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Sexual Abuse

A special prosecutor says he has filed charges of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree against former Alaska Attorney General Clyde “Ed” Sniffen. Gregg Olson says the charges were filed Friday but he did not yet have a stamped copy of the documents or a case number. A message was left for an attorney who has represented Sniffen, a longtime attorney with the Alaska Department of Law. He resigned shortly after being appointed attorney general in January 2021. The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica last year reported that his resignation was announced as they were reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl three decades ago.

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Top Southern Baptists have released a previously secret list of hundreds of pastors and other church-affiliated personnel accused of sexual abuse. The 205-page database includes both visible and redacted entries. Survivors and advocates have long called for a public database of abusers. The publication of the list was a response by the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee to an explosive investigation into the committee's mishandling of sex abuse reports and mistreatment of survivors. Independent firm Guidepost Solution's bombshell report revealed the existence of the private list. Executive Committee leaders called making the list public an important first step toward addressing sex abuse and implementing reforms in the SBC.

The U.S. Justice Department says it won't pursue criminal charges against former FBI agents who failed to quickly open an investigation of sports doctor Larry Nassar. Agents knew in 2015 that Nassar was accused of sexually assaulting female gymnasts. Nassar wasn't arrested until 2016. The Office of Inspector General found that two former agents likely provided “inaccurate or incomplete information” when investigators subsequently tried to understand what happened. But the Justice Department says more would be needed to file charges. Nassar was a Michigan State University sports doctor as well as a doctor at USA Gymnastics. He is serving decades in prison for assaulting female athletes and possessing child pornography.

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Southern Baptist leaders say they will release a secret list of hundreds of pastors and church-affiliated staff members accused of sexual abuse. The announcement comes two days after a scathing 288-page report by Guidepost Solutions that detailed how the committee mishandled sex abuse allegations and stonewalled numerous survivors. Administrators also say they will look into revoking retirement benefits for committee staffers who were involved in the cover-up. Survivors and advocates have long called for a public database of abusers. One of the key recommendations of the report is to create an “Offender Information System.”

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The University of California system has agreed to pay $375 million to more than 300 women who said they were sexually abused by a longtime UCLA gynecologist. The announcement Tuesday brings total payouts by the university in lawsuits against Dr. James Heap to nearly $700 million. That's the largest amount paid by a public university in a wave of sexual misconduct scandals involving campus doctors. The private University of Southern California paid out more than $1 billion to settle thousands of cases against its longtime gynecologist. Heaps worked at UCLA for 35 years and has pleaded not guilty to 21 sexual abuse charges.

Adult sexual assault survivors who missed legal deadlines to sue their abusers would get a second chance to file lawsuits. Once it becomes law, the Adult Survivors Act would set give sex abuse victims a one-year window in which the state’s usual statue of limitations for civil lawsuits would be set aside. The bill got final approval Monday from New York’s Legislature. Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she will sign it. The bill is modeled after New York’s now-expired Child Victims Act, which led to more than 9,000 lawsuits against institutions like churches, schools, camps and scout groups.

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A blistering report on the Southern Baptist Convention’s mishandling of sex abuse allegations is raising the prospect that the denomination, for the first time, will create a publicly accessible database of pastors known to be abusers. The creation of a such a system was one of the key recommendations in a report released Sunday by Guidepost Solutions. That firm was contracted by the SBC’s Executive Committee after delegates to last year’s national meeting pressed for an investigation by outsiders. The proposed database is expected to be one of several recommendations that will be presented to thousands of delegates attending this year’s national meeting, scheduled for June 14-15 in Anaheim, California.

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Top Southern Baptists stonewalled and denigrated survivors of clergy sex abuse over almost two decades, according to a scathing investigative report issued Sunday. The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination. The 288-page report states survivors and others repeatedly shared allegations with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. They were met with resistance and outright hostility from within the top administrative committee, the report says. The seven-month investigation was conducted by Guidepost Solutions, an independent firm contracted by the Executive Committee. Last year, delegates at the SBC’s national gathering demanded the committee should not be allowed to investigate itself and set this third-party review into motion.

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A French government spokeswoman says there will be “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct by members of French President Emmanuel Macron’s newly named government. But she says it is the judiciary — and not the press — that will decide the truth. The comments came after rape allegations against a new minister dominated the press coverage of Monday’s first Cabinet meeting. French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne met Sunday evening with Damien Abad, the new minister in charge of policies for the disabled, to discuss allegations by two women claiming that he assaulted them over a decade ago. He has firmly denied the accusations. Abad says such claims are impossible, given his own disability, which affects the joints and the muscles.

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A group of current and former students of Mount St. Mary Catholic High School and six parents or guardians are suing the private Oklahoma City school, alleging it fostered a “a rape culture.” The lawsuit filed Monday says school officials have known since 2011 that female students have been victims of rape and sexual assault and done nothing to stop the attacks. Mount St. Mary Principal Laura Cain said in a statement that she is aware of the lawsuit but cannot comment on pending legal action. The lawsuit also names the school board, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Sisters of Mercy of America, the two co-sponsors of the school.

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One of the oldest Catholic dioceses in the United States has announced a settlement agreement to resolve a bankruptcy case in New Mexico that resulted from a clergy sex abuse scandal. The tentative deal announced Tuesday totals $121.5 million and would involve about 375 claimants. The chairman of a creditors committee that negotiated the agreement said it would result in one of the largest diocese contributions to a bankruptcy settlement in U.S. history. It also includes an agreement to create a public archive of documents regarding the history of the sexual abuse claims. The archbishop of Santa Fe said he hopes it's the next step in the healing of those who have been harmed.

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A man who alleged he was sexually abused when he was 12 years old by a defrocked priest will receive $1.2 million as part of a settlement with the Archdiocese of Chicago. The latest settlement announced on Tuesday by the man's attorney brings to well over $12 million the Archdiocese of Chicago has paid to men who alleged they were sexually abused by Daniel McCormack. McCormack pleaded guilty in 2007 to sexually abusing five children when he was a priest in Chicago. He was released from an Illinois prison late last year. 

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A Catholic elementary school that primarily serves Black and Hispanic families in the Mississippi Delta is closing after more than 70 years, following a sex abuse scandal, declining enrollment and a steep decrease in donations. St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood has notified teachers and families that it will close at the end of this week. It joins more than 200 other Catholic schools in the U.S. that have closed permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic. The school in Greenwood has been tarnished by a clergy sex abuse scandal dating back to the 1990s. A former friar who was a teacher and principal was convicted in April of abusing a former student.

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The partner of a former embattled suburban Denver police chief is accused of falsely reporting that a vocal opponent of the chief was sexually abusing her son. In court documents filed Monday, authorities allege Robin Niceta made an anonymous call to a child abuse hotline on Jan. 28 alleging that she saw Aurora City Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky inappropriately touching Jurinsky’s son. The call came a day after Jurinsky was on a radio talk show and called for the city’s police chief, Vanessa Wilson, to resign, calling Wilson “trash.” Niceta was a county social worker at the time of the alleged tip but resigned after being questioned by investigators. Niceta could not be reached by telephone.

Chilean filmmaker Nicolás López has been sentenced to five years in prison for sexual abuse against two actresses. The sentence announced Monday coincided with what was requested by prosecutors after a court found López guilty at the end of April. In that verdict, the court absolved López of rape charges because judges determined there was not enough proof. López is one of Chile's highest-profile filmmakers and he has insisted he is innocent of any wrongdoing. His lawyers asked for a far lesser punishment, saying he should receive two sentences of 61 days each that would not require time behind bars. The prosecution alleged López “took advantage of work meetings to attack” victims, using his position to commit the crimes that took place between 2004 and 2016.

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Authorities in South Carolina say they've found the body of a 17-year-old girl from New York who disappeared while visiting Myrtle Beach on spring break 13 years ago. They say a 62-year-old sex offender with an extensive record has been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape. Brittanee Drexel was last seen April 2009 when she was walking between hotels in Myrtle Beach. Police say Drexel’s body was found last Wednesday after a flurry of tips and investigation that included Moody’s arrest May 4 on an obstruction of justice charge. They released few other details.

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Mississippi prosecutors have dropped a second set of charges against a former Franciscan friar who was convicted last month of sexually abusing a student during the 1990s at a Catholic school. Paul West has started serving a 45-year prison sentence in Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. The 62-year-old was scheduled for trial Tuesday on charges of sexually abusing another student during the 1990s at St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood. The Mississippi attorney general’s office submitted an order dropping the second set of charges because he had been convicted on the first set. A judge approved the order.

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A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit twelve women brought last summer against Liberty University, accusing the Christian institution of mishandling cases of sexual assault and harassment. That's according to court documents filed Wednesday. A notice of dismissal filed by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Jack Larkin, says the case has been settled but provided no details about the terms. The development comes as the private, evangelical school in Lynchburg, Virginia, faces continued scrutiny over its handling of sex assault cases. It recently acknowledged the U.S. Department of Education is reviewing its compliance with the Clery Act, which requires universities to maintain and disclose crime statistics and security information.

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A prominent national criminal justice advocacy group is pushing the Justice Department to support the release of women who were sexually abused by staff at a federal women’s prison in California. The group, known as Families Against Mandatory Minimums, sent a letter Tuesday to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco pushing for the Justice Department to file motions for compassionate release for those who have been victimized at the prison. It follows reporting from The Associated Press that revealed a toxic culture that enabled sexual abuse of inmates to continue for years at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, a women-only facility called the “rape club” by many who know it. 

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A divorced Indiana couple who prosecutors say shared sexually explicit photos and videos of children with former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle were sentenced Monday to decades in prison. The Justice Department says a federal judge on Monday sentenced 40-year-old Angela Baldwin, of Connersville, to 33 years and four months in prison. A jury convicted her in October of four child porn counts. Her ex-husband Russell Taylor, who ran a nonprofit Fogle founded, pleaded guilty last year to 30 child porn and sexual exploitation counts for his acts against nine children. The 50-year-old Taylor was sentenced earlier Monday to 27 years in prison. Fogle is serving a 15-year sentence on child porn and other charges.

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A small exhibit delivered a big message in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, home to the nation's largest Amish community. Thirteen simple outfits from victims of sexual assault hung from a clothesline, attesting to the reality that child sexual abuse is a serious problem among the Amish, Mennonites and similar groups known for their plain dress. The moving display challenged the myth that sexual assault can be blamed on what a victim was wearing. In the words of one organizer and abuse survivor, “It was never about the clothes.” The exhibit was part of a conference in late April raising awareness about abuse. 

Grand Forks police and federal agents seized video discs and other items from the home of North Dakota’s longest-serving state senator after he had traded scores of text messages with a man jailed on child pornography charges. According to a police report, a Grand Forks police detective and two Homeland Security special agents searched Ray Holmberg’s home on Nov. 17.  Holmberg would not comment on the search.  It came about three months after Holmberg exchanged 72 text messages with Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier as Morgan-Derosier was held in the Grand Forks County Jail.   

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