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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World abuse update – Japan

A Catholic woman has begun a claim against the Roman Catholic Church in Japan alleging that a priest raped her four decades ago, in what is one of the first such actions against the Church in Japan. Catholics make up less than 0.5% of the population in Japan and only a handful of people have gone public as survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse, to date.

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Update on the Australian National Redress Scheme

In its most recent newsletter on 21 October the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) advised that the Australian’s Government’s commitment to constantly striving to improve the NRS for survivors and victims is evidenced by its announcement that in the 2020-21 Budget, a further AUS$104.6 million will be invested in the NRS. This will be used to improve and stabilise the operation of the NRS and better support survivors and victims to ensure the NRS meets its expectations.

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Harvey Weinstein victims awarded nearly $19 million in compensation

Settlement has been reached in two class action lawsuits against Harvey Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.

Weinstein is currently serving 23 years in prison in New York after being convicted of sexual assault and rape in the third degree.

The settlement is subject to approval by the district court as well as the bankruptcy court that is presiding over The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy case.

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Extension of the ‘look-back’ window in New York City

Last August (2019), adult victims of childhood sexual abuse were given a year-long window of opportunity to seek justice for their suffering. The ‘look-back window’ suspended the statute of limitations under the Child Victims Act to allow survivors to file their case between 14 August 2019 and 14 August 2020. This window, which has also been named a ‘window of justice’ has recently been extended by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, allowing survivors to file suit for historic claims of abuse under the Child Victims Act until 14 August 2021.

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Scottish Redress Bill discussed in Scottish Parliament

In the morning of 19 August 2020 the Education and Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament considered, in private, its approach to the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill. This committee will be scrutinising the bill at Stage 1 of the three stage Scottish legislative process. That afternoon, the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, delivered a statement in the parliament’s chamber on the bill and took questions on it.

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New guidelines from the Vatican advises reporting sex abuse claims to police

On 16 July, the Vatican released guidelines for bishops and other senior officials setting out clear and detailed rules on how to deal with clerical child sex abuse claims.

The manual (which includes a form to be filled out detailing the alleged crime against the minors involved) does not include any new laws, but has been drawn up at the express request of Pope Francis who called for procedures to be laid out step-by-step to avoid any further confusion in the area.

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