sexual abuse

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Mike Tyson reveals scary street snatching and sexual abuse

Published November 3, 2014 by misty534

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Legendary boxer Mike Tyson has opened up about being molested by an old man when he was growing up in Brooklyn.

In a heartbreaking interview with Opie Radio, the 48-year-old revealed that he was sexually abused at the age of seven.

He went on to describe how he was snatched off the street in a horrible incident and the effect that it has had on him as a man.

“He snatched me off the street,” Tyson explained in the interview.

“I was a little kid, seven. They were an old man. It was one time, one time. I never seen him again.”

Tyson told the radio hosts he was just walking along the street when the man grabbed him, and his life changed forever as a result of the incident.

He went on to explain how he had to run away from his attacker following the assault, but never went to the police.

“It’s nobody’s business to know,” Tyson explained with the presenters clearly shocked by the revelation.

“Entertainers have egos to buffer their flaws, their demons,” he continued.

When asked if he significantly changed as a result of that day’s events, he replied: “I don’t know if I did or not.

“I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of anything from that perspective.”

You can watch the interview with Tyson below, but be warned about the fact that it contains language many might find offensive:

Archbishop of Canterbury reveals he ‘broke down’ over sexual abuse toll

Published October 28, 2014 by misty534

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Former Bishop of Durham the Most Rev Justin Welby spoke of the investigations into clergy going back more than 60 years

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of how hearing directly from the victims of the Church of England’s “total failure and betrayal” over historic sexual abuse caused him to break down in public.

In a frank assessment of the scale of the scandal, the Most Rev Justin Welby conceded that investigations into clergy going back more than 60 years would show that “there is more that has not been revealed”.

The Archbishop, who was Bishop of Durham, said he was “passionate” about exposing past failings after telling the mother of three boys sexually abused by the head of a CofE school that there was undoubtedly a “very significant legacy of unacknowledged cases”.

Abuse had been “rampant” across many institutions and the church was taking “all necessary steps”, he said in the letter seen by the Exaro News investigative website, adding that the historic “failure to face the misdeeds of those in its service is inexcusable”.

“The betrayal of Christ in such behaviour is complete,” he added, and apologised “most sincerely and with deep sorrow”.

Face-to-face meetings with victims are part of the Church’s response to the scandal, with Mr Welby attending along with senior figures.

At a Westminster lunch, he told journalists that the harrowing accounts he heard at one encounter still haunted him later in the day when he was asked about the issue at a talk at a theological college.

“To my intense surprise, because I don’t normally do this kind of thing, I broke down completely.

“It was the shredding effect of hearing what we did, what we did, to those people and the sense of total failure and betrayal.

“So we are taking it, and I am passionate about this, as seriously as we are able to do.”

He added: “It is beyond description terrible. When you abuse a child or a vulnerable adult, you mark them for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Churches fall within the scope of the major review into child sex abuse within state and non-state institutions ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May.

“Many institutions failed catastrophically, including in the media, children’s homes, foster parents, all kinds of areas,” he said.

“But the church is meant to hold itself to a far, far, far higher standard and we failed terribly.”

Every “blue file” personnel record since 1950 – including those of dead clergy – was being closely examined for “anything in the file that would suggest at all that there is anything that needs following up”.

In nine out of 10 cases such concerns proved unfounded or involved cases where all involved were now dead, he said, but the inquiry team, headed by the Bishop of Durham, would bring the rest forward “transparently and openly”.

The process was being overseen by an external body to avoid any claims of a cover-up, he stressed.

“The rule is survivors come first, not our own interests,” he added.

“However important the person was, however distinguished, however well known, survivors come first.”

The Archbishop also spoke about highly-controversial moves to examine whether the confidentiality rules should be relaxed to allow clergy who heard confessions about sex abuse could alert the authorities.

A General Synod measure to initiate a study on the issue was an “incredibly radical move which challenges more than 1,800 years of church tradition”, he said.

“We haven’t decided what we are going to do with it yet but we are starting to look at how we could deal with that.”

going back more than 60 years

Childline Say Calls Over Online Sexual Abuse Up 168%

Published October 24, 2014 by misty534

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The number of children seeking help from Childline about online sexual abuse in the last year has more than doubled.

Thousands of youngsters sought help after being sent abusive or sexial images on social networks online.

Locally, the charity’s Aberdeen centre counselled with 168 cases of online sexual abuse.

Elaine Chalmers, area manager for ChildLine in Scotland, said that sex offenders use the internet to access indecent images and to groom children:

“Social networks are an easy place to hide your real identity, and can be the first step in offenders encouraging potential victims to other sites or even to meet in person.”

“The likelihood is that these figures are a drop in the ocean because groomed child victims often do not report abuse, and many young people don’t even recognise what they’re experiencing as illegal.

“It’s vital that we encourage children and young people to talk about what they do online and who they communicate with. The risks involved in online contact are heightened in cases where children and young people feel they have to keep their experiences secret.

“Where you uncover inappropriate contact with a child you must report it – for every instance we know about, there may be many more children at risk.”

ChildlineAnyone looking for advice about keeping children safe online, or concerned about the safety and welfare of a child, can contact the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

Sins of the fathers: sexual abuse at a Catholic order

Published October 20, 2014 by misty534

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Eleven men who trained for the priesthood at a Yorkshire seminary have recently settled their claims of sexual abuse with the Catholic order that ran it. In the latest in our series on boarding-school abuse, Catherine Deveney hears of their decades-long struggle for justice and the damage done

The face looming towards the rent boy in the London station was familiar. A face from his past: Father John Pinkman. No punter would have guessed that the rent boy had once wanted to be a priest, too. He had spent several years at Mirfield Junior Seminary in Yorkshire which was run by the Verona Fathers, an Italian missionary order. Pinkman had abused him there, was part of the degradation that led to this place, this life. The priest disappeared into the crowd, then reappeared, highlighted by light glinting off his spectacles. The rent boy caught his eye. Pinkman looked hesitant, embarrassed, then boarded a train without speaking. The last, silent goodbye.

The “boy”, who only spent a short time in prostitution, is now in his 60s. He has never had a relationship that’s lasted longer than a few months. Never achieved in life. Never felt good about himself. “I fail because I deserve to fail,” he says. His confusion now is not that different from his 17-year-old self: a boy who had sex with men, then vomited with disgust. “Guilt and fear become part of you, something you can’t shake off. I can’t tell you what a mess I was. I was terrified of growing up, terrified of men. I was all over the place. I was like an empty shell, not knowing what direction to go in.”

He wasn’t the only one to claim abuse at Mirfield. He has never taken a case against the Verona Fathers, but in the past few months, 11 British men have settled out of court with the Order, also known as the Comboni Missionaries. At least two more cases are pending and many corroborating statements have been given to lawyers by victims who want to expose what happened, but cannot face the stress of court proceedings. Confirming the 11 settlements, the Order’s spokeswoman, a solicitor with the Catholic Church Insurance Association, stressed, “the claims were made purely on a commercial basis with no admission of liability.”

The group of 11 is powerful: unified, disciplined and determined to speak the truth. “It would be nice to change the system for the good,” says one. The weight of testimony given to the Observer – witness statements, psychologists’ reports, timelines, contemporaneous diary extracts, spoken accounts – is stark and overwhelming. The witnesses were once would-be priests – the church’s own. Little wonder that one Verona Father told an ex-pupil: “If the abuse that happened at Mirfield is ever revealed, it will destroy the Verona Fathers in the United Kingdom.”

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Mark Murray. Ben Morgan. Brian Hennessy. Frank Warner. Sean Dooley. Gerry McLaughlin. John Spencer. Victor West. Tony Smith. Jim Kirby. Kevin Scullin… A roll call of young boys. A roll call of shattered dreams. They are scattered around the world now – Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Australia, the Philippines, but all 11 attended Mirfield in the 1960s and 70s. Mark loved animals and was mesmerised when Father Fulvi, one of the Order’s missionaries, recruited him to his school using pictures of African wildlife. Ben “knew how much respect priests were afforded and wanted to be part of that lifestyle”. Brian was attracted by what he thought was goodness. “I was motivated spiritually. I felt an all-embracing desire in my bones in the same way that one is emotionally gripped and succumbs to a ‘first love’.” None became priests, though one became a brother before leaving the order. Most don’t attend church or even consider themselves Catholics any more. “I’m totally anti-religion,” says John.

At least five abusers are named in documents, but the majority of the group were abused by Father John Pinkman, Mirfield’s junior housemaster, who died of a heart attack in South Africa in 1984, aged 48; or by Father Domenico Valmaggia, the seminary’s infirmarian, who died in Italy in 2011. Had the group not settled out of court, their cases risked being time-barred. They accepted meagre compensation – some as little as £7,000 – because this was about principle and not pennies. “The guys weren’t after money,” says Matthew Blake, a lawyer for 10 of the claimants. “They wanted recognition that it happened. They wanted people to know it had been denied and that when they reported what was happening, it was turned into a matter of ‘prayer and forgiveness’.”

Mark Murray, the youngest of the group, says he had a different abuser: Father Romano Nardo. Two other witnesses have given corroborating statements against Nardo, who is still alive and living in the Order’s Mother House in Verona. Murray reported his abuse to West Yorkshire Police in 1999 and again in 2012. The Verona Fathers say they would have “strongly encouraged” Nardo to co-operate “had medical professionals not deemed him unfit to undergo questioning or travel to the UK”. For many survivors – whether abused in care homes, boarding schools or church institutions – it sometimes feels as though different parts of the establishment collude to block justice. Abuse? Get over it. Move on…

“We have conducted a thorough investigation,” says Detective Inspector Michael Brown of West Yorkshire Police, who is dealing with the case. “All legal avenues have been pursued to enforce [Nardo’s] return to the UK, but his ill health means we are unable to go through the formal procedures to extradite him.” The case, he insists, remains open and he would be keen to speak to anyone who can provide further evidence.

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Mark Murray at home in St Asaph, north Wales.

Mark says he was 14 when he first encountered Nardo. He realised instantly that Mirfield was not a route to exotic wildlife, but to intense loneliness. The men describe it as a cold, unloving environment, devoid of the nurturing that would have been appropriate for their ages. Mark sought refuge in Nardo, a young, eccentric, charismatic priest who was visiting Mirfield before going to the missions. Lonely, vulnerable boys flocked round Nardo. He told them about Jesus, about the demon of sexuality, about flagellation. His entourage was called “the God Squad”. “He did the usual grooming things,” explains Mark, “making you feel special…”

Nardo encouraged Mark to sleep in his bed, even putting a towel over the keyhole so nobody could see. Mark idealised Nardo who showed him a cross on his chest that he had carved with a sharp instrument. The wound was red, angry and crusted. “It was a sado-masochistic thing. He said pain brought you closer to God. He scratched out the cross on my chest with his finger nail. I wanted mine to be as red and as sore as his.”

Nardo’s advances become increasingly sexual. He began kissing Mark and told him about “the breath of life”. Mark was told to lie on top of him, putting his mouth over Nardo’s so that they breathed into each other. Nardo also washed him, starting with his feet in the way Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, but then encouraging him to remove his clothes so he could “purify” his entire body. Before long, it progressed to Mark washing Nardo. “He would make me stand at a mirror in front of a sink. I would be washing him and he would tell me to close my eyes – and that’s when he would be ejaculating into the sink.”

Perhaps the cruellest thing about abuse is that it takes a child’s limited conscience and programmes it with future turmoil when their understanding matures. By the time the man looks back on the boy, a whole network of guilt has been formed. Mark, who is married with two children, has battled post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicidal ideation. “I have had years to deal with this and the hardest part is that in a childish way, I thought I was in love with him. I was so infatuated and vulnerable that I would have done anything for him.”

When a priest spotted Mark leaving Nardo’s bedroom, Nardo was moved immediately to the missions. Initially, Mark was devastated. A couple of years later, finally understanding what had really happened, he was racked with fear. “I was terrified I, too, would become an abuser. I would wake each morning and think, is this the day that I will harm a child?” The best thing to do, he decided, was join the Order. If his worst nightmare came true, he would be protected – just as Nardo had been.

He spent two years as a Verona Fathers Brother in Uganda, but couldn’t stay. “I was attracted to women. I wanted a relationship.” He left in 1981, married, and began studying counselling. In the early years, his wife had several miscarriages. “I was devastated and yet there was a strange tinge of relief that was hard to understand. I thought, thank God I won’t start abusing.” It was only when he listened to a lecturer specialising in clerical sex abuse that he had the courage to ask a question. Was it true the abused inevitably became abusers? No, said the specialist.

“Something thumped me in the chest very hard. In the heart. I was gasping for breath. It was a big turning point and I realised I had to tell someone.” Despite the relief, the legacy of abuse remained. He loved his wife, but sex was tainted by disturbing flashbacks of Nardo that left him feeling ashamed. He sometimes withdrew emotionally and physically, disappearing without explanation, and he was twice admitted to psychiatric units.

He first contacted the Verona Fathers in 1997. They withdrew Nardo from the missions, promising he would never again be allowed near children – but he remained a priest. Most importantly to Mark, they never apologised, which eventually made him turn to the courts. In 2012, when he spotted an online picture of Nardo saying Mass publicly, and even delivering a sermon, he felt this showed the extent of the Order’s contempt and cover up. It triggered a breakdown and his prolonged absence from work resulted in him losing his job as a project worker with Barnardo’s.

“I just broke down. I went away to kill myself and my wife didn’t know where I was. I had a bottle of whisky and a load of pills. But I didn’t do it. I have children. I couldn’t.” What he did was set up a blog,veronafathersmirfield.com, to encourage other testimonies. Gradually, a group formed.

Observer Magazine Kevin Scullin. Photographed in Croydon October 2014

Kevin Scullin, who was abused in the seminary’s infirmary, says Mirfield was a ‘devil’s playground’.

Last month, Mark received a settlement of £30,000. It hasn’t helped. “It makes it worse, the 30 pieces of silver. You feel empty. It’s ‘Now, go away and shut up.’ They are not interested in truth and justice. People want the truth to come out and money doesn’t bring the truth. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make up for anything.” People say he won’t get an apology, but he’s determined. “I will get one, even if it means going to Italy to talk to the Order.”

And what of the others on the roll call? Brian, abused by Valmaggia, married but suffered confusion over his sexual orientation. He is now living with a male partner. Compensation: £10,000. John, abused by Pinkman, retired early with stress. “It caused me a lot of psychological damage. I suppressed all my feelings and found it very difficult to trust or have relationships.” Compensation: £7,000. Sean, abused by Pinkman, married three times. “It affected me deeply and I have never really spoken about it to anyone until recently.” And Frank, abused by Pinkman but also Valmaggia when he went to the infirmary with a cut knee and was ordered to remove his clothes, says simply: “It ruined my life.”

Then there’s Jim, a successful, gregarious businessman who dreamed constantly about his abuse by both men and became an alcoholic, now recovering. And Tony, who turned to drugs after Pinkman abused him and has difficulty controlling his anger. Then Kevin, abused by Valmaggia, who describes Mirfield as a “devil’s playground”. And Gerry, who told his lawyer that the £8,000 for his abuse by Pinkman was so small that he would have been better concentrating on his business. “You’d have been better working in McDonald’s,” retorted his lawyer.

What price a life? Very little. The amounts paid are “disgustingly small,” says Kathleen Hallisey of AO Advocates who act for Mark. “Despite the publicity surrounding Pope Francis’s commission on abuse, our experience is that they are denying in every case and people need to know that. People think it’s great that the Vatican is finally recognising this issue, but that’s not trickling down to litigation. They are still fighting every case.”

Betrayal is more acute when wrapped in pious rhetoric. Pinkman used to lurk round the showers, pulling back the curtains to stare at the boys’ bodies. He called them to his room for “facts of life” chats that involved fondling their genitals. Valmaggia used the infirmary for his prey, keeping them for days on end and subjecting them to twice daily genital “examinations”. But their priestly garb confused the boys.

When Pinkman told his victims to take off their trousers, most obeyed. “As I would have obeyed any of the other instructions I was given daily,” says one. “I had no idea what he was doing, but had been taught for so long that due to his priesthood, it couldn’t have been bad or wrong.” Pinkman insisted that he “clean” his victim’s genitals and the priest still haunts his victim. “Even from his grave he exerts some power over me. I think I would be sick if I saw him and would want to punch his lights out. I am still afraid of him.”

For Brian, it is Valmaggia’s intense blue eyes he remembers. “He would kneel on the floor in front of me and masturbate me while having a broken form of conversation with me,” he told me by email. The breach of trust has haunted his life. “Had I not served Father Valmaggia as an altar boy? Had I not watched in wonderment as he raised the Host above his head whilst he chanted, ‘Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus’! Had I not longed to participate in that great priesthood?”

Frank believes the two men knew of each other’s activities. He once fled Valmaggia’s advances, leaving his shoes behind. Soon after, he was getting changed after football when Pinkman said: “And don’t leave your shoes this time.” “I knew then that they communicated.”

The effects of abuse last a lifetime. There are many handicaps, but perhaps one of the most disabling is the inability to form meaningful relationships. Most of the group have experienced serious emotional and sexual difficulties. “I have never felt comfortable with the sexual act,” says one. “It’s associated with guilt.” “I feel as though I have let my wife down,” says another. “ I know she was sad and sensed quite early my lack of sexual desire.”

Had the Verona Fathers acted on disclosures throughout the 1960s, many cases could have been prevented. In 1964, Joe approached Father Fulvi to tell him of his abuse by Pinkman. “There was no care about the individuals abused, only loyalty to the organisation and vows of silence.” In 1965, Frank raised his concerns with three Verona Fathers. “I was informed each time that it was unbecoming and sinful to question the intention or action of any Verona Father.” In 1966, Tony says he informed the seminary’s rector. In 1967, Jim told Father Fulvi who said he would deal with it, but he must remember that Father Pinkman may have been to confession… in which case it was forgiveness, no questions asked.

In 1967, Ben discovered that Father Bresciani, head of the Order in the UK, was to visit Mirfield. He and another boy went individually to tell their stories of abuse. Both received the same treatment. “I went into the room and introduced myself to the Provincial who was sitting behind a big desk, just staring at me,” recalls Ben. “He said nothing, not a word. I told him what had happened, in the most accurate language I could muster, and still he sat in silence. I was confused, but also very nervous. When I finished my speech, I said goodbye and thank you.” Nothing was done. Individuals who complained were often expelled shortly after.

Both Valmaggia and Pinkman were removed in the late-60s when boys united to give testimony. Francis Barnes, then school captain, organised a group to confront the rector, Father Fraser, about Pinkman in 1968. “I became aware of how wide his web had spread,” says Francis. Fraser broke down in tears. “I think he realised he had to do something.”

Francis never entered the priesthood. “The abuse was widespread, the whole culture. I knew celibacy wasn’t right, that it was producing people who would veer in that direction. Even at that time, I knew something was rotten in the state of Denmark.” He only discovered the Mirfield website recently and was deeply affected. “Back then, I thought, thank Christ it’s over with. It won’t happen again. To find out those bastards allowed it to continue.”

Abuse doesn’t end when the abuser stops. The former rent boy only discovered Pinkman was dead recently. It was obvious, yet shocking. He is articulate, sensitive. It was the verbal abuse that crushed his spirit, he says. At least Pinkman was sometimes kind; it was part of the grooming process . He has seen many psychiatrists, but has never discussed Mirfield. “I wouldn’t cope with going there.”

In a statement to the Observer, the Order, using its latest figures, said: “Considering the numbers of boys who were educated at St Peter’s, the Verona Fathers absolutely do not accept that claims from 12 individuals demonstrate a culture of abuse at the seminary. There are priests who are currently members of the Verona Fathers who were at St Peter’s in the 1960s and 1970s and who never witnessed or heard of any abuse.”

The statement concludes with the current head of the Order in the UK, Father Martin Devenish, saying: “We know that anyone subjected to abusive behaviour will experience suffering and we are dismayed to think such suffering may have been caused to youngsters who attended our junior seminary. If that is the case, we are deeply sorry to anyone who has been hurt in this way and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

For the rent boy, prayers are too late. He’s had a lifetime of self-loathing. “I have never moved on,” he says. “You just get stuck there emotionally.” His voice breaks and he weeps quietly. “I just want to go back and make things right,” he says. “But I can’t. It’s all gone.”

Some names have been changed

by Catherine Deveney

Parents of teenager who threw herself in front of train hit out at council’s failure to help her after sexual abuse

Published October 16, 2014 by misty534
  • Scott and Sue Stroman said Haringey Council had ‘questions to answer’ 
  • It comes after their 16-year-old daughter Mary was killed in January 2014
  • They told court she was subjected to ‘terrible sexual trauma’ by older men
  • It led to deterioration in mental health and she was diagnosed with PTSD
  • They also criticised 13-month delay in funding her therapeutic placement
  • Coroner ruled Mary Stroman took her own life after being struck by train 

The parents of a teenager who threw herself in front of a train while mourning the death of her classmate have hit out at council’s failure to help her after she was sexually abused.

Scott and Sue Stroman said Haringey Council, in North London, had ‘questions to answer’ over the death of 16-year-old daughter Mary while at her inquest today.

The coroner ruled that the schoolgirl took her own life after she was struck by a train near Trowbridge in Wiltshire close to the residential unit she had been staying at.

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Her parents told the court their daughter was subjected to a ‘terrible sexual trauma’ involving an older man or men, which led to a serious deterioration in her mental health.

The couple said: ‘Rather than apportion blame, it is our wish to bring attention to these issues in the hope that other children in similar circumstances can benefit.

‘Mary herself would never reveal the details of what happened to her and without her co-operation the Metropolitan Police felt they could not pursue an investigation, even though we were able to provide times, dates, physical evidence from phones and computers and even clothing.

‘It was and is a cause of continuing frustration and sorrow to us that nothing could be done to try and identify the perpetrators of these crimes – both for Mary’s sake and for that of other children who may similarly be at risk.’

They also criticised the 13-month delay in Haringey Council funding a therapeutic residential placement for Mary.

‘The continual delay seriously impacted her mental health, providing her with constant false hopes, repeated disappointments and a deterioration of trust – leading at times to despair,’ they said.

‘In the meantime, Mary had suffered many further months of grief and mistrust, had been subjected to a further series of assessments and had been assigned a changing series of social workers, forcing her to “tell her story” over and over. She was tired and tormented and lost confidence in the fact there was a way forward for her.

‘Though we feel the individuals who dealt with Mary from Haringey social services were sympathetic and professional, we found the overall quality of service that we received was very seriously lacking. The workings of the machine and bureaucracy were insufficient.’

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Mr and Mrs Stroman added: ‘It is a terrifying prospect that our beautiful daughter and other children like her could ever choose suicide as a potential solution to life’s challenges.

‘As we begin to come to terms with life without Mary our hope now is that lessons can be learnt from her tragic story. She was a much-loved and unique member of our family and we miss her terribly.’

Mary was the youngest of five children of Mr Stroman, a renowned jazz musician, composer and conductor, who is one of the most prominent figures in London’s jazz scene, and his wife, a nurse.

The two-day inquest in Salisbury heard that the schoolgirl killed herself on January 15 this year – two days after the inquest had begun into the death of her friend Tallulah Wilson.

The 15-year-old died at London’s St Pancras station in October 2012 after she was also struck by a train.

The girls were classmates at St Marylebone School in Central London and played together in the orchestra where Mary played piano and viola.

Mrs Stroman said: ‘Tallulah played on Mary’s mind and if we were going through King’s Cross Mary would say “This is where Tallulah died”.’

At the time of Mary’s death she was a pupil at the Tumblewood Community School in Westbury, Wiltshire, which is a residential school for adolescent girls with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

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The decline in her health had begun after she told friends she had been sexually abused and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after several incidents of self-harming.

The inquest heard that the driver of the First Great Western service from Portsmouth to Bristol Temple Meads saw a figure on the railway line but was unable to stop in time.

A post mortem examination found Mary had died instantaneously from multiple injuries.

Wiltshire and Swindon coroner David Ridley concluded Mary had taken her own life while suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder but insisted there was no evidence to link her death to Tallulah’s.

‘I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that it is entirely appropriate to make a finding of fact that Mary suffered severe mental trauma, more likely than not as a consequence of previous episodes of sexual abuse,’ he said.

‘However, due to Mary’s reluctance to disclose these details, details of exactly when and where these incidents occurred are unclear but I am satisfied she suffered mental trauma as a consequence of these episodes.

‘I make no finding that anyone ought to have known that Mary was going to take her own life. Tragically, I fear what happened was spontaneous.’

The coroner said the notes Mary left behind in her room did not mention Tallulah at all but did refer to the ‘perpetrators of abuse’.

‘Although they were friends at school there is no evidence before me that allows me to make a finding of fact that these two deaths were linked,’ Mr Ridley said.

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‘In my judgment any link would have to be as a result of pure speculation. We will never know what happened and what triggered Mary to take the action she did.

‘Possibly it was a flashback in relation to the post-traumatic stress disorder but there is no evidence before me and it would be pure speculation.

‘Whatever triggered her actions it sadly resulted in the violent and tragic death of Mary.’

Mr Ridley added that he would be sharing his conclusions with both Haringey Council and the Met Police.

After the inquest, Tumblewood Community School released a statement, which expressed ‘sincere condolences’ to Mary’s family for her ‘tragic’ death.

It said: ‘Mary was a popular and bright member of the community with a good sense of humour.

‘She was an accomplished artist and musician and had an affinity with animals, especially horses. Mary is greatly missed by staff and children.’

A Haringey Council spokesman said: ‘This was a tragic incident and our thoughts are with Mary’s family at this difficult time.

‘This was a complex and difficult case and we worked closely with Mary’s family on decisions relating to her care.

‘We’d urge anyone affected by the issues raised by this case to speak to family and friends or seek confidential support from counselling professionals.

‘It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.’

  • For confidential support call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or see http://www.samaritans.org.

Gemma Mullin

Burton youngsters at ‘major’ risk from online grooming according to sexual abuse charity

Published October 3, 2014 by misty534

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A STARK warning has been issued to parents after an abuse charity revealed that a ‘large majority’ of youngsters in Burton have encountered some form of online sexual grooming.

Bosses from the Sexual Abuse Rape Advice Centre (SARAC) contacted the Mail after seeing an astonishing rise in the number of children across the area who have been approached on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter by adults trying to entice them into a sexual relationship.

SARAC manager Tracey Hardie decided to issue the desperate plea to children and parents to become ‘extra vigilant’ after watching a television documentary on a man named Stinson Hunter who poses as underage girls online in a bid to try to entrap adults setting out to groom them.

She told the Mail: “I think the documentary shone a light on just how big an issue the online sexual grooming of youngsters is.

“However, what people do not understand is how big of an issue this is in the Burton area.

“We are dealing with around 31 youngsters at the moment aged between 13 and 18 who have been involved in some form of grooming – five of which specifically related to online grooming.

“What astonishes us is the ease of online grooming and how social media has made it even easier.

“Another astonishing issue is, during visits to schools across Burton, how the majority of youngsters in the area have encountered some form of online sexual grooming.

“We are now trying to urge both children and parents to be extra vigilant to make sure that they or their children do not fall victim.

“We are finding that if we get to speak to youngsters and educate them, then they are very savvy and know what to look out for.

“What is clear is that a lot of young people are encountering this issue on a daily basis and we all have a major role to play in stamping it out.

“The internet, smartphones and social media all open the world up for youngsters today but, what we have to remember is that it also opens youngsters up to the world.”

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of grooming is urged to call SARAC on 01283 517185

Burton News

I’m not a paedophile, I’m asexual – but I did shower village children with gifts of clothes, iPhones and sports gear, says BA pilot accused of having sex with young boys on far-eastern stopovers

Published September 29, 2014 by misty534

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Frere was arrested in November last year after police raided his former home in Dorset, finding pornographic videos and indecent pictures on his computer, and children’s clothing in a bedroom drawer 

Bartle Frere allegedly arranged to meet up with boys in Chennai, India 

  • British Airways Pilot also abused boys in UK, the court heard 
  • He claims he has no sexual desire towards ‘anyone or anything’
  • The 50-year-old denies all 25 charges against him

A British Airways pilot accused of sex offences against underage boys has denied he is a paedophile, a court heard.

Bartle Frere, 50, is said to have used his job with British Airways to meet boys in India and lavish them with money and gifts.

The bachelor, of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is also accused of a string of sex charges against two boys in the UK, who it is alleged he abused after paying them to do odd jobs around his house.

Giving evidence for the first time in his trial at Bournemouth Crown Court, Frere described himself as ‘asexual’ – saying he had no interest in sex at all with either men or women.

‘I’ve never really had any preferences one way or the other,’ Frere told jurors.

‘I’ve always had a low sex drive. It’s never something I have required or desired in my life.

‘I don’t find myself being sexually attracted to anyone or anything.’

David Fisher QC, defending Frere, asked the defendant whether he was interested sexually in young boys.

Frere replied: ‘No, no doubt at all. Sexual attraction would give arousal and I have never had any arousal through contact with boys.’

Mr Fisher also asked Frere about his ‘interest in young boys’.

‘I find their company stimulating. I enjoy the banter you can have with them,’ Frere told the jury.

‘You can get laughs quite easily with youngsters and with adults you have to work much harder to get laughs. The energy they produce is stimulating.

‘I also find young boys aesthetically pleasing to look at but I don’t find them sexually attractive in any way.

‘Some people find Ming vases pleasing to look at. I find young women pleasing to look at but in a different sense.’

Frere added: ‘I don’t automatically avert my gaze if a youngster walks in the room – it’s difficult to pin it down.’

But Frere told the court he felt ‘guilty’ for not providing his parents with grandchildren and having to come home after work to an empty house.

‘In some ways I regret not having a family,’ he said.

The court heard that Frere worked for British Airways for 25 years – rising to the rank of captain – until leaving in February this year.

He had gained his private pilot’s licence as a teenager and later qualified as a commercial pilot when he joined British Airways in 1989.

Frere was arrested in November last year after police raided his former home in Dorset, finding pornographic videos and indecent pictures on his computer, and children’s clothing in a bedroom drawer.

Further computer investigations uncovered Frere’s regular social network contact with teenage boys in India.

The defendant told the court that he found India a fascinating place and would regularly take monthly British Airways flights to Chennai, spending rest days visiting the nearby fishing village of Nochi Kuppam.

He explained that he became friends with village families because of his ‘passion’ for photography – taking pictures of both children and adults.

‘I took an interest in the children and they took an interest in me,’ he said.

Frere said that he bought them clothes and gifts, including iPhones and sports equipment – sometimes spending up to £200 on them during a trip.

‘They were asking for money, which I didn’t like giving,’ he said.

‘For the cost of me eating in the crew hotel I found I could feed about a dozen children in a local restaurant.

‘If I was there for several days I might spend a couple of hundred pounds, maybe less. I am in a position of being very well paid and don’t have to support a family – it’s money I can afford.’

The jury was also shown a film Frere had made during one of his trips to Nochi Kuppam of a boat trip he took with local boys and adults.

The video, which had the Bollywood soundtrack ‘Crazy Kiya Re’ accompanying it, showed boys jumping from the boat into the sea and playing with a body board Frere had brought from the UK for them.

Frere denies a total of 25 sex charges.

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The defendant told the court that he found India a fascinating place and would regularly take monthly British Airways flights to Chennai. Pictured, the city’s Kapaleeswarer Siva Temple

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Frere denies all 25 charges against him as his trial at Bournemouth Crown Court, pictured, continues

He is accused of five offences of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, which relates to his alleged conduct with boys in India.

Against the first alleged victim in the UK, he is charged with five counts of indecent assault; one count of indecency with a child and two charges of serious sexual assault.

Frere faces accusations against a second UK victim. He is charged with one count of sexual activity with a child and one charge of attempting to record a person doing a private act.

The defendant also faces six charges of possessing indecent photographs of a child and four charges of making indecent photographs of a child.

The trial continues.

by Sam Webb