Boy Scouts Of America Files For Bankruptcy Amid Hundreds Of Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy amid hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits

(CNN)The Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy, according to a court document filed in Delaware bankruptcy court early Tuesday.

The youth organization, which celebrated its 110th anniversary February 8, listed liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million, but $50,000 or less in assets.
The bankruptcy filing comes at a time when the organization faces hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits, thousands of alleged abuse victims and dwindling membership numbers. As a result of the filing, all civil litigation against the organization is suspended.
Paul Mones, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing “hundreds of sexual abuse victims in individual lawsuits,” called the organization’s bankruptcy filing a “tragedy.”
“These young boys took an oath. They pledged to be obedient, pledged to support the Scouts and pledged to be honorable. Many of them are extremely angry that that’s not what happened to them and the Boy Scouts of America did not step up in the way they should have,” Mones said.

The BSA was fielding several hundred sexual abuse lawsuits

The BSA faced hundreds of lawsuits from alleged sexual abuse victims across the country — all of which are now suspended because of the bankruptcy filing.
Several of the lawsuits allege repeated fondling, exposure to pornography, and forced anal or oral sex. In response, the BSA said at the time that they “care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting.” They added that they were “outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our program to abuse innocent children.”
“We believe victims, we support them, we pay for counseling by a provider of their choice and we encourage them to come forward. It is the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy that all incidents of suspected abuse are reported to law enforcement,” the organization said.
Last April, exposed court testimony showed the organization believed more than 7,800 of its former leaders were involved in sexually abusing more than 12,000 children over the course of 72 years.
Mones, who was part of a legal team that won a $18.5 million verdict against BSA for former Scout and sexual abuse victim Kerry Lewis in 2010, said Monday that instead of potentially having their day in court, alleged victims who had pending lawsuits will now need to file claims in bankruptcy court.
Michael Pfau, a Seattle-based attorney whose firm represents 300 alleged victims across the country, said the bankruptcy claims process will be decidedly different for those suffering due to the BSA’s alleged inaction.
“They won’t have to give depositions involving their life history. Their lives won’t be scrutinized, but they lose their right to a jury trial. For a lot of abuse survivors, telling their story in a court of law and forcing the organizations to defend their actions can be cathartic. That won’t happen with a bankruptcy,” Pfau said.
Mones said in the aftermath of the Lewis case, his law office received hundreds of phone calls from adult males claiming to have been BSA sexual abuse victims, but many states had statutes of limitation that narrowed their legal options at the time. It wasn’t until years later, when some state legislators enacted new laws that enabled victims to file lawsuits without limits on when the alleged abuse took place, that a barrage of complaints against the youth organization were filed.
Pfau estimates the number of claimants will eclipse those of the Catholic church.
“The Catholic bankruptcies are limited in geographic scope. Here there will be claimants from all 50 states and the American territories,” Pfau said. “We can talk about files and numbers, but in reality if you step back and realize the scope of the human carnage, it’s stunning.”

New members, a new president, and a new partnership

Reports of a bankruptcy filing swirled as early as December 2018, when The Wall Street Journal reported the BSA had hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP for possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing assistance, but no official filing happened until Monday.
In the 14 months since then, the youth organization has allowed children who identify as girls to join the Scouts, a controversial move that was seen by some, including Girl Scouts of the USA President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, as an attempt to raise their diminished enrollment numbers.
In August, the organization referred about 120 allegations of abuse by Scout leaders to law enforcement for further investigation, saying it believes victims and that the youth organization is working to identify “additional alleged perpetrators.”
The Boy Scouts of America also named a new president, a former Scout himself who pledged to “move the organization forward.”
Last week, the organization announced a partnership with 1in6, a leading organization for male survivors of sexual abuse, to expand their services and better support the needs of victims.
“We sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed in Scouting,” BSA CEO and President Roger Mosby said in announcing the partnership. “In addition to implementing strong policies to prevent abuse, we are dedicated to supporting victims when and how they need it.”
For alleged victims, however, the organization’s bankruptcy filing may represent another institution that failed to protect them and is avoiding taking responsibility for the abuse that happened under its watch.
“We need to make sure we receive some accountability and if (bankruptcy court) is how we have to do it, then so be it,” Pfau said.

Fifteen years in Iowa jail for burning Gay Pride Flag

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Fifteen years in Iowa jail for burning pride flag

Adolfo Martinez, 30, admitted to his crimes in a jailhouse interviewImage copyright POLICE HANDOUT
Image caption Adolfo Martinez, 30, admitted to his crimes in a jailhouse interview

A US judge has handed down a sentence of at least 15 years to a man who stole an LGBT pride flag from a church and burned it outside a strip club.

Adolfo Martinez, 30, admitted to the media that he took the flag from Ames United Church of Christ due to his animosity towards homosexuals.

He was found guilty last month of hate crime harassment, reckless use of fire and being a habitual offender.

The incident occurred around midnight on 11 June in downtown Ames, Iowa.

Police say the crime spree began at Dangerous Curves, a strip club, when police were called because a man was making threats. By the time they arrived, he had already been kicked out by bar staff.

After leaving the club, Martinez then travelled to the church and ripped down its flag. He then returned to the strip club where he used lighter fluid to burn the flag in the street. He also threatened to burn down the bar.

the church in IowaImage copyrightGOOGLE MAPS

He was arrested later that day, and told local media in a jail house interview that he was “guilty as charged”.

“It was an honour to do that. It’s a blessing from the Lord,” he said, explaining that he did it because he “opposed homosexuality”.

“I burned down their pride, plain and simple,” he told KCCI-TV. The interview was entered into the trial as evidence against him.

Church pastor Eileen Gebbie, who identifies as gay woman, says she agrees that Martinez’ actions were motivated by hatred.

“I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here,” she told the Des Moines Register when he was convicted in November.

“But 12 people that I don’t know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime, and it was a crime borne of bigotry and hatred.”

Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said Martinez was the first person in the county’s history to be convicted of a hate crime.

“The hard reality is there are people who target individuals and commit crimes against individuals because of their race, gender, sexual orientation,” she told the Ames Tribune.

“And when that happens it’s so important that as a society we stand up and people have severe consequences for those actions.”

Related Topics

Pope Francis compares politicians who rage against gays to Hitler

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pope Francis compares politicians who rage against gays to Hitler

Pope Francis did not name any politicians or countries as the targets of his criticism.

WORLD Updated: Nov 16, 2019 06:54 IST

Reuters

Reuters

Vatican City
Pope Francis says that the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn which is neither human nor Christian.
Pope Francis says that the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn which is neither human nor Christian.(AP Photo)

Pope Francis said on Friday politicians who rage against homosexuals, gypsies and Jews remind him of Hitler.

“It is not coincidental that at times there is a resurgence of symbols typical of Nazism,” Francis said in an address to participants of an international conference on criminal law.

“And I must confess to you that when I hear a speech (by) someone responsible for order or for a government, I think of speeches by Hitler in 1934, 1936,” he said, departing from his prepared address.

“With the persecution of Jews, gypsies, and people with homosexual tendencies, today these actions are typical (and) represent ‘par excellence’ a culture of waste and hate. That is what was done in those days and today it is happening again.”

During the 1933-45 Nazi regime in Germany, six million Jews were killed and homosexuals and gypsies were among those sent to extermination camps.

Pope Francis did not name any politicians or countries as the targets of his criticism.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro had a history of making homophobic, racist and sexist public remarks before he took office on Jan. 1. He told one interviewer he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.

In May, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to incoming legislation prohibiting gay sex, seeking to temper a global backlash led by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John.

The United Nations had warned Brunei it would be violating human rights by implementing Islamic laws that would allow death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality.

In recent weeks, Pope Francis has also denounced a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.

On Wednesday, in improvised remarks at his general audience, he said: “Today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn. Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?”

Last week, a Vatican cardinal said he was “disgusted” by anti-Semitic abuse directed at an 89-year-old Italian senator and Holocaust survivor, who was given police protection after receiving death threats.

In July, a European Union study said young Jewish Europeans experience more anti-Semitism than their parents, with a rise in abuse coming in emails, text messages and social media postings.

More than 80% of Jews of all ages said they felt anti-Semitism had increased on the Internet over the past five years and around 70% said they faced more hostility in public, the study found.

London: Four Men Beat And Robbed Two Lesbian Women On City Bus

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Four teenagers have been arrested in connection with a homophobic attack on two women on a London bus that prompted widespread condemnation in the UK.

The attack took place on a night bus on May 30 as the couple, Melania Geymonata and her partner Chris, were traveling home from an evening out together.
Geymonat posted a photograph on Facebook of the aftermath of the attack, showing the pair sitting on the bus, covered in blood.
In the accompanying account of the attack, in English and Spanish, Geymonata said that least four men began harassing the couple when they saw them kissing. The group made lewd comments, demanded that they kiss and eventually assaulted and robbed them, Geymonat said.
“They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us ‘lesbians’ and describing sexual positions,” she wrote.
Geymonat said she started making jokes in an attempt to defuse the situation. But the men “kept on harassing us, throwing us coins and becoming more enthusiastic about it.”
“The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus fighting with them,” Geymonat said. “On an impulse, I went over there only to find er face bleeding and three of them beating her up. The next thing I know is I’m being punched.”
The Metropolitan Police said four males, aged between 15 and 18, had been arrested on suspicion of robbery and causing grievous bodily harm. Detective Superintendent Andy Cox said inquires were continuing into the “disgusting” assault. “Lots of people will understandably be outraged by this attack,” he said in a statement. “Our efforts to trace all the suspects involved and bring them in for questioning will be relentless.”
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, condemned the incident, saying it was a “disgusting, misogynistic attack.” He wrote on Twitter: “Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community will not be tolerated in London.”
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, joined the condemnation. “This was a sickening attack and my thoughts are with the couple affected. Nobody should ever have to hide who they are or who they love and we must work together to eradicate unacceptable violence towards the LGBT community.”
In her Facebook post, Geymonata, a flight attendant originally from Uruguay, expressed concern that it took the release of shocking photographs of violence against women to prompt a public response.
“I don’t know yet if my nose is broken, and I haven’t been able to go back to work, but what upsets me the most is that VIOLENCE HAS BECOME A COMMON THING, that sometimes it’s necessary to see a woman bleeding after having been punched to feel some kind of impact,” she said.
“We have to endure verbal harassment AND CHAUVINIST, MISOGYNISTIC AND HOMOPHOBIC VIOLENCE because when you stand up for yourself s**t like this happens.”