Long struggle to expose evil abuse of children in the Illawarra

READ ENTIRE STORY at source: Illawarra Mercury

This story was originally published in 2012.

When the sun’s first rays creep over the horizon this morning and gently kiss, warm and illuminate the Illawarra coastline, they may be on a special mission.

First, they will touch the Pacific Ocean, and then its foaming surf and the beaches on to which it cascades.

Seconds later they will make landfall, bringing the birth of another day to all, and to two places in particular – the Bulli and Lakeside Kanahooka cemeteries. There lie at rest two special souls and, after political events this week, their headstones deserve to be bathed in sunshine.

The late Peter Cullen, former Mercury editor, in his office with many of his front-page stories.

The late Peter Cullen, former Mercury editor, in his office with many of his front-page stories.

Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if both these grave sites seem to have a particular sparkle about them today – a sort of celestial salute to good men, if you like.

Bulli is the resting place of the earthly remains of Peter Hugh Cullen, former IllawarraMercury editor and, I’m proud to say, my mate. At Kanahooka rests Father Maurie Crocker, a man of great courage who saw evil flourishing and felt it his duty to do something about it while others turned a blind eye.

Although no longer here, years ago each played his own particular role in this week’s announcement by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard of a wide-ranging royal commission into paedophilia across the country. It has been a long time coming, but I am sure each of them would cheer its arrival with gusto.

Peter and Maurie tackled this evil abuse of children in the Illawarra, and its cover-up, when it was not fashionable in some circles to expose such matters – back in 1993. I was the Mercury’s general manager at the time, having been its editor previously with Peter as my deputy, so our relationship was close.

While some people cheered from the rooftops as these evils were revealed, others damned Peter in particular and the Mercury generally for soiling its pages with such stuff.

I well remember going to get my eyes tested one day and copping a broadside from a local medico who informed me that his wife would “not have the filthy rag in the house”.

This story began long before 1993, with unsubstantiated reports of child sexual abuse in some of the local corridors of power. It was extremely hard to pin down.

Frank Arkell is all smiles at the launch of his campaign to become lord mayor again in 1995. He was killed before his first appearance in court on sex charges.

Frank Arkell is all smiles at the launch of his campaign to become lord mayor again in 1995. He was killed before his first appearance in court on sex charges.

The break came when Father Crocker, a former lay teacher in New Zealand, a professional boxer and career soldier before being ordained a priest at age 42, came to the Mercury with another priest. They spoke to Peter Cullen.

Father Crocker informed Peter of statements by three young men that they had been molested over some years by a local Christian brother and a priest. Cullen assigned a journalist named Brett Martin to investigate the allegations, and another fine journalist in Lisa Carty took up the reins as things developed down the track, enveloping two former Wollongong lord mayors – one later a local state MP – a Wollongong City Council alderman and other clergy.

The number of young men with serious allegations of abuse grew to seven. They complained that their attempts to seek redress through the local church hierarchy, headed at the time by Bishop William Murray, had led to nothing. They felt they were being ignored and a blind eye turned to their complaints of widespread sexual abuse. There was talk of a local senior police officer running interference, but that was never substantiated.

The Mercury investigated this matter for four months, taking statutory declarations from each of the complainants, before publishing the first of many reports. As events unfolded:

Former parish priest of Edmund Rice, Father Peter Comensoli (front), served 18 months' jail for sex abuse offences.

Former parish priest of Edmund Rice, Father Peter Comensoli (front), served 18 months’ jail for sex abuse offences.

Former mayor Tony Bevan was virtually branded the Mr Big of paedophile operations by the Wood Royal Commission.

Former mayor Tony Bevan was virtually branded the Mr Big of paedophile operations by the Wood Royal Commission.

  • Parish priest Father Peter Comensoli was jailed for abusing boys.
  • College principal Brother Michael Evans, transferred from Wollongong to oversee a building project on the North Coast, committed suicide the night before detectives were to interview him.
  • Former Wollongong lord mayor and then MP Frank Arkell was murdered by a deranged young man 10 weeks before he was to have appeared in court on sex charges involving young males.
  • Former mayor Tony Bevan also was alleged to be a paedophile, running a rival network to that cultivated by Arkell and his associates.
  • Wollongong City Council alderman Brian Tobin was found dead in the Illawarra escarpment bushland. There were no suspicious circumstances.
  • A church-run youth refuge was revealed as a procurement and pick-up point for child abusers.
  • To cap it all, Father Crocker, ostracised by some clergy for having the courage to speak up, ended his own life.
Former Edmund Rice principal Brother Michael Evans committed suicide in Rockhampton in 1996.

Former Edmund Rice principal Brother Michael Evans committed suicide in Rockhampton in 1996.

Wollongong City Council alderman Brian Tobin killed himself just two hours after being interviewed by investigators from the Wood Royal Commission paedophile team in 1996.

Wollongong City Council alderman Brian Tobin killed himself just two hours after being interviewed by investigators from the Wood Royal Commission paedophile team in 1996.

PETER NEWELL was the Illawarra Mercury’s editor from 1976 to 1985, when he was appointed general manager and was succeeded as editor by Peter Cullen. He retired in July 2000 and today is the chairman of ClubsNSW and ClubsAustralia.

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Source: Long struggle to expose evil abuse of children in the Illawarra | Illawarra Mercury

Woman pleads guilty to bizarre fraud plot that deceived online boyfriend and ended in mother and daughter killing themselves

A MOTHER and daughter killed themselves in a horrific suicide pact after a warped fraudster trapped them in a staggeringly bizarre web of threats and lies.

And yesterday, the full extent of Linsey Cotton’s heartless deception was laid bare in court.

Cotton, a single mother of two from West Lothian, invented a phantom girlfriend, a bogus stem cell trial, a fictitious murdering doctor and a non-existent government cover-up.

And she conjured up a whole cast of characters for her charade.

Cotton, 33, used 15 phones, two laptops and two tablet computers to convince her victims she was more than a dozen different people. At various points, she played a nurse, a barrister and government officials.

Her scam netted her nearly £5000 and a hoard of expensive gifts. But she also terrorised Margaret McDonough and daughter Nicola – until they checked into a Premier Inn, took pills and slashed themselves.

Margaret, 52, died within hours of being found at the Greenock hotel
on May 10, 2013. Nicola, 23, passed away three days later.

In the run-up to the tragedy, Cotton had convinced the women they faced 20 years in prison and turned their son and brother against them. Her lawyer said she was sorry.

Cotton began her scheme a year before the double suicide by ensnaring Margaret’s son Michael, a 33-year-old RAF corporal who served at Lossiemouth in Moray.

Source: Woman pleads guilty to bizarre fraud plot that deceived online boyfriend and ended in mother and daughter killing themselves – Daily Record

 

Munchausen by Internet

Over 200 Members of German Choir Were Abused, Investigator Says

BERLIN — At least 231 children who sang in a boys’ choir led for 30 years by the brother of former Pope Benedict XVI were abused over a period of almost four decades, a lawyer investigating reports of wrongdoing said Friday.

The lawyer, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the choir to look into accusations of beatings, torture or sexual abuse, said he thought that the actual abuse was even more widespread.

At a news conference in Regensburg, Bavaria, where the choir traces its roots to the year 975, Mr. Weber estimated that from 1953 to 1992, every third member of the choir and an attached school suffered some kind of physical abuse.

He attributed the beatings and other mistreatment mostly to Johann Meier, director of a lower school attached to the choir from 1953 until his retirement in 1992. Mr. Meier died suddenly later that year, Mr. Weber said. A 1987 investigation of reported abuse did not prompt the choir’s leaders to remove Mr. Meier or take other action, the lawyer said.

Asked whether Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, who conducted the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, had known of the abuse, Mr. Weber said, “After my research, I must assume so.”

Source: Over 200 Members of German Choir Were Abused, Investigator Says

 

Poland will not extradite Roman Polanski to the U.S. over child sex case

The director pleaded guilty in 1977 to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. In a deal with the judge, he served more than a month in prison, but then fled the U.S. fearing the judge would have him imprisoned for much longer. The U.S. has been seeking to bring Polanski back and put him before a court.

A judge in Krakow ruled last month that Polanski’s extradition is inadmissible, arguing that the U.S. trial was not fair and that Polanski would not face a fair trial there.

The Krakow prosecutors said in a statement they agreed with the court’s reasoning.

Among the irregularities, the court and the prosecutors named violation of Polanski’s right to defense, “unethical” discussions between the judge and only one side of the case, informal instructions to the judges, intentional destruction of some of the documents in the case and loss of some others and excessive sensitivity of the judges to criticism in the media.

Source: Poland will not extradite Roman Polanski to the U.S.

Institutional Inaction Enables Continued Femicide in Mexico’s ‘sunshine state’

Quintana Roo is Mexico’s sunshine state, a booming tourists’ playground which draws record numbers of holiday-makers to its golden beaches, coral reefs, Mayan ruins and all-inclusive package deals.

But in recent weeks, the Caribbean region has been badly shaken by a string of brutal murders of women – which authorities have seemed keen to downplay.

Within the space of three weeks, seven women have been murdered, bringing the total to 18 so far this year. At least two of the victims were strangled, and several had been sexually assaulted before their bodies were dumped in public places. All the women were Mexican.

This latest surge in murders has renewed tensions between activists against gender violence, and government officials who accuse them of trying to derail tourism and economic progress.

Celina Izquierdo Sánchez, from the Quintana Roo Observatory of Social and Gender Violence, said that a “time bomb” of violence against women had exploded because state officials played down the scale of the problem. “Nothing was done due to the false belief that recognising and tackling gender violence would affect tourism,” she said. “Justice will not reduce tourism.”

Situated on the lush tropical Yucatan peninsula, Quintana Roo is the jewel in the crown of Mexico’s flourishing tourism industry. A record 10 million holidaymakers and four million cruise ship passengers visited the state in 2014, accounting for almost 30% of tourists to the country, according to the Tourism Board (Sedetur).

This year is looking even stronger, with millions of North Americans and Europeans expected in Cancun and Playa del Carmen during the winter months.

But in an attempt to protect its idyllic image, authorities have long preferred to minimize the state’s problems.

In 2005, investigative reporter Lydia Cacho exposed the involvement of high profile businessmen and politicians in a child pornography and prostitution ring operating in Cancun. She was arrested for defamation, tortured and threatened with rape in what was later revealed to be a plot to silence her.

“I’ve been systematically accused by the governor and his news outlets of being ‘an enemy of the state’ because I’ve demonstrated institutional weaknesses, high levels of impunity, corruption and violence – including gender-based violence, the increase in torture and use of the justice system as a punishment tool against political enemies,” Cacho recently wrote.

Quintana Roo still has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in Mexico, according to UN’s World Tourism Organization. The state law against trafficking remains stuck in Congress due to a party political deadlock.

Source: Series of femicides cast a dark shadow over Mexico’s ‘sunshine state’

Potential dangers of publishing Aurora theater shooter’s personal notebook

joker-auroraLoren Coleman, author of the Copycat Effect, tweeted:

Potential dangers of publishing Aurora theater shooter’s personal notebook

… Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz said the release of this notebook to the public can do only harm.

“No good can come out of that kind of unfiltered dissemination of someone’s inner-most thoughts,” Dietz said.

Dietz does work for  the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit and has participated in many high-profile cases, including those involving the assassination attempts on President Reagan and on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, more than 25 serial killer cases, the Unabomber case, and the Columbine High School shootings.

“…The (notebook’s) content will cause some readers, if only a small proportion, to say, ‘this guy is like me’. And when that happens in that small fraction of the readership, that identification…with the killer emboldens them and encourages them to consider similar action.”

Later in the article…

Following the mass-murder in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater on July 20, 2012 that killed 12 and left 70 injured, there were multiple reports of potential copycat cases.

July 21, 2012: A man in Turnpike, Maine arrived armed with a gun to an afternoon showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”. When arrested, police found an assault rifle and several handguns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and newspaper clippings about the Aurora theater shooting.

July 22, 2012: A man in Norwalk, Calif. made threats at a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” and verbally alluded to the Aurora shooting. Witnesses reported that the man said, “I should go off like in Colorado. Does anybody have a gun?”

July 25, 2012: A New York man who worked for the NYC Department of Education was arrested after telling police he was obsessed with the Colorado movie massacre. Authorities found photos of the Aurora theater shooter “all over (the man’s) desk”. The man told police that he sympathized with the killer.

July 26, 2012: A Maryland man went to his workplace, called himself “a Joker” and threatened to “shoot the place up.” At the man’s home police found 25 guns, including semi-automatic rifles and pistols. Prince George County Police said it was an attempted copycat of the Aurora theater shooting.

July 31, 2012: A Minnesota man was arrested after making repeated references to “the Joker” and the Aurora theater shooting, telling police he understood the shooter’s motives and planned to have his own killing spree. copycat-effect-loren-coleman

Loren Coleman believes that because the notebook was released nearly three years after the massacre occurred, the likelihood of people being inspired by the writings is decreased. Coleman authored the book, “The Copycat Effect: How the Media and Popular Culture Trigger the Mayhem in Tomorrow’s Headlines”.

“…There is less danger that the James Holmes’ notebook will have a widespread copycat impact,” Coleman said. “That is, as long as the words of Holmes don’t become a media phenomena and go virtual via social media.”

 

See also:

 

 

Editor’s note:  CU News Corps, like many media outlets, has published the notebook in its entirety. Reporter Lo Snelgrove presents a different perspective on sharing this piece of evidence with the public.  By Lo Snelgrove CU News Corps  CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Today, the Arapahoe County Court released a photocopied, PDF version of the Aurora theater …

Source: Potential dangers of publishing Aurora theater shooter’s personal notebook – CU News Corps

Disney workers arrested in child sex stings

Missed this headline back in July…

Dozens of Disney workers arrested in ‘To Catch A Predator’-style child sex stings

 

  • CNN investigation found at least 35 Florida employees arrested since 2006
  • They visited police trap house after explicit chats with undercover officers
  • Workers included ticket seller, concierge, tour guide trainee and security
  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office now wants all child workers polygraph tested
  • But Disney insisted the workers arrested made up just 0.01% of its staff

 

At least 35 Disney World employees have been arrested since 2006 over alleged child sex offences, an investigation has revealed.

The suspects included a ticket seller, a concierge and a trainee tour guide at the Florida resort – and even a night shift manager accused of watching child porn at work while he wrote a church sermon.

Police caught many in stings modelled on the TV show To Catch a Predator, with undercover officers receiving explicit messages before the suspects agreed to meet at a home rigged with cameras.

The latest round of arrests last week netted another 13 suspects, including four who at some point worked at the sprawling Magic Kingdom.

Disney has insisted the theme park is so large, with around 70,000 employees, that those arrested represent only 0.01 per cent of people it has employed since 2006.

‘The undercover detective told Spencer he was a 13-year-old boy. Spencer initiate sexually explicit messages to a person he thought was a 13-year-old boy, including mutual oral sex.

‘The suspect travelled to the undercover location and was arrested.’

He faces five separate charges, as does 40-year-old Allen Treaster, who worked as a concierge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Police arrested Treaster two weeks ago on suspicion of sending explicit messages to an officer he thought was a 14-year-old boy.

 

Disney workers arrested in ‘To Catch A Predator’-style child sex stings |Daily Mail Online.

 

JonBenet Ramsey: How the Investigation Got Derailed — and Why It Still Matters

Alan Prendergast

Above credit: Brian Stauffer

Priscilla and her husband, Fleet White Jr., had been with John and Patsy Ramsey just ten hours earlier. The Ramseys and their two children had come to the Whites’ house for Christmas dinner. Nine-year-old Burke Ramsey had played Nintendo games with seven-year-old Fleet III, while best friends JonBenét and Daphne White, both six, had played in Daphne’s room. There had been nothing remarkable about the evening, but now the Ramseys were making desperate calls for help.

Fleet and Priscilla hurried to their friends’ house. The police were already there, and more friends, summoned by Patsy, were on their way. But Patsy was inconsolable. She sat on the floor, clutching a crucifix and praying to Jesus. “They have my baby,” she moaned.

She’d woken up that morning, she told detectives, to find a three-page handwritten note on the spiral staircase leading from the children’s bedrooms to the first floor. The garrulous note, claiming to be from a “small foreign faction” and signed “S.B.T.C.,” demanded $118,000 for the return of JonBenét, who was missing from her room. Patsy had screamed for her husband, then dialed 911.

Fleet and Priscilla had never seen Patsy so hysterical, flailing and collapsing in sobs. John Ramsey wasn’t known for displaying emotion — Fleet, who’d done a lot of sailing with him in rough weather, had admired his calm in even the worst storms — but he looked distraught, too.

While arrangements were under way to assemble the cash demanded, the Whites did what they could to be useful. Recalling how his own daughter had once gone missing only to be found hiding under her bed, Fleet took a quick tour of the basement, looking for hiding places. He and John collected Burke Ramsey from his room, and Fleet drove him to the Whites’ house, to keep him away from the awful situation.

As the day dragged on with no word from the kidnappers, several of the visitors got a glimpse of a police photocopy of the ransom note. It was a melodramatic epic, full of odd lines from movies (“Don’t try to grow a brain”) and squiggly, palsied lettering, as if the writer was trying to disguise his handwriting.

Priscilla was struck by the taunting tone of the note, which was addressed to “Mr. Ramsey.” She wondered who could hate John Ramsey that much, to put him through this. She believed it had to be someone familiar with the layout of the Ramsey house, a three-story, much-modified Tudor with a labyrinthine basement; Priscilla herself had lost her way more than once the first few times she’d visited.

Around one in the afternoon, Boulder police detective Linda Arndt suggested that Fleet take John Ramsey around the house to see if they’d missed anything — probably just to give the anxious father something to do. After inspecting several rooms in the basement, Ramsey headed toward a storage room known as the wine cellar. It was a door Fleet had opened on his earlier tour, but he hadn’t found a light switch and hadn’t gone inside. Moving a few feet and seconds ahead of Fleet, Ramsey opened the door and snapped on the light.

“Oh, my God,” he said. “Oh, my God.”

 

See also: Westword’s JonBenet Ramsey Archive

Continue to keep reading “JonBenet Ramsey: How the Investigation Got Derailed — and Why It Still Matters.”

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JonBenet Ramsey: How the Investigation Got Derailed — and Why It Still Matters | Westword.

 

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