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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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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