A victims’ rights group released documents Thursday that showed the Jehovah’s Witnesses recently settled civil suits with 16 people who claimed they were sexually abused by church elders or that church officials failed to act on abuse allegations.
Bits & Pieces
Jehovah’s Witnesses are the new Catholics
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–A victims’ rights group released documents Thursday that showed the Jehovah’s Witnesses recently settled civil suits with 16 people who claimed they were sexually abused by church elders or that church officials failed to act on abuse allegations.
The group, called silentlambs, held a news conference in Nashville to demand that the denomination change its policy for responding to sex abuse reports.
Settlements were reached in late February and early March, according to court records obtained by silentlambs and posted to the group’s website. Fourteen of the cases were filed in California; the other two were in Oregon and Texas.
Details about the settlement terms could not be disclosed under confidentiality agreements negotiated between the parties, said Stephen Owens, a plaintiffs’ attorney involved in the California cases. Other cases are still pending, according to silentlambs, which couldn’t say how many.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose headquarters are in Brooklyn, N.Y., said Thursday that they were pleased to see the lawsuits resolved, declining further comment.
“Our loving heavenly Father makes it clear in his Word, the Bible, that he abhors child abuse,” a statement from the denomination said.
“As an organization, we will continually strive to educate families and congregations with sound Scriptural teachings that they can use to protect their children from child molesters. And we will continue to do our utmost to protect children from this horrible crime and sin.”
Another reason to stay away from Idaho
COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho–Northern Idaho’s rate of a potentially deadly skin cancer is twice that of the rest of the state, and medical experts say that’s because the region is so attractive to Californians and residents of other sunny southwestern states.
Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene and the rest of the region accounted for nearly a third of Idaho’s new melanoma cases in 2005, according to recently released figures from the Cancer Data Registry of Idaho.
In 2005, 97 of the state’s 349 reported cases were found in northern Idaho.
“I think we’re kind of an island for people who’ve had a lot of sun exposure,” said Dr. Stephen Craig of North Idaho Dermatology. “A higher proportion of my patients come from California, Arizona and Nevada.”
One is David George, 55, who retired from his job in San Diego and moved to Cocolalla, near Sandpoint, last year.
Since January, he’s had four melanomas removed from his shoulders and back.
“They were basically freckles that were kind of long and a little larger and had probably changed color,” George said. “Dr. Craig has quite the eye. Pretty much every one he spotted out were melanomas.”
MILAN, Italy–It would take one very large fig leaf to restore modesty to Milan’s main park after the installation of a 70-foot floating sculpture of a naked man.
The balloon self-portrait by Polish artist Pawel Althamer has been hovering outside the Renaissance Palazzina Appiani in Parco Sempione since Monday, drawing second takes, amused looks and some reprobation about exposing children to nudity.
“To be honest with you, it’s nothing new,” said Rosaria Mirabelli, mother of 3-year-old Tommaso who stared at the sculpture from the back of his mother’s bicycle.
“He sees his father naked. In this park we see so many worse things than a naked man,” she said, referring to the park’s reputation as a haven for drug users.
On weekday afternoons, the park is given over to mothers, nannies and grandparents with preschool age children in tow, along with a few joggers, cyclists and dog owners.
“This wouldn’t fly in the U.S.,” observed 31-year-old American Adriana Spatafora, an English language teacher passing by.
The work was conceived by Warsaw-based Althamer in 1999 and the Milan installation is accompanied by the artist’s show One of Many, which presents video and sculpture self-portraits.