When I teach my graduate Human Sexuality course, we begin each class with “Sex in the News.” We take a few minutes at the beginning of the class to talk about what we are seeing in the papers (or online news) that relate to human sexuality. In my daily perusal of the Wall Street Journal this morning, I felt compelled to do something similar for the topic of sexual abuse. It struck me today that, for a paper focused mostly on financial news, there was a lot of reporting relating to sexual abuse issues. By starting today, I missed much of the coverage of the Maxwell trial which brings sexual trafficking into the spotlight. Today’s WSJ topics related to sexual abuse.
Gymnasts who were victims of sexual abuse settle for $380 million.
I cannot imagine anyone who has not heard of the scandal surrounding USA gymnastics and the sexual abuse perpetrated by its doctor, Mr. Nassar. The brave ladies who were victims of abuse have come forward and several actually testified in front of Congress. Yesterday, after over three years of waiting, a settlement was reached for the victims. The settlement was delayed due to a bankruptcy filing by the USOPC. In addition to the financial settlement, there is also a provision that allows for survivors of the sexual abuse to have official roles in USA Gymnastics. Michigan State University had previously settled a claim for $500 million dollars in 2018 brought by victims of Dr. Nassar when he was working in his capacity as a sports medicine doctor at that university.
While this settles the civil claim from the victims, there is still an ongoing FBI investigation into the mishandling of the allegations of abuse by the Deputy Attorney Genera in 2015 and 2016.
Sexual Abuse in the Canadian Military
Yesterday Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand issued a statement and an apology to the members of the Canadian military who had been harmed by the lack of enforcement of sexual harassment and abuse claims in the military. This issue came to light earlier this year when allegations were made against several high-ranking military officials. Some of these allegations have led to criminal charges being filed.
The Pope to Acknowledge Abuse in Canada
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has taken a different tact in handling the sexual abuse allegations and issues within the Catholic church. The latest effort will come next year when he meets with indigenous Canadians and acknowledge the sexual abuse suffered by the children who were at church run indigenous schools.
While this is a move in the right direction, there are those who criticize the church for still not doing enough to investigate and handle allegations of abuse. It is only in the United States that the church has laws that automatically remove a cleric from their position after they have been found guilty of an act of sexual abuse with a minor.