#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.





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 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


Legal Schnauzer, Investigative Commentary: In the wake of Birmingham attorney's shocking suicide, attention turns to possible obstruction of justice, criminal roger shuler and murphyconcealment, and civil RICO cases, Roger Shuler, right, April 19, 2022. The suicide last week of Balch & Bingham attorney William "Bo" Lineberry, shown above, was a stunning and perhaps telling event in the years-long effort to unwind apparent scandal in the Alabama corporate, legal, judicial, and law-enforcement worlds.

Where does attention turn next? Ban Balch Publisher K.B. Forbes provides clues, under the headline "After Suicide, National Media and Feds Zero in on Alleged Obstruction and “Criminal Concealment;” RICOs Coming?" The sub-headline -- "Suicide. Resignations. Internal turmoil. Corporate strife" -- provides insight into the unrest that seems to be roiling elite circles in Birmingham and beyond. Writes Forbes:

Since November, Birmingham is seeing what appears to be the collapse of the house of marked cards allegedly propped up by the deep resources of Alabama Power. The Three Stooges (Balch & Bingham, Drummond, and Alabama Power) have seen their dominance stumble.

High-level sources told us in late October that Mark A. Crosswhite, the Chairman and CEO of Alabama Power and a former partner at embattled law abdul kallonfirm Balch & Bingham, was an alleged target of an obstruction investigation.

Federal Judge Abdul K. Kallon, left, resigned along allegedly with two Assistant U.S. Attorneys earlier this month, while Balch partner Bo Lineberry committed suicide last week.

What enormous pressure and worry caused Lineberry to end his life? Was he facing unbearable consequences? Was there an offer on the table that was too brutal for Lineberry to accept?

Seasoned law enforcement authorities tell us the Lineberry suicide spoke volumes about the depth and seriousness of the alleged federal probe.

Attention appears to be spreading beyond Alabama. Writes Forbes:

Now national media are focused on the alleged unsavory and criminal misconduct and alleged abuse of power surrounding the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. once run by disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, who resigned in 2020.

Concurrently, federal investigators are allegedly looking at obstruction of justice and accusations of “criminal concealment.”

In what looked like sheer panic with the rebirth of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal, the illustrious Mark White, Mark Crosswhite’s go-to criminal attorney, fumbled the ball and showed how concealment appears to be part and parcel of the work product and a standard operating procedure of the Three Stooges and their hired guns.

As we reported about the “Tale of Two Marks” in January of 2021:

alabama power logo[Alabama Power’s] team of attorneys at White, Arnold, & Dowd, led by white-collar criminal attorney Mark White, filed an avalanche of court pleadings in December [2020] at the courthouse office, over the counter as if it were 1950 not 2020. (We wonder if Mark White still uses a rotary phone, stencil duplicator, and Royal typewriter.)

The delay and “hiding the goods” tactic failed. The paper court pleadings were [immediately] scanned and uploaded by the clerk to Alacourt where we, the CDLU, were able to download them.

Concealment might be an unfamiliar legal term to the general public, but it seems to be central to the unfolding Birmingham story:

Concealment has been a consistent element.

Concealment was discovered in January when Alabama Power’s multi-million-dollar secret contracts (no invoicing required) with obscure political consulting firm Matrix and its founder “Sloppy Joe” Perkins were exposed.

Attorneys for “Sloppy Joe” attempted to call the secret contracts “trade secrets” and sent worthless demand letters to an environmental group and blog that published the concealed million-dollar agreements.

Allegations of non-disclosure and concealed indemnity agreements tied to Alabama Power and Balch have swirled since 2017.

Absolute concealment was achieved when ex-Drummond executive David Roberson’s $75-million civil lawsuit was sealed in its entirety in the Winter of 2021 in an attempt to hide alleged criminal misconduct. The secretive Star Chamber does not allow anyone to follow or read proceedings in the case.

The conservative Alabama Supreme Court reinstated Balch as a defendant in Roberson’s civil case this past February. Bloomberg reported that Balch must face fraud claims due to “misrepresention and concealment.”

chase espyBalch terminated an alleged pedophile months before he was arrested for soliciting a child online. Ex-Balch attorney Chase T. Espy, left,  had worked at the embattled firm for eight years [Emphasis added]. He then went on to work briefly for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey when he was kay ivey current 2022arrested and immediately fired last August. What caused Balch to fire Espy? What did Balch conceal from the public and the governor, right, regarding Espy?

The biggest concealment appears to be Alabama Power’s alleged secret deal during the North Birmingham Bribery Trial in which the company was “unmentionable” during the trial and criminal defense attorneys allegedly had to clear any mention of Alabama Power with Mark White.

The federal statute of limitations for obstruction of justice is five years. The timing of the alleged federal investigation makes sense. The trial happened in July of 2018. The statute would expire in the summer of 2023.

Those aren't the only worries likely knocking around Birmingham board rooms. Writes Forbes:

Now Alabama Power and their sister-wife Balch & Bingham appear to have even bigger issues coming.

If obstruction of justice indictments are handed down and/or alleged criminal information is disclosed related to the alleged federal probe and the Matrix Meltdown, expect a federal civil RICO lawsuit or two against Balch, Alabama Power, and others.

The first civil RICO lawsuit will be based on the Newsome Conspiracy Case, a travesty of justice in which an innocent man, Burt Newsome, was allegedly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed by Balch in an attempt to steal his law practice providing legal services to banks.

Newsome was arrested by a cop who was the son of a now-retired Alabama Power executive. Ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town allegedly blocked four investigations related to the Newsome Conspiracy Case.

Another, separate civil RICO lawsuit could be filed on behalf of “fall guy”and ex-Drummond executive David Roberson.

Either way, the Three Stooges and their defenders are exposed in the open no matter how many concealed deals, secret smear campaigns, or Star Chambers they create.

April 15


charles herbster facebook

ny times logoNew York Times, Nebraska State Senator Says Candidate for Governor Groped Her, Azi Paybarah, April 15, 2022 (print ed.). A Republican state senator in Nebraska said on Thursday that she had been groped three years ago by a fellow Republican who is now a leading candidate in the party’s primary election for governor next month.

The candidate, Charles Herbster, above, denied the allegations from the state senator, Julie Slama, calling them “100 percent false.”

Ms. Slama issued her statement after The Nebraska Examiner published an article about the alleged incident, which she said had occurred at a Douglas County Republican Party dinner in April 2019.

republican elephant logo“Today’s Nebraska Examiner report about Charles Herbster sexually assaulting me in 2019, when I was 22 years old, is true,” Ms. Slama said, adding that she had “prayed I would never have to relive this trauma.”

She said that when the news outlet asked her about what had happened, “I was not going to deny the truth.” In February, she referred to the alleged assault during a speech on the floor of the Legislature, though she did not name Mr. Herbster at the time.

pete ricketts CustomMr. Herbster, who owns a large agricultural company and was endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump ahead of the May 10 primary election, said in a statement that the allegations were “a ridiculous, unfounded dirty political trick” being carried out by his political opponents in the state, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, right, also a Republican.

“For over 30 years, I’ve employed hundreds of people,” Mr. Herbster said. “I’ve respected and empowered women to run my company, my farm and now my campaign. Not once has my integrity EVER been challenged in this manner.” Later, he told a local radio station: “They did it with Brett Kavanaugh. They certainly did it with Donald J. Trump and now they’re trying to do it with Charles W. Herbster.”

Mr. Herbster’s campaign manager, Ellen Keast, issued a separate statement that “unequivocally” denied the allegations and accused Mr. Ricketts at greater length of being behind the story. Ms. Keast noted that Mr. Ricketts and Ms. Slama had political ties; she worked as press secretary on his 2018 campaign for governor before he appointed her to the Legislature the next year.

Asked to respond, Mr. Ricketts said in an interview: “Well, I would read the article. I have rarely seen an article on this topic that is so extensively corroborated by witnesses.” Referring to Ms. Slama’s decision to speak publicly about the alleged incident, he said, “It’s probably one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen.”

washington post logoNew York Times, As G.O.P. Candidates Face Accusations, Rivals Tread Carefully, Jonathan Weisman, April 15, 2022.  In several states, Republican candidates are contending with allegations of domestic violence and sexual assault. Few of their primary rivals want to talk about it.

When fresh allegations of domestic violence were lodged against former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, left, last month, one of his Republican rivals for the state’s open Senate seat, Representative Vicky Hartzler, stepped up and called for him to end his campaign.

eric greitens oThen she moved on to an issue perhaps more resonant with Republican primary voters: transgender women in sports.

“Eric Greitens is a toxic candidate unfit to hold office,” Michael Hafner, a spokesman for Ms. Hartzler’s Senate campaign, said, before declaring the central message of her campaign: “Missouri family values, freedom, and taking back our country.”

In Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and now Nebraska, Republican men running for high office face significant allegations of domestic violence, stalking, even sexual assault — accusations that once would have derailed any run for office. But in an era of Republican politics when Donald J. Trump could survive and thrive amid accusations of sexual assault, opposing candidates are finding little traction in dwelling on the issues.

Political scientists who have studied Republican voting since the rise of Trumpism are not surprised that accused candidates have soldiered on — and that their primary rivals have approached the accusations tepidly. In this fiercely partisan moment, concerns about personal behavior are dwarfed by the struggle between Republicans and Democrats, which Republican men and women see as life-or-death. Increasingly, Republicans cast accusations of sexual misconduct as an attempt by liberals to silence conservatives.

The candidates who do speak of their opponents’ domestic violence and assault allegations often raise them not as disqualifications in looming Republican primaries, but as matters ripe for exploitation by Democrats in the fall.

“It’s a horrible problem; he’ll never be elected, and that’s the educational process we’re going through right now,” Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner, said of domestic violence and assault allegations leveled at Herschel Walker, his Trump-backed Republican rival to take on Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in November. “There’s a great desire for Republicans to get their seat back. Electability is going to be the issue over the next six weeks.”

Democrats, including President Biden and Keith Ellison, the attorney general of Minnesota, have weathered their own accusations of misconduct in the past — and where such charges have proven difficult to discount, the party has shown itself more willing to jettison its candidates.

April 14


Inna Makarenko, 44, Oleh Makarenko, 21, and Yevhen Makarenko, 43, are charged with attempted murder under Florida’s “hate crime” enhancement law. - Broward Sheriff's OfficeInna Makarenko, 44 (left to right), Oleh Makarenko, 21, and Yevhen Makarenko, 43, are charged with attempted murder under Florida’s “hate crime” enhancement law (Photos via Broward Sheriff's Office).Inna Makarenko, 44 (left to right), Oleh Makarenko, 21, and Yevhen Makarenko, 43, are charged with attempted murder under Florida’s “hate crime” enhancement law (Photos via Broward Sheriff's Office).

Miami Herald, Three Family Members Blind Gay Man in Brutal Hate Crime, Authorities Say, David Ovalle, Updated April 13, 2022. Three family members have been charged with a hate crime after kidnapping and beating a gay man so severely that he was permanently blinded, Broward prosecutors said Tuesday.

Two parents and their son were formally charged Tuesday on counts of first-degree attempted murder, burglary with battery and kidnapping “with prejudice” — all charges enhanced under Florida’s “hate crime” law. That means they all face up to life in prison on each count.

Charged so far are Inna Makarenko, 44, Yevhen Makarenko, 43, and Oleh Makarenko, 21, all of Pompano Beach. They have been in jail since last month, records show. They’ve already pleaded not guilty, according to court records. The family’s defense attorney did not initially respond to a request for comment. TOP VIDEOS × Another son, Vladyslav Makarenko, 25, was jailed in Alabama, transferred to Broward County on Monday and is awaiting a decision from prosecutors on whether he’ll also be charged under the hate crime statute.


charles herbster facebookNebraska Examiner, GOP state senator, seven other women say Charles Herbster groped them; he denies allegations, Aaron Sanderford, April 14, 2022. Charles Herbster, above, a Nebraska Republican gubernatorial candidate, speaks to a crowd Wednesday at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in North Platte. Donald Trump Jr. was his guest at the event. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

Time after time, Charles Herbster worked the crowds as he attended events, either as a candidate for Nebraska governor, a significant Republican donor or a beauty pageant judge.

He would go up to a group and introduce himself. Often wearing his signature cowboy hat and suit, he would extend a handshake to the men. But when young women reached out for a handshake, as well, on at least several occasions he pulled them into an embrace instead.

Herbster, the CEO of Conklin Co. and now a frontrunner in the 2022 GOP primary race, sometimes went further, according to eight women who spoke with the Nebraska Examiner.

During an event in 2019, for example, Republican State Sen. Julie Slama confirmed that as she walked by Herbster, he reached up her skirt, without her consent, and touched her inappropriately. The incident happened in the middle of a crowded ballroom at the Douglas County Republican Party’s annual Elephant Remembers dinner.

At the time, Slama had been recently appointed to the District 1 legislative seat representing southeast Nebraska. Herbster owns a farm and a house in the district.

Another person attending the 2019 event saw Herbster reach up Slama’s skirt and had told the Examiner about it. That witness and two others said they saw Herbster grope another young woman on her buttocks at the same event.

When the Examiner asked Slama on Monday if the two incidents at the event had been described accurately, and whether Herbster had touched her under her skirt, Slama said: “Yes, confirmed,” but declined to discuss the incidents further.

Six women, including the woman Slama saw being groped at the Elephant Remembers dinner, told the Nebraska Examiner that Herbster touched them inappropriately when they were saying hello or goodbye to him, or when they were posing for a photograph by his side.

The women said Herbster groped them on their buttocks, outside of their clothes, during political events or beauty pageants. Each woman said she was grabbed, not inadvertently grazed, by Herbster.

A seventh woman said Herbster once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly.

All the incidents occurred between 2017 and this year, according to those involved. The women ranged in age from their late teens to mid-20s at the time of the incidents.

Herbster’s campaign manager, Ellen Keast, in a statement issued Wednesday evening, said Herbster denied the women’s allegations “unequivocally.” Keast said that “this is a political hit-piece built on 100% false and baseless claims.” Keast blamed the “political establishment” for “smearing and trying to destroy him with lies.”

“Charles W. Herbster has a lifetime record of empowering women to lead,” Keast said in her statement. “His company, farm, and campaign are all run by women. Despite leading hundreds of employees, not once has his reputation been attacked in this disgusting manner.”

Keast, who said her family has known Herbster for nearly a decade, said she had never experienced anything like the women described. “Never,” she said. “He’s an honest, respectful man.”

All of the women except Slama spoke to the Examiner on the condition that their names be withheld. The Nebraska Examiner grants anonymity to those alleging sexual assault, unless they consent to be named.

Several of the women said they feared Herbster’s wealth and power. Three said they were concerned about their careers if they reported the behavior. Three worried about the reaction of their parents and churches.


cuba gooding

ny times logoNew York Times, Cuba Gooding Jr. Pleads Guilty to Forcible Touching, Benjamin Weiser and Colin Moynihan, April 14, 2022 (print ed.). The actor, above, must complete six more months of treatment with no new arrests under his plea deal.

The actor Cuba Gooding Jr., who had been accused by more than 20 women of groping or forcibly kissing them in encounters that dated back more than two decades, pleaded guilty in Manhattan on Wednesday to one count of forcible touching.

The count, a misdemeanor, charged that he had forcibly kissed a woman at a nightclub in Manhattan in 2018.

Under terms of the plea, Mr. Gooding must continue for six more months in alcohol and behavior modification treatment that he has been undergoing since 2019, and he must have no new arrests, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

If he fulfills the terms of the plea, he can then withdraw the plea and plead to a lesser charge of harassment, a violation, with a sentence of time served, the office said. Also, the record of the plea will not be sealed, the office said.

Mr. Gooding had faced a criminal trial on charges of unwanted sexual touching of three women in Manhattan restaurants and nightclubs in 2018 and 2019. The Manhattan district attorney’s office had asked a judge to admit as witnesses 19 other women who it said had come forward to accuse Mr. Gooding of such conduct.

Mr. Gooding’s “prior acts demonstrate that his contacts with their intimate parts are intentional, not accidental, and that he is not mistaken about their lack of consent,” the district attorney’s office wrote in a court filing in October 2019.

In court, Mr. Gooding’s lawyer, Frank Rothman, said his client was also prepared to apologize to the women in the two other incidents.

One of those accusers — the woman in the incident at the hotel in 2019 — addressed the court on Wednesday. “I won’t lie,” the woman, who identified herself as Kelsey Harbert, said. “I’m very disappointed that we are here today discussing a plea deal.”

Ms. Harbert said that she wanted to talk about what had happened to her and also to explore some broader issues, which drew an objection from Mr. Rothman, who said she should not be “making a statement for the rest of society.”

Ms. Harbert, saying she would limit her comments to her own experience, told the court that she had been “super excited” to see Mr. Gooding and then encounter him while she was out one night with friends. Her excitement turned to dismay, however, when she felt his hand on her breast, she said.

“I was mortified,” she said. “My body was being placed under the dominion of someone else without my consent.”

Ms. Harbert said it was “very devastating” to her that Mr. Gooding would have the chance to “move on” after six months, while she has experienced continuing feelings of trauma and violation as a result of her contact with him.

After Ms. Harbert completed her statement, the defense lawyer, Mr. Rothman, spoke again, saying he had watched a video recording depicting the events at the hotel. “What she said happened here for the last 20 minutes is a product of her imagination in large part,” Mr. Rothman said.

After court, Mr. Rothman said in a phone interview, “This case should have been resolved years ago.” He said that he had met with the new district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, after he took office in January, who “took a harder and more in-depth look at the pros and cons of the prosecution.”

“We reached an agreement that all sides could live with,” Mr. Rothman said. “It’s fair and appropriate under all of the circumstances.”

Mr. Gooding, a Bronx native, had his first major success playing the lead role in the 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood,” and he won an Academy Award in 1997 for his supporting role in “Jerry Maguire.” He played O.J. Simpson in the 2016 television series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

April 12


Britney Spears and her father and former conservator, James Spears (Associated Press file photos).

Britney Spears and her father and former conservator, James Spears (Associated Press file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, Britney Spears, Out of Conservatorship, Says ‘I Am Having a Baby,’ Julia Jacobs, April 12, 2022 (print ed.). During her successful effort to end her conservatorship, the performer had complained that the team appointed to supervise her had blocked her from having additional children.

Months after Britney Spears was released from the conservatorship that she said was restricting her from having a third child, the pop star announced Monday in an Instagram post that she is pregnant.

In explosive testimony last year, Ms. Spears called the conservatorship that had governed her life for 13 years “abusive,” saying the people who managed it had refused to let her get her IUD removed so she could try to have another child.

“I want to be able to get married and have a baby,” Ms. Spears said last June. “I was told right now in the conservatorship I am not able to get married or have a baby.”

The singer’s assertion about her birth control device was among the most stunning in her speech, during which she said she had been drugged and compelled to work against her will. Reproductive rights advocates condemned the situation as a violation of her rights.

April 8

The Hill, Ex-GOP Senate staffer sentenced to more than 12 years in child porn case, Dominick Mastrangelo, April 8, 2022. A former GOP Senate staffer has been sentenced to more than a decade in prison after pleading guilty in a case involving child pornography.

ruben verastigui headshotA federal judge sentenced Ruben Verastigui, 29, right, of Washington, D.C., on Thursday to 151 months in prison on a federal charge of ruben verastigui white housereceipt of child pornography, the Department of Justice announced.

Verastigui, shown below visiting the Trump White House during Christmas seas, was arrested in February last year and pleaded guilty the following July.

Federal prosecutors say Verastigui, formerly a digital strategist with the Senate Republican Conference, was active in an online group devoted to trading child pornography and discussing child sexual abuse.

The Senate Republican Conference has previously said Verastigui “has not worked at SRC since July 2, 2020.”

From April 2020 through February 2021, Verastigui shared child pornography videos with another member of an online group and made numerous comments about sexually abusing children, prosecutors said.

Verastigui became a subject in a Homeland Security Department investigation during a larger probe of more than a dozen other people who, police believe, exchanged messages about trading child pornography.

After completing his prison term, Verastigui will be placed on five years of supervised release, a federal judge ruled. He also will be required to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years.

April 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Iowa Man Who Faked His Death to Avoid Trial Is Arrested, Johnny Diaz,April 7, 2022 (print ed.). Jacob Greer, 28, had been on the run since 2016, fleeing trial on child sexual abuse imagery charges.

After nearly six years on the run, an Iowa man who slipped out of an ankle monitor and faked his own death has been arrested 1,700 miles from his grandmother’s home, where he had been awaiting trial on child sexual abuse imagery charges, the authorities said.

The man, Jacob Channce Greer of Des Moines, was found on Monday and arrested in Spanaway, Wash.

Mr. Greer, 28, was described by the authorities as a survivalist.

 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested him on charges of receipt and possession of child sexual abuse imagery, the Marshals Service said. He was released on bond and went to live with his grandmother in Des Moines. Under the terms of his pretrial supervision, he was required to wear an ankle monitor.

But on May 31, 2016, his probation officer received an alert that Mr. Greer’s ankle device had been removed, the authorities said.

April 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Sarah Lawrence Cult Leader Convicted of Trafficking and Extortion, Colin Moynihan, April 6, 2022. In 2010, Lawrence Ray moved into his daughter’s dormitory, gathered a circle of young followers around himself and began years of domination. For a decade, Lawrence V. Ray exerted near-total control over a group of young people he met after moving into a dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College, prosecutors said. He presented himself as a mentor, isolating students from their parents, pressuring them into degrading acts and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from them.

lawrence raySome remained loyal, even after a story in New York magazine in 2019 detailed a host of abuses ascribed to Mr. Ray, right. But during a nearly monthlong trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan, four former followers provided detailed testimony about how he indoctrinated and exploited them.

On Wednesday, three of those witnesses watched from the gallery as the jury forewoman announced that Mr. Ray had been found guilty of all 15 federal counts, including extortion, sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy.

Mr. Ray, 62, wearing a blue shirt and dark-colored dress pants, was impassive as the verdict was announced. Afterward, defense lawyers declined to comment.

Mr. Ray is scheduled to be sentenced in September. The sex-trafficking charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of life.

The verdict, which came after about four hours of deliberation, brings some resolution to a bizarre series of events that began in 2010, when Mr. Ray emerged from a New Jersey prison where he had served time on charges related to a child-custody dispute. Prosecutors said he then moved into the dormitory where his daughter, Talia Ray, lived on the campus of Sarah Lawrence, in Westchester County, just north of New York City.

Soon, Mr. Ray was cooking meals and leading conversations about the importance of honesty and morality, former students said. In summer 2011, several students began sleeping at an apartment where Mr. Ray was living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, witnesses said, taking part in “therapy” sessions that Mr. Ray said were meant to improve their lives.


Julie K. Brown rachel maddow

Florida Bulldog, Private eye slams ruling worth over $350K to Miami author Julie K. Brown who wrote book about Jeffrey Epstein drama, Noreen Marcus, April 6, 2022. A case about who did what to produce a sensational book rehashing the story of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein entered a new phase in a new forum, Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

jeffrey epstein hands handsAn arbitrator rejected private detective Mike Fisten’s $350,000 claim for his work on Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story, Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown’s book about the rich serial pedophile.

Jailed in New York for sex trafficking, Epstein, right, apparently committed suicide by hanging himself in August 2019.

Brown and Fisten, a former Miami-Dade County police detective, contracted to split a $1 million publisher’s advance 50-50. Instead, she gave him $150,000 and kept $850,000.

Arbitrator David Lichter agreed with Brown, shown above during an interview on MSNBC, that Fisten breached their contract by failing to perform investigative perversion of justice miami herald logotasks that were supposed to generate material for the book. Published last year, it expands upon and updates Brown’s award-winning 2018 newspaper series, also called “Perversion of Justice.”

Lichter wrote in his Dec. 30 ruling that Fisten contributed no more than a “negligible” 4.3 per cent of the book’s contents. He criticized as “improper messaging” Fisten’s list of completed tasks and disputed many of them.

After a hearing, Lichter found Brown more credible, though “some of her actions were less than laudatory.” He didn’t elaborate, but he referenced the confidential testimony of lawyer Bradley Edwards, who represents many Epstein victims and was a source for Brown.

Still, Fisten’s “credibility was damaged far more substantially [than Brown’s] and in far more significant ways,” Lichter concluded in his 34-page ruling.

Later he ordered Fisten to pay $58,570 in attorney fees as punishment for discovery violations and for breaching a confidentiality clause by speaking out publicly about the case.

Brown’s lawyer, Steven Peretz, sent Florida Bulldog a statement that says the arbitration award “represents a complete vindication for Ms. Brown.” He noted that Lichter “also awarded substantial attorney fees to Ms. Brown as a sanction against Mr. Fisten for his conduct during the case.”

“We will be moving forward to have the award confirmed in court and we expect the court will readily do so given the arbitrator’s comprehensive and detailed ruling,” Peretz wrote.

Fisten called the ruling “biased and negligent.” He wrote in an email that Brown “made numerous misstatements” in her testimony. “It is for these and many other reasons that we feel we will prevail in our appeal.”

Peretz, when asked about Lichter’s assertion that some of his client’s actions were “less than laudatory,” wrote this: “The arbitrator was unclear about what actions he was referring to … so I cannot comment on that point.”

Florida Bulldog asked Edwards to share his testimony about Brown, the testimony Lichter cited in his ruling.

“Other than being called as a witness and asked questions by both parties, I don’t know enough about the dispute to comment,” he wrote. Edwards said he hasn’t read the arbitration ruling and hasn’t worked with Fisten, once his valued lead investigator, for a decade.

On March 31 Fisten filed a motion in Miami-Dade Circuit Court to vacate the Dec. 30 arbitration award, which both parties had treated as confidential. Lichter’s ruling is an exhibit attached to the motion, making it a public record.

In the motion, Fisten’s lawyer, Andrew Kassier, previews his upcoming appeal. It will be based on Lichter’s “evident partiality” toward Brown and his “misconduct” directed at Fisten. Also, Lichter “refused to hear evidence material to the controversy.” Kassier provides no details.

Fisten has tried to focus public attention on Brown.

Chiefly, she takes credit for single-handedly identifying more than 60 Epstein victims and persuading four of them to do on-camera interviews for the Miami Herald series. But Fisten insists he tracked down almost all the victims, who later became plaintiffs and witnesses, while working as Edwards’s investigator.

In Edwards’s own book, Relentless Pursuit / My Fight for the Victims of Jeffrey Epstein, published in 2020, he writes about meeting Brown in 2017 after she approached him asking for help. At that point he’d already spoken to more than 50 victims, he wrote.

“I had accumulated all of the evidence in these cases and done all of the work,” Edwards wrote. “Unable to imagine the scope of that decade-long task or how voluminous the materials were and how complicated piecing it together was, Julie, like other reporters, wanted to start with my just spoon-feeding her everything and making it simple.”

He wouldn’t do that because he wanted her to appreciate the complexities, Edwards wrote. Instead, he made a list of documents for her to review –- and she persevered. “She followed the road map and stayed on course.”

Edwards praises Brown in his acknowledgements: “Thank you for having the courage to finally publish what other major publications would not. You made the public listen when all other journalists were scared.”

But he’s more fulsome in his praise of Fisten: “No good investigation can be done alone. While I had numerous investigators along the way, you were in the trenches with me during crucial times.

“In addition to game-planning with me, tracking down witnesses, and coordinating surveillance on Epstein, you also guarded my house and my family when things got hairy, for which I am forever grateful,” Edwards wrote.

Fisten isn’t the only one to raise questions and concerns about how Brown pursued and told the Epstein story.

Two victims are suing her for defamation in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. Haley Robson alleges that Brown threatened her when she declined to be interviewed for the Epstein book, then made good on the threat by falsely portraying her as a member of Epstein’s inner circle.

courtney wildThe other plaintiff, Courtney Wild, left, claims Brown falsely stated in her book that after Epstein raped Wild when she was underage, she had sex with him.

Wild’s lawyer, Jeffrey Gutchess, wrote that she suffered abuse by Epstein but never had sex with him. The lawsuit seeks significant money damages and a public apology from Brown.

Wild has been a leader among the Epstein victims, battling for years to undo his shady 2008 plea deal and make him answer to sex-trafficking charges. Wild also pushed for a victims’ compensation fund.

“Brown has sought to take credit away from the victims,” her lawsuit states. “Knowing Ms. Wild had spearheaded each of these major achievements, and not Ms. Brown as she claimed in her book, Ms. Brown sought to debase and defame Ms. Wild,” Gutchess wrote.

April 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Sarah Lawrence College sex cult trial shows devastated young lives, Shayna Jacobs, April 5, 2022. Lawrence Ray is accused of manipulating and abusing his daughter’s college friends and others he brought into his circle.

An Ivy League-educated doctor exchanged a promising career for years of physical and psychological torment, allegedly at the hands of Lawrence “Larry” lawrence rayRay, a man decades her senior. Another woman worked as a prostitute, giving Ray $2.5 million of her earnings even as he allegedly told her — falsely — that she owed him more. The younger brother of the aspiring doctor dropped out of Sarah Lawrence College after being brainwashed by Ray, who allegedly beat him with a hammer and held a blade to his neck.

Ray, right, now 62, is accused of corrupting the lives of these and other promising young adults — three of them siblings — between 2010 and 2020, dragging them into a life of servitude and maniacal rituals. His trial on racketeering, sex trafficking, money laundering and other charges is expected to wrap up on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, with jury deliberations beginning after that.

Prosecutors say Ray amassed blackmail material on his victims — often by getting them to admit to shameful conduct that they had not actually carried out. He stored recordings of their confessions to use against them if they thought about disobeying him or leaving the cultlike group that he had organized and that he referred to as a “family.”

The case is reminiscent of the 2019 prosecution in Brooklyn federal court of Keith Raniere, who led the Albany, N.Y.-based self-improvement network NXIVM. He was convicted on racketeering and sex trafficking charges involving a group of women he called his “slaves,” but he is appealing the guilty verdict and his 120-year sentence.

Like Raniere, Ray was seen as a source of experience and knowledge who guided his emotionally vulnerable followers through life’s difficulties. “In addition to violence, Ray used classic techniques of coercion to manipulate his victims, such as isolating people from their friends and family, using means of financial control, taking away basic human agency like food and sleep,” said Moira Penza, a former federal prosecutor who tried the case against Raniere.

St. Louis Public Radio, Sheena Greitens says she has photos, records to document abuse by former Missouri governor, Rudi Keller of the Missouri Independent, April 5, 2022. sheena greitensFormer Missouri First Lady Sheena Greitens, right, says in a new court filing that she has photos and other evidence to back up her claims that former Gov. Eric Greitens physically abused her and their children as his political career unraveled.

In a statement embedded in a court filing Thursday in Boone County Circuit Court as part of her ongoing child custody battle with the former governor, Sheena Greitens said she tried to resolve differences without a public fight. But she said that Eric Greitens’s attacks on her character, push for records to be sealed and demands that the case be sent to mediation show he cares more about his campaign for U.S. Senate than his sons.

Her attorney, Helen Wade, wrote in the latest filing that Sheena Greitens asked for mediation on eight previous occasions and her ex-husband refused.

The abuse claims, made in an affidavit filed March 21, stated that as he faced criminal charges and possible impeachment in 2018, Eric Greitens repeatedly threatened to commit suicide unless she showed “specific public political support” for him. In one incident of child abuse, that she swore in the affidavit occurred in November 2019, one of their sons came home from a visit his father with a swollen face, bleeding gums and loose tooth and said his father had hit him.

Eric Greitens, both publicly and in court filings, has challenged those statements, noting that prior to their divorce in 2020, Sheena Greitens signed a document stating there were no undisclosed material facts and agreeing to a parenting plan of joint custody. In his first statement issued after the filing, Eric Greitens called his ex-wife “a deranged individual” and said she had “a documented history of mental illness and emotionally-abusive behavior.”

But in last week’s filing, Sheena Greitens said she did report and document the abuse. She only agreed to the parenting plan as the best option to move with their two boys to Texas.

“In fact, they were reported to multiple lawyers, therapists, and our mediator, in 2018 and afterward,” Sheena Greitens said. “I will provide contemporaneous documentation of the relevant communications, as well as photographic evidence of my child’s 2019 injuries, to the court at an appropriate time.”

She also challenged his characterizations of her mental health. The “documented history” is therapy she sought from January 2018 to April 2020, first in an attempt to save their marriage and later to cope with her ex-husband’s behavior.

eric greitens oIn the filing, Wade wrote that Eric Greitens, left, “has launched an all-out, calculated, and purposely public attack on (Sheena Greitens) – outside the confines of the courtroom, off the witness stand and notably without being under oath.”

Sheena Greitens is trying to move court control of the child custody case from Missouri to Texas, where she works as an associate professor at the University of Texas. At the time of their divorce, she was employed at the University of Missouri.

The allegations of domestic violence come as Eric Greitens is attempting a political comeback as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in a crowded Republican primary.

Prior to the allegations becoming public, Greitens was leading in polls. Since then, he has slipped into a statistical dead heat with his leading rivals, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

The affidavit overshadowed another event, a guilty plea from former FBI agent William Tisaby admitting evidence tampering in the 2018 investigation, that Greitens had hoped would boost his image as a man wronged by political enemies.

Greitens has used right wing media to tie the two events together, accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former presidential advisor Karl Rove as masterminding the affidavit.

In her latest filing, Sheena Greitens denied she had consulted with any of her former husband’s political enemies prior to filing her abuse claims.

April 2


ghislaine maxwell jeffrey epstein porch

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

washington post logoWashington Post, Ghislaine Maxwell denied new trial despite juror with childhood history of sexual abuse, Shayna Jacobs, April 2, 2022 (print ed.). Ghislaine Maxwell will not get a new trial after it was revealed that a juror in the sex trafficking case involving minor victims had a childhood history of sexual abuse that he did not disclose during jury selection, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan held a hearing March 8 at which Juror No. 50 was questioned about the content of news interviews he did after the verdict in which he detailed a history of sexual abuse, information he did not disclose when he was explicitly asked about it in a 30-page questionnaire all juror prospects completed.

In denying Maxwell a new trial, Nathan said that the juror, a 35-year-old who works in the finance industry, was truthful when he took the witness stand and admitted he was distracted and rushed through the written survey, which was issued to juror candidates under oath.

Maxwell juror omitted history of sexual abuse during trial screen

“He appeared to testify frankly and honestly, even when the answers he gave were the cause of personal embarrassment and regret,” Nathan wrote in her 40-page decision. “His incentive at the hearing was to testify truthfully or face criminal perjury charges.”

Nathan also noted the juror would not have been automatically eliminated from the pool for cause based on his history. He testified under an immunity agreement for the incorrect responses on the jury form but was open to liability for perjury if he lied at the proceeding.

The judge noted that in past trials, rape victims have served on sexual assault cases and family members of murder victims have been empaneled for homicide trials.

Lawyers for Maxwell argued that Juror No. 50′s place on the panel poisoned its integrity and deprived her of a fair trial. Dozens of jurors were dismissed outright without further questioning based on answers they gave on the same questionnaire. Attorneys for Maxwell and the juror did not respond to requests for comment. An attorney for the juror did not respond to a request for comment.

Jeffrey Pagliuca, one of Maxwell’s attorneys, said in a statement: “Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers were not allowed to examine Juror No. 50 and many critical questions remain unanswered. The quality, bias, and reliability of any examination dictates the quality, bias and reliability of any result.”

Juror No. 50, speaking in front of a courtroom packed with journalists last month, called his carelessness in the process “one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” Despite his history, which involved being sexually abused by a relative as a boy, he said it did not affect his judgment. He testified that he was not aiming to get picked on the case by tailoring his responses.


March 2022 Update

March 30

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, A Small-Town Polish Mayor and the Head of an Anti-Trafficking NGO on the Horrific Human Trafficking at Ukraine’s Borders, Vicky Ward, March 29, 2022. Yesterday, I was privileged to be on a zoom call with Wojciech Bakun, the mayor of Przemyśl (pronounced “Shemesh”), which is a provincial town of 60,000 people on the border between Poland and Ukraine. In the past four weeks, Przemyśl has become base camp for 1,200 volunteers from all over the world who have received and cared for over 800,000 refugees— many of them arriving on foot and in danger of freezing to death.

Mayor Bakun recently made headlines because he publicly shamed Matteo Salvini, the Italian right-wing leader, as a “friend” of Putin during Salvini’s public visit to Przemyśl to see the thousands of refugees streaming in to the town.

Bakun has scarcely slept these past few weeks. Much of what he had to say about his experiences was both horrifying (at one point, he said he just didn’t have the words to describe the scenes of inhumanity) and yet also uplifting, given the extraordinary efforts Poland has gone to in order to welcome an influx of what is now said to be nearly four million Ukrainian refugees.

I was particularly interested to hear what he had to say about human trafficking at the border because that is one of the more recent horror stories to be reported out of the war—one that is emerging to shockingly enormous in scale. Here’s a short part of what he said on the call. (I have edited his language for clarity.)

BAKUN: Trafficking was one of the biggest problems we saw from the very first day. We saw a lot of people coming here to the train station [and elsewhere]. They had boards offering free transport to Germany or France or somewhere else. So we were worried. And we talked with the police, we talked with the border guards and they checked a lot of these people out. But about two to three thousand cars come here every day with people looking for people—which creates a tough situation.

I saw one woman going off with a man, and I’d heard that they didn’t know each other. So I asked [her], “Do you know this man? Is he or family or something like that?”

She said, “No.”

I said, “But you’ve met him before?”

And she said, “No, we just met on Instagram. I am talking to him about transportation.”

I said , “It's not safe to take transportation with someone unknown.”

But she told me that it was none of my business.

And that's the truth. The people coming through the border are free people. They move [into] Poland, and they are free. They can do whatever they want—they can take a bus, they can take a train or go with someone unknown by car. So that that's a problem for us. We now have a system for hopefully preventing it by having every refugee coming to a center to be registered, as well as every [volunteer and] driver, so that if a car takes two, three, four, five people, we have a record of that. We keep that data for long time in case something bad should happen. And also we try to follow up with people by phone and ask, “Are you safe?” Obviously, we can’t do it for everyone. But I think the system is helpful. It’s very important for us that people reach their destination safely.

This was a visceral insight into a topic I’d been thinking about since last week when the first reports of human trafficking at the border emerged and I happened to meet Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, the President of the NGO Global Strategic Operatives, who told me about the challenges her organization is facing on the Ukrainian border.

Below is my conversation with O’Hara-Rusckowski, edited and condensed for clarity.

March 28


madison cawthorn cropped oRaw Story, Madison Cawthorn draws questions after allegations of GOP sex and drugs parties in Washington, Sarah Burris, March 27, 2022. "The sexual perversion that goes in Washington, I mean it being kind of a young guy in Washington with the average age of probably 60 or 70," said U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), above.

raw story logo square"And I look at all these people, a lot of them that I, you know, I've looked up to through my life. I've always paid attention to politics guys that, you know, then all of the sudden you get invited to like, well, hey, we're going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes. You should come there, like... What, what did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they're asking you to come to an orgy. Or the fact that, you know, there's some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country and then you watch them doing, you know, a key bump of cocaine right in front of you and it's like wow this is wild."

As one observer noted, Cawthorn doesn't generally "hang out" with Democrats. He hangs out with other Republicans, so his observations are coming from those he's observed.

Republican strategist and Bulwark columnist Tim Miller revealed that he had contacted Cawthorn's office to ask if Cawthorn intends to reveal the person who invited him to the orgy.

March 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Former judiciary workers urge Congress to protect court employees from discrimination and harassment, Ann E. Marimow, March 18, 2022 (print ed.). Former law clerks and other federal judiciary employees shared highly personal stories of workplace harassment and discrimination Thursday, urging Congress to pass legislation that would better protect such workers and ensure an impartial system for reporting misconduct.

Lawmakers from both parties said that, despite efforts by the U.S. courts to overhaul their system, problems persist because the judiciary’s more than 30,000 employees still lack the same legal rights as other government and private-sector workers.

“Judicial branch employees continue to be harassed and discriminated against with little recourse,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said during the House Judiciary Committee hearing. “Time and time again, representatives of the judiciary have told us that there isn’t a problem, that we should let them handle it themselves.”

Three former federal judiciary employees — a law clerk, public defender and high-level administrative official — told the committee about a workplace culture that has discouraged reporting, describing harassment they had endured and what they said are shortcomings in the process for resolving misconduct claims.

Last year, lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation to extend to judiciary employees the same anti-discrimination rights afforded to other government employees and to protect whistleblowers. The proposal would create an independent special counsel to investigate workplace complaints and report its findings to Congress and an oversight commission made up of people with experience enforcing civil rights laws.

Roberts says federal judiciary has some issues but doesn’t need congressional intervention

Leaders of the federal judiciary acknowledged their work is not done, but said Thursday that sweeping legislation is unnecessary and inappropriate. The court system, said U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson, has already made “significant strides and improvements and has done so expeditiously” by creating new paths for reporting, providing confidential guidance for employees and expanding protections against abusive conduct.

“Some changes don’t occur overnight. This is a continuing effort, and we expect some changes will need time to take root,” said Robinson, a member of an advisory group, which has recommended a long list of changes in judiciary policies.

Robinson and Judge M. Margaret McKeown echoed concerns of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. about Congress interfering with the inner workings of a separate, equal branch of government.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he understands the separation-of-powers concerns and the imperative for the judiciary to retain independence.

“Self-rule by a separate branch” of government is “acceptable, but it has to be comparable, accountable and transparent,” he said, adding “we have to hold everyone accountable.”

Laura C. Minor, who worked for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for more than two decades, told lawmakers that the judiciary has long struggled to deal with misconduct. The judiciary’s proposed changes are insufficient, she said, and many complaints are still not reported because people fear retaliation.

“From what I can see today and what we all have heard, the judiciary’s insistence on self-policing only serves its interest in self-protection,” said Minor, who was the equal employment opportunity officer for the court’s administrative office and former secretary of the Judicial Conference, the policymaking body for the federal courts.

March 15

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: The Case That Killed #MeToo in Sweden, Jenny Nordberg (a Swedish journalist and author based in New York), March 15, 2022. In 2017, Cissi Wallin, a Swedish journalist, posted a now infamous mirror selfie to her tens of thousands of followers on Instagram.“The powerful media man who drugged and raped me in 2006 is named Fredrik Virtanen.” She would soon learn how much trouble naming the man would cause. cissi wallinThe post led to a maelstrom on social media and in the news. Cissi Wallin convicted of gross libel.

As Flight SK946 rounded the southern tip of Greenland, with her husband and 2-year-old son quietly sleeping next to her, Cissi Wallin felt her resolve begin to harden. Two generations of silence was enough.

Her mother and her grandmother, too, told her they had mostly kept quiet when they’d been mistreated by men. It’s what women did back then, they’d said.

But as the plane carried Ms. Wallin, a Swedish writer and actor, from Chicago back to Stockholm that night in October 2017, her thoughts were on what was happening in America. Harvey Weinstein had just been exposed and was fired within days. Something seemed to be gathering momentum. Within a few weeks, women across the country and the world would be saying it out loud: Me Too.

sweden flagA week after the flight, after working out, skipping her shower and drinking several mugs of strong coffee at a cafe near her house, Ms. Wallin posted a mirror selfie to her tens of thousands of followers on Instagram. “The powerful media man who drugged and raped me in 2006 is named Fredrik Virtanen,” the caption began.

Today — more than four years later — Mr. Virtanen has never been charged with any crime in connection to his encounter with Ms. Wallin. (He has denied her allegations.) She, meanwhile, is a convicted criminal, at risk of prison time.

In 2019 she was charged with and convicted of defamation, after Mr. Virtanen reported her to the police. Other Swedish men have pursued similar tactics: At least 12 criminal convictions have followed of women who had told their own stories since the #MeToo movement began.

And now, in what might be a low point in Ms. Wallin’s quest for the right to speak about what she says happened to her, she’s about to be prosecuted again — after self-publishing a memoir about her experience. Although the book doesn’t name the man, if she’s convicted, the government will seek to have all unsold hard copies of her book destroyed.

Even today, in the post-Stieg Larsson era, Sweden retains its reputation as the feminist capital of the world. Much of that reputation is deserved: In Sweden, 480 days of parental leave is standard; fathers can be spotted pushing strollers around on any given day in the capital’s parks; sexual encounters are — in theory, at least— governed by a consent law; the government even officially proclaims itself “feminist.”

And still, the outpouring of testimonials at the height of #MeToo was striking. More than 60,000 Swedish women signed appeals, many of which detailed personal stories ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault at workplaces and beyond.

But what marked the Swedish version of #MeToo as unusual is that this outpouring of testimonials took place almost completely anonymously: few women were willing to come forward to be identified as the victims, and only a handful of the accused men were named.

March 13

ny times logoNew York Times, Trinity Church’s Conductor Put on Leave Amid Investigation, Javier C. Hernández, March 13, 2022. Julian Wachner has been accused of sexually assaulting a Juilliard School employee during a music festival in 2014. He denies the accusation.

Trinity Wall Street, one of New York’s wealthiest and most powerful churches, said on Saturday that it was placing its high-profile director of music on leave as it investigates an allegation of sexual misconduct against him.

The director, Julian Wachner, a highly-regarded conductor, composer and keyboardist who has been a fixture at the church for more than a decade, has been accused by a former Juilliard employee, Mary Poole, of sexual assault. Ms. Poole said in an interview with The New York Times that during a music festival in 2014, Mr. Wachner pushed her against a wall, groped her and kissed her, and that he ignored her demands that he stop. Mr. Wachner denies the accusations.

March 12


donald trump ny daily pussy

New allegations echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Then and Now: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.Y. judge rejects Trump’s attempt to countersue E. Jean Carroll, Shayna Jacobs, March 12, 2022 (print ed.). A New York judge has rejected a bid by Donald Trump to sue author and columnist E. Jean Carroll, right, on the grounds that her defamation case against him in 2019 was baseless — a ruling that accused the former president of causing repeated delays to keep a sensitive matter from moving closer to trial.

e jean carroll twitterCarroll’s lawsuit has also been held up by the Justice Department’s bid to intervene as counsel on Trump’s behalf, an effort based on the argument that he was acting in his official capacity as a federal employee when he made comments disparaging e jean carrollCarroll, shown at right in a file photo and below left in one more recent.

Trump’s remarks were in response to Carroll’s allegation that he had raped her in Manhattan decades prior — an accusation Trump denies.

Allowing Trump’s counterclaim against Carroll to proceed “would make a regrettable situation worse by opening new avenues for significant further delay,” U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote in a ruling that was docketed Friday.

Carroll’s sole claim of defamation “could have been tried and decided — one way or the other — long ago,” the ruling said.

e jean carroll cover new york magazineTrump’s obstructive actions in the Carroll proceeding, which began in a New York state court three years ago, “have had a dilatory effect and, indeed, strongly suggest that he is acting out of a strong desire to delay any opportunity [Carroll] may have to present her case against him,” donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaKaplan added.

Trump’s allegedly damaging comments — calling Carroll a liar and insisting that he had never even met her — were made in response to allegations in her 2018 memoir What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal,” excerpted in the New York Magazine cover story at left

Carroll wrote that Trump, as shown in a graphic, right, then a well-known real estate tycoon, raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s after a chance encounter.

March 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Accused Leader in Sarah Lawrence Cult Case Is Set to Stand Trial, Colin Moynihan, March 6, 2022. For about 10 years, Lawrence V. Ray abused and extorted a group of his daughter’s classmates at the college, prosecutors say.

In 2010, Lawrence V. Ray walked out of a New Jersey prison and into the lives of a group of students at Sarah Lawrence College, a small school just north of New York City.

Many of those students would never be the same.

Mr. Ray, who was then 50, moved into the dormitory of his daughter, Talia Ray, telling her friends stories of his wild life and manipulating them with what prosecutors would later describe as bogus “therapy” sessions, where he pretended to solve their psychological problems.

Over the next 10 years, prosecutors said, he subjected the students and others in his circle to abuse: He extorted money from them, compelled some to have sex with strangers, and forced a young woman into prostitution — on one occasion, inside a Midtown Manhattan hotel, Mr. Ray placed a plastic bag over her head, restricting her breathing.

Now, nearly three years after an article in New York magazine, “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” revealed Mr. Ray’s cult-leader tactics, he will stand trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Ray, indicted in 2020, will be tried on 17 counts, including sex trafficking, extortion, racketeering conspiracy and violent crime in aid of racketeering. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday.

geoffrey berman sdny“For nearly a decade, Lawrence Ray exploited and abused young women and men emotionally, physically, and sexually for his own financial gain,” Geoffrey S. Berman, left, then the United States Attorney in Manhattan, said after Mr. Ray was arrested.

The trial could shed new light on the bizarre saga of an ex-convict who became a Pied Piper figure on a leafy liberal arts campus in Bronxville, an affluent New York City suburb. Prosecutors said in court filings that they planned to introduce statements by Mr. Ray’s accused co-conspirators, including Isabella Pollok, a former Sarah Lawrence student who prosecutors said became Mr. Ray’s “trusted lieutenant,” as well as Mr. Ray’s daughter.

Ms. Pollok, who has been charged with conspiracy related to sex trafficking, extortion and racketeering, has pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.

Mr. Ray’s daughter, who has not been charged, was first described as a co-conspirator in a recent court filing. Prosecutors wrote that she had profited from and supported Mr. Ray’s misdeeds and cited an email they said she sent him in 2013 that said: “What you have done with my friends is the most amazing and beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

Actions described by prosecutors show that Mr. Ray used methods of control similar to those employed by cult leaders like Keith Raniere of Nxivm. Both men were said to have led others to believe they were broken, then isolated them from their families while indoctrinating them. While under Mr. Ray’s influence, several of the students were said to have stopped communicating with their parents.

March 4


brian beck mugshotLaw & Crime, Judge Allows Former Deputy Accused of Raping 14-Year-Old Girl to Avoid Prison and Sex Offender Status, Chris Spargo, March 4, 2022. Brian Beck will not serve time after a plea deal in his rape case (mugshot above from 2018 via Germantown Police).

Brian Beck, shown above, will not serve time after a plea deal in his rape case (mugshot above from 2018 via Germantown Police).

pro publica logoAfter striking a plea deal with prosecutors, a onetime Tennessee sheriff’s deputy who was accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old girl over a period of 20 months will serve no time in prison and does not have to register as a sex offender.

Brian O. Beck, 47, pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated assault on Monday, according to court records filed in Shelby County Court. That plea was part of a deal between Beck and prosecutors, a member of the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office confirmed to Law&Crime.

The judge in the case suspended Beck’s nominal four-year prison sentence and said the defendant would instead serve three years probation, a sentencing order provided to Law&Crime by the prosecutor’s office indicates. If Beck fails to live up to the terms of his probation, he could be incarcerated for the aforementioned four-year term, according to the probation order itself and a statement from the prosecutor’s office to a local television station. The order also requires Beck to serve 150 hours of community service, submit to random drug screening, and have no contact with the victim.

The judge’s order, in essence a perfunctory form document with boxes to check and a few blank lines to fill, offers but a glimpse into the reasoning behind the moves.

The document says “the defendant is not likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct” — at least “to the satisfaction of the Court” — and that “the ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that the Defendant shall presently suffer the penalty imposed by law by incarceration.”

Judge Lee Coffee signed off on the document.

Beck will also not have to register as a sex offender, according to the order.

  • Law & Crime, Tennessee Couple Murdered Infant Girl Who Died from ‘Acute Methamphetamine Toxicity’: Authorities

denny doyleLaw & Crime, Former Oregon Mayor, Once Honored as ‘Citizen of the Year’ by Boy Scouts, Possessed Child Pornography of Minor Under the Age of 12: DOJ, Chris Spargo, March 4, 2022. The former mayor of an Oregon city has been hit with a federal child pornography charge, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon hit 73-year-old Dennis “Denny“ Doyle (D) with the charge of possession of child pornography.

pro publica logoThe details of the case are currently under seal, but Law&Crime obtained a copy of the information sheet filed by prosecutors on Thursday.

The filing, submitted to the court by U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug and Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie K. Wight, claims that the incident in question occurred “[b]etween on or about November 2014, and continuing until on or about December 2015.”

It is during that time that Doyle “knowingly and unlawfully possessed material containing child pornography,” according to the information sheet.

Prosecutors claim that the child pornography Doyle is accused of possessing “included a depiction of a prepubescent minor or a minor who had not attained twelve years of age.” The DOJ press release said that the illicit material included “images depicting minors under twelve.”

The forfeiture notice included in the information sheet requested that Doyle surrender “one purple 64GB Lexar USB thumb drive.”

Doyle served three terms as the mayor of Beaverton and was in office at the time of this alleged offense. His bid for a fourth term failed when he lost in a run-off back in 2020, according to Portland NBC affiliate KGW.

In 2008, then-Beaverton City Councilor Doyle was honored by the Boy Scouts of America as “Citizen of the Year.” The Oregonian published a small item about Doyle getting that honor. It read:

Doyle was recognized during an Oct. 22 ceremony for his longtime community service and work with youth sports. He founded Westside Metros Soccer Club, served on the Westside Recreational Soccer Club Board, and has been a board member of the Beaverton Baseball and Softball Association.

The Westside Metros Soccer Club is a “premier competitive and community oriented soccer club, providing exceptional soccer programs for Male and Female players 6-18.”

These charges are a result of Project Safe Childhood, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Doyle now faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. His first court appearance was scheduled for Friday.

March 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Art Briles steps down as Grambling’s offensive coordinator days after being hired, Des Bieler, March 1, 2022 (print ed.). Just days after being hired to be Grambling’s offensive coordinator, Art Briles stepped down from the position. The former Baylor head coach, who was fired from the school in 2016 amid criticism of his handling of sexual assault allegations against a number of his players, said in a statement Monday that he didn’t want to be a distraction for Grambling’s program.


February Update

Feb. 21

vicky ward investigates

Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell (Photo via U.S. Department of Justice).

The late model agency owner Jean-Luc Brunel (right) with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, also shown below right during a separate meeting (Photos via U.S. Department of Justice).

Vicky Ward Investigates, Jean-Luc Brunel’s Suicide Shuts One of the Main Doors to Unraveling the Mysteries of Jeffrey Epstein, Vicky Ward, Feb. 210-21, 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. 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.
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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.

"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.




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.


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.



Nov. 30


Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang / Reuters)

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang/Reuters)

ny times logoNew York Times, China’s Silence on Peng Shuai Shows Limits of Beijing’s Propaganda, Amy Qin and Paul Mozur, Nov. 30, 2021. Officials have struggled to respond to a sexual assault allegation that hits at the heights of its buttoned-up political system.

When the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai accused a former top leader of sexual assault earlier this month, the authorities turned to a tried-and-true strategy. At home, the country’s censors scrubbed away any mention of the allegations. Abroad, a few state-affiliated journalists focused narrowly on trying to quash concerns about Ms. Peng’s safety.

Beijing seems to be relying on a two-pronged approach of maintaining the silence and waiting for the world to move on. The approach suggests that the country’s sprawling propaganda apparatus has limited options for shifting the narrative without drawing more attention to the uncomfortable allegations Beijing hopes would just disappear.

On China’s social media platforms and other digital public squares, the censors’ meticulous work has left almost no sign that Ms. Peng had ever accused Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier, of sexual assault. Like a museum to a previous reality, her social media account remains, without new updates or comments.

These tactics have worked for China in the past, at least at home. In recent years, officials have relied on heavy censorship and a nationalistic narrative of Western meddling to deflect blame for issues including the outbreak of Covid-19 to human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Like Fresh Meat’: Sexual Harassment Detailed in Australian Parliament, Yan Zhuang, Nov. 30, 2021. A sweeping report described a cloistered, alcohol-fueled environment where powerful men violated boundaries unchecked. Men strutting down corridors looking women up and down. Women carrying fake binders to block unwanted advances. Forcible touches, kisses, comments about appearance. Fears of speaking out.

australian flag wavingA sweeping review of the workplace culture in Australia’s Parliament paints a damning picture of widespread sexual harassment, with employees sharing harrowing stories of an alcohol-soaked atmosphere where powerful men blurred lines and crossed boundaries with impunity.

The report, released on Tuesday, was commissioned by the Australian government in March, shortly after a former employee’s account of being raped in Parliament House sent shock waves through Australia’s halls of power. It found that one-third of parliamentary employees — 40 percent of women — had experienced sexual harassment. About 1 percent of the more than 1,700 people who participated in the review said they had been the victim of attempted or actual sexual assault.

In response, Australia’s sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, who conducted the study, proposed a series of measures to address the power imbalances, gender inequality and lack of accountability that she said had made Parliament a hostile workplace for many employees, especially young female staff members.


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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial Opens, With Jeffrey Epstein at Its Center, Benjamin Weiser and Rebecca Davis O’Brien. Ms. Maxwell is charged with trafficking women and girls for her longtime partner, the disgraced financier Mr. Epstein, who died in prison in 2019. A prosecutor described Jeffrey Epstein and his longtime girlfriend and associate, Ms. Maxwell, as “partners in crime.”

More than two years after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in a jail cell, Ghislaine Maxwell — the woman who prosecutors say helped him to recruit, groom and abuse young girls — went on trial on Monday in Manhattan.

Ms. Maxwell and Mr. Epstein were “partners in crime,” a federal prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, told the jury. Ms. Maxwell sexually exploited young girls by developing their trust, helped to normalize abusive sexual conduct and then “served them up” to Mr. Epstein in a decade-long scheme, the prosecutor said.

“The defendant and Epstein made young girls believe that their dreams could come true,” Ms. Pomerantz said in Federal District Court. “They made them feel special, but that was a cover.”

“Behind closed doors,” Ms. Pomerantz said, “the defendant and Epstein were committing heinous crimes. They were sexually abusing teenage girls.”

WhoWhatWhy, Investigation and Analysis: Will Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Reveal Jeffrey Epstein Secrets? Gabriella Lombardo, Nov. 29-30, 2021. Long before she became public enemy No. 1, Ghislaine Maxwell was an heiress with a dark past. Her motivations are as difficult to determine as her life is difficult to believe.

whowhatwhy logoGhislaine Maxwell is used to being the woman of the hour. The 59-year-old British aristocrat was a fixture of the London and New York social scenes throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, rubbing shoulders and champagne flutes with an international cast of power players that included two US presidents and at least one prince. In her jet-setting, party-hopping days, she allegedly lived a double life as a groomer of girls, serving up underage victims to Jeffrey Epstein and the megawatt men who moved alongside him.

All eyes are again on Maxwell as her trial opens in Manhattan federal court, just steps from the lower Manhattan jail where Epstein was found dead in his cell two years ago. The charges against her for her role in Epstein’s decades-long international sex abuse ring include six counts related to child sex trafficking in the decade spanning 1994 to 2004, involving four girls — the youngest aged 14. The alleged crimes occurred at Epstein’s residences in Manhattan, Palm Beach, and New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s London apartment.

Maxwell faces a separate trial, as yet unscheduled, for an additional two counts of perjury for statements she made in connection with a long-settled 2015 defamation suit against her. If convicted on all counts, Maxwell could face 80 years in prison. She has always denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, Epstein’s crimes, and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Epstein’s death in federal custody in 2019 left Maxwell bearing the brunt of public outrage at the chronic mishandling of his sex crimes by law enforcement and the courts. Still, Maxwell’s time with Epstein raises many questions: If she did indeed assist in his crimes, what motivated her?

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi, Rick Rojas, Nov. 30, 2021. The clinic, busier than ever, is at the center of a Supreme Court case that could lead to one of the most consequential decisions on abortion rights in decades.

The clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has long negotiated measures intended by the Legislature to discourage women from obtaining abortions and to make it difficult for providers to operate. They include the requirement that doctors warn patients about a link between breast cancer and abortion, though the American Cancer Society says “scientific evidence does not support the notion.”

Now the culmination of those legislative efforts — a state law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy — has thrust the clinic into the center of a case that may lead to one of the most consequential rulings on abortion rights in decades.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What ‘My Body, My Choice’ Means to the Right, Michelle Goldberg, right, Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Here’s a bit of evidence that we michelle goldberg thumblive in a simulation controlled by someone with a perverse sense of humor: At the very moment that Roe v. Wade could be overturned, the American right has become obsessed with bodily autonomy and has adopted the slogan “My body, my choice” about Covid vaccines and mask mandates.

Feminists have always known that if men — or at any rate cis men — could get pregnant, abortion would be a nonissue. The furious conservative reaction to Covid mitigation measures demonstrates this more than any hypothetical ever could. Many on the right, we can now see, believe it’s tyranny to be told to put something they don’t want on or in their bodies in order to save lives.

There is, to be fair, at least one prominent illiberal conservative, Harvard’s Adrian Vermeule, who has defended vaccine mandates, writing, “Even our physical liberties are rightly ordered to the common good of the community when necessary.” More typical on the right, however, is a paranoid sense that the vaccines are tied up with occult forces of social control.

In “Why I Didn’t Get the Covid Vaccine,” an essay in the Catholic anti-abortion journal First Things, the theologian Peter Leithart quotes a book called “The Great Covid Panic”: “A very effective way to dominate people is to convince them they are sinful unless they obey.” He invokes totalitarian “biopolitical regimes” that seek to exercise power over the body: “Once upon a time, the ruler bore a sword; now, a syringe,” he writes.

Of course, many American women will soon be faced with an infinitely more invasive form of biopolitical control, courtesy of First Things’ allies. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case dealing with Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. It’s possible that the justices could gut Roe without overturning it outright, but after they let Texas’ abortion bounty law stand, at least for the time being, I’m expecting the worst. If Roe is tossed out, most abortions will instantly become illegal in at least 12 states, and they will be severely restricted in others.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: My Book Was Censored in China. Now It’s Blacklisted — in Texas, Andrew Solomon (a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia and a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale and the author of “The Noonday Demon” and “Far From the Tree”), Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Andrew Solomon never expected his books to come under threat in America. But as he writes in this essay, attacks on books are on the rise here, and one of his is under investigation by a state legislature.

On Oct. 25, the Texas state representative Matt Krause sent notice to the Texas Education Agency that he was initiating an inquiry into “school district content.” He appended a list of about 850 books and asked each district to indicate how many copies of each book it had, where in the school those copies were located and how much the district had paid for them.

Quoting Texas law, the letter stated that the state’s Committee on General Investigating, which Krause chairs, may undertake inquiries “concerning any ‘matter the committee considers necessary for the information of the Legislature or for the welfare and protection of state citizens.’” Most of the books on the list deal with race, sexual orientation, abortion or gender identity. Krause is one of several candidates hoping to unseat the incumbent Republican attorney general, and this bit of extremist theater is a maneuver to raise his profile among the ardent Trumpists and social conservatives likely to be G.O.P. primary voters.

My 2012 book Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity was on Krause’s list. Finding my work thus blacklisted disturbingly evoked a childhood during which I was shunned and abused for being gay, in which I felt ashamed, defenseless, sad and epically vulnerable. I had written my book to help people, and now it was being held up as derelict and unpatriotic. The story of my life as a gay person — which had been elevated (along with those of many others) by the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized gay marriage nationally — was relegated anew to a margin I thought I had finally escaped. Could my book’s additional demonstration of familial compassion for transgender children injure the society within which I had long fought to be recognized and accepted?

I have had my work censored before, but never in the United States. My Chinese publishers censored two of my books — Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression — without informing me, despite being contractually required to reveal any editorial changes. They deleted references to the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989 in Tiananmen Square, as well as every reference to my being gay. The publishers had simply assumed I wouldn’t find out.

I try to serve the various communities of which I am a part, including L.G.B.T.Q. people and those who confront mental illness. To find that my depression book had been stripped of references to homosexuality felt like a betrayal of gay people in China, whose challenges I have reviewed in my work with the L.G.B.T. project at Human Rights Watch. But I didn’t want to take the books out of circulation. My royalties from Chinese translations are minuscule, so my eagerness to see the book published in Mandarin stemmed primarily from a desire to offset China’s limited and sometimes nearly sadistic mental-health-care system and its persecution of gay people. In the end, my agent negotiated new contracts for both books from other Chinese publishers, and they were retranslated in new, inclusive editions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Farm Housing Mennonite Boys Engaged in Human Trafficking, Lawsuit Says, Neil Vigdor, Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). In a federal lawsuit against the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church, two plaintiffs said they were deprived of food and restrained with zip ties at a forced-labor farm.

Two men filed a federal lawsuit this month against the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church, saying that they were victims of a human trafficking scheme while they lived at a forced-labor farm for troubled boys run by a church member.

The lawsuit said that the men, who were 14 and 18 when they first joined the farm, worked six days a week with no pay, and that they were physically and mentally abused when they stayed at Liberty Ridge Farm in McAlisterville, Pa. The lawsuit said they were denied food and zip-tied at times while at the farm.

The farm is about 40 miles northwest of Harrisburg, Pa., in Juniata County, which is home to several churches and schools affiliated with the Mennonites, a conservative Christian denomination known for its agrarian lifestyle and disconnect from technology.

Now in their mid-20s, the men were identified only by their initials in the lawsuit, which was filed on Nov. 17 in U.S. District Court in Allentown, Pa. The complaint said that the men were frequently punished after the people in charge told them that they had not worked hard enough or that they had acted “against the Bible.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Elizabeth Holmes Says Former Boyfriend Abused Her, Erin Woo and Erin Griffith, Nov. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth Holmes briefly crumpled her face as she spoke, her voice breaking.

Ramesh Balwani, her former boyfriend and business partner, emotionally and physically abused her, Ms. Holmes testified in court on Monday. He was controlling, she said, prescribing the food she ate, dictating every minute of her schedule and keeping her away from her family. And he forced her to have sex with him against her will, she said.

“He would force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to because he would say that he wanted me to know he still loved me,” Ms. Holmes said on the stand, while crying.

elizabeth holmes twitter photoIt was the most dramatic moment in a three-month trial, with Ms. Holmes (shown in her Twitter portrait) accused of lying and faking her way into hundreds of millions of dollars for her failed blood testing start-up, Theranos. Since September, prosecutors have tried to show a jury that Ms. Holmes, who presented herself publicly as a wunderkind of business and technology, had misled investors, doctors and patients about the efficacy of Theranos’s blood testing technology.

She was indicted in 2018 alongside Mr. Balwani, who is known as Sunny, her secret boyfriend for more than a decade and the former chief operating officer of Theranos. Last year, Ms. Holmes’s lawyers successfully argued to split their fraud cases; Mr. Balwani will be tried next year. At her trial’s start, Judge Edward Davila of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, who is overseeing the case, instructed jurors not to speculate as to why Mr. Balwani was not present. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The trial has been held up as a parable of Silicon Valley hubris and “fake it till you make it” culture taken to a dangerous extreme. Few start-up founders who stretch the truth to raise money or secure business deals are ever charged with fraud. A guilty verdict could embolden regulators to further crack down on the tech industry at a moment when it has amassed enormous wealth and power. Ms. Holmes faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

With the new accusations about her relationship with Mr. Balwani, Ms. Holmes has potentially upended the narrative around her alleged wrongdoing and changed the jury’s perception of what happened. Thus far, her lawyers have painted Ms. Holmes as young, inexperienced and unqualified to run a research lab. They have only hinted at Mr. Balwani’s role in the fraud.

“Trusting and relying on Mr. Balwani as her primary adviser was one of her mistakes,” Lance Wade, Ms. Holmes’s lawyer, said in opening statements in September.

Nov. 29


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

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

WhoWhatWhy, Investigation and Analysis: Will Ghislaine Maxwell Trial Reveal Jeffrey Epstein Secrets? Gabriella Lombardo, Nov. 29, 2021. Long before she became public enemy No. 1, Ghislaine Maxwell was an heiress with a dark past. Her motivations are as difficult to determine as her life is difficult to believe.

whowhatwhy logoGhislaine Maxwell is used to being the woman of the hour. The 59-year-old British aristocrat was a fixture of the London and New York social scenes throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, rubbing shoulders and champagne flutes with an international cast of power players that included two US presidents and at least one prince. In her jet-setting, party-hopping days, she allegedly lived a double life as a groomer of girls, serving up underage victims to Jeffrey Epstein and the megawatt men who moved alongside him.

All eyes are again on Maxwell as her trial opens in Manhattan federal court, just steps from the lower Manhattan jail where Epstein was found dead in his cell two years ago. The charges against her for her role in Epstein’s decades-long international sex abuse ring include six counts related to child sex trafficking in the decade spanning 1994 to 2004, involving four girls — the youngest aged 14. The alleged crimes occurred at Epstein’s residences in Manhattan, Palm Beach, and New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s London apartment.

Maxwell faces a separate trial, as yet unscheduled, for an additional two counts of perjury for statements she made in connection with a long-settled 2015 defamation suit against her. If convicted on all counts, Maxwell could face 80 years in prison. She has always denied any involvement in, or knowledge of, Epstein’s crimes, and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Epstein’s death in federal custody in 2019 left Maxwell bearing the brunt of public outrage at the chronic mishandling of his sex crimes by law enforcement and the courts. Still, Maxwell’s time with Epstein raises many questions: If she did indeed assist in his crimes, what motivated her?

Law & Crime, Jeffrey Epstein’s Ex-Pilot Takes the Stand as Witness Testimony Kicks Off in Ghislaine Maxwell’s Sex Trafficking Trial, Adam Klasfeld, Nov. 29, 2021. The debut witness at Ghislaine Maxwell’s long-awaited sex trafficking trial, Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot testified on Monday that he flew his former boss around to his various properties about “every four days.”

Flight records from Epstein’s travels around the globe and in between his properties sparked international controversy and the reputation of “Lolita Express.” Members of the international elite who reportedly have taken rides on Epstein’s aircraft included former President Bill Clinton, former President Donald Trump, the U.K.’s Prince Andrew, billionaire Bill Gates, actor Kevin Spacey, and model Naomi Campbell.

One protester lampooned the airplane outside of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse on the same day its former pilot, Lawrence Paul Visoski Jr., took the witness stand, but he invoked none of those famous figures during Day One of his testimony.

Visoski told jurors that he couldn’t always tell who boarded the jet.

Referring to those approaching the plane by car, Visoski said: “I could see the driver and perhaps maybe the passenger; 99 percent of cars in Florida have tinted windows, so I probably couldn’t see the passengers as well, but depending upon how the car approached the aircraft, if I’m sitting in the cockpit looking down, I would be able to see the driver of the car.”

Questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maurene Comey, Visoski quickly identified Maxwell inside the courtroom, and he described her relationship to Epstein as “more personal than business.”

Nov. 27

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Abortion Law Complicates Care for Risky Pregnancies, Roni Caryn Rabin, Nov. 27, 2021 (print ed.). Doctors in Texas say they cannot head off life-threatening medical crises in pregnant women if abortions cannot be offered or even discussed.

A few weeks after Texas adopted the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, Dr. Andrea Palmer delivered terrible news to a Fort Worth patient who was midway through her pregnancy.

The fetus had a rare neural tube defect. The brain would not develop, and the infant would die at birth or shortly afterward. Carrying the pregnancy to term would be emotionally grueling and would also raise the mother’s risk of blood clots and severe postpartum bleeding, the doctor warned.

But the patient was past six weeks’ gestation, and under the new law, an abortion was not an option in Texas because the woman was not immediately facing a life-threatening medical crisis or risk of permanent disability.

“So we look at them like a ticking time bomb and wait for the complications to develop,” Dr. Palmer said of her patients.

Nov. 26

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Military’s Broken Culture Around Sexual Violence and Suicide, Cybèle C. Greenberg, Nov. 26, 2021. Ms. Greenberg is a fellow with the editorial board and a former active duty Marine officer.

Anne Vassas loved being a Marine.

She was always smiling. Younger members of her unit saw Corporal Vassas, 20, as something like a mother. Stationed in Iwakuni, Japan, she was re-enlisting for a second tour.

So it came as a shock when Corporal Vassas took her own life in August 2019, a month before her 21st birthday.

Six months after her death, her father was surprised to discover among her belongings pages from a sexual assault report she filed in October 2018. A military investigation into Corporal Vassas’ death later found that she may have been sexually assaulted on three occasions while serving in uniform.

The death of Corporal Vassas, and other deaths like hers, raises questions regarding the military’s ability to care for its service members who experience sexual trauma. In many cases, untreated trauma can have deadly consequences.

There are numerous misconceptions about military suicide. Despite the stereotypes, there is no significant association between combat deployments and the rate of suicide, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry.

Some experts say that it would be more accurate to blame the problem on the military’s culture of intensity and violence that extends well beyond the battlefield. That includes toxic relationships between service members and continued stigma surrounding those seeking help. It is perhaps no coincidence that the Army and the Marine Corps — the two branches founded on an infantry culture, in which the perception of strength trumps all else — experience the highest suicide rates.

A report by the Defense Department inspector general this month indicates that although the number of sexual assault complaints has doubled in the past decade, the services often cut corners when it comes to investigating and prosecuting them.

Sexual trauma is associated with an increased risk of suicide and is more likely than combat to lead to post-traumatic stress for both men and women. While combat troops get time to recover from their deployments, victims of sexual trauma are often sidelined or forcibly discharged, according to Don Christensen, a retired Air Force officer who is president of Protect Our Defenders, a nonprofit that works to end sexual violence in the military.

In a July report, the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military found that many of those who reported sexual violence regretted doing so. The backlash often compounds the trauma of the actual assault.

Worse still, some service members attempt suicide after speaking up and seeking help. Studies show that the perception of betrayal by the military bureaucracy in the aftermath of sexual assault is associated with severe depression and self-inflicted violence. Women who served in the military are at 2.5 times the risk for suicide compared to their counterparts who did not.

Nov. 25

washington post logoWashington Post, Va. professor steps down after firestorm over study into adults who are attracted to minors, Nicole Asbury, Nov. 25, 2021 (print ed.). Allyn Walker, an assistant professor of sociology, was previously placed on administrative leave.

Old Dominion University professor Allyn Walker, whose research into adults who are sexually attracted to minors drew protests and threats, has agreed to step down, Walker and the school announced in a joint statement Wednesday.

Walker, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice, had been placed on administrative leave Nov. 16. They now will remain on leave until the expiration of their current contract in May.

Walker’s research into “minor-attracted people” and their use of that term had been met with an outcry from students and others online, who claimed that such language destigmatized sex offenders. Walker has maintained that their work was intended to better understand would-be sex offenders and prevent child sexual abuse.

Nov. 23


  jeffrey epstein gurney cropped emergency room

ny times logoNew York Times, Jeffrey Epstein’s Final Days: Celebrity Reminiscing and a Running Toilet, Benjamin Weiser, Matthew Goldstein, Danielle Ivory and Steve Eder, Nov. 23, 2021. Newly released records provide the most detailed look yet at the last days of the disgraced financier, and show mistake after mistake made by jail and bureau officials.

The disgraced financier, jailed in Manhattan on federal sex trafficking charges involving teenage girls, was found unconscious on the floor of his cell one morning in July 2019, a strip of bedsheet tied around his bruised neck. He is shown on a gurney above.

In the hours and days that followed that suicide attempt, Jeffrey Epstein would claim to be living a “wonderful life,” denying any thoughts of ending it, even as he sat on suicide watch and faced daunting legal troubles.

“I have no interest in killing myself,” Mr. Epstein told a jailhouse psychologist, according to Bureau of Prisons documents that have not previously been made public. He was a “coward” and did not like pain, he explained. “I would not do that to myself.”

But two weeks later, he did just that: He died in his cell on Aug. 10 in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, having hanged himself with a bedsheet, the medical examiner ruled.

djt epstein hand on shoulderAfter a life of manipulation, Mr. Epstein, shown at right with future president, Donald Trump, created illusions until the very end, deceiving correctional officers, counselors and specially trained inmates assigned to monitor him around the clock, according to the documents — among more than 2,000 pages of Federal Bureau of Prisons records obtained by The New York Times after filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The detailed notes and reports compiled by those who interacted with Mr. Epstein during his 36 days of detention show how he repeatedly assured them he had much to live for, while also hinting that he was increasingly despondent. The clues prompted too little action by jail and bureau officials, who made mistake after mistake leading up to Mr. Epstein’s death, the records reveal.

Beyond the legal and administrative matters, the collection of records provides the most intimate and detailed look yet at Mr. Epstein’s final days, and offers something often missing from public accounts: his voice.

He passed many days closed in a conference room with his lawyers, avoiding the confines of his dank and dirty cell. In conversations with psychologists and other inmates, he spoke of his interest in physics and mathematics and offered tidbits of investment advice. He reminisced about socializing with celebrities, even as he complained about the running toilet in his cell, the orange prison garb, his difficulty sleeping, his dehydration and a numbness in his right arm.

Inmate Epstein was also upset about wearing an orange jumpsuit and being treated like "a bad guy" when he did not do anything wrong in the prison. Custody and security concerns were addressed with inmate Epstein including why he has to wear his orange jumpsuit (due to his being housed in SHU).

And where Mr. Epstein had once rubbed shoulders with politicians, scientists and Wall Street titans, now he was left to converse about the food in the 12-story detention center. “Epstein wants to know who’s the best cook on 11 North,” one inmate wrote.

The newly obtained records offer no support to the explosion of conspiracy theories that Mr. Epstein’s death was not a suicide. They also shed no light on questions raised by his brother and one of his lawyers that he might have been assisted in killing himself. But they do paint a picture of incompetence and sloppiness by some within the Bureau of Prisons, which runs the federal detention center.

An intake screening form erroneously described Mr. Epstein as a Black male (he was white), and indicated that he had no prior sex offense convictions, even though he was a registered sex offender with two 2008 convictions in Florida, for solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors to engage in prostitution. A few social phone calls he made were not recorded, logged or monitored, records show, an apparent violation of jail policy.

The night he killed himself, Mr. Epstein lied to jail officials and said he wanted to phone his mother — who was long dead. He instead called his girlfriend. Jail personnel left him alone in his cell that night, despite an explicit directive that he be assigned a cellmate.

Two days after the suicide, William P. Barr, then the U.S. attorney general, said there were “serious irregularities” at the correctional center, but did not elaborate. He later blamed “a perfect storm of screw-ups.”

A 15-page psychological reconstruction of Mr. Epstein’s death, compiled by bureau officials five weeks later and never before made public, concluded that his identity “appeared to be based on his wealth, power and association with other high-profile individuals.”

Nov. 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Filipino megachurch founder forced girls and women into sex, saying it was ‘God’s will,’ feds say, Andrea Salcedo and Regine Cabato, Nov. 19, 2021. Between 2002 and 2018, Apollo Carreon Quiboloy — the founder of a Philippines-based megachurch — and his accomplices recruited women and girls as young as 12 to work as Quiboloy’s personal assistants, or “pastorals,” prosecutors said.

Under Quiboloy and his accomplices’ orders, women and girls prepared his meals, cleaned his multiple residences in the Philippines and the United States, gave him massages and accompanied him on trips around the world, court records state.

For over 15 years, the victims were forced to devote their lives and bodies to the founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name by writing “commitment letters” to Quiboloy, prosecutors state.

Quiboloy, an ally of the Philippine president who has referred to himself as “the Appointed Son of God” and is believed to be 71, allegedly forced the women and girls to regularly engage in sexual acts with him in what he called the “night duty.” Quiboloy, also known as “sir” and “pastor,” and his accomplices would tell his victims that obedience to Quiboloy was “God’s will” and that “night duty” was considered a privilege and a means to salvation, court records state.

Now, Quiboloy and two of his top administrators, Teresita Tolibas Dandan, 59, and Felina Salinas, 50, have been charged with orchestrating a sex-trafficking operation, federal prosecutors announced this week. Girls and young women were forced into sex with the church’s leader under threats of “eternal damnation,” according to a superseding indictment unsealed on Thursday and filed in the U.S. Central District of California.

washington post logoWashington Post, Time’s Up group to ‘rebuild’ after criticism for role in Cuomo accusations, Michael Scherer, Nov. 19, 2021. The anti-workplace harassment advocacy group Time’s Up will lay off nearly all of its 25 remaining employees and restructure, after an internal report prompted by the group’s involvement with former New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo identified significant internal failures.

“We are going down to the studs to completely rebuild,” said Ashley Judd, an actor and author who serves as one of the group’s four remaining board members. “We can overcome our organizational lapses to serve the needs of women of all kinds. This organization is bigger than any one person. The movement is bigger than any one person.”

The decision to effectively restart from scratch a group founded by Hollywood and political leaders in 2018 follows revelations this summer that senior leaders consulted with Cuomo advisers after the Democratic governor had been accused of sexual harassment by a former aide. At one point, then-CEO Tina Tchen, who previously worked in the White House during the Obama presidency, told her colleagues to “stand down” from a plan to release a statement supporting his accuser after two people connected with the group spoke with the governor’s aides.

Nov. 18


Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang / Reuters)

Peng Shuai of China celebrates a point against Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. during their match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, N.Y., August 29, 2011. Right: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017. (Eduardo Munoz, Lintao Zhang/Reuters)

washington post logoWashington Post, Women’s Tennis Association casts doubt on purported statement of Peng Shuai, calls for Chinese star’s safety, Des Bieler, Nov. 18, 2021 (print ed.). The head of the Women’s Tennis Association said Wednesday that a statement purporting to be from missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai only raises his “concerns as to her safety and whereabouts.”

The 35-year-old Peng, a two-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, has reportedly not been heard from since she shared a post online earlier this month in which she accused a prominent Chinese political figure of sexual assault. Her comments were highly unusual for that country in terms of their candor and the position held by the subject of her allegations.

The Washington Post was not able to confirm the post’s authenticity, but it appeared to have been quickly scrubbed from China’s Weibo social media platform, and tight controls were placed on searches and commentary regarding Peng and former vice premier Zhang Gaoli.

On Sunday, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon issued a statement in which he said his organization commended Peng for “her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward” and that it expected her allegations to be “investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship.” The men’s ATP Tour followed Monday with a statement supporting the call for “a full, fair and transparent investigation” and expressing concern for “the immediate safety and whereabouts” of Peng.

China Global Television Network, a state-owned news service, then posted Wednesday what it claimed were the contents of an email sent by Peng to Simon. In a typed note shared by CGTN, the author self-identified as Peng and stated the allegation of sexual assault was “not true.” The author added: “I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.”

In response, the WTA issued a statement in which Simon said, “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.”

ABC News, Turpin sisters describe living in 'house of horrors': 'I thought I was going to die,' Christina Ng, Tess Scott, Acacia Nunes, Brian Mezerski and Lauren Effron, Nov. 18, 2021. Jennifer and Jordan Turpin share their stories for the first time in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer.

After enduring more than a decade of horrific abuse and captivity, Jennifer Turpin and her 12 siblings had just watched California sheriff’s deputies take their parents away in handcuffs.

The frail and malnourished Turpin children were now in a hospital, where they received food, clean clothes, medical treatment, kindness from strangers -- things the siblings rarely, or in some cases never, had before.

abc news logo colorLooking around her hospital room that January morning, Jennifer Turpin realized for the first time they were finally free, and she danced.

“Music was playing, I got up,” Jennifer Turpin, now 33, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview. “I made sure there was a little bit of a floor cleared out and I danced.”

Watch the Diane Sawyer special event, "Escape From A House Of Horror," on Friday, Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC and stream on Hulu.

Jennifer Turpin, and one of her sisters, Jordan Turpin, are telling their story for the first time in an exclusive interview with Sawyer. They are the first of the 13 Turpin children to share their stories. In their interview, the Turpin daughters described years of their parents, David and Louise Turpin, abusing them and their siblings, some of whom were shackled to beds for months at a time, and being deprived of food, hygiene, education and health care.

It was Jordan Turpin who managed to escape on Jan. 14, 2018, and call 911, freeing herself and her siblings from the family’s house of horrors in Perris, California.

“I knew I would die if I got caught," said Jordan Turpin, now 21. "I think it was us coming so close to death so many times. If something happened to me, at least I died trying."

David and Louise Turpin are now in prison. They pleaded guilty to charges including torture and false imprisonment. In 2019, they were sentenced to 25 years to life.

When the abuse started

When Jennifer, the eldest Turpin child, was an infant, she said she and her parents lived in a nice neighborhood in Fort Worth, Texas. Her father worked as an electrical engineer and her mother was a homemaker. Both were originally from West Virginia and grew up as devout members of the same conservative pentecostal church.

Their new house eventually became filthy, Jennifer Turpin said, covered in mold, dirt and trash. The mother she used to adore started having violent mood swings when she was still very little, she said.

“I never knew which side I was going to get of her,” she said. “If I was going to ask her a question, [is] she going to call me stupid or something… and then yank me across the floor or [is] she going to be nice and answer my question.”

Jennifer Turpin said she attended public school from first through third grade, but then her parents took her out. During that time, she said she was sent to school unwashed, often wearing the same dirty clothes over and over. The other students “didn’t want to be my friend,” she said.

“They called me skinny bones and acted like they didn’t want to be around me,” she said. “I probably smelled. But I didn’t realize at the time I smelled, but that stench clings to you… because we would literally live in houses piled with trash.”

Nov. 17


South Dakota billionaire Denny Sanford greets South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem March 18, 2021 (Joe Sneve Sioux Falls Argus-Leader).  T. Denny Sanford with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on March 18, 2021 (Photo by Joe Sneve of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader).

T. Denny Sanford with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on March 18, 2021 (Photo by Joe Sneve of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader).

Pro Publica, Investigation: Court Records Show That Emails and Phone Data Were Searched in Child Porn Probe of Billionaire Denny Sanford, Robert Faturechi and Isaac Arnsdorf, Nov. 17, 2021. ProPublica won access to search warrants showing a child pornography investigation of South Dakota’s richest man, confirming our reporting from last year.

Authorities seized phone, email and internet data in a child pornography investigation of South Dakota’s richest person, T. Denny Sanford, according to court records obtained by ProPublica.

The records, which were kept under seal for more than a year, confirm ProPublica’s reporting from last year on the existence of the investigation. The search warrants were unsealed after a unanimous ruling last month by the South Dakota Supreme Court, which affirmed what ProPublica had argued when it first tried to obtain the records last summer: that search warrants and related documents are available to the public under state law.

No charges have been filed and the status of any investigation is unclear. In a statement, Sanford’s lawyer, Marty Jackley, declined to address Sanford’s underlying conduct. “The ultimate fact remains that the investigating authorities have not found information to support criminal charges,” Jackley said.

It was Jackley, a former state attorney general who is running to reclaim the position in 2022, who asked a judge to stop ProPublica from reporting on the Sanford investigation last year.

“This is an extraordinary victory for press freedom and the public’s right to know how the government investigates society’s most powerful,” ProPublica’s general counsel, Jeremy Kutner, said. “But the road was a deeply troubling one. We battled under near-total secrecy for over a year, overcoming attempts by a billionaire to keep us from publishing and to have us held in contempt, and a bar on talking about the case itself, all to free information a state law said we should have had all along. We are grateful that the courts ultimately championed openness, but 15 months in the shadows is far too long.”

Sanford, 85, is a towering presence in South Dakota, and he maintained relationships with powerful government and business leaders even after ProPublica first reported on the child pornography investigation in August 2020. This March, Gov. Kristi Noem met with Sanford to accept $100 million in scholarship funds from him and his companies. A spokesperson for Noem, who is widely viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party, did not immediately respond to questions.

Sanford made his fortune in credit cards; he controls First Premier Bank and Premier Bankcard, a major issuer of high-interest credit cards for high-risk borrowers. He became one of the country’s top philanthropists, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to children’s organizations and other charitable groups, including a major hospital system based in South Dakota that bears his name. He has supported Republican candidates and causes, and he has ties to top state and federal political figures.

The warrants reveal new details about the investigation.

South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation obtained five search warrants for emails, internet logs and phone data. The warrants name Sanford “in the matter of possession and distribution of child pornography” and indicate that investigators and a judge concluded there was probable cause to believe that the data would contain evidence of a crime. The affidavits describing the basis for probable cause were not disclosed.

The first search warrant, from December 2019, sought email records, including messages, images and location logs, linked to an AOL account throughout 2019. Investigators followed up in March 2020 with three more search warrants that zeroed in on specific times: internet signatures at two specific seconds on June 27, 2019, and phone calls, messages and location data on that date and two others.

The documents do not specify what, if anything, investigators found in the searches. They also do not reveal what initially prompted the investigation.

Acting on a tip, ProPublica originally called the county courthouse in Sioux Falls to obtain the search warrants in July 2020. An official in the clerk’s office initially said no records related to Sanford could be found in their system. A source outside the office told ProPublica that the clerk’s office became concerned that the request had been improperly denied. When ProPublica called back again the next week, the clerk’s office said it needed permission from the judge to release the records.

The judge, James Power, invited ProPublica, the state’s attorney general and Sanford to make arguments on whether to unseal the records. Sanford’s lawyer, Jackley, then asked the judge to block ProPublica’s reporting and publication. “Freedom of the press is not an absolute right,” Jackley wrote, calling into question the integrity of the criminal investigation given that ProPublica had learned about it through sources. “And under the troubling circumstances of this situation, a restraint on ProPublica’s publication is appropriate.”

The judge recognized ProPublica’s First Amendment right to report and publish what it learned independently, but he kept the case under seal while the proceedings continued.

Even without the warrants, in August 2020 ProPublica was able to report, citing four sources familiar with the probe, that Sanford was investigated for possible possession of child pornography. The state attorney general had been overseeing the case before referring it to the U.S. Department of Justice for further investigation. Federal authorities have not indicated what they’ve done with the case. A DOJ spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

After the story was published, Sanford filed a motion with the judge asking for ProPublica to be held in contempt. The judge refused, and he ultimately ruled that the records should be released. Sanford appealed to the state Supreme Court but lost in a ruling filed on Oct. 27. “The question we confront here is not a close one,” the court wrote, ruling that the state law clearly says search warrants are public records. The Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper, joined the case on ProPublica’s side.
Billionaire T. Denny Sanford Was Under Investigation for Child Pornography

After ProPublica’s story published, some of the beneficiaries of Sanford’s charity initially distanced themselves. The San Diego-based National University announced it was holding off on plans to rename itself after Sanford. Sanford Health, the hospital system named after the billionaire, said it was “deeply concerned” and that “there’s nothing more sacred than the innocence of children.” But the hospital chain went on to accept more than $650 million from Sanford, with its CEO saying, “We took those media reports seriously and are satisfied that they were not substantiated.” In a statement to ProPublica Wednesday, the CEO, Bill Gassen, stood by that remark and added, “We are grateful for Mr. Sanford’s generosity and the many ways his commitment to Sanford Health will benefit our region for generations to come.”

Academic and research institutions across the country are named after Sanford. In South Dakota’s largest city, Sioux Falls, the 12,000-seat indoor sports and events arena bears Sanford’s name, as do several of the largest buildings in town. Outside the castle-like Sanford Children’s Hospital, a statue named “For the Love of Children” depicts Sanford kneeling beside two small boys and a girl. Another statue, “Chasing Dreams” at the Sanford Sports Complex, portrays children running toward the billionaire with basketballs.

“My primary bent, in terms of philanthropy, is directed at small children, to give them the opportunity to realize a full life,” he told the Argus Leader in 2004.

priscilla giddings

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 49 to 19 to censure Representative Priscilla Giddings, shown above, for posting the personal information of a 19-year-old student intern online. (Photo by Darin Oswald of the Idaho Statesman via Associated Press.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Idaho Lawmaker Is Censured for Doxxing Intern Who Reported Rape, Amanda Holpuch, Nov. 17, 2021. Priscilla Giddings, an Idaho state representative, shared a student intern’s personal information after the teenager accused another lawmaker of rape.

An Idaho lawmaker who shared the personal information of a 19-year-old student intern online after the teenager accused another lawmaker of rape was formally censured by the Idaho House of Representatives on Monday.

The representative, Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from White Bird, Idaho, was stripped of a committee assignment because she had shared an article that included the intern’s personal details on Facebook and in a newsletter with her supporters.

Ms. Giddings, who is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, shared the information after the intern in March accused State Representative Aaron von Ehlinger of sexual assault.

Mr. von Ehlinger, 39, who resigned in April, has denied any wrongdoing. He pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault charges this month and is scheduled to stand trial in April 2022.

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 49 to 19 to censure Representative Priscilla Giddings for posting the personal information of a 19-year-old student intern online.Credit...Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman, via Associated Press

Sharing a person’s information online without their consent, a practice called doxxing, has often been used against women speaking out about sexual abuse. In May, Colorado made it illegal to share the personal information of public health workers and their families online for the purposes of harassment.

During a two-hour debate in the Idaho Statehouse on Monday, Ms. Giddings said she had not done anything wrong. “I would not have done anything differently,” she said. “I think my intent was pure.”

There was boisterous clapping and cheering from the public gallery after she spoke.

In an email, Ms. Giddings did not comment directly on the censure. She criticized Representative Scott Bedke, who is the speaker of the House, the lawmaker who oversaw the censure hearing and her opponent in the lieutenant governor primary race. “Stopping this kind of unabashed corruption is exactly why I serve in the legislature, and it’s exactly why I’m running,” she said.


chris belter

washington post logoWashington Post, Man who raped four teenagers gets no jail time, judge says: ‘Incarceration isn’t appropriate,’ Timothy Bella, Nov. 17, 2021. A New York man who pleaded guilty to rape and sexual abuse for assaulting four teenage girls during parties at his parents’ home will not face jail time after a judge Tuesday sentenced him to eight years probation.

matthew murphyNiagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, right, said he “agonized” over the case of 20-year-old Christopher Belter, above, who was accused of committing the crimes when he was 16 or 17. Belter pleaded guilty in 2019 to felony charges that included third-degree rape and attempted first-degree sexual abuse, as well as two misdemeanor charges of second-degree sexual abuse.

Although Belter faced a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, Murphy concluded that jail time for the man “would be inappropriate” in a ruling that shocked the courtroom.

“I’m not ashamed to say that I actually prayed over what is the appropriate sentence in this case because there was great pain. There was great harm. There were multiple crimes committed in the case,” Murphy said, according to WKBW. “It seems to me that a sentence that involves incarceration or partial incarceration isn’t appropriate, so I am going to sentence you to probation.”

Belter, of Lewiston, N.Y., will have to register as a sex offender as part of his sentence. Murphy told Belter in court that the probation sentence would be “like a sword hanging over your head for the next eight years.” The judge did not elaborate on why he did not impose jail time.

Steven M. Cohen, an attorney for one of the victims, denounced the judge’s sentencing, saying to reporters Tuesday, “Justice was not done here.” He told The Washington Post on Wednesday that his client, who was joined by some of the other victims in the courtroom, was “deeply disappointed” in the sentencing.

“My client threw up in the ladies room following the sentencing,” Cohen said. “If Chris Belter was not a White defendant from a rich and influential family, in my experience … he would surely have been sentenced to prison.”

Barry N. Covert, Belter’s attorney, declined to comment. At the sentencing hearing, the defense attorney said that Belter regretted what he did as a teen.

The crimes took place between February 2017 and August 2018 at Belter’s parents’ home in a wealthy neighborhood of Lewiston, a few miles outside Niagara Falls. During that time, three 16-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl were assaulted in four separate incidents, according to the judge.

The “party house” label at Belter’s family home was fueled by his mother, Tricia Vacanti, now 50; his stepfather, Gary Sullo, 56; and Jessica M. Long, 42, a family friend, who allegedly supplied teen girls with alcohol and marijuana, according to state police. The three adults, who police say helped groom the women for sexual assaults by Belter, have pleaded not guilty in Lewiston Town Court to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and unlawfully dealing with a child. None of them responded to requests for comment Wednesday.

Nov. 16

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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s Companion, Goes on Trial, Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Benjamin Weiser, Nov. 16, 2021. Jury selection is set to begin on Tuesday in the federal sex trafficking trial, following a flurry of motions that began to bring the scope of the proceedings into focus.

In the weeks leading up to Ghislaine Maxwell’s federal sex trafficking trial in Manhattan, her lawyers have raised issues about the “reprehensible” conditions in her Brooklyn detention facility and the ordeal she undergoes whenever she is brought to court.

They asked to interview F.B.I. agents about previous investigations into her longtime companion, Jeffrey Epstein. They took issue with an expert witness’s planned testimony on sexual abuse. And they asked the federal judge overseeing the trial to preclude federal prosecutors from referring to her accusers as “victims.”

The flurry of recent motions, hearings and rulings has begun to define the playing field for Ms. Maxwell’s highly anticipated trial. Jurors, who will begin to be chosen on Tuesday, will hear Ms. Maxwell’s accusers testify that she recruited them as minors for sexual acts with Mr. Epstein and others, in a trial that is widely seen as a proxy for trying Mr. Epstein himself.

Ms. Maxwell, 59, the daughter of a British media mogul and once a fixture in New York’s social scene, will be tried on six counts, including transporting minors to engage in criminal sexual activity. She has steadfastly maintained her innocence, and her lawyers have sought to undermine the credibility of her accusers and question the motives of prosecutors — efforts they have indicated they would continue at trial.

Their concern about the use of the term “victim” was rooted in fairness, her lawyers have argued. “In some criminal cases, the parties agree that an accuser was the victim of a crime,” they wrote to Judge Alison J. Nathan this month. “This is not one of those cases. Rather, Ms. Maxwell denies that she victimized anyone. And there is ample evidence to support her defense.”

But as with most of the motions filed on Ms. Maxwell’s behalf so far, Judge Nathan did not agree. She ruled that prosecutors will be allowed to describe the accusers as “victims” and, in another win for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, the accusers will be allowed to testify under pseudonyms; courtroom artists are prohibited from sketching their likeness.

washington post logoWashington Post, OnlyFans and similar sites gave these adult content creators more control. Now they worry about losing it, Lateshia Beachum, Nov. 16, 2021. Amid the job losses of the pandemic, thousands signed up to produce adult content for sites. Now some adult performers say their income is threatened by new regulations intended to fight child sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

Sites for creators of adult content have proliferated in recent years. They differ from traditional pornography sites because they eliminate talent scouts, producers and camera crews, allowing performers to take home a larger share of money earned from the content they post.

Last month, Mastercard began requiring the sites to introduce content review processes and verify identities, ages and proof of consent for people appearing in the content. Anti-trafficking groups such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Exodus Cry are pushing Visa, Discover and other credit card companies to impose similar requirements.

But, although the policies are aimed at protecting those who might be forced into sex work, content creators and their advocates say they could hurt legitimate performers.

Nov. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Another state, another clergy sex abuse scandal, Editorial Board, Nebraska’s attorney general recently identified 57 priests and other Catholic officials responsible for allegedly sexually abusing more than 250 victims, mainly boys, over decades while the church’s hierarchy shrugged or covered up the crimes. The number of clerics who will be criminally prosecuted is zero.

Yes, it’s an old story. And no, the sheer repetitiveness of what is by now a well known pattern of conduct within the church should not cauterize the outrage nor inure lawmakers to the urgency of action.

As in other states, and many countries, prosecuting clerical abusers in Nebraska for crimes committed years ago is impossible because the criminal statute of limitations has closed or the abusers themselves are dead. Most of the instances of reported abuse documented by the state attorney general’s office took place in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s and tapered off over the past 20 years. Nebraska has changed its laws to eliminate any time limit on prosecutions for future child sex assaults, but past cases remain off limits both for criminal charges and for lawsuits.

It’s an old story; it’s also a current one. Sexual abuse is notoriously under-reported, especially when the victims are children unaware, or not fully cognizant, that what they have experienced is a crime. Typically, the victims, whose abusers are often authority figures, say nothing for years. Today’s youthful victims, in the Catholic Church or any other setting, might not come forward for a decade or two.

In Nebraska, the hair-raising details of Attorney General Doug Peterson’s report reflect the depth of the church’s arrogance and impunity. It’s noteworthy that one of the state’s three dioceses, based in Lincoln, for years refused to participate in the church’s own annual reviews of sexual misconduct. Incredibly, the church tolerated it. It was in Lincoln that church higher-ups knew about multiple allegations of sexual abuse for at least 15 years against James Benton, a priest who continued on in ministry until his retirement in 2017. Some of the allegations against him dated from the early 1980s.

The number of victims of clerical abuse who have come forward to report abuse exploded after a major investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, which published a report on it in 2018. The next year, allegations of past abuse quadrupled, to more than 4,400, and stayed roughly in that range in 2020, according to the latest annual report on the subject by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Despite those reports, and that scrutiny, just about 10 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that allow victims to file lawsuits for past abuse, by briefly suspending the statute of limitations in “lookback windows.” Amazingly, Pennsylvania, where the grand jury documented roughly 300 priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 children, is not one of those states.

It is true that the U.S. Catholic Church has been more proactive than its counterparts in almost every other country in identifying clerical sex abusers and cooperating with investigative authorities. Yet the U.S. bishops have also continued spending tens of millions of dollars annually lobbying state lawmakers to prevent changes in law that would allow lawsuits for past clerical sex crimes — and enable a measure of justice and healing for victims. That is morally indefensible.

Nov. 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia’s senators call for federal investigation into Liberty University over sexual misconduct claims, Susan Svrluga, Nov. 11, 2021 (print ed.). Virginia’s senators called for an investigation into Liberty University over the school’s handling of sexual misconduct claims.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) said Wednesday he was deeply troubled by a ProPublica story describing women’s experiences at the private evangelical liberty university sealschool. “Recent reports only underscore the need for federal policymakers to improve transparency, consistency, and accountability at our institutions of higher learning,” he said in a written statement. Liberty’s leaders should act quickly to prioritize the needs of survivors, he said, and it would be appropriate for the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to look into the school’s procedures for dealing with sexual assault cases.

A dozen women sued the university this summer, claiming the school violated federal Title IX law prohibiting discrimination based on sex at schools that receive federal funding, failing to help them and making the campus more dangerous.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D) also urged the Education Department to take action. “Any campus policy that deters or discourages a survivor of sexual assault from speaking out and seeking justice is wrong,” he said in a written statement. “Students who bravely speak out deserve to be heard and to have their claims taken seriously.”

“Liberty University has been very clear about how seriously it is taking the allegations made in the Jane Doe lawsuit but these allegations, some twenty years old, should not give the misimpression that Liberty University isn’t fully compliant with all laws with regard to its title IX policies and procedures today,” a Liberty spokesman responded in an emailed statement.

“Nonetheless, the university is conducting an independent review of its processes to determine if any policies or procedures need to be modified.” The university invites the senators to visit campus and discuss their concerns with university leaders, he said. “We hope the Senators’ comments do not represent an unhelpful politicization of such a serious issue.”

Nov. 4



Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, shown above in a screenshot from Fox News, has been Fox News pundit and GOP strategist who recently worked on the 2020 campaign for Republican candidate Lacy Johnson in Minneapolis.

washington post logoWashington Post, A GOP strategist was charged with sex trafficking of minors. Then he tried to ‘threaten’ law enforcement, judge says, Jonathan Edwards, Nov. 4, 2021.  Anton “Tony” Lazzaro had already been accused of paying underage girls for sex when the up-and-coming Republican political strategist, according to a federal judge, tried to leverage some information he’d dug up.

While jailed without bond, Lazzaro told one of the Minneapolis police officers investigating his case that he knew where the officer lived, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz wrote in an order filed Tuesday. Lazzaro also allegedly told the officer he’d tried to find similar information before his arrest about djt maga hatan FBI agent, but came up empty because the agent was “a ghost” with no online presence.

The federal judge called Lazzaro’s comments to Officer Brandon Brugger an “attempt to threaten and intimidate” and “very troubling.” The judge cited it as one of the reasons he was denying Lazzaro’s request to reconsider giving him a bond. Schiltz ordered that Lazzaro remain locked up pending trial.

“There is no legitimate reason — none — for Lazzaro to be collecting home addresses and other personal information about the law enforcement officers involved in his case,” Schiltz wrote in his decision.

Lazzaro, 31, was arrested Aug. 12 on sex trafficking charges. Prosecutors are accusing him of orchestrating a sex trafficking scheme in which he paid Gisela Castro Medina, a 19-year-old university student, to scout and recruit at least six underage girls during an eight-month period in 2020, promising tony lazarro djtthem that Lazzaro would be their “sugar daddy.” Once Lazzaro allegedly lured them to his luxury condo in downtown fox news logo SmallMinneapolis, prosecutors claim he — in exchange for sex acts — provided them with cash, alcohol, vape pens and other items.

Before the sex trafficking allegations, Lazzaro was a rising star in Minnesota GOP circles. The self-described entrepreneur had donated to state Republicans and posed in photos with high-powered conservatives like TV host Tucker Carlson, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former president Donald Trump.

He’d made multiple appearances on Fox News programs, and posted photos of himself sitting on top of a private jet, gassing up a Ferrari and posing shirtless with hundred-dollar bills.

  • Washington Post, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy halts at-sea training as it reckons with sexual assault allegations, Ian Duncan, Nov. 4, 2021.


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

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

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Do Gun Rights Depend on Abortion Rights? That’s Now Up to the Supreme Court, Linda Greenhouse, (shown at right on the cover of her memoir, "Just a Journalist"), Nov. 4, 2021. It might linda greenhouse cover just a journalisthave looked like a coincidence that questions of abortion and guns both reached the Supreme Court in the same week. But it wasn’t, really. Powerful social movements have devoted years to steering these two issues toward a moment of truth in a court reshaped in large measure by those same movements.

Recall that in the Rose Garden ceremony in September of last year in which President Donald Trump introduced his third Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to the country, he couldn’t refrain from observing that “rulings that the Supreme Court will issue in the coming years will decide the survival of our Second Amendment.” The president didn’t mention abortion. Given his nominee’s well-known opposition to Roe v. Wade, he didn’t have to.

So, perhaps inevitably, it has come to this: One right, established for nearly half a century, faces erasure, while the other, extracted 13 years ago from a contorted reading of an 18th-century text, may be poised for an ahistoric expansion.

Little emerged in the arguments this week to knock the rights to abortion and gun possession off these apparent trajectories. Although the consensus seems to be that a majority of the justices may not permit Texas to get away with walling off its appalling anti-abortion law from judicial challenge, the fate of the actual right to abortion itself depends not on the pair of Texas cases the court heard this week, but on the case from Mississippi it will hear on Dec. 1.

And on the Second Amendment case, a challenge to New York State’s limits on licenses for carrying a concealed weapon, there was little surprise that a majority appeared ready to interpret the Constitution to require a substantial expansion of individual gun rights.

Still, something interesting did emerge from the proximity of the week’s arguments. The Texas law, S.B. 8, seeks to take state officials out of the role of enforcing the ban on abortion that the law imposes at roughly six weeks of pregnancy. Instead, any individual may bring a private damages action for at least $10,000 against anyone who provides or enables an abortion in violation of the law. At least while Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey remain as precedents, the six-week ban is flagrantly unconstitutional.

The idea of turning every citizen into a potential vigilante is to immunize state officials from a federal court lawsuit that would challenge the law’s constitutionality, on the theory that no official has anything to do with the law’s enforcement.

But what about blue states? A brief filed against Texas by a gun-rights group, the Firearms Policy Coalition, raised the prospect that if the state’s vigilante mechanism prevails, states favoring limitations on gun ownership contrary to Supreme Court precedent could enact their own copycat laws authorizing individuals to sue gun owners.

Nov. 3

Virginian-Pilot, Lead pastor at Virginia Beach’s Rock Church steps down after being charged with soliciting sex with minor, Jane Harper, Nov. 3, 2021. A day after news broke that the lead pastor of Virginia Beach’s Rock Church had been charged with soliciting sex from an underage girl, the church announced he will step away from all ministerial duties until the case is resolved.

The statement was released Wednesday morning, five days after Pastor John Blanchard was arrested in a sting operation in Chesterfield County.

Police said the operation targeted 17 men who’d been communicating online with someone they believed was a teenage girl but was actually a police officer.

When the men went to meet the girl at a motel room for sex, they were greeted instead by several police officers, said Mike Louth, a major with the Chesterfield County Police Department.

Nov. 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: Huma Abedin Has Been to Hell and Back. Now She’s Gingerly Telling the Tale, Susan Dominus, Nov. 1, 2021.  “Both/And” may not be the most introspective memoir, but it gives readers a front-row view of heartache and humiliation.

When Huma Abedin was a young, single aide to Hillary Clinton, she was already a subject of great fascination. “Hillary’s Mystery Woman: Who Is Huma?” ran a 2007 headline in The New York Observer. Abedin was known to be private, savvy and stunning — all of which contributed to the firestorm that ensued when the man she eventually married, then-Congressman Anthony Weiner, self-immolated via serial sext.

At first, Weiner was simply a goofy tabloid villain; but his compulsion eventually landed him in prison — and possibly cost Clinton the presidency, as an investigation of his case sparked yet another investigation (soon dismissed) related to Hillary’s emails just days before the election. The original set of questions about Huma — What was she whispering in Hillary’s ear? And how did she get to be the chosen whisperer? — was replaced with another: Why would someone like her marry someone like him? Why did she hang on as long as she did? And how did she remain standing through all of it?

In her new memoir, Both/And, Abedin attempts to answer some of these questions, with varying degrees of success. One senses at times that when she falters, she lacks insight rather than sincerity, which is itself a kind of honest answer: Abedin may be one of the most politically astute and well-traveled women in the world, but she portrays herself as far from worldly, at least in affairs of the heart.

It’s clear from the outset that this book is not a sidekick’s tale, but the story of a person of substance — someone determined to tell her own story, with her name pronounced correctly, for once: She clarifies that it is more like “Humma” than “Hooma.”

Abedin begins with tales of her childhood in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where her Indian father and Pakistani mother had moved, after meeting and starting a family in the United States, to pursue prestigious jobs in academia. She contrasts her relatively cloistered days in Saudi Arabia with carefree summers back in the States, setting up the unusual background that would prove so valuable in government service (and also explains, in part, the title of her book).

Abedin delivers on the promise stated in her preface to “track the migration of a family across the course of generations,” introduces relatives who prized women’s education, presents the early, tragic loss of her father, and ultimately arrives at her seemingly destined path working for Clinton. I made it a dozen pages into her first two years working at the White House, started to grasp just how much ground Abedin intended to cover over the course of this 500-page book — and then did what perhaps you are tempted to do right now as you read this review: I skipped ahead to the more dramatic events of her personal life.

Abedin’s life in the White House and the Clintons’ orbit could theoretically have been compelling enough to stave off that urge: Abedin was by Clinton’s side through many of her own soul-trying years in politics, accompanied her on historic visits to hot spots and to events attended by the most elite guests.

But even when I went back and read Both/And in its entirety, I had the sense that in the sections about Clinton, the book was serving as a kind of body woman — that Abedin could not help functioning, even in her own memoir, as someone habitually burnishing Clinton’s image for posterity. (Here is Huma on the moment Clinton recognized that Obama had won the nomination: “When it was time to concede, she would do it as she always conducted herself: with grace.”) Even those who consider Clinton extraordinary will pause to wonder if she has weaknesses beyond the few Abedin acknowledges (such as: French fries with dinner — sometimes). Abedin says she served Clinton by “helping her to tell the story she thought was important at each of these destinations,” and she is still messaging, rather than writing with the kind of voice that brings a reader close to history.

Abedin herself does not fully come to life on the page until she actually meets Weiner — which is when the reader also better appreciates how much her upbringing as a faithful Muslim distinguished her in the circles in which she moved. Weiner, whom she started seeing at age 30, appears to be the one and only romantic involvement she ever had, short of a few chaste dates that went nowhere. Weiner was witty, curious, competent and ambitious, and wooed her with the full force of his charisma.

The catalog of her Job-like suffering — the shame to which she was subject for actions other than her own — is at times excruciating to read; but it is as if in uttering those episodes aloud, she ensures that they do not own her. Huma still fascinates, not because of any lurid details she exposes but because her story serves as a parable, a blinking billboard of a reminder that no one is exempt from suffering. She is far from psychologically minded; but there is, somehow, something comforting in her refusal to find bright sides of the story or purport to share great wisdom as someone who is still standing despite it all. The only way out, she seems to say, was through, which is perhaps not original, but has the benefit of being true.



Oct. 30

 virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot

ny times logoNew York Times, Prince Andrew Mounts Attack Against Woman Who Accused Him of Sexual Abuse, Benjamin Weiser and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Oct. 30, 2021 (print ed.). Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, said the woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre (shown above in an NBC interview and below left in 2001 at age 17 with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell) was seeking financial gain from one of the world’s best known royal families.

United Kingdom flagLawyers for Prince Andrew on Friday issued a blistering attack on a woman who has accused him in a lawsuit of sexually abusing her when she was still a minor and he was a guest of Jeffrey Epstein.

The lawyers for Andrew, 61, denied in a new court filing in Manhattan that their client, who is also known as the Duke of York, had ever sexually abused prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 2001or assaulted the woman, Virginia Giuffre, who has been one of Mr. Epstein’s most prominent accusers.

Andrew’s lawyers argued in the court papers that Ms. Giuffre’s lawsuit was part of an effort by her over more than a decade to profit from allegations she had made against Mr. Epstein and others. Andrew’s lawyers claimed that Ms. Giuffre had sold articles and photographs to the news media and entered into secret agreements to resolve her abuse claims.

“Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him,” Andrew’s lawyers wrote. “Most people could only dream of obtaining the sums of money that Giuffre has secured for herself over the years.”

The lawyers added that “accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press.”

Andrew’s lawyers issued their attack on Ms. Giuffre as part of a brief asking the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, to dismiss her lawsuit, which was filed in August in Federal District Court.

prince andrew jeff epstein news syndication CustomIn the lawsuit, Ms. Giuffre, 38, claimed that Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, sexually abused her when she was under 18 on Mr. Epstein’s private island, Little St. James, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and at his mansion in Manhattan.

She also accused Andrew, along with Mr. Epstein (shown together in a file photo at right) and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, of forcing her to have sexual intercourse with Andrew at Ms. Maxwell’s home in London.

Mr. Epstein, 66, was arrested in July 2019 on sex-trafficking charges. One month later he was found dead by hanging in his jail cell in Manhattan. The medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.

Oct. 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Sexual Misconduct Complaint Is Filed Against Andrew Cuomo, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 28, 2021. A criminal complaint was filed accusing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of forcible touching, a spokesman for New York State’s court system said. Mr. Cuomo resigned in August after a state attorney general report concluded that he had sexually harassed multiple women.

andrew cuomo 2019A criminal complaint accusing former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, of forcible touching has been filed in Albany City Court, a spokesman for New York State’s court system said on Thursday.

“A misdemeanor complaint was filed in Albany City Court against the former governor this afternoon,” said the spokesman, Lucian Chalfen.

The complaint came more than two months after Brittany Commisso, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo, filed a criminal complaint against him with the Albany County sheriff’s office. She accused him of groping her breast while they were alone in his residence late last year.

The complaint, signed by an investigator from the Albany County sheriff’s office, Amy Kowalski, said Mr. Cuomo did “intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim and onto her intimate body part.” It said Mr. Cuomo touched the victim’s left breast “for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires, all contrary to the provisions of the statute.”

Oct. 26


ron desantis uncredited Custom

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DeSantis's big secret is emerging from the shadows, Wayne Madsen, left, Oct. 26, 2021. An October 25 wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallreport in Hill Reporter. com, an affiliate of Meidas Media Network, described an incident involving [Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] DeSantis in 2001 at the Darlington private K-12 school in Rome, Georgia. DeSantis taught history at the school for a year.

A photograph from 2001 has surfaced showing a 22-year old DeSantis (shown above in file photo) partying with female Darlington students, some of whom were seniors who graduated in 2002. Such behavior would have been in violation of Darlington's code of conduct for members of its staff.

The Hill Reporter article stated that DeSantis "had a reputation among students for being a young 'hot teacher' who girls loved." The website also reported that DeSantis has another problem. Not only was DeSantis's socializing off campus with the Darlington students a violation of school policy, but the girls were also underage and DeSantis was an adult. The socializing also, according to The Hill Reporter, involved alcohol, which was also illegal.

And this fact makes the role of DeSantis's relationship with his 2018 gubernatorial top campaign political adviser even more curious. It was Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), currently under federal investigation for underage sex trafficking involving girls the same age as those seen partying with DeSantis in 2001, who arranged for DeSantis's campaign appearances in the state.

WMR's informed sources in Florida have reported that the federal investigation of Gaetz also involves DeSantis as a potential target and not merely for financial, campaign donation, and lobbying crimes. Gaetz's former "wing man," former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, was convicted on May 17, 2021 on six federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. Greenberg is reportedly singing to prosecutors in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.

Oct. 21

kim hak soon

Kim Hak-soon, right, in 1992 at a weekly protest that she and others started in Seoul to demand that Japan apologize for brutalities toward women during World War II (Associated Press Photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Overlooked No More: Kim Hak-soon, Who Spoke for ‘Comfort Women,’ Choe Sang-Hun, Oct. 21, 2021. Her testimony about the horrors of sexual slavery that Japan had engineered for its World War II military encouraged other survivors to step forward. This article is part of Overlooked, a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

On Aug. 14, 1991, a woman who lived alone in a flophouse here faced television cameras and told the world her name: Kim Hak-soon. She then described in gruesome detail how, when she was barely 17, she was taken to a so-called comfort station in China during World War II and raped by several Japanese soldiers every day.

south korea flag Small“It was horrifying when those monstrous soldiers forced themselves upon me,” she said during a news conference, wiping tears off her face. “When I tried to run away, they caught me and dragged me in again.”

Her powerful account, the first such public testimony by a former “comfort woman,” gave a human face to a history that many political leaders in Japan had denied for decades, and that many still do: From the 1930s until the end of the war, Japan coerced or lured an estimated 200,000 women into military-run rape centers in Asia and the Pacific, according to historians. It was one of history’s largest examples of state-sponsored sexual slavery.

Kim died of a lung disease when she was 73, on Dec. 16, 1997, just six years after the testimony. But she left a long-lasting legacy and inspired other former ​sex slaves to come forward in Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Australia and the Netherlands.

“Nothing that I wrote could come close to the impact of the personal firsthand account given publicly by Kim Hak-soon 30 years ago,” Gay J. McDougall, a former United Nations special rapporteur whose 1998 report defined Japan’s wartime enslavement of comfort women as crimes against humanity, said this year at a conference about Kim’s legacy.

Oct. 18

ny times logoNew York Times,Investigation: Axel Springer removes a top editor after a Times report on workplace behavior, Ben Smith, right, and Melissa Eddy, Oct. 18, 2021. The ben smith twitterGerman media giant Axel Springer said on Monday that Julian Reichelt, the editor of Bild, its powerful tabloid, had been removed from his duties after The New York Times reported on allegations that he had behaved inappropriately with women at the publication.

The Times reported on Sunday on details of Mr. Reichelt’s relationship with a trainee, who testified during an investigation sponsored by the company that he had summoned her to a hotel near the office for sex and asked her to keep a payment secret.

bild logoMr. Reichelt had “not clearly separated private and professional matters, even after the compliance proceedings were concluded in spring 2021,” and had misled the company’s executive board on the subject, Axel Springer said in a statement. Mr. Reichelt has denied abusing his authority.

The company’s chairman and chief executive, Mathias Döpfner, praised Mr. Reichelt for his leadership but said retaining him had become impossible. He said his replacement, Johannes Boie, would combine “journalistic excellence with modern leadership.”

Mr. Reichelt, shown at right in a 2018 photo, was also removed from his duties at Bild TV, a television network introduced in August, said julian reichelt 2018Deirdre Latour, a spokeswoman for Axel Springer.

Axel Springer — whose leading publications pride themselves on their ability to dig up exclusive news before others do — also said in its statement that it would take legal action against third parties who it claimed tried to illegally influence the company’s compliance investigation, “apparently with the aim of removing Julian Reichelt from office and damaging Bild and Axel Springer.”

Despite the apparent threat, Ms. Latour said that “they will not go after whistle-blowers or anybody who brings forward complaints.”

Pressure built in Germany after the Ippen media group, a competitor of Bild, decided on Friday to pull its own in-depth investigation into Mr. Reichelt. That revelation stirred outrage among reporters in Berlin, leading one to ask Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman at a news conference on Monday whether that decision had raised concerns in the German government that freedom of the press could be in danger. Ms. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, declined to comment.

Ippen said in a statement on Monday that it had decided not to publish its investigation to avoid the appearance that it wanted to harm a rival publisher. Bild is the flagship publication of Axel Springer, a titan of German media since after World War II. The company is now focusing much of its energy on the United States and digital publishing. In 2015, the company bought Business Insider (now called Insider) for $442 million. This summer, it announced that it had purchased Politico for $1 billion.

ny times logoNew York Times, In-Depth: At Politico’s New Owner, Allegations of Sex, Lies and a Secret Payment, Ben Smith, Oct. 18, 2021. Axel Springer, a German media giant, seems stuck in the past when it comes to the workplace and deal-making, our columnist Ben Smith writes.

A high-level editor at the powerful German tabloid Bild was trying to break things off with a woman who was a junior employee at the paper. He was 36. She was 25.

politico Custom“If they find out that I’m having an affair with a trainee, I’ll lose my job,” the editor, Julian Reichelt, told her in November 2016, according to testimony she later gave investigators from a law firm hired by Bild’s parent company, Axel Springer, to look into the editor’s workplace behavior. I obtained a transcript through someone not directly involved.

bild logoJust before the editor spoke those words, another woman at the paper had lodged a sexual harassment complaint against the publisher of Bild. But Mr. Reichelt’s relationship with the junior employee continued, she testified, and he was promoted to the top newsroom job in 2017.

Mr. Reichelt then gave her a high-profile job, one she felt she wasn’t ready for, and he continued to summon her to hotel rooms near the gleaming Berlin tower occupied by Axel Springer, she said.

“That’s how it always goes at Bild,” she told the investigators. “Those who sleep with the boss get a better job.”

This account is drawn from an interview conducted in the spring by a law firm retained by Axel Springer for an investigation that quickly closed, clearing Mr. Reichelt. A spokeswoman for Axel Springer and Mr. Reichelt, Deirdre Latour, said the woman’s testimony included “some inaccurate facts,” but declined to specify which ones.

Mr. Reichelt did not, as he feared, lose his job when his relationship with the woman, as well his conduct toward other women at Bild, became public. Instead, Mr. Reichelt, who denied abusing his authority, took a brief leave and then was reinstated as perhaps the most powerful newspaper editor in Europe after the mathias döpfnercompany determined that his actions did not warrant a dismissal.

Bild is the flagship publication of Axel Springer, a titan of German media since after World War II. The company is now focusing much of its energy on the United States. American media types may know it mainly for its leader, Mathias Döpfner, right, a charismatic chief executive who moved more swiftly than most traditional publishers to embrace the internet.

In 2015, the company bought Business Insider (now called Insider) for $442 million. This summer, it announced that it had purchased Politico for $1 billion. Axel Springer aims “to become the leading digital publisher in the democratic world,” Mr. Döpfner told me in an emailed statement.

Oct. 16


djt jeffrey epstein headshots

Palmer Report, Opinion: The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is coming back to haunt Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Oct. 16, 2021. Jeffrey Epstein’s remaining secrets died with him in that prison cell – or did they? We’ve all been waiting to see whether or not the ongoing criminal case against Epstein’s longtime sidekick Ghislaine Maxwell ends up unearthing Epstein’s remaining secrets. But in the meantime, Epstein’s ghost is resurfacing in a new and strange way.

bill palmer report logo headerMichael Wolff’s new insider book claims that Steve Bannon was terrified of the secrets that Jeffrey Epstein was holding onto about Donald Trump, and that Bannon in fact admitted as much to Epstein. Of course this kind of insider chatter always raises questions about just who would have told Wolff about this, why this source would have such information, what their motivation would be for providing it, and how slanted it might be as a result.

But those questions aside, you can’t overlook the timing. Steve Bannon is just a couple days away from facing federal criminal prosecution for his failure to testify to the January 6th Committee – and he’s trying to dodge that testimony because he’s afraid of further incriminating himself in the ongoing criminal case against him in New York.

Bannon is on track for prison either way, and we can’t imagine he’s willing to take the fall by himself. If anything, a snake like Bannon will end up spilling his guts around everyone and everything in order to try to reduce or eliminate his own prison time. So if Bannon really does know what Epstein knew about Trump, he may end up giving it up as he tries to get himself off the hook. The thing about these types is they’re never loyal to each other for any longer than they have to be.

michael wolff too famous landslide covers

 Oct. 15

stefan bieret fairfax policeDaily Beast, Assistant House Sergeant at Arms Arrested on Child Porn Charges, Corbin Bolies, Oct. 15, 2021. An assistant to the House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms faces multiple charges of child pornography, police in Fairfax County, Virginia, said Thursday.

daily beast logoStefan Bieret, 41, shown above in a Fairfax County mug shot, was arrested Thursday on 10 felony counts of child pornography, his arrest stemming from a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after it noticed an illicit upload from a Dropbox account.

Search warrants revealed the account belonged to Bieret, leading to a search of his home. Bieret was later transferred to a Fairfax County jail, where he is being held without bond. Police said they are still examining the evidence obtained from Bieret’s home and will use it to determine whether any other charges can be pressed.

Punchbowl News reporter Jake Sherman said on Twitter that Bieret was a known figure at the House. “Capitol insiders will know Stefan very well,” he wrote. “A longtime employee of the House Sargent at Arms. If you’re in the Capitol on a regular basis, you will have seen this face.”

Bio Backgrounder: Washington Scholars Program: A Man of Achievement: Mr. Stefan J. Bieret, right, shown in a 2003 photo.  I serve in the office of the chief law stefan bieret 2003enforcement and protocol officer for the U.S. House of Representatives-the Office of the Sergeant at Arms (HSAA). I currently hold the position of Assistant to the HSAA for Operations. This is a position which I could not have obtained without my experience from the Washington Scholars Program.

My interest has always been in the law enforcement and investigative realms-the professions where one serves the public by maintaining law, order, and safety. This was not common in the area where I grew up, where most families' livelihoods directly depended on the happenings of Wall Street and the financial world. Throughout my life, Washington, DC was an unfamiliar place often described in textbooks and newscasts. It was a place that may have been out of reach, had it not been for Washington Scholars.

I learned of the program through a Washington Scholars alumnus, who enthusiastically recommended the program as a valuable means to begin to build one's professional credentials. In 2003, I moved from the center of the financial world to the epicenter of our democracy to begin my internships at the National Defense PAC and the Heritage Foundation (Center for Legal & Judicial Studies). After exploring various career options and receiving guidance from Admiral Carey, I reenrolled in the Washington Scholars internship program in 2004 with a placement at the House Sergeant at Arms and an additional placement at the Heritage Foundation.

With my placement at the House Sergeant at Arms, I began to learn how a federal law enforcement agency (such as the U.S. Capitol Police) functions, including daily operations and the considerations that go into the decision-making process. After seven years, I am still learning. In my current role, I handle inquires from Members of Congress and their offices regarding security, access control for entry into the House complex, and joint activities with the US Capitol Police to facilitate legislative branch activities. In this respect, I also work with other law enforcement agencies and the military.

michael wolff too famous landslide coversDaily Beast, Jeffrey Epstein Bragged Bill Barr was in Charge, Not Trump, Lachlan Cartwright, Oct. 15, 2021. The pedophile told Ehud Barak he had “direct knowledge” that Barr was in charge in DC, according to a new book that also claims Steve Bannon gave Epstein advice on his PR strategy.

daily beast logoA controversial new book from the journalist Michael Wolff claims that the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein bragged that Bill Barr was the man in charge during Trump’s time in office and that the president “lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

The tome, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious and the Damned, also claims that Steve Bannon and former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak tried to help Epstein rehabilitate his image, even suggesting that he try to get favorable coverage on Rachel Maddow or 60 Minutes.

According to Wolff—who reportedly tried to buy New York Magazine with Epstein and disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein—Barak asked Epstein the million-dollar question of who was in charge at the White House. “‘What I want to know from you all-knowing people is: Who is in charge, who is,’ [Barak] said, putting on an American accent over his own often impenetrable Israeli one, ‘calling the shots?’ This was a resumption of the reliable conversation around Epstein: the ludicrousness and vagaries of Donald Trump—once among Epstein’s closest friends. ‘Here is the question every government is asking. Trump is obviously not in charge because he is—’”

Wolff claims that Epstein interrupted the former politico and called Trump—his former playboy party pal—a “moron,” then confided, “At the moment, Bill Barr is in charge.” The pedophile financier continued: “It’s Donald’s pattern...he lets someone else be in charge, until other people realize that someone, other than him, is in charge. When that happens, you’re no longer in charge.”

Barak allegedly pressed, “But let me ask you, why do you think this Barr took this job, knowing all this?”

“The motivation was simple: money,” Epstein replied. “Barr believes he’ll get a big payday out of this ... If he keeps Donald in office, manages to hold the Justice Department together, and help the Republican Party survive Donald, he thinks this is worth big money to him. I speak from direct knowledge. Extremely direct. Trust me.”

The book also claims that Epstein and Barak, along with Epstein’s lawyer Reid Weingarten, called Steve Bannon—“a new friend [who] had been introduced in December 2017”—and talked over a PR strategy with him to rehabilitate Epstein’s image after the damaging expose by The Miami Herald dredged up allegations that Epstein had molested and raped dozens of underage girls at his properties in Palm Beach, New York, and on his private island in the Caribbean. (Bannon told The New York Times that he disputed Wolff’s account of the conversation and that he “never media-trained anyone.”)

Wolff claims that Bannon laughed to Epstein, “You were the only person I was afraid of during the campaign,” and that Epstein replied, “As well you should have been.”

The pair had “deeply bonded,” the book says, “partly out of a shared incredulity about Donald Trump ... Bannon was often astonished by what Epstein knew.”

Wolff paints Bannon as a man who was eager to advise Epstein on rehabbing his image, despite the many serious accusations against him that he’d serially preyed on very young and very vulnerable girls. “‘So where is the comms piece in this?’” the book quotes Bannon as asking. “‘Who is handling it? Who’s on point? Are these your people, Reid?’”

The book says Bannon pressed Weingarten, Epstein and Barak about why there was “no communications team” and asked “What was the response from Jeffrey’s side to the Florida story? Who engaged? ... He probably can’t be hated any more. We’ve flatlined on this. He can’t get deader. While the chances of reviving him are remote, what’s the alternative?”

washington post logoWashington Post, Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd resigns after internal fight over sex abuse investigation, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Oct. 15, 2021. Ronnie Floyd, the acting CEO of the business arm for the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has resigned from his position as head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee after a weeks-long internal battle over how the denomination should handle a sex abuse investigation.

Although Southern Baptist churches operate independently from one another, the Nashville-based Executive Committee handles the business of the SBC, including its $192 million cooperative program that funds its missions and ministries.

Floyd’s resignation comes after weeks of intense debates that played out on Zoom and Twitter over an internal investigation into how the Executive Committee has handled sexual abuse allegations.

The SBC has been rocked by reports of hundreds of sexual abuse cases revealed in a 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle. It has ousted churches that employed pastors who were abusers and set up resources for churches to prevent sexual abuse. However, several sexual abuse survivors have said the denomination has not done enough to investigate and prevent more abuse from happening, because it does not have a way of tracking abusers within its network of churches.

During Executive Committee meetings over the past several weeks, some members argued against waiving attorney-client privilege, which would have given investigators access to records of conversations on legal matters among the committee’s members and staff. They said doing so went against the advice of convention lawyers and could bankrupt the SBC by exposing it to lawsuits. Some committee members resigned over the issue.

Raw Story, Alabama pastor who raped, impregnated and married 14-year-old won't face jail time: report, Matthew Chapman, Oct. 15, 2021. On Friday, The Birmingham News reported that an Alabama pastor who raped, impregnated, and married a teenage girl will not face jail time, after cutting a plea deal with prosecutors.

"Jason Greathouse, who used to minister in Enterprise but now lives in Tennessee, reached a deal with the Coffee County District Attorney's Office on Thursday that downgrades his charge from second-degree rape, a felony, to contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, according to court records," reported Howard Koplowitz. "Greathouse, a resident of Henderson, Tennessee, agreed to serve two years of unsupervised probation for the 2018 incident, which occurred when he was 20 and the victim was 14, records showed. The pastor also does not have to register as a sex offender under the agreement's terms."

Greathouse had married his victim at her parents' demand, the report said.

According to Coffee County District Attorney Tom Anderson, the deal was so generous because "there were extenuating circumstances that would have been allowed to be presented by the defense that very likely could have resulted in a mistrial or even a not guilty by jury nullification."

This comes after earlier this year, another Alabama pastor, Mack Charles Andrews, who was convicted of torturing and raping children, was released after serving just one third of his 15-year prison sentence.

Daily Beast, Mom Accused in Drunken Teen Sex Parties, Allison Quinn and Justin Rohrlich, Updated Oct. 15, 2021. Shannon O’Connor, 47, is accused of a breathtaking array of crimes in Los Gatos, a wealthy Silicon Valley suburb where prosecutors say she lured young teens to “secret” parties, plied them with booze, and encouraged them to engage in “sometimes nonconsensual” sex acts. She was arrested last weekend on a fugitive warrant in Eagle, Idaho.

daily beast logoThere were 10 underage boys and two underage girls at the home where O’Connor was staying when she was arrested—and most of them had spent the night, according to authorities.

O’Connor, who also goes by the name Shannon Bruga, faces a total of 39 charges in Santa Clara County, California, where prosecutors plan to extradite her. The charges include felony child abuse, sexual assault, and providing alcohol to minors.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called the allegations against O’Connor “deeply disturbing” in a press release this week. O’Connor is now locked up in a Boise jail awaiting her return to California. She is also facing felony fraud charges in a separate case, accused of running up more than $120,000 in unauthorized expenses on a company credit card while working as an administrative assistant at Aruba Networks.

Court documents filed by California prosecutors describe O’Connor as someone who habitually threw alcohol-soaked parties for her eldest son and his friends, who were all young teens. She allegedly organized the get-togethers through text messages and Snapchat and supplied booze to the kids, who regularly drank until they either vomited or passed out.

O’Connor is also accused of setting aside certain rooms at her home where the teenage partiers could have sex with each other. If a girl refused, according to the court filings, O’Connor would coax and wheedle them until they succumbed to her pressure. A 15-page criminal complaint alleges that O’Connor took part in sexual abuse herself, while also apparently facilitating it.

Oct. 12

virginia roberts giuffre nbc screenshot

washington post logoWashington Post, British police drop investigation into Prince Andrew over sexual abuse claims, Jennifer Hassan, Oct. 12, 2021 (print ed.). British law enforcement officials are dropping their investigation into Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, following a review of sexual assault allegations sparked by an American woman who says convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince on at least three occasions.

United Kingdom flagVirginia Giuffre (shown above in an NBC interview and below left in 2001 with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell) filed a lawsuit in August in New York against the prince, alleging that she was first trafficked at the age of 16 by Epstein, who was found dead in a jail cell in August 2019.

prince andrew virginia roberts ghislaine maxwell 2001The lawsuit, which described the impact of the alleged abuse on Giuffre as “severe and lasting,” prompted British officials to review the allegations. Giuffre says the abuse by the prince first took place in London, at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s longtime companion.

In an email to The Washington Post on Monday, London’s Metropolitan police service said it was “taking no further action” but that it would continue to “liaise with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein.”

The lawsuit in New York remains ongoing, and the prince has until Oct. 29 to respond to the claims, per the Associated Press.

prince andrew jeff epstein news syndication CustomAndrew (shown at right with Epstein) has denied the allegations and said he had no recollection of meeting Giuffre or having sexual encounters with her. A photo of the prince with his hand around Giuffre, apparently taken in London when she was 17, first surfaced in 2011 and posed huge questions for Buckingham Palace.

On Monday, British police also confirmed that they had “reviewed information” separately passed to them by a local broadcaster and that no further action would be taken against the prince.

In June 2021, Channel 4 News reported that Epstein and Maxwell sexually abused, trafficked and groomed multiple women and girls in Britain over a period of 10 years — including to London, where Giuffre alleged Andrew abused her.

Following the report, British police said they would review the claims of rape and sexual assault, which Channel 4 said came from “a combination of publicly available documentation (including court papers), witness accounts, and interviews.” In its report, the broadcaster also explored claims that the royal’s ties to the sex abuse scandal may have influenced Britain’s handling of the case.

The decision by British police to drop their investigation comes at a period of intense scrutiny of Britain’s police force and its treatment of crimes against women. Earlier this year, 33-year-old Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a serving police officer — sparking widespread calls for police reform.

Andrew, who is the second son of reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II, announced in 2019 that he would be quitting his public duties “for the foreseeable future.”

The announcement came following an interview the prince gave to the BBC in which he attempted to defend his friendship with Epstein. The interview was widely criticized by viewers on both sides of the Atlantic, with one royal watcher calling it “nuclear explosion level bad.”

Oct. 6

washington post logoWashington Post, Catholic clergy in France likely abused more than 200,000 minors, independent commission estimates, Rick Noack and Chico Harlan, Oct. 6, 2021 (print ed.). A major report released Tuesday said that French Catholic clerics had abused more than 200,000 minors over the last 70 years, a systemic trauma that the inquiry's leader described as deep and "cruel."

French FlagThe report’s findings could trigger a public reckoning in a country where church officials long stalled efforts to investigate complicity. The findings also add to the picture of country-by-country trauma within a religion that has tended to find abuse on a stunning scale anywhere it has looked.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, set up more than two years ago with the approval of French church officials, examined decades of accusations in much the manner of other landmark reports — whether from Ireland, Germany, Poland, Australia, or the United States.

Commission leader Jean-Marc Sauvé said his team had identified only a small percentage of victims, but academic research and other sources meant that the real number is likely around 216,000, or even around 330,000 if one includes sexual abuse by lay members. The vast majority of the victims were male, according to the report. The authors cautioned that the margin of error could be several tens of thousands.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: First Vatican sexual abuse trial absolves a former altar boy who served the pope, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Oct. 6, 2021.  Gabriele Martinelli had a years-long sexual relationship, but there was no evidence of coercion, the judges said.

The Vatican’s first sexual abuse trial concluded Wednesday with judges absolving a former altar boy who served the pope, saying that Gabriele Martinelli had engaged in a sexual relationship with a slightly younger peer while living in the city-state but that there was no evidence of coercion.

The court found evidence of another crime — corruption of a minor — but said that the statute of limitations had expired.

A rector who had been accused of coverup, the Rev. Enrico Radice, 72, was also acquitted.

The Vatican’s determinations marked the closure of a year-long trial that examined one of the Catholic Church’s most unusual alleged abuse cases. In this instance, the abuse was said to have taken place between 2006 and 2012 inside a Vatican palazzo, a residence for preteens and teens — many with priestly aspirations — who served as altar boys during papal Masses.

A teen was accused of abuse inside Vatican City. Powerful church figures helped him become a priest.

Numerous Vatican higher-ups, including Pope Francis, had received written warnings of a potential crime starting in 2013. But the Vatican brought indictments against Martinelli and Radice only six years later — after a wave of Italian media coverage. By then, Martinelli had been ordained.

A Washington Post investigation earlier this year detailed how Martinelli, now 29, had risen to the priesthood — with the help of prelates who brushed off the initial accusations and conducted only a cursory investigation.
Gabriele Martinelli participates in Pope Francis's first Mass inside the Sistine Chapel. (Vatican Media)

The Vatican tribunal on Wednesday pinpointed one of the leaders in that initial probe, Bishop Diego Coletti, as having responded to the claims in an “absolutely superficial manner,” so as to “reach a quick dismissal.” Radice had worked with Coletti during that inquiry, the Vatican tribunal said, but could face no punishment because of the statute of limitations.

washington post logoWashington Post, More than a dozen prominent Trump allies to host fundraiser for Ohio congressional candidate facing domestic violence allegations, Felicia Sonmez and Eugene Scott, Oct. 6, 2021. Several of the co-hosts declined to comment when asked whether they still plan to attend in light of the accusations against former Trump White House aide Max Miller, who through his lawyer has denied the allegations.

More than a dozen high-profile Republicans are co-hosting a fundraiser next week for Max Miller, an Ohio congressional candidate and former Trump White House aide who faces allegations of domestic violence.

In a Washington Post op-ed, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Tuesday accused her former boyfriend of being violent toward her during their time working in the White House. She did not name him. But within hours of the piece’s publication online, Miller sued Grisham, alleging defamation. Through his lawyer, he denied the allegations.

According to an invitation obtained by The Washington Post, the fundraiser will take place in Alexandria, Va., on Oct. 13. News of the event was first reported by Politico.

The main hosts listed on the invitation are Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Mercedes Schlapp, the former White House director of strategic communications.

More than a dozen other Republicans, many of whom have close ties to former president Donald Trump, are also listed. They include Reps. Ronny Jackson (Tex.) and Billy Long (Mo.), former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.

One of the co-hosts, Bondi, said Wednesday that she still plans to attend the fundraiser.

“I have full faith Max Miller will be a great congressman for Ohio,” Bondi said in a text message. “I have not read Grisham’s book, nor will I, because it was intended to hurt many good people including Melania Trump.”

Bondi recently replaced former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as head of the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action super PAC, after a Trump donor accused Lewandowski of repeatedly groping her and making unwanted sexual comments at a charity event in Las Vegas. Lewandowski’s lawyer denied the allegations.

Oct. 5


mckayla maroney saul loeb pool reuters

U.S Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Saul Loeb/POOL via Reuters). ABC News, McKayla Maroney's gut-wrenching statement to Congress about FBI's handling of Nassar abuse, Staff edits, Sept. 15, 2021 (7:51 min. video).  "They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," she said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. reviewing earlier decision not to charge FBI agents in failed Nassar case, Devlin Barrett, Oct. 5, 2021. The Justice Department is reviewing its decision not to charge FBI agents who failed to properly investigate sex abuse allegations leveled against Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor who sexually abused his patients, including world-famous gymnasts.

FBI logoDeputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco made the announcement at a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers on the panel have sharply criticized the Justice Department for not pursuing false-statements charges against a supervisory FBI agent and his boss for what the agency’s inspector general concluded were lies to internal investigators to cover up their failures.

Monaco told the committee that the newly confirmed head of the criminal division, Kenneth Polite, “is currently reviewing this matter, including new information that has come to light.” She did not say what the new information was but said the review is being conducted with “a sense of urgency and gravity.”

Washington Post, Biles gives tearful testimony to Congress about Nassar, FBI failures

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

Simone Biles, shown in a pool photo by Saul Loeb at the hearing on Sept. 15, 2021,The Justice Department review comes less than a month after Simone Biles, shown at right in a pool photo by Saul Loeb at the hearing on Sept.15, 2021, and three other high-profile gymnasts gave emotional testimony to the Judiciary Committee about how they had been abused by Nassar and how the FBI had failed to act on the allegations.

“I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” Biles told the committee.

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

At Tuesday’s hearing, Monaco apologized to those Nassar victimized, saying, “I am deeply sorry that in this case the victims did not receive the response or the protection that they deserved.”

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray offered a similar public apology to the gymnasts at the hearing where they appeared last month, saying: “I’m especially sorry that there were people at the FBI who had their own chance to stop this monster back in 2015 and failed, and that is inexcusable. It never should have happened, and we’re doing everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Tuesday that Monaco had shown “profound disrespect” for the victims by declining to testify at that earlier hearing, despite being invited to appear. “I mean no disrespect, senator,” Monaco replied.

Nassar has paid little to victims from prison, while spending more on himself. The key conduct at issue in the Nassar case occurred well within the federal statute of limitations for prosecuting those involved.


Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

Former Trump White House Press Secretary and First Lady Chief of Staff and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham in a CNN interview (File photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: I told the Trumps my relationship with a White House staffer had turned abusive. They didn’t seem to care, Stephanie Grisham, Oct. 5, 2021. Stephanie Grisham served as chief of staff to the first lady, press secretary and communications director in the Trump White House. Her book “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House” publishes Tuesday.

stephanie grisham coverAfter being by their sides for almost six years, I knew Donald and Melania Trump about as well as anyone, or so I thought. And they knew me. A hungry gossip, the president showed an ongoing interest in my relationship with my boyfriend, a fellow White House staffer, and asked intimate questions about our relationship.

He and the first lady invited us as a couple to events, with Trump conferring on us his stock compliment, “right out of central casting.” They knew when we got a dog for my birthday. They knew when we broke up.

They also knew when the relationship turned abusive — and they didn’t seem to care.

One day, while meeting with Mrs. Trump alone, she asked how I was holding up after our breakup. My eyes started to well up. I had been holding in the fact that the end of our relationship had become violent, reaching its worst point on the day I left. I told the first lady that he got physical with me.

She asked me if I had called the police and I said no, explaining that this close to the election, it wouldn’t be good to have yet another domestic abuse scandal hanging over the administration. I also had no proof. She nodded and did not push the matter further. As far as I know, she told no one.

A few weeks later, after the first presidential debate, I was with President Trump on Air Force One. Noting that my ex was also in our entourage, the president asked me if it was tough to have seen him at the debate. He then began to tell me how broken up my ex had been about the split and expressed sympathy for him.

Oct. 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Rogue Americans stashed assets offshore, eluding victims and impeding investigators, Debbie Cenziper and Will Fitzgibbon, Oct. 4, 2021. The Pee Wee football coach lives in the same nursing home as his grandmother. 

Mark Ryan, not yet 42, sits in a wheelchair, drinks from a sippy cup and gestures with the one arm he can still move freely. “I BELIEVE,” reads a plastic sign hooked to the top of a customized iPad his parents bought him early on, sometime after he settled into the sterile room with a stuffed bear and a relentless parade of sitcoms.

marc collins rector 2007 mugshotRyan was an 18-year-old athlete when he went to Hollywood and 20 when he returned home, hooked on pain pills and alcohol, and too afraid to tell his parents what had happened to him and the other young men invited to extravagant Los Angeles parties hosted by entertainment executive Marc Collins-Rector, shown at right in a 2007 mugshot.

icij logoRyan and two others eventually sued, saying they had been drugged, threatened and raped by Collins-Rector and his associates in what would become one of the largest Hollywood sex abuse scandals of the 1990s. They won a multimillion-dollar default judgment from a California court — money that would have helped pay for the care Ryan needed after seizures and a stroke, brought on by an abrupt withdrawal from the alcohol and pills, forced him into the nursing home just after his 30th birthday.

Ryan never received the money from Collins-Rector.

In 2000, while under criminal investigation, Collins-Rector fled the country. He was captured at a beach resort in Spain and returned in 2003 to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to transporting minors across state lines to engage in criminal sexual activity but disputed the civil judgment against him. He left the country again in 2007 and has not been seen publicly in years.

What the Ryan family never knew — after searching for Collins-Rector and his money — was that the elusive sex offender moved some of his assets offshore to one of the world’s most notorious tax havens.

For a fee of $500, Collins-Rector set up a trust in the Central American country of Belize through a financial and corporate services firm that grew into a one-stop shop for American clients, including at least a dozen who sheltered assets while facing criminal investigations or costly lawsuits.

Robert Durst, convicted last month for the execution-style murder of a close friend in 2000, was a client. So was a mob accomplice; a dentist charged with defrauding Medicaid; a producer of adulterated drugs; and the founder of a cruise company accused of negligence by the families of 31 sailors who drowned during a hurricane.

All were identified by The Washington Post and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) through one of the largest-ever troves of secret financial documents, known as the Pandora Papers.

The documents expose how a prolific offshore operator in Belize accepted and served suspect American clients by setting up trusts and shell companies. The records also underscore the challenges faced by government investigators probing cases of fraud, tax evasion and corruption and the struggles of victims trying to find and claim money.

Oct. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, National Women’s Soccer League calls off upcoming games amid allegations of abuse, Molly Hensley-Clancy, Oct. 1, 2021. The NWSL has recently seen allegations of sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. 

The National Women’s Soccer League on Friday called off all of its weekend games in the face of multiple reports of alleged abuse of players and amid claims that the league has systematically failed to address allegations of sexual coercion by a male coach.

After the players’ union demanded an end to “systemic abuse plaguing the NWSL” on Thursday, the NWSL announced it would suspend the matches.

“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. “I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling. Recognizing that trauma, we have decided not to take the field this weekend to give everyone some space to reflect.”

The union issued a statement Friday noting that trauma, and saying its goal is to prioritize players’ mental health.

Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke was fired Tuesday following a league investigation into allegations of verbal and emotional abuse that were first reported in The Washington Post. On Thursday, Courage coach Paul Riley was fired following a harrowing account of multiple allegations of sexual coercion published in the Athletic. Riley denied the allegations to the Athletic.

The reporting led to a public outcry of anger and frustration from dozens of NWSL players, including stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. The Athletic reported that Riley had been dismissed from a previous team after misconduct allegations, only to be hired by another NWSL team within months.

In total, four NWSL teams have seen their male coaches leave after allegations of misconduct this summer. One coach, OL Reign’s Farid Benstiti, was asked to resign following allegations that he had spoken abusively to players, though at the time, OL Reign’s CEO, Bill Predmore, said only that he had resigned and thanked him for his contributions.

“Men, protecting men, who are abusing women,” Rapinoe said Twitter on Thursday. “Burn it all down. Let all their heads roll.”



Sept. 30

ny times logoNew York Times, A Congresswoman’s Story: Raped at 17, ‘I Chose to Have an Abortion,’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 30, 2021. After a legal setback for abortion rights, three Democrats and one Republican shared their personal stories with a House panel.

Representative Cori Bush, right, a Democrat from Missouri, is known on Capitol Hill as a nurse, a pastor, a Black Lives Matter activist and a member of a “squad” of cori bush oprogressive women lawmakers. On Thursday, she told a House panel that she is also a rape survivor who had an abortion after she was attacked on a church trip when she was 17.

Ms. Bush said she is no longer ashamed. “In the summer of 1994,” she declared, “I was raped, I became pregnant and I chose to have an abortion.”

With the right to abortion under threat after a major Supreme Court setback, Ms. Bush was one of three Democratic congresswomen who sat at a witness table to share their personal experiences with terminating a pregnancy. The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform reflected a sharp cultural divide, with Republicans accusing Democrats of “glorifying and normalizing” abortion, and Democrats making their point — that abortion is a decision best left to women and their doctors — in matter-of-fact terms.

pramila jayapal resized oRepresentative Pramila Jayapal, left, Democrat of Washington, got an abortion when she was a young mother caring for a very sick child and struggling to recover from postpartum depression so severe that she considered suicide. Her doctor told her that carrying a second child to term would be extremely risky for both her and the baby.

“I very much wanted to have more children,” she told the panel, “but I simply could not imagine going through that again.”

Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, was the first Black cheerleader in her high school and a promising student with good grades when she got pregnant before abortion was legal in the United States. Her mother sent her to a friend in Texas, who took her for a “back alley” abortion at a clinic in Mexico.

barbara lee“A lot of girls and women in my generation didn’t make it — they died from unsafe abortions,” she said.

But Representative Kat Cammack, a freshman from Florida and the lone Republican member of Congress to testify, offered a starkly different personal story, telling her colleagues that she “would not be here” if her mother, who suffered a stroke after having her first child, had not rebuffed a doctor’s advice to have an abortion.

“You can imagine the feeling, the disappointment, the struggle, the internal anguish that my mother felt,” Ms. Cammack said, adding, “She chose life. That wasn’t an easy decision for a single mom.”

The debate over abortion rights has flared up again on Capitol Hill after the Supreme Court refused earlier this month to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions. With other states rushing to enact similar restrictions, and the court, now dominated by conservatives, preparing to take up a case that could overturn the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, Democrats are making the issue a centerpiece of their campaign strategy for next year’s midterm elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Extradition hearing for Peter Nygård, fashion mogul wanted in the U.S. on sex trafficking charges, to open in Canada, Amanda Coletta, Sept. 30, 2021.He cast himself as the “quintessential self-made man,” the son of an immigrant family whose drive and vision had “created a standard of excellence” for women’s fashion while funding a life of fame and luxury.

Now Peter Peter Nygard, peter nygard 2016shown in a 2016 file photo, the Canadian retail mogul whose multimillion-dollar women’s fashion empire and jet set life imploded last year amid allegations of sex trafficking and other sexual misconduct, faces extradition to the United States to face charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Nygård in Manitoba last December at the behest of U.S. officials seeking to try him on racketeering and sex trafficking charges involving dozens of alleged victims in several countries over a quarter century. The extradition hearing is set to begin in Winnipeg on Friday.

The 80-year-old retail mogul, who founded the women’s fashion company Nygård International in 1967, denies the allegations. He was not granted bail and has been jailed since his arrest.

Nygard’s lawyers, asked to comment, responded in an email noting that the hearing Friday would be streamed with a 10-minute delay and that there would be a media availability afterward.

Nygård stepped down as chairman of his company in February 2020 after federal and local law enforcement authorities raided his firm’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan as part of an investigation into the sex trafficking allegations.

Nygård International filed for bankruptcy in Canada and in the United States the following month. At the time, the company operated around 170 stores in North America and 6,000 more shops inside department stores. It employed more than 1,400 people.

Sept. 29

washington post logoWashington Post, S.D. Gov. Kristi Noem dismisses conservative website’s claims of extramarital affair with ex-Trump adviser, Felicia Sonmez and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 29, 2021. South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) on Wednesday dismissed a conservative media outlet’s claim that she is having an extramarital affair with Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump adviser who is also advising Noem.

kristi noem“These rumors are total garbage and a disgusting lie,” Noem, right, said in a tweet. “These old, tired attacks on conservative women are based on a falsehood that we can’t achieve anything without a man’s help. I love Bryon. I’m proud of the God-fearing family we’ve raised together. Now I’m getting back to work.”

A conservative website, American Greatness, published a piece Tuesday claiming that, according to “multiple” sources, Noem has been having an affair with Lewandowski “for months.” The website did not identify any of the sources.

corey lewandowskiLewandowski, left, was Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign manager. He was fired by the campaign in 2016 but remains part of the former president’s inner circle and ran the pro-Trump Make America Great Again Action super PAC.

Noem and Lewandowski have traveled extensively together across the country for political events, and he has promoted her to members of the media. At one event in January, they were spotted partying together late in a hotel bar.

Separately, a Trump donor is accusing Lewandowski of repeatedly groping her and making unwanted sexual comments at a charity event in Las Vegas last week.

“He repeatedly touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful,” the donor, Trashelle Odom, said in a statement provided to The Washington Post.

“Corey bragged multiple times about how powerful he is, and how he can get anyone elected, inferring he was the reason Trump became President,” she added. “Corey claimed that he controls access to the former president. He said he is in charge of the donors and the Super PAC. . . . He also made it clear that if he was crossed, he has the power to destroy anyone and ruin their lives.”

The accusations were first reported by Politico.

Late Wednesday, a spokesman for Trump said Lewandowski has been pushed out of the former president’s political operation after the allegations.

“Corey Lewandowski will be going on to other endeavors and we very much want to thank him for his service. He will no longer be associated with Trump World,” Taylor Budowich, Trump’s director of communications, wrote in a message on Twitter.

Budowich said former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi will run the pro-Trump super PAC.

John Odom, Odom’s husband, said that he wants “accountability now” from Lewandowski and that the couple is exploring their legal options “to make sure he cannot harm anyone else.”

“Corey called me on Monday evening,” John Odom said in a statement. “He sounded distraught and scared. He said he had been intoxicated. He was sorry for his actions, wanted to know how he could make it go away, and that he would do anything to make it right with Trashelle and our family.”

The Odoms’ statements were provided by a public relations person representing them. The couple themselves could not be reached for comment.

David Chesnoff, a Las Vegas-based attorney for Lewandowski, said in an email Wednesday afternoon: “Accusations and rumors appear to be morphing by the minute and we will not dignify them with a further response.”

Noem, who is considered a potential 2024 GOP vice-presidential contender, has recently come under scrutiny for a meeting she organized for her daughter and the state employee charged with leading the agency that moved to deny her application to become a certified real estate appraiser. The meeting prompted allegations of abuse of power among some state lawmakers, and South Dakota’s attorney general, Jason Ravnsborg, is reviewing the matter.

Sept. 28

R. Kelly during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois (Pool photo by Antonio Perez via Getty Images).

R. Kelly during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois (Pool photo by Antonio Perez via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Black Women Around R. Kelly’s Case Feel About His Conviction, Troy Closson, Sept. 28, 2021. The case could represent a turning point for the Me Too movement, which some women felt had not focused much attention on crimes against people of color.

When the singer Sparkle testified in a Chicago courtroom 13 years ago, she offered jurors a jarring account of sexual abuse: A man seen in a video urinating on and having sex with her teenage niece was R. Kelly, one of the biggest names in R&B music.

But even after others shared similar stories during Mr. Kelly’s first criminal trial, in Chicago in 2008, jurors acquitted him of the child pornography charges against him.

And so, a decade later, when the Me Too movement’s reckoning around sexual misconduct swept the country, Sparkle said she did not feel that it represented her experience. That changed on Monday, when Mr. Kelly, on trial in New York, was convicted of all nine counts against him.

“I didn’t even know that the Me Too movement was for us, Black women,” Sparkle, whose real name is Stephanie Edwards, said in an interview after the singer’s conviction. “Back then — and still today — Black women aren’t really cared about.”

Mr. Kelly’s case has been widely viewed as a crucial moment for Me Too, serving as the first high-profile trial since the movement took hold to feature an accuser whose victims were primarily Black women.

In the days and weeks that preceded the jury’s verdict, many observers said they feared the stories from a group of Black accusers, no matter how harrowing, might be dismissed.

Instead, Mr. Kelly’s conviction on Monday was viewed by many as a powerful validation of the accounts of both those who took the stand against him and others whose stories have never been made public.

But whether Mr. Kelly’s conviction represents a broader shift toward better treatment of Black victims of sexual abuse is still unknown.

“This moment will go one of two ways,” said Mikki Kendall, an author from Chicago who has written about feminism and intersectionality. “Either we will finally say that Black women and girls deserve to be protected. Or we’re going to say again, as we have, this idea that Black girls are ‘unrapeable’ because of their skin color.”

When Tarana Burke, a Black woman, started the original iteration of “Me Too” around 2007, she hoped to use the phrase to raise awareness of sexual assault and connect victims to resources.

Sept. 27

 Federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes points to R. Kelly during closing arguments in the trial in a courtroom sketch, Sept. 22, 2021 (Jane Rosenberg for Reuters).

Federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes points to R. Kelly during closing arguments in the trial in a courtroom sketch, Sept. 22, 2021 (Jane Rosenberg for Reuters).

Huff Post, R. Kelly Found Guilty On All Counts In Sexual Abuse Trial, Alanna Vagianos and Taryn Finley, Sept. 27, 2021. This is the first time the R&B singer has been convicted for sex crimes against minors and young women.

r kelly twitterR. Kelly, right, the R&B singer who rose to fame in the 1990s, has been found guilty on all counts by a jury in the Brooklyn federal case against him for racketeering and charges relating to sex trafficking.

After nine hours of deliberation, a jury of seven men and five women found Kelly guilty on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting individuals across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. The verdict came in around 3:15 p.m. Eastern on Monday afternoon during the seventh week of the trial.

The sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Eastern on May 4, 2021.

The trial, which began mid-August, lasted six weeks. The jury heard testimony from 50 witnesses; 45 were called by the prosecution and only five were called by the defense. Out of the 45 witnesses who testified for the prosecution, 11 were accusers, six of whom testified they were underage at the time of their alleged sexual encounter with Kelly. Witnesses for the defense included a former security guard, Kelly’s accountant and an up-and-coming artist who says he worked with Kelly for over a decade.

The testimonies of the eight Jane Does and two John Does were the most memorable parts of the trial. Nearly all of the accusers described a terrifying environment of control and fear when they were in a sexual relationship with the R&B singer. Several testified that Kelly implemented strict rules that included calling him “Daddy,” subjected them to physical beatings, and controlled the clothes they wore, what they ate and where they were allowed to travel. One Jane Doe said Kelly punished her by making her smear her own feces on her face and in her mouth as he recorded her.

“He could put the fear of God in me very quickly,” one victim said of Kelly during her testimony.

Sept. 24

anita hill 2013 documentary poster

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford have a lot to talk about. A new podcast lets us listen in, Margaret Sullivan, right, Sept. 24, 2021. margaret sullivan 2015 photoTheirs is a club of two. A club that neither of them ever would have asked to join.

Thirty years ago next month, Anita Hill (shown above in a poster for a 2013 documentary) testified before the all-White, all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, accusing Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her when he was her boss in two federal workplaces.

Twenty-seven years later, Christine Blasey Ford, below left, testified before the committee that another Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

christine blasey ford oath uncreditedIn both cases, the testimony riveted the nation. Hill’s was televised and seen by a huge audience. Ford’s, taking place in a thoroughly transformed media environment, was the focus of nonstop cable TV and social media coverage and partisan commentary that was as immediate as it was intense. Both Thomas and Kavanaugh denied the women’s statements, and Thomas called the committee proceedings “a high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks.”

During a recent conversation recorded for a new podcast, Hill, now 65 and a Brandeis law professor, told Ford, 54 and a psychology scholar at Stanford and Palo Alto University, that she felt a sense of overwhelming kinship as she watched the 2018 testimony — a feeling that she knew was shared by a large community of like-minded women.

“A spiritual solidarity,” Hill called it.

Their conversation is a high point in “Because of Anita,” a new four-part podcast series that debuts in October. I listened to a segment of it Thursday and found it moving, instructive and — as podcasts sometimes can be — surprisingly intimate. The two had met and spoken before but not, until now, for the public to hear.

The conversation took place on Zoom in late August with Hill and Ford in their home offices in Massachusetts and California. The podcast hosts — activist and scholar Salamishah Tillet and journalist Cindi Leive, longtime editor of Glamour magazine — were in San Diego and Brooklyn.

Hill and Ford discussed the intensity of their experiences, and how it lingered far beyond their moments in the harsh spotlight — moments remembered by many Americans as a still image of each woman with her right hand raised.

They also agreed on their motivation: that it was not, at heart, to persuade those who would vote for or against the nominees but rather, a desire to be clear and honest about their experiences — to simply say what they knew and not to be attached to the outcome.

The most obvious outcomes, of course, were similar. Thomas and Kavanaugh both were confirmed by narrowly divided Senate votes: 52 to 48, and 50 to 48, respectively.

But both Hill and Ford sound as if they have made their peace with that — and say they would do it again, though they acknowledge how much the searing experiences have changed their lives.

Sept. 23

Daily Beast, Tough-on-Crime Republican DA Charged With Ambushing, Raping Woman, Justin Rohrlich, Sept. 23, 2021. Jeffrey Lynn Thomas, Somerset County, Pennsylvania’s top cop, is now facing a slew of charges for the alleged attack.

A Republican district attorney in Pennsylvania who styled himself as a tough-on-crime prosecutor—while refusing to pursue charges against anyone cited for disregarding state mask mandates—now stands accused of violently raping a female acquaintance in her own home, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

daily beast logoSomerset County DA Jeffrey Lynn Thomas, 36, allegedly attacked the unidentified woman on Sept. 18, having first contacted her on Snapchat to say he’d be coming over in a few minutes, according to police. A criminal complaint obtained by the Somerset County, Pennsylvania Tribune-Democrat states that the woman knew Thomas in a professional capacity and that she had for years rebuffed his persistent sexual advances.

jeffrey lynn thomasThomas, right, sent the Snapchat message at around 11 p.m. last Saturday, the complaint explains. She replied that he was not welcome there, and to please stay away. Soon after, Thomas walked into the woman’s home with an armload of beer cans and handed her one, according to cops.

The woman asked Thomas to leave, but he reportedly refused and became “agitated.” After she slapped him, Thomas hit her in the face and gave her a nosebleed, the complaint states.

After the woman told Thomas again to leave, he pulled down her top, undressed himself, and raped her, according to a press release issued by the State Police.

“During the assault, Thomas grabbed her by the neck making it hard to breath [sic],” the complaint alleges.

The woman’s child was home during the attack, police said. Thomas finally left, but only after the woman promised him she wouldn’t report him to the police, according to investigators. She reported the rape to Pennsylvania State Police on Monday.

Thomas’ alleged victim told investigators that she and Thomas had smoked marijuana together prior to the attack, but the complaint did not specify whether this meant the night in question or some other time in the past. Recreational marijuana remains illegal in Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, detectives searched the woman’s home and found beer cans along with the clothing she had been wearing at the time of the alleged attack. Thomas was booked into the county jail shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday. In addition to rape, he was charged with indecent assault, strangulation, simple assault, and criminal trespass. He was “unable to post” bail of $5,000, according to court records, which Thomas’ lawyer said Thursday is no longer an issue.


robert anderson chart

washington post logoWashington Post, In Larry Nassar’s shadow, a larger sex abuse case at the University of Michigan, Lenny Bernstein, Sept. 23, 2021. U.S. senators listened intently last week as four world-class gymnasts told Congress of the harrowing impact of sexual abuse by former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar.

Sixty miles from Nassar’s one-time office, a similar but much larger case of sex abuse is playing out with little of the same attention. More than 950 people have come forward to accuse the late University of Michigan doctor Robert E. Anderson (shown above) of abusing them while he was on staff between 1966 and 2003, according to lawyers who represent the survivors.

That total surpasses the scale of the molestation at Michigan State, as well as similar incidents at the University of Southern California and Ohio State University. Attorneys for the University of Michigan survivors contend the allegations against Anderson constitute the largest example of sexual exploitation by one person in U.S. history.

A number of Anderson’s alleged victims, most prominently former football players, have publicly told stories of the physician fondling them and repeatedly performing unnecessary rectal and genital exams during their years at the school. As a result, his conduct over decades as the football team doctor has drawn the most attention since the story broke in February 2020, a dozen years after his death.

university michigan medical centerBut the small group of attorneys bringing the case said they also have claims spanning decades from athletes on the wrestling, basketball, track and field, hockey, swimming and tennis teams. Pilots and air traffic controllers have accused Anderson of abuse during physicals he conducted in his private practice for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Anderson, who died in 2008 without facing charges, also allegedly molested nonathlete students as a physician for the university’s health service; men who sought Vietnam War draft deferments by claiming to be gay; the estranged son of iconic football coach Bo Schembechler, who said he was violated when his father sent him to Anderson for a sports physical at the age of 10; and a former chairman of the university’s Board of Regents, who was a student at Michigan in the 1960s, according to investigative reports and public statements from survivors.

The vast majority of survivors are men, but Anderson also is accused of abusing women, including a player on the first Michigan women’s varsity tennis team in 1973, who has spoken publicly.

In public accounts and two investigative reports, the survivors said they complained to coaches, trainers and administrators, and nothing was ever done. The Washington Post contacted each of the named victims in this story or their lawyers and all affirmed their accounts.

“The university knew, the enabler, the institution — not one time, not 10 times, but knew for decades,” said Mick Grewal, who said he represents about 250 people who have reported abuse by Anderson. “ . . . How can you know this and not report this to law enforcement?”

The university has apologized for the pain survivors suffered and is in mediated talks with their attorneys about how to compensate them. It also has instituted a number of reforms aimed at preventing future abuse.

One factor that unites Anderson with Nassar and other doctors accused of abusing people on college campuses, lawyers and an expert said, is the easy access they had to a large number of young and powerless people.

“Medicine is unique among professions in that every physician has the right to say, ‘Please undress, we’re going to be alone in a room together and I’m going to touch you’,” said James DuBois, director of the Bioethics Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis, who has conducted one of the few recent reviews of physicians who commit sexual abuse. “Every physician has the means to abuse that other professionals do not.”

Such abusers prey on people they believe are least likely to report, lawyers said, including athletes required to have physical exams to keep their spots on a team.

“You’re at a very powerful institution, away from home, required to see a prominent doctor, first of your family to go to college, you’re probably under scholarship, and this doctor was able to have his way with you,” said Parker Stinar, an attorney who said he and his colleagues represent more than 200 claimants.


mckayla maroney saul loeb pool reuters

U.S Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Saul Loeb/POOL via Reuters).

ABC News, McKayla Maroney's gut-wrenching statement to Congress about FBI's handling of Nassar abuse, Staff edits, Sept. 15, 2021 (7:51 min. video).  "They had legal, abc news logolegitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," she said.


washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Two miscarriages of justice reveal a sickening disparity, Ruth Marcus, right, Sept. 20, 2021, Sept. 23 print ed. Two individuals allegedly made false ruth marcus twitter Customstatements to federal investigators. One now faces trial on a felony charge. The other does not. I defy you to read about their cases and conclude that justice is served in either instance, or that it is being applied even-handedly.

Let’s start with the person who has been let off the hook, because the decision is so infuriating and underscores so dramatically the unfairness of the other prosecution. W. Jay Abbott was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office in 2015, when it received reliable reports that USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar had sexually abused multiple gymnasts.

One of Nassar’s victims, McKayla Maroney, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week about describing how Nassar had repeatedly molested her to one of Abbott’s agents, only to have the agent reply, “Is that all?”

What happened next? For months, nothing, as far as the FBI was concerned. Abbott’s office was supposed to refer the allegations to the FBI’s Lansing, Mich., office, the city where Nassar worked. But that never happened — and Nassar went on to abuse at least 70 more young athletes until he was arrested by Michigan state police 16 months later.

During that time period, Abbott met and corresponded repeatedly with the head of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny, about a tantalizing job prospect, heading up security for the entire U.S. Olympic Committee.

FBI logoWhen the Justice Department’s inspector general interviewed Abbott, since retired, about the bureau’s handling of the Nassar case, he “made multiple false statements” about both the conduct of the investigation and his job talks, in violation of the federal false statements law, the inspector general concluded in a searing report released in July.

Abbott claimed he had spoken with FBI counterparts in Detroit and Los Angeles about the Nassar allegations; both agents denied such conversations, and there was no documentation they occurred.

olympics logo 2018 winterThe inspector general “found no evidence” to support Abbott’s claims — and further concluded that “Abbott’s false statements were knowing and intentional.”

But Abbott also insisted to the inspector general that he had never applied for or taken other steps to secure the Olympics job. This was, according to the inspector general, untrue, deliberately so, and stretched across two sworn interviews, including after Abbott was confronted with evidence to the contrary.

“Abbott, by his own admission, was concerned that applying for a job with the U.S. Olympic Committee posed a conflict of interest with the FBI’s handling of the Nassar investigation, which was a high profile, sensitive matter,” the report noted. “Under this circumstance and given the risk involved, we found it highly unlikely that Abbott forgot about his ultimate decision to apply for the job.”

The inspector general asked the Justice Department’s criminal division to prosecute Abbott for false statements. It declined in September michael sussmann perkins younger2020. The lesson? You can lie to federal investigators with impunity.

The second case, with an opposite outcome, involves Michael Sussmann, right, a Washington lawyer who represented the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and a tech company executive during the 2016 election. Sussmann, a former Justice Department official with expertise in cybersecurity, sought a meeting with FBI general counsel James Baker to pass on information about digital connections between a computer linked to the Trump Organization and a Russian bank with ties to the Kremlin.

Justice Department special counsel John Durham, left, appointed by former attorney general William P. Barr to probe whether there was FBI or intelligence john durham Customcommunity wrongdoing relating to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, obtained the indictment announced last week, the second criminal charge arising from his two-year probe.

It alleges Sussmann told Baker at the meeting, on Sept. 19, 2016, that he wasn’t doing work on those allegations “for any client.” That led Baker “to understand that Sussmann was acting as a good citizen merely passing along information, not as a paid advocate or political operative,” when in fact, according to the indictment, Sussmann was acting on behalf of the tech executive and the Clinton campaign.

Sussmann’s “lie was material” — meaning that it could have affected the investigation — because it “misled” FBI officials “concerning the political nature of his work and deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it more fully to assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis,” the indictment alleges.

As former federal prosecutor Randall D. Eliason has noted, this single false statement, before a single witness, is about as weak as a case can get. Whatever he told them, FBI officials knew full well that Sussmann represented Democrats and the Clinton campaign.

Justice Department log circularBaker didn’t take notes of the meeting. The evidence of Sussmann’s alleged misstatement, such as it is, comes from handwritten notes of the conversation made by another FBI official later that day. Sussmann also billed the meeting to the Clinton campaign, according to the indictment, an assertion his lawyers contest.

Sussmann has said he told Baker he was there on behalf of the tech client. Baker, testifying before House committee in 2018, said “I don’t remember him specifically saying that he was acting on behalf of a particular client” — a far cry from recalling a specific assertion from Sussmann that he wasn’t representing a client.

But assume that Sussmann did lie. Is there a reason to make a federal case out of it? There’s no indication, in the 27 discursive pages of the indictment, that Sussmann was knowingly trying to peddle false information. There’s no indication that the FBI, had it known the identity of Sussmann’s clients, would have proceeded much differently: it looked into the allegations and decided there wasn’t anything to them. What harm did the alleged lie cause?

Further, the Sussmann prosecution contradicts the entire predicate of Durham’s investigation. The probe was launched, more than two years ago, on the theory that the FBI was somehow hijacked by “deep state” conspirators who concocted the “Russia hoax” to prevent Donald Trump’s election. But in Durham’s retelling in the Sussmann indictment, the FBI was not a bad actor but a hapless victim of outside forces.

And consider: If the lesson of the Abbott non-prosecution is that you can repeatedly lie to federal investigators and get away with it, the lesson of the Sussmann indictment is that you bring information to the attention of federal investigators at the peril of your career and your freedom.

Where, you might ask, is Attorney General Merrick Garland in all this? In an exquisitely difficult position. Even though Durham is a Barr-appointed special counsel, Garland retains the power to supervise his investigation. But stepping in to prevent Durham from seeking this flimsy indictment risked generating a political uproar, with unsettling echoes of Barr’s heavy-handedness. Now, it is too late.

While Abbott collects his government pension, Sussmann, who has resigned from his law firm, faces ruin. These twin miscarriages of justice, each wrong on its own, are sickening when taken together.

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly’s Trial Is Captivating a Black Audience Online. Here’s Why, Troy Closson, Sept. 23, 2021. On the internet, both supporters and detractors of the singer have shown intense interest in the criminal trial in Brooklyn.

The trial of the R&B superstar R. Kelly, right, has featured some 50 witnesses across more than a month of testimony — a blizzard of sordid and sometimes grotesque r kelly twitteraccusations and counterclaims.

For help making sense of it all, hundreds of thousands of viewers have turned to YouTube, where a host who posts videos as thePLAINESTjane offers near-daily recaps that sometimes stretch 90 minutes long and include the same images and documents seen in the courtroom.

“Come on in, have a seat on my bus,” the presenter said at the outset of one recent video, sitting next to a house plant, a collage featuring a courtroom sketch of Mr. Kelly superimposed over her shoulder. “I’m going to pick you up and give you the rundown.”

The channel is just one cog in an expansive online ecosystem that has grown around Mr. Kelly as the accusations against him gained intense public attention in recent years. Now, his criminal trial in Brooklyn is at the center of a swirling social media world centered in Black communities where fierce critics of Mr. Kelly squabble with steadfast supporters, digging into details from the courtroom.

Thousand-member Facebook groups dissect PDF transcriptions of each individual witness’s testimony; accounts on Instagram post updates on the court day against colorful backgrounds; TikTok users break down the legal underpinnings of the racketeering charge against Mr. Kelly.

The online interest in Mr. Kelly’s trial stands apart from earlier high-profile cases involving rich and famous men accused of sexual misconduct and underscores the unique racial and generational dynamics at the center of the case.

The singer’s smooth melodies and charismatic persona captivated many Black households from the mid-1990s to early 2000s. And the majority of Mr. Kelly’s accusers are Black women — many of whom were adolescents or young adults when they say Mr. Kelly abused them.

“R. Kelly had a particular talent to make songs that resonated with Black audiences,” said Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of Black popular culture at Duke University. “When you think about a song like ‘Step in the Name of Love,’ that’s something you were apt to hear at a 5-year-old’s birthday party and also a 50th wedding anniversary party.”

He added: “Many Black folks grew up in a context where R. Kelly was literally the soundtrack of their lives.”

In previous high-profile Me Too cases — the downfall of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, which helped ignite a national reckoning, and the conviction of the comedian Bill Cosby that unfolded in its aftermath — most of the accusers were white women.

Sept. 22

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly Says He Won’t Testify in Trial as Closing Arguments Begin, Troy Closson, Sept. 22, 2021. A Brooklyn jury will decide whether the R&B superstar was at the center of a criminal conspiracy to abuse women and girls. Follow updates here.

r kelly twitterR. Kelly, right, manipulated not only the women and girls in his orbit, but his own employees as well for more than two decades, prosecutors told jurors at the start of their closing arguments in Mr. Kelly’s criminal trial in New York.

“For many years, what happened in the defendant’s world stayed in the defendant’s world,” Elizabeth Geddes, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the jurors in her final arguments to jurors at Federal District Court in Brooklyn. “But no longer.”

The portrayal came at the end of a five-week trial that featured nearly a dozen accusations of physical and sexual abuse of women and underage girls and boys.

Ms. Geddes homed in early in her summation on the vast circle of employees, entourage members and managers who surrounded the singer across his career. She used a large blackboard with the photos of his accusers on one side and Mr. Kelly on the other, with a network of associates surrounding him, showing jurors that they played critical roles in enabling his abuse and allowing it to persist.

“Over the past two decades, the names of the individuals have changed. But their roles have remained the same,” Ms. Geddes said. “And from the beginning, the defendant has been the leader.”

She also described a system of control that entrapped his accusers and blocked them from speaking out.

Ms. Geddes said that system included letters written by Mr. Kelly’s accusers that she said were filled with lies absolving him of crimes. The letters were locked away because he intended to use them in the future, Ms. Geddes said.

When women “crossed him” and opted to go public with their allegations, Ms. Geddes said, Mr. Kelly “used his henchmen to lodge threats and exact revenge.”

Referencing a slide show playing in the courtroom for jurors, she directed their attention to the transcript of an audio clip they had heard during the trial. In the snippet, Mr. Kelly warned any accusers who he believed had stolen from him, saying “people get murdered” for that behavior, using an expletive.

“That was a threat,” Ms. Geddes said.

The racketeering charge itself and the unusual nature of the case against Mr. Kelly, once one of pop music’s biggest stars, has been a key target for Mr. Kelly’s defense team.

But Ms. Geddes painstakingly broke down the racketeering charge the singer faces for jurors. “The law recognizes when someone commits a crime as part of a group, he’s more powerful — more dangerous,” she explained, later adding that “without his inner circle, the defendant could not have carried out the crimes he carried out for as long as he did.”

Sept. 21

gabby petito fiancé bian laundrie

Travel blogger Gabby Petito is shown with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, now missing and being sought by authorities, who describe him as a person of interest in her homicide.

washington post logoWashington Post, Autopsy scheduled on body believed to be Gabby Petito as authorities continue search for fiance, Kim Bellware and Timothy Bella, Sept. 21, 2021. An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday on the body found in Wyoming that authorities say resembles the description of Gabby Petito, as investigators continue to search for her fiance, Brian Laundrie, nearly three weeks after he returned from a cross-country van trip without her.

The Teton County coroner will determine whether the remains discovered Sunday in a remote area of Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming are those of the 22-year-old whose disappearance has attracted national attention.

Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Signs of sloppiness at Christopher Wray's FBI go beyond the USA Gymnastics probe; they date at least to a botched background check on Brett Kavanaugh, Roger Shuler, Sept. 21, 2021. That's a story that seemingly will not go away. Perhaps it's driven in part by Wray's curious background, which includes alarming ties to Russian interests and right-wing bad actors who tend to have an outsized influence in Alabama's political and legal worlds.

From a Legal Schnauzer post in October 2018:

FBI director Christopher Wray has professional ties to Russia, and that likely explains a Brett Kavanaugh background check that widely is being described as a "sham," according to an Alabama political insider.

Donald Trump nominated Wray to lead the FBI in June 2017, having fired James Comey roughly one month earlier. In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Wray to lead the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Before going into public service, Wray was a partner at King and Spalding, an Atlanta-based law firm with 10 offices around the country -- plus 10 international branches, including one in Moscow. . . .

FBI logoHow sketchy was the FBI supplemental background check on Kavanaugh? It probably would have to improve to merit being called "cursory". According to one report, FBI agents interviewed nine individuals -- but they apparently did not include chief accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, nor any of her corroborating witnesses. From a report at New York magazine:

Several people who reached out to investigators to offer information said they were also left hanging. NBC News says dozens of potential witnesses have come forward to FBI field offices, “but agents have not been permitted to talk to many of them.” The New Yorker spoke to several people who were also unable to get an audience with the FBI despite their ability to corroborate [Deborah] Ramirez’s story and information refuting claims Kavanaugh made during last week’s testimony.

The FBI/Kavanaugh story continues to percolate, as evidenced by a report last week from the UK Guardian:

The FBI director, Chris Wray, is facing new scrutiny of the bureau’s handling of its 2018 background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, including its claim that the FBI lacked the authority to conduct a further investigation into the then supreme court nominee.

At the heart of the new questions surrounding Wray . . . is a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding that the FBI has recently said constrained the agency’s ability to conduct any further investigations of allegations of misconduct.

It is not clear whether that claim is accurate, based on a close reading of the MOU, which was released in court records following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The FBI was called to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation process in 2018, after he was accused of assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who knew Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. He also faced other accusations, including that he had exposed himself to a classmate at Yale called Deborah Ramirez. Kavanaugh denied both accusations.

The FBI closed its extended background check of Kavanaugh after four days and did not interview either Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh. The FBI also disclosed to the Senate this June – two years after questions were initially asked – that it had received 4,500 tips from the public during the background check and that it had shared all “relevant tips” with the White House counsel at that time. It is not clear whether those tips were ever investigated.

The FBI said in its letter to two senators – Sheldon Whitehouse and Christopher Coons – that the FBI did not have the authority under the 2010 MOU at the time to “unilaterally conduct further investigative activity absent instructions from the requesting entity”. In other words, the FBI has said it would have required explicit instructions from the Trump White House to conduct further investigation under the existing 2010 guidelines on how such investigations ought to be conducted.

Justice Department log circularBut an examination by the Guardian of the 2010 MOU, which was signed by the then attorney general, Eric Holder, and then White House counsel, Robert Bauer, does not make explicitly clear that the FBI was restricted in terms of how it would conduct its investigation.

The MOU, which was released in court documents in 2019 as part of Freedom of Information Act litigation brought against the US government by Buzzfeed, also does not explicitly state that the White House had the power to set the process parameters on any investigation.

What about the ties of Wray's former law firm to Russian mobsters, domestic mobsters, and unsavory characters in the Alabama political/legal firmament? From our 2018 post:

King and Spalding's extensive ties to Russia should raise eyebrows about the cursory supplemental background check of Brett Kavanaugh by Christopher Wray's FBI, says Jill Simpson -- whistle blower, opposition researcher, and retired lawyer from Rainsville, Alabama. In a Facebook post yesterday, Simpson notes King and Spalding's ties to a number of dubious characters and activities related to Russia.

They include Sergei Millian, a one-time Russian translator who has headed the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce (Russia Am Cham, based in Atlanta) and reportedly was a primary source of information for the Trump-Steele dossier. In short, Millian likely has loads of blackmail-worthy dirt on Trump, and guess what law firm has represented Russia Am Cham? It's King and Spalding, of course, says Simpson.

The firm also has ties to Trump-affiliated mobster Felix Sater, and Simpson says the firm (via Russia Am Cham) was involved in a failed lottery deal -- involving oily Alabama lawyer Rob Riley and his associate, Robert Sigler -- that fleeced the late Milton McGregor, attorney Tommy Gallion, and other prominent Montgomery business types out of about $40 million. King and Spalding, says Simpson, has ties to Russian oligarch/mafia figure Oleg Derispaska, one-time Trump campaign chair and convicted felon Paul Manafort, and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions.

That is a lot ugly, nasty stuff -- threatening America's democracy, and Christopher Wray, via his association with King and Spalding, is tied to all of it. Writes Simpson:

FBI director Christopher Wray should be forced to resign over [the Kavanaugh supplemental background check]. It was Wray's firm, King and Spalding, that used to host the Russia Am Cham conferences for Oleg Deripaska, Mr Millian, and Mr. Sater -- the Riley/Sessions Gang attended when they beat Milton McGregor and his buddies out of $40 million for a fake Russian lottery.

Wray's firm represents the Russian Oil and Gas Business firm that Vladimir Putin directs. Also, Christopher Wray was a Yale Law School graduate, just like Kavanaugh, and has been buddies with the Kavanaugh, Rove, and Sessions crowd for years.

The FBI's Kavanaugh background check is just a report done by a member of the Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump Russian Mafia. I tried to say last week it would be bullshit, due to Wray's ties to the Russian Mafia. His old firm is a big part of Putin's legal team. Until we as a country crush the New York/Alabama/GOP Russian Mafia, we are going to continue seeing this level of corruption.

washington post logoWashington Post, Women within the Southern Baptist Convention allege they were sexually abused and the church covered it up, Megan Botel, Sept. 21, 2021. An investigation of the church’s handling of allegations is moving forward. Women have been telling their stories for years.

Tens of thousands gathered in June at the Music City Center in Nashville for the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual conference. For the many women who have been speaking out about sexual assault within the nation’s largest evangelical denomination, the conference marked a long-awaited change of course: The Southern Baptist Convention nearly unanimously approved a third-party audit of sexual abuse allegations within its more than 47,000 churches. It also authorized an investigation into a suspected widespread coverup by the Executive Committee.

This week, Southern Baptist executives reaffirmed the probe into the church’s handling of sex abuse allegations, and a vote on whether it’ll waive attorney-client privilege for the purposes of the investigation is expected.

These developments come after a landmark investigation in 2019 by the Houston Chronicle revealed that more than 250 pastors and church leaders in the SBC had been charged with sex crimes in the past 20 years, affecting more than 700 victims. Overwhelmingly, the victims were children. Most of them were girls.

[ Probe of Southern Baptist sex abuse response moves forward]

The persistence of sexual abuse among conservative evangelical denominations like the SBC is rooted both in theology and in culture, according to Diane Winston, a religion and media professor at the University of Southern California. Bound by the ideals of male headship and extreme sexual purity, she said, evangelical men in power are often held even less accountable than men in other institutions.

For years, Southern Baptist delegates resisted reform. They rejected proposals to track predators in SBC churches and to investigate survivors’ allegations. But the decision at its June conference was a marked change in course.

“All these survivors have been telling their stories for years now,” said Grant Gaines, a Southern Baptist pastor in Murfreesboro, Tenn., who raised the motion for the audit. “Now, let’s try to right those wrongs so we can move forward.”

[ Southern Baptist leaders called Kamala Harris a ‘Jezebel.’ That’s not just insulting, it’s dangerous, experts say.]

Here are the stories of three women who allege that the Southern Baptist Convention failed to protect them from abuse. Two of them are sisters who both say their father, a Southern Baptist minister, abused them for years. Another woman says she was assaulted by her youth pastor more than two decades ago.

washington post logoWashington Post, Imam charged with sexually assaulting girl who sought his help, police say, Justin Jouvenal, Sept. 21, 2021. An imam from an Annandale mosque has been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting an underage girl who sought his help in 2015, Fairfax County police said Tuesday.

Said Shirzadi, 36, of Maryland, is facing one count of indecent liberties by a custodian after the victim disclosed the alleged unlawful contact in May and detectives launched an investigation, police said.

Sept. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: How Trump mobilized women — including me, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 20, 2021. This essay was adapted from the book “Resistance: jennifer rubin new headshotHow Women Saved Democracy from Donald Trump” by Jennifer Rubin, shown below at left and to be published this week by William Morrow/HarperCollins.

Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 came as a shock to Republican-leaning women like me who had crossed party lines to vote for Hillary Clinton.

I had always voted Republican for president — from my first vote, for Ronald Reagan, to my last, for Mitt Romney. I admired mainstream Republicans who were dedicated to victory in the Cold War. I looked to free markets for expanded economic opportunity and embraced free trade and robust legal immigration.

If I differed with “movement conservatives” on some issues, I appreciated their preference for incrementalism and resistance to allowing centralized power to bigfoot the “laboratories of democracy.” I shared their wariness that the executive branch had aggrandized power at the expense of Congress. And I held the deep conviction that character matters in leaders, that public virtue is not an oxymoron and that truth is not relative.

jennifer rubin book resistanceGiven that I actually believed in these things, I watched in horror in 2016 as Republicans embraced a racist bully bent on undermining our democracy and promoting White Christians’ quest for political dominance. I witnessed one conservative “intellectual” and “respectable” publication after another deny, then rationalize, then defend and then laud a detestable figure who repudiated principles and positions that once animated them.

I saw social conservatives who demonized Bill Clinton swoon at the feet of a serial liar, adulterer and racist whose cruelty became a central feature of his presidency. Republicans who once insisted character was a critical factor in selecting leaders seemed almost giddy when Trump unleashed his personal viciousness on their progressive opponents.

For months, I harbored some hope that Republicans would come to their senses and deny Trump the nomination. That fantasy faded with each primary victory. With no hesitation, I concluded I could not remain in a party that embraced a character so at odds with American (let alone conservative) values. In May 2016, I wrote a column “breaking up” with the GOP. I wrote it because I was still “a believer in America’s ability and obligation to do good in the world; in the wonders of the free market — including free trade and legal immigration; in limited but energetic government (although not all centralized at the federal level); and in the rule of law and individual rights” and I could no longer remain in a party warped by Trumpism. I took a step that permanently severed my bonds with many past allies.

leon black jeffrey epstein

Leon Black, left, CEO and co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein (file photos).

Vanity Fair, Billionaire Leon Black Allegedly Raped a Woman in Epstein’s New York Mansion, New Legal Documents Claim, Gabriel Sherman, Sept. 20, 2021. The woman, identified in the documents as “Jane Doe,” says Black brutally assaulted her in the third-floor massage room of Jeffrey Epstein’s townhouse in 2002. “Complete fiction,” says Black’s spokesperson.

This time last year, Leon Black, the then CEO and cofounder of private-equity giant Apollo Global Management, was one of the most powerful men on Wall Street and a pillar of New York society. The then 69-year-old billionaire was board chairman of the Museum of Modern Art, a trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Today, in new court documents, a former model is accusing Black of violently raping her at Jeffrey Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse in 2002.

The woman, identified in the documents as “Jane Doe,” says Epstein arranged for her to give a $300 massage to Black when she was a financially struggling single mother living in New Jersey. But instead, she alleges, Black brutally assaulted her shortly after they entered the massage room on the third floor of Epstein’s mansion. A number of weeks later, she claims, Black paid her $5,000 cash to “help with her credit card debt.” The suit says Doe didn’t report the rape at the time because a friend warned her no one would believe her.

The harrowing new allegation is included in documents filed today in New York Supreme Court by a former Russian model named Guzel Ganieva. In June, Ganieva sued Black for defamation after Black publicly denied Ganieva’s claims that Black “sexually harassed and abused” her. Ganieva’s lawsuit included allegations that linked Black to Epstein’s sex trafficking ring for the first time.

On September 8, Black’s lawyers filed a 72-page answer to Ganieva’s suit that vehemently denied her allegations, including that Black trafficked Ganieva to Palm Beach to have sex with Epstein. Black’s filing stated that Black had irrefutable evidence that bolstered his denial, including extensive correspondence and flight records; third-party testimony from Epstein assistant Sarah Kellen; and an alleged audio recording in which Ganieva denied ever meeting Epstein. “While a lurid potboiler starring Jeffrey Epstein may be good for grabbing tabloid headlines, the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence in this case betrays the utter falsity of these allegations,” Black’s court filing said.

Black has been on a downward spiral since January, when he announced he would resign as CEO of Apollo. An investigation commissioned by Apollo’s board revealed that Black had paid Epstein $158 million for “tax advice” between 2012 and 2017—after Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. The consensus on Wall Street was that it was a preposterous sum to pay for even the most sophisticated estate planning.

ap logoAssociated Press via Yahoo News, Michigan rep to fellow lawmaker: I hope 'your car explodes,' Staff Report, Sept. 20, 2021. A Michigan lawmaker told another lawmaker that he hoped her “car explodes on the way in,” according to text messages filed in court to support a request for a personal protection order.

“You’re truly the worst human being I’ve ever met. I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Just a parasite,” Rep. Steve Marino told Rep. Mari Manoogian.

Marino, a Macomb County Republican, and Manoogian, an Oakland County Democrat, had a personal relationship that ended more than a year ago.

Manoogian, 29, obtained a protection order last week from a judge, a few days after Marino, 32, was removed from House committees for alleged abuse. State police are investigating.

There was no indication in the court file when the text messages were written, The Detroit News reported.
Related video: Two teens charged after making false threats at high schools
Scroll back up to restore default view.

Marino said he hoped Manoogian’s “car explodes on the way in” and warned her to “hide on the House floor” in a series of texts in which they also discussed issues being handled by a state House committee.

“After trying to ignore Steve’s threats and harassment for 21 months, and begging him to stop texting me in this harassing manner countless times, I had no choice but to report his abuse to my Democratic leader,” Manoogian said in a court filing.

Marino said he's a victim of “character assassination.” His attorney, Mike Rataj, said they would challenge the protection order.

“These statements are so out of context, and we’re simply going to move to set it aside,” he said.

The order could conflict with Marino's ability to vote on the House floor if Manoogian is present. Lawmakers will be in Capitol on Tuesday.


Sept. 15

mckayla maroney saul loeb pool reuters

U.S Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 15, 2021 (Saul Loeb/POOL via Reuters).

ABC News, McKayla Maroney's gut-wrenching statement to Congress about FBI's handling of Nassar abuse, Staff edits, Sept. 15, 2021 (7:51 min. video).  "They had legal, abc news logolegitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing," she said.

Introduction: Gymnast McKayla Maroney testified to Congress about the FBI's handling of the Larry Nassar case. Nassar, a former doctor, was sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in prison for the sexual abuse of hundreds of women and girls. Maroney, a 2012 Olympic medalist, has said Nassar repeatedly abused her. The Justice Department's inspector general said in a report the FBI's investigation included major missteps. This is a transcript of Maroney's opening statement to Congress.

Good morning. Thank you Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley and members of the Judiciary Committee for inviting me to speak today.

As most of you are probably aware, I was molested by the U.S. Gymnastics national team and Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar. In actuality he turned out to be more of a pedophile than he was a doctor.

What I'm trying to bring to your attention today is something incredibly disturbing and illegal. After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said.

After reading the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) report, I was shocked and deeply disappointed at this narrative they chose to fabricate. They chose to lie about what I said and protect a serial child molester rather than protect not only me, but countless others.

My story is one in which special agent in charge Jay Abbott and his subordinates did not want you to hear, and it's time that I tell you.

In the summer of 2015, like I said, I was scheduled to speak to the FBI about my abuse with Larry Nassar over the phone. I was too sick to go meet with anyone in person, and talking about this abuse would give me PTSD for days, but I chose to try to speak about it to try to make a difference and protect others.

I remember sitting on my bedroom floor for nearly three hours as I told them what happened to me. I hadn't even told my own mother about these facts, but I thought as uncomfortable and as hard as it was to tell my story, I was going to make a difference and hopefully protecting others from the same abuse.

I answered all of their questions honestly and clearly, and I disclosed all of my molestations I had endured by Nassar to them in extreme detail.

They told me to start from the beginning. I told them about the sport of gymnastics, how you make the national team and how I came to meet Larry Nassar when I was 13 at a Texas camp. I told them that the first thing Larry Nassar ever said to me was to change into shorts with no underwear because that would make it easier for him to work on me, and within minutes, he had his fingers in my vagina.

The FBI then immediately asked, "Did he insert his fingers into your rectum?"

I said, "No, he never did."

They asked if he used gloves.

I said, "No, he never did."

They asked if this treatment ever helped me.

I said, "No, it never did. This treatment was 100% abuse and never gave me any relief."

I then told the FBI about Tokyo, the day he gave me a sleeping pill for the plane ride to then work on me later that night. That evening, I was naked, completely alone, with him on top of me molesting me for hours. I told them I thought I was going to die that night because there was no way that he would let me go. But he did. I told them I walked the halls of Tokyo hotel at 2 a.m., at only 15 years old.

I began crying at the memory over the phone, and there was just dead silence. I was so shocked at the agent's silence and disregard for my trauma.

After that minute of silence he asked, "Is that all?"

Those words in itself was one of the worst moments of this entire process for me. To have my abuse be minimized and disregarded by the people who were supposed to protect me, just to feel like my abuse was not enough.

But the truth is my abuse was enough, and they wanted to cover it up. USA Gymnastics in concert with the FBI and the Olympic Committee were working together to conceal that Larry Nassar was a predator.

I then proceeded to tell them about London and how he'd sign me up last on his sheet so he could molest me for hours twice a day. I told them how he molested me right before I won my team gold medal, how he gave me presents, bought me caramel macchiatos and bread when I was hungry. I even sent them screenshots of Nassar's last text to me, which was, "McKayla, I love how you see the world with rose-colored glasses. I hope you continue to do so."

This was very clear, cookie-cutter pedophilia and abuse. And this is important because I told the FBI all of this and they chose to falsify my report and to not only minimize my abuse but silence me yet again.

I thought given the severity of the situation that they would act quickly for the sake of protecting other girls. But instead, it took them 14 months to report anything when Larry Nassar, in my opinion, should have been in jail that day. The FBI, USOC and USAG sat idly by as dozens of girls and women continued to be molested by Larry Nassar.

According to the OIG report, about 14 months after I disclosed my abuse to the FBI -- nearly a year and a half later -- the FBI agent who interviewed me in 2015 decided to write down my statement, a statement that the OIG report determined to be materially false.

Let's be honest: by not taking immediate action from my report, they allowed a child molester to go free for more than a year, and this inaction directly allowed Nassar's abuse to continue.

What is the point of reporting abuse if our own FBI agents are going to take it upon themselves to bury that report in a drawer?

They had legal, legitimate evidence of child abuse and did nothing. If they're not going to protect me, I want to know, who are they trying to protect?

What's even more upsetting to me is that we know that these FBI agents have committed an obvious crime. They falsified my statement, and that is illegal in itself.

Yet no recourse has been taken against them -- the Department of Justice refused to prosecute these individuals. Why? Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco couldn't even bring herself to be here today, and it is the Department of Justice's job to hold them accountable.

I am tired of waiting for people to do the right thing, because my abuse was enough, and we deserve justice.

These individuals clearly violated policies and were negligent in executing their duties, and in doing so, more girls were abused by Larry Nassar for over a year.

To not indict these agents is disservice to me and my teammates; it is a disservice to the system, which was built to protect all of us from abuse; it was a disservice to every victim who suffered needlessly at the hands of Larry Nassar after I spoke up.

Why are public servants whose job is to protect getting away with this? This is not justice. Enough is enough. Today, I ask you all to hear my voice.

I ask you, please, do all that is in your power to ensure that these individuals are held responsible and accountable for ignoring my initial report, for lying about my initial report and for covering up for a child molester.

In closing, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the United States Senate, a very powerful institution that from the very beginning has fought for us rather than against us. Thank you and I welcome any questions.


larry nassar gymnastics plea

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI fires agent who failed to pursue tips about sex abuse by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, Devlin Barrett, Sept. 15, 2021 (print ed.). An FBI agent accused of failing to properly investigate former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar — and lying about it later — has been fired by the FBI, days before a high-stakes public hearing into the bureau’s flawed investigation of the child sex-abuse case involving Simone Biles and other world-famous gymnasts.

Michael Langeman, who as a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s Indianapolis office interviewed gymnast McKayla Maroney in 2015 about her alleged abuse at the hands of Nassar, lost his job last week, two people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because FBI logothey were not authorized to discuss personnel matters.

A July report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz harshly criticized Langeman — without naming him — as well as his former boss, Jay Abbott, for their handling of the Nassar case, saying the FBI failed to pursue it and then lied to inspector general investigators when confronted with those failures.

IG report: FBI failed to pursue Nassar sex abuse allegations

At the time, officials said Langeman had been removed from the duties of an FBI agent — a move often taken before the bureau fires someone. FBI firings are relatively rare; most investigators facing serious discipline choose to retire or resign before they can be terminated.

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly Pressed Victims to Write Letters Absolving Him, Prosecutors Say, Emily Palmer, Sept. 16, 2021. Many of Kelly’s accusers say he pressured them to write letters that said he was innocent of the sexual abuse that they now say he committed.

r kelly twitterFive months after R. Kelly’s 2019 arrest, federal agents searching a locked safe in a Chicago storage facility discovered a stack of the singer’s personal papers in protective sleeves. Among them: a seven-page handwritten letter from a woman who began living with Mr. Kelly when she was 17.

Calling Mr. Kelly, right, a “great man,” the woman wrote: “At the age of 17 I never had sex with Robert Kelly,” then proceeded to tick off a list of specific sex acts that she said she had not participated in with the R&B superstar.

But less than two years later, when the woman who had written the letter testified under a pseudonym during Mr. Kelly’s federal trial in Brooklyn, she said she had experienced coerced and recorded sexual encounters with the singer starting when she was 17. He hit her often, she said, and forced her to abort a pregnancy.

The letters that investigators found, she said, had been filled with lies, written under pressure from Mr. Kelly in an effort to conceal his abuse.

Again and again during Mr. Kelly’s trial in Brooklyn, women who have accused him of abuse have shared the same curious detail: While they were sexually involved with the singer, they have testified, he had them prepare letters that appeared designed to exonerate him from precisely the accusations they are now leveling against him.

Mr. Kelly, who has been trailed by sexual misconduct accusations for years, appeared to be attempting to ward off prosecution, or laying the foundation for an eventual defense. Instead, the letters have been presented by prosecutors as evidence of coercion and manipulation that even suggest he long knew his activities could land him behind bars.

Every letter introduced by prosecutors at trial came from Mr. Kelly’s own collection, discovered in the storage facility and his Chicago apartment, signed by women who now are at the heart of the case against him.

Sept. 14

les wexner mansion jeffrey epstein wmr graphic mariaWayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Bannon's involvement with Epstein reflects on a past littered with ties to pedophiles, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 20 books and former Navy intelligence officer, Sept. 14, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2021. According to a new book by Donald Trump biographer Michael Wolff, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon coached the late pedophile and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein for a planned CBS "60 Minutes" interview in the months prior to Epstein's arrest by federal authorities in 2019.

According to Wolff's book, Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned," Bannon conducted 15 hours of practice interviews with Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse [known as the Wexner Mansion, named for Epstein's benefactor Leslie Wexner, the clothing retailing mogul and shown above in a WMR graphic].

We have previously reported that Epstein's New York residence was the scene of the 1994 rape of two girls, one 12 and the other 13, by Epstein and Trump. Bannon has, for quite some time, been under our radar for his past association with pedophiles. In 2005, Bannon was affiliated with a Hong Kong-based company alexander acosta o cropped Customcalled Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) [whose silent partner included Marc Collins-Rector].

There is a common thread that extends far and wide within Trump's circle of friends and associates. U.S. Attorney in Miami Alex Acosta, right, whom Trump named as his Labor Secretary, the government's chief monitor for underage sex trafficking, was more interested in burying the criminal activities of pedophiles like Epstein, Trump, and Rector than in protecting children from predators with large bank accounts.

Sept. 12

Police Officer Heather Weyker in 2016 (St. Paul, MN Pioneer Press photo).

Police Officer Heather Weyker in 2016 (St. Paul, MN Pioneer Press photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: If the Police Lie, Should They Be Held Liable? Often the Answer Is No, Shaila Dewan, Sept. 12, 2021. Federal agents and police officers are often immune from lawsuits, even for serious violations. The Supreme Court is being asked to re-evaluate that.

In 2010, Officer Heather Weyker of the St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota had the biggest case of her career: a child sex-trafficking ring said to have spanned four states and involved girls as young as 12. Thirty people, almost all of them Somali refugees, were charged and sent to jail, many of them for years.

Then the case fell apart. It turned out, the trial judge found, that Officer Weyker had fabricated or misstated facts, lied to a grand jury and lied during a detention hearing. When three young women unwittingly got in the way of her investigation, according to their court filings, she had them locked up on false charges.

“She took my life away,” said one of the women, Hamdi Mohamud, who was a senior in high school at the time.

But there is little Ms. Mohamud can do. For decades, the Supreme Court and Congress have declined to close the many legal loopholes, like qualified immunity, that protect the police from accountability. Now legal advocates say that an increasingly conservative Supreme Court has emboldened lower courts to close off the few avenues that plaintiffs once had to seek redress.

“If a federal law enforcement officer lies, manipulates witnesses, and falsifies evidence, should the officer be liable for damages?” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit wrote of Officer Weyker, whose investigation ultimately resulted in no convictions. The answer was no.

More than 20 civil lawsuits have been filed against Officer Weyker, a former vice officer who is still the subject of an internal department investigation. Some of the suits failed because she was granted qualified immunity, a doctrine created by the courts that shields officers from lawsuits unless they violate a “clearly established” right.

In others, the courts found that if the facts before them were to be believed, she had indeed violated people’s rights. But she was shielded by an even more robust immunity offered to federal law enforcement officers — even though she is not one.

The protection extends not just to federal agents but to state and local police officers who, like Officer Weyker, serve on one or another of the numerous joint task forces that bring state, local and federal agents together to fight problems like terrorism, gang violence or human trafficking.

Federal law allows state and local officers, but not federal agents, to be sued for rights violations, even when their actions are the same. That is why a federal judge recently told the Black Lives Matter organization that it could sue the local — but not the federal — police officers who violently cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in Washington in June 2020.

Sept. 11

Baltimore Sun, He swallowed the the evidence, then as FBI went to arrest him in case of illicit images of a child, Caroline County judge killed himself, Justin Fenton, jonathan newellSept. 11, 2021. An Eastern Shore judge, who had been on a leave of absence for more than a month amid an investigation into illicit images of children, took his own life Friday morning as federal agents moved in to arrest him.

Judge Jonathan G. Newell, 50, right, was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m. from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced. A judge since 2016 and before that Caroline County’s top prosecutor for more than a decade, he was to be taken into custody on federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child, prosecutors said.

A boy that Newell took on a hunting trip on Hoopers Island discovered a hidden camera in the bathroom on July 23, and his parents reported it to police, which The Sun reported last week. When confronted by investigators, Newell is believed to have chewed up and swallowed a camera memory card, authorities said in a criminal complaint unsealed Friday.

A neighbor of Newell posted pictures on Facebook saying the FBI was outside his Henderson, Md. home asking him to come out over a loudspeaker. The neighbor, Kimberly Keith, said that she heard flash bangs and what she believed to be gunshots, and later an ambulance.

FBI logoThe FBI interviewed several young males, who said they had been to the hunting lodge with Newell and that while in the bathroom, Newell checked their bodies for ticks, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in federal court and unsealed Friday following his death.

“At least two of the males stated they were naked when Newell checked them for ticks — one stated that he moved his own genitalia for Newell to look for ticks, and the other initially did not recall if Newell touched his genitalia, but later stated that Newell once or twice moved the minor’s genitalia to look for ticks,” FBI Special Agent Rachel Corn wrote in the criminal complaint.

Authorities searched Newell’s home, truck and judicial office, and located a hard drive in his den that they said contained numerous videos of young men showering. Newell can be seen on the footage setting the camera up, the FBI said. In one video clip, he can be seen searching a young man’s naked body for ticks.

When confronted by authorities, Newell denied knowledge of a camera, and asked if he could plug his phone into a charger in another room and make some calls. They saw him reach down multiple times, but believed he was holding the phone charger into an outlet. A few moments later, the investigator observed Newell’s right hand closed in a fist and saw him place his fist to his mouth.

“The investigator heard a loud, distinguishable, ‘crunch,’ sound from the area of Newell’s mouth. After another minute or two, the investigator heard the same ‘crunch’ again from Newell’s mouth, followed by Newell immediately reaching for and drinking from a cup located on his dresser,” the FBI wrote in charging documents.

They took him to a hospital and obtained a warrant to have a CT scan performed, which revealed a “foreign object” had been ingested. The SD card from the camera discovered by the boy was missing, and the FBI believes Newell chewed it up and swallowed it.

republican elephant logoNewell, a Republican, has been Caroline County’s only Circuit Court judge, earning $174,433 annually. The county, population 33,000, also has an appointed family magistrate judge, and civil case examiners.

Newell began his law career as a public defender in 1999, then became the deputy state’s attorney for Kent County. He held both positions for two years each. He was elected state’s attorney for Caroline County in 2003, a position he held until 2016 when Gov. Larry Hogan appointed him to be a judge. He retained that position in 2018 and was serving a 15-year term.

Keith, Newell’s neighbor, said rumors about the ongoing investigation were “very well known around here.” Before the investigation, Keith said she found Newell’s Facebook posts to be “very odd.”

“All he ever posted on Facebook was about boys,” she said.

Sept. 9

ed henry former chief white house correspondent

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Ex-Fox News Anchor Ed Henry Must Face Sex Trafficking Suit, as Judge Advances Multiple Claims Against Him and Network, Adam Klasfeld, Sept. 9, 2021. Ex-Fox News anchor Ed Henry (shown above in a file photo) cannot dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of sex trafficking, as a federal judge advanced several claims against him and the network in a ruling on Thursday.

The developments came in a lawsuit filed by ex-associate producer Jennifer Eckhart roughly a year ago, which opened with a “Trigger Warning” cautioning readers with blaring red text in block capital letters that the complaint contained “Highly Graphic Information of a Sexual Nature, Including Sexual Assault.”

“She asserts that [Henry] is liable for sex trafficking because she says he used empty promises of career advancement to defraud her into coming to his hotel room, then used force to cause her to have sexual intercourse with him,” U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams summarized in a 52-page opinion and order.

The judge, who is the sister of Law&Crime’s founder Dan Abrams, noted that Eckhart’s allegations are not what traditionally comes to mind when the public thinks of the statute.

fox news logo Small“To be sure, this is not a conventional claim of sex trafficking,” the judge wrote. “Eckhart has not alleged, for example, that Henry forced her into prostitution or sexual slavery.”

During oral arguments in July, Eckhart’s lawyer Michael John Willemin described Henry’s conduct as “Weinstein-esque, but worse.”

“He hit her,” Willemin said, referring to Henry and his client. “He handcuffed her. He bruised her up. He called her a ‘whore.’ He told her she doesn’t have a choice.”

Ultimately, Judge Abrams found that Eckhart’s allegation fell under the “relatively broad language of the applicable statute,” classifying sex trafficking as the use of “force” or “fraud” to cause a person to “engage in a sex act” for a “thing of value.”

The judge also advanced multiple harassment-related counts against Fox News, though not the sex-trafficking one.

“At this juncture, the Court concludes that Eckhart has plausibly alleged that the network knew or should have known about Henry’s sexually harassing behavior but not necessarily the specific conduct that amounts to sex trafficking,” Judge Abrams found.

Eckhart’s lawyer said he and his client are “very pleased with the Court’s decision.”

“Neither Fox News nor Ed Henry succeeded in their early attempts to escape liability as to Ms. Eckhart’s allegations of rape, sexual assault and unlawful termination,” Willemin told Law&Crime in an email.

Sept. 8


Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, shown above in a screenshot from Fox News, has been Fox News pundit and GOP strategist who recently worked on the 2020 campaign for Republican candidate Lacy Johnson in Minneapolis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Teen suing GOP donor claims he offered $1,000 in hush money after alleged sex-trafficking crime, lawsuit says, Julian Mark, Sept 8, 2021 (print ed.). By all appearances, Anton “Tony” Lazzaro was living the dream. The 30-year-old political strategist, self-described entrepreneur and prominent donor to Minnesota Republicans posed in photos alongside famous tony lazarro djtGOP figures like Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former president Donald Trump.

He also posted photos of his lavish lifestyle — sitting atop a private jet, putting gas in his red Ferrari and posing shirtless with wads of $100 bills.

Then, on Aug. 12, federal agents arrested Lazzaro on charges that he recruited minors for sex. Arrested alongside Lazzaro was 19-year-old Gisela Castro Medina, a University of St. Thomas student who a grand jury indictment alleges trafficked the minors with Lazzaro. Through his lawyer, Lazzaro has denied the allegations.

djt maga hatNow, an alleged victim is suing the embattled politico, claiming in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Medina lured her into having sex with Lazzaro when she was 16. The lawsuit also claims that Lazzaro hired lawyers to offer the alleged victim and her family $1,000 for the girl’s silence.

The lawyer representing Lazzaro in the criminal case did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday, and court records do not list an attorney for Medina.

Before his arrest, Lazzaro was active in Minnesota politics. He operated a political action committee called Big Tent Republicans, whose stated goal is “broadening the appeal of the Republican Party,” according to Lazzaro’s website. Lazzaro has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns and political committees, the Star Tribune reported.

fox news logo SmallYet while Lazzaro pursued his political ambitions, prosecutors say he conspired with Medina to recruit and solicit sex from six minors. The abuse allegedly took place between May 2020 and December 2020.

It is unclear whether the alleged victim who filed the lawsuit is connected to the indictment, which offers few details about the federal investigation into Lazzaro. But her account is the first to publicly detail how Lazzaro and Medina allegedly lured a minor during that same time period.

According to the lawsuit, Lazzaro met Medina on a “sugar dating” website, where wealthy people meet younger people willing to exchange companionship for financial support. In 2020, Lazzaro allegedly gave Medina “money and gifts” to help him find underage women for sex, the lawsuit says. In May 2020, the lawsuit alleges, Medina began grooming the plaintiff, whom Medina had met two years before. Medina allegedly introduced the 16-year-old to Lazzaro, whom she portrayed as a “powerful, prominent, and wealthy businessman and political figure,” according to the lawsuit.

The father declined the offer and contacted law enforcement.

The allegations have roiled the state’s GOP over the past month, and many Republicans have attempted to distance themselves from Lazzaro. Multiple state legislators have donated Lazzaro’s contributions and publicly denounced him.

Lazzaro’s arrest also led to the ouster of Jennifer Carnahan, the state’s GOP chair, whose close ties to Lazzaro invited wider criticism of her leadership. She denied knowing about the allegations being leveled at Lazzaro.

“I found out when you guys found out,” she said, according to WCCO. “I was shocked and disgusted. I think Mr. Lazzaro is going to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

keith raniere nxivmny times logoNew York Times, Sex Cult Leader’s Top Deputy Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison, Colin Moynihan, Sept. 8, 2021. Nancy Salzman, the Nxivm “prefect,” left 20 years of “trauma and destruction” in her wake, a judge said on Wednesday.

For 20 years, Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere were business partners and allies who promised to improve people’s lives.

They led the self-help organization that they co-founded in the 1990s as it grew into the cultlike group Nxivm, and when it fell apart in 2018, Ms. Salzman and Mr. Raniere became co-defendants, accused of running a criminal enterprise that subjected women to sexual abuse.

Mr. Raniere was convicted on several charges and sentenced to 120 years in prison; Ms. Salzman pleaded guilty to a single count of racketeering conspiracy, and former Nxivm members have described her as an enabler who made Mr. Raniere’s abuse possible.

But as Ms. Salzman’s sentencing hearing approached, she sought to publicly distance herself from Mr. Raniere. In a letter to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, Ms. Salzman’s lawyers portrayed her as Mr. Raniere’s dupe, writing that she had been “fooled, controlled, humiliated, and ultimately led to engage in criminal conduct by an egotistical, self-important, sex fiend.”

But Judge Garaufis did not appear to be persuaded, and on Wednesday Ms. Salzman was sentenced to 42 months in prison — slightly more than the sentence prosecutors had sought.

Before being sentenced, Ms. Salzman made a statement to the court in which she said that under Mr. Raniere’s influence, she had begun to “rationalize and overlook the wrongdoing around me.”

“I apologize to everyone I hurt, intentionally and not,” she added. “I don’t know that I can ever forgive myself.”

Judge Garaufis acknowledged that Ms. Salzman had been the first of Mr. Raniere’s co-defendants to plead guilty. But he also said that she had shared power with Mr. Raniere, facilitated his crimes and betrayed and harmed others.

“You positioned yourself alongside Mr. Raniere atop the Nxivm pyramid,” he said, adding: “In 20 years at Mr. Raniere’s side, you left trauma and destruction in your wake.”

In the more than two years since her guilty plea, Ms. Salzman had largely escaped the attention paid to co-defendants like the liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, who refused to disavow Mr. Raniere, or Allison Mack, who was described as having inducted women into a clandestine group of “slaves,” some of whom were directed to “seduce” Mr. Raniere and branded with his initials.

But as Ms. Salzman’s sentencing approached, former Nxivm members began speaking out. They described her as indispensable to Mr. Raniere’s control of the group and said she had played a central part in crafting his philosophical ideas into teachings that spread Nxivm’s code to followers.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: OnlyFans Is Not a Safe Platform for ‘Sex Work.’ It’s a Pimp, Catherine MacKinnon (lawyer, scholar, writer, teacher and activist. She teaches law at the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School and works for sexually violated people around the globe), Sept. 8, 2021 (print ed.).

We are living in the world pornography has made. For more than three decades, researchers have documented that it desensitizes consumers to violence and spreads rape myths and other lies about women’s sexuality. In doing so, it normalizes itself, becoming ever more pervasive, intrusive and dangerous, surrounding us ever more intimately, grooming the culture so that it becomes hard even to recognize its harms.

One measure of this success is the media’s increasing insistence on referring to people used in prostitution and pornography as “sex workers.” What is being done to them is neither sex, in the sense of intimacy and mutuality, nor work, in the sense of productivity and dignity. Survivors of prostitution consider it “serial rape,” so they regard the term “sex work” as gaslighting. “When the ‘job’ of prostitution is exposed, any similarity to legitimate work is shattered,” write two survivors, Evelina Giobbe and Vednita Carter. “Put simply, whether you’re a ‘high-class’ call girl or a street walkin’ ho, when you’re on a ‘date’ you gotta get on your knees or lay on your back and let that man use your body any way he wants to. That’s what he pays for. Pretending prostitution is a job like any other job would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.”

“Sex work” implies that prostituted people really want to do what they have virtually no choice in doing. That their poverty, homelessness, prior sexual abuse as children, subjection to racism, exclusion from gainful occupations or unequal pay plays no role. That they are who the pornography says they are, valuable only for use in it.

Pornography’s power became clear once again last month, when OnlyFans, the London-based subscription service, announced that it would ban the “sexually explicit” from its platform, before abruptly reversing course amid criticism. “OnlyFans has been celebrated for giving adult entertainers and sex workers a safe place to do their jobs,” Bloomberg News observed. According to the A.C.L.U., a longtime defender of pornography, “When tech platforms like OnlyFans see themselves as arbiters of acceptable cyber speech and activity, they stigmatize sex work, making workers less safe.” On the contrary, it is the sex industry that makes women unsafe. Legitimizing sexual abuse as a job makes webcamming sites like OnlyFans particularly seductive to the economically strapped.

OnlyFans became a household name during the pandemic, when demand for pornography skyrocketed. People started living their lives online, domestic violence exploded, women lost their means of economic survival even more than men, and inequalities increased. OnlyFans, niche pornography as mediated soft prostitution, was positioned to take advantage of these dynamics.

OnlyFans has been to conventional pornography what stripping has been to prostitution: a gateway activity, sexual display with seeming insulation from skin-on-skin exploitation, temporary employment for those with their financial backs against the wall and few if any alternatives. It offers the illusion of safety and deniability for producer and consumer alike. But the outcry over the proposed ban made clear that only explicit sex — mostly, the sexual consumption of feminized bodies, usually female, gay or trans — sells well in pornography’s world. As Dannii Harwood, the first so-called content creator on OnlyFans, told The New York Times, “Once subscribers have seen everything, they move on to the next creator.” Empirical research has also documented that dynamic.

Van Christopher Havis and Holly Deboard via WHNT

Law&Crime, Alabama Man and Woman Set to Spend Rest of Their Lives in Prison for ‘Physically Repulsive’ Abuse, Bestiality, Alberto Luperon, Sept. 8, 2021. Authorities are closing the book on a truly sickening case. A man and a woman in Alabama (shown above) received quite lengthy sentences this week for abusing another man who authorities described as living with mental disability.

Van Christopher Havis, 55, received a term of life in prison with the possibility of parole for charges of sodomy and sexual torture, and a six-month punishment for bestiality, which is a misdemeanor, Marshall County District Attorney Chief Investigator John Young told Law&Crime. Co-defendant Holly Renae Debord, 37, received 99-year punishments each for sodomy and sexual torture, plus a year for bestiality, lead prosecutor Jennifer Reynolds Bray said in a Facebook post. Because the sentences all run concurrently, the total sentence is 99 years.

“In Alabama, it’s a possibility he can pop up in five years,” Young said of Havis, “but in our experience with these types of cases, he is going to be there for a while.”

The pair is reportedly eligible for parole.

Havis worked out a plea deal in which he was going to testify against Debord, Young told Law&Crime. Ultimately, both of them chose to admit guilt rather than face jurors. They were charged with abuse so disgusting that authorities have opted to discuss it in general terms. Bray said that Debord possessed 19 sickening videos of the crime.

“I’m so relieved that this case is over,” Bray wrote. “[All through] throughout my career I’ve seen some very disturbing things, nothing compares to the 19 videos Holly DeBord had on her phone of this heinous crime that lasted for hours. The first time I watched the video evidence in this case, it almost physically made me sick.”

Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims was also vague when discussing the bestiality charge.

“This is a different, unique type case from what it involved,” he said when Havis and Debord were arrested in January 2020, according to WHNT. “I’m sure one of the charges is not what you often hear, called bestiality. I’ll just say it involves a domesticated animal and leave it at that.”

Video of the abuse spread through Facebook messenger, texts, and email, authorities said.

“This is one case that was just physically repulsive,” Bray told WHNT. “You know, it made your stomach churn watching these videos. It is so violent and so aggressive. And what they’re doing to this victim, again it’s just awful. Words can’t describe it.”

Sept. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Supermodels Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment, Elizabeth Paton, Sept. 7, 2021. As former models prepare to testify against Gérald Marie, their former agency boss, big names like Carla Bruni and Paulina Porizkova are offering support. On the eve of fashion month, six women, all former models, flew into Paris from across the world — not to walk runways but to be interviewed by the child protection unit of the Paris police.

Their testimonies, set to be heard Sept. 7, include allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against Gérald Marie, who for three decades was one of the most powerful men in the fashion industry. A former European chief of Elite Model Management who was once married to Linda Evangelista and who now lives in Ibiza, Mr. Marie has long denied the allegations that have mounted against him over the years from at least 24 women.

Now, however, a year after prosecutors in France opened an investigation into the alleged incidents, which are said to have occurred in the 1980s and ’90s, a chorus of new and high-profile voices has emerged to support Mr. Marie’s accusers — and to demand more robust labor regulation to protect young and often vulnerable models whose work can take them far from home and supervision.

“Enough is enough — I stand with Carré and the other survivors of Gérald Marie as they come to Paris to testify against their abuser,” said Carla Bruni, one of the most famous models of the ’90s and the former first lady of France. She was referring to Carré Sutton, a onetime American supermodel who is leading the group of women testifying in Paris.

“No industry is immune from sexual abuse,” Ms. Bruni continued. “There is so much work to do in France and around the world to ensure that women are protected from sexual violence on the job.”

Helena Christensen said she stood with these “brave women all the way.” Paulina Porizkova added that in the early days of her career, young models were taught to view “sexual harassment as a compliment.”

“As models, we weren’t paid for our talents,” Ms. Porizkova said. “We were renting our body and face. Your body wasn’t your own.” She applauded the women who had traveled to Paris and who would, she said, “relive some painful memories to stand up for a better industry and the women who haven’t been able to come forward.”

Ms. Bruni, Ms. Christensen and Ms. Porizkova had decided to speak up at the urging of the Model Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group for fashion workers. The organization has offered resources to Mr. Marie’s accusers, including weekly Zoom meetings where the women have had access to legal counsel.

keith raniere nxivm

ny times logoNew York Times, Nxivm’s Second-in-Command Helped Build a Culture of Abuse, Survivors Say, Colin Moynihan, Sept. 7, 2021. Nancy Salzman awaits sentencing, some who fell prey to the Nxivm cultlike group say Ms. Salzman’s enabling made the group’s misdeeds possible.

Three days after Ivy Nevares told a Brooklyn jury last fall about the lasting pain that the Nxivm cult leader Keith Raniere had inflicted on her, she got a phone call.

The caller did not want to talk about Mr. Raniere, who had just been sentenced to 120 years in prison. He called, according to a letter Ms. Nevares later sent to a judge, with a warning: Do not talk about Nancy Salzman.

“I felt intimidated and, after the call, was deeply upset for days,” Ms. Nevares wrote.

Years after Nxivm was exposed as a cultlike criminal enterprise built to conceal Mr. Raniere’s sexual, physical and psychological abuse of women and girls, the details of Ms. Salzman’s role within the organization has remained largely shrouded. But her influence was significant: Ms. Salzman co-founded Nxivm’s predecessor group with Mr. Raniere and stood as his second-in-command for 20 years.

She was eventually indicted on several charges related to the group and pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.

Now, as Ms. Salzman’s own sentencing hearing approaches on Wednesday, testimony from Mr. Raniere’s trial, assertions in a lawsuit, written statements submitted to the court and interviews with former Nxivm members show the power she wielded to advance Mr. Raniere’s agenda.

Ms. Nevares and other former Nxivm members say the woman known as Prefect was not only Mr. Raniere’s business partner and confidant but his abettor and protector. She managed many of Nxivm’s operations, they say, and helped Mr. Raniere control the group’s members and avoid accountability.

ny times logoNew York Times, Human Rights Campaign Chief Is Fired for Advising Andrew Cuomo, Maggie Haberman, Updated Sept. 7, 2021. The L.G.B.T.Q. group fired Alphonso David over a report that he aided efforts against a woman who accused the former New York governor of sexual harassment.

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organization, was ousted by the group’s board on Monday night over a report revealing that he had advised former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on how to handle sex harassment allegations.

Mr. David, the group’s first Black president, was terminated “for cause” in separate votes by the boards of the Human Rights Campaign and its affiliated foundation after the two boards held a joint meeting. Beyond two abstentions from the foundation board, the votes were unanimous.

andrew cuomo 2019Mr. David’s removal is the latest fallout from the report by Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, describing allegations of sexual harassment by Mr. Cuomo, left, and efforts by his aides to retaliate against the former governor’s accusers. Mr. Cuomo resigned in August after the report outlined 11 allegations and described a toxic work environment.

Mr. David, who had worked as a lawyer in Mr. Cuomo’s office, was identified in the James report as involved in efforts to undermine Mr. Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan. Despite no longer working there, Mr. David had a memo in his possession containing confidential information about Ms. Boylan’s employment history. He shared the memo with one of Mr. Cuomo’s communications advisers who were hoping to release details to reporters. Mr. David has maintained that he had an obligation as a lawyer to do so.

Mr. David also suggested edits to a letter intended to malign Ms. Boylan that was being circulated among Mr. Cuomo and his aides, and said that he would collect signatures for it from former aides. He declined to sign it himself, however, and he later said that he did not know the extent of the allegations against Mr. Cuomo. He called for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation after the report came out.

Mr. David said he would fight his firing. “As a Black, gay man who has spent his whole life fighting for civil and human rights, they cannot shut me up,” he said in a Twitter post late Monday. “Expect a legal challenge.”

Sept. 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick to be arraigned for past sex assault of teen in Massachusetts court, Michelle Boorstein and Kurt Shillinger, Sept. 2, 2021. Theodore McCarrick, 91, is scheduled to appear in public — in a Massachusetts courtroom — on Friday for the first time since 2018, when the former Catholic cardinal and global power-broker began his fall amid a wave of sex abuse allegations. He will be arraigned on three counts of sexually assaulting a theodore mccarrickteen in the 1970s, the first U.S. cardinal to face criminal charges of abuse.

Now in his early 60s, the accuser plans to be with supporters in the courtroom, the first time McCarrick, right, will publicly face one of the more than a dozen people who say the once-powerful cleric sexually abused or harassed them as boys or young seminarians or clerics. Prosecutors say McCarrick abused the man when he was 16, in a coat room at the man’s brother’s wedding in Wellesley, Mass.

The sight of McCarrick, who now lives at a suburban Missouri treatment center, in regular street clothes and facing criminal charges in the state that put clergy sex abuse in the public consciousness, is also symbolically powerful. Advocates for clergy abuse survivors plan to gather outside the Dedham District Court.

Sept. 1

ny times logoNew York Times, After Supreme Court Silence, Texas Clinics Face Near-Total Abortion Ban, Adam Liptak and Sabrina Tavernise, Sept. 1, 2021. The law went into effect after the Supreme Court failed to act on a request to block it, prompting clinics in the state to begin to turn away women. The justices may still rule on the request, which is just an early step in what is expected to be an extended legal battle over the law.

texas mapA Texas law prohibiting most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday after the Supreme Court failed to act on a request to block it, ushering in the most restrictive abortion law in the nation and prompting clinics in the state to turn away women seeking the procedure.

The justices may still rule on the request, which is just an early step in what is expected to be an extended legal battle over the law. In the meantime, though, access to abortion in Texas has become extremely limited, the latest example of a Republican-led state imposing new constraints on ending pregnancies.

The law, known as Senate Bill 8, amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in Texas, one that will further fuel legal and political battles over the future of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.

supreme court buildingIn an emergency application urging the justices to intervene, abortion providers in the state wrote that the law “would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics ultimately to close.”

Supreme Court precedents forbid states from banning abortion before fetal viability, the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, or about 22 to 24 weeks.

But the Texas law was drafted to make it difficult to challenge in court. Usually, a lawsuit seeking to block a law because it is unconstitutional would name state officials as defendants. But the Texas law bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.

The patient may not be sued, but doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, people who help pay for the procedure, even an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic are all potential defendants. Plaintiffs, who need not have any connection to the matter or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win. Prevailing defendants are not entitled to legal fees.

The immediate question for the justices is not whether the Texas law is constitutional. It is, rather, whether it may be challenged in federal court. The law’s defenders say that, given the way the law is structured, only Texas courts can rule on the matter and only in the context of suits against abortion providers for violating the law.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas, said they would comply with the law and that no abortions would be scheduled for any patient whose ultrasound detects a fetal heartbeat.

She said the threat of being sued individually under the law was worrying for her staff, including doctors and administrators, and she did not want to expose them to that risk.

“Our staff and doctors would be put in the position of having to defend themselves against accusations of breaking the law,” she said. “It’s sobering. This is way beyond anything any of us had imagined.”

At Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth, the last patient appointment was completed at 11:56 p.m. on Tuesday, said Marva Sadler, senior director of clinic services. She said doctors started at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning and treated 117 patients, far more than usual.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Say goodbye to Roe v. Wade, Paul Waldman, right, Sept. 1, 2021. Thanks to the state of Texas, the country’s most paul waldmanconservative court of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion has been all but outlawed in the second-largest state in America. Roe v. Wade now hangs by a fraying thread, with six justices sharpening their scissors to sever it once and for all.

Texas recently passed the most draconian abortion law in the United States, one that quite intentionally violates Roe v. Wade. A federal district court was about to have a hearing on the law, one that would probably have resulted in a stay on the law while the legal case against it is decided.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit — the most conservative of the federal appeals courts — stepped in and canceled that hearing. The plaintiffs suing to stop the law made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, which the justices chose not to act on before Sept. 1, when the law was slated to go into effect.

ny times logoNew York Times, Citizens, Not the State, Will Enforce New Abortion Law in Texas, Sabrina Tavernise, July 9, 2021, Updated Sept. 1, 2021. The measure bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. And it effectively deputizes ordinary citizens to sue people involved in the process.

People across the country may soon be able to sue abortion clinics, doctors and anyone helping a woman get an abortion in Texas, under a new state law that contains a legal innovation with broad implications for the American court system.

The provision passed the State Legislature this spring as part of a bill that bans abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat, usually at about six weeks of pregnancy. Many states have passed such bans, but the law in Texas is different.

Ordinarily, enforcement would be up to government officials, and if clinics wanted to challenge the law’s constitutionality, they would sue those officials in making their case. But the law in Texas prohibits officials from enforcing it. Instead, it takes the opposite approach, effectively deputizing ordinary citizens — including from outside Texas — to sue clinics and others who violate the law. It awards them at least $10,000 per illegal abortion if they are successful.

“It’s completely inverting the legal system,” said Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “It says the state is not going to be the one to enforce this law. Your neighbors are.”

The result is a law that is extremely difficult to challenge before it takes effect on Sept. 1 because it is hard to know whom to sue to block it, and lawyers for clinics are now wrestling with what to do about it. Six-week bans in other states have all been blocked as they make their way through the court system.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The 5th Circuit is staking out a claim to be America’s most dangerous court, Ruth Marcus, right, Sept. 1, 2021 (print ed.). The Supreme ruth marcus twitter CustomCourt is, no doubt, the nation’s most powerful court. But the 5th Circuit, the federal appeals court that covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, is staking out a claim to be the most dangerous — the least wedded to respecting precedent or following an orderly judicial process.

The 5th is arguably the most conservative among the country’s dozen appeals courts. It inclined in that direction even before President Donald Trump managed to install six nominees. And they constitute quite a bunch: Stuart Kyle Duncan, who said the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling establishing a right to same-sex marriage “imperils civic peace” and “raises a question about the legitimacy of the court.” Cory Wilson, who tweeted about Hillary Clinton using the hashtag #CrookedHillary, called the Affordable Care Act “illegitimate” and said he supported overturning Roe v. Wade. James C. Ho, who issued a concurring opinion lamenting the “moral tragedy of abortion.”

How conservative is the court, where 12 of 17 active judges were named by Republican presidents? “As conservative a federal appeals court as any of us have seen in our lifetimes,” says Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, noting that even as the circuit’s conservatives tend toward the extreme end of the spectrum, its liberals aren’t all that liberal.



ny times logoNew York Times, Iowa Man Gets Life in Prison for Murder of Mollie Tibbetts, Neil Vigdor, Aug. 31, 2021 (print ed.). Cristhian Bahena Rivera was convicted in May in the 2018 fatal stabbing of Ms. Tibbetts, which Donald J. Trump used to stoke opposition to illegal immigration.

A farmworker was sentenced on Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the fatal stabbing of an Iowa college student in 2018, a crime that Donald J. Trump seized upon as president as he amplified his hard-line policies against illegal immigration.

The farmworker, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, was convicted in May in the abduction and murder of Mollie Tibbetts, 20, a University of Iowa student who disappeared after going for a run.

It took more than a month until Mr. Bahena Rivera led investigators to the body of Ms. Tibbetts, which had been hidden in a cornfield outside Brooklyn, Iowa, her hometown.

The arrest of Mr. Bahena Rivera, who had been described by the authorities as an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, quickly drew the attention of Mr. Trump. The president sought to use the case to his political advantage during the midterm elections in 2018 and in his efforts to build a border wall.

Mr. Bahena Rivera, 27, was expressionless as a caseworker with the state attorney general’s office read a victim impact statement on Monday that was written by Ms. Tibbetts’s mother, Laura Calderwood, in a district court in Montezuma, Iowa.

Ms. Calderwood said in the statement that her daughter had so much to look forward to until the evening of July 18, 2018.

“You chose to violently and sadistically end that life,” Ms. Calderwood said. “Who could harm such a beautiful, vibrant young woman so full of life and promise?”

ny times logoNew York Times, First Male Accuser at Trial Says R. Kelly Promised Fame for Sex, Troy Closson, Aug. 31, 2021 (print ed.). Ex-Assistant Describes R. Kelly’s Anger When His Strict Rules Were Broken.

r kelly twitterFive accusers — four women and one man — have now testified that the singer (shown in his Twitter photo) had sexual contact with them when they were underage, including a woman who described being raped.

One of R. Kelly’s former assistants described the singer’s system of strict rules for the women in his orbit — and the anger he displayed when those rules were broken — as his racketeering trial resumed Tuesday in Brooklyn.

The new testimony came a day after Mr. Kelly’s first male accuser testified that the R&B star offered help with his music career in exchange for sexual favors. The man, who testified under the pseudonym Louis, told jurors that he was 17 when Mr. Kelly began making sexual advances toward him.

Four women have also testified that they were underage when their encounters with Mr. Kelly began, including a woman identified only as Addie who on Monday described being raped by the singer in a dressing room after a concert.

Mr. Kelly has denied the accusations and pleaded not guilty to a racketeering charge and eight counts of violating an interstate anti-sex trafficking law.

Prosecutors have accused Mr. Kelly, 54, of running a decades-long criminal plot to prey on women and girls for sex with the help of a network of associates and employees.

Mr. Kelly is not charged with rape or sexual assault, and many of the specific accusations against him fall outside the statute of limitations for those crimes. But a racketeering charge allows prosecutors to present evidence of any related potential crimes.

Aug. 27

 larry elder alexandra datig

Larry Elder and Alexandra Datig, his former fiancee. Datig filed a report with the LAPD alleging that Elder, the California recall front-runner, once pushed her and checked a gun during a 2015 argument.(Alexandra Datig)

Los Angeles Times via KTLA 5-TV, L.A. prosecutors decline to pursue gun, domestic abuse claims against Larry Elder, Staff Report, Aug. 27, 2021. Larry Elder and Alexandra Datig, his former fiancee. Datig filed a report with the LAPD alleging that Elder, the California recall front-runner, once pushed her and checked a gun during a 2015 argument. (Alexandra Datig)

Los Angeles prosecutors have declined to pursue a criminal complaint against Larry Elder for allegations of brandishing a gun and domestic abuse, in a 6-year-old case related to statements made by his former fiancée.
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With a one-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor cases, a spokesman for the district attorney said Friday that prosecutors were not in a position to prosecute the accusations made by Alexandra Datig, who split with Elder in 2015.

Datig said she had been told that the L.A. city attorney’s office also would not continue an investigation because of the time that had elapsed. Neither office ruled on the substance of her allegations, but said their findings would be rendered moot because the alleged incidents occurred six years ago or more.

Datig, 51, said in prior interviews with the media that, during a 2015 argument about the couple’s breakup, Elder checked to see whether his .45-caliber revolver was loaded. She also told Los Angeles detectives that the longtime talk radio show host pushed her in 2014, in what she called a fit of “drug-induced anger.” She alleged Elder, 69, was a habitual marijuana user.

Aug. 26

david harris mugsWCTV (Tallahassee), FBI agent arrested for crimes against children, Staff Report, Aug. 26, 2021. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says an arrest warrant has been issued for an FBI agent on a slew of criminal charges, including sexual battery.

FCSO says FBI Supervisory Special Agent David Harris (shown above in mug shots), 51, who was tasked with investigating crimes against children, including child pornography, is currently incarcerated in Louisiana and is facing charges of indecency with a child, crimes against nature and sexual battery.

FBI logoOfficials say a complaint was made to the department in February of this year regarding Harris who exposed himself in a lewd and lascivious manner to a then 14-year-old girl in July of 2019 while on St. George Island for a family vacation.

According to authorities, evidence was found during an investigation into Harris that led to other felonies committed by Harris of a sexual nation with minors and adults in the states of Louisiana and Texas, causing a joint investigative task force to be started by the Louisiana State Police and the Texas Department of Public Service.

Authorities say records obtained from Harris’ government-issued electronic devices found conversation excerpts from Harris claiming is sexual preference to underage girls and admitting to incidents, including what was alleged while on vacation on St. George Island.

Harris was arrested earlier this summer in Ascension Parish, Louisiana and has outstanding arrest warrants out of East Baton Rouge and Orleans Parish, Lousiiana, as well as Tyler, Texas.

Officials say the FBI has dismissed Harris’ employment.

Al.com, Lawyer on Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s staff arrested on child solicitation charge, Carol Robinson, Aug. 26, 2021. A staff attorney for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has been arrested on a child solicitation and was immediately fired.

chase espyChase Tristian Espy, 36, is charged with child solicitation by computer/electronic solicitation of a child, which is a Class B felony.

Espy, right, a Birmingham attorney and former deputy general counsel in the Office of Governor, was booked into the Jefferson County Jail at 9:28 p.m. Wednesday, according to jail records.

Ivey’s office confirmed Espy was fired Thursday morning and released this statement to AL.com on Thursday: “The allegations against Mr. Espy are serious, tragic and shocking. While he was employed by our office for only a few months, Mr. Espy has been terminated. As this is an ongoing investigation, no further information is available at this time.”

Aug. 23

ny times logoNew York Times, Witness Says R. Kelly Offered Fame for Sex: ‘I Just Wanted to Sing,’ Troy Closson and Emily Palmer, Aug. 23, 2021. The second accuser to testify against the disgraced R&B star said she was 17 when the singer pressured her for sex, as the second week of Mr. Kelly’s trial began.

When Zel was a 17-year-old aspiring singer, she was eager to meet R. Kelly, right, she said, and hoped that the R&B star could help jump-start her professional r kelly twittercareer.

She received his phone number at a music festival and was told she could audition for him, she said. But after she arrived at his hotel, Mr. Kelly was interested in only sex, Zel, who testified under a pseudonym, told jurors as the second week of Mr. Kelly’s criminal trial began in New York.

Zel said that Mr. Kelly told her that he needed to relieve himself sexually before she began to sing. “I was against it — I told him I did not come to please him,” she said. “He continued to persist and told me I didn’t have to do anything, just to take off my clothes.”

As Mr. Kelly’s pressure continued, Zel, who had told him that she was 18, told jurors that she acquiesced and allowed the entertainer to perform a sex act on her. He told her that if she agreed, he would allow her to audition — and would “take care of me for life,” she testified.

“I didn’t necessarily care for that,” she said. “I just wanted to sing.”

As she recounted the story of her first meeting with Mr. Kelly, Zel, who is now 23, became the second accuser to take the stand against Mr. Kelly at the trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. She previously defended the singer publicly as recently as 2019, even as claims against him mounted, but later made her own accusations of sexual and physical abuse. She testified under a pseudonym because of privacy concerns, and her real name does not appear in court records.

Another woman, Jerhonda Pace, told jurors last week that she and Mr. Kelly started a six-month sexual relationship when she was 16 and testified that the artist had physically abused her, including once choking her until she passed out, after she failed to abide by one of the strict restrictions he demanded guests follow.

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly Trial: Key Moments From Week 1, Emily Palmer, Aug. 23, 2021. For decades, allegations of sexual misconduct have followed R. Kelly. But not until Wednesday, on the first day of his long-awaited criminal trial, did one of his accusers take the witness stand to testify against the disgraced R&B superstar.

Jerhonda Pace was only 16 when Mr. Kelly began having sex with her — and when she told the singer, he seemed unconcerned, she testified. Across two days of searing testimony, Ms. Pace, one of Mr. Kelly’s most vocal accusers, opened what is expected to be a four-week trial focused on accusations that the singer used his fame — and a sizable group of employees and associates — to recruit women and girls for sex.

Ms. Pace is one of six women whose encounters with Mr. Kelly are at the center of the government’s case. Mr. Kelly, who is on trial in federal court in Brooklyn, is charged with one racketeering count and eight violations of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act. Four of the women are expected to testify.

The four lawyers who make up Mr. Kelly’s defense team argue that the criminal enterprise he is accused of leading was simply the operation of a successful music company. They have painted his accusers as disgruntled or jealous fans, and the relationships as consensual.

Mr. Kelly has been on trial before. In 2008, he was acquitted of child pornography charges after his accuser declined to testify. Now, against the backdrop of the MeToo movement, several women will speak against him in court for the first time.

This is what happened during the first week of Mr. Kelly’s trial.

  • New York Times, Ex-Manager Says R. Kelly Thought Aaliyah, 15, Was Pregnant With His Baby, Aug. 20, 2021
  • New York Times, R. Kelly Knowingly Infected Accusers With Herpes, They Say, Aug. 19, 2021

Aug. 22

ny times logoNew York Times, Turmoil Was Brewing at Time’s Up Long Before Cuomo, Jodi Kantor, Arya Sundaram, Melena Ryzik and Cara Buckley, Aug. 22, 2021 (print ed.). The prominent anti-harassment charity, criticized for its relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is facing a crisis over its ties to those in power.Nearly four years ago, moving with resolve after the global #MeToo explosion, some of the country’s most famous women formed a new charity, Time’s Up, to fight sexual harassment in the workplace. Their collective power, funds and aspirations offered the promise of real progress.

Now the organization is in an “existential crisis,” its vice chairwoman told the staff. A group of abuse victims said they felt betrayed. Some board members are privately questioning whether Time’s Up will survive.

The turmoil was set off by the sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Time’s Up ally, and revelations that his office had relied on the counsel of the group's leaders as the accusations emerged.

andrew cuomo 2019Time’s Up was built on a bold premise: Ultra-connected women would pool their access and influence to push for gender equity. But even before the allegations against Mr. Cuomo, left, confusion and controversy had been building inside the group over its leadership’s ties — and help — to those in power, according to interviews with dozens of current and former board members, employees and other advocates, as well as a review of internal documents.

Some of them feared that the high-level connections at the heart of the group’s strategy compromised its credibility, or made the powerful more of a priority than the ordinary women Time’s Up was meant to help.

“We have, obviously, a broken-trust moment and a real examination, after three and a half years, of whether this is the right way to work,” Tina Tchen, the chief executive, said in an interview. She and others are wondering whether the group’s model can still be tenable. “I’m open to the answer.”

Where to draw the line has come up again and again. In spring 2020, Ms. Tchen, an Obama administration veteran, helped hold back a letter from women’s groups prodding Joseph R. Biden Jr. to respond more quickly to a sexual misconduct allegation — even as she raised funds for his campaign as a private citizen.

About the same time, after Ms. Tchen discussed a new for-profit consulting arm that could allow her and others to advise corporations, including those facing abuse accusations, board and staff members grew concerned, according to meeting notes. The plan never moved forward.

In the small, underfunded world of women’s charities, Time’s Up was an outlier. Its founders included Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey; Ms. Tchen, its leader since 2019, had been Michelle Obama’s chief of staff. The organization’s connections, and $24 million GoFundMe campaign, were its selling point. But some of the group’s power players — including Roberta Kaplan, who stepped down this month as chairwoman in the Cuomo fallout — became entangled in questions about conflicts of interest.


matt gaetz ginger luckey twitter

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his wife, Ginger Luckey, in a Facebook photo.

Vanity Fair, “Trump Was an Inspiration for Me”: Matt Gaetz Tries to Shift the Narrative With a MAGA Romance, Abigail Tracy, Aug. 22, 2021. Congressman has eloped, in between pushing election lies with Marjorie Taylor Greene and fending off a federal investigation.

Coming off a sweep through the Midwest that included stops at the Iowa State Fair and a rally in Des Moines with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz got married. In a quiet ceremony on Catalina Island off the coast of California, Gaetz and Ginger Luckey tied the knot. For a guy who craves the spotlight, the event was uncharacteristically understated. Aside from former Rand Paul staffer Sergio Gor, who took up the dual role of officiant and DJ, and war room hosts Raheem Kassam and Natalie Winters, few political personas were in attendance. Luckey’s brother, Palmer, and his partner, Nicole––who arrived on the former’s decommissioned naval vessel—and Nestor Galban, Gaetz’s adopted son, represented the family. About 30 other friends “from normal life” rounded out the party. djt maga hatGaetz cooked for the group, serving up a menu of BBQ chicken legs, grilled vegetables, and a watermelon salad.

The elopement was something of a surprise. The couple had previously planned to get married next August—or so they told me on a sticky summer afternoon late last month, when I met the two in the lobby bar of New York City’s Ace Hotel. Amidst a tornado of scandal for the congressman — the behavior he’s been accused of ranges from gross to potentially illegal and includes, but is not limited to, sex trafficking of a minor; sharing nude photos of women with his colleagues on the House floor; taking a sex-fueled jaunt to the Bahamas; and drug use — I was there to meet Luckey and, their hope was, to expand the public understanding of her beyond “that poor girl marrying Matt Gaetz.”

New York City isn’t known as the friendliest territory for Republicans with Gaetz’s level of opprobrium, and he dressed the part when we met. Clad in a casual cotton T-shirt and a baseball cap pulled low, Gaetz hardly fit the part of the bombastic firebrand who rode Donald Trump’s coattails to the upper echelon of MAGAworld—no Fox News bronze or overly coiffed bouffant in sight. But it’s clear that Washington, D.C., is no longer friendly territory either. Just days after our meeting, Gaetz was hounded off during a press conference. “Are you a pedophile?” a woman could be heard repeatedly shouting in videos of the incident. For years Gaetz enjoyed the shelter afforded to a lawmaker who spent most of his time brownnosing the president, but the Biden era has seen him fall under federal investigation.

Aug. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Bauer’s accuser is denied restraining order, as judge says she didn’t express boundaries in encounter, Gus Garcia-Roberts, Aug. 20, 2021 (print ed.). A California woman was denied a restraining order against Trevor Bauer on Thursday when a superior court judge ruled that the woman did not make her boundaries on rough sex clear to the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher during an encounter that left her hospitalized.

major league baseball mlb logoJudge Dianna Gould-Saltman agreed with Bauer’s attorneys that the woman led him to believe she wanted to be choked unconscious and have “all the pain,” as the woman texted the pitcher at one point.

Gould-Saltman said that it’s accepted a woman should be believed when she says “no” during a sexual encounter. “So what about when she says yes?” the judge asked rhetorically.

While Gould-Saltman conceded that photos of the woman’s injuries she reviewed were “terrible” and in other cases would result in a “per se condemnation” of the person who inflicted them, she found that the woman was “not ambiguous” about her desire for ever-rougher sex with Bauer and that he “couldn’t know the boundaries which [the woman] didn’t express to him.”

  • Sally Jenkins: Major League Baseball’s Trevor Bauer problem has an obvious solution

In her testimony this week, the woman said that during sex in May, Bauer (shown at right in one of his Twitter photos) choked her unconscious with her hair twice and she awoke to him trevor bauer twitterpunching her in her face, cheekbones and vagina. The woman claimed that the force of Bauer’s assault left her unable to speak or even to fully utter a safe word she had given him.

The woman, a self-described alcoholic who has been sober for less than two years, said she encouraged the rough sex because she blamed herself after an initial encounter in which he choked her unconscious and allegedly sexually assaulted her. “I just wanted to create another experience where I could live up to what he wanted,” the woman testified earlier in the week.

A forensic nurse examiner who studied and photographed her injuries shortly after the alleged assault testified as to bruises, swellings and lacerations on the woman’s face and head as well as the most significant bruise she had seen in her career on a subject’s vaginal area.

But Gould-Saltman suggested in her decision Thursday that any injuries suffered while the woman was conscious — even if she were unable to tell him to stop — did not form a basis for a restraining order. “She testified that she wasn’t able to speak part of that time, but [Bauer] couldn’t know that,” Gould-Saltman said.

The judge also said that she found the accuser had been “materially misleading” in her court filing that requested a temporary order of protection, in which the woman claimed that Bauer had called or texted her “nonstop.” Gould-Saltman found that his calls to her after learning she had been hospitalized were to inquire as to whether she was okay.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Major League Baseball’s Trevor Bauer problem has an obvious solution, Sally Jenkins, right, Aug. 20, 2021 (print ed.). sally jenkinsThere were a lot of seamy, disputable side questions in Trevor Bauer’s court hearing, such as whether that phrase his lawyers used, “wholly consensual,” comes with any limits as to what you’re allowed to do to somebody. But you don’t need to answer that charming legal query to believe Bauer doesn’t belong in the privileged space of a Major League Baseball dugout right now and instead belongs in a psychological evaluation. For that, Commissioner Rob Manfred only needs to consult the records.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported last week that a second woman sought a protection order against Bauer for allegedly threatening in a text message to kill her, among other menaces. That other complaint, by a woman in Ohio in 2017, also raises plenty of difficult, if not unanswerable, questions.

Baseball is a three-strike game. In 2019, Bauer spent days weirdly harassing a third woman, a college student, on Twitter.

Manfred should not need anything else to suspend Bauer indefinitely while his behavior toward women is more deeply investigated, as well as assessed by certified professionals — for his own sake, as well as the sake of others.

The Hill, Accusations mount against Tony Award-winning Broadway actress, Four LGBTQ youth accuse the Broadway star of grooming them, Christian Spencer, Aug. 20, 2020. After TikToker Brie Lynn accused Broadway actress Alice Ripley of grooming her, three more people have spoken out, backing up the claims and telling the Daily Beast that Ripley had a “cult-ish” fan base among LGBTQ youth.

One woman, who came forward using her middle name, Liz, told the Daily Beast that she felt like she was in a cult, accusing the Broadway star of using her charm to manipulate LGBTQ youth “who are desperate for love.”

Seeing Lynn’s TikTok video, Liz told the Daily Beast, felt like being “slap[ped] in the face.”

“I was in shock,” she told the outlet. “All I could do was just sit there. I think I watched it 20 times in a row before I decided to comment on it. It was like reality came back and slapped me in the face from all the things that I’ve suppressed. My body knew. As soon as I watched the video, my body knew. I started sweating, my heart started racing. I was having a trauma response.”

Another actress, who was identified by her middle name, Meredith, saw Lynn’s video as well and commented saying she thought she was “the only one who’s been in therapy” after what Ripley allegedly did to her.

“In the last 48 hours, I realize there are also other individuals who are my demographic who have also felt literally traumatized by this relationship,” Meredith told the Daily Beast.

The fourth accuser, identified as Leo, alleged that they were 16 when they began a relationship with Ripley, one year below the age of consent in New York.

None of Ripley’s accusers said she tried to have sex with them or engaged in physical sexual activity. Still, they accused the star of taking advantage of LGBTQ youth, making them believe the Tony winner would have a romantic relationship with them.

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“There were instances where I would bring up a sexual situation that might have involved a specific sexual act, and she was not shutting down those conversations, she was participating in them,” Lynn told The Daily Beast. “She was responding to this back and forth. I’m 25, I can’t imagine getting a message like that from a kid and doing anything other than immediately leaving the conversation.”

“I was a child who had recently come out as gay and I idolized this woman,” Lynn said in a follow-up TikTok video. “However, with her being the adult in that situation, I realized that she should have shut those conversations down immediately. She should have stopped talking to me immediately, and she did not. She pursued a friendship with me despite the fact that we had these conversations.”

On Monday, Ripley told Page Six that, “Recently, a claim has been made online against me. There’s absolutely no validity to any of it. I appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

She also deleted a Instagram caption that said, “A piece of trash’s attempt to mar my world = a sad, shameful and discarded cigarette butt #failed,” according to the Daily Beast.

The Canary, U.S. Justice Dept., Floridians Charged and Convicted in Connection with International Enterprise that Operated Sexually Exploitive “Child Modeling” Websites, Aug. 18, 2021. A series of charges and convictions were announced today in connection with an international enterprise based in Florida that operated subscription-based sexually exploitive “child modeling” websites.

According to court documents, Kenneth Power (deceased at 58, of Weston), was a principal member of the Newstar Enterprise – an internet-based business aimed at for-profit sexual exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of “child modeling” through a collection of websites called the Newstar Websites. Patrice Eileen Wilowski-Mevorah, 53, of Tampa, and Mary Lou Bjorkman, 58, of Lutz, recently pleaded guilty to laundering money for the Newstar Enterprise. Other members of the Newstar Enterprise resided in Europe. Kenneth Power’s wife, Tatiana “Tanya” Power, 41, of Weston, is currently pending trial on money laundering charges in connection with the Newstar Enterprise.

According to court documents, founded around 2005, the Newstar Enterprise built, maintained, hosted and operated the Newstar Websites on servers in the United States and abroad. To populate the Newstar Websites with content, Newstar Enterprise members sourced, enticed, solicited and recruited males and females under the age of 18, some of whom were prepubescent, to use as “child models” for the Newstar Websites. Using the recruited child-victims, the Newstar Enterprise produced more than 4.6 million sexualized images and videos to distribute and sell on the Newstar Websites. Some of those images and videos, though non-nude, depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. For example, images and videos sold on the Newstar Websites depicted children as young as 6 years old in sexual and provocative poses, wearing police and cheerleader costumes, thong underwear, transparent underwear, revealing swimsuits, pantyhose, and miniskirts. Most of the child-victims—recruited from Ukraine, Moldova and other nations in Eastern Europe—were particularly vulnerable due to their age, family dynamics and poverty. Law enforcement officers have disabled the servers hosting the Newstar Websites.

The Newstar Enterprise maintained a membership list for subscribers and customers of the Newstar Websites, who originated from 101 nations across the world. Images in the websites’ galleries were freely available to the public to preview, but greater access and more content required purchasing a subscription. The sale of purported “child modeling” content on the Newstar Websites generated more than $9.4 million during the course of the conspiracy. To process, receive and distribute this money, Newstar Enterprise members fraudulently opened merchant and bank accounts in the United States and laundered proceeds using a bogus jewelry company.

Aug. 18

U.S. Justice Dept., Floridians Charged and Convicted in Connection with International Enterprise that Operated Sexually Exploitive “Child Modeling” Websites, Aug. 18, 2021. A series of charges and convictions were announced today in connection with an international enterprise based in Florida that operated subscription-based sexually exploitive “child modeling” websites.

According to court documents, Kenneth Power (deceased at 58, of Weston), was a principal member of the Newstar Enterprise – an internet-based Justice Department log circularbusiness aimed at for-profit sexual exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of “child modeling” through a collection of websites called the Newstar Websites.

Patrice Eileen Wilowski-Mevorah, 53, of Tampa, and Mary Lou Bjorkman, 58, of Lutz, recently pleaded guilty to laundering money for the Newstar Enterprise. Other members of the Newstar Enterprise resided in Europe. Kenneth Power’s wife, Tatiana “Tanya” Power, 41, of Weston, is currently pending trial on money laundering charges in connection with the Newstar Enterprise.

According to court documents, founded around 2005, the Newstar Enterprise built, maintained, hosted and operated the Newstar Websites on servers in the United States and abroad. To populate the Newstar Websites with content, Newstar Enterprise members sourced, enticed, solicited and recruited males and females under the age of 18, some of whom were prepubescent, to use as “child models” for the Newstar Websites.

Using the recruited child-victims, the Newstar Enterprise produced more than 4.6 million sexualized images and videos to distribute and sell on the Newstar Websites. Some of those images and videos, though non-nude, depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. For example, images and videos sold on the Newstar Websites depicted children as young as 6 years old in sexual and provocative poses, wearing police and cheerleader costumes, thong underwear, transparent underwear, revealing swimsuits, pantyhose, and miniskirts. Most of the child-victims—recruited from Ukraine, Moldova and other nations in Eastern Europe—were particularly vulnerable due to their age, family dynamics and poverty. Law enforcement officers have disabled the servers hosting the Newstar Websites.

The Newstar Enterprise maintained a membership list for subscribers and customers of the Newstar Websites, who originated from 101 nations across the world. Images in the websites’ galleries were freely available to the public to preview, but greater access and more content required purchasing a subscription.

The sale of purported “child modeling” content on the Newstar Websites generated more than $9.4 million during the course of the conspiracy. To process, receive and distribute this money, Newstar Enterprise members fraudulently opened merchant and bank accounts in the United States and laundered proceeds using a bogus jewelry company.

To date, four members of the Newstar Enterprise have been charged in connection with the Newstar Websites. See chart below for case statuses.


New York Observer Editor Ken Kurson, left, is joined by the newspaper's owner, Jared Kushner, son-in-law to Donald Trump at a 2015 book launch for Kurson (Photo by J. Grassi / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images).

New York Observer Editor Ken Kurson, left, is joined by the newspaper's owner, Jared Kushner, son-in-law to Donald Trump at a 2015 book launch for Kurson (Photo by J. Grassi / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images).

Washington Post, Kushner friend Ken Kurson charged in N.Y. eavesdropping case after Trump pardon, Shayna Jacobs, Aug. 18, 2021. Ken Kurson, a close friend of former president Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, was charged Wednesday in a state eavesdropping and computer-trespass case months after receiving a federal pardon while facing similar harassment allegations.

The former New York Observer editor’s arrest marks what is likely the first instance of a local prosecutor pursuing state-level charges against a person after that individual was given a pass by Trump for the same alleged conduct that federal authorities had pursued. A president’s clemency grants apply only in federal cases.

“We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in announcing Kurson’s arrest.

Vance’s office is investigating the Trump Organization and its executives. The former president’s company and its Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg have been indicted in a wide-ranging tax fraud scheme. Kurson’s case is unrelated to that matter.

Kurson, 52, appeared briefly before a Manhattan judge Wednesday. He was handcuffed during the arraignment and later released without bail.

Kurson was ordered to return to court Sept. 28. He and his attorney, Marc Mukasey, declined to speak to the media as they left the courthouse.

At the time of his first arrest by federal authorities in Brooklyn, Mukasey called his client “an honorable man” and said the case was “hardly the stuff of a federal criminal prosecution.”

A political consultant who co-authored a book with Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, Kurson made headlines in October when he was accused of stalking his wife years prior while the couple was going through a divorce.

Prosecutors handling the state case described a new narrative Wednesday in which Kurson allegedly used spyware between September 2015 and March 2016 to monitor his then-wife, obtaining her passwords so he could access her Gmail and Facebook accounts. His former wife, to whom he was still married at the time, told police in South Orange, N.J., that Kurson “terrorized her through email and social media causing her problems at work and in her social life,” according to his criminal complaint.

Kurson is accused of spying on her computer from the Observer Media Group’s office in Manhattan while serving as editor of the publication, which was formerly owned by Kushner, according to court papers.

Using tracking software called WebWatcher, Kurson allegedly monitored keystrokes and then private communications, including between his wife and a friend who worked with her at a summer camp, authorities contend. Transcripts of their Facebook chats were sent to the camp’s director, according to the complaint, which does not disclose the nature of the conversations.

Kurson also is accused of trying to cover his tracks by contacting customer support at WebWatcher to evaluate how he could delete the software undetected. “I need to uninstall it PERFECTLY,” he wrote to the company on Oct. 17, 2015, court documents say. “So that not even an expert can detect that it had been there.”

Palmer Report, Opinion: New York indicts and arrests Jared Kushner associate, Bill Palmer, Aug. 18, 2021. Earlier this week we reminded everyone that just because the public isn’t aware of the ongoing developments behind the scenes in any given criminal case, it doesn’t mean that case isn’t progressing. In a timely example of how true this is, New York just arrested a guy named Ken Kurson on state level cyberstalking charges – and this is notable in Trump world for a few reasons.

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, Kurson was previously pardoned by Donald Trump on federal charges. But because presidential pardons don’t apply to state charges, the Manhattan District Attorney was able to indict and arrest Kurson today in spite of his pardon. It’s a reminder that no one pardoned by Trump is necessarily safe from criminal prosecution. It’s also a reminder of why Trump didn’t even bother trying to preemptively pardon himself, his family, or some of his associates.

jared kushner Custom CustomSecond, Kurson is a close associate and former employee of Jared Kushner, right. He also did work for Rudy Giuliani. If Kurson ends up having to cut a plea deal on the cyberstalking charges, his only way out will be to flip on the bigger fish around him. So if Kurson happens to have dirt on Kushner, Giuliani, or anyone else in Trump world, those people should be sleeping rather poorly tonight.

Third, it turns out the criminal investigation into Ken Kurson only began when Donald Trump nominated him for the National Endowment for the Humanities. This triggered a criminal background check, which ultimately led to his arrest today. Trump was presumably attempting to reward Kurson. But as so often tends to be the case, Kurson’s downfall will end up being because he got too close to Trump.

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Covering the Taliban just prior to 9/11 -- A retrospect, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 18, 2021. This editor was interviewed for a wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallprogram about Afghanistan and its women a week prior to the 9/11 attack. Eerily, the program aired on many National Pubic Radio stations on September 12, 2001.

The interview follows: "Beyond the Burqa: The Taliban, Women and the C.I.A."

Stephanie Welch: The information provided in this edition of Making Contact is relevant to current allegations against Osama bin Laden, and discussions about Afghanistan. This program's guests were interviewed, and the show was produced before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

This week on Making Contact.... Afghanistan is a country devastated by many years of war, a serious drought, and the dictatorial rule of the Taliban, a group that claims to be bringing the country back to the purity of Islam. Women are suffering most as a result. On this program we take a look at U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, and at how Afghan women are dealing with rule under the Taliban.

I'm Stephanie Welch -- your host this week on a special Women's Desk edition of Making Contact -- an international radio program seeking to create connections between people, vital ideas and important information...

During the Reagan administration in the 1980s, the Central Intelligence Agency ran covert operations in countries all over the world -- operations that involved assassinations, arms deals and drug-running. The C.I.A. also trained mercenary armies to overthrow governments it deemed unfriendly to U.S. corporate and military interests. One of the largest and most expensive covert operations involved Afghanistan.

Like many countries, Afghanistan was a battleground in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Bordering the USSR as well as Iran and Pakistan, it was an important area of conflict between the two superpowers. The Soviet Union feared the growing influence of what it viewed as anti-Communist Islamic Fundamentalism, which was spreading to Afghanistan from Pakistan. To stamp out this threat, the USSR used its troops to overthrow Afghan president Hafizullah Amin, who they charged was a C.I.A. agent.

2001 Intro: Wayne Madsen is a senior fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., and deals with intelligence and military issues. He says the C.I.A. was involved months before the Soviet occupation, training Islamic fundamentalist Afghan exiles at the southern border, in Pakistan....

washington post logoWashington Post, Afghan reporter makes heartfelt plea during exchange with NATO chief: ‘Please don’t recognize the Taliban,’ Julian Mark, Aug. 18, 2021. During a news conference with NATO’s top leader on Tuesday, Afghan journalist Lailuma Sadid broke down in tears.

She questioned NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about the coalition’s rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years, which allowed the Taliban to seize control of the country in a matter of days.

“Thousands of women already don’t know … wha

t is going on and what should happen for them, and they are always asking, ‘What does it mean?’ ” she said in impassioned comments that were also posed as questions. After 20 years, she added, “we are going back [to Taliban rule] again?”

Appearing to sympathize, Stoltenberg told Sadid it was an “extremely difficult” decision to make.

“And it was difficult because I share your pain, I understand your frustration,” he said.

Sadid pleaded with Stoltenberg: “Please don’t recognize the Taliban and don’t put us again in the same situation.”

washington post logoWashington Post, R. Kelly’s trial begins today. He faces sex trafficking and racketeering charges, Sonia Rao, Aug. 18, 2021. Opening statements and testimony begin Wednesday in the federal trial of R. Kelly, the disgraced R&B singer facing sex trafficking and racketeering charges in New York. If convicted, Kelly, 54, is looking at decades in prison.

r kelly twitterIn addition to the New York charges, Kelly (shown in a Twitter photo) faces numerous counts of sexual assault and abuse in Illinois. Both sets of legal proceedings were sparked by two decades’ worth of sexual misconduct allegations against Kelly, who was previously acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.

Here’s what to know about the case. (This post will be updated as the trial progresses.)

Rapid City Journal, Six arrests made in sex trafficking operation during Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Shannon Marvel, Updated Aug. 18, 2021. Six arrests have been made as a result of a sex trafficking operation targeting online predators during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which ran from Aug. 6-15.

At least three of the men live in the area and another is described as an Airman with the U.S. Air Force.

During the operation, law enforcement placed multiple advertisements on online websites and mobile applications to communicate with online predators. Various apps were used during the operation, including Skout, MeetMe and Whisper, as well as the website fetlife.com.

Among those arrested on felony charges:

James Dean Hanapel, 20, is charged with enticement of a minor using the internet. Hanapel is an Airman First Class with the United States Air Force, the affidavit states. "Hanapel and a 14-year-old persona began communicating via MeetMe on Aug. 10, which progressed into text messaging on Aug. 12. Shortly after text messaging commenced, Hanapel was informed by the persona that she was only 14 years old.

Aug. 17

washington post logoWashington Post, In emotional testimony, Trevor Bauer’s accuser recounts alleged assaults, Gus Garcia-Roberts, Aug. 17, 2021 (print ed.). The woman described in graphic detail being choked and punched by Bauer during emotional testimony on the first day of a hearing for a protective order. A California woman delivered emotional testimony Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court while seeking a protective order against Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer stemming from two alleged assaults that took place this spring.

major league baseball mlb logoOn the first full day of a hearing before Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman, the woman described in graphic detail being choked and punched by the pitcher. The hearing is expected to continue Tuesday.

“I felt like my soul left my body,” said the woman, who filed for a temporary restraining order from Bauer in June. “I was terrified, and I couldn’t speak and fight back.”

The Washington Post does not name alleged victims of domestic violence unless they ask to be identified.

Dodgers star Trevor Bauer, on leave amid assault probe, was subject of previous protective order

The woman described two sexual encounters with Bauer, during both of which she said he choked her unconscious and assaulted her. During the second encounter, she testified, she awoke to being punched in the cheekbones, jaw and head. He then choked her unconscious again, she said, and when she came to a second time, he was punching her vagina so hard that her eyes filled with tears, she said.

Aug. 16

bob dylan recent uncredited showbiz411Showbiz411, Opinion: Bob Dylan Hit With Bogus Lawsuit Claiming Molestation in NYC April-May 1965: Not Possible, He Wasn’t There, Roger Friedman, Aug.t 16, 2021. “Swanky room at the Chelsea Hotel? Bob couldn’t afford a room at the Chelsea Hotel!”

TMZ described the legal papers filed by “JC” below and said it happened in Dylan’s “swanky hotel room.” A friend of Dylan (shown above) from that time was who around 24/7 laughed when he heard this. He also reminded me to look at the calendar and schedule of Dylan shows. Bob and Joan Baez, who were a couple, were on the road together for all of the time “JC” says she was with Dylan at the Chelsea. This fellow was with him the whole time.

I told JC’s lawyer, Daniel Isaacs, about the schedule and asked to respond. I’m waiting for an answer.

EARLIER: On April 26, 1965 Bob Dylan arrived in London. He didn’t return to the United States until June 2nd. In April. he was mostly on the West Coast. All of this is recorded in calendars tracking Dylan’s whereabouts because he was a young superstar.

Yet this afternoon comes news of a complaint filed by a 68-year-old woman who says Dylan groomed and molested her in New York at the Chelsea Hotel in April and May 1965 when she was 12 years old. TMZ called it his “ritzy apartment” at the Chelsea, a notably run down place even in 1965.

But the calendars speak for themselves. And in London, Dylan was filmed on tour by DA Pennebaker for the famous documentary, “Don’t Look Back.”

So the lawsuit or complaint or whatever it is is bogus. But this is the environment we’ve created, where accusations fly and celebrities are dubbed guilty before anyone checks the facts.

Despite the travel schedule being easily available, the “victim” — who calls herself “JC” — says she was “groomed” by Dylan in April and May 1965 at the Hotel Chelsea.The complaint states: “between April and May of 1965 the defendant, Dylan, exploited his status as a musician by grooming J.C. to gain her trust and to obtain control over her as part of his plan to sexually molest and abuse J.C.”

Um, not possible if Dylan wasn’t even there. He was singing “It Ain’t Me, Babe” in London.

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Aug. 14

gisela castro medinaDaily Beast, Police Arrest Teen Accused of Helping GOP Strategist’s Underage Sex Trafficking, Jose Pagliery, Updated Aug. 14, 2021. Law enforcement in Florida has arrested Gisela Castro Medina, above, a 19-year-old accused of helping a wealthy, young Republican strategist in Minnesota prey on girls and recruit them for paid sex.

She faces the same criminal charges as her alleged pal, GOP operative Anton Lazzaro: sex trafficking of a minor, attempt to commit sex trafficking, and obstruction of justice.

daily beast logoBoth hail from Minnesota. But while the FBI arrested Lazzaro in Minneapolis on Thursday morning, jail records show that law enforcement caught up with Castro Medina that same evening in the Florida panhandle. She was labeled a “fugitive from justice” and jailed overnight, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department.

A photo posted to Instagram shows Castro Medina and Lazzaro together at an event in May, each with a different partner at their side. She describes herself publicly online as a student living in St. Paul, Minnesota who attends the Catholic University of St. Thomas and works at a property management company. She is the chair of the university’s chapter of Minnesota College Republicans, the group confirmed.

Lazzaro, a Ferrari-driving wannabe playboy who helped bankroll several Republican politicians, is accused in the indictment of pairing up with an associate in a months-long campaign in 2020 to recruit five young girls for paid sex—and an attempt to pressure a sixth. The indictment also claims his associate “intentionally interfered” with the federal investigation in March 2021.

Court records now show that agents seized his 2010 convertible Ferrari, $371,240 in U.S. bills, assorted cash from 10 other countries, gold bullion currently worth more than $931,000, a similar amount of silver, and 13 phones—including one specifically designed to be quickly wiped of data with a single swipe.

In the days since his arrest, Republicans in Minnesota have been distancing themselves from Lazzaro. When The Daily Beast interviewed him in July, weeks before his arrest, he threatened this reporter for investigating his actions.


Aug. 13 

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: Another Republican pol charged with underage sex trafficking, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 13, 2021. A top wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallRepublican Party donor, Fox News and RT (Russia Today) pundit, and political strategist was arrested by the FBI in Minneapolis on August 12 and charged with "recruiting six minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts."

tony lazarro mike penceThe arrest and indictment of Anton ("Tony") Lazarro on federal charges comes on the heels of federal investigators obtaining "years of Venmo and Cash App transactions and thousands of photos and videos, as well as access to personal social media accounts" from former Seminole County, Florida Tax Collector Joel Greenberg as part of his cooperation agreement in the investigation for underage sex trafficking of Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

Lazzaro's website has photos of him with Donald Trump, Mike Pence (right), Tucker Carlson, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Mike Huckabee.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why an Ex-Supermodel Who Says She Was Raped at 17 Is Suing Now, Ginia Bellafante, Aug. 13, 2021. Carré Sutton accuses a former executive at a modeling agency of sexual assault, and a second employee of enabling the attacks.

In the early 1980s, long before she would become one of the most recognizable models in the world, Carré Otis was living miserably in Northern California. Her parents had split up and her family was deeply unhappy; she was dyslexic and struggling in school. At 16, she ran away and lived on the streets. “It was my only hope,” she told me recently, from her home in Colorado, where she has settled into a quiet life with her husband and children, “that I could make it in modeling.’’

In San Francisco, she was discovered by a modeling scout and eventually landed in New York, which she found cold and disorienting. In the boundary-less world of the late-20th-century fashion industry, where go-sees often took place in photographers’ apartments, humiliations mounted one on top of the other. She lived in what was more or less a warehouse — vulnerable, unprotected — with other young, aspiring models. Some girls had mothers with them who kept them safe. Ms. Otis was alone, “in a unique situation, a wayward child primed for what I endured.’’

What she endured, she has said since the publication of her memoir, “Beauty Disrupted,” a decade ago, was serial rape. She reiterated that claim in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday. In the suit, Ms. Otis, who now goes by her married name, Carré Sutton, states that in 1986, when she was 17, she was sexually assaulted regularly by Gérald Marie, Elite Model Management’s former European chief. Also named in the suit is her booking agent at the time, Trudi Tapscott, who would later work at Vogue before founding her own agency, the Model Coaches, in New York in 2018.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Mr. Marie has come under criminal investigation in France for allegations of sexual assault dating back to the ’80s and ’90s — allegations he has denied “categorically.” As of February, 11 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct and rape had been asked to meet with investigators in Paris. Ms. Sutton is scheduled to talk to them next month. In the meantime, she has availed herself of another mode of recourse, New York State’s Child Victims Act, which allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to pursue civil claims against those who they say harmed them, no matter how long ago.

Aug. 12


Anton "Tony" Lazzaro, shown above in a screenshot from Fox News, has been Fox News pundit and GOP strategist who recently worked on the 2020 campaign for Republican candidate Lacy Johnson in Minneapolis.

Bring Me MN News, Minneapolis Man Charged in Child Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, Adam Uren, Aug. 12, 2021. A Minneapolis man has been arrested and indicted on federal sex trafficking charges for allegedly recruiting six minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts, announced Acting United States Attorney W. Anders Folk.

fox news logo SmallAccording to court documents, from May 2020 through December 2020, Anton Joseph Lazzaro, a/k/a “Tony Lazzaro,” 30, conspired with others to tony lazarro djtrecruit and solicit six minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts. Lazzaro, who was taken into custody earlier today by FBI agents, made his initial appearance in United States District Court before Magistrate Judge Becky Thorson.

The indictment charges Lazzaro, shown at right with Donald Trump in an unrelated photo, with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, five counts of sex trafficking of minors, one count of attempted sex trafficking of a minor, and three counts of obstruction. Lazzaro will remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing on August 16, 2021.

Based on the evidence obtained in this investigation, authorities believe there may be additional victims of the alleged conduct. Anyone with information about this matter is encouraged to call the FBI Minneapolis Division at 763-569-8000.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Minneapolis Police Department, the West Hennepin Public Safety Department, and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.

Daily Beast, Commentary: MAGA Fraudster Smears Dems Using Decoy TMZ, Roger Sollenberger, Aug. 12, 2021. "That is not our site nor part of the TMZ brand and they are not authorized to use our name or logo. We have sent a cease and desist letter to the website," a TMZ spokesperson.

daily beast logoSerial MAGA fraudster Jack Burkman, shown at right in a 2020 photo via Flckr from a press conference, has embarked on a new political venture: a website styled after celebrity gossip outlet TMZ — right down to the trademarked logo — that is smearing Democratic Reps. Conor Lamb and Eric Swalwell.

jack burkman wFlyers posted Thursday around Capitol Hill and the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., offer a $10,000 reward for information about an unsubstantiated affair between Swalwell and Lamb’s wife. (Swalwell and Lamb both emphatically deny the allegation.)

A photo of one of the flyers was tweeted Thursday morning by right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. The notice directs prospective tipsters to a hotline with a D.C. area code, as well as a website called “TMZ-DC dot com.”

djt maga hatThe site, which according to webpage metadata appears to have been created on Tuesday, bears the TMZ media group’s trademarked logo and bills itself as “a news and gossip site specifically for Washington DC.”

“From Capitol Hill office drama, to meaningful developments taking place deep within the annals of the Executive Branch, TMZ-DC.com relies on the most well-placed sources to deliver information to the public,” the site says.

After The Daily Beast inquired with TMZ, a spokesperson disavowed the TMZ-DC site. “That is not our site nor part of the TMZ brand and they are not authorized to use our name or logo. We have sent a cease and desist letter to the website,” the spokesperson said.

Aug. 10

andrew cuomo frown

washington post logoWashington Post, New York Gov. Cuomo to resign in effort to head off likely impeachment, Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Ted Gup, Aug. 10, 2021. The Democratic governor, above, was accused of sexually harassing 11 women in violation of state and federal law in a report by the state attorney general.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Cuomo’s sex scandals will give New York its first female governor, Kathy Hochul, Peter W. Stevenson and Amber Phillips, Aug. 10, 2021. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandals will give New York its first female governor: the under-the-radar politician Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D).

andrew cuomo 2019Cuomo, left, announced his resignation Tuesday, effective in two weeks. That came after an investigation by the state’s attorney general found he sexually harassed multiple women, and as impeachment proceedings against him were ramping up.

kathy hochul 2017Now the state constitution says Hochul will take over for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2023. She could decide to run for the spot herself.

Hochul, right, shown in a 2017 photo, has been by Cuomo’s side for six years as his No. 2, but she’s largely been outside of his inner circle in part because the nature of her job is more ceremonial than political.

Popular among New York Democrats, Hochul has a résumé stacked with local, state and national political roles — and that résumé has been affected several times by men who behaved or would later behave badly. At the top of that list is Cuomo.

  • Washington Post, Analysis: Maybe this time New York will actually clean up its mess
  • Washington Post, Analysis: Cuomo’s cringey apology

Aug. 8

washington post logoWashington Post, A champion of women in public, Cuomo is accused of harassing them in private, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 8, 2021 (print ed.). The gaping disparity has emerged as one of the most staggering aspects of the scandal engulfing Andrew Cuomo, the three-term Democratic New York governor.

ny times logoNew York Times, As R. Kelly’s Trial Begins, Here’s a Timeline of the Allegations, Laura Zornosa and Jacey Fortin, Aug. 8, 2021. The R&B singer has faced a trail of accusations since 1996. On Monday, he goes on trial in Brooklyn.

For two and a half decades, the singer who performs as R. Kelly has faced allegations of sexually abusing minors, often luring them in through music — and the promise to help launch their own music careers.

In 2017, and then again in 2019, public scrutiny grew following the #MuteRKelly campaign, a series of protests and boycotts of his music, and the release of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a documentary including testimony from several women accusing the singer of abuse.

r kelly twitterBut the 54-year-old performer, shown in his Twitter portrait, has settled the civil complaints against him and was acquitted in a high-profile criminal case brought against him on child pornography charges in 2008. That case marked the first criminal prosecution of Mr. Kelly.

A second criminal trial starts Monday, in federal court in Brooklyn, where Mr. Kelly is charged with racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act violations.

Those violations involve the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity. Mr. Kelly, who has been in custody since 2019, has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge from Homeland Security Investigations, was among those to announce the charges in July 2019.

“As alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography and forced labor,” he said in a statement at the time. “The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct.

“R. Kelly believed he could fly, but it will be justice to see his oppressive wings clipped.”

On the same day that those charges were announced, a separate federal indictment against the singer was unsealed in Chicago. There, he faces charges of pornography and obstruction. The Chicago trial, originally planned for September, now appears to be in “an indefinite holding pattern,” Jeannice Appenteng, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the judge in July.

One of Mr. Kelly’s lawyers, Steven Greenberg, spoke to reporters in Feb. 2019.

“Mr. Kelly is strong, he’s got a lot of support and he’s going to be vindicated on all of these charges,” Mr. Greenberg said at the time. “One by one, if it has to be.”

Here’s a timeline of the accusations against a singer whose popularity has been waning since the early 2000s. His last album, “12 Nights of Christmas,” came out in October 2016.

Aug. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Cuomo Aide Who Says He Groped Her Files Criminal Complaint in Albany, Jonah E. Bromwich and Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Aug. 6, 2021. The complaint from the woman, an executive assistant whose name has not been publicized, increases the possibility that Gov. Andrew Cuomo could face criminal charges.

A woman who accused Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of groping her breast in the Executive Mansion last year has filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County sheriff’s department, the sheriff’s office said on Friday.

The criminal complaint from the woman, an executive assistant whose name has not been publicized, increases the possibility that the governor could face criminal charges related to his behavior, though charges, let alone a conviction, are not guaranteed.

But any escalation of Mr. Cuomo’s legal problems could also serve to heighten his political woes as the State Assembly concludes its investigation into his conduct and prepares to draft articles of impeachment against him.

 ny times logoNew York Times, How Cuomo and His Team Retaliated Against His Accusers, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jonah E. Bromwich, Updated Aug. 6, 2021. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought help from aides and loyal supporters to guide strategy over sexual harassment allegations and to hit back at his accusers.

Aug. 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Apple plans to scan iPhones to find sexual predators. Some fear the software could be weaponized, Reed Albergotti, Aug. 5, 2021. The new push pits Apple against civil liberties activists and appears to contradict some of the company’s own assertions about privacy.

Apple unveiled a sweeping new set of software tools Thursday that will scan iPhones and other devices for child pornography and text messages with apple logo rainbowexplicit content and report users suspected of storing illegal pictures on their phones to authorities.

The aggressive plan to thwart child predators and pedophiles and prohibit them from utilizing Apple’s services for illegal activity pitted the tech giant against civil liberties activists and appeared to contradict some of its own long-held assertions about privacy and the way the company interacts with law enforcement.

The move also raises new questions about the nature of smartphones and who really owns the computers in their pockets. The new software will perform scans on its users’ devices without their knowledge or explicit consent, and potentially put innocent users in legal jeopardy.

Aug. 4

andrew cuomony times logoNew York Times, Under Fire and Alone, Cuomo Fights for His Political Life, Katie Glueck, Aug. 4, 2021.  The governor once again defied calls to resign, including from President Biden. But his future remains in doubt.

For years he was the savvy political operator, rising through his party’s ranks on the strength of shrewd instincts, careful calculations and a famous last name. Then he was the domineering chief executive with a flourishing national brand and an iron grip on power in New York.

Now, he is alone.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose meticulously managed public appearances during the pandemic turned him into one of his party’s most celebrated national figures, is confronting an existential threat to his political career following a searing report released Tuesday that said he had sexually harassed 11 women and violated federal and state law.

Over the span of just a few hours, an already-diminished governor lost the support of a cascade of allies and state and national party leaders who had been withholding judgment, throwing his ability to remain in office — much less win a fourth term — into doubt.

It is not yet clear how the public will react to the investigation released by the New York State attorney general’s office. Unless Mr. Cuomo resigns, the most immediate consequences of that report will be determined in large part by the State Assembly, which has opened an impeachment inquiry and where, Speaker Carl E. Heastie said, “It is abundantly clear to me that the governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office.”

Events could move swiftly: A person familiar with the process said it could take just a month to complete the inquiry and draw up the articles of impeachment. A trial in the State Senate could begin as soon as late September or early October.

In the meantime, it is plain that Mr. Cuomo, stripped of his usual abilities to cajole, browbeat or intimidate fellow politicians, and abandoned by supporters in New York and Washington, has reached the most vulnerable moment of his decades in public life — a moment that is poised to reshape the landscape of political power in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo defied calls to resign after a searing report said he had sexually harassed 11 women and violated federal and state law.
Now Mr. Cuomo, who became a celebrated figure among Democrats during the pandemic, is facing an existential threat to his political career.

Aug. 3

 ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Calls for Cuomo to Resign After Sexual Harassment Report, Katie Rogers, Aug. 3, 2021. President Biden called on Tuesday for the resignation of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, above, after the state’s attorney general found that Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, had sexually harassed multiple women.

andrew cuomo 2019Mr. Biden said, bluntly, “yes,” when asked at the White House if Mr. Cuomo should leave office, but stopped short of calling for him to be removed if he refuses to resign: “Let’s take one thing at a time,” he said.

joe biden black background resized serious fileMr. Biden, a longtime friend of Mr. Cuomo’s, had avoided addressing the accusations when they arose earlier this year, appearing content to stay on the sidelines of a growing rift between the Democratic Party and the increasingly isolated New York governor.

In March, when asked about the accusations against Mr. Cuomo, the president told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that the governor should resign if the investigation turned back evidence of harassment.

“Yes,” Mr. Biden said at the time. “I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too.”

Mr. Biden did not say Tuesday if he supported the idea that Mr. Cuomo should be prosecuted, and he did not answer when asked what message he had for Mr. Cuomo’s accusers.

democratic donkey logo“What I said was if the investigation by the attorney general concluded that the allegations were correct, back in March, I would recommend he resign,” Mr. Biden said. “That is what I’m doing today.

The president said that he had not spoken to Mr. Cuomo and that he had not read the full report on the harassment accusations, issued on Tuesday by the New York State attorney general, Letitia James.

“All I know is the end result,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Cuomo, who is facing a criminal investigation by the Albany County prosecutor, has vowed to stay in office, calling the report biased and saying the “facts are much different from what has been portrayed.” But on Tuesday, the last of his high-profile Democratic allies began distancing themselves.

Nancy Pelosi “As always, I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth,” Nancy Pelosi, left, the Speaker of the House, said in a statement. “Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the governor to resign.”

That only left Mr. Biden, who initially had emphasized the importance of an independent investigation to verify the claims. When asked if he approved of Mr. Cuomo using photos of the two men embracing to suggest that his physical contact with others was commonplace, Mr. Biden offered a gesture of support for the governor.

“I am sure there are some embraces that were totally innocent,” Mr. Biden said. “Apparently the attorney general decided there were things that were not.”

Earlier in the day, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, was also asked to expand on Mr. Biden’s feelings about the harassment. She would only offered her own.

“All women who have lived through this type of experience,” Ms. Psaki said, “harassment or abuse or, in the worst case, assault, deserve to have their voices heard. I don’t know that anyone could’ve watched this morning and not found the allegations to be abhorrent.”

She added: “I know I did.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Cuomo sexually harassed staffers in violation of law, attorney general finds, Josh Dawsey, Aug. 3, 2021. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees, creating a hostile work environment for women in violation of state and federal law, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

James released the results of a months-long investigation and interviews with 179 individuals, including women who accused the governor of misconduct, Cuomo himself and a coterie of his top advisers.

andrew cuomo“This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government,” she said at a news conference.

The probe was launched after multiple women accused Cuomo, right, of inappropriate personal comments or unwelcome physical contact, including allegations that he groped an aide in the governor's mansion and made sexually suggestive comments in the workplace.

The findings cast a harshly critical light on Cuomo, and substantiated an allegation that the governor embraced an executive assistant and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. The 165-page report depicted an culture in the governor’s office that was abusive and vindictive, in which one of the women who came forward was targeted for retaliation through the release of her personnel file.

In all, the investigation found that Cuomo harassed 11 women, including a state trooper whom the governor arranged to be put on his detail.

ny times logoNew York Times, Cuomo Live Updates: New York Governor Sexually Harassed Multiple Women, Report Finds, Staff Reports, Aug. 3, 2021. The report centered on allegations made by 11 women, nine of whom are current and former state employees. Letitia James, the state attorney general, said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo retaliated against at least one woman for her allegations.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Report finds Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and retaliated against one for going public.
  • These are the women who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and improper conduct.
  • ‘I believe these 11 women,’ Letitia James says, as she reveals report’s findings.
  • The report found that Cuomo harassed a state trooper assigned to his protective detail.
  • Top Democrats have called on Cuomo to resign.
  • Two lawyers, Joon Kim and Anne Clark, were hired to investigate Cuomo.
  • Here’s how Cuomo’s attitude about his sexual misconduct investigation has evolved.

KIRO-TV (Seattle), Disney employees, nurse among 17 arrested in Central Florida child predator sting, Bob D'Angelo, Aug. 3, 2021. Seventeen people, including three Walt Disney World employees and a registered nurse, were arrested in a six-day undercover child predator sting by Central Florida authorities.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Operation Child Protector targeted people who use the internet to prey on children, WTVT reported. The 17 people arrested face 49 felonies and two misdemeanors, the television station reported. Nine people had criminal records, WFLA reported.

“These are nasty, nasty people,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference. “We can’t even use the words that they used. We obviously can’t show the pictures and video clips that they sent to what they thought were 13-year-old little girls and little boys.”

disney logoThe Disney World employees included Savannah Lawrence, 29, of Kissimmee, and Jonathan McGrew, 34, of Kissimmee, who worked as custodians at Walt Disney’s Hollywood Studios, WFLA reported.

Judd said the couple wanted to engage in a threesome with who they believed was a 13-year-old girl and role play as step-parents and stepdaughter in a shoplifting scenario, the television station reported.

“(Jonathan) said to the child, ‘We want to enjoy this opportunity, we don’t want to rush. Even at the conclusion maybe we can cuddle a little bit,’” Judd told reporters. “Are you kidding me? That’s how you talk to 13-year-old children?”

The other Disney employee was Kenneth Javier Aquino, 26, a lifeguard at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge, Judd said.

“He left his girlfriend, who is seven months pregnant with his child, to have sex with a child,” Judd told reporters. “He’s a Navy veteran,” Judd told reporters. “That’s right. He was working toward a dive team or a SEAL team or some kind of special ops job.”

Juan Guadalupe-Arroyo, 47, of Davenport, listed his occupation as a registered nurse at AdventHealth Care Center in Celebration, Judd said.

All but one of the people arrested lived in Central Florida, WTVT reported. The lone person from out of state was Jarrod Justice, 33, of Los Angeles.

“He showed up on vacation but he only needed to buy a one-way ticket because he’s not flying back to Los Angeles anytime soon,” Judd told reporters. “He’s married. Mrs. Justice, did you hear that? His last name is Justice. That’s what we’re going to get. Justice for Justice.”

Aug. 2

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigators Grill Cuomo for 11 Hours in Sexual Harassment Inquiry, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, J. David Goodman and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 2, 2021. The investigation by the New York State attorney general’s office could determine Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s political future.

For Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, the setting and even the circumstances were familiar. He sat at a conference room table at his 39th-floor office in Midtown andrew cuomoManhattan, facing a former federal prosecutor with whom he had tangled before.

The videotaped interview lasted about 11 hours, and Mr. Cuomo faced a barrage of questions under oath about his treatment of women, posed by the two lead investigators hired by the state attorney general’s office: Joon H. Kim, the former prosecutor, and Anne L. Clark, an employment lawyer.

After months of gathering detailed accounts from former and current female aides who have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct, Mr. Kim and Ms. Clark were finally hearing from the governor himself.

There were tense moments: At more than one point during the lengthy session, Mr. Cuomo confronted Mr. Kim, challenging his fairness and independence as a result of his past investigations into the governor and his allies.

Few details have emerged from the meeting, which took place on Saturday, July 17; the participants are barred under state law from publicly discussing the interviews, but five people briefed on the encounter shared some details on the condition of anonymity. The confidential nature of the meeting was underscored by the investigators’ exit: They were whisked away at night through a loading dock to avoid photographers staking out the entrance to the governor’s building.

The state attorney general, Letitia James, deputized Mr. Kim, now a private lawyer, and Ms. Clark to lead an independent investigation into several sexual harassment allegations made against the governor.

leslie wexner

Associated Press, Oregon: Settlement with Victoria ‘s Secret owner ends ‘fear,’ Andrew Selsky, Aug. 2, 2021. Oregon officials believe a $90 million ap logosettlement it has reached with the parent company of Victoria’s Secret guarantees an end to its “culture of harassment and fear.”

Under the settlement, Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, owned by L Brands Inc., each committed to invest $45 million over at least five years to protect employees from harassment and discrimination and require accountability from executives when misconduct occurs, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Treasurer Tobias Read said in a statement sent by email Monday.

It also releases former employees from non-disclosure agreements, allowing them to speak publicly about their experiences.

The settlement is on behalf of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund and other shareholders who alleged that L Brands’ board of directors failed to investigate former CEO and Chairman Emeritus Leslie Wexner’s close personal ties with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and ignored a widespread culture of sexual harassment at the company, the two Oregon officials said.

According to a New York Times article published in February 2020, Wexner (shown above) and his former chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, presided over an entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying and harassment at Victoria’s Secret, an underwear and lingerie company.

“By allowing a pattern of sexual misconduct, bullying and retaliation to go unaddressed the board of directors of L Brands failed to act in the best interests of stockholders,” Rosenblum said. “The days of promoting a culture of silent harassment and fear are over at Victoria’s Secret and other L Brands companies.”

L Brands said in a statement last Friday it has agreed to corporate governance and management measures, including having a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, the strengthening of policies and procedures for reporting and investigating sexual harassment complaints and the hiring of a consultant. The company admitted no wrongdoing in its statement.

The settlement comes as Victoria’s Secret is splitting from L Brands to become its own public company.

L Brand’s board chair, Sarah Nash, said the settlement marks the full and final resolution of the stockholders’ claims of workplace misconduct.

“This global resolution, with its commitment to industry-leading governance policies, is an overwhelmingly positive result for the company and its stockholders,” Nash said. “It further prepares both Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret for success as independent public companies with strong management teams and boards of directors committed to principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The Oregon officials said the settlement resolves allegations from the state of Oregon and the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund as well as litigation filed by another shareholder, Milton Rudi, in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio.

The settlement was scheduled to be filed in that court and is subject to court approval, L Brands said.

The Hill, Andrew Napolitano out at Fox News amid allegations of harassment, Dominick Mastrangelo, Aug. 3, 2021 (print ed.). Andrew Napolitano is out as a andrew napolitano by gage skidmore wcontributor at Fox News as he faces allegations of sexual harassment contained in a lawsuit against the network filed Monday.

Napolitano, right, formerly a top legal analyst at the network, "sexually harassed numerous young male employees during his tenure at Fox News," according a lawsuit filed by Fox Business production assistant John Fawcett. Fawcett, 27, alleges that during a 2019 interaction in an elevator at Fox News headquarters, Napolitano stood "awkwardly close" to him and began stroking his arm.

Napolitano told Fawcett he could come visit him on his horse farm in New Jersey and "suggestively" said his hands "get really dirty," according to the lawsuit.

Napolitano did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The lawsuit alleges that top executives at Fox News were made aware of Napolitano's conduct but failed to act, an assertion the network denied in a statement confirming Napolitano is no longer with the company. "Upon first learning of John Fawcett’s allegations against Judge Andrew Napolitano, FOX News Media immediately investigated the claims and addressed the matter with both parties," Fox said in a statement Monday. "The network and Judge Napolitano have since parted ways."

Last fall, Napolitano was accused of sexual misconduct by a South Carolina resident, Charles Corbishley, who alleged the judge forced him to perform oral sex on him in Hackensack, N.J., in the late 1980s. Those allegations were made as part of a court filing in a separate lawsuit filed by James Kruzelnick, who alleged that Napolitano sexually assaulted him while he working as a waiter at two restaurants in Sussex County, N.J., in recent years, NorthJersey.com reported.

Napolitano sat on the bench from 1987 to 1995, when he presided over more than 150 jury trials and thousands of motions, sentencings and hearings, according to his personal website. He joined Fox News in 1998.

Aug. 1

The Scotsman, Salmond blogger Craig Murray hands himself in to police ahead of jail sentence, Craig Paton, Aug. 1, 2021. Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has handed himself in to police in Edinburgh as he is set to begin an eight-month prison sentence.

craig murray uk ambassadorMurray, shown in a file photo, who has become a blogger and pro-independence campaigner in recent years, was judged to have been in contempt of court over blogs he wrote during the trial of former first minister Alex Salmond (and one of the founders of the Scottish National Party).

The 62-year-old’s offending blog posts contained details which, if pieced together, could lead readers to identify women who made allegations against Mr. Salmond, who was acquitted of all 13 charges including sexual assault and attempted rape in March last year.

At a virtual sentencing in May, Lady Dorrian said Murray knew there were court orders giving the women anonymity and he was “relishing” the potential disclosure of their identities.

Lady Dorrian said Murray deliberately risked what is known as “jigsaw identification”, saying: “It appears from the posts and articles that he was in fact relishing the task he set himself, which was essentially to allow the identities of complainers to be discerned – which he thought was in the public interest – in a way which did not attract sanction.”

On Friday, the Craig Murray Justice campaign group said his conviction “sets a dangerous legal precedent for freedom of speech and equality before the law”.

In February, Clive Thomson, who tweeted the names of women who gave evidence against Mr Salmond at his trial, was jailed for six months. The 52-year-old carried out a “blatant and deliberate” breach of a contempt of court order banning the identification of the complainers by naming five of them on social media, said Lady Dorrian at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Editor's note: Some Salmond supporters have maintained that the charges against him were based on his politics and that the accusers therefore held a special burden of being identified so their credibility could be better assessed by the public.



July 29 

Associated Press, Ex-Cardinal McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teen, Alanna Durkin Richer, July 29, 2021. Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked after a Vatican investigation ap logoconfirmed he had sexually molested adults as well as children, has been charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy during a wedding reception in 1974, court records show. McCarrick is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, according to documents filed in the Dedham District Court on Wednesday.

He’s the first cardinal in the U.S. to ever be criminally charged with a sexual crime against a minor, according to Mitchell Garabedian, a well-known lawyer for church sexual abuse victims who is representing the man alleging the abuse by McCarrick.

Theodore McCarrick“It takes an enormous amount of courage for a sexual abuse victim to report having been sexually abused to investigators and proceed through the criminal process,” Garabedian said in an email. “Let the facts be presented, the law applied, and a fair verdict rendered.”

Barry Coburn, an attorney for McCarrick, told the Associated Press that they “look forward to addressing the case in the courtroom,” and declined further comment.

The man said the abuse started when he was a young boy, according to the court records. The man told authorities during an interview in January that McCarrick was close to his family and would perform wedding masses, baptisms and funerals for them.

The man said that during his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College in June 1974 — when he was 16 — McCarrick told him that his father wanted him to have a talk with McCarrick because the boy was “being mischievous at home and not attending church.”

The man said that the two of them went for a walk around campus and McCarrick groped him before they went back to the party. The man said McCarrick also sexually assaulted him in a “coat room type closet” after they returned to the reception, officials wrote in the documents.

Before leaving the room, McCarrick told him to “say three Our Fathers and a Hail Mary or it was one Our Father and three Hail Marys, so God can redeem you of your sins,” according to the report.

McCarrick, who now lives in Missouri, has been ordered to appear in Massachusetts for his arraignment on Aug. 26.

McCarrick, 91, was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation confirmed decades of rumors that he was a sexual predator.

The case created a credibility crisis for the church since the Vatican had reports from authoritative cardinals dating to 1999 that McCarrick’s behavior was problematic, yet he became an influential cardinal, kingmaker and emissary of the Holy See’s “soft diplomacy.”

Jeff Anderson, an attorney who has represented others who say they were victimized by McCarrick, said in a statement that the defrocked cardinal’s “history of prolific sex crimes has been ignored by the highest-ranking Catholic officials for decades.”

“For too long Catholic institutions have been self-policing while making pledges and promises without action. McCarrick should be behind bars for his crimes,” Anderson said.


bureau of prisons logo horizontal

washington post logoWashington Post, Prison officials allowed convicted sex abuser Larry Nassar to pay little to victims while spending thousands on himself, Devlin Barrett, July 29, 2021 (print ed.). Federal prison officials have allowed Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor accused of sexually abusing hundreds of girls and women, to avoid paying financial penalties that are part of his sentence — even as he spent more than $10,000 from his Federal Bureau of Prisons account while behind bars, according to a new court filing.

The spending details are contained in a prosecutor’s motion Wednesday that seeks to force the Bureau of Prisons to turn over Nassar’s current prison account balance to help cover a court-
ordered payment of $5,300 to the federal Crime Victims Fund.

larry nassar gymnastics pleaBureau of Prisons officials have required Nassar (shown at left during his guilty pleas) to pay only about $100 a year, according to court papers, or about $300 since he entered the federal prison system in late 2017 after pleading guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography.

“Nassar has paid approximately $8.33 toward his criminal monetary penalties per month, despite receiving deposits into his account over this period totaling $12,825.00,” said the filing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Fauson. It reported Nassar’s current account balance as $2,041.57.

“If the Bureau of Prisons isn’t enforcing these policies with Larry Nassar — who is among the worst of offenders — then which inmates are held to account?” said Jason Wojdylo, who retired from the U.S. Marshals Service months ago after spending years unsuccessfully trying to convince the Bureau of Prisons to make felons pay court orders and other debts.

Federal prisoners hold $100 million in government-protected accounts

Nassar — whose alleged victims include gymnastics star Simone Biles and several former Olympians — has seen $12,825 move through his prison account over the last 3½ years, the court filing said, including two payments for covid-19-related stimulus from the federal government totaling $2,000.

washington post logoWashington Post, Simone Biles said she got the ‘twisties.’ Gymnasts immediately understood, Emily Giambalvo, July 29, 2021 (print ed.).  Imagine flying through the air, springing off a piece of equipment as you prepare to flip on one axis while twisting on another. It all happens fast, so there’s little time to adjust. You rely on muscle memory, trusting that it will work out because, with so much practice, it usually does.

But then suddenly you’re upside down in midair and your brain feels disconnected from your body. Your limbs that usually control how much you spin have stopped listening, and you feel lost. You hope all the years you spent in this sport will guide your body to a safe landing position.

olympics japan logoWhen Simone Biles pushed off the vaulting table Tuesday, she entered that terrifying world of uncertainty. In the Olympic team final, Biles planned to perform a 2½-twisting vault, but her mind chose to stall after just 1½ twists.

“I had no idea where I was in the air,” Biles said. “I could have hurt myself.”

Biles, who subsequently withdrew from the team competition and then the all-around final a day later, described what went wrong during that vault as “having a little bit of the twisties.”

The cute-sounding term, well-known in the gymnastics community, describes a frightening predicament. When gymnasts have the “twisties,” they lose control of their bodies as they spin through the air. Sometimes they twist when they hadn’t planned to. Other times they stop midway through as Biles did. And after experiencing the twisties once, it’s very difficult to forget. Instinct gets replaced by thought. Thought quickly leads to worry. Worry is difficult to escape.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Simone Biles was abandoned by American Olympic officials, and the torment hasn’t stopped, Sally Jenkins, July 29, 2021 (print ed.). The trouble with the phrase “mental health” is that it’s an abstraction that allows you to sail right straight over what happened to Simone Biles and, in a way, what is still happening to her. To this day, American Olympic officials continue to betray her. They deny that they had a legal duty to protect her and others from rapist-child pornographer Larry Nassar, and they continue to evade accountability in judicial maneuvering. Abuse is a current event for her.

It’s a perilous endeavor to project what Biles, the most uniquely superior gymnast in the world, is feeling or thinking at this juncture. But she has been frank about these things: her profound lingering distrust of USA Gymnastics and the USOPC and her conviction they will not do right by her and other athletes of their own accord. Remember, if it wasn’t for Biles bringing her clout to the issue, these users would still be making women train in the buggy squalor of the Karolyi Ranch, the USOPC-sanctioned hellhole where they were molested.

simone biles usa teamAs Biles, right, told NBC’s Hoda Kotb in a recent interview, one of the main reasons she came back for another Olympics at age 24 was to try to ensure some accountability. “If there weren’t a remaining survivor in the sport, they would’ve just brushed it to the side,” she said.

It was only two weeks ago that the Justice Department’s inspector general released a report on the Nassar case, in which Biles learned in new infuriating detail how corrupt officials hushed up evidence that the gymnastics doctor was a serial sex assaulter and how then-USAG chief Steve Penny traded favors with local FBI agent Jay Abbott to bottom-drawer it.

Documents produced in a long-stalled civil suit against USOPC and USAG have brought other aggravating recent revelations. One in particular is worth looking at, in light of what happened to Biles on the vaulting floor in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. That’s the day Biles became so disoriented on her vault that she couldn’t risk competing in the team finals.

As chance would have it, that’s the same date that, six years earlier, Steve Penny threw her to the wolf.

July 26

California News Times, Former US diplomat, 45, pleads guilty to raping and drugging 23 women over 14 years, Staff Report, July 26, 2021. Brian Jeffrey Raymond, 45, of La Mesa, California, pleaded guilty brian raymond fbito federal sexual abuse and the transportation of obscene physical charges on Friday.

Raymond’s investigation began last May after the discovery of a naked woman screaming for help on the balcony of an apartment in Mexico City. The following account comes from the FBI, which investigated and provided the photo at right: 

She had no memory of what happened after eating the drinks and food provided by Raymond. FBI agents recovered hundreds of photos and videos of more than 20 unconscious nude or partially nude women from Raymond’s cell phones, iCloud accounts, and other electronics. The file dates back to 2006 and lasts until May 2020.

The photos and videos not only clearly depict Raymond caressing the victim’s chest and buttocks, but also lie in bed with an unconscious woman on two different occasions.

During her stay with Raymond, the women experienced memory loss and claimed to have no knowledge of photography, video, or physical contact. 

According to court documents, Raymond has served the US government for 23 years in many countries. Prosecutors did not identify what position he was in Mexico, other than saying he worked for the embassy.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Matt Gaetz’s Future Sister-in-Law Says He’s a Gaslighting ‘Creep,’ Roger Sollenberger, July 26, 2021. Matt Gaetz's fiancée's sister says the Florida Republican tried to set her up with a man much older than her when she was 19, and went “full lawyer” on her when she confronted him.

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s future sister-in-law appears to have had more than enough with the Florida congressman, posting three TikTok videos in the last two days slamming him as “weird and creepy” and “a literal pedophile.”

Roxanne Luckey—the sister of Gaetz’s fiancée, Ginger Luckey—was sharply critical of the congressman and his treatment of young women, saying she “unfortunately was not surprised” to have learned Gaetz was under federal investigation for sex crimes.

In one video Monday night, Roxanne Luckey told a story about Gaetz pressuring an older man to court her when she was 19. Roxanne Luckey called the move “weird and creepy”—and she claims Gaetz yelled at her and her mother and went “full lawyer” when she confronted him.

“I saw the character and type of person he is, and when everything came out about him, I honestly, unfortunately, was not surprised,” Luckey said in one video.

“As someone who has personally experienced a ton of creepy old politician men hitting on me when I was underage, and experiencing sexual assault at that age by people of power, it’s very disheartening and I have zero tolerance of people like [Gaetz],” said Roxanne, who in 2020 worked briefly as a White House intern. She added that she is “tired of them getting away with this type of stuff.”

After the videos were posted, Ginger Luckey hit back at her sister, telling The Daily Beast she had a history of “destructive behavior.”

Roxanne, who is 20 now, said she was sharing her experiences in part because of her interactions with powerful men and her belief that it is important to “hold people accountable to whatever extent we can.”

“There is so much more to the story and about what I know about Matt Gaetz,” she added. “It is definitely a serious situation.”

The first of the videos, posted on Sunday, features Luckey dancing and lip-synching to Lana Del Ray’s “Jealous Girl” with a New York Times headline in the background, reading “Matt Gaetz Is Said to Face Justice Dept. Inquiry Over Sex With an Underage Girl.” She added her own text, writing, “When a creepy old man tries to hit on you at the bar but your sisters engaged to a literal pedophile.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz and Ginger Luckey at a rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Michael Ciaglo/Getty

In a follow-up video Monday night, Luckey apologized for using the term “pedophile” and shifted to “ephebophile”—someone primarily attracted to mid- to late-adolescents—which she reasoned felt more appropriate for Gaetz.

While The Daily Beast couldn’t reach Roxanne Luckey, the woman in the TikTok video appears to be the same person seen in a family photo on Ginger Luckey’s Facebook page, and the two women have multiple overlapping social media contacts. Ginger Luckey’s mother also appears to like posts on Roxanne’s Facebook. The TikTok account also shares two videos showing the person working in the White House as an intern. The Daily Beast was able to verify with a former Trump official that Roxanne Luckey did work as an intern during the summer of 2020, as the TikTok account claims.

Reached for comment Monday evening, Ginger Luckey claimed she and Roxanne had been estranged. (A video posted by Roxanne Luckey suggests she was close with her sister and Gaetz as recently as November.)

“Matt and I are enjoying our engagement and are deeply in love. My estranged sister is mentally unwell,” Ginger Luckey said in a text message. “She has been in therapy for years and our family hopes that after receiving in-patient mental health treatment, she will overcome the tendency she has repeatedly shown to engage in destructive behavior.”

July 25

washington post logoWashington Post, A Catholic newsletter promised investigative journalism. Then it outed a priest using Grindr data, Michelle Boorstein, Marisa Iati and Elahe Izadi, July 25, 2021. A report that identified a senior official in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as having visited gay nightclubs led to his resignation — and a loud debate on ethics and morals.

In January, when Ed Condon and JD Flynn broke off from their jobs at a long-standing Catholic news agency, they promised readers of their new newsletter that they would deliver reporting without an agenda, or a foregone conclusion. “We aim to do serious, responsible, sober journalism about the Church, from the Church and for the Church. . . . We want The Pillar to be a different kind of journalism.”

Six months later the Pillar broke the kind of story mainstream news organizations would be unlikely to touch: They said they had obtained commercially available data that included location history from the hookup app Grindr, and used it to track a high-ranking priest from his offices and family lake house to gay nightclubs.

Now Condon and Flynn, two 38-year-old canon lawyers-turned-muckrakers, are at the center of both a global surveillance-ethics story as well as a mud fight among their fellow Catholics over whether this week they served or disgraced the church. One Catholic writer described it as “a witch hunt aimed at gay Catholic priests.”

  • jeffrey burrillWashington Post, Top U.S. Catholic Church official resigns after cellphone data used to track him on Grindr and to gay bars

In some ways the Pillar story and reaction to it feels almost like a throwback: Conservative Catholics who point to the 1960s and liberalizing sexual mores for society’s troubles and focus on gay priests. But in 2021 the availability of personal digital data and the use of smartphones for surveillance are far bigger fears for the vast majority of Americans than is news about a member of the clergy possibly using a hookup app.

Flynn and Condon’s story also punctuates how America’s religious and journalistic landscapes have changed. Institutions and hierarchies now have to contend with scrappy start-ups taking matters into their own hands.

And in the growing conservative Catholic media scene, their newsletter and its takedown of Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, right, represents a new power and boldness of those demanding their church be purged of leaders who they see as too permissive on issues like abortion, gender norms and sex outside of heterosexual marriage.


July 20


Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., his wife Becki Falwell, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, in a 2019 photo at Liberty University

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., his wife Becki Falwell, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, in a 2019 photo at Liberty University before the Falwells were forced out following allegations of major sex scandals implicating them personally in relationships with younger people (Reuters Photo).

ABC 13 News (Lynchberg, VA), Investigation: Liberty University 'enabled on-campus rapes:' 12 women file lawsuit, Cynthia Beasley, July 20, 2021. A 15-year-old reported being sexually assaulted at a Liberty University camp, according to a lawsuit, but university police blamed her for violating the “Liberty Way” and needlessly had her strip naked and spread her butt cheeks for a photograph.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court for the Eastern of New York, says that during the 2000 incident, Liberty threatened to charge the teenager with filing a false report, made her ride in a police car with her alleged attacker and questioned her without water or food for eight hours — all while failing to properly investigate her alleged attacker: Jesse Matthew, Jr., who went on to murder two college students years later.

liberty university sealIn advance of being filed, the lawsuit was provided to ABC13’s Cynthia Beasley, who has been investigating for a year-and-a-half allegations that Liberty University violated Title IX rules, repeatedly threatened victims with honor code violations and downplayed sexual assault allegations.

Twelve anonymous women, all of whom are former Liberty University employees or students, have signed onto the lawsuit that claims the university “enabled on-campus rapes” and suppressed complaints of sexual assault and rape.

While most of the alleged incidents took place while Jerry Falwell Jr. was president, not all did, including the 2000 incident allegedly involving multi-murderer Jesse Matthew. Falwell, who was Liberty's president from 2007 through 2020, resigned last year amid a storm of controversy, including alleged sexual improprieties, alcohol impairment, hypocrisies and questions about unusual business dealings.

"It just boggles my mind, that these people who claim to be Christians, cared more about covering it up than they cared about actually helping me," one plaintiff, Jane Doe 2, said in an interview.

Known as Jane Doe 2 in the lawsuit, the woman said she was sexually assaulted, reported it to Liberty, stalked by the same man, reported that to Liberty, and ultimately gang-raped – which she again reported to Liberty. However, there was no Title IX investigation or criminal charges, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Liberty University silenced and sometimes punished these women under their honor code, “The Liberty Way.” The newest version of the “Liberty Way” honor code is not public, but the 2020 version can be found online. That document states that the university can issue “points” to students for breaking the “Liberty Way,” potentially making them pay a fine and perform community service hours. For example, the document online says they could fine students $300 for drinking alcohol or spending the night with a member of the opposite sex.

In addition to favoring the claims of the accused over women accusers -- including in cases when the female students provided evidence, such as text messages and pictures of bruises — the lawsuit also claims Liberty University used the "Liberty Way" as a weapon against the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit states some victims “were explicitly told they would be subject to discipline for violating the Liberty Way.”

“Liberty University weaponized its sexual violence reporting policies by (a) offering the victims of sexual violence a confusingly worded amnesty that (b) was often ignored altogether in practice.”

The plaintiffs are listed as Jane Doe 1 through 12.

Prior to becoming a Liberty University student, Doe 12 attended a summer debate camp at Liberty in 2000 when she was 15, the lawsuit states.

While in a dormitory hall, Doe 12 says she met a soft-spoken man who she later learned was Jesse Matthew Jr., who, years later, was sentenced to four life sentences for murdering Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham.

While in the dorm, the complaint says that man “grabbed her and carried her into a bathroom.” The complaint states that LUPD later identified that man as Jesse Matthew.

The complaint states: Matthew threw Doe 12 into a large cushioned chair. Before he was able to grab her again, "she interposed her feet between him and her, and held him off while he attempted to grope her legs and breasts."

The complaint states that Doe 12 reported this to LUPD and officers apprehended Matthew, who she identified as her attacker.

The responding officer, who identified him as the Chief of the LUPD, then required Doe 12 to travel in the same car as her assailant to the police station over her express objection.

The complaint states that LUPD interrogated Doe 12 for hours, asking her to write two separate statements, and then accused her of fabricating her story when minor details were not identical.

Liberty Police reported to her that Matthew had denied any contact with her, the lawsuit states. When she reminded them that the single-gender dorm had a camera that would show him coming and leaving, the police changed their story and alleged that Matthew admitted to contact, but claimed it was consensual, the complaint says.

The lawsuit claims that LUPD told Doe 12 that she could be “expelled from the camp because she was wearing pants in an academic building, which was at the time a violation of the Liberty Way," and that she’d be criminally charged with filing a false police report if she refused to withdraw her sexual assault report against Matthew.

The police then began an ‘investigation’ into her claim, which seemed to solely consist of a demand that she strip and submit to being photographed by the chief of police. Doe 12 refused and suggested that such an investigation should be undertaken by a doctor or nurse, and that such a professional could also take samples from her nails. The police refused to transport Doe 12 to the hospital and, instead, continued to badger her until she agreed to allow herself to be photographed naked by a female debate coach.

The claim says that Doe 12’s mother was never contacted regarding the photographs and did not consent to such photographs.

Before allowing her to leave, the complaint states that police required that she wash her hands, “to destroy any DNA evidence and present her nails for inspection.”

The next day, Doe 12 told her story to friends, several of whom acknowledged that they had been approached for sex by a man similar to Doe 12’s description of Matthews, but had not reported the solicitation because of concerns that they would be expelled because their clothing had been too revealing.

The lawsuit says that Doe 12 reported this information to LUPD, but her friends said that they were never interviewed.

The lawsuit contends: There is no conceivable reason for the police to take naked photographs of a minor following an assault, particularly of areas where there was no bruising or other evidence of injury, as was done in this case.

Liberty University’s Title IX Office is the focus of the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that the Title IX Office failed to investigate multiple claims of rape and sexual assault. Federal laws require that investigators in Liberty University’s Title IX office fully investigate such claims.

July 19


leon black jeffrey epstein

Leon Black, left, CEO and co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein (file photos).

Daily Beast, Epstein Pal Fires Back at Accuser With Wild Extortion Claim, Kate Briquelet, July 19, 2021. Leon Black offers details of an affair, but says the Russian model who has accused him of rape made off with millions in an elaborate scheme.

Billionaire Leon Black is fighting back against a former model’s sexual abuse allegations, claiming he was the victim of an “extortion” scheme and that his accuser “professed her love and appreciation” for him “while regularly extracting millions of dollars” for her own rent, furniture, tuition, vacations, and more.

In June, Guzel Ganieva filed a lawsuit claiming Black—perhaps best known lately as a former friend to Jeffrey Epstein and for his ties to the Museum of Modern Art—coerced her into signing a nondisclosure agreement to stay silent about his years of “sexual violence” toward her. The 69-year-old private-equity mogul, in response, released a statement indicating he “foolishly had a consensual affair” with Ganieva, and his spokesman told the media that her complaint was “nothing more than a wholesale fiction.”

Now, in a 52-page answer and counterclaim filed Monday, Black alleges he has “irrefutable documentary evidence” that shows Ganieva, 38, “embarked on a campaign of extortion” to get more funds from him in 2015, after the relationship ended.

The court document also indicates Black is working to uncover whether Ganieva “is acting alone or is working in concert with” others in bringing her complaint.

“In short, Mr. Black is guilty only of extremely poor judgment in entering into an affair with Ganieva in the first instance, in making an easy target of himself throughout their relationship by lavishing her with gifts and money, and in allowing himself to be extorted rather than immediately reporting Ganieva to law enforcement,” Black’s court filing states.

“Ganieva, on the other hand, must be held to account,” the pleading continues. “In her defamatory Twitter posts, Ganieva purports to invoke ‘#MeToo,’ and claims to have come forward to protect ‘other women.’ In reality, her demonstrable lies and extortion are cynical attempts to weaponize a critically important and long-overdue movement. In so doing, Ganieva has done a tragic disservice to the brave truth-tellers—the vast majority of accusers—who have survived sexual abuse.

“This lawsuit will reveal who Ms. Ganieva really is; what truly motivated this hit job; and whether she is acting alone or is working in concert with, or at the behest of, a third party who might wish Mr. Black ill.”

Black is countersuing Ganieva for breach of contract, as well as defamation, relating to posts to her Twitter account in March 2021 and an interview with the New York Post. The billionaire investor is seeking damages and attorneys’ fees.

In a statement, Jeanne Christensen, a partner at the firm Wigdor LLP who is representing Ganieva, told The Daily Beast, “Right out of the defense playbook, Black’s counter-claims are an obvious effort at intimidating Ms. Ganieva, who will continue to aggressively litigate her claims and hold Black accountable for his heinous conduct.”

“As he admits in [the countersuit], Black ceased paying her in March 2021 after she posted her Tweet,” Christensen said in a phone call. “Is that how an extortionist extraordinaire operates? It is the antithesis of everything he claims she plotted to do for years.”

Christensen added that Black still hasn’t provided Ganieva or her lawyers with a full copy of an alleged confidentiality agreement cited in his filing—and noted that Black’s legal team didn’t attach it to his counterclaim to prove a breach of contract.

July 18

ScheerPost, Investigation: The Jeffrey Epstein Cover Up: Pedophilia, Lies, and Videotape, Nick Bryant, right, July 18, 2021. Numerous procurers and perpetrators who were integral to Epstein and nick bryantMaxwell’s crimes against children over the course of 25 years have not been indicted, and the charges against Maxwell, which include only one count of child trafficking, are woefully inadequate and a further miscarriage of justice against her victims.

More recently, a report released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) on May 10, 2021 superimposed an additional miscarriage of justice on the myriad of injustices that have already been inflicted on the victims of Epstein, et al. The FDLE report concluded that a Florida grand jury that didn’t indict Epstein on a single count of child abuse was not guilty of malfeasance.

Although Epstein’s crimes against children had been reported to the FBI in 1996, the first law enforcement agency to earnestly investigate Epstein was the Palm Beach Police Department (PBPD), starting in 2005. The PBPD compiled the statements of five minors who had been molested by Epstein. The PBPD also rounded up the statements of several witnesses who corroborated the minors’ claims, and the department was aware of 17 additional victims who had allegedly been molested by Epstein. The PBPD drew up an arrest warrant charging Epstein with one count of lewd and lascivious molestation and four counts of unwanted sexual activity with a minor. The PBPD also sought to charge two of Epstein’s henchwomen and procurers of underage girls: Sarah Kellen as a principal to Epstein’s offenses and Haley Robson with one count of lewd and lascivious conduct.

But Palm Beach state attorney Barry Krischer swooped in and snatched the Epstein case from the PBPD. He opted to impanel a grand jury to investigate the child abuse allegations. (Grand juries in Florida are extremely rare unless the crime involves a capital offense.)


Nick Bryant, who started pursuing the disgraced financier around 2012, is an author who resides in New York City, and he’s been a child advocate for 30 nick bryant franklin resized coveryears. His writing has recurrently focused on the plight of disadvantaged children in the United States, and he’s been published in numerous national journals, including the Journal of Professional Ethics, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, and Journal of School Health.

He is the co-author of America’s Children: Triumph or Tragedy, addressing the medical and developmental problems of lower socioeconomic children in America. He spent seven years investigating a coast-to-coast child trafficking network and authored The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse, & Betrayal. He has also investigated the Jeffrey Epstein network, and he published Epstein’s “Little Black Book” on the Internet in 2015, four years before the case broke nationally. Bryant has contributed a chapter on child trafficking to Global Perspectives on Dissociative Disorders: Individual and Societal Oppression, a book addressing various facets of dissociative disorders that features chapters from an international panel of psychiatrists and psychologists. He has also spoken about child trafficking at several conferences, including the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation’s international convention and the 2020 and 2021 Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summits.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Nobody Believed Me’: Promise of the Me Too Movement Fades to Frustration, Jan Ransom, July 18, 2021. Increased awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault led to hope that the accused would be more frequently held accountable. But in New York City, statistics and personal accounts suggest not much is different about the way the justice system grapples with rape accusation

Cammy Duong woke up in a Manhattan hotel room in July 2017 and, dazed, called a friend she was supposed to meet later that morning: “I think I was raped,” she said, crying.

The police investigation lasted months. But when the case reached the Manhattan district attorney’s office, prosecutors quickly declined to bring charges, records show. It would be seven more months before Ms. Duong got an explanation.

The Me Too movement led to heightened awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault, an increase in reports to police, and a new hope that people accused would be more frequently held accountable. But in New York City, statistics and the accounts of women who say they were attacked suggest that little has changed about the way the criminal justice system grapples with rape accusations.

Most New York City prosecutors’ offices rejected a greater percentage of sex crime cases in 2019, the last year for which reliable data is available, than they did roughly a decade earlier, before the case against Harvey Weinstein touched off a national reckoning.

In the Manhattan district attorney’s office, prosecutors dropped 49 percent of sexual assault cases in 2019 — among the highest rate in the city, and an increase from 37 percent in 2017, state data shows. Only the Bronx rejected a greater percentage of cases. The data excludes most sex crimes against children, and certain nonviolent offenses like stalking.

The low prosecution rate partly reflects the inherent challenges of prosecuting sexual assault, particularly cases like Ms. Duong’s, in which the attacker is not a stranger and alcohol is involved. For cases that are not dropped, conviction rates for sexual assault cases are typically much lower than for other violent crimes: 44 percent in Manhattan in 2019, compared with 79 percent for first-degree murder.

“There aren’t really any third-party witnesses to these things,” said Carl Bornstein, a former state and federal prosecutor who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “This is tough sledding. The prosecutor has to assess: is this going to hold up under the scrutiny of 12 people?”

But some who study the matter believe the high drop rate also reflects prosecutors’ unwillingness to tackle those challenges. The issue became a focus of the race to succeed the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who did not run for re-election.

Mr. Vance, who heads one of the largest and most prominent district attorney offices in the country, has faced harsh criticism over his office’s handling of sex crimes, including the 2015 investigation into Mr. Weinstein, the former Hollywood producer who was convicted last year of rape and sexual assault, and the no-jail plea deal in 2016 for a Columbia University gynecologist accused of molesting dozens of patients.

jeffrey epstein julie brown cnn screenshot

Sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, left, and Miami Herald investigative reporter and author Julie Brown, right.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Reporter’s Fight to Expose Epstein’s Crimes — and Earn a Living, Michelle Goldberg, July 18, 2021 (print ed.). At a news michelle goldberg thumbconference for Jeffrey Epstein’s 2019 sex trafficking indictment, a reporter asked Geoffrey Berman, then the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, if new information had prompted his office’s inquiry. The F.B.I., after all, had investigated Epstein’s sexual predation more than a decade earlier, and the crimes in the 2019 indictment took place between 2002 and 2005. Berman revealed little about what went on inside his office, but said that his team was helped by “some excellent investigative journalism.”

He was clearly referring to Julie K. Brown’s 2018 Miami Herald series “Perversion of Justice.” Brown had delved into how prosecutors led by Alex Acosta, who would later become Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, went behind the backs of Epstein’s victims to give the pedophile financier a scandalously lenient deal.

She has now written a book with the same title, which both expands on the Epstein story and explains all that went into writing it. It’s a gripping journalistic procedural, sort of “Spotlight” meets “Erin Brockovich.” It also shows just how close Epstein came to getting away with his industrial-scale sexual exploitation.

Brown’s book, which comes out on Tuesday, is about a mind-blowing case of plutocratic corruption, full of noirish subplots that may never be fully understood. But it’s also about the slow strangulation of local and regional newspapers. Reading it, I kept thinking of all the malfeasance likely to go unexposed as many once-formidable newspapers outside of New York and Washington either shrink or disappear altogether.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThanks to Brown, the basic outlines of the Epstein scandal — at least the part that preceded his baffling death — are well known. As she summarizes it in her book, “A supremely wealthy money manager with political connections wrestled an incredible immunity agreement out of the federal government — despite having molested, raped and sexually abused dozens of girls.” Rather than decades in federal prison, Epstein served only 13 months — with daily work release — in a county jail, where his cell door was left unlocked and a TV was installed for his entertainment.

Because of Brown’s reporting, Epstein seemed on the verge of real legal accountability when he died in his cell, apparently by suicide, in 2019. That reporting was done in the face of powerful headwinds. She was up against Epstein’s intimidating legal team and fears about her safety.

But Brown also had to contend with the punishing economics of the contracting newspaper industry, which for the last decade has been shedding experienced reporters and forcing those who remain to do much more with much less.

Brown is finally in a better place financially. She’s working with Adam McKay, the director of “The Big Short,” to turn “Perversion of Justice” into an HBO mini-series. After years of renting, she was recently able to buy a condo. “I’ve been able to pay down some of my horrible debt that I have accumulated,” she said. But she’s 59 and still doesn’t have a retirement account.

The more newspapers collapse, the more such stories there are likely to be.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Matt Gaetz is preparing for the worst, Robert Harrington, right, July 18, 2021. The expression “criminal attorney” is wonderfully idiomatically robert harringtnn portraitambiguous. Is it a criminal who practices law? A lawyer who only defends criminals? It is, of course, what is innocently intended, a lawyer who defends people accused of crimes. Marc Fernich is a criminal attorney, and when you consider his list of clients, the idiom retreats into ambiguity once again.

bill palmer report logo headerFernich’s clients include accused child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, and convicted crime family boss John “Junior” Gotti. It’s a rogue’s gallery of some of the most awful people the human race has managed to produce thus far, so it’s little wonder that Fernich’s latest client is Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Campaign finance records reveal that Gaetz paid Fernich $25,000 for “consulting fees,” a modest beginning, to be sure. Contrast that with the more substantial $825,000 Gaetz paid to the Logan Circle Group for advertising and “strategic campaign consulting.” But both payments portend the Gaetz strategy to pump his image while quietly defending his backside. It is a sinister and cynical move of Machiavellian proportions. These monies would not have to be spent at all if Gaetz were not in significant legal peril.

FBI logoAnd Gaetz knows it. The New York Times reported that the Department of Justice is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him. Gaetz has denied any wrongdoing, of course. But he is preparing for the worst.

According to his website, Fernich’s law practice “centers on criminal defense, mainly sophisticated appeals and legal motions that can toss charges at the trial level or pave the way for future appeals.” So not only is Gaetz bringing in the heavy guns, he is covering both his charge and retreat. Fernich can do everything from getting charges dismissed (“tossed”) to appealing convictions.

Meanwhile Gaetz, this spoiled child of money and privilege, continues to whine about what a victim he and others like him are. He continues to promote the Big Lie that the 2020 election was criminally stolen without a shred of evidence to support that claim, while more and more actual criminal evidence is coming to light that he is a statutory rapist, sex trafficker, drug abuser and obstructor of justice.

Meanwhile Gaetz is having trouble finding speaking venues. While he and Marjorie Taylor Greene clutch their pearls and wear sackcloth and ashes about their freedom of speech being violated, various speaking arenas are exercising their right to freedom from speech. They are, in effect, saying Gaetz and Greene are free to say what they like, but they can go and spew their hate somewhere else.

July 15 

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)

Rolling Stone, Was Jeffrey Epstein a Spy? Vicky Ward, July 15, 2021. The notorious financier pedophile told exaggerated stories of his time in intelligence circles — but some of those stories may have been, at least partially, true.

Back in 2002, when I was reporting on Jeffrey Epstein’s finances for Vanity Fair magazine, he was not a household name. During that time, I paid a visit to the Federal Medical Center, Devens in Devens, Massachusetts to meet with an inmate, one Steven Hoffenberg.

We sat in a little room off a recreation area, Hoffenberg dressed in the requisite orange jumpsuit, while I, several months pregnant with twins, was dressed per prison requirements: as shapelessly as possible.

It was an absolutely intriguing meeting.

Hoffenberg was serving 18 years in prison for committing a $450 million Ponzi scheme. In the 1980s he’d been running Towers Financial, a debt collection and re-insurance business, and had worked alongside Epstein, who was a paid consultant. Hoffenberg told me that Epstein had plans to turn Towers into a global colossus – through illegal means.

But Hoffenberg was so transfixed by Epstein and his ideas that he had even paid the rent for Epstein’s office space. (Now he says he was “stupid” and greedy for doing so).

washington post logoWashington Post, Matt Gaetz’s campaign paid $25,000 to lawyer who represented Jeffrey Epstein, Isaac Stanley-Becker, July 15, 2021. The fee, for legal consulting, was paid to Manhattan criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich.

matt gaetz officialRep. Matt Gaetz’s campaign paid $25,000 in June to a Manhattan criminal defense attorney who lists Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who killed himself in prison, as a notable client, according to a filing Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

The Florida Republican and acolyte of former president Donald Trump, right, is under investigation for possible sex trafficking of a minor. A spokesman for Gaetz did not address the payment but touted the congressman’s fundraising haul, which totaled more than $1.3 million in the second quarter of the year.

The June payment, for legal consulting, went to the law office of Marc Fernich, whose website says he specializes in “subtle, novel and creative arguments that other attorneys may miss.”

“These arguments can make potential winners out of seemingly hopeless cases, spelling the difference between victory and defeat,” the site adds.

It lists Epstein, along with Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, the Mexican kingpin known as “El Chapo,” among his “Notable Clients.” Fernich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The campaign also paid $25,000 for legal consulting to Zuckerman Spaeder, a large D.C.-based firm that also did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

The $1.3 million raked in by Gaetz between April and June is a sizable sum for a member of Congress under investigation by the Justice Department as well as the House Ethics Committee. He spent about $1.8 million in the same period, the filing shows, and has $1.6 million on hand.

Virtually all of Gaetz’s contributions were from individual donors rather than party committees or PACs, the filing shows. He did receive a financial boost from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), whose reelection campaign supplied Gaetz with $3,000 last month.

July 14

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI failed to pursue Nassar allegations, inspector general finds, Devlin Barrett, July 14, 2021. The FBI failed to larry nassar croppedproperly investigate sex-abuse allegations against Larry Nassar, right, the former doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, according to a scathing report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who also determined that FBI officials gave misleading or false answers when confronted about those failures.

FBI logoDespite “the extraordinarily serious nature of the allegations and the possibility that Nassar’s conduct could be continuing, senior officials in the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond to the Nassar allegations with the utmost seriousness and urgency that they deserved and required, made numerous and fundamental errors when they did respond to them, and violated multiple FBI policies,” concludes the report issued Wednesday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

The report says that when confronted with the shortcomings in their handling of the case, such as failure to interview alleged victims, FBI officials in Indianapolis sought to blame others.The FBI did not properly investigate the allegations that Larry Nassar was sexually abusing members of the USA Gymnastics team, the inspector general found, and FBI officials gave misleading or false answers when confronted.

July 13

jeffrey epstein julie brown cnn screenshot
The Guardian, Ken Starr helped Jeffrey Epstein with ‘scorched-earth’ campaign, book claims, Ed Pilkington, July 13, 2021. Book by Miami Herald journalist details extraordinary efforts by special prosecutor who hounded Bill Clinton to aid sex trafficker.

Ken Starr, below, the lawyer who hounded Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, waged a “scorched-earth” legal campaign to persuade federal ken starr baylorprosecutors to drop a sex-trafficking case against the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein relating to the abuse of multiple underaged girls, according to a new book.

In Perversion of Justice, the Miami Herald reporter Julie K Brown (shown above in an interview screenshot) writes about Starr’s role in securing the secret 2008 sweetheart deal that granted Epstein (shown above in a file photo) effective immunity from federal prosecution. The author, who is credited with blowing open the cover-up, calls Starr a “fixer” who “used his political connections in the White House to get the Justice Department to review Epstein’s case”.

The book says that emails and letters sent by Starr and Epstein’s then criminal defense lawyer Jay Lefkowitz show that the duo were “campaigning to pressure the Justice Department to drop the case”. Starr had been brought into “center stage” of Epstein’s legal team because of his connections in Washington to the Bush administration.

Perversion of Justice will be published next week. The Guardian obtained a copy.

When Epstein’s lawyers appeared to be failing in their pressure campaign, with senior DoJ officials concluding that Epstein was ripe for federal prosecution, Starr pulled out the stops. Brown discloses that he wrote an eight-page letter to Mark Filip, who had just been confirmed as deputy US attorney general, the second most powerful prosecutor in the country.

Filip was a former colleague of Starr’s at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis. Brown writes that Starr deployed “dramatic language” in the letter reminiscent of the Starr report, his lurid and salacious case against Clinton that triggered the president’s 1998 impeachment.

perversion of justice miami herald logoIn the letter Starr begins affably, invoking the “finest traditions” of fairness and integrity of the DoJ. He then goes on to deliver what Brown calls a “brutal punch”, accusing prosecutors involved in the Epstein case of misconduct in trying to engineer a plea deal with the billionaire that would benefit their friends.

Brown reports that Epstein’s legal team also went after Marie Villafaña, the lead federal prosecutor in the case, accusing her of similarly distorting negotiations to benefit a friend of her boyfriend – an allegation she denied.

Brown cites an unnamed prosecutor linked to the 2008 case who said of the legal campaign in which Starr was central that “it was a scorched-earth defense like I had never seen before. Marie broke her back trying to do the right thing, but someone was always telling her to back off.”

The prosecutor added that someone in Washington – the book does not specify who – was “calling the shots on the case”. Villafaña warned fellow prosecutors at the time that Epstein was probably still abusing underaged girls, but according to the unnamed prosecutor quoted by Brown “it was clear that she had to find a way to strike a deal because a decision had already been made not to prosecute Epstein.”

The outcome of this process was a secret deal that only became public years later, largely through Brown’s own reporting. Given the number of victims and the severity of the allegations, Epstein got off exceptionally lightly with a sentence that saw him serve just 13 months in jail. During his sentence, Epstein was allowed out to work in his private office for 12 hours a day, six days a week, in a breach of jail norms.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid calls to defund VMI, superintendent calls alleged attacks on female cadets ‘unacceptable,’ Ian Shapira, July 13, 2021. Cedric Wins responded to a Post report about sex assaults and misogyny at Virginia Military Institute that prompted demands for the state to defund the school.

virginia military institute logoThe new superintendent of Virginia Military Institute issued a withering warning to the school’s 1,700 students Monday night, condemning online attacks and sexual assaults against female cadets chronicled by The Washington Post earlier that day.

“The allegations contained within the story are unacceptable of any VMI cadet and no one — VMI cadet, faculty, staff, nor civilian — should be subjected to the type of behavior detailed in the article,” retired Army Maj. General Cedric Wins wrote in an email to the student body. “The fact that this type of behavior is reported to have come from individuals who have worn the VMI uniform is repugnant.”

Derision, misogyny, sexual assault: VMI women face attacks on campus and online

More than a dozen women at VMI described an atmosphere of hostility at the nation’s oldest state-supported military college and an expectation of backlash from male cadets if they reported being groped or raped. Five of the women were sexually assaulted at VMI. And female cadets are targets of constant ridicule on an anonymous, widely used social media app called Jodel, where they are derided as “shedets” or “sheeds.” Male students unleashed a torrent of abuse aimed at Kasey Meredith after the school announced in the spring that she would be the first woman to lead the Corps of Cadets in VMI’s 182-year-old history.

The Post’s article led to outrage online and consternation within VMI’s alumni community. On Twitter, the hashtag #DefundVMI circulated. The school received about $21.6 million in state funding for fiscal 2022 — a 12 percent increase from the previous year — which follows a recent allotment of $33 million toward a new aquatics center.

VMI didn’t accept women at its Lexington campus until 1997, and only after a Supreme Court decision compelled it to do so. Since then, the college’s treatment of women, who make up just 13 percent of the student body, has come under investigation by the U.S. Education Department and this year by the state of Virginia.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Investigation: Bill O’Reilly’s Accuser Finally Breaks Her Silence, Diana Falzone and Lloyd Grove, July 13, 2021. In an exclusive interview, Andrea Mackris reveals the full scope of Bill O’Reilly’s alleged harassment of her—and why she doesn’t care if telling all means blowing up her NDA.

“This is as good as it gets!” New York litigator David Ratner shouted at his client, Andrea Mackris, slapping both hands on the highly polished conference table. “Take the money,” Ratner yelled, “and move on with your life!”

andrea mackrisThat was almost 17 years ago, on the evening of Oct. 28, 2004, in the imposing boardroom of celebrity lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz, on an upper floor of the Paramount Building boasting vertiginous views of Manhattan.

Mackris, right, then a 33-year-old Fox News producer on the cusp of a promising career, didn’t want to accept her boss Bill O’Reilly’s offer to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit against him for $9 million—$3 million of which would be pocketed by her legal team, Ratner and Benedict Morelli.

The money, along with a draconian non-disclosure agreement that Mackris said she has no memory of being shown until more than a decade later, was designed to buy her eternal silence about her headline-making lawsuit’s allegations. Backed up by audio recordings of O’Reilly’s late-night phone calls, the suit detailed the Fox News star’s persistent and menacing verbal assaults during her nearly four years of working for him. They included unwelcome demands for phone sex and mutual masturbation, as well as O’Reilly’s infamous alleged fantasy of soaping her down in the shower with either a “loofah” or a “falafel thing.”

Today, Mackris recalls to The Daily Beast for the first time intimate and graphic details of O'Reilly’s alleged harassment, including lewd, menacing telephone calls and conversations in which she says he forced her to listen to his sexual fantasies about her.

July 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: A teen was accused of abuse inside Vatican City. Powerful figures helped him become a priest, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, July 12, 2021. The warnings started coming eight years ago, sent to some of the most powerful figures in the Roman Catholic Church, alerting them to a potential sex abuse crime that stood out from other church cases.

The profile of the alleged abuser, by itself, was unusual: not a priest, but rather a teenage altar boy, who was said to have coerced a peer to engage in various sex acts night after night over six years. And then there was the purported location: inside the Vatican’s own walls, at a youth seminary for the 15 or so altar boys who served the pope.

“Right now a boy is there who should no longer be there,” read an anonymous letter sent to Pope Francis and several cardinals in 2013, informing the just-elected pontiff of an alleged offender “20 meters away from where you sleep.”

The alleged abuser had even participated in the pontiff’s first Mass in the Sistine Chapel.

For a church trying to better contend with abuse and coverup across its empire, the warnings about Gabriele Martinelli were a direct institutional test. The events described in the anonymous letter, as well as in accounts from the alleged victim and a witness, were said to have taken place right under the church’s nose.

July 4

U.S. Sports, Media, Education

dan snyder redskins com

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Washington Football Team owner paid for the investigation into himself. He got his money’s worth, Editorial Board, July 4, 2021 (print ed.). Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder, shown above, will have to write the check for the investigation overseen by the National Football League into the team’s workplace culture and conduct. Whatever the cost, he is not likely to complain. He certainly got his money’s worth. No written report. No facts. No findings. No accountability. And no real consequences.

nfl logoThat Mr. Snyder will also have to pay a $10 million fine — pocket change for him — and that his wife ostensibly will take over day-to-day operations of the team are fitting final touches to the farce of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promising to get to the bottom of the widespread allegations of sexual harassment, verbal abuse and bullying in the team’s front office under Mr. Snyder’s leadership. On Thursday, the NFL announced the conclusion of a year-long investigation into Mr. Snyder’s organization with a vapid news release that described the workplace of the team as “highly unprofessional” but provided no details on what independent counsel Beth Wilkinson had actually uncovered from a probe that included interviews with almost 150 people.

It turns out that the NFL didn’t request a written report from Ms. Wilkinson. It received her findings orally, supposedly because of the “sensitivity” of the allegations but making it all the easier to cover up what was found. Did Ms. Wilkinson, an attorney with a stellar reputation, really think this was a good idea? Could she have insisted on more transparency as a condition of her work? . She has declined to respond to our inquiries.

Mr. Snyder hired Ms. Wilkinson last July after The Post’s Will Hobson and Liz Clarke detailed the sexual harassment and verbal abuse that 15 women said they experienced while working for or reporting on the team. The NFL took over the investigation after The Post’s revelations of more horrific behavior — including allegations about the production of a video of lewd outtakes of a cheerleaders’ photo shoot for the enjoyment of Mr. Snyder and other executives.

Had it not been for the work of The Post’s reporters and the courage of the women to tell their painful stories,the abuse would have stayed hidden. That seems to have been Mr. Snyder’s goal as he stonewalled reporters, made employees sign nondisclosure agreements and sicced team lawyers on Ms. Wilkinson to prevent her from disclosing a confidential settlement that appears to have involved troubling allegations about Mr. Snyder’s own behavior. 

The scandal about the toxic work culture has caused the team to usher in what seem to be positive reforms, but if the problems are rooted, as they appear to be, in the person at the top, how much will really change? Sadly, that key question is one that Mr. Goodell and the other NFL owners had no interest in confronting.

phylicia rashad resized bill cosby collage

washington post logoWashington Post, Phylicia Rashad, a Howard University dean, issues apology over Bill Cosby statement, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, July 4, 2021 (print ed.). Phylicia Rashad, the dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts, issued an apology Friday after receiving backlash and calls to resign from Howard alumni and other prominent voices over her tweet in support of former co-star Bill Cosby (shown together in file photos above).

“This week, I tweeted a statement that caused so much hurt in so many people — both broadly and inside the Howard community,” Rashad wrote. “I offer my most sincere apology.”

Cosby, convicted of drugging and assaulting a woman, was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated his sexual assault conviction. After that ruling, Rashad, who played Cosby’s wife on “The Cosby Show,” wrote in a now-deleted tweet: “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”

Rashad received immediate criticism as many pointed to her responsibility as a college dean to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable.

In the apology issued Friday, Rashad said she does not excuse behavior related to sexual violence and plans to participate in trainings to “become a stronger ally.”

But many on Twitter were not convinced by her apology, citing Rashad’s long defense of Cosby, calling for her to acknowledge Cosby’s alleged transgressions and maintained calls for her to resign.


July 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The NFL’s investigation was just like Daniel Snyder’s workplace culture: Rotten, Sally Jenkins, July 2, 2021 (print ed.).The NFL wraps up a six-month probe into the team’s toxic culture and discloses virtually none of its findings and offers no blame. Nothing to see here.

The so-called investigative report on the nasty skirt-clutching culture inside the Washington Football Team has vanished like invisible ink. And somehow the NFL thinks it can make it all right by nfl logohanding Tanya Snyder the mop and broom. Great. That’s the perfect NFL solution, isn’t it? Just to turn to the wife and say: “Here. You clean it up.”

Nothing against Mrs. Snyder — who is sure to do a far more professional job overseeing the business operation of the Washington Football Team than the twerp who has run it like a beer-slopping stag party these past 20-some years. But what do they take us for, really? As you read the NFL’s statement on its months-long investigation of Daniel Snyder’s cesspool of an office, you can almost feel Commissioner Roger Goodell and his legal eagles admiring their soft-shoe work as they step around the sleaze puddles.

Not a single allegation against Snyder himself was addressed. No written report will be issued. And no one is truly penalized. Except, of course, the women who were peeping-Tommed and pimped to sponsors. The perps? Some of them, such as Larry Michael, got to retire. The main culprit was allowed to profess ignorance from the distance of a superyacht and pay a $10 million fine that amounts to slot machine money for him.

dan snyder redskins com“I have learned a lot in the last few months about how my club operated,” said the sneeringly disingenuous Snyder, who was alleged to have committed an act of sexual misconduct beth wilkinsonagainst an employee on a team plane, for which the team reached a $1.6 million settlement.

The NFL’s 29-paragraph statement goes on interminably without disclosing a single germane fact or finding. Independent counsel Beth Wilkinson — what has she been doing over the past year? There is nothing on paper, there is no evidence, and there are no conclusions. The NFL’s account of her report is like a spirograph in which everything circles into a single invisible point.

“Wilkinson was not specifically tasked with confirming or rejecting any particular allegation of inappropriate conduct,” the league wrote blithely in the opening of a statement that seeks to conclude the whole matter without coming to a single conclusion.

It turns out that Wilkinson’s job was to conduct an investigation in which nothing was to be specifically investigated. No conclusions were to be reached about any allegations that she was charged with investigating, because it was not her job to determine whether any “particular allegation of inappropriate conduct” was true. It was not her job to investigate, as it turned out, any actual people.

“Beth wasn’t tasked with making recommendations about what should be done in terms of accountability by any individual person,” said Lisa Friel, the NFL’s special counsel for investigations.

Snyder’s vicious litigiousness is legendary, and his long campaign of legal intimidation over the course of the year, from private investigators contacting women to a blizzard of legal filings, appears to have worked. It scared Goodell and the league lawyers into this ludicrous soft-shoe performance. 

You will never know any specifics, never know the full truth. There will never be any assessment of personal responsibility.

July 1

dan snyder redskins com

washington post logoWashington Post, NFL fines Washington Football Team $10 million after investigation; Daniel Snyder’s wife, Tanya, to run operations for now, Will Hobson, Liz Clarke, Beth Reinhard and Mark Maske, July 1, 2021. The investigation happened in the wake of multiple Washington Post reports detailing former employees’ allegations of sexual harassment.

The NFL has fined the Washington Football Team $10 million for fostering a workplace culture where sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation was commonplace throughout most of Daniel Snyder’s ownership, the league announced Thursday, but declined to release a detailed investigative report or address any allegations levied by former employees against Snyder.

nfl logo“The culture of the club was very toxic and fell far short of the NFL’s values,” said Lisa Friel, the league’s special counsel for investigations, during a conference call with reporters.

The NFL did not suspend Snyder (shown above) but said that his wife Tanya, named the team’s co-CEO earlier this week, will assume responsibilities for all day-to-day team operations and represent the team at all league meetings and other league activities for at least the next several months. There was little to no sentiment among other owners throughout the process to force Snyder to sell the franchise, people familiar with the situation have said.

beth wilkinsonThe fine was the outcome of a lengthy league investigation overseen by prominent D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson, left. Snyder also will pay Wilkinson’s legal fees, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The NFL will not release any detailed findings from Wilkinson’s investigation beyond a news release, Friel said. In a contrast from previous league investigations, the NFL did not request any written report from Wilkinson, but instead heard her findings orally, Friel said, “due to the sensitivity of the allegations.”

The team will pay the $10 million to support organizations committed to character education, anti-bullying, healthy relationships and related topics, the NFL said. The Snyders agreed to implement 10 recommendations made by Wilkinson related to training, diversity, reporting of workplace misconduct and other issues, the league said.

“Over the past 18 months, Dan and Tanya have recognized the need for change and have undertaken important steps to make the workplace comfortable and dignified for all employees, and those changes, if sustained and built upon, should allow the club to achieve its goal of having a truly first-tier workplace,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “I truly appreciate their commitment to fully implement each of the below ten recommendations, but the league also must ensure accountability for past deficiencies and for living up to current and future commitments.”

Snyder, in a statement, apologized to former employees who endured harassment and abuse.

“I feel great remorse for the people who had difficult, even traumatic, experiences while working here. I’m truly sorry for that. I can’t turn back the clock, but I promise that nobody who works here will ever have that kind of experience again, at least not as long as Tanya and I are the owners of this team,” Snyder said.

The $10 million fine is among the harshest penalties the league has assessed a team, but the failure to punish Snyder directly or release any detailed findings drew harsh criticism from Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys representing more than 40 former team employees.

“In response to a year-long investigation in which more than 100 witnesses were interviewed, and which we believe substantiated our clients’ allegations of pervasive harassment, misogyny and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the NFL has chosen to protect owner Dan Snyder,” Banks and Katz said in a statement. “This is truly outrageous, and is a slap in the face to the hundreds of women and former employees who came forward in good faith and at great personal risk to report a culture of abuse at all levels of the Team, including by Snyder himself.”

Wilkinson, a former federal prosecutor and partner in the D.C.-based firm Wilkinson Stekloff, began her work last July, after a Washington Post report detailed allegations of pervasive sexual harassment levied by 15 former female employees and two journalists covering the team. Those allegations were ignored, and in some cases condoned, by top club executives, The Post reported.

washington post logoWashington Post, Most rapists in Britain walk free. Survivors describe what needs to change, Karla Adam, July 1, 2021. Britain's recent record on rape prosecutions and convictions is embarrassing to the level of warranting an official apology. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently told Parliament that he was "sorry for the trauma" rape victims have endured as a result of the "inadequacies" of the criminal justice system.

United Kingdom flagVictims, who are mostly women, have complained that investigations are unnecessarily arduous — they are made to hand over their phones and their medical records, their credibility is questioned, their personal history is pored over. Many say they feel as though the investigation is all about them, as opposed to the offender they are reporting. Last year, 43 percent of victims dropped their case.

In the year ending March 2020, 55,259 rapes were reported to police. In that same time period, there were 2,102 prosecutions for rape resulting in 1,439 convictions — the lowest on record.



June 30

washington post logoWashington Post, Bill Cosby to be released from prison after sexual assault conviction vacated by Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Sonia Rao and Paul Farhi, June 30, 2021. Bill Cosby will be released from prison after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced Wednesday that his sexual-assault conviction was to be overturned. The entertainer had served more than two years after being convicted of sexual assault in one of the most high-profile trials of the #MeToo era.

The court issued an opinion written by Justice David Wecht that, according to the Associated Press, said Cosby, 83, could not be charged in the case because of a previous agreement with a prosecutor.

bill cosby“Everyone’s mind is blown right now,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahman told The Daily Beast. “This is extremely rare. This is unprecedented.”

Cosby was convicted on three counts of sexual assault in April 2018 and sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison that September. The charges stemmed from a 2004 incident in which he was accused of drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand, an operations director for women’s basketball at Temple University. She testified that Cosby, who served on Temple’s board of trustees, had given her a pill that made her unable to control her limbs, and that he violated her at his estate in the Philadelphia suburbs.Advertisement

Dozens of women have alleged Cosby sexually assaulted them, dating back as far as the 1960s, when Cosby was a rising young comedian and co-star of the TV program “I Spy.” Cosby’s early stardom made him a breakthrough figure, one of the first Black performers to achieve mass popularity.

He went to star in a long series of humorous TV commercials, write best-selling books dispensing fatherly advice and headline other TV shows. The peak of his national acclaim was between 1984 and 1992, the years in which he appeared as Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” on NBC. The sitcom dominated TV ratings and helped revive its ailing network.

It also was a breakthrough of its own kind, portraying a Black upper-middle class family in the same familiar and heartwarming ways that family sitcoms had long portrayed White families. Some critics later drew a straight line between the fictional Huxtables and the real-life Obama family when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Messages Lead to Sexual Assault Charge in 2013 Case, Johnny Diaz, June 30, 2021. A woman said she spent years trying to get the authorities to investigate a 2013 rape allegation, but a break in the case came only after she found a series of Facebook messages last year that had been sent to her by the man she said had attacked her.

“So I raped you,” one of the messages said.

The woman, Shannon Keeler, showed those messages to the authorities in Adams County, Pa., where she had been a student at Gettysburg College at the time of the reported attack. For Ms. Keeler, 26, the messages were just the latest in a series of leads that her lawyer said she had shared with investigators, including the names and accounts of witnesses.

On Wednesday, the Adams County district attorney, Brian R. Sinnett, said his office had obtained an arrest warrant for Ian Thomas Cleary, 28, of Saratoga, Calif., who he said had been charged with sexual assault.

Mr. Sinnett said that he would make no further statements until Mr. Cleary was taken into custody. “Efforts are being made to locate the defendant,” he said.

In a statement issued by the office of Ms. Keeler’s lawyer, Laura L. Dunn, Ms. Keeler said, “While I am moved to tears by this result, which I have waited for over seven years, I am mindful that this moment came because I went public with my story, which no survivor should have to do in order to obtain justice.” Through her lawyer, Ms. Keeler declined to comment further.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Ms. Keeler reported a sexual assault to the Gettysburg Police Department on the night of Dec. 15, 2013, after she and some friends went to a party on the Gettysburg College campus to celebrate the end of finals.

Ms. Keeler told the police that Mr. Cleary, who was also a student at the college, had followed her and a friend from the party to her dorm room. The friend who escorted her home said that Mr. Cleary had offered $20 to leave him alone with Ms. Keeler. The friend told Mr. Cleary “to go away” and he did, the affidavit said.

About 10 minutes after her friend left, Ms. Keeler told the police, she heard a knock on her door and opened it without looking through the peephole, according to the affidavit. Mr. Cleary then walked into the apartment and began to kiss Ms. Keeler and then had sex with her without her consent, according to the affidavit.

Afterward, he apologized and fled, and Ms. Keeler texted her friend, “OMG please Help me,” the affidavit says.

In an interview with The Associated Press last month, Ms. Keeler said that the authorities had told her when she reported the assault that it was difficult to prosecute cases when the victim had been drinking. She also said that she learned last year that the rape kit from the police investigation was destroyed after the case was initially closed.

Mediaite, Ed Henry Sues Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, Alleging She Covered Up Affair Between Network President and Employee, Josh Feldman, June 30, 2021. Former Fox News anchor Ed Henry, who was fired from the network after being accused of rape, is suing Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, accusing her of defaming him “as a sex criminal.”

Henry’s suit also alleges that Scott accused him of sexual misconduct while covering up an affair between the president of Fox News and a subordinate.

Henry was fired from the network in 2020 following an allegation of rape by a former network staffer. At the time, Scott and Fox News president Jay Wallace put out a statement saying, “On Thursday, June 25, we received a complaint about Ed Henry from a former employee’s attorney involving willful sexual misconduct in the workplace years ago… Based on investigative findings, Ed has been terminated.”

Henry’s lawsuit claims that Scott “sandbagged” him with her statement and “lending credence to the false allegations because she was trying to save her own career and burnish her image as a tough, no nonsense female executive who cleaned up Fox News.”

It accuses Scott of being “an instrument to cover up the existence of sexual misconduct at Fox News” and charges that she “had such a well-known history of whitewashing actual instances of ‘willful sexual misconduct’ by Fox News employees, including a widely-known affair between a subordinate and Fox News President Jay Wallace, i.e. the same Jay Wallace who co-signed the public statement that defamed Mr. Henry.”

Henry alleges that Wallace was investigated over “an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate” but it was “covered up by Ms. Scott.”

Henry was fired “in order to divert attention from Ms. Scott’s long history of covering up actual misconduct,” the lawsuit claims. He even accuses the network of an “unabashed focus on money, at the expense of legitimate news stories.”

Henry has vehemently denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.

UPDATE Fox News has responded to the lawsuit.

In a statement obtained by Mediaite, a Fox News Media spokesperson said, “As we stated one year ago, FOX News Media conducted a thorough independent investigation into Ed Henry immediately after we were made aware of a serious misconduct claim against him by a former employee. Based on the results of those findings, we promptly terminated Mr. Henry’s employment for willful sexual misconduct and stand by the decision entirely. We are fully prepared to vigorously defend against these baseless allegations as Mr. Henry further embarrasses himself in a lawsuit rife with inaccuracies after driving his personal life into the ground with countless extramarital affairs in a desperate attempt for relevance and redemption.”

Regarding both Scott and Wallace:

Under the leadership of CEO Suzanne Scott, FOX News Media has worked tirelessly to transform the company culture, implementing annual, mandatory in-person harassment prevention training, creating an entirely new reporting structure, more than tripling the size of our HR footprint, conducting quarterly company meetings and mentoring events, as well as executing a zero tolerance policy regarding workplace misconduct for which we engage outside independent firms to handle investigations. No other company has enacted such a comprehensive and continuous overhaul, which notably, earned FOX News Media recognition as a “Great Place to Work” for the first time in its existence, a testament to the many cultural changes that Ms. Scott has instituted during her incredibly successful tenure as CEO.

FOX conducted a full and independent investigation of the claims against Jay Wallace — he was cleared of any wrongdoing and the allegations are false.

June 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Commentary: An Accusation Blew Up a Campaign. The Media Didn’t Know What to Do, Ben Smith, June 28, 2021 (print ed.). Handling a delicate allegation of sexual scott stringer campaign resizedmisconduct is a lot more challenging than covering a horse race, Ben Smith, our media columnist, writes.

Two days after coming in fifth in the election night count of votes for New York mayor last week, Scott Stringer, right, was sitting in a high-polish diner in TriBeCa, drinking his second bottle of Sprite and trying to figure out what had happened.

He held up his iPhone to show me a text message he had received on Election Day from one of the progressive elected officials who had endorsed him and then dropped him after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her more than 20 years ago. In the text was a photograph of the official’s ranked-choice ballot. Mr. Stringer was ranked first.

“This profile in courage,” he began, half laughing. “You can’t make this up. Who does that?”

Mr. Stringer, the 61-year-old New York City comptroller, isn’t the only one trying to puzzle out what happened over a few days in April in the campaign. Mr. Stringer, a geeky fixture in Manhattan politics, had been among the leading candidates when the woman, Jean Kim, accused him of touching her without her consent in the back of taxis. Suddenly he, the media covering him, his supporters and Ms. Kim were all reckoning with big questions of truth, doubt, politics and corroboration.

As much as the exposure of police brutality has been driven by cellphone video, the #MeToo movement was powered by investigative journalism, and courageous victims who chose to speak to reporters.

Crucially, reporters honed the craft of corroboration, showing that an accuser had told a friend, a relative or a therapist at the time of the episode and that the accuser wasn’t simply relying on old memories. The reporters also looked for evidence that the accuser’s account was part of a pattern, ruling out a single misunderstanding.

Those technical aspects of the stories weren’t always widely understood. But the landmark investigations were, even in this divided moment, unifying. There was no serious partisan division over any of those men’s guilt because the journalistic evidence was simply so overwhelming. But not every allegation — and not every true allegation — can meet that standard. Not every victim is able to talk about it immediately; not every bad act is part of a pattern.

In the case of Mr. Stringer and Ms. Kim, observers were left simply with his claim their relationship was consensual, and hers that it wasn’t.

ny times logoNew York Times, An Unmarried Catholic Schoolteacher Got Pregnant. She Was Fired, Tracey Tully, June 28, 2021. A lawsuit that she filed in New Jersey is testing the First Amendment limits of religious freedom.

When a Catholic school art teacher was asked to take on extra responsibilities, she requested a raise, explaining that she was about to have a baby.

Weeks later, she was fired from her New Jersey elementary school. The principal, a Roman Catholic nun, told her she was being terminated “because she was pregnant and unmarried,” court records show.

The woman sued. Her daughter is now 7, but the lawsuit remains in limbo, caught in a yearslong back-and-forth between New Jersey’s trial and appellate courts.

An appeals court has twice sided with the ex-teacher, Victoria Crisitello. But last month, the state’s highest court, acting on an appeal by the school, agreed to hear the case, signaling a willingness to wade into the highly charged debate over the relationship between the government and religion.

Its decision comes less than a year after the United States Supreme Court upheld the rights of church-run schools to terminate lay teachers, one of a string of recent decisions by a court far more likely to rule in favor of religious rights than not.

The archdiocese that oversees the New Jersey school, St. Theresa in Kenilworth, has framed its legal argument as a must-win fight for the “fundamental freedom of religion.”

“Sex out of wedlock violates a fundamental Catholic belief that the school in this instance felt it could not overlook,” lawyers for St. Theresa’s wrote in a petition to the state Supreme Court.

Ms. Crisitello’s lawyer, Thomas A. McKinney, says the case is as much about gender discrimination and sexual double standards as it is about First Amendment rights.

The principal acknowledged in depositions that she made no effort to determine if other staff members, including men, were engaged in extramarital sex, court records show.

Because the school’s only proof of a violation of its morals code was the pregnancy itself, “only a woman could be punished, not a man,” Mr. McKinney said. “If you’re going to punish someone for doing something,” he said, “it has to be applied equally and evenly.”

Ms. Crisitello, who attended St. Theresa School as a child, was fired in 2014 and no longer works as a teacher. Her daughter was later baptized in the Catholic church that runs the prekindergarten-to eighth-grade school.

Last July, the Supreme Court ruled that federal employment discrimination laws do not apply to teachers at church-run schools whose duties include religious instruction. In doing so, it expanded the scope of employees deemed outside the reach of employment discrimination protections — known as the “ministerial exception” to workplace bias laws.

It is no longer only trained or ordained ministers and religious leaders who may be excluded from work bias protections; the federal court ruled that lay employees involved in promoting church doctrine were also exempt from federal employment discrimination laws.

The broadened definition could arguably be applied to nearly any employee of a religious school, significantly altering job protections, even in a state like New Jersey, where workers have traditionally enjoyed strong legal safeguards, said Stacy Hawkins, a Rutgers Law School professor who teaches employment law.

June 24 

 britney spears james spears resized ap

ny times logoNew York Times, Is the Forced Contraception Alleged by Britney Spears Legal? Jan Hoffman, June 24, 2021. The United States has a dark history of court-sanctioned sterilization, but more recent rulings and legislation suggest it would violate a basic right.

Among the stunning assertions that the pop star Britney Spears, above right, made to a Los Angeles probate judge this week, as she sought to end her protracted conservatorship, was one that shook experts in guardianship law and reproductive rights deeply. She said a team led by her father, James, above left, who is her conservator, prevented her from having her IUD removed because the team did not want her to have more children.

“Forcing someone to be on birth control against their will is a violation of basic human rights and bodily autonomy, just as forcing someone to become or stay pregnant against their will would be,” said Ruth Dawson, a principal policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports reproductive rights.

Court-condoned compelled contraception is rare in conservatorship. But the specter it raises — forced sterilization — does have a grim, extensive history in the United States, especially against poor women, women of color and inmates. In the early 20th century, the state-sanctioned practice was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

Although the court moved away from that position in the 1940s, and consensus arose through the growing canon on informed consent that forced sterilization was inhumane, the practice continued to be quietly tolerated.

Finally, by the end of the 1970s, most states had repealed laws authorizing sterilization, although allegations of forced hysterectomies and tubal ligations on women in immigrant detention centers continue to be raised. It wasn’t until 2014 that California formally banned the sterilization of female inmates without consent.

The scant law on the question in conservatorship indicates what an outlier the Spears case may be. In 1985, the California Supreme Court denied the petition of guardian parents of a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome who wanted her to undergo a tubal ligation.

Typically, a conservator has temporary control over the finances and even medical care of an incapacitated person. Experts underscored that Ms. Spears’s assertion is unverified. But if it’s accurate, they said, the most likely rationale, however suspect, might be that Jamie Spears, her father, wants to protect her finances from a baby’s father, potentially her boyfriend, who is reportedly at odds with Mr. Spears.

June 21

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: I Am Breaking My Silence About the Baseball Player Who Raped Me, Kat O’Brien (a former journalist and baseball writer for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Newsday), June 21, 2021 (print ed.). I was 22 years old and working as a sports reporter when I was raped by a Major League Baseball player.

major league baseball mlb logoI didn’t tell my best friend, my sister, my mother or my sports editor, who was a woman. For 18 years, I didn’t tell anyone.

I didn’t say it out loud to myself, write it down, speak his name or allow myself to think about it beyond wishing hard that it would not have happened. I spent years willing it to unhappen. Magical thinking became my truth.

That all changed in January.

June 19 

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)

Daily Beast, New Docuseries Suggests Jeffrey Epstein Was a Government Informant, Nick Schager, June 19, 2021. The Plot Thickens. The Peacock docuseries “Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell” traces the life of the late sex trafficker’s right-hand woman, with victims speaking out about the damage they wrought.

Ghislaine Maxwell has a name that many can’t pronounce and a backstory that’s shrouded in mystery. Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell seeks to rectify the latter by investigating the life of Jeffrey Epstein’s notorious girlfriend and co-conspirator, who currently resides in a Brooklyn jail awaiting trial for a variety of sex-trafficking charges that were levied against her by the U.S. federal government daily beast logoin 2020. Informative and comprehensive, it paints a portrait of a woman who was groomed at an early age for her eventual role as a madame for her pedophilic partner—a cretin for whom she herself groomed countless underage girls for his perverse sexual pleasure.

Peacock’s three-part docuseries (premiering June 24) is a no-frills non-fiction affair, and all the better for it. A raft of interviews with acquaintances, authors, journalists, and more provide the narrative spine for an archival footage-heavy investigation into Maxwell’s saga, which has ensnared the many rich and powerful people whom she brought into Epstein’s orbit.

Those include, most infamously, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, whose damningly clumsy BBC interview receives some airplay here, as well as Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and various celebrities—Elon Musk, Mick Jagger, Joan Rivers—whom she was photographed with at one gala event or another. Maxwell was the conduit between Epstein and high society’s cream of the crop, and though this overview presents no new bombshells about her A-list relationships, her intimate ties to dignitaries, politicians, artists, and other notable names is made definitively clear.

Those links are central to Maxwell’s fate, since it’s apparent she and Epstein made secret surveillance videos (and photographs) of visitors to their NYC townhouse home—meaning they potentially have blackmail material on a host of global big shots.

These incriminating recordings have been fingered as the reason Epstein received a “sweetheart deal” from U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (and Secretary of Labor under Trump) Alexander Acosta in 2008, when the feds had Epstein dead-to-rights on sex-trafficking crimes, and yet offered him a plea agreement that put him behind bars for 15 months—he could even come and go during the day from prison—and provided immunity to anyone related to his infractions, at least in Palm Beach. It’s also been suggested that they’re the cause of his much-debated suicide; as the conspiracy theory goes, he may have been murdered by forces that wanted to keep what he knew—and had—from seeing the light of day.

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 Matt Gaetz scandal is blowing up in Republicans’ faces, Bill Palmer, right, June 19, 2021. Once the Feds gained two cooperating witnesses against Matt Gaetz last month, it was bill palmerpretty clear that he was headed for likely criminal indictment. Earlier today the Feds seemingly tipped off that Gaetz will be indicted and arrested within weeks. This is ugly news for Republicans – and not just the specific Central Florida Republicans who appear to be going down with him.

Because Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, is a tepid idiot who usually just defers to whatever fantasy Donald Trump would like to see play out, McCarthy missed the chance to preemptively make some kind of move to distance his party from Matt Gaetz. There was a window of opportunity where McCarthy could have had the House GOP remove Kevin McCarthyGaetz from committees, so that once Gaetz was indicted, the Republicans could argue that they took action against Gaetz before anyone else did.

bill palmer report logo headerBut now it’s realistically too late for McCarthy and the House GOP to get out ahead of the Gaetz scandal. Congressman Ted Lieu highlighted the trouble that House Republicans are now facing in a tweet today: “Dear Kevin McCarthy: You and your GOP caucus should stop embracing Rep Matt Gaetz and remove him from the Judiciary Committee immediately. Gaetz should not be sitting on the Committee that has oversight over the DOJ that is investigating him for alleged sex crimes & other crimes.”

Lieu’s tweet is a preview of what the Democratic Party will end up saying about every House Republican who faces reelection in 2022: they knew what Matt Gaetz was all along, so why did they try to protect him instead of doing the right thing? At this point Kevin McCarthy is a deer in the headlights – and House Republicans are stuck right there with him.


ed litton

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Will Christian America Withstand the Pull of QAnon? Peter Wehner (Mr. Wehner, right, who served in various roles in the three Republican administrations before the Trump administration, is a contributing peter wehnerOpinion writer. He attends McLean Presbyterian Church in McLean, Va.), June 19, 2021 (print ed.).

The scandals, jagged-edged judgmentalism and culture war mentality that have enveloped significant parts of American Christendom over the last several years, including the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, have conditioned many of us to expect the worst. Which is why the annual meeting of the convention this week was such a pleasant surprise.

The convention’s newly elected president, the Rev. Ed Litton, above, barely defeated the Rev. Mike Stone, below left, the choice of the denomination’s insurgent right. Mr. Litton, a soft-spoken pastor in Alabama who is very conservative theologically, has made racial reconciliation a hallmark of his ministry and has said that he will make institutional accountability and care for survivors of sexual abuse priorities during his two-year mike stone twitterterm.

“My goal is to build bridges and not walls,” Mr. Litton said at a news conference after his victory, pointedly setting himself apart from his main challenger. But those bridges won’t be easy to build.

Tensions in the convention are as high as they’ve been in decades; it is a deeply fractured denomination marked by fierce infighting. The Conservative Baptist Network, which Mr. Stone is part of, was formed in 2020 to stop what it considers the convention’s drift toward liberalism on matters of culture and theology.Ruth Graham and Elizabeth Dias of The Times describe the individuals in the Conservative Baptist Network as “part of an ultraconservative populist uprising of pastors” who want to “take the ship.” They are russell moore headshotzealous, inflamed, uncompromising and eager for a fight. They nearly succeeded this time. And they’re not going away anytime soon.

They view as a temporary setback the defeat of Mr. Stone, who came within an eyelash of winning even after allegations by the Rev. Russell Moore, right, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, that Mr. Stone blocked investigations of sexual abuse at Southern Baptist churches and engaged in a broader campaign of intimidation. (Mr. Stone has denied the charges.)

June 17

Palmer Report, Opinion: Matt Gaetz just made clear why he’s not going to survive this, Bill Palmer, right, June 17, 2021. With two inside witnesses now formally cooperating against him, Matt Gaetz is all but bill palmercertain to be indicted and arrested on federal criminal charges before much longer. The trouble in the meantime is that he’s still a sitting Congressman.

This led a number of observers to worry that Gaetz might be able to abuse his position in the House of Representatives to somehow get himself off the legal hook or gain a strategic advantage heading into trial.

While it’s wrong that Gaetz is still sitting on a House committee that oversees the same DOJ and FBI that are criminally investigating him, I’ve never worried too much about it. If the Republicans controlled the House committees, it would be one thing. But as things stand, Gaetz would need to be awfully clever to get anywhere – and he’s the opposite of clever. Gaetz just more or less proved me right.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Matt Gaetz, right, recently had the opportunity to use his position as a Congressman to question FBI Director Christopher Wray, he didn’t manage to make any headway. Now Gaetz matt gaetz o Customis fully blowing the opportunity, by pushing the lunatic conspiracy theory that FBI operatives were somehow behind the January 6th Capitol attack.

To be clear, not a single person outside Gaetz’s deranged base will believe this. So Gaetz is merely playing to his own fans, instead of trying to win over the American mainstream. And that sucks for him, because his only chance of surviving this would be if he could somehow convince the mainstream that he’s being framed, or that he’s the real victim.

Matt Gaetz is pinned against the proverbial wall right now. It would take a herculean effort for him to save himself. Instead he’s busy proving why he’s not going to be able to save himself.

June 16

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Like a murder’: South Korean women face widespread online sex abuse, rights group says, Min Joo Kim, June 16, 2021 (print ed.). There has been a rise in crimes involving intimate images that are captured and shared without consent or manipulated to impersonate the victim in a sexually degrading manner, a Human Rights Watch report said.

South Korea is facing a growing epidemic of online and tech-enabled “digital sex crimes” that is inflicting grave damage on women and girls, but the government has not done enough to stamp out the menace, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday.

south korea flag SmallSouth Korea, a global leader in information and communication technology, is struggling to cope with a rise in crimes involving intimate images — almost always of women — that are captured and shared digitally without consent or manipulated to impersonate the victim in a sexually degrading manner.

“The root cause of digital sex crimes in South Korea is widely accepted harmful views about and conduct toward women and girls that the government urgently needs to address,” said Heather Barr, interim co-director for women’s rights at Human Rights Watch. “The government has tinkered with the law but has not sent a clear and forceful message that women and men are equal, and misogyny is unacceptable.”

washington post logoWashington Post, What offenses did Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, commit in Britain? New report forces police to review claims, Jennifer Hassan, June 16, 2021. British police say they will review allegations made in a recent Channel 4 News investigation that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his former partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, sexually abused, trafficked and groomed multiple women and girls in Britain over a period of 10 years.

The claims, of which there are at least half a dozen but the broadcaster said could be “much higher,” aired on Tuesday, prompting fresh calls for the Metropolitan Police Service to fully investigate the Epstein scandal which has thrust Britain’s Prince Andrew, the second-eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, into the spotlight due to his ties to the disgraced U.S. financier.

The broadcaster said the allegations, including rape and sexual assault, came from evidence collected from “a combination of publicly available documentation (including court papers), witness accounts, and interviews.”

Prince Andrew says he let down royal family by associating with Jeffrey Epstein

The allegations further implicate British socialite Maxwell, who is in jail and awaiting trial in the United States on sex trafficking charges. She has denied enlisting underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.

In its report, the broadcaster asked why Britain has been so slow to investigate the allegations when authorities around the world have moved to uncover the truth about the extent of Epstein’s crimes and connections.

“In this country there has been a deafening silence from the metropolitan police,” the investigation said, adding “Scotland Yard has seemingly done very little. Tonight we ask, why?” 

June 13 

katie logan 2001 currently tim gruber wash post

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: People of Praise, a Christian group tied to Justice Amy Coney Barrett, faces reckoning over sexual misconduct allegations, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites, June 13, 2021 (print ed.). Barrett’s ascendancy to the Supreme Court spurred former members of the group to speak out and forced People of Praise to hire lawyers to investigate.

In December, Katie Logan called the police in this Minneapolis suburb to unearth a buried secret: Her high school physics teacher had sexually assaulted her two decades earlier, she said. She was 17 and had just graduated from a school run by a small Christian group called People of Praise. He was 35 at the time, a widely admired teacher and girls’ basketball coach who lived in a People of Praise home for celibate men.

Logan (shown above in 2001 photo at left and in a recent Washington Post photo by Tim Gruber) told police she reported the June 2001 incident to a dean at the school five years after it happened. Police records show the dean believed Logan and relayed the complaint to at least one other senior school official.

But the teacher, Dave Beskar, remained at Trinity School at River Ridge until 2011, when he was hired to lead a charter school in Arizona. In 2015, he returned to the Minneapolis area to become headmaster of another Christian school. Beskar denies that any inappropriate sexual activity took place.

“People of Praise leaders failed me,” Logan, 37, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think they wanted to protect themselves more than they wanted to protect me and other girls.”

amy coney barrett headshot notre dame photoLogan was encouraged to go to police by a founder of “PoP Survivors,” a Facebook group formed last fall after the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, left, who has deep roots in People of Praise and who served on the board of its schools years after Beskar left.

Barrett’s ascendancy to the nation’s highest court has forced a painful reckoning in People of Praise, an insular Christian community that emphasizes traditional gender roles. The former members are now demanding that the group acknowledge their suffering and that it mishandled complaints, prompting People of Praise to hire two law firms to investigate allegations of abuse.

The Post interviewed nine people in the Facebook group — all but one of them women — who said they were sexually abused as children, as well as another man who says he was physically abused. In four of those cases, the people said the alleged abuse was reported to community leaders. Logan gave The Post recorded statements and other documents from the police investigation of her complaint.

In response to questions from The Post, Craig Lent, chairman of the religious group’s board of governors, said that the lawyers’ findings will be reviewed by a People of Praise committee of men and women and that “appropriate action” will be taken.

Lent declined in a written statement to respond to specific questions about Logan’s allegation but acknowledged the “serious questions that it raises.” He declined to say how many claims are being investigated.

“People of Praise has always put the safety of children far above any reputational concerns,” said Lent, who is also chairman of the board overseeing three Trinity Schools campuses for middle and high school students — in the Minneapolis area, South Bend, Ind., and Falls Church, Va.

People of Praise grew out of the charismatic Christian movement of the early 1970s, which adopted practices described in the New Testament of the Bible, including speaking in tongues, the use of prophecy and faith healing. The group says it has 1,700 members across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

amy coney barrett ap oct 12 2020Barrett, who was raised in a People of Praise community in Louisiana, has long been active in the branch in the South Bend area, where she was a student at Notre Dame Law School. Barrett lived for a time with People of Praise co-founder Kevin Ranaghan and his wife, Dorothy, Dorothy Ranaghan has confirmed. A People of Praise 2010 directory shows Barrett served as a “handmaid,” a key female adviser to another female member. Barrett served on the Trinity Schools board, whose members must belong to People of Praise, from 2015 to 2017.

Barrett was not asked about People of Praise during her confirmation to the Supreme Court (shown at right). At her 2017 Senate confirmation hearing for a federal appeals court, she said she would not put her religious beliefs before the rule of law. “It’s never appropriate for a judge to impose that judge’s personal convictions, whether they derive from faith or anywhere else, on the law,” she said.

June 10

ny times logoNew York Times, Google Tweaks Its Formula, Seeking to Curb Online Slander, Kashmir Hill and Daisuke Wakabayashi, June 10, 2021. In response to Times articles, the search giant is changing its algorithm, part of a major shift in how Google polices harmful content.

For many years, the vicious cycle has spun: Websites solicit lurid, unverified complaints about supposed cheaters, sexual predators, deadbeats and scammers. People slander their enemies. The anonymous posts appear high in Google results for the names of victims. Then the websites charge the victims thousands of dollars to take the posts down.

This circle of slander has been lucrative for the websites and associated middlemen — and devastating for victims. Now Google is trying to break the loop.

google logo customThe company plans to change its search algorithm to prevent websites, which operate under domains like BadGirlReport.date and PredatorsAlert.us, from appearing in the list of results when someone searches for a person’s name.

Google also recently created a new concept it calls “known victims.” When people report to the company that they have been attacked on sites that charge to remove posts, Google will automatically suppress similar content when their names are searched for. “Known victims” also includes people whose nude photos have been published online without their consent, allowing them to request suppression of explicit results for their names.

The changes — some already made by Google and others planned for the coming months — are a response to recent New York Times articles documenting how the slander industry preys on victims with Google’s unwitting help.

That represents a momentous shift for victims of online slander. Google, which fields an estimated 90 percent of global online search, historically resisted having human judgment play a role in its search engine, although it has bowed to mounting pressure in recent years to fight misinformation and abuse appearing at the top of its results.

June 9

ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly’s Longtime Lawyers Move to Quit His Case as Trial Nears, Troy Closson, June 9, 2021. Citing a disagreement with Mr. Kelly’s new counsel, the lawyers asked to be removed just over two months before a trial is set to begin.

Two top lawyers for R. Kelly, shown in a Twitter photo, are moving to withdraw from his case, citing internal disputes with other lawyers, less than nine weeks before they were set to represent Mr. Kelly, the disgraced R&B star, in his criminal trial in federal court in Brooklyn.

r kelly twitterIn a letter to the judge this week, the lawyers, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard, wrote that they had significant reasons to depart the case, writing that it would be “impossible” for them to continue to represent Mr. Kelly.

The decision emerged, they said, as tensions erupted between them and two other members of the legal team who joined the case later and were now seeking a more prominent role in the trial. At a hearing on Wednesday, the two sides hurled criticisms at one another, with Mr. Greenberg questioning the aptitude of Mr. Kelly’s newer lawyers, who shot back that his comments were out of line.

The attempted shift in Mr. Kelly’s legal representation is the latest twist in the run-up to the singer’s long-awaited trial on racketeering charges, which is scheduled to begin on Aug. 9 in New York. Mr. Kelly said at the hearing that he was in support of the change.

Judge Ann M. Donnelly did not immediately rule on the matter on Wednesday, instead requesting more detailed information in writing about the two lawyers’ set of complaints.

Mr. Kelly’s indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, accuses him of being the leader of a criminal enterprise that included his managers, bodyguards, drivers and members of his entourage.

The enterprise recruited women and underage girls for illegal sexual contact and then isolated and threatened them to keep them under control and prevent them from going to the authorities, the indictment alleges.

If convicted, Mr. Kelly, who also faces federal charges of pornography and obstruction in Chicago, could face up to 20 years in prison.

On Wednesday, Judge Donnelly said the trial date would not be postponed despite the possible late upheaval. “It sounds like nobody is asking for an adjournment of trial, which I wouldn’t grant in any event,” the judge said.

Mr. Greenberg had represented Mr. Kelly, 54, since 2018, before he was charged in the criminal case. But both he and Mr. Leonard said their joint departure was spurred by agitation with two other lawyers on the case, who they said lack trial experience at the federal level and began to demand a larger, more forward-facing role in the trial.

The two had twice sought to discuss those concerns with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Greenberg said. But the singer rejected both attempts to meet with him. “It’s unfortunate because these other people are clueless,” Mr. Greenberg said in an interview. “But that’s his choice. You can’t save someone from themselves.”

When asked by the judge if he wanted to move forward with just half of his legal team, Mr. Kelly responded, “Absolutely, yes, ma’am.”

Since his arrest in July 2019, Mr. Kelly has been held in a federal detention facility in Chicago. He is expected to be moved to New York closer to the trial date, as a prosecutor said his lawyers wanted him to remain in Illinois for as long as possible.

June 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Justice Department Seeks to Defend Trump in Suit Over Rape Denial, Alan Feuer and Benjamin Weiser, June 8, 2021 (print ed.). Donald Trump is facing a defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Mr. Trump of raping her.

During the presidential campaign, Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the Democratic candidate, slammed his opponent, Donald J. Trump, for a highly unusual legal move: bringing in the Justice Department to represent him in a defamation lawsuit stemming from a decades-old rape allegation.

Justice Department log circularAt one of their debates, Mr. Biden accused Mr. Trump of treating the Justice Department like his “own law firm” in the suit, filed against him by the writer E. Jean Carroll. “What’s that all about?” he sarcastically asked.

But on Monday night, nearly eight months after Mr. Biden’s attack, his own Justice Department essentially adopted Mr. Trump’s position, arguing that he could not be sued for defamation because he had made the supposedly offending statements as part of his official duties as president.

In a brief filed with a federal appeals court in New York, the Justice Department acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s remarks about Ms. Carroll were “crude and disrespectful,” but the department also claimed that the Trump administration’s arguments were correct — a position that could lead to Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit being dismissed.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly said he wants to restore the Justice Department’s traditional independence from the White House — a stance that has been echoed by several of his top picks for the department’s leadership.

Even so, the late-night filing caught many, including Ms. Carroll’s lawyers, by surprise and marked another twist in a protracted legal battle.



May 27

Actor Danny Masterson is shown at left with defense attorney Thomas Mesereau during this 2020 arraignment on multiple rape charges.

Actor Danny Masterson is shown at left with defense attorney Thomas Mesereau during this 2020 arraignment on multiple rape charges.

Los Angeles Times, Scientology’s secrets spill into open in Danny Masterson rape case, James Queally, Matthew Ormseth, May 27, 2021. The Church of Scientology works hard to keep its inner workings out of the public eye.

It has hired private detectives to keep tabs on straying members, and experts say its lawyers vigorously defend against legal incursions, arguing to judges that Scientology’s beliefs are not courtroom fodder.

But at a hearing last week in the rape case against actor Danny Masterson, church officials were unable to stop their practices from being debated in open court.

Three women took the stand to recount sexual assaults allegedly committed by the celebrity Scientologist, and each told similar stories of how church officials tried to stop them from reporting Masterson to police.

One woman testified that a church official instructed her to write a statement showing she would “take responsibility” for a 2001 assault, in which she alleges Masterson raped her while she was unconscious.

Another woman, who was born into Scientology and planned to report Masterson to police in 2004, a year after she said he raped her at his Hollywood mansion, recounted how a Scientology attorney showed up at her family’s home. The lawyer, according to the woman, warned that she would be expelled from the church if she went to authorities.

“We’re going to work out how you can not lose your daughter,” the attorney told the woman’s father, according to her testimony.

The focus on Scientology during the preliminary hearing, which stretched over four days and included lengthy discussions of internal church texts and doctrine, wasn’t lost on Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo.

In ruling that there was sufficient evidence against Masterson to allow the case to proceed toward trial, Olmedo concluded that Scientology has “an expressly written doctrine” that “not only discourages, but prohibits” its members from reporting one another to law enforcement. The policy explained why several of the women did not report Masterson’s alleged crimes to the police for more than a decade, the judge found.

It was a type of public dissection that is unusual for the insular, enigmatic institution. The church, which counts a number of high-profile actors among its parishioners and operates a “Celebrity Centre” in the heart of Hollywood, has long been accused of going to extraordinary lengths to keep criminal allegations and other claims of wrongdoing in-house, experts said.

“The activities of Scientology have been so much a part of the evidence that’s being put forth as to why these women were not immediately going to law enforcement ... that it’s sort of brought the dirty laundry out into public view, which is exactly what Scientology does not want to have happen,” said Mike Rinder, the church’s former top spokesman, who left the faith in 2007.

In statements to The Times, the church denied it has a policy that dissuades members from reporting crimes, despite repeated references to Scientology texts during the hearing that appeared to include the directive. Karin Pouw, the church’s top spokeswoman, said Olmedo’s comments were “flat-out wrong” and dismissed the allegations against Masterson as “nothing more than a money shakedown” by women who are also engaged in a civil suit against him.

The women, Pouw claimed without evidence, are parroting comments made by Leah Remini, an actress who became an outspoken critic of Scientology after breaking with it in 2013. Rinder is a co-executive producer with Remini of an A&E series about Scientology.
Church of Scientology leader's father struggles to escape the religion

“Church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land, including the reporting of crimes. This is blatantly clear in the documents we understand were put before the Court — and many others,” Pouw wrote, repeatedly noting the church is not a party in the criminal case. “The Court either did not read them in full or ignored them. It should have done neither. Interpretation of Church doctrine by the courts is prohibited and the ruling is evidence of why.”

The case against Masterson, who starred in the 2000s sitcom “That ’70s Show,” is a relatively rare example of a Scientologist facing criminal charges based on accusations from other church members, Rinder said.

The church’s doctrine generally dismisses government institutions like courts as invalid and directs members to deal with complaints internally, said Rinder, who described himself as having worked closely with L. Ron Hubbard, the late science fiction author who founded the church. Knowing that contacting law enforcement can lead to excommunication and being cut off from family and friends who remain in the church, members often remain silent, according to Rinder and testimony delivered in court last week.

The case against Masterson, Rinder added, is also unusual for the outsize role the inner workings and rules of Scientology played at the preliminary hearing — a likely preview of what is to come if the case goes to trial. For the most part, Rinder said, cases involving the church have played out in civil court, where lawyers for Scientology have largely been successful in convincing judges that its practices are irrelevant.

“Scientology had managed to persuade courts … that you can’t inquire into our religious practices and beliefs and have managed to dissuade much discussion about Scientology,” Rinder said.

Murder suspect Alan Lee Phillips, center, shown in a file photo, is shown with his alleged 1982 victims Annette Schnee, left, and Barbara Jo

Murder suspect Alan Lee Phillips, center, shown in a file photo, is shown with his alleged 1982 victims Annette Schnee, left, and Barbara Jo "Bobbi" Oberholtzer.

ny times logoNew York Times, Man Rescued in Colorado Mountain Pass Is Accused in 1982 Murders, Maria Cramer, May 27, 2021. Alan Lee Phillips was rescued from a snowdrift in 1982 after he signaled SOS with his headlights. The police now say he became trapped on the road after killing two women.

On a January night in 1982, Alan Lee Phillips was found shivering in his pickup, stuck in a snowdrift on a treacherous mountain pass in central Colorado.

A rescue worker tracked him down after Mr. Phillips, then 30, used his headlights to blink the Morse code signal for SOS and caught the attention of a passenger on a plane flying overhead. Asked what he had been thinking, taking such a dangerous road in subzero temperatures, Mr. Phillips, looking dazed, said he was coming back from a bar, according to the police.

“You find out how lonely it is really quick,” Mr. Phillips later said, according to a newspaper article from the time. “I thought about walking to a ski area nearby, and went about 200 yards and thought, ‘No way.’ It was too cold.”

Nearly 40 years later, the police now say they know where Mr. Phillips was really coming from that night, and what might have caused him to take the perilous route. The authorities say he had just shot two young women and left them to die near the mountain town of Breckenridge.

“It was his own stupidity that got him up there, because the pass is not passable in the wintertime,” said Sergeant Wendy Kipple of the Park County Sheriff’s Office. “I don’t know what he was thinking, other than he was trying to run away from a crime he had just committed.”

Mr. Phillips, now 70, was charged in February with first-degree murder, assault and kidnapping in the killings of Annette Schnee and Barbara Jo Oberholtzer after DNA evidence linked him to their deaths.

Mr. Phillips, a semiretired mechanic living in Clear Creek County, west of Denver, has been held in the Park County Jail since his arrest. He is being represented by a lawyer with the state’s public defender’s office, which did not respond to requests for comment.

 chad perkins missouri house

Missouri House Rep. Chad Perkins, R-Dist. 40, standing, represents parts of Ralls, Monroe, Lincoln, and Pike counties. He was elected to his first two-year term in November 2020 and lives in Bowling Green. 

St. Louis Today, Report alleges Missouri lawmaker had sex with teen when he was a cop, Kurt Erickson and Jack Suntrup, May 27, 2021.A Missouri lawmaker allegedly used his position as a cop to receive a “sexual favor” from an intoxicated teenage girl in 2015 and his boss, the Pike County sheriff, is accused of attempting to obstruct a probe as the deputy ran for a seat in the Legislature last year, the Post-Dispatch has learned.

According to a report obtained from Frankford Police Chief Josh Baker in response to an open records request, state Rep. Chad Perkins, a Bowling Green Republican, allegedly accepted “sexual favors from a teenage girl while on duty” as a police officer.

The report said the Pike County prosecutor, as well as state and federal investigators have been alerted to the allegations. The speaker of the Missouri House, Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, also has been notified of the incident.

The speaker forwarded the information to the House Ethics Committee.

republican elephant logoIn an April 19 memo that was attached to the report, Baker writes to Vescovo, and officials working for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the attorney general’s office and the Peace Officer Standards & Training Program.

“I implore your offices to investigate this ongoing criminal activity,” he said.

Perkins, 42, is a freshman lawmaker who was elected to the northeast Missouri House seat in 2020. He represents parts of Ralls, Monroe, Lincoln, and Pike counties.

Perkins said his relationship with the 19-year-old was consensual and the controversy is the product of a local political feud over his decision to not publicly endorse Baker’s wife in her bid for Pike County assessor in the 2020 election.

“There is no victim. There’s nothing to that. It was just political sour grapes because I wouldn’t help his wife out,” Perkins said.

Among the bills Perkins supported this year is one heading to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk that says a law enforcement officer who engages in sexual conduct with a detainee or prisoner who is in the custody of such officer shall be guilty of a class E felony.

The legislation was designed to curtail police officers from using their power as law enforcement officers to gain sexual favors from people under their control.

May 25

Melinda Gates, left, and Bill Gates (2019 photo by Elaine Thompson of the Associated Press).

Melinda Gates, left, and then-husband Bill Gates (2019 photo by Elaine Thompson of the Associated Press).

Unz Review, Investigation: The Cover-Up Continues: the Truth About Bill Gates, Microsoft, and Jeffrey Epstein, Whitney Webb, below right, May 25, 2021. While more revelations about the Bill Gates–Jeffrey Epstein relationship have begun trickling out following the Gates’s divorce announcement, the strong evidence pointing to their relationship beginning decades prior to 2011 continues to be covered whitney webb newer smileup by the media—not necessarily to protect Bill but to protect Microsoft.

In early May, the announcement that Bill and Melinda Gates would be divorcing after twenty-seven years of marriage shocked both those that praise and those that loathe the “philanthropic” power couple.

Less than a week after the initial announcement of the divorce, on May 7, the Daily Beast reported that Melinda Gates had allegedly been “deeply troubled” by Bill Gates’s relationship with child sex trafficker and intelligence asset Jeffrey Epstein. The report suggested that Melinda was a major reason for her husband’s decision to distance himself from Epstein around 2014 because of her discomfort with Epstein after they both met him in 2013. That previously unreported meeting had taken place at Epstein’s mansion on New York’s Upper East Side.

The Daily Beast also revealed that the details of the Gates’s divorce had been decided several weeks prior to the official announcement. Then, on May 9, the Wall Street Journal published a report suggesting that the plans for divorce went back even farther, with Melinda having consulted divorce lawyers in 2019. Allegedly, that consultation was made after details of Bill Gates’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein had gained considerable mainstream media attention, including from the New York Times.

While mainstream media outlets apparently agree that Jeffrey Epstein was a likely factor in the Gates’s recently announced split up, what these same outlets refuse to cover is the real extent of the Bill Gates–Jeffrey Epstein relationship. Indeed, the mainstream narrative holds that Gates’s ties to Epstein began in 2011, despite the evidence pointing to their relationship beginning decades earlier.This blanket refusal to honestly report on the Gates-Epstein ties likely is due to Gates’s outsized role in current events, both in terms of global health policy as it relates to COVID-19 and in his being a major promoter and funder of controversial t