sexual abuse & assault | KERA News

sexual abuse & assault

An annual survey that asks Americans about crimes they've experienced showed that the rate at which those surveyed said they had been raped or sexually assaulted nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018.

The 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), released Tuesday, is managed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Justice Department, and asks people if they've been victims of crimes — even if they didn't report them to police.

The University of Texas says it has developed the first-ever guide to help police departments and communities notify victims about results of their sexual assault kits.

Part II in a four-part series on why sexual assault cases are so hard to prosecute in Austin.

Warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault.

Sexual assault is a crime that can happen to anyone, but women are twice as likely to be victimized in Texas. In a 2015 study, UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault found 1 in 5 men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. But for women, it's 2 in 5.

Part I in a four-part series on why sexual assault cases are so hard to prosecute in Austin.

Warning: This story contains a graphic description of sexual assault.

When I first met with Marina Garrett, she was preparing to graduate from UT Austin. Like most seniors, she said she was nervous but excited. It was an especially significant moment for Garrett because, for a long time, she didn’t think it would happen.

Jacob Villanueva / The Texas Tribune

A top official at the Texas Department of Public Safety has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, according to Travis County court records. He was fired the same day.

Six years ago, a newly minted graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was working three part-time jobs and adjusting to life not as a student. She stopped in for a drink one night at a restaurant in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, where she got into a conversation with a guy. The next thing she remembers clearly was awakening at home the next morning, aching, covered in bruises, with a swollen lip.

From Texas Standard:

Three named plaintiffs launched a class action lawsuit last year against the City of Austin, Travis County and several local officials, claiming they failed to adequately investigate and prosecute their sexual assault cases.

Julia Reihs/KUT

Horror stories of untested, long-forgotten and even moldy sexual assault evidence kits have been a problem in Texas for years. And those forgotten kits have been on Becky O’Neal’s mind for a long time.

Associated Press

The Texas couple that accused top U.S. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of mishandling a sexual misconduct case involving his former deputy is denying his office's claims against them, saying the church is mistreating them the way it mistreats other victims.

Representatives of a top leader of the U.S. Catholic Church say he acted "swiftly and justly" to the allegations made by a woman who claims his former deputy lured her into a sexual relationship.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston issued a statement Tuesday in response to an Associated Press investigation of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is leading the U.S. church's response to its sex abuse scandal.

When Cardinal Daniel DiNardo first met Laura Pontikes in his wood-paneled conference room in December 2016, the leader of the U.S. Catholic Church's response to its sex abuse scandal said all the right things.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that will aim to eliminate the backlog of thousands of untested rape kits in Texas.

This Dec. 12, 2013, photo shows a composite of three different windows designed for the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary MacGorman Chapel in Fort Worth. Former Texas judge Paul Pressler is second from right.
Paul Moseley / Courtesy Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP

Stained-glass windows honoring some religious leaders who helped shift the Southern Baptist Convention to a more conservative stance have been removed from the MacGorman Chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

Bishop Edward J. Burns during the diocese's afternoon press conference at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Oak Lawn, across the street from the diocese, in response to Wednesday's police raid.
Stella Chávez / KERA News

The Dallas Police Department executed a warrant Wednesday at the Catholic Diocese of Dallas to search for documentation and data as part of an investigation into child sex abuse allegations.

Bishop Edward J. Burns says the diocese has been cooperating during the investigation.

In this Friday, March 22, 2019 photo, Allan Votaw, 66, pauses as he recalls and describes the years of abuse he suffered at the Cal Farley's Boys Ranch during an interview at this home in Kingston, Okla.
Associated Press

When Allan Votaw stepped onto Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in Texas in 1957, the 5-year-old hoped he and his two brothers — ages 3½ and 6 — had found a home. Instead, the now-66-year-old says, they found a "horror house" where sadistic staff members whipped children until they were bruised and bloody and children were molested by older kids.

Since then more men have come forward, but the reckoning some had hoped for hasn't happened. 

Pope Francis has issued new rules obligating priests and nuns to report incidents of abuse or cover-ups to church authorities, saying, "The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful."

The sweeping new regulations are Francis' latest effort to combat sexual abuse involving the church, a long-running and painful issue that has cast a shadow on his papacy.

A hallway at the 24-hour Courtney's SAFE Place clinic at Turning Point rape crisis center in Plano, Texas. The clinic was designed to help patients feel calm and supported.
Courtesy Courtney's SAFE Place

The Turning Point rape crisis center in Plano is designed to be a place where survivors of sexual assault feel safe.

From Texas Standard:

Many more women and young children are migrating to the U.S. than in years past. But the academic research about their experiences is limited.

Irving-Based Boy Scouts Of America Could Be Hit With More Sex Abuse Claims

Apr 24, 2019
In this July 31, 2005 file photo, Boy Scouts salute as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the Boy Scout Jamboree in Bowling Green, Va. In 2019, financial threats to the Boy Scouts have intensified.
Associated Press

The lawyers' ads on the internet aggressively seeking clients to file sexual abuse lawsuits give a taste of what lies ahead this year for the Boy Scouts of America: potentially the most fateful chapter in its 109-year history.

Texas House Passes Bill To Tackle Backlog Of Rape Kits

Apr 17, 2019

The Texas House unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that aims to tackle the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits. House Bill 8 requires an audit of untested rape kits to determine the number, status and location of all rape kits in the state.

Every year the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio performs Classic Albums Live. The teenage symphony recreates albums from the past with local bands and singers. But the concert in March 2019 comes amidst controversy.

Updated 6:10 p.m., March 5 

Lawyers for a woman who says she was sexually assaulted in Austin are asking a court to force Travis County prosecutors to answer questions and provide evidence after learning of a prosecutor’s phone call that they say defames the woman.

Never in the history of the Roman Catholic Church has a pope ordered bishops from around the world to come together and consider how many priests abuse children sexually and how many church officials cover for the abusers. The scandal of clergy sex abuse has deep roots in church history, but church leaders have been notoriously reluctant to acknowledge it and deal with the consequences.

Congress is keeping watch and the military has introduced prevention programs. Yet sexual assaults at military service academies keep rising. The leaders of those academies got an earful when they testified before a House Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday.

Forensic analyst India Henry uses an ultraviolet light to look for evidence of semen on a pair of panties from a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Houston.
Associated Press

The 86th Texas Legislature is underway, and one group of state lawmakers say they are determined to make sure public safety needs in rural areas are better met, especially when it comes to the state’s backlog of rape evidence kits.  

The Southern Baptist Convention of Texas on Monday expressed sorrow over newspaper reports that more than 700 Southern Baptists have been sexually abused by church leaders or volunteers over the past 20 years.

Convention Communications Director Gary Ledbetter said it's horrible what happened in reference to the abuse reported by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.

From Texas Standard:

The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News uncovered hundreds of Southern Baptist Convention, or SBC, church leaders and volunteers who faced sexual misconduct allegations in a recent investigation, “Abuse of Faith.” Reporters found that church leaders often knew about the abuse and did little, if anything, to stop it.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Downtown Dallas
Shutterstock

Across Texas, Catholic dioceses are releasing lists of priests and laity suspected of sexual abuse since 1950. It's being done with the goal of restoring trust to a Catholic Church that has been rocked for years, in Texas and around the world, by allegations of sexual misconduct and cover-ups.


On Thursday, 15 Texas Catholic dioceses plan to release a list of bishops, priests and other Catholic clergy who, according to the church itself, have been "credibly accused of sexually assaulting minors."

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