Mar 27, 2024

CultNEWS101 Articles: 3/27/2024 (Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Gloriavale, Docuseries, New Zealand, Scientology, Legal, Apollo Quiboloy, Philippines)

Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Clergy Sexual Abuse, GloriavaleDocuseries, New Zealand, Scientology, Legal, Apollo QuiboloyPhilippines
"More than three dozen people allege in two lawsuits filed Tuesday that they were sexually abused as children at a Maryland residential program for youths that closed in 2017 following similar allegations.

In the separate lawsuits, attorneys detailed decades of alleged abuse of children by staff members of the Good Shepherd Services behavioral health treatment center, which had billed itself as a therapeutic, supportive environment for Maryland's most vulnerable youth.

The program was founded in 1864 by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic religious order focused on helping women and girls. It began at a facility in Baltimore before moving to its most recent campus just outside the city.

Many of the plaintiffs — almost all of them women — reported being injected with sedatives that made it more difficult for them to resist the abuse. Others said their abusers, including nuns and priests employed by the center, bribed them with food and gifts or threatened them with violence and loss of privileges.

The claims were filed against the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and Department of Human Services, agencies that contracted with Good Shepherd and referred children there for treatment. The lawsuits also named the state Department of Health, which was tasked with overseeing residential facilities. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd religious order wasn't a named defendant in either suit.

In a joint statement Tuesday afternoon, the three state agencies said they had not yet been served with the court papers.

"However, the Departments of Health, Human Services and Juvenile Services work to ensure the safety and well-being of all children and youth placed in state care. We take allegations of sexual abuse of children in our care seriously," the statement said.

Many of the children referred to Good Shepherd were in foster care or involved in the state's juvenile justice system.

"The state of Maryland sent the most vulnerable children in its care to this facility and then failed to protect them," said Jerome Block, an attorney representing 13 plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits filed Tuesday."
"Every person who has left Gloriavale has family or loved ones still inside. That's a fact. And the majority of them want to do something to help. There is a resistance movement growing as more people leave and they all want to do their bit to expose the truth about life inside Gloriavale.

We met dozens of leavers in the course of making this documentary and could have cast it many, many times over with all the warm, smart, perceptive people we met. We are absolutely thrilled with the cast we landed with and can't wait for New Zealanders to have their misconceptions about what people from Gloriavale are like totally turned upside down.

The Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust estimates they have helped about 200 people leave in the past 10 years – but to put that in perspective, the average Gloriavale family has about 12 children. There are about 600 people still living inside Gloriavale – about 350 of them are children – so there are still more people living inside than out.

There is a growing resistance movement on the outside that casually call themselves the 'Underground Network'. These are neighbours, former members, lawyers, media and just members of the public that want to help. To leave Gloriavale is much like being a refugee – most don't have bank accounts, drivers' licences, passports.

Many have never even handled money, never caught a bus. One of our contributors had only ever been to Greymouth a handful of times in her life for dental appointments – that was her only tiny window to the outside world, so she had never seen phones or ATMs or escalators.

She had never had her hair cut, worn anything but her uniform from birth, hadn't even been to the supermarket. So to say leaving is difficult is a huge understatement.

Add to that the psychological barriers they have – they are raised to believe that leaving means eternal damnation which is a fate worse than death. So the process of leaving can take many years."

Scoop: Press Release from TVNZ
New Zealand's most extreme religious cult, Gloriavale, and the true stories of people attempting to break free, are the subject of a brand-new docuseries – Escaping Utopia – screening this March on TVNZ.

In a worldwide premiere, screening across three captivating nights, Escaping Utopia documents the intricate planning that goes into clandestine escapes from Gloriavale – with unprecedented access to its inner workings, the unravelling of its leadership and the pursuit of justice by the group of passionate and dedicated people known as The Gloriavale Leavers' Support Trust.

Shocking new information is revealed from former and current members of the community who have never gone on the record before – and who through their accounts, seek answers to some of the most crucial questions in the dark history of Gloriavale.

The three-part investigation premieres Sunday 24 March, 8.30pm on TVNZ 1 and TVNZ+ and continues Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26.

Escaping Utopia is produced by Warner Bros. International Television Production New Zealand in association with the New Zealand Government's Premium Productions for International Audiences Fund and made with the support of NZ on Air. The series is directed by Natalie Malcon and Justin Pemberton, with Philippa Rennie as Executive Producer.
"Leah Remini's lawsuit against the Church of Scientology for defamation and harassment will survive, though only just, after an LA Superior Court judge struck down the majority of the actress' complaint on Tuesday.

Church of Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw called the ruling "a resounding victory for the Church and free speech," adding in an email, "the Church is entitled to its attorney fees and will be seeking them."

Remini, who gained fame as a co-star on the sitcom "King of Queens," was a member of the Church of Scientology for more than 35 years, starting at the age of eight. She estimates to have spent more than $5 million on classes, services and donations to the organization. When she broke with Scientology in 2013, she soon became one of the church's most vocal critics, largely through a memoir, "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology," and a TV docuseries, "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath."

The church responded to Remini in kind, producing a slew of videos and articles attacking her as a racist and bigot, suggesting that she had inspired hate crimes against Scientologists. The headline of one article read, "As the World Remembers the Holocaust, Bigot Leah Remini Inspires Praise of Hitler."

In August 2023, Remini filed a suit accusing the church of orchestrating a vicious online campaign against her, where she said, "for the past ten years, Ms. Remini has been stalked, surveilled, harassed, threatened, intimidated, and, moreover, has been the victim of intentional malicious and fraudulent rumors via hundreds of Scientology-controlled and -coordinated social media accounts that exist solely to intimidate and spread misinformation."

Remini also accused the church of having her followed and surveilled by private detectives.

The church filed an anti-SLAPP motion — a legal maneuver used to quickly throw out suits that are meant to discourage free speech or public participation — arguing that the church and its members were simply fighting Remini's "hate speech" with their own speech. As for surveilling Remini, the church said that was part of its "pre-litigation stance" in anticipation of Remini's lawsuit.

In his 37-page ruling, Superior Court Judge Randolph Hammock agreed to strike more than a dozen paragraphs of Remini's complaint as untimely, finding that those claims took place before Aug. 2, 2022 and it was too late to sue over them. The judge also struck down most of the defamation claims, finding that most of them were not false assertions of fact."
"Defenders of controversial preacher Apollo Quiboloy at the Senate have failed to muster enough signatures to block the contempt order against him, placing the self-claimed "Son of God" at the mercy of looming arrest if he does not respond to a show cause order within 48 hours.

Quiboloy's Senate defense crumbled on Tuesday after only five senators signed the written objection to the contempt order against the Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder, Sen. Robin Padilla said. This is three signatures short of the eight required to overturn the contempt ruling."

" ... Quiboloy has been cited for contempt by two committees at the House and the Senate for his continued refusal to personally appear in hearings concerning his actions as KOJC leader and founder of KOJC's media partner, SMNI.

The Senate women and gender equality committee is currently investigating the sexual crimes allegedly committed by Quiboloy and other KOJC leaders, while the House legislative franchises committee is deliberating on a bill that seeks to cancel the legislative franchise of SMNI after it allegedly aired content that violates its franchise terms."

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