NewsTue Feb 19, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
US School Districts Cover Up Teacher Sex Abuse with Confidential Agreements and Payouts
By Hilary White
SALEM, Oregon, February 19, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An exposé by the Oregonian daily newspaper shows that US teachers who sexually abuse their students are often given a pass into other teaching jobs as a cost-saving measure.
A search for the phrase "sex abuse cover-up" in the Google internet search engine produces news reports almost exclusively focused on the Catholic Church. But advocates for sex-abuse victims have long known that the problem of persons placed in authority abusing minors is far from being restricted to clergy.
The Oregonian reported yesterday that in some US school districts teachers found to be abusing students are being paid off with letters of recommendation, cash settlements and health insurance in confidential agreements, in return for a quiet immediate resignation. In the agreements, district officials promise not to tell potential employers of the teacher’s past misconduct.
Kenneth John Cushing was a recipient of one of these pacts, and left Claggett Creek Middle School in 2004 after allegedly molesting some of his female students. The Oregonian obtained a copy of the deal in which school officials promised not to reveal Cushing’s behaviour to prospective future employers.
The paper says it has obtained 47 similar confidential settlement agreements between district officials and teachers.
The document said school officials would mention "personal reasons" for Cushing’s resignation and make "no reference to this agreement". Cushing’s license was eventually revoked in 2005 by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.
Another teacher, Stephen John Koller, who left his job at Illinois Valley High School, was found to be living with a 17 year-old student. Three Rivers School District offered Koller $10,000 in severance, six months of health insurance and a letter that said, "He is personally committed to his work and will work extra hours to be successful."
The paper reports that in the past five years, "nearly half" of Oregon teachers disciplined for sexual misconduct left their schools with such pacts. The practice is well known throughout the country, with officials nicknaming it "passing the trash".
Out of 767 cases of teacher misconduct over the past ten years 165 cases were sex-related offences, making them the most common.
The Oregonian writes that confidential agreements came into use because of economic pressure, and officials admit that the agreements are the cheapest and fastest way of getting a problem teacher out of a particular school. One of the deterrents to firing teachers who are caught molesting students outright is expensive court battles with the unions. Keeping a teacher on paid leave while the teacher is under investigation can also be costly.
Hillsboro Superintendent Jeremy Lyon told the paper, "The whole world of reference checks has become a legal arena. You are in a precarious place if you say anything positive or negative about a past employee."
The paper cites several systemic reasons for the problem of teachers abusing students, including enormous backlogs of investigations that can extend up to a year, inconsistent reporting methods, inadequate background checks on potential teachers, and the fact that older teens are not protected under state laws.
But victims’ rights advocates say that such agreements undermine the ability of victims to come to terms with abuse, and perpetuate the problem. The Oregonian quotes Mary Jo McGrath, a school law attorney and sexual abuse expert in Santa Barbara, California, who said, "The secret deals are one of the main things that keep the wheels greased on the machinery that keeps passing around the molesters."
The secret deal solution may be short lived, however, as victims sue. Similar deals in California were dropped by school boards when the state Supreme Court ruled that districts can be sued for having them. In the 1997 case of a 13-year-old student who was sexually molested by a middle school vice principal in Livingston Union School District, the Court ruled that the girl could sue the three districts who had previously employed the man for fraud and negligent misrepresentation after all three districts had offered him confidential agreements.
In 2004, a report from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights revealed that teachers are more likely than priests to sexually abuse minors. The report said that previous studies from the early 1980’s to 1991 showed that one in four girls and one in six boys is sexually abused by a teacher by age 18. Another revealed that 17.7 per cent of males who graduated from high school and 82.2 per cent of females reported sexual harassment by faculty or staff during their years in school.
To read the original Oregonian report, see:
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life.
“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September.
“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote.
Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds.
The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again.
After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test.
“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five.
“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”
“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.
Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.”
“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”
“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.”
“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.”
“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born.
The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well.
UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react
GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads.
The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution.
“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.
“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.
But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it.
The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”
Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms.
“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added.
Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born.
“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.
“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.
Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’
DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.
"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.
That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.
“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."
Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.
All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.
Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.
On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”
Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.
At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.
But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.