Former Archbishop of Perth deposed over abuse cover up

On 13 December 2021 the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, the Most Revd. Geoffrey Smith issued a statement advising that the Episcopal Standards Board of the Anglican Church of Australia has determined that Roger Herft, formerly Archbishop of Perth and Bishop of Newcastle, was unfit to remain in Holy Orders and that he should be deposed. This means that he will no longer be recognised as an ordained member of the Anglican Church. Mr. Herft chose not attend or be represented at the Board’s hearing.

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The recovery of damages from abusers

Upon conclusion of a claim for damages for the consequences of sexual abuse, an organisation which has been held vicariously liable for the perpetrator of the abuse should give consideration to the possible recovery of all or a contribution to the paid damages and costs from the abuser pursuant to the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978.

The above Act allows defendants to pursue the individual guilty of the wrongdoing for damages and costs within the limitation period of two years once the original claim has concluded (either from the date judgment was given or damages agreed). The right to recover from the abuser is provided regardless of whether the recovering party were held liable or admitted liability in the original action.

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Scottish in-care redress scheme to open for applications from 7 December 2021

This week, a committee at the Scottish Parliament approved regulations, link here, to bring all remaining provisions of the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Act 2021 into force on 7 December 2021.

Also this week, Scottish Government issued a statement of principles regarding financial contributions, link here, and a related information note, link here. In summary of certain key points:

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Women’s Tennis Association say that tennis star ‘deserves to be heard’ on sexual assault claims

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) say that the female Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai deserves to be heard after having made public allegations that she was sexually assaulted by the country’s former vice-premier.

In a post made earlier this months on a Chinese social media site Peng says that she was forced into a sexual relationship with Zhang Gaoli. Zhang who served as China’s vice-premier between 2013 and 2018 has not responded to the allegations.

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An update on work at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The scheduled return to witness hearings at the Scottish Abuse Inquiry’s (SCAI) new venue at Mint House, 20 West Register Street, Edinburgh, was postponed from 6 to 8 October 2021. On reconvening in the morning of 8 October, Lady Smith, Chair of SCAI, apologised for the delay, explaining that it was “unavoidable and was due to the requirements of the last items of snagging work.”

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Apple to scan iPhones for child sexual abuse images in USA

Apple has announced that the new versions of its operating system (iOS 15) due to be released later this year will have new applications to help restrict the spread of child sexual abuse material for customers in the USA.

Before an image is stored onto iCloud (Apple’s storage service that allows users to store documents/photos/videos on remote servers), the technology will search for that image against other images flagged as a child sexual abuse image and if a match is found, a human reviewer will assess the results and will report the user to law enforcement.

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New York governor Andrew Cuomo resigns following allegations of sexual harassment

Allegations by several women of sexual misconduct have been made against the ex-Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo has been accused of inappropriate touching and kissing and of creating a “hostile and toxic work environment”. It has been suggested that he abused his power during his time as governor and Joon Kim who co-led the investigation described his lead as “a culture where you could not say no to the governor and if you upset him or his senior staff you’d be written off, cast aside or worse.”

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Boy Scouts of America agrees $850,000,000 settlement

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has reached a preliminary $850m (£617m) settlement with 60,000 survivors of historic sexual abuse.  The agreement (known as a Restructuring Support Agreement) has yet to be approved by the Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware – and by the survivors.

The agreement, filed in court last week is a step toward resolving a complex bankruptcy case, and includes the BSA national leadership, survivors, and local BSA councils.

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New York Attorney General sues Buffalo Diocese for ‘sex abuse cover-up’

On Monday 23 November 2020 the Attorney General of the US state of New York, Letita James, announced on Twitter that she had filed a lawsuit against Buffalo Catholic Diocese alleging its leaders had engaged in a cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in contravention of church policy and in violation of state law.

The lawsuit is the first state legal action against the Catholic Church in New York that is borne out of a recent wave of abuse investigations which began in 2018. It is the culmination of just one of the eight inquiries still ongoing with respect to each Catholic diocese in the state. The remaining seven inquiries could result in further legal actions.

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