit chatter about how it’s due to the “60 day rule” about not indicting a candidate close to election day – but that’s not what’s going on here. The DOJ has reportedly had three cooperating witnesses against him for several months. This means he could have been indicted months ago.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’re currently 52 days from the election, which means the “60 day rule” didn’t even kick in until last week. All you have to do is look at a calendar to see that it’s not the reason Gaetz hasn’t been indicted. And if the DOJ had dropped the Gaetz case, it would have told him by now, and he’d be bragging about it nonstop. So the only reason for the DOJ to have sat on a ready-to-go Gaetz indictment for months is that it’s part of an ongoing probe involving bigger fish than Gaetz.

So who’s the bigger fish? Another Florida politician involved in the sex trafficking scandal? Or is it a bigger fish in a different aspect of the Gaetz probe? He’s being investigated for alleged misuse of campaign funds as well, along with other things. Gaetz is also likely a material witness to various crimes that Donald Trump committed, which is probably what the holdup is really about.

Keep in mind, Gaetz being indicted is not the ideal outcome here. The ideal outcome is Gaetz cutting a cooperation deal against Trump. The Feds are known to keep digging up criminal dirt on smaller fish to ratchet up the pressure for them to flip on bigger fish.

If Gaetz isn’t yet inclined to flip on Trump, and the DOJ indicts Gaetz anyway, then he’ll just double down and go to trial, which will take a couple years, and he’ll never be of any value in the case against Trump, because the Trump case will have long played out by the time Gaetz is convicted and realizes he should have flipped.

Sept. 14

 

r kelly denied bail

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly Is Found Guilty of Sex Crimes With Minors, Robert Chiarito and Julia Jacobs, Sept. 14, 2022. The musician, 55, had already been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The new conviction in Chicago could add years to that prison sentence.

R. Kelly, the fallen R&B star (shown above in a court appearance) who was once revered as a product of Chicago’s South Side, was found guilty on Wednesday of sex crimes, including producing child sexual abuse imagery and coercing minors into sex acts.

Mr. Kelly, 55, had already been sentenced to 30 years in prison after a jury in Brooklyn convicted him of racketeering and sex trafficking charges last year — the first time Mr. Kelly had been held criminally responsible for allegations related to sexual abuse despite accusations dating back more than three decades. The conviction in Chicago could add years to that prison sentence.

On Wednesday, the 12-person jury in the trial convicted Mr. Kelly of six out of the 13 charges brought against him. He was found guilty of coercing three minors into criminal sexual activity and producing three child sexual abuse videos, all of which prosecutors said involved the same 14-year-old girl.

Mr. Kelly was acquitted of attempting to obstruct an earlier investigation into his abuse. The jury also found him not guilty of receiving child sexual abuse imagery and conspiring to receive such imagery as part of an alleged scheme to recover missing videotapes.

Two of Mr. Kelly’s former employees, Derrel McDavid and Milton Brown, were tried alongside the singer and were acquitted on all charges against them. Mr. McDavid, Mr. Kelly’s former business manager, was acquitted of arranging payments to people while attempting to recover the missing tapes. And Mr. Brown was found not guilty of conspiring to recover child sexual abuse imagery as part of an effort to protect Mr. Kelly.

The federal trial in Chicago carried echoes of a state trial in 2008, in which a jury acquitted Mr. Kelly on charges of producing child sexual abuse imagery. That trial focused on one videotape, which prosecutors said showed Mr. Kelly sexually abusing and urinating on a girl when she was 14. After finding him not guilty, some jurors told reporters after that trial that the lack of testimony from the young woman — who had denied to a grand jury that she appears in the video — had been a significant barrier to convicting Mr. Kelly.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ken Starr, Independent Counsel in Clinton Investigation, Dies at 76, Peter Baker, Sept. 14, 2022 (print ed.). Mr. Starr’s investigation into President Clinton’s affair with a former intern propelled issues of sex and morality to the center of American life.

Ken Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation uncovered a White House sex scandal that riveted the nation and led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment for lying under oath and obstructing justice, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Houston. He was 76.

ken starr baylorHis wife, Alice Starr, said he had spent the last 17 weeks at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center fighting an undisclosed illness and died of complications of surgery, but gave no further details.

For a time, Mr. Starr (shown in a filephoto at Baylor University) was a household name and his investigation into Mr. Clinton’s affair with a former White House intern, Monica S. Lewinsky, propelled issues of sex, morality, accountability and ideology to the center of American life for more than a year.

He became a Rorschach test for the post-Cold War generation, a hero to his admirers for taking on an indecent president who despoiled the Oval Office and a villain to his detractors who saw him as a sex-obsessed Inspector Javert driven by partisanship. His investigation tested the boundaries of the Constitution when it prompted the first impeachment of a president in 130 years and scarred both Mr. Clinton’s legacy and his own.

He returned to the public stage in 2020 as a lawyer for President Donald J. Trump during his first Senate trial, this time denouncing what he called “the Age of Impeachment” as a weapon in partisan wars. “Like war, impeachment is hell,” he told the Senate during the proceeding that, like Mr. Clinton’s 21 years earlier, ended in acquittal. “Or at least presidential impeachment is hell.”

No one knew that better than Mr. Starr, whose steady climb through the ranks of the conservative legal world was upended by his unexpected journey into a presidential saga of sex, lies and audiotapes. Mr. Starr served as a widely respected appeals court judge and solicitor general projected as a future Supreme Court justice before becoming a lightning rod during the Clinton investigation.

He went on to serve as dean of the Pepperdine University’s law school and as president of Baylor University, but was demoted and later resigned from Baylor after an investigation found that the university mishandled accusations of sexual assault against members of the football team. The investigators rebuked the university leadership, saying that it had “created a perception that football was above the rules.”

Sept. 13

 

lindsey graham npr

ny times logoNew York Times, Republicans Struggle to Unite Party Around National Abortion Restrictions, Lisa Lerer and Elizabeth Dias, Sept. 13, 2022. For weeks, anti-abortion activists and their Republican allies have been quietly seeking to rally their party around a single platform on abortion, hoping to settle divisions and blunt political damage from an issue with growing potency in the midterm elections.

But when Senator Lindsey Graham, above, came ahead on Tuesday with a proposed 15-week national abortion ban intended to unite his party, the result was only more division.

Mr. Graham’s Senate allies swiftly distanced themselves from the plan, reflecting a lack of consensus in the party, as well as deep resistance to being drawn into any debates over abortion while economic issues hold more sway with swing voters.

The rapid rejection of Mr. Graham’s gambit was the latest misfire in the party’s struggle to unite behind a clear strategy on an issue that has reshaped campaigns across the country. Despite decades of Republican efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, when the Supreme Court ultimately took that step in June, the G.O.P. was caught flat-footed, with no unified national abortion strategy ready to put into place.

While Democrats have been energized in the months since, vowing to fight for access and firing up their voters in the process, Republicans have offered a wide range of proposals and battled in state legislatures to enact them.

“The Republican response has been disastrous,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, who pushed for Mr. Graham’s bill. But now, she said, “They are finding their voice.”

Ms. Dannenfelser is now urging Senate candidates to endorse Mr. Graham’s federal ban, which includes exceptions for rape, incest and the life or physical health of the mother. While the policy is more restrictive than previous Senate proposals, it falls well short of the six-week national ban some social conservatives have wanted. A 15-week limit could allow the vast majority of abortions to continue. (In 2019, 93 percent of abortions happened before 13 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Politico, Graham's abortion ban stuns Senate GOP, Burgess Everett, Marianne LeVine and Sarah Ferris, Sept. 13, 2022. His past, less conservative pitch won him some Democratic votes. But most Republicans stiff-armed him Tuesday as they face abortion-rights backers ascendant after Roe's reversal.

politico CustomLindsey Graham’s anti-abortion legislation once unified the Republican Party. The 15-week abortion ban he pitched Tuesday had the exact opposite effect.

The South Carolina senator chose a uniquely tense moment to unveil his party’s first bill limiting abortion access since this summer’s watershed reversal of Roe v. Wade. It was designed as a nod to anti-abortion activists who have never felt more emboldened. Yet Graham’s bill also attempted to skate past a Republican Party that’s divided over whether Congress should even be legislating on abortion after the Supreme Court struck down a nationwide right to terminate pregnancies.

And some fellow Republicans said they were highly perplexed at Graham’s decision to introduce a new abortion ban — more conservative than his previous proposals — at a precarious moment for the party.

republican elephant logo“I don’t think there’s an appetite for a national platform here. My state, today, is working on this. I’m not sure what he’s thinking here. But I don’t think there will be a rallying around that concept,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “I don’t think there’s much of an appetite to go that direction.”

Graham’s past pitches for a 20-week abortion ban attracted most Republicans’ support and even the votes of some Senate Democrats. His latest effort would leave in place state laws that are even more restrictive while also imposing new limits in blue states that currently have none. Coming less than 60 days before the midterms, it’s riled some Republicans, who are watching their once-dominant polling advantage shrink since the Roe reversal.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that questions about the bill should be directed to Graham and that most Republican senators “prefer this be handled at the state level.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) suggested Graham had gone a bit rogue with his latest legislation: “That wasn’t a conference decision. It was an individual senator’s decision.”

“There’s obviously a split of opinion in terms of whether abortion law should be decided by the states … and those who want to set some sort of minimum standard,” Cornyn said of the 50-member Senate GOP conference. “I would keep an open mind on this but my preference would be for those decisions to be made on a state-by-state basis.”

Graham’s bill bans the procedure nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a priority of many prominent anti-abortion activists who have been demanding a far more aggressive response from the GOP. It includes exceptions for rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten maternal health.

While public polling shows majority opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in June, it also shows support for some limits on abortion. Republicans have often parried questions about their positions by turning the spotlight onto Democrats, who generally support no legislative limits on terminating pregnancy.

 

Robert Sarver, the owner of the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury, has been suspended for one year after an investigation found that he had mistreated employees (Photo by Ross D. Franklin for the Associated Press).Robert Sarver, the owner of the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury, has been suspended for one year after an investigation found that he had mistreated employees (Photo by Ross D. Franklin for the Associated Press).

ny times logoNew York Times, N.B.A. Fines and Suspends Phoenix Suns Owner for Misconduct, Scott Cacciola and Tania Ganguli, Sept. 13, 2022. An investigation found that the owner, Robert Sarver, had used racial slurs and treated female employees inequitably. The N.B.A. fined Sarver $10 million.

The N.B.A. is suspending Robert Sarver, the majority owner of the Phoenix Suns, for one year and fining him $10 million after an investigation determined that he had engaged in misconduct, including using racial slurs, yelling at employees and treating female employees unfairly.

nba logo“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” Adam Silver, the commissioner of the N.B.A., said in a statement.

He added: “Regardless of position, power or intent, we all need to recognize the corrosive and hurtful impact of racially insensitive and demeaning language and behavior. On behalf of the entire N.B.A. I apologize to all of those impacted by the misconduct outlined in the investigators’ report. We must do better.”

Sarver also owns the W.N.B.A.’s Phoenix Mercury.

Sarver said in a statement that he accepted the consequences of the N.B.A.’s decision.

“While I disagree with some of the particulars of the N.B.A.’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our employees,” he said. “I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values.”

The N.B.A. began the investigation in response to a November 2021 article by ESPN about accusations of mistreatment against Sarver. After the article was published, the league retained the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to conduct an independent investigation.

On Tuesday, the firm and the N.B.A. released a 43-page report that found that Sarver “had engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards,” which included inappropriate comments about female employees’ appearance and bullying. He also engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees on four occasions, according to the report.

More than 100 individuals who were interviewed by investigators said they witnessed behavior that “violated applicable standards.” There was a general sense among employees that Sarver felt that workplace rules did not apply to him, according to the report.

Sarver also made crude jokes, cursed at employees and told a pregnant employee that she would be unable to do her job upon becoming a mother, according to the report.

Witnesses recalled Sarver saying that the employee would be busy “breastfeeding” and that a “baby needs their mom, not their father.” The employee cried in response to Sarver’s comments, according to the report. Sarver later asked why women “cry so much.”

Sept. 10

kirk shipley washington post

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Whitman High rowing coach sentenced to three years for sex abuse, Lizzie Johnson, Sept. 10, 2022 (print ed.). Kirk Shipley, shown above, a three-time All-Met coach, had pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two rowers at the Bethesda, Md., high school.

Former Walt Whitman High rowing coach Kirk Shipley was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for sexually abusing two former students — an outcome that appeared to stun the former Montgomery County teacher and his attorney.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Maribeth Raffinan imposed 36 months for first-degree sexual abuse of a secondary education student and 24 months for possession of a sexual performance by a minor. She suspended two of the five years.

Shipley pleaded guilty to the felonies in June as part of a plea deal. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Shipley and his attorney had argued he should be given probation for his crimes. Speaking publicly for the first time since his arrest last year, the three-time All-Met Coach of the Year apologized to the victims, calling his actions “very, very wrong.” Shipley also expressed remorse about the impact on hundreds of his former students and athletes at the high-achieving school in Bethesda, Md., saying that he hoped that “those memories will be happy again” someday.

They trusted a coach with their girls and Ivy League ambitions. Now he’s accused of sex abuse.

Then in a rambling statement that lasted several minutes, Shipley, 48, veered from contrition to self-pity. He’d lost his two vocations of teaching and coaching. After Washington Post coverage of his case, he said, he’d lost jobs delivering food for Grubhub and repairing fiberglass boats at a friend’s company. Without employment, he’d resorted to buying and repairing furniture. He complained that he’d lost his savings — and his reputation.

“I have been portrayed as a predator,” Shipley said. “That is not who I am. ... I have not held a job before now that didn’t involve service to others ... I am a good person.”

Raffinan seemed flummoxed by Shipley’s statement.

“I think the fairest characterization is that he has wavered with regard to his acceptance of responsibility for these offenses,” she said. “... Certainly his statements ... do not demonstrate a full acceptance of his actions toward these two victims.”

The victims — one 18 and who graduated in 2018 and the other 17 and graduated in 2013 — were not in the courtroom.

“The most disturbing aspect of his conduct is the position that Mr. Shipley held in relation to these students, and his unfathomable persistence and continuous abuse of this position of authority,” Raffinan said. “He was their teacher. He was their coach. These women looked up to him for support and guidance, and he took advantage of them.”

After delivering her sentence, she ordered that Shipley be incarcerated immediately.

Sept. 8

washington post logoWashington Post, Pregnant women were jailed over drug use to protect fetuses, county says, Marisa Iati, Sept. 8, 2022. It was Ashley Banks’s alleged use of marijuana while pregnant that landed her in an Alabama jail in May. And it was a drug program’s determination that she was ineligible for treatment that kept her there.

Banks, 23, was charged with chemical endangerment of a child after police allegedly found marijuana on her during a traffic stop, her lawyers wrote in court filings. She admitted that she had smoked marijuana on the day she learned she was pregnant — two days earlier — but says in court records that it was before she confirmed her pregnancy.

Banks’s statement to police, however, subjected her to what her lawyers say is a policy in northeast Alabama’s Etowah County: Almost all pregnant or postpartum women who are charged with endangering their fetus via drugs have to remain in jail until they complete a drug-treatment program, without an assessment of whether that condition is appropriate for them.

The policy, previously reported by AL.com, kept Banks in the Etowah County Detention Center for three months while she endured severe vaginal bleeding and two emergency room visits that left her fearful for her high-risk pregnancy. A court-contracted substance abuse agency twice told her that she didn’t qualify for treatment because she wasn’t addicted to drugs, leaving her in limbo until a judge granted her release Aug. 25 on conditions that did not include drug treatment.

The Etowah County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to an interview request but said in a similar case that the county’s request for drug treatment as a bail condition is meant to protect the fetuses.

“The goal of the state and the courts in this jurisdiction has been to try to — to try to see to it that children are born [safely]; that the mothers who are — who test positive during pregnancy have opportunities to get treatment so that we can have a healthy relationship subsequent to that,” Deputy District Attorney Carol Griffith said in a hearing last month, according to a transcript.

Prosecutors across the country regularly criminally charge pregnant women accused of taking drugs, arguing that such cases encourage them to get help and protect their fetuses. But the nonprofit legal organization National Advocates for Pregnant Women calls Etowah County the country’s “ground zero of pregnancy criminalization” for its number of prosecutions — more than 150 in the past decade — and their increasing frequency in recent years. The prosecutions also reflect how fights to restrict abortion, recently resulting in the fall of Roe v. Wade, have emboldened the fetal rights movement to seek criminal charges against pregnant women who use drugs.

Alabama’s “chemical endangerment of a child” statute was passed in 2006 to target people who turned their homes into methamphetamine labs, putting their children at risk. Prosecutors soon began applying the law to women who exposed their fetuses to drugs, particularly after the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the practice in 2013.

“The prosecution’s alleged justification for this is that this is needed to protect the women’s ‘unborn’ and born children,” said Emma Roth, a staff attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women. “When the reality is: This puts the health and well-being of these women at risk, and their pregnancies and their children at risk.”

Jails can be dangerous environments for pregnant women, Carolyn Sufrin, director of the Advocacy and Research on Reproductive Wellness of Incarcerated People program at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in a court filing supporting Banks. Poor dietary options, unsanitary spaces and lack of access to medical care, she said, can endanger the physical and mental health of women and their fetuses. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes criminalizing women for behavior that allegedly harms their pregnancies.

Sept. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Sex-Cult Leader’s ‘Trusted Lieutenant’ Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy, Colin Moynihan, Sept. 7, 2022. Isabella Pollok, one of the Sarah Lawrence students who fell under the influence of Lawrence V. Ray, pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money. Isabella Pollok met Lawrence V. Ray in 2010 when he got out of prison in New Jersey and went straight to Sarah Lawrence College, where his daughter, Talia, was enrolled and Ms. Pollok was also a student.

Over the next decade, she was among a group of Talia’s friends and roommates who fell under the influence of Mr. Ray, who was 50 when he first came to Sarah Lawrence, a small liberal arts school in Westchester County. The authorities said that he used cult-leader tactics while threatening and assaulting the young people and demanding they provide him with payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Bit by bit, Ms. Pollok emerged as, in prosecutors’ words, Mr. Ray’s “trusted lieutenant,” helping him sexually and psychologically manipulate her friends and roommates, first as he gained their trust and then as he exploited them.

One of those former roommates said that Ms. Pollok held onto video recordings that Mr. Ray created to falsely incriminate the younger people he commanded. Another said that Ms. Pollok routinely picked up money from her after Mr. Ray had steered her into prostitution, prosecutors said.

Mr. Ray was convicted in April on more than a dozen offenses, including extortion, sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy. Ms. Pollok, 31, whose case had been severed from his but who faced some of the same charges, was out on bail and had been expected to stand trial soon in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

But on Wednesday she switched her plea from not guilty to guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to launder money, telling Judge Lewis J. Liman that she had agreed to take part in financial transactions involving money that had been extorted and adding: “I knew what I was doing was wrong and against the law.”

A prosecutor, Mollie Bracewell, told the judge that Ms. Pollok was not being asked to plead guilty to any sex crime but that the money laundering conspiracy she was admitting to took place in the context of extortion and sex trafficking.

The story, first reported by New York magazine, of how Mr. Ray controlled the lives of young people is filled with perplexing questions, including how he managed to abuse several students while seeming to turn one of their friends into a participant in that abuse.

Sept. 6

washington post logoWashington Post, China vastly expands use of house arrests under Xi, report finds, Christian Shepherd and Alicia Chen, Sept. 6, 2022 (print ed.). Soon after Shi Minglei’s husband, Cheng Yuan, an activist against workplace discrimination, was arrested in July 2019 on subversion charges, Chinese security agents informed her that she too would be placed under “residential surveillance” on suspicion of similar offenses.

China FlagUnlike her husband, Shi had never worked for a nongovernmental organization, and she couldn’t understand the charges, she said in an interview. But the officers maintained she was being investigated and instructed her to hand over her ID card, passport, driver’s license, social insurance card, cellphone, computer and bank cards.

Shi, who remained under house arrest for 180 days, was terrified primarily about the implications for her 3-year-old daughter. “As a mother, if you cannot protect your child and give her freedom from fear — it scares me to death,” she said. Her husband was handed a five-year prison sentence in July 2021.

China sentences tycoon Xiao Jianhua to 13 years in prison

Chinese law enforcement’s use of house arrests or “residential surveillance” has risen sharply under President Xi Jinping, according to research by Safeguard Defenders, a nonprofit focused on rule of law in China, released on Tuesday. The group’s estimates suggest over a quarter of a million officially approved instances of house arrest take place each year, up from fewer than 10,000 in 2013.

Sept. 2

 

 

aaron von ehlinger

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Idaho Lawmaker Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Raping Intern, McKenna Oxenden, Sept. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Aaron von Ehlinger, 40, a Republican shown above, will have to serve eight years before being eligible for parole and register as a sex offender once he is released from prison.

A former Idaho state representative continued to claim his innocence in a courtroom on Wednesday but was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison after a jury convicted him of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dinner last year.

idaho map localAaron von Ehlinger, 40, who resigned as a state representative last year, will serve eight years before being eligible for parole, Judge Michael Reardon of Ada County District Court said, according to a video of the proceeding from a local TV station, KTVB. Mr. von Ehlinger will also be required to register as a sex offender after being released from prison and is ordered not to have contact with the victim, who is known as Jane Doe, until 2055.

idaho mapJudge Reardon said that despite 26 letters that praised Mr. von Ehlinger’s character, the judge believed that the former Republican lawmaker “demonstrated a lack of empathy” and “blamed” the victim.

“You see yourself as a victim, and you see yourself as a hero,” Judge Reardon said. “And frankly, I don’t see you as either one of those. You created your own circumstances that put you here today.”

The woman, who testified before Idaho’s House Ethics and Policy Committee in April 2021, told the House assistant sergeant-at-arms on March 11 that Mr. von Ehlinger had sexually assaulted her after they had dinner at a Boise restaurant two days earlier, according to one of her lawyers. Instead of taking her back to her car, the lawyer said, Mr. von Ehlinger drove her back to his apartment and raped her.

The case also spurred the censure of another Republican Idaho lawmaker, Priscilla Giddings, from White Bird, who shared the personal information of the victim online after she had accused Mr. von Ehlinger. Ms. Giddings was also stripped of a committee assignment.

The Ada County prosecutor, Jan M. Bennetts, thanked the victim for having courage throughout the case and applauded the work of the authorities.

“I appreciate the tireless work done by the Boise Police detectives on this case, which allowed my team to ensure justice was served,” Ms. Bennetts said in a statement.

Jon Cox, a lawyer for Mr. von Ehlinger, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Before Judge Reardon rendered his sentence, Mr. von Ehlinger told the courtroom that he had taken a pilgrimage to Israel, Jordan and Egypt before his trial in April. Before he could be baptized in the Jordan River, Mr. von Ehlinger said, he had to confess his sins, according to NBC News.

“I confessed a lot of sins, your Honor — I am not a perfect man — but rape was not a sin that I could confess to,” he said. “It would be sin to confess to something that I did not commit.”

Mr. von Ehlinger had been awaiting sentencing after a four-day trial in the spring in which a jury found him guilty of rape but not guilty of a second charge, forcible penetration by use of a foreign object. The conviction came exactly one year after he had resigned from his position amid a criminal investigation and an ethics committee’s recommendation that he be suspended.

 

August

Aug. 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Buffalo Bills Cut Matt Araiza Amid Rape Lawsuit, Ken Belson and Jenny Vrentas, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The team said it had released the rookie punter after he was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl with two San Diego State teammates.

The Buffalo Bills cut Matt Araiza on Saturday, two days after the rookie punter was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 17-year-old girl last October with two of his teammates at San Diego State.

“We don’t know all the facts, and that’s what makes it hard, but at this time we think it is the best move for everyone to move on from Matt and let him take care of this situation,” Brandon Beane, the team’s general manager, said in a news conference on Saturday night after a team practice.

Beane said that the team learned about the accusations in late July, about three months after Araiza was drafted. “We tried to be thorough and thoughtful and not rush to judgment,” he said. “It’s not easy.”

“We just decided that the most important thing is this is not about football, it’s about letting Matt go handle this,” Beane added.

Araiza traveled with the team on Friday to Charlotte for the team’s last preseason game but was not in uniform. He was not at the team’s practice on Saturday.

Araiza denied the accusations in a statement released through his agent on Friday night. “The facts of the incident are not what they are portrayed in the lawsuit or in the press,” he said, adding that he looked forward to “quickly setting the record straight.”

In the lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court on Thursday, the teen said that she was “observably intoxicated” at a house party last October in San Diego and that Araiza, who was 21 at the time, knew that she was in high school. She said that Araiza led her to a side yard, where he raped her orally and vaginally. According to the civil complaint, Araiza then took her to a bedroom inside the house, where a group of men, including the two San Diego State teammates named in her lawsuit, “took turns having sex with her” while she went in and out of consciousness.

The San Diego police began an investigation last year, and a public affairs officer for the San Diego County district attorney’s office confirmed on Friday that it was reviewing the police investigation to consider criminal charges.

Aug. 26

 

 

djt melania epstein maxwell headshot

From left: American real estate developer Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000. Getty Images.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell’s Own Lawyers Are Now Suing Her, Colin Moynihan, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The law firm Haddon, Morgan and Foreman has accused Ms. Maxwell and her brother of failing to pay nearly $900,000 in legal fees related to her sex abuse defense.

As Ghislaine Maxwell’s conspiracy and sex trafficking trial drew to a close last year, one of her lawyers rose to provide what would be the defense’s final word.

“Ghislaine Maxwell is an innocent woman wrongfully accused of crimes she did not commit,” the lawyer, Laura Menninger, told jurors.

Ms. Menninger’s Colorado law firm is now suing Ms. Maxwell and her brother, Kevin Maxwell, for nearly $900,000 in legal fees. The firm, Haddon, Morgan and Foreman, is also suing a man named Scott Borgerson, whom it describes as having married Ms. Maxwell, saying that he has attempted to shelter her assets from creditors.

In a lawsuit filed in Denver, the firm said that it had concerns long before Ms. Maxwell’s criminal trial began in Federal District Court in Manhattan about her “willingness and ability to meet her financial obligations.” The suit said the firm was persuaded to stick with the case and Mr. Maxwell personally guaranteed payment.

But, the firm added, he had failed to make payments despite repeated promises, even as its lawyers continued to “devote all necessary resources to Ms. Maxwell’s defense.”

On Nov. 29, the day that Ms. Maxwell’s trial opened, the suit said, Mr. Maxwell guaranteed one of the firm’s shareholders that he would pay outstanding fees and provide a trial retainer.

“In reality,” the suit said, “Mr. Maxwell had no present intention of doing so.”

In a statement, Ian Maxwell, a brother of Ghislaine and Kevin Maxwell, said: “Given this matter is now the subject of civil proceedings neither Kevin nor Ghislaine Maxwell nor any other member of the Maxwell family will be commenting on it.”

huffington post logoHuffPost, Former Jeffrey Epstein Associate Steven Hoffenberg Found Dead In His Home, Marco Margaritoff, Aug 26, 2022. Hoffenberg and Epstein ran a Ponzi scheme together and tried to take over Pan Am Airlines. Hoffenberg was convicted, while Epstein never faced charges.

Convicted in 1997 of a Ponzi scheme he accused Jeffrey Epstein of participating in, Steven Hoffenberg was found dead Tuesday in his Derby, Connecticut, home, according to Rolling Stone. The cause and manner of death remain unknown, as Hoffenberg’s body was badly decomposed. He was 77 years old.

The Derby Police Department told Rolling Stone in a statement that officers responded to a welfare check around 8 p.m. Tuesday when they found “the body of a white male… in a state where a visual identification could not be made.”
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An initial autopsy yielded no signs of trauma.

The welfare check was requested by an artist named Maria Farmer, who claimed she was sexually abused by Epstein decades ago. She told Rolling Stone she was in daily contact with Hoffenberg and reached out to the police when her repeated calls to Hoffenberg weren’t returned.

Hoffenberg hired Epstein as a consultant for his debt-collection agency Towers Financial in 1983, according to The New York Times. He allegedly paid Epstein $25,000 monthly for Epstein’s business connections, which the pair used to lure investors in an unsuccessful 1987 attempt to take over Pan Am Airlines.

Towers Financial reportedly sold more than $460 million in fraudulent bonds and notes and used that money to pay interest owed to previous investors. Hoffenberg was arrested in 1994.

Prosecutors at the time said it was one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history.
Hoffenberg, who called Epstein the "architect" of their Ponzi scheme, spent 18 years in prison.
Hoffenberg, who called Epstein the "architect" of their Ponzi scheme, spent 18 years in prison.via Associated Press
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Hoffenberg pleaded guilty to mail fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice and admitted having moved money between companies to fool investors that they were making a profit. He exposed Epstein as the “architect” of the scheme, only for the multimillionaire financier’s name to mysteriously vanish from the record.

“I thought Jeffrey was the best hustler on two feet,” Hoffenberg told The Washington Post in 2019. “Talent, charisma, genius, a criminal mastermind. We had a thing that could make a lot of money. We called it Ponzi.”

Hoffenberg, who owned a private jet, limousine, yacht, Long Island mansion and New York City apartment, pleaded guilty to the charges. He was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Epstein freely groomed, raped and trafficked girls and young women in the meantime, only to be arrested in 2019. He was found dead in his New York City jail cell in August 2019. His accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, was arrested by the FBI in 2020. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in June.

Hoffenberg, who briefly served as the court-appointed manager of the New York Post in 1993, apparently spent much of his later years helping victims of sex abuse. Farmer told Rolling Stone she wanted “people to know how kind this gentleman was to survivors while asking for nothing.”

Aug. 25

 

luke bowen texas right to life

 

luke bowen right to life panel

Crooks & Liars from Current Revolt, Commentary: Texas Right To Life Political Director Arrested for Solicitation of a Minor, Conover Kennard, Aug. 25, 2022. Luke Bowen is the Political Director for Texas Right to Life. (Shown above, center, and in promo for Pro-Life panel not associated with charges.)

Lucas (Luke) Dane Bowen, right, Political Director of Texas Right to Life, was arrested on 8/3/2022 for alleged solitication of a minor. According to TransparencyUSA.org, Bowen was actively working with/for Texas right to life this year. Update: Texas Right to Life has informed Current Revolt that Luke Bowen’s employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd.

luke bowen mugshotWhen Republicans claim that Democrats are doing something evil, it's just a matter of projection. I'm sure QAnon will be all over this, right? According to Current Revolt, Texas Right to Life told the outlet that Luke Bowen's employment with the non-profit was terminated on August 3rd -- the very day he was arrested for alleged solicitation of a minor.

Again, again, again, right to life people aren't taking away women's rights to help children. It's never been about children. It's about control. They will force 10-year-olds to give birth. They are forcing a woman to give birth to a headless baby. Women's lives mean nothing to them. Children's lives are irrelevant to these "pro-life" soul-sucking conservatives. Don't forget to vote.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Halts Part of Idaho’s Abortion Ban, Saying It Violates Health Law, Glenn Thrush, Aug. 25, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department sued Idaho this month, but its ability to influence policies in Republican states with so-called trigger laws is limited.

A federal judge in Idaho blocked part of the state’s strict abortion ban on Wednesday, delivering a limited but significant victory to the Biden administration, which has tried to use its limited power to protect reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

This month, the Justice Department sued Idaho, one of the most conservative states in the country, arguing that the law would prevent emergency room doctors from performing abortions necessary to stabilize the health of women facing medical emergencies.

Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the Federal District Court in Idaho wrote that doctors in the state could not be punished for acting to protect the health of endangered mothers, in a preliminary injunction issued a day before the ban was to be enacted.

New York State civil inquiry. Letitia James, the New York attorney general, has been conducting a civil investigation into Mr. Trump and his family business. The case is focused on whether Mr. Trump’s statements about the value of his assets were part of a pattern of fraud or were simply Trumpian showmanship.

Manhattan criminal case. Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has been investigating whether Mr. Trump or his family business intentionally submitted false property values to potential lenders. But the inquiry faded from view after signs emerged suggesting that Mr. Trump was unlikely to be indicted.

The memo to Mr. Barr never mentioned the word “pardon,” instead characterizing that and similar episodes as Mr. Trump merely praising or condemning witnesses based on whether they cooperated with investigators. The memo argues that this could be interpreted as Mr. Trump merely not wanting the witnesses to lie and make up false claims against him.

To back up its assessments, the memo repeatedly stresses that Mr. Mueller’s investigation did not find sufficient evidence to charge any Trump campaign associate in a conspiracy with Russia.

“Once again, this conclusion is buttressed by the absence of any clear evidence that these witnesses had information that would prove the president had committed a crime,” Mr. Engel and Mr. O’Callaghan wrote.

Ryan Goodman, a New York University law professor, called the memo a “get out of jail free” card, adding: “It’s hard to stomach a memo that amounts to saying someone is not guilty of obstruction for deliberately trying to induce witnesses not to cooperate with law enforcement in a major criminal investigation.”

Aug. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, After Roe, teens are teaching themselves sex ed, because the adults won’t, Hannah Natanson, Aug. 24, 2022 (print ed.). They say it's crucial to learn about more than abstinence, especially if abortion is unavailable.

Sweating in the sun, two dozen teenagers spread themselves across picnic blankets in a grassy park and prepared to discuss the facts of life they never learned in school.

Behind them on a folding table, bouquets of pamphlets offered information teachers at school would never share — on the difference between medical and surgical abortions, and how to get them. Beside the pamphlets sat items adults at school would never give: pregnancy tests and six-packs of My Way Emergency Contraceptive.

Emma Rose Smith, 17, rose from the blankets, tucked her pale-blonde hair behind her ears and turned off the music on a small, black speaker. She faced the assembled high-schoolers, all members of her newfound group, Teens for Reproductive Rights, and began talking about the nonprofit Abortion Care Tennessee. Her words hitched at first, then tumbled in a rush.

“A little bit about them,” Emma Rose said, “is they’re an organization that funds people’s abortions if they can’t afford it. Also, by the way, there’s another organization that we can also talk about later, when we give you guys, like, resources, that actually does free mail-in abortion pills.”

Twelve days after the teens’ picnic, abortion would become illegal in Tennessee, a measure made possible by the Supreme Court’s June decision, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. The students wouldn’t hear anything about it in school: State law does not require sex education, and it holds that schools in areas with high pregnancy rates must offer “family life education” focused on abstinence.

Aug. 23

ny times logoNew York Times, Is a Fetus a Person? An Anti-Abortion Strategy Says Yes, Kate Zernike, Aug. 23, 2022 (print ed.). So-called fetal personhood laws would make abortion murder, ruling out all or most of the exceptions for abortion allowed in states that already ban it.

Even as roughly half the states have moved to enact near-total bans on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, anti-abortion activists are pushing for a  long-held and more absolute goal: laws that grant fetuses the same legal rights and protections as any person.

So-called fetal personhood laws would make abortion murder, ruling out all or most of the exceptions for abortion allowed in states that already ban it. So long as Roe established a constitutional right to abortion, such laws remained symbolic in the few states that managed to pass them. Now they are starting to have practical effect. Already in Georgia, a fetus now qualifies for tax credits and child support, and is to be included in population counts and redistricting.

The laws also open up questions well beyond abortion, about immigration and who is entitled to public benefits.

They have the potential to criminalize common health care procedures and limit the rights of a pregnant woman in making health care decisions.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision returning the regulation of abortion to the states has opened new interest in the laws, and a new legal path for them.

In Indiana, where this month the Republican-controlled legislature banned abortion starting at conception — one of the strictest laws in the nation — some conservative lawmakers objected that the law included exceptions for rape and incest. “This bill justifies the wicked, those murdering babies, and punishes the righteous, the preborn human being,” one lawmaker said, pushing instead for a fetal personhood law with no exceptions.

In Georgia, a law granting fetal personhood to fetuses after around six weeks of pregnancy took effect after the overturning of Roe. But Georgia Right to Life and other conservative groups are petitioning Governor Brian Kemp to call a special legislative session to pass a fetal personhood amendment to the state constitution. It would eliminate any exceptions for abortion allowed in the law, by declaring a “paramount right to life of all human beings as persons at any stage of development from fertilization to natural death.”

Daily Mail, Gary Busey, 78, is seen sitting in a public park in California with his pants down smoking a cigar the day after being charged with groping three women at horror movie convention, Andrea Cavallier, Updated Aug. 23, 2022. Actor Gary Busey was caught in shocking photos with his pants down in the middle of the day at a public California park as he appeared to perform a lewd act and then lit up a cigar a day after being charged with groping three woman at a New Jersey horror movie convention.

The actor was charged Friday with four counts of sexual contact and harassment following multiple alleged incidents at the convention last weekend — as cops say they expect more victims to come forward.

Busey didn't seem bothered about the charges the next day as shocking images showed him getting out of his car wearing a shirt that referenced the 1991 film 'Point Break,' in which he had a supporting role, and making his way to a bench at the lookout point, where he sat down, pulled out his phone and then pulled down his pants.

Busey, who lives in Malibu, faces two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact, one count of attempted criminal sexual contact and one count of harassment, following the allegations made in New Jersey.

Busey is widely known as a character actor, largely in supporting roles, though he came to attention and was nominated for an Oscar for best actor for playing the title role in the 1978 film 'The Buddy Holly Story.'

Aug. 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Outrage in India as men convicted of rape, murder walk free, Niha Masih, Aug. 18, 2022. Bilkis Bano was five-months pregnant when she was attacked by a Hindu mob in 2002 as anti-Muslim violence gripped the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Bano, then 21, was gang-raped by sword-wielding men from her neighborhood. Fourteen of her family members were killed, including her 3-year-old daughter, who was snatched from her arms and bashed against a rock.
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This week, 11 men serving a life sentence for the crimes were released from prison on remission by the Gujarat state government, sparking widespread outrage and an emotional appeal for justice from Bano.

In a statement issued Wednesday through her lawyer, Bano said the news left had her “numb” and “bereft.”

“I trusted the system, and I was learning slowly to live with my trauma,” she said, adding that the release had shaken her faith in the justice system. “No one enquired about my safety and well-being before taking such a big and unjust decision.”

The development comes as a shock to the country that has struggled to address widespread sexual violence against women. In recent years, authorities have made laws stricter and instituted harsher punishments, but conviction rates for rape remain low.

An 8-year-old girl’s gang rape and murder trigger new outrage over India’s rape culture

Women’s rights groups said that the release of the perpetrators on Aug. 15, an anniversary of the country’s 75 years of independence, was a blow to every rape victim.

“It shames us that the day we should celebrate our freedoms and be proud of our independence, the women of India instead saw gang-rapists and mass murderers freed as an act of State largesse,” the groups said in a statement.

It was also a setback for survivors of the Gujarat riots, who have fought long and hard for justice. The riots erupted in 2002 after a train fire blamed on Muslims killed a group of Hindu pilgrims. More than 1,000 people were killed in days of vigilante violence that followed, most of them Muslims. Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat at the time, is now India’s prime minister. Under his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, hate speech and violence against Muslims has risen sharply.

The men released this week have received a hero’s welcome. In one video from outside the prison, they are given sweets. Local media said the men were later honored with garlands by members of Hindu nationalist groups affiliated with the BJP.
Sujal Mayatra, the official who led the panel in Gujarat that recommended the men’s release, said the decision was based on various factors.

“They had completed 14 years of tenure. We enquired about their conduct and parole time,” he said. “The nature of crime and victim’s safety was also taken into consideration.”

In India, life sentences are meant to last until death, but convicts are eligible to seek early release after 14 years. While the latest remission policy says those convicted of rape and murder cannot be released prematurely, the policy at the time of the Bano case did not make that distinction.

In a 2017 BBC interview, Bano said she was fleeing the violence in a group of 17 that included her mother and young siblings in March 2002 when a mob accosted them.

As India marks its first 75 years, Gandhi is downplayed, even derided

Besides raping Bano and killing her daughter, the men gang-raped her cousin before murdering her and her 2-day-old baby. Bano was one of only three people from the group to survive the massacre.

Human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover, who has been part of efforts to reform legislation on violence against women, described the government’s decision as “grossly arbitrary and discriminatory.”

“The mask of the government being concerned about sexual violence against women has slipped. This is a majoritarian state signaling impunity for hate crimes,” she said.

Aug. 17

washington post logoWashington Post, Prominent Catholic leader in Canada accused of sexual assault, Amanda Coletta and Chico Harlan, Aug. 17, 2022. Cardinal Marc Ouellet is a key figure inside the Vatican bureaucracy, leading the department that vets and manages bishops. He has been mentioned as a candidate for pope.

— Cardinal Marc Ouellet, one of the most prominent Catholic leaders in Canada, was accused of sexual assault in legal documents filed Tuesday in a Quebec court.

canadian flagOuellet, considered a candidate for pope in recent conclaves, is one of scores of church clergy, employees and volunteers accused of sexual misconduct in a class-action lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Quebec.

In the lawsuit, a woman identified only as “F.” accuses Ouellet of inappropriate touching and comments when he was archbishop of Quebec and she was a pastoral intern. She said the alleged abuse left her feeling “troubled” and gave her a sense of “deep unease,” and eventually prompted her to complain to Pope Francis last year.

The Archdiocese of Quebec said Tuesday that it “took note” of the allegations and “will not have any comment.” A Vatican spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Ouellet, 78, is one of the most important figures inside the Vatican bureaucracy, leading the department that vets and manages bishops. He has a reputation in the ideologically divided Church as being middle-of-the-road.

He was named cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003, served as a lieutenant to Pope Benedict XVI and now holds near-weekly meetings with Pope Francis, who has allowed Ouellet to stay in his role far beyond the normal five-year term.

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

Top Headlines

 

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.

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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.

Related Story: Warning: The details of the story below are graphic and disturbing.

Law& Crime, Pro-Life Ex-GOP Aide Who Worked on Trump Ads Sentenced to More Than a Decade in Prison Because ‘He Enjoyed Seeing Children Getting Raped,’ Adam Klasfeld, April 8, 2022. An ex-GOP staffer who helped design social media ads for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for receiving hundreds of child sexual abuse materials, including videos of babies being raped.

An ex-GOP staffer who helped design social media ads for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for receiving hundreds of child sexual abuse materials, including videos of babies being raped.

Ruben Verastigui, 29, reportedly posted a photograph of himself at the White House just two months before his arrest on child pornography offenses. According to his now-deleted LinkedIn account, Verastigui previously worked as a senior digital strategist for the Senate Republican Conference and the Republican National Committee. Verastigui also acted as the digital media coordinator for the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America. He left the Republican Conference in July of 2020 to become the communications manager for the nonprofit group Citizens For Responsible Energy Solutions, his profile said.

When Verastigui spoke at the National March for Life in 2013, he said: “I truly believe that we are the chosen generation, and we will abolish abortion and change history.”

Several years later, Verastigui discussed “in great detail how much he enjoyed seeing children getting raped and killed,” prosecutors said.

Verastigui was arrested following an 11-month investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department’s Youth and Family Services Division, the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, the Northern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and Homeland Security Investigations.

After Homeland Security took over the case, federal agents said they found Verastigui engaging in disturbing chats with a group of 17 people, where several members boasted about “actively producing” child sexual abuse materials and sharing them with other members. Verastigui had the user name “Landon” and the handle @somethingtaken.

On April 13, 2020, Verastigui told a member of the group that videos of babies were his “absolute favorite.”

A six-page affidavit which detailed the Homeland Security investigation quotes Verstigui in the following conversation with another group member:

S-1: How dark are you? What are u into?

Verastigui: Well like I said babies are some of my biggest turn-ons and beast

[snip]

Verastigui: I have been wanting to see videos of guys hardcore rapping [sic] a baby...when a baby screams it’s my favorite.

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

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 se