Former tutor claims student abused her

Abigail Simon faces four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct against her former student. She is accused on engaging in repeated sexual acts with the 15-year-old boy. However, Simon claims that she is the actual victim:

In testimony punctuated with weeping, Simon said the teen within a matter of weeks in the spring of 2013 used physical intimidation, psychological manipulation and rape to control every aspect of her life – even to the point that she did what he wanted when she was on the other side of the country.

“My thoughts, my life, were consumed with making (the teen) happy,” she said. “It was bizarre.”

It gets more bizarre:

Simon was questioned all day by her attorney, describing events from the beginning of their relationship that started with him slapping her after accusing her of spending too much time with other students she was tutoring.

She wept as she explained how the boy managed to get her to take him to restaurants, drive him to Chicago and South Bend and let him into her apartment all using threats against her and himself.

Two things come to mind. One, this is the case that should have prompted Joanna Schroeder’s ire about double standards against male victims. What man could take the stand and claim that his 15-year-old female victim controlled his life and expect anyone to take such a claim serious? Continue reading

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Alabama Baptists call for prison reform, noting overcrowding and sex abuse — The Alabama Baptist Convention passed a resolution today calling for prison reform in Alabama. “We do believe crime merits punishment, but incarcerated criminals need to be treated humanely,” said the Rev. Roger Willmore, chairman of the resolutions committee. Alabama Baptists “call upon the governor, attorney general, and Alabama Legislature to seek ways to end abuse in Alabama prisons,” the resolution said.

Former teacher sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing 25 young boys — A former teacher at Terra Nova School in Holmes Chapel has been sentenced to six years and nine months in jail for sexually abusing 25 boys he taught in the 1970s. Keith Cavendish-Coulson, 71, of Crookham Hill, Crookham Common in Berkshire, pleaded guilty yesterday to 42 counts of indecent assault on boys who were aged between eight and 13.

I was victim of abuse in boys’ home, Jean McConville’s son tells inquiry — The son of a woman “disappeared” by the IRA has claimed he was sexually abused at a boys’ home in Co Down. Billy McConville was six when he went to Rubane House after his mother was abducted, murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1972. Jean McConville’s body was recovered on a beach in Co Louth in August 2003. Continue reading

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$13.5M for Jehovah’s Witness sex victim — A San Diego judge has found that the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witness church covered up years of sexual abuse by a local church leader and continued to put children in danger of being molested, a ruling likely to echo across the country as alleged victims from other congregations take similar cases to court.

Ala. woman charged with sodomizing two young boys, sexually abusing young girl — According to an Oct. 29 report from The Call News in Mobile County, 25-year-old Brandie Renee Smith of Chunchula, Alabama, was arrested at her home on Stagecoach Drive by deputies with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office and charged with multiple child sex abuse crimes. Those crimes include six counts of sexual abuse of a child under 12 and two counts of first-degree sodomy. Smith was arrested and charged on Friday.

Dispelling the myths of male sexual abuse and offering hope — Sexual violence of males is not uncommon. About one in six males experience some form of sexual violence at some point in their lives. Reports of male childhood sexual abuse are under-reported. Sexual assault is a crime of power and control, not a crime of passion or sex. Adult sexual contact with young boys and adolescents is sexual abuse, not sexual initiation. Being sexually abused as a child does not mean you will become a sexual offender. Continue reading

You’re Not Helping v.26

After Kevin Williamson’s review of Lena Dunham’s memoir made news, I wondered how long it would take before feminists defended Dunham’s alleged actions. As I mentioned in my prior post, Dunham recounts in her memoir several instances of sexual activity between her and her younger sister. The incident that sparked controversy involved a then seven-year-old Dunham attempting to look inside her one-year-old sister’s vagina.

It only took a few days for feminist supporters of Dunham to rally to her side. Slate’s Melinda Wenner Moyer gives the most fervent defense. In her article, Moyer states:

Williamson hardly has the authority to call [Dunham's sexual activity with her sister] sexual abuse—a claim that should not be thrown around lightly. Not only does he not have a background in human sexuality or child psychology, but it also seems he didn’t consult with anyone who does, or he would have quickly learned that Dunham’s behavior as a youngster was normal. “This is clearly not a case of abuse,” says developmental psychologist Ritch Savin-Williams, director of the Sex and Gender Lab at Cornell University. “Children have been doing this stuff forever and ever and ever and ever, and they will do it forever and ever and ever.”

Given that Williamson considers the activity abuse, would it not have been wiser to consult a person familiar with childhood sexual abuse? Dr. Savin-Williams focuses on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. This is not to say that his insights are unhelpful, only that they may be skewed in favor of his political concerns.

Savin-Williams is correct that children have engaged in sexual activity with each other for the length of humanity’s existence. However, we are not talking about all children. We are talking about a specific situation: for over a decade an older child repeatedly engaged in sexual activity with a child six years her younger. That is not normal. Continue reading

Lena Dunham’s “Rage Spiral”

No one likes to be accused of sexual abuse. People find it particularly troubling to be accused of sexually abusing a child. That is true even if the person committed the act.

However, one cannot complain when it is one’s own words that prompts people to label one a child abuser. Case in point:

In her newly published collection of personal essays, Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham describes experimenting sexually with her younger sister Grace, whom she says she attempted to persuade to kiss her using “anything a sexual predator might do.” In one particularly unsettling passage, Dunham experimented with her six-year younger sister’s vagina. “This was within the spectrum of things I did,” she writes.

The article recounts Dunham describing checking inside her one-year-old sister’s vagina to see where babies come from. According to Dunham, she found something inside there. She told her mother, who apparently did not question why her seven-year-old daughter was looking inside of her little sister’s vagina, and the mother removed several pebbles Dunham claims her sister put inside her vagina. Continue reading

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A new moniker and a criminal pardon allowed predator to fly under police radar — – He ran from his past, but couldn’t escape who he is. Nearly 30 years ago, James Dean Barnett was convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old boy while Barnett volunteered at a London children’s agency. This week, in court in St. Thomas, he sat waiting to be sentenced on four more sex charges against children — three neighbourhood kids, ages eight to 10, and a boy from his past who’s now an adult. But there was a twist: Barnett was now 49-year-old Tyler Giles.

About 14,000 Men In the Military Were Raped Last Year — Almost None Will Report It — Most survivors of rape in the military are men. Men also develop post-traumatic stress disorder from rape at almost twice the rate they do from combat, according to a sobering in-depth report published in GQ last month. The magazine’s in-depth look jump started a long-overdue conversation about an issue the mainstream has long been slow to respond to. The problem? Historically, very few male survivors report their assault, muffling an already egregious epidemic.

At civil trial, a former altar boy disputes Jon David Couzens’ account of priest’s sexual abuse — A former altar boy took the stand Friday and disputed Jon David Couzens’ allegations of sexual abuse by Monsignor Thomas O’Brien three decades ago. Jeff Barlow told Jackson County jurors that Couzens’ claims that O’Brien sexually abused four altar boys, including Barlow, as a group in the early 1980s at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Independence were false. Continue reading

Grisham and the law

John Grisham waded into a political war-zone when he commented on the conviction of people who possess child pornography. Grisham stated in an interview with the Telegraph:

“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child,” he said in an exclusive interview to promote his latest novel Gray Mountain which is published next week.

“But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”

His comments sparked criticism from child advocacy groups. However, Grisham went on to state:

Asked about the argument that viewing child pornography fuelled the industry of abuse needed to create the pictures, Mr Grisham said that current sentencing policies failed to draw a distinction between real-world abusers and those who downloaded content, accidentally or otherwise.

“I have no sympathy for real paedophiles,” he said, “God, please lock those people up. But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that’s what they’re getting,” adding sentencing disparities between blacks and whites was likely to be the subject of his next book.

No one paid attention to that part, or this part of the Telegraph article:

Since 2004 average sentences for those who possess – but do not produce – child pornography have nearly doubled in the US, from 54 months in 2004 to 95 months in 2010, according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

However the issue of sex-offender sentencing has sparked some debate in the US legal community after it emerged that in some cases those who viewed child porn online were at risk of receiving harsher sentences than those who committed physical acts against children.

A provocative article in the libertarian magazine Reason headlined “Looking v Touching” argued last February that something was “seriously wrong with a justice system in which people who look at images of child rape can be punished more severely than people who rape children”.

Grisham later issued an apology for his comments. Continue reading