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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Striking Sex Abus Scandals

Priests, teachers, coaches: Children’s home sex abuse survivors publish harrowing report
More details are emerging on the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of children at a care home in London, as survivors publish their own 129-page report after losing faith in the official inquiry.
According to Shirley Oaks Survivors Association’s (SOSA) own investigation, two men dressed as Father Christmas abused children at the Croydon facility, just one in a horrifying list of crimes that date as far back as the 1960s. The report was compiled by former residents who lost hope in the controversial Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse following the resignations of its two first chairs and prestigious panel members.

Some of the survivors described the harrowing experience at the children’s home, including alleged sexual abuse and beatings. Paul Annon, who was put into care with his brothers after their mother died, was only five or six years old when his abuse at Shirley Oaks started.
“A big man used to come into the room and sexually abuse me, and a woman would come in, but not at the same time – a couple of nights the man and then a couple of nights the woman,” Annon said.
“Then a few nights there would be nothing and you would get some sleep and then you would be woken up by your covers being taken off and – I won't go into details.
“It was hard, it was really hard.”
The 51-year-old also said the abuse was on an “industrial scale” and the decade he lived at the home – 1969 to 1979 – traumatized him for life.
“Even now, today, I find it hard to sleep. I lie in bed sometimes and think ‘how could people do things like that?’” he continued. “I don't remember many names, you don’t when you are five or six. It is only when I got a little bit older you know people and you remember things.
“I didn’t really understand it at the time and I couldn’t really talk to my brothers – I thought it was me, something that was happening to me. You blame yourself like it is your fault.”
Annon added that every time he attempted to warn people about the ongoing abuse, “it would fall on deaf ears.”
One of the founders of SOSA, Raymond Stevenson, said the report, which collected testimonies from 400 former residents, was “just the beginning” of a long campaign for truth and justice. Around 60 people have been identified as alleged abusers, including council employees, priests, teachers, doctors, swimming instructors, football coaches, caregivers, and volunteers.
“Our story will never be buried again,” he said at an event on Thursday. “I spent a lifetime thinking the abuse that happened to me was in isolation, but I now know it didn’t compare in any way to what happened to the people represented in this room.
“The abuse happened on an industrial scale… and we’re not going to give up.”
The group now numbers over 700 people, who allegedly suffered several forms of abuse between the 1960s and the closure of the home, also known as “Shirley Hell”, in 1983. More than 7,000 children passed through the facilities, and many more lived in similar Lambeth Council operated homes. The South London Council now faces having to pay out tens of millions of pounds in compensation to every person once “put at risk” as a child at Shirley Oaks.
Annon, however, believes that the fight is “not about the money.”
“There’s a lot of people out there who this has happened to and it stopped them from working, forging relationships, but it is about recognising what has happened,” he said.
“These people [council officials] have to take the brunt of their predecessors. I feel sorry for them in a way, but then who is feeling sorry for us?”
SOSA figures show at least 48 children dying in Lambeth care homes and 27 others dying later of suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, or illness.

US Gymnastics scandal: 368 cases of child sex abuse in 20 years – report

This disturbing new information follows in the wake of a widespread child sex abuse scandal in British football.
The growing global fear of child sex abuse has now spread to US gymnastics, with a report from IndyStar-USA TODAY exposing shocking levels of exploitation over the last 20 years.
After journalists combed through police reports and court cases, a total of 368 cases of gymnasts reporting sexual exploitation has been amassed.
The detailed report states that in some cases there have been conflicts of interests, with gym owners reluctant to report abuse as it could be perceived as bad for business.
A tracking system of officials or coaches that have been fired from gyms is currently not present, with cases of offenders working in different states commonplace.
USA Gymnastics, one of the nation’s most prominent Olympic organizations, has also had issues in enforcing strict ground rules as gyms are independent businesses.
“Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics, the Board of Directors and CEO Steve Penny than protecting athletes, which requires sustained vigilance by everyone — coaches, athletes, parents, administrators and officials,” the organization replied in a letter to IndyStar.
“We are saddened when any athlete has been harmed in the course of his or her gymnastics career.”
A number of prominent figures have come out to condemn the current system.
“It saddens me because I love our sport,” former US national team member Molly Shawen-Kollmann said.
“This is not indicative of who we want to be. As an organization, they aren't doing their job.”
Victims have also been vocal about the agony of having to go through such ordeals.
One girl abused by longtime coach Jeffrey Bettman wrote to a judge to express her dismay over what happened.
“Jeff was closer to me than any uncle I have, a runner up for ‘dad’ or ‘grandpa’ if this makes sense,” the victim wrote.
“But Jeff broke that bond/trust and left me feeling betrayed, emotionally and sexually abused, taken advantage of, and made my personal growth a difficult one that I have struggled with for several years.”