31 Jan 2009

Hyde Park Baptist Church loses appeal in daycare abuse case

Austin American-Statesman January 30, 2009

by Chuck Lindell

Hyde Park Baptist Church must pay the full amount of damages awarded to a family whose 1-year-old was abused while attending the church’s day care in 2004, an Austin appeals court ruled today.

Hyde Park Baptist asked the court to throw out most of the $163,562 award to the family of Parker Curtis, saying there was no basis for the future medical expenses award ($34,980) or the future mental anguish award ($100,000).

The 3rd Court of Appeals saw it differently in this decision.

The church also argued that the jury erred when it declared Hyde Park Baptist 80 percent responsible for the acts of teacher Sue Lowry, who was accused of using her hip to bump Parker to the classroom floor, where he injured his head.

The appeals court ruling, written by Justice Diane Henson, made short work of that argument:

“The Curtis family presented evidence that Hyde Park administrators had received numerous complaints from parents and teachers regarding Lowry’s inappropriate and abusive behavior towards toddlers in her care.

“Despite these reports, which spanned a period of 10 years, Hyde Park chose to retain Lowry as a lead teacher in a classroom with children under the age of 2.

“Even after Hyde Park administrators received reports that Lowry had injured (Parker) by intentionally knocking him to the ground, that she had previously knocked other children to the ground, and that she frequently singled (Parker) out for rough treatment, Hyde Park left (Parker) and his classmates in Lowry’s care for several more days.

“The jury also heard evidence that Hyde Park administrators attempted to conceal Lowry’s treatment of (Parker) — and his resulting injury” — even though CPS was investigating the boy’s treatment, Henson wrote.

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30 Jan 2009

Father guilty over ritual beating

BBC - UK January 30, 2009

A taxi driver has been convicted of cruelty for encouraging his 10-year-old son to whip himself during a Shia Muslim ceremony.

The boy took part in zanjeer matam, in which believers beat themselves with a wooden implement with chains and blades attached to it.

Zanjeer whip
The police investigated after the boy's mother made a complaint

His father, 47, who also took part in the ritual at a Birmingham mosque, said he acted out of "love" and "devotion".

He was given a six-month suspended sentence at Huntingdon Crown Court.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied being cruel to a child.

He is the second Muslim to be convicted of cruelty as a result of allowing a boy take part in the ceremony which commemorates the death and martyrdom of a 7th Century Muslim leader, prosecutors said.

Mozammel Hossain, defending the father, from Rugby in Warwickshire, said that his client now knew that allowing a child to beat himself was illegal in the UK and he would not allow it to happen again.

Mr Hossain added that it was a ceremony his client had also taken part in as a child.

The court heard that the man's wife had not wanted her son to take part in the ritual in January 2007, when the man lived in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

The police investigated after she raised concerns.

"What he did, it is very clear, was out of devotion - religious - and his love for his son, in a very funny sort of way, and for his God," Mr Hossain said.

"He loves his son... his son loves him."

'Injuries slight'

Judge Nicholas Coleman, who watched footage of a ceremony during the trial, told the court that "adults are free to make their own choices but children must not be allowed to take part".

"Not only did you allow him to participate in the ceremony, in my judgment, you actively encouraged him.

"The boy's injuries were slight but they could have been worse."

The judge imposed a six-month prison term, suspended for two years, and also ordered the man to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 in costs.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Whether or not a young person consents to harming themselves is not the point in a case like this and the law is very clear.

"This man was responsible for his son and failed in his duty of care to protect him."

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Cardinal Mahony under federal investigation over abusive priests, sources say

The L.A. Times - January 29, 2009

The U.S. attorney in L.A. reportedly launched a grand jury probe to see if the prelate failed to adequately deal with such priests. A church lawyer says he was told Mahony is not the inquiry's target.

By Scott Glover and Jack Leonard

The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has launched a federal grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in connection with his response to the molestation of children by priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the case.

The probe, in which U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O'Brien is personally involved, is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and possibly other church leaders, committed fraud by failing to adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Authorities are applying a legal theory in an apparently novel way. One federal law enforcement source said prosecutors are seeking to use a federal statute that makes it illegal to "scheme . . . to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."

In this case, the victims would be parishioners who relied on Mahony and other church leaders to keep their children safe from predatory priests, the source said.

To gain a conviction on such a charge, prosecutors would have to prove that Mahony used the U.S. mail or some form of electronic communication in committing the alleged fraud, the source said.

The inquiry has been underway since at least late last year, the source added.

O'Brien declined to comment, refusing to even confirm the existence of the investigation.

J. Michael Hennigan, who represents Mahony and the archdiocese, confirmed that federal prosecutors had contacted the archdiocese and requested "information about a number of individual priests, at least two of whom are deceased."

He said he was also aware that some witnesses had testified before the panel.

But Hennigan said he has been informed that Mahony is not a target of the inquiry.

"We have been and will continue to be fully cooperative with the investigation," Hennigan said.

Mahony has repeatedly apologized for the church's sex scandal and asked for forgiveness for not acting sooner to remove priests who abused minors. He has declared that the archdiocese handles abuse allegations seriously, notifying police when complaints are made and removing priests from active ministry when allegations are deemed credible.

As the Catholic Church's highest-ranking official in Southern California, Mahony has been dogged for years by allegations of covering up the sexual misconduct of priests.

The cardinal was accused of transferring priests who molested children to other parishes rather than removing them from the priesthood and alerting authorities.

One priest, Michael Stephen Baker, told Mahony in 1986 that he had molested children, but he was allowed to remain in active ministry. Mahony sent Baker to a treatment center in New Mexico and later reassigned him to other parishes, where he allegedly victimized children.

Prosecutors later filed criminal charges against Baker. He pleaded guilty to molesting two boys and was sentenced in 2007 to more than 10 years in prison.

Mahony also came under fire for vigorously fighting attempts by prosecutors, victims and the victims' attorneys to gain access to the church's personnel files, which tracked the problems of accused priests and the church hierarchy's reaction to them.

Mahony argued that the records should remain confidential, but Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley accused the archdiocese of engaging in a "pattern of obstruction." Mahony was eventually ordered by the courts to turn the files over to prosecutors.

The district attorney's office launched a grand jury investigation into the archdiocese several years ago, but no charges were filed. District attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said Wednesday that prosecutors are continuing to look at documents from the archdiocese for evidence of molestation by priests and former priests but that charges against Mahony are "highly doubtful."

Two years ago, the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to 508 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. The payout was the largest settlement in a scandal that has involved an estimated 5,000 priests nationwide and cost the Roman Catholic Church more than $2 billion to resolve cases in this country alone.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he had not heard about the latest investigation but welcomed the new scrutiny of Mahony.

"It is long, long overdue," Clohessy said. "It is just crucial that the hierarchy face criminal charges, because almost every other conceivable means have been tried to bring reform."

Legal experts said the theory that prosecutors are pursuing is usually reserved for cases against public officials, such as politicians and law enforcement officers, and corporate executives accused of wrongdoing.

In Mahony's case, prosecutors would have the difficult task of defining the "honest services" expected from a Catholic cardinal, said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor and former federal prosecutor. Then they would have to persuade jurors that criminal charges were not a stretch.

"I'd put it in the category of creative lawyering," she said. "It doesn't mean it's bad. But it will be challenging to not only get charges on these grounds but, if they get charges, to win a conviction."

Rebecca Lonergan, a professor of law at USC and a former federal prosecutor, said she was unaware of the law's ever being used to charge a member of the clergy.

"They would have to show some intentional wrongdoing rather than just after-the-fact cover-up," she said. "I think it would be a creative, new and different way of using the statute."



Times staff writer Duke Helfand contributed to this report.

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Grand jury investigation looks into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's handling of sexually predatory priests

The L.A. Times - January 30, 2009

U.S. attorney adds Mahony to his file

Thomas P. O'Brien, who charged a former Marine with manslaughter and sought to strip a motorcycle gang of its identity, immerses himself in the grand jury investigation of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony.

By Scott Glover and David G. Savage

Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles -- In the 16 months since he was sworn in as U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Thomas P. O'Brien has charged a former U.S. Marine with manslaughter for combat killings in Iraq,tried a Missouri woman whose alleged crime, many would argue, was committed halfway across the country and sought to strip a notorious outlaw motorcycle gang of its very identity.

Now he has immersed himself in a grand jury investigation into Cardinal Roger M. Mahony's handling of sexually predatory priests in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

In each of these cases, O'Brien, a former Navy Top Gun instructor and gang prosecutor in the district attorney's office, has either taken on battles that others may have shied away from or employed novel -- some would say shaky -- legal strategies to make his case.

Mahony said in a radio interview Thursday that he was "mystified and puzzled" by news of the probe.

The results of O'Brien's previous prosecutorial pursuits have been mixed. In the case of the ex-Marine, O'Brien's office used a law intended for prosecuting soldiers' spouses or civilian Department of Defense employees living in foreign countries to try Jose Luis Nazario for the killings of four unarmed Iraqi prisoners in Fallouja. Nazario had left the Marines and was no longer a reservist, meaning he was not subject to a court-martial. Rather than simply let him go, O'Brien tried Nazario in civilian court, the first such case in modern history. The case angered some former Marines, who said civilians jurors were not capable of fairly judging decisions made in combat. Nazario was acquitted.

In another case, Lori Drew, the Missouri mother accused of perpetrating an Internet hoax that prompted the suicide of a teenage girl, was charged under a statute more commonly used to go after computer hackers. She was acquitted of the felony charges against her but convicted of three misdemeanors. She is awaiting sentencing, but the judge is considering whether to dismiss the case altogether on grounds that, despite the jury's verdict, prosecutors failed to make their case.

In the Mongols motorcycle gang case, O'Brien's office claimed the rights to the gang's trademarked emblem, empowering officers to seize -- on the spot -- jackets, motorcycles and other items members use to identify themselves.

Rebecca Lonergan, a former federal prosecutor who worked under O'Brien in the U.S. attorney's office and now teaches law at USC, said "there is no doubt that his prosecutions have been very aggressive."

"The question is whether they've been overly aggressive or genuine attempts to make sure that crimes that should get prosecuted do get prosecuted," Lonergan said. "There are two possible motives. One is to do the right thing. The other is less meritorious, which is attention grabbing. I can't say what's going on here."

"Everything we do is in the pursuit of justice," said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for O'Brien. "We have used innovative legal theories in an effort to vindicate the victims of criminal activity. While this may have generated criticism in some circles, we stand by our decisions."

According to sources familiar with the Mahony investigation, O'Brien is now involved in a grand jury probe aimed at determining whether the cardinal and other church officials committed fraud by failing to inform parishioners of sexually predatory priests in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

Mahony declined to be interviewed by The Times on Thursday, but told KNX Radio that church officials were cooperating with the investigation and had turned over documents concerning 22 priests.

He said he has acknowledged making mistakes in the handling of abusive priests decades ago and that the church has made significant reforms as a result.

"We admitted . . . all of our failures along the way and so we don't know where this is coming from," he said.

Two years ago, the archdiocese paid $660 million to 508 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley accused the archdiocese of engaging in a "pattern of obstruction" and investigated church leaders, but never filed charges.

In the current grand jury probe, prosecutors are examining whether Mahony and other church officials could be charged under a federal fraud statute that makes it illegal to "scheme . . . to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services," sources said.

But that may be an uphill battle for prosecutors.

The law against "honest services fraud" has come under increasing attack from legal experts who say it is too broad and open-ended.

Twenty years ago, Congress expanded the anti-fraud statute to combat public corruption and to punish officials who enriched themselves at taxpayers' expense. But it was written so broadly it can be used against private persons, such as a corporate executive who violates his duty of trust.

Still, lawyers who have tracked the law said they were not aware of it ever being used against a church official.

San Diego lawyer Charles LaBella, a former U.S. attorney there, said he was surprised to hear that the law may be used against Mahony.

"That's a strange one. I have never heard of it being used in that kind of situation," he said. "Usually, it's used against public officials who owe a duty of honest services to the taxpayers."

Others say the whole concept of the law is flawed.

"Nobody knows what 'honest services' means. And no two appeals courts agree," said Northwestern law professor Albert Alschuler.

Some judges have said it is a crime only if an official takes a kickback or something for himself in exchange for public benefit. Other judges have said officials can be charged only if they have violated a state law.

Two years ago, the U.S. Appeals Court in Chicago threw out the "honest services" conviction of a Wisconsin state employee who was prosecuted for giving the state's travel business to a travel agent who donated money to the governor's campaign. Prosecutors said she ignored the state's bidding procedures. But the court noted she gave the contract to the "low bidder," who also happened to be in Wisconsin.

The issue is also pending in several appeals at the U.S. Supreme Court. The National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers has urged the justices to strike down the law as unconstitutional because it is "hazy."

There was no such talk Thursday afternoon outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown L.A., where members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests picketed with signs reading "No More Doubt" and "Mahony Keeps Secrets."

Joelle Casteix, the Southwest regional director of the group, praised O'Brien for his "creativity" in an attempt to hold the church accountable.

The archdiocese released a statement calling the group "an angry mob" and stating "there is no priest currently in the ministry in the archdiocese who had been found to have abused a minor."



Times staff writers Alicia Lozano and Tony Perry contributed to this report.

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29 Jan 2009

1988 abuse case involving Alamo resurfaces

The Mercury News - Silicon Valley
January 29, 2009

By JON GAMBRELL | Associated Press Writer

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Tony Alamo's voice crackled from a speakerphone as four people prepared to beat him on the evangelist's behalf, Jeremiah Justin Miller recalled in court.

Miller said he bled after being struck 140 times with a wooden paddle. His sins: asking a science question during a history class and, without permission, wearing a metal-studded leather scarf Alamo had designed.

"He said that I was a goat among the sheep and he was going to have to beat the devil out of me," Miller told a California courtroom three years after the 1988 incident at Alamo's religious compound north of Los Angeles.

By 1995, prosecutors dropped child abuse charges against Alamo, who said Miller, then 11, exaggerated his tale. The evangelist, now facing federal Mann Act charges in Arkansas, said Miller was an unruly child who needed to be disciplined.

More than two decades after the beating, one man still sought by detectives surrendered last week. Miller, meanwhile, hasn't surfaced since his family won civil suits against Alamo after the Internal Revenue Service seized the evangelist's assets in a tax case.

"The Millers fought the fight for everybody, they paid the price for everybody. They did the work, they took the chances," said Peter N. Georgiades, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represented the family. "They overcame their personal fears. They got the judgment and the IRS took the money."

Miller's case, which saw no action since 1995, sprang back to life when Douglas Christopher walked into a Santa Clarita, Calif., courthouse last week and turned himself in. Christopher, 55, faces an initial hearing Friday morning in municipal court over two felony charges from the 1988 beating, said Shiara Davila, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The case re-emerged as Alamo, 74, faces a 10-count federal indictment accusing him of taking young girls across state lines for sex. Since a Sept. 20 raid on Alamo's compound in Fouke, child welfare officials with the Arkansas Department of Human Services have seized 36 children associated with the evangelist's ministries.

Christopher surrendered at the urging of an Arkansas government agency, said Steve Whitmore, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman. Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said her agency encouraged Christopher to resolve the criminal case. She declined to comment further.

Christopher is being held without bond on the charges. Christopher's public defender, Jim Bruns, could not be reached for comment. Davila said statutes of limitations didn't affect the case.

During the 1991 court hearing, Miller said church members wrote reports on children's misbehavior. Those reports went to Alamo, who decided on discipline he said God had recommended to him.

About 40 Alamo followers, including Miller's mother, watched as the paddle smacked against Miller's backside, the boy testified. He said he bled so badly he had to wear bandages for more than a week.

Miller's story matches testimony at an October federal detention hearing for Alamo. Then, former followers described suffering through beatings ordered by the evangelist over minor infractions like playing with a spray bottle.

Danny Davis, Alamo's lawyer at the time of the Miller hearing, dismissed the boy's testimony as exaggerated and coached by his ex-ministry member father. Davis served as a defense lawyer in the infamous McMartin Pre-School molestation case, the longest criminal prosecution in U.S. history.

Alamo himself has dismissed the allegations through the years, saying the unruly only face "spankings."

Miller "didn't even cry," Alamo told the Los Angeles Times in 1989. "It was a very light, easy spanking."

It is unclear what evidence sheriff's deputies have to work with now in Miller's case. Whitmore declined to discuss whether deputies have spoken with Miller, who would now be in his early 30s.

"This is an active, open case. We've got reports, we've got everything," Whitmore said. "The sheriff's department, make no mistake about it, is about its business."

Georgiades, who represented Miller's family during years of lawsuits against Alamo, said bringing Miller and his family back into the case might prove impossible.

"We don't communicate," Georgiades said. "A couple of them have disappeared completely, period."

The family won a multimillion legal challenge against Alamo over labor law violations, but the IRS later liquidated much of the church's holdings, including its clothing line. Ministry members made elaborately embroidered denim jackets once sought by celebrities.

The lawyer applauded prosecutors for moving forward on the case, even after a two-decade delay.

"No sane person could think that what these children did warranted any punishment other than maybe a stern look from mom," he said. "The reason he's doing these beatings is to show the other people in the group his power so that if they're thinking about leaving, they won't."

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B.C. Ministry of Education directs teachers to Scientology website

The Province - British Columbia  January 29, 2009

I'm sure B.C. kids need Scientology's help

by Ethan Baron

Attention students: it's now OK to jump up and down on your desks and rave about your latest crush.

The Ministry of Education is referring teachers to an organization set up by the Church of Scientology, the group made infamous by Tom Cruise, the raving couch-bounder and Scientology adherent. Two ministry teacher-support documents direct teachers to the website of Los Angeles-based Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI).

The Church of Scientology, founded by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard, set up YHRI in 2001. This group holds events and produces materials to advance the teaching of human rights to children and adults around the world.

And get this: the mayor of an Argentina city was so impressed with YHRI that he put its materials into 90 schools. The name of the mayor's city? Moron. To be fair, Argentinians put an accent over the second 'o.'

And since I'm being fair, while I'm noting that Statistics Canada lists Scientology on its "classification for religious denomination" directly below Satanism, I'll point out that StatsCan's list is alphabetical.

The Education Ministry was not exactly jumping up and down to answer questions about the inclusion of this Scientology group in its teaching-aid materials. A spokesman who didn't want to be identified said the ministry doesn't endorse the websites, and that if teachers want to use them in class, they need approval from their school board, or from an "authority" that the spokesman wasn't able to define.

I went down to the B.C. Church of Scientology, a storefront on Hastings Street just west of the Downtown Eastside, to see what they were all about. They offered to give me a free 200-question personality test.

Amazingly, I had the results back in about 10 minutes. Goodness, I had no idea I was so screwed up.

For starters, I am severely depressed. On a scale of minus-100 to plus-100, I was 10 points up from rock bottom. My mind is unstable, and "dispersed." The nice young man named Curtis who interpreted my line-graph score explained that I have a hard time focusing on tasks. As if! Now what was I, uh, oh right, a column.

Curtis said I scored far from the "inactive" level, but that's not so good, because I am, in fact, "manic." Surebuddyanythingyousay.

Also, I lack empathy, and people may consider me "cold."

"Am I cold, Cheryl?" I asked a colleague when I got back to the office.

She hesitated. Then she hedged.

"I wouldn't say 'cold,'" Cheryl told me.

Oh God, it's all true.

But at least I have options.

While Curtis was scoring my test, I watched a short video on Dianetics, the "science" behind Scientology. Apparently, Dianeticiticists, or whatever the brains behind the operation call themselves, have discovered that all the bad stuff that happens to us is stored in a part of our brains called the "reactive mind," and we need to get rid of it and become "clear" so it stops making us unhappy.

Hmmmm. Dead parents. Dead friends. Divorce. Crime scenes. War zones.

It's no wonder I'm so messed up.

To help clear my admittedly overflowing reactive mind, I can buy the 460-page Dianetics book for $25. Or, I can get a shorter version of 150 pages for $18. Then, for $40.95, I can take a course of one to three weeks. Golly, I told Curtis, that's not so expensive. I looked around their space on Hastings, which is assessed at $2.3 million.

"How do you operate?" I asked.

"Well, if you want to be professionally trained, it's more expensive," Curtis told me, "roughly equivalent to a college education."

But what the heck, here in B.C., the ministry has put Scientology resources right in teachers' hands. We can get the students professionally trained even before they get to college. And I'm sure those kids are already way more troubled than me.

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Investigators trying to determine what role religion might have played in death of toddler

CBS3 Philadelphia January 28, 2009

Police Investigate Northeast Phila. Boy's Death

reporting by Robin Rieger

Investigators are trying to determine what role religion might have played in the death of a young Northeast Philadelphia toddler.

Police recovered the body of a two-year-old inside a home in Northeast Philadelphia on Saturday evening.

Preliminary autopsy results indicate the child died of pneumonia, but investigators are now trying to determine if the boy was treated with any medication or if religious beliefs might have prevented his parents from seeking medical treatment for their son.

"We just don't know yet when this child became apparently ill enough for any reasonable human being in the situation the parents found him in to say 'wait a minute, I better get this child to a doctor' or whether it ever occurred to them that they should ever take the child to a doctor because they don't believe in medicine," Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said.

The family reportedly belongs to the First Century Gospel Church; a spinoff of the Faith Tabernacle Church that preaches reliance on prayer, not medical care to cure illness.

"We'll do our very best to conclude this as quickly as the facts allow us to and then we'll make a determination whether criminal charges will be filed," Abraham explained.

The parents have other children at home who would be examined and interviewed by the Department of Human Services. DHS says child protective services laws do not define child abuse or neglect to include situations where parents withhold medical care because of religion.

"Clearly a parent has a right to pray, but they also have responsibilities as a parent to make sure their children get emergency care," Abraham said.

Abraham says she has prosecuted parents from time to time whose religious beliefs should have been subordinate to the child's welfare. Abraham says charges if filed in this case, could include endangering the welfare of a child or involuntary manslaughter or something else.

At this time no criminal charges have been filed and the investigation remains ongoing.

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Youth Preacher Found Guilty of Sexual Abuse

WSAZ-TV West Virginia     January 29, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former preacher accused of sexual abusing a teenager was found guilty on three counts Wednesday night.

Timothy Edmonds was arrested back in 2006. Police say he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl.

Edmonds was a youth preacher at the Chesapeake Apostolic Church in Kanawha County.

The victim was a student at the church school.

Edmonds faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced.

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[following is a background article that provides more details to the above story]

West Virginia Record    March 21, 2008

Putnam Pastor, Wife on Witness Lists in Sexual Abuse Civil Case

By Lawrence Smith


CHARLESTON - The names of a Putnam County minister and his wife, whose son is accused of repeatedly violating a domestic violence protective order, have surfaced in a civil suit alleging one of their former parishioners sexually abused a teenage girl at an Upper Kanawha Valley Pentecostal church in 2006.

A recent deposition taken of the former parishioner shows him accusing the couple of telling lies about him, and that they aided in fostering the sexual abuse allegations.

Recently, The West Virginia Record reported on the various charges pending against Jonathan D. Carter for domestic violence-related crimes. Carter's history of domestic violence, court records show, included protective orders he and his parents, William and Dixie Carter, filed against each other in 1996.

Chesapeake Apostolic Church

Since first reporting the story, The Record has learned that William, pastor of Hometown Apostolic Church, and Dixie, are named as fact witnesses by both sides in a civil suit filed by a Hernshaw couple against Timothy C. Edmonds, the Chesapeake Apostolic Church, the Upper Kanawha Valley Christian School and the church's pastor, P.D. Priddy.

According to court records, the suit alleges Edmonds, 36, sexually abused the couple's then 16-year-old daughter two years ago while he was an assistant youth pastor at the church, and she was a student at UKVC, which the church oversees. Likewise, the suit alleges the church and Priddy were negligent in hiring Edmonds since they were made aware of his "prior sexually deviant behavior at a previous congregation."

11937 MacCorkle Ave. in Chesapeake

Though the initial complaint and suit does not specify the previous congregation, a deposition of Edmonds taken in November suggests it is Hometown Apostolic. Despite him declining to answer some questions due to a collateral criminal investigation at the time, Edmonds referred to the Carter's as liars, and accused them of using people.

Abuse allegations not taken seriously

According to court records, James and Debbie Green filed suit against Edmonds, Priddy, CAC and UKVC on April 26. With the assistance of Charleston attorney Henry E. Wood III, the Greens filed their suit as the guardians and next of friend of their daughter, who was 17 at the time.

In the suit, Wood alleges that prior to May 10, 2006, Edmonds, acting as CAC's assistant youth pastor, "did sexually abuse and/or assault the individual plaintiff both at Chesapeake Apostolic Church building proper and at a house located at 11937 MacCorkle Ave."

Edmonds committed these acts to "gratify a perverted sexual need," Wood said, and specifically targeted the Green's daughter because "at the time of the sexual assault, she was mentally and emotionally less developed than a normal 16-year-old individual."

The Green's daughter, Wood alleges, is not Edmond's only victim.

Though he does not specific how many or who, Wood states that Priddy and CAC were aware of "prior complaints of sexual assault which were communicated to prior victims to both Chesapeake Apostolic Church and its parent church."

In their replies dated July 19, CAC, UKVC, Priddy and Edmonds all denied the allegations. According to court records, the church, the school and Priddy are represented by Cheryl H. Ledbetter and Brian J. Moore, with the Charleston law firm of JacksonKelly, with George J. Joseph and Todd M. Sponseller, with Bailey and Wyant, providing counsel in Edmonds.

Ledbetter and Wood deny all of Wood's allegations except the factual ones of the church's and school's location. Also, they deny that Edmonds "was a member of the church administration, but admit that Rev. Priddy is pastor of the church."

Likewise, Joseph and Sponseller admit to Priddy being the pastor, and Edmonds having no role in the church's administration. Furthermore, they aver that "Timothy Charles Edmonds denies that acts described therein did not occur."

Edmonds takes Fifth

Prior to filing the suit, the Greens lodged a complaint against Edmonds with the West Virginia State Police. According to court records, their daughter wrote them a letter on April 20 saying there'd been kissing between she and Edmonds of "an intimate nature."

Also, she told police that on several occasions she'd been alone with Edmonds for long periods of time at both the church, and 11937 MacCorkle Ave., a home owned by the Priddy's which was being remodeled. During these times along, Edmonds would ask her to wear pantyhose, and would take pictures with her "dress pulled up and wearing the pantyhose in a sexually explicit position."

According to court records, one witness observed Edmonds and the girl entering the house alone together. Another witness observed Edmonds pick-up the girl one day "as she was walking home in the rain and transport her to her residence."

After finding probable cause, police arrested Edmonds on May 2, and charged with one count of sexual abuse by a parent or guardian. According to court records, Edmonds was released on May 11 after his wife, Karin, who is Priddy's daughter, posted his $5,000 bond.

In his initial interview with police, Edmonds maintained his innocence saying he'd never been alone with the girl, and that she was never in his vehicle. Eventually, Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman dismissed the charge against Edmonds on Nov. 27 following a motion made by Assistant Kanawha Prosecutor Scott Reynolds.

Ironically, that same day Wood was taking Edmonds' deposition in the civil suit. Though, on the advice of legal counsel, he asserted his Fifth Amendments right on many of Wood's questions, Edmonds, and the line of questions posed to him, suggest the Carter's played a role in leveling the sexual abuse allegations against him.

According to his deposition, Edmonds first came to know William Carter when he visited Hometown while on leave from the Army. A native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Edmonds said he learned of the area through his cousin, Mark, who owns a body shop there.

In his deposition, Edmonds said he does not believe Carter to be an honest man, and later called him "a liar." Later, when Wood asks him "Do you know anything he's lied about?" Edmonds answers "Yes. And he uses people."

After asking Edmonds to be specific about what Carter has lied about, Joseph interjects saying he's instructed Edmonds to decline to answer any "an aspect of this lawsuit that is part of the criminal investigation in Mr. Edmonds." When Wood follows up asking "I gather from that that somehow answering this question - what this man has lied about, it somehow related to criminal conduct?" Joseph again instructs Edmonds not to answer.

Later in the deposition, Wood asks Edmonds if he knows Carter's wife, Dixie, in which he replies yes. When Wood asks him "So basically you hold the same opinion of Dixie as you do Mr. Carter?" Edmonds replies, "Pretty much the family."

In two follow-up questions, Wood asked Edmonds "did you witness William Carter or Dixie Carter actually lying to other individuals about events or matters?" and "Did you see those two people, quote, unquote using other people?" Again, Joseph instructed Edmonds not to answer the questions.

The day following Edmonds' deposition, the Greens and their daughter where scheduled to give theirs. However, according to court records, because Edmonds asserted his Fifth Amendment rights, the daughter was not made available for questioning.

In a joint motion filed Jan. 22, the defense counsels asked that Kanawha Circuit Judge Louis H. "Duke" Bloom compel the girl's deposition. In their motion, the defense counsels called Wood's position "untenable" and that "These two depositions are separate, distinct events which are not co-dependent nor interrelated in the fashion that plaintiffs' counsel asserts."

Bloom agreed, and granted the motion on Jan. 23. According to court records, on March 11, Wood was served with a notice to take the girl's deposition.

Banking on a settlement

The Record attempted to gain additional comments from the parties in the suit. Joseph did not return repeated telephone calls, and Ledbetter declined to comment.

However, Wood said though a prospect of settlement looks likely, "We're ready for trial."

"We believe that there's significant evidence of sexual misconduct," Wood said. "It's my client's hope that his matter can be resolved short of open trial."

"We're looking forward to constructive discussion with defense counsel," Wood added.

According to Wood, he has completed the depositions his side feels necessary with the exception of CAC's parent church in Martinsburg.

When asked if he felt comfortable calling the Carters as witnesses, Wood said, "I certainly am today along with probably every other witness in this case."

According to court records, the case is slated for trial on Aug. 11. A mediation hearing is scheduled for April 1.

Kanawha Circuit Court, Case Nos. 07-C-814 and 06-F-1044

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Trauma claim in sect custody battle for two children

The Australian - January 29, 2009

by Matthew Denholm

TWO children at the centre of a custody battle between their Exclusive Brethren mother and ex-Brethren father would be traumatised if sent from the sect to live with their dad, a court-appointed counsellor has found.

The children's father, excommunicated from the Christian sect after he left in 2003, is seeking custody of his two youngest children, a boy aged 15 and girl of 10.

He has told the court the children are "brainwashed" by the Brethren, whom he accuses of influencing his ex-wife to flout court orders providing him fortnightly access to the children.

However, yesterday counsel for the mother, Melbourne-based QC Noel Ackman, referred to a report by a court-appointed "family reporter" advising against granting the father custody.

The report by psychologist Ineke Stierman concluded that the two children, who had been raised in the Brethren, were "likely to suffer long-term emotional trauma" if removed from their mother's custody.

Ms Stierman's report, while supporting some form of agreed access for the father to his children, urges the court to place the children's "emotional needs" above those of their dad's.

However, the father attacked aspects of Ms Stierman's report, accusing her of being unwilling to visit his home, and of having "made up her mind" on the issue in advance. "I don't agree," the father told the court, sitting in Launceston, insisting the children would get "long-term emotional support and counselling" if allowed to live with him.

Ms Stierman concluded: "A change of residence (from the mother's home) at this time is unthinkable."

However, the father told Justice Sally Brown that the report was written at a time when his ex-wife was not expected to live much longer.

Since then her condition had improved and her oncologist now expected her to live between one and five years.

He told the court that while the Brethren shunned, or "withdrew from", people who left the sect, this did not apply to children.

"They have a dispensation of grace towards young children -- they are not withdrawn from; they are not penalised," he said.

He conceded that the children could potentially be "devastated" by leaving behind their six older siblings, who were also in the Brethren, but that he would not prevent them seeing each other.

The father, representing himself, said he would accommodate the children's religious beliefs by removing TVs, CD players, radios and mobile phones from his house. However, he said he would not allow them to attend Brethren ceremonies because church elders would use these opportunities to indoctrinate his children against him.

The mother told the court the two young children did not want to spend time with their father and denied the Brethren had influenced them in this. "I attribute it to what you've done," she told her ex-husband across the courtroom as he cross-examined her yesterday.

The case continues.

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FLDS leader pleads 5th 267 times

Go San Angelo - January 29, 2009

by Paul A. Anthony

Citing federal conspiracy and Mann Act investigations, YFZ Ranch leader Merril Jessop invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination more than 250 times last week, according to a deposition transcript obtained Wednesday by the Standard-Times.

Jessop is a top leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that runs the polygamous sect's Schleicher County ranch. The Mann Act prohibits the transportation of people across state lines for the purpose of illegal sexual activity.

Jessop invoked the Fifth Amendment 267 times Friday on questions as minor as whether he drives a car and as significant as whether his now-14-year-old daughter was involved in a sexual relationship with sect leader Warren Jeffs.

"Upon the advice of counsel, he's exerting his Fifth Amendment" rights, Jessop's attorney, Amy Hennington, said early in the all-day Friday deposition, taken in the course of a custody case involving a girl alleged to be his daughter-in-law. "The basis is that there is potential state investigation still ongoing, as well as criminal investigations under the Mann Act out of the U.S. Attorney's office."

In a phone hearing with 51st District Judge Barbara Walther over Jessop's refusal to answer questions early in the proceeding, Hennington told the judge she had concerns about an ongoing federal investigation into alleged FLDS violations of the Mann Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better-known as RICO.

RICO can be used to prosecute organized crime, as well as wire and mail fraud.

The plethora of Fifth pleadings was the focus of a lengthy hearing Monday that stretched into the night. Jessop and sect spokesman Willie Jessop, who was deposed Monday morning, took the stand to explain why they had refused to answer the vast majority of the questions asked of them by Denton family law attorney Natalie Malonis.

Malonis has said she seeks information about the sect's finances in the hopes of providing financial means for her 17-year-old client.

That girl is a daughter of Jeffs who sect documents say was married at age 15 to Raymond Jessop, Merril Jessop's then-36-year-old son.

Jessop pleaded the Fifth to questions involving the girl - including whether she has a baby with his son. He also refused to answer questions about his daughter who sect documents describe as being married to Jeffs at age 12, and who photos released in previous hearings show kissing the sect leader deeply shortly after their alleged marriage.

Malonis also had asked whether Jessop knew if his daughter had a sexual relationship with Jeffs, or a child.

"If they are true Fifth Amendment invocations, the implication is that the young ladies have children," Malonis said Wednesday. "That's the inference to be drawn. If the answer is, 'No,' or, 'I don't know,' I don't know why he wouldn't say that."

Hennington declined to comment on the deposition.

In the Monday hearing, Walther did not rule directly on Jessop's assertions, instead saying she would issue a written order, which has not yet been made, a court clerk said.

Merril Jessop also refused to answer all questions relating to the sect's finances - including those apparently based on sect documents referring to efforts to create a trust in Texas with funds taken from the Utah-based United Effort Plan trust.

The Utah trust has been taken over by the courts after allegations that FLDS leaders were diverting funds for unauthorized uses, such as building the 1,700-acre Schleicher County ranch that authorities raided in early April.

"This witness has information about the way that the financial structure's set up, and how my client and her family, their needs are taken care of, their living expenses ... how much control and choice they have over their own destinies," Malonis told Walther during the phone hearing Friday. "He's got information as an authority figure in the church over the structure of the church and that kind of thing. ... He does have information that's relevant to how this family can support themselves."

Citing what she said was a dictation from Jeffs to Jessop concerning the type of food allowed in a particular residence, Malonis jumped into a line of questioning aimed at determining whether her client will be free to make her own choices when she turns 18 in July.

Jessop pleaded the Fifth to questions about whether FLDS leaders controlled their congregation's expenses, purchases, dress, food, livelihood, living spaces and interpersonal contact.

"Are there any aspects of members' lives that are not governed by the religious leaders?" Malonis said.

"My client is invoking his right to assert the privilege against self-incrimination pursuant to the Constitution," Hennington replied.

The sect, its ranch and its members have been the focus of numerous investigations since the night of April 3, when the state's Child Protective Services agency and the Texas Rangers first entered the compound.

Child Protective Services is moving toward trials in the custody cases of two girls, while 12 FLDS members, including Merril and Raymond Jessop, have been indicted. A court-appointed manager of the UEP trust also has been investigating the sect's finances, and a sealed federal search warrant has led to the federal investigations referenced by Hennington.

Jessop did occasionally answer questions - roughly one out of every six - but often refused to respond to even the most basic inquiries.

For example, he acknowledged he has a son Raymond Jessop, but would not give his age. He refused to give his highest level of education, but later, when asked by another attorney, said he did not attend high school.

He pleaded the Fifth to a question early in the proceeding about whether he has any daughters, but later affirmed when asked specifically about two girls, including the alleged Jeffs bride.

"It could incriminate him under any of the federal offenses that are under RICO, Mann Act, any of the potential other federal things that may or may not be under investigation that the U.S. attorney hasn't indicated," Hennington said when asked why Jessop was invoking the Fifth on the question about his son's age, which is public record and has long been part of the evidence stream to come out of the case. "There are state offenses that (have) particular potential implications."

All pleadings were made by Hennington for her client, with an occasional follow-up question from Malonis asking Jessop whether he agreed with Hennington's assertion.

The Fifth Amendment can be used to protect a witness from self-incrimination in a criminal case, but clients and attorneys are not allowed to simply plead the Fifth to any question - a point that led to Monday's hearing, as well as the teleconference with Walther on Friday morning.

"The witness is not excused from answering simply because he declares that he would incriminate himself," Malonis argued Friday, according to the deposition. "In other words, just him saying so does not itself establish the hazard of incrimination. That is the court's call whether the silence is justified."

Hennington argued that Malonis' questions were leading to areas where ongoing investigations or the nature of the charges against Jessop made self-incrimination a possibility.

"It's a reasonable fear that what he's going to say is incriminating (and) could lead to incrimination or just incriminating himself," she told Walther. "With my client being under indictment already ... the state hasn't provided me any specific things yet, but I think it's reasonable that this as a deposition, as a sworn statement, could be used by the state."

Several pleadings seemed to go beyond that, however, and the mountain of non-answers clearly led to tensions between the several attorneys in the Schleicher County courtroom.

Jessop refused to say even whether he was a member of the FLDS or whether he worshipped a higher power. He would not say whether he is a member of YFZ Land LLC, despite the fact that he is listed as the limited liability corporation's registered agent in public records filed with the state.

At one point, Malonis asked Jessop whether he drives a car.

"Upon the advice of counsel, my client is invoking his right to assert the privilege against self-incrimination, and the basis of that is the ongoing criminal investigation," Hennington replied.

"OK," Malonis replied. "Can you state specifically what offense he might be in fear - or let the witness state what he is afraid of being incriminated by (when) answering directly whether he drives an automobile?"

Jessop cut in, saying, "Probably because I can't see."

"You don't want to drive because you can't see," Hennington repeated.

Malonis, seemingly exasperated, replied, "And If you don't, you can say you don't, and I don't know how that can be incriminating."

Deposition excerpts

Extracts from the Friday, Jan. 23, deposition of YFZ Ranch leader Merril Jessop, taken from 165-page transcript obtained Wednesday by the Standard-Times. Natalie Malonis is the attorney deposing Jessop, and Amy Hennington is Jessop's attorney.

Natalie Malonis: How are you employed?

Amy Hennington: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: Are you employed?

AH: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: Do you have a source of income?

AH: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: OK. Do you own any assets?

AH: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: Okay. Do you have any personal debt?

AH: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: Are you a member of the FLDS religious association?

AH: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: Do you have a religious association?

AH: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: Do you worship a higher power?

AH: My client is pleading the Fifth Amendment.

NM: Have [17-year-old girl] and Raymond Jessop had a child together?

AH: Upon the advice of counsel, he's asserting his Fifth Amendment (right). The basis is that there is (a) potential state investigation still ongoing, as well as criminal investigations under the Mann Act out of the U.S. Attorney's office.

NM: Okay. Are you taking the advice of your counsel and choosing not to answer that question?

Merril Jessop: Yes.

NM: Is that on the basis that it might incriminate you? Is that your understanding? I just want to make sure you're agreeing that you're not answering because you fear that it might incriminate you.

MJ: Yes.

NM: OK. Is your daughter [14-year-old girl] married to Warren Jeffs?

AH: Upon the advice of counsel, the client is invoking the Fifth. The basis is the ongoing investigation and the fact that ... he's under indictment.

NM: OK. When making an inference that she is married ... to Warren Jeffs, did she upon the happening of that event move into Warren Jeffs' home?

AH: Upon the advice of (counsel), my (client) is invoking his right to Fifth Amendment (protection). The basis (is) the same: He's under indictment, (and the) state and federal investigations.


NM: OK. Does your daughter, [name], have a child?

AH: Objection to form as to leading. Again, my client is also exerting his privilege under (the) Fifth Amendment. The basis is in particularly an indictment that is pending here in Schleicher County, as well as state and federal investigations.

NM: Are you aware of whether or not your daughter, [name], has engaged in a sexual relationship with Warren Jeffs?

AH: My client is invoking his privilege under the Fifth Amendment, the basis being the same as the others.

- To view the full transcript of the deposition, visit gosanangelo.com.

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28 Jan 2009

Secrecy allegations in priest sex abuse case

ABC WLS-TV Chicago - January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- There are new allegations on Tuesday that the Chicago archdiocese is seeking secrecy in a child molestation case.

The survivors network of those abused by priests today tried to hand deliver a letter to Francis Cardinal George. They renewed their calls for the archdiocese and the cardinal to stop legal attempts to seal documents in the molestation case against Fr. Daniel McCormack. They're also demanding the archdiocese not help McCormack get out of prison when he comes up for parole in September on a separate case.

Fr. McCormack has been removed from the priesthood.

The archdiocese says it has requested a protective order in the case to help protect the identities and sensitive information about children involved in the case. They stress that information about sexual misconduct by clergy is available on its Web site.

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27 Jan 2009

Sect 'brainwashed boy against dad'

The Australian - January 28, 2009

by Matthew Denholm

A FATHER of eight has told a court that the Exclusive Brethren sect "brainwashed" and "pressured" his young son to turn against him.

The Tasmanian man, who left the sect and his Brethren wife in 2003, obtained Family Court orders in 2006 that the two youngest children have fortnightly access visits at his new home.

However, the access visits stopped in early 2007 in defiance of the court orders and he has seen the children -- a girl aged 10 and a boy aged 15 -- only briefly since.

The father, who like all centrally involved in the case cannot be identified by law, yesterday told the Family Court it was clear the only way to see his children was to seek full-time custody.

"The only way the children will have a relationship with both parents is if they live with me," he said.

Their mother, who remains in the Brethren and has terminal cancer, is seeking to retain custody and have the father's access rights revoked. Her counsel, led by Melbourne-based QC Noel Ackman, later put it to the father that his motivation in seeking custody related to his hostility to the Brethren.

Mr Ackman suggested to the father that he should know that by leaving their mother's custody, the children would leave the Brethren fold -- the world they knew -- and that this could be painful.

"You didn't leave the faith until you were 46 ... that's a lot older than 15 and 10," Mr Ackman told the father, who is representing himself.

Mr Ackman suggested the father was "putting what's best for the children last", particularly given that they knew their mother would eventually die of her illness.

However, the father denied this, arguing it was in the children's best interests to have a relationship with both parents and to finish growing up outside the Brethren's strict codes.

While the children would leave behind social aspects of Brethren life, he remained a Christian faithful to some of the sect's beliefs, he told judge Sally Brown.

The court heard that the 15-year-old boy had shunned his father on several meetings, covering his eyes, walking away and, during one visit, climbing a tree and lying in a fetal position.

However, the father said such reactions were the result of "pressure" and "brainwashing" from the Brethren and usually did not last long into a visit. "I think he was spoken to -- brainwashed -- to behave in that manner," the father said.

He produced a photo album to reinforce his claim that the children had enjoyed happy visits with him and his new wife before access visits were halted in violation of court orders.

The Exclusive Brethren, a secretive Christian sect that seeks a life for its followers separate to that of the general community, prevents followers from socialising or even eating with non-members.

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FLDS teen disputes mom's book

The Salt Lake Tribune - January 27, 2009

by Brooke Adams

Betty Jane Jessop's favorite phrase: "Good grief!"

That's what Betty utters as she reads the new epilogue in her mother's best-selling book, Escape . In those pages, Carolyn Jessop describes her daughter's return to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, calling her brainwashed.

"It just makes me want to laugh," said Betty, 19, shaking her head.

Besides Carolyn herself, the character in Escape that most intrigues readers is Betty -- the second of Carolyn's eight children with FLDS bishop Merril Jessop.

Why, they ask, did Betty return to the sect after four years in mainstream society? And: Is she OK?

Soon they may be able to read Betty's answer to those questions. Since April, the teenager has been working on a book about her experiences, aided by older sister Maggie Jessop.

Betty said she decided to write the book after watching news reports about Texas authorities' raid on the Yearning For Zion Ranch and her mother's "ridiculous" comments about the community.

"It is time for the other side of the story to be told," said Betty, who will shop it to publishers this spring.

Carolyn Jessop, who will speak at the Sugar House Barnes & Noble bookstore at 7 p.m. today, declined an interview about her daughter, saying only that "Betty has the right" to share her views. In her book, Carolyn holds out hope Betty will return to her.

Based on several early chapters, Betty's book -- the first by an active FLDS member -- promises an intriguing perspective on her family, her view of mainstream society and the sect's beliefs.

Both Betty and Maggie Jessop said their father set several rules for the project: Tell the truth, let readers reach their own conclusions, and do not slam Carolyn.

"He has specifically worked with Betty to forgive her mother and not express bad feelings about what happened to her," Maggie Jessop said.

Merril Jessop oversees the sect's Texas ranch and has been indicted for conducting an illegal marriage involving a daughter who allegedly was spiritually married at age 12 to FLDS leader Warren S. Jeffs. Carolyn has said one reason she left the sect is she feared such a marriage for Betty.

Betty is slim, with strawberry blond hair, fair skin and a laugh that comes often. She was 13 in 2003 when her mother left and moved to Salt Lake City.

As described in Escape -- and acknowledged by Betty -- she went kicking and screaming. Betty said traumatic years followed as she struggled to cope with mainstream society and fought with her mother.

Their arguments, she said, centered on her desire to live according to the sect's principles and her mother's determination to keep her from the faith, her father and her extended family.

"I was such a representation of everything she hated so much," Betty said.

On July 2, 2007, Betty turned 18. Two days later she returned to the sect, celebrating what she now calls her own independence day.

"I just couldn't deny what was in my heart -- my belief in my religion and my love for my father and my family," she said. "I spent four years [in mainstream society], and there is nothing there for me.

"I would never trade my experience for anything in the world," she said. "It made my fire and determination much more intense."

Betty has not married, though she said she looks forward to becoming "part of a home that is alive, never ending, growing."

She spends about eight-hours most days on her book, splitting her time between San Antonio and the ranch. Betty also works in the community's sewing factory, helps with meals and spends time with her other siblings.

Betty said she has drawn from personal journals for details about her childhood, her parents' divorce and experiences living away from the FLDS community.

She expects former classmates at Midvale Middle School and West Jordan High School will be surprised by "how ornery and aggressive" she was at home given the quiet, calm facade she put on in public.

Betty said her mother's health problems -- Carolyn says in her book she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder -- meant many household and child care duties fell to her, even on school days. Betty quips that resulted in her own "current-traumatic stress disorder."

"With the responsibility landing on me so hard every morning, I was an emotional wreck, and after a while, I hardened into a frazzled bundle of nerves," she writes. Betty said that after two years -- and ongoing threats to send her to foster care -- she moved in with an uncle who had also left the FLDS.

At public school, the "unbridled vulgarity and immorality" were a shock, Betty writes, and the pressure almost unbearable. It was hard "to see how students acted, their language and how teachers didn't do anything about it," Betty said.

She focused on succeeding academically in part to disprove her mother's criticism of FLDS schools.

"I was constantly told I wouldn't do good in school and that I would be persecuted because of how I looked," said Betty, who graduated with honors.

Despite the mocking and questions she got at school, Betty wore the sect's conservative, body-covering dresses, even in gym class.

There were other awkward moments. In one class, she was asked to share plans following graduation. College? A church mission? Work?

"That was a tricky question on my part," Betty said. "How do I say what I want in front of all these people who already think I'm weird?"

Her answer? "I'm not sure," she said. The teacher pressed, but Betty kept silent.

"I couldn't say I wanted to go home and be a mother in Zion," Betty said. "They wouldn't understand that."

She made some friends, but visiting their homes reinforced her desire to return to her polygamous community. "The feeling I got, it was so empty," she said.

While her mother describes Merril Jessop as a cruel husband and father, Betty speaks of him as loving, kind and with an "unconquerable spirit."

Betty said she and her mother have not spoken since September, when she called to wish a younger brother happy birthday. "She doesn't call me and neither do my siblings," Betty said. "I miss [my siblings] so much and hope with all my heart they can survive."


Excerpts from Betty Jessop's writings

On her first Christmas holiday, which the FLDS do not celebrate:

"If the holiday was supposed to celebrate the Savior, where did the fat man in the red suit come from?"

"To me, it was all just weird. Holidays, fairy tales and cartoons were major cultural contradictions that I never could reconcile. They were nothing more than deceptions to me, and I couldn't figure out why people would delight in something that wasn't real."

On FLDS clothing:

"I was terrified of the indignities that a gym class would force upon me, and I was sure that Heavenly Father wouldn't make me do it. It wasn't that I didn't like physical exercise; I loved it, but I wouldn't dress down to do it. Among Priesthood people, we just wore our same decent cloths no matter what we did -- sports, hiking, work, even swimming. It didn't matter."

On attending public school:

"Around the school, practically every single person swore their head off, and no one did anything about it. My typical day in junior high, if I wasn't late because of all the trouble at home, was to get dropped off and walk mechanically to the north entrance, praying for strength."

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26 Jan 2009

Alleged Alamo accomplice arrested in California

WREG-TV Memphis - Associated Press
January 24, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A man accused of beating of an 11-year-old boy at a Tony Alamo Christian Ministries compound in Saugus, Calif., has been arrested.

Douglas Christopher, 55, is accused of holding the boy down while a ministry member beat the child with a paddle, causing the boy to bleed.

Jane Robison of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Christopher turned himself in Tuesday to California authorities. He faces two counts of felony child abuse. Each offense is punishable by up to six years in jail, she said.

Ministry leader Tony Alamo was accused of ordering the 1988 beating, but prosecutors dropped the charges against him in 1995, citing the time that had past and Alamo's conviction on tax evasion charges the previous year.

Currently, Alamo is in federal custody in Arkansas, awaiting trial on charges that he took girls across state lines for sex. Thirty-six children from the ministry, which also operates in Arkansas, were taken into protective custody by the state. The boy's family later sued the ministry in federal court and was awarded more than $1.4 million.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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Ex-Montreal pastor gets five years in prison for sex with 10-year-old girl

The Canadian Press - January 26, 2009

MONTREAL — A Montreal man who described himself as a pastor has been sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl he claims was his wife.

Daniel Cormier, 57, received the sentence today after a judge convicted him last October. The leader of the now-defunct Church of Downtown Montreal claimed the pair were married during a 1999 ceremony at his obscure evangelical church.

The girl, now 19, testified she was too young to grasp the concept of marriage but said she remembered the sexual abuse in vivid detail.

Cormier is also facing a pair of sex-related charges against a different 16-year-old girl.

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State starts talks with clergy over reporting of child abuse

The Independent - Ireland
January 26, 2009

by John Cooney

Top-level talks have begun between the Government and the Catholic bishops to find a legal formula that will enable the Health Service Executive to discover the full scale of clerical child sexual abuse in the Republic.

A compromise is being worked out absolving the bishops from informing the gardai and the HSE about unsubstantiated rumours or "soft information" about suspected abuse, while providing the State with details of reported cases and the reasons for the Church's withholding of other complaints.

In exchange for greater accountability from the bishops, the Government is understood to be ready to speed up the introduction of promised legislation covering questions of confidentiality and constitutional issues that will allow full Church disclosure in future.

The Irish Independent has also learned that the question remains unresolved as to whether the State will provide financial indemnity to Church authorities if they provide information about complaints which are later legally challenged and proven to be untrue by accused priests or ex-clerics.


Government ministers remain deeply divided as to whether the State should give "a blank cheque" to the Catholic Church, guaranteeing it from possible costly defamation suits taken by wronged clergy.

Some ministers believe that this financial guarantee should not be given to the Church on principle, while others are worried about a hostile public reaction to such a move at a time when the recession has plunged the country into banking and budgetary crises along with soaring unemployment.

Many of Ireland's 26 dioceses already face either bankruptcy or are being forced to cut back on pastoral and community services on account of heavy payouts to victims of clerical abuse, and the archdiocese of Dublin is bracing itself for a huge public outcry when the Commission of Investigation publishes its report, which is imminent.

The opening of unprecedented Church-State negotiations on the handling of clerical child sex abuse follows a weekend meeting called by Children's Minister Barry Andrews with Ireland's two most senior churchmen, Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.


At the meeting on Saturday in the Department of Health and Children, Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin told Mr Andrews they were committed to finding a way around previously "insurmountable" legal difficulties that had prevented all bishops in the Republic from telling the HSE if all abuse cases involving diocesan priests and members of religious orders had been reported to gardai.

The meeting took place after last Friday's crisis summit on child protection was convened in Maynooth by the Irish Episcopal Conference and the leaders of the Conference of Religious of Ireland. (CORI).

This Church-State encounter took place ahead of this Wednesday's deadline for disclosure by the bishops of the national scale of complaints and allegations against clergy, which was issued by Mr Andrews on January 7 -- the same day he ordered a State investigation into the lack of "faithful" reporting and notification by Bishop John Magee to the statutory authorities of cases in the Cloyne diocese.

Mr Andrews told the two church leaders he welcomed Friday's statement saying that the bishops would sign a written commitment to implement statutory guidelines on safeguarding children within their dioceses, and that they would try to provide all information requested by the HSE in an child protection audit form.

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25 Jan 2009

Documents: Church knew of abuse

The Indianapolis Star - January 25, 2009

Allegations were never reported, records show

by Robert King

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has admitted that one of its former priests, Harry Monroe, was a child molester.

But church officials have never acknowledged they knew anything about the abuse while it was happening.

Now, a host of new documents obtained through a court petition by The Indianapolis Star reveal that church officials knew about allegations against Monroe by 1976 -- early in an era of sex abuse that lasted from 1974 to 1984.

The documents also make it clear that two former Indianapolis archbishops -- the Most Rev. George J. Biskup and the Most Rev. Edward T. O'Meara -- were aware of abuse allegations at the time, never reported them to police and continued to assign Monroe to new parish positions, where he preyed on other children.

The newly revealed records -- coupled with others already public -- show a church hierarchy that twice sought medical evaluations and care for Monroe through a clinic that treated abusive priests from across the country.

"This is a smoking gun," said David Clohessy, national director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "It is a clear indication that the hierarchy knew very early on, not about one incident, not about mere suspicions, but they knew enough and were worried enough that they sent him out of state for treatment."

The attorney for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, however, said the church acted to ensure that a troubled priest received state-of-the-art treatment. Monroe was returned to ministry only after officials were assured he posed no threat to children.

"In this case, the bishop looked to the experts," attorney Jay Mercer said, "and the experts said to him this was not a concern."

"Keep our fingers crossed"

Records show that archdiocesan officials had grave doubts about Monroe's fitness for the priesthood before he even left the seminary.

In 1969, while a student at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Monroe expressed concerns to his mentors about his psychological fitness. But church leaders later allowed him to bypass psychological testing.

In 1972, Monroe was arrested on a charge of indecent exposure after he swam naked in the Ohio River. After the case was dropped, priest personnel director Monsignor Joseph D. Brokhage expressed relief to Monroe that "those ridiculous charges of last summer have been dismissed." He sent Monroe a copy of the letter from Floyd County officials, then urged Monroe to destroy it.

And in 1974, as Monroe was about to enter the priesthood, Brokhage wrote that he had "some reservations about Harry" but lamented that "at this late date nothing can be done but to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best."

Over the next decade, Monroe would sexually abuse boys on camping trips, in motel rooms and in parish rectories -- all while serving as a priest in Indianapolis, Terre Haute and in Perry County, along the Ohio River. Frequently, he would offer the boys -- ages 10 to 15 -- beer, liquor or marijuana as an enticement.

Since 2005, 13 accusers have filed lawsuits against Monroe and the archdiocese claiming the unchecked abuse has caused them a variety of problems.

Some say it led them to abandon their church and their faith or to struggle against authority. Several resorted to drug and alcohol abuse. Some have problems with physical intimacy. And one Terre Haute mother who hasn't filed a suit blames her son's suicide on the abuse he suffered at the hands of Harry Monroe.

Many of Monroe's victims kept quiet about their abuse while it was happening out of fear or embarrassment. Others say the church should have been aware of what was happening.

One victim said a pastor walked into the rectory when he and Monroe were naked on the floor, then slammed the door and left without ever reporting it. The mother from Terre Haute said she was headed to police with her son's allegations when her pastor told her to let the church handle it. But nothing was reported to authorities.

Efforts to reach Monroe were unsuccessful. His last known residence was in Nashville, Tenn., in 2006.

Complaints spark response

The church handled it, records show, by turning to the House of Affirmation, a private organization with clinics in Massachusetts, California and England that was set up primarily to treat priests with psychological problems.

In August 1976, Brokhage wrote a letter to House of Affirmation officials pleading for aid with a priest he described as "desperately in need of help." The church had received complaints from parents about the young priest's "association and activities with young boys."

"Looking back," Brokhage wrote, "one can see that even during his deacon internship he spent most of his time with sixth-grade boys."

That includes camping trips with boys, including one instance reported by a mother that involved her son having his pants removed and peanut butter smeared on his buttocks.

Mercer, the Indianapolis archdiocese attorney, said it isn't clear that this letter can be connected to Monroe because the person who wrote it is dead and Monroe is not mentioned by name.

"There's nothing that says Harry Monroe was involved in this. You can read everything you want between the lines, but I don't think that is what it says," Mercer said. "I don't think those letters from Brokhage say anything about anything sexual going on."

However, the context points to Monroe:

The letter came from Monroe's personnel file. The priest mentioned in the letter was 28 (Monroe's age at the time) and had been ordained two years earlier (as was Monroe). Monroe acknowledged in depositions that he went to the House of Affirmation. And in September 1976, less than a month after the Brokhage letter, House of Affirmation officials wrote Biskup to inform him that Monroe had completed three days of psychological testing and evaluation.

"I think the evidence speaks for itself. It's obviously Monroe," said Pat Noaker, the Minnesota attorney representing the 13 plaintiffs in the lawsuits.

The evaluation showed Monroe was emotionally immature, with a rigid personality, but concluded he was not mentally ill. "We also did not view him as presenting the profile of a child molester," wrote the psychologist and therapy director.

Noaker said church officials failed to follow one key recommendation from the House of Affirmation that might have helped: ensuring that Monroe received follow-up psychotherapy.

Within days of the all-clear, Biskup transferred Monroe from St. Andrew parish in Indianapolis to St. Catherine, where new allegations of abuse arose. And more would follow in Terre Haute, where Monroe was transferred in 1979.

It was there that Melissa Limcaco, the mother dissuaded from going to police, said the pastor told her five boys had made sexual abuse claims about Harry Monroe. Court documents include letters from at least three families with abuse claims that were sent to O'Meara in 1981.

Looking to experts

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has denied any legal liability in the 13 lawsuits it now faces about Monroe. It says the deaths of key figures in the case -- both archbishops and Brokhage -- make it hard to see the context in paperwork.

Mercer, the archdiocesan attorney, said the records show church officials twice sought treatment for Monroe with the House of Affirmation, which they thought was a "state-of-the-art" facility at the time. Twice, he said, they put Monroe back into ministry after receiving assurances that he was not a threat to children.

Both times, however, that proved to be wrong. More abuse cases followed.

Mercer said it is unfair, on another level, to view people's actions -- or lack of action -- in the 1970s and early 1980s through the prism of today's attitudes about what should constitute a red flag that abuse is occurring.

To make that point, the archdiocese plans to call Penn State University professor Philip Jenkins to testify that even the peanut butter incident might not have triggered alarms back then.

"In the context of the '70s, it is amazing and frankly shocking what really quite mainstream experts would say about many of these cases and responses," said Jenkins, who will be compensated by the archdiocese for his testimony.

Clohessy, with the abuse victims network, described such a defense as "just laughable and pathetic."

"Honestly," Clohessy said, "it has never, in any modern time period, been permissible for adults to touch children's private parts."

Cutting-edge clinic

The House of Affirmation was no stranger to sexual abuse cases involving priests.

Patrick Wall, a former priest and now a California attorney, said he has personally dealt with more than 50 cases involving the House of Affirmation. He said it was a far cry from an independent voice on the mental health of priests and the risks they presented to children.

It was not affiliated with any hospital, it operated in secrecy, and it never reported abusers to police. Above all, Wall said, its dependence on the patronage of bishops created an incentive to report progress even when there was none.

"It was completely Catholic. Nobody else was welcome. You had to be sent there by your bishop," he said. "The recidivism rate was just insane."

The House of Affirmation, headquartered in Massachusetts, closed amid financial scandal in 1989. The Rev. Thomas Kane, its co-founder, was the subject of sex abuse allegations in 1995 that were settled by the Catholic Diocese of Worcester.

But Mercer, the archdiocesan attorney, defended the House of Affirmation, saying that when Monroe arrived for a yearlong stay in 1981, it was still considered on the cutting edge of clinics for sex abusers.

Located in Montara, Calif., the House of Affirmation's West Coast hub was an attractive place where priests could retire, and Wall said people from the local Catholic diocese would go there for retreats.

"It was kind of a good mob operation," he said. "The front looked just fine."

The clinic's director wrote Monroe in advance of his visit, telling him to bring swimwear. He also said a monthly stipend from the archdiocese would be useful so he could "join other residents for occasional dining-out, movies, concerts, etc., which we consider most therapeutic and strongly encourage."

Monroe arrived with a suitcase of troubles. In sworn statements and a post-priesthood letter he wrote to O'Meara, he said he was suppressing his homosexuality and was engulfed in raging substance abuse. Those things, along with an immaturity that made him feel more comfortable around kids, prompted the child abuse, Monroe said.

Still, his greatest fear was that psychological testing might lead church officials to discover his homosexuality. "I left for the House of Affirmation with the intention of proving one point-- that there was nothing wrong with me," he said.

His substance abuse, he said, was never addressed: "The whole time I was in Montara I drank like a fish. I continued to use drugs. And that's not really conducive for making the kind of changes that you need to make for good mental health."

Even before Monroe returned from California in June 1982, O'Meara gave him his final assignment: as a co-pastor at three parishes in Perry County. Two years later, O'Meara would finally give up on Monroe. Allegations of abuse during this period would arise later.

But neither O'Meara nor any other officials in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis would ever go to police. The criminal statute of limitations expired before the victims came forward as adults.

And Monroe was never prosecuted.

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24 Jan 2009

Senior Irish clergy fail to agree at emergency abuse summit

The Independent - Ireland
January 24, 2009

by John Cooney | Independent Religion Correspondent

An emergency summit of Catholic bishops ended in confusion last night after Archbishop Diarmuid Martin held out for definite commitments from other bishops and religious superiors that they apply the same high standards of child protection that operate in Dublin.

In a joint statement issued several hours after Archbishop Martin left the Maynooth meeting, bishops invited their own independent National Board to undertake a new review of current practice and risk in the safeguarding of children in all 26 dioceses.

But in a dissenting note, Archbishop Martin, said that while he was in favour of the review initiative, he would only be able to accept this "if it contained specific protocols to verify that the superiors of priests other than those of the Archdiocese of Dublin working in Dublin subscribe to and sustain the same norms and guidelines as those of the Archdiocese".

Speaking to the Irish Independent Archbishop Martin said that his primary concern was to secure the highest levels of protection for all children.

Earlier, on arriving, Archbishop Martin said: "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed."

In their statement the Bishops also issued a reprimand to beleaguered Bishop John Magee by acknowledging that victims raped by priests who had come forward, and those who are unable to do so, "have once again had their wounds of abuse opened by Church failure".

Last night a senior bishop told the Irish Independent that frank criticisms were directed at Bishop Magee's failure to apply agreed procedures, and he suggested that if Bishop Magee absorbed these criticisms, he might yet resign.

In a frantic effort "to restore confidence and credibility in the Irish Church's commitment to safeguarding children", the bishops adopted Cardinal Brady's proposal that "every Bishop, every Religious Congregation and every Missionary Society must implement all statutory guidelines in this area, as well as the agreed policy of the Bishops' Conference, Conference of Religious of Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union."

The bishops also agreed:

• To renew their commitment to providing all of the information requested in Section 5 of the HSE audit about the exact scale of abuse allegations in their dioceses.

• To sign a written commitment to implement the new safeguarding and guidance materials soon to be published by the Church's own independent national board for safeguarding children, and to co-operate fully with their ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

In spite of these declared commitments, the seven-hour meeting held amid heavy security failed to restore public confidence that Cardinal Brady had secured his objective of a united approach in all 26 dioceses to the highest standards of child monitoring.

Its inconclusive ending also failed to remove question marks over the future of Bishop Magee, even though Cardinal Brady said as he arrived for the meeting that he was sorry if his support for the former papal secretary remaining in office in Cloyne had offended people.


Victims support group One in Four last night welcomed the bishops' commitment to work within statutory guidelines, but its executive director Maeve Lewis said they did not believe that the proposed actions went far enough.

Although Bishop Magee attended the discussions, he evaded the media, which were kept behind a barrier some 50 metres from the Columba Centre, by entering and leaving the building by back or side entrances.

Bishop Magee, who plunged the Irish Catholic Church into crisis for failing to apply agreed national guidelines in his diocese of Cloyne, apologised to victims of clerical sexual abuse, to those working with victims and to the general public for the suffering and frustrations occasioned by the failures detailed in an independent report.

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Polygamist Sect leader's Fifth pleadings to be reviewed

Go San Angelo - January 23, 2009

by Paul A. Anthony

Even after eight hours in a Schleicher County courtroom, the deposition of YFZ Ranch leader Merril Jessop may not be over.

Attorneys for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints elder and his alleged teenage daughter-in-law will argue in court Monday over whether Jessop should be able to plead Fifth Amendment protection to a series of questions regarding the polygamous sect's financial structure.

"There are quite a few (answers) that are in controversy," said Natalie Malonis, the Denton attorney representing a 17-year-old daughter of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs. "He answered some of it. I hope that on Monday when we have our hearing, (the judge) will compel answers."

51st District Judge Barbara Walther set the hearing, Malonis said, after compelling testimony in a 30-minute telephone proceeding on some efforts by Jessop to plead the Fifth, which protects witnesses from being forced to give answers under oath that could incriminate them.

The sect's own documents describe the girl as having been married to Jessop's 36-year-old son. Jessop, 72, has been indicted by a Schleicher County grand jury on charges of orchestrating an illegal marriage ceremony involving a different underage girl.

Malonis said she has not contested all of Jessop's Fifth Amendment pleadings, but that she asked Walther to compel testimony on questions of the sect's finances.

"He may be the only person who can answer that information," she said.

Malonis has said she is looking for ways to provide her client with financial options once she turns 18 in July.

Jessop's criminal attorney, Amy Hennington of San Angelo, who represented him during the civil deposition, could not be reached for comment.

Testimony began about 9 a.m. and the gaggle of attorneys - representing Jessop, the state's Child Protective Services agency, the girl and her mother, Annette Jeffs - left the courthouse just before 5 p.m.

Jessop has been the leader of the ranch since the Jeffs' 2006 arrest and has long been considered the self-styled prophet's chief deputy. The reclusive figure is one of 12 FLDS men indicted on evidence seized in a weeklong April raid on the ranch by CPS investigators and the Texas Rangers.

Authorities removed 439 children from the ranch, and although most have been returned, a handful of custody cases - including the one involving the 17-year-old girl - remain pending in Tom Green County district court.

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