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Kansas State University Can’t Dodge Our Title IX Lawsuit

Image result for kansas state title ix lawsuitA lawsuit filed against Kansas State University (KSU) by two former students who were sexually assaulted was given clearance to proceed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which held that “Title IX does not require a subsequent sexual assault before a plaintiff can sue.”  This victory will help these women and countless women across the country use Title IX to achieve justice and compel schools to protect survivors.

The two women who brought the suit, Tessa Farmer and Sara Weckhorst, were each brutally raped by KSU students at off-campus fraternity houses.  Both reported the rapes to KSU and identified the perpetrators, one of whom is now in prison.  KSU refused to investigate or take any action against the perpetrators, allowing them to remain on campus, and justified its indifference on the basis that the rapes occurred off-campus.  Ms. Farmer and Ms. Weckhorst sued KSU for violating Title IX, alleging that KSU’s deliberate indifference made them vulnerable to further sexual harassment by the assailants.  KSU disagreed, suggesting that their fear of encountering the assailants on campus had no “basis in reality.”  The Tenth Circuit disagreed, ruling:

Plaintiffs’ allegations are quite specific and reasonable under the circumstances.  Plaintiffs allege more than a general fear of running into their assailants.  They allege that their fears have forced them to take very specific actions that deprived them of educational opportunities offered to other students.  In addition, they have alleged a pervasive atmosphere of fear at KSU of sexual assault caused by KSU’s inadequate action in these cases.  A Title IX plaintiff’s alleged fear of encountering her attacker must be objectively reasonable, but under the horrific circumstances alleged here Plaintiffs have adequately alleged that KSU’s deliberate indifference to their rape reports reasonably deprived them of educational opportunities available to other students at KSU.

“It feels so empowering to know that what Sara and I went through and the work we’re doing could potentially help people all over the country,” said Tessa Farmer.  “It’s just amazing how you can take a terrible situation and turn it into such a positive movement for change.”

Ms. Farmer and Ms. Weckhorst are represented by Jonathon Fazzola, an attorney with The Fierberg National Law Group.

About Jonathon Fazzola & The Fierberg National Law Group

Attorney Jonathon Fazzola and The Fierberg National Law Group represent victims of violence and harassment, including sexual abuse and assault, to make certain their rights are protected, and ensuring perpetrators and institutions that fail to comply with their obligations to protect victims are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Read the Opinion Here.

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“Experts call such victim-blaming ‘tortured rationalizations.'”

See the source imageA California father believes his 18-year-old son’s alcohol-related death was the result of a fraternity hazing ritual. The Orange County coroner’s office said Monday, Noah Domingo died from accidental alcohol poisoning.

Noah’s blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit, reports CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas. The UC Irvine freshman was found unresponsive after a party in January. His father said Noah was taking part in a dangerous and longstanding fraternity ritual. His death has already prompted Sigma Alpha Epsilon to close its chapter at UC Irvine indefinitely.

In a statement to CBS News, Dale Domingo said, “We have discovered the horrifying truth about fraternity hazing.” He contends the fraternity was conducting its “big brother night” ritual where “Noah was compelled to guzzle a so-called ‘family drink’ to become part of his big brother’s family.” He said, “It is why fraternities openly refer to this type of ritual as being one of the ‘deadly nights.'”

Authorities said Domingo died at about 3:30 in the morning, but the initial 911 call was some six hours later. The person who called 911 told the operator “he just drank, he just drank too much.”

Disputing the account in the 911 call, Noah’s father said his son did not just drink too much. He said experts call such victim-blaming “tortured rationalizations.”

Authorities are still investigating the circumstances leading to Domingo’s death and have not confirmed that hazing played a role.
In a statement, the university offered its “deepest sympathies to the Domingo family” and said “his death brings an urgent focus on alcohol and substance abuse.”

The focus on fraternity hazing has intensified in recent years with the deaths of Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza and Florida State University fraternity member Andrew Coffey.

Just like other families impacted by college drinking deaths, Noah’s father said he will honor his son by doing everything he can to end hazing by fraternities and their members.

CBS News reached out to Sigma Alpha Epsilon regarding the confirmation of Domingo’s cause of death, but have not heard back.

©  2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. See the Full Report Here.

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How to Support a Friend or Loved One Who Has Been Sexually Abused

The New York Times
By Vanessa Marin | Feb. 27, 2019

Image Credit: Amber Vittoria

It’s an especially difficult time to be a survivor of sexual abuse or assault. On top of the daily struggle to stay safe and healthy, sexual abuse survivors also have to contend with an endlessly triggering news cycle.

If you’re not a survivor yourself but you’re close to one — maybe a partner, friend or family member — you may not be able to fully understand what they’re going through, and you may feel confused or lost about how to best support them. Here’s what you need to know, and how you can be supportive.

If your partner or friend seems to be struggling, let them know you’re available if they need to talk. If you haven’t already, listen to their story, if they’re ready to tell you. They may also want to express their anger, frustration, fear or sadness about recent news events. Don’t pressure your friend into talking or telling you their story, but let them know you’re open to listening to whatever they want to share.

In an email, Beverly Engel, psychotherapist and author of “It Wasn’t Your Fault: Freeing Yourself From the Shame of Childhood Abuse With the Power of Self-Compassion” recommended you ask — especially if the person is your romantic partner — if they want physical contact (like holding hands or a hug) as they tell their story, but otherwise default to giving them physical space while they speak. Just telling their story can be emotionally daunting, and can bring back memories.

It’s especially important to believe your friend’s story. It’s sad that this has to be said, but that’s the climate that we’re in right now. Let them know that above all, you believe them.

Wendy Maltz, sex and relationship therapist and author of “The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse,” offered this handy list of possible responses:
  • “Thank you for sharing.”

  • “You are not to blame for what happened to you.”

  • “You didn’t deserve what happened to you.”

  • “I’m sorry this happened to you.”

  • “You are not what was done to you.”

  • “That was abuse, not healthy sexuality.”

  • “I support you in your healing process.”

  • “I respect you for addressing this.”

  • “I love you.”

While every survivor and each story is unique, it’s useful to educate yourself on the impacts of sexual abuse. It’s not the responsibility of a survivor to educate you — especially when it’s so easy to read more on your own — and being informed beforehand will make you a better partner in recovery. Books are a great place to start.

Ms. Engel recommended reading the books “Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Was Sexually Abused as a Child” by Laura Davis and “Sexual Assault [Rape]: Moving From Victim to Survivor” by Lizyvette Ramos. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network(RAINN) also has a section on its website about post-abuse recovery.

As a psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy, I work with a lot of sexual abuse survivors and their partners. The impacts of sexual abuse can be extremely difficult to understand if you haven’t experienced the abuse yourself, and it may help to learn some of the common impacts that abuse can have on a loved one. Here are some common ones I see in my practice. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and remember, each survivor’s experience is unique.

  • Dissociation: A survivor’s body can be physically present, but their mind can be in a completely different place, especially during intimate moments.

  • Getting triggered: Survivors might jump or tense up when someone gets too close, even if it’s someone they love and trust. Certain words, actions, sounds, gestures or even smells could send them into a heightened state of agitation. Many sexual abuse survivors can also be hypervigilant.

  • Difficulty making healthy decisions: Some sexual abuse survivors find it tricky to make healthy decisions about their sex lives after abuse. They might have poor body image or low self esteem. They may find themselves becoming intimate with people who don’t respect them, or in situations that feel unsafe.

  • Low libido or an avoidance of sex: Many survivors don’t want to revisit the specific activities that traumatized them.

  • Shame: Many survivors feel as if they’re broken or damaged goods. Male sexual abuse survivors can feel a different kind of shame, since male sexual abuse isn’t discussed nearly as often, and carries a different kind of stigma.

This list shouldn’t be used to diagnose your loved one, but rather, to give you a foundation if your loved one wants to discuss the ways their abuse may affect their life.

Your friend or loved one is most likely going to continue having reactions to the news, family dinner conversations, intimacy or even seemingly random events. Here’s what you can do in those moments:

  • Keep listening. Don’t try to give advice or fix the problem. Just listen.

  • Let them feel their feelings. It can be extremely difficult to see someone you love in pain, but they need space to express themselves. Don’t say things like, “Cheer up” or “Don’t cry.” Stay by their side as they work through their feelings.

  • Let your loved one know you’re on their team. Tell them you’re happy to turn off the TV, get out of the house or leave an event with them.

  • Ask if your friend or loved one needs anything from you. They may not always have an answer, but it’s nice to make it clear that you want to be supportive and engaged.

Encourage your loved one to get as much support as they can. This might include psychotherapy, sex therapy, support groups, crisis lines or talking to other trusted loved ones.

RAINN has a handy tool for finding resources in your area. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 800-656-HOPE (4673). You can always offer to take them to their appointments, take them out for lunch after a meeting, or even join the session.

However, it’s ultimately up to your loved one to make their own decisions about their healing process. Ms. Maltz advised: “While healing is a process you can participate in, it’s not something you can control or make happen. Survivors heal on their own timelines, based on their own readiness and motivation. Healing is more likely to take place when the survivor leads, and you work as a team together — both partners in a healing process.”

It’s also important for you to get your own support. Mike Lew, author of “Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering From Sexual Child Abuse,” noted, “People who love survivors go through a parallel process to that of the survivors themselves, often with less support, fewer resources, and the feeling that they don’t deserve the support because it wasn’t done to them.” It’s hard to hear the story of someone you love being abused. Understand that you may have your own reactions, and you deserve support too. Consider getting personal therapy of your own. (You can use the RAINN locator tool too.)

Recovering from sexual abuse is a long process that is never truly over. The path to recovery can also look different for each survivor, but Ms. Maltz noted that the most common steps include “recognizing what happened, identifying repercussions, resolving feelings about the past abuse and the perpetrator (or perpetrators), stopping negative behaviors, reclaiming personal power, relearning touch, addressing sex and intimacy concerns, and more.”

“Be patient,” Ms. Maltz said. “That’s probably the biggest gift you can give.” Along the way, it’s important for you and your loved one to acknowledge and honor your hard work. You can do an activity together after every therapy session, like cooking a special meal, or going on a walk. Or get away for a weekend when the news cycle becomes too much to bear. The healing process can feel like two steps forward, one step back, but any sort of progress deserves recognition.

Vanessa Marin is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy and online courses. You can find her on the web here, or follow her on Twitter @VMTherapy.

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Blind Eye Movement: Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse

Many Voices. One Message. Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse.

Join us March 2nd, 2019 from 11am to 1pm: The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law is sponsoring an event where survivors of sexual abuse share their stories & local experts provide info on support, resources and legal rights for survivors and their families. #metoo #churchtoo #blindeyemovement#recognizepreventrecover #manyvoicesonemessage #victimrights #itsonus #nnedv #nsvrc #rainn

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Sharon Bottoms Mattes, Who Lost Gay Rights Custody Battle to Her Mother, Dies at 48

The Washington Post | By Matt Schudel | February 16, 2019

Sharon Bottoms Mattes, a central figure in a prolonged court battle in the 1990s who lost custody of her son to her mother after Virginia courts ruled that she was “an unfit parent” because she was involved in a same-sex relationship, died Jan. 21 at her home in Richlands, N.C. She was 48.

Her family placed a death notice that was published in January in the Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News. According to Facebook posts by members of her family, the cause of death was cancer. Efforts to reach members of her family were unsuccessful.

In 1991, Ms. Mattes, then known as Sharon Bottoms, gave birth to a son, Tyler Doustou. By then, she was already divorced from the boy’s father, who was not involved in raising the child.

About a year later, Ms. Mattes and April Wade, a food-service worker, formed a household together near Richmond. Ms. Mattes’s mother, Kay Bottoms, later sought to gain custody of Tyler.

The bitter court battle — pitting mother against daughter and involving intimate and embarrassing details of their lives — played out in courtrooms for three years before it was ultimately decided by the Virginia Supreme Court.

The case was watched closely, as gay and lesbian activists sought to extend their parental rights. It was watched just as closely by conservative religious groups, who viewed it as “another step in the gradual degradation and deconstruction of American society,” as Walter E. Barbee, president of the Family Foundation, put it.

The Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union handled much of Ms. Mattes’s legal defense. After a juvenile court judge ruled in favor of Kay Bottoms’s demand for custody, the case heard before Circuit Court Judge Buford M. Parsons Jr.

As the case developed, Ms. Mattes said her mother’s live-in boyfriend had subjected her to repeated sexual attacks, beginning when she was 12. Her mother said she was not aware of any sexual abuse.

After dropping out of high school, Ms. Mattes held a series of part-time jobs, mostly as a store clerk, and had a short-lived marriage. Her former husband, Dennis Doustou, testified in support of Ms. Mattes.

Under questioning, Ms. Mattes admitted that she and Wade occasionally kissed in Tyler’s presence and, in private, engaged in oral sex. At the time, oral sex was considered sodomy in Virginia and was classified as a felony, whether performed by straight couples, same-sex couples or anyone else. It was not decriminalized until 2014.

Parsons upheld the juvenile court’s decision, awarding custody of Tyler to Kay Bottoms, declaring in his decision that Ms. Mattes’s “conduct is illegal and immoral” and “renders her an unfit parent.”

Ms. Mattes was allowed to see her 2-year-old son from Monday morning to Tuesday night — but only if she did not take him to the home she shared with Wade, who had no visitation rights.

“It’s the kind of case that strikes terror in people’s hearts,” Liz Hendrickson, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said at the time. “It makes them wonder, ‘Could this happen to me?’ ”

Because she could not afford a hotel room, Ms. Mattes met her son at a friend’s house.

“We hang out, go to the park. Lots of things,” she said.

She did interviews with People magazine, “Larry King Live” and “Geraldo.” Her mother, who lived in a mobile home in Spotsylvania County, went on Sally Jessy Raphael’s television show and said her daughter “was doing drugs, she partied, she wanted to have a good time. . . . I have threatened her many times I was going to take him.”

In a 1993 interview with The Washington Post, Ms. Mattes said her son would fall to sleep only if she put his head on her stomach.

“I cried the first time he did it,” she said. “Do you think he knows it’s where he came from?”

In 1994, a Virginia Court of Appeals panel ruled unanimously that Ms. Mattes should have primary custody of her son.

“I’m not a hero,” she said at the time. “I’m just a mother trying to get her son back.”

Her legal victory was short-lived. Lawyers for her mother filed an appeal, during which the custody arrangement remained unchanged.

During later court hearings, the original juvenile court judge, William G. Boice, criticized Ms. Mattes and Wade for cooperating with the producers of a TV movie, “Two Mothers for Zachary,” which ultimately aired in 1996.

Ms. Mattes’s lawyer said she was not paid for the film.

In 1995, the case of Bottoms v. Bottoms reached the Virginia Supreme Court. In a 4-to-3 decision, the court determined that the “moral climate” in Ms. Mattes’s home made her “an unfit custodian at this time.”

Her mother was granted permanent custody of Tyler.

“Living daily under conditions stemming from active lesbianism practiced in the home,” Justice A. Christian Compton wrote, “may impose a burden upon a child by reason of the ‘social condemnation’ attached to such an arrangement.”

Conservative groups hailed the decision as a victory for traditional moral values. Gay rights groups were outraged.

“Not that long ago, there were courts that ruled that being lesbian, gay or bisexual meant you couldn’t be a parent to your own children,” James Esseks, an ACLU lawyer overseeing gay rights cases, said Saturday in an interview. “It is shocking to people today.”

In 1996, Ms. Mattes abandoned her legal fight. She gave no more interviews for the rest of her life.

Sharon Lynne Bottoms was born Feb. 20, 1970. Little is known of her early years in Virginia or what happened after her court battle ended in 1996.

According to Facebook posts, she married Bill Mattes in 2012. She was the co-owner of a kennel in North Carolina.

Her son, now 27, served in the military and lives in Virginia. He posted a tribute to his mother on Facebook.

In addition to her husband and son, survivors include her mother; her husband’s three children; a brother; and a grandson.

“We don’t regret this fight, but we feel it’s something we shouldn’t have to go through,” Ms. Mattes told the New York Times in 1995, in one of her final public statements. “I deserve my baby. I gave birth to him. I want him.”

School Violence Law and The Fierberg National Law Group honor her struggle and regret her inability to obtain justice.

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Where Does School Safety Stand One Year After The Parkland Shooting?

The New York Times | Margaret Kramer and Jennifer Harlan | 

The Parkland students became a force for gun control legislation and boosted the youth vote. Here’s how they changed America’s response to mass shootings.

On Feb. 14, 2018, a former student slaughtered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The next day, David Hogg, a student who survived the attack, expressed his frustration at the pattern of political inaction that seems to follow mass shootings in the United States. He was not surprised that there had been another school shooting, he said, and that fact alone “says so much about the current state that our country is in, and how much has to be done.”

“We need to do something,” he said. In the course of the next year, students would change the way the nation handles mass shootings, spurring new gun legislation and school safety measures, and holding to account the adults they felt had failed them.

Here’s a look at where they made those changes happen, and where they were disappointed.

With Parkland, it was the students who set the agenda. Their openness about their pain made them formidable leaders of the movement for gun control, and their displays of strength and utter grief struck a chord with a nation numbed by repeated acts of violence.

In the weeks after the shooting, busloads of Stoneman Douglas students took their case to the Florida capital and to Washington. With a rallying cry of “Never Again,” they gathered support from other young people and activists, and their March For Our Lives campaign spurred huge rallies and hundreds of protests, including a nationwide school walkout.

The movement brought youth activism to a new age — finding global power in social media and pushing public officials to acknowledge their accountability.

Stoneman Douglas students and parents were outraged by what they viewed as gross incompetence on the part of school and law enforcement officials. Video showed that a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school did not enter the building as the attack unfolded. Seven other deputies remained outside as gunshots rang out, a state commission found.

And in January, Florida’s new Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, suspended Sheriff Scott Israel for his “neglect of duty” and “incompetence.”

In the case of Mr. Cruz, the warning signs were many. There were the boasts about killing animals, the expulsion, the stalking of a female classmate, the repeated calls from his mother to the police. School counselors and a sheriff’s deputy decided at one point that he should be forcibly committed for psychiatric evaluation, only to apparently change their minds the next day. Multiple tips to the F.B.I. were left uninvestigated — one woman told the bureau’s tip line she was worried about Mr. Cruz going “into a school and just shooting the place up.” At that time, there was no law in Florida that would have prevented Mr. Cruz from buying a gun or would have allowed the police to take away his weapon. A gun control bill the state passed in March now allows law enforcement — with judicial approval — to bar a person deemed dangerous from owning guns for up to a year.

State legislatures, both Republican- and Democratic-controlled, passed 76 gun control laws in the past year — from bans on bump stocks and caps on magazine sizes to new minimum-age requirements and expanded background checks. Among the victories for gun control advocates was an omnibus bill in Florida that raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm in the state to 21 and extended the waiting period to three days. In all, more than half the states passed at least one gun control measure in 2018, with Washington and New York joining the trend in 2019.

At the same time, there were significantly fewer new state laws expanding gun rights in 2018 than the year before, according to an end-of-year report by the national advocacy group Giffords. Data provided by the N.R.A. also indicated that the number of enacted gun control measures outnumbered pro-gun measures for the first time in at least six years.

Read the Entire New York Times Article Here 

The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law applaud these students. Our lawyers negotiated the historic settlements for the wrongful deaths and injured survivors of the Virginia Tech Massacre, which valued in excess of $11 Million.  The settlements established a foundation in their honor that continues to advocate for safe schools and gun control, which we continue to represent.

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Investigation Reveals 2 Decades & 100s of Victims of Sexual Misconduct in Southern Baptist Churches

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Nashville headquarters. (Mark Humphrey/AP)

The Washington Post

By Kristine Phillips and Amy B Wang | February 10 at 6:18 PM

“20 years, 700 victims”

So reads part of the headline of a sweeping investigation that has found years of sexual abuse perpetrated by hundreds of Southern Baptist church leaders against an even larger number of victims.

The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News reported that nearly 400 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced sexual misconduct allegations in the past two decades. As many as 700 victims — some as young as 3 — were sexually abused, some raped and molested repeatedly, according to the report.

But instead of ensuring that sexual predators were kept at bay, the Southern Baptist Convention resisted policy changes, the newspapers found. Victims accused church leaders of mishandling their complaints, even hiding them from the public. While the majority of abusers have been convicted of sex crimes and are registered sex offenders, the investigation found that at least three dozen pastors, employees, and volunteers who showed predatory behavior still worked at churches.

The revelations, published Sunday, have not only led to a chorus of condemnation and calls for restructuring, but have also pushed church leaders to grapple with the troubling history — and future — of the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

“We must admit that our failures, as churches, put these survivors in a position where they were forced to stand alone and speak, when we should have been fighting for them,” J.D. Greear, who was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention last summer, said on Twitter. “Their courage is exemplary and prophetic. But I grieve that their courage was necessary.”

The investigation comes amid a string of recent allegations of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic priests and coverups by the church hierarchy. Just a few days earlier, Pope Francis acknowledged that members of the Catholic clergy had abused nuns for years.

The Southern Baptist Convention, a fellowship of more than 47,000 Baptist churches and 15 million members across the United States and its territories, is the country’s second-largest faith group after the Catholic Church.

Greear, who was not available for comment Sunday afternoon, addressed the investigation in forceful terms, saying in a lengthy Twitter thread that he was “broken” over what it had revealed and that it was a “heinous error” to apply Baptist doctrine in a manner that enabled abuse.

“The abuses described in this [Houston Chronicle] article are pure evil,” Greear wrote. “I join with countless others who are currently ‘weeping with those who weep.’ ”

Greear called for “pervasive change” within the denomination, including taking steps to prevent abuse, fully cooperating with legal authorities when people reported abusive behavior and helping survivors recover. He did not go into detail about what those steps would look like, except to say that “change begins with feeling the full weight of the problem.”

Greear also admitted that the church had failed to listen to abuse victims, although it is unclear whether he was indicating he had personally known about any allegations within the Southern Baptist Convention. He added: “We — leaders in the SBC — should have listened to the warnings of those who tried to call attention to this. I am committed to doing everything possible to ensure we never make these mistakes again.”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the revelations are “alarming and scandalous” and paint a stark portrait of the depravity of those who used their positions of power to prey on the defenseless, all under the guise of faith.

“Nothing is worse than the use of the name of Jesus to prey on the vulnerable, or to use the name of Jesus to cover up such crimes,” Moore wrote in a lengthy post on his website. He added: “Church life has fueled the undue shame of the survivors of such abuse.”

He called on churches to immediately report possible instances of sexual abuse of children and adults.

“In all of this, the church should deal openly with what has happened in the church while caring for all those who were harmed,” he wrote. “No one who has committed such offenses should ever be in the ministry arena where such could even conceivably happen again.”

In Texas, where the newspapers said many of the abuses happened and where the Southern Baptist Convention has some of its most prominent congregations and pastors, church leaders expressed similar feelings of alarm.

“May there be peace upon the victims & may we do our part to make necessary changes as a convention,” Michael Criner, a senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Bellville, Texas, wrote on Twitter. Criner said he has attended and ministered at Southern Baptist Convention churches his entire life.

Megan Lively, who accused a prominent Southern Baptist leader of encouraging her to not report to authorities that she had been raped, said that although she knew there were others with similar stories, she was shocked by the number of victims revealed by the newspapers’ investigation.

“I can’t put into words the utter despair I felt earlier and continue to feel now,” Lively said in an email to The Washington Post.

Lively told The Post last year that she was raped in 2003 when she was pursuing a master of divinity degree in women’s studies at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. The seminary’s president at that time, Paige Patterson, urged Lively to not report the alleged abuse to police and to forgive her assailant, she said.

Lively said there won’t be an “overnight fix” for the problems of sexual abuse, but she’s confident in the current Southern Baptist Convention leadership.

“They fought for me and loved me, many times behind the scenes with no public recognition in an effort to keep me safe and keep my story private. … They are working hard to make sure past mistakes are not repeated,” Lively said.

“SBC leaders must be willing to listen to the hard stories, difficult requests” and advice from survivors to change the culture, she added.

Victims, she said, should seek professional help and find someone with similar experiences. For Lively, that person was Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault.

“In the worst times, I shared my heart with her, and she made me feel like I was completely normal to react the way I did,” Lively said. “Survivors need fellow survivors to walk with them. During the good and the bad.”

Denhollander also took to Twitter on Sunday to weigh in on the report.

“The worst part is that we have known for years. I have known most of this for years, and spoken out about it. No one wanted to listen. It did not matter enough to investigate and act,” Denhollander said. “Grief and repentance and silence to learn is the only proper response.”

Denhollander’s husband, Jacob, said the number of instances of sexual abuse is not the primary problem.

“Better training and protection policies can help address that,” Jacob Denhollander tweeted. “The bigger issue is that there is a pattern of leaders, who knew of the abuse, protecting the perpetrator and shaming the victims.”

Max J. Rosenthal, Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey contributed to this article.

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Judge denies consent as possible defense for teacher accused of sex with student

Former Athens teacher Tyler Millward enters the courtroom Monday.

A judge ruled Monday that a former Athens teacher charged with having sex with a student is prohibited from using consent by the victim as a defense.

The attorney for Tyler Millward of Springfield argued that his client should be allowed to argue at trial that because the victim consented to the relationship that he is not guilty of the crime.

“It is our position that consent is a defense and if the court finds it is not a defense than (the Michigan statute) is unconstitutional,” defense attorney Anastase Markou said.

Millward, 30, is charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a student between July 2017 and January 2018 when she was 16 and while he was a teacher at Athens High School. His trial is scheduled for early March. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The student had Millward’s child in December. The Enquirer does not name victims of alleged sexual assault.

In his argument Monday Markou told Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge John Hallacy that while Michigan law prohibits teachers having sex with a student, it does not prohibit a defendant from using consent as a defense. And he said the girl was 16, which is the age of consent in Michigan.

“The legislature did not specify that consent was not a defense,” Markou said. “They were not clear in this case. The legislature could have eliminated consent (as a defense) but they did not.”

Prosecutor David Gilbert told the judge Michigan law says “a teacher does not have the right to have sex with a student and that is clear under the case law. To say you have a right to have sex with a student, that is just not true.”

And Gilbert said while the law used to charge Millward may not prohibit consent as an argument, it does specify that the victims are covered between the ages of 16 and 18.

And Hallacy agreed with Gilbert’s argument.

“The statute is very specific and here the legislature expanded the age up to 18. The age of consent is 16 but the statute says up to 18.

“You can’t have sex with anyone between 16 and 18 so consent is not an issue because of the relationship,” Hallacy said.

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Chad Curtis’ ex-wife loses bankruptcy protection in his $1.8M judgment for sex assaults

Chad Curtis

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A judge rejected a bankruptcy petition filed by the ex-wife of former major leaguer Chad Curtis who was accused of trying to shield her assets from a $1.8 million judgment against Curtis.

A federal judge earlier awarded $1.8 million to a former Lakewood High School student-athlete who was molested by Chad Curtis while he volunteered for the athletic program.

Candace Curtis filed for bankruptcy the same day that a U.S. District Court magistrate recommended that she be made a party to the judgment.

Curtis, 50, is serving seven to 14 years in prison after being convicted in 2013 of sexually assaulting three student-athletes under the guise of performing therapeutic massages. A fourth joined them in a civil lawsuit. Chad Curtis settled claims with three victims for $10,000 each but the other was awarded $1.8 million in a federal bench trial.

The student-athlete who was awarded the judgment filed a motion to dismiss Candace Curtis’ bankruptcy case.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Gregg, in an opinion issued Wednesday, Jan. 23, said Candace Curtis did not act in good faith in filing the bankruptcy petition.

The judge noted that the Curtises, in prison recordings, had “discussed shielding their marital assets and respective revocable trusts from (the student-athlete).”

The student-athlete’s attorney, Monica Beck, filed a motion to dismiss Candace Curtis’ bankruptcy petition. She had obtained the recorded calls and accused the couple of fraud after Curtis gave all of his assets to his ex-wife during divorce proceedings.

Among them is a 23-acre horse farm in Ada Township which she listed for sale three years ago for $1.9 million. Candace Curtis listed liabilities of $13,000.

Gregg said his purpose was not to determine if fraud was committed but whether Candace Curtis acted in good faith in filing for bankruptcy protection. He said the jailhouse recordings, in which she said she didn’t want the student-athlete to get anything, were made several years ago and not necessarily an indication of her lack of good faith.

“The same cannot be said of the Debtor’s testimony … which is indicative of the Debtor’s lack of good faith. During the hearing, the Debtor made several troubling statements. Although the Debtor acknowledged that she intended to satisfy the claims of her other creditors, she was not necessarily prepared to address any allow claim of (the student-athlete),” the judge wrote.

She intended to sell the farm to her daughter and still have use of it, the judge said.

“These intentions are not representative of an honest but unfortunate debtor seeking to reorganize in good faith, Gregg said.

He said the student-athlete’s claim will return to U.S. District Court where Judge Janet Neff will decide whether to adopt Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody’s recommendation that Candace Curtis be made a party to the student-athlete’s effort to collect the $1.8 million judgment.

“Curtis’ acts were devastating to many people on many levels,” Gregg said. “As the debtor testified, she did not cause any damage to (the student-athlete) – Curtis did. Nonetheless, (the student-athlete) asserts a claim against the Debtor, the merits of which will be adjudicated by the District Court.”

The four victims earlier settled a lawsuit against Lakewood Public Schools for $575,000, with the schools’ insurance company paying $375,000.

Curtis played for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and others in a 10-year career. He earned $14 million in that time, the victims’ attorney said.

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