#MeToo News, 2021-24

 

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

 

2022-24

February

Feb. 25

ny times logoWashington Post, Alabama embryo ruling may have devastating effects on cancer patients, Sabrina Malhi, Feb. 25, 2024. A cancer diagnosis often comes with a host of difficult decisions, including what to do about the impact of treatment on a person’s fertility. Many individuals grappling with this dual burden turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a way to preserve their reproductive options.

alabama state mapThat’s why cancer patients and oncologists are expressing shock and anxiety about the recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that frozen embryos are considered children under the law.

The ruling is already having a chilling effect on IVF clinics in the state. Worries are mounting that other states could adopt similar rulings that would impede fertility medicine for people, including many cancer patients, who say assisted reproductive technology might be their only way of having a family after treatments.

“We’re leaving a lot of young men and women to deal with the long-lasting effects of the cancer treatments, and some of those effects could be infertility and premature menopause,” said Deanna Gerber, a gynecologic oncologist at NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center who is a triple-negative breast cancer survivor.

ny times logoWashington Post, Alabama justice who quoted Bible in IVF case often invokes religion, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Feb. 25, 2024 (print ed.). In the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that said frozen embryos are people, Chief Justice Tom Parker wrote a concurring opinion that sought to define the “sanctity of unborn life,” citing heavily from scripture and theology. His opinion, which drew criticism from abortion rights activists for instilling religious beliefs into a judicial decision, was the latest in nearly 20 years on the bench in which he has repeatedly invoked religion on his way to laying the groundwork to overturn Roe v. Wade.

tom parker mickey welsh advertiser reutersParker, shown at right in a photo by Mickey Welsh via the Advertiser and Reuters,  has also openly criticized other judges for not sufficiently considering religion in their rulings and has expressed support for the theory known as the Seven Mountain Mandate, which calls for conservative Christians to run the government and broadly influence American life.

Parker, 72, was first elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2004 and won the chief justice’s seat in 2018. His term ends in 2025; state law prohibits judges older than 70 from being elected. Parker has for years been lauded by abortion foes and condemned by reproductive rights advocates for writing opinions that would help spawn the fall of Roe and further restrict abortion access.

washington post logoWashington Post, Man found guilty of killing trans woman in historic hate crime verdict, Daniel Wu, Feb. 25, 2024 (print ed.). A South Carolina man is the first person convicted by trial of a federal hate crime based on gender identity, federal authorities said.

A federal jury found a South Carolina man guilty Friday of killing a Black transgender woman, marking the first conviction at federal trial for a hate crime motivated by gender identity, according to authorities.

The jury unanimously found Daqua Lameek Ritter guilty of a hate crime, a firearms charge and obstruction for the 2019 fatal shooting of Dime Doe, a 24-year-old transgender woman, the Justice Department announced Saturday.

Ritter lured Doe to a remote area in Allendale, S.C., and shot her three times in the head, prosecutors alleged. Ritter was upset after he learned rumors had spread in his community about a sexual relationship between him and Doe, and he killed Doe because of her gender identity, according to the Justice Department.

Officials hailed the conviction as historic. Until Ritter’s case, no federal hate-crime case based on gender identity had reached a guilty verdict by trial, according to the Justice Department.

Ritter faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“We want the Black trans community to know that you are seen and heard, that we stand with the LGBTQI+ community, and that we will use every tool available to seek justice for victims and their families,” Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in the department’s news release.

The 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act created a federal law criminalizing violent acts against people due to their religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or disability. The law gave, among other things, federal authorities greater flexibility to prosecute hate crimes that local authorities choose not to pursue, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. But prosecutors did not pursue a case centered on a victim’s gender identity until several years after the law’s enactment.

Feb. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida surgeon general defies science as school tries to contain measles outbreak, Lena H. Sun and Lauren Weber, Feb. 24, 2024 (print ed.). Joseph Ladapo, right, the state’s top health official, is giving advice that runs counter to science and may leave unvaccinated children at risk of joseph ladapocontracting one of the most contagious pathogens on Earth, clinicians and public health experts said.

 As a Florida elementary school tries to contain a growing measles outbreak, the state’s top health official is giving advice that runs counter to science and may leave unvaccinated children at risk of contracting one of the most contagious pathogens on Earth, clinicians and public health experts said.

Florida surgeon general Joseph A. Ladapo failed to urge parents to vaccinate their children or keep unvaccinated students home from school as a precaution in a letter to parents at the Fort Lauderdale-area school this week following six confirmed measles cases.

Instead of following what he acknowledged was the “normal” recommendation that parents keep unvaccinated children home for up to 21 days — the incubation period for measles — Ladapo said the state health department “is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.”

The controversial move by Ladapo follows a pattern of bucking public health norms, particularly when it comes to vaccines. Last month, he called for halting the use of mRNA coronavirus vaccines, in a move decried by the public health community.

Ben Hoffman, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said Florida’s guidance flies in the face of long-standing and widely accepted public health guidance for measles, which can result in severe complications, including death.

“It runs counter to everything I have ever heard and everything that I have read,” Hoffman said. “It runs counter to our policy. It runs counter to what the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] would recommend.”

Measles outbreaks have been on the rise in recent years. So far in 2024, at least 26 cases in at least 12 states have been reported to the CDC, about double the number at this point last year. In addition to the six cases confirmed in the Florida school, cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Feb. 23

alabama locator mapLetters from an American, Commentary: February 22, 2024 (Alabama Supreme Court), Heather Cox Richardson, right, Feb. 23, 2023. The Alabama Supreme heather cox richardsonCourt on February 16, 2024, decided that cells awaiting implantation for in vitro fertilization are children and that the accidental destruction of such an embryo falls under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

In an opinion concurring with the ruling, Chief Justice Tom Parker declared that the people of Alabama have adopted the “theologically based view of the sanctity of life” and said that “human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God.”

Payton Armstrong of media watchdog Media Matters for America reported today that on the same day the Alabama decision came down, an interview Parker did on the program of a self-proclaimed “prophet” and Q-Anon conspiracy theorist appeared. In it, Parker claimed that “God created government” and called it “heartbreaking” that “we have let it go into the possession of others.”

Parker referred to the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” a theory that appeared in 1975, which claims that Christians must take over the “seven mountains” of U.S. life: religion, family, education, media, entertainment, business…and government. He told his interviewer that “we’ve abandoned those Seven Mountains and they’ve been occupied by the other side.” God “is calling and equipping people to step back into these mountains right now,” he said.

While Republicans are split on the decision about embryos after a number of hospitals have ended their popular IVF programs out of fear of prosecution, others, like Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley agreed that “embryos, to me, are babies.”

House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) identifies himself as a Christian, has argued that the United States is a Christian nation, and has called for “biblically sanctioned government.” At a retreat of Republican leaders this weekend, as the country is grappling with both the need to support Ukraine and the need to fund the government, he tried to rally the attendees with what some called a “sermon” arguing that the Republican Party needed to save the country from its lack of morality.

As Charles Blow of the New York Times put it: “If you don’t think this country is sliding toward theocracy, you’re not paying attention.”

In the United States, theocracy and authoritarianism go hand in hand. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Abortion Shield Laws Pit U.S. States Against One Another, Pam Belluck, Feb. 23, 2024 (print ed.). Doctors in six states where abortion is legal are using new laws to send abortion pills to tens of thousands of women in states where it is illegal.

Behind an unmarked door in a boxy brick building outside Boston, a quiet rebellion is taking place. Here, in a 7-by-12-foot room, abortion is being made available to thousands of women in states where it is illegal.

The patients do not have to travel here to terminate their pregnancies, and they do not have to wait weeks to receive abortion medication from overseas.

Instead, they are obtaining abortion pills prescribed by licensed Massachusetts providers, packaged in the little room and mailed from a nearby post office, arriving days later in Texas, Missouri and other states where abortion is largely outlawed.

This service and others like it are operating under novel laws enacted in a half-dozen states — Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, Vermont, New York and California — that have sought to preserve abortion access since the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion in June 2022. The laws have been in use only since the summer and have not been tested in the courts, but they are already providing abortion access to tens of thousands of women in states with bans, especially low-income patients and others who cannot travel.

Called telemedicine abortion shield laws, they promise to protect doctors, nurse practitioners and midwives licensed in those six states who prescribe and send abortion pills to patients in the nearly two dozen states that ban or sharply restrict abortion.

The laws stipulate that officials and agencies of their states will not cooperate with another state’s efforts to investigate or penalize such providers — a stark departure from typical interstate practices of extraditing, honoring subpoenas and sharing information, legal experts on both sides of the abortion issue say. Many expect them to ultimately be challenged in federal court.

Abortion opponents see the laws as brazen infringement on state sovereignty.

“You have states not just picking their own strategy but really trying to completely sabotage the governing efforts of their neighboring states,” John Seago, the president of Texas Right to Life, said.

Feb. 21

 

alabama capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, Shock, anger, confusion grip Alabama after court ruling on embryos, Tim Craig and Sabrina Malhi, Feb. 21, 2024 (print ed.). The state Supreme Court decision signals a new chapter in America’s fight over reproductive rights and marks another blow to women’s rights groups who expect similar challenges in other conservative states.

Alabama doctors are puzzled over whether they will have to make changes to in vitro fertilization procedures. Couples have crammed into online support groups wondering if they should transfer frozen embryos out of state. And attorneys are warning that divorce settlements that call for frozen embryos to be destroyed may now be void.

Throughout Alabama, there is widespread shock, anger and confusion over how to proceed after the state Supreme Court ruled Friday that frozen embryos are people, a potentially far-reaching decision that could upend women’s reproductive health care in a state that already has one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws.

“Women who actually know what happened, they feel under attack and almost powerless,” said AshLeigh Meyer Dunham, a Birmingham mother who conceived a child through in vitro fertilization and is a partner in a law firm that specializes in assisted reproductive technology cases. “First you had the Dobbs decision and now this. What does this even mean?”

The state Supreme Court decision signals a new chapter in America’s fight over reproductive rights and marks another blow to women’s rights groups that expect similar challenges in other conservative states. The ruling is limited to Alabama, but legal experts say it could embolden the “personhood movement,” which asserts that unborn children should be granted legal rights beginning at conception.

The decision was decried Tuesday by the White House.

“This is exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters traveling with President Biden.

Interviews with physicians and attorneys in Alabama, as well as advocates on both sides of the issue nationwide, paint a confusing path forward for IVF clinics trying to interpret the ramifications of the ruling. Although physicians hope the Alabama legislature will limit the impacts of the ruling, they warn that the most dire consequence of the ruling is that some Alabama IVF clinics may be forced to suspend their operations.

Feb. 20

 

alabama capitol

washington post logoWashington Post, Frozen embryos are children, Ala. high court says in unprecedented ruling, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Feb. 20, 2024 (print ed.). The case focused on whether a patient who mistakenly dropped and destroyed other couples’ frozen embryos could be held liable in a wrongful-death lawsuit.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that frozen embryos are people and someone can be held liable for destroying them, a decision that reproductive rights advocates say could imperil in vitro fertilization (IVF) and affect the hundreds of thousands of patients who depend on treatments like it each year.

The first-of-its-kind ruling comes as at least 11 states have broadly defined personhood as beginning at fertilization in their state laws, according to reproductive rights group Pregnancy Justice, and states nationwide mull additional abortion and reproductive restrictions, elevating the issue ahead of the 2024 elections. Federally, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide this term whether to limit access to an abortion drug, the first time the high court will rule on the subject since it overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

The Alabama case focused on whether a patient who mistakenly dropped and destroyed other couples’ frozen embryos could be held liable in a wrongful-death lawsuit. The court ruled the patient could, writing that it had long held that “unborn children are ‘children’” and that that was also true for frozen embryos, affording the fertilized eggs the same protection as babies under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

Feb. 17

 

This file photo shows a protester against Jeffrey Epstein outside a federal court proceeding while he was still alive. He died under mysterious circumstances in federal custody, with a New York medical examiner delivering a prompt appraisal that he had died in a suicide, a finding that was disputed by the family's expert and sharply questioned by independent investigators, including reporters from CBS This file photo shows a protester against Jeffrey Epstein outside a federal court proceeding while he was still alive. He died under mysterious circumstances in federal custody, with a New York medical examiner delivering a prompt appraisal that he had died in a suicide, a finding that was disputed by the family's expert and sharply questioned by independent investigators, including reporters from CBS "60 Minutes." Epstein privately claimed that he had introduced Donald Trump to his future wife Melania Knauss, a claim Trump has disputed. Photographic evidence shows, as in the photo below by Davidoff Studios via Getty Images showing them with Epstein's since imprisoned consort and sex trafficking operative Ghislaine Maxwell, that they socialized together, in this case at a Mar-a-Lago function located near one of Epstein's mansions.

 

Epstein privately claimed that he had introduced Donald Trump to his future wife Melania Knauss, a claim Trump has disputed. Photographic evidence shows, as in the photo below by Davidoff Studios via Getty Images showing them with Epstein's since imprisoned consort and sex trafficking operative Ghislaine Maxwell, that they socialized together, in this case at a Mar-a-Lago function located near one of Epstein's mansions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Two of Epstein’s Closest Advisers Are Sued by His Victims, Matthew Goldstein, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime accountant and his personal lawyer were accused of enabling the disgraced financier’s sex trafficking.

Lawyers representing victims of Jeffrey Epstein sued two of the disgraced financier’s closest advisers on Friday, accusing them of “aiding, abetting and facilitating” his sex trafficking of young women and teenage girls.

The civil suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, seeks class action status on behalf of Mr. Epstein’s many victims. It comes just a few months after two big banks agreed to pay hundreds of millions dollars to Mr. Epstein’s victims to settle lawsuits that claimed the banks had enabled his activities.

The newest lawsuit seeks money damages from Mr. Epstein’s longtime personal lawyer, Darren Indyke, and his longtime accountant, Richard Kahn. The lawsuit claims the two men helped build “the complex financial infrastructure” that Mr. Epstein relied on to sexually abuse hundreds of young women and teenage girls for at least two decades.

The complaint was filed on behalf of one unidentified female victim of Mr. Epstein and a woman, Danielle Bensky, who said she was an aspiring dancer in 2004 when Mr. Epstein sexually abused her. Over time, the complaint said, Ms. Bensky “was coerced into a cultlike life controlled and manipulated by Epstein" and feared he would harm her.

The lawsuit said Mr. Indyke and Mr. Kahn had played major roles in setting up their former employer’s many companies that were involved in funneling millions of dollars in cash payments and wire transfers to victims. The lawsuit also said the men had contributed to a “sham” same-sex-marriage scheme that Mr. Epstein orchestrated to help some of his female assistants with their immigration status.

The lawsuit against Mr. Indyke and Mr. Kahn said that given their long tenure working for Mr. Epstein, they should have known that their legal, accounting and business services enabled his activities. Mr. Indyke began working for Mr. Epstein in 1995, and Mr. Kahn began working as his in-house accountant in 2005.

The lawsuit was filed by lawyers with Boies Schiller Flexner, who were part of a group of lawyers who earlier sued JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche jp morgan chase logoBank on behalf of Mr. Epstein’s victims. Those lawsuits claimed that the banks had ignored red flags about Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking as the institutions generated big fees from handling hundreds of millions of dollars in money transfers for him. JPMorgan paid $290 million to settle the lawsuit, and Deutsche paid $75 million to resolve a similar lawsuit.

deutsche bank logoDaniel Weiner, a lawyer for the estate and for Mr. Indyke and Mr. Kahn, said in a statement that both men “emphatically reject the allegations of wrongdoing” and called the claims “baseless and legally frivolous.”

David Boies, a lawyer for the victims, said Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking would not have lasted so long “without the support and assistance of key collaborators.”

In the course of the litigation with JPMorgan, Mr. Kahn said in a deposition that he had learned about the worst of Mr. Epstein’s activities only after his former employer’s death in August 2019. In the confidential deposition, which was reported earlier by The New York Times, Mr. Kahn said none of Mr. Epstein’s female “assistants” had ever complained to him about Mr. Epstein’s conduct.

After Mr. Epstein’s death, Mr. Kahn and Mr. Indyke set up a process that has provided about $155 million in restitution to more than 125 victims. Those settlements have tended to include broad releases for some individuals associated with Mr. Epstein. It is not clear how those settlement releases might complicate the claims made against the two men.

Mr. Weiner, in his statement, said Mr. Boies had a hand in negotiating some of those releases and agreed at the time that they gave “unassailable legal protection” to Mr. Kahn and Mr. Indyke.'''Here’s what the ruling could mean for Donald Trump’s finances and empire.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Privately Favors a 16-Week Abortion Ban, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, Feb. 17, 2024 (print ed.). In supporting a 16-week ban with exceptions, Donald Trump appears to be trying to satisfy social conservatives who want to further restrict abortion access and voters who want more modest limits.

In supporting a 16-week ban with exceptions, Donald Trump appears to be trying to satisfy social conservatives who want to further restrict abortion access and voters who want more modest limits.

Former President Donald J. Trump has told advisers and allies that he likes the idea of a 16-week national abortion ban with three exceptions, in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother, according to two people with direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s deliberations.

Mr. Trump has studiously avoided taking a clear position on restrictions to abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned in the middle of 2022, galvanizing Democrats ahead of the midterm elections that year. He has said in private that he wants to wait until the Republican presidential primary contest is over to publicly discuss his views, because he doesn’t want to risk alienating social conservatives before he has secured the nomination, the two people said.

Mr. Trump has approached abortion transactionally since becoming a candidate in 2015, and his current private discussions reflect that same approach.

One thing Mr. Trump likes about a 16-week federal ban on abortions is that it’s a round number. “Know what I like about 16?” Mr. Trump told one of these people, who was given anonymity to describe a private conversation. “It’s even. It’s four months.”

When discussing prospective vice-presidential candidates, Mr. Trump often asks whether they are “OK on abortion.” He is instantly dismissive when he hears that a Republican doesn’t support “the three exceptions.” He tells advisers that Republicans will keep losing elections with that position.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Mr. Trump told advisers that he believed the decision was going to be harmful to Republicans. Since then, he has formed the view that the abortion issue is overwhelmingly responsible for a string of Republican losses in congressional races.

And he is acutely aware of his own vulnerability: He appointed the three justices who enabled that decision, a fact he has publicly claimed credit for in several settings. Those statements have already been included in ads, and Democrats plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to remind voters of that fact.

In backing a 16-week ban, Mr. Trump would be trying to satisfy both social conservatives who want to further restrict access to abortions and Republican and independent voters who want more modest limits on the procedure.

Abortion is currently banned before 16 weeks in 20 states, including Mr. Trump’s home state of Florida. The type of ban that Mr. Trump has discussed privately would restrict abortion rights in the remaining 30 states where it is legal beyond that point. And the question of exceptions limited to the life of the mother is also controversial. In Texas, state courts have ruled that women did not qualify for the limited exceptions for “life-threatening conditions” related to pregnancy, even in cases where their fetus faced a severe diagnosis and the woman’s future fertility and health were jeopardized.

Feb.11

ny times logoNew York Times, Hungary’s President Resigns Amid Outcry Over Sex Abuse Case Pardon, Andrew Higgins, Feb. 11, 2024 (print ed.). Katalin Novak, an outspoken champion of family values, announced her resignation on Saturday, the latest in a series of prominent figures in the governing party felled by sex scandals.

viktor orbán headshot CustomThe president of Hungary, a loyal and largely powerless ally of the country’s authoritarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, right, resigned on Saturday amid a public outcry over her pardoning of a man implicated in a sex abuse scandal at a children’s home.

President Katalin Novak, an outspoken champion of traditional values and Hungary’s former minister of family affairs, announced her resignation on television, the latest in a series of prominent figures in Mr. Orban’s conservative governing Fidesz party felled by sex scandals.

hungary flagShe quit as president, a mostly ceremonial office she has held since 2022, in response to widespread outrage, including within Fidesz, over recent revelations that a man she pardoned last year had been convicted of covering up sexual abuse at a state-run children’s home.

The man was among more than 20 people pardoned by Ms. Novak last April before a visit to Hungary by Pope Francis.

“I issued a pardon that caused bewilderment and unrest among many people,” Ms. Novak said on Saturday, insisting that she had believed “that the convict did not abuse the vulnerability of children.” That, she said, was “a mistake.”

Her departure is unlikely to dent Mr. Orban’s tight grip on power, but it delivers a blow to Fidesz’s image — carefully nurtured by state and private media outlets controlled by the governing party — as a stalwart defender of Christian values and an enemy of pedophilia, which the government has often linked to efforts by the European Union to protect L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

Pledges to defend children against predators have become an increasingly important part of domestic political messaging by Mr. Orban, who has won four general elections in a row and who regularly denounces his critics at home and abroad as “woke globalists” bent on undermining the traditional family.

A number of Fidesz politicians, including a powerful mayor captured on video taking part in an orgy with prostitutes on a yacht, have been embroiled in sex scandals in recent years. The most prominent of these was Jozsef Szajer, a Fidesz member of the European Parliament who helped rewrite Hungary’s Constitution to include a ban on same-sex marriage. He resigned in 2020 after being arrested by Belgian police officers for violating Covid restrictions by attending an all-male orgy in Brussels and then trying to flee down a drainpipe.

Feb. 8

Salon, Opinion: Of course Trump's Supreme Court lawyer is the same guy behind Texas' sadistic abortion ban, Amanda Marcotte, Feb. 8, 2024.
salon LogoFor Jonathan Mitchell, gutting democracy is the means, but controlling women is the motive.

The big news that kicked off this week was that the Supreme Court set Thursday to hear oral arguments over whether or not texas mapDonald Trump should be kicked off the ballot per the 14th Amendment, which bars those who have "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the government from holding office.

What got a lot less attention was the announcement of which lawyer would argue on Trump's behalf: former Texas solicitor general Jonathan Mitchell. Reproductive rights activists sure sat up and took notice of the mention of Mitchell. He is one of the most odious men in the entire anti-abortion world, which is quite an achievement, considering the misogyny that fuels that movement.

djt maga hatMitchell earned this "worst of the worst" title by being the architect behind the Texas "bounty hunter" law, which adds a level of creative sadism to abortion bans that would make the villain in the "Saw" movies envious. There have been so many vicious abortion bans passed since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022 that readers could be forgiven for forgetting how ugly the Texas law is. To recap: Beyond just banning abortion, the Mitchell-penned law offers a $10,000 bounty to any person who sues someone who "aids and abets" an abortion. (Longer excerpt below in the #Me Too/Reproductive Rights section.)

It empowers every two-bit bully imaginable to stick their noses into other people's business. A nosy Karen who thinks her neighbor's daughter is a "slut?" She can sue that neighbor for taking her daughter to the abortion appointment. An angry incel can punish a more romantically successful classmate by suing him for paying for a girlfriend's abortion. Local church busybodies who find out a community member donated to an abortion fund can now sue for "aiding and abetting." And, as most feminists immediately predicted, abusive husbands and boyfriends can sue the friends of their victim, for helping with an abortion that helped a victim escape her destructive relationship.

One of Mitchell's first big cases under the law looks exactly like what feminists predicted. Marcus Silva did not want his ex-wife to leave him. Witnesses and text messages paint a vivid picture of the cruelty he repeatedly inflicted on her that made her flee, however. He reportedly got drunk at her work party and called her a "slut" and a "whore" in front of her colleagues. He allegedly monitored her phone against her will and would follow her around the house, screaming invective. He reportedly threatened to release sexually explicit photos of her if she didn't return to do his laundry. According to court documents, Silva told his ex-wife to have sex with him or "you’re just gonna have your f*cking life destroyed in every f*cking way that you can imagine to where you want to blow your f*cking brains out."

In order to escape, Silva's ex-wife aborted a pregnancy. According to her and two friends, Silva found out about the abortion beforehand but did not say anything to stop her. Instead, they allege, he waited until she had the abortion — and then to punish her for leaving him, sued her friends under the Mitchell-penned law. He then told his ex-wife, according to the countersuit, that he would stop legally harassing her friends if she returned to him.

Mitchell didn't just write the law that Silva is allegedly using to blackmail his ex-wife. He's also representing Silva in a lawsuit to bankrupt two women whose only sin was helping a friend leave a toxic marriage.

Terrorizing women who leave bad marriages may be Mitchell's passion, but far from his only far-right interest. As Lisa Needham at Balls and Strikes wrote in April, "Mitchell’s caseload reads like a list of grievances read aloud at CPAC." He has sued to destroy Obamacare and called on the Supreme Court to end "rights to homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage." He has lamented court decisions legalizing abortion and contraception on the grounds that they assumed "the right to freely engage to sexual intercourse." And no shock, Mitchell is big on book banning, representing Llano County, Texas, in a court battle over the public library removing books that feature LGBTQ characters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Florida Court Weighs Ballot Measure to Allow Abortion ‘Before Viability,’ Patricia Mazzei, Feb. 8, 2024 (print ed.). Several justices pushed back against arguments that the language of the proposed constitutional amendment was too broad and would deceive voters.

The Florida Supreme Court seemed reluctant on Wednesday to block a proposed measure protecting abortion rights from appearing on the November ballot, even though several members of the conservative-learning court questioned whether the measure’s language made clear its potentially sweeping effects.

The constitutional amendment would ask Floridians to “limit government interference with abortion” before a fetus is considered viable, which is often around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

If the language summarizing the initiative on the ballot is not deceptive, several justices indicated, then it would be up to voters — and not the court — to decide whether they agree with such a broad measure.

“The people of Florida aren’t stupid,” Chief Justice Carlos G. Muñiz said during a hearing in Tallahassee. “I mean, they can figure this out.”

Florida, the nation’s third-most-populous state, was until recently a frequent destination for women from the South seeking an abortion, because it allowed the procedure up to about 24 weeks. But in 2022, the state enacted a ban on abortions after 15 weeks, and last year, a ban after six weeks.

Feb. 2

ny times logoNew York Times, C.I.A. Computer Engineer Who Leaked Secrets Is Sentenced to 40 Years, Colin Moynihan, Feb. 2, 2024 (print ed.). Joshua joshua schulte CustomSchulte, 35, right who transmitted classified information to WikiLeaks, also faced child pornography charges. Before his sentencing, he complained about his treatment in jail.

Information stolen from the Central Intelligence Agency began showing up in 2017 on a website called WikiLeaks.

CIA LogoOver eight months the site published more than two dozen groups of classified documents that it called Vault 7, outlining the secret methods that the United States used to break into computer networks used by foreign governments and terrorists. The disclosures caused what the government termed “catastrophic” damage to national security and set off an intensive hunt for the person responsible.

On Thursday, that person, Joshua Schulte, 35, was sentenced in Federal District Court in Manhattan to 40 years in prison. Mr. Schulte, a computer engineer, had worked for the spy agency for six years, holding the highest security clearances and designing hacking tools.

Justice Department log circularHe was convicted in 2022 of charges including illegally gathering and transmitting national defense information. That followed convictions in 2020 for contempt of court and making false statements. He was also convicted of receiving and transporting child pornography.

Judge Jesse M. Furman said Mr. Schulte’s actions amounted to a “digital Pearl Harbor” that caused “untold damage to national security.”

“I’m blown away, to put it mildly, by Mr. Schulte’s lack of remorse,” the judge added.

Addressing the court for 30 minutes just before Judge Furman handed down his sentence, Mr. Schulte did not apologize but asked that he be sentenced to time served.

He complained at length that he had been held in deplorable conditions for several years while awaiting trial, deprived of heat and hot water and subject to constant noise and artificial light. And he accused prosecutors, who had asked for a sentence of life in prison, of “nothing short of old-fashioned Mafia-style bullying.”

Mr. Schulte’s lawyers had asked for leniency, noting that their client, who they wrote “maintains his innocence,” most likely had “an undiagnosed neurodivergence.”

Federal prosecutors had called his crimes “virtually unprecedented in their scope and harm” to the national security of the United States and said he was spurred by personal animus.

“Schulte did not act out of any misguided altruism, in some false belief that he would be a whistle-blower,” they added. “He acted out of pure spite and ego, and he chose to take his perceived grievance out on the country that he swore to defend.”

The Vault 7 saga and resulting investigation afforded a glimpse into the inner workings of one of the world’s most potent intelligence agencies, revealing the raucous atmosphere and personal resentments of programmers and the failures and security flaws that a rogue employee exploited.

Mr. Schulte and other elite programmers worked in a secret building protected by armed guards. Among other things, they designed programs that targeted the computers of suspected terrorists. While engaged in that weighty work, they also indulged in decidedly juvenile behavior, according to testimony in Mr. Schulte’s first espionage trial: sending prank emails, taunting colleagues about their physical appearances and shooting each other with Nerf guns and rubber bands.

wikileaks logo2Prosecutors said that Mr. Schulte feuded with co-workers and became angry when he was moved from one branch to another, and his status as a project administrator was revoked. As his grievances accumulated, prosecutors said, Mr. Schulte used a back door in the C.I.A. computer network to gain access to sensitive projects that matched the information WikiLeaks published nearly a year later. Prosecutors said that he later tried to erase his digital fingerprints and gave the files to WikiLeaks.

An internal C.I.A. report in 2020 said the agency bore some blame for failing to prevent Mr. Schulte’s actions, adding that it had not installed safeguards and that its officials had ignored the lessons of other agencies where employees stole secrets.

FBI logoMr. Schulte became the primary suspect within days of the WikiLeaks disclosure. When the F.B.I. searched his New York City apartment, prosecutors said, agents found encrypted containers containing tens of thousands of videos and images of children being sexually abused, including approximately 3,400 images and videos.

He was arrested in 2017 on child pornography charges while working as a senior software engineer for Bloomberg L.P. Mr. Schulte was released on the condition he remain at home but was jailed after a few months when he violated a federal judge’s order not to use the internet without the court’s permission.

Prosecutors said that while Mr. Schulte was in jail he used a smuggled cellphone to create a Twitter account under the name Jason Bourne — a fictional character who worked as a C.I.A. operative — then used social media to accuse the government of planting child pornography on his computer.

“Joshua Schulte betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen, heinous crimes of espionage in American history,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a news release, adding: “He will spend 40 years behind bars — right where he belongs.”

 

January

Jan. 28

 

southern baptist convention logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: When the Right Ignores Its Sex Scandals, David French, right, Jan. 28, 2024. Let me share with you one of the worst and david french croppedmost important recent news stories that you’ve probably never heard about.

Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention settled a sex abuse lawsuit brought against a man named Paul Pressler for an undisclosed sum. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and alleged that Pressler had raped a man named Duane Rollins for decades, with the rapes beginning when Rollins was only 14 years old.

The story would be terrible enough if Pressler were simply an ordinary predator. But while relatively unknown outside of evangelical circles, Pressler is one of the most important American religious figures of the 20th century. He and his friend Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, are two of the key architects of the so-called conservative resurgence within the S.B.C.

southern baptist convention logo 2The conservative resurgence was a movement conceived in the 1960s and launched in the 1970s that sought to wrest control of the S.B.C. from more theologically liberal and moderate voices. It was a remarkable success. While many established denominations were liberalizing, the S.B.C. lurched to the right and exploded in growth, ultimately becoming the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Pressler and Patterson were heroes within the movement. Patterson led Baptist seminaries and became president of the convention. Pressler was a Texas state judge and a former president of the Council for National Policy, a powerful conservative Christian activist organization.

Both men are now disgraced. In 2018, the board of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fired Patterson after it found that he’d grossly mishandled rape allegations — including writing in an email that he wanted to meet alone with a woman who had reported being raped to “break her down” — at both Southwestern and another Baptist seminary.

Pressler’s story is even worse. The evidence that people were aware of allegations against him stretches back decades. To take just two examples, in 1989, Pressler failed an F.B.I. background check after President George H.W. Bush tapped him to lead the Office of Government Ethics. And in 2004, First Baptist Church of Houston investigated accusations that Pressler had groped and undressed a college student, deemed his behavior “morally and spiritually inappropriate” and warned him, but took no other action.

Pressler’s story is in some ways eerily similar to that of Harvey Weinstein. Both were powerful men so brazen about their misconduct that it was an “open secret” in their respective worlds. Yet they were also so powerful that an army of enablers coalesced around them, protecting them from the consequences of their actions. A single individual can be a predator, but it takes a village to protect him from exposure and punishment.

All of these facts are terrible enough, and it’s important to write about them even if we can only bear witness to the injustice. But the coverage, or lack thereof, of Pressler’s fall also helps explain why we’re so very polarized as a nation.

The American right exists in a news environment that reports misconduct on the left or in left-wing institutions loudly and with granular detail. When Weinstein fell and that fall prompted the cascade of revelations that created the #MeToo moment, the right was overrun with commentary on the larger lessons of the episode, including scathing indictments of a Hollywood culture that permitted so much abuse for so very long.

Much of this commentary was good and necessary. Hollywood deserved the indictment. But the coverage on the right also fit a cherished conservative narrative: that liberal sexual values such as those in Hollywood invariably lead to abuse. In Christian America, it was more ammunition for the sense that a righteous “us” was taking on a villainous “them.”

But stories such as Pressler’s complicate this narrative immensely. If both the advocates and enemies of the sexual revolution have their Harvey Weinsteins — that is, if both progressive and conservative institutions can enable abuse — then all that partisan moral clarity starts to disappear. We’re all left with the disturbing and humbling reality that whatever our ideology or theology, it doesn’t make us good people. The allegedly virtuous “us” commits the same sins as the presumptively villainous “them.”

 

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

E. Jean Carroll said the reality of her situation began sinking in Saturday morning over a cup of tea (New York Times photo by Sarah Blesener).

ny times logoNew York Times, Carroll Promises to Do ‘Something Good’ With a Fortune Won From Trump, Benjamin Weiser, Jan. 28, 2024. The writer E. Jean Carroll was awarded $83.3 million for Donald Trump’s defamation. Now, she will have to figure out how to use it.

As soon as E. Jean Carroll heard the verdict on Friday — $83.3 million in defamation damages against Donald J. Trump — a world of possibility opened before her: How to use the money?

The amount vastly eclipsed the $5 million awarded to her by a jury last spring in a different trial against Mr. Trump. It could take years before she sees the money, as Mr. Trump has said he will appeal, but she is already considering how she might use the money once she obtains it.

“I’m not going to waste a cent of this,” she said. “We’re going to do something good with it.”

Figuring that out will take some time, she added. But she will splurge on one luxury, she said — for her Great Pyrenees and her pit bull. “I’m going to be able to buy some premium dog food now,” she said.

Ms. Carroll, appearing relaxed and happy in her lawyers’ offices on Saturday, spoke in her first interview since the Manhattan jury’s award in her favor a day earlier.

Ms. Carroll, 80, sued Mr. Trump, 77, for defamation after he called her a liar in June 2019, when she first publicly accused him, in a magazine article, of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room decades earlier. Mr. Trump continued to attack Ms. Carroll, in posts on his Truth Social website that lasted right into the trial, as well as in news conferences and on the campaign trial.

After the verdict on Friday, Mr. Trump, issued a new attack on social media: “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.” But he avoided criticizing Ms. Carroll, a silence that spoke volumes. Ms. Carroll said she was not ready to assume that the former president was finished with her.

Jan. 26

 

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a jury verdict that he sexually attacked her three decades ago.

donald trump ny daily pussy

The disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape verdict echoed Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case. 

ap logoAssociated Press, Trump to pay additional $83.3 million, Larry Neumeister, Jake Offenhartz and Jennifer Peltz, Jan. 26, 2024. Jury says Donald Trump must pay an additional $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll in defamation case. Former President Donald Trump was on and off the witness stand at a jury trial Thursday in less than 3 minutes but not before breaking a judge’s rules on what he could say by claiming that a writer’s sexual assault allegations were a “false accusation.” 

A jury has awarded a huge $83.3 million in additional damages to advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says former President Donald Trump damaged her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.

The verdict was delivered Friday by a seven-man, two-woman jury in a trial regularly attended by Trump, who abruptly left the courtroom during closing arguments by Carroll’s lawyer, only to later return.

Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. By then, Trump had left the building in his motorcade.

“Absolutely ridiculous!” he said in a statement shortly after the verdict was announced. He vowed an appeal. “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.”

It was the second time in nine months that a jury returned a verdict related to Carroll’s claim that a flirtatious, chance encounter with Trump in 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store ended violently. She said Trump slammed her against a dressing room wall, pulled down her tights and forced himself on her.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Carroll’s Lawyer Gives Closing Statement, Trump Walks Out of Court, Benjamin Weiser and Maria Cramer, Jan. 26, 2024.  Lawyers for Donald Trump and the writer E. Jean Carroll are making their last pitch about what damages he should pay for denying he sexually abused her.

Former President Donald J. Trump walked out of the courtroom on Friday as lawyers trying the defamation case brought against him by E. Jean Carroll made their final pitches to a nine-member jury.

The closing arguments in a Manhattan federal court will set the stage for the jury to decide how much money, if any, Mr. Trump must pay Ms. Carroll in damages for calling her a liar for accusing him of sexually assaulting her, and saying her story was a hoax.

“Now is the time to make him pay for it, and now is the time to make him pay dearly,” Roberta A. Kaplan, the lawyer for Ms. Carroll, told jurors.

In her argument, Ms. Kaplan focused on the harm she said Mr. Trump inflicted on her client and her reputation, saying that the trial is about “getting him to stop once and for all.” She emphasized that the only way to do so was to cost him as much money as possible.

While she asked for at least $24 million for emotional damage and reputational harm, she did not ask for a specific amount in punitive damages, but effectively asks that jurors shoot for the moon.

Ms. Kaplan told the jury that Mr. Trump has normalized behavior by people on social media who, because of his actions, thought it was acceptable to attack Ms. Carroll. Soon after, Mr. Trump, in an unusual breach of courtroom decorum, stood up and walked out, though Ms. Kaplan continued as if nothing unusual had happened.

Trump appeared frustrated before the proceedings even began, shaking his head repeatedly. When Ms. Kaplan began describing last May’s verdict that found Trump had sexually abused Carroll, he grew more frustrated — scoffing, muttering and shaking his head.

He stood up suddenly and without warning, then walked out slowly, followed by one of his other lawyers. Stunned reporters and other onlookers in the courtroom craned their necks to stare at him. A sketch artist quickly began drawing him exiting the courtroom.

The former president has used his appearances to court voters as he seeks another term in the White House, painting himself as the victim of a political cabal. His lawyers have now begun their closing arguments.

lewis kaplanA jury in an earlier trial found last May that Mr. Trump was liable for sexually abusing Ms. Carroll in a 1990s assault in a department store dressing room, and for a defamatory statement he made about her in 2022.

The current trial focuses on statements he made three years earlier, after Ms. Carroll first publicly accused him of raping her in a 2019 New York Magazine article, and for attacks on her since then in social media posts, on CNN and on the campaign trail.

The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, above left, has ruled that the sole focus for the jury is the matter of damages.

Here’s what to know:

  • The jury consists of seven men and two women, whose identities have been kept secret. The judge advised them not to identify themselves even to one another.
  • Ms. Carroll’s lawyers emphasized her testimony, in which she described the terror she felt upon reading the rape and death threats she received after she publicized the accusations in 2019. They have argued that Mr. Trump did not merely deny the accusations, he continuously went after Ms. Carroll, posting messages on his Truth Social site and speaking at news conferences where he called her a liar.
  • alina habbaMr. Trump’s lawyers have said that Ms. Carroll brought the backlash on herself. By granting interviews on television and in podcasts, they argue, she invited the criticism. “This trial is about a plaintiff who used her story to obtain as much fame and notoriety as possible,” Alina Habba, right, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, said in her opening statement.
  • Trump’s lawyers have consistently played down the seriousness of threats of harm made to his political opponents, and Habba likes to note that she receives similar threats. She just did that in the courtroom, in fact, as I was typing, and Judge Kaplan warned her against it, saying it was inappropriate.
  • Habba is showing time stamped comments and tweets that show people were reacting with disbelief at Carroll's story well before Trump released a statement from the White House in 2019. “It is Ms. Carroll’s burden, not President Trump’s, to prove that his statements are somehow the cause of any harm,” Habba says.
  • “President Trump has no more control over the thoughts and feelings of social media users than he does the weather,” Habba says.Habba is arguing that Carroll has to prove a direct causal connection between Trump’s statements and the harm Carroll suffered. This has come up again and again in Trump legal arguments — whether or not his statements have real-world impact. “No causation!” Habba thunders.

Jan. 23

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden expands abortion, contraception protections on Roe anniversary, Dan Diamond, Jan. 23, 2024 (print ed.). Nikki Haley said she would sign a national abortion ban if elected president.

joe biden black background resized serious fileThe White House on Monday is announcing new steps intended to ensure access to contraception, abortion medication and emergency abortions at hospitals. It represents President Biden’s latest bid to contrast himself with Republican challengers who support strict abortion limits and arrives on the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed abortion rights for nearly 50 years.

The effort to expand access to contraception involves several measures. Federal agencies are issuing guidance that would make no-cost contraceptives more available under the Affordable Care Act and take similar actions to expand contraception access for federal employees. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also plans to send a letter to health insurers instructing them of their obligation to provide no-cost contraceptives, according to a memo the White House sent to reporters Sunday.

The federal health department also announced a new team dedicated to enforcing its interpretation of a law, known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, which the Biden administration has said requires hospitals to provide emergency abortions nationwide, including in the 21 states where the procedure is limited or banned.

joe biden kamala harris white house uncreditedMeanwhile, Biden on Monday is expected to convene two dozen senior officials in the White House for a meeting of his reproductive health task force, where he will be joined by several physicians who have practiced in states with abortion bans. Vice President Harris (shown with Biden in a White House file photo) is slated to kick off a multistate reproductive rights tour with a visit to Wisconsin, where she is expected to criticize a proposal by state Republicans to ban abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy. Wisconsin’s Democratic governor has already said he will veto the bill.

“On this day and every day, Vice President Harris and I are fighting to protect women’s reproductive freedom against Republicans’ dangerous, extreme, and out-of-touch agenda,” Biden said in a statement.

The Biden administration’s actions — coming on what would have been the 51st anniversary of the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, before the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in 2022 — reflect Democrats’ ongoing effort to highlight an issue that gives them a strong political advantage. Fifty-eight percent of all voters, including about 1 in 5 Republicans, said they trust Democrats more than Republicans on abortion, according to a November poll conducted by KFF, a health policy organization.

Jan. 18

ny times logoNew York Times, Abortion-Rights Backers in Missouri Start Ballot Initiative to Undo BanKate Zernike, Jan. 18, 2024. Advocates present a united front after disagreements over how far they could go in asking voters to legalize abortion in the state.

A coalition of reproductive-rights groups in Missouri kicked off a campaign on Thursday to establish a right to abortion in the state constitution, setting up the nation’s next big test of public support for legalized abortion.

Missouri was the first state to officially outlaw abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade 18 months ago. A successful ballot measure there could make it the first state where a citizen-led initiative reverses a near-total ban.

More on Abortion Issues in America

  • In Ohio: A grand jury in Ohio declined to indict a woman who had miscarried a nonviable fetus at home on a felony charge of abuse of corpse, ending a case that had drawn international scrutiny from lawyers and reproductive health advocates.
  • Idaho’s Abortion Law: The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the state’s near-total ban on abortions, which the Biden administration said conflicted with a federal statute that allowed for some exceptions.
  • Abortion Pills: Tens of thousands of women who are not pregnant are ordering abortion pills just in case they might need them someday, especially in states where access is threatened, according to a new study.
    In Texas: A federal appeals court ruled emergency room doctors in the state are not required to perform emergency abortions despite federal guidance that requires hospitals to offer stabilizing care.

Leaders of Planned Parenthood and some other groups said they would not support anything short of allowing women total autonomy to make decisions about abortion, with no gestational limits.

Advocacy groups had put forward multiple proposals, trying to bet on what voters would support — the coalition itself put forward nearly a dozen versions. Those proposals differed mainly in what gestational limit, if any, they would include in the proposed amendment. Other groups argued for waiting until the next electoral cycle to put forth an initiative, saying they needed time to raise money and win over public opinion.

On Thursday, though, the coalition presented a unified front, and declared that it did not have time to wait, saying the state’s ban was endangering women with pregnancy complications and forcing obstetrics and maternity practices to leave Missouri.

The ballot measure proposed Thursday resembles those passed in Ohio and Michigan. It would amend the state Constitution to establish a “right to make and carry out” decisions on reproductive health care, including abortion. But it would allow the state to restrict abortion after a fetus becomes viable, or roughly 24 weeks, unless the treating medical professional makes a “good faith” judgment that the procedure is necessary to protect the pregnant woman’s life or mental or physical health.

Supporters must collect roughly 172,000 signatures by early May to qualify the proposal for the ballot. It would then be up to Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who opposes abortion rights, to decide when the measure would be put to voters — in the primary this summer, or in the general election in November.

“We wouldn’t be moving forward if we didn’t think we could be successful on either ballot,” said Tori Schafer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups in the coalition.

Jan. 17

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a jury verdict that he sexually attacked her three decades ago.

donald trump ny daily pussy

The disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape verdict echoed Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Threatens to Eject Trump From Carroll Trial After His Complaints, Benjamin Weiser, Maria Cramer and Kate Christobek, Jan. 17, 2024. The former president’s right to be at his defamation trial “can be forfeited,” the judge warned. E. Jean Carroll is seeking $10 million in damages for his denials that he sexually assaulted her.

A Manhattan judge overseeing the trial in which the writer E. Jean Carroll has accused Donald J. Trump of defaming her warned the former president Wednesday that he would throw him out of the courtroom if he kept making comments that the jury could hear.

During a break after Ms. Carroll had spent the morning testifying about what happened after she accused Mr. Trump of raping her, one of her lawyers complained, out of the jury’s presence, that Mr. Trump had been overheard speaking at the defense table. He said “witch hunt” and “it was a con job,” loudly enough that jurors could hear, said Shawn Crowley, one of Ms. Carroll’s lawyers.

lewis kaplanJudge Lewis A. Kaplan, left, who had sparred all morning with Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, over her objections to Ms. Carroll’s testimony, appeared to be losing his patience.

“Mr. Trump has a right to be present here,” Judge Kaplan said. “That right can be forfeited and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which is what has been reported to me, and if he disregards court orders.”

He then addressed the former president directly.

“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial,” he said.
Mr. Trump, who had spent most of the morning shaking his head during Ms. Carroll’s testimony, threw up his hands.

“I would love it,” he said.

Judge Kaplan replied: “I understand you’re probably very eager for me to do that because you just can’t control yourself.”

Ms. Carroll, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, has accused Mr. Trump of raping her decades ago in a dressing room in the Bergdorf Goodman department store. He immediately denied her accusation, said he had never met her and accused her of inventing a story to sell her book. Since then, he has made dozens of posts on social media repeating his diatribes against her.

Last May, a jury awarded her about $2 million in damages for the assault and about $3 million for defamation claims based on an October 2022 post on Mr. Trump’s Truth Social website in which he again called her a liar and her accusation a hoax.

Mr. Trump did not testify in that trial or even attend the proceedings, but he said he wanted to attend this week’s trial and take the stand. He has been in the courtroom since it began on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the former president watched and listened as Ms. Carroll, 80, described how those statements affected her.

“He shattered my reputation,” Ms. Carroll said in the federal courtroom in Lower Manhattan as Mr. Trump sat at the defense table.

In the trial this week, Ms. Carroll is seeking $10 million in damages for two statements he made as president in 2019, accusing her of lying about the assault.

Ms. Carroll, the author of five books, appeared regularly on programs like “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show before 2019, when she wrote a book that described the assault in a chapter that was published in New York magazine. Those appearances stopped after Mr. Trump accused her of lying and she was deluged with threats and cruel comments about her looks on social media and in her inbox, according to her lawyers.

“I was attacked,” Ms. Carroll said. “I was attacked on Twitter. I was attacked on Facebook. I was living in a new universe.”

Mr. Trump repeatedly shook his head and exhaled loudly, appearing to scoff.

Ms. Carroll is also seeking punitive damages, intended to punish Mr. Trump and keep him from making further attacks.

The threat of having to pay more damages to Ms. Carroll has not stopped Mr. Trump from commenting publicly about her. On Tuesday, he made 22 posts on Truth Social, including one that showed an image of Ms. Carroll on CNN with the caption, “Can you believe I have to defend myself against this woman’s fake story?!”

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump went after Judge Kaplan, calling him “abusive, rude and obviously not impartial.” He complained that the judge had denied his lawyer’s request to suspend court on Thursday, when the funeral for his mother-in-law, Amalija Knavs, will be held.

“I feel an obligation to be at every moment of this ridiculous trial because we have a seething and hostile Clinton-appointed judge, Lewis Kaplan, who suffers from a major case of Trump Derangement Syndrome,” he wrote.

After the lunch break, a lawyer for Mr. Trump said that there had been “general hostility” toward the defense and asked Judge Kaplan to recuse himself.

“Denied,” Judge Kaplan responded.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S.  Election Live Updates: Donald Trump attacked Nikki Haley as the race shifts to a snowy New Hampshire, Chris Cameron, Jan. 17, 2024. Donald J. Trump opted to start his day in a New York courtroom again. He is then scheduled to return to the Granite State, where Nikki Haley, who has been polling in a distant second, says he is dodging her.

There are six days until the New Hampshire primary. Here’s the latest.

Donald J. Trump unleashed a barrage of attacks against Nikki Haley on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, training his attention on the candidate who has crept up on his significant lead in the polls in the Granite State.

Ms. Haley, the former South Carolina governor, has steadily risen in New Hampshire polls, a state where she has courted independent voters who can take part in the Republican primary. At his rally on Tuesday night in Atkinson, he accused her of “artificially boosting” her support by rallying “Democrats and liberals” to support her.

Jan.  13

washington post logoWashington Post, Iowa at odds with N.H. on abortion, posing challenge for GOP candidates, Hannah Knowles, Jan. 13, 2024. Billie Veach didn’t pause to think last year when asked what issues matter most to her as an Iowa voter who will play an outsize role in selecting the Republican nominee for president.

“We are pro-life,” the 49-year-old said one Sunday on her way out of church. Her husband, Lyle Veach, said the federal government “needs to do something” to curb abortion.

In New Hampshire — which will have its say on Jan. 23, eight days after the Iowa caucuses — another Republican couple wanted something very different. “I don’t think a bunch of politicians, mostly males, have the right to say you cannot do it across the board,” Joan McMahon said, prompting her husband to add, “It’s been kicked down to the states, anyone talking about it on the federal level is wrong.”

In GOP-controlled Iowa, where evangelical Christians dominate the caucuses, the candidates have many incentives to support abortion restrictions. But the same positions that appeal to Iowa conservatives can backfire in New Hampshire, a swing-state where independents play a large role and where a slight majority of likely GOP primary voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

The gap has at times created some awkwardness for the candidates as they toggle between the two states and attempt a careful balancing act. It has also amplified larger GOP divisions over abortion as candidates navigate competing pressures in a party that has struggled to find a politically effective general election message since a conservative-leaning Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022, generating wide backlash.

Jan. 12

 

A grand jury declined to indict Brittany Watts, above, who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home, ending a case that drew international scrutiny (Photo via WKBN-TV).

A grand jury declined to indict Brittany Watts, above, who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home, ending a case that drew international scrutiny (Photo via WKBN-TV).

ny times logoNew York Times, Grand Jury Declines to Indict Ohio Woman Who Miscarried at Home, Remy Tumin, Jan. 12, 2024 (print ed.). In a case that had drawn international attention, Brittany Watts had been charged with abuse of a corpse after miscarrying and disposing of the nonviable fetus.

A grand jury in Ohio on Thursday declined to indict a woman who had miscarried a nonviable fetus at home on a felony charge of abuse of a corpse, ending a case that had drawn international scrutiny from lawyers and reproductive health advocates who had argued the charge was baseless and could endanger other patients.

The woman, Brittany Watts, 34, of Warren, Ohio, was arrested in October after passing a fetus in her bathroom and trying to flush the remains down the toilet. The police in Trumbull County had charged Ms. Watts using an extremely rare interpretation of a state law.

The grand jury returned what is known as a no bill, meaning it chose not to indict. The case had been before a Trumbull County grand jury since November. Ms. Watts had pleaded not guilty.

Had she been indicted and convicted, Ms. Watts could have faced up to a year in prison.

Traci Timko, Ms. Watts’s lawyer, said she was incredibly relieved and “thankful that justice was done.”

“I’m happy Brittany is able to now begin to heal through all of this, and I hope and believe that her story is going to be an impetus for change,” she said.

In a lengthy statement outlining the case and prosecution timeline, Dennis Watkins, the Trumbull County prosecutor, said that his office had found that Ms. Watts had not violated the law as claimed in the initial compliant and that it disagreed with a lower court’s application of the law after interviewing witnesses “and researching and applying the law.”

Last month, Mr. Watkins said his office was “duty bound” to follow Ohio law and move forward with a grand jury proceeding after Judge Terry Ivanchak of Municipal Court found probable cause for the grand jury review to proceed.

Ms. Watts was admitted to the hospital with vaginal bleeding on Sept. 19 when she was just over 21 weeks pregnant, right before the 22-week mark that would have made it a viable pregnancy under Ohio law. Doctors determined that her water had broken prematurely and that the fetus was not viable. After several visits to a hospital that included long wait times, Ms. Timko said, Ms. Watts passed the tissue at home.

The hospital notified the Warren City Police Department about the miscarriage and “the need to locate the fetus,” according to a coroner’s report. The police found the fetus clogged in her bathroom toilet, the report said. The police took the entire toilet out of her home and took it to the morgue to retrieve the fetus.

The autopsy report found that the fetus had died in utero — before delivery — because of complications of premature rupturing of the membranes.

The police charged Ms. Watts on Oct. 5 with abuse of a corpse as a felony.

The case came at a time when access to reproductive health care was being debated across the country after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. In November, Ohio voters enshrined in the State Constitution the right to abortion until the point of fetal viability, 22 weeks in the state, as well as the right to contraception, fertility treatment and miscarriage care.

On Thursday, Ms. Timko said that when she called Ms. Watts, she was at first silent and then began to cry.

Jan. 8

The Guardian, Epstein had ‘sex tapes’ of Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton, witness claimed, Jamie Grierson, Jan. 8, 2024. Unsealed documents show defence team used Sarah Ransome’s claims, later retracted, to show she ‘manifestly lacks credibility.’

Jeffrey Epstein’s defence team sought to undermine the reliability of one of the witnesses against him by revealing she had claimed the billionaire had kept “sex tapes” involving prominent people, a new batch of unsealed documents has disclosed.

Those who were filmed were alleged to have included Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Sir Richard Branson, according to the allegations made by Sarah Ransome.

Her claims were flagged by a firm representing Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, to demonstrate Ransome “manifestly lacks credibility”. The court was not given any proof of the existence of any tapes, and the allegations were retracted by Ransome soon after they were initially made.

Ransome gave a victim impact statement before the sentencing of the British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell for sex trafficking. The court was provided with emails in which she claimed the three were filmed by the child sex offender.

She also makes serious accusations against the former US president Donald Trump.

A US judge ordered hundreds of documents to be unsealed as part of Giuffre’s previously settled civil claim against Maxwell, which was filed in 2015. Images were also released as part of the latest tranche of documents, including a resurfaced photo of the former Labour minister Peter Mandelson with Epstein on his private island, Little St James.

Other pictures, all taken on the island in 2006, included one of Maxwell with the disgraced French model scout Jean Luc-Brunel and various girls posing for photos.

Addressing the claims about Andrew, the former US president Clinton and Branson, the British billionaire businessman, in the document released on Monday, Ransome wrote in the emails: “When my friend had sexual intercourse with Clinton, Prince Andrew and Richard Branson, sex tapes were in fact filmed on each separate occasion by Jeffrey.

“Thank God she managed to get a hold of some footage of the filmed sex tapes, which clearly identify the faces of Clinton, Prince Andrew and Branson having sexual intercourse with her.

“Frustratingly enough Epstein was not seen in any of the footage but he was clever like that.

“When my friend eventually had the courage to speak out and went to the police in 2008 to report what had happened, nothing was done and she was utterly humiliated by the police department where she went to report what had happened with Epstein, Clinton, Branson and Prince Andrew.”

Trump, who hopes to stand for US president later this year, is also accused in the email extracts from Ransome, who alleges he “had sexual relations with [her friend] at Jeffrey’s NY mansion on regular occasions”.

In the letter from Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP to the court, the firm said allegations against Dershowitz were categorically false, adding: “[Ransome’s] testimony was fabricated from whole cloth. Ms Ransome’s testimony also contains a slew of other incendiary claims concerning the sexual proclivities of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and other prominent individuals.

“The emails are a necessary antidote to Ms Ransome’s deposition misstatements because they demonstrate she manifestly lacks credibility.”

Ransome soon withdrew her claims, saying: “I want to walk away from this … I shouldn’t have contacted you and I’m sorry I wasted your time. It’s not worth coming forward and I will never be heard anyhow and only bad things will happen as a consequence of me going public.” 

Jan. 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Idaho’s Strict Abortion Ban, Adam Liptak, Jan. 7, 2024 (print ed.). The court also temporarily reinstated the state law, which the Biden administration said conflicts with a federal statute on emergency-room care.

The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear a challenge to Idaho’s near-total ban on abortions, which the Biden administration said conflicted with a federal statute that allowed for some exceptions.

In scheduling arguments for April, the court also temporarily revived the law, which had been partly blocked by a federal trial judge.

The court’s brief order gave no reasons, which is typical when the justices act on emergency applications.

President Biden criticized the court’s action. “Today’s Supreme Court order allows Idaho’s extreme abortion ban to go back into effect and denies women critical emergency abortion care required by federal law,” he said in a statement.

The state law, enacted in 2020, contained a trigger provision that kicked in 30 days after any U.S. Supreme Court decision “that restores to the states their authority to prohibit abortion.” The decision in the Dobbs case did that, and the law was set to take effect in August 2022.

Jan. 5

Politico, Florida ready to follow Ohio and secure abortions rights, Arek Sarkissian, Jan. 5, 2024. A measure has reached the threshold to qualify for this year's ballot. politico CustomFlorida abortion rights advocates, who have seen access to the procedure erode in the state and nationally in recent years, reached a major milestone that could shape abortion access throughout the south.

Groups seeking a constitutional amendment protecting abortion on Friday secured enough state-certified signatures by the Feb. 1 deadline to put a referendum on the 2024 ballot.

If successful, voters in the country’s third most populous state could undo Florida’s abortion bans, keeping access open to thousands of patients throughout the south who travel to Florida from neighboring states — and from as far away as Texas — to avoid more restrictive prohibitions.

It would also deliver a blow to Florida Republicans, who have tightened controls over abortion under Gov. Ron DeSantis and made it harder for groups to successfully use ballot initiatives to amend the state Constitution. The GOP is so concerned about the threat that Republican state Attorney General Ashley Moody is mounting an aggressive effort to block the measure in the state high court.

“Make no mistake: we will put abortion on the ballot in 2024 and take back the rights that have been stolen,” said Florida Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book.

The Florida initiative would protect abortion until about 24 weeks of pregnancy. It would need 60 percent of voter approval to pass if it’s on this year’s ballot. Florida currently bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It also prohibits abortions at six weeks, though that law hasn’t yet been enacted.

Floridians Protecting Freedom, the main group seeking to place a constitutional amendment protecting abortion on the 2024 ballot, has collected 910,946 state-certified signatures, more than the 891,876 needed by February.

Florida is one of about a dozen states where groups are trying to put abortion rights on the ballot this year, including Arizona and Nevada. It also follows several Republican-leaning states like Kansas and Ohio that have approved similar measures in the wake of the Supreme Court dismantling Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Jan. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Ohio Woman Who Miscarried Faces Charge That She Abused Corpse, Remy Tumin, Jan. 3, 2024. In a case that has drawn international attention, a grand jury in Ohio is expected to decide whether to indict a Black woman who miscarried at home and disposed of the nonviable fetus.

ohio mapA grand jury in Ohio is expected to decide Wednesday whether to indict a woman who miscarried a nonviable fetus at home and has been charged with abuse of a corpse in what experts say is an extremely rare interpretation of a state law.

The woman, Brittany Watts, 34, of Warren, Ohio, was arrested in October after passing a fetus in her bathroom and trying to flush the remains down the toilet. The case has been before a Trumbull County grand jury since November. If convicted, Ms. Watts, who is Black, could face up to a year in prison. She has pleaded not guilty.

Although records show that Ms. Watts spontaneously miscarried, a finding that the state has not challenged, the case has come under scrutiny by lawyers and reproductive health advocates who say that prosecuting her is baseless and may deter other women who miscarry from obtaining medical attention they need.

The charge came within weeks of Ohio voters enshrining the right to abortion until the point of fetal viability, 22 weeks in Ohio, as well as the right to contraception, fertility treatment and miscarriage care. The measure, which went into effect in early December, was part of a winning streak for abortion-rights groups after the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Ms. Watts is being “demonized for something that goes on everyday,” her lawyer, Traci Timko, said before Judge Terry Ivanchak of the Warren Municipal Court last month. But Judge Ivanchak, who has since retired, found probable cause to send the charge to a grand jury for consideration.

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas doctors are not obligated to perform emergency abortions, court rules, Dan Diamond and Caroline Kitchener, Jan. 3, 2024 (print ed.). A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Texas hospitals and doctors are not obligated to perform abortions under a longstanding national emergency-care law, dealing a blow to the White House's strategy to ensure access to the procedure after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in 2022.

texas mapThe federal law “does not mandate any specific type of medical treatment, let alone abortion,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit concluded, faulting the Biden administration’s interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA. The law “does not govern the practice of medicine,” the court added.

The three-judge panel also faulted the Biden administration’s process of issuing its emergency-care guidance, saying that federal officials did not go through the proper rulemaking process when the administration instructed health-care providers that they were protected by EMTALA if they believed an abortion to be medically necessary. The panel further said that the federal emergency-care law did not “directly conflict” with a near-total abortion ban in effect in Texas, which includes exceptions for medical emergencies.

The White House and federal health officials have invoked EMTALA — the 1986 law that requires hospitals and physicians to treat emergency medical conditions or risk fines, civil lawsuits and being blacklisted from federal health programs — in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision that overturned the national right to abortion and led to about two dozen state bans on the procedure. The Biden administration is now engaged in several lawsuits that are expected to set precedent over whether the emergency-care law applies to abortion access, including the Texas case.

[Faced with abortion bans, doctors beg hospitals for help with key decisions]

The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday night referred questions to the White House, which declined comment.

Abortion rights advocates in Texas and across the country decried the ruling, which they said signaled a disregard for women in life-threatening pregnancy situations. They also criticized the 5th Circuit, which is widely seen as one of the most conservative courts in the country; its panels have repeatedly sided with antiabortion advocates.

ny times logoNew York Times, Epstein Documents Naming Prominent Figures Are Expected to Be Released Soon, Maggie Astor, Jan. 3, 2024 (print ed.).  The court documents related to the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein include many names that were previously redacted.

Court documents related to the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein are expected to be released soon with many names that were previously redacted, and prominent figures on the right are holding up the impending disclosures as evidence of wrongdoing by Democrats despite a lack of concrete information about what they will show.

Most of the names being made public — currently cited in the documents as John Does — have previously been identified in other court documents or in news reports as having been associated with Mr. Epstein.

A longtime friend of powerful people, including politicians, business executives and royalty, Mr. Epstein was accused of preying on girls as young as 14, bringing them to his homes and paying them for sex acts. He died at 66 by suicide in jail in 2019, before he could stand trial in Manhattan on federal sex-trafficking charges, but his associate Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted in 2021 of conspiring with him and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Mr. Epstein’s estate has since paid out about $150 million in settlements to more than 125 women.

It is in connection with a defamation lawsuit against Ms. Maxwell that the documents are being released. That lawsuit was brought by one of Mr. Epstein’s and Ms. Maxwell’s victims, Virginia Giuffre. Previously, many of the names in the documents were sealed, but a New York judge ruled in December that some of them could be unsealed.

Multiple news reports have said that former President Bill Clinton will be among those named, a fact conservative commentators have jumped on, though there is no indication that it will be in connection with allegations of wrongdoing, and Ms. Giuffre has not accused Mr. Clinton of any misconduct. His office said in 2019 that he had flown on Mr. Epstein’s private plane but had no knowledge of Mr. Epstein’s crimes, and a spokesman pointed to that statement on Tuesday.

“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York,” the 2019 statement said, acknowledging trips and meetings with Mr. Epstein in the early 2000s. It added, “He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade.”

Being named in the documents does not necessarily indicate that a person participated in or was aware of Mr. Epstein’s or Ms. Maxwell’s actions, and it was already known that Mr. Epstein was friendly with Mr. Clinton — as well as countless other celebrities and officials, including Donald J. Trump. It remains to be seen if the documents will say anything significant about Mr. Clinton or any other person.

 

December

 

Sherri Chessen with one of her children (Arizona Republic photo via USA Today Network).

Sherri Chessen with one of her children (Arizona Republic photo via USA Today Network).

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Forgotten Chapter of Abortion History Repeats Itself, Linda Greenhouse, Dec. 23, 2023 (print ed.). Much of the country no doubt watched in amazement last week as a woman with a doomed pregnancy was forced to flee her home state, Texas, to get the abortion her doctors deemed necessary to protect her future ability to bear children. Could this really be happening in the United States in 2023?

But then, should anyone who has followed the recent dystopian course of abortion in America have been surprised? After all, on the other side of the half-century during which abortion was a constitutional right, something eerily similar had happened in an episode that shocked the country when abortion was a subject not discussed in polite society.

It was 1962, and Sherri Chessen Finkbine, a 29-year-old mother of four and host of a popular children’s television program in Phoenix, was pregnant again. Suffering from morning sickness, she tried some pills, marketed in Europe as a sleeping aid, that her husband had brought back from a trip to London. Only after having taken multiple doses did she read about an outbreak in Europe of devastating birth defects in babies born to women who had used a drug called thalidomide. Her doctor confirmed that thalidomide was what she had taken.

The doctor recommended a “therapeutic” abortion and arranged for one to be performed quietly at a Phoenix hospital. Ms. Chessen — the media called her by her husband’s last name, Finkbine, but she had always preferred Chessen — felt obliged to warn other women who might unknowingly be facing the same situation. She talked to The Arizona Republic’s medical editor, who granted her anonymity. But her name became known, and in part because of her prominence — she was “Miss Sherri” of the popular “Romper Room — the story exploded. The hospital declined to go ahead with the scheduled procedure and, with abortion illegal in every state, there was no place in the country she could go.

She and her husband, a public-school teacher, went to Sweden for the abortion. By that time, she was 13 weeks pregnant. When they got back to Phoenix, she lost her job, and her husband was suspended from his teaching post.
ImageA black-and-white photo of a woman, Sheri Chessen, and her husband walking down stairs from a plane onto tarmac on their way to obtain an abortion.

Ms. Chessen’s trauma 61 years ago was even more jarring than Kate Cox’s was this month, because a subject largely hidden from public view was suddenly national news. I still remember, as a 15-year-old, being mesmerized by Life magazine’s extended account that covered not only Ms. Chessen’s experience but the abortion issue itself; included in the coverage were wrenching photographs of surviving “thalidomide babies” missing arms or legs or both.

Her story brought the once forbidden topic into the country’s living rooms in the most sympathetic light imaginable. “Her wholesome image clashed so dramatically with the public’s concept of abortion — the lawless choice of wayward women — that her decision to go through with the procedure sparked a heated national debate,” Jennifer Vanderbes writes in a new book, “Wonder Drug: The Secret History of Thalidomide in America and Its Hidden Victims.”

Although Ms. Chessen received plenty of hate mail, along with condemnation by the Vatican, a Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans thought she had made the right decision. It’s possible to see the episode as a spark that helped ignite the abortion reform movement that culminated in Roe v. Wade 11 years later. “Here is a need for common sense,” The Tulsa Tribune wrote in an editorial.

I first got in touch with Ms. Chessen in 2009, when Reva Siegel, a law professor at Yale, and I were compiling material for a documentary history of how abortion was discussed and debated before the 1973 decision. In an archive at the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, I found the text of a talk Ms. Chessen gave in 1966 about her experience.

“We tried so desperately to do what was right, yet thousands of people sought to judge for us,” she said in her talk.

Holding the document in my hands, I felt a sense of wonder that such a thing could have happened in my lifetime and relief that it would never happen to another woman. I found a phone number and called Ms. Chessen to get permission to reprint the talk. We included the text in our book, “Before Roe v. Wade.”

Sherri Chessen is now 91 years old. After her abortion, she went on to have a fifth child, a daughter named Kristin Atwell Ford, an award-winning filmmaker who is making a documentary about her mother. In later years, Ms. Chessen wrote and published children’s books. She lives on her own in Southern California. When I called her the other day, it was as if she had been waiting to be asked how she felt about the replay of the long-ago chapter of her long life.

“I’m losing my patience!” she exclaimed. “I have a newfound fire that wants to clobber all those idiots. When will they ever learn?”

Is “never” the inevitable answer? When I talk to student groups and others about the history of abortion, I’m no longer surprised to find how few have ever heard of Sherri Chessen and her flight to Sweden. That is unfortunate, because her story provides essential context for understanding what Texas — its politicians and its judges — did to Kate Cox this month. Those of us who are old enough to remember Sherri Chessen’s story, and who assumed it could never happen again, have now seen it happen, on our watch. If her experience lit a spark in 1962, Kate Cox’s experience should ignite a fire in 2024.

 

christian ziegler and wife

Republican Party chair Christian Ziegler and his wife Bridgett, shown above, a Moms for Liberty co-founder, part of three-way encounter with an alleged rape victim, affidavit says.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Moms For Liberty has a whole new scandal, Bill Palmer, right, Dec. 23, 2023. Moms For Liberty, the far right group trying to bill palmertake over school boards and prevent students from learning anything about the real world, had a terrible election cycle in 2023. It’s also since been rocked by scandal. Those scandals just got even worse.

bill palmer report logo headerMoms For Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler is now being accused of having filmed a second sex tape with a woman. This kind of thing normally wouldn’t be anyone’s business. But this comes even as Moms For Liberty tries to suppress all things LGBT in public schools.

This comes even as Bridget Ziegler’s husband Christian Ziegler – the Chair of the Florida Republican Party – is under investigation for alleged rape and was recently stripped off most of the powers of his office. As usual, people on the far right keep reminding us that there is something very wrong with them.

Dec. 22

ny times logoNew York Times, Pornhub’s Parent Company Admits to Profiting From Sex Trafficking, Erin Nolan, Dec. 22, 2023 (print ed.). The company that operates Pornhub and other adult websites has agreed to pay damages to women who said pornographic videos of them were posted online without their consent.

The company that operates Pornhub and other adult websites acknowledged in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday that it had profited for years from pornographic content that depicted sex trafficking victims, according to federal prosecutors.

Aylo Holdings S.A.R.L., Pornhub’s parent company, pleaded not guilty to a charge of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions involving sex trafficking proceeds. But through an agreement with prosecutors, the company agreed to pay damages to women who said they were forced to appear in pornographic videos that were then posted to the company’s websites without their consent.

The deal, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, requires the company to pay a fine of over $1.8 million and be assigned a monitor who will assess Aylo’s protocols for screening content and addressing reports of illegal content on its platforms. In return, it would allow the charge against Aylo to be dropped after three years.

Aylo, which was previously called MindGeek, operates several websites that allow third parties to post and distribute adult content, according to prosecutors. In 2009, Aylo began hosting pornographic videos created by the production companies GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys.

Dec. 21

messenger logo squareThe Messenger, Dozens of People Tied to Jeffrey Epstein Are About to Be Publicly Named. At Least 10 Will Remain Secret. Here’s Why, Ben Feuerherd, Dec. 21, 2023. Two people, whom the judge dubbed 'classic outsiders,' will be allowed to maintain their anonymity.

The names of 150 people connected to the Jeffrey Epstein case will be unsealed in a legal document dump just after the New Year following a ruling by a federal judge.

But at least 10 names will remain secret, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska has ordered.

At least eight of the people were victimized by Epstein — and have not spoken publicly — according to the judge. A number of them were under age 18 at the time of the alleged abuse. They were ordered exempt from an unsealing order filed Monday by Preska.

“The public interest does not outweigh the privacy of the alleged minor victim,” Preska wrote repeatedly next to pseudonyms for those individuals whose names will not be released.

In addition to the victims, someone who was mistakenly identified in a photograph and alleged by a news reporter to be a co-conspirator of Epstein’s will also be kept under seal, according to the order.

“This Doe has sought to avoid public attention to the allegations,” Preska added in her order to keep the person’s identity confidential.

The names were included in court documents filed in a civil suit against the pedophile’s partner in crime, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Preska also ordered the names of two people she called “classic outsiders” in the case to remain under seal, according to the court documents.

The outsiders — identified as J. Does 58 and 124 — were "neither a victim nor associated with Esptein or Maxwell,” the judge wrote in ordering their names withheld.

On Monday, Preska ordered the names of about 150 people with ties to the Epstein case to be unsealed in a since-settled civil suit brought against Maxwell by longtime accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Attorneys for Giuffre and the Miami Herald newspaper fought for years in court to have material in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, unsealed.

The vast majority of names slated to be released as early as Jan. 2 appear to be individuals with longstanding and public ties to Epstein and Maxwell, according to Preska’s order.

People who have given media interviews about their connection to Epstein and others who testified at Maxwell’s criminal trial are included on the list, according to the order.

The names of at least two journalists who investigated Epstein will also be made public, the order states.

Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison after her conviction in Manhattan federal court for sex trafficking minors to Epstein, her former boyfriend.

Epstein died by suicide in a federal jail in Manhattan in 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges.

washington post logoWashington Post, 12 states where the fate of abortion rights could be on 2024 ballots, Amy B Wang and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Dec. 21, 2023. Voters in about a dozen states in 2024 could decide the fate of abortion rights with constitutional amendments on the ballot in a pivotal election year — including in several battlegrounds that will be key to deciding the presidential race and which party controls Congress.

Abortion rights advocates chose the path of constitutional amendments because if passed, they would supersede any law enacted by state legislatures. Those advocates have reason to be hopeful: Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last June, every ballot measure that has sought to preserve or expand abortion access has been successful, while those that have sought to restrict abortion access have failed — even in states that skew conservative.

States where abortion is legal, banned or under threat

Weeks after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, voters in deep-red Kansas defeated a ballot measure that would have removed abortion protections from the state’s constitution. Last November, voters in Michigan, California and Vermont approved ballot initiatives that enshrined the right to abortion in state constitutions, while voters in Kentucky and Montana defeated antiabortion ballot measures. Voters in Ohio approved a measure to enshrine the right to an abortion last month, despite efforts by Republican officials to hamstring the process by raising the threshold required for a ballot measure to pass. 

“It’s hard to overstate the momentum, the wind that’s at the back of abortion rights advocates using ballot measures to pass constitutional amendments,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, a group that supports state ballot measure efforts.

The issue has proved to galvanize turnout and play a major role in electing politicians who support abortion access. While abortion rights groups say the issue transcends party lines, the spillover effect has tended to benefit Democratic candidates who campaign to protect reproductive rights. 

Kelsey Pritchard, director of state public affairs at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said elected officials need to “sound the alarm” on potential ballot measures that would preserve or expand abortion access. She accused abortion rights groups of misleading voters about the severity of the impact of abortion restrictions, contending that states with restrictions still allow for “the timely medical care of pregnant women experiencing an emergency.” 

“Timely medical care” has not been the reality for many pregnant patients in several states that have greatly restricted reproductive care, with some of them suing for lack of medical care. One includes a Dallas-area woman, Kate Cox, who sought an abortion after learning that her fetus had a fatal genetic condition.

Voters in Maryland and New York, two blue states, will decide next year whether to codify a right to abortion in their state’s constitution because of measures put on the ballot by their state legislatures. In nine other states where the state constitution can be amended through citizen-initiated ballot measures, organizers are working to gather signatures to put the question directly before voters. Voters in at least one state, Iowa, are seeking to add a measure that restricts access to abortion.

The likelihood of successfully getting on the ballot differs from state to state, because of varied processes and the potential for lawsuits. Here is a look at the 12 states where voters could weigh in on abortion in 2024, ranked from the campaigns most likely to make it to the ballot to the ones that face the most obstacles.

Dec. 18

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Where Will Abortion Rights Land? Kate Zernike, Dec. 18, 2023 (print ed.). Post-Roe voting might bring America to a new consensus — but only if the voters keep getting their say.

As long as the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade was the law of the land, conservatives complained that it had squelched the democratic process — that unelected men in black robes had handed down a national edict rather than letting the American people sort out a consensus.

Celebrating Roe’s reversal in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, they declared that democracy would finally be allowed to take over and settle the question of abortion once and for all. “Now the American people get their voice back,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said. While the court in Roe had “inflamed debate and deepened division,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority in Dobbs, “the people and their elected representatives” would reach the “national settlement” that had eluded the country for so long.

Eighteen months later, the American people are indeed using their voices, but not in the way anti-abortion advocates had hoped. In a steady march of ballot measures, even in conservative states like Ohio, they have codified a right to abortion and rejected attempts to restrict it. Polls show increasing support for abortion rights in all 50 states, with majorities in nearly all states — even deep red states — saying that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

The entire dynamic of the debate has shifted: Democrats who once dreaded speaking the word abortion are now running on it, while Republicans struggle to define what exceptions they would allow to bans on the procedure, and former President Donald Trump now says overturning Roe was a mistake.

And yet a “national settlement” seems more elusive than ever. One reason is simply American federalism, which allows states to set their own standards where there is no federal one. But a bigger reason is that Republicans around the country — the same people, in many cases, who once complained about Roe blocking the democratic process and imposing a one-size-fits-all rule on abortion nationwide — have turned much of their energy to keeping the issue away from voters.

Republican-controlled legislatures, shocked by the results of ballot measures that put the question of abortion directly to the people, are trying to make those measures harder to pass, and even abolish them as an option. The issue is now in a different set of courts, in the states, where anti-abortion groups have searched out like-minded judges in an attempt to take abortion pills off the market. Last week, the United States Supreme Court — the black robes who were supposed to have put themselves out of the business of deciding abortion — announced that it would take that case. And some of the same Republicans who once argued that abortion should be settled by the will of the people in the states now argue that what is needed is for Congress to pass a uniform federal law.

Few people predicted how much abortion would define the elections of 2022; now it is the defining issue for 2024. But anyone hoping for democracy to resolve the debate will need to wait far longer than that. If the goal of the Dobbs decision was to let the will of the people decide the question of abortion, the question now is whether, in much of the country, the people’s opinions will be allowed to count.

Dec. 16

 

 

christian ziegler and wife

Republican Party chair Christian Ziegler and his wife Bridgett, shown above, a Moms for Liberty co-founder, part of three-way encounter with an alleged rape victim, affidavit says.

ny times logoNew York Times, Florida Sex Scandal Shakes Moms for Liberty, as Group’s Influence Wanes, Lisa Lerer and Patricia Mazzei, Dec. 16, 2023. The conservative group led the charge on the Covid-era education battles. But scandals and losses are threatening its power.

Moms for Liberty, a national right-wing advocacy group, was born in Florida as a response to Covid-19 school closures and mask mandates. But it quickly became just as well known for pushing policies branded as anti-L.G.B.T.Q. by opponents.

So when one of its founders, Bridget Ziegler, recently told the police that she and her husband, who is under criminal investigation for sexual assault, had a consensual sexual encounter with another woman, the perceived disconnect between her public stances and private life fueled intense pressure for her to resign from the Sarasota County School Board.

“Most of our community could not care less what you do in the privacy of your own home, but your hypocrisy takes center stage,” said Sally Sells, a Sarasota resident and the mother of a fifth-grader, told Ms. Ziegler during a tense school board meeting this week. Ms. Ziegler, whose husband has denied wrongdoing, said little and did not resign.

Ms. Sells was one of dozens of speakers who criticized Ms. Ziegler — and Moms for Liberty — at the meeting, an outcry that underscored the group’s prominence in the most contentious debates of the pandemic era.

Dec.  9

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Court-Approved Abortion, J. David Goodman, Dec. 9, 2023 (print ed.). The court, responding to an appeal, put on hold a lower court order allowing an abortion for a woman whose fetus has a fatal condition.-

The Texas Supreme Court late Friday temporarily halted a lower court order allowing a Dallas woman to obtain an abortion in spite of the state’s strict texas mapbans, after she learned her fetus has a fatal condition.

ken paxton mugThe state court’s ruling was in response to an appeal from Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, left, who opposed the woman’s abortion.

The Supreme Court said that, “without regard to the merits” of the arguments on either side, it had issued an administrative stay in the case, to give itself more time to issue a final ruling.

Kate Cox personal photo via Associated PressThe stay meant that, for the moment, the order from a judge in Travis County district court permitting the abortion was on hold. That order allowed the woman, Kate Cox, right, to obtain an abortion and protected her doctor from civil or criminal liability under Texas’s overlapping abortion bans.

Politico, Her Online Sex Life Was Exposed. She Lost Her Election. Now She’s Speaking Out, Alexander Burns, Dec. 9, 2023. Susanna Gibson’s campaign was rocked when an opponent exposed her private digital life to the public. She won’t be the last.

politico CustomIt is not often that a state legislative campaign in an off-season election seizes the national spotlight. But that is what happened in September, when the Washington Post revealed that a promising Virginia Democrat, Susanna Gibson, had previously been captured in a recorded video performing sex acts online with her husband.

Gibson, a 40-year-old nurse practitioner, was running in one of the most competitive elections in the state — a race for a Richmond-area seat in the House of Delegates that had the potential to determine whether Democrats or Republicans would control the chamber. There was unusual national interest in Virginia’s elections because the Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, had staked his credibility as a national political figure in part on his ability to take full control of state government.

The video — a recording of an explicit livestream that the Post said had been uploaded elsewhere on the internet — had been shared by a Republican political operative, according to the paper. The Post’s report upended Gibson’s life, to say nothing of her candidacy.

“I’m fundamentally changed as a human having gone through something like that,” she said in an interview.

The episode also detonated a debate in Virginia and beyond about digital and sexual privacy in 21st-century politics. In a possible reflection of shifting social norms, Gibson nearly won the race anyway — she lost by less than 1,000 votes and has not ruled out a return to electoral politics in the future. (Despite losing Gibson’s race, Democrats still took full control of the Virginia State Legislature.)

To explore the difficult social and legal questions that churned through Virginia politics, POLITICO Magazine spoke with Gibson about her experience in the campaign — and the implications of that race for a larger cohort of younger candidates who grew up in a world of increasingly blurry lines around their public, private and online lives.

Dec. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Texas Judge Grants Woman’s Request for Abortion, in Rare Post-Roe Case, J. David Goodman, Dec. 8, 2023 (print ed.). A state court judge said a woman whose fetus was diagnosed with a fatal condition could legally obtain an abortion despite the state’s bans.

A Texas judge granted a request on Thursday to allow an abortion despite the state’s strict bans, ruling in the case of a pregnant woman whose fetus was diagnosed with a fatal condition.

The case is believed to be among the first attempts in the nation to seek a court-approved abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year and allowed states to enact their own abortion restrictions.

Kate Cox personal photo via Associated PressThe judge, Maya Guerra Gamble of Travis County district court, sided with the woman, Kate Cox, right, who is 20 weeks pregnant, and issued a temporary restraining order to permit her doctor to perform an abortion without facing civil or criminal penalties.

The judge, a Democrat, agreed with Ms. Cox’s lawyers that the procedure was necessary to protect Ms. Cox from a potentially dangerous birth, and to preserve her future fertility. 

texas map“The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be pregnant, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability, is shocking, and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,” the judge said at the conclusion of a roughly 30-minute video hearing. “So I will be signing the order, and it will be processed and sent out today.”

The ruling applies only to Ms. Cox, though it represents another front in an effort to force Texas, which bans most abortions from conception, to allow abortions under the medical exceptions to its prohibitions. A separate lawsuit, brought by a group of Texas women who say they were denied abortions under state law, asks the state to clarify the conditions in which medical exceptions would apply.

Since the Supreme Court eliminated the federal right to abortion in 2022, more than a dozen conservative states have enacted abortion bans or severely restricted the procedure. The bans generally allow limited medical exceptions. In some of those states, women represented by abortion rights groups have sued to clarify when the procedure could be performed, or to have the bans overturned.

Those suits were filed after women were denied abortions. In some cases, the women claimed that they suffered harm to their health as a result, or were forced to leave the state, at significant cost, disruption or risk, to seek abortions elsewhere.

What made Ms. Cox’s case different was that she sought a court order while still pregnant.

Ms. Cox’s fetus was found to have trisomy 18, a genetic condition that in all but very rare cases leads to miscarriage or stillbirth, or to the infant’s death within the first year. Her lawyers said she had visited the emergency room four times because of pain and discharge — including once after her suit was filed on Tuesday — but that doctors had told her that under Texas law, she had to continue her pregnancy.

Dec. 3

 

christian ziegler and wife

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida GOP chairman under fire as more details emerge in rape inquiry, Lori Rozsa and Will Oremus, Dec. 3, 2023. Republican Party chair and his wife, shown above, a Moms for Liberty co-founder, part of three-way encounter with alleged victim, affidavit says.

Leaders of the Florida Republican Party criticized state GOP Chairman Christian Ziegler as details emerged in a rape allegation by a woman with whom he and his wife previously had a three-way sexual encounter.

Ziegler is under investigation by Sarasota police but has not been charged. A search warrant affidavit obtained by the Florida Center for Government Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog group, and provided to The Washington Post reveals additional details about the allegations of the assault. Police also obtained from the woman’s cellphone messages between her and Ziegler in the hours leading up to the encounter, the affidavit states.

On Oct. 2, the woman had agreed to have a sexual encounter with Ziegler that was to include his wife, Bridget, the affidavit says. But when the woman learned that Bridget couldn’t make it, she changed her mind and canceled. When Ziegler told her in one message that his wife was no longer available, she replied, “Sorry I was mostly in for her,” she said in a message, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, the woman told Sarasota police that Ziegler then showed up at her apartment uninvited and raped her. The woman reported the alleged assault to police two days later, and a rape kit was done at a Sarasota hospital, the affidavit states.

Christian Ziegler later told detectives that he had consensual sex with the woman, and that he had video-recorded it and uploaded the video to Google Drive, according to the affidavit, but police were not able to locate the video. Sarasota police served a search warrant to Google last month, the affidavit says. Google did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

republican elephant logoIn a 911 call two days after the alleged assault, a recording of which was also obtained by the Florida Center for Government Accountability and shared with The Post, a friend of the woman asked emergency responders to check on the woman at her apartment. According to the call’s recording, the friend said the woman hadn’t shown up for work for two days. When the friend called the woman, the woman sounded “drunk” and was “slurring her words,” the friend told dispatchers. “She told me she was raped and that she’s scared to leave her house,” the friend added, according to the recording of the call.

Bridget Ziegler, who is not named in the complaint against her husband, is a co-founder of Moms for Liberty and has worked closely with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on legislation that opponents have described as anti-LGBTQ+. Bridget Ziegler “confirmed having a sexual encounter with the victim and Christian over a year ago and that it only happened one time,” the affidavit says.

News reports emerged several days ago about the allegations of rape, but more records were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request late Friday and reported by several Florida news outlets. They include details of recorded conversations via Instagram and phone calls between the woman and Christian Ziegler that detectives obtained. Police have filed search warrants for Ziegler’s phone, email and other devices. The Sarasota Police Department did not reply to several requests for comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, HOME-SCHOOL NATION: What home schooling hides: An 11-year-old boy tortured and starved by his stepmom, Peter Jamison, Dec. 3, 2023. Roman Lopez was 11 when he went missing. His years of torment were concealed by home schooling.

Nobody could find Roman Lopez.

His family had searched, taping hand-drawn “missing” posters to telephone poles and driving the streets calling out the 11-year-old’s name. So had many of his neighbors, their flashlights sweeping over the sidewalks as the winter darkness settled on the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The police were searching, too, and now they had returned to the place where Roman had gone missing earlier that day: his family’s rented home in Placerville, Calif. Roman’s stepmother, Lindsay Piper, hesitated when officers showed up at her door the night of Jan. 11, 2020, asking to comb the house again. But she had told them that Roman liked to hide in odd places — even the clothes dryer — and agreed to let them in.

Brock Garvin, Roman’s 15-year-old stepbrother, was sitting in the dimly lit basement when police came downstairs shortly after 10:30 p.m. He ignored them, he said later, watching “Supernatural” on television as three officers began inspecting the black-and-yellow Home Depot storage bins stacked along the back wall.

Brock had no idea what had happened to Roman. But he did know something the police did not: Much of what his mother had said to them that day was a lie.

When she reported Roman’s disappearance, Piper told the police she was home schooling the eight kids in her household. This was technically true. It was also a ruse.

Most schools have teachers, principals, guidance counselors — professionals trained to recognize the unexplained bruises or erratic behaviors that may point to an abusive parent. Home education was an easy way to avoid the scrutiny of such people. That was the case for Piper, whose children were learning less from her about math and history than they were about violence, cruelty and neglect.

Left to their own devices while she lay in bed watching TV crime procedurals, and her husband, Jordan, worked long hours as a utility lineman, their days and nights passed in a penumbral blur of video games, microwave dinners and fistfights. Almost nothing resembling education took place, her sons said. But there was a shared project in which she diligently led her children: the torture of their stepbrother, Roman.

Roman had been a loving, extroverted 7-year-old who obsessed over dinosaurs when Piper came into his life, a mama’s boy perpetually in search of a mother as Jordan, his father, cycled from one broken relationship to the next.

On the day he was reported missing, he was a sixth-grader who weighed only 42 pounds. He had been locked in closets, whipped with extension cords and bound with zip ties, according to police reports and interviews with family members who witnessed his treatment. Unwilling to give him even short breaks from his isolation, Piper kept him in diapers.

November

Nov. 30

christian ziegler bridget ziegler

Politico, Police investigating Florida Republican Party chair over alleged sexual assault, Kimberly Leonard and Andrew Atterbury, Nov. 30, 2023. The Sarasota Police Department is investigating Florida Republican Party Chair Christian Ziegler, whose wife, Bridget (shown together above), co-founded the conservative parents group Moms for Liberty, following allegations of sexual assault.

politico CustomAccording to a heavily redacted police report obtained by POLITICO through a public records request, the alleged incident took place on Oct. 2 at a home in Sarasota and the victim filed a complaint two days later. The documents omit details about the victim’s statement to authorities but include the words “rape” and “sexually battered.”

The Florida Trident, the news platform for the open government watchdog Florida Center for Government Accountability, was first to report on the news.

Ziegler, through his attorney, acknowledged the police were investigating him and said he’d been “fully cooperative with every request made by the Sarasota Police Department.”

“We are confident that once the police investigation is concluded that no charges will be filed and Mr. Ziegler will be completely exonerated,” his attorney, Derek Byrd, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, public figures are often accused of acts that they did not commit whether it be for political purposes or financial gain. I would caution anyone to rush to judgment until the investigation is concluded.”

Ziegler is married to Bridget Ziegler, a school board member in Sarasota County and Moms for Liberty co-founder. The group has risen to prominence in Florida under the DeSantis administration, which emphasizes rooting out any traces of liberal “indoctrination” — particularly on the issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and race.

Bridget Ziegler did not respond to requests for comment.

The Trident article quotes anonymous sources who say the Zieglers were in a consensual three-way sexual relationship with the victim but that Bridget Ziegler wasn’t there when the alleged sexual assault happened. POLITICO was not immediately able to substantiate the claims.

Moms for Liberty on Thursday indicated that it was standing by Bridget Ziegler, saying in a statement that “we are confident she will get to tell her side of things to those who are interested in more than click bait.” The group added that Bridget Ziegler stepped back from the organization’s board in 2021.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top leaders, including Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., met with Moms for Liberty this year to plot out local school board candidates to oppose in 2024, following up on scores of endorsements and nominations in the 2022 cycle. Moms for Liberty has a growing national presence, with close to 300 chapters, while reporting more than $2 million in revenue for 2022.

DeSantis also appointed Bridget Ziegler to be one of the chairs for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, the governing board that DeSantis tapped to oversee the district surrounding Walt Disney World after a heated fight about LGBTQ+ topics in public schools.

News of the alleged incident broke just hours before DeSantis was set to appear in a highly advertised debate on Fox News against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, who has criticized DeSantis for his policies on schools.

The Republican Party of Sarasota County said in a statement that it was “shocked and disappointed” about the reports regarding the Zieglers.

Nov. 27

ny times logoNew York Times, A Final Wave of Sex-Abuse Lawsuits as One-Year Window Closes in New York, Hurubie Meko, Nov. 27, 2023. Since the Adult Survivors Act was passed, more than 3,000 civil suits have been filed, some aimed at politicians and others at institutions.

In the year since a one-time window opened in New York State allowing people to file sex-abuse lawsuits even after the statute of limitations had expired, more than 3,000 civil suits have been filed.

andrew cuomo 2019Before the deadline on Thanksgiving, a flurry of attention-grabbing suits were filed against politicians — like former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right, and Eric Adams, the mayor of New York — and celebrities, like Sean Combs, the producer and music mogul, who had just settled a separate suit filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan accusing him of rape.

But hundreds of people have also — collectively and separately — sued institutions, including the state’s prisons, jails and prominent hospitals, for abuses they said were systematically ignored and hidden for decades. At least 479 suits contain charges of abuse at Rikers Island.

As the legislation to allow the civil suits, known as the Adult Survivors Act, approached its sunset date, the number of lawsuits filed — both in State Supreme Court and in the Court of Claims — steadily increased after a campaign to alert people to the deadline. The number of cases filed in State Supreme Court alone rose from 803 on Oct. 31 to 1,397 as of Nov. 22. 

ny times logoNew York Times, At Meta, Millions of Underage Users Were an ‘Open Secret,’ States Say, Natasha Singer, Nov. 27, 2023 (print ed.). Meta has received more than 1.1 million reports of users under the age of 13 on its Instagram platform since early 2019 yet it “disabled only a fraction” of those accounts, according to a newly unsealed legal complaint against the company brought by the attorneys general of 33 states.

meta logoInstead, the social media giant “routinely continued to collect” children’s personal information, like their locations and email addresses, without parental permission, in violation of a federal children’s privacy law, according to the court filing. Meta could face hundreds of millions of dollars, or more, in civil penalties should the states prove the allegations.

“Within the company, Meta’s actual knowledge that millions of Instagram users are under the age of 13 is an open secret that is routinely documented, rigorously analyzed and confirmed,” the complaint said, “and zealously protected from disclosure to the public.”

The privacy charges are part of a larger federal lawsuit, filed last month by California, Colorado and 31 other states in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit accuses Meta of unfairly ensnaring young people on its Instagram and Facebook platforms while concealing internal studies showing user harms. And it seeks to force Meta to stop using certain features that the states say have harmed young users.

But much of the evidence cited by the states was blacked out by redactions in the initial filing.

Now the unsealed complaint, filed on Wednesday evening, provides new details from the states’ lawsuit. Using snippets from internal emails, employee chats and company presentations, the complaint contends that Instagram for years “coveted and pursued” underage users even as the company “failed” to comply with the children’s privacy law.

The unsealed filing said that Meta “continually failed” to make effective age-checking systems a priority and instead used approaches that enabled users under 13 to lie about their age to set up Instagram accounts. It also accused Meta executives of publicly stating in congressional testimony that the company’s age-checking process was effective and that the company removed underage accounts when it learned of them — even as the executives knew there were millions of underage users on Instagram.

“Tweens want access to Instagram, and they lie about their age to get it now,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in an internal company chat in November 2021, according to the court filing.

In Senate testimony the following month, Mr. Mosseri said: “If a child is under the age of 13, they are not permitted on Instagram.”

In a statement on Saturday, Meta said that it had spent a decade working to make online experiences safe and age-appropriate for teenagers and that the states’ complaint “mischaracterizes our work using selective quotes and cherry-picked documents.”

Nov. 24

 

cuba gooding

washington post logoWashington Post, Legal deadline prompts a slew of celebrity sexual assault lawsuits, Anne Branigin, Nov. 24, 2023 (print ed.). As New York’s Adult Survivors Act is set to expire Friday, last-minute claims have been made this week against Axl Rose, Jamie Foxx and Cuba Gooding Jr. (shown above.)

The list keeps growing: hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, actor Jamie Foxx, rock star Axl Rose, Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., celebrity photographer Terry Richardson, music executive L.A. Reid.

In the past month, a slew of sexual assault lawsuits has been filed against high-profile men in the entertainment industry for alleged abuse that took place years — and in some cases, decades — ago. The cases have been filed under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law signed in 2022 that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for filing a sexual assault complaint, allowing survivors one year to file suits against their alleged abusers, regardless of when the alleged abuse happened.

The act is set to expire Friday, prompting a flurry of last-minute complaints and summonses as survivors seek remedy for abuses they say they experienced as adults. On Wednesday alone, Rose and actors Gooding and Foxx were hit with lawsuits filed under the act. And in a last-minute filing Thursday, Combs was accused of another sexual assault. (R&B singer Cassie sued him earlier this month; the pair settled out of court the next day.)

Rose was accused of sexual assault by former Penthouse model Sheila Kennedy, who claims that Rose attacked and raped her in a New York hotel room in 1989.

Meanwhile, two women filed separate suits against Gooding, both alleging sexual assault and battery, one in 2018 and one in 2019. The 2019 claim involves a groping incident that Gooding pleaded guilty to last year. (The actor described it as “non-consensual physical contact” at a hearing, according to the lawsuit.)

Gooding settled another Adult Survivors Act lawsuit in June with a woman who accused him of raping her in 2013.

Foxx, whose legal name is Eric Marlon Bishop, was also accused of sexual assault, in an alleged incident that took place at a New York bar in 2015. That complaint, filed on behalf of “Jane Doe,” alleges that Foxx pulled her to a secluded area of the establishment and began fondling her without her consent, while a nearby security guard who witnessed the encounter walked away.

“The alleged incident never happened,” a spokesman for Foxx told Deadline on Thursday, claiming that the person had filed “a nearly identical lawsuit in Brooklyn” in 2020 that was dismissed.

In the past year, more than 2,500 lawsuits tied to the Adult Survivors Act have been filed, according to the Associated Press, which noted that most of the alleged abuse occurred at state prisons and local jails.

But the ones that have drawn the most attention have been those filed against public figures.

In October, actress Julia Ormond filed one such suit against disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, 71, who is serving a 39-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in a New York state prison. Actor-comedian Russell Brand, former president Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein’s estate have also been hit with these lawsuits.

Perhaps the biggest bombshell, however, came Nov. 16, when Cassie accused her former partner Combs of sustained physical and sexual abuse during the course of their relationship, which lasted more than a decade.

Cassie, whose legal name is Casandra Ventura, signed to Combs’s Bad Boy record label when she was 19; Combs was 37 at the time. In the suit, the singer alleged that Combs introduced her to “a lifestyle of excessive alcohol and substance abuse,” often beat her, forced her to engage in sex acts with male sex workers and raped her when she attempted to leave him. Because of the graphic nature of the allegations, the 35-page complaint came with an unusual “trigger warning.”

At the time of the filing, Cassie referenced the Adult Survivors Act, saying in a prepared statement that with the act’s expiration fast approaching, “it became clear that this was an opportunity to speak up about the trauma I have experienced and that I will be recovering from for the rest of my life.”

Combs ended up settling the suit with Cassie one day later: “We have decided to resolve this matter amicably. I wish Cassie and her family all the best,” the producer-rapper said in a statement.

Days later, Harve Pierre, the former president of Bad Boy Records, was accused of grooming and sexually assaulting his assistant. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of “Jane Doe,” claims that Pierre “used his position of authority as plaintiff’s boss to groom, exploit, and sexually assault” the person, sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions between 2016 and 2017. Bad Boy Entertainment, Bad Boy Records and Combs Enterprises were also named as co-defendants for alleged negligence and gender violence.

“The allegations are from many years ago that were never brought to the attention of the company,” a spokesman for Bad Boy Entertainment said in a statement Thursday, adding: “We are now investigating the allegations, and our top priority is the safety and well-being of our employees.”

 

eric adams serious nydn

Politico, Eric Adams accused of sexual assault in 1993 in new legal filing, Emily Ngo, Nov. 24, 2023 (print ed.). The NYC mayor (shown in a New York Daily News photo) denies knowing the plaintiff, who alleges assault by Adams 30 years ago.

politico CustomNew York City Mayor Eric Adams has been accused of sexual assault 30 years ago in a new legal claim filed under the Adult Survivors Act.

The accusations are the latest troubles for the mayor of the nation’s largest city as he also deals with a federal investigation into his campaign finances.

The civil summons alleges Adams, a former NYPD officer, sexually assaulted the plaintiff when they worked as city employees in 1993. The summons was filed late Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan and first reported by the Messenger news outlet.

The mayor, through a spokesperson, denied knowing the plaintiff, whose name was being withheld by POLITICO.

“If they ever met, he doesn’t recall it,” a City Hall spokesperson said in a statement. “But he would never do anything to physically harm another person and vigorously denies any such claim.”

Later, Adams stressed the same points to reporters.

“It absolutely did not happen. I don’t recall ever meeting this person. And I would never harm anyone in that magnitude. It did not happen,” Adams said. “It’s going to go its course; it’s going take its process. But it did not happen. And that is not who I am, and that’s who I have never been in my professional life.”

An attorney for the plaintiff did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The court filing names Adams, New York City, the transit bureau of the New York Police Department and the Guardian Association of the NYPD as defendants.

The plaintiff seeks at least $5 million in damages, according to the summons.

“The claims brought here allege intentional and negligent acts and omissions for physical, psychological, and other injuries suffered as a result of conduct that would constitute sexual offenses,” the document reads.

The three-page summons contained few other details about the alleged assault. It is expected to be followed by a fuller legal complaint.

Nov. 23

ny times logoNew York Times, How Many Abortions Did the Post-Roe Bans Prevent? Margot Sanger-Katz and Claire Cain Miller, Nov. 23, 2023 (print ed.). The first data on births since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year shows that almost a quarter of women who could have gotten abortions have carried to term.

The first data on births since Roe v. Wade was overturned shows how much abortion bans have had their intended effect: Births increased in every state with a ban, an analysis of the data shows.

By comparing birth statistics in states before and after the bans passed, researchers estimated that the laws caused around 32,000 annual births, based on the first six months of 2023, a relatively small increase that was in line with overall expectations.

Until now, studies have shown that many women in states with bans have ended their pregnancies anyway, by traveling to other states or ordering pills online. What they have been unable to show is how many women have not done so, and carried their pregnancies to term. The new analysis, published Friday as a working paper by the Institute of Labor Economics, found that in the first six months of the year, between one-fifth and one-fourth of women living in states with bans — who may have otherwise sought an abortion — did not get one.

“The importance of our results is when you take away access, it can affect fertility,” said Daniel Dench, an economist at Georgia Tech and an author of the paper with Mayra Pineda-Torres of Georgia Tech and Caitlin Myers of Middlebury College. “When you make it harder, women can’t always get out of states to obtain abortion.”

Overall, data suggests that the number of legal abortions nationwide has stayed steady or slightly increased since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, despite abortion bans in what are now 14 states. This is probably because of new clinics that opened in states where it is legal, and the emergence of new ways to order abortion pills online, expanding access for both women who traveled to those states and those who lived there.

“This is an inequality story,” Professor Myers said. “Most people are getting out of ban states, one way or another, and more people in protected states are getting abortions. And at the same time, this shows something those data cannot show: There’s a significant minority of people in ban states that do get trapped.”

The researchers used birth data, by age and race, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2005 through June 2023. They used a statistical method that compared states with similar trends in births before the Dobbs decision to estimate how much a ban changed the expected birthrate. This increased their certainty that the change was because of the policy and not other factors.

They found that births increased 2.3 percent, on average, in states with bans relative to states where abortion remained legal.

The analysis showed that the increased births were disproportionately among women in their 20s and Black and Hispanic women, which researchers said could be because these groups tend to be poorer, making it harder to travel. They are also the demographic groups that have tended to be more likely to seek abortions.

Nov. 22

ny times logoNew York Times, When Does Life Stop? A New Way of Harvesting Organs Divides Doctors, Joseph Goldstein, Nov. 22, 2023. The technique restarts circulation after an organ donor is declared dead. But first surgeons cut off blood flow to the brain. One surgeon called it “creepy.”

A new method for retrieving hearts from organ donors has ignited a debate over the surprisingly blurry line between life and death in a hospital — and whether there is any possibility that donors might still experience some trace of consciousness or pain as their organs are harvested.

The new method has divided major hospitals in New York City and beyond. It has been championed by NYU Langone Health in Manhattan, which says it became the first hospital in the United States in 2020 to try the new method. But NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, which has the city’s largest organ transplant program, has rejected the technique after an ethics committee there examined the issue.

If adopted more widely, the method will significantly increase the number of hearts available for transplantation, saving lives.

The reason is that most heart donors currently come from a small category of deaths: donors who have been declared brain dead often after a traumatic incident like a car accident. But they remain on life support — their heart beats, and their blood circulates, bringing oxygen to their organs — until a transplant team recovers their organs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Accusations of body-shaming, verbal abuse, fits of anger: Beneath NCAA gymnastics’ glow, a ‘toxic’ culture, Molly Hensley-Clancy and Emily Giambalvo, Nov. 22, 2023 (print ed.). To young gymnasts, women’s college gymnastics looked like a joyous reprieve from the elite youth version of the sport, where injury, body-shaming and verbal abuse were expected. Then they arrived on campus and found the same toxicity.

Women’s college gymnastics has exploded in popularity in recent years, gaining television viewers, crowds and social media followers in droves. The NCAA championships last spring drew more than 1 million viewers on ESPN, its most ever, and in the era of athletes profiting from their brands, some gymnasts rank among the highest earners of any college sport, men or women.

But for some athletes, the reality of NCAA gymnastics has been sharply at odds with the sport’s public image, an examination by The Post found. In interviews and investigative records, gymnasts described “toxic” environments in which they were targeted by coaches, ignored by institutions and ostracized by teammates for speaking up. Coaches, a dozen gymnasts told The Post, created environments in which gymnasts felt unsafe and unsupported and where their mental health degraded. Some said they were even driven from the sport because of it.

Some allegations, like at Utah, have previously spilled into public view. At San Jose State, gymnasts told the Mercury News that their former coach had verbally abused and body-shamed them. The coach had been investigated in 2018, the newspaper reported, but denied the allegations and was allowed to retire with his pension and praise from the university. And at Penn State, one coach was fired and another resigned in the wake of 2016 allegations of emotional abuse and body-shaming from former gymnasts.

Nov. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Md. mayor gets 30-year prison term in child-pornography case, Katie Mettler, Nov. 20, 2023. Patrick Wojahn, a former mayor of College Park in Prince George’s County, was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to 140 charges related to child pornography.

patrick wojahnThe sentence, handed down at an emotional, hours-long hearing in Prince George’s Circuit Court, was part of a deal between Wojahn, right, and prosecutors that was accepted by Judge Karen Mason, who commended the former mayor for taking ownership of the harm he had caused.

“I do sense the remorsefulness,” she said. “And I do know you take responsibility.” Under Maryland law, Wojahn will be eligible for parole in 7½ years.

The judge heard hours of victim impact statements read by prosecutors, as well as declarations of support from 16 people in the courtroom who spoke about Wojahn’s history of public service, before announcing the sentence. She cited Wojahn’s own past as a victim of sexual abuse, which he only recently shared with his family, as one reason she was referring him to the Patuxent Institution, a treatment-oriented maximum-security prison in Maryland.

College Park mayor resigns and faces child pornography charges

Since Wojahn, 48, was first arrested earlier this year on allegations he possessed and distributed photos and videos depicting explicit child sex abuse — including the rape of prepubescent boys by adults — the close-knit College Park community and its former mayor’s regional network have been parsing through a series of complex emotions: Shock at the nature of the crimes. Confusion that Wojahn, a beloved public servant, would commit them. Anger over the consequences he would — or would not — face. 

Nov. 19

ny times logoNew York Times, Ohio Priest Who Sexually Abused Boys Is Sentenced to Life in Prison, Eduardo Medina, Nov. 19, 2023 (print ed.). The priest, Michael Zacharias, had enabled the victims’ drug addictions by paying them money in exchange for sexual acts, prosecutors said.

An Ohio priest who coerced three boys into engaging in sexual acts as children and abused their addiction to opioids as teenagers and adults, paying them money that funded their drug habits in exchange for sex, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday, the Justice Department said.

michael zachariasThe priest, Michael Zacharias, 56, right, was found guilty in May of five counts of sex trafficking by a federal jury in Toledo, Ohio, in a case that prosecutors said revealed how a trusted spiritual leader had preyed on childhood piety.

During the two-week trial, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Ohio described the pernicious actions of Mr. Zacharias, who they said had targeted financially vulnerable boys without fathers or steady lives at home, earning their trust through affections that eventually morphed into inappropriate sexual comments and touching.

Rebecca C. Lutzko, the U.S. attorney in the district, said in a statement on Friday that Mr. Zacharias “was held accountable because of the courageous testimony of these young men, who gave voice to his betrayal and abuse.”

During the trial, Mr. Zacharias maintained his innocence and contended that any sexual acts he had engaged in had been consensual and with adults, according to court records.

The Diocese of Toledo said in a statement that Mr. Zacharias’s “status as a priest” was still awaiting a “final determination” from the Vatican.

Nov. 12

ny times logoNew York Times, Ohio Voted to Protect Abortion Rights. Could Florida Be Next? Patricia Mazzei, Nov. 12, 2023 (print ed.). A coalition of groups collecting petition signatures for a ballot protecting abortion rights says its fund-raising got a lift after the Ohio results.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, campaigns to protect abortion rights have galvanized voters in state after state. It has become Democrats’ most successful issue ahead of an uncertain 2024 election cycle — and their biggest hope, especially after voters in Ohio approved on Tuesday a measure to enshrine abortion rights in the State Constitution.

That triumphant streak has propelled campaigns for similar abortion measures in swing, or potentially swing, states, including Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania. But none might be as tantalizing a prize as Florida, which has moved increasingly out of Democrats’ grasp in electoral contests.

But getting a question on next year’s ballot in the state is hardly guaranteed.

Like in Ohio, Florida’s government is controlled by Republicans. Also like Ohio, Florida has put in place a six-week abortion ban, with its enactment pending approval by the state’s Supreme Court. (That case centers on Florida’s existing 15-week ban, but affirming that restriction would then trigger the six-week ban approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April.)

The parallels between the two states give Florida organizers hope for success, despite steep obstacles that include a court review of the proposed ballot measure and a costly petition-gathering process. If voters in Florida get to weigh in on the abortion question, organizers say, they too are likely to want to protect their rights.

“Florida has always been a deeply libertarian state,” said Anna Hochkammer, executive director of the Florida Women’s Freedom Coalition. “‘Find your tribe, find your people, live your life — we’ll leave you alone.’ It’s part of Floridian culture. And Floridians reject outright that the government should be involved in these decisions. It is deeply offensive to Floridians’ sense of independence and freedom.”

Since June 2022, when Roe was overturned, states have given voters a direct say on abortion access, either to protect abortion rights, weaken them or explicitly exclude them from state constitutions. Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan all voted to expand or maintain abortion rights.

In Florida, a coalition of groups under the umbrella organization of Floridians Protecting Freedom, including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, has collected a little more than half of the nearly 900,000 petition signatures it needs for a ballot measure that aims to limit “government interference with abortion” before a fetus is considered viable, which is often around 24 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion was legal up to 24 weeks in Florida until last year.

The coalition had collected about $9 million by the end of September but says its next report will show that more than $12 million has been raised. Most donations have come from Florida, with limited interest so far from the out-of-state donors who propelled campaigns in Ohio and elsewhere.
The coalition raised more than $300,000 on Wednesday after the Ohio victory, Ms. Hochkammer said, with more people clicking through the group’s fund-raising emails or taking calls.

“The phones started ringing, and pledges started coming in,” she said. “I think that there were a lot of people that were sitting on their money, waiting to see what happened in Ohio. And we had a great day.”

Among the places where volunteers and paid petition-gatherers have found eager supporters are screenings of the “Barbie” movie and the Taylor Swift Eras Tour movie, both of which have feminism as a key theme and strong female leads, said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

The coalition still needs to collect — and the state must validate — about 400,000 more signatures by Feb. 1, a difficult and expensive task.

Nov. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, Former C.I.A. Officer Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse Charges, Orlando Mayorquin, Nov. 8, 2023 (print ed.). The former officer admitted that he had sexually assaulted dozens of women, dating back as far as 2006, both in the U.S. and overseas, prosecutors said.

A former C.I.A. officer who worked at the American Embassy in Mexico City pleaded guilty on Tuesday to drugging and sexually assaulting more than two dozen women over a period of 14 years, the Justice Department said.

brian jeffrey raymondUnder an arrangement with prosecutors, the former officer, Brian Jeffrey Raymond of La Mesa, Calif., right, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to four of the 25 criminal charges that he had faced: one count each of sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact, coercion and enticement and transportation of obscene material.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the rest of the charges and recommend a sentence between 24 and 30 cia logoyears with a lifetime supervised release. Sentencing is set for September 2024, prosecutors said.

Mr. Raymond’s crimes date as far back as 2006 and as recently as 2020 and took place in multiple countries where he had been working for the U.S. government, prosecutors said.

Mr. Raymond, 47, admitted to drugging and photographing or recording dozens of women while they were naked or partially naked at his government-provided housing in Mexico and in at least one other country, which was unnamed in court documents.

Three of the criminal counts that he had faced were for crimes that had occurred in the Washington, D.C., area, according to the indictment.

In total, Mr. Raymond abused 28 women over the 14-year period, prosecutors said.

“Many of the recordings show Raymond touching and manipulating the victim’s bodies while they were unconscious and incapable of consent,” the Justice Department said in a news release on Tuesday. “Raymond attempted to delete the explicit photographs and videos depicting the victims after learning about the criminal investigation.”

Mr. Raymond’s lawyer, Howard Bernard Katzoff, could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.

 

southern baptist convention logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Southern Baptists are Furious Over a Sex Abuse Case in Kentucky, Ruth Graham, A brief filed in a Kentucky case has infuriated members of the denomination across the country, just as it grapples with an abuse scandal.

For six months, almost no one took notice of the brief filed quietly by Southern Baptists in a case winding its way to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

At the center of the case is a woman whose father, a police officer, was convicted in 2020 of sexually abusing her over a period of years when she was a child. The woman later sued several parties, including the Louisville Police Department, saying they knew about the abuse and had a duty to report it. Now, the state’s highest court is considering whether sex abuse victims can have more time to sue “non-perpetrators” — institutions or their leaders that are obligated to protect children from such abuse.

southern baptist convention logo 2None of it appeared to have anything to do with the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. But in April, lawyers representing the denomination filed an amicus brief opposing expansion of the statute of limitations for lawsuits against third parties, including religious institutions.

The brief, reported by The Louisville Courier-Journal in October, landed like a bombshell in Southern Baptist circles. The organization has spent the last several years grappling with revelations that its national leaders suppressed reports of abuse and resisted reform for decades. The brief, abuse survivors and those critical of the church say, offers the first clear look at the church’s true position on whether its leaders can be held accountable for abuse.

It has led to a flurry of blistering reactions and efforts by S.B.C. leaders to distance themselves from the brief, which they characterize as a decision driven by lawyers. The brief says that the denomination has a “strong interest in the statute-of-limitations issue” in the case, and argues that a 2021 state law allowing abuse victims to sue third-party “non-perpetrators” was not intended to be applied retroactively.

“I’ve never seen such unmitigated and justified anger among Southern Baptists,” said Russell Moore, the former head of the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who is now the editor in chief of Christianity Today.

The brief has disrupted continuing reform efforts in the denomination, which have gained momentum since an investigation by The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News in 2019 revealed that hundreds of Southern Baptist leaders had pleaded guilty or had been convicted of sex crimes in recent decades.

Since then, the denomination has passed a resolution calling abuse both a sin and a crime, commissioned and published a third-party investigation into its handling of abuse and pledged to create a searchable database of people who have been credibly accused of abuse in Southern Baptist settings.

The denomination’s president, Bart Barber, who has supported abuse reforms, said in a statement that he takes “full responsibility” for the denomination joining the brief. He said he was asked for approval by the S.B.C.’s legal team and regrets not giving it the attention he should have. “I know that my credibility with you is harmed by this, perhaps irreparably,” he wrote in an open statement to Southern Baptists.

Yet, in that same statement, he said he is undecided on the matter. “I am not sure exactly what I think about statutes of limitation. I think they are a mixed bag,” he wrote. “I am uncomfortable with the harm statutes of limitations can do, but I also think that they play a valid role in the law sometimes.”

States including California and New York have expanded the statutes of limitations for filing civil suits in abuse cases. About a dozen Catholic dioceses in the United States are currently in bankruptcy proceedings.

Victims and their advocates say that the brief undercuts the intentions of the thousands of local pastors and other delegates at the denomination’s annual meeting who have consistently supported reform efforts.

In the last several years of votes on the meeting floor, “abuse reform is undefeated,” said Mike Keahbone, a pastor in Oklahoma who is on the denomination’s executive committee and its Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force, established last year.

Mr. Keahbone said that members of the executive committee, the denomination’s top leadership body, were not informed about its lawyers’ intentions to join the brief.

Jules Woodson, who has said her youth pastor sexually assaulted her at a Texas church in the 1990s, said she and other abuse survivors felt the denomination seemed to be acting behind closed doors to oppose what it championed in public.

“This is exactly what us survivors have been saying all along,” Ms. Woodson said, describing the denomination as an institution that, when push comes to shove, operates as coldly as a business.

Ms. Woodson and two other survivors issued a statement calling the brief a “disgusting” move to “actively detonate any and all measures of justice that are rightfully ours as victims of abuse.”

The parties signing onto the brief include Lifeway Christian Resources, the denomination’s publishing arm, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Both are defendants in a suit filed in Kentucky by a woman who says that her father, a Baptist pastor, abused her for years and that employees of various institutions failed to protect her.

Relevant Recent Headlines

Nov. 5

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion debate is affecting access to drug used after miscarriages, Caitlin Dewey, Nov. 5, 2023. Since losing her first pregnancy four months earlier, 32-year-old Lulu has struggled to return to her body’s old rhythms. Lulu, who asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy, bled for six weeks after her miscarriage and hasn’t had a normal menstrual cycle since.

Such disruptions aren’t uncommon after miscarriage, which affects roughly 1 in 10 known pregnancies. But for Lulu, they’ve also served as a persistent reminder that she couldn’t access the drug mifepristone — her preferred method of care — to help her body pass the miscarriage. Instead, her doctor prescribed a drug called misoprostol, which on its own is less effective.

Patients like Lulu are, experts say, a little-recognized casualty of America’s fractious abortion wars. In other contexts, both mifepristone and misoprostol are used to voluntarily terminate pregnancies, and both medications are often called “abortion pills.”

But while misoprostol is indicated for a wide range of medical uses, including labor induction and ulcer treatment, mifepristone is taken almost exclusively to induce abortions and manage miscarriages, the latter of which is an off-label use. The federal government regulates it tightly, as do most state governments, and the drug remains widely unavailable to patients experiencing pregnancy loss — even in states that do not otherwise restrict abortion, for a variety of regulatory, cultural and political reasons.

“There’s been this conflation of abortion and miscarriage management,” said Elise Boos, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University and a practicing OB/GYN. “There’s so much stigma and worry about the optics — and as a result, patients get suboptimal care for miscarriage.”

washington post logoWashington Post, AI fake nudes are booming. It’s ruining real teens’ lives, Pranshu Verma, Nov. 5, 2023. Artificial intelligence makes it frighteningly easy to transform ordinary pictures into realistic nudes, triggering a surge of fake images of women and teens

When Gabi Belle learned there was a naked photo of her circulating on the internet, her body turned cold. The YouTube influencer had never posed for the image, which showed her standing in a field without clothes. She knew it must be fake.

But when Belle, 26, messaged a colleague asking for help removing the image he told her there were nearly 100 fake photos scattered across the web, mostly housed on websites known for hosting porn generated by artificial intelligence. They were taken down in July, Belle said, but new images depicting her in graphic sexual situations have already surfaced.

“I felt yucky and violated,” Belle said in an interview. “Those private parts are not meant for the world to see because I have not consented to that. So it’s really strange that someone would make images of me.”

Artificial intelligence is fueling an unprecedented boom this year in fake pornographic images and videos. It’s enabled by a rise in cheap and easy-to-use AI tools that can “undress” people in photographs — analyzing what their naked bodies would look like and imposing it into an image — or seamlessly swap a face into a pornographic video.

On the top 10 websites that host AI-generated porn photos, fake nudes have ballooned by more than 290 percent since 2018, according to Genevieve Oh, an industry analyst. These sites feature celebrities and political figures such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alongside ordinary teenage girls, whose likenesses have been seized by bad actors to incite shame, extort money or live out private fantasies.

Victims have little recourse. There’s no federal law governing deepfake porn, and only a handful of states have enacted regulations. President Biden’s AI executive order issued Monday recommends, but does not require, companies to label AI-generated photos, videos and audio to indicate computer-generated work.

Meanwhile, legal scholars warn that AI fake images may not fall under copyright protections for personal likenesses, because they draw from data sets populated by millions of images. “This is clearly a very serious problem,” said Tiffany Li, a law professor at the University of San Francisco.

The advent of AI images comes at a particular risk for women and teens, many of whom aren’t prepared for such visibility. A 2019 study by Sensity AI, a company that monitors deepfakes, found 96 percent of deepfake images are pornography, and 99 percent of those photos target women.

“It’s now very much targeting girls,” said Sophie Maddocks, a researcher and digital rights advocate at the University of Pennsylvania. “Young girls and women who aren’t in the public eye.”

Nov. 4

AL.com, F.L. ‘Bubba’ Copeland, Alabama mayor and pastor, kills himself, Howard Koplowitz, Nov. 4, 2023. F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, the mayor of Smiths Station and pastor at First Baptist Church of Phenix City, killed himself early Friday evening.

fl bubba copelandCopeland, right, a married father of three, “took his own life” around 5 p.m. Friday, said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.

Sheriff’s deputies received a request for a welfare check for Copeland around 4:14 p.m. Friday, the office said later.

Copeland was found in Beulah when a slow pursuit was initiated with the mayor’s vehicle.Copeland turned off Lee County Road 279 and on to Lee County Road 275 just north of Yarboughs Crossroads and pulled over.

“He exited the vehicle, produced a handgun and took his own life,” the sheriff’s office said.

A former member of the Lee County Board of Education, Copeland became mayor of Smiths Station in 2016.

Copeland’s death came two days after 1819 News published photos of him wearing women’s clothing and makeup. 1819 News is a website that was once owned by the Alabama Policy Institute. “We have become aware of the alleged unbiblical behavior related to the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Phenix City,” the Alabama Baptist State Convention and Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions said in a statement to the Alabama Baptist, a news outlet for the state’s Baptist churches. “We are praying for the leaders of the church family as they seek to determine the truth concerning these accusations. As the people of God, we pray for the pastor and his family as well.”

On Wednesday, Copeland took to the pulpit at First Baptist Church to denounce the post about him, claiming he was a “victim of an internet attack.” “The article is not who or what I am....I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private and personal life that has become public. This will not cause my life to change. This will not waiver my devotion to my family, serving my city, serving my church,” Copeland said in his statement to the church.

He then read from the 23rd Psalm as he delivered a short sermon. “God will always protect you, take care of you,” Copeland said. “He will see you through anything, absolutely anything.”

Copeland was thrust into the national spotlight in 2019 after a devastating tornado killed 23 people in Lee County and he met with then President Donald Trump as he toured the damaged communities. “Never in a million years did I think my first term as Mayor would include dealing with a deadly tornado, global pandemic and several student suicides,” he posted on Facebook a year later.

“There is no instruction manual for this job. However, I do have my own personal manual and that is my Bible. God will sustain you through anything as long as you commit your life to Him.” He was re-elected in 2020.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, reach out to the 24–hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255; contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741; or chat with someone online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours.

 

October

Oct. 30

washington post logoWashington Post, After setback, antiabortion forces struggle before key Ohio vote, Annie Gowen, Oct. 30, 2023 (print ed.). A constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights is on the Nov. 7 ballot in Ohio, the latest Republican state to take up the issue.

Students hoping to get others to vote “no” on an upcoming Ohio amendment to ensure abortion rights took the soft approach at a recent event at the University of Cincinnati.

ohio mapThe signs in their booth were alarmist — “Late-Term Abortion is on the Ballot” — but the young “Students for Life” advocates opted for a moderate appeal as they stopped students hurrying back and forth to class.

“We’re not voting necessarily today on whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice,” Kristin Drummond, 19, a medical science major from Kentucky, told one freshman who said she favored abortion rights. “This is about whether or not this amendment is something we should have, because it’s very extreme.”

Three months after a failed attempt by abortion opponents to make it harder to amend the state constitution, Ohioans will head to the polls again Nov. 7 to decide whether to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution. Early voting is already underway, television ads are proliferating and millions in political money is flowing into Ohio. The amendment’s backers have outraised the antiabortion side, but together they have spent more than $40 million on television advertising and other expenses so far, campaign records show.

Abortion is currently legal in Ohio up until 22 weeks. A six-week ban was briefly in place last year before being put on hold by a judge, but not before the number of abortions dropped and patients fled to other states for care — including a 10-year-old rape victim whose case caused a national uproar.

Oct. 23

Detroit Metro Times, Detroit News fires Charlie LeDuff over c-word insult, Steve Neavling, Oct. 23, 2023. In an interview with Metro Times, LeDuff was defiant charlie leduff foxand said he has “nothing to apologize for.”

Charlie LeDuff, right, the polarizing Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has increasingly peddled right-wing outrage on his podcast, was fired from the Detroit News after using a vulgar, coded phrase aimed at Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

LeDuff came under fire over the weekend for telling Nessel in a social media post, “See you next Tuesday,” a backronym for the word “cunt.” It’s often written, “C U Next Tuesday.””

In an email to reporters on Saturday, Detroit News editor and publisher Gary Miles said LeDuff had been fired. “While we stand by the journalism that we have published under his byline, I could not envision moving forward with his weekly column in light of recent events,” Miles wrote. Miles tells Metro Times that he and Charlie mutually agreed to terminate the weekly column.

In an interview with Metro Times on Monday morning, LeDuff was defiant and said he thought the insult was “clever” because his weekly column was published on Tuesdays. “I’m not apologizing. I have nothing to apologize for. … I stand by it,” LeDuff says. “I said something clever on my own space because I am fucking pissed.”

dana nessel oLeDuff alleged in a Detroit News column last week that Nessel, right, “subtly pressured her staff to close” an investigation into a friend, Traci Kornack, a personal injury lawyer and treasurer of the Michigan Democratic Party. Kornack was accused of bilking an insurance company out of nearly $50,000 by using the account of an elderly, brain-damaged client.

In a news release a day after the column was published, Nessel denied wrongdoing, and her acting chief legal counsel, Linus Banghart-Linn, accused LeDuff of sloppy, sensational journalism in a letter to the Detroit News.

“The opinion piece published yesterday not only fails to achieve any public good or ‘sunshine’ on the work of government, but irresponsibly twists half-understood and fully fabricated notions of the Department to the detriment of public trust in their State government,” Banghart-Linn’s letter read.

LeDuff’s insult swiftly drew condemnation from journalists.

“This is disgusting and reprehensible,” Detroit News politics editor Chad Livengood tweeted Saturday. “@charlieleduff should do us all a favor and resign.”

Jon King, a local freelance reporter, said it was important for journalists to speak out because LeDuff’s insult tarnished the profession.

michigan map“While I can’t speak for anyone but myself, my sense is that his openly hateful, misogynistic response only served to further blur the line between holding truth to power and partisan advocacy,” King tweeted. “It’s no coincidence that the initial reaction came from our female colleagues. They know all too well how their gender is weaponized against them. So when they see a male journalist indulge in that weaponization, I imagine it is not just infuriating, it is also deflating.”

Alan Stamm, a former reporter at Deadline Detroit, where LeDuff was previously a columnist, suggested the Detroit News would be better off without LeDuff.

“Charlie LeDuff is a loose cannon who backfires embarrassingly and will do so repeatedly if not tossed overboard,” Stamm tweeted.

State lawmakers also spoke out and called for LeDuff's termination. Addressing several Detroit News reporters and editors, Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, tweeted, “you good with your boy calling Michigan’s Attorney General a c***? Do tell us more about your ‘editorial standards.’ Asking for an army of women who have endured lifetimes of misogyny. Fire @charlieleduff.”

As expected, conservatives came to LeDuff’s defense, and some even repeated the phrase.

“Ladies can’t have it both ways,” Meshawn Maddock, former Michigan Republican Party co-chair, tweeted Sunday. “Be all offended [by] the men who use bad words, but demand to be treated like men when it suits them.”

LeDuff is no stranger to controversy. In 1995, he conceded that he plagiarized a story while working for The New York Times. He also has been accused of manufacturing quotes and featuring inaccurate descriptions.

After 12 years at The New York Times, LeDuff took a reporting job at the Detroit News, where details in some of LeDuff’s stories were called into question. In one story that made national news, LeDuff accused Detroit police of failing to respond to his call about a dead body discovered lodged in ice in an abandoned warehouse. Metro Times and the Detroit Free Press both published stories contradicting LeDuff’s accounts of what happened.

In October 2010 LeDeuff left the Detroit News to join Fox 2, where he was known for using bizarre antics to report on serious issues. In 2011, a Detroit police officer sued LeDuff over two of his Detroit News stories that claimed she moonlighted as a stripper and danced at the long-rumored, never-proven Kwame Kilpatrick party at the Manoogian Mansion. In the lawsuit, which was eventually dismissed, Officer Paytra Williams alleged LeDuff got facts wrong in the story and disputed that she moonlighted as a stripper. In 2013, LeDuff was accused of urinating in public, biting a security guard at a St. Patrick’s Day party, and calling three policewomen “whores.” He left Fox 2 in November 2016.

LeDuff wrote two critically acclaimed books, Detroit: An American Autopsy (2008) and Shitshow!: The Country’s Collapsing and the Ratings Are Great (2018).

In October 2018, LeDuff launched his ongoing podcast, The No BS News Hour, where he lurched to the right and built a conservative following by attacking Democrats and taking a hardline position against immigration. He frequently appears on Fox News and conservative podcasts.

LeDuff insists he didn’t need the Detroit News job, which he says paid “peanuts,” because of the success of his podcast. If he has any regrets, he says, it’s the harm done to Detroit News editor Gary Miles and editorial page editor Nolan Finley. “I regret the stress and the decision they had to make,” LeDuff says. “I admire them. I think of them as mentors and colleagues. I regret any ignominy or shade or stress on them. That’s who I apologize to and nobody else.”

Oct. 7

washington post logoWashington Post, Ohio’s GOP supermajority tests limits of democracy before abortion vote, Annie Gowen, Oct. 7, 2023 (print ed.). In state after state since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Democrats and their abortion rights allies have won victories over Republicans and others who oppose abortion. The latest battleground is Ohio, where a GOP supermajority has fought to consolidate its power in ways that critics — even some within the party — say threatens democracy.

ohio mapRepublican leaders here repeatedly defied directives from the state’s highest court to fix gerrymandered electoral maps, leaving the process in chaos and residents voting in districts with unconstitutional boundaries. They enacted more restrictive voter laws that hurt younger, less affluent Ohioans. And they’re now attempting to strip the state school board of its powers after Democrats gained control in last November’s election.

“Ohio is a case study in undermining democracy,” said David Niven, an associate professor of politics at the University of Cincinnati who has done research on gerrymandering. “You’re talking about the nation’s strictest voter ID law and state-of-the-art gerrymandering, and when that proved insufficient a proposed constitutional amendment to render majorities irrelevant.”

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosThat change to the state constitution, had it succeeded in August, would have made passing amendments more difficult by requiring 60 percent of votes cast instead of a simple majority. To many people, abortion was the clear catalyst: As organizers were collecting signatures for an amendment protecting abortion rights, the legislature scheduled a special election to try to ensure their ultimate defeat.

 

narges mohammadi scarf

ny times logoNew York Times, Nobel Peace Prize Is Awarded to Jailed Iranian Activist Narges Mohammadi, Farnaz Fassihi and Aaron Boxerman, Oct. 7, 2023 (print ed.). The activist, shown above and below left in file photos, who is serving a 10-year sentence in Tehran, was honored “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran.”

Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian activist who is serving a 10-year sentence in an Iranian prison, received the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday “for her fight against the oppression of narges mohammadi wwomen in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”

Iran FlagThe closely watched announcement, made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo, comes after women-led protests in Iran that convulsed the country over the death in police custody of a 22-year-old who had been arrested by the country’s morality police. Hundreds were killed in the ensuing government crackdown, including at least 44 minors, while about 20,000 Iranians were arrested, the United Nations calculated.

Oct. 6

 

armita geravand collage

ny times logoNew York Times, With Iranian Girl in Coma, Suspicion Falls on Government, Farnaz Fassihi, Oct. 6, 2023 (print ed.). What happened to Armita Geravand, 16,  shown above in a collage of  family photo and her removal from a local train,  of her is unclear, but the circumstances have fueled accusations that agents enforcing Iran’s dress code must have harmed her.

The 16-year-old girl, her short black hair uncovered, entered a subway car in Tehran early Sunday on her way to school, security camera footage broadcast by Iran’s state television showed. Minutes later, she was dragged out unconscious and laid on the train platform.

Iran FlagAll week, the girl, Armita Geravand, has been in a coma, guarded by security agents in the intensive care unit of a military hospital in Tehran and evoking broad comparisons with Mahsa Amini, who died last year at 22 in the custody of the morality police after being accused of violating Iran’s hijab rules, which require women to cover their hair.

Exactly what happened to Armita on Sunday is not clear, and the government has not released footage from inside the train that would reveal what made the teenager collapse.

But the news of another young woman in a coma under murky circumstances — another girl, another metro station, another hospital, another grief-stricken family — was enough to stir outrage in Iran and fuel accusations that the government’s hijab agents must have harmed her.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Iranian Girl in Coma, Suspicion Falls on Government, Farnaz Fassihi, Oct. 6, 2023 (print ed.). What happened to Armita Geravand, 16,  shown above in a collage of  family photo and her removal from a local train,  of her is unclear, but the circumstances have fueled accusations that agents enforcing Iran’s dress code must have harmed her.

The 16-year-old girl, her short black hair uncovered, entered a subway car in Tehran early Sunday on her way to school, security camera footage broadcast by Iran’s state television showed. Minutes later, she was dragged out unconscious and laid on the train platform.

Iran FlagAll week, the girl, Armita Geravand, has been in a coma, guarded by security agents in the intensive care unit of a military hospital in Tehran and evoking broad comparisons with Mahsa Amini, who died last year at 22 in the custody of the morality police after being accused of violating Iran’s hijab rules, which require women to cover their hair.

Exactly what happened to Armita on Sunday is not clear, and the government has not released footage from inside the train that would reveal what made the teenager collapse.

But the news of another young woman in a coma under murky circumstances — another girl, another metro station, another hospital, another grief-stricken family — was enough to stir outrage in Iran and fuel accusations that the government’s hijab agents must have harmed her.

ny times logoNew York Times, George Tyndall, U.S.C. Gynecologist Accused of Sex Abuse, Is Found Dead, Jesus Jiménez, Oct. 6, 2023 (print ed.). He had been accused by hundreds of patients and was expected to face a criminal trial next year.

george tyndallGeorge Tyndall, right, the former University of Southern California gynecologist accused of sexually abusing hundreds of patients dating as far back as the 1990s, was found dead at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

Dr. Tyndall, 76, who was expected to face a criminal trial next year, was found in his bed by a friend, said Leonard Levine, the lawyer. The cause of death was unclear.

After years of accusations from patients and medical staff members who said Dr. Tyndall had inappropriately touched young women during medical examinations, five women came forward in May 2018. U.S.C. settled multiple legal claims in 2021, agreeing to pay more than $1.1 billion to hundreds of his former patients.

Mr. Levine said that his client had “adamantly denied” all charges against him, adding that Dr. Tyndall had “looked forward to his day in court.”

Allegations that, for years, Dr. Tyndall had abused patients visiting the university’s student health clinic first surfaced in 2018 in a report published by The Los Angeles Times, which won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. The report set off an uproar on campus that led to the resignation of the university’s president at the time, C.L. Max Nikias, just a year after Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, the popular dean of U.S.C.’s medical school, was fired over accusations of using drugs and partying with prostitutes.

Dozens of women swiftly sued the university, accusing it of having failed to protect them from sexual abuse and harassment by Dr. Tyndall.

Just over a year later, in June 2019, Dr. Tyndall was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting 16 young women who had visited the university’s health center for annual exams or other treatment between 2009 and 2016.

Despite years of allegations against Dr. Tyndall, he did not face retribution until 2016, when a nurse complained about him to the U.S.C. campus rape crisis center. Dr. Tyndall was then suspended, and he retired from U.S.C. in June 2017 under a separation agreement, university officials said at the time.

U.S.C. later faced criticism for not immediately reporting the accusations against Dr. Tyndall to the Medical Board of California when they were first brought to the university’s attention in the 1990s. Officials at the university, citing a personnel matter, said at the time that it had no legal obligation to report the findings of an internal investigation to the state medical board, which investigates doctors accused of misconduct.

 

September

Sept. 30

 

 

james gordon meek abc logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Former ABC News journalist gets 6-year sentence in child pornography case, Salvador Rizzo, Sept. 30, 2023 (print ed.). A former national security journalist who worked for ABC News until his apartment was searched last year in a child pornography investigation was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

James Gordon Meek pleaded guilty in July to possessing explicit images and videos of minors, and sharing them with two other users on a smartphone messaging app called Kik in 2020. The FBI seized several devices during a search of Meek’s apartment in Arlington County, Va., last year, and Meek admitted they contained “dozens of images and at least eight videos depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” according to court filings.

At his sentencing Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Meek asked his victims and his family for forgiveness and said he should have used his reporting skills to help victims of online sexual abuse instead of contributing to their exploitation.

“I was a journalist. I wrote countless stories about the misconduct of others,” he told Judge Claude M. Hilton. “I broke federal law, I violated God’s law, and I undermined my own personal ethos of always helping others. … I need you to hold me accountable.”

The investigation into Meek, an Emmy-winning producer who covered wars, terrorism and major crimes, began with a tip from the file storage company Dropbox about digital materials on an account he had registered, according to court records.

Authorities alleged that Meek also communicated online with minors, persuading at least one girl to send photographs showing nudity, although his guilty plea was based strictly on possessing and sharing child sexual abuse materials. Defense attorney Eugene Gorokhov noted throughout the case that Meek was not accused of physically meeting or abusing minors.

Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia requested a prison sentence of 12½ to nearly 16 years, arguing that Meek shared “images and videos of prepubescent children, including infants, being forcibly raped and exploited for the sexual pleasure of adults on the internet.”

One of Meek’s victims described what it felt like to be repeatedly victimized: “The first time was being abused and the second time is the ongoing anxiety due to the images of my abuse forever accessible,” according to a statement quoted by prosecutors.

“Not only were they traumatized by the initial sexual abuse that was captured on film, but they are also further victimized through the ongoing distribution and consumption of depictions of their abuse,” federal prosecutors Zoe Bedell and Whitney Kramer wrote in a court filing.

Gorokhov, who asked the judge to impose a prison sentence of five years, said Meek began to struggle with his mental health as he covered the horrors of war and terrorism, ultimately developing “this disease, this illness, this curse” as a coping mechanism.

“There’s going to be a breaking point,” Gorokhov said, noting that Meek also had files on his electronic devices showing “torture, executions, beheadings, human-rights atrocities” because of the kind of reporting he practiced.

Before joining ABC, Meek worked for the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, “where he advised top congressional leaders and held a top-secret clearance,” according to his attorney.

Sept. 27

 

The late financier, sex trafficker of underage victims and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein is show in a collage with scenes from the island in the Caribbean he owned before his death in prison.

The late financier, sex trafficker of underage victims, companion and advisor to the powerful, and philanthropist Jeffrey Epstein is show in a collage with scenes from the island in the Caribbean he owned before his death in prison

washington post logoWashington Post, JPMorgan agrees to $75 million settlement over ties to Jeffrey Epstein, Aaron Gregg, Sept. 27, 2023 (print ed.). JPMorgan Chase will pay $75 million to resolve a lawsuit with the U.S. Virgin Islands alleging it facilitated disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.

jp morgan chase logoThe banking giant admitted no wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement, a large portion of which will be distributed to charities. It also sets aside $10 million to support mental health services for Epstein’s survivors.
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“This settlement is a historic victory for survivors and for state enforcement, and it should sound the alarm on Wall Street about banks’ responsibilities under the law to detect and prevent human trafficking,” USVI attorney general Ariel Smith said in a statement.

Smith also said JPMorgan agreed to “implement and maintain meaningful anti-trafficking measures,” which includes a commitment to elevate and report suspicious activity in the future.

Sept. 23

 

Jessica Burgess, center, alongside her attorney, Brad Ewalt, right, is escorted out of the Madison County District courtroom by Madison County Sheriff Todd Volk, in Madison, Neb., Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Burgess, who pleaded guilty to giving her teenage daughter pills for an abortion and helping to burn and bury the fetus, was sentenced to two years in prison. (Norfolk Daily News photo by Austin Svehla via AP)

Jessica Burgess, center, alongside her attorney, Brad Ewalt, right, is escorted out of the Madison County District courtroom by Madison County Sheriff Todd Volk, in Madison, Neb., Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Burgess, who pleaded guilty to giving her teenage daughter pills for an abortion and helping to burn and bury the fetus, was sentenced to two years in prison. (Norfolk Daily News photo by Austin Svehla via AP)

nebraska map

ny times logoNew York Times, Mother Who Gave Abortion Pills to Teen Daughter Gets 2 Years in Prison, Jesus Jiménez, Sept. 23, 2023 (print ed.). Jessica Burgess had pleaded guilty to violating Nebraska’s abortion law. Her daughter, who was 17 when she ended her late-term pregnancy last year, was sentenced in July to 90 days in jail.

A Nebraska woman who acquired abortion pills that her teenage daughter used to end her pregnancy last year was sentenced on Friday to two years in prison.

The woman, Jessica Burgess, 42, was charged after the police found her private Facebook messages, which revealed plans she had with her daughter to end the pregnancy and “burn the evidence.”

Prosecutors said that Ms. Burgess ordered the pills online and gave them to her daughter, Celeste Burgess, in April 2022, when her daughter was 17 and in the third trimester of her pregnancy. The Burgesses later buried the fetal remains, the authorities said.

Ms. Burgess pleaded guilty in July to violating Nebraska’s abortion law, furnishing false information to a law enforcement officer and removing or concealing human skeletal remains. Celeste Burgess was sentenced in July to 90 days in jail and two years of probation after she pleaded guilty in May to removing or concealing human skeletal remains.

Jessica Burgess, who faced up to five years in prison, was sentenced to two years, with her terms for false reporting and removal of skeletal remains running concurrently.

Brad Ewalt, a lawyer for Ms. Burgess, asked Judge Mark A. Johnson of Madison County District Court on Friday to sentence his client to probation. The judge denied the request, saying that Ms. Burgess had treated the fetal remains “like yesterday’s trash,” The Norfolk Daily News reported.

Celeste Burgess, who was released from jail on Sept. 11, sat near the back of the courtroom on Friday and wiped tears from her face when her mother was sentenced, The Daily News reported.

Mr. Ewalt and the Madison County prosecutor who tried the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

A police investigation into the Burgesses began before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. The case has fueled fears that people who end their pregnancies in the post-Roe era, and those who help them, could be prosecuted for having abortions and that their private communications could be used as evidence against them.

The investigation began in late April 2022, when the police in Norfolk, Neb., began looking into whether a 17-year-old girl had given birth prematurely to a stillborn baby, and whether the girl and her mother had buried it, according to court documents.

At the time, abortion was banned in Nebraska after 20 weeks from conception. This May, Gov. Jim Pillen, a Republican, signed a 12-week ban into law.

The Burgesses were initially charged with concealing a stillbirth. But according to court documents, a detective later asked Celeste Burgess for the exact date her pregnancy ended. When she said she needed to check her Facebook messages to remember, the detective obtained a warrant for messages she had exchanged with her mother.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, complied with the warrant. The detective found evidence of a medically induced abortion, according to court documents, allowing the authorities to file additional charges.

 

southern baptist convention logo

Religion News Service via Washington Post, Is a pastor’s sin a private matter? Johnny Hunt’s lawsuit makes that claim, Bob Smietana, Sept. 23, 2023. In the middle of 2010, not long after his term as Southern Baptist Convention president ended, Johnny Hunt took time off for his annual vacation.

washington post logoHe planned to return to the pulpit at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., in early August. But just before his first Sunday back, Hunt announced he was taking a leave of absence, citing his health and a sense of exhaustion.

What no one knew at the time was that Hunt had another reason for his leave.

On July 25, 2010, while vacationing in Florida, Hunt had kissed and fondled another pastor’s wife in what his attorneys would later call a “brief, consensual extramarital encounter.”

Then Hunt spent more than a decade covering the incident up.

Without telling his congregation — or the millions of Southern Baptists he had represented as their president — Hunt went through a secret restoration process that included counseling sessions with the woman he had fondled and her husband. He then returned to the pulpit.

southern baptist convention logo 2For a dozen years, no one was the wiser. Hunt retired from First Baptist in 2019 and took on a new role as a senior vice president for the SBC’s North American Mission Board and continued his busy and often lucrative career as a preacher and public speaker.

Then, in 2022, an investigation into how SBC leaders dealt with the issue of abuse was released, and his name was included in the report.

Over the course of their inquiry, investigators from Guidepost Solutions, the firm hired by the SBC, had heard about Hunt’s misconduct and learned that the woman involved in the incident — who has not been named publicly — described it as a sexual assault and as nonconsensual.

“We include this sexual assault allegation in the report because our investigators found the pastor and his wife to be credible; their report was corroborated in part by a counseling minister and three other credible witnesses; and our investigators did not find Dr. Hunt’s statements related to the sexual assault allegation to be credible,” investigators from Guidepost concluded.

When the report became public, Hunt first denied it and claimed the incident was consensual. He resigned from NAMB, went through another restoration process, then made a defiant return to the pulpit earlier this year.

This past spring Hunt filed suit against the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and Guidepost, claiming they had ruined his life by revealing his misconduct and including him in an abuse report.

The heart of Hunt’s claim of invasion of privacy and defamation was summed up in a recent court filing submitted by his attorneys. Hunt’s sins, they wrote, were a private moral failing that should have been kept confidential.

“Pastor Johnny was not the president of the SBC or a member of the Executive Committee at the time of the incident,” they wrote in a memorandum, opposing the denomination’s attempts to have the case dismissed. “He was merely a private citizen whose marital fidelity was nobody else’s business.”

That claim raises a series of questions.

Can a pastor’s sins ever really be private? Can a pastor who has made a living urging others to follow a morality code then claim his own failings are no one else’s business? And was the harm done to Hunt’s reputation primarily due to his own acts — both the misconduct and the subsequent coverup?

George Freeman, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center and a former assistant general counsel for the New York Times, said Hunt’s claim to privacy will probably go nowhere in court.

Hunt is undoubtedly angry and embarrassed that his personal failings have been publicized, which is understandable, said Freeman. But as a religious leader who was outspoken about family values and ethical living, his wrongdoings are a matter of public concern, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Sept. 22

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Litany of #MeToo News Continues. Is Anything Really Changing? Amanda Taub, Updated Sept. 22, 2023. It can appear as though society is no closer to a future in which women can go about their ordinary lives without being harassed, assaulted and coerced into silence. A news investigation reported that women had accused Russell Brand of sexual assault and harassment, including one allegation of rape.

The endless, relentless eruptions of sexual abuse and harassment scandals can sometimes seem like a particularly grim form of Zeno’s dichotomy paradox.

Back in the 5th century B.C., the Greek philosopher described how a runner on the path to a particular destination must first traverse half the distance, and then half the remaining difference, and then half the remaining distance, and so on — to infinity. By that logic, the runner can take steps toward a goal but will never actually reach it.

Similarly, each time a powerful man is held accountable for sexual misconduct, it seems like progress. And yet, when the allegations reveal a similar pattern of institutional actions that allowed the abuse to go on for years, and they provoke the same reactions of denial and victim-blaming, it can appear as though society is no closer to a future in which women can go about their ordinary lives without being harassed, assaulted and coerced into silence.

Take the news from the past eight days. On Sept. 12, the British Journal of Surgery published a study that found that nearly a third of female surgeons in England reported being sexually assaulted by a colleague within the last five years, and 63 percent had experienced sexual harassment (23 percent of male surgeons also reported being sexually harassed). The same day, a ProPublica investigation showed that Columbia University failed to act on years of evidence that Robert Hadden, a gynecologist at the university’s affiliated hospital system, was sexually assaulting women and girls who came to him for treatment.

On Sept. 16, an investigation by The Times of London and the Channel 4 news program “Dispatches” reported that multiple women had accused Russell Brand, the comedian turned fringe political YouTuber, of sexual assault and harassment, including one allegation of rape. On Sept. 18, Vice News reported that Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an anti-trafficking organization, had been ousted from that organization after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. The following day, Vice also reported on law enforcement records describing video footage of Paul Hutchinson, a producer of a movie about Ballard’s life, groping the breasts of a young woman whom he believed to be a 16-year-old trafficking victim. (Brand, Ballard and Hutchinson have all denied the allegations against them.)

Much ink has been spilled on the actions and motivations of abusers. But I find that these stories raise a much bigger question: whether, after years of #MeToo revelations, the institutional responses that have long enabled abuse are starting to change.
Sexual Assault Allegations Against Russell Brand

What Happened: Three British media outlets published an investigation in which four women accused the comedian Russell Brand of sexual assault. Brand has denied the allegations.

Abuse ‘debts’ coming due?

The term “beautiful soul" is an Israeli slang term that translates roughly as a more pejorative version of “bleeding heart”: a person who refuses to make moral sacrifices, even when there are practical incentives for doing so. In a 2013 book of the same name, Eyal Press profiled four whistle-blowers and conscientious objectors who ended up being vilified and ostracized for opposing wrongdoing within their own organizations.

Unpack that a bit, and you come to the uncomfortable truth: that in coldly rational terms, there are often substantial benefits from turning a blind eye to wrongdoing, or even fostering it.

As Press writes, a beautiful soul is not just someone who refuses to conform, it’s someone who is willing to block the pursuit of material goals by demanding that an organization, or a society, adhere to its own stated values.

Sept. 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Indiana AG sues hospital over abortion for 10-year-old who was raped, Ben Brasch, Sept. 19, 2023 (print ed.). Indiana’s attorney general is suing the state’s largest health-care system for allegedly mishandling the case of a doctor who spoke out about performing an abortion for 10-year-old girl who was raped last summer.

The procedure came days after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, which helped turn the girl’s case into a national story that quickly became politicized.

Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) claims that Indiana University Health improperly prioritized its physician, Caitlin Bernard, instead of the patient’s right to confidentiality, according to the lawsuit filed Friday.

The lawsuit is not even the most recent volley in the back-and-forth. Rokita violated professional conduct rules in speaking about this case, according to a ruling Monday from the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, days after the lawsuit was filed.

“Patients should be able to trust their doctors because trust is the foundation of a patient-doctor relationship. Without trust, we do not have reliable, honest health care,” Rokita said in a recorded statement announcing the suit.

States where abortion is legal, banned or under threat

A statement provided by an IU Health spokeswoman said the hospital system holds itself accountable every day for securing the privacy of its patients. “We continue to be disappointed the Indiana Attorney General’s office persists in putting the state’s limited resources toward this matter,” she said. “We will respond directly to the AG’s office on the filing.”

The lawsuit centers on Bernard publicly talking about, but not naming the patient in, the procedure she performed in late June 2022.

Bernard told the Indianapolis Star about the girl, who crossed state lines for an abortion because of Ohio’s trigger law. The trigger law implemented a ban on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy as soon as Roe was struck down. (The girl was 9 when she was raped and turned 10 before having the abortion, according to the Associated Press. Indiana’s legislature was the first post-Roe to effectively ban all abortions.)

Though an internal IU Health review cleared Bernard of wrongdoing, Indiana’s medical license board deemed she had violated state and federal privacy laws — including The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA — by discussing the girl’s case publicly. The board fined her $3,000. Rokita, who appeared on Fox News talking about the case, opened an inquiry into her actions. Bernard at one point considered filing a defamation suit.

President Biden said the situation underscored that no child should have to cross state lines for an abortion. Some right-wing commentators and news outlets called Bernard’s story a hoax. But reporters at the Indianapolis Star and Columbus Dispatch proved the story was true.

The girl identified Gerson Fuentes in a police interview, and investigators arrested him July 12 — the same day Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) told Gannett’s Ohio bureau that “I know the cops and prosecutors in this state” and “there is not a damn scintilla of evidence” the investigation existed.

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Yale Student’s Rape Accusation Exposed Her to a Defamation Lawsuit, Vimal Patel, Sept. 19, 2023. The woman’s allegation led to the expulsion of Saifullah Khan, who was acquitted in a criminal trial. His lawsuit is now challenging these disciplinary hearings. That lawsuit, filed in 2019, is challenging the way universities across the country have adjudicated such sexual assault hearings.

In a 2018 disciplinary hearing at Yale University, Saifullah Khan listened as a woman accused him of raping her after a Halloween party.

Sept. 16

lauren boerbert Beetlejuice

The Independent, Lauren Boebert changes her tune on Beetlejuice behaviour as new video reveals heavy petting with date, Oliver O'Connell, Sept. 16, 2023. Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert has issued an apology for not telling the truth about an incident that saw her thrown out of a production of Beetlejuice.

The apology comes as new footage from security cameras at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts shows that Rep Boebert was not just vaping, singing, and taking flash photos during the performance, but also appeared to engage in heavy petting with her male companion.

Her latest statement reads: “The past few days have been difficult and humbling, and I’m truly sorry for the unwanted attention my Sunday evening in Denver has brought to the community. While none of my actions or words as a private citizen that night were intended to be malicious or meant to cause harm, the reality is they did and I regret that.

“There’s no perfect blueprint for going through a public and difficult divorce, which over the past few months has made for a challenging personal time for me and my entire family. I’ve tried to handle it with strength and grace as best I can, but I simply fell short of my values on Sunday. That’s unacceptable and I’m sorry.”

In April Ms Boebert filed for divorce from her husband of 18 years, Jayson Boebert, and in June she announced she became a grandmother at the age of 36 after her 17-year-old son had a baby with his girlfriend.

The statement continues: “Whether it was the excitement of seeing a much-anticipated production or the natural anxiety of being in a new environment, I genuinely did not recall vaping that evening when I discussed the night’s events with my campaign team while confirming my enthusiasm for the musical. Regardless of my belief, it’s clear now that was not accurate; it was not my or my campaign’s intention to mislead, but we do understand the nature of how this looks. We know we will have to work to earn your trust back and it may not happen overnight, but we will do it.

“I’m deeply thankful to those in the 3rd District who have defended me and reached out this week and offered grace and support when I needed it the most. l’ve learned some humbling lessons these past few days but I vow moving forward, I will make you proud.”

The Colorado lawmaker has also previously accused the left of “grooming” children and railed against drag shows, tweeting in June 2022: “Take your children to CHURCH, not drag bars.”

The hypocrisy of her apparent public sexual behaviour in a theatre versus her criticism of drag and attacks on the LGBTQ+ community did not go unnoticed, with Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones tweeting: “You do have to watch what you take your kids to, lest they sit next to a Congressperson ‘vaping’ and engaging in sex acts.”

Journalist John Harwood similarly wrote: “Republican extremist in Congress engaging in wildly-inappropriate sexual behavior in crowded public theater explains that she’s trying to handle her divorce ‘with strength and grace as best i can’.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin will resume offering abortions, Patrick Marley and Caroline Kitchener, Sept. 16, 2023 (print ed.). Planned Parenthood plans to resume offering abortions in Wisconsin next week, more than a year after it stopped providing the service because of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the right to abortion.

wisconsin map with largest cities CustomPlanned Parenthood and others stopped providing abortions after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization because of an 1849 law that was broadly viewed as banning nearly all abortions.

The Wisconsin attorney general, a Democrat, sued in state court to try to overturn that law. A judge in July issued an initial ruling that concluded the 1849 law did not ban anyone from seeking abortions but rather barred someone from battering a pregnant woman and killing her unborn child. The judge is expected to issue a final ruling in the case soon, but Planned Parenthood announced Thursday it was not waiting for that ruling and instead would resume offering services on Monday at clinics in Milwaukee and Madison.

The case before the Dane County judge is expected to continue and other lawsuits could be filed in response to Planned Parenthood’s resumption of abortion services.

Kristin Lyerly, an OB/GYN who performed abortions in Wisconsin before Roe v. Wade was overturned, said she will immediately return to providing abortions in her home state.

 

mahsa amini family photoMahsa Amini, 22, is shown at right in a family photo. Her death in the custody of Iran’s “morality police” set off months of anti-government demonstrations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Their loved ones were killed in Iran’s uprising. Then the state came for them, Nilo Tabrizy, Sept. 16, 2023 (print ed.). A year after Mahsa Amini’s death, family members of protesters killed in Iran are systematically surveilled and detained by the authorities.

Ramtin Fatehi’s father, uncle and aunt had been missing for 10 days when he joined a demonstration in Berlin last October, held in solidarity with the uprising then sweeping Iran.

His family members had been arrested for protesting in Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s northwestern Kurdistan province, and he hadn’t been able to reach them.

“I participated in the protest to be [their] voice,” said Fatehi, a 25-year-old nursing student in Germany. He even did a media hit that day, hoping to raise their profile.

His father was already dead. A friend called that night to deliver the news.

“I felt like the world was falling down on me,” Fatehi said. For his family back in Iran, it was only the beginning of their ordeal.
Ramin Fatehi, 47, was killed under torture on Oct. 21, 2022, after being detained by security forces in Sanandaj.

“The Ministry of Intelligence summons one of our family members each week,” Fatehi said. “They threaten them to get them not to participate in protests.”

“The threats and harassment have increased closer to the anniversary,” he added, referring to Saturday’s marking of a year since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s “morality police,” which set off months of anti-government demonstrations.

At least 530 protesters were killed by Iranian security forces over the past year, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), and their relatives have often been targeted by the state. In interviews with The Washington Post, grieving family members revealed how Iranian authorities have systematically surveilled and detained them, pressuring them to stay silent and off the streets.

On Sept. 5, Amini’s family members were taken into custody in their hometown of Saqqez and warned not to call for protests to commemorate her death, local human rights observers reported.

“The pressures come in the form of phone calls, summoning families, asking them to keep quiet around the anniversary,” said Tara Sepehri Far, the senior researcher on Iran for Human Rights Watch. “Families draw a lot of sympathy from the public, given that they are basically the lived experience of the injustice that happened to them.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin will resume offering abortions, Patrick Marley and Caroline Kitchener, Sept. 16, 2023 (print ed.). Planned Parenthood plans to resume offering abortions in Wisconsin next week, more than a year after it stopped providing the service because of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the right to abortion.

Planned Parenthood and others stopped providing abortions after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization because of an 1849 law that was broadly viewed as banning nearly all abortions.

The Wisconsin attorney general, a Democrat, sued in state court to try to overturn that law. A judge in July issued an initial ruling that concluded the 1849 law did not ban anyone from seeking abortions but rather barred someone from battering a pregnant woman and killing her unborn child. The judge is expected to issue a final ruling in the case soon, but Planned Parenthood announced Thursday it was not waiting for that ruling and instead would resume offering services on Monday at clinics in Milwaukee and Madison.

The case before the Dane County judge is expected to continue and other lawsuits could be filed in response to Planned Parenthood’s resumption of abortion services.

Kristin Lyerly, an OB/GYN who performed abortions in Wisconsin before Roe v. Wade was overturned, said she will immediately return to providing abortions in her home state.

Sept. 15

 

kristi noem corey lewandowski digbyDigby’s Hullabaloo, Opinion: Kristi Noem has very poor taste, Digby, Sept. 15, 2023. Why do I have the feeling that Marge Greene leaked this story to the Daily Mail?

A rising Republican star tipped by many to be Donald Trump‘s running mate should he win the presidential nomination has been involved in a clandestine affair for years, multiple sources tell DailyMail.com.

Married South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, 51 – who stresses her belief in ‘family values’ – and Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski, shown together above, who is also married, began carrying on in 2019, if not before.

Now news of the relationship threatens to wreck Noem’s chances of joining Trump’s ticket in a potential rematch with President Joe Biden.

Glamorous Noem – who served four terms as her state’s only member of the US House of Representatives – won the governorship in 2018 promising to uphold the wholesome family values that she said South Dakotans have ‘long embraced’.

Defending ‘traditional marriage’, which she defined as ‘a special, God-given union between one man and one woman’, was particularly important to her.

It was the foundation for her beliefs, policy priorities and the ideals she lives by, said Noem, who has a son and two daughters with her husband Bryon who she married in 1992.

She has long been linked with Lewandowski, 49, who has been pushing hard for Trump to add her to his ticket.

‘He may not be very smart, but it takes big balls to lobby to have your mistress named one of the most powerful people in the country,’ one GOP operative told DailyMail.com.

The far-right website American Greatness claimed in 2021 the two had been romantically involved, although it gave no details.

At the time she scornfully dismissed the story as ‘total garbage and a disgusting lie’, and said she loved her husband and was ‘proud of the God-fearing family’ they had raised, and the story quickly died.

But a DailyMail.com investigation has uncovered extensive evidence of the couple’s romantic relationship: Dozens of trips that mixed business with pleasure, flights on donors’ private planes, and stays at luxury resorts where their intimacy was observed and noted.

I won’t bore you with any more of the evidence but it is voluminous .

Apparently, this back in 2021 wasn’t really enough to split up the two lovebirds:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is cutting off ties with Corey Lewandowski, an aide to former President Trump who was also advising her, following allegations that he sexually harassed a GOP donor at a charity event in Las Vegas last weekend.

Lewandowski had advised Noem as she saw her star rise from governor to national Republican star, fueling speculation she could make a run for the White House in 2024. Lewandowski helped introduce her to GOP movers and shakers and traveled with her across the country.

“Corey was always a volunteer, never paid a dime (campaign or official). He will not be advising the Governor in regard to the campaign or official office,” said Noem’s communications director, Ian Fury.

The announcement is the latest fallout from a report this week that Lewandowski harassed Republican donor Trashelle Odom. Odom in a statement to Politico accused Lewandowski of grabbing her behind, making inappropriate sexual remarks and following her throughout the Las Vegas event.

“He repeatedly touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful,” Odom said in her statement Wednesday.

Since the allegations were made public, Lewandowski was also removed from his role overseeing Trump’s super PAC.

He traveled to South Dakota with Trump last week.

I honestly don’t think this will impact her prospects to be VP. Why would it? Trump has been found liable for sexual assault in a court of law and is credibly accused of assaulting dozens of women. Maybe there’s a double standard for women but if I had to guess, a Republican woman like Noem will be equally exempt from the normal condemnation. She’s a star. In fact, it might just be the thing that vaults her into the VP slot. She and Trump are two peas in a pod.

Sept. 14

 

khalida popala

ny times logoNew York Times, They Shot at Her and Forced Her From Home. She Won’t Stop Fighting, Juliet Macur, Sept. 14, 2023. Khalida Popal, shown above, helped save Afghan female soccer players from the Taliban. Now she wants world soccer officials to let them play for their country again.

Khalida Popal, the former captain of the Afghanistan women’s national soccer team, woke up on the floor of her apartment near Copenhagen, drenched in sweat and shaking.

She had collapsed and couldn’t speak. An ambulance rushed to her.

It was two years ago last month, and the Taliban were taking control of Afghanistan. Female soccer players on the national team Popal helped create in 2007 were desperate to leave the country, fearing that the Taliban would kill them for playing the sport.

Players were deluging Popal with requests for help, and she felt smothered by guilt. For more than 15 years, much of that period spent in exile, she had encouraged Afghan girls to participate in all areas of society, including sports, jobs and education.

The message was everything the Taliban despised.

“I feel responsible for these girls,” Popal said later. “I’d rather die than turn my back on them.”

So on that blue-sky summer afternoon in 2021, Popal had a panic attack and thought she might be dying. But in a show of her resilience in a life marked by trauma, she waved away the medical workers and returned to her desk to continue coordinating an evacuation of players and their families from Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Relying on a network she built through her activism, she helped rescue 87 people, including the senior national team. Months later, another 130.

Now Popal is on another mission, one that reached its height at this summer’s Women’s World Cup. She is trying to convince FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, to let players on the Afghan women’s national team represent their country again after the Taliban barred girls and women from playing sports.

The players, after escaping Afghanistan with Popal’s help, are living in Australia, which hosted this year’s World Cup with New Zealand. Though the team is competing for the Melbourne Victory soccer club, FIFA refuses to recognize it as a national team because the Afghanistan Football Federation claims it does not exist. Under the Taliban, no women’s team does.

Sept. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Bedtime Check-Ins and Crass Remarks: Life in Spanish Women’s Soccer, Rachel Chaundler, Sarah Hurtes and Jeré Longman, Sept. 6, 2023. In interviews with The Times, more than a dozen women described over a decade of systemic sexism including paternalism, offhand remarks and verbal abuse.

spain flag CustomLast summer, when Beatriz Álvarez landed the job as president of the Spanish women’s soccer league, she asked to meet the chief of the country’s soccer federation by videoconference, she said, so she could remain home with her newborn child.

After decades of being an inconsistently run afterthought, women’s soccer had recently become fully unionized and professional. Ms. Álvarez had much to discuss.

But Luis Rubiales, the now-embattled president of the soccer federation, refused, Ms. Álvarez recalled in an interview. He told her to send someone else. She said he told her that, rather than attending a meeting, she should set an example by “devoting myself to my maternity.”

Ms. Álvarez said the meetings went on without her. She said the incident was just one of many subtle and not-so-subtle reminders over the years that, in the eyes of Spain’s top soccer official, women should know their place.

luis rubiales sky sports

ny times logoNew York Times, Spanish Player Files Criminal Complaint Over Soccer Chief’s Kiss, Emma Bubola and Rachel Chaundler, Sept. 6, 2023. Jennifer Hermoso has said the kiss from Luis Rubiales, head of the Spanish soccer federation, at the women’s World Cup was not consensual.

The Spanish soccer star Jennifer Hermoso has filed a sexual assault complaint against Luis Rubiales, the head of the country’s soccer federation, after he gave her an unsolicited kiss in the wake of her team’s World Cup victory in Australia last month, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

spain flag CustomThe criminal complaint by Ms. Hermoso clears the way for prosecutors to open a case against Mr. Rubiales, who has been the subject of enormous criticism ever since the kiss during a medal ceremony following Spain’s victory over England in the World Cup final on Aug. 20.

Prosecutors in Spain opened an initial investigation last Thursday into whether Mr. Rubiales could be charged with committing sexual assault and invited Ms. Hermoso, who had said that the kiss made her feel “vulnerable” and a “victim of an attack,” to formalize a complaint within 15 days. In Spain, sexual assault is a crime punishable with one to four years in prison.

“It was a necessary step to begin the judicial process,” said Mar Hedo, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office. She said the first phase of the case would come in a few days.

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a civil suit against him in 2022 in New York City on claims of sexual batery and defamation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Next Defamation Trial Will Skip to What Damages He Should Pay, Benjamin Weiser, Sept. 6, 2023. 
E. Jean Carroll’s suit is scheduled for a January trial. The judge ruled she did not have to prove a second time that Donald J. Trump defamed her after she accused him of raping her.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the writer E. Jean Carroll, who won a recent defamation lawsuit against former President Donald J. Trump, doesn’t have to prove again that he defamed her in another lawsuit she has filed against him when it goes to trial in January.

She must show only what damages, if any, Mr. Trump must pay for comments he made in 2019 after she first publicly accused him of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room decades ago. Mr. Trump called her accusation “totally false,” said he had never met Ms. Carroll and that he could not have raped her because “she’s not my type.”

Ms. Carroll, 79, won a separate defamation lawsuit in May based on comments Mr. Trump posted last October on his Truth Social website calling her claim a “complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie.”

In that case, a Manhattan jury found Mr. Trump, 77, liable for sexually abusing Ms. Carroll and awarded her $2.02 million in damages for the attack. Jurors also awarded Ms. Carroll $2.98 million in damages for defamation.

The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court, said in his ruling Wednesday that Mr. Trump’s statements in 2019 were “substantially the same” as those that prompted the defamation award in May.

“The trial in this case shall be limited to the issue of damages only,” Judge Kaplan wrote.

Lawyers for Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump issued brief statements after the ruling was filed.

Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan, said, “We look forward to trial limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made about our client E. Jean Carroll in 2019.”

Alina Habba, who represents Mr. Trump, said she was confident the earlier verdict “will be overturned on appeal, which will render this decision moot.”

Mr. Trump has also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to delay the pending defamation trial, which is scheduled for Jan. 15, until an appeal by Mr. Trump related to the case is resolved.

Sept. 2

ny times logoNew York Times, In Monitoring Child Sex Abuse, Apple Is Caught Between Safety and Privacy, Tripp Mickle, Sept. 2, 2023 (print ed.). An advocacy group is starting a $2 million campaign calling for the company to better police materials on its products and services.

\In 2021, Apple was embroiled in controversy over a plan to scan iPhones for child sexual abuse materials. Privacy experts warned that governments could abuse the system, and the backlash was so severe that Apple eventually abandoned the plan.

apple logo rainbowTwo years later, Apple is facing criticism from child safety crusaders and activist investors who are calling on the company to do more to protect children from online abuse.

A child advocacy group, the Heat Initiative, has raised $2 million for a new national advertising campaign calling on Apple to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse materials from iCloud, its cloud storage platform.

Next week, the group will release digital advertisements on websites popular with policymakers in Washington, such as Politico. It will also put up posters across San Francisco and New York that say: “Child sexual abuse material is stored on iCloud. Apple allows it.”

The criticism speaks to a predicament that has dogged Apple for years. The company has made protecting privacy a central part of its iPhone pitch to consumers. But that promise of security has helped make its services and devices, two billion of which are in use, useful tools for sharing child sexual abuse imagery.

The company is caught between child safety groups, which want it to do more to stop the spread of such materials, and privacy experts, who want it to maintain the promise of secure devices.

Sept. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Highways are the next antiabortion target. One Texas town is resisting, Caroline Kitchener, Sept. 1, 2023. A new ordinance, passed in several jurisdictions and under consideration elsewhere, aims to stop people from using local roads to drive someone out of state for an abortion.

No one could remember the last time so many people packed into City Hall.

As the meeting began on a late August evening, residents spilled out into the hallway, the brim of one cowboy hat kissing the next, each person jostling for a look at the five city council members who would decide whether to make Llano the third city in Texas to outlaw what some antiabortion activists call “abortion trafficking.”

For well over an hour, the people of Llano — a town of about 3,400 deep in Texas Hill Country — approached the podium to speak out against abortion. While the procedure was now illegal across Texas, people were still driving women on Llano roads to reach abortion clinics in other states, the residents had been told. They said their city had a responsibility to “fight the murders.”

The cheers after each speech grew louder as the crowd readied for the vote. Then one woman on the council spoke up.

“I feel like there’s a lot more to discuss about this,” said Laura Almond, a staunch conservative who owns a consignment shop in the middle of town. “I have a ton of questions.”

More than a year after Roe v. Wade was overturned, many conservatives have grown frustrated by the number of people able to circumvent antiabortion laws — with some advocates grasping for even stricter measures they hope will fully eradicate abortion nationwide.

That frustration is driving a new strategy in heavily conservative cities and counties across Texas. Designed by the architects of the state’s “heartbeat” ban that took effect months before Roe fell, ordinances like the one proposed in Llano — where some 80 percent of voters in the county backed President Donald Trump in 2020 — make it illegal to transport anyone to get an abortion on roads within the city or county limits. The laws allow any private citizen to sue a person or organization they suspect of violating the ordinance.

Antiabortion advocates behind the measure are targeting regions along interstates and in areas with airports, with the goal of blocking off the main arteries out of Texas and keeping pregnant women hemmed within the confines of their antiabortion state. These provisions have already passed in two counties and two cities, creating legal risk for those traveling on major highways including Interstate 20 and Route 84, which head toward New Mexico, where abortion remains legal and new clinics have opened to accommodate Texas women. Several more jurisdictions are expected to vote on the measure in the coming weeks.

“This really is building a wall to stop abortion trafficking,” said Mark Lee Dickson, the antiabortion activist behind the effort.

August

Aug. 31

Florida Law by Andrew Pickett, Commentary: What Is Considered Sexual Harassment in Florida? Andrew Pickett, Aug. 31 2023. In Florida and elsewhere, any unwanted sexual advances, physical contact, comments or requests that make the person on the receiving end feel uncomfortable are considered sexual harassment.

When this behavior occurs in the workplace, it makes for a hostile environment and is illegal.

Table of Contents:

  • Understanding Sexual Harassment
  • How Does Florida Law Define Sexual Harassment?
  • What Are the Different Forms of Sexual Harassment in Florida?
  • What Is an Employer’s Liability for Sexual Harassment in a Florida Workplace?
  • What Are the Legal Consequences of Sexual Harassment in Florida?
  • Always Document Everything if You Face Sexual Harassment at Work
  • How to Deal with Workplace Sexual Harassment
  • Frequently Asked Questions

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-cardinal McCarrick’s sex abuse case is dismissed, without a ‘reckoning,’ Michelle Boorstein and Fredrick Kunkle, Aug. 31, 2023 (print ed.). A Massachusetts judge on Wednesday dismissed a criminal charge against former high-ranking Catholic cleric Theodore McCarrick, ruling that the 93-year-old former archbishop of Washington is incompetent to stand trial for alleged child sexual abuse.

theodore mccarrickThe decision underscores the fast-closing window for potential accountability for McCarrick, right, who once was one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s most visible and connected leaders and now is one of its most notorious figures.

McCarrick had been charged with assaulting a 16-year-old boy at a wedding in 1974, the first criminal charge since a slew of sexual misconduct accusations surfaced in 2018 and he was removed from public ministry. He still faces a second criminal sexual abuse case, involving the same alleged victim, in Wisconsin.

These abuse survivors thought they knew the details. Then came the clergy reports.

Judge Paul McCallum, of the Dedham District Court in Massachusetts, dismissed the case in a morning hearing, after experts for the defense and the prosecution agreed that McCarrick was unable to help with his own defense, said David Traub, a spokesman for the district attorney.

“Under Massachusetts law, the case can’t go forward,” Traub said.

McCarrick was the first U.S. cardinal and only the second U.S. bishop to be charged with abuse. His accuser in the case, James Grein, a tennis coach from Northern Virginia, submitted a statement to the court for Wednesday’s hearing that said the case was “to have provided a modest level of payback.”

“I have trouble reconciling the concept that someone who is intelligent and articulate is also not competent to stand trial and answer for his actions,” Grein wrote. “I brought the charges in this matter, in the hope of finding justice in this court. Instead, McCarrick walks a free man and I am left with nothing.”

The steep fall of McCarrick has wounded the world’s largest Christian group and produced several unprecedented — if incremental — steps toward accountability.

But, as an individual, McCarrick has not faced justice in the ways his alleged victims and his own American society typically demand it — through a guilty verdict, victim impact statements or financial penalties. Some clergy abuse experts and McCarrick accusers said Wednesday that the judge’s decision was harmful, while others said they were looking to a more eternal verdict.

“From my perspective, the God he claimed to serve will now be his judge,” said John Bellocchio, who has accused McCarrick of abusing him in the 1990s, when Bellocchio was 14. “And I doubt — in his profound arrogance — I doubt he will fare well.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Republican Women, Fearing Backlash on Abortion, Pivot to Birth Control, Annie Karni, Aug. 31, 2023 (print ed.). A group of vulnerable G.O.P. women has backed legislation that purports to expand birth control access but would have little effect. Critics say it is a distraction.

She had barely opened her town hall to questions when Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican from a competitive district in Iowa, was pressed to defend her opposition to abortion rights.

“One of the main functions of the federal government is to protect life,” Ms. Miller-Meeks, who won election in 2020 by just six votes, told a sparse crowd this month in Iowa City, a younger, more progressive part of her district where she rarely campaigns.

Ms. Miller-Meeks then quickly pivoted to politically safer terrain, telling her constituents about how she had also sponsored legislation aimed at expanding access to contraception.

“The best way to prevent abortion is to prevent pregnancy,” she said.

It is an increasingly common strategy among vulnerable House Republicans — especially those in politically competitive districts — who are trying to reconcile their party’s hard-line anti-abortion policies with the views of voters in their districts, particularly independents and women.

While many of these G.O.P. lawmakers have cast votes in the House this year to limit abortion access — maintaining a stance that some Republicans concede hurt their party in last year’s midterm elections — Ms. Miller-Meeks and others spent part of the summer congressional recess talking up their support for birth control access, which is broadly popular across the country and across party lines.

Appearing to embrace access to contraception has become an imperative for Republican candidates at all levels who are concerned that their party’s opposition to abortion rights has alienated women, particularly after the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade and the extreme abortion bans in G.O.P.-led states that have followed.

“Can’t we all agree contraception should be available,” Nikki Haley, the only Republican woman in the presidential primary, said last week at the first primary debate, seeking to blunt attacks from Democrats on the issue of reproductive health care.

Just ahead of lawmakers’ long summer break, Ms. Miller-Meeks was part of a group of House Republican women who introduced the Orally Taken Contraception Act of 2023, a bill that they pitched as a way to expand access to contraception and that she called “a significant step forward for health care.”

Abortion rights advocates argue that the legislation is essentially meaningless and merely an effort by Republican lawmakers to mislead voters about their positions on women’s health. But for the G.O.P. women who are backing it, the bill offers an elegant way to shift the conversation away from the divisive issue of abortion.

Relevant Recent Headlines

Aug. 27

 

luis rubiales sky sports

washington post logoWashington Post, FIFA provisionally suspends Spanish soccer official Luis Rubiales, Victoria Bisset, Aug. 27, 2023 (print ed.). FIFA on Saturday provisionally suspended the president of Spain’s soccer federation after he kissed a player following Spain’s World Cup final win over England.

spain flag CustomThe sport’s governing body said in a statement that Luis Rubiales, who has refused to resign despite international outrage over Sunday’s incident, would be barred from all football-related activities at a national and international level for an initial period of 90 days. The organization announced disciplinary action against Rubiales on Thursday.

Saturday’s decision also banned both Rubiales and the Spanish soccer federation, which has threatened legal action over the accusations, from contacting the player at the center of the allegations, Jenni Hermoso (shown above with Rubiales at the time of the kiss in a photo by Fox Sports).

In statements released Friday, the midfielder said she “never consented to the kiss he gave me,” adding that she and her family had come under pressure to publicly support Rubiales.

Dozens of players on Spain’s women’s team have said they will refuse to play further matches until the Spanish federation, RFEF, removes the president from his post.

Rubiales also faced criticism for grabbing his crotch at the end of the World Cup final while Spain’s Queen Letizia and Princess Sofía, 16, stood nearby.

ny times logoNew York Times, Women Say Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Are Rife in Group for Realtors, Debra Kamin, Aug. 27, 2023 (print ed.). The powerful National Association of Realtors has ignored complaints, including those against the group’s president, current and former employees say.

One woman said the man put his hands down his pants in front of her. Another woman said the same man texted her a picture of his crotch. A third woman said she had a consensual relationship with the man, only to have him retaliate after it ended.

The man is Kenny Parcell, the president of the National Association of Realtors, a powerful nonprofit organization with more than $1 billion in assets Kenny Parcell, the current president of the National Association of Realtors, has been the focus of sexual harassment allegations since a former employee filed a lawsuit this summer (Photo from The National Association of Realtors).that controls access to nearly every American home listing. All three women, who worked at the Chicago-based group, said they were sexually harassed by Mr. Parcell, and described a pattern of behavior that included improper touching and lewd photos and texts.

Kenny Parcell, right, the current president of the National Association of Realtors, has been the focus of sexual harassment allegations since a former employee filed a lawsuit this summer (Photo via The National Association of Realtors).

Within the organization, known as N.A.R., and its affiliates, 29 employees and former leaders told The New York Times that even after years of complaints of sexual harassment, discrimination and retribution by Mr. Parcell and other leaders, little changed. Many of these claims have begun to surface in recent weeks after Janelle Brevard, the former employee who said she had a relationship with Mr. Parcell, sued the group for racial and sexual discrimination and harassment.

“There is the sexual harassment, and then woven into it, this culture of fear,” said Stephanie Quinn, the organization’s former director of business meetings and events, who worked at N.A.R. for more than a decade. Ms. Quinn, who quit last year, said Mr. Parcell regularly expected hugs and attempted to arrange meetings with younger colleagues late at night. After an incident where she held out her palm to block a hug, he began questioning her authority over her employees and the decisions she was tasked to make, she said.

 

matt schlapp cpac

washington post logoWashington Post, CPAC urged to investigate more sexual misconduct claims against chair Matt Schlapp, Isaac Arnsdorf and Beth Reinhard, Aug. 27, 2023.  A senior board member of CPAC’s parent organization resigned as he urged more scrutiny of Schlapp’s alleged conduct.

'A senior board member of the parent organization behind the prominent Conservative Political Action Conference who resigned on Friday urged an independent investigation into additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Chairman Matt Schlapp.

The vice chairman of the board of the American Conservative Union, Charlie Gerow, announced his resignation on Friday in a letter to other directors that called on them to authorize an investigation including any additional allegations that they or staff have become aware of, according to multiple people familiar with the letter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Earlier this year, Schlapp was sued for alleged sexual battery and defamation by a Republican campaign operative who claimed that the CPAC leader groped his crotch during a campaign trip last fall. Schlapp has denied the claim.
In addition to that lawsuit, some board members and staffers have been told about other incidents involving Schlapp, 55, and two younger men, multiple people with direct knowledge of the situation said.

In one incident, a staffer said Schlapp attempted to kiss him while drinking late after a work function in 2017. The staffer also provided documentation from that night to The Washington Post showing physical contact that the staffer said was unsolicited.

In another incident, Schlapp allegedly made unwanted physical advances on someone else’s employee during a CPAC business trip in Palm Beach, Fla., in early 2022, according to multiple people informed of the incident. The alleged victim did not respond to requests for comment.

Aug. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, She found her calling by speaking bluntly about sex. Her career was no match for the nation’s culture wars, Greg Jaffe and Patrick Marley, Photos by Bonnie Jo Mount, Aug. 24, 2023 (print ed.). Heather Alberda, a sex educator in a conservative Michigan county, refused to be shamed. Then came the backlash.

In her 21 years at the health department, the county’s teen pregnancy rate had decreased by 76 percent and is the fourth-lowest among Michigan’s 83 counties. The abortion rate for Ottawa County during the same period fell by 18 percent, according to state data.

The county’s successes, though, were colliding with the fears of many Christian conservatives that they were losing the culture wars; that their faith and families were under siege. The new board members and their backers saw Pride flags — which had become a common sight in stores along Ottawa’s Lake Michigan shore — as markers of a society that they believed celebrated sex, promiscuity and perversion.

Aug. 17

 

mifepristone Allen g breed ap

ny times logoNew York Times, Appeals Court Upholds Abortion Pill Restrictions, Pam Belluck and Adam Liptak, Aug. 17, 2023 (print ed.). A panel said it would restrict mifepristone from being prescribed by telemedicine or mail. The ruling has no effect until the Supreme Court decides the case.

A federal appeals court panel said on Wednesday that the abortion pill mifepristone should remain legal in the United States but with significant restrictions on patients’ access to it, setting up a showdown before the Supreme Court on the fate of the most common method of terminating pregnancies.

The decision, which would prohibit the pill from being sent through the mail or prescribed by telemedicine, is the latest development in a closely watched lawsuit that seeks to remove abortion pills entirely from the market by invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of mifepristone. But for now, the ruling will have no real-world effect: In April, the Supreme Court said mifepristone would have to remain available under the current rules until the appeals process concludes.

Anti-abortion groups filed the lawsuit last year, several months after the Supreme Court had overturned the constitutional right to abortion. Shortly after the appeals court ruled on Wednesday, the Justice Department said it would ask the justices to hear the case.

The court is likely to act in the coming months. It could deny review, leaving in place the appeals court’s ruling, curbing but not eliminating access to the pill. Or it could agree to hear the appeal, returning to contested terrain that at least some of the justices might prefer to avoid.

The justices will be navigating against the backdrop of their decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade, a ruling that led to a sharp drop in the court’s approval ratings, questions about its legitimacy and a political windfall for Democrats.

In that 6-to-3 decision, the conservative majority made a kind of promise, saying that the court was ceding the question of the availability of abortion “to the people and their elected representatives.” That could indicate a reluctance of hear a new abortion case.

On the other hand, a question of such significance would seem to warrant a ruling from the nation’s highest court. The case could also have implications beyond abortion, calling into question the F.D.A.’s regulatory authority over other drugs.

In the new ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld part of a sweeping decision issued in April by a federal judge in Texas. That decision, by Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump and has publicly espoused anti-abortion views, effectively nullified the F.D.A.’s approval of the pill.

But the appeals court decision kept the F.D.A.’s approval in place. It also kept in place a later F.D.A. approval of the generic version of the drug, which now accounts for about two-thirds of the mifepristone sold in the United States.

The main impact of the appeals court’s decision, if it is upheld by the Supreme Court, would be to reverse changes made by the F.D.A. in recent years that greatly increased access to the pill, partly by allowing some health care providers who are not doctors to prescribe mifepristone and allowing patients to obtain the pill without visiting a provider in person. The appeals court ruling would mean that patients would have to make three visits to a doctor to get mifepristone and could not receive it in the mail.

The ability for patients to use telemedicine and get the prescribed pills shipped to them has significantly expanded the use of medication abortion, which is now used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the United States.

The lawsuit was filed against the F.D.A. by several anti-abortion doctors and a consortium of anti-abortion medical groups called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which was incorporated in Amarillo, Texas, soon after Roe had been overturned. The case was filed in Amarillo.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What It Means to Call Prostitution ‘Sex Work,’ Pamela Paul, right, Aug. 17, 2023. Last week at the National pamela paul 2019Organization for Women’s New York office, women’s rights advocates, anti-trafficking groups and former prostitutes convened to galvanize New Yorkers to take action against the city’s booming sex trade.

In addition to arguing for enforcement of existing laws — and for the penalization of buyers and pimps as opposed to the women and children who are their victims — they wanted to send an important message about the language used around the problem.

“The media uses terms like ‘sex work’ and ‘sex worker’ in their reporting, treating prostitution as a job like any other,” said Melanie Thompson, a 27-year-old woman from New York City who introduced herself as a “Black sex-trafficking and prostitution survivor.” The language of “sex work,” she argued, implies falsely that engaging in the sex trade is a choice most often made willingly; it also absolves sex buyers of responsibility. (My colleague Nicholas Kristof recently profiled Thompson, who now works for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.)

“I urge the media to remove the terms ‘sex work’ and ‘sex worker’ from your style handbooks,” she said.

In reporting the event afterward, The New York Post used the term “sex workers.”

The Post is hardly alone. In what at first glance might seem like a positive (and possibly sex positive) move, the term “sex work” suddenly appears to be everywhere. Even outside academic, activist and progressive strongholds, “sex work” is becoming a widespread euphemism for “prostitution.” It can also refer to stripping, erotic massage and other means of engaging in the sex trade. It’s now commonly used by politicians, the media, Hollywood and government agencies. But make no mistake: “Sex work” is hardly a sign of liberation.

Why, you might wonder, does exchanging money for sex need a rebrand? Derogatory terms like “hooker” and “whore” were long ago replaced by the more neutral “prostitute.” But “sex worker” goes one step further, couching it as a conventional job title, like something plucked out of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” Its most grotesque variant is the phrase “child sex worker,” which has appeared in a wide range of publications, including BuzzFeed, The Decider and The Independent. (Sometimes the phrase has been edited out after publication.)

The term “sex work” emerged several decades ago among radical advocates of prostitution. People like Carol Leigh and Margo St. James, who helped convene the first World Whores’ Congress in 1985, used “sex work” in an effort to destigmatize, legitimize and decriminalize their trade. Not surprisingly, this shift toward acceptability has been welcomed by many men, who make up a vast majority of customers. The term subsequently gained traction in academic circles and among other progressive advocacy groups, such as some focused on labor or abortion rights.

I first heard the term in the early ’90s while living in Thailand, where I offered to volunteer for an organization aimed at helping local women caught up in prostitution. I’d been in enough bars with friends where underage girls flung themselves onto my companions’ laps, showering them with compliments, encouraging them to drink. Just being present seemed like complicity in what felt like a mutually degrading ecosystem. We all knew many of these girls had been sold into sex slavery by their own desperately poor parents.

But rather than focus on challenging systems of exploitation, the organization I was planning to help, led largely by Western women, aimed to better equip “sex workers” to ply their trade, such as negotiating for more money. I changed my mind about volunteering. I certainly didn’t want to make life more difficult for girls and women caught up in prostitution rings, but I couldn’t in good conscience help perpetuate the system.

No advocacy worker wants to stigmatize the women or children who are trafficked or who resort to prostitution. Survivors of the sex trade should never be blamed or criminalized. Nor should the humanity of individuals working in the sex trade be reduced to what they do for money. Opponents and advocates of the term “sex worker” share these goals. Many of those urging legitimacy for the sex trade also take a stand vehemently — and presumably without seeing any contradiction — against child labor, indentured servitude and slavery.

Aug., 16

ny times logoNew York Times, Court Sides With Catholic School That Fired Unmarried Pregnant Teacher, Erin Nolan, Aug. 16, 2023. The New Jersey court found that the school, as a religious employer, was exempt from a state law prohibiting employment discrimination. 

The New Jersey Supreme Court sided on Monday with a Catholic elementary school that fired an unmarried art teacher who was pregnant, ending a long legal battle that had drawn national attention at a time of fierce debate over religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

The school, St. Theresa’s in Kenilworth, N.J., fired the teacher, Victoria Crisitello, in 2014, saying she had violated the school’s code of ethics by having premarital sex, according to court documents.

Ms. Crisitello sued, citing the state’s Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy and marital status. The lawsuit was passed back and forth between state trial and appellate courts for years before the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

In its decision on Monday, the court found that the firing was protected under a religious exception to the anti-discrimination law. The law allows St. Theresa’s, as a religious employer, to require its employees to abide by the rules of the Catholic Church, the court said.

Ms. Crisitello’s lawyer, Thomas A. McKinney, said he was disappointed and noted that the decision would affect not only religious schools, but “all different types of religious entities that employ people,” including hospitals.

“If a woman is pregnant and unmarried and working at a Catholic hospital, she can be terminated,” he said. “Our biggest issue always with this case was that you have a policy that’s only being implemented against unmarried pregnant women.”

St. Theresa’s School first hired Ms. Crisitello, a former student, as a part-time toddler caregiver in 2011, according to court documents. Ms. Crisitello signed an agreement at the time that required employees to abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In 2014, the school principal offered her a full-time job as an art teacher, court records show. Ms. Crisitello said she was interested, but requested a raise and explained that she was pregnant.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: When it comes to criminal "Enterprises," the Republicans are the "Deep State," Wayne Madsen, left, author, commentator and former Navy intelligence officer, Aug. 16, 2023. Donald wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallTrump and his Republican supporters are being too clever by half in accusing their opponents of all being members of some shadowy "Deep State" determined to maintain power at all costs.

wayne madesen report logoIn fact, every time Republicans and their operatives have been indicted for criminal conspiracy, it is they who have been flushed out as deep state players in what prosecutors have termed "enterprises," as in criminal enterprises. Under the provisions of the federal and state of Georgia Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) laws, racketeering activity is applied to enterprises. What makes RICO statutes advantageous to prosecutors is the fact that the anti-racketeering laws permit an entire structure of a criminal operation -- an enterprise -- to be charged for violating a broad range of crimes.

The indictment returned against Donald Trump and 18 of his co-conspirators by a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia for attempting to negate the 2020 presidential election in Georgia through criminal racketeering refers to the Trump operation as an enterprise.

lawrence walshAnother Republican criminal enterprise that resulted in several criminal convictions and which saw a Justice Department Independent Counsel refer to Vice President George H. W. Bush as an un-indicted co-conspirator was the infamous deep state Iran-contra operation. Investigated by Judge george hw bush HRLawrence Walsh, above, the Iran-contra enterprise was detailed in the August 4, 1993 "Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/contra matters." Walsh and his investigators identified the Bush operation as a "Full-Service Enterprise."

The Republican-led payola enterprise was widespread and included Gulf Oil paying $4 million in bribes to South Korean politicians from 1966 to 1970 via an offshore shell company called Bahamas Exploration Co. Ltd.

On February 3, 1975, Eli M. Black, the founder and CEO of United Brands, was confronted with the news that the Securities and Exchange Commission had discovered that he had offered $2.5 million in bribery payments to foreign government officials, including President Oswaldo López Arellano of Honduras. Black used his briefcase to break open the windows of his office on the 44th floor of the PanAm building in Manhattan. He leaped to his death while clutching his briefcase.

leon black jeffrey epsteinBlack's son, Leon Black, the former CEO of Apollo Global Management hedge fund and junk bond king at the defunct firm Drexel Burnham Lambert, came under intense legal scrutiny before resigning from Apollo. Black had paid convicted underage sex offender and reputed underage sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein $158 million for "tax advice" between 2012 and 2017. Epstein died suspiciously in his federal jail cell in Manhattan following his arrest in 2019. Suicide was cited as the cause of death.

Nothing spells criminal enterprise more than Epstein's reported use of sexual blackmail, tied to unnamed intelligence agencies, against some of the world's most powerful politicians and business tycoons.

Aug. 15

ny times logoNew York Times, Robert Kennedy Jr. Backtracks on Support for Federal Abortion Ban, Maggie Astor, Aug. 15, 2023 (print ed.). Mr. Kennedy, who is running for president, said that he would sign a ban after three months’ gestation, but his campaign quickly reversed his comments.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Sunday that he supported a federal ban on abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy, then quickly backtracked — underscoring both his ideologically uncomfortable position within the Democratic primary field and the deep salience of abortion in next year’s election.

Mr. Kennedy, who is running against President Biden, made his comments at the Iowa State Fair after an NBC News reporter asked whether he would sign a bill codifying the right to abortion once protected by Roe v. Wade. Democrats have rallied around such legislation since the Supreme Court overturned Roe last year, though the party does not currently have the votes in Congress to pass it.

“I believe a decision to abort a child should be up to the woman during the first three months of life,” Mr. Kennedy said.

In response to follow-up questions, Mr. Kennedy confirmed that he would sign federal restrictions after three months, which some Republicans have proposed and elected Democrats almost universally oppose. While the vast majority of abortions take place in that first-trimester window, Roe protected abortion rights until viability — the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb — which is around the end of the second trimester.

Hours later, Mr. Kennedy’s campaign released a statement saying he had “misunderstood a question posed to him by an NBC reporter in a crowded, noisy exhibit hall at the Iowa State Fair.”

“Mr. Kennedy’s position on abortion is that it is always the woman’s right to choose,” the statement said. “He does not support legislation banning abortion.”

But the video of his comments and the back-and-forth that followed show Mr. Kennedy specifying the first three months of pregnancy in his own words, and the reporter asking several follow-up questions to confirm his position.

Aug. 11

washington post logoWashington Post, Many teachers said a principal sexually harassed them. He was promoted, Alexandra Robbins and Nicole Asbury, Aug. 11, 2023. Educators and others reported Joel Beidleman to Montgomery County Public Schools 18 times in seven years. It made no difference.

When six Farquhar Middle School educators gathered at a math teacher’s house to keep the party going after a staff happy hour in 2020, they did not invite their principal. But Joel Beidleman showed up anyway, looking for the social studies teacher he had been sexually harassing, according to two witnesses and a complaint the teacher filed with Montgomery County Public Schools. When the door opened, he bellowed her name.

In the living room, Beidleman told her: “You should just f--- me. Everybody thinks you should,” according to the complaint and two of those present. He turned to his co-workers and asked them: “Don’t you think she should just f--- me?” The teacher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she fears retaliation from Beidleman and MCPS, quickly left.

The complaint, obtained by The Washington Post, alleges nearly four years of sexual harassment beginning with a 2019 text asking the teacher to meet him at the Gaithersburg Hilton at 11:30 p.m. It is among at least 18 verbal or written reports submitted to the school district about Beidleman by staff members, parents and union stewards since 2016.

These and other accounts detail a pattern of harassment, threats, retaliations, workplace bullying and other inappropriate conduct spanning at least 12 years across three campuses, according to documents obtained by The Post and interviews with more than 45 current and former Farquhar staff members and administrators — as well as several teachers who worked for Beidleman when he was an assistant principal at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown and at Lakelands Park Middle School in Gaithersburg. In all, 39 current and former staffers said in interviews that he directly bullied or harassed them. The social studies teacher’s complaint alone, which she filed to the school system on Feb. 3, alleges 20 instances of misconduct by Beidleman, including a suggestion to “shave your p---- and sell the hair.”

In a lengthy written reply to questions from The Post, Beidleman, 48, defended his career as an innovator and said his passion “has been to inspire children to achieve academically.” He denied many of the allegations in this story. At Clemente and Lakelands, “There were no formal complaints of sexual harassment, threats, retaliation, or workplace bullying or other aggressions,” he said. He pointed to an investigation into the social studies teacher’s complaint, which he said “found insufficient evidence to support allegations.”

After The Post submitted a list of questions last week, MCPS placed Beidleman on “extended leave,” said it wanted staff members who’d been mistreated to come forward and launched “an independent, external investigation about all matters brought to our attention by the Washington Post.”

Aug. 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Arizona coalition launches effort to get abortion rights on the ballot, Rachel Roubein and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Aug. 10, 2023 (print ed.). Major abortion rights groups launched a bid Tuesday to enshrine abortion protections into the Arizona Constitution, setting off a high-stakes battle in a politically divided swing state that was once reliably Republican.

The effort represents the latest attempt by abortion rights groups to counteract bans in states across the country, and Arizona advocates said they believe the public is on their side. Abortion rights supporters scored major victories during last year’s midterm elections and have since begun ballot measure campaigns in a handful of Republican-led states, such as Ohio, Florida and Missouri.

Arizona for Abortion Access, the new political action committee supporting the ballot measure, filed proposed language for a constitutional amendment with the Arizona secretary of state’s office Tuesday — the first step in a lengthy process to put an abortion rights question before voters on the November 2024 ballot. This initiative, first reported by The Washington Post, includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, NARAL Arizona, Affirm Sexual and Reproductive Health, Arizona List, and Healthcare Rising Arizona.

Arizona currently bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Specifically, the proposed language would guarantee the right to an abortion up until fetal viability, which is typically around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. It would require abortions to be permitted afterward when necessary to protect the life or physical or mental health of the patient.

RollingStone, Investigation: Birds of a Feather: Longtime Trump Adviser Was Accused of Repeatedly Groping Women in Nightclub, Ryan Bort, Aug. 10, 2023. Boris Epshteyn was arrested in Arizona in 2021 after a woman told authorities he molested her and her sister. The charges were ultimately dismissed.

rolling stone logoThis may come as a shock, but someone close to Donald Trump was accused of sexual misconduct.

A woman accused Boris Epshteyn, an adviser to the former president (shown in a mug shot), of groping her and her sister at an Arizona nightclub in 2021, according to police body camera footage obtained by The Arizona Republic.

boris epshteyn mugThe video shows police interviewing the woman who lodged the complaint. “All night he’s been touching me and my sister, especially my sister,” she says. “He kind of cornered her and grabbed her and is just making her super uncomfortable. … Touching her chest, touching her hips, touching her crotch.”

“It was creepy,” the woman adds, explaining that her sister repeatedly told Epshteyn to stop.

The officers ultimately have Epshteyn sit on the curb outside the club, where he denies touching anyone inappropriately before refusing to answer questions. The officers then arrest him for disorderly conduct, handcuffing him and leading him into a police van.

Epshteyn was charged with “assault touching,” “attempted sexual abuse,” “harassment-repeated acts,” and “disorderly conduct-disruptive behavior or fighting,” according to The Arizona Republic, to whom Epshteyn declined to comment. The first three charges were dismissed, but he pleaded guilty to the fourth and served probation.

Epshteyn has long been a close adviser to Trump. He worked on both the 2016 and 2020 campaigns, and was by Trump’s side when he was arraigned in Manhattan earlier this year on charges related to his effort to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election.

Epshteyn was also involved in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and evidence suggests he could be one of Trump’s unnamed co-conspirators listed in the Justice Department’s indictment of the former president earlier this month. The New York Times pointed out similarities between a Dec. 2020 email exchanged between Epshteyn and Trump’s then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and a message the indictment notes Giuliani, referred to as “Co-Conspirator 1,” exchanged with “Co-Conspirator 6.” The indictment describes the sixth and only yet-to-be-identified co-conspirator as “a political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding,” which certainly could be Epshteyn.

This incident could have significant implications for Donald Trump and his reputation. As a close adviser who worked on Trump's campaigns and was involved in efforts to challenge election results, Epshteyn's alleged misconduct reflects poorly on the former president's choice of associates and the ethical standards within his circle. Epshteyn's connection to Trump's legal matters and potential inclusion as an unnamed co-conspirator in the Justice Department's indictment raises questions about Trump's judgment in selecting advisers and associates.

From a legal standpoint, Epshteyn's charges and guilty plea to disorderly conduct suggest potential consequences for his future. While some charges were dropped, his admission of guilt and probation serve as a stain on his record. The allegations and legal proceedings could impact Epshteyn's credibility and limit his professional opportunities, potentially affecting his ability to continue serving as an adviser or engage in other roles that require public trust. This case underscores the importance of personal conduct and its potential repercussions on both public figures and those associated with them.

Aug. 9

Politico, Ohio takeaways: Abortion rights are still a big motivator for voters, Madison Fernandez, Alice Miranda Ollstein and Zach Montellaro, Aug. 9, 2023 (print ed.). Even when they’re not directly on the ballot.

politico CustomOhioans on Tuesday soundly defeated a proposal that would have made it more difficult to alter the state’s Constitution.

The move is a lightning-rod moment for abortion rights, even if the issue wasn’t directly on the ballot. After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year, the issue motivated voters to storm the polls. But this measure, which didn’t directly take on abortion, was a closely watched measure of if the issue still resonates with voters.

Voters had the answer. They overwhelmingly rejected Issue 1, an amendment that would have raised the threshold to pass a constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60 percent, as well as complicate the process to bring citizen-initiated ballot measures to voters in the first place. Though it had profound implications for a number of issues, it was widely seen in the state as a way to thwart November’s measure that would enshrine abortion rights in the state’s Constitution.

The measure’s defeat now gives abortion-rights supporters a clearer path to victory.

Opponents of Issue 1 view the victory as the first battle on abortion in the coming cycle, when the issue will be a factor in competitive Senate and House races that could help determine who controls Congress — as well as a number of direct ballot measures in swing states in the works.

But opponents also frame their victory as one that protects the power of the simple majority.

“I think sometimes, a lot of these fights get viewed in a single entity and the state gets viewed in a single moment as its value to the presidential battleground map,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters. “And I get that, but democracy matters everywhere,” pointing to Arkansas and South Dakota, where voters similarly rejected efforts to implement a supermajority requirement for ballot initiatives.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s election in Ohio:

Tuesday’s election proved that the state-by-state battle over abortion rights is still a serious motivator to get voters to the polls — even when abortion isn’t directly on the ballot.

Ohio Republicans moved in January to cancel most August elections because they were low turnout affairs that voters rarely paid attention to. Just over 8 percent of voters turned up in an August 2022 state legislative primary election, for example.

So when the GOP-controlled legislature pulled an about face months later by scheduling Issue 1 on the August ballot, abortion rights supporters cried foul, saying it was an attempt to kneecap them without voters noticing.

But voters turned up in droves anyway. More than 600,000 people voted early — a number that could still rise from late-arriving mail ballots — which outpaced the entirety of the turnout for that 2022 August election. It was also more than twice the number of people who voted early in the May 2022 primaries, which featured competitive Senate or gubernatorial contests.

Both pro-abortion rights groups and anti-abortion activists invested heavily in getting their supporters to show up. And conservatives emphasized supporters voting early as well, as Republicans try to close the gap created, in part, by former President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on early voting.

Instead of a summer snoozer, turnout was off the charts.

Aug. 6

ny times logoNew York Times Magazine, How a Sexual Assault in a School Bathroom Became a Political Weapon, Charles Homans, Aug. 6, 2023 (print ed.). It was an explosive claim — that a Virginia school district covered up crime in a girls’ bathroom in order to protect transgender rights. But was it true?

For months a sort of aerosolized fury had hung over the Loudoun County school district. There were fights over Covid closures and mask mandates, over racial-equity programs, over library books. Now, in the weeks before the school board’s meeting on June 22, 2021, attention had shifted to a new proposal: Policy 8040, which would let transgender students choose pronouns, play sports and use bathrooms in accordance with their declared gender identity.

In May, an elementary-school gym teacher announced that as a “servant of God,” he felt he could not follow the policy. The district swiftly suspended him — and just as swiftly, the antennae of conservative media outlets and politicians swiveled toward Loudoun County.

The entire Republican ticket for that fall’s statewide elections made a pilgrimage to Loudoun, a swath of Washington exurbs in Northern Virginia that is the highest-median-income county in America and the fourth-most-populous in the state. “Fox & Friends” broadcast live from a local diner. “This won’t stop in #LoudounCounty,” the Family Foundation of Virginia, a conservative religious organization in Richmond, tweeted. “It’s coming to your schools and children too.” County Democrats urged supporters of the proposed policy to make their own voices heard at the upcoming meeting, and everyone descended upon the school administration building in the town of Ashburn.

Inside, the room looked like Facebook come to life. There were “mama bears” and dads in tactical-themed leisure apparel and signs proclaiming solidarity with “We the Parents.” There were rainbow-flag face masks and Black Lives Matter T-shirts and buttons affirming the many other tenets of yard-sign liberalism. It was rare that the warring ideological tribes of suburbia actually met each other on an offline field of battle, and TV crews were on hand to document the occasion.

“That meeting,” Beth Barts, a member of the school board at the time, later recalled, “just went to hell.” During the public-comment period, a Republican former state legislator accused the board of “teaching children to hate others because of their skin color” and “forcing them to lie about other kids’ gender.” When the crowd, which had been warned against disruptions, cheered, the board voted to end public comment. The crowd booed loudly. A man in the third row stood and extended both middle fingers at the board members, who were hastily ushered into a secure back room.

Scanning the scene for signs of trouble, a sheriff’s deputy named Timothy Iversen saw a middle-aged man in a plumbing-company T-shirt arguing over a row of chairs with a woman wearing a top emblazoned with a rainbow heart. “You’re a bitch,” the man said, clenching his fist.

Iversen grabbed him by the arm, but he resisted. Another deputy rushed in, and the two officers tackled the man, crashing through chairs. The second deputy punched him several times. A third knelt on his back. Pinned beneath the deputies, the man screamed that he couldn’t breathe. His mouth was smeared with blood. The man’s wife stood nearby. “My child was raped at school!” she shouted. “And this is what happens!”

After the deputies arrested the man and loaded him into their van, his wife explained the situation. Their names were Scott and Jessica Smith, and they owned a small plumbing business in Leesburg, a nearby town. Weeks earlier, their 15-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by a boy in a girls’ bathroom at her high school in Ashburn. The boy was wearing a skirt.

“I wasn’t even concerned about the fact that it was a boy wearing a skirt in the girls’ bathroom at the time,” Scott Smith later told me. “I’m focused on the fact that my daughter just got raped.” On the day of the assault, he went to the school and erupted at the principal. A sheriff’s deputy assigned as the school resource officer escorted him out of the building. After that, Smith found himself subject to what seemed to him to be a series of escalating affronts. When Loudoun County Public Schools sent an email later that day to Stone Bridge families to inform them of an incident there, it was about Smith’s outburst and made no mention of a sexual assault.

The particulars of Smith’s daughter’s case — an attacker in a skirt, a girls’ bathroom — posed an obvious threat to the new policy. And so, critics charged, school officials buried it, and because they buried it, more harm was done. When it all came to light months later, this theory of the case would galvanize a local conservative parents’-rights movement, help swing a governor’s race and rattle the politics of gender in America far beyond Virginia.

This was one version of the story of Loudoun County. But as prosecutors took up the matter over the next two years, a different story began to take shape — one that is told here based on court records and testimony, as well as months of interviews with participants in the events at the heart of the scandal, in some cases discussing them on the record for the first time, and hundreds of pages of documents obtained through public-records requests. This evidence presents a much more complicated picture of what happened, in Loudoun County and beyond, in a period of escalating culture wars that have consumed the same communities and institutions that the combatants insist they want to save.

Aug. 4

 

Sound of Freedom funder Fabian Marta is shown in a mugshot after being charged with felony child kidnapping (Photo via St. Louis Police).

"Sound of Freedom" funder Fabian Marta is shown in a mugshot after being charged with felony child kidnapping (Photo via St. Louis Metropolitan Police).

Newsweek, 'Sound of Freedom' Funder Fabian Marta Arrested For Child Kidnapping, Aleks Phillips, Aug.3-4, 2023. St. Louis Metropolitan Police confirmed to Newsweek that Marta, 51, newsweek logofrom Chesterfield, Missouri, was charged on July 21, and was arrested on July 23.

One of thousands of patrons of the crowdfunded anti-child trafficking film Sound of Freedom was recently arrested and charged for child kidnapping, according to a court filing and social media posts.

Fabian Marta was charged with felony child kidnapping in July, while since-removed Facebook posts appear to show the same person revealing their pride in funding the film. Marta's name appears in the movie's credits among the "investors [who] helped bring Sound of Freedom to theaters."

Sound of Freedom dramatizes the story of anti-child sex-trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad and its founder, Tim Ballard, who is played in the movie by Jim Caviezel.

Aug. 3

washington post logoWashington Post, Former College Park mayor pleads guilty to child porn charges, Jasmine Hilton, Aug. 3, 2023 (print ed.). Wojahn pleaded guilty to 140 child pornography offenses as part of an agreement that calls for him to spend 30 years in prison.

The former mayor of College Park pleaded guilty to 140 child pornography charges as part of a deal with Prince George’s County prosecutors that will have him spend 30 years behind bars.

Patrick Wojahn, 47, was indicted by a grand jury in March on 80 counts of possession and intent to distribute child pornography, and then again in a superseding indictment in May on 140 counts, according to online court records. He pleaded guilty to every count of that second indictment — 60 counts of distribution of child pornography, 40 counts of possession of child pornography and 40 counts of possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute — in Prince George’s County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

The plea, and subsequent sentencing, is one of the largest the county has seen in a crime like this, prosecutors said.

“Each count represents a victim,” Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Garth, chief of the special victims and family violence unit, said after the hearing. “Even though he’s not sentenced to jail time for each count, per se, he’s still accepting responsibility for each count.”

College Park mayor resigns and faces child pornography charges

Wojahn, who resigned just before his arrest, will be eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of the sentence, according to prosecutors.

Wojahn’s attorney, David Moyse, said in court that “there were no manufactured images,” meaning Wojahn did not produce any of the child pornography he pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing. His client stood next to him, clad in an orange Calvert County Detention jumpsuit, responding, “Yes, your honor,” as the judge rattled off the more than 100 charges.

Prince George’s County police arrested Wojahn on March 2 after a weeks-long investigation prompted by a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about a suspicious account on Kik, a mobile messaging app, according to charging documents. Police said Wojahn uploaded and shared dozens of pornographic videos that depicted prepubescent boys and adult men.

Aug. 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Child-care worker charged with abusing 91 girls over 15 years, Adela Suliman, Aug. 2, 2023 (print ed.). Police in Australia charged a former child-care worker with abusing 91 girls over the course of 15 years in a case they said was “beyond the realms of anyone’s imagination.”

australian flag wavingThey announced 1,623 charges Tuesday against the unnamed 45-year-old man, which included 136 counts of rape and 110 counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10.

The alleged crimes took place between 2007 and 2022 while he was working at 10 child-care centers in Brisbane, one in Sydney and an early learning center in an unnamed overseas country, police said. The man also recorded his alleged offenses on phones and cameras, they said.

“This is one of the most horrific child abuse cases that I’ve seen in nearly 40 years of policing,” New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald told reporters Tuesday. “It’s beyond the realms of anyone’s imagination what this person did to these children.”

Twitter under fire for reinstating account that posted child sex abuse

The charges announced Tuesday are the culmination of a years-long investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) after Queensland police found images and videos of alleged child abuse on the dark web in 2014.

The man, from Australia’s Gold Coast, was arrested in Brisbane last August, police said, and was at the time charged with making and distributing child abuse material allegedly on the dark web. The AFP launched “Operation Tenterfield” immediately after his arrest, it said in the Tuesday statement, and he remains in custody.

While the dark web is not in itself illegal, it is a layer of the internet visible only with special browsers, where some participants undertake illicit activities including hacking and cybercrime, drug offenses and child pornography.

“The AFP believes the man recorded all his alleged offending” while working at the child-care centers, police said, adding that they are not naming the centers to protect the alleged victims’ identities.

July

July 27

 

 kevin spacey house

ny times logoNew York Times, Kevin Spacey Found Not Guilty of Sexual Assault, Alex Marshall, July 27, 2023 (print ed.). Kevin Spacey, the two-time Oscar-winning actor known for his movie and TV roles including “House of Cards” (shown above in a promotional photo from the show) was on Wednesday found not guilty by a jury in Britain of nine counts of sexual assault.

Almost six years after allegations of inappropriate behavior began to emerge against Mr. Spacey on both sides of the Atlantic, a jury at Southwark Crown Court in London took just over 12 hours to reach its decision.

As the verdicts were announced, Mr. Spacey, 64, stood in a transparent box in the middle of the courtroom, wearing a dark blue suit and looking unemotional as he faced the jury.

kevin spaceyBut when the final “not guilty” was read out, the actor, right, whose birthday falls on Wednesday, began to cry and sighed heavily with relief.

During the almost monthlong trial in London, the court heard from four men who said that Mr. Spacey assaulted them between 2001 and 2013. For most of that time, the actor was the artistic director of the Old Vic theater, a major London playhouse.

One complainant told the British police that Mr. Spacey touched him multiple times without his consent. The complainant described incidents included once in either 2004 or 2005 when he said the actor grabbed his genitals so hard that he almost veered off the road as they were heading to Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara Ball.

During the trial, Mr. Spacey — who appeared under his full name, Kevin Spacey Fowler — said that the pair had a consensual “naughty relationship.” The actor added that he felt “crushed” by the complainant’s characterization of their encounters. Elton John, giving evidence for Mr. Spacey’s defense, said that Mr. Spacey only attended his ball once, in 2001, several years before the complainant said he was groped.

Another complainant said that he wrote to Mr. Spacey hoping that the actor would mentor him, and eventually went for a drink at Mr. Spacey’s London home. That complainant said that he fell asleep in the apartment, and later woke up to discover Mr. Spacey on his knees, performing oral sex on him. Mr. Spacey said during the trial that the pair had consensual oral sex, then the man “hurriedly left,” as if he regretted the encounter.

On Jul. 20, Patrick Gibbs, Mr. Spacey’s legal representative, claimed that three of the complainants were lying and only made their accusations in the hope of financial gain. Mr. Spacey’s promiscuous lifestyle made him “quite an easy target” for false allegations, Mr. Gibbs added.

July 26

 leon black jeffrey epstein

ny times logoNew York Times, Senate Committee Presses Leon Black on Epstein Tax Advice, Matthew Goldstein, July 26, 2023 (print ed.). The billionaire, above left, paid Jeffrey Epstein, above right, $158 million for tax and estate planning services. Lawmakers want to know if the fees should have been taxed as a gift.

A Senate committee is investigating whether $158 million that the billionaire investor Leon Black paid the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein for tax and estate planning services should have been classified as a gift, as part of a broader inquiry into tax-avoidance schemes by ultrawealthy individuals, according to a letter reviewed by The New York Times.

In addition to the fees that Mr. Black said he had paid Mr. Epstein, the Senate Finance Committee is looking into several trusts that Mr. Black used to save on taxes and advice that Mr. Epstein gave on art purchases, according to the letter, which the committee’s chairman, Senator Ron Wyden, sent to the private equity mogul on Monday.

Mr. Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, wrote that the committee was dissatisfied with the information that Mr. Black, a co-founder of Apollo Global Management, had provided it to date and requested his cooperation.

“A significant number of open questions remain regarding the tax-avoidance scheme you implemented with Epstein’s assistance, including whether the exorbitant amounts paid to Epstein should have been classified as a gift for federal tax purposes,” the senator wrote. Gifts exceeding an annual threshold in value are subject to federal taxes ranging from 18 to 40 percent.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Hunger Fed by ‘Barbie’ and Taylor Swift, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 26, 2023 (print ed.). This summer’s two biggest entertainment michelle goldberg thumbphenomena, the movie “Barbie” and Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, have a lot in common.

Both feature conventionally gorgeous blond women who alternately revel in mainstream femininity and chafe at its limitations, enacting an ambivalence shared by many of their fans. Both, beneath their slick, exuberant pop surfaces, tell female coming-of-age stories marked by existential crises and bitter confrontations with sexism. (The third song on Swift’s set list is “The Man,” whose refrain is, “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can/wondering if I’d get there quicker/if I was a man.”) And both have become juggernauts.

“Barbie” has just had the biggest opening weekend of any movie this summer, surpassing already high expectations to earn $162 million. More than just a movie, it’s become a major cultural event, with fans showing up in carefully curated outfits and then making TikToks of themselves crying, emotionally overcome. The film’s blunt feminism — its villain is, literally, patriarchy — has prompted an enjoyably impotent right-wing backlash. The conservative media figure Ben Shapiro opened a 43-minute monologue about how “viscerally angry” the movie made him by setting two Barbie dolls on fire.

The “Barbie” headlines echo the news about the Taylor Swift tour (which, full disclosure, I haven’t seen, since resale tickets are going for thousands of dollars). Eras is set to become the highest-grossing musical tour in history, boosting the economy of the cities in which Swift alights. More than just a series of concerts, it’s become, like Barbie, a major cultural event, with fans also showing up in carefully curated outfits and then making TikToks of their ecstatic tears. And though Swift hasn’t triggered the right the way Barbie has, she did make Shapiro really mad with a speech she made about Pride Month during a Chicago stop.

An obvious lesson from the gargantuan success of both “Barbie” and the Eras Tour is that there is a huge, underserved market for entertainment that takes the feelings of girls and women seriously. After years of Covid isolation, reactionary politics and a mental health crisis that has hit girls and young women particularly hard, there’s a palpable longing for both communal delight and catharsis.
“What happens in the crowd is messy, wild, benevolent and beautiful,” Amanda Petrusich wrote in The New Yorker about a Swift concert. A woman attending one of the first “Barbie” showings told The Guardian she’d been waiting for it for two years: “I’ve been dying to go to a movie theater and have something that feels like a monoculture event.”

Part of what has made “Barbie” so resonant — beyond the campy pleasures of its fantastic costumes and sets — is that it treats becoming a woman as a hero’s journey. (This is also what has made its critics on the right so furious.) A pivotal moment in the movie comes when America Ferrera’s character, Gloria, gives an impromptu speech about the impossible demands made of women: “You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line,” she cries. “It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory!”

The important part of this monologue — spoilers ahead — is not only what it articulates, but what it accomplishes. Gloria’s words wake up Barbies whom the Kens have brainwashed into submission. “By giving voice to the cognitive dissonance required to be a woman under the patriarchy you robbed it of its power!” exclaims the film’s heroine, Stereotypical Barbie, played by Margot Robbie. It’s consciousness-raising as magic. And, ultimately, as difficult as being an adult woman is, Robbie’s Barbie chooses it over remaining in the sexless girlhood idyll of Barbieland, as we learn in the film’s perfect last line.

Given the evident hunger out there for entertainment that channels female angst, it would make sense for Hollywood, once the writers’ and actors’ strikes are over, to do more to cultivate female writers and directors. Women are still rarely given the chance to direct high-budget films; as the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found, women helmed only 11 percent of the 100 highest-grossing films of 2022. And looking at a list of last year’s major films, I was struck by how few of them seem to have been made with a female audience in mind, part of the reason there was so much pent-up demand for “Barbie.”

Searchlight Pictures is probably feeling good about signing Swift, who cites the “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig as an influence, to direct her feature film debut. But for the most part, unfortunately, it appears as if the lesson Hollywood is going to take from the success of “Barbie” is not to make more stories for women, but to make more movies about toys.

July 22

 

 leon black jeffrey epstein

ny times logoNew York Times, Leon Black Agreed to Pay $62.5 Million to Settle Epstein-Related Claims, Matthew Goldstein, July 22, 2023. The private equity mogul, above left, struck a deal with the U.S. Virgin Islands to avoid a potential lawsuit over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, above right.

The billionaire investor Leon Black agreed to pay $62.5 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands in January to be released from any potential claims arising out of the territory’s three-year investigation into the sex trafficking operation of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, according to a copy of the settlement agreement.

The previously undisclosed settlement came after the Virgin Islands reached a $105 million deal in November with Mr. Epstein’s estate. The next month, the territory sued JPMorgan Chase in federal court over the bank’s 15-year relationship with Mr. Epstein, a registered sex offender who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019.

The Virgin Islands government produced its settlement agreement with Mr. Black in response to a public records request by The New York Times. In January, representatives of the two parties held a private mediation session to settle claims, according to another document reviewed by The Times. The $62.5 million settlement followed that session. Mr. Black agreed to pay in cash, according the settlement document.

The settlement shows the extent to which Mr. Black, once a titan of the private equity industry, has gone to limit scrutiny of his decades-long social and business ties to Mr. Epstein. Those dealings, including the revelation that he paid $158 million to Mr. Epstein for tax and estate planning services, had become a source of embarrassment for Mr. Black in the years after Mr. Epstein’s death.

July 21

ny times logoNew York Times, A Year of Upheaval on Abortion’s Front Lines, Kate Kelly and Marisa Schwartz Taylor, July 21, 2023 (print ed.). A Supreme Court decision created a 50-state patchwork of differing abortion laws. Volunteers and groups have tried to fill the gaps in health care and support.

The year since the Supreme Court rescinded a constitutional right to abortion by reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade decision has been a time of fear and retrenchment for groups that provide abortion services and support abortion rights. It has been a period of elation and opportunity for those who oppose them. And it has produced widespread confusion as organizations across the ideological spectrum scramble to keep up with legal, political and social fallout from the court decision.

The first few months after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health “just felt like the Wild, Wild West,” said Maren Hurley, who works as an abortion doula in North Carolina.

Ms. Hurley’s state, which provided abortion access up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, saw an influx of patients from states with tighter restrictions for much of that first year. But as of July 1, access was rolled back to 12 weeks in most cases as part of a new state law.

Groups that provided funding for abortions in Alabama and Louisiana, where the procedure is mostly illegal now, have had to change their approach. Providers of telehealth services and medication abortion have felt obligated to restrict their client base to roughly half the states in America or fewer at any given time.

Hey Jane, which prescribes abortion medications that can be delivered to homes, has grown busier. Indigenous Women Rising, which provides abortion services to Native women across the country, has doubled its abortion budget to help women travel to states where abortion remains accessible. Private pilots established Elevated Access, which provides free flights to out-of-state abortion seekers.

July 20

 fda logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Birth Control Pill Is Only the Start, Daniel Grossman, July 20, 2023 (print ed.). Dr. Grossman is a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health. He is a member of the steering committee of the Free the Pill Coalition.

Amid so much discouraging news about reproductive health access in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s demise, the announcement by the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday that it was approving Opill, a daily oral contraceptive, for over-the-counter sale to people of all ages, felt like a breath of fresh air. The evidence is clear that removing the prescription requirement for birth control pills — Opill was the first such medication to be approved but surely won’t be the last — will improve access to a highly effective form of contraception for millions of Americans.

I’ve been involved in efforts to make oral contraceptives available over the counter for almost two decades, working alongside fellow doctors, nurses, lawyers, public health scientists, pharmacists, reproductive justice advocates and youth activists to make the case for this regulatory change, long before any pharmaceutical company expressed interest in submitting an application to the F.D.A. Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been holding my breath for the last year, since HRA Pharma, which manufactures Opill, submitted its application to the F.D.A.

3. Opill (shown above in an Associated Press photo), also known as a “mini pill,” contains only progestin, a synthetic version of progesterone.But to my surprise, the Opill approval process went relatively smoothly. My colleagues and I were heartened to see that the conversation around Opill was generally grounded in evidence, rather than politics. We now have hope that other advances could be coming to help offset restrictions on minors’ access to contraception and state-level abortion bans.

A lot could have gone wrong with the Opill process. Remember the fight over Plan B emergency contraception, sometimes referred to as the “morning-after pill?” In 2006, after a highly politicized battle that ran for more than three years, the F.D.A. under President George W. Bush approved Plan B for over-the-counter sale, but only for people 18 or older. Because of the age restriction, the product was shunted behind the pharmacy counter, where the consumer’s age could be confirmed. The F.D.A. asked Plan B’s sponsor for additional data on people 17 and younger to show the product could be used safely and effectively by adolescents. In response, researchers submitted additional research with several hundred young women, age 17 and under, demonstrating that adolescents understood the key concepts in Plan B’s label and used the product appropriately in an over-the-counter simulation study.

It took a change in presidential administration before the F.D.A. recommended approval of Plan B for people of all ages in 2011, five years after the original over-the-counter approval for adults only.

In a move that tarnished his record on reproductive rights, President Barack Obama endorsed a decision by his secretary of health and human services to override the F.D.A.’s decision and block over-the-counter access for anyone under 17. Ignoring the scientific evidence, Mr. Obama expressed concern about 10- or 11-year-olds who might encounter Plan B in drugstores “alongside bubble gum or batteries” and be harmed. It took a lawsuit and almost two more years before emergency contraception was actually available over the counter for people of all ages in 2013.

With Opill, we were ready for a fight around young people’s access. We conducted studies documenting teenagers’ interest in nonprescription birth control, as well as research showing that most women didn’t support an age restriction. Based on the experience with Plan B, the F.D.A. set targets for the number of adolescents, including those under 15, to be included in HRA Pharma’s studies of Opill studies. The results of this research demonstrated that adolescents used the product appropriately.

Young people themselves were crucial in this process, including by speaking out at the F.D.A.’s advisory committee public hearing in May. Dyvia Huitron, a 19-year-old university student, spoke about the barriers she faced trying to get birth control in Texas and Alabama, including parental opposition and a lack of confidentiality at her university health center.

Young people are “capable of coming to terms with what their needs are,” she said. “We should be given the opportunity to make choices for ourselves.” Many of the speakers at the public hearing also discussed the importance of ensuring that any nonprescription birth control pill that is approved be available at low or no cost for anyone who needs it.

July 16

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Florida Politics, Gov. DeSantis reappoints lawyer who helped secure ‘sweetheart deal’ for Jeffrey Epstein to Judicial Nominating Commission, Jesse Scheckner, July 16, 2023. Gov. Ron DeSantis, above, has reappointed a lawyer who negotiated a “sweetheart” plea deal for Palm Beach billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein 15 years ago to one of several commissions responsible for nominating judges in Florida.

DeSantis again named Miami Beach lawyer Lilly Ann Sanchez, a shareholder at LS Law Firm, to the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami-Dade County. He first appointed her to the group July 2, 2019.

Sanchez was part of a quartet of lawyers that included Ken Starr, author of the Starr Report that led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, who defended Epstein against charges of the statutory rape of numerous underage high school girls.

Epstein ultimately pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges of soliciting and trafficking underage girls, serving just 13 months on work release in a private wing of a Palm Beach jail.

Eleven years later, in March 2019, Sanchez and Starr co-wrote a letter to the New York Times defending the light sentence. They contended the “number of young women involved in the investigation has been vastly exaggerated” and that Epstein’s time in prison and “enormous monetary settlements relying on his negotiated agreement” entitled him to “finality like every other defendant.”

When the letter was published, it had been years since federal prosecutors had identified 36 underage victims in the case. Epstein was again arrested on July 6, 2019, and indicted by a grand jury for “dozens” of underage girls brought to his mansion for sexual encounters.

He died of an apparent suicide in his jail cell while awaiting trial.

Roughly a year later, it was reported that Sanchez had briefly dated one of the top prosecutors in the 2008 case, Matthew Menchel, when the two worked together at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida — a detail Menchel did not disclose to U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, who in July 2019 resigned as Secretary of Labor under former President Donald Trump amid questions over his handling of the 2008 case.

Attorneys representing two of Epstein’s teen victims in a lawsuit filed years after the 2008 case said victims were never told of the arrangement his attorneys brokered then with prosecutors. Had the victims been told there was “such a sweetheart plea deal” on the table, attorneys Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell said, the deal may not have occurred.

Safeguarding minors from exposure to sexual content and topics has been part of DeSantis’ ostensible agenda as Governor, particularly in the last two years as he courted national attention while gearing up for a White House run.

In the past two months, the Governor has signed legislation all but banning LGBTQ-inclusive instruction in classrooms, levying severe fines against establishments that admit children to ‘lewd” live events, including drag shows, even if they’re accompanied by parents, and a measure outlawing the public use of restrooms that do not match a person’s sex at birth — a law DeSantis said is necessary to ensure “women’s safety.”

The Governor’s former press secretary, Christina Pushaw, who now works as the “Rapid Response Director” for his presidential campaign, last year suggested that people opposing those measures are “groomers” — a term used to describe people who gradually gain the trust of children to sexually abuse them.

Florida Division of Elections records show LSN Law Firm gave $38,000 to DeSantis through his state campaign account and political committee between July 2021 and March 2022.

She was among 38 JNC appointees the Governor’s office named in a news release Friday. Several others have helped him in his ongoing battle with Disney, which drew DeSantis’ ire last year when the company spoke out against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law barring public school teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual preference with students.

July 10

ny times logoNew York Times, Alone in an Empty House, Female Real Estate Agents Face Danger, Debra Kamin, July 10, 2023 (print ed.). Most sexual harassment comes from potential clients, and agents say they are vulnerable to abuse in an industry that offers few protections.

Across the nation, the overwhelming majority of real estate agents are women — and they are vulnerable to abuse in an industry that offers few protections, demands that they meet clients alone in empty homes and encourages them to use their appearance to help bring in buyers. Reports of harassment and occasionally physical violence, including rape and even murder, highlight the risks they face.

The National Association of Realtors reports that 66 percent of their members are women. Many were attracted to the field for the same reasons as Ms. Ghodsi: flexible schedules, a workplace that’s almost entirely remote and a licensing process that can be completed in as little as a few weeks.

But the industry is also structured so that 90 percent of agents are not actually employees of the agencies they work with. They are independent contractors, which means they are not protected under Title VII — the federal law that prohibits discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

It also means that many real estate agencies that rely on these agents for the vast majority of their income do not feel obligated — or even inclined — to offer them any kind of institutional protection or training. For most of the women out there, it is up to them to come up with safety strategies like sharing their location with a family member or friend, insisting on references before meeting a client — or even carrying a firearm for protection.

And so, nearly six years after the #MeToo movement ignited a global reckoning about sexual harassment and assault, hundreds of thousands of women across the country are working in an industry that resists new measures to protect the women in its ranks.

Debra Kamin spent five months interviewing real estate agents and trauma therapists across the country to report this story.

July 7

ny times logoNew York Times, Ohio Moves Closer to Ballot Issue That Would Protect Abortion Rights, Kate Zernike, July 7, 2023 (print ed.). Supporters of protecting abortion in the state’s Constitution submitted enough signatures to get on the November ballot. But another vote in August could make it harder to win.

Ohio moved one step closer to becoming the next big test case in the nation’s fight over abortion, after supporters of a measure that would ask voters to establish a right to abortion in the state’s Constitution this week said they had filed more than enough signatures to put it on the ballot in November.

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights said on Wednesday that it had collected roughly 710,000 signatures across all of the state’s 88 counties over the last 12 weeks. Under state law, the coalition needed 413,466 to qualify for the ballot. State election officials now have until July 25 to verify the signatures.

Supporters of abortion rights are turning to ballot measures in the aftermath of the ruling last year by the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which for 50 years had guaranteed a right to abortion in the federal Constitution. They are betting on polls showing that public opinion increasingly supports some right to abortion, and opposes the bans and stricter laws that conservative state legislatures have enacted since the court’s decision.

Voters in six states, including conservative ones such as Kentucky and Kansas, voted to protect or establish a right to abortion in their constitutions in last year’s elections, and abortion rights advocates in about 10 other states are considering similar plans.

Anti-abortion advocates have become more reluctant to use ballot measures, but that does not mean they have stopped pushing to enact stricter limits. In Iowa, where the State Supreme Court last month declined in a deadlocked vote to lift a block on a near-total abortion ban, anti-abortion advocates have explored adding an amendment to the state’s Constitution saying that there is no right to abortion.
But the November ballot measure is not the only one that will carry big stakes for the future of abortion in Ohio. Republicans who oppose abortion rights — and who control the state’s General Assembly — have proposed another measure that would make it harder to pass the ballot measure.

Republican leaders in the legislature have placed a measure on the ballot for a special election in August that would raise the threshold required to pass any ballot measure amending the state’s Constitution to 60 percent, from a simple majority. They aimed that measure — which would require 50 percent of voters to pass — squarely at the abortion question. Earlier this year the same Republicans passed a law eliminating almost all August elections, arguing that they were expensive and had such low turnout as to be undemocratic.

Politico, Appeals court upholds but narrows sex-trafficking statute, Josh Gerstein, July 7, 2023. Activists claimed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act violated the First Amendment.

politico CustomA federal appeals court has upheld key portions of a federal law Congress passed to combat sex trafficking online, but the court rejected broad readings of the statute that critics warned could intrude on First Amendment-protected speech.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that language in the 2018 Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act — better known as FOSTA — is not unconstitutionally vague and doesn’t violate free-speech rights.

However, the court said it would interpret the threat of criminal punishment for the use of computer services in a manner “facilitating” or “assisting” prostitution to apply as longer-standing statutes traditionally do, to people “aiding and abetting” such crimes.

“We therefore hold that [FOSTA’s] mental state requirement does not reach the intent to engage in general advocacy about prostitution, or to give advice to sex workers generally to protect them from abuse,” Judge Patricia Millett wrote, joined by Judges Harry Edwards and Justin Walker. “Nor would it cover the intent to preserve for historical purposes webpages that discuss prostitution. Instead, it reaches a person’s intent to aid or abet the prostitution of another person.”

Millett conceded that the language could be seen as encompassing all sorts of conduct that arguably promotes or encourages prostitution. But she said the more limited reading was justified in this instance.

“Undoubtedly, the term ‘facilitate’ could be read more broadly,” the judge wrote. “But nothing in [FOSTA] compels us to read ‘facilitate’ that way. Doubly so when a more expansive reading could raise grave constitutional concerns.”

Advocates for legalizing prostitution, the operators of the Internet Archive website, Human Rights Watch and a massage therapist who said he lost business when Craigslist pulled many categories of ads after passage of FOSTA in 2018 sued to block enforcement of the law.

In the arguments at the D.C. Circuit earlier this year, the Justice Department urged a narrow construction of the law in order to avoid a ruling that the statute is unconstitutional.

July 6

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ap logoAssociated Press, Contraception: Arizona governor makes contraceptive medications available over the counter, Staff Report, July 6, 2023. Adults in Arizona can now obtain contraceptive medications over the counter at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription under a governor’s order announced Thursday.

Gov. Katie Hobbs, shown above, said the rule will go into effect immediately. It applies to self-administered birth control such as hormonal and oral contraceptives, and patients arizona map18 or older need only complete a screening and a blood pressure test.

“We are building an Arizona for everyone, which means ensuring people across the state have what they need to live a free and healthy life,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

Over 20 states have statutes that let pharmacists dispense FDA-approved hormonal contraceptives without a prescription, according to a statement from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Hobbs has used her executive powers in recent weeks to promote reproductive freedom. In June she issued a sweeping executive order effectively stripping prosecutors of their ability to pursue charges against anyone involved with a legally obtained abortion.

 

Keith Raniere, the leader of the NXIVM sex trafficking cult.

Keith Raniere, the leader of the NXIVM sex trafficking cult.

washington post logoWashington Post, Allison Mack released from prison early in NXIVM case, Samantha Chery, July 6, 2023 (print ed.).  The former ‘Smallville’ actress was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in recruiting women for the cultlike sex-trafficking group.

allison mackAllison Mack, right, the “Smallville” actress who was in prison for racketeering and racketeering conspiracy for the cultlike group NXIVM, was released from prison a year early on Monday, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records.

Mack, 40, was sentenced to three years in prison, a $20,000 fine and 1,000 hours of community service in June 2021 for her role as a high-ranking leader in the Albany, N.Y.-based organization NXIVM.

NXIVM, founded by former businessman Keith Raniere and former nurse Nancy Salzman in 1998, became popular among Hollywood stars. Members paid thousands of dollars to participate in self-improvement workshops known as “Executive Success Programs” and invited others to the group to rise in NXIVM’s ranks.

Behind the scenes, prosecutors say, Raniere and the organization’s leaders used the group as a cover for criminal activity, including sexually exploiting a 15-year-old girl and taking photos of the abuse, and enslaving another victim for about two years.

Prosecutors say Mack helped recruit women and forced them to provide “collateral,” such as nude photographs for NXIVM’s women subgroup, DOS. Mack also benefited financially from forcing two women to have sex with Raniere, the group’s leader also known as “Vanguard” who portrayed himself as a genius.

DOS was short for Dominus Obsequious Sororium, broken Latin that roughly translates to “master of the obedient female companions.” New women in the group, called “slaves” within NXIVM, were recruited by “masters” and blackmailed to ensure their compliance as they were subject to low-calorie diets and sleep deprivation, court filings said.

NXIVM’s dealings were first publicly revealed in a 2017 report in the New York Times and were further detailed in “The Vow,” the HBO documentary series of the experiences of NXIVM’s key players that brought more attention to the case.

NXIVM operated under the guise of a self-help group, and when Mack joined the group in 2007 and DOS when it began in 2015, she “(wrongly) understood DOS to be an organization designed to empower women,” her sentencing memo states. She faced between 14 and 17½ years in prison, but her cooperation allowed her sentence to be lowered.

“In the language of DOS, you were a slave as well as a master, and the harms that you inflicted as a master were, to some extent, demanded of you in your capacity as Mr. Raniere’s slave,” U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote in the sentencing memo.

Raniere, who prosecutors say used the women in DOS for labor and sex and had them branded with his initials in private ceremonies, was sentenced to 120 years in prison and fined $1.75 million in October 2020.

July 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox News Agrees to Pay $12 Million to Settle Hostile Workplace Suit, Katie Robertson, July 1, 2023 (print ed.). The settlement with a former producer, Abby Grossberg, shown in a file photo, is the latest development in a series of legal battles involving Fox.

abby grossberg johns hopkinsFox News has agreed to pay $12 million to Abby Grossberg, a former Fox News producer who had accused the network of operating a hostile and discriminatory fox news logo Smallworkplace and of coercing her into providing false testimony in a deposition.

Parisis G. Filippatos, a lawyer for Ms. Grossberg, said that the settlement concluded all of Ms. Grossberg’s claims against Fox and the people she had named in her complaints, which included the former host Tucker Carlson and some of his producers.

Ms. Grossberg’s legal team filed a request in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday to dismiss a remaining lawsuit against Fox in light of the settlement.

Ms. Grossberg said in a statement on Friday that she stood by her allegations, but she was “heartened that Fox News has taken me and my legal claims seriously.”

“I am hopeful, based on our discussions with Fox News today, that this resolution represents a positive step by the network regarding its treatment of women and minorities in the workplace,” she said.
Inside the Media Industry

A spokeswoman for Fox said in a statement on Friday: “We are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter without further litigation.”

Justin Wells, a former senior executive producer for Mr. Carlson, who was named in a complaint, said in a post on Twitter: “We deny Ms. Grossberg’s claims and allegations against Tucker Carlson and his team. Nevertheless, we are glad that Fox has settled this matter and that all sides can move forward.”

The settlement with Ms. Grossberg is the latest development in a series of legal battles involving Fox. In April, the company paid Dominion Voting Systems $787.5 million, in what is believed to be the biggest settlement figure in a defamation case. Days later, Fox took Tucker Carlson, its most popular host, off the air after the company’s leadership concluded he was more of a problem than an asset and had to go.

Fox faces a second defamation case by another voting technology company. Smartmatic, like Dominion, says Fox knowingly spread false information about its products, baselessly claiming that they contributed to election fraud in 2020.

 

June

June 29

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who won a civil suit against him in 2022 in New York City on claims of sexual batery and defamation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump files counterclaim against E. Jean Carroll, alleging defamation, John Wagner, June 29, 2023 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump has filed a counterclaim against the writer E. Jean Carroll, who won a $5 million verdict against him in a sexual assault and defamation lawsuit last month, contending that she has since defamed him.

Trump’s filing late Tuesday night in federal court in Manhattan points to instances before and after the verdict, including during a CNN interview, in which Carroll has said publicly that Trump raped her.

The jury last month found that Trump was liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the mid-1990s in a dressing room at a Manhattan department store but did not find him liable for raping her, as she long claimed.

Carroll, the filing claims, “made these false statements with actual malice and ill will with an intent to significantly and spitefully harm and attack [Trump’s] reputation, as these false statements were clearly contrary to the jury verdict.” In a statement, Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan, called Trump’s filing “nothing more than his latest effort to delay accountability for what a jury has already found to be his defamation of E. Jean Carroll.”

“But whether he likes it or not, that accountability is coming very soon,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan also said most of the statements by Carroll cited in the Trump filing were made outside of New York’s one-year statute of limitations. The counterclaim is included in a filing by Trump in response to an amended lawsuit by Carroll that accuses Trump of additional defamation for comments Trump made during a CNN special event May 10 — just after the jury’s $5 million verdict in the other complaint. That case is scheduled for trial in January.
Trump, 77, has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault or misconduct over the years, but never before had any of those claims been fully litigated in court and decided by a jury. He assailed the $5 million verdict in the Carroll case as a “disgrace” and is appealing it. Trump was ordered to deposit money as that plays out.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Inspector general says Jeffrey Epstein’s death enabled by jailers’ negligence, Mark Berman, June 29, 2023 (print ed.). A Justice Department inspector general’s report said Tuesday that Jeffrey Epstein’s 2019 death while in federal custody was enabled by significant staff failures at the jail where he was being held, concluding that this negligence gave him “the opportunity to take his own life.”

The sharply critical report was issued nearly four years after Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was found hanging in his Manhattan jail cell while facing federal charges of sex-trafficking and abusing young girls. Epstein’s criminal case and his death attracted widespread attention, owing to both the depravity of the allegations against him and his well-documented web of connections to high-profile figures.

While the report released Tuesday castigates jail officials for repeated “negligence, misconduct, and outright job performance failures” in connection with Epstein’s incarceration and death, it also strongly pushes back on any suggestion that what happened was anything other than a suicide.

Instead, the 114-page report says Epstein’s death was the result of pervasive problems at the Manhattan jail that recur across other facilities also overseen by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), including staffing issues, faulty security camera setups, poor management and improper handling of inmates who could be at risk of dying by suicide.

michael horowitz Custom“The BOP’s failures are troubling not only because the BOP did not adequately safeguard an individual in its custody, but also because they led to questions about the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death and effectively deprived Epstein’s numerous victims of the opportunity to seek justice through the criminal justice system,” Michael Horowitz, right, the inspector general, said in a statement accompanying the report’s release.

Epstein was found in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) on Aug. 10, 2019, about a month after he was taken into custody. He was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.

New York City’s chief medical examiner concluded that Epstein’s death was a suicide and listed “hanging” as the cause. Attorneys for Epstein expressed skepticism about that finding at the time, and his death fueled waves of speculation and conspiracy theories, linked largely to the wealthy financier’s connections to powerful and prominent figures.

Associated Press, Misconduct by federal jail guards led to Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, Justice Department watchdog says, Michael R. Sisak and Lindsay Whitehurst, June 27, 2023. Jeffrey Epstein was left alone in his jail cell with a surplus of bed linens the night he killed himself. Nearly all the surveillance cameras on his unit didn’t record. One worker was on duty for 24 hours straight. And, despite his high profile and a suicide attempt two weeks earlier, he wasn’t checked on regularly as required.

The Justice Department’s watchdog said Tuesday that a “combination of negligence, misconduct and outright job performance failures” by the federal Bureau of Prisons and workers at the New York City jail enabled the wealthy financier to take his own life in August 2019, finding no evidence of foul play.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz blamed numerous factors for Epstein’s death, including the jail’s failure to assign him a cellmate and overworked guards who lied on logs after failing to make regular checks. Had the guards done so, Horowitz said, they would’ve found Epstein had excess linens, which he used in his suicide.

The failures are deeply troubling not only because they allowed Epstein’s suicide but also because they “led to questions about the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death and effectively deprived Epstein’s numerous victims of the opportunity to seek justice,” Horowitz said in a video statement.

Horowitz’s investigation, the last of several official inquiries into Epstein’s death, echoed previous findings that some members of the jail staff involved in guarding Epstein were overworked. He identified 13 employees with performance failures and recommended possible criminal charges against four workers. Only the two workers assigned to guard Epstein the night he died were charged, avoiding jail time in a plea deal after admitting to falsifying logs.

Horowitz’s report also revealed new details about Epstein’s behavior in the days before his death, including that he signed a new last will and testament while meeting with his lawyers two days before he was found unresponsive in his cell the morning of Aug. 10, 2019. Jail officials did not know about the new will until after Epstein’s death, Horowitz said.

Few of the cameras in the area where Epstein was housed were making recordings of the images they captured due to a mechanical failure July 29. The prison had contracted for a camera system upgrade three years before his death, but it had not been completed, in part due to serious staffing shortages.

June 28

 

donald trump ivanka bed kissRaw Story, Ex-staffer describes Trump fantasizing about sex with Ivanka, Adam Nichols, June 28, 2023. Ex-staffer describes Trump fantasizing about sex with Ivanka (shown together in a 1990s file photo).

miles taylor 1 gmaFormer President Donald Trump made sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka that were so lewd he was rebuked by his Chief of Staff, former Trump official Miles Taylor writes in a new book.

raw story logo squareThe comments are used by Taylor, right, to highlight almost daily instances of sexism in the Trump White House that were so bad one senior female official told the writer, “This is not a healthy workplace for women.”

"Aides said he talked about Ivanka Trump's breasts, her backside, and what it might be like to have sex with her, remarks that once led (former Chief of Staff) John Kelly to remind the president that Ivanka was his daughter," Taylor writes.

"Afterward, Kelly retold that story to me in visible disgust. Trump, he said, was 'a very, very evil man.'"
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The details contained in the upcoming new book, “Blowback: A Warning to Save Democracy from the Next Trump,” were outlined in an exclusive interview with Newsweek Wednesday.

miles taylor bookTaylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security who admitted to anonymously writing a 2018 op-ed in the New York Times titled “"I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” said, "There still are quite a few female leaders from the Trump administration who have held their tongues about the unequal treatment they faced in the administration at best, and the absolute naked sexism they experienced with the hands of Donald Trump at worst."

He said “undisguised sexism” was aimed at everybody from lowly staff members to cabinet secretaries.

He remembered Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s former secretary of homeland security, being called “sweetie” and “honey” and having her makeup critiqued by the president.

Taylor said, at one point, Nielsen whispered to him, "Trust me, this is not a healthy workplace for women.”

Donald TrumpAnd Taylor said senior counselor Kellyanne Conway called Trump a “misogynistic bully," a comment that she denied making when contacted by Newsweek.

"He's a pervert, he's difficult to deal with," Taylor told Newsweek. "This is still the same man and, incredibly, we're considering electing him to the presidency again."

He added, “He's setting a very vile tone within the Republican Party, and in a sense has normalized pretty derisive views towards women in general.”

Trump was found liable of sexual abuse in a recent civil trial brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Glimpse of What Life Is Like With Almost No Abortion Access, David W. Chen, Photographs by Noriko Hayashi, June 28, 2023 (print ed.). Guam, a U.S. territory, has no resident doctors who perform abortions. Court decisions could cut access to pills, the only legal option left.

For decades, the Pregnancy Control Clinic, tucked inside a squat, beige building around the corner from a bowling alley, handled most of the abortions on Guam, a tiny U.S. territory 1,600 miles south of Japan.

But the doctor who ran it retired seven years ago, and the clinic now appears abandoned. An old medical exam table stands near a vanity with a dislodged faucet, and a letter from Dr. Edmund A. Griley is taped to the front door: “My last day of seeing patients is November 18, 2016,” he wrote. “I recommend that you begin looking for a new physician as soon as possible.”

Dr. Griley has since died, and his deserted clinic is a dusty snapshot of Guam’s past — and some say, its future.

Though abortion is legal in Guam up to 13 weeks of pregnancy, and later in certain cases, the last doctor who performed abortions left Guam in 2018. The closest abortion clinic on American soil is in Hawaii, an eight-hour flight away. And a pending court case could soon cut off access to abortion pills, the last way for most women on Guam to get legal abortions.

June 25

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Warns That Republicans Are Not Finished on Abortion, Katie Rogers and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, June 25, 2023 (print ed.). A year after the end of Roe v. Wade, President Biden is working with a limited set of tools to galvanize supporters on abortion rights.

Minutes after the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer, a group of West Wing aides raced to the Oval Office to brief President Biden on the decision. As they drafted a speech, Mr. Biden was the first person in the room to say what has been his administration’s rallying cry ever since.

“He said at that time, ‘The only thing that will actually restore the rights that were just taken away are to pass federal legislation,’” Jen Klein, the director of the White House Gender Policy Council, recalled in an interview.

But if the prospect of codifying Roe’s protections in Congress seemed like a long shot a year ago, it is all but impossible to imagine now, with an ascendant far-right bloc in the House and a slim Democratic majority in the Senate.

Instead, with the battle over abortion rights turning squarely to individual states, officials in the Biden administration are working with a limited set of tools, including executive orders and the galvanizing power of the presidency, to argue that Republicans running in next year’s elections would impose even further restrictions on abortion.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘The Impossible Became Possible’: The Women Celebrating a Year Without Roe, Ruth Graham, June 25, 2023 (print ed.). For anti-abortion activists, the anniversary of the decision eliminating the national right to abortion is festive, but also a time to acknowledge challenges.

It has been exactly a year since Bethany Bomberger gathered in an impromptu huddle outside a hotel ballroom with fellow anti-abortion activists, overcome with gratitude and optimism as news broke that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade just hours before the Pro-Life Women’s Conference officially opened.

“There will be life before Roe was overturned and life after,” Ms. Bomberger said this weekend, tearing up as she recalled what she described as a moment “the impossible became possible.” She and her husband lead an organization that opposes abortion, and that, lately, has branched into combating the rising acceptance of transgender identity — what she called “gender radicalism.”

As this year’s conference opened, Ms. Bomberger took to the stage at a modest suburban convention center outside St. Louis. “Who’s here with me to let loose?” she asked the crowd, leading several hundred women in the wave. “We pro-lifers, we have life on our side!” She was wearing a small gold necklace reading “mama,” a gift from her son.

The ruling last summer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization eliminated the national right to abortion and sent the issue back to the states. It also radically scrambled the landscape of abortion in the United States, shuttering some clinics, prompting others to open, and setting up new battles over abortion pills, miscarriage care and contraception. Legal abortions declined more than six percent in the first six months after the ruling.

OceanGate used the submersible Titan for expeditions to visit the wreckage of the Titanic. The craft is presumed to have imploded.Credit...OceanGate Expeditions, via Associated Press

ny times logoNew York Times, The Race to Prevent ‘the Worst Case Scenario for Machine Learning, Issie Lapowsky, June 25, 2023 (print ed.). Artificial Intelligence companies have an edge in blocking the creation and spread of child sexual abuse material. They’ve seen how social media companies failed.

Dave Willner has had a front-row seat to the evolution of the worst things on the internet.

He started working at Facebook in 2008, back when social media companies were making up their rules as they went along. As the company’s head of content policy, it was Mr. Willner who wrote Facebook’s first official community standards more than a decade ago, turning what he has said was an informal one-page list that mostly boiled down to a ban on “Hitler and naked people” into what is now a voluminous catalog of slurs, crimes and other grotesqueries that are banned across all of Meta’s platforms.

So last year, when the San Francisco artificial intelligence lab OpenAI was preparing to launch Dall-E, a tool that allows anyone to instantly create an image by describing it in a few words, the company tapped Mr. Willner to be its head of trust and safety. Initially, that meant sifting through all of the images and prompts that Dall-E’s filters flagged as potential violations — and figuring out ways to prevent would-be violators from succeeding.

It didn’t take long in the job before Mr. Willner found himself considering a familiar threat.

Just as child predators had for years used Facebook and other major tech platforms to disseminate pictures of child sexual abuse, they were now attempting to use Dall-E to create entirely new ones. “I am not surprised that it was a thing that people would attempt to do,” Mr. Willner said. “But to be very clear, neither were the folks at OpenAI.”

For all of the recent talk of the hypothetical existential risks of generative A.I., experts say it is this immediate threat — child predators using new A.I. tools already — that deserves the industry’s undivided attention.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lewd texts, unwanted touching: Woman details allegations against Bowser deputy, Paul Schwartzman and Emma Brown, June 25, 2023 (print ed.). The accuser says John Falcicchio sexually harassed her in her first interview since D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser's chief of staff resigned.

The meeting ended one night last September, and the aide accompanied her boss, John Falcicchio, to the street, where he offered to walk her to the Metro. Before they got there, Falcicchio asked if she wanted to grab dinner.

The aide agreed. As a recent hire still on probation, she was eager to have one-on-one time with a man whose two high-powered titles — chief of staff to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and deputy mayor — made him a towering figure in D.C. government.

Falcicchio led the way to the Crimson Whiskey Bar downtown, where the woman said he ordered them both whiskeys and told her, “You can’t tell your bosses we did this.” By midnight, after more whiskey and tequila, she was drunk and Falcicchio was taking her to his apartment, where she said he suddenly tried to kiss her.

In her first interview since Falcicchio’s abrupt resignation in March, the woman told The Washington Post that he twice sought to have sex with her at his apartment, including once when he masturbated in front of her. Over five months beginning in late September, she said, he texted her a video of himself masturbating and sent her lurid and explicit texts, some of which are described in this story.

June 24

ny times logoNew York Times, How a Year Without Roe Shifted American Views on Abortion, Kate Zernike, June 24, 2023 (print ed.). New polling shows public opinion increasingly supports legal abortion, with potential political consequences for 2024.

For decades, Americans had settled around an uneasy truce on abortion. Even if most people weren’t happy with the status quo, public opinion about the legality and morality of abortion remained relatively static. But the Supreme Court’s decision last summer overturning Roe v. Wade set off a seismic change, in one swoop striking down a federal right to abortion that had existed for 50 years, long enough that women of reproductive age had never lived in a world without it. As the decision triggered state bans and animated voters in the midterms, it shook complacency and forced many people to reconsider their positions.

In the year since, polling shows that what had been considered stable ground has begun to shift: For the first time, a majority of Americans say abortion is “morally acceptable.” A majority now believes abortion laws are too strict. They are significantly more likely to identify, in the language of polls, as “pro-choice” over “pro-life,” for the first time in two decades.

And more voters than ever say they will vote only for a candidate who shares their views on abortion, with a twist: While Republicans and those identifying as “pro-life” have historically been most likely to see abortion as a litmus test, now they are less motivated by it, while Democrats and those identifying as “pro-choice” are far more so.

washington post logoWashington Post, A fragile new phase of abortion in America, Caroline Kitchener, Rachel Roubein, Andrew Ba Tran, Caitlin Gilbert and Hannah Dormido, June 24, 2023 (print ed.). One year after the fall of Roe, the full impact of the landmark ruling remains unknown and in flux.

The full impact of the landmark ruling remains unknown and in flux. Today, about a quarter of all women of reproductive age in the United States live where abortion is banned or mostly banned.

June 23

ny times logoNew York Times, After Dobbs, 61 Clinics Closed. Here’s What Remains, Allison McCann and Amy Schoenfeld Walker, June 23, 2023 (print ed.). In the year since Roe was overturned, clinic owners have scrambled to adjust to the new legal landscape around abortion.

June 22

washington post logoWashington Post, A fragile new phase of abortion in America, Caroline Kitchener, Rachel Roubein, Andrew Ba Tran, Caitlin Gilbert and Hannah Dormido,  One year after the fall of Roe, the full impact of the landmark ruling remains unknown and in flux.

The full impact of the landmark ruling remains unknown and in flux. Today, about a quarter of all women of reproductive age in the United States live where abortion is banned or mostly banned.

June 21

 

Author, lawyer, vacination skeptic and 2024 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., with his late ex-wife Mary Richardson Kennedy (file photo).Author, lawyer, vacination skeptic and 2024 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., with his late ex-wife Mary Richardson Kennedy (file photo).

New York Post, RFK’s sex diary: His secret journal of affairs, Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, Sept. 8, 2013, widely revived on Twitter June 21,  2023. Inside RFK Jr’s White House bid launch: ‘Never seen new york post logoso many hot MILFs’; It doesn’t look like ‘disgusted’ family will support RFK Jr.’s bid for president. 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s journal is full of mistresses and Catholic guilt. The Post also exclusively revealed RFK’s secret slams against Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Governor Cuomo – and insight into his days full of celebrities, yachts and falcons.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. grappled with what he called his biggest defect — “my lust demons” — while keeping a scorecard of more than two dozen conquests, according to his secret diary.

The thick, red journal was found in their home by his wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, who, distraught over their impending divorce and Kennedy’s serial philandering, committed suicide last year.

A copy of the 398 pages, reviewed by The Post, details RFK Jr.’s daily activities, speeches, political activism, and the lives of his six children in the year 2001.

But they also record the names of women — with numbers from 1 to 10 next to each entry.

The codes corresponded to sexual acts, with 10 meaning intercourse, Mary told a confidant.

There are 37 women named in the ledger, 16 of whom get 10s.

On Nov. 13, 2001, RFK Jr. records a triple play. The separate encounters — code 10, 3, and 2 — occur the same day he attended a black-tie fund-raiser at the Waldorf-Astoria for Christopher Reeve’s charity, where he sat next to the paralyzed “Superman” star, magician David Blaine and comic Richard Belzer.

It was a hectic month for Kennedy, who traveled to ­Toronto, Louisiana, and Washington, DC — and listed at least one woman’s name on 22 different dates, including 13 consecutive days.

Most women are identified only by their first name in the ledger.

They include a lawyer, an environmental activist, a doctor, and at least one woman married to a famous actor.

A Post reporter who questioned Kennedy Friday about the diary was first met with six seconds of stunned silence.

“I don’t think there is any way you could have a diary or journal of mine from 2001,” Kennedy then said. “I don’t have any comment on it. I have no diary from 2001.”

The diary is laced with Kennedy’s Catholic guilt over his infidelities, which follow the same pattern of affairs pursued by his uncles, John F. Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy, as well as his own father.

On days without a woman’s name, Kennedy would often write “victory.” This meant he’d triumphantly resisted sexual temptation, according to a source close to Richardson.

“Despite the terrible things happening in the world, my life is . . . great,” he wrote on Nov. 5, 2001. “So I’ve been looking for ways to screw it up. I’m like Adam and live in Eden, and I can have everything but the fruit. But the fruit is all I want.”

The 59-year-old son of the assassinated US senator was so tortured by his desire that spending a month in jail in Puerto Rico was a welcome respite.

“I’m so content here,” he writes during his July 2001 incarceration for taking part in protests of the US Navy’s bombing exercises in Vieques. “I have to say it. There’s no women. I’m happy! Everybody here seems happy. It’s not ­misogyny. It’s the opposite! I love them too much.”

Yet Kennedy adds, “I love my wife and I tell it to her every day, and I never tire of it and write her tender letters.”

Nine years later, Kennedy and his wife separated when he filed for divorce.

And on May 16, 2012, Richardson, 52, committed suicide by hanging herself in an outbuilding on the couple’s Bedford ­estate.

Kennedy’s cheating had become a huge issue in the marriage.

Richardson told a friend that her husband noted the names of his romantic conquests on pages in the back of his journal under the preprinted heading “cash accounts.”

The journal begins with word that Richardson is pregnant with the couple’s fourth child.

The couple had known each other since Richardson was 14 and a boarding-school roommate of Kennedy’s younger sister, Kerry. They married in 1994, weeks after Kennedy divorced his first wife, Emily Black, with whom he had two children.

Richardson was pregnant with their first child, Conor, when they married. They moved into the 1920 clapboard house in Westchester County.

Kennedy, an environmental lawyer and board president of the nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance, spent much of his time traveling to give speeches, according to his diary.

He had recently been weighing a possible Senate run for New York before Hillary Rodham Clinton stepped into the race. Richardson stayed home with the children.

The beautiful brunette struggled with depression and alcoholism. Her husband described her at her funeral as “fighting demons.”

The couple was not yet divorced when she died and were bitterly arguing over issues involving custody and finances.

Kennedy had temporary custody of the four children and was dating actress Cheryl Hines.

A sealed document in which Kennedy portrayed his wife as an abusive alcoholic who beat him up and threatened suicide in front of the children was leaked to the press.

Kennedy said in the affidavit that by 2001 he had “lost hope” in his marriage and was “committing numerous infidelities to keep my sanity,” according to a published report.
But his journal paints a different picture. He barely mentions his wife’s emotional problems, making just a passing reference to her struggles with depression.

When he is jailed in Puerto Rico, he writes on July 8 that “I finally spoke to my wonderful wife and that was a joy. She is very strong and cheerful.”

The couple’s son, Aiden, was born just days later. He writes: “I’m so proud of my Mary. She has become the woman I fell in love with — through hard work. She has overcome her fears, enshrined her faith, abandoned self-pity and blame, and immersed herself in gratitude and God gave her a baby . . . a beautiful and serene and happy soul. I am so happy. I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for the life and the wife God has given me.”

He also found time to muse on his own weakness.

“After daddy died I struggled to be a grown-up . . . I felt he was watching me from heaven. Every time I was afflicted with sexual thoughts, I felt a failure. I hated myself. I began to lie — to make up a character who was the hero and leader that I wished I was,” he writes on July 25.

Kennedy writes near the end of his jail sentence that he has a “three-point plan” for “fixing my greatest defect . . . my lust demons.” He doesn’t write down the plan, leaving the subsequent days of the diary blank.

An entry five days later reads “Drove to Cape with Mary and all the kids.” By mid-August, he again records women’s names in the back of his journal.
Robert Kennedy Jr.’s diary sheds light on his infidelities.Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Kennedy holds back on any detailed description of his conquests and bizarrely portrays himself as a kind of victim. He uses the word “mugged” as shorthand for being seduced.

“I narrowly escaped being mugged by a double team of [two women]. It was tempting but I prayed and God gave me the strength to say no,” he writes on Feb. 6. A few days later, on Valentine’s Day, he gives his pregnant wife orchids, he notes.

On May 21, he writes about hosting dinner for Leonardo DiCaprio, driving the actor to the city and then meeting someone else in Manhattan. He notes he “got mugged on my way home,” recording a 10 with the name of a woman next to it.

“I’ve got to do better,” he adds.

In another entry, he tells himself to “avoid the company of women. You have not the strength to resist their charms” and to “be humble like a monk. Keep your hands to yourself. Avert your eyes.”

In the summer of 2001, Kennedy writes that “I have been given everything that I coveted — a beautiful wife and kids and loving family, wealth, education, good health and a job I love yet always on the lookout for something I can’t have. I want it all,” he writes. “No matter how much I have — I want more.”

June 18

 

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, A Year After Dobbs, Advocates Plan to Fight for Access to Birth Control, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 18, 2023 (print ed.). After Justice Clarence Thomas cast doubt on whether the Constitution affords a right to contraception, advocates are preparing for state-by-state battles.

One year after Justice Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court should reconsider whether the Constitution affords Americans a right to birth control, Democrats and reproductive rights advocates are laying the groundwork for state-by-state battles over access to contraception — an issue they hope to turn against Republicans in 2024.

The justice’s argument in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion, galvanized the reproductive rights movement. House Democrats, joined by eight Republicans, promptly passed legislation that would have created a national right to contraception. Republicans blocked a companion bill in the Senate.

Now, reproductive rights advocates are pressing their case in the states. Even before Dobbs, some states had taken steps to protect the right to contraception, by either statute or constitutional amendment; 13 states and the District of Columbia currently have such protections, according to KFF, a health policy research organization.

This month, the movement seemed on the cusp of victory in Nevada, where the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a bill, with support from a handful of Republicans, that would have guaranteed a right to contraception. But on Friday, Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican, quietly vetoed the measure. Proponents of codifying such a right saw Nevada as a test case.

June 14

ny times logoNew York Times, They Married for a Life Abroad. But They Never Saw Their Husbands Again, Sameer Yasir, June 14, 2023 (print ed.). Thousands of Indian women have been abandoned by men working overseas, leaving them trapped in their in-laws’ homes, and often scammed out of dowries.

Like many other women in the state of Punjab, long a hub of emigration from India, Sharndeep Kaur aspired to marry an Indian working abroad and follow him to a more prosperous life overseas.

On Jan. 13, 2014, she thought her dream had come true. That day in a Sikh temple, she married Harjinder Singh, who had just returned from Italy, and moved in with his family.

After a few days, though, her in-laws began demanding about $10,000 so her husband could resettle in Canada. When she failed to secure the money, they starved and beat her, according to a police complaint that did not result in any charges.

Eight weeks after the wedding, her husband went back to his dairy job in Italy. Ms. Kaur never saw him again. “The days turned into weeks and then months,” she said recently at her home in the village of Fateh Nangal. “And my eyes kept searching for him.”

Ms. Kaur is far from alone in her misery. Tens of thousands of Indian women have been abandoned by husbands working abroad, according to government officials and activists, trapping many of them in their in-laws’ homes in accordance with local social customs, even for decades.

Some women who have been left behind by husbands are victims of the unfulfilled promises of changing circumstances. Others, however, have been subjected to outright deceit, their families defrauded of dowries, honeymoon expenses and visa payments.

There are few specific legal remedies available to women whose husbands flee, and pursuing the men under more general laws can be difficult if they are abroad. But eight women have filed a petition with India’s Supreme Court in an effort to press the government to enact policies to deal with what they called a widespread problem.

June 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Ohio Supreme Court orders changes to GOP-backed ballot measure at issue in abortion fight, Amy B Wang, June 13, 2023 (print ed.). The Ohio Supreme Court on Monday ordered state officials to rewrite some of the language for an August ballot measure that, if passed, would make it more difficult to amend the state constitution.

ohio mapThe debate over the measure has become a proxy battle in recent months between Ohio Republicans, who hold a supermajority in the state legislature, and Democrats who have argued that it is an attempt to quash voter efforts to enshrine abortion rights into state law after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The measure, known as State Issue 1, seeks to raise the threshold required to amend the state’s constitution through a ballot initiative to 60 percent of the vote. A ballot initiative now only has to pass with a simple majority. The proposal also would impose more-stringent requirements on how signatures are gathered for ballot initiative campaigns.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.K. woman sentenced to 28 months for late-term abortion, Rachel Pannett, June 13, 2023. Reproductive rights groups are calling for legislative changes after a British woman was jailed for terminating a pregnancy outside the legal limit using drugs she obtained in the mail.

United Kingdom flagCarla Foster, a 44-year-old mother of three, was given a 28-month sentence, with the judge ordering that she should be incarcerated for 14 months, with the rest to be served on probation.

Ahead of the sentencing Monday, abortion rights advocates and some medical experts had expressed concern about a recent increase in criminal investigations into alleged late-term abortions, warning a harsh sentence could deter vulnerable patients from seeking medical care. Some antiabortion advocates, meanwhile, have called for an end to the at-home use of abortion pills.

Foster received the abortion medication under a program introduced by the government during the pandemic that allowed women to administer the drugs at home without an in-person consultation.

The program was approved for pregnancies of up to 10 weeks. But a British court found that Foster gave the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s telemedicine provider “false” information that she was around seven weeks pregnant.

Her internet search history on the day that she administered the first of two abortion drugs suggested she believed she was about 28 weeks along, the judge said at a sentencing hearing on Monday.

Two days later, on May 11, 2020, she took a second drug and delivered a stillborn baby that evening. A post-mortem examination concluded that Foster was between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant.

Foster pleaded guilty under legislation that dates back to 1861 and carries a potential term of life imprisonment, which abortion rights advocates have said is “the harshest penalty in the world.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: These state Supreme Courts are weighing abortion bans, Rachel Roubein and McKenzie Beard, June 6, 2023 (print ed.). We’re taking a look at some of the state court’s decisions so far, as well as critical places where rulings are pending.

These legal challenges tend to revolve around claims that abortion bans flout provisions in a state’s constitution, such as bodily autonomy and the freedom for residents to make their own health-care decisions.

June 12

washington post logoWashington Post, JPMorgan reaches settlement with Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, Aaron Gregg, June 12, 2023. The tentative deal would resolve a lawsuit filed on behalf of sexual abuse victims of the disgraced financier and claims the bank giant ignored warnings about him.

The tentative agreement would resolve allegations made in a federal lawsuit filed last year in Manhattan. In Jane Doe 1 v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, victims accused the banking giant of enabling the sex trafficking operation by allowing for massive withdrawals of cash over a 15-year period, including after Epstein’s sex crimes were widely known. A different case, brought by the U.S. Virgin Islands, remains unresolved.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Deutsche Bank, which handled Epstein’s accounts for a shorter period after he was dropped by JPMorgan, settled a class-action suit with similar allegations for $75 million in May.

June 7

 

Rachel Cherwitz, left, and Nicole Daedone took advantage of people looking to heal from sexual trauma, prosecutors said (Press Association photo via Associated Press).

Rachel Cherwitz, left, and Nicole Daedone took advantage of people looking to heal from sexual trauma, prosecutors said (Press Association photo via Associated Press).

ny times logoNew York Times, Founder of Sexual Wellness Company Indicted on Forced Labor Charges, Hurubie Meko, June 7, 2023 (print ed.). The founder and a top officer of a San Francisco-based commune and sexual wellness company that promoted “orgasmic meditation,” before questions of abuse began to circulate, were indicted Tuesday on charges of forced labor conspiracy by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

Nicole Daedone, who founded OneTaste in 2004 and served as its chief executive officer until 2017, and Rachel Cherwitz, the former head of sales at the company from 2009 to 2018, engaged in what prosecutors said was a yearslong scheme “to obtain the labor and services” of volunteers, contractors and employees by subjecting them to “economic, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse, surveillance, indoctrination and intimidation.”

Justice Department log circularMs. Cherwitz, who lives in Philo, Calif., was arrested on Tuesday and is expected to appear in federal court in California on Wednesday. Ms. Daedone, who lives in San Diego, was still at large as of Tuesday afternoon. If convicted, the two women would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.Calls to the women’s attorneys were not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

The company, which grew in popularity for its focus on female sexuality and by providing courses, coaching and events around the topic, gained notoriety for its practice of orgasmic meditation. The ritual was described in a New York Times article from 2009 as involving about a dozen women, naked from the waist down, lying with their eyes closed in a velvet-curtained room while clothed men huddled over them, stroking them ritualistically.

At the time, Ms. Daedone said she saw herself as the leader of “the slow-sex movement,” where the emphasis is placed on women’s pleasure.

Over the years, the company had operations across the country in New York City, Denver, Las Vegas, Austin, Los Angeles and even London, prosecutors said. Ms. Cherwitz told The Times that she commuted to offer private lessons at the commune’s New York City outpost, where many of her clients were married Orthodox Jewish couples from Brooklyn.

But as the group and Ms. Daedone’s teachings became more well known, former members began telling about a darker side to the organization. In a Bloomberg Businessweek investigation published in 2018, some former members detailed how the company led them into what they said was sexual servitude and debt. A 2022 documentary on Netflix examined the company’s rise and the allegations it faced.

Between 2006 and 2018, according to prosecutors, Ms. Daedone and Ms. Cherwitz targeted vulnerable people by advertising that the teachings of OneTaste could heal sexual trauma and dysfunction. Members who couldn’t afford the courses, which could cost thousands of dollars, would be induced to take on debt, prosecutors said.

The two leaders’ manipulation and control went further, according to the indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The women subjected members to “constant surveillance in communal homes and collected deeply sensitive and personal information about them which the defendants then used to render the OneTaste members emotionally, socially and psychologically dependent on OneTaste,” prosecutors said.

The group also demanded “absolute commitment” to Ms. Daedone, prosecutors said. The two women, along with others, pressed members to engage in sexual acts, even ones they found uncomfortable or repulsive, as a “requirement to obtain ‘freedom’ and ‘enlightenment’ and demonstrate their commitment,” prosecutors said.

And after promising to pay members for work, the leaders would later not pay them or they would change members’ employment status or location without notice to exert control, prosecutors said.

If members did not follow the directions of the two women, they would deploy “public shame, humiliation and workplace retaliation.” They would also harass, coerce and intimidate anyone who they believed to be their enemies or critics, prosecutors said.

The Bloomberg report five years ago, which included information from 16 former staffers and members, found issues similar to what prosecutors detailed in the indictment.

Former members told the outlet that OneTaste “resembled a kind of prostitution ring” where victims of trauma were exploited. Ms. Cherwitz was a “top lieutenant” during her time with the organization, Bloomberg found, and leaders ordered staffers to “have sex or OM with each other or with customers.”

In addition to the sexual pressures, the report also found that students and members were financially manipulated.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Reporter Investigated Sexual Misconduct. Then the Attacks Began, David Enrich, June 7, 2023 (print ed.). After publishing an exposé, journalists in New Hampshire faced broken windows, vulgar graffiti and a legal brawl, with big First Amendment implications.

One drizzly Saturday in May last year, a slender man in a blue raincoat approached a house in the Boston suburb of Melrose. It was just before 6 a.m., and no one was around. The man took out a can of red spray paint and scrawled “JUST THE BEGINNING!” on the side of the white house. Then he hurled a brick through a large window and sprinted away.

The house belonged to Lauren Chooljian, a journalist at New Hampshire Public Radio. Hours earlier, her parents’ home in New Hampshire had been vandalized, too — for the second time in a month. Weeks earlier, her editor’s home had also been attacked.

The vandal’s three-word message in red would prove accurate. What started as a string of vandalism incidents has mushroomed over the past year into a bare-knuckle legal brawl with important implications for the First Amendment.

Attacks on journalists in the United States have become common. Last year, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker identified 41 journalists who were physically assaulted. In one extreme case, a Nevada politician was charged with murdering a reporter investigating him.

Libel lawsuits have been on the rise, too, according to the latest data collected by the Media Law Resource Center. Many legal experts said such suits were often used to punish smaller news organizations for aggressive coverage and to deter others from speaking out.

And sometimes, as Ms. Chooljian and New Hampshire Public Radio have learned, the physical and legal threats converge. Their ordeal is a striking example of the perils facing news organizations in an era when politicians regularly demonize journalists and some judges want to curtail the First Amendment protections that the press has long enjoyed.

June 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules New Abortion Bans Unconstitutional, Jacey Fortin, June 1, 2023 (print ed.). Oklahoma’s Supreme Court said on Wednesday that two laws passed last year that ban most abortions are unconstitutional.

But the ruling does not affect a law passed in 1910 which still prohibits most abortions in the state, unless they are necessary to save the life of the mother.

The laws that were struck down by the court were civil laws that had relied on suits from private citizens to enforce them. Both had made exceptions for cases involving a “medical emergency.”

But the justices took issue with that language in their 6-3 ruling, which suggested that the exceptions were too narrow. They maintained that a woman has a constitutional right to end a pregnancy in order to save her life, without specifying the need for a medical emergency.

Why It Matters: Oklahoma is among a number of Republican-led states that moved to ban abortion in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year. Legal challenges were quick to follow, and many cases ended up before state supreme courts. Those courts have become critical arbiters in deciding abortion access, and a new political front in the nation’s abortion battles. In some conservative states, courts have decided that their state constitutions protect abortion rights.

The decision also highlighted legal complications around how abortion restrictions and exceptions might be interpreted in cases where a woman’s life is at risk. Doctors in other states with abortion bans said they have struggled to provide care for patients without breaking the law.

washington post logoWashington Post, Bill Cosby is facing a new sexual assault lawsuit, Manuel Roig-Franzia, June 2, 2023 (print ed.). His accuser, Victoria Valentino, says she gained confidence from E. Jean Carroll’s civil court win against Donald Trump.

A former Playboy centerfold model who says she was drugged and raped more than five decades ago by Bill Cosby has filed a lawsuit against the legendary entertainer under a new California law that temporarily lifts the statute of limitation on civil sexual-assault cases.

The suit, filed Thursday morning by attorneys for Victoria Valentino in Los Angeles County Superior Court, is the first known use of the law in California against Cosby, opening a new front in a years-long and multipronged legal battle against the 85-year-old. Under the law, accusers who allege they were sexually assaulted while they were adults have been granted a one-year window, closing at the end of this year, to seek damages no matter how long ago the alleged crimes took place.

“It’s not about money, it’s about accountability,” Valentino, 80, told The Washington Post in her first interview about the case shortly before the suit was filed. “Rape steals something from you that cannot be repaired or restored.”

In her lawsuit, Valentino says she briefly met Cosby in 1969 while she was an actress and singer. Later, she says, they ran into each other at a Los Angeles restaurant and Cosby came over to say hello after spotting her in tears over the recent drowning death of her 6-year-old son. Later that day he gave her a pill, she says.

“Here! Take this!” she alleges that Cosby told her. “It will make you feel better. It will make us ALL feel better.”

Valentino’s case follows lawsuits filed late last year by six Cosby accusers under a similar law in New York, commonly referred to as a “lookback” provision, that set a one-year window that expired at the end of 2022. Cosby, who has been accused of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment by at least 60 women, has denied committing sex crimes against anyone.

Valentino’s case goes well beyond accusations against Cosby. As part of the same lawsuit, she is also suing between one and 20 unnamed people, including Cosby’s agents, servants and other employees that she alleges enabled Cosby’s alleged assault. She plans to identify those defendants as she learns their names during the course of discovery related to the lawsuit.

 

May

May 30

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A British Reporter Had a Big #MeToo Scoop. Her Editor Killed It, Jane Bradley, May 30, 2023 (print ed.). Seven women say that a star columnist groped them or made unwanted sexual advances. But Britain’s news media has a complicated relationship with outing its own.

Inside the Financial Times newsroom this winter, one of its star investigative reporters, Madison Marriage, had a potentially explosive scoop involving another newspaper.

A prominent left-wing columnist, Nick Cohen, had resigned from Guardian News & Media, and Ms. Marriage had evidence that his departure followed years of unwanted sexual advances and groping of female journalists.

Ms. Marriage specialized in such investigations. She won an award for exposing a handsy black-tie event for Britain’s business elite. A technology mogul got indicted on rape charges after another article.

But her investigation on Mr. Cohen, which she hoped would begin a broader look at sexual misconduct in the British news media, was never published. The Financial Times’ editor, Roula Khalaf, killed it, according to interviews with a dozen Financial Times journalists.

It was not spiked because of reporting problems. Two women were willing to speak openly, and Ms. Marriage had supporting documentation on others. Rather, Ms. Khalaf said that Mr. Cohen did not have a big enough business profile to make him an “F.T. story,” colleagues said.

Mr. Cohen’s departure and the death of Ms. Marriage’s article offer a window into the British news media’s complicated relationship with the #MeToo movement. Leading American newsrooms — Fox News, CNN, NBC, The New York Times and others — have confronted misconduct allegations. British journalism has seen no such reckoning.

For Lucy Siegle, the death of the Financial Times article hit especially hard. In 2018, she had reported Mr. Cohen to the Guardian for groping her in the newsroom, but nothing had happened. Now it seemed the whole industry was protecting itself.

“It just amplified this sense that #MeToo is nothing but a convenient hashtag for the British media,” Ms. Siegle said. “The silence on its own industry is just really conspicuous.”

The British news media is smaller and cozier than its American counterpart, with journalists often coming from the same elite schools. Stringent libel laws present another hurdle. And in a traditional newsroom culture of drinking and gender imbalances, many stories of misconduct go untold, or face a fight.

Jane Bradley, an investigative correspondent in Britain, interviewed more than 35 journalists at The Guardian and The Financial Times to examine sexual misconduct in the British news media, an industry she has worked in for 15 years.

May 26
Dead State, Pastor at Christian college arrested for letting his ‘spiritual mentor’ sexually abuse young boys, Sky Palma, May 26, 2023. Police in Waco, Texas, arrested the former pastor at Baylor University on charges that he allowed a sex offender he called his “spiritual mentor” to sexually abuse two young relatives, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

Christopher Hundl, 38, was charged Tuesday with continuous sexual abuse of a child, which is a first-degree felony, and later released on $50,000 bond.

A statement from Baylor University earlier this month revealed that Hundl resigned from his position as minister for the Baylor chapter of Chi Alpha, a “worldwide Christian ministry sponsored by the Assembly of God Church,” according to the Herald.

baylor bears logoChi Alpha has been suspended from the university and is under investigation.

“Baylor University is aware of serious allegations of impropriety among leaders of the independent organization Chi Alpha,” the statement read. “Like all Chi Alpha college-based chapters, Baylor’s organization is led by the assigned Chi Alpha ministers and staff. These individuals are NOT Baylor employees.”

“We are deeply disturbed and grieved by these serious allegations against Chi Alpha’s leaders, and we will continue to examine Baylor’s affiliated student organization to ensure our students have a healthy and safe co-curricular environment.”

The sex offender in the case has not yet been arrested, according to the Tribune’s report (Graphic):

The warrant names the sex offender, who has not been arrested in this case. The Tribune-Herald is withholding his name at the request of Waco police. According to the warrant, Hundl brought the two children to the Houston home of the convicted sex offender several times between summer 2021 and March 2022. Hundl and the sex offender were in a sauna with the children, who were younger than 14 when the offense occurred, when the man instructed the children to masturbate in front of them, the warrant says. The warrant says similar abuse occurred at Hundl’s home in Waco while the sex offender was present. According to the warrant, the sex offender also abused the two children by touching them inappropriately while Hundl was present.

Other reports describe the victims as two boys, one of whom was 11 when the abuse occurred. The boy told investigators that Hundl and his sex offender accomplice told him not to tell anyone about the abuse.

Hundl reportedly said that the sex offender was like a “grandfather” to the children.

May 23

ny times logoNew York Times, Andrew Tate Thought He Was Above the Law. Romania Proved Him Wrong, Andrew Higgins, May 23, 2023 (print ed.). The online influencer is facing charges of human trafficking and rape, after seeking out a place where “corruption is accessible to everybody.”

andrew tate 2021Andrew Tate, right, a pugilistic online influencer and self-crowned “king of toxic masculinity,” never made any secret of why he had chosen Romania as his home and business base.

“I like living in a society where my money, my influence and my power mean that I’m not below or beholden” to any laws, Mr. Tate told his fans.

andrew tate graphicBut, like much of what the former kickboxer has told his millions of mostly young male followers on social media — including claims that he is a trillionaire and has 19 passports — Mr. Tate’s proclamation of faith in Romania as a risk-free haven for antisocial behavior reflected more fantasy than reality.

The Romanian authorities arrested Mr. Tate, a citizen of both the United States and Britain, and his younger brother, Tristan, in December on charges of human trafficking, rape and forming an organized criminal group. Held for three months in a jail in Bucharest, the capital, both men, who deny any wrongdoing, are now under house arrest, awaiting trial.

Their home is a sprawling compound down a dingy dead-end street in Voluntari, a town next to Bucharest that is dotted with shiny new office towers and derelict empty lots. It looks more like an industrial warehouse than the lair of a man who boasted of immense wealth and posted videos of himself hanging out in private jets with beautiful women and driving fast cars.

May 20

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans deploy new playbook for abortion bans, citing political backlash, Rachel Roubein, Caroline Kitchener and Colby Itkowitz, May 20, 2023. GOP lawmakers in North Carolina and Nebraska are casting new 12-week bans as “mainstream,” while Democrats say they are “cruel and extreme.”

Nebraska antiabortion groups and GOP lawmakers were stunned. In late April, their effort to ban most abortions was tanked by an unlikely person: 80-year-old Sen. Merv Riepe, a longtime Republican.

May 18

 

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mifepristone Allen g breed ap

 washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court appears likely to restrict access to key abortion pill, Ann E. Marimow, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). A panel of judges peppered lawyers for the government and the drug manufacturer about the FDA’s regulation of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in more than half of U.S. abortions.

federal appeals court on Wednesday seemed prepared to limit access to a key abortion medication first approved more than two decades ago, expressing deep skepticism that the government followed the proper process when it loosened regulations to make the pill more readily available.

A panel of three judges, all of whom have previously supported other types of abortion restrictions, peppered lawyers for the government and the drug manufacturer with questions about why the Food and Drug Administration has allowed mifepristone to be prescribed by a medical professional other than a doctor and sent directly to patients by mail.

The judges also appeared to embrace the suggestion that restoring prior restrictions on mifepristone would mean fewer women would need emergency care after using medication to terminate a pregnancy. Serious side effects occur in less than 1 percent of such abortions.

Judge James C. Ho rejected the government’s argument that the court should not second-guess the expertise of the FDA, which first approved the mifepristone in 2000. The medication is part of a two-drug regimen used in more than half of U.S. abortions.

“I don’t understand this idea that FDA can do no wrong,” Ho said. “We are allowed to look at FDA just like any other agency.”

Judge Jennifer Elrod took the unusual step of chastising the drug company’s lawyer for the pointed language used in court filings to criticize a lower court ruling in April that would outright suspend FDA approval of the drug.

The legal battle over abortion has shifted to a fast-moving fight over access to mifepristone in the months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade’s constitutional right to abortion, and as multiple states have moved to limit and ban the procedure. Lawmakers in North Carolina voted this week to significantly narrow the window for legal abortions in the state, with more restrictions expected to pass in Nebraska and South Carolina in the coming days.

The conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit was reviewing whether the Food and Drug Administration properly approved the pill, which can be mailed to patients and taken at home.

Regardless of how the three-judge panel rules in the weeks or months following Wednesday’s two-hour hearing, mifepristone will remain available under existing regulations until the case is resolved likely by the Supreme Court.

Antiabortion advocates behind the lawsuit said in court filings that the FDA improperly cleared the medication for use in 2000, then later removed safeguards to make the pill more widely available and allowed the drug to be mailed in violation of federal law.

Washington Post, Antiabortion groups push 2024 GOP candidates to embrace national ban, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, May 18, 2023. The effort comes amid warning signs from polling and election results of Republican vulnerability on the issue.

Leaders of the antiabortion movement gathered in Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago office last week to head off what they viewed as a potential crisis.

republican elephant logoThe former president’s reelection campaign had recently said that abortion restrictions “should be decided at the state level.” Days later, his rival, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, delivered a speech arguing against federal abortion limits that did not have enough votes to pass both chambers of Congress.

Trump’s guests, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), showed him polling from the GOP firm On Message Public Strategies suggesting that a majority of Americans supported limiting the procedure after 15 weeks.

They insisted that the federal government must still have a role. They reminded Trump of his performance at the 2016 Las Vegas presidential debate, when he used shocking language to describe Democratic support for exceedingly rare abortions in the latest stages of pregnancy, which are typically conducted only in cases of fetal anomaly or threats to the life of the mother.

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion pill at heart of Supreme Court ruling is approved in more than 90 countries, Miriam Berger and Mikhail Klimentov, May 18, 2023 (print ed.). A Supreme Court ruling in April temporarily preserved access to the abortion drug mifepristone, which is used in the majority of abortions in the United States, and sent the case back to federal court. On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit opened the next phase of the legal battle and began hearing the challenge to a previous ruling on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug more than 20 years ago

The sheer fact of the legal battle over the drug places the United States in a unique position relative to much of the world when it comes to reproductive health. This legal uncertainty, less than a year after the court eliminated the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade, runs counter to one of the most striking global trends of recent decades on approved approaches to abortion: the rapid, widespread acceptance of medication abortions performed with mifepristone, often taken in combination with the drug misoprostol.

In 1988, France and China became the first countries to authorize the use of mifepristone. Thirty-five years later, at least 94 countries have approved the drug to some degree, according to Gynuity Health Projects, a reproductive health research organization that seeks to improve access to abortion. The group used World Health Organization data, government websites and its own research to track regulatory approval of the drug over time.

washington post logoWashington Post, N.C. governor vetoes 12-week abortion ban, setting up fight with GOP lawmakers, Silvia Foster-Frau, May 14, 2023 (print ed.). Republicans hold veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature and could override his veto.

Roy Cooper 2019North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, right, on Saturday vetoed a 12-week abortion ban that the state legislature passed, setting up a confrontation between the state’s competing parties and branches of government.

“It will make abortion unavailable to many women, particularly those with lower incomes, those who live in rural areas and those who already have limited access to health care. Therefore, I veto this bill,” Cooper said to raucous applause from abortion rights supporters who came to a rally in the state capital of Raleigh.

The veto faces a steep battle: Republicans hold veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers in the North Carolina legislature and could override his veto to enact the abortion ban. However, Cooper and the state’s abortion rights supporters hope to sway a Republican lawmaker in either chamber to allow the state’s current abortion law — which allows most people to get abortions for up to 20 weeks of pregnancy — to stand.

May 17

 

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, N.C. legislature bans abortion past 12 weeks, overriding governor’s veto, Caroline Kitchener and Rachel Roubein, May 17, 2023 (print ed.). The 12-week ban would significantly narrow the window for legal abortions. Shouts of “shame, shame” erupted on the House floor after the chamber, with its new Republican supermajority, voted to override the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper (D).

The North Carolina legislature banned most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy Tuesday evening, voting to override the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper (D), while a similar measure heads to a final vote in Nebraska in the coming days.

The Senate voted to override the veto in a 30-to-20 vote Tuesday afternoon with the House swiftly following suit in a 72-to-48 vote. Shouts of “shame, shame” erupted on the House floor after the chamber, with its new GOP supermajority, approved the override.

The bills both significantly narrow the window for legal abortions but stop short of more restrictive bans that have taken effect across the South and Midwest since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — the result of a push from moderate Republicans who feared political backlash.

In South Carolina, Republicans are moving a bill through the state legislature that would ban most abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is around the sixth week of pregnancy. The Republican governor ordered lawmakers back into session to complete unfinished work, including on legislation restricting abortions. A near-total ban in the state recently failed.

The dynamics underscore the resistance GOP lawmakers are facing over restrictions even within their own party, as Republican hard-liners reluctantly move toward legislation many see as a compromise, after failing to muster enough support for stricter measures.

Until recently, North Carolina’s legislature had no hope of passing any kind of abortion ban, subject to Cooper’s veto pen. But the dynamic shifted in April, when Republicans gained the votes necessary to override his veto after Rep. Tricia Cotham left the Democratic Party for the Republican Party.

When the 12-week ban initially passed in early May with Cotham’s support, Cooper launched an aggressive effort to prevent a veto override, targeting a handful of moderate Republicans, including Cotham, who pledged during their campaigns to oppose further restrictions on abortion.

“If just one Republican in either the House or the Senate keeps a campaign promise to protect women’s reproductive health, we can stop this ban,” Cooper said at a rally before he vetoed the bill on Saturday, surrounded by a crowd of abortion rights supporters.

May 15

 

 

Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election inside the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images.)

Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election inside the Republican National Committee’s headquarters on Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo by Drew Angerer via Getty Images.) Below is a scene from the documentary film featuring the character Borat where Giuliana flirts with what he was told was an underage teen shown in a hotel bedroom.

rudi giuliani borat

Law & Crime Network, ‘F— me like crazy’: Donald Trump crony Rudy Giuliani faces sexual abuse lawsuit using same law that scored E. Jean Carroll $5M against ex-president, Adam Klasfeld, May 15, 2023. Rudy Giuliani has been hit with salacious sexual battery claims by an ex-employee under the same law that produced a $5 million verdict against former President Donald Trump.

lawcrime logoThe former New York City mayor’s accuser, Noelle Dunphy, sued Giuliani and his business in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday. She claims that what seemed like a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” role as Giuliani’s director of business development at $1 million per year quickly took a sordid turn.

“Giuliani began abusing Ms. Dunphy almost immediately after she started working for the Defendants,” her 70-page complaint states. “He made clear that satisfying his sexual demands—which came virtually anytime, anywhere—was an absolute requirement of her employment and of his legal representation. Giuliani began requiring Ms. Dunphy to work at his home and out of hotel rooms, so that she would be at his beck and call. He drank morning, noon, and night, and was frequently intoxicated, and therefore his behavior was always unpredictable.”

“Giuliani also took Viagra constantly,” the complaint continues. “While working with Ms. Dunphy, Giuliani would look to Ms. Dunphy, point to his erect penis, and tell her that he could not do any work until ‘you take care of this.'”

Dunphy claims to have copious evidence backing up her account, in the form of text messages and consensually recorded conversations. Her complaint screenshots several of these alleged text exchanges.

This text message exchange appears the sex-abuse complaint against Rudy Giuliani.

“I’m dreaming about you,” Giuliani says in one, according to the complaint.

Dunphy claims that she has a recording of Giuliani promising to give her $300,000 if she would “forgo her legal rights in connection with her pending case and ‘fuck me like crazy.'”

In another recorded chat from Feb. 23, 2019, Giuliani allegedly told Dunphy that he could “get in trouble with underage girls” if they were 16 but looked 20, according to the complaint.

Those are far from the only damaging statements Dunphy claims to have of the former mayor on tape.

“In addition to his sexual demands, Giuliani went on alcohol-drenched rants that included sexist, racist, and antisemitic remarks, which made the work environment unbearable,” her complaint states. “Many of these comments were recorded.”

In 2020, Giuliani was caught with his pants loosened, if not down, by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who has a knack for catching political figures in compromising situations. In one of his “Borat” movies, a character playing the title character’s daughter took Giuliani to a hotel suite rigged with hidden cameras. In that footage, Giuliani can be seen lying on the bed and reaching into the crotch of his pants (as shown above). Borat then barges in and tells Giuliani: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

Giuliani, who claimed he had been trying to take off his electronic equipment, is seen in the screenshot leading up to that moment in the complaint.

U.S. Department of Justice, Man Sentenced for Production of Child Pornography and Extortion, Office of Public Affairs, May 15, 2023. A Canadian man was sentenced today to 32 years in prison for producing images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children and for interstate extortion based on an online “sextortion” scheme.

Justice Department log circularAccording to court documents, from approximately 2014 to 2016, Muhammad Luqman Rana, 33, of Vaughan, Ontario, used the online messaging chat sites Omegle and Tinychat to target both adult and minor victims living in the United States and Canada to produce sexually explicit images.

Rana tricked five minor U.S. victims, who ranged from ages 12 to 17, into producing sexually explicit images by posing as a minor male. Rana surreptitiously captured two of the minor victims changing in their bedrooms after they had accidentally left their webcam on after chatting with him. Once Rana had embarrassing and sensitive videos of his victims, he forced them to produce and send additional sexually explicit images and videos via both live transmission and to his email account out of fear that he would publicly post the videos he had previously obtained if they did not comply with his demands.

In January 2021, Rana was arrested in Canada on a provisional arrest warrant. He was extradited to the United States on Jan. 25, 2022.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

May 11

washington post logoWashington Post, FDA advisers endorse making birth control pill available over the counter, Laurie McGinley and Rachel Roubein, May 11, 2023 (print ed.). The vote by the agency’s outside experts increased the likelihood that a contraceptive called Opill will be approved for sale without a prescription.

Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday unanimously endorsed making birth control pills available without a prescription, brushing aside concerns raised by the agency about whether the medication could be used in a safe and effective manner without physician oversight.

The FDA’s outside experts expressed confidence, in a 17 to 0 vote, that consumers could take an oral contraceptive called Opill correctly. They said the benefits of over-the-counter status, such as increased access to contraception, outweighed the risks, including a lack of strict adherence to pill-taking that could result in unintended pregnancies.

The move sharply bolsters the likelihood that Opill, made by HRA Pharma, which is owned by consumer health giant Perrigo, will become the first birth control pill available in the United States without a prescription. The FDA does not have to follow the advice of its advisers, but a rejection of the OTC application — especially given the committee’s views — would be awkward for an administration that has repeatedly pledged to protect reproductive rights following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the nationwide right to abortion.

Still, FDA staffers, at the advisory committee meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, flagged concerns, including whether some women with breast cancer or some other medical conditions would correctly recognize that they should not take the medication. And the staffers raised questions about the reliability of the company’s data and faulted it for not including increasing the presence of younger adolescents in its studies.

May 10

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit in the hands of a New York City jury as of Tuesday, May 9.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Fury of #MeToo Finally Comes for the Man Who Inspired It, Michelle Goldberg, right, May 10, 2023 (print ed.). With the $5 million michelle goldberg thumbverdict against Donald Trump for sexual abuse and defamation in the E. Jean Carroll trial, the #MeToo movement comes full circle.

Trump’s election in 2016, after he’d been heard boasting of sexual assault on the “Access Hollywood” tape and accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women, set off a tsunami of female fury. That fury powered the Women’s March. It inspired countless women — some of them previously apolitical suburbanites — to put their lives on hold and throw themselves into activism or to run for office themselves. And that fury, that intolerable sense of incredulous disgust and civic violation, was the spark that set off the #MeToo movement, as women, unable to do anything about the abuser running the country, turned their energy toward those in their own institutions, including the entertainment industry. I’ve long been convinced that Trump was the reason revelations about Harvey Weinstein led to a nationwide paroxysm.

The #MeToo movement is why E. Jean Carroll wrote the memoir in which she revealed that Trump violated her in a Bergdorf Goodman changing room in the mid-1990s. “As the riotous, sickening stories of #MeToo surged across the country, I, like many women, could not help but be reminded of certain men in my own life,” she wrote. The movement is the reason that in 2022, New York passed the Adult Survivors Act, which created a window during which sexual assault survivors could sue their attackers even beyond the statute of limitations. (The movement is also the reason the bill was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, not a disgraced Andrew Cuomo.)

Carroll’s lawsuit was one of the first filed under the Adult Survivors Act. And because of her perseverance, Trump will, for the first time, face legal accountability for his treatment of women. Because of the #MeToo movement, the man who started it all gets some measure of comeuppance.

The trial itself was a test of how much #MeToo has changed the culture. Carroll’s lawyers asked a jury of six men and three women to understand why someone who’d suffered sexual abuse might keep quiet for decades, why she might not remember the date the assault happened and why her trauma might not manifest in predictable, easily legible ways.

Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina, on the other hand, tried the case as if #MeToo hadn’t happened. He badgered Carroll about why she hadn’t screamed, why she hadn’t called the police, why she hadn’t gone to the hospital. He asked Jessica Leeds, who testified that Trump had groped her on an airplane, whether she ever recalled “telling the man to stop or say no or anything like that?”

I spent a few days in the courtroom, and honestly, I worried that this retro tack might work with a couple of the jurors. One of them, a 31-year-old security guard, had said he got his information mainly from podcasts like the one hosted by far-right figure Tim Pool, whom Trump invited to the White House in 2019. But clearly, the jurors did not find the Trump team’s defense, such as it was, persuasive, since it took them only a few hours to decide against him.

Yes, it’s odd that the jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse but not rape, which is what Carroll accused him of, and Trump’s defenders may cling to that as a fig leaf of exoneration. But what matters is that for the first time, a court has affirmed what the women who reacted with stunned horror to Trump’s election have always understood. He’s not just a misogynist. He’s a predator.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Guilty Ex-President, David French, right, May 10, 2023. From the beginning of the #MeToo movement both its advocates and good-faith david french croppedcritics have made a series of powerful, necessary points. The courageous women who blew the whistle on powerful men exposed a culture of impunity that still exists, decades after the development of workplace harassment law and generations after a dramatic increase in female workplace participation.

But they did more than merely blow the whistle — they also educated the public. Abuse is still abuse even if a woman is too terrified in the moment to scream. Abuse is still abuse even if a woman does her best to carry on with her life. The list of lessons is long.

At the same time, good-faith critics raised an important objection: In our zeal to expose abuse we cannot neglect due process. Abuse is evil and can destroy lives. False accusations can destroy lives as well, and the press is a poor place for adjudicating disputes. Whenever possible we should resolve disputes in courtrooms, where rules of evidence control.

And this brings me to E. Jean Carroll. On Tuesday afternoon a Manhattan jury unanimously determined that Donald Trump sexually abused Carroll during an encounter at a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. It also found that he defamed her when he called the case a “complete con job” and her claims a “hoax and a lie.” And it finally determined that, despite the finding of sexual abuse, Carroll had not proved her claim that Trump raped her.

It’s important to note that this was a civil case, not a criminal trial. The burden of proof in civil cases is lower. The jury was charged with determining whether Carroll proved her claims with a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, it had to decide whether Carroll’s claims were more likely true than false.

But the case was not a simple matter of “he said, she said.” Carroll provided her own testimony, of course. But she also presented evidence that she had told others about the assault at the time, as well as evidence from other women that Trump had assaulted them and touched them without their consent.

Trump declined to testify at the trial, but the jury did see his videotaped deposition, during which he denied Carroll’s claims but also doubled down on his assertions in the infamous “Access Hollywood” video. “I just start kissing them,” he said on the tape, “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” He added: “Grab ‘em by the [genitals]. You can do anything.”

In the deposition, Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan, asked Trump specifically about that quote. “Well, historically, that’s true with stars,” he responded. When she pressed him, he doubled down: “Well, that’s what — if you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true,” Mr. Trump said. “Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”

I spent decades litigating cases, including a number of sexual harassment cases, and as I watched the evidence accumulate, I reached a tipping point — I would have been surprised by any verdict other than the one we received Tuesday. Juries can always surprise you, of course, but what made the verdict truly notable wasn’t the outcome. It was the identity of the defendant. In an important moment for the rule of law, a jury heard evidence against a former president and reached exactly the conclusion that it likely would have reached for anyone else.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fashion Commentary: Carroll, Clothes and Credibility, Vanessa Friedman, May 10, 2023 (print ed.). During the E. Jean Carroll v. Donald J. Trump rape trial, every detail was part of building the case. Even the clothes.

All of E. Jean Carroll's courtroom looks featured a neutral palette (Photographs by Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times; John Minchillo/Associated Press; Stefan Jeremiah/Associated Press; Anna Watts for The New York Times; Seth Wenig/Associated Press).It was unclear, to the end, which way the jury would go in the E. Jean Carroll v. Donald J. Trump trial. Would members believe the 79-year-old woman, speaking up about her alleged rape at the hands of the former president and current presidential candidate? Or would they believe the accused, who never appeared in court and never called a single witness — and whose lawyers held that the trial was a sham cooked up by a vengeful woman to take down a powerful man?

Ultimately they found Mr. Trump liable in the civil suit — both for sexual assault and for defaming Ms. Carroll — and awarded Ms. Carroll $5 million in damages. It’s hard not to think that what they saw, not just what they heard, played a part.

As she sat there in Manhattan federal court every day, Ms. Carroll presented the very opposite of the “wack job” Mr. Trump had described in his video deposition. She did not look “mentally sick.” She did not look like the money- and fame-grubber Mr. Trump’s lawyers described. She was an almost perfectly calibrated study in neutrality, calm and composure, both in the way she spoke during her testimony and in the way her appearance spoke for her.

It was almost as if she were offering an answer to a question she might once have been asked as Elle magazine’s advice columnist, E. Jean: “I am about to testify in a rape trial. I am a private citizen, and the accused is a man who once sat in the Oval Office. What should I wear to help amplify my voice and make people take it seriously?”

After all, this was in part a case about appearance. Mr. Trump made it so when he announced “She’s not my type” as part of his defense after Ms. Carroll’s allegations first appeared in a 2019 New York magazine excerpt from her memoir. How Ms. Carroll looked was always going to be a factor in the calculations — even 30 years after the alleged incident occurred. Her lawyers reminded the jury of her presence — of her sheer physical self — in their closing arguments, when they pointed out that Mr. Trump had not been there to look jurors in the eye. Like all victims of sexual assault who take their cases to trial, her body was at the heart of the case. What she put on that body, how she presented it, mattered.

“Optics are critically important in cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment because you have people looking for anything that suggests a victim asked for it or wants attention,” said Debra Katz, a founding partner of Katz Banks Kumin and a civil rights attorney who represented Christine Blasey Ford, among others, and who attended part of the Carroll trial but has no relationship with her team. Indeed, clothes have been deemed a legitimate subject in sexual harassment cases since 1986, when the Supreme Court heard Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson and ruled that “provocative dress” could be considered as evidence.

“You have to overcome gender bias and preconceptions about who gets assaulted,” Ms. Katz said. “And that means presenting a plaintiff in a serious way that does not distract from the testimony.”

Indeed, said Molly Levinson, communications adviser to Ms. Carroll and her lawyers, “We wanted to make sure everyone heard her voice and her testimony loud and clear,” in part by having her present as neutral an image as possible.

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape lawsuit echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case.

 

Donald Trump, actress Arianne Zucker and actor Billy Bush shown together after Trump exchanged his views with Bush about assaulting women, as shown on the notorius Access Hollywood outtake.

Donald Trump, actress Arianne Zucker and actor Billy Bush shown together after Trump exchanged his views with Bush about assaulting women, as shown on the notorius Access Hollywood outtake disclosed during the 2016 presidential campaign. The notorious video clip above was shown to the Carroll-Trump jury, as was a deposition by Trump last October (illustrated by a still photo below) in which he explained his Access Hollywood comment by saying that powerful men have so acted with women for "millions" of years.

 djt tump deposition carroll trial deposition in October 2022.

Palmer Report, Opinion: If Donald Trump and CNN still go though with their “town hall” after this verdict, they’ll each only be hastening their own downfall, Bill Palmer, bill palmerright, May 9, 2023. If the scuzzbuckets at CNN still want to go through with this Donald Trump town hall tomorrow after a trial jury found him liable for sexual battery today, let them.

bill palmer report logo headerPeople in the political middle will tune in just to see Trump melt down, they’ll be reminded what a piece of trash he is, they’ll see how senile he’s become, and it’ll hasten his political downfall before we even get to his criminal trials.

Even if Trump’s people have negotiated with CNN to keep him from being asked about his legal troubles, you just know he’ll go off script and end up ranting cnn logoabout his legal troubles anyway. There’s a reason Trump’s handlers have worked so hard to mostly keep him out of the public eye over the past two years. It’s very risky for Trump to be wading back into this kind of public exposure, which can and likely will go very poorly for him. It’s just that with his criminal troubles making it harder and harder to keep up the illusion that he’s going to be a candidate in 2024, he no longer feels like he has a choice.

And if CNN goes through with the town hall, it’ll also hasten CNN’s downfall (which at this point is necessary). CNN will be seen as casting its lot with a guy who was just found liable for sexual battery by a trial jury. If CNN wants to take that kind of ugly long term reputational blow just to slightly boost ratings for a couple hours, so be it.

Let’s also remember that none of this is ever about Trump’s base, a small-ish group whose votes are already locked in, making them irrelevant. It’s only ever been about convincing average Americans in or near the middle – the ones who decide elections – that Trump is a criminal.

Trump’s base wasn’t why he won in 2016. Trump’s base couldn’t help him in 2020. Trump’s base can’t do anything to keep his 2024 pipe dream alive. Trump’s base has always been the most irrelevant group in all of politics.

This is about mainstream American audiences. Donald Trump has largely been in hiding for two and a half years. Let the American mainstream tune in and be reminded of who and what he really is. Let them hear him say distasteful things about the woman he was just found liable for having sexually assaulted. Let them be turned off by it. Let them also see that he now struggles to remember what he’s talking about for more than twenty seconds at a time. Let mainstream Americans figure out right here, right now, in 2023, that Trump is way too far gone to be viable for 2024 – and once that happens, perhaps the media will have to begin dropping the act as well.

 

washington post logoWashington Post, Most U.S. adults say abortion pill should stay on market, Post-ABC poll finds, Emily Guskin, May 10, 2023 (print ed.). The survey finds that 66 percent of U.S. adults say mifepristone should remain on the market, while 24 percent say it should be taken off it.

Two-thirds of Americans say the abortion drug mifepristone, used in the majority of abortions in the United States, should remain on the market, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll finds that 66 percent of U.S. adults say mifepristone should remain on the market, while 24 percent say it should be taken off the market. Just under half, 47 percent, say access to mifepristone should be kept as is; 12 percent say it should remain on the market but be more restricted than it is now.

May 9

 

Donald J. Trump, left, and E.  Jean Carroll (New York Times file photos).

Donald J. Trump, left, and E. Jean Carroll (New York Times file photos).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates, Trump Is Found Liable for Sexual Abuse and Defamation, Benjamin Weiser, Lola Fadulu and Kate Christobek, May 9, 2023. Jury Awards $5 Million to E. Jean Carroll in Civil Case.

A Manhattan jury on Tuesday found former President Donald J. Trump liable for the sexual abuse of the magazine writer E. Jean Carroll in a widely watched civil trial that sought to apply the accountability of the #MeToo era to a dominant political figure.

The federal jury of six men and three women also held Mr. Trump, 76, liable for defaming Ms. Carroll when he posted a statement on his Truth Social website in October, calling her case “a complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie.”

The jury determined that Carroll had proven Mr. Trump sexually abused her, but they rejected the accusation that she had been raped. Sexual abuse is defined in New York as subjecting someone to sexual contact without their consent.

The jury awarded Ms. Carroll, 79, a total of $5 million in damages.

Although more than a dozen women have accused Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct over the years, allegations he has always denied, Ms. Carroll’s case is the first such claim to be successfully tested before a jury.

The jury’s unanimous verdicts came after three hours of deliberation in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Its findings are civil, not criminal, meaning Mr. Trump has not been convicted of any crime and faces no prison time.

The jury determined that Carroll had proven Mr. Trump sexually abused her, but they rejected the accusation that she had been raped. Sexual abuse is defined in New York as subjecting someone to sexual contact without their consent.

The jury awarded Ms. Carroll, 79, a total of $5 million in damages.

Although more than a dozen women have accused Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct over the years, allegations he has always denied, Ms. Carroll’s case is the first such claim to be successfully tested before a jury.

The jury’s unanimous verdicts came after three hours of deliberation in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Its findings are civil, not criminal, meaning Mr. Trump has not been convicted of any crime and faces no prison time.

The jury has found that Carroll did not prove Trump raped her, but they did determine that he had sexually abused her. The jurors also found that Trump had defamed Carroll when he called her accusations false. They awarded her $5 million damages.

The accusation at the heart of the trial that just ended in Manhattan federal court sounds like a classic criminal case — an alleged sexual assault in the dressing room of a luxury department store.

But the jury of nine New Yorkers were not asked to decide if former president Donald J. Trump was guilty of raping the writer E. Jean Carroll as she testified he did in the mid 1990s. No criminal charges were ever brought.

Instead, Ms. Carroll sued Mr. Trump for battery and defamation.

That means the jury was asked to determine Mr. Trump’s “liability” — whether Mr. Trump is legally responsible for harming Ms. Carroll in ways that meet New York State’s definition of battery.

The jurors began their deliberations just before noon on Tuesday. Their verdicts must be unanimous.

To have Mr. Trump found liable for battery, Ms. Carroll must clear a lower bar than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of a criminal trial. Instead, jurors must find that the “preponderance of the evidence” supports Ms. Carroll’s claim to have been raped, sexually abused or forcibly touched by Mr. Trump, meaning the jury believes the accusation is more likely true than untrue. The jury must also decide how much to award Ms. Carroll in damages if they side with her.

The jury also examined Ms. Carroll’s defamation claim, stemming from a 2022 post on Truth Social in which Mr. Trump called Ms. Carroll’s case “a complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie.” The jurors have to decide if Mr. Trump knew what he was saying was false but said it anyway to meet a standard known as “actual malice.”

Six men and three women found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll but rejected her rape accusation

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit in the hands of a New York City jury as of Tuesday, May 9.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Lawyers speak after jury finds Trump sexually abused E. Jean Carroll, Shayna Jacobs, Kim Bellware and Mark Berman, May 9, 2023.A Manhattan jury has found that Trump sexually abused and defamed E. Jean Carroll, and awarded $5 million in damages.

Here’s what to know

Carroll first publicly accused Trump in 2019, during his presidency, writing in a memoir the same year that they bumped into each other at Bergdorf Goodman, the department store. She said Trump violently attacked her in a dressing room.

Trump has assailed Carroll and accused her of making up the story to sell books. His attorneys argued during the trial that her story was not believable.
Carroll testified in graphic detail during the trial about the alleged attack. Trump, who was under no obligation to appear, did not testify or attend the proceedings.

After the verdict:

  • Trump attorney Joe Tacopina approached and shook hands with the other side. He congratulated and hugged attorney Roberta Kaplan and shook E. Jean Carroll’s Carroll’s hand.
  • E. Jean Carroll left the courthouse and walked past microphones and reporters who had gathered outside hoping to hear from her after the verdict. Carroll, accompanied by her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, entered a Volkswagen and left the area.
  • Former president Donald Trump, who did not testify or show up in court, wrote on his social media platform: “I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN IS. THIS VERDICT IS A DISGRACE — A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!”

The jurors in this civil case in Manhattan were tasked with weighing whether to find former president Donald Trump liable on two claims that writer E. Jean Carroll included in her lawsuit: battery and defamation.

After two weeks of testimony, the jurors deliberated for a little under three hours before siding with Carroll on both claims.

The jurors did not find that Trump had raped Carroll, which she has contended for nearly four years.

But the jurors concluded that Trump sexually abused her, and that she was injured as a result. They awarded Carroll $2 million in compensation for those injuries, along with $20,000 in punitive damages, also concluding that Trump’s actions were reckless.

The jurors were also asked to consider whether Carroll generally convinced them that Trump defamed her with a statement he posted to social media last year, assailing her as a liar. Jurors fully agreed that Trump did so, awarding her nearly $3 million for damages on that count.

Donald Trump was ordered to pay $5 million in damages to writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused the former president of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan department store years ago and defaming her after she went public with her claim. Carroll, 79, smiled as the verdict from the nine-person civil jury was announced Tuesday afternoon in a Manhattan court.

“Decorum will be maintained in the courtroom. No shouting. No jumping up and down. No race for the door. Just remain seated and quiet,” Judge Lewis A. Kaplan had warned the gallery before bringing the jurors in.

Trump's deposition video for the alleged rape trial released on May 5 shows him calling his accuser, E. Jean Carroll, a liar and a sick person. (Video: Obtained by The Washington Post)

 george santos elise stefanik

Republican House leader Elise Stefanik (R-NY), above right, heavily campaigned last fall for the candicacy of fellow New Yorker George Santos (R-NY), who is shown below left flashing the "White Power" sign while voting for Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to become House Speaker in January.

HuffPost, Justice Department Charging Rep. George Santos In Federal Probe: Report, David Moye, May 9, 2023. The charges against the controversial New York member of Congress have yet to be announced.

huffington post logoThe Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), CNN is reporting. The charges haven’t been announced, but the controversial member of Congress is expected to appear as soon as Wednesday at federal court in New York’s Eastern District.

A request for comment to Santos’ office was not immediately returned.

Justice Department log circularABC News reported that the nature of the charges are unclear since the charges are under seal. CNN is speculating that the charges could be connected to allegations of false statements in Santos’ campaign finance filings and other claims that have been the subject of investigations by the FBI and the Justice Department’s public integrity prosecutors in New York and Washington.

george santos white powerAccording to NBC News, two federal law enforcement sources confirmed back in December that prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York were examining Santos’ finances, including potential irregularities involving financial disclosures and loans he made to his congressional campaign.

republican elephant logoIn February, the FBI said that it was also looking into the case of a Navy veteran who accused Santos of stealing thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe campaign that was supposed to cover lifesaving surgery for the man’s service dog.

Since being sworn into Congress in January, Santos has faced criticism for lying about, among other things, his educational background, his work history, his ethnic background and how he financed his campaign.

May 8

HuffPost, Texas GOP Lawmaker Resigns After Probe Found Inappropriate Relationship With Teen Staffer, Lydia O'Connor, May 8, 2023. Rep. Bryan Slaton, who's made accusing drag artists of sexualizing and grooming children the crux of his political identity, resigned ahead of a vote over expelling him.

huffington post logoTexas state Rep. Bryan Slaton, a far-right Republican who equated drag performers with “groomers” who sexualize children, resigned from office republican elephant logoMonday after a state-led investigation found he engaged in a sexual relationship with his 19-year-old intern, plied her with alcohol and demanded her silence.

texas mapSlaton, who is 45 and married, turned in his resignation, effective immediately, one day before the Texas House was set to vote on expelling him and two days after the House General Investigative Committee released an explosive 16-page report on Slaton’s behavior ― neither of which he mentioned in his letter of resignation to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

djt maga hat“It has been an honor to represent my friends, neighbors and the great people and communities of House District 2,” Slaton, a former pastor, wrote, adding that they “voted overwhelmingly to send me to the Capitol.”

According to the five-person committee’s report, Slaton invited his 19-year-old intern over to his home on March 31, and she arrived with two other young women working as legislative aides at the Capitol, along with one of their boyfriends. While there, the intern said, Slaton “kept refilling” her drink with rum to the point that she was “really dizzy” and had “split vision.”

She declined to answer investigators’ questions about any sexual activity with Slaton, but according to the other women present that night, she later told them she’d “lost her virginity” to Slaton after the rest of the group left and described the encounter in great detail, saying she was “in love” with him.

Days later, according to the probe’s findings, Slaton hinted to the intern that it would be a problem if their relationship got out. He then said that “everything would be fine” but that “everyone involved just has to stay quiet.”

 

 

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York (Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll leaves federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan on April 27 in New York (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York City (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jury is hearing closing statements in Carroll’s civil case against Trump, Shayna Jacobs, Kim Bellware and Mark Berman, May 8, 2023. Jurors began hearing lawyers’ closing arguments Monday in a civil lawsuit brought by author E. Jean Carroll against former president Donald Trump, who she says raped her in the mid-1990s.

The trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan has put on display Carroll’s account of lasting trauma and delved into an alleged assault that she says is still fresh in her mind many years later. Though presenting herself outwardly as resilient in public and among friends and family, Carroll told jurors that she has come to realize she has permanent scars.

Carroll, 79, testified that she has not had a romantic relationship since the alleged sexual assault and often suffers from flashbacks. As Trump’s political prominence rose during the 2016 presidential election, Carroll said she had to face her history again.

Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan told jurors on Monday morning they could rely on her client’s detailed testimony.

“You saw for yourself E. Jean Carroll wasn’t hiding anything,” Kaplan said. “Her testimony was credible, it was consistent and it was powerful.”

Trump, 76, who has denied the allegations, has not appeared at the trial, which began April 25. He declined to testify in Carroll’s lawsuit; he had no obligation to show up or take the stand.

While he did not take the stand, Trump’s presence was felt in the courtroom: The plaintiff’s side played some of the videotaped deposition he sat for in October, and the video was publicly released Friday afternoon.

His absence and out of court statements have been a recurring issue during the trial, including when he posted on social media again dismissing her claims as fraudulent.

May 4

 kentucky map

Louisville Courier Journal, Kentucky lawmaker apologizes for referencing Jewish women's sex life amid abortion debate, Morgan Watkins and Joe Sonka, May 3, 2023 (print ed.). Kentucky Rep. Danny Bentley made comments about Jewish women and the Holocaust during a debate Wednesday over anti-abortion legislation, quickly drawing condemnation from several members of the Jewish community who raised serious concerns with what he said.

danny.bentleyBentley, right, a Republican and pharmacist from Russell, later apologized for his comments Wednesday night, saying he "meant absolutely no harm."

As state representatives debated an omnibus anti-abortion bill Wednesday afternoon, Bentley spoke about the medication abortions the legislation would restrict and invoked Jews and the Holocaust as he made claims about the origins of one djt maga hatsuch medication, which members of the Jewish community quickly denounced as both false and antisemitic.

Bentley falsely said RU-486, or Mifepristone, one of two pills taken to induce abortion, was developed during World War II and was called Zyklon B, the gas that killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust.

He added that “the person who developed (it) was a Jew.”

republican elephant logoReferring to an earlier floor amendment that attempted to allow Jewish women to be exempt from the abortion restrictions in the bill — with the Democrat who filed it, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian of Louisville, saying the faith does not believe life begins at conception — Bentley then opined on his perception of the sexual habits of Jewish women, “since we brought up the Hebrew family today.”

“Did you know that a Jewish woman has less cancer of the cervix than any other race in this country or this world?” Bentley asked. “And why is that? Because the Jewish women only have one sex partner… They don't have multiple sex partners. To say that the Jewish people approve of this drug now is wrong.”

Referring to the company that made RU-486 and again referring to the Holocaust, Bentley further asked: “Why would they do it? Because they're making money on it.”

No one responded to Bentley's comments during the abortion debate that lasted about two hours.

Referring to the company that made RU-486 and again referring to the Holocaust, Bentley further asked: “Why would they do it? Because they're making money on it.”

No one responded to Bentley's comments during the abortion debate that lasted about two hours.

Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, a physician and the only Jewish member of the legislature, listened to Bentley’s speech and was outraged by both the falsehoods and the fact that people of her religion were even a subject.

While the person who developed RU-486 was Jewish, she noted that this occurred in the 1980s.

“The first clinical trials on this drug has nothing to do with World War II (and) has nothing to do with the Holocaust,” Berg said. “That the developer was indeed of Jewish descent... what difference does that make? And why is that being brought up on the floor?”
Kentucky Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell

Bentley apologized for his comments in a statement provided Wednesday night to The Courier Journal.

"I meant absolutely no harm in my comments today and sincerely apologize for any they caused. Last week we received a heartbreakingly sad reminder that anti-Semitism still exists in our society and I apologize if my comments today caused similar pain or any doubt that I stand with the Jewish Community against hatred," he said. "My intention was to speak as a pharmacist to the history of RU-486 and respond to a proposed amendment. I clearly should have been more sensitive with my comments."

The American Jewish Committee — along with the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Louisville and the National Council of Jewish Women's Louisville Section — condemned Bentley's comments in a statement Wednesday night.

"On Wednesday, during a hearing on women’s reproductive choice, Rep. Danny Bentley went on a bizarre, anti-Semitic rant that included outlandish claims about the sex lives of Jewish women and the outrageous assertion that Jews created the “abortion pill” during the Holocaust to profit financially," they said. "We call on all elected officials and community partners to forcefully denounce anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, especially when they emanate from officials elected to serve the people of the Commonwealth."

"We urge the leadership of the Kentucky House and Senate to accept our offer to provide anti-Semitism training to all members of the Kentucky General Assembly and their staff," they continued. "We acknowledge Rep. Bentley's apology however, words matter and leadership matters."

You may be interested:Let teachers use these documents to correct the lie that slavery didn't cause US Civil War

Soon after Bentley made his controversial comments on the House floor Wednesday afternoon, the Jewish Federation of Louisville's president and CEO, Sara Klein Wagner, said Bentley's comments once again show "words matter."

She expressed concern about Bentley's speech and said it sounds like he was trying to give a historical lesson — but that lesson was false. She also said it's concerning he was able to continue making these comments, unabated, without pushback on the House floor from other legislators.

"I think it goes back to the fact that words matter. Speaking up when you hear words and comments that make no sense, that can lead to bigger problems and be hurtful," she said.

Bentley's controversial comments during Wednesday's legislative debate came the week after two other GOP lawmakers, Rep. Walker Thomas and Sen. Rick Girdler, said the antisemitic phrase "Jew them down" during a legislative committee meeting, for which they later apologized. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported both men apologized.

His speech also came mere days after various lawmakers in the Kentucky House of Representatives received an anonymously sent, antisemitic email the chamber's top Republican and Democratic leaders said was "as false as it was disgusting."

Kentucky government:Kentucky lawmakers push conspiracy theories, debunked claims during COVID special session

Wagner said the Jewish Federation of Louisville and the American Jewish Committee reached out to House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, last week and offered to provide training to legislators about understanding and combating antisemitism.

She said the training is designed to expose people of varied backgrounds to what constitutes antisemitic language and tropes and how those things put Jewish people at risk.

Angela Billings, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Senate Republicans, told The Courier Journal Wednesday night that the Senate leadership will add cultural sensitivity training on antisemitism alongside of other training state senators receive annually.

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Jes Staley 2

Jeffrey Epstein, above left, and Jes Staley, (Images via BPD portrait and WBZ-TV screengrab, respectively.)

Law & Crime, Jeffrey Epstein sent ex-JPMorgan exec photo of young woman in 'sexually suggestive pose': Judge, John O'Keefe and Karen Read, May 2-3, 2023. “These communications show a close personal relationship and ‘profound’ friendship between the two men and even suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation,” the Virgin Islands lawsuit states.

lawcrime logoIn December 2009 — well after Epstein’s conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor — Epstein allegedly sent Staley two emails, each showing a photograph of a young woman. Those images are redacted entirely in the Virgin Islands complaint, but Judge Rakoff describes one of them in his ruling.

One of them, dated Dec. 5, 2009, “attached a picture of a young woman in a sexually suggestive pose,” the judge said.

The ruling notes that another email from Dec. 20, 2009, “consisted entirely of a picture of a young woman.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Billionaire Investor Buys Epstein’s Private Islands for $60 Million, Matthew Goldstein, May 4, 2023 (print ed.). Stephen Deckoff, the founder of Black Diamond Capital Management, said he planned to build a 25-room resort on the islands once owned by the disgraced financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

A billionaire investor with ties to the U.S. Virgin Islands paid $60 million to buy Jeffrey Epstein’s island residences off the coast of St. Thomas — closing another chapter in the financial dealings of the disgraced financier who died by suicide in 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

The investor, Stephen Deckoff, paid roughly 50 percent less for the two private islands than the price that was listed last year by Mr. Epstein’s estate. A portion of the sale proceeds will go toward a $105 million settlement that Mr. Epstein’s estate reached last year with the government of the U.S. territory in the Caribbean.

Mr. Deckoff is the founder of Black Diamond Capital Management, an investment firm with $9 billion under management and offices in Stamford, Conn., London, Mumbai and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He acquired the islands through an investment vehicle called SD Investments.

Mr. Deckoff, in a news release, said he planned to build a 25-room resort on the islands. The news of the sale was first reported by Forbes. A lawyer for Mr. Epstein’s estate confirmed the sale but declined to comment further.

May 3

ny times logoNew York Times, A Brutal Sex Trade Built for American Soldiers, Choe Sang-Hun, Photographs by Jean Chung, May 3, 2023 (print ed.). When Cho Soon-ok was 17 in 1977, three men kidnapped and sold her to a pimp in Dongducheon, a town north of Seoul.

She was about to begin high school, but instead of pursuing her dream of becoming a ballerina, she was forced to spend the next five years under the constant watch of her pimp, going to a nearby club for sex work. Her customers: American soldiers.

South Korea FlagThe euphemism “comfort women” typically describes Korean and other Asian women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II. But the sexual exploitation of another group of women continued in South Korea long after Japan’s colonial rule ended in 1945 — and it was facilitated by their own government.

There were “special comfort women units” for South Korean soldiers, and “comfort stations” for American-led U.N. troops during the Korean War. In the postwar years, many of these women worked in gijichon, or “camp towns,” built around American military bases.

Last September, 100 such women won a landmark victory when the South Korean Supreme Court ordered compensation for the sexual trauma they endured. It found the government guilty of “justifying and encouraging” prostitution in camp towns to help South Korea maintain its military alliance with the United States and earn American dollars.

It also blamed the government for the “systematic and violent” way it detained the women and forced them to receive treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

In interviews with The New York Times, six former South Korean camp town women described how their government used them for political and economic gain before abandoning them. Encouraged by the court rulings — which relied on recently unsealed official documents — the victims now aim to take their case to the United States.

 

Jessica Leeds leaves the federal courthouse after testifying in E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit. (AP)

Jessica Leeds leaves the federal courthouse after testifying in E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit. (Associated Press photo by Seth Wenig.) 

washington post logoWashington Post,  Retired stock broker testifies that Trump groped her ‘out of the blue,’ Shayna Jacobs, Kim Bellware and Mark Berman, May 3, 2023. Testimony continued Tuesday at federal court in New York in the civil case involving Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in the 1990s.

A retired stock broker who has accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her decades ago testified Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, who says the former president raped her years before taking office.

Jessica Leeds testified that when she sat next to Trump on a plane in the late 1970s, he groped her and tried to force his hand up her skirt.

Carroll’s attorneys called Leeds to the stand in an effort to bolster their case against Trump, which includes accusations of battery and defamation, by suggesting a pattern of wrongdoing. Carroll has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s.

Leeds’s courtroom remarks, along with testimony expected this week from another woman who said Trump pushed her against a wall and forcibly kissed her, could convince jurors that Trump had a long-standing history of assaulting women.

e jean carroll twitterCarroll and Leeds are among more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct over the years. Trump has denied all of their allegations and dismissed his accusers as liars. He has also spoken derisively about Carroll’s and Leeds’s appearances.

While Carroll (shown in a file photo from the 1990s) and Leeds both testified about Trump during this trial, he is not expected to follow them onto the stand. Joe Tacopina, one of his attorneys, said Tuesday afternoon that Trump did not plan to testify. Carroll’s attorneys have said they plan to play in court recordings from Trump’s deposition last year.

During her testimony Tuesday, Leeds told jurors that she encountered Trump in 1979 on a plane flight after being upgraded to first class. Leeds, 81, said she wound up seated next to Trump, now 76, and alleged that he began groping her after first-class passengers were served dinner.

“There was no conversation,” Leeds testified. “It was like out of the blue.”

Leeds described the encounter as a struggle, saying Trump tried to kiss her and pull her toward him against her will.

“He was grabbing my breasts,” Leeds said. “It was like he had 40 zillion hands.”

When Trump tried to jam his hand up her skirt, Leeds testified, she was able to break free and move back to her original seat. Two years later, Leeds saw Trump at a star-studded gala, which Trump attended with his pregnant wife. He recognized Leeds from the plane and called her a vulgar name for a female body part before walking away, according to the testimony.

Leeds’s account bore some similarities to Carroll’s own allegations about Trump, which she said also focused on a chance encounter, a sudden sexual assault and a need to escape.

Carroll says Trump calling her liar was ‘huge hit’ to reputation

The trial began last week. Carroll testified over three days, describing in sometimes graphic detail how she said Trump physically attacked her. She also said he caused further anguish by denouncing her as a liar. Carroll sued him last year for battery and defamation.

May 2

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit on  trial in New York City.

ny times logoNew York Times, Day 4 of the Trump Rape Case: Carroll’s Cross-Examination Is Complete, Lola Fadulu, Kate Christobek and Benjamin Weiser, May 1, 2023.E. Jean Carroll, the writer who has sued former President Donald J. Trump, accusing him of rape, completed three days on the witness stand Monday in a civil trial in Manhattan federal court, with a lawyer for Mr. Trump continuing to try to show up inconsistencies in her testimony.

The stage was set for Ms. Carroll’s lawyers to call additional witnesses to bolster her case.

Monday was the second of two days of cross-examination of Ms. Carroll by lawyer Joseph Tacopina about her allegation that the ex-president raped her in a dressing room in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Trump, who has avoided coming to court, has denied all wrongdoing. On Monday morning, the former president’s lawyers filed an unsuccessful motion for a mistrial, arguing that the court had made “pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings.”

The Accusation: Ms. Carroll says she visited Bergdorf Goodman one evening in the mid-1990s. As she was leaving through a revolving door, Mr. Trump entered and recognized her, the suit says, and persuaded her to help him shop for a gift for a female friend. She has accused the former president of going on to attack her in a dressing room in the lingerie department.

Law & Crime, 'He raped you': E. Jean Carroll's friend says accuser told her Trump rape claims in real time, Adam Klasfeld, May 2, 2023. Some five minutes after then-private citizen Donald Trump allegedly raped her, E. Jean Carroll picked up the phone to tell her friend what she said happened, according to testimony from a key witness on Tuesday.

lawcrime logoProlific author Lisa Birnbach, who has written 22 books, is one of two woman Carroll says that she told that Trump sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s. She took the stand on Tuesday, immediately following Carroll’s three-day stint on the witness stand.

“I’m here because my friend, my good friend, who’s a good person, told me something terrible that happened to her, and as a result, she lost her employment and her life became very difficult,” Birnbach declared at the tail end of her roughly hour-long testimony. “I’m here because I’m her friend, and I want the world to know that she was telling the truth.”

As Birnbach tells it, Carroll appeared to be “full of adrenaline” and may have been laughing. Birnbach narrated what Carroll described as her “fight” with Trump inside the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman sometime in 1996.

The broad outlines of the story have been told several times over the course of Trump’s ongoing civil rape trial. Carroll says Trump recognized her as she left the store and said: “Hey, you’re that advice lady,” and she recalled responding: “Hey, you’re that real estate tycoon.” Trump allegedly sought Carroll’s advice on a present for a woman, and Carroll says they went back into the store. Carroll claims that Trump picked up racy lingerie and that the two of them bantered about who would try it on in the dressing room.

Birnbach told a jury she was “surprised” by those details.

“I thought it was kind of nutty,” Birnbach said. “I didn’t think it was dangerous because I had just spent a few days with him. He didn’t strike me as dangerous.”

Earlier in her testimony, Birnbach recounted writing a profile of Trump’s designs for his Florida country club Mar-a-Lago. Birnbach said that she flew on Trump’s jet and spent a couple of days there, following Trump around with a recorder and a handful of cassettes. She testified that she planned to run the piece with “stream of consciousness” reflections of the tour, and the piece ran as a cover story in New York Magazine on Feb. 12, 1996.

After Carroll allegedly told her Trump penetrated her with his penis, Birnbach says she told her friend: “He raped you.” Birnbach told jurors that she offered to take Carroll to the police, but she said Carroll didn’t want to go.

Stating Carroll “did not like” the word “rape,” Birnbach quoted her saying: “We had a fight.”

“She said: ‘Promise me that you will never speak of this again, and promise me you’ll tell no one,'” Birnbach said. “And I promised her both of those things.”

Birnbach testified the topic did not come up again for decades, and that the two didn’t speak about it again when Trump was elected in 2016. Only when Carroll sent her an excerpt of her book three years later did the subject come up again, she said.

During gentle questioning by Carroll’s attorney Shawn Crowley, Birnbach openly acknowledged her profound dislike for Trump.

Asked if she called Trump “a narcissistic sociopath,” Birnbach replied: “That sounds right.”

 

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit on  trial in New York City.

Law & Crime, 'He raped you': E. Jean Carroll's friend says accuser told her Trump rape claims in real time, Adam Klasfeld, May 2-3, 2023. Some five minutes after then-private citizen Donald Trump allegedly raped her, E. Jean Carroll picked up the phone to tell her friend what she said happened, according to testimony from a key witness on Tuesday.

lawcrime logoProlific author Lisa Birnbach, who has written 22 books, is one of two woman Carroll says that she told that Trump sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s. She took the stand on Tuesday, immediately following Carroll’s three-day stint on the witness stand.

“I’m here because my friend, my good friend, who’s a good person, told me something terrible that happened to her, and as a result, she lost her employment and her life became very difficult,” Birnbach declared at the tail end of her roughly hour-long testimony. “I’m here because I’m her friend, and I want the world to know that she was telling the truth.”

As Birnbach tells it, Carroll appeared to be “full of adrenaline” and may have been laughing. Birnbach narrated what Carroll described as her “fight” with Trump inside the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman sometime in 1996.

The broad outlines of the story have been told several times over the course of Trump’s ongoing civil rape trial. Carroll says Trump recognized her as she left the store and said: “Hey, you’re that advice lady,” and she recalled responding: “Hey, you’re that real estate tycoon.” Trump allegedly sought Carroll’s advice on a present for a woman, and Carroll says they went back into the store. Carroll claims that Trump picked up racy lingerie and that the two of them bantered about who would try it on in the dressing room.

Birnbach told a jury she was “surprised” by those details.

“I thought it was kind of nutty,” Birnbach said. “I didn’t think it was dangerous because I had just spent a few days with him. He didn’t strike me as dangerous.”

Earlier in her testimony, Birnbach recounted writing a profile of Trump’s designs for his Florida country club Mar-a-Lago. Birnbach said that she flew on Trump’s jet and spent a couple of days there, following Trump around with a recorder and a handful of cassettes. She testified that she planned to run the piece with “stream of consciousness” reflections of the tour, and the piece ran as a cover story in New York Magazine on Feb. 12, 1996.

After Carroll allegedly told her Trump penetrated her with his penis, Birnbach says she told her friend: “He raped you.” Birnbach told jurors that she offered to take Carroll to the police, but she said Carroll didn’t want to go.

Stating Carroll “did not like” the word “rape,” Birnbach quoted her saying: “We had a fight.”

“She said: ‘Promise me that you will never speak of this again, and promise me you’ll tell no one,'” Birnbach said. “And I promised her both of those things.”

Birnbach testified the topic did not come up again for decades, and that the two didn’t speak about it again when Trump was elected in 2016. Only when Carroll sent her an excerpt of her book three years later did the subject come up again, she said.

During gentle questioning by Carroll’s attorney Shawn Crowley, Birnbach openly acknowledged her profound dislike for Trump.

Asked if she called Trump “a narcissistic sociopath,” Birnbach replied: “That sounds right.”

 

Jeffrey Epstein and Jes Staley 2

Jeffrey Epstein, above left, and Jes Staley, (Images via BPD portrait and WBZ-TV screengrab, respectively.)

Law & Crime, Jeffrey Epstein sent ex-JPMorgan exec photo of young woman in 'sexually suggestive pose': Judge, John O'Keefe and Karen Read, May 2, 2023. “These communications show a close personal relationship and ‘profound’ friendship between the two men and even suggest that Staley may have been involved in Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation,” the Virgin Islands lawsuit states.

lawcrime logoIn December 2009 — well after Epstein’s conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor — Epstein allegedly sent Staley two emails, each showing a photograph of a young woman. Those images are redacted entirely in the Virgin Islands complaint, but Judge Rakoff describes one of them in his ruling.

One of them, dated Dec. 5, 2009, “attached a picture of a young woman in a sexually suggestive pose,” the judge said.

The ruling notes that another email from Dec. 20, 2009, “consisted entirely of a picture of a young woman.”

April

April 30

 

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York (Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll leaves federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan on April 27 in New York (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, center, at federal court with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, left, on April 25 in New York City (Associated Press photo by Seth Wineg).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: E. Jean Carroll might deliver the first significant hit to Trump, Jennifer Rubin, right, April 30, 2023. With just three days completed of jennifer rubin new headshotjournalist E. Jean Carroll’s civil suit against former president Donald Trump for assault and defamation, it is risky to predict a verdict. Just as with a Supreme Court oral argument, it is difficult to read how arguments and testimony are being received in the courtroom.

But if this were a contest between lawyers, it would be a knockout, possibly on day one. (Maybe before the first day, when Trump counsel Joe Tacopina lost for the second time a motion to exclude the testimony of witness Natasha Stoynoff, who alleges Trump once pinned her to the wall and forcibly kissed her.)

Tuesday, Trump, who has repeatedly denied the accusations against him, as expected didn’t have the nerve to show up at federal court in Manhattan. (At the close of the day, Judge Lewis Kaplan scolded Tacopina for failing to state definitively whether Trump would testify.) Despite his refusal to appear, Carroll’s lawyers can read his deposition into the record. Moreover, his non-appearance tells the jury Trump doesn’t respect the court or them enough to show up.

The next problem for Trump: No juror who underwent voir dire had ever attended a Trump rally, followed Truth Social, believed medical evidence of rape was necessary or thought the passage of time made an allegation of sexual assault less believable. The prospective jurors were of different races, educational levels and jobs. No MAGA-hat wearers or Proud Boys in the bunch. (Among the nine, many said they watch mainstream news outlets — another bad sign for Trump.)

Carroll had her team, and Trump had his — all male. (You have to wonder if they couldn’t find a woman to defend him or whether they are straight-up playing for the votes of any misogynists among the six men on the panel.)

Carroll’s opening argument was delivered by one of the judge’s former clerks, Shawn Crowley. (This team is very cleverly establishing its credibility with the judge.) She effectively took jurors through the alleged rape incident. MSNBC analyst Lisa Rubin (no relation) tweeted that Crowley was most compelling when “convincingly weaving together the stories of Carroll and the two other accusers, Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, into ‘three women, one pattern,’ all of which tracks Trump’s own statement on the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape.”

In his opening remarks, Tacopina was belligerent and insulting. He called Carroll a liar out to make money. He repeated Trump’s denial that he had raped Carroll. He called her suit “an assault on justice.” He said he would call no witnesses of his own. (So why not tell the judge that Trump isn’t showing up?) He was coarse, obnoxious and disrespectful — a perfect mouthpiece for his client.

Day two brought more misery for the Trump team. It began with Kaplan rapping Trump’s lawyers for a rant Trump posted on Truth Social, accusing Carroll (again) of making up the charges. Kaplan told Trump’s lawyers this might open “a new source of potential liability.”

Later in the day, the judge again warned Trump’s lawyers that they had better talk to their client, this time regarding an Eric Trump tweet about Carroll’s lawsuit. The judge intimated that other courts and statutes (e.g., intimidation is a crime in New York) could come into play.

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” Carroll began her testimony. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try to get my life back.” She then took the jury through the alleged rape and explained in an altogether credible way how sexual assault victims don’t come forward because they feel responsible and ashamed — or fear their attacker. The Post reported, “Carroll described explicitly how he also forced sex on her in the dressing room before she successfully kneed him away from her so she could flee the room.” She added that her decision to go into the dressing room with him “still haunts her, choking up as she explained. She said she did not file a police report in part because she blamed herself.”

She also feared (correctly) that Trump and a fleet of lawyers would publicly attack her. Her description of the reputational harm done when Trump called her a liar was gut-wrenching. “The violence and the dirt and the seedy language and the people describing what they think I did and why nobody in the world would touch me because of my enormous ugliness … they sort of swamped the heartfelt letters I received,” she said.

At the end of a long, emotionally draining day, a tearful Carroll said, “I got my day in court finally and it’s everything to me.”

Cross-examination of Carroll began Thursday. Tacopina was probably not the right guy to handle this. Gruff, belittling and heavy-handed, he scored few if any hits and frequently drew rebukes from the judge. Carroll freely admitted her memory holes and tersely pushed back on his insinuations that she was in this for the money. In some sense, her inability to recall specifics such as the date and day of the week made her account even more credible.

The more Tacopina harangued and argued with her, the more he seemed to prove her point: She had feared coming forward all these years because of the bullying and insults she knew she would endure.

The trial will resume Monday. Carroll has taken the worst Trump’s lawyers can throw at her. She remains the poised, credible and somewhat sad, fragile figure she was when the trial began.

April 29

 

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial beginning with jury selection on April 25 in New York City.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rape Case Places Trump in Legal Jeopardy. Politically, He’s Thriving, Jonah E. Bromwich, Benjamin Weiser and Lola Fadulu, April 29, 2023. Former President Trump’s new campaign is rolling on unimpeded under the spotlights. In courtrooms, he faces more serious threats.

During E. Jean Carroll’s first day on the witness stand, her lawyer asked what had brought her to a federal courtroom in Manhattan.

“I am here because Donald Trump raped me and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” Ms. Carroll replied. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I am here to try to get my life back.”

A day later, Mr. Trump, who has denied the attack and called Ms. Carroll a liar, campaigned in New Hampshire, joking to a crowd about his changing nicknames for Hillary Clinton and President Biden. He did not mention Ms. Carroll’s testimony, or the civil trial going on 250 miles away. But he remarked cheerfully on a poll released that day, which showed him far and away leading the 2024 Republican primary field.

Since Mr. Trump was indicted last month in a criminal case brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, his legal travails and his third presidential campaign have played out on a split screen. The courtroom dramas have taken place without news cameras present, even as the race has returned Mr. Trump to the spotlight that briefly dimmed after he left the Oval Office.

Ms. Carroll’s harrowing testimony, a visceral demonstration of Mr. Trump’s legal peril, has emphasized the surreal nature of the divide. Mr. Trump is the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. But he has also been indicted on 34 felony false records charges, and in Ms. Carroll’s case faces a nine-person jury that will determine whether he committed rape decades ago. And then there are the other investigations: for election interference, mishandling sensitive documents and his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“To see a former and potential future president of the United States confront all these legal issues at once is bizarre,” said Jennifer Horn, a former chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party and a vocal opponent of Mr. Trump. “But what’s really disturbing about it is that he’s the front-runner for a major political party in this country. And you can’t just blame that on him. You have to blame that on the leaders of the party and their primary base.”

The past week brought the former president a steady stream of setbacks. Ms. Carroll gave detailed and graphic testimony about the encounter with Mr. Trump. The judge in the case sought to limit Mr. Trump’s posts on social media, as did the Manhattan district attorney’s office in its own case. And former Vice President Mike Pence testified before a grand jury hearing evidence about Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors are investigating whether Donald Trump and his allies used false claims of election fraud to solicit donations, Maggie Haberman, Alan Feuer and Jonathan Swan, April 29, 2023 (print ed.). The Justice Department has been gathering evidence about whether the former president and his allies solicited donations with claims of election fraud they knew to be false.

Justice Department log circularAs they investigate former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, federal prosecutors have also been drilling down on whether Mr. Trump and a range of political aides knew that he had lost the race but still raised money off claims that they were fighting widespread fraud in the vote results, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Led by the special counsel Jack Smith, prosecutors are trying to determine whether Mr. Trump and his aides violated federal wire fraud statutes as they raised as much as $250 million through a political action committee by saying they needed the money to fight to reverse election fraud even though they had been told repeatedly that there was no evidence to back up those fraud claims.

The prosecutors are looking at the inner workings of the committee, Save America PAC, and at the Trump campaign’s efforts to prove its baseless case that Mr. Trump had been cheated out of victory.

washington post logoWashington Post, E. Jean Carroll takes stand again after testifying Trump raped her, Kim Bellware, Shayna Jacobs and Mark Berman, April 28, 2023 (print ed.). E. Jean Carroll is on the witness stand again Thursday in her civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump. Carroll, a writer, has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s. Trump has denied Carroll’s allegation, which she first made public in 2019, and called her a liar. Carroll testified Wednesday for about 3½ hours, e jean carroll cover new york magazinespeaking in graphic detail about how she says Trump assaulted her.

E. Jean Carroll has said that after Trump assaulted her in the mid-1990s, she told two friends and then chose to stay silent for more than two decades, fearful of what would happen if she spoke out.

Carroll made her accusations public in 2019. Testifying on Wednesday, Carroll said she has regretted her choice since then. By the time she accused Trump, he was in the White House, commanded enormous attention and had a throng of devoted supporters.

 washington post logoWashington Post, He blew the whistle on Trump’s Truth Social. Now he works at Starbucks, Drew Harwell, April 29, 2023. “It’s an honest day’s work,” he says about the $16-an-hour job, the only work he’s found since he was fired from the Trump Media platform he helped found.

About six months ago, Will Wilkerson was the executive vice president of operations for former president Donald Trump’s media business, a co-founder of Trump’s Truth Social website and a holder of stock options that might have one day made him a millionaire.
Tech is not your friend. We are. Sign up for The Tech Friend newsletter.

Today, he is a certified barista trainer at a Starbucks inside a Harris Teeter grocery store, where he works 5:30 a.m. shifts in a green apron and slip-resistant shoes, making Frappuccinos for $16 an hour.

“It’s an honest day’s work,” he says, sitting near the flower kiosk of the supermarket in a North Carolina suburb, which he asked not be named due to fears of harassment. “I love what I do.”

Wilkerson, 38, has become one of the biggest threats to the Trump company’s future: a federally protected whistleblower whose attorneys say has provided 150,000 emails, contracts and other internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission and investigators in Florida and New York.

Wilkerson last year publicly accused Trump Media and Technology Group of violating securities laws, telling The Washington Post he could not stay silent while the company’s executives gave what he viewed as misleading information to investors, many of whom are small-time shareholders loyal to the Trump brand.

The company fired him shortly after, saying he had “concocted psychodramas” but not responding to the specifics of his claims. This month, the company’s chief executive, the former Republican congressman Devin Nunes, sued Wilkerson for defamation in a Florida circuit court, claiming he had been subjected to “anxiety,” “insecurity,” “mental anguish” and “emotional distress” as a result of Wilkerson’s comments.

April 27

 

 

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial this spring in New York City.

Former President Donald Trump is shown in a photo collage with columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her three decades ago, with her civil suit scheduled for trial beginning with jury selection on April 25 in New York City.

washington post logoWashington Post, E. Jean Carroll testifies at trial that Trump sexually assaulted her, Shayna Jacobs, Kim Bellware and Mark Berman, April 27, 2023 (print ed.). Carroll took the stand for about three and a half hours on Wednesday in her civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump.

E. Jean Carroll took the stand for about three and a half hours on Wednesday in her civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump. Carroll, a writer and former advice columnist for Elle magazine, has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s. Trump has denied Carroll’s allegation and called her a liar.

Carroll testified until shortly after 4 p.m., when the judge excused the jury for the day. She is expected to continue her testimony on Thursday.

Here’s what to know

  • Carroll’s harrowing testimony dominated the trial’s second day. The case centers on her allegation that Trump sexually assaulted her during a chance encounter in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman, an upscale New York department store, in the mid-1990s. She filed a lawsuit last year accusing him of battery and defamation.
  • Upon taking the stand Wednesday, Carroll quickly testified that Trump sexually assaulted her and then further harmed her with his denials. “He lied and shattered my reputation and I’m here to try to get my life back,” Carroll testified.
  • On Thursday, Carroll is expected to resume her testimony, and Trump’s attorney is likely to question her that day.
  • Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has dismissed the jury for the day. The trial will resume Thursday with more of E. Jean Carroll’s testimony.

E. Jean Carroll said she was fired from Elle Magazine for accusing Donald Trump and said she “lost 8 million readers” — Elle’s readership — and had taken a hit in her magazine work and mailbag letters.

“It’s been a huge loss, and I’m slowly building it back.”

Asked whether she had regrets about speaking out, E. Jean Carroll answered affirmatively. But she also said, “Being able to get my day in court finally is everything to me, so I’m happy.”

Her voice breaking, she said, “I’m crying that I’ve gotten to tell my story in court.”

E. Jean Carroll acknowledged that people have suffered worse than being the target of Donald Trump’s wrath online but said the toll was nonetheless devastating.

“It hit me, and it laid me low. I lost my reputation. Nobody looked at me the same. It was gone,” Carroll said, sounding anguished. “People with no opinion now thought of me as a liar, and they hated me. The force of that hatred was staggering.”

E. Jean Carroll said she received a $70,000 advance for her 2019 book, a sum she described as “way less” than her other deals, and noted she was not e jean carroll cover new york magazinereimbursed for the road trip she took to do interviews that appear in the book. She also notes that her accusation against Donald Trump was in the book’s proposal and said the book’s eventual sales were “terrible.”

Carroll said she agreed to have the portion of her book that includes the Trump accusation excerpted in New York Magazine in 2019 hoping it would help her book sales. She choose New York Magazine (in a cover shown at left) because it’s where she had published previous work.

Carroll said she was not paid for the excerpt that appeared in New York Magazine, but that the money went to St. Martin’s, her book’s publisher.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: E. Jean Carroll takes stand again after testifying Trump raped her, Kim Bellware, Shayna Jacobs and Mark Berman, April 27, 2023. E. Jean Carroll is on the witness stand again Thursday in her civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump. Carroll, a writer, has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s. Trump has denied Carroll’s allegation, which she first made public in 2019, and called her a liar. Carroll testified Wednesday for about 3½ hours, speaking in graphic detail about how she says Trump assaulted her.

E. Jean Carroll has said that after Trump assaulted her in the mid-1990s, she told two friends and then chose to stay silent for more than two decades, fearful of what would happen if she spoke out.

Carroll made her accusations public in 2019. Testifying on Wednesday, Carroll said she has regretted her choice since then. By the time she accused Trump, he was in the White House, commanded enormous attention and had a throng of devoted supporters.

washington post logoWashington Post, Conservative dissenters block abortion limits in Nebraska, South Carolina, Brittany Shammas, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Rachel Roubein and Caroline Kitchener, April 27, 2023. The South Carolina bill was stopped by five women, three Republicans and two Democrats. The Nebraska bill went down due to an 80-year-old male Republican.

Strict new abortion restrictions failed to advance in two conservative-dominated legislatures on Thursday, signaling a mounting fear among some Republicans that abortion bans could lead to political backlash.

A near-total ban on abortion failed in South Carolina, just hours before a six-week ban fizzled in Nebraska. Abortion remains legal in both states until 22 weeks of pregnancy.

In lengthy and often impassioned speeches on the South Carolina Senate floor, the state’s five female senators — three Republicans and two Democrats — decried what would have been a near-total ban on abortion. One, Sen. Sandy Senn (R), likened the implications to the dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” in which women are treated as property of the state.

Abortion laws, Senn said, “have always been, each and every one of them, about control — plain and simple. And in the Senate, the males have all the control.”

April 26

Palmer Report, Analysis: Judge in E. Jean Carroll case appears to threaten Donald Trump with obstruction of justice charges, Bill Palmer, right, April 26, 2023.  bill palmerDonald Trump used his social media site to spread false claims and absurd conspiracy theories about E. Jean Carroll, in a clear attempt at improperly influencing the trial. Carroll’s attorneys then presented those posts to the judge during the trial. The judge responded by threatening to take punitive steps against Trump if he makes any such additional posts.

bill palmer report logo headerThe judge’s wording was vague enough that I initially wasn’t sure what he was specifically threatening. I thought perhaps the judge was trying to leave it vague on purpose, in order to let Trump’s mind race about the potential consequences, thus making him more likely to back down. Remember, the judge’s job isn’t to hand out punishment for this kind of thing. The judge’s job is to get Trump to stop doing this kind of thing, in order to protect the sanctity of the trial. If the judge can’t get Trump to stop, then it becomes the judge’s job to use penalties to force Trump to stop meddling with the trial.

The judge can assign all kinds of penalties, such as a gag order, protective order, monetary fines. It all has to be done in reasonable proportion, or else Trump could just appeal such penalties and perhaps get them overturned. The judge can’t just immediately make the most “aggressive” move possible and expect it to stick, no matter how many clueless viral tweets might claim that things work that way.

But one tweet, from someone who actually knows what she’s talking about, got me thinking. Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance examined the judge’s words, and believes that the judge may be referring to eventual potential obstruction of justice charges. You have to screw up really badly to make that happen, and Donald Trump is indeed screwing up really badly. He seems to think that this civil trial is some kind of boardroom meeting on the Apprentice, or some other kind of game. He either has no ability to understand how trials actually work, or no ability to control himself when it comes to his trials. Either way, if he keeps up these kinds of antics, they will only help him to lose everything more quickly.

April 25

ny times logoNew York Times, North Dakota Governor Signs Near-Total Abortion Ban, Ava Sasani, April 25, 2023 (print ed.). The governor approved the state’s prohibition on Monday, just a month after the State Supreme Court blocked an earlier ban.

North Dakota became the latest state on Monday to enact a near-total ban on abortion, just one month after the State Supreme Court temporarily blocked a similar ban from taking effect.

Under the new law, an abortion in the case of rape or incest would be permissible only in the first six weeks of pregnancy, a time when most women have not yet realized they are pregnant. Abortion is permitted without gestational limits if terminating a pregnancy can “prevent the death or a serious health risk” of the mother.

Doug Burgum North DakotaGov. Doug Burgum, right, a Republican, signed the bill into law on Monday.

The law, Mr. Burgum said, “reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state.” The governor added that it also “clarifies and refines” the existing state ban that has been blocked by courts.

The new law, which takes immediate effect, is a dramatic shift for the state, where abortions had been legal up until 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Under the earlier ban, providers who performed an abortion to save the life of a mother could face felony prosecution. The provider would need to offer an “affirmative defense” proving that the abortion was medically necessary within the confines of the state law.

Under the new version of the law, the exceptions do not require an affirmative defense from providers. But providers could still face criminal charges if they violate the exceptions detailed in the law.

The law makes North Dakota at least the 14th state with an active ban on nearly all abortions, though it is likely to face legal challenges, experts said.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion last year, conservative states have enacted restrictions or full bans. Liberal states have gone in the opposite direction, reaffirming abortion rights in state constitutions and becoming magnets for women seeking abortions in states with bans.

North Dakota’s trigger ban was blocked last year by a district judge, after its sole abortion provider, the Red River Women’s Clinic, filed a lawsuit against the law.

April 24

 

nbc universal logo

washington post logoWashington Post, NBCUniversal CEO departs after ‘inappropriate relationship,’ Anumita Kaur, April 24, 2023 (print ed.). NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell will leave the company “effective immediately” following an investigation into a complaint of inappropriate conduct, Comcast announced Sunday.

“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret,” Shell, shown in a 2013 photo, said in a jeff shell 2013statement Sunday. “I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege.”

An outside law firm conducted the investigation, and Shell’s departure was mutually agreed upon, the company stated. Comcast is NBCUniversal’s parent company.

comcast logoIn a memo to employees, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and Comcast President Mike Cavanagh stated that they were “disappointed to share this news.”

“We built this company on a culture of integrity. Nothing is more important than how we treat each other. You should count on your leaders to create a safe and respectful workplace,” Roberts and Cavanagh stated. “When our principles are violated, we will always move quickly to take appropriate action, as we have done here.”

nbc logoThey added that NBCUniversal “is performing extremely well operationally and financially.”

Comcast did not name Shell’s successor and did not immediately respond to The Washington Post for comment. Cavanagh will head Shell’s team — and NBCUniversal — in the interim, the company’s internal memo stated.

Shell was named NBCUniversal CEO in 2020, where he pushed forward the company’s streaming service Peacock and oversaw the media giant’s vast portfolio, including its news and entertainment TV networks, film studio and theme parks.

April 21

 

american medical association ama logo

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: This Could Be One of the Most Brazen Attacks on Americans’ Health Yet, Jack Resneck Jr., April 21, 2023 (print ed.). Dr. Resneck, below right, is the jack resneck jrpresident of the American Medical Association.

In their zeal to continue upending abortion access after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, legislators, activists and litigants have pushed increasingly extreme measures that disregard medical science, insert government into the exam room and increase the odds of maternal deaths. Not satisfied with banning abortion in their home states, some lawmakers are trying to restrict access in other states as well — a chilling attempt to intimidate patients and physicians alike.

Against this backdrop, the Supreme Court faces a decision that lays bare the threat to facts, evidence and the health of America’s patients. The case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. F.D.A. — in which anti-abortion organizations and doctors who have never prescribed the pill mifepristone argue, absurdly, that 23 years ago the F.D.A. did not follow proper protocol in approving it as part of a two-drug regimen for abortion — is one of the most brazen attacks yet against reproductive health.

If the lower courts’ rulings on mifepristone are not reversed entirely, it could also upend the Food and Drug Administration’s drug regulatory process. This would throw our health care system into chaos in ways that extend far beyond the specific fight over mifepristone, a highly effective drug that has been used safely by millions of patients for medication abortions and for miscarriage care for more than two decades.

In seeking to restrict access to abortion across the United States, the plaintiffs in this case have, intentionally or not, seriously jeopardized our nation’s 85-year-old drug regulatory system. We must be cleareyed; upholding any parts of the district court’s dangerous ruling would in all likelihood almost immediately prompt challenges to other longstanding safe and effective F.D.A.-approved drugs that doctors and patients rely on every day.

After three years of politicization fueled by disinformation, this would surely include challenges to many vaccines, including those that reduce the risks of serious illness from Covid-19. We should expect lawsuits against common types of safe and highly effective hormonal birth control, including emergency contraception. Also at risk: drugs used to treat cancer and arthritis that can incidentally affect unexpected pregnancies, drugs to prevent or treat H.I.V., and medications aimed at providing gender-affirming care.

The threat may ultimately include promising drugs and treatments built around stem cell technology to treat Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis or even more common types of chronic disease, such as diabetes. With ever-growing anti-science aggression, disinformation campaigns and vitriol about all types of medical advancements, there is no telling where the court challenges may lead — perhaps even to widely used drugs now sold over the counter to treat pain, allergies or heartburn that happen to have been studied with fetal stem cells.

This would represent a dangerous and reckless step backward for our country. More people would live sicker, suffer more and die younger while the scientifically proven safe and effective drugs they need remain locked away.

We simply cannot be a country where your access to the care you need is determined by the whims of ideologically driven judges and lawmakers without medical or scientific training. That’s why a dozen of the nation’s leading medical organizations, including the one I head, the American Medical Association, strongly oppose this politically motivated assault on patient and physician autonomy and have filed amicus briefs to make our case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The justices’ abortion pill ruling is as good as it gets for this court, Ruth Marcus, right, April 21, 2023. Access to abortion medication is ruth marcus twitter Customsafe — for now. The Supreme Court’s vote to block a lower-court ruling that would have dramatically curtailed the use of mifepristone offers significant cause for relief. On a court with a conservative supermajority that hasn’t been shy about aggressively deploying its muscle, this is about as good as it gets.

Notably, only two justices — Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., — recorded dissents from the decision to leave the existing rules governing mifepristone in place while the issue makes its way through the lower courts. The majority, as is customary at this stage, did not explain its reasoning, but it is significant — and, under the circumstances, comforting — that none of the three Trump appointees noted disagreement.

The reasons for relief are both practical and legal. A federal district court judge in Texas took the unprecedented step of invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of mifepristone, and the decision by U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to allow much of that order to remain in effect while the case is on appeal wasn’t much better. It would have disrupted and complicated access to mifepristone, which is uncertain enough in the aftermath of the court’s overruling of Roe v. Wade last year.

Even after labels are rewritten to comply with the new, 5th Circuit-ordered regime, a process that could take months, women would only be able to obtain mifepristone for abortions up to seven weeks, not the 10 weeks currently approved by the FDA. Only doctors would be allowed to prescribe mifepristone. Women would have had to make not one but three separate visits to health facilities; the medication would no longer be available by mail. The approved dosage of mifepristone would have been triple what is currently used. The generic version, approved in 2019, would have lost its approval.

Here’s what the Supreme Court abortion pill ruling means and what’s next

This would, FDA Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock warned the court, “create significant chaos for patients, prescribers, and the health care delivery system.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion divides 2024 candidates and confounds many within the GOP, Josh Dawsey, Colby Itkowitz, Caroline Kitchener and Maeve Reston, April 21, 2023 (print ed.). Presidential hopefuls have struggled to settle on a position amid warning signs that the party is on the wrong side of public opinion on the issue.

When Republican donors arrived at the Four Seasons in Nashville last weekend, they were handed a polling memo written by former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway with a startling statistic: Eighty percent of voters disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson last year overturning Roe v. Wade.

Among Republican strategists and candidates looking to the 2024 presidential primary, abortion has become the trickiest political issue and a divisive one internally for the party, according to GOP officials, campaign strategists, donors and others involved.

The ruling last summer encapsulated a 50-year push by Republicans to overturn Roe and was viewed initially by many Republican politicians and activists as a seismic policy and cultural win. Conservative lawyers cheered what they long viewed as a bad ruling in Roe, and Republican politicians issued hundreds of statements praising the court. But in the aftermath, it has become a political headache.

 

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Associated Press via CBS News, Supreme Court preserves access to abortion pill for now, Michael King, April 21, 2023 (PM). The Supreme Court on Friday granted a ap logorequest from the Justice Department to leave in place the Food and Drug Administration's approval of a widely used abortion pill, preserving access to the drug Justice Department log circularand reinstating a number of steps by the agency that made it easier to obtain while legal proceedings continue.

The decision from the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, came in the most significant case involving abortion since it overturned Roe v. Wade less than cbs news logoone year ago, a ruling that threw the legal landscape into chaos and led to near-total bans on abortion in more than 12 states. In addition to granting the Justice Department's request for emergency relief, the Supreme Court also approved a similar request from Danco Laboratories, the maker of the abortion drug mifepristone.

Justice Clarence Thomas said he would have denied the emergency applications, and Justice Samuel Alito dissented from the decision, writing that neither the Justice Department nor Danco have shown they are likely to suffer irreparable harm while the appeals process plays out. Alito authored the majority opinion reversing Roe.

The Biden administration and Danco turned to the Supreme Court in the legal battle over mifepristone after a federal judge in Texas suspended the FDA's 23-year-old approval of the drug on April 7, which would have disrupted access to the medication nationwide, including in states where abortion is legal.

"The district court countermanded a scientific judgment FDA has maintained across five administrations; nullified the approval of a drug that has been safely used by millions of Americans over more than two decades; and upset reliance interests in a healthcare system that depends on the availability of mifepristone as an alternative to surgical abortion for women who choose to lawfully terminate their early pregnancies," the Justice Department wrote to the court.

The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to pause the district court's order and aspects of a federal appeals court decision that limited how late into pregnancy mifepristone could be taken, who could prescribe it, and how it could be dispensed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit put on hold the most significant part of the district court's decision — halting the FDA's approval of mifepristone — but blocked the actions by the agency since 2016 that relaxed the rules surrounding the drug.

The appeals court also sped up the Biden administration's appeal of the district court decision, setting arguments for May 17.

April 18

Daily Beast, DeSantis Ally Suicided Amid Sex Misconduct Claims With Minor, Erik Uebelacker, April 18, 2023. New reporting revealed Tuesday that Kent Stermon’s suicide came shortly after he was accused of sexual misconduct with an underaged teen.

daily beast logoNew reporting revealed Tuesday that Kent Stermon’s suicide came shortly after he was accused of sexual misconduct with an underage teen. Stermon —a staunch DeSantis ally and GOP donor—was found dead in December just shortly after the girl’s father declined a “five-figure” hush kent stermon croppedmoney deal and reported Stermon to the police, the Daily Mail reported.

Jacksonville police say the investigation is still ongoing, but Stermon, right, allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl, to whom he offered Taylor Swift concert tickets in exchange for photos of her breasts.

republican elephant logoAn anonymous law enforcement source told the Daily Mail that this might have just been the tip of the iceberg, though. “Very possibly it was the start of the rope that would unravel. It is the possibility of exposing what might have happened when the girl was a minor in their acquaintance,” the source said.

Stermon’s influence in Florida’s Republican Party was vast, with him largely being credited for Ron DeSantis’ recent political success. “Kent was very influential,” Florida politics reporter A.G. Gancarski told First Coast News following his death. “You wouldn’t have Ron DeSantis as governor without Kent Stermon.”

April 14

 

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and his wife, Tanya Snyder, the NFL team's current CEO (Washington Post photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Dan Snyder Agrees to Sell Washington Commanders for $6 Billion, Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman, April 14, 2023 (print ed.). The N.F.L. team is on track to be sold for a record figure to a group led by Josh Harris, as investigations into sexual harassment claims and the team’s finances continue.

Josh Harris, an owner of the N.B.A.’s Philadelphia 76ers and the N.H.L.’s New Jersey Devils, agreed in principle to buy the Washington Commanders for a record $6 billion from Dan Snyder, the longtime owner of the team plagued by scandals that drew investigations from the N.F.L., Congress and other government agencies.

With the end of Snyder’s tenure nearing, the N.F.L. can begin to distance itself from a painful chapter in its history and right the future of the popular franchise, which under Snyder had been tarnished by accusations of a toxic workplace and an inability to secure a new stadium.

The sale, first reported by Sportico, was confirmed by a person with knowledge of the agreement who was not authorized to speak publicly about the terms.

The agreement comes as the N.F.L. continues its second investigation into allegations of widespread sexual harassment made against executives at the team, including Snyder, as well as potential financial improprieties. Those allegations, coupled with Snyder’s inability to build a new stadium and a backlash from the team’s fans, had pushed many of the owners of the league’s other teams to consider voting to force him to sell the team, which he bought in 1999 for $800 million.

Harris’s group includes Mitchell Rales, a billionaire from the Washington, D.C., area, and a group of limited partners that includes Magic Johnson. Once they submit the deal, the sale would have to be approved by the league’s finance committee and by at least three-quarters of the 31 other team owners, who next meet in person on May 22 and 23 in Minneapolis.

Last June, the Walton family, founders of Walmart, bought the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion, about twice as much as the previous record high for an N.F.L. team.

 Snyder, 58, shown in a 2022 photo via Wikimedia, and his wife, Tanya, a co-owner of the team, formally began a search for a buyer in November 2022, when they hired Bank of America to seek offers for all or a portion of the Commanders. They began to field offers just weeks after the owner Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts said that Snyder “needs to be removed,” confirming what owners had been saying privately for months.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Don’t forget the women who chased Daniel Snyder toward the NFL’s exit, Sally Jenkins, April 14, 2023. When the victory parade is thrown to celebrate the next Super Bowl trophy that comes to Washington, put the women at the front of it. From former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby to marketing executive Tiffani Johnston to investigators Beth Wilkinson and Mary Jo White, they’re the ones who really forced Daniel Snyder to sell the team. Without them, the NFL might have tolerated his delinquency forever. .

The Washington Commanders roll out their team name and logo at media reveal from FedExField, Landover, Maryland, February 2nd, 2022 (Joe Glorioso | All-Pro Reels)A legion of female employees — 40 of them — came forward to expose the fetidly corrupt atmosphere inside the Washington football franchise. For 2½ years, they told their stories: of graspy skirt-clutching behavior by top executives, peeping-Tomming “good bits” videos of cheerleaders in changing rooms, daily sneering at women in sales and marketing that drove them into bathrooms to cry. They testified and gave depositions not once or twice but four or more times to get justice. And mind you, a sale of the team was the ultimate justice they sought.

“Accountability was always the goal. And when you are dealing with the owner of the team, a sale is the only true accountability,” says Lisa Banks, the attorney for many of the alleged sexual harassment victims.

You know how persistent they were? Some of Banks’s clients spoke to six different investigators.

Josh Harris group has tentative deal to buy Commanders from Daniel Snyder

First, they told their stories to The Washington Post in 2020, women such as Emily Applegate, who described how she was ordered to wear a tight dress to work “so the men in the room have something to look at.” They told them again to Wilkinson — and trusted in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s word that Wilkinson’s investigation would be a thorough and independent one, only for Goodell to bury her findings in a deep-water tomb somewhere on an ocean floor. Which suggests just how much radioactive waste Wilkinson may have found.

They refused to let it lie. They agitated for a more public investigation and got it from former Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which held eight months of hearings into Snyder’s workplace culture with so many ancillary inquiries and such collateral fallout that Goodell and every owner in the league began to squirm. Snyder decried it as a “politically charged show trial,” but it set still more investigators on to him, his financial practices and myriad allegations of fleeced and abused fans.

 ron desantis hands out

ny times logoNew York Times, Florida Legislature Passes Ban on Abortion After 6 Weeks of Pregnancy, Patricia Mazzei, David W. Chen and Alexandra Glorioso, April 14, 2023 (print ed.). Florida lawmakers voted to prohibit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy on Thursday, culminating a rapid effort by elected Republicans and Gov. Ron DeSantis to transform the state to one of the most restrictive in the country.

republican elephant logoMr. DeSantis, shown above, a likely 2024 Republican presidential contender, has indicated he will sign the new ban, which would end Florida’s long-held role as a destination for women from across the Deep South seeking abortions and force them to travel farther, to states such as North Carolina or Illinois, for care.

In the six months after the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion last year, no state saw a greater increase in the number of legal abortions performed each month than Florida, according to a report released on Tuesday.

“For the past 50 years, we’ve had a culture grow in this nation — a culture of abortion for any reason at any time,” State Representative Jenna Persons-Mulicka, a Fort Myers Republican, said before the 70-40 vote. “Today we lead. Today we stand for life. We stand with mothers, and we stand with Florida families. And by your vote today, we change the culture of abortion to a culture of life.”

The prohibition would be among the most restrictive in the country, and Florida would no longer be a destination for women seeking abortions.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Court Says Abortion Pill Can Remain Available but Imposes Temporary Restrictions, Pam Belluck, April 14, 2023 (print ed.). A federal appeals court ruled late Wednesday that the abortion pill mifepristone could remain available, but the judges blocked the drug from being sent to patients through the mail and rolled back other steps the government had taken to ease access in recent years.

matthew kacsmarykIn its order, a three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit partly overruled Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, left, of the Northern District of Texas, who last week declared that the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone in 2000 was not valid, in essence saying that the drug should be pulled from the market.

The appellate court said its ruling would hold until the full case was heard on its merits.

In its order, the appellate panel said the F.D.A.’s approval of mifepristone could stand because too much time had passed for the plaintiffs, a consortium of groups and doctors opposed to abortion, to challenge that decision. The court also seemed to take into account the government’s view that removing a long-approved drug from the market would have “significant public consequences.”

texas mapBut the appellate court said that it was not too late for the plaintiffs to challenge a set of steps the F.D.A. took beginning in 2016 that lifted restrictions and made it easier for more patients to have access to the pill.

The court also said that the government could not logically claim that the changes made since 2016 “were so critical to the public given that the nation operated — and mifepristone was administered to millions of women” before the old restrictions were eased.

Those changes approved use of the pill for up to 10 weeks into pregnancy instead of seven weeks, allowed it to be prescribed by some health providers other than doctors and permitted mifepristone to be mailed to patients instead of requiring it to be picked up from a health care provider in person.

The Push to Restrict Abortion Pills

A federal judge in Texas invalidated the F.D.A.’s approval of an abortion pill, mifepristone. The decision could make it more difficult for patients to obtain abortions.

Implications for the F.D.A.: If upheld, the Texas judge’s ruling poses threats to the U.S. government’s regulatory authority that could go far beyond one drug.
Stockpiling Abortion Pills: As the ruling could affect availability even where abortion is legal, states led by Democrats have been scrambling to adjust to a possible future without mifepristone.

Drug Companies React: The pharmaceutical industry issued a scorching condemnation in response to the ruling, calling for the decision to be reversed.
Headwinds at the Supreme Court?: At first blush, the decision’s chances of surviving review by a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices seem quite promising. But the justices may think twice before embracing it, legal scholars say.

Such steps significantly expanded access to medication abortion, which is now used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the United States. It usually involves taking mifepristone — which blocks a hormone that allows a pregnancy to develop — followed one or two days later by another drug, misoprostol, which causes contractions similar to a miscarriage.

Judge Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who has written critically of the Roe v. Wade decision, had stayed his order for seven days to give the F.D.A. time to appeal. On Monday, the F.D.A. had asked the appeals court to extend that stay, and the judges partly granted that request.

Federal appeals judges blocked the drug from being sent through the mail and rolled back other steps the government had taken to widen access.

 

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Online Market for Overseas Abortion Pills, Allison McCann, April 14, 2023 (print ed.). For-profit sellers have arisen to meet the demand for unregulated abortion pills — one that will only grow if legal access in the United States is further restricted.

A few times each month, a 10” x 15” padded FedEx envelope arrives in Mark’s mailbox in eastern Florida. He doesn’t know when the packages will arrive, only that each shipment usually contains about a dozen individual mifepristone pills and several 10-packs of misoprostol, the two drugs used in a medication abortion.

He repackages the pills — one mifepristone and four misoprostol each — and then prints a one-page sheet of instructions before shipping the medication to U.S. customers who have placed orders from medside24.com, a website based in Kazakhstan that sells abortion pills exclusively.

Mark is one link in a supply chain for abortion pills sold outside of the formal U.S. health care system — a market that has expanded significantly in the last year and that includes both overseas manufacturers and ad hoc distribution networks in the United States.

“I’m not the dealer, I’m just forwarding the mail for someone,” Mark told me in February. (Because distributing medication from overseas is illegal, many people interviewed for this story asked to be identified by first name or first initial only.) “I’m not for abortion but I’m not entirely against it,” he added. “On some level, it’s none of my business.”

Websites selling pills offer a convenient — though legally dubious — route for people looking for a way around state-level abortion bans. These sellers stand only to gain from efforts to restrict medication abortion, experts told me, including a federal appeals court’s decision on Wednesday night to reimpose restrictions on abortion pills nationwide that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had eased in recent years.

That decision came after a federal judge in a lower court ruled to invalidate the agency’s approval of mifepristone entirely. The F.D.A. will most likely appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Patients are either going to be forced to use a less effective regimen, or it could potentially push people into unregulated informal networks,” said Greer Donley, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who focuses on abortion. “Those are the two consequences. It’s not going to stop people from obtaining abortions.”

Tens of thousands of patients seeking to terminate a pregnancy have already gone online in search of pills in the nine months since the court’s Dobbs decision. Often, it is the only option for those unable to travel for clinic-based care.

For years, the advocacy group Aid Access has provided pills to U.S. patients at little or no cost. But people have increasingly turned to other groups and to for-profit sellers like Mark’s employer for faster delivery.

In the span of two weeks in February, one online seller distributed more than 300 abortion pill orders, primarily to people in Southeastern states where access is restricted.

April 12

ny times logoNew York Times, After Texas Ruling, Democratic States Move to Stockpile Abortion Pills, David W. Chen and Ava Sasani, April 12, 2023. A federal judge’s decision to invalidate the F.D.A.’s approval of mifepristone could affect availability even in states where abortion is legal.

democratic donkey logoThe governor of Massachusetts has asked the University of Massachusetts to purchase a one-year supply of the abortion pill mifepristone, and issued an executive order shielding pharmacists who stock the drug, abortion providers and patients from criminal and civil liability.

Washington State is using its Department of Corrections and the University of Washington to stockpile a four-year supply of the drug, and has fast-tracked legislation allowing health care providers to distribute it.

Officials in Maine, where at least 70 percent of abortions are done using pills, and in Maryland said this week that they were exploring purchasing additional doses of mifepristone.

Since a federal judge in Texas last week invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the abortion drug mifepristone, states led by Democrats have been scrambling to adjust to a possible future without it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Legal abortions fell by 6 percent in the six months after the Dobbs decision, according to a survey of providers, Margot Sanger-Katz and Claire Cain Miller, April 12, 2023. While clinics in some states expanded capacity, bans prevented thousands from getting legal abortions, a major new survey of abortion providers finds.

The number of legal abortions in the United States decreased just over 6 percent in the six months after the Supreme Court ended the right to abortion last June, according to a report released Tuesday, the most comprehensive and up-to-date count of abortions nationwide.

The overall decline exceeds what was estimated by some researchers before the Supreme Court ruling. New restrictions and the obstacles they create — including travel logistics and expenses, long wait times at some clinics and confusion or fear about laws — seem to have prevented even more women than expected from obtaining legal abortions.

For many women seeking an abortion, “the barriers that were in place were not surmountable,” said Alison Norris, an Ohio State professor of epidemiology and one of the authors of the report. Though many clinics expanded capacity, she said, “it’s insufficient to manage the losses.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Pressured by Their Base on Abortion, Republicans Strain to Find a Way Forward, Jonathan Weisman, April 12, 2023 (print ed.). Some are urging compromise, warning of dire electoral consequences for 2024. Other stances on guns and gay rights also risk turning off moderates.

Republican leaders have followed an emboldened base of conservative activists into what increasingly looks like a political cul-de-sac on the issue of abortion — a tightly confined absolutist position that has limited their options ahead of the 2024 election season, even as some in the party push for moderation.

Last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning a woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion was supposed to send the issue of abortion access to the states, where local politicians were supposed to have the best sense of the electorate’s views. But the decision on Friday by a conservative judge in Texas, invalidating the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, showed the push for nationwide restrictions on abortion has continued since the high court’s nullification of Roe v. Wade.

Days earlier, abortion was the central theme in a liberal judge’s landslide victory for a contested and pivotal seat on the state Supreme Court in Wisconsin. Some Republicans are warning that the uncompromising position of their party’s activist base could be leading them over an electoral cliff next year.

nancy mace“If we can show that we care just a little bit, that we have some compassion, we can show the country our policies are reasonable, but because we keep going down these rabbit holes of extremism, we’re just going to keep losing,” said Representative Nancy Mace, right, Republican of South Carolina, who has repeatedly called for more flexibility on first-term abortions and exceptions for rape, incest and the life and health of the mother. “I’m beside myself that I’m the only person who takes this stance.”

 

 E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump (Photo on left courtesy of E. Jean Carroll; photo on right via Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump (Photo on left courtesy of E. Jean Carroll; photo on right via Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

lawcrime logoLaw&Crime, Trump ordered to disclose whether he’ll show up to E. Jean Carroll trial: Will he have a choice? Adam Klasfeld, April 11-12, 2023. With trial looming later this month, former President Donald Trump and his accuser E. Jean Carroll have a little more than a week to disclose whether they plan to attend in person.

“Each party is requested to inform the Court, in writing, no later than April 20, 2023, of whether that party intends to be present throughout the trial until completion and, if not, the dates on which he or she intends to be absent from the trial proceedings for all or part of the day,” Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote on Monday.

Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, who isn’t related to the judge, said the answer was: “Obviously, she’s going to be there.”

The “Ask E. Jean” columnist has waited years for a reckoning on her allegations that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s.

joe tacopina fox hannity 3 30 2023Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina, shown in a file photo, told Law&Crime that the former president hasn’t made any decision about whether he would attend.

Judge Kaplan left his order as inconclusive as possible on whether Trump’s presence would be compulsory.

“This request does not intend, and is not to be construed as suggesting, anything whatsoever with respect to whether either party is legally obliged to be present throughout the trial or, in any case, with respect to any legal consequences that might or might not flow from any decision not to be present throughout,” his ruling states.

“A civil litigant is under no obligation to personally show up in court,” former federal prosecutor Mitchell Epner noted in an interview.

Legal experts point out that Carroll has the power to subpoena Trump, but it remains unclear whether she’ll do so.

“I would expect that Carroll would be able to subpoena Trump,” said former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, the host of the podcast “It’s Complicated.” “She also could play excerpts of his deposition in lieu of doing so.”

Even without his live testimony, Trump’s deposition could help advance key parts of Carroll’s case. Trump denied sexually assaulting Carroll by stating: “She’s not my type,” but when shown a picture of Carroll during deposition, Trump mixed the columnist up with his ex-wife Marla Maples, transcripts show.

The denial sparked Carroll’s original defamation lawsuit, which remains in limbo because of a separate legal fight about Trump’s possible immunity. That case relates to comments Trump made while still president, leaving the D.C. Court of Appeals to decide whether he made those remarks to reporters as part of his duties in office.

Either way, Trump faces possible defamation liabilities because he repeated his denial after his presidency. Carroll filed her second lawsuit for sexual battery under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, along with a separate defamation count over Trump’s rant against her, the judge, and other topics on Truth Social.

Trump doesn’t appear on Carroll’s proposed witness list, but the former president is the first name on his own defense list.

Epner, who is now a partner at Rottenberg Lipman Rich PC, said that Carroll’s legal team may choose to eliminate the uncertainty of live testimony by deploying the “incredibly damning” deposition testimony.

“The deposition is a known quantity,” Epner noted. “She can just press play and get the information out there that defendant Trump mistook E. Jean Carroll, who he constantly said wasn’t his type, for Marla Maples, the woman he considered so beautiful that he left his wife of decades in order to be with her.”

Epner added that the photographs of Carroll and Maples were “roughly contemporaneous.”

Meidas Touch Network, Federal Judge makes IMMEDIATE DEMAND to Trump’s lawyers in MAJOR case, Michael Popok, April 12, 2023. Michael Popok of Legal AF reports on breaking news on the federal judge in the E. Jean Carroll Civil Rape and defamation case ordering Trump’s lawyers to inform him by 4/20 what days trump will show up for trial (if any) so the high level of security threats created by Trump and those around him (including attacks on the criminal judge and his family.

ny times logoNew York Times, Police Chief Is Charged With Sexually Assaulting 2 Female Employees, Ed Shanahan, April 12, 2023. The assault charges in New Jersey were announced the same day a retired chief in the state was charged with trying to cover up an improper relationship with a subordinate.

Two New Jersey police chiefs — one suspended, the other retired — were charged on Wednesday with abusing their authority by committing sex-related crimes involving women who worked in their departments.

The cases are unrelated, but Matthew J. Platkin, the state’s attorney general, announced them together at a news conference to send a message to the public and to those who work in law enforcement.

“The people of New Jersey and the members of our police departments, especially our many female officers, deserve police leaders who serve and protect, not prey on those who are less powerful than they are and then try to cover it up,” he said.

Chief Thomas Herbst of Manville, who was suspended last year, was charged with sexual assault, official misconduct and other counts for what Mr. Platkin described in a news release as “a yearslong pattern of sexually predatory behavior targeting multiple women.”

April 11

Associated Press via KUER 90.1, Arizona Supreme Court upholds clergy privilege in Mormon help line abuse case, Staff Report, April 11, 2023. The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can refuse to answer questions or turn over documents under a state law that exempts religious officials from having to report child sex abuse if they learn of the crime during a confessional setting.

The ruling was issued April 7 but not released to the public until Tuesday. A lawsuit filed by child sex abuse victims accuses the church, widely known as the Mormon church, two of its bishops, and other church members of conspiracy and negligence in not reporting church member Paul Adams for abusing his older daughter as early as 2010. This negligence, the lawsuit argues, allowed Adams to continuing abusing the girl for as many as seven years, a time in which he also abused the girl’s infant sister.

Lynne Cadigan, an attorney for the Adams children who filed the lawsuit, criticized the court’s ruling.

“Unfortunately, this ruling expands the clergy privilege beyond what the legislature intended by allowing churches to conceal crimes against children,” she said.

In a statement, the church concurred with the court’s action.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints agrees with the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision,” the statement said. “We are deeply saddened by the abuse these children suffered. The Church has no tolerance of abuse of any kind.”

Adams had also posted videos of himself sexually abusing his daughters on the internet, boasted of the abuse on social media, and confessed to federal law enforcement agents, who arrested him in 2017 with no help from the church.

Those actions prompted Cochise County Superior Court Judge Laura Cardinal to rule on Aug. 8, 2022, that Adams had waived his right to keep his 2010 confession to Bishop John Herrod secret.

“Taken together, Adams’ overt acts demonstrate a lack of repentance and a profound disregard” for the principles of the church, Cardinal said in her ruling. “His acts can only be characterized as a waiver of the clergy penitent privilege.”

Clergy in Arizona, as in many other states, are required to report information about child sexual abuse or neglect to law enforcement or child welfare authorities. An exception to that law — known as the clergy-penitent privilege — allows members of the clergy who learn of the abuse through spiritual confessions to keep the information secret.

The church has based its defense in the lawsuit on the privilege, asserting that Herrod and a second bishop who learned of Adams’ confession, Robert “Kim” Mauzy, had no legal obligation to report him for abusing his older daughter and appealed Cardinal’s ruling.

On Dec. 15, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the church, saying it did not have to turn over disciplinary records for Adams, who was excommunicated in 2013. The Appeals Court also ruled that a church official who attended a church disciplinary hearing could refuse to answer questions from the plaintiff’s attorneys during pretrial testimony, based on the clergy-penitent privilege.

Lawyers representing the Adams girls and one of their brothers took the case to the Arizona Supreme Court, where they did not prevail, according to the April ruling.

In an unusual move, Cadigan said attorneys for the three Adams children intend to file a motion asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling.

An Associated Press investigation of the clergy privilege shows it exists in 33 states and that the Mormon church, often joined by the Catholic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other faiths, have successfully lobbied against attempts to reform or eliminate it.

April 9

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: The Hideous Resurrection of the Comstock Act, Michelle Goldberg, right, April 8, 2023. Anthony Comstock, the mutton-chopped anti-vice crusader for whom the Comstock Act is named, is back from the dead.

Comstock died in 1915, and the Comstock Act, the notorious anti-obscenity law used to indict the Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, ban books by D.H. Lawrence and arrest people by the thousands, turned 150 last month.“The Comstock Act represented, in its day, the pinnacle of Victorian prudery, the high-water mark of a strict and rigid formal code,” wrote the law professors Joanna Grossman and Lawrence Friedman. Until very recently, it seemed a relic.

Yet suddenly, the prurient sanctimony that George Bernard Shaw called “Comstockery” is running rampant in America. As if inspired by Comstock’s horror of “literary poison” and “evil reading,” states are outdoing one another in draconian censorship.

And now, thanks to a rogue judge in Texas, the Comstock Act itself could be partly reimposed on America. Though the act had been dormant for decades and Congress did away with its prohibitions on birth control in 1971, it was never fully repealed. And with Roe v. Wade gone, the Christian right has sought to make use of it. The Comstock Act was central to the case brought by a coalition of anti-abortion groups in Texas seeking to have Food and Drug Administration approval of mifepristone, part of the regimen used in medication abortion, invalidated. And it is central to the anti-abortion screed of an opinion by Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, the judge, appointed by Donald Trump, who on Friday ruled in their favor.

It’s true that, as Kacsmaryk noted, the Comstock Act bars mailing “every article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion or for any indecent or immoral purpose.” The law imposes a five-year maximum prison sentence for first offenses and up to 10 years for subsequent ones. That’s why, almost as soon as the Supreme Court tossed out Roe, social conservatives started clamoring for the Comstock Act to be enforced against medication abortion. When 20 Republican attorneys general wrote to Walgreens and CVS warning them against distributing abortion pills, they invoked the Comstock Act.

Many legal scholars see this invocation of the Comstock Act as legally dubious. As David S. Cohen, Greer Donley and Rachel Rebouché explain in the draft of a forthcoming article, circuit court cases in the 1930s found that the Comstock Act applies only to materials meant to be used unlawfully. But for judges hellbent on banning abortion, as we’ve seen, precedent doesn’t mean much. “The Comstock Act plainly forecloses mail-order abortion in the present,” wrote Kacsmaryk. He added, “Defendants cannot immunize the illegality of their actions by pointing to a small window in the past where those actions might have been legal.”

On Friday a Washington State judge issued an opinion directly contradicting Kacsmaryk’s and ordering the F.D.A. to continue to make mifepristone available. The dispute now is likely headed to the Supreme Court.

 

 

Trammell Crowe Jr, 72, is a property magnate and environmental philanthropist (Photo via  PMC

Trammell Crow Jr, 72, is a property magnate and environmental philanthropist (Photo via  PMC

The Telegraph, Billionaire linked to Sarah Ferguson accused of financing sex trafficking ring, Rozina Sabur, March 20, 2023. Trammell Crow Jr, who reportedly met with the Duchess on his Texas ranch this year, faces a lawsuit from two women.A billionaire Texan property tycoon linked to the Duchess of York has been accused of financing a sex-trafficking ring in the US.

Trammell Crow Jr, who Sarah Ferguson has reportedly struck up a friendship with, has been named in a lawsuit by two women who claim he financed a sex and labour trafficking venture.

Mr Crow, 72, a property magnate and environmental philanthropist, met with the Duchess on his ranch near Austin, Texas earlier this year according to The Sun.

Mr Crow inherited his large fortune from his father Fred Trammell Crow, once known as America’s biggest landlord and a major Republican donor.

He reportedly struck up an unlikely friendship with the Duchess over their “shared interest in environmental issues".

It has since emerged that Mr Crow is facing a lawsuit from two women who claim they were sexually abused in a trafficking venture for which he provided the “essential financial assistance”.

Mr Crow's lawyer, Ken C Stone, said the accusations were “absurd and blatantly false”.

It is another embarrassing episode for the Duke and Duchess of York, following Prince Andrew’s settlement over sex abuse claims last year.
It is the latest embarrassing episode for the Duke and Duchess of York
It is the latest embarrassing episode for the Duke and Duchess of York Credit: GETTY

The lawsuit, filed in California last November, names Mr Crow “and at least eight other prominent Texas businessmen” in the venture.

The filing claims the trafficking venture made one of the women became "a virtual long-term sex slave" and claims another of the women was also beaten and raped.

The trafficking ring utilised doctors, a police officer and others to keep the women drugged and become “an illegal racketeering enterprise”, the lawsuit claims.

It claims Mr Crow was involved at the very start of the trafficking ring in 2010, and knew “all the details of the force, fraud, threat, and coercion... and without him the venture never could have succeeded”.

It further claims the Texan billionaire maintained what he called "lingerie rooms" in his properties, "in which he kept a variety of lingerie for female guests to wear, as well as what he called ‘stripper shoes’.”

Some of the defendants in the lawsuit have filed a motion to dismiss the case. Mr Crow is expected to ask for the case to be dismissed at a hearing soon.

It comes as the Duchess and her ex-husband Prince Andrew fear losing their £30m Royal Lodge home in Windsor.

Prince Andrew stepped back from Royal duties after he reached an out-of-court financial settlement with his accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claimed he sexually abused her when she was 17.
The lawsuit claims Mr Crow knew “all the details of the force, fraud, threat, and coercion... and without him the venture never could have succeeded”
The lawsuit claims Mr Crow knew “all the details of the force, fraud, threat, and coercion... and without him the venture never could have succeeded” Credit: PMC

The Duchess, 63, was reported to have flown to meet with Mr Crow earlier this month.

A source told The Sun: “Officially they’ve bonded over a shared interest in environmental issues, but it feels like a lot of discussions and a lot of air travel to solely discuss green matters.”

A spokesman for the Duchess told the newspaper: “The Duchess has only met Mr Crow once with others to discuss environmental issues.”

The Duchess was reportedly unaware of the allegations against the businessman and has no plans to work with or meet him again.

Mr Crow's lawyer, Mr Stone, told The Sun the story shared in the lawsuit was “upsetting and paints a picture of numerous troubled and broken domestic relationships.

“However, the account of events linking our client, and many others, to this story is both absurd and blatantly false.

“We are certain this will be made clear in future legal proceedings.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Abortion Ban Backlash Is Starting to Freak Out Republicans, Michelle Goldberg, right, April 7, 2023. After the Republican Party’s disappointing performance in the michelle goldberg thumb2022 midterms, fueled in large part by a backlash to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Republican National Committee recommitted itself to anti-abortion maximalism.

A resolution adopted at the R.N.C.’s winter meeting in January urges Republican lawmakers “to pass the strongest pro-life legislation possible.” Addressing their party’s poor showing in November, it said that Republicans hadn’t been aggressive enough in defending anti-abortion values, urging them to “go on offense in the 2024 election cycle.”

The 11-point loss of the Republican-aligned candidate in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court election on Tuesday has influential conservatives rethinking this strategy. “Republicans had better get their abortion position straight, and more in line with where voters are, or they will face another disappointment in 2024,” said a Wall Street Journal editorial.

Ann Coulter tweeted, “The demand for anti-abortion legislation just cost Republicans another crucial race,” and added, “Please stop pushing strict limits on abortion, or there will be no Republicans left.” Jon Schweppe, policy director of the socially conservative American Principles Project, lamented, “We are getting killed by indie voters who think we support full bans with no exceptions.”

But having made the criminalization of abortion a central axis of their political project for decades, Republicans have no obvious way out of their electoral predicament. A decisive majority of Americans — 64 percent, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey — believe that abortion should be legal in most cases. A decisive majority of Republicans — 63 percent, according to the same survey — believe that it should not. When abortion bans were merely theoretical, anti-abortion passion was often a boon to Republicans, powering the grass-roots organizing of the religious right. Now that the end of Roe has awakened a previously complacent pro-choice majority, anti-abortion passion has become a liability, but the Republican Party can’t jettison it without tearing itself apart.

The reason voters think Republicans support full abortion bans, as Schweppe wrote, is that many of them do.

In the last Congress, 167 House Republicans co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, conferring full personhood rights on fertilized eggs. In state after state, lawmakers are doing just what the R.N.C. suggested and using every means at their disposal to force people to continue unwanted or unviable pregnancies. Idaho, where almost all abortions are illegal, just passed an “abortion trafficking” law that would make helping a minor leave the state to get an abortion without parental consent punishable by five years in prison. The Texas Senate just passed a bill that, among other things, is intended to force prosecutors in left-leaning cities to pursue abortion law violations. South Carolina Republicans have proposed a law defining abortion as murder, making it punishable by the death penalty.

April 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A New Battle in the War on Abortion Pills, Dana M. Johnson (Ms. Johnson is a sexual- and reproductive-health researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas), April 8, 2023. Update, Friday, April 7: This guest essay was first published in March. A preliminary ruling from federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk on April 7 invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, but for the time being the drug remains available.

Drug Administration could revoke the F.D.A.’s 23-year-old approval of mifepristone, which is one of two drugs typically used during a medication abortion in the nation. That would be a highly unusual move — one that would show blatant disregard for the decades of scientific and clinical evidence showing that the drug is safe and effective. It also no doubt would be fought further in court, possibly even making it to the Supreme Court. Reproductive rights legal experts have called on the F.D.A. to ignore the decision from Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk if it does order the agency to rescind its approval for mifepristone.

But it’s important to know that if mifepristone became wholly unavailable in the United States tomorrow, such a decision would not be the end of abortion access in America nor the end of access to safe medication abortion. That’s because there’s another drug that is a safe and effective abortion care option, and Americans may soon need to rely on it more than ever.

It has been eight months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, and abortion has since been banned in 13 states and counting. People in states where abortion is banned or severely restricted have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to clinics out of state. For those for whom travel is too expensive or time consuming, abortion pills provided by mail have been a vital option. Medication abortion already was the most common form of abortion, and since Roe was overturned, demand has surged for abortion pills.

Mifepristone, which when taken with a drug called misoprostol, accounts for more than half of abortions in the United States. Misoprostol can be and is frequently used on its own. The two drugs have been used together in the United States since the F.D.A. approved mifepristone in 2000, but around the world misoprostol — which causes the uterus to contract and expel the pregnancy — has for years been used by itself for abortion care.

In fact, misoprostol is regarded as the original medication abortion pill. We know from decades of clinical evidence that misoprostol used alone for medication abortion is safe and effective. Misoprostol alone is not widely used in America, but the medication is widely available and a sample protocol for abortion providers has been released in preparation for a potential shift in clinical practice.

The World Health Organization provides guidelines for using misoprostol alone for an abortion. For pregnancies of less than 12 weeks’ gestation, the W.H.O. recommends 800 micrograms of misoprostol placed under the tongue, in the cheeks or vaginally, with repeat doses as needed. For pregnancies at or beyond 12 weeks, the W.H.O. recommends 400 micrograms of misoprostol under the tongue, in the cheeks or vaginally repeated every three hours as needed. Some people use up to five doses. Misoprostol causes bleeding and cramping, and some people may also experience diarrhea, chills, fever, nausea or vomiting.

Anti-abortion laws and court decisions often aim to stoke unwarranted fear about the safety of abortion. So it’s important to remember that while this looming decision could be a major blow to abortion access in America, misoprostol alone remains a safe medication abortion option. It is critical that everyone who cares about American abortion access learns about misoprostol and its uses to prepare for what may soon be to come.

April 7

 

idaho map

washington post logoWashington Post, New Idaho law restricts adults from helping minors get abortions, Justine McDaniel and Timothy Bella, April 7, 2023 (print ed.). Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed a bill into law Wednesday that makes it a crime for an adult to help a minor obtain an abortion without parental consent, including by traveling to a state where abortion is legal.

The new law brands such involvement from adults as “abortion trafficking,” which it makes illegal. With a near-total abortion ban already in place in Idaho, the law, passed by Republican state lawmakers, adds additional restrictions to prevent minors from going out of state in cases where their parents aren’t involved.

idaho map localAbortion rights advocates have vowed to fight the law, opening another front in the battle over abortion rights in one of the states that moved swiftly to enact a ban after the June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade. A court battle is also likely over whether Idaho medical providers are banned from giving a woman a referral for abortion in another state, something Planned Parenthood sued Idaho Attorney General Raúl R. Labrador over Wednesday.

Little signed the abortion law the day after approving a bill that bans gender-affirming care for transgender youths and makes it a felony for doctors to provide such care to minors. Together, the new laws criminalize help from adults for minors who seek gender- or abortion-related care. They come as Republican-run states across the nation tighten restrictions on abortion access and gender-affirming care.

The ACLU plans to sue to block the transgender-care law.

In both cases, Little has said the laws aim to protect children. The governor told lawmakers in a letter that the abortion bill “seeks only to prevent unemancipated minor girls from being taken across state lines for an abortion without the knowledge and consent of her parent or guardian,” not to block interstate travel or adult out-of-state abortions, the Idaho Statesman reported.

April 6

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘A day of reckoning’: Report outlines decades of alleged Catholic clergy sex abuse in Md., Michelle Boorstein and Fredrick Kunkle, April 6, 2023 (print ed.). Attorney General Anthony Brown said his office is also investigating two more dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Washington.

Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown (D) released a report Wednesday detailing decades of alleged sex abuse by clergy within the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The investigation found that over 600 young people — from preschoolers to young adults — suffered sexual abuse and “physical torture” by more than 150 clergy members from the mid-1940s to 2002. The attorney general’s office had previewed some of its findings in a November court filing, but the report itself brought them to life in visceral and horrifying detail. “Tests of torture” that involved chaining and whipping teenagers. Two sisters abused as grade-schoolers “hundreds of times” by one priest. A deacon who admitted to molesting more than 100 minors over three decades. Clergy who preyed on children they met recovering at hospitals.
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“Today in Maryland certainly is a day of reckoning and accountability,” Brown told reporters after meeting for about an hour with abuse survivors. He praised them for coming forward and their efforts to identify their abusers and hold them accountable, saying he hoped their example would lead others to come forward in similar circumstances.

Terry McKiernan of Bishop Accountability said the report’s most important contribution is the accounts of abuse by 33 clergy who were not known beforehand and are not on the archdiocese’s list of accused. But there were other clergy who have been publicly accused of abuse or possessing child abuse material who are not in the report.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” survivor Teresa Lancaster said. “There’s many, many more victims. I talk to them every day. There’s a lot more out there suffering.”

April 3

ny times logoNew York Times, A Rape Conviction Was Tossed Out Because the Investigation Was Too Slow, Maria Cramer, April 3, 2023. The decision by the New York Court of Appeals could give prosecutors a reason to abandon difficult cases, advocates for victims say.

In August 2009, two couples went out drinking after a wedding.

At the end of the night, one of the friends, a 22-year-old woman, invited her boyfriend and the other couple to stay at her home in Norwood, N.Y., just south of the Canadian border.

The woman fell asleep alone, then woke in the night to find the other man, Andrew Regan, crushing her beneath him, according to court documents. She roused her boyfriend and told him she had been sexually assaulted, and they called the police. Mr. Regan was interviewed and released. At a hospital, a nurse collected evidence with a rape kit.

But the investigation dragged on for four years, in part because prosecutors in St. Lawrence County said they did not know how to get a warrant to compel Mr. Regan to provide a DNA sample, which he had repeatedly refused to do. He was finally found guilty of first-degree rape by a jury in 2015 after a genetic match was made and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

But the yearslong investigation, which dragged on, the New York Court of Appeals said, because of “inexplicable delays caused by lethargy or ignorance of basic prosecutorial procedures,” led the court to overturn the conviction on March 16. The decision freed Mr. Regan and expunged the charge from his record.

New York has had no statute of limitations on first-degree rape since 2006, and Mr. Regan had not been jailed as he awaited the charges.

But because it took 31 months to obtain the warrant, the court found prosecutors violated his right to a prompt prosecution, which is protected by a state law meant to keep district attorneys from delaying prosecutions without a good reason.

The conviction must be vacated even though it creates “a genuine risk that a guilty person will not be punished, or, as in this case, not finish out his full sentence” to protect “vital societal interests,” wrote Judge Rowan D. Wilson in the majority opinion.

The victim, who still lives in the town where the assault happened, said in an interview that she was devastated when she heard about the decision and has had security cameras installed around her house. (The New York Times is not publishing her name because The Times generally does not publish the names of rape victims unless they choose to be identified.)

Prosecutors said that the ruling has added to a growing feeling among crime victims that their rights are being eroded as legislators and courts re-examine the treatment of criminal defendants.

Advocates for sexual assault survivors say they fear that the ruling could discourage some prosecutors from bringing charges of sexual assault, a crime in which the victim and the defendant often know one other and in which there are rarely third-party witnesses to corroborate a survivor’s claims. It could also give defendants a reason to resist investigations at every turn in hope of running out the clock.

In New York City, where the U.S. Department of Justice has said it would investigate the Police Department’s handling of sex crimes, less than half of sexual assault charges led to convictions between 2020 and 2022, a rate far below other serious crimes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Arrest Made in Robberies and Murders of Gay Men Who Were Drugged, Liam Stack, April 3, 2023 (print ed.). Jacob Barroso, 30, arrested Saturday in the murder of Julio Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker, is the third person charged in the cases.

The New York Police Department said on Sunday that a man had been arrested and charged with murder in connection with a series of killings and robberies at Manhattan gay bars that has terrorized the city’s L.G.B.T.Q. community and drawn attention to the use of drugs to incapacitate, rob and kill.

The man, Jacob Barroso, 30, of New Britain, Conn., was arrested on Saturday and charged with the murder of Julio Ramirez, a 25-year-old social worker who died of a drug overdose last April in what the medical examiner described as a “drug-facilitated theft.”

Mr. Barroso was also charged with robbery, grand larceny and identity theft, but he had not been arraigned as of Sunday night, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

The death of Mr. Ramirez and a second man, John Umberger, a 33-year-old political consultant who was fatally drugged and robbed in May, spread fear through the city’s L.G.B.T.Q. community and started a broader conversation about similar drug attacks that have long plagued the city’s nightlife.

April 2

 

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape lawsuit echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016

washington post logoWashington Post, What to know about the Trump-E. Jean Carroll case set for an April trial, Mark Berman and Shayna Jacobs, April 2, 2023 (print ed.). When a New York grand jury indicted Donald Trump last week, he became the first former U.S. president to get charged with a crime. That case is not likely to go to trial anytime soon, but a civil trial in a New York lawsuit involving Trump is scheduled to begin in a few weeks.

e jean carroll twitterThat case involves E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s. Carroll, an author and former magazine columnist (shown in a file photo and, below left, in a more recent magazine cover story), made her accusations public during Trump’s presidency. Trump denounced Carroll and denied her allegations. Carroll later filed two civil lawsuits against Trump, accusing him of defamation and sexual assault.

One of the lawsuits — in which Carroll accuses Trump of battery and defamation — is scheduled for a late April trial. If the schedule holds, this means Carroll’s allegations against Trump will be litigated in one New York City court as a civil matter while he is beginning to mount his defense e jean carroll cover new york magazineagainst a criminal indictment in another.

Here is a brief guide to the cases.

In 2019, Carroll accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman, an upscale department store, in the mid-1990s.

According to Carroll, she and Trump ran into each other at the store in a chance encounter, and he asked her to help him pick out a present for another woman. During this encounter, she says, he attacked her.

Carroll is among more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct over the years.

Trump has denied the allegations, calling the women liars and sometimes insulting them in other ways, and did much the same with Carroll. At the time she publicly accused him, Trump denied having met her and said “people should pay dearly for such false accusations.” He also said she was “not my type.”

 President Warren G. Harding throws out the first ball to open the Washington Senators' baseball season on April 13, 1921 (Associated Press file photo).

President Warren G. Harding throws out the first ball to open the Washington Senators' baseball season on April 13, 1921 (Associated Press file photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: A century before Trump’s term, a president paid a mistress to stay silent, James D. Robenalt, April 2, 2023 (print ed.).  Donald Trump is not the only candidate who won the presidency while allegedly paying for a former sexual partner to stay quiet.

Warren G. Harding became the nation’s 29th president in 1921 while paying not one, but two women to keep affairs he had with them secret.

Harding’s situation was exponentially more complicated than the alleged affair that Trump had with Stormy Daniels years before running for president — an entanglement that probably led to his indictment by a New York grand jury on Thursday.

One of Harding’s paramours was a woman who had been followed during World War I as a likely German spy. The other, a much younger woman, had given birth to Harding’s child in 1919 while he was serving as a U.S. senator from Ohio.

Harding’s payments to these women probably did not violate the campaign finance laws of the time, but certainly had these affairs been exposed to the public, he would not have obtained the Republican nomination for president in the summer of 1920, nor could he have survived a revelation during the campaign that fall. So secrecy was paramount.

March

March 21

 

tucker carlson fox horizontal

ny times logoNew York Times, A Fox News producer sued the network, saying she was coerced into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion case, Nicholas Confessore and Katie Robertson, March 21, 2023 (print ed.). The producer, Abby Grossberg, said in a pair of lawsuits that the effort to place blame on her and Maria Bartiromo, the Fox Business host, was rooted in rampant misogyny and discrimination at the company.

A Fox News producer who has worked with the hosts Maria Bartiromo, left, and Tucker Carlson filed lawsuits against the company in New York and Delaware on maria bartiromoMonday, accusing Fox lawyers of coercing her into giving misleading testimony in the continuing legal battle around the network’s coverage of unfounded claims about election fraud.

The producer, Abby Grossberg, said Fox lawyers had tried to position her and Ms. Bartiromo to take the blame for Fox’s repeated airing of conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems and its supposed role in manipulating the results of the 2020 presidential election. Dominion has filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox. Ms. Grossberg said the effort to place blame on her and Ms. Bartiromo was rooted in rampant misogyny and discrimination at the network.

fox news logo SmallThe new lawsuits, coupled with revelations from the Dominion legal fight, shed light on the rivalries and turf battles that raged at Fox News in the wake of the 2020 election, as network executives fought to hold on to viewers furious at the top-rated network for accurately reporting on President Donald J. Trump’s defeat in Arizona, a crucial swing state.

The lawsuits also include details about Ms. Grossberg’s work life at Fox and on Mr. Carlson’s show. Ms. Grossberg says she and other women endured frank and open sexism from co-workers and superiors at the network, which has been dogged for years by lawsuits and allegations about sexual harassment by Fox executives and stars.

The network’s disregard for women, Ms. Grossberg alleged, left her and Ms. Bartiromo understaffed — stretched too thin to properly vet the truthfulness of claims made against Dominion on the air. At times, Ms. Grossberg said, she was the only full-time employee dedicated solely to Ms. Bartiromo’s Sunday-morning show.

dominion voting systemsIn her complaints, Ms. Grossberg accuses lawyers for Fox News of coaching her in “a coercive and intimidating manner” before her September deposition in the Dominion case. The lawyers, she said, gave her the impression that she had to avoid mentioning prominent male executives and on-air talent to protect them from any blame, while putting her own reputation at risk.

On Monday afternoon, Fox filed its own suit against Ms. Grossberg, seeking to enjoin her from filing claims that would shed light on her discussions with the company’s lawyers. A judge has not yet ruled on Fox’s suit. Later on Monday, according to her lawyer, Parisis G. Filippatos, Fox also placed Ms. Grossberg on forced administrative leave.

Ms. Grossberg’s lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of New York and in Superior Court in Delaware, where a pretrial hearing in the Dominion defamation lawsuit is scheduled for Tuesday.

In a statement, a Fox spokeswoman said: “Fox News Media engaged an independent outside counsel to immediately investigate the concerns raised by Ms. Grossberg, which were made following a critical performance review. We will vigorously defend these claims.”

abby grossberg johns hopkinsAccording to the lawsuits filed by Ms. Grossberg (shown in a file photo), Fox superiors called Ms. Bartiromo a “crazy bitch” who was “menopausal” and asked Ms. Grossberg to cut the host out of coverage discussions.

Last year, she began working as a senior booking producer at “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” On her first full day, according to the lawsuit, Ms. Grossberg discovered that the show’s Manhattan work space was decorated with large pictures of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, then the House speaker, wearing a plunging swimsuit.

The next day, Justin Wells, Mr. Carlson’s top producer, called Ms. Grossberg into his office, she said, to ask whether Ms. Bartiromo was having a sexual relationship with the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.

Mr. Carlson’s staff joked about Jews and freely deployed a vulgar term for women, according to the complaint.

Later that fall, it said, before an appearance on the show by Tudor Dixon, the Republican candidate for Michigan governor, Mr. Carlson’s staff held a mock debate about whether they would prefer to have sex with Ms. Dixon or her Democratic opponent, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

After Ms. Grossberg complained about harassment from two male producers on the show, she was pulled into a meeting with human resources and told that she was not performing her duties, according to the complaint.

March 20

 

Jennifer Fox made the film “The Tale” about the summer she was 13 (New York Times Photo by Ingmar Nolting).

Jennifer Fox made the film “The Tale” about the summer she was 13 (New York Times Photo by Ingmar Nolting).

ny times logoNew York Times, For Years She Said a Coach Abused Her. Now She Has Named a Legend, Juliet Macur, March 20, 2023. Jennifer Fox, who has long discussed what happened when she was 13 and her coach was 40, has revealed the final detail: his identity.

In 2018, Jennifer Fox made an Emmy-nominated film called “The Tale” about her pieced-together memories of what she now describes as childhood sexual abuse.

Laura Dern starred in the HBO drama, in which Fox unspooled what she remembered about the relationship she had as a 13-year-old with her 40-year-old coach.

The details were horrific and unsettling, and the lingering pain of the main character, also called Jennifer, was palpable. But the coach was given a pseudonym in the lightly fictionalized film.

ted nash 1972Now, a half century after the relationship ended in 1973, Fox has come forward with the name of the man who she said abused her. She said it was Ted Nash, a two-time Olympic medalist in rowing and nine-time Olympic coach who had mythic status in the sport. Early in his athletic career, Nash, shown in a 1972 photo, also coached girls and women in running.

“He was a very esteemed, very talented manipulator and beloved and looked good and acted right and had all the right credentials,” Fox told The New York Times in a series of interviews, adding that Nash, who died at 88 in 2021, seemed like someone she and her parents could trust. Fox has filed a complaint against Nash with U.S. Rowing, the sport’s national federation.

When told of the accusations, Aldina Nash-Hampe, Nash’s first wife, said they were “kind of a surprise to me.”

“But then,” she added, “he seemed to have affairs with a lot of women, and that’s one of the reasons I left.”

Nash-Hampe, 87, said that she and Nash divorced in 1972, after she found letters from Nash to some of those “many, many women,” and also that Nash had “kind of abandoned” her and their two young sons. She said that she didn’t know anything about the experiences Fox described, and that she was not aware of Nash having been involved with underage girls. But, she said, it was as if Ted Nash had two lives.

“He’s got a big reputation for being a wonderful guy,” she said. “But he does have this history.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion foes seek vows from 2024 GOP hopefuls, Rachel Roubein, March 20, 2023 (print ed.). Activists are planning to pressure presidential candidates to promise a variety of national abortion restrictions.

Leading antiabortion groups, fresh off their historic victory with the demise of Roe v. Wade, are drawing up plans for a new goal in the 2024 presidential election: Ensuring the Republican nominee promises to back nationwide restrictions on abortion.

One of the most influential groups, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, is likely to ask candidates to sign a pledge supporting a federal minimum limit on abortion at no later than 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“If any GOP primary candidate fails to summon the moral courage to endorse a 15-week gestational minimum standard, then they don’t deserve to be the president of the United States,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of SBA Pro-Life America, who was instrumental in extracting antiabortion promises from former president Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, is exploring holding candidate forums or debates, where the issue of abortion would be front and center. And Students for Life Action is developing a survey asking candidates whether they’ll promise to appoint cabinet members who oppose abortion, such as in the justice and health departments; if they’d sign legislation to restrict abortions early in pregnancy; their stances on abortion pills and more.

“Our biggest challenge right now is making sure we get everyone on the record and for them to understand that we expect substantial action to be taken,” said Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life Action. She added: “We want to make sure that every candidate knows that they’re going to have to be ready to make their case for life.”

The Supreme Court’s decision last June striking down a constitutional protection for abortion rights means such questions are no longer merely hypothetical. If Republicans win enough House and Senate seats in a future election, they could feasibly pass some kind of federal abortion limit — and activists are determined to nail down presidential candidates on whether and to what extent they’d go along with it.

Exactly where to land on the issue may not be easy for all GOP presidential hopefuls. Former president Donald Trump jumped into the race first, and though he put a conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court, he frustrated antiabortion groups for comments blaming GOP losses last November on “the abortion issue,” particularly candidates who opposed exceptions for rape and incest. Trump cheered the Supreme Court decision last summer but didn’t respond to questions about where he stands on national restrictions on abortion.

Abortion rights groups scored major victories during last year’s midterm elections, even in some conservative-leaning states, and are aiming to build on that momentum. Democrats contend the results show the public is on their side, and nearly two-thirds of adults say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan group that surveyed Americans’ attitudes toward abortion last year.

March 18

Associated Press via Politico, Wyoming governor signs measure prohibiting abortion pills, Staff Report, March 18, 2023. The pills are already banned in 13 states with blanket bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states already have limited access to abortion pills.

mark gordon o wyomingWyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, right, signed a bill Friday night prohibiting abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature.

politico CustomThe pills are already banned in 13 states with blanket bans on all forms of abortion, and 15 states already have limited access to abortion pills. The Republican governor’s decision comes after the issue of access to abortion pills took center stage this week in a Texas court. A federal judge there raised questions about a Christian group’s effort to overturn the decades-old U.S. approval of a leading abortion drug, mifepristone.

ny times logoNew York Times, Wyoming Becomes First State to Outlaw Abortion Pills, David W. Chen and Pam Belluck, March 18, 2023 (print ed.). Medication abortion providers could serve six months in prison under the law, one of the latest efforts by conservative states to target abortion pills.

Wyoming on Friday became the first state to ban the use of abortion pills, adding momentum to a growing push by conservative states and anti-abortion groups to target medication abortion, the method now used in a majority of pregnancy terminations in the United States.

Wyoming’s new law comes as a preliminary ruling is expected soon by a Texas judge that could order the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to withdraw its approval of mifepristone, the first pill in the two-drug medication abortion regimen. Such a ruling, if it stands, could upend how abortion is provided nationally, affecting states where abortion is legal as well as states with bans and restrictions. 

Legislation to ban or add restrictions on medication abortion has been introduced in several states this year, including a bill in Texas that would not only ban abortion pills but also require internet service providers to take steps to block medication abortion websites so people in Texas could not view them.

In these states, proposals to block or restrict abortion pills have typically been introduced along with other anti-abortion measures, a reflection of the range of obstacles to abortion these states have tried to erect since the Supreme Court overturned the national right to abortion last June.

washington post logoWashington Post, Florida bill would ban young girls from discussing periods in school, Timothy Bella, March 18, 2023 (print ed.). As Florida Republicans are introducing and advancing a wave of bills on gender and diversity that are likely to be signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), one GOP lawmaker acknowledged this week that his proposed sexual health bill would ban girls from talking about their menstrual cycles in school.

During a Florida House Education Quality Subcommittee hearing Wednesday, state Rep. Ashley Gantt (D) questioned her Republican colleague, state Rep. Stan McClain, on his proposed legislation that would restrict certain educational materials used in state schools, which Democrats and critics have likened to banning books. House Bill 1069 would also require that instruction on sexual health, such as health education, sexually transmitted diseases and human sexuality, “only occur in grades 6 through 12,” which prompted Gantt to ask whether the proposed legislation would prohibit young girls from talking about their periods in school when they first start having them.

“So if little girls experience their menstrual cycle in fifth grade or fourth grade, will that prohibit conversations from them since they are in the grade lower than sixth grade?” Gantt asked.

McClain responded, “It would.”

The GOP lawmaker representing Ocala, Fla., later clarified that it “would not be the intent” of the bill to punish girls if they came to teachers with questions or concerns about their menstrual cycle, adding that he’d be “amenable” to amendments if they were to come up. The bill ended up passing, 13-5, on Wednesday in a party-line vote, as GOP legislators make up a supermajority in the chamber.

McClain did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday. Gantt decried the bill to The Washington Post as “egregious.”

“I thought it was pretty remarkable that the beginning of a little girl’s menstrual cycle was not contemplated as they drafted this bill,” she said on Friday.

Gantt was echoed by advocates such as Annie Filkowski, the policy and political director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, who told The Post that “young Floridians will suffer if this legislation becomes law.”

 

 kentucky map

washington post logoWashington Post, Kentucky lawmakers pass ban on youth gender-affirming care, Andrea Salcedo, March 18, 2023. In a matter of hours on Thursday, Republican legislators in Kentucky passed an anti-transgender bill that would allow teachers to misgender their students and bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth in what advocates called the latest among a string of GOP-pushed anti-transgender legislation.

The new bill not only forbids trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, a practice that professional medical associations have deemed safe and effective for children with gender dysphoria, but takes it a step further by mandating doctors set a timeline to de-transition children already taking puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy.

Under the bill, teachers would not be allowed to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity with students of any age. School districts would also be required to craft policies that forbid transgender students from using the restroom tied to their gender identities.

The bill, which appeared all but dead a day earlier, was revived Thursday and both the House and the Senate passed it with some slight modifications.

Andy Beshear KY Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D), right, who is running for reelection this year, now has 10 days to either veto or sign Senate Bill 150 into law. Even if he did veto it, Kentucky’s legislature would be able to override his decision.

When asked Friday about whether the governor would veto the bill, his spokeswoman pointed The Washington Post to his comments at a March 2 news conference.

“I can’t support anything that would cost the life of one of our Kentucky teens,” Beshear said at the time, referencing medical studies that suggest bills like this are linked to an increase in suicide among transgender youths.

Those who oppose the bill, including the ACLU of Kentucky and the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people, have called it unconstitutional, dangerous and among the “most extreme anti-trans bills in the nation.”

March 17

 

Courage Award recipient Sharon Stone arrives Thursday night at “An Unforgettable Evening” in Beverly Hills, benefiting the Women’s Cancer Research Fund (Chris Pizzello photo via Invision and the Associated Press).

Courage Award recipient Sharon Stone arrives Thursday night at “An Unforgettable Evening” in Beverly Hills, benefiting the Women’s Cancer Research Fund (Chris Pizzello photo via Invision and the Associated Press).

huffington post logoHuffPost, Sharon Stone Tearfully Says She Lost A Fortune 'To This Banking Thing,' Marco Margaritoff, March 18, 2023 (print ed.). "I just lost half my money to this banking thing, and that doesn’t mean that I’m not here," Stone said at the Women's Cancer Research Fund gala.

Sharon Stone may have fallen victim to the Silicon Valley Bank scandal.

The actor gave a galvanizing speech on Thursday to encourage donations while accepting the Courage Award at a fundraiser for the Women’s Cancer Research Fund. She grew tearful at a particular point in her speech.

“I’m a technical idiot, but I can write a fucking check,” Stone told the audience, according to “Entertainment Tonight.” “And right now, that’s courage, too, because I know what’s happening. I just lost half my money to this banking thing, and that doesn’t mean that I’m not here.”

It’s not clear exactly what “banking thing” Stone was referring to ― whether it was related to the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, the resulting stock market slump or something else entirely. The regional lender collapsed in two days after a classic bank run last week in which swaths of customers withdrew their deposits. (BuzzFeed, HuffPost’s parent company, banked with SVB.)

Former President Donald Trump, who bragged about slashing the landmark regulatory Dodd-Frank bank law, blamed the Silicon Valley Bank collapse on “wokeness.” President Joe Biden, meanwhile, on Friday called for executives to be punished.

Stone, 65, was being honored for raising awareness about breast cancer. She spoke to a crowd in the Beverly Wilshire ballroom in Beverly Hills, California, that included Rebel Wilson, Maria Bello and Lori Laughlin. During her remarks, Stone chronicled her own health scares of the past.

Sharon Stone tearfully encouraged a crowd to donate to the Women’s Cancer Research Fund on Thursday, while describing what she said were her financial losses in "this banking thing."

“Those mammograms are not fun,” said Stone, per “ET.” “And for someone like me who was told that I had breast cancer because I had a tumor that was larger than my breast and they were sure that I couldn’t possibly have a tumor without it being cancer, it wasn’t.”

“But I went to the hospital, saying, ‘If you open me up and it’s cancer, please take both my breasts,’ because I am not a person defined by my breasts,” she continued. “You know, that might seem funny coming from me since you’ve all seem ’em.”

Stone recently revealed she had breast reconstruction surgery in 2001 after doctors discovered “gigantic” tumors, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She urged the crowd never “not to get a mammogram, not get a blood test, not to get surgery.”

The evening reportedly ended with a performance from Maroon 5, whose members donated the proceeds to the night’s cause. Stone, whose brother recently died at 57 years old, concluded her speech in his honor — and with a rallying cry to fight for women’s rights.

“My brother just died, and that doesn’t mean that I’m not here,” she said. “This is not an easy time for any of us ... but I’m telling you what, I’m not having some politician tell me what I can and cannot do.”

March 14

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Abortion Surveillance State Gets Scarier in Texas, Michelle Goldberg, right, March 14, 2023 (print ed.). The month after the Supreme michelle goldberg thumbCourt overturned Roe v. Wade, a mother of two in Texas who had filed for divorce from her husband discovered she was pregnant. Determined not to have another child and worried that her husband would try to use the pregnancy to make her stay with him, she did what many of us would do and turned to two friends for help.

In text messages that are now part of a chilling lawsuit, her friends responded with warmth and solidarity. One told her about Aid Access, an organization based in Vienna that ships abortion pills to people in places where abortion is banned. Then the same friend texted that she had found someone nearby who could supply the medication. She and another friend both offered to let the woman go through the abortion at their homes. “Mistakes happen,” the second friend texted. “You can’t spiral. Hopefully this is the slap in the body that you need to remove yourself from him.”

Now the ex-husband, Marcus Silva, is getting his revenge. Last week, he filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against his ex-wife’s two friends and the woman who allegedly provided the abortion pills his ex-wife took, seeking a million dollars from each of them. (Because the suit seems likely to send abuse their way, I’m not including the women’s names.)

Silva’s case appears to have the backing of the anti-abortion movement, since he’s being represented by Jonathan F. Mitchell, the former Texas solicitor general who devised Texas’ abortion bounty law, which gives private citizens the power to sue others for “conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” His legal team also includes Briscoe Cain, a prominent abortion opponent in the Texas House, and three members of the Thomas More Society, a right-wing Catholic legal organization. “Assisting a self-managed abortion in Texas,” says the lawsuit, is “an act of murder.”

This case has several harrowing implications. First, it makes particularly vivid the way abortion prohibitions give men control over women. In the text messages reproduced in the lawsuit, Silva’s ex-wife wrote, of her pregnancy, that she knew Silva would “use it against me” and “try to act like he has some right to the decision.” Given that he is now suing her friends, she seems to have understood him well. What she might not have understood is how much political power he’d be able to muster on behalf of his patriarchal prerogatives.

 

snapchat logo current

washington post logoWashington Post, Help Desk Perspective: Snapchat tried to make a safe AI. It offered a supposed 13-year-old advice on sex with someone who was 31, Geoffrey A. Fowler, March 14, 2023. In conversations with our tech columnist, Snapchat’s experimental chatbot offered advice on hiding alcohol and marijuana, defeating parental phone controls and cheating on homework.

Snapchat recently launched an artificial intelligence chatbot that tries to act like a friend. It built in some guardrails to make it safer for teens than other AI bots built on the tech that powers the buzzy ChatGPT.

But in my tests, conversations with Snapchat’s My AI can still turn wildly inappropriate.

After I told My AI I was 15 and wanted to have an epic birthday party, it gave me advice on how to mask the smell of alcohol and pot. When I told it I had an essay due for school, it wrote it for me.

In another conversation with a supposed 13-year-old, My AI even offered advice about having sex for the first time with a partner who is 31. “You could consider setting the mood with candles or music,” it told researchers in a test by the Center for Humane Technology I was able to verify.

For now, any harm from My AI is likely limited: It’s only accessible to users who subscribe to a premium account called Snapchat Plus, which costs $4 per month. But my tests reveal Snapchat is far from mastering when, and why its AI might go off the rails — much less what the long-term impact might be of developing a relationship with it.

And that exposes an even bigger problem in the tech world’s new arms race to stick AI into everything from search engines and Slack to social networks. We the users shouldn’t be treated as guinea pigs for a powerful new technology these companies don’t know how to control. Especially when the guinea pigs are young people.

March 12

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge in Abortion Pill Case Set Hearing but Sought to Delay Telling Public, Katie Benner and Pam Belluck, March 12, 2023. Saying he wanted orderly proceedings, the judge asked lawyers not to disclose the hearing and planned to add it to the public case file the evening before.

The federal judge in a closely watched lawsuit that seeks to overturn federal approval of a widely-used abortion pill has scheduled the first hearing in the case for this week, but he planned to delay making the public aware of it, according to people familiar with the case.

matthew kacsmarykJudge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, right, of the Northern District in Texas, told lawyers in the case on Friday that he was scheduling the hearing for Wednesday morning. However, he asked them not to disclose that information and said he would not enter it into the public court record until late Tuesday evening.

One person familiar with the case, which is being heard in federal court in Amarillo, Texas, said such steps were “very irregular,” especially for a case of intense public interest.

Judge Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee who has written critically about Roe v. Wade and previously worked for a Christian conservative legal organization, told lawyers in a conference call Friday that he did not want the March 15 hearing to be “disrupted,” and that he wanted all parties involved to share their points in an orderly fashion, according to people familiar with the discussion.

The judge also said that court staff had faced security issues, including death threats, and that the measure was intended to keep the court proceedings safe.
More on Abortion Issues in America

 

Former President Trump faces varied legal and political threats, including an escalating New York criminal investigation into purported campaign finance crimes involving payments in 2016 to hide his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, shown above left on the cover of her memoir

Former President Trump faces varied legal and political threats, including an escalating New York criminal investigation into purported campaign finance crimes involving payments in 2016 to hide his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, shown above left on the cover of her memoir "Full Disclosure."

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump in growing legal and political peril ahead of 2024, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Holly Bailey, March 12, 2023 (print ed.). The Manhattan district attorney has invited former president Donald Trump to testify next week before a grand jury, potentially signaling a significant development in the ongoing investigation into Trump’s business affairs.

An Atlanta-area district attorney investigating whether Trump and his allies broke the law when they sought to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia could announce in coming weeks whether charges will be filed in that case.

And some former allies of Trump, as well as some Trump voters, have expressed a desire for a different 2024 Republican standard-bearer — most specifically, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has privately indicated he plans to seek the White House.

Trump — who stoked an insurrection trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and is running again in 2024 — finds himself in growing peril, both legal and political. Multiple investigations into him and his actions are entering advanced stages, all while many in the Republican Party — in private conversations and public declarations — are increasingly trying to find an alternative to him.

On Friday, former congressman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), one of Trump’s earliest backers in 2016, took to Twitter to say that he and Tom Marino, another former Republican representative from Pennsylvania, were urging DeSantis to formally enter the presidential fray.

“More than ever our country needs strong leadership, someone that gets things done & isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right,” Barletta wrote. “So Tom Marino & I are calling on our former colleague @RonDeSantisFL to run for president in 2024. Come on Ron, your country needs you! #NeverBackDown.”

On Thursday, a new pro-DeSantis super PAC, Never Back Down, also disclosed that it will be led by Ken Cuccinelli, a former Trump administration official. In a statement, Cuccinelli touted DeSantis as “a fighter with a winning conservative track record” with the ability to marshal “an unmatched grassroots political army.”

March 10

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape lawsuit echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case.

Politico, Judge okays use of Access Hollywood tape in Trump defamation trial, Erica Orden, March 10, 2023. The Manhattan judge also rejected Trump’s effort to block the columnist, E. Jean Carroll, right, from using the testimony of two other women who previously accused him of sexual assault.

politico CustomThe longtime magazine columnist who accused former President Donald Trump of raping her in the 1990s can use the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape as e jean carroll twitterevidence at trial in her defamation case, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The Manhattan judge also rejected Trump’s effort to block the columnist, E. Jean Carroll, from using the testimony of two other women who previously accused him of sexual assault.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that “a jury reasonably could find, even from the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape alone, that Mr. Trump admitted in the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape that he in fact has had contact with women’s genitalia in the past without their consent, or that he has attempted to do so.”

In the tape, a recording from 2005 that was widely scrutinized during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump boasts, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” adding: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Though Carroll’s 2019 lawsuit alleges only defamation, not sexual assault itself, Judge Kaplan found that “in order to prevail on her libel claim, Ms. Carroll must prove that Mr. Trump sexually assaulted her.”

e jean carroll cover new york magazineWithout proving the underlying claim of sexual assault, the judge wrote, “she cannot establish that Mr. Trump’s charge that her story was a lie and a hoax was false.”

In November, Carroll, left, also filed a second lawsuit in New York alleging defamation and battery under a new state law. The 2019 lawsuit is set to go to trial in April. A judge hasn’t ruled whether the two cases will be combined.

Trump has denied defaming or assaulting Carroll. “We maintain the utmost confidence that our client will be vindicated at the upcoming trial,” a lawyer for Trump, Alina Habba, said in a statement Friday.

The judge’s ruling Friday will also permit Carroll to use the testimony of Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, two women who alleged Trump assaulted them in the years before he ran for office. Leeds alleged Trump groped her while they flew on an airplane together. Stoynoff alleged he sexually assaulted her while she was reporting a story for People Magazine.

Trump has denied both of their accounts.

 

Donald Trump, actress Arianne Zucker and actor Billy Bush shown together after Trump exchanged his views with Bush about assaulting women, as shown on the notorius Access Hollywood outtake.

Donald Trump, actress Arianne Zucker and actor Billy Bush shown together after Trump exchanged his views with Bush about assaulting women, as shown on the notorius Access Hollywood outtake disclosed during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Washington Post, Trump falsely claimed in deposition that Carroll spoke about enjoying rape, Shayna Jacobs and Isaac Arnsdorfo, Jan. 13, 2023. In sworn questioning, Donald Trump denied raping E. Jean Carroll but also falsely claimed she said she enjoyed sexual assault. At least 17 women have come forward with allegations that Trump physically touched them inappropriately, many of them supported by people they told at the time. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.

 

matt schlapp cpac

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP operative comes forward as accuser in sexual misconduct claim vs. CPAC head, Beth Reinhard and Isaac Arnsdorf, March 10, 2023 (print ed.). The man who has accused Matt Schlapp, shown above in a 2019 photo, the influential leader of the Conservative Political Action Conference, of sexual misconduct came forward publicly Wednesday after a judge said he must use his real name to proceed with a lawsuit.

republican elephant logoCarlton Huffman, 39, a longtime aide to Republican campaigns who lives in Raleigh, N.C., said he plans to amend the previously anonymous lawsuit, which seeks $9.4 million in damages for alleged sexual battery and defamation.

“I’m not backing away,” Huffman said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I’m not going to drop this. Matt Schlapp did what he did and he needs to be held accountable.”

Schlapp, 55, has denied Huffman’s claims that he groped his crotch and invited him to his hotel room during an October trip to Atlanta to campaign for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker. Schlapp’s lawyer argued Wednesday that by proceeding anonymously, Huffman was trying to avoid scrutiny of his own record — including expressing extremist views on a white-supremacist blog and radio show more than a decade ago.

“I strongly believe we cannot defend this case — and it’s a multimillion-dollar case — without being able to use his name,” said Benjamin Chew, Schlapp’s lawyer.

Alexandria Circuit Court Chief Judge Lisa Bondareff Kemler described “balancing” the request for anonymity with the public’s interest in knowing the accuser’s identity and the ability of Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes, to defend themselves. Mercedes Schlapp is also accused of defamation in the suit.

Kemler noted an absence of specific threats against Schlapp’s accuser.

“The plaintiff has not established I think the heavy burden of establishing both a concrete need for secrecy and identifying the consequences that would likely befall him if forced to proceed in his own name,” she said. The judge said she would issue an order requiring Huffman to add his name to the suit.

By putting his name on the record, Huffman will test anew Schlapp’s support with the board of CPAC’s parent organization, the American Conservative Union, and with other Republican allies at a time when he faces a wide range of challenges, including heavy staff turnover and reduced turnout at CPAC’s flagship conference in the Washington area last week. The Republican power broker and leading booster of former president Donald Trump has declined to respond to questions from The Post about those issues and Huffman’s allegations.

 

 

sifredo castillo martinez NYPD

lawcrime logoLaw & Crime, 'Nearly unimaginable': NYC day care owner allegedly filmed sexual abuse of child in his care, possessed thousands of child porn images and videos, Jerry Lambe, March 10, 2023. The 33-year-old owner of a day care in New York City has been arrested and charged with a slew of child sex crimes after he was allegedly caught with “tens of thousands of images of child pornography” and sexually exploited at least one child under his care, authorities announced.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Sifredo Castillo Martinez, above, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein on Friday where he was formally charged with sexual exploitation of a child and production of child pornography, as well as receipt, distribution, and possession of child pornography.

March 9

lawcrime logoLaw & Crime, Oklahoma cheer coach allegedly raped her daughter’s minor ex-boyfriend over 300 times, Jerry Lambe, March 9, 2023. A 45-year-old public school cheerleading coach in Oklahoma has been arrested for allegedly having a long-running sexual relationship with a then-16-year-old student who had previously dated her own teenage daughter. Jennifer Jean Hawkins was fired from her job and arrested this week on one count each of second-degree rape and sexual battery, court documents reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to a probable cause affidavit from the Oklahoma City Police Department, detectives on Jan. 27 began investigating reports of a male victim being raped numerous times at a home located on Stepping Stone Lane. The now-adult victim told investigators that he entered into a sexual relationship with Hawkins beginning when he was a sophomore attending Moore Public Schools, where Hawkins was employed as a coach, police said.

The now-21-year-old victim was in a rehabilitation program in California when he wrote a detailed letter to the school district about his alleged relationship with Hawkins, court documents stated. In the letter, he claimed that he went to Hawkins’ home several days a week to have sex and described her as being “very manipulative and controlling,” the affidavit states.

The school then contacted police, who in turn contacted Hawkins for an interview where detectives read her the letter from the alleged victim.

March 8

Al.com, Birmingham lawyer who worked for Ivey gets 8 years in child porn case, Carol Robinson, March 8, 2023. A Birmingham attorney who formerly worked on Gov. Kay Ivey’s staff (Republican of Alabama) has been sentenced to federal prison on child sex charges.

chase tristan espy collageChase Tristian Espy, 37, was sentenced Tuesday to more than eight years in prison after pleading guilty to one of two charges alleged in his 2022 indictment.

U.S. District Court Judge Annemarie Axon also ordered Espy to 20 years of supervised release after his prison term is complete.

Espy was ordered to pay $15,000 in assessments for the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act and $5,000 to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.

Assessments collected under the statutes are used to fund and enhance victim services. Espy was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

kay ivey current 2022Espy was charged with attempted coercion and enticement of a minor and possession of child pornography. The charges stem from events that took place between March 2021 and August 2021. At the time of his 2021 arrest, he was a deputy general counsel in the Office of Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican shown at left, but was fired that day.

He pleaded guilty Oct. 18, 2022, to possession of child pornography. As part of his plea, the enticement of a minor charge was dismissed.

Espy was initially arrested on state charges in August of 2021. He was charged with solicitation by computer/electronic solicitation of a child, which is a Class B felony. That case has been bound over to a state grand jury for indictment consideration.

According to his federal plea agreement, Espy on March 25, 2021, began communicating with an undercover investigator that he believed to be a 15-year-old girl. The communication began on an undisclosed social media site.

Documents state that Espy expressed disappointment in his sexual relationship with his wife and told who he thought was the 15-year-old girl what he liked, what he wanted to do to her and what he wanted her to do to him. Those conversations were sexually explicit.

When Espy was arrested, investigators seized his cell phone. On that phone, they found 69 videos and four images of child sexual abuse. Those videos and images included sex involving toddlers, and one that involved a child and bestiality.

March 5

ny times logoNew York Times, Post-Roe Upheaval Has Turned North Carolina Into an Abortion Haven, Kate Kelly, March 5, 2023 (print ed.). The state, surrounded by neighbors with abortion bans and restrictions, has had a 37 percent rise in abortions since the constitutional right to abortion was overturned.

Clinic by clinic, county by county and up to the highest levels of state government, no state embodies the nation’s post-Roe upheaval like North Carolina.

In the eight months since the federal right to abortion was eliminated, leaving states free to make their own abortion laws, North Carolina, where the procedure remains legal up to 20 weeks, has become a top destination for people from states where it is banned or severely restricted. North Carolina experienced a 37 percent jump in abortions, according to WeCount, an abortion-tracking project sponsored by the Society for Family Planning, which supports abortion rights. Providers in the state performed 3,190 abortions in April 2022. That number soared to 4,360 in August, after Roe fell. It was the biggest percentage increase in any state.

The state’s abortion providers are under strain, with women sometimes having to wait a month for an appointment. In Chapel Hill, nurses at the Planned Parenthood clinic say they often pull into the parking lot to find patients sleeping in their cars. The license plates are from Tennessee, Georgia, even Texas.

The large influx of patients has energized local volunteer networks offering rides, money for clinic fees and places to stay. It has also alarmed anti-abortion activists who last June were rejoicing when the court struck down Roe v. Wade, only to later discover a surge of abortions in their state.

The state, surrounded by restrictive neighbors, has had a 37 percent rise in abortions since the constitutional right to the procedure was overturned.

March 4

washington post logoWashington Post, Thousands of Afghan women in peril as Taliban voids their divorces, experts say, Susannah George, March 4, 2023. Taliban law now considers many remarried women to be adulterers, former judges and lawyers say.

After her stepfather sold her into marriage at the age of 13 to support his drug habit, the young Afghan woman fought for years to escape an abusive husband. She eventually fled his home, secured a divorce and remarried, she recalled.

Now, under Taliban rule, she’s suddenly on the run again, at risk of imprisonment for adultery.

Under the previous government, this woman from western Afghanistan could get a divorce by testifying that her first husband was physically abusive, even though he refused to appear before the judge. But under the Taliban’s draconian interpretation of Islamic law, her divorce is invalid and, as a result, so is her second marriage.

Former judges and lawyers estimate that thousands of Afghan women who earlier secured divorces without a husband’s consent are now in danger under Taliban rule, facing potential imprisonment and violent reprisals.

The “one-sided” divorces under the previous government were largely granted to women trying to escape abusive or drug-addicted husbands, according to the former judges and lawyers. Since that government’s collapse in 2021, power has shifted in the favor of the divorced husbands, especially those with Taliban ties.

Changes to the country’s marriage laws are another wrenching example of how the Taliban has stripped women of their rights. Taliban rule also has severely restricted their access to education and employment, banned them from public parks and mandated ultraconservative female dress.

“I was living a new life — I was happy. I thought I was safe from my [first] husband; I didn’t think I would be hiding again,” said the woman from western Afghanistan, speaking on the condition of anonymity, like all the women interviewed for this article, to protect her safety.

March 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-cardinal McCarrick tells Massachusetts court he’s incompetent for trial, Douglas Moser and Michelle Boorstein, March 1, 2023 (print ed.). Five years after allegations of child sex abuse against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick first surfaced and rocked the U.S. Catholic Church, attorneys for McCarrick, 92, said Monday that he’s no longer mentally competent to stand trial and that the charges should be dismissed.

theodore mccarrickMcCarrick, right, was for decades one of the country’s most connected and powerful Catholic leaders. Now, many Catholics view him as an emblem of a rotten old-boy network in which the people at the top never face justice for their role in crimes involving sexual abuse by clergy.

The three counts of indecent assault and battery, based on allegations that McCarrick molested a 16-year-old family friend at a Wellesley College wedding reception in 1974, are the only criminal charges he faces. Fourteen minors and at least five adults — clergy and seminarians — have accused the former D.C. archbishop of sexual misconduct, according to the abuse-tallying site BishopAccountability.org. The first one came in 2018, shocking the church. But because of statutes of limitation for alleged incidents, it was long assumed that McCarrick would never be criminally charged. The Wellesley case was able to be prosecuted because, in accordance with Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations was put on hold after McCarrick left the state decades ago.

 

  

state dept map logo Small

Politico, Almost out of La La Land: Garcetti nom hits a make or break moment, Marianne LeVine and Christopher Cadelago, March 1, 2023. Biden’s nominee for ambassador to India has been in limbo for nearly 600 days. Things are hitting a breaking point.

politico CustomEric Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India has been anything but smooth. But soon, the drama may be over.

Nearly 600 days since the former mayor of Los Angeles was put forward for the critical diplomatic post, his confirmation prospects have hit a critical juncture in the Senate. He is expected to survive another vote in the Foreign Relations Committee. But that’s just step one. His fate on the floor is far more uncertain, with several senators declining to indicate how they’ll vote on his final confirmation.

india flag mapThe Biden administration is operating as if this is the final chance to see the confirmation through. Aides have intensified their push to seat a top diplomat in New Delhi in recent weeks, with the State Department deeply engaged in talks with senators.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was noncommittal when asked Tuesday about Garcetti. But the coming hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee has brought a sudden uptick in confidence among Garcetti allies inside and out of the administration who have spent more than a year trying to build support for him in the chamber.

“I think we have to take a vote, I think he has the votes. I think there will be senators that use all of their rights to delay the nomination but my sense is he’s going to get confirmed,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told POLITICO. “He’s been actively working, the White House and State Department have been working. We just had other priorities.”

Garcetti’s uncertain fate signals the beginning of a rare rough patch between Biden and the Democratic-run Senate chamber. So far, in his presidency, the White House has only seen a handful of nominees withdrawn. But other picks are sparking controversy, with some Democrats concerned over a current Biden circuit court pick due to his handling of a school sexual assault case. And the president’s pick to lead the Federal Aviation Administration is up in the air after Sen. Ted Cruz demanded that the chamber hold off on considering him.

gil garcettiNone of those nominees, however, have been as high profile or gone on as long as Garcetti, right. He once seemed destined for a plum gig in the Biden administration after representing one of the 2020 campaign’s most prominent supporters. Allegations that he was aware of sexual assault and harassment accusations made by some on his staff against his former top political adviser, Rick Jacobs, have complicated that glide path.

While Garcetti has repeatedly denied knowledge of those allegations, some Republicans led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) concluded that he was aware — or should have been aware — of them. Meanwhile, Garcetti has spent considerable sums of money on lobbyists to rally support for his cause and push back against critics of his nomination who have been in touch frequently with senators urging them to reject him.

“Any support in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for this nominee is a bitter pill to swallow for all those who believe that enabling and covering up sexual harassment and abuse should be disqualifying for public office in America,” said Libby Liu, the chief executive of Whistleblower Aid. “The evidence is clear that he is unfit to represent our country anywhere in the world, and especially to the world’s largest democracy with a deeply troubled record on gender-based violence.”

 

February

Feb. 26

 

Falsely accused former Virginia high school teacher Kimberly Winters and defendant Virginia investigator Peter Roque.

Falsely accused former Virginia high school teacher Kimberly Winters and defendant Virginia investigator Peter Roque.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jury awards Va. teacher $5 million over wrongful sex abuse case, Tom Jackman, Feb. 26, 2023. The first clue that Kimberly Winters, a high school English teacher, had that a former student had accused her of sexually abusing him was when Loudoun County sheriff’s deputies in full riot gear burst into her bedroom one morning with their rifles drawn.

“It was very terrifying,” Winters said. “I still have nightmares. Big guns.”

Winters said the deputies yanked her out of bed, handcuffed her, and made her stand in the front yard of her Sterling, Va., home in her pajamas while they patted her down, in full view of the neighborhood.

When she went to the Loudoun jail, Winters said, she was strip-searched, which her lawyer said violated the sheriff’s policies because she wasn’t booked into the jail. But her mug shot was taken and distributed to the news media along with a press release saying she was charged with sexually abusing one of her students when he was 17. Soon, she was fired from her job at Park View High School, after teaching in Loudoun for eight years.

When Loudoun prosecutors looked at the case brought by Detective Peter Roque, they promptly dismissed all charges. Winters sued Roque and Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman (R). And after a five-day trial earlier this month, a Loudoun jury took less than two hours to find the two law enforcement officials liable for Winters’ economic and punitive damages. They awarded her $5 million.

It appeared Roque had not seriously investigated any of the student’s claims, Winters’s lawyer, Thomas K. Plofchan, said. On a sworn search warrant application in November 2018, Roque had written, “Witnesses’ statements are corroborated by phone records,” but there were no records, Plofchan said the evidence showed.

The settlement will be paid by a state fund in which many municipalities pool their moneys to pay for verdicts such as this, and a secondary insurance policy taken out by Loudoun

Feb. 23

 ny times logoNew York Times, R. Kelly Sentenced to 20 Years for Child Sex Crimes, Robert Chiarito and Julia Jacobs, Feb. 23, 2023. The singer will serve most of the sentence in federal prison at the same time as a 30-year term for racketeering and sex trafficking.

r kelly twitterA federal judge on Thursday sentenced R. Kelly, shown on a Twitter portrait, to 20 years in prison for child sex crimes, after a jury found that he had produced three videos of himself sexually abusing his 14-year-old goddaughter.

In a victory for the defense, the judge ruled that all but one year of the prison sentence would be served at the same time as a previous 30-year sentence that Mr. Kelly received after a jury in Brooklyn convicted him of racketeering and sex trafficking charges.

The jury in Chicago convicted Mr. Kelly of six of the 13 charges brought against him in connection with sexual abuse during the 1990s, including counts of coercing three minors into sexual activity and three of producing sex tapes involving a minor. He was acquitted of a charge that he had attempted to obstruct an earlier investigation into his abuse of the goddaughter, and two other counts of enticing minors to have sex.

Federal prosecutors had argued that Mr. Kelly, 56, deserved 25 years in prison on top of his earlier sentence, citing the singer’s “lack of remorse” as a reason he would pose a danger to society if released.

washington post logoWashington Post, Harvey Weinstein gets 16 more years in prison after Calif. rape trial, Helena Andrews-Dyer and Bethonie Butler, Feb. 23, 2023. Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 16 years in prison Thursday after he was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and sexual misconduct in Los Angeles last December. Those years will be added on to a 23-year sentence the once-powerful film producer is already serving harvey weinsteinin New York state prison, all but ensuring Weinstein, right, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The Los Angeles case stems from one victim. Referred to in court as Jane Doe 1, the Italian actress accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her at a Beverly Hills hotel after a film festival in 2013. Three other women also accused the now 70-year-old Weinstein of misconduct during the Los Angeles trial. Weinstein was acquitted on one of those charges, and the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on the additional counts involving two other women.

Jane Doe 1 gave a statement in court Wednesday about the trauma she suffered from Weinstein’s attack. “Before that night I was a very happy and confident woman. I valued myself and the relationship I had with God. I was excited about my future.” she told Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench, according to the Associated Press. “Everything changed after the defendant brutally assaulted me. There is no prison sentence long enough to undo the damage.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Sarah Lawrence Sex Cult’s ‘Lieutenant’ Gets Over 4 Years in Prison, Colin Moynihan, Updated Feb. 23, 2023. Isabella Pollok’s lawyers had argued that she should not serve time for helping Lawrence Ray, saying she had become a “broken automaton.” But a judge said she had choices.

lawrence rayFor years, Lawrence V. Ray, right, manipulated and exploited a group of young people who had lived with his daughter in a dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College. He didn’t do it alone, prosecutors say: Among them was an enforcer.

Isabella Pollok became Mr. Ray’s “trusted lieutenant,” prosecutors have said, helping abuse her onetime roommates. Descriptions of how she played a part in keeping Mr. Ray’s followers compliant and terrified emerged last year as former students testified at his trial, which led to a 60-year sentence for extortion, sex trafficking, racketeering conspiracy and other charges.

Ms. Pollok ran the accounts and meted out discipline, prosecutors said, pushing group members to serve and fund Mr. Ray across a decade and several states. One former student testified that Ms. Pollok and Mr. Ray showed up to a hotel room where she had been earning money for them by working as a prostitute. Ms. Pollok taunted her, the former student, Claudia Drury, said, and Mr. Ray assaulted her for as long as eight hours, placing a plastic bag over her head and threatening to kill her.

When Ms. Pollok pleaded guilty, she offered no public explanation of why she had become devoted to Mr. Ray. Her lawyers since had argued that Ms. Pollok was “brainwashed” and that she had been too fully in Mr. Ray’s thrall to act independently.

Among those who seem to have arrived at a similar view was Ms. Drury, who wrote to the court that, although she still puzzled over Ms. Pollok’s behavior, she believed that her former roommate had lacked agency and deserved lenience.

On Wednesday, a judge in Manhattan sentenced Ms. Pollok, who pleaded guilty last fall to a single count of conspiracy to launder money, to four and a half years in prison. That ends a case that began on the campus of an elite college in Westchester County with a progressive intellectual tradition then devolved into squalid scenes of abuse and domination played out in hotel rooms and homes in New York City and beyond.

Feb. 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Her baby has a deadly diagnosis. Her Florida doctors refused an abortion, Frances Stead Sellers, Feb. 19, 2023 (print ed.). Halfway through the pregnancy, a routine ultrasound revealed the fetus had devastating abnormalities, pitching the couple into the uncharted landscape of Florida’s new abortion law.

Deborah Dorbert is devoting the final days before her baby’s birth to planning the details of the infant’s death.

She and her husband will swaddle the newborn in a warm blanket, show their love and weep hello even as they say goodbye. They have decided to have the fragile body cremated and are looking into ways of memorializing their second-born child.

“We want something permanent,” Deborah said. Perhaps a glass figurine infused with ashes. Or an ornament bearing the imprint of a tiny finger. “Not an urn,” she said, cracking one of the rare smiles that break through her relentless tears. “We have a 4-year-old. Things happen.”

Nobody expected things to happen the way they did when halfway through their planned and seemingly healthy pregnancy, a routine ultrasound revealed the fetus had devastating abnormalities, pitching the dazed couple into the uncharted landscape of Florida’s new abortion law.

Deborah and Lee Dorbert say the most painful decision of their lives was not honored by the physicians they trust. Even though medical experts expect their baby to survive only 20 minutes to a couple of hours, the Dorberts say their doctors told them that because of the new legislation, they could not terminate the pregnancy.

“That’s what we wanted,” Deborah said. “The doctors already told me, no matter what, at 24 weeks or full term, the outcome for the baby is going to be the same.”

Florida’s H.B. 5 — Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality — went into effect last July, soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a half-century constitutional right to abortion.

The new law bans abortion after 15 weeks with a couple of exceptions, including one that permits a later termination if “two physicians certify in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality” and has not reached viability.

It is not clear how the Dorberts’ doctors applied the law in this situation. Their baby has a condition long considered lethal that is now the subject of clinical trials to assess a potential treatment.

Neither Dorbert’s obstetrician nor the maternal fetal medicine specialist she consulted responded to multiple requests for comment.

A spokesman for Lakeland Regional Health, the hospital system the doctors are affiliated with, declined to discuss Dorbert’s case or how it is interpreting the new law. In an emailed statement, Tim Boynton, the spokesman, said, “Lakeland Regional Health complies with all laws in the state of Florida.”

The combination of a narrow exception to the law and harsh penalties for violating it terrifies physicians, according to Autumn Katz, interim director of litigation at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who has been tracking the implementation of abortion bans across the country.

Florida physicians who violate the new law face penalties including the possibility of losing their licenses, steep fines and up to five years in prison. As a result, Katz said, they “are likely to err on the side of questioning whether the conditions are fully met.”

washington post logoWashington Post, AI porn is easy to make now. For women, that’s a nightmare, Tatum Hunter, Feb. 13, 2023. Easy access to AI imaging gives abusers new tools to target women.

QTCinderella built a name for herself by gaming, baking and discussing her life on the video-streaming platform Twitch, drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers at once. She pioneered “The Streamer Awards” to honor other high-performing content creators and recently appeared in a coveted guest spot in an esports champion series.

Nude photos aren’t part of the content she shares, she says. But someone on the internet made some, using QTCinderella’s likeness in computer-generated porn. This month, prominent streamer Brandon Ewing admitted to viewing those images on a website containing thousands of other deepfakes, drawing attention to a growing threat in the AI era: The technology creates a new tool to target women.

“For every person saying it’s not a big deal, you don’t know how it feels to see a picture of yourself doing things you’ve never done being sent to your family,” QTCinderella said in a live-streamed video.

Streamers typically don’t reveal their real names and go by their handles. QTCinderella did not respond to a separate request for comment. She noted in her live stream that addressing the incident has been “exhausting” and shouldn’t be part of her job.

Until recently, making realistic AI porn took computer expertise. Now, thanks in part to new, easy-to-use AI tools, anyone with access to images of a victim’s face can create realistic-looking explicit content with an AI-generated body. Incidents of harassment and extortion are likely to rise, abuse experts say, as bad actors use AI models to humiliate targets ranging from celebrities to ex-girlfriends — even children.

Women have few ways to protect themselves, they say, and victims have little recourse.

Relevant Recent Headlines

Feb. 17

 

Longtime columnist E. Jean Carroll, plaintiff in civil suits accusing Donald Trump of rape three decades again and defamation more recently, is show at left in a recent file photo along with Trump. jt e jean carroll

Longtime advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, plaintiff in civil suits accusing Donald Trump of rape three decades again and defamation more recently, is show at left in a recent file photo along with Trump and below  right in a photo three decades ago.

donald trump ny daily pussy

Disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape lawsuit echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case.

Law&Crime, E. Jean Carroll wants ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, testimony from Trump accusers at upcoming defamation trial, Marisa Sarnoff, Feb. 17, lawcrime logo2023. Former President Donald Trump is trying to keep the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape out of evidence at his upcoming defamation trial, despite defending his own words in an October deposition last year.

The revelations came in a series of recent motions filed in the defamation case against Trump by writer E. Jean Carroll, who has long maintained that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a high-end New York department store in the mid-1990s. Carroll sued Trump for defamation in November 2019 after he publicly denied the assault allegations, which she shared in a column for New York magazine earlier that year.

“She’s not my type,” Trump said after the piece was published.

e jean carroll cover new york magazineCarroll, shown at left on a magazine cover when she first made the allegations, also sued Trump in November for rape under New York’s Adult Survivors Act.

A pretrial motion filed by Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan on Thursday argues that testimony from other Trump accusers, including Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds, should be admitted at trial.

The transcript pages also reveal that Trump took several opportunities to make derogatory comments about not only Carroll — whose allegations he called a “con job” and a “fairy tale” — but also Kaplan herself, continuing to cite a lack of physical attraction to an accuser as a defense against sexual assault allegations.

“Whatever. You wouldn’t be a choice of mine, either, to be honest with you. I hope you’re not insulted. I wouldn’t under any circumstances have any interest in you. I’m honest when I say it.”

“Even if you weren’t suing me, I would have no interest. Okay?” Trump said to Kaplan.

Kaplan’s motion argues that the Trump legal team shouldn’t be allowed to make comments and conduct cross-examination about her representation of Carroll. She also wants to preclude Trump’s lawyers from bringing witness testimony not disclosed in discovery and his comments about his recent offer to provide a DNA sample.

The trial is set to start on April 10.

Feb. 11

ap logoAssociated Press via HuffPost, San Diego Catholic Diocese Faces Bankruptcy Over ‘Staggering’ Abuse Lawsuit Costs, Staff Report, Feb. 11, 2023. Some 400 new lawsuits have been filed after California lifted a statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse claims, Bishop Robert McElroy said. The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego said Friday it may declare bankruptcy in the coming months as it faces “staggering” legal costs in dealing with some 400 lawsuits alleging priests and others sexually abused children.

huffington post logoIn a letter that was expected to be shared with parishioners this weekend, Bishop Robert McElroy said the cases were filed after California lifted a statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse claims.

Assembly Bill 218, which was signed into law in 2019, allows alleged victims to sue up until age 40. Also, beginning in 2020, it opened a three-year window for filing lawsuits without age limitations.

Most of the alleged abuse cited in the suits took place 50 to 75 years ago, and the earliest claim dates to 1945, Kevin Eckery, communications director for the diocese, said at a Friday news conference, KNSD-TV reported.

Eckery predicted that it would cost the diocese $550 million to settle the cases, none of which have gone to trial.

washington post logoWashington Post, Toronto mayor John Tory resigns after admitting to affair with staffer, Victoria Bisset, Feb. 11, 2023. The mayor of Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, has resigned after admitting to an affair with a former member of staff.

canadian flagJohn Tory, 68, below, told a news conference late Friday that the relationship, which he described as “a serious error in judgment on my part,” had begun during the pandemic. The unnamed woman left for another job outside of City Hall during the john tory 2018.jpgrelationship, he said, while the affair was ended “by mutual consent” earlier this year.

“It came at a time when Barb, my wife of 40-plus years, and I were enduring many lengthy periods apart while I carried out my responsibilities during the pandemic,” Tory said after news of the relationship was first reported by the Toronto Star newspaper.

“I am deeply sorry and apologize unreservedly to the people of Toronto and to all those hurt by my actions including my staff, my colleagues and the public service,” he continued. “Most of all, I apologize to my wife Barb and my family, whom I have let down more than anyone else.”

Feb. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, Despite Elon Musk’s Vow, Twitter Images of Child Sex Abuse Abound, Michael H. Keller and Kate Conger, Feb. 6, 2023. Over 120,000 views of a video showing a boy being sexually assaulted. A recommendation engine suggesting that a user follow content related to exploited children. Users continually posting abusive material, delays in taking it down when it is detected and friction with organizations that police it.

twitter bird CustomAll since Elon Musk declared that “removing child exploitation is priority #1” in a tweet in late November.

Under Mr. Musk’s ownership, Twitter’s head of safety, Ella Irwin, said she had been moving rapidly to combat child sexual abuse material, which was prevalent on the site — as it is on most tech platforms — under the previous owners. “Twitter 2.0” will be different, the company promised.

But a review by The New York Times found that the imagery, commonly known as child pornography, persisted on the platform, including widely circulated material that the authorities consider the easiest to detect and eliminate.

After Mr. Musk took the reins in late October, Twitter largely eliminated or lost staff experienced with the problem and failed to prevent the spread of abusive images previously identified by the authorities, the review shows. Twitter also stopped paying for some detection software considered key to its efforts.

All the while, people on dark-web forums discuss how Twitter remains a platform where they can easily find the material while avoiding detection, according to transcripts of those forums from an anti-abuse group that monitors them.

“If you let sewer rats in,” said Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s online safety commissioner, “you know that pestilence is going to come.”

Feb. 5

 

Disgraced Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is shown displaying the Disgraced Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is shown displaying the "White Power" sign with his left hand while voting early in January House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). (Photo by Getty Images Chief News Photographer Win McNamee, winner of a 2022 Pulitizer Prize.)

ny times logoNew York Times, George Santos Is Accused of Sexual Harassment in His Capitol Office, Grace Ashford and Michael Gold, Feb. 5, 2023 (print ed.). A prospective congressional aide has accused Representative George Santos of ethics violations and sexual harassment, according to a letter the man sent to the House Committee on Ethics and posted to Twitter on Friday.

The man, Derek Myers, briefly worked in Mr. Santos’s office before his job offer was rescinded earlier this week, according to the letter.

Mr. Myers said in the letter that he was alone with Mr. Santos in his office on Jan. 25 when the congressman asked him whether he had a profile on Grindr, a popular gay dating app. Then, he said, Mr. Santos invited him to karaoke and touched his groin, assuring him that his husband was out of town.

Mr. Myers’s account could not be corroborated, but a spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office.

Mr. Myers said in an interview that he also filed a report with the Capitol Police, speaking to an officer over the phone. On Twitter, he said that he was making his complaint public for the sake of transparency.

“They are serious offenses and the evidence and facts will speak for themselves if the committee takes up the matter,” he wrote.

A day before making his complaint public, Mr. Myers received attention following the release of recordings he had secretly made of Mr. Santos and his chief of staff, Charley Lovett.

Mr. Myers was charged last year with wiretapping in Ohio, after a small newspaper he ran published audio of courtroom testimony that someone else recorded and sent to him. Journalism organizations rallied around him, calling for the charges to be dropped in the name of press freedom.

Mr. Santos told the news start-up Semafor on Thursday that his office had been in the process of hiring Mr. Myers, but had decided against it because of concerns over the wiretapping charges. Mr. Lovett confirmed the same to Talking Points Memo.

Feb. 2

james gordon meek abc logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Former ABC News journalist charged in child porn case, Salvador Rizzo, Feb. 2, 2023 (print ed.). Federal prosecutors in Virginia have charged a former national security journalist for ABC News with a child pornography offense.

James Gordon Meek, shown above and below right in a related story, a producer who covered terrorism and major crimes for the network, was charged with one count of transporting child pornography. The FBI said in a court filing unsealed Tuesday that agents searched Meek’s apartment in Arlington last year and found explicit images and videos of minors on his electronic devices.

Meek’s last report for ABC News was published April 2022, days before the FBI searched his apartment. He resigned the same month, according to the network.

A forensic review of an iPhone found in Meek’s apartment showed that the phone’s user and another person on the messaging application Kik exchanged videos of minors being sexually abused, the FBI said in the filing. An external hard drive found in Meek’s kitchen also contained images of minors being sexually abused, the FBI said.

Feb. 1

Rolling Stone, Feds Charge Former ABC News Producer With Transportation of Child Pornography, Adam Ramsley, Feb. 1, 2023. Federal prosecutors have charged former ABC News producer James Gordon Meek, right, with transportation of child pornography, according to a criminal james gordon meekcomplaint filed in Eastern Virginia on Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors say their investigation into Meek first began after the cloud storage company Dropbox tipped off the National Center for rolling stone logoMissing and Exploited Children about the presence of five suspected videos of child sexual exploitation material in a Dropbox account, according to the complaint. A subsequent investigation of the tip allegedly confirmed the videos depicted child pornography and were linked to Meek’s account. That triggered an investigation which allegedly found Meek posing as a minor to solicit pornographic images of children.

After federal agents raided Meek’s home, prosecutors say they found a trove of pornographic images on the producer’s iPhone 8, iPhone 6, an external hard drive, and laptop depicting the abuse of children as young as a toddler.

When FBI agents examined Meek’s iPhone 8, they allegedly found messages he exchanged with another alleged pedophile with whom Meek traded child pornography. In the messages, Meek appeared to confess to having previously abused children. “Have you ever raped a toddler girl? It’s amazing,” he allegedly wrote in one exchange.

Meek was a well-known figure in national security circles, both as an Emmy-winning journalist and a former counterterrorism adviser and investigator for the House Homeland Security Committee. He was coming off of a well-received documentary about special forces skirmish in Niger, and finishing up a book with a former Green Beret on the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Then he abruptly resigned from ABC News on April 27, the same day as the raid. And his name suddenly disappeared from the promotional materials for the book.

In addition to trading child sexual abuse material with other enthusiasts, Meek allegedly approached children on Snapchat using the handle “hoolijax” in order to solicit pornographic material.

 

January

Jan. 30

OpEdNews, Commentary and Advocacy: Consolidate, Strengthen the International Effort to Stop the Use of Rape as a Weapon of War, Robert robert weiner columnistWeiner, right, and Sophia Hosford, Jan. 29-30, 2023. Rape and other forms of sexual abuse have long been used as means of control, humiliation and dominance in wartime situations. These vicious acts have been perpetuated by systems that call for world peace over all else.

Most recently, members of the Russian military in Ukraine have used rape and sexual abuse as "weapons of war." An October press release from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights reported an "array" of war crimes and violations of human rights committed by Russian personnel in Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military leadership have used rape as a tool to force subservience. The UNCHR recommended enhancing the coordination of international and national efforts to protect victims. This ambiguous recommendation holds no water to the Russian government -- apparently it fits in with catastrophic and harmful weapons of war.

The rape and abuse of a nation is dehumanizing and instills an unshakable fear and shame. Rape as a wartime tactic is inhumane.

The U.S. is not immune to this military tactic. Prisoner sex abuse was rampant with 400 alleged cases carried out at Abu Ghraib, a prison complex in Iraq, and six other prisons between 2001 and 2005 according to a 2009 report from Reuters. The photographs obtained from Abu Ghraib show "torture, abuse, rape, and every indecency" as U.S. Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who wrote the report on Abu Ghraib, told the Daily Telegraph May 30, 2009.

Today, the U.S. military is struggling to deal with an increase in rapes and sexual assaults with nearly 1 in 4 women reporting being sexually assaulted while serving, according to The New York Times.

On May 3, 2021, a former cadet at West Point was denied the opportunity to present a lawsuit to the Supreme Court. The cadet alleged rape on campus, pointing to the U.S. Military Academy's "pervasive and well-known culture of sexual violence." In fiscal year 2021 the Department of Defense received 161 reports of sexual assault that involved cadets/midshipmen/prep school students as victims and/or alleged perpetrators, an increase of 32 reports from the previous year. Rape in the military is not just an issue in combat; it starts in the academies.

In 2013, then-Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., proposed the Vanessa Guille'n Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act. The legislation aimed to standardize how the military prosecutes sexual assault and to remove the fear survivors have of reporting the crimes against them. In 2021, a related bill was introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to include an independent prosecutor in cases of rape and murder and received backing from Democratic leaders such as then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York.

Former United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women Dubravka Šimonovi presented the Model Rape Law, an addendum to her report on rape as a human rights violation, to harmonize both national and international standards on rape and sexual violence. Rape can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide when the other elements of the crimes are present.

The Model Rape Law could aid in implementing international standards on rape, thus presenting a stronger stance against rape and sexual abuse in the United States and abroad. One of the objectives of the legislation is to prevent and combat rape as a common and widespread violation of human rights. But this can't be the only action taken by the UNCHR to protect victims of rape and prosecute those responsible.

Sexual abuse is a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions, a set of protocols that dictate humanitarian treatment during wartime and prohibit torture, outrages upon personal dignity, and humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, among other rules of conduct.

Thirty countries including the United States have imposed a series of sanctions on Russia, resulting in economic disruption -- but that hasn't stopped its government from ordering these attacks and from its soldiers from blindly carrying them out. While the U.N. is the overarching entity that regulates international standards and needs to be enacting laws that do so, Putin must independently be embarrassed by the atrocities he is encouraging and causing. More publicity of these rapes and abuses could help do that. The issue is widespread and international: On Jan. 17, CNN reported that a former London police officer, David Carrick, was dismissed following his admission to 24 counts of rape.

The U.N. and United States need to look internally and enact legislation that presents an explicit stance against rape, an offense considered to be a crime against humanity, but that isn't treated as such.

The U.S. has a duty to protect service members who are victimized and reprimand and discharge those who acted as aggressors. The U.S. and the U.N. must pass the aforementioned legislation and work with other governments to standardize responses to rape and sexual abuse in wartime on the global stage.

Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the House Government Operations Committee, the Clinton and George W. Bush White Houses, Four-Star Gen. Barry McCaffrey, and senior aide to Cong. Ed Koch, Claude Pepper, John Conyers, Charles Rangel, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. Sophia Hosford is policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

Jan. 25

 

roger ailes and laurie luhn split h 2016Hollywood Reporter, Fox News Employee Laura Luhn Sues Network Over Roger Ailes’ Sexual Harassment and Blackmail, Staff Report, Jan. 25, 2023. The former Fox News employee, shown above right, is suing the network, along with former co-president Bill Shine and hollywood reporter logoparent company 21st Century Fox, under New York's Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily lifts the statute of limitations on certain sexual misconduct claims.

Former Fox News employee Laura Luhn is suing the network over decades of alleged abuse by late CEO Roger Ailes (shown above left) — including an allegation that he blackmailed her with sexually explicit videos. The suit, which also includes claims against former co-president Bill Shine and parent company 21st Century Fox, is being filed under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily lifts the statute of limitations on certain sexual misconduct claims.

In a Wednesday filing, Luhn claims Ailes subjected her to sexual abuse, discrimination, manipulation and threats spanning two decades. Ailes in 2016 stepped down from the company he founded after several women, including anchors bill shineGretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. She’s suing Fox News for unlawful discrimination and negligence, and Shine for aiding and abetting the actions. Shine resigned in 2017 amid allegations that he covered up Ailes’ behavior.

“Roger Ailes used his position as the head of Fox News to trap Laura W. Luhn in a decades-long cycle of sexual abuse,” states the filing, which The Hollywood Reporter obtained through the New York state court portal. “To ensure her compliance and public silence, Ailes photographed and videotaped Luhn in compromising positions — blackmail material that he explicitly described as his ‘insurance policy’ — and made clear to Luhn that any attempt to speak out or stop the abuse would result in severe personal fox news logo Smallhumiliation and career ruin.”

Her complaint, which alleges misconduct from 1991 to 2011, is being filed now because the ASA, which was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on May 24, 2022, effectively suspends time constraints on claims involving sex offenses during a one-year lookback window that opened Nov. 24. It includes a provision that allows for claims against employers if the incident involved the workplace.

Luhn says she first met Ailes at President George H.W. Bush’s campaign headquarters in 1988, prior to his election. Years later, he hired her at his then-company Ailes Communications. Luhn says she was forced to give Ailes oral sex regularly, that he referred to her as his “sex slave” and demanded she wear a black garter and stockings, which he called her “uniform,” during a meeting in a hotel room shortly after she started working for him. In that meeting, in which he allegedly referred to her as his “whore” and “spy” and demanded she do whatever he told her no matter when or where, Luhn says he videotaped her and said he was going to “put it in a safe-deposit box just so we understand each other.”

Luhn first went public with her claims against Ailes in a July 2016 New York Magazine story, in which she called him a “predator” and said she felt the experience was “psychological torture.” She told the magazine that he demanded sexual favors and was asked to “lure” young female employees into meeting with Ailes alone. At the time of the story, Ailes’ attorney Susan Estrich denied the allegations and said, “It is disturbing that she is the subject of one reporter’s journalistic exploitation.” Ailes died in 2017 of complications following a fall, during which he’d hit his head.

 

Dr. Robert Hadden, a former physician long employed by Columbia University (Photos from federal court exhibits).Law & Crime, Former Columbia University OB-GYN, ‘Predator in a White Coat,’ Convicted of Federal Sex Abuse Charges, Adam Klasfeld, Jan. 25, 2023. Former Columbia University ob-gyn, shown above, has been convicted of federal sex crimes. (Photos via DOJ exhibits)

A former Columbia University gynecologist has been found guilty of the serial sexual abuse of patients in his care, including minors and the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

lawcrime logo“Robert Hadden was a predator in a white coat,” declared Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. When announcing the case a little more than two years earlier, the prosecutor’s predecessor, ex-U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, used the same description for the disgraced doctor.

“For years, he cruelly lured women who sought professional medical care to his offices in order to gratify himself,” Williams said. “Hadden’s victims trusted him as a physician, only to instead become victims of his heinous predilection. We thank and commend the brave women who came forward to tell their stories, many of whom testified at trial, to end his years-long cycle of abuse.”

Prosecutors said that the case was decades in the making, claiming the OB-GYN’s crimes took place between 1993 and 2012.

At the time of his arrest in September 2020, Hadden was 62 years old, and the FBI was still searching for all of his victims.

The Southern District of New York’s case focused on seven victims, but authorities say the true number is far higher. In October columbia logo2022, Columbia University Irving Medical Center announced a settlement with 147 past patients of Hadden, which followed a similar resolution with 79 women a year earlier. Yet Hadden avoided prison time for decades, despite pleading guilty in 2016 to sexually assaulting two patients. The settlement created a more than $165 million compensation fund.

That plea deal, entered into with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, allowed him to avoid imprisonment in return for losing his medical license and forfeiting ever getting another one.

The deal did not, however, preempt federal prosecution, and Hadden’s most recent indictment alleged a pattern of predation. Prosecutors said that Hadden touched victims’ breasts, nipples, buttocks, and genitals — “without a valid medical purpose.”

Multiple victims said Hadden would concoct an excuse to examine them, such as full-body “mole checks,” to give himself an opportunity digitally penetrate or even lick their genitals. Text messages entered into evidence corroborated their accounts.

gretchen buselliLaw & Crime, Woman Gets 15 Years For Paying Undercover Fed $5,000 ‘Downpayment’ to Assassinate Husband in Murder-For-Hire Plot, Jerry Lambe, Jan. 24, 2023. A federal judge in Florida handed down the maximum sentence to a 48-year-old Tallahassee woman convicted of trying to have her estranged husband killed in a murder-for-hire plot. U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker on Monday sentenced Gretchen Buselli, above, also known as Gretchen Yarbrough, to serve 15 years behind bars after she paid an undercover federal agent a $5,000 downpayment to assassinate the man, federal prosecutors confirmed in an email to Law&Crime

lawcrime logoAccording to court documents, Buselli used a cellphone to solicit the would-be assassin, communicating with the undercover FBI agent from June 2021 to December 2021.

The investigation into Buselli began when she communicated with an acquaintance – identified in court documents as “CW” – via mail, phone, text message, and encrypted mobile app about her plans to solicit the murder of her estranged husband, prosecutors said. Buselli, who had known CW since the two were teens, was a person she knew had “committed crimes” and had “been to prison,” prosecutors said.

FBI logoAuthorities said Buselli asked CW in June 2021 to kill her ex-husband in exchange for $40,000, claiming that the man was abusing her daughter. After the two communicated more about this on the encrypted messaging app Signal, the conversation shifted to a telephone call that the feds were listening in on.

In July 2021, the suspect “explained to CW how she has been struggling with the child custody situation with her ex-husband, that she has a judge that doesn’t care, and that she believes the system is corrupt and preventing her from getting justice for her daughter,” an affidavit filed in federal court stated. Buselli allegedly reasoned that the only solution was getting rid of her ex-husband.

The affidavit also included a detail of the defendant becoming “very excited” when CW proposed dumping her ex’s body in the ocean.

ny times logoNew York Times, A company that makes abortion pills is challenging state bans on the medication in a lawsuit, Pam Belluck, Jan. 25, 2023. The case, brought by GenBioPro, a company that makes one of two abortion drugs, argues that it is unconstitutional for a state to bar access to a medication approved by the federal government.

A company that makes an abortion pill filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning challenging the constitutionality of a state ban on the medication, one in what is expected to be a wave of cases arguing that the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the pill takes precedence over such restrictive state laws.

The case was filed in federal court in West Virginia by GenBioPro, one of two American manufacturers of mifepristone, the first pill used in the two-drug medication abortion regimen. A ruling in favor of the company could compel other states that have banned abortion to allow the pills to be prescribed, dispensed and sold, according to legal experts. If the courts reject the company’s arguments, some legal scholars say the decision could open the door for states to ban or restrict other approved drugs, such as Covid vaccines or morning-after pills.

The case is one of a number of lawsuits testing legal arguments in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling last June overturning the federal right to abortion. Also on Wednesday, an obstetrician-gynecologist sued officials in North Carolina, which still allows abortion, challenging the state’s requirements for using mifepristone because they go beyond F.D.A. regulations on the drug. In November, abortion opponents filed a lawsuit challenging the F.D.A.’s approval of mifepristone nearly 23 years ago and asked that the courts order the agency to stop allowing the use of the drug and the second drug, misoprostol, for abortion.

Taken together, the cases underscore how pivotal medication abortion has become in legal and political battles. With pills now being used in more than half of abortions in America, and with recent F.D.A. decisions allowing patients to have pills prescribed by telemedicine and obtained by mail or from retail pharmacies, states that ban or restrict abortion are increasingly targeting the medication method.

Jan. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Abortion rights advocates never got to celebrate Roe's 50th anniversary, Rachel Roubein with research by McKenzie Beard, Jan. 24, 2023 (print ed.). Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, but abortion rights groups didn’t celebrate it like they might have once expected.

Instead, they’re fighting more than a dozen state-level bans that quickly fell into place after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure in June.

Over the weekend, the Women’s March held roughly 200 events in states and cities across the country, including its marquee march this year in Madison, Wis. Planned Parenthood’s political and advocacy affiliates are hosting a week of actions, such as rallies in state capitals and trainings focused on reducing the stigma of abortion. And Vice President Harris pushed for national legislation to protect abortion rights in a speech delivered in Florida, a state that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

Harris’s speech in Florida has political significance.

The state passed its 15-week ban last year — a prohibition on the procedure that’s more permissive than many other surrounding states in the South. It’s one of the states where further restrictions are expected to be up for debate this year. And it’s the home of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has emerged as the most highly anticipated potential 2024 challenger to former president Donald Trump.

Jan. 22

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, “I don’t think the picture is real. It is a fake," Vicky Ward, Ghislaine Maxwell on THAT photograph and Alan Dershowitz on Prince Andrew's legal U-Turn.

Tomorrow, I am booked to talk to Britain’s Piers Morgan on Talk TV about an exclusive interview with British TV host, Jeremy Kyle, given by Ghislaine Maxwell from jail in Florida as she waits for an appeal.

Prince Andrew, purportedly with Virginia Roberts Guiffre, center and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001.What’s been reported so far about the interview is that she says that the famous photograph of herself with Prince Andrew and his arm around Virginia Roberts Giuffre, then 17, is, as far as she knows, a fake. Prince Andrew, purportedly with Virginia Roberts Guiffre, center and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001.

She told Britain’s Daily Mail:

'I have no memory of them meeting. And I don't think that picture is real.

'It is a fake. I don't believe it is real for a second, in fact I am sure it is not.

'There has never been an original, there is no photograph'

OK. So I explained in my Audible Original podcast, Chasing Ghislaine, that that photograph is arguably more responsible than anything else for putting Epstein and later Maxwell behind bars–and for Prince Andrew’s subsequent disgrace. I also know that the photograph’s authenticity has long been a question mark for Maxwell and her siblings. A source close to the Maxwells told me weeks ahead of her trial at the end of 2021 that no one they knew had glimpsed the original.

The reason that photograph matters: Jeffrey Epstein was not a household name in 2011 when that photograph, allegedly taken at Maxwell’s London home in 2001, was first published in the Mail on Sunday. Nor were Ghislaine Maxwell or Virginia Roberts Giuffre. But Prince Andrew definitely was. It was his celebrity that sparked international interest in Giuffre’s claims–and her subsequent civil lawsuits against Epstein and, later, Maxwell and Prince Andrew. The depositions in the civil suits became critical catalysts for the criminal suits subsequently brought by prosecutors against both Epstein and Maxwell. And those, in turn, were the catalyst for Giuffre’s civil suit against Prince Andrew.

Prince Andrew is now reportedly considering trying to roll-back the settlement he made last March with Giuffre after she sued him for sexual abuse. It was a settlement that resulted in him being stripped of his HRH title, military titles, and Royal patronages.

Jan. 20

 

Liberty Christian Academy Principal Jason Kennedy and school secretary and home school coordinator Brittney Branham both face charges in the case. (Images: McMinn County Jail).

Liberty Christian Academy Principal Jason Kennedy and school secretary and home school coordinator Brittney Branham both face charges in the case. (Images: McMinn County Jail).

WTVC (ABC TV affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group in Chattanooga, TN), Christian school principal indicted on 11 new child sex charges in McMinn County, Staff Report, Updated Jan. 20, 2023. A McMinn County Grand Jury has indicted the principal of a small Christian school in Athens on several new counts. As first reported last year, 47-year-old Jason Kennedy already faces charges he engaged in improper sexual activity with an underage girl.

District Attorney Stephen Crump confirmed on Friday that the charges Kennedy was just indicted for represent 3 more victims, bringing the total number of victims in this case to 4. Tuesday's grandy jury indictment shows Kennedy faces these new charges:

    • Sexual activity involving a minor; Solicitation of a minor to observe sexual conduct; 6 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure; 2 counts of violation of the Child Protect Act; Aggravated sexual battery.

We asked D.A. Crump whether Liberty Christian School's secretary, 28-year-old Brittney Branham, will also face new charges, but Crump said he could not comment on her case.

Previous report: The principal and secretary of a small Christian school in McMinn County engaged in improper sexual activity in front of an underage teen and former student at the pastor's home, according to 2 arrest reports from the McMinn County Sheriff's Department.

47-year-old Jason Kennedy is principal, teacher and pastor of Liberty Christian School in Riceville. 28-year-old Brittney Branham is the school's secretary and homeschool coordinator.

Affidavits we obtained on Friday say the 19-year-old victim reported the incident to authorities earlier this month. She was underage at the time she says the incidents happened.

The report says in the summer of 2019, she would spend the night at Kennedy's Athens home, where he was living with both his wife and Branham.

The young woman said she would stay in Branham's room. While they were in that room, the victim said Jason Kennedy came into the room and started talking about sex with her and Branham.

During the conversation, the teen said Branham encouraged her to let Kennedy touch her private areas, telling her "it was okay to allow him to do that, it was fun, and not to tell anyone because Brittney and Jason could get into trouble," the report says.

In August 2020, the teen says Branham and Kennedy bought her a "black and white skimpy night gown," according to the report. One night when she was staying at Kennedy's home, she told investigators Jason came into the room with her and Branham, and touched the girl's breast.

In early 2021, the teen told investigators that while she was staying in Branham's room again, Kennedy came into the room and began talking about sex.

During that conversation, the woman said both Kennedy and Branham pleasured themselves, and encouraged her to join them. When they were finished, the teen said they adjusted their clothing and "like nothing had happened, they began talking like normal," the report says.

The report says the girl's father would let her spend the night at Kennedy's house, saying that when she did, "Kennedy would have custodial authority" over her.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former New York college cult leader sentenced to 60 years in prison, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 20, 2023. Lawrence Ray, right, who was convicted last year of extorting and torturing members of a cult — students he recruited at his daughter’s college dorm —lawrence ray was sentenced Friday to 60 years in prison after several of his victims described a decade of abuse that shattered their lives.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis J. Liman described Ray’s behavior as manipulation that devastated his victims and their families. Ray operated with “evil genius” that warranted what amounted to a life sentence in prison, the judge said.

“It was sadism, pure and simple,” Liman said in federal court in Manhattan.

Liman said victims showed courage during the trial last year, which included their testimony about their personal struggles. He said their role in exposing the conduct by Ray, who was convicted in April, “speaks volumes about the resilience of the human spirit.”

Two of the victims spoke at the sentencing and another offered a statement read by an attorney.

The statement came from Claudia Drury, who met Ray when she was 19 at Sarah Lawrence College and he moved into his daughter Talia’s dorm. Drury had testified about being forced into a life of prostitution and being physically and mentally tormented over more than eight years under Ray’s control. Sarah Lawrence has said that it did not know at the time about Ray’s presence there.

In the statement, Drury said she still has “nightmares almost every night” and cannot function enough to have a job.

“Putting myself back together is a difficult, extremely painful and slow,” she wrote. “I barely have the energy to exist day to day.”

Santos Rosario who spoke in court on Friday, also was 19 when he met Ray at Sarah Lawrence at a time he said he felt hopeful for the future.

“Then I met Larry Ray, and all of that went up in smoke,” Rosario said. “Instead, the next decade was one of absolute misery.”

Rosario, believing Ray was capable of helping him better himself, brought his sisters into the fold hoping they could benefit from Ray’s counsel too. His older sister Felicia was an Ivy League-educated doctor who quit her residency in California at age 29 to be with Ray, and his sister Yalitza was also in college.

Both sisters suffered because of Ray, their brother said. Santos Rosario said he attempted suicide multiple times. Their desperate and confused parents shelled out thousands 0f dollars to Ray, money their children claimed they owed him, hoping to help save their kids, according to testimony at the trial.

When Ray was given the chance to speak in court on Friday, he did not acknowledge the victims’ torment. He complained about the conditions of his incarceration, detailed his medical problems and sought sympathy for the recent deaths of his father, stepfather and stepmother.

Ray was convicted in April on 15 counts, including racketeering, sex trafficking and forced labor. His crimes began when he moved into his daughter’s on-campus apartment in 2010 and quickly gained the trust of her friends, showering them with attention and advice before manipulating them.

Several of the victims had significant psychiatric issues when they met Ray, which worsened as they fell deeper under his control. They were increasingly isolated from family and friends who were not part of what their leader dubbed “the Ray family.” Ray was a felon who had been released from prison when he started showing up at Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, N.Y., which is north of New York City.

Jurors at Ray’s trial heard and saw evidence of brainwashing efforts that led well-educated and promising young adults into lives of forced labor, prostitution and physical abuse. The 63-year-old, who was at one point close friends with former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, had a system of emotionally and psychologically breaking down his followers, convincing them they sabotaged him and others and that only he could help them make amends, prosecutors said.

Jan. 19

washington post logoWashington Post, Opposition to Pope Francis spills into view in wake of Benedict’s death, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Jan. 19, 2023. Last year, a high-ranking figure in the Vatican invited a journalist to a confidential meeting and handed him a stapled seven-page memo, a scalding insider critique of Pope Francis’s pontificate. The memorandum, touching on everything from moral to financial issues, ended with an appeal about the kind of pope that should emerge from the next conclave: in short, somebody the opposite of pope francis uncropped 3 13Francis, right.

“The first tasks of the new pope will be to restore normality, restore doctrinal clarity in faith and morals, restore a proper respect for the law,” said the memo, which was signed with the pseudonym “Demos.”

The journalist, Sandro Magister, published the text last March on his Vatican blog, Settimo Cielo.

george pell afp customBut then there was a final twist. After the purported author died last week, Magister felt free to reveal his identity: Cardinal George Pell (shown at left in an AFP photo), a giant of the conservative Catholic world.

“He had wanted it to circulate because he deemed it useful to develop a conversation” about the church, Magister told The Washington Post.

That revelation, coupled with other recent pontifical critiques, have quickly dissolved the notion that the Dec. 31 death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a symbolic leader of the church’s conservative wing, might lessen the opposition to Francis. Some church watchers had expected that this might be a liberating moment for Francis — he’d be, at last, the lone Vatican figure dressing in white. But to the extent there’s been a new phase, it’s been typified by intrigue and acrimony.

Magister’s disclosure came at a time when the Vatican was already buzzing about a book written by Benedict’s trusted personal secretary that highlighted several moments of tension between the ex-pope and current one.

As if that weren’t enough drama, the Spectator, a conservative London-based magazine, posthumously published one more article written by Pell — this one signed — in which he skewered an ongoing multiyear church project, central to Francis’s vision for the church, that involves listening to grass-roots Catholics and accounting for the “richness” of different church perspectives.

“A toxic nightmare,” Pell called this process, which will culminate with a major assembly in October.

Pell’s critiques in particular amount to a clarion call for conservatives, who have long worried that Francis might become bolder now that he doesn’t risk personally offending his predecessor.

Pell had spent more than a year in solitary confinement after being found guilty of assaulting two teenage choirboys in his home country of Australia. But that conviction was overturned by the country’s top court in 2020. When he returned to Rome, he reclaimed his platform among conservatives, who celebrated what they saw as his vindication.

 

Longtime columnist E. Jean Carroll, plaintiff in civil suits accusing Donald Trump of rape three decades again and defamation more recently, is show at left in a recent file photo along with Trump. jt e jean carroll

Longtime advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, plaintiff in civil suits accusing Donald Trump of rape three decades again and defamation more recently, is show at left in a recent file photo along with Trump and below  right in a photo three decades ago.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump thought photo of accuser was of ex-wife during deposition, Shayna Jacobs, Jan. 19, 2023 (print ed.). Donald Trump mistook his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples when shown a photograph from the 1990s in a deposition at Mar-a-Lago last year, potentially undermining one of the common defenses he has used to deny an attack.

e jean carroll twitterTrump, who is being sued by Carroll, an author and advice columnist, for defamation and sexual assault stemming from the same alleged encounter, has repeatedly said Carroll is not his “type,” suggesting an assault could not have occurred because he would not have pursued her romantically.

“That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife,” Trump said under examination from Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, in a new selection of excerpts from the deposition that was unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Trump’s blunder in a sworn deposition was quickly corrected by his attorney Alina Habba, who told him it was Carroll, not Maples, an actress and singer who was married to Trump from 1993 to 1999.

The top 10 Republican presidential candidates for 2024, ranked

Maples was Trump’s second of three wives and is the mother of Trump’s youngest daughter, Tiffany.

Trump’s lawyer did not immediately have a comment.

e jean carroll cover new york magazineThe black-and-white photo at issue has been circulating since Carroll, left, made allegations against then-president Trump in 2019, detailing an account in her memoir of a forced sexual act during an encounter with Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.

Trump (whose notorious front-page treatment in the New York Daily news in 2016 is shown below) has denied having ever known Carroll, and in response to the photo’s existence, he has said in the past that he was often introduced to people at events that he didn’t know. In the deposition, he said the photo appeared to show him on a “receiving line,” possibly at a charity event, where he met and greeted guests. 

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape lawsuit echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case.

 

matt schlapp cpac

Politico, Matt Schlapp sued by former Herschel Walker aide over sexual assault allegations, Natalie Allison, Jan. 18, 2023 (print ed.). The conservative operative, shown above, denies the charges and hints at a countersuit.

politico CustomMatt Schlapp, a top Republican political operative, and his wife Mercedes Schlapp, a one-time Donald Trump aide, are being sued by a former Herschel Walker campaign staffer over allegations that he sexually assaulted him while on the campaign.

A lawyer for Schlapp on Tuesday said his clients deny the accusations and are considering “counter-lawsuit options.” The suit was filed in Virginia Circuit Court for the city of Alexandria.

republican elephant logoThe former Walker staffer, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, is seeking $9.4 million in damages from the Schlapps, saying not only did Matt Schlapp commit sexual battery, but he and his wife defamed him afterward.

Reached for comment, Schlapp’s attorney Charlie Spies called the complaint “false,” and said the “Schlapp family is suffering unbearable pain and stress” as a result. Schlapp also tweeted the statement from Spies.

“No family should ever go through this and the Schlapps and their legal team are assessing counter-lawsuit options,” said Spies, who is representing the couple.

The lawsuit follows claims earlier this month by the former Walker campaign staffer, who said Schlapp sexually assaulted him in Georgia in October while Schlapp was visiting the state to stump for the Republican Senate candidate.

The male staffer said Schlapp, without consent, “groped” and “fondled” his groin while the staffer was driving Schlapp back to his hotel Oct. 19. Politico previously confirmed the existence of the allegations, which were first reported on Jan. 6 by the Daily Beast. In the lawsuit, Schlapp is said to have placed his hand on the staffer’s leg before he “began aggressively fondling Mr. Doe’s genital area in a sustained fashion” while the staffer was “frozen with fear and panic.” Schlapp then reportedly invited the staffer up to his hotel room, which the man declined.

The pair had gone out for drinks in Atlanta after Schlapp spent the day campaigning with Walker in Perry, Ga., Walker campaign officials told Politico.

ny times logoNew York Times, From the French Resistance to Warhol to the Abortion Pill, Pam Belluck, Jan. 18, 2023 (print ed.). Étienne-Émile Baulieu, the father of the abortion pill, has led an eventful life, including time in the French Resistance and friendships with famous artists.

When the idea struck him, nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Étienne-Émile Baulieu believed it could be revolutionary. Creating a pill that could abort a pregnancy would transform reproductive health care, he thought, allowing women to avoid surgery, act earlier and carry out their decisions in private.

“When science meets women’s cause, it is irresistible,” Dr. Baulieu, 96, a French endocrinologist and biochemist often called the father of the abortion pill, said on a recent Sunday afternoon in his apartment in a century-old building a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.
He had also hoped, as he wrote in a 1990 book, that by the 21st century, “paradoxically, the ‘abortion pill’ might even help eliminate abortion as an issue.”
That prospect seems as distant as ever, especially in the United States. Not only has abortion remained fiercely contentious since the pill Dr. Baulieu spearheaded, mifepristone, was approved in America in 2000, but last year’s Supreme Court decision ending the federal right to abortion has divided the country over the issue as never before.

Jan. 13

 

donald trump ny daily pussy

New disclosures in the E. Jean Carroll rape lawsuit echo Trump's words in "Hollywood Access" videotape, reported upon above, that arose during the 2016 presidential campaign. Shown Then: The front page of a 2016 New York Daily News edition contrasts with President Trump's claimed innocence in the Carroll case.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump falsely claimed in deposition that Carroll spoke about enjoying rape, Shayna Jacobs and Isaac Arnsdorfo, Jan. 13, 2023. In sworn questioning, Donald Trump denied raping E. Jean Carroll but also falsely claimed she said she enjoyed sexual assault.

Donald Trump used a sworn deposition in a case brought by his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll to continue calling her a liar and to claim she is e jean carrollmentally ill — denying that he sexually assaulted her even as he falsely claimed Carroll, left, said in a CNN interview that she enjoyed being raped.

In rambling and combative testimony at an October session at Mar-a-Lago, Trump reiterated past claims he didn’t know Carroll, shown at left right and below through the years, e jean carroll twitterexcept as an adversary in what he termed “hoax” litigation, and said she was a “nut job" who was fabricating the story altogether.

“I know nothing about her,” he said in response to questions from Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, according to court documents unsealed Friday. “I think she’s sick. Mentally sick.”

The former president twisted Carroll’s comments from a June 2019 interview with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, in which she said she shied away from calling her alleged encounter with Trump a “rape” because the word “has so many sexual connotations” and is a “fantasy” for many.

“I think most people think of rape as being sexy,” she told Cooper, according to a transcript of the interview, explaining that she instead thinks of her alleged attack as a “fight.”

Trump cited the interview in telling Kaplan that Carroll “loved” sexual assault.

e jean carroll cover new york magazine“She actually indicated that she loved it. Okay?” Trump said in the deposition. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”

Kaplan then asked: “So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?”

And Trump answered: “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place.”

Carroll, an author and advice columnist, publicly accused Trump in 2019 of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. She has a pair of pending lawsuits against him in federal court in Manhattan, the first for defamation over comments by Trump in 2019 trashing her and her account, and the latter over the alleged sexual assault itself.

Trump has denied knowing Carroll at all, even though he was photographed with her and her then-husband at an event decades ago.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected a bid by Trump’s attorneys to dismiss Carroll’s sexual assault lawsuit, which was filed under a New York law that lets sexual assault victims sue years later.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba said she would appeal the judge’s decision not to toss out the newer case. A spokesman for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign declined further comment.

The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering whether the Justice Department can represent Trump as a federal employee, a long-running legal dispute that has been heard by various courts and could effectively put an end to the defamation claims.

Kaplan has scheduled an April trial date for both lawsuits.

Some portions of Carroll’s deposition in the defamation lawsuit were already part of the public docket. Portions of Trump’s deposition were ordered released in a separate decision Friday by Judge Kaplan, who is not related to Carroll’s attorney. That decision followed a bid by Trump’s attorneys to keep the previously donald trump monster abananapeeledcom dcmaredacted section sealed.

The deposition depicts a full display of Trump’s trademark bluster. He complained to Roberta Kaplan, the attorney, about having to “waste a whole day doing these ridiculous questions with you” and said he would sue both Carroll and her attorney “after this is over.”

He also insisted incorrectly that Truth Social, the social media website he launched in response to his disciplinary removal from Twitter, was more successful than mainstream sites like Twitter, TikTok and Instagram. Truth Social, whose audience has reportedly grown since its rocky launch, still has nowhere near the reach as the others apps on the market.

Kaplan asked Trump during the deposition to list times he’s labeled an event a “hoax,” which he has said about Carroll’s allegation. “The Russia Russia Russia hoax ... Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine hoax,” Trump replied, apparent references to federal probes into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s alleged meddling in the disbursement of Ukraine military funding during his term. He listed several others and said of the legal proceedings initiated by Carroll: “This is a hoax too.”

When directly asked if he’d ever sexually assaulted or touched a woman’s intimate parts without consent, his lawyer objected and Trump responded.

“Well, I will tell you no, but you may have some people like your client that lie,” Trump said.

At least 17 women have come forward with allegations that Trump physically touched them inappropriately, many of them supported by people they told at the time. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Jan. 10

washington post logoWashington Post, Former judge arrested, accused of offering judicial favors for sex, Jonathan Edwards, Jan. 10, 2023 (print ed.). Judge Thomas David Carruth made the woman in his office an offer: If she had sex with him, he’d help with her ex-husband’s case, federal prosecutors alleged last week.

She refused, but Carruth allegedly had a counteroffer at the ready: Would she send him pictures of herself wearing nice lingerie?

She refused that, too.

Then, the woman sent a 28-minute recording of their conversation to law enforcement, according to an eight-page indictment.

On Thursday, Carruth, 63, was arrested on accusations that he solicited sex in exchange for judicial favors and then lied about it to the FBI. A federal grand jury in the U.S. District of Eastern Arkansas has indicted him on three counts of honest services wire fraud, three counts of using a facility in interstate commerce in furtherance of unlawful activity, one count of bribery, one count of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice.

His attorney, Robby Golden, said Carruth maintains his innocence.

Carruth resigned his position as judge in August before successfully running for city attorney of Clarendon, a town of about 1,500 in Monroe County, Ark., according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Jan. 7

vicky ward investigates

 

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, There Are Some Big Discrepancies in the Epstein-Related Lawsuits, Vicky Ward, Jan. 9, 2023. As the lawsuits pile up, the mysteries are mounting….

I talked last night to Jessica Reed Krauss of House Inhabit (you can find our interview on her Substack) about what the firing of Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George might mean, coming as it did just days after she filed a lawsuit against J.P. Morgan.

In her complaint, George had accused the bank of enabling Epstein’s criminal sexual crimes, saying they banked him out of self-interest, not wanting to lose him or an assortment of high-net-worth individuals he was connected to—individuals whose names were blacked out in the suit. The bank denies these allegations.

As I talked to Jessica, I realized that’s what’s almost as odd as the sudden removal of George as Attorney General is the fact that the names—or some of them, at least—are not blacked out in a separate lawsuit filed against J.P. Morgan just weeks earlier also in the Southern District of New York on behalf of two unnamed Epstein victims. (The victims claim J.P. Morgan enabled Epstein and his friends to abuse them.)

The women’s suit names at least one high-net-worth individual who they claim J.P. Morgan feared would leave the bank if Epstein left: the billionaire Les Wexner. The suit also names Glenn Dubin as a wealthy hedge-fund owner who Epstein introduced to then-head of private banking Jes Staley, resulting in a profitable transaction for J.P. Morgan.

The women’s complaint also gets into detail about the role it claims was played by J.P. Morgan’s Staley and later Mary Erdoes, Staley’s successor as CEO of private banking.

Daily Beast via Yahoo!, QAnon Star Who Said Only ‘Idiots’ Get Vax Dies of COVID, Will Sommer, Jan. 7, 2022. Anti-Vax Radio Host Who Got COVID at QAnon-Friendly Conference Dies.

daily beast logoA leading QAnon promoter who urged both her followers and strangers she passed on the street not to take the COVID vaccine died Thursday of the coronavirus, making her just the latest vaccine opponent killed by the disease.

Cirsten Weldon had amassed tens of thousands of followers across right-wing social media networks by promoting the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy under the screenname “CirstenW.” She was prominent enough to become a sort of QAnon interpreter for comedian conspiracy theorist Roseanne Barr and started recording videos about QAnon with her.

Weldon focused on attacking vaccines and other efforts to fight COVID-19, saying in one video that Dr. Anthony Fauci “needs to be hung from a rope.” She claimed the vaccine killed people and even recorded herself yelling at people standing in line to receive vaccines.

“The vaccines kill, don’t get it!” Weldon warned the waiting vaccine recipients in an undated video posted to one of her online accounts. “This is how gullible these idiots are. They’re all getting vaccine!”

Jan. 6

 

matt schlapp cpac

Talking Points Memo, CPAC Organizer Matt Schlapp Accused Of Unwanted Sexual Contact, Kaila Philo, Jan. 6, 2023. Republican activist Matt Schlapp, shown above, has been accused of making “sustained and unwanted and unsolicited” sexual advances toward a staffer for Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday night. According to the staffer, whose identity the Daily Beast withheld, the incident occurred while he was driving Schlapp back to a Hilton Garden Inn from an Atlanta bar on Oct. 19.

“Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length, and I’m sitting there thinking what the hell is going on, that this person is literally doing this to me,” the staffer said in a video he recorded that night that was shared with the Daily Beast.

Schlapp has denied the accusation through his attorney Charlie Spies, who said the Daily Beast was trying to “attack” Schlapp. “This appears to be now the twelfth Daily Beast piece with personal attacks on Matt Schlapp and his family,” Spies wrote in a statement. “The attack is false and Mr. Schlapp denies any improper behavior. We are evaluating legal options for response.”

The staffer recalled Schlapp saying he’d wanted to discuss his professional future that night, the Daily Beast reported. Schlapp, who chairs the American Conservative Union and helps organize the Conservative Political Action Conference, allegedly “groped” and “fondled” the staffer’s crotch after talking at a couple of bars.

He also claimed that Schlapp repeatedly intruded on his personal space at the bars. “It was a public space, and I was thinking that he got the hint,” he told the Daily Beast. “I did not want to embarrass him. But it escalated.”

When he drove Schlapp back to his hotel, the conservative leader allegedly groped at his crotch, which the staffer called “scarring” and “humiliating.” Since he was due to drive Schlapp to the airport the next day, he reportedly told his supervisor and a senior campaign official on the Walker campaign about the incident that morning. The official was “immediately horrified” before relieving him of his chauffeuring duties, according to the Daily Beast’s reporting.

The staffer said he then sent Schlapp a text: “I did want to say I was uncomfortable with what happened last night,” he said. “The campaign does have a driver who is available to get you to Macon and back to the airport.” 

Schlapp then requested that the staffer call him, but he declined, per the Daily Beast. Schlapp reportedly called him three times after he sent the text, but the staffer did not answer or return the calls, according to the Daily Beast’s review of the phone records. According to the staffer, they haven’t spoken since.

A senior Walker official confirmed details of the campaign’s involvement to the Daily Beast, and added that the campaign initiated a meeting between the staffer and an attorney. The staffer told the news outlet he was satisfied with how the campaign handled the accusations.

Jan. 4

ny times logoNew York Times, Abortion Pills Can Now Be Offered at Retail Pharmacies, F.D.A. Says, Pam Belluck, Jan. 4, 2023 (print ed.). Mifepristone, the first of two drugs in medication abortions, previously had to be dispensed only by clinics, doctors or a few mail-order pharmacies. Now, if local drugstores or chains like CVS agree to certain rules, they can provide it.

For the first time, retail pharmacies, from corner drugstores to major chains like CVS and Walgreens, will be allowed to offer abortion pills in the United States under a regulatory change made Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The action could significantly expand access to abortion through medication.

Until now, mifepristone — the first pill used in the two-drug medication abortion regimen — could be dispensed only by a few mail-order pharmacies or by specially certified doctors or clinics. Under the new F.D.A. rules, patients will still need a prescription from a certified health care provider, but any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and abide by certain other criteria can dispense the pills in its stores and by mail order.

The change comes as abortion pills, already used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the U.S., are becoming even more sought after in the aftermath of last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning the federal right to abortion. With conservative states banning or sharply restricting abortion, the pills have increasingly become the focus of political and legal battles, which may influence a pharmacy’s decision about whether or not to dispense the medication.

The F.D.A. did not issue an announcement but updated its website to reflect the decision and added to a series of questions and answers. The two makers of the pill, Danco Laboratories and GenBioPro, released statements saying the agency had informed them of the action.

ny times logoNew York Times, Benedict Leaves Behind a Conflicted Legacy on Clerical Sexual Abuse, Jason Horowitz and Erika Solomon, Jan. 4, 2023. Joseph Ratzinger was accused of mishandling cases as a bishop, but as Pope Benedict XVI he was credited with forcing the church to face an old scourge.

Before he led the Roman Catholic Church as Benedict XVI, and before he loomed over the church as a powerhouse cardinal and the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog, Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich, attended a 1980 meeting about a priest in northwestern Germany accused of abusing children.

What exactly transpired during the meeting is unclear — but afterward, the priest was transferred, and over the next dozen years moved around Bavaria to different parishes before he ended up in the tiny village of Garching an der Alz, where he sexually abused Andreas Perr, then 12.

“It feels so heavy,” Mr. Perr said on Tuesday, puffing cigarettes outside the house where he was molested, just a few steps from the white steeple of the village church. He said his abuse had led him down a road marred by drugs and prison while Archbishop Ratzinger had risen up the ranks of the church. Speaking of the retired Pope Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday, he added, “to think of the power that one person could have over your life.”

A report last year commissioned by the Catholic Church in Munich accused Benedict of mishandling cases of sexual abuse by priests. Benedict apologized for any “grievous faults” but denied any wrongdoing.

The scourge of child sexual abuse in the church haunted Benedict, from the beginning of his rise through the hierarchy to his last year as a frail, retired pope, when the Munich investigators added a final complication to a deeply conflicted legacy.

To supporters, he is the leader who first met with victims and — more than anyone before him — forced the church to finally face its demons, change its laws and get rid of hundreds of abusive priests. He raised the age of consent and included vulnerable adults in laws that protected minors. He allowed the statutes of limitations on sexual abuse to be waived.

To critics, he protected the institution over the victims in its flock, failed to hold even a single bishop accountable for shielding abusers and did not back up his words with action. He preferred to keep discipline in house, never requiring cases to be reported to the civil authorities.

 

December

Dec. 31

 

 

andrew tate graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Andrew Tate, brother charged in Romania with human trafficking, Sara Sorcher, Amar Nadhir and Kelsey Ables, Dec. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Andrew Tate — the former kickboxing champion, internet personality and self-described misogynist (shown above in a graphic earlier this year) — has been detained in Romania along with his brother, Tristan, and charged with human trafficking and forming an organized crime group.

andrew tate 2021A Romanian anti-organized-crime unit is seeking authorization from a judge to hold Tate, right, his brother and two Romanian suspects for up to 30 days. A warrant on Thursday concerning the four suspects was valid for up to 24 hours. One also was charged with rape, but the spokesperson would not name that person, citing local laws.

The Tate brothers were expected to be physically present at the court in Bucharest. Prosecutors are seeking to send the suspects to trial where, if convicted, they could face years of prison time.

“No matter what the judge decides [on the longer detention], we will take further action in investigating this crime,” Ramona Bolla, a spokeswoman for the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, or DIICOT, said in a telephone interview.

Romanian prosecutors said in a statement Thursday that they identified six people whom they allege were recruited and then sexually abused in Ilfov county, which includes the capital, Bucharest.

Authorities allege that the victims were coerced into participating in pornography for distribution on social media and that one of the suspects twice raped a victim in March. The statement, which did not name the Tate brothers or specify which suspect was accused of rape, alleges that the victims faced “acts of physical violence and mental coercion.”

Andrew Tate, who was born in the United States and also is a British citizen, has previously said he lives in Romania. Bolla confirmed that the Tates were legally in the country and said the investigation started in April, after the U.S. Embassy called the Romanian authorities with information that a U.S. citizen was being held involuntarily at a house in Ilfov. The embassy in Bucharest did not immediately respond to questions from The Washington Post early Friday.

Dec. 30

ny times logoNew York Times, Woman Accuses Steven Tyler of Sexually Assaulting Her in the 1970s, Dan Bilefsky, Dec. 30, 2022. In a lawsuit filed under California’s Child Victims Act, the woman says she met the Aerosmith frontman when she was 16.

Steven Tyler, the frontman of the rock band Aerosmith, has been accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a woman in the 1970s when she was a teenager and he was in his mid-20s.

In the lawsuit, the woman, Julia Misley, accuses Mr. Tyler of using his status and power as a famous rock star to “groom, manipulate, exploit” and “sexually assault” her over the course of three years. She has previously discussed her relationship with Mr. Tyler, writing online that she met him at an Aerosmith concert in Portland, Ore., in 1973, shortly after her 16th birthday.

The lawsuit, earlier reported by Rolling Stone, was filed this week under the California Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the statute of limitations so people who said they were sexually abused as children could file civil cases. The three-year period to file a complaint ends on Saturday.

Dec. 21

washington post logoWashington Post, Taliban bans women from all Afghan universities, Miriam Berger and Susannah George, Dec. 22, 2021 (print ed.). The Taliban banned women from studying in public and private universities in Afghanistan Tuesday — the latest move to roll back women’s rights in the nearly year and a half since the group retook control of the country.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education announced the suspension, effective immediately and in place until further notice, in a statement released after a Taliban leadership meeting.

The ruling is expected to impact thousands of women across the country, especially in urban areas where most Afghan universities are located.

A 20-year-old psychology student at Kabul University said reaction among her fellow students ranged from anger to hopelessness. “What did we do wrong?” she asked, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“It feels like the Taliban are making it a crime to be a woman,” she said of Tuesday’s ruling and others in recent months that restrict the role of women in public life, “but if women are eliminated from society, Afghanistan will collapse.”

 

djt handwave file

Politico, Trump lawyers target Adult Survivors Act in attempt to invalidate rape lawsuit, Erin Durkin, Dec. 21, 2022. Lawyers for the accuser are pushing to release the deposition Trump gave in the case, which is currently sealed. E. Jean Caroll brought a new suit against former President Donald Trump after New York passed the Adult Survivors Act.

politico CustomA lawyer for Donald Trump said Wednesday he will try to dismiss a lawsuit by a woman alleging the former president raped her in the 1990s by arguing New York’s Adult Survivors Act is unconstitutional, but a judge suggested he is not inclined to throw out the case.

e jean carrollLawyers appeared in federal court in Manhattan in a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, right, a writer who says that Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store decades ago. She brought a new suit against Trump after New York passed the Adult Survivors Act, which gives victims of sexual assault two years to sue over past assaults that would previously have been barred by the statute of limitations.

“There’s a serious question here as to whether the Adult Survivors Act is constitutional,” said Trump’s lawyer, Michael T. Madaio.

When the defense attorney mentioned a motion to get the case dismissed, Judge Lewis Kaplan responded, “I wouldn’t count on that.”

Before the new legislation passed, Carroll was suing Trump for defamation over statements he made in 2019 denying the alleged attack. She filed the new suit over the alleged incident on Thanksgiving, when the Adult Survivors Act took effect. She also added a new defamation claim, over statements Trump made this October about her claims.

The judge asked the Trump attorney why the Adult Survivors Act would be unconstitutional when the Child Victims Act, a previous law allowing victims who were kids at the time to sue years later, held up in court. Madaio said that legislation was different because it dealt with a specific subset of vulnerable people.

Attorneys for Carroll want to bring the case to trial in April, when the original defamation suit was scheduled to be tried. Trump’s lawyers want to push it back to later in the year. Kaplan said he would decide on a schedule later Wednesday.

Dec. 20

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI warns of explosion of ‘sextortion’ cases targeting boys, teens, Perry Stein, Dec. 20, 2022 (print ed.). Law enforcement officials said they have directly linked at least 12 suicides to cases involving online demands for explicit photos.

Justice Department log circularFederal law enforcement officials warned Monday of an explosion of “sextortion” cases targeting teenagers and young boys, saying the online scheme has been linked to at least 12 suicides this year.

Officials issued a public safety alert urging parents and children to remain vigilant online ahead of the holiday break, when many children spend more time at home and online and could be vulnerable to people contacting them, asking for sexually explicit photos and threatening to release the images unless a ransom is paid.

In a news release, the FBI and Justice Department said a large portion of the sextortion crimes originate in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast and are driven by “financial gain,” not sex — a fact that a Justice Department official said makes this trend different from other child exploitation crimes that have historically been motivated by sexual attraction to minors.

The official, and an FBI official, spoke on the condition of anonymity in accordance with ground rules set at a background briefing.

Teen mental health issues are on the rise. Some tips for parents.

In the past year, authorities have received more than 7,000 reports related to sextortion and confirmed around 3,000 minor victims in the country, the Justice Department said. These children are contacted on social media platforms from someone using a fake account and typically posing as a female. They set their location to be somewhere near the victims and ask the boys to send sexually explicit photos, then threaten to release the illicit images unless a ransom is paid.

Most of the boys targeted are between the ages of 14 and 17, though officials say they have identified victims as young as 10. The entire interaction — from the point contact is made to when money is demanded — can unfold in just hours.

“This is a level of harassment we haven’t seen recently in regards to our children,” the FBI official said.

Officials did not disclose how much money has been collected in the sextortion schemes, but described them as “successful,” with one official saying that is “why it is happening on the scale that it is.” Still, they said, in many instances the extortioners release the images even if payments are made.

Prosecution of this type of online fraud is difficult, the Justice Department said, because it’s challenging to track down the identity of the predator. And pursuing the cases can be even more complicated in cases when the suspects live abroad and would need to be extradited to be held accountable. But the issue has been receiving more attention.

In October, the Dr. Phil television show featured parents of a child who was extorted and died by suicide.

Dec. 19

ap logoAssociated Press via Politico, Harvey Weinstein found guilty of rape in Los Angeles trial, Dec. 19, 2022. The movie mogul became a #MeToo lightning rod starting with stories in the New York Times in 2017.

harvey weinsteinHarvey Weinstein was found guilty Monday of rape at a Los Angeles trial in another #MeToo moment of reckoning, five years after he became a magnet for the movement.

After deliberating for nine days spanning more than two weeks, the jury of eight men and four women reached the verdict at the second criminal trial of the 70-year-old onetime powerful movie mogul, who is two years into a 23-year sentence for a rape and sexual assault conviction in New York.

Weinstein was found guilty of rape, forced oral copulation and another sexual misconduct count involving a woman known as Jane Doe 1. The jury was unable to reach a decision on several counts, notably charges involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The jury reported it was unable to reach verdicts in her allegations and the allegations of another woman. A mistrial was declared on those counts.

He was also acquitted of a sexual battery allegation made by another woman.

He faces up to 24 years in prison when he is sentenced. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had no immediate comment on the verdict.

“It is time for the defendant’s reign of terror to end,” Deputy District Attorney Marlene Martinez said in the prosecution’s closing argument. “It is time for the kingmaker to be brought to justice.”

Lacking any forensic evidence or eyewitness accounts of assaults Weinstein’s accusers said happened from 2005 to 2013, the case hinged heavily on the stories and credibility of the four women at the center of the charges.

The accusers included Newsom, a documentary filmmaker whose husband is California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Her intense and emotional testimony of being raped by Weinstein in a hotel room in 2005 brought the trial its most dramatic moments.

Another was an Italian model and actor who said Weinstein appeared uninvited at her hotel room door during a 2013 film festival and raped her.

Lauren Young, the only accuser who testified at both Weinstein trials, said she was a model aspiring to be an actor and screenwriter who was meeting with Weinstein about a script in 2013 when he trapped her in a hotel bathroom, groped her and masturbated in front of her.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charges involving Young.

A massage therapist testified that Weinstein did the same to her after getting a massage in 2010.

Martinez said in her closing that the women entered Weinstein’s hotel suites or let him into their rooms, with no idea of what awaited them.

“Who would suspect that such an entertainment industry titan would be a degenerate rapist?” she said.

The women’s stories echoed the allegations of dozens of others who have emerged since Weinstein became a #MeToo lightning rod starting with stories in the New York Times in 2017. A movie about that reporting, “She Said,” was released during the trial, and jurors were repeatedly warned not to see it.

It was the defense that made #MeToo an issue during the trial, however, emphasizing that none of the four women went to the authorities until after the movement made Weinstein a target.

Defense lawyers said two of the women were entirely lying about their encounters with Weinstein, and that the other two had “100% consensual” sexual interactions that they later reframed.

“Regret is not the same thing as rape,” Weinstein attorney Alan Jackson said in his closing argument.

He urged jurors to look past the the women’s emotional testimony and focus on the factual evidence.

“‘Believe us because we’re mad, believe us because we cried,’” Jackson said jurors were being asked to do. “Well, fury does not make fact. And tears do not make truth.”

All the women involved in the charges went by Jane Doe in court. The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly or agree to be named through their attorneys, as the women named here did.

Prosecutors called 40 other witnesses in an attempt to give context and corroboration to those stories. Four were other women who were not part of the charges but testified that Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted them. They were brought to the stand to establish a pattern of sexual predation.

Weinstein beat four other felony charges before the trial even ended when prosecutors said a woman he was charged with raping twice and sexually assaulting twice would not appear to testify. They declined to give a reason. Judge Lisa Lench dismissed those charges.

Weinstein’s latest conviction hands a victory to victims of sexual misconduct of famous men in the wake of some legal setbacks, including the dismissal of Bill Cosby’s conviction last year. The rape trial of “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson, held simultaneously and just down the hall from Weinstein’s, ended in a mistrial. And actor Kevin Spacey was victorious at a sexual battery civil trial in New York last month.

Weinstein’s New York conviction survived an initial appeal, but the case is set to be heard by the state’s highest court next year. The California conviction, also likely to be appealed, means he will not walk free even if the East Coast conviction is thrown out.

Dec. 18

 

 

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

The late Mahsa Amini in a photo provided to Iran Wire by her family. The authorities have said she died of heart failure; her family say she had been in good health. Her death has sparked massive, unprecedented protests across Iran, particularly among young women and men, with brutal repression recently by authorities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Iran Uses Rape to Enforce Women’s Modesty, Nicholas Kristof, right, Dec. 18, 2022 (print ed.). One gauge of the hypocrisy of the Iranian nicholas kristofregime is that there are credible reports that it is enforcing its supposedly strict moral code by arresting women and girls accused of advocating immodesty, and then sexually assaulting them.

In a searing report about the rape of protesters by security forces, CNN recounted how a 20-year-old woman was arrested for supposedly leading protests and later was brought by the police to a hospital in Karaj, shaking violently, head shaven, her rectum hemorrhaging. The woman is now back in prison.

iran flag mapHuman Rights Watch and Amnesty International have independently documented multiple cases of sexual assault. Hadi Ghaemi of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a watchdog organization in New York, told me of a 14-year-old girl from a poor neighborhood in Tehran who protested by taking off her head scarf at school.

The girl, Masooumeh, was identified by school cameras and detained; soon afterward, she was taken to the hospital to be treated for severe vaginal tears. The girl died and her mother, after initially saying she wanted to go public, has disappeared.

Accounts of sexual violence are difficult to verify because of the victims’ feelings of shame and fear, and CNN reported that the authorities sometimes film assaults to blackmail protesters into silence. What’s absolutely clear is that protesters keep turning up dead.

Consider Nika Shahkarami, a 16-year-old girl who burned her head scarf in public. Security forces closed in on her. Days later, the authorities announced she had died. An autopsy reportedly found that her skull, pelvis, hip, arms and legs had been fractured.

ali khamenei 2022 wSo the uprising across Iran isn’t just about head coverings. It’s about toppling a regime that is incompetent, corrupt, repressive and brutal.

In the northern city of Amol, demonstrators have set fires in the complex of the governorate building, and elsewhere took down portraits of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, and the founding leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“Should there be a government doing something wrong, the nation should punch it in the mouth,” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared in 1979 after the revolution he led established the Islamic Republic. That’s what Iranians are now trying to do.

I’m surprised and disappointed that today’s grass-roots Iranian revolution hasn’t received more support in America and around the world. I think there are a couple of reasons for this.

Dec. 16

 

 Tatiana Spottiswoode is shown testifying before Congress. Screenshot from video showing Tatiana Spottiswoode testifying before Congress about alleged sexual assault by Zia Chishti (Photo by House Committee on the Judiciary).

Tatiana Spottiswoode is shown testifying before Congress. Screenshot from video showing Tatiana Spottiswoode testifying before Congress about alleged sexual assault by Zia Chishti (Photo by House Committee on the Judiciary).

Politico, She Testified to Congress About Being Sexually Assaulted. Now She’s Being Sued, Michael Schaffer, Dec. 16, 2022. A case brought by an entrepreneur who lost his job after an ex-employee told a House committee about his allegedly abusive behavior challenges protections for those who testify before Congress.

politico CustomDramatic Capitol Hill hearings, replete with shocking insider testimony, have brought down presidents and demagogues, put would-be Supreme Court justices on the defensive, exposed war profiteers and revealed deep-seated corruption in the federal bureaucracy for more than a century. But an odd defamation lawsuit filed last month in D.C.’s federal court has the potential to disrupt the Washington ritual of Capitol Hill hearing testimony. And even if it doesn’t succeed, it highlights the vulnerability of witnesses who speak out in front of Congress.

Zia Chishti, the entrepreneur who founded the company behind Invisalign dental braces, lost his job atop the multibillion-dollar AI startup Afiniti last year after a former Afiniti employee gave Congressional testimony that described what she characterized as violent sexual abuse by Chishti. Now Chishti, a well-connected Washington business figure who was once listed among People magazine’s top 50 bachelors and had the likes of Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan among the unicorn company’s early investors, is suing the woman over those claims, which were made publicly after she’d been subpoenaed to testify under oath in a House Judiciary Committee hearing last year.

According to Chishti, 51, his relationship with Tatiana Spottiswoode, 29, was consensual, albeit unusual, marked by “the sharing of minor scratch, bite, whip, and slap marks,” as his complaint decorously puts it. “This case is about a consensual love affair between Ms. Tatiana Spottiswoode and me that was successfully weaponized by Ms. Spottiswoode by deliberately lying to and misleading Congress while under oath,” Chishti writes in his court filing.
Zia Chishti in 2017.

Zia Chishti, shown above in 2017, founded the company behind Invisalign dental braces. He lost his job atop the multibillion-dollar AI startup Afiniti last year. | Tasja Keetman

That is, to put it mildly, not the version heard by people who watched the November 2021 hearing, who read news accounts that included troubling photos of wounds Spottiswoode testified about having sustained from a 2017 encounter on a business trip, or who followed the subsequent story of Chishti’s rapid-fire ouster after the resignations of A-listers like former British Prime Minister David Cameron from Afiniti’s advisory board.

Dec. 13

washington post logoWashington Post, Former Catholic priest convicted in 1985 sex assault in Loudoun, Tom Jackman, Dec. 13, 2022. Scott A. Asalone, a rector in Purcellville, was removed from his church in 1993, but not arrested until 2020. The victim went on to become a D.C. councilman.

A former Catholic priest from Loudoun County, who was quietly discharged from his parish after abuse allegations in the 1990s, was convicted Monday in Loudoun circuit court of felony carnal knowledge of a minor for abusing a boy who would go on to become a D.C. councilman.
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Scott A. Asalone, 66, who worked as a stockbroker and consultant in New Jersey for nearly three decades after leaving his parish, was arrested in March 2020, and released on bond during the pandemic. Jury selection for his trial was scheduled to begin Monday when Asalone decided to enter an “Alford” plea, in which a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but admits the prosecution has enough evidence to convict. Loudoun Circuit Court Judge James E. Plowman then found Asalone guilty, and set sentencing for April 13. He faces a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of ten.

Asalone’s victim in the case, former D.C. councilman David Grosso, was present in the courtroom and preparing to testify. After Asalone’s arrest in 2020, Grosso publicly acknowledged that, “The minor he assaulted was me.” Grosso was 14, and Asalone was 29, when the abuse occurred between April and September 1985.

“It felt good for me to be there,” Grosso said Monday, “to see the judge walk him through the charge, and find that he really is guilty of assaulting me … He realized the case was too strong against him.”

Dec. 12

scott stringer campaign resized

ny times logoNew York Times, Former N.Y.C. Comptroller Sues for Defamation Over Sexual Assault Claim, Nicholas Fandos, Dec. 12, 2022. Scott Stringer, above, the former New York City comptroller, said that a woman’s claims of sexual assault were lies and caused “irreparable harm” as he ran for mayor.

Nearly 20 months after allegations of unwanted sexual advances derailed his campaign for New York City mayor, Scott M. Stringer sued one of his accusers for defamation on Monday, arguing that she smeared his reputation with falsehoods and misrepresentations.

In a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Mr. Stringer said that the woman, Jean Kim, had done “irreparable harm to him and his political future” by portraying what he called an “on-and-off” consensual relationship as predatory. He demanded that Ms. Kim retract her accusations and pay damages.

“These defamatory statements have caused Mr. Stringer emotional pain and suffering, as well as injury to his reputation, honor and dignity,” lawyers for Mr. Stringer, a longtime Democratic politician and former New York City comptroller, wrote in the 12-page complaint.

The legal action appears to be a calculated risk for Mr. Stringer, 62. If successful, it could help clear up his public image as he contemplates a political comeback. But it also serves to resurface Ms. Kim’s decades-old claims of misconduct, while posing the risk of an embarrassing legal defeat and reopening scrutiny into an earlier chapter in his life.

Dec. 8

 

Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes arrive at the Disney Upfront 2022 event in New York City on May 17 (Reuters photo by David Dee Delgado via Associated Press).

Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes arrive at the Disney Upfront 2022 event in New York City on May 17 (Reuters photo by David Dee Delgado via Associated Press).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: ABC offers a masterclass in how not to handle workplace romance, Helaine Olen, Dec. 8, 2022 (print ed.). All rom-com protagonists need an obstacle to overcome. This week, newly revealed lovebirds T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, co-anchors of ABC’s “Good Morning America” spinoff show “GMA3,” got a doozy of one, when the corporate suite announced they were taking the couple off the air.

But while network suits might have upped the dramatic tension, they also inadvertently offered up a master class in the wrong way to go about managing a workplace romance. No one needs the c-suite to weigh in on consensual behavior between equals that takes place outside the workplace — no matter how attention-getting it is.

The “GMA3” contretemps began last week, when the Daily Mail got a hold of the exclusive — make that “EXCLUSIVE” — news that the two anchors were an item, despite being married to other people, in a piece studded with private-investigator-style tabloid photos.

abc news logo colorThe New York Post jumped in to confirm they were spotted “canoodling” in a local bar. (Word subsequently went out the couple both separated from their spouses this summer.) TikTok and Twitter went wild. After a few days, ABC decided this midlife romance was an “internal and external distraction,” as the ABC president, Kim Godwin, apparently said during an editorial call, and pulled the twosome from air.

Given the natural human inclination to gossip about celebrities and co-workers, that distraction may be real — and yet it’s unclear precisely how the romantic upgrade in Holmes and Robach’s relationship is otherwise a problem. The couple is not triggering any of the traditional red flags when it comes to workplace romances. They are co-anchors, so there is no issue of hierarchy, unlike when CNN’s head Jeff Zucker lost his position following an investigation into an ongoing relationship with network chief marketing executive Allison Gollust. No one has alleged favoritism or harassment as a result of the affair. In fact, it’s been reported that Godwin told staffers that the relationship is “not a violation of company policy.”

The fact is, workplace romances are incredibly common.

So why not tell co-workers to MYOB and let everyone get back to work? It’s not like there aren’t examples of a functional workplace romance between co-anchors. When Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski began co-hosting Morning Joe, they were married to other people. After they survived tabloid scandal about their affair and four years after they got married, the show goes on.

Dec. 6

 

 

stormy daniels djt

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

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

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

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

 

samuel rappylee bateman polygamous town arrest 221204 69

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec. 5

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

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

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

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

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

Dec . 2

 

joel greenberg seminole county tax collector

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec. 1

 

todd rokita ap 2020

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

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

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

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

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

 

November

Nov. 30

 

southern baptist convention logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 27

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 23

 herschel walker informal

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

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

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

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

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

The Washington Post did not independently confirm these allegations.

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

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

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

Nov. 21

armita abbasi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 18

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

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

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

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

Nov. 16

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 9

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

cbs logo

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 2

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

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

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

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

 

October

Oct. 26

 

herschel walker informal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 25

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

Oct. 24

 

 harvey weinstein 10 4 2022 pool etienne laurent

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

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

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

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

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

He has pleaded not guilty.

What are the charges?

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

Oct. 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct. 20