Thursday, August 1, 2013

Religious order files reveal decades of LA abuse

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? In therapy sessions, the priest confessed the shocking details he'd kept hidden for years: He had molested more than 100 boys, including his 5-year-old brother. He had sex with male prostitutes, and frequented gay strip clubs.

The admissions of the Rev. Ruben Martinez are included among nearly 2,000 pages of secret files unsealed Wednesday that were kept on priests, brothers and nuns who belonged to religious orders but were accused of child molestation while working within the Los Angeles archdiocese.

The papers, which were released under the terms of a $660 million settlement agreement reached in 2007, are the first glimpse at what religious orders knew about the men and women they posted in Roman Catholic schools and parishes in the Los Angeles area. The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests who were accused of sexual abuse, but the full picture of the problem remained elusive without the orders' records. Several dozen more files are expected to be released by the fall.

The documents cover five different religious orders that employed 10 priests or religious brothers and two nuns who were all accused in civil lawsuits of molesting children. Among them, the accused had 21 alleged victims between the 1950s and the 1980s.

Some of the files released Wednesday, including those of the nuns, don't mention sexual abuse at all, and others appear to have large gaps in time and missing documents. The release included documents from the Oblates, the Marianists, the Benedictines and two orders for religious sisters.

That the files don't reflect some of the alleged abuse doesn't mean it didn't happen, said Ray Boucher, lead attorney for some abuse victims. "Much of this went unreported. You're talking about kids that were terrorized and frightened in so many different ways, with no place and no one to turn to."

At more than 500 pages, Martinez's file is among the most complete, and it paints a devastating picture of a troubled and repressed child who later joined the priesthood to satisfy a domineering and devout father.

The Los Angeles archdiocese settled eight lawsuits over Martinez's actions in 2007, but had little documentation on him in its own files even though the priest worked in its parishes for years in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, his order file includes graphic details described in therapy notes and psychiatric evaluations. It also reveals the years of effort ? and tens of thousands of dollars ? the Oblates spent trying to cure him of his self-admitted pedophilia as it shuttled him between programs, including inpatient treatment.

In 1965, Martinez took his final vows for a religious order called the U.S. Province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a nearly 200-year-old Catholic organization with roots in France. In 1969, he was ordained as a priest and assigned by his order to a small parish in Brawley, Calif.

In a 1993 psychiatric report ? one of several such evaluations done between 1991 and 2005 by various treatment programs ? the priest admitted to molesting children beginning in 1970, when he began playing "giddy up" games with young boys on his lap. In the documents, Martinez says he stopped "direct sexual contact" with boys after a mother complained to a pastor in 1982 and that he stopped touching boys altogether after another complaint in 1986.

It's unclear whether his religious order or the archdiocese was aware of those complaints, but around the same time as the first complaint, Martinez began weekly therapy sessions. He entered a counseling program for people with sexual compulsions after the second complaint in 1986.

In 1991, he received five months of inpatient psychological treatment from a center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico that specialized in treating troubled priests.

Upon his release, Martinez was assigned to a tiny parish in the remote town of Westmorland, Calif., in the far southeastern corner of the state. While there, he would drive miles to San Diego to pick up male prostitutes, according to his file.

He was removed from parish ministry in 1993, enrolled in a sex offender program and sent to live and work at the order's California headquarters in Oakland after another complaint surfaced from his past. For the rest of his career, he filled administrative roles.

Calls to the U.S. Province of the Oblates and emails to two attorneys representing Martinez and the three other Oblate priests whose files were released were not returned. Attorneys for the Benedictines and Marianists and a representative from the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus also did not return calls.

Carolina Guevara, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles archdiocese, did not address the current file release specifically but said religious orders are expected to make sure the priests they present for ministry in the archdiocese don't have any history of sex abuse.

One man who sued over Martinez's abuse told The Associated Press that the priest molested children after he was assigned to his hometown parish in Wilmington, a working-class city south of Los Angeles, in 1972. The man, now 50, requested anonymity because he is well-known in his professional life and has not spoken publicly about his case before. The AP does not publish the names of victims of sexual abuse without their consent.

"He would have us wrestle each other and then wrestle with him, which means we'd get down into our skivvies and he'd take pictures of us. He was always taking pictures," the man said. "I just remember the smell of the old Polaroid flash cubes. He would go through them like crazy."

The man received a settlement in 2007 from the archdiocese. Martinez was never charged criminally; most of his alleged abuses weren't reported until years later.

The man said Martinez always had a group of young boys around him and would take them to see R-rated movies and on group trips. One summer day, he recalled, the priest took six boys to a local amusement park, but stopped on the way at an apartment where another man lived. Martinez and the man went inside with one of the boys and left the other five in the car for several hours. When the trio came back, the boy was sobbing and didn't stop for hours.

Martinez, now 72, has a most recent address at the Oblate Mission House in Oakland, Calif. No one answered the door there and a call was not returned on Wednesday. A receptionist at a Missouri retreat home for troubled priests ? another possible place where Martinez could be living ? would not say if he was there.

In 2003, after a decade in at the order's California headquarters, Martinez was moved to the Oblates' offices in Washington, D.C., where he worked answering phones and in the archives. There, his files show, he was reprimanded for making off-color, sexual jokes that offended several women and, later, for looking at sexually suggestive pictures of young boys on the Internet and downloading a floppy disk filled with "references to topics dealing with the gay lifestyle." He also marched in a gay pride parade.

"I don't know who else has time to monitor him, or to what 'safe' place we could assign him," the Rev. Charles Banks, the vicar provincial and director of personnel for the Oblates wrote in an exasperated memo in 2003.

The file shows that Martinez was sent to the Missouri retreat home for troubled priests in 2005. In a psychiatric assessment dated that same year, Martinez said he hadn't had sexual contact with a child in 23 years and had learned to control his impulses. The same report notes that at age 13, Martinez sexually molested his little brother and went on to molest "about 100 male minors" ? a detail also included in several others therapy evaluations in the file.

"It has not been easy to face what I did, to admit it and to talk about it with others," Martinez wrote to the order's provincial in 2006. "I have had to deal with depression, self-hatred, the inability and unwillingness to forgive myself, and the desire and tendency to isolate."


Associated Press Writers Sarah Parvini and Lisa Leff in Oakland contributed to this report.


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Monday, March 18, 2013

U.S. soldier accused of Afghan killings faces "sanity" review

By Laura L. Myers

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Doctors opened a medical review Sunday on a U.S. soldier charged with killing 16 civilians, most of them women and children, near his Army post in Afghanistan in an effort to determine his state of mind at the time of the killings and ability to stand trial.

The review, known in the military as a "sanity board," will be conducted by three doctors at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and will be completed by May 1, according to a U.S. Army spokesman.

The hearing started on Sunday morning and is expected to continue for several days, base spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Gary Dangerfield said.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Robert Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan accused of gunning down the villagers in cold blood during two rampages through their family compounds in Kandahar province last March.

Army prosecutors say Bales, a 39-year old father of two, acted alone and with "chilling premeditation" when, armed with a pistol, a rifle and a grenade launcher, he left his base twice in the night, returning in the middle of his rampage to tell a fellow soldier: "I just shot up some people."

The shootings marked the worst case of civilian slaughter blamed on a rogue U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War and further eroded strained U.S.-Afghan relations after more than a decade of conflict in that country.

Defense lawyers have not set out an alternative theory of what happened on the night of the shootings, but have focused on Bales' fragile mental state.

Bales' lead civilian attorney John Henry Browne said in January that government documents showed Bales had been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a brain injury before his deployment in Afghanistan in 2011.

After hearing preliminary evidence in November, military judge Colonel Jeffery Nance determined that Bales should face a court martial, which is due to begin in September.

At Bales' arraignment in January, Browne's team entered no plea and told Nance they were preparing a possible "mental health defense." Nance said such a defense would require a formal psychiatric evaluation, and ordered a sanity board review.


Sanity boards are common in military justice, Dangerfield said.

They may be ordered when a commander, investigating officer, government trial counsel, defense counsel, or military judge believes there is reason to question the mental responsibility of the accused at the time of the offenses or that the person lacks the mental capacity to stand trial, Dangerfield said.

The Army has not said which doctors were conducting the review, or what their specialties are, but such panels are usually made up of Army physicians and psychologists. There was no word on whether the judge had granted a defense request that Bales be examined by a neuropsychologist with expertise in traumatic brain injuries.

At a November pre-trial hearing, prosecutors said Bales had been drinking earlier in the evening of the attacks, and had used steroids on the Special Forces outpost. Defense attorneys also quizzed Bales' colleagues closely about his sudden explosions of temper in the days before the attacks.

Bales faces 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder, as well as charges of assault and wrongfully possessing and using steroids and alcohol while deployed.

Military justice experts say a defense based on Bales' PTSD or deeper mental health problems may not be enough to avoid trial but could raise serious issues over premeditation, which would make a death sentence less likely.

"Just because someone has a (mental) disease does not mean they're legally insane," said Victor Hansen, a professor at the New England Law Boston school with two decades of military law experience.

"The board could uncover unknown components that could help the defendant claim diminished capacity," Hansen said. "To obtain death, you have to prove premeditation. Anything less than premeditation of murder, there's no death."

Defendants deemed unable to stand trial after a sanity board are typically referred for treatment at a government medical center.

(Writing by Bill Rigby; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Lisa Shumaker and Philip Barbara)


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Flightradar24 updated for Windows Phone 8, gets Cockpit view before iOS

Flightradar24 is an app which lets you track inbound and outbound flights, but with a twist.? Instead of just telling you status and arrival/departure times, the app lets you look up into the sky and see which planes are flying overhead and were they are heading.

The app turns your Windows Phone into an air traffic radar and lets you see airplane traffic around the world in real-time.

The app features:

  • Planes moving in real-time
  • Comprehensive information for each individual plane, including route, speed, altitude and more
  • Search for a specific flight
  • Filter by airline, altitude, speed and more
  • Cockpit View ? Jump on board
  • Augmented Reality View ? identify the planes flying overhead by simply pointing your phone?s camera to the sky

The last two features are particularly interesting.? Using the Augmented Reality feature one can easily identify planes flying overhead just by pointing your phone at them, but the cockpit view, in the screen shot above, allows one to jump into the airplane and see what the pilot is seeing, based on data from the flight and 3D rendered maps. This feature has arrived on Windows Phone before any other platform. Users are also able to purchase via in-app purchases models which turn planes from generic planes to the actual make and model.

The app is obviously a must-have for plane spotters, costs $2.99 without a free trial, and can be found in the Windows Phone Store here.

Via WPC.


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Don't Let Your Hype Write A Check That Your Product Can't Cash

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 10.54.20 AMEverywhere you went around Austin this past week, there were people queuing up for things, Grumpy Cat, the GroupMe Grill, the Twitter party, Salt Lick BBQ. One startup f?te was so packed?even a founder couldn't get in immediately. "If only all these people were daily active users," one person at the same party quipped, on the app's lack of popularity relative to the line outside.


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New Basic School for Waterhouse Community

Approximately 95 children in the Waterhouse community are benefiting from a new school building, which was handed over to the Maranatha Christian Church by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), on March 15.

The Maranatha Ministries Basic School was constructed at a cost of $44.5 million, with financial support from the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), a project of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Built to meet the requirements of the Early Childhood Commission, the school comprises five standard size classrooms, bathroom facilities for teachers and students, kitchen, administrative area, staff room and sick bay. Other amenities include a drinking fountain, play area, water storage tanks and perimeter fencing.

Special Adviser to the Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Kenyama Brown, who addressed the handing over ceremony on behalf of Portfolio Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, in whose constituency the school is located, said the government is committed to investing in education.

?As adults, one of our main responsibilities is to give our children the right educational start in a safe and beautiful environment, which promotes learning,? he said.

He argued that ?access to education for all children is vital, not only to their own growth and development, but also for the development of the country and the larger global society.

General Manager, Infrastructure and Civil Works, at JSIF, Andrew Neita, said Waterhouse is one of the communities targeted by JSIF for improved infrastructural and social services.

He informed that the new school building has solved the overcrowding and shared space issues that have plagued the school for many years.

He? commended the Maranatha Christian Church for establishing the basic school and providing support for its development. Mr. Neita encouraged the teachers, students and community members to take good care of the facilities.

Principal of the school, Marsha McIntosh, said the school ?is big on quality? and will continue to provide students with the highest standard of education. She noted that all six teachers at the school are trained and have attained Level II certification in early childhood education development and care.

She informed that four teachers are now completing their diploma in education and one has post-graduate qualifications.

The school has also received the best results in the readiness test in the cluster of basic schools in the area.


BY Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter





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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bachelet: Chile left's hope in presidential vote

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2008 file photo, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet gestures during the announcement of a new cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although she has been pressured on all sides to announce her candidacy for Chile's 2013 presidential election, Bachelet's silence on the issue has frustrated both opponents and sympathizers. Now, she says she's ready. In March 2013 she is expected to announce her decision on whether she will run. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2008 file photo, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet gestures during the announcement of a new cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although she has been pressured on all sides to announce her candidacy for Chile's 2013 presidential election, Bachelet's silence on the issue has frustrated both opponents and sympathizers. Now, she says she's ready. In March 2013 she is expected to announce her decision on whether she will run. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

(AP) ? Michelle Bachelet has a deep resume: daughter of a general tortured to death for opposing a coup, leftist exile during the ensuing bloody dictatorship, pediatrician, Cabinet member, mother, president, head of the U.N. women's agency.

Now she's coming back home after her stint at the United Nations, and if Chile's left has its way, she will add another item to that list: savior.

Bachelet, 62, who announced her return Friday night, is widely seen as the center-left opposition's only hope of winning the Nov. 17 presidential election and taking power back from the conservative establishment ushered in when Sebastian Pinera won the presidency ins 2010 after she left office.

The popularity of this Andean country's only woman president is high. A recent poll by CEP Estudios Publicos consultancy said 54 percent of voters favor her.

In announcing the end of her work at the U.N., Bachelet said only that she was going back to Chile and gave no specifics on timing.

She also did not mention the presidential race despite intense pressure in Chile for her to make her plans known ? although there is a widespread expectation that she will run.

Her silence has frustrated not only her opponents but especially her sympathizers.

"We don't have a plan B. I'm serious. In the opposition we're just not prepared for a negative response from Bachelet," said Jaime Quintana, president of the Liberal Party for Democracy, one of the parties in the center-left coalition.

Whoever runs will have to be ready to tackle mounting social demands and frequent protests that already troubled Bachelet during her presidency and have harried Pinera even more. Pinera is the most unpopular president since Chile returned to democracy in 1990 after the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Chile is respected for its fast-growing economy and transparent institutions. The country has continued to grow under Pinera and enjoys a record-low jobless rate, but it also has the worst inequality rate among the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Millions of Chileans have participated in protests demanding a wider distribution of Chile's copper riches, free education and the return of ancestral lands to Mapuche Indians in a southern region where members of Chile's largest indigenous group often clash with timber companies and landowners.

Most Chileans also oppose plans to tame two of the world's wildest rivers and build more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of power lines between them and the grid that powers the capital. Some mass marches against the $7 billion HydroAysen project have turned violent in energy-strapped Chile.

"During Bachelet's government and Pinera's administration there was a huge shift in Chile when it comes to development," said Marta Lagos, head of the Santiago-based polling firm Mori.

He noted per-capita income has surged since Bachelet was elected in 2006 and said Chileans widely feel the country has risen into the ranks of the developed world although many people are still poor.

"The protests partly come from people asking: 'If Chile is so rich, why am I not successful?' Whoever takes over will have to deal with more people saying: 'Give me a slice of that cake,*" Lagos said.

Bachelet's road to prominence has been a long one, and hard at the start.

Her father, air force Gen. Alberto Bachelet, died in 1974 following torture in prison after Pinochet's military convicted him of being a traitor for opposing the coup that ousted Marxist President Salvador Allende. Two Chilean military officers were charged last year with the death.

Bachelet herself was arrested along with her mother in 1975. It's an ordeal that she prefers not to talk about, saying only in her autobiography that she suffered "physical hardships." Using the family's political connections, she went into exile in Australia and the former East Germany.

When she returned to Chile in 1979, she studied medicine, specializing in pediatrics. She began working at an organization that helped children with mental health problems whose parents had been victims of the dictatorship.

At the same time, Bachelet rose through the ranks of the Socialist party and became a key player in the center-left coalition that dominated Chile's government for almost 20 years after Pinochet gave up power.

Her recent silence about her plans is in stark contrast with her normal manner. She easily breaks into casual chats and often improvises during speeches ? most often tossing in jokes or unplanned commentaries, said Francisco Javier Diaz, her former speech writer.

Her charisma and ability to evoke a close relationship with people has on occasion helped her overcome mistakes.

"When people feel so close, when they feel this is a caring person, they try to justify even the unjustifiable or forgive her faults," said Giorgo Agostini, a sociologist.

Those faults have not been few or small. In 2010, just 11 days before the end of her presidential term, the government's national emergency office failed to issue a tsunami warning to evacuate the coast after a magnitude-8.8 earthquake. More than 500 people were killed in the quake and the tsunami it set off.

Student protests that still bedevil Chile began during Bachelet's term and grew into strikes and school takeovers that forced her to shuffle her Cabinet. She sought unsuccessfully to calm the movement by naming a committee to discuss student demands.

Students are unhappy with Chile's poor quality public schools and unprepared teachers. The best college education requires going to expensive, private universities, and banks make education loans at high interest rates most Chileans can't afford.

Bachelet, who worked to bolster social programs while also encouraging business, won praise for shepherding Chile through the world economic crisis. Although growth stumbled and the jobless rate rose, she used government reserves to help the poorest Chileans during the hardest times.

Twice divorced, Bachelet is known as a caring mother and as an astute negotiator.

She put behind her past and helped the discredited military regain its status after Pinochet's traumatic dictatorship. One of her most emblematic moments came when she was named Latin America*s first woman defense minister during the government of President Ricardo Lagos.

Now Chileans wait to see if she's ready to jump back on the political stage.


Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations in New York and Luis Andres Henao contributed to this report.


Eva Vergara on Twitter:

Associated Press


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One runner dead, 30 hospitalized after half-marathon

Gideon Markowicz / EPA

Zohar Bimro is treated by a medic after winning Friday's half-marathon in Tel Aviv, Israel. One participant died and more than 50 others were injured.

By John Newland, Staff Writer, NBC News

A man in his 30s died and four people were put in medically induced comas on Friday after suffering heat stroke and dehydration while running a half-marathon in Israel.

The race was run in temperatures that climbed from the 70s at the 5:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m. Thursday ET) start but approached 90 degrees in less than two hours.

City officials and organizers of the Tel Aviv Gillette Marathon last week decided to postpone the full race until March 22 because the forecast called for temperatures approaching 100 degrees. The starting time of Friday's half-marathon was moved 30 minutes earlier.

Medical personnel said 60 people were tended to by ambulances and 30 were taken to hospitals. Twelve people were listed in critical condition early Friday, with four in medically induced comas, but the number in critical condition had dropped to two by Friday afternoon.

Paul Goldman, an NBC News producer and editor in Tel Aviv, ran the race and said he had no difficulties and was unaware of any problems until he had finished in 1 hour and 42 minutes. Many of those who collapsed were further back in the field, he said.

"After the race, when we finished and went to get water, the ambulances started arriving," Goldman said. "Then I started hearing more sirens. Here in Israel when you hear sirens, you can identify when it?s just one siren or whether it?s an incident. You could tell something was going on."

While Goldman said he was personally unaffected by the temperatures, he added that "everyone complained that it was very dry."

"I felt it was very dry from the start," he said. "You feel it in the lips and the mouth."

City officials held meetings before Friday's race and allowed it to go ahead after consultations with "the highest-ranking medical professionals," Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement.

"We will investigate and examine the event thoroughly and we will reach conclusions and learn the necessary lessons," he added. "We will also cooperate fully with any investigation that will occur regarding this matter."

The mayor noted that the race was run "under decent weather, according to all of the official opinions."

Goldman, who has been running for 15 years, said many runners, particularly Israelis, would not have had an opportunity to train extensively this year in hot weather.

"It was winter until literally a week ago," he said. "Everyone that has trained for the marathon, we were all running in rain conditions and training in pretty cold weather. Suddenly people who were training in the cold were running in the heat. Your body is not used to it."


Full Israel coverage from NBC News?




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