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Sexual Abuse

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A once-prominent neurologist who was convicted last month of sexually abusing patients has killed himself at a New York City jail. Dr. Ricardo Cruciani was awaiting sentencing, and faced an upcoming federal trial alleging abuse spanning 15 years. He was found unresponsive Monday in a jail shower on Rikers Island, according to two people familiar with the matter. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly. Cruciani's lawyer has called for an investigation into whether the jail complied with a court order to place him on suicide watch. Prosecutors said Cruciani groomed vulnerable patients by overprescribing painkillers.

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R. Kelly’s musical accomplishments have been accompanied by a long history of allegations that he sexually abused women and children. Now the R&B singer faces a trial in Chicago on charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice. The trial comes after he was sentenced in June in federal court in New York to three decades behind bars on sex trafficking charges. While Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has vehemently denied the allegations, his accusers testified that he subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

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Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention say that several of their denomination’s major entities are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The SBC’s statement gave few details about the investigation, but indicated it dealt with sexual abuse. The SBC, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., has been plagued by problems related to clergy sex abuse in recent years. Earlier this year, an SBC task force released a blistering 288-page report from outside consultant, Guidepost Solutions. The firm’s seven-month independent investigation found disturbing details about how denominational leaders mishandled sex abuse claims and mistreated victims.

A federal lawsuit says the national governing body for fencing failed to protect a Tennessee teenager from sexual abuse over a two-year period. The girl and her parents filed suit last month against the Colorado-based USA Fencing as well as her former coach, Robert Piraino, and the Nashville business he owned and ran, Music City Fencing Club. The lawsuit says USA Fencing should have done more to prevent abuse of the girl, who's now 16. USA Fencing said it couldn’t comment on pending litigation, but it does makes safety a priority for participants. A spokesperson said it conducts background checks and requires abuse prevention training.

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Indiana has become the first state in the nation to pass new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade. Indiana lawmakers on Friday approved the near-total abortion ban with some exceptions, including in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb immediately signed the bill. Indiana was among the first Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling that removed constitutional protections for the procedure.

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When the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a right to abortion, it sparked legal changes and court challenges in states nationwide. In some states, there are multiple bans and multiple lawsuits in play, keeping the landscape unsettled. And further legislation could soon change things again. The June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling is expected to lead ultimately to bans or deep restrictions on access to abortion in about half the states. Meanwhile, most Democrat-led states have put into place policies intended to protect abortion access.

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The Associated Press has obtained nearly 12,000 pages of sealed records from a child sex abuse lawsuit against the Mormon church. The documents offer the most detailed and comprehensive look yet at the church's so-called “help line” for dealing with child sex abuse accusations against officials and members. Families of survivors who filed the lawsuit said they show it’s part of a system that can easily be misused by church leaders to divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and instead to church attorneys who may bury the problem, leaving victims in harm’s way. One victim was 5 when her father told his bishop that he was sexually abusing her. The abuse went on for seven more years, while the bishop failed to report it to authorities.

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The Associated Press has obtained nearly 12,000 pages of sealed records from a child sex abuse lawsuit against the Mormon church. The documents offer the most detailed and comprehensive look yet at the church’s so-called “help line” for dealing with child sex abuse accusations against officials and members. Families of survivors who filed the lawsuit said they show it’s part of a system that can easily be misused by church leaders to divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and instead to church attorneys who may bury the problem, leaving victims in harm’s way. One victim was 5 when her father told his bishop that he was sexually abusing her. The abuse went on for seven more years, while the bishop failed to report it to authorities.

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A former parishioner at a Massachusetts church has filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused as a child more than 30 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest who is now an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The lawsuit filed Monday in Boston says the plaintiff was a 12-year-old parishioner at Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn in 1989 and 1990 when he was sexually assaulted about 25 times by Paul Fitzpatrick Russell. The Archdiocese of Detroit in a statement said Russell denies the allegations. He has been placed on limited ministerial duty.

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A Delaware bankruptcy judge has approved parts of the Boy Scouts of America’s reorganization plan but has rejected other provisions,  saying the organization has decisions to make regarding the plan. The judge issued her 281-page ruling on Friday afternoon, months after concluding a trial in the case. The judge indicated that she is willing to hold a status conference upon a request by attorneys for the Boy Scouts.  The BSA’s plan proposed the creation of a $2.6 billion fund to compensate tens of thousands of men who say were sexually abused as children involved in Scouting, while maintaining the organization’s financial ability to continue operating.

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A once-prominent neurologist has been found guily on charges of sexually abusing patients while treating them with pain medications. A New York City jury reached the verdict Friday after deliberating for about three days at the trial of Dr. Ricardo Cruciani. Six accusers testified that the sexual abuse often occurred behind closed doors during appointments in 2013 at a Manhattan medical center, where the doctor would expose himself and demand sex. Cruciani's defense attorney countered by arguing the witnesses weren’t credible. Cruciani denied the allegations. His lawyer said there would be an appeal.

Authorities say a man has been charged with sexually abusing children at his wife’s Maryland day care, days after his wife was charged with shooting him at a hotel. News outlets report that Baltimore County police said Tuesday that they obtained an arrest warrant charging James Weems Jr. with 13 sex crimes related to the abuse of at least three children at the day care in Owings Mills. The Metropolitan Police Department says Weems and his wife, Shanteari Weems, were at a hotel in southwest Washington on July 21 when the shooting occurred. According to an affidavit, she told investigators that they argued over the abuse allegations.

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A New York City jury is being asked to consider whether a neurologist used his thriving pain-management practice to sexually prey on six patients, or if he is a victim of accusers with false stories. The conflicting portrayals of Dr. Ricardo Cruciani came during closing arguments Tuesday at a trial in Manhattan. A prosecutor argued the evidence shows Cruciani groomed patients by overprescribing pain killers, exposing himself and demanding sex. His lawyer argued that his accusers fabricated their accounts. Cruciani has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including rape, sexual abuse and predatory sexual assault.

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Ghislaine Maxwell is off to Florida to serve a 20-year prison sentence for helping financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse underage girls. The 60-year-old former socialite was moved from a New York City federal jail last week to FCI Tallahassee. It's a low-security federal prison in Florida’s capital. She had been held under close watch in light of Epstein’s 2019 jail suicide. It wasn’t clear whether Maxwell would be held in restrictive housing or under other special precautions. According to prison consulting firm, the prison also offers yoga, Pilates, movies and an inmate talent show.

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Pope Francis plans to apologize to Indigenous groups on Canadian soil for harms inflicted at church-run residential schools. When he does, Francis will add to the Catholic Church's growing ledger of atonement for past transgressions. Like the papacy, top Protestant leaders also have gradually issued institutional mea culpas for their churches’ historical wrongs. Many of the apologies on behalf of Christian denominations are for grave offenses: genocide, sex abuse, slavery, war and more. While increasingly common, these apologies are a relatively modern phenomenon. Not everyone agrees they are effective and several say they must be accompanied by further actions aimed at healing.

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R. Kelly's manager has been convicted of threatening gunfire was about to occur at a crowded Manhattan theater preparing to show a documentary about the singer's sexual abuse of women and girls. The verdict in the case against Donnell Russell came Friday. In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors that evidence of his guilt was overwhelming. She said phone records proved a call in December 2018 to the small theater came from Russell's Chicago home after he'd spent the day trying to stop the documentary from being shown. Defense attorney Michael Freeman said there wasn't enough evidence to prove guilt.

R. Kelly's manager has been convicted of threatening gunfire was about to occur at a crowded Manhattan theater preparing to show a documentary about the singer's sexual abuse of women and girls. The verdict in the case against Donnell Russell came Friday. In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors that evidence of his guilt was overwhelming. She said phone records proved a call in December 2018 to the small theater came from Russell's Chicago home after he'd spent the day trying to stop the documentary from being shown. Defense attorney Michael Freeman said there wasn't enough evidence to prove guilt.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling is expected to lead to bans or deep restrictions in about half the states. In anticipation of the decision and since then, several states led by Democrats have taken steps to protect abortion access. The decision also sets up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted.

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A retired Los Angeles prosecutor has said a judge privately told lawyers he would renege on a promise and imprison Roman Polanski for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 1977. A transcript of testimony by Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson that had been sealed by a court for 12 years was obtained by The Associated Press late Sunday. The document provides support for Polanski’s longtime claim that he fled on the eve of sentencing in 1978 because he didn’t think he was getting a fair deal. Gunson said during closed-door testimony in 2010 that he wasn’t surprised Polanski fled after the judge broke several promises. A lawyer for Polanski says he will seek to have the Oscar-winning director sentenced in absentia.

In the wake of widespread criticism regarding the Chicago Park District’s handling of the lifeguard sexual abuse investigation, board President Avis LaVelle announced her resignation at Wednesday’s board meeting.

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