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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Report finds routine physical abuse within sport in Japan

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has this week published its report into abuse within sport in Japan. The report is titled ‘I was hit so many times I can’t count’ and details the study’s findings: that child athletes in Japan have routinely suffered physical abuse from their coaches. The report comes in the week that would have marked the start of the Tokyo Olympics had it not been for the COVID-19 global pandemic which has delayed the games by one year.

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Renewed focus on USA Gymnastics abuse scandal

‘Athlete A’ is Netflix’s recently released documentary which focuses on the sexual abuse scandal at USA Gymnastics (‘USAG’), perpetrated by Dr Larry Nassar, a former team doctor, under the guise of medical procedures. Nassar was accused of sexually assaulting over 250 women and girls dating back to 1992. The documentary explores the investigation by the Indianapolis Star which culminated in the conviction and sentencing of Nassar in 2018; the response of USAG to reports of sexual abuse; and the culture within USAG which enabled Nassar to continue to commit sexual assaults for a considerable length of time.

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Polish priests refuse to confirm loyalty to bishop accused of sex abuse cover-up

Priests in the Polish diocese of Kalisz have refused to sign letters of loyalty to their bishop, who has been accused in a documentary of covering up child sex abuse.

The documentary “Hide and Seek” by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, was aired on YouTube on 16 May 2020, and has been watched by 7.2 million people.

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Supreme Court in Victoria launches new Institutional Liability List

On the 10 February, 2020 the Supreme Court of Victoria embarked on a specialised Institutional Liability List to deal only with civil claims related to institutional abuse.

The new list will include claims for damages which have arisen from or following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and/or the State Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations.

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Australian Government announces new arrangements & possible sanctions for institutions yet to join National Redress Scheme

On 28 April, the Australian Government announced that all state and territory governments, institutions named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse or in an application received by the National Redress Scheme (NRS) must provide a clear written statement setting out their intention to join the NRS by no later than 30 June 2020. These institutions will be expected to join the NRS as soon as possible, but no later than 31 December 2020.

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Australian Redress update – participating institutions have doubled

The number of institutions participating in the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) has more than doubled as more institutions have completed the necessary steps to join the NRS.

As at 6 February 2020, 162 non-government institutions are now participating in the NRS – up from 67 last year, in addition to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

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Australian High Court to deliver final appeal judgment in the Cardinal Pell appeal on 7 April 2020

On 12 March the High Court in Australia deferred ruling on an appeal to overturn the conviction of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for sexually assaulting two teenage choirboys in the 1990s for which he was sentenced to a six year jail term.

After two days of legal arguments, the High Court of Australia said it was still considering whether to allow the appeal.

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Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy due to sexual abuse claims

On Tuesday this week the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was forced to file for bankruptcy as it faces legal challenges over thousands of allegations of sexual abuse. It lodged papers in Delaware Court as it attempts to negotiate a compensation plan for abuse victims.

The BSA which has been in existence for 110 years was founded in 1910 and it has kept confidential files since the 1920s listing staff and volunteers accused of sexual abuse, for the purposes of keeping predators away from children.

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