Vatican Envoy Speaks To French Police On Sex Assault Charges

French President Emannuel Macron (L) shakes hands with Apostolic Nuncio to France Luigi Ventura during his New Year wishes to the diplomatic corps at the Elysee Palace in Paris. ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

The Vatican’s envoy to Paris has been heard by French police “at his request” over sex assault allegations, judicial sources said Thursday.

Nuncio Luigi Ventura spoke to police at the start of April, they said. Ventura is being investigated for allegedly molesting officials at the Paris mayor’s office.

The 74-year-old is accused of allegedly assaulting 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.

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A similar complaint has been filed by a former Paris city employee for an incident that allegedly took place a year ago, according to city hall officials.

His immunity has not been lifted, according to the prosecutor’s office in Paris.

The Italian-born Ventura is also being investigated for alleged sexual assault in Canada where he served as the Vatican envoy from 2001 to 2009.

AFP

Hollywood Star Seagal Relieved As Prosecutors Drop Sexual Assault Case

Actress Portia de Rossi attends the Disney premiere of “Finding Dory” at El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, California, on June 8, 2016 and actor Steven Seagal attending 2014 Chinese American Film Festival Opening Night Ceremony at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on November 4, 2014 in Pasadena, California. Valerie MACON / AFP

 

Hollywood action star Steven Seagal will not face prosecution after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 17, prosecutors said Friday.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said time had run out to pursue the case brought by a Dutch model who alleges she was groped in a hotel room in 2002.

Prosecutors did not name the alleged victim, but lawyer Lisa Bloom identified her as Dutch model Faviola Dadis.

Dadis, who didn’t come forward until several years after the alleged assault, accuses Seagal of attacking her during what she thought was an audition in the W Hotel in Beverly Hills.

She claims Seagal slipped his hand underneath her clothing, fondled her breasts and groped her crotch.

She is one of several women who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault or harassment against the 66-year-old “Under Siege” star. He has denied all claims of misconduct.

In paperwork released Friday, a prosecutor said the case was referred for further investigation which did not yield evidence “sufficient to meet the requirements of state law involving the statute of limitations.”

“Therefore, the case is declined due to the expiration of the statute of limitations,” it said.

The time limit for prosecution of sexual offenses ranges from six years to three in California, depending on the seriousness of the allegations.

Bloom released a statement thanking the district attorney for a “careful review” but saying prosecutors’ hands had been tied by “this unfair law which bars the courthouse door even to young women like my client, Faviola Dadis, who is highly credible.”

She said her client was a minor at the time of the incident but that California law still requires she have independent evidence that clearly corroborates her claims.

“The law fails to recognize that few minors are emotionally ready to seek justice against their rapists until many years later,” she added.

“Instead, it offers rapists a ‘get out of jail free’ card if they simply pass an arbitrary time deadline. And the law seems to presume that victims are lying, creating an unfairly high evidentiary standard not required in other criminal cases. Few rapists commit their crimes in the presence of witnesses.”

Prosecutors had declined earlier this year to file a case against Seagal involving an alleged sexual assault in 1993, citing the statute of limitations.

AFP

Judge Refuses To Dismiss Sex Assault Charges Against Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein (C) arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court for a hearing on October 11, 2018 in New York City. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

A US judge ruled on Thursday that the sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein can go ahead, rejecting a defense motion to dismiss the charges facing the disgraced Hollywood mogul who has become the face of the #MeToo movement.

Judge James Burke set the next pre-trial hearing in the criminal case against the 66-year-old Weinstein for March 7.

“We are obviously disappointed that the charges were not dismissed today,” Weinstein’s attorney Ben Brafman told reporters after a brief hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Brafman, who had argued that the case should be thrown out because of alleged misconduct by police and prosecutors, said he remained confident that Weinstein will be “completely exonerated” at trial.

“This is not about the MeToo movement,” added Brafman, one of America’s most celebrated defense attorneys. “It’s a specific criminal case.”

Weinstein, who appeared in court wearing a dark suit and blue tie and did not speak to reporters, is facing five counts over an alleged rape in March 2013 and a forced act of oral sex in 2006.

The producer of “Pulp Fiction,” “Shakespeare in Love” and other hit movies insists that all of his sexual liaisons were consensual and is free on $1 million bail after his arrest in May.

Weinstein, a twice-married father of five, could face life in prison if convicted.

He has been accused by more than 80 women of sexual misconduct but is only facing charges in connection with accusations by two women.

 Time’s Up 

Burke dismissed one charge against Weinstein earlier this year but he flatly rejected the defense motion on Thursday to toss out the other five counts.

“The court finds that there is no basis for the defendant’s claim of prosecutorial or law enforcement misconduct in the proceedings,” the judge wrote.

“The motion to dismiss on these grounds is denied.”

The torrent of accusations that first surfaced against Weinstein in October last year upended the career of one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers and sparked a major reckoning about harassment in the workplace and the global #MeToo movement.

Around 20 women from the “Time’s Up” movement against sexual harassment attended the 20-minute hearing in the packed Manhattan courtroom.

“I am here to stand with my sisters and with the survivors,” said actress Kathy Najimy, who appeared in the comedy “Sister Act.”

Time’s Up said in a statement it was “relieved that Harvey Weinstein failed in his efforts to avoid accountability for his crimes.

“We look forward to seeing justice served and seeing Harvey Weinstein prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the group said.

While he failed on Thursday to get all charges dismissed, Brafman did manage to get one count was thrown out in October — an accusation by former actress Lucia Evans that Weinstein forced her to engage in an act of oral sex in 2004.

Prosecutors opted not to pursue the charge after it emerged that one detective who worked on the investigation had failed to disclose witness testimony that contradicted Evans’s account.

A friend of Evans said she had heard her say that she had willingly engaged in oral sex with Weinstein to secure a movie role.

Brafman alleged that the detective in question, Nicholas DiGaudio, made other mistakes.

Bennett Gershman, who teaches law at Pace University, said he believes prosecutors have a solid case with the two remaining accusers, no matter what they may have said to Weinstein after the alleged assaults.

“These women saying nice things to Weinstein — would that surprise anybody? You have a hugely powerful man… who literally controlled their reputation and their careers,” Gershman said.

“Did they consent or did they consent involuntarily?” he asked. “If these women testify strongly on the witness stand, Weinstein will lose.”

AFP

Rugby Star Jarryd Hayne ‘Arrested After Sex Assault Claims’

Rugby Star Jarryd Hayne.                                                                                       Credit: @JarrydHayne

 

High-profile rugby league star Jarryd Hayne was reportedly arrested by Australian police Monday over sex assault allegations, the second incident to be raised against the player.

Hayne, 30, was being questioned by New South Wales Police over an alleged incident in the Hunter region north of Sydney on the night of the National Rugby League grand final in late September, local media reported.

“Detectives from the child abuse and sex crimes squad arrested a 30-year-old man at Ryde Police Station just after 4:00 pm today,” a police spokeswoman told AFP without naming the fullback.

Hayne went to the Sydney police station with his lawyer after the alleged victim, a woman in her 20s, was interviewed by investigators last week, commercial broadcaster Channel Ten reported.

The code-hopper — who returned home in 2016 after an unsuccessful tilt at America’s NFL — already faces a civil lawsuit in the US over allegations of non-consensual intercourse with a woman in 2015.

Hayne is currently without an NRL club after his season ended with the Parramatta Eels.

AFP

Pop Star Chris Brown Named In Sex Assault Lawsuit

This file photo taken on June 26, 2015 shows singer Chris Brown performing during a free concert in Champ de Mars, downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Hector RETAMAL / AFP

 

A Los Angeles woman filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Chris Brown and a fellow rapper, alleging she was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted at Brown’s home during a drug- and alcohol-fueled party last year.

The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, said she was lured to the singer’s house following a concert at a nightclub on February 23, 2017 and was raped several times by Lowell Grissom, who performs under the name Young Lo.

She also alleges that another unidentified woman at the party assaulted her, forcing her into performing oral sex.

The assault was all the more gruesome, the lawsuit alleges, as the attacker — identified as Doe X — was menstruating at the time.

“This is one of the most horrific cases involving alleged sexual assault that I have ever seen,” Gloria Allred, one of three lawyers representing the woman, said in a statement.

“Our client, Jane Doe, has been severely traumatized by what she was forced to suffer.”

According to the lawsuit, following a concert at 1 Oak club in West Hollywood, the plaintiff and her roommate went to an after party where they met Grissom and Brown and had their phones confiscated.

The suit says that the plaintiff later ended up at Brown’s home as she was told by Grissom she could retrieve her cell phone at that location, where the party was continuing.

“Our client alleges … she was forced to go to Brown’s home because she perceived that she would only be able to retrieve her phone there,” Allred said.

The lawsuit said that the 29-year-old rapper provided alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana, at his home.

He also gave each female guest a clear capsule filled with white powder and instructed them to take it to have a “good time,” the suit alleges, adding that the plaintiff refused to take the drug.

– ‘Wants justice for herself’ –

The complaint says that at one point, the plaintiff was led to a bedroom where several women were having sex with Grissom and Brown.

“Plaintiff refused to undress and made it clear that she did not want to engage in any sexual activity with anyone,” according to the document.

It said that the plaintiff was subsequently repeatedly raped by Grissom and assaulted by Doe X. She was later allowed to leave the room by Doe X, who instructed her to take a shower.

“Plaintiff looked in the mirror and was horrified to see that she was covered in Doe X’s blood because Doe X had been menstruating,” the suit states.

It said the victim eventually was allowed to call a ride-sharing service and went to a rape treatment center and to the police where she reported the assaults.

“She filed this lawsuit because she wants justice for herself, but she also wants to warn other young women about the potential danger to themselves if they have their phone taken away and if they go to Chris Brown’s house,” Allred said.

Brown and Grissom’s publicists could not be immediately reached for comment.

Contacted by AFP, Los Angeles police said there was “no open investigation at this time regarding Chris Brown.”

The pop star over the years has had several brushes with the law.

He was convicted in 2009 of beating fellow singer Rihanna, his then-girlfriend, who was forced to miss the Grammy Awards that year.

In 2016, he was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after a bizarre hours-long standoff with police in Los Angeles.

South Korea’s President, Moon Urges ‘Stern Punishment’ For Women Abusers

South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in

 

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Monday threw his support behind the #MeToo campaign spreading across the country, urging measures to combat the widespread abuse of women and punish offenders. 

The remarks came as a growing number of South Korean women accused prominent figures of sex abuse, making headlines in the country that remains deeply conservative despite economic and technological advances.

“I express my respect to the courage of the victims who spoke out about the abuses they suffered, and I actively support the #MeToo movement,” Moon said in a meeting with aides.

“The law enforcement authorities should respond to these courageous acts of victims by actively launching investigations,” he said, urging “stern punishment” for offenders regardless of their backgrounds.

The #MeToo movement which kicked off a campaign against sexual misconduct by powerful figures in Hollywood and other industries, initially met with a relatively muted response in the deeply patriarchal South.

Fears of relentless public shaming and online bullying have made women reluctant to share their stories.

But an elite South Korean prosecutor made a rare move of appearing on live television last month to speak out about the sexual harassment she suffered at the hands of another senior lawyer in 2010.

Seo Ji-Hyeon said her career suffered a serious setback after she reported the case to her bosses.

Seo’s remarks triggered a flood of testimonies as other women came forward to share their own experiences of sexual abuse at the hands of prominent men, including famous actors, a filmmaker, renowned theatre directors and a Catholic priest.

The South’s Catholic church on Sunday apologised to a woman who accused a priest of sexually harassing her and repeatedly trying to rape her during a trip to a mission in South Sudan in 2011.

Moon, who has repeatedly voiced his support for women’s rights, filled 30 percent of his cabinet seats with women — a record — and his government last year announced harsher punishments for sexual harassment in the public sector.

But on Monday the president said the problem “can’t be tackled with the laws alone”.

“It can be solved only by changing the culture and our way of mind,” he said.

“We need to use this momentum to expose the problem (of sex abuse) no matter how humiliating and shameful it is.”

AFP

UNAIDS Deputy Chief, Accused Of Sex Assault To Step Down

File picture taken on September 20, 2017 deputy executive director of UNAIDS, Luiz Loures, speaks onstage at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. A sexual assault probe that cleared a senior United Nations official of wrongdoing has raised questions over whether the world body is capable of credibly investigating its top leaders. Monica Schipper / Getty Images North America / AFP

 

 

The deputy head of UNAIDS, accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague but cleared of wrongdoing by an internal United Nations probe, announced his decision to step down on Friday.

Luiz Loures “has communicated his wish to the UNAIDS executive director not to seek the renewal of his position,” the agency said in a statement.

Loures, a Brazilian national, “will end his term as deputy executive director at the end of March 2018,” it added.

UNAIDS spokesman Mahesh Mahalingam told reporters in Geneva that Loures’s decision had no connection to the allegations against him, noting the findings of the internal UN probe.

A junior female colleague filed a formal complaint alleging that Loures sexually harassed her beginning in 2011 and sexually assaulted her in a lift at a Bangkok hotel in 2015, where UNAIDS was hosting a major conference.

The internal probe conducted by the World Health Organization’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (IOS) said there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

But activists and a legal expert have questioned the credibility of the investigation, insisting that important circumstantial evidence was not taken into account.

UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe was faulted by the IOS for trying to settle the dispute quietly even as an official probe was underway.

Loures’s decision to step down comes a day after UNICEF’s deputy director Justin Forsyth resigned from the UN children’s agency following complaints of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff in his previous post as head of British charity Save The Children.

Cosby Leaves Court After Day One Of Sex Assault Trial

Bill-CosbyBill Cosby left a Pennsylvania courthouse following day one of his sexual assault trial on Monday, Cosby faces sex assault charges that have torpedoed his career as “America’s favorite dad.”

The first witness to testify in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial said on Monday that the comedian had drugged her before sexually abusing her in 1998 – the same method prosecutors say he used in the alleged 2004 attack that he is on trial for.

Cosby, once one of the most beloved entertainers in the United States, is accused in both instances of inviting a young woman to visit him for career advice, offering her pills that he said would help her “relax” and then sexually abusing her once she was incapacitated by the drug.

The 79-year-old entertainer is charged with sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, an employee of his alma mater Temple University, at his home in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2004.

Constand is one of dozens of women who have accused Cosby of sex assault but hers is the only case recent enough to be subject to criminal prosecution.

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