The mastermind of a notorious online sex abuse ring was jailed for 40 years in South Korea on Thursday.
Cho Ju-bin, a 25-year-old college graduate, ran a group that blackmailed women and girls, including minors, into filming and sending sexual content. This was then posted in pay-to-view chatrooms on messaging app Telegram.
Cho was in charge of the group from last May to February this year, blackmailing 74 people, 16 of whom were underage.
“The accused has widely distributed sexually abusive content that he created by luring and threatening many victims,” the Seoul Central District Court was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying, adding that he had caused “irreparable harm”.
Considering the seriousness of the crimes, the large number of victims and the extent of the damage Cho’s group has inflicted, he would “have to be isolated from society for a long time,” the court added.
The 40-year verdict was short of the lifetime imprisonment sought by prosecutors. Both they and Cho have one week to appeal.
Five people who helped Cho run the criminal ring received jail terms ranging from seven to 15 years.
The case has reignited a national conversation over the seriousness with which digital sex crimes are taken in South Korea.
The illegal sharing of sexual content is a widespread problem in the hyper-connected country, and in the past critics have accused the authorities of being too lenient on such crimes.
Last year the government began running a 24-hour watchdog team to catch illegally shared material.
In one high-profile case, K-pop star Jung Joon-young was convicted of filming and distributing sex videos without the consent of his female partners. He is serving a five-year jail term.
South Korean women have taken to the streets previously over so-called spycams — cameras hidden in public places such as schools and toilets to secretly record women.
Tens of thousands of women demonstrated in Seoul in 2018, demanding stronger government action on the issue.
Pope Francis on Thursday passed a measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors, following a global clerical paedophilia scandal.
Every diocese in the world will now be obliged to have a system for the reporting of abuse, under a new law published by the Vatican — but the requirement will not apply to secrets revealed to priests in the confessional.
It is time to learn from the “bitter lessons of the past”, Francis said in the text of the legal decree.
It follows a series of clerical assault cases in countries ranging from Australia to Chile, Germany and the US.
The “Motu Proprio”, a legal document issued under the pope’s personal authority, declares that anyone who has knowledge of abuse, or suspects it, is “obliged to report (it) promptly” to the Church, using “easily accessible systems”.
“Though this obligation was formerly left up to individual consciences, it now becomes a universally established legal precept” within the Church, said Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Vatican’s communications department.
The law only applies within the Church and has no force to oblige individuals to report abuse to civil authorities.
Under the new measure, every diocese around the world is obliged by June 2020 to create a system for the reporting of sexual abuse by clerics, the use of child pornography and cover-ups of abuse.
– Confessions still secret –
The document focuses particularly on the sexual or psychological abuse of children and vulnerable adults, but also targets sexual abuse and violence resulting from an abuse of authority — such as the exploitation of nuns by priests.
Pope Francis admitting publicly in February that priests have used nuns as “sexual slaves” — and may still be doing so.
Victims’ groups have long called for Francis to put in place concrete measures to tackle clerical child abuse, including immediately firing any cleric found guilty of even a single act of abuse, or of covering it up.
They also want all abusers or suspected abusers to be reported to police, and any abuse-related files handed over to them.
Some have called for priests who hear of abuse during confessions to be forced to report it. The new law stops short of that.
Catholics believe that within the confessional the penitent is talking to God, and everything in the confession is secret. A priest who reveals such secrets is automatically expelled from the Church.
The new law follows a historic Vatican summit on child sexual abuse by priests in February, which saw much self-recrimination by the Church and horror stories from abuse survivors.
Pope Francis issued stringent child abuse legislation for Vatican City employees on Friday, as part of the Church’s bid to address a wave of sex abuse allegations against priests.
The legislation requires officials and employees in the Vatican City State as well the Roman Curia, the central administration of the Catholic Church, to immediately report any abuse against minors and vulnerable people or face fines or a prison sentence.
Anyone convicted of abuse must be “removed from office” under the new rules, which set a statute of limitations for such crimes at 20 years from the date victims turn 18.
Francis said in a letter released with his “motu proprio” decree that it was the duty of everyone “to generously welcome children and vulnerable persons, and to create a safe environment for them”.
Manchester City have launched a compensation scheme for survivors of historical child sex abuse in football, the Premier League club have announced.
The scale of abuse among youth teams in Britain came to light in 2016, when a string of ex-footballers, including England internationals, told of the crimes inflicted upon them, including years of being repeatedly raped.
Former football coach Barry Bennell was last year sentenced to 30 years in prison for abusing youth players, with the judge branding him “sheer evil”.
City said they commissioned a review in November 2016 into whether the club was used by Bennell and “any other individual to facilitate alleged sexual abuse of children from 1964 to the present day”.
That review, which is ongoing, led to the “uncovering of serious allegations of child sex abuse in respect of another individual, John Broome.”
Bennell, who was a youth team coach with City and Crewe, was convicted of dozens of offences committed against 12 boys he coached between 1979 and 1991.
Broome, who is now dead, was involved in City’s youth set-up in the 1960s.
City said the compensation scheme applies to the victims of Bennell and Broome.
“The club’s review remains ongoing and Manchester City FC continues to be restricted as to what it can make public at present for legal reasons,” the club said in its statement.
“The club reiterates, however, its heartfelt sympathy to all victims for the unimaginably traumatic experiences that they endured.
“All victims were entitled to expect full protection from the kind of harm they suffered as a result of their sexual abuse as children.”
The BBC reported that City would offer millions of pounds in compensation and that survivors of the most serious crimes would receive six-figure sums.
The report said City know of 40 potential claimants to their fund but they are braced for more cases.
Britain’s Press Association said it understood that as well as involving financial compensation, the scheme will see victims receive a face-to-face apology from a senior club official.
It is understood the scheme will enable victims to apply for compensation for general damages, impact on career, therapy fees and some legal costs and that some cases could be processed as quickly as within six weeks.
Settlements will have no confidentiality clause and will be kept open for those who prefer to consider pursuing a civil claim.
“Prior to learning that such a tape was in their possession, Sallie had viewed the Lifetime documentary called ‘Surviving R. Kelly,'” said Allred.
“She was emotionally very disturbed by what the women in the documentary alleged had happened.
“Sometime after that, Sallie and her husband discovered to their surprise that they had a VHS tape that could be helpful in learning what had happened to these young girls who had come into contact with R. Kelly.”
Allred said that while she had not viewed a previous tape that had been widely reported in the media, she did not believe it was of the same act.
She said it showed “what appeared to be R. Kelly sexually abusing children” but declined to go into further detail.
But she urged others who possess such tapes but may be reluctant to admit that they have them to come forward to her or to law enforcement.
Gary Dennis said he had made the discovery while going through old sports tapes and trying to decide which ones to keep and which to throw out.
“He was telling them what to do and what to say, and it appeared that he was controlling the camera,” said Denis.
Dennis said that as a father to two daughters himself, he reacted in horror and his first instinct was to throw the tape out, but after discussing the matter with his wife contacted Allred.
The tape is the third to purportedly show Kelly engaging in such acts. The first two have been reported by Michael Avenatti, a lawyer representing other women involved in the case.
Multiple women have come forward since the airing of the six-part documentary in January to say the 52-year-old singer had sexual relations with girls under the age of 16 and kept sex slaves.
The details of the current criminal case echo previous accusations of sexual misconduct that have dogged the artist for the last two decades.
In 2002, he was criminally charged for allegedly filming himself having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He was tried in that case and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.
A 2017 BuzzFeed report later alleged he had kept women as virtual sex slaves at homes he owns in Chicago and Atlanta.
The archbishop of Lyon Thursday announced he was resigning just hours after being handed a six-month suspended jail sentence for failing to report sex abuse in a case that has rocked the French Catholic Church and added to the Vatican’s woes.
Philippe Barbarin, 68, is the most senior French cleric caught up in the global paedophilia scandal which Pope Francis, just two weeks ago, vowed to fight in an “all-out battle”.
A court in Lyon, in southeastern France, ruled that Barbarin, a cardinal since 2003, was guilty of failing to report allegations of abuse of boy-scouts committed by a priest, Bernard Preynat, in the 1980s and 1990s.
The priest, who was charged in 2016, is expected for his part to be tried this year.
Barbarin, who was not present for the verdict, said he “duly acknowledged the court’s decision”, but his lawyer said it would be appealed.
He is the third senior French cleric to be found guilty of failing to report sex abuse.
“I have decided to go to see the Holy Father to hand him my resignation. He will receive me in a few days’ time,” Barbarin told a news conference after the verdict.
“Independently from my own fate, I wish once again to stress my compassion for the victims,” he said.
His trial came at a time when the Catholic Church has been hit by abuse scandals in countries as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Chile and the United States.
Pope Francis held a special summit on the issue at the Vatican last month during which he compared paedophilia to the “human sacrifice” of children.
Barbarin, an arch-conservative who took over as archbishop in Lyon in 2002, was dubbed “Mr. 100,000 volts” by the press for the dynamism he displayed in his campaigns for persecuted Syrian Christians or against gay marriage.
But he has long been accused by victims’ groups in Lyon of turning a blind eye to the historic child abuse in his diocese which left dozens of lives blighted.
“I cannot see what I am guilty of,” Barbarin told the court at the start of the trial in January. “I never tried to hide, let alone cover up these horrible facts.”
In its verdict the court found otherwise, saying the archbishop, “in all conscience”, chose not to tell authorities of the abuse allegations “in order to preserve the institution to which he belongs”.
“By wanting to avoid a scandal caused by a priest’s multiple sex offences, and probably in seeking to conform to inadequate decisions taken by bishops before him, Philippe Barbarin preferred to take the risk that justice would be unable to uncover a great number of victims of sexual abuse and prevent them from voicing their pain,” the verdict read.
Francois Devaux, one of the priest’s alleged 85 victims who now heads a victims’ support group in Lyon, called the verdict a “major victory for child protection”.
“It’s a signal, a strong message sent to the French Church, to the world and to Pope Francis,” he told reporters.
“It’s obvious that this verdict will hugely encourage people to speak out,” Devaux added.
But the archbishop’s resignation comes “too late for the Church”, he said, adding that “the decision should have been taken long ago. And the pope should have taken it.”
The suspended nature of the jail sentence means Barbarin will not serve time behind bars.
His defence lawyer Jean-Felix Luciani said that “the reasoning of the court is not convincing. We will contest this decision by all the means possible.”
He also suggested that it had been difficult for the court “to resist pressure” from public opinion which has long been debating the case.
An award-winning feature film by director Francois Ozon about the case has already hit cinemas despite complaints from the priest that it could prejudice his defence.
Five former aides who were also on trial alongside Barbarin were all found not guilty, either because the alleged crimes were too old or unproven.
Two other senior French religious figures have been convicted of failing to report child abuse in the past: the archbishop of Bayeux-Lisieux, Pierre Rican, in 2001, and the former bishop of Orleans, Andre Fort, last year.
The Lyon case broke three years ago when lawyers for nine adult plaintiffs — former boy scouts — took legal action against Barbarin saying he should have gone to police as early as 2010 when he spoke to the priest about the allegations.
Preynat was first interviewed by church leaders in 1991 and was prevented from leading scout groups, but he was later allowed to teach children again and held positions of authority.
Barbarin only suspended him and stopped him from working with children in September 2015.
He spent three nights behind bars and was released after coming up with $100,000, 10 percent of the $1 million bail set in court.
The sex acts are alleged to have occurred between May 1998 and January 2010, according to prosecutors.
Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct before.
In 2002 he was charged after allegedly filming himself having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He was tried and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.
Now he says his reputation is being used against him.
“People are going back to my past, OK? That’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re going back to the past and they trying to add all of this stuff now to that. To make all this stuff that’s going on now feels real to people,” Kelly said, according to the CBS transcript of the interview.
He also addressed a report by BuzzFeed in 2017 that said Kelly had kept women as virtual sex slaves at homes he owns in Chicago and Atlanta.
Kelly denied ever holding anyone against their will.
“I don’t need to. Why would I? How stupid would it be for R. Kelly, with all I’ve been through in my way, way past, to hold somebody,” he asked.
“That’s stupid,” Kelly added, looking right into the camera.
The BuzzFeed allegations did not lead to any charges.
In January, a six-part documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly” was released. It alleged he engaged in sexual, mental and physical abuse of girls and women.
Ryan Adams’ tour of Britain and Ireland has been cancelled, ticket retailer Ticketmaster said Friday, following accusations of abuse against the US alternative singer-songwriter.
Adams has been accused by several women of emotional abuse and exploiting his position as a career mentor as a means to obtain sex.
Ten concerts have been scrapped. The BBC reported that several fans had sought refunds on their tickets following the allegations.
“The Ryan Adams UK and Ireland tour has been cancelled,” Ticketmaster Ireland said on Twitter, adding that full refunds to people who bought tickets from authorised outlets would be processed by the end of the day on Monday.
An expose in The New York Times published last month details a pattern of manipulative behaviour from the 44-year-old Grammy-nominated artist, including testimony from performer Mandy Moore, his ex-wife.
In one instance the newspaper — which interviewed more than half a dozen women and reviewed a trove of the US rocker’s digital communications — describes Adams as sending graphic texts to a 14-year-old aspiring bass player and exposing himself on Skype.
The paper said he continued the sexually provocative correspondence for months despite appearing to doubt that she was of age.
The country-influenced rocker also allegedly presented women with opportunities to build their profiles while pursuing sex with them, turning angry and sometimes verbally abusive when rejected.
The music world so far has been less affected by the #MeToo movement and crusades against workplace harassment than sectors including Hollywood and the media, despite a growing legion of people saying the industry shields pervasive abuse.
On his Twitter account on February 13, Adams said: “I am not a perfect man and I have made many mistakes. To anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally, I apologise deeply and unreservedly.”
France called on the Vatican Friday to take action after sex abuse charges were filed against its envoy to Paris, suggesting his diplomatic immunity should be lifted.
French judicial sources said in mid-February that they were investigating 74-year-old nuncio Luigi Ventura for allegedly molesting officials at the Paris mayor’s office.
The Italian-born Ventura, who served as the Vatican envoy to Canada from 2001 to 2009, is also being investigated for alleged sexual assault there.
“I am waiting for the Holy See to assume its responsibilities,” French European Minister Nathalie Loiseau told CNEWS television when asked if Ventura should see his diplomatic immunity lifted.
“At this stage he (Ventura) has diplomatic immunity, but the Holy See obviously knows about the serious charges against the nuncio, and I have no doubt the Vatican will take the right decision,” Loiseau said.
Ventura also faces a “single” complaint filed in Ottawa, the embassy told AFP on Thursday, adding that the complaint has been reported to officials in Vatican City.
According to the Canadian website Presence, which specialises in religious news and first reported on the complaint, Ventura allegedly groped a man in 2008 at the shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre in Quebec province.
The alleged victim, then 32, was helping to serve Ventura during a banquet for the Feast of Sainte Anne. The man said that Ventura touched his buttocks at least twice, according to Presence.
The man filed his complaint last week at the Vatican embassy in Ottawa after learning of the accusations against Ventura in France.
‘Very serious’ if proven
Ventura has been accused of molesting a man at the town hall in Paris on January 17 when Mayor Anne Hidalgo gave a New Year’s address to diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures.
“During the ceremony, a city employee was repeatedly groped on the backside, in three instances, once in front of a witness,” a town hall source told AFP.
A similar complaint has been filed by a former Paris city employee for case that allegedly took place a year ago, city hall officials said.
“If the facts are proven, they are very serious because when you are a religious leader you are supposed to have a moral authority, so I would say that’s an aggravating circumstance,” Loiseau added.
Ventura previously also served in Brazil, Bolivia and Britain before being appointed papal nuncio to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, Chile and then Canada.
Catholic clerics have been denounced in countries as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ireland and the United States, prompting pledges from Pope Francis to rid the church of a scourge that has done enormous damage to its standing.
The pope has vowed that the Catholic Church will no longer ignore abuse allegations, and he removed two prominent cardinals from his inner circle late last year after they were tainted by paedophile scandals.