The child sex-abuse accusations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky are staggering and yet familiar. Mr. Sandusky, the founder of the Second Mile charity for troubled boys, generously brought them to football games and treated them to food, clothes and gifts, eight men told a grand jury. He also fondled them or exposed himself or had sex with them, they testified. One might think it would be easy to prosecute such accusations made by men, now in their late teens or 20s, who tell remarkably similar stories. But federal data show that less than half of suspects in child sex-abuse cases are brought to trial, mostly because no crime can be proved against them. "It's really tough" to get justice on child sexual abuse, said Bill Murray, a Los Angeles community activist who leads the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse.
A veteran biology teacher and tennis coach at Fairfield Ludlowe High School is being sued by a female student who contends he assaulted her and subjected her to sexual harassment and a hostile school environment. John Honey, a teacher at Warde High for 37 years before moving across town to Ludlowe in 2004, is named in the suit, along with the school district, by the minor and her mother.
Religious institutions have constitutional protections, but they are not above the law. Unfortunately, that has not stopped the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups from arguing that the First Amendment shields them from civil lawsuits for negligent supervision and retention of employees who sexually abuse children. Most state courts that have considered the issue have rejected this claim by churches, recognizing that holding religious employers liable for failure to monitor employees in sex-abuse cases does not interfere with constitutionally protected religious freedoms. However, courts in Missouri, Wisconsin and Utah have twisted the First Amendment into a shield for organizational liability for pedophile clergy. In an outrageous case, a Missouri appellate court summarily dismissed a negligence case brought against the Archdiocese of St. Louis by an individual who said he had been abused by a priest. His suit charged the archdiocese with negligent failure to supervise the priest, who had a past record of child sexual abuse. The court threw out the complaint, saying that Missouri law does not allow it because judging the supervision of the priest would require inquiry into religious doctrine, which it contends would violate the First Amendment. This bizarre conclusion would grant churches a special exemption from neutral, generally applicable laws designed to protect children. The United States Supreme Court now has an opportunity to reverse this erroneous interpretation of the Constitution. The justices should grant the plaintiff's petition for review, which they are scheduled to consider on Friday. Since some 20 states have not ruled on this issue, the Supreme Court can provide urgently needed clarity. It should firmly declare that the First Amendment does not exempt religious entities from accountability for exposing children to harm. THE NEW YORK TIMES, Editorial - March 14, 2012
Parents don't want to further traumatize young victims, but handling things "discreetly" merely displaces the problem to another school or community When Bud Spillane was a school superintendent in New Rochelle, N.Y., he had to deal with removing an elementary school teacher suspected of sex abuse. "It was pretty evident he had done something," Spillane recalls. The biggest obstacle to removing him from the classroom? "Parents came out of the woodwork...against me," he says. They loved the teacher, the afterschool time he put in, and the weekend trips he liked to take students on, so they fought to keep him in school.
Prosecutors claim Jerry Sandusky sexually abused boys ranging in age from 8 to 17, eight of whom were molested on the Penn State campus, according to a document with new details about the case filed Thursday. The Pennsylvania attorney general's office said in the document that crimes involving one of the 10 alleged victims took place in Florida and Texas, while another boy was abused at his own school. Prosecutors were more specific in the document about the ages of the boys than in earlier reports, but much of the information is similar to details revealed in grand jury presentments issued last year that formed the basis for charges against the former Penn State assistant football coach.
A New York City teacher's aide already accused of possessing child pornography was jailed Tuesday after prosecutors brought new allegations that he videotaped himself spanking one naked child and fondling another in a public elementary school classroom. FBI agents arrested Taleek Brooks, 40, at his Brooklyn apartment on Monday night after an investigation uncovered the videos on a computer seized last month from the home, authorities said. A criminal complaint mentioned only two alleged victims -- both believed by the federal authorities to be current or former students at the Weeksville School in Brooklyn, where Brooks had worked since 1995.
Lawsuit Against Hartford Archdiocese Involves Its Response To Child Sex Abuse 30 Years Ago A judge on Thursday said the Catholic Church cannot defend itself from a priest sex abuse case by arguing that its response to the abuse -- considered by many to be inappropriate now -- was generally accepted when the abuse occurred 30 years ago.
A second teacher at a Los Angeles elementary school has been arrested in connection with sex abuse allegations, the Associated Press reports, quoting sheriff's department officials. The first teacher was arrested this week and charged with photographing children for sexual thrills. The teacher was removed from Miramonte Elementary School after someone made accusations against him, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy tells KTTV-TV. He declined to provide details but said the district had notified law enforcement investigators, the AP says. "We have some information and we are currently investigating that," but the teacher has not been arrested or charged with any crime, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez says. Third-grade teacher Mark Berndt, who worked at the school for 30 years, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. He is in jail on $23 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.