Teacher sought lesbian affair: former student
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By CHRISTIANA JONES, p 17, Wednesday, November 7, 2007
[Picture] Accused teacher: Elizabeth Crothers is charged with 13 counts of sexual penetration and 10 counts of indecent dealing. Picture: Steve Ferrier
A former schoolgirl broke down while giving evidence of the first time she allegedly had sex with a female home economics teacher accused of pursuing a lesbian affair with her while a student at a Perth high school.
The alleged victim, who was aged 16 at the time, was giving evidence yesterday in the District Court trial of Elizabeth Anne Crothers, 50, who is charged with 13 counts of sexual penetration and 10 counts of indecently dealing with the teenager she taught in the late 1990s.
The alleged victim told the mainly female jury yesterday she first went to the teacher for help with her self-harming and solvent abuse.
She said while the teacher's actions started as attempts to comfort her, the actions became more physical and intimate, with the teacher allegedly announcing after several months she had sexual feelings for her.
During questioning from prosecutor Tony Elliott, the former student admitted she enjoyed some of the "more physical" contact with Ms Crothers and described how the teacher started rubbing her back in longer hugs, touching and kissing her face, and whispering in her ear how "special" she was.
The court was told Ms Crothers gave the girl a ring with a heart-shaped stone, and wrote her letters.
The alleged victim claimed the pair shared a "passionate kiss" at Ms Crothers' home, on a bed the teacher shared with her de facto husband. The teacher allegedly said after the incident: "My feelings for you, they are sexual".
The former student later broke down as she described how the teacher allegedly indecently dealt with her at a bush track at a national park.
"I pushed her hand away and said, 'No, not yet', and she said, 'No, it will be OK'," the alleged victim told the court, claiming the teacher continued despite an initial request to stop.
When asked by Mr Elliott whether she had been a willing participant in what she claimed was her "first sexual experience with anyone", the former student replied: "To a degree, yes".
The alleged victim told the court yesterday her parents disapproved of her contact with Ms Crothers, prompting her to hide notes and letters from the teacher and to use a friend's computer to secretly exchange emails with her.
She said she eventually told police about the alleged sexual activity with her teacher.
The trial continues. #
Teacher ‘secretly met student for sex’
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By CHRISTIANA JONES, p 18, Thursday, November 8, 2007
A female home economics teacher aged in her 40s secretly met a teenage student at night, engaged her in lesbian sex, offered her raspberry-flavoured alcohol and continued the relationship with the girl despite the school's attempts to limit their contact, a Perth court has been told.
The alleged victim, who was 16 at the time, made the claims during the District Court trial of Elizabeth Anne Crothers, 50, who is charged with 13 counts of sexual penetration and 10 counts of indecently dealing with the girl, who she taught in the late 1990s. The court was told this week that the teacher's actions started out as attempts to comfort the teen but became more intimate.
Yesterday the alleged victim said she had been "embarrassed" and "ashamed" when one of her friends saw her and Crothers leave the same toilet cubicle after engaging in sex acts at a Cottesloe beach change room.
She gave evidence of how she lied to her parents about their contact and detailed two secret meetings, one of which allegedly had the teacher tapping on the girl's bedroom window in the early hours of the morning.
The court was told the teacher dressed in black and "commando crawled" part of the way to the girl's window so she would not be detected.
Another meeting saw the teenager creep out at night to meet Ms Crothers at her car, where the teacher gave her a raspberry-flavoured vodka drink to "loosen things up" before they engaged in sex acts.
The court was also told by the alleged victim that Ms Crothers had ignored "guidelines" that the school administration had created to curb contact between the pair. They were put in place when the school became aware of an "issue" between them.
The former student recalled a time when they met in the school toilet block, with them "pashing" for up to five minutes. The trial continues. #
[Picture] Accused: Elizabeth Crothers.
‘Our children deserve better’
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au/ default.aspx? MenuID=77& ContentID= 46173 , By CHRISTIANA JONES and SEAN COWAN, 6:30 WST, November 8, 2007
PERTH, W. Australia – The parents of murdered schoolgirl Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia Shu have demanded the State Government pass laws to protect children against sexual predators, fearing their daughter’s killer could one day be released from prison.
[Picture in newspaper] Heartfelt plea: Father Bryan Rosling says the State Government needs to do more to protect children. Picture: Lee Griffith
And their family priest and spokesman, Father Bryan Rosling, insisted that Attorney-General Jim McGinty abandon his “social reforms” and instead use his time to protect children against paedophiles.
Mr McGinty had scheduled a press conference outside the Supreme Court yesterday but cancelled it after Father Rosling’s comments.
Sofia’s parents, Gabriel and Josephine, chose not to attend yesterday’s sentencing of Dante Wyndham Arthurs.
[Picture on website] Dante Wyndham Arthurs. Picture: The West Australian
Instead, Father Rosling spoke on their behalf, telling reporters the family wanted to “avoid the pain caused by the lack of effective justice in respect of her killer’s previous offence and the legal quibbles in the aftermath of Sofia’s murder”.
Father Rosling said that while Sofia’s parents were relieved the case was over and the result was “as good as they could have hoped”, their biggest fear was the prospect of the sexual predator one day being back on WA’s streets.
“Their greatest fear is in 13 years time he will be eligible for parole,” Father Rosling said.
“Arthurs is proven to be a serial sexual predator.
“This man has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he cannot live in civilised society again. He has forfeited his right to live among us.
“Our children are the most vulnerable and precious commodities we possess. They deserve better than this.”
Reading from a statement written by Sofia’s parents, Father Rosling said the family felt the tragedy had made a difference to the police interview process and would, hopefully, help redefine the offence of murder.
But they demanded the State Government do more to protect children from other predators who were not behind bars, saying they were betrayed by how little had been done since their daughter’s death.
“We are distressed to think that over the past 17 months, since Sofia’s murder, nothing has changed to protect our children.
“We feel betrayed and let down by those who have the power to legislate and enforce measures that should create a safe environment for all children.”
Father Rosling challenged Mr McGinty to establish a public paedophile register.
“I ask the Attorney-General to clear his desk of his social reforms and get down to the reality of protecting the most vulnerable members of society, our children,” he said.
“Mr McGinty has the power to do these things.” #
Sofia’s “evil” killer jailed for life
CathNews (from the RCC Church Resources, Australia), www.cathnews. com:80/news/ 711/44.php , Nov 8, 2007
A life sentence has been handed down to the killer of 8-year-old Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu who was found strangled and sexually abused in a Perth shopping centre public toilet.
[Picture] Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu.
Dante Wyndham Arthurs, 23, must serve at least 13 years before being considered for parole, but it is unlikely he will ever be released, AAP reported.
Outside the court, Fr Bryan Rosling read a statement from Sofia's parents Gabriel and Josephine.
"We cannot bring Sofia back but we believe it is possible to save other Sofias in the future," they said.
"Why wait for another child to be the victim of a homicidal paedophile before making available a public register for sex offenders?"
Arthurs pleaded guilty in the WA Supreme Court to dragging little Sofia into a disabled toilet cubicle on June 26, 2006 where he strangled, stripped and digitally penetrated her before propping her naked body against the cubicle wall and fleeing.
Justice John McKechnie told a trembling Arthurs yesterday there were some crimes "so evil" they shocked the public conscience and the crime against Sofia was one of them.
He also sentenced Arthurs to two years, to be served concurrently, for depriving Sofia of her liberty.
"I find you have a dangerous sexual motivation towards young girls that manifests itself in violent situations with young girls," Justice McKechnie said.
Mr Richardson told the court Arthurs had no clear recollection of what happened in the toilet where he killed Sofia.
Arthurs told his lawyer and medical experts he recalled seeing his hands around a throat and panicked when he noticed she had stopped breathing.
SOURCE: Sofia's killer jailed for life over toilet murder (News.com 08/11/07)
LINKS:(not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources) Mater Christi school, Yangebup
Sofia Memorial Website
Sofia's ashes to be buried in school chapel (4/6/07)
Sofia trial video in doubt (18/5/07)
Sofia's parents thank God for sharing "angel" (4/7/06)
Sofia's family ask for prayers (28/6/06)
HAVE YOUR SAY Click here
Church pays $3mil
Priest abused boy
The Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), http://perthnow.com.au , p 40, Sunday, November 11, 2007
WASHINGTON: A man who was abused as a boy by a Catholic priest has won a record $A3.24 million in compensation from a diocese.
"The settlement represents the diocese's efforts to assist the victim to heal and to move on to achieve a productive and fulfilling life," the diocese of Scranton, northeastern Pennsylvania, said in a statement.
The deal is the highest single amount paid to a victim of a pedophile priest in the US.
"The diocese accepts its responsibility to this victim and our hope is that true healing can commence now that a settlement has been reached," the statement said.
The deal ends all the lawsuits against the diocese, which covers 200 parishes.
The Catholic Church has 69 million followers in the US, but has been rocked by the pedophile scandal that surfaced in 2002 and badly hit its reputation and finances.
The Scranton victim, who is now 22, has not been identified. But his abuser, former priest Albert Liberatore, was defrocked in 2006 after pleading guilty and being sentenced to 10 years' jail.
"The diocese wishes to express its deep regret and its sincerest apology to the victim and his family members who were so grievously harmed by the former priest Albert Liberatore," the statement said.
The abuse against the victim began a decade ago when he was 12 and continued until 2002. He broke his silence in 2004 and the priest was suspended.
The Vatican was asked to begin procedures to remove the priest from his ecclesiastical duties.
The scandal broke when the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, confessed in early 2002 that he had protected a priest whom he knew had sexually abused young members of his church. #
Kids get voice at the top
The Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), http://perthnow.com.au , By ANDREA MAYES, p 46, Sunday, November 11, 2007
[Picture] CHILDREN'S CHAMPION: Michelle Scott has been appointed WA's first Children's Commissioner. Picture: JODY D'ARCY
FIVE years after it was first talked about, WA will finally get its first Children's Commissioner when Michelle Scott takes on the role next month. Appointing a commissioner was a key recommendation of the 2002 Gordon inquiry into child abuse in Aboriginal communities, yet it was initially rejected by the Government as unnecessary duplication.
In 2004, the Government did a backflip and announced it would fund the position, and with the abuse of Aboriginal children again in the spotlight, it has finally kept its word.
Ms Scott will begin her new duties on December 10 and has vowed to make the interests of indigenous children a high priority. However, she has yet to decide whether to appoint a deputy commissioner with responsibility for indigenous issues, which was another Gordon inquiry recommendation.
"I haven't made a decision about that to date, but I have already started talking to key Aboriginal people about it," Ms Scott said.
"My goal is ensuring the voices of Aboriginal children and young people are heard.
"I want to ensure that whatever I put in place makes that happen, so I don't feel wedded to a particular structure at this stage."
The Perth Aboriginal Women's Network, a group of professional indigenous women, have long championed the role of the deputy commissioner and still believe it is essential.
"It is a statutory requirement (of the Children's Commissioner) that Aboriginal children are a priority, but we are concerned that she won't be able to achieve it without that deputy position," Network spokeswoman Hannah McGlade said.
Originally a social worker, Ms Scott has dealt with Aboriginal families for most of her career and also has extensive experience of dealing with other disadvantaged people.
She has been on both the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Immigration Review Tribunal, was the principal policy officer at the Disability Services Commission and has spent the past five years as the Public Advocate, who protects the rights of disabled people.
She is also a mother. Her daughter is studying law at university.
"I'm hoping that (career) experience will provide a solid foundation for taking-up the Children's Commissioner position," Ms Scott said.
By law, the Children's Commissioner is an independent advocate for the wellbeing of children and young people, and can comment publicly on any matter she deems appropriate.
She has the power to initiate and conduct inquiries, but cannot examine individual cases.
However, Ms Scott does not believe this will limit her effectiveness.
"If we can achieve systemic change, that will change the system that led to those individual complaints in the first place," she said.
Systemic change is certainly on the commissioner's agenda.
As well as looking at the effectiveness of government interventions in Aboriginal communities, Ms Scott is keen to look at recent changes to the protection of children in care.
"I expect the Children's Commissioner (will be) reviewing how effective some of the new strategies have been in ensuring our young people and children are protected," she said.
She is especially keen to give a voice to children and young people and wants to explore the best ways of engaging with them.
This could include developing a child-friendly website, through text messaging and holding face-to-face meetings.
"I want to get out there as much as possible and talk to people personally as much as possible," Ms Scott said.
"My experience in this position is that even with people who are marginalised and vulnerable, you can find ways of reaching out and ways to hear what they have to say."
The Perth Aboriginal Women's Network is concerned the commissioner has not been adequately resourced.
It has an initial annual budget of $1.5 million.
"It's not the sort of money you'd expect for such an important issue," Ms McGlade said. "When you think of the wealth that's being created in WA at the moment, I can't understand why our children are not worth more than a shoestring budget," she said.
Ms Scott said she hoped the funding might be increased over time. "I think the resources that are available are sufficient, but over time I'll need to consider that," she said.
This could include seeking funding from universities and other interested bodies.
Ms Scott is keen to ensure children have an effective voice when it comes to complaints.
"I certainly will be looking at the mechanisms that government agencies have in place for dealing with individual complaints," she said. #
Woman denies cash behind lesbian case
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By CHRISTIANA JONES, p 15, Tuesday, November 13, 2007
PERTH -- A former Perth schoolgirl who claims she had a lesbian affair with her home economics teacher as a teenager has admitted talking about possible compensation but denied the potential funds sparked her allegations.
Elizabeth Anne Crothers, 50, is on trial in Perth District Court, fighting 13 counts of sexual penetration and 10 counts of indecently dealing with the then-16-year-old whom she taught in the late 1990s.
During cross-examination by defence counsel Mark Trowell yesterday, the alleged victim admitted she had discussed the possibility of a criminal compensation claim arising from the allegations and that police had given her an estimate of $70,000.
The former schoolgirl agreed to Mr Trowell's claim that she thought she was entitled to a share of proceeds Ms Crothers received when she sold her house, telling the court she handed over her weekly pay to the accused later on in their relationship, and that some of this had gone to repaying a loan on the home.
[Picture] Accused: Elizabeth Crothers.
"My money was her money," the former student said. "She'd put it in her purse and if there were any bills to be paid, she'd use that."
Ms Crothers broke down as the alleged victim denied Mr Trowell's suggestions that she had "demanded" money from the former teacher and "threatened to expose her".
The former schoolgirl said she reported the affair to police to gain "closure" and prevent the accused from repeating her alleged crimes.
When Mr Trowell questioned the alleged victim on what she thought was "wrong" with the relationship, given she became Ms Crothers' de facto and lived with her for two years, the former student said the accused woman's authority at the beginning of the affair led her to "take her (Ms Crothers') word for everything" and left her feeling inferior and exploited as a result of the control her former teacher had over her.
"I feel used. I feel dirty. I feel like an idiot for falling for it and being so naive," the alleged victim said.
During cross-examination, the former student was also questioned about alleged inconsistencies between her testimony given in court and a police statement, prompting her to admit in one instance she had been confused and made a mistake in her statement.
The trial continues. #
Girl ‘kissed and flirted’ with female teacher, old school friends tell court
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By CHRISTIANA JONES, p 15, Wednesday, November 14, 2007
PERTH -- Former school friends of a woman who claims she had a lesbian affair with her home economics teacher have told a court the pair held hands, kissed passionately and used the term "girlfriend" in front of them.
The former friends gave evidence yesterday in the District Court trial of Elizabeth Anne Crothers, 50, who is defending 13 charges of sexual penetration and 10 counts of indecently dealing with the 16-year-old girl she taught in the late 1990s.
One former friend told the court she remembered the alleged victim "was always trying to get attention or saying she had problems".
She also recalled that Ms Crothers and the alleged victim sometimes spent time in a photocopying room with the door closed and that once she had been in the room with the pair and saw the student "snuggling" her face between the teacher's breasts.
[Picture] Sex accused: Elizabeth Crothers.
Another former friend told the court she saw the student and teacher holding hands and tickling and touching each other when she joined them on a beach visit, and "sort of flirting" one day at Ms Crothers' house.
A male childhood friend who had dated the alleged victim "off and on" before the alleged affair, told the court the girl had introduced the teacher to him with the words, This is my girlfriend", and that Ms Crothers and the girl had told him "the importance of not telling anyone".
He also claimed to have seen the pair kissing "very passionately" when they visited a local creek and that after taking a walk he returned to find them straightening their tops and with their jeans unbuttoned.
The alleged victim's parents also gave evidence yesterday, with the mother admitting she felt her authority was being tested by the relationship between Ms Crothers, who was aged in her 40s, and her daughter at the time of the alleged offences.
She also admitted she did not approve of the romantic involvement between Ms Crothers and her daughter once the girl left school, but denied defence counsel Mark Trowell's suggestion that she was more concerned about the alleged affair than the well-being of her daughter, who she agreed was "psychologically confused" at the time. #
Nun faces jail over child sex
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , p 50, Wednesday, November 14, 2007
NEW YORK -- A 79-year-old Catholic nun has pleaded no contest in the US to two counts of indecent behaviour with a child for alleged sexual encounters with two male students at a convent and school where she was principal during the 1960s.
A no contest plea is a plea-bargain deal in which the defendant does not admit guilt but agrees to pay the penalty for a crime.
Sister Norma Giannini faces a maximum 10 years on each count when sentenced on February 1.
The two men told authorities in Milwaukee they had dozens of sexual encounters with her, including intercourse.
One man said the nun told him in 1965, when he was 13, to open the buttons of her habit, but he was shaking so badly he could not do so.
He said she then unbuttoned her clothing and had him touch her breasts, the complaint said.
The first incident was followed by 60 to 80 others, including two involving sexual intercourse.
The other man said he had sexual contact with the nun more than 100 times. #
Pope ignoring priest abuse: victim groups
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , p 50, Wednesday, November 14, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Pope Benedict XVI was ignoring the US victims of decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests on his first trip to America, abuse victims groups say.
Pope Benedict's visit on April 15-20 would take him to Washington and New York but not to Boston, the epicentre of the paedophilia scandal.
"Boston still has a lot of people who are justifiably outraged so I'm guessing that he is afraid of protests," Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the website Bishop Accountability.org , said.
She said that Cardinal Edward Egan, of the New York archdiocese, had refused to release documents on accused priests, unlike Boston which admitted in 2002 that it had hushed up its knowledge of paedophile priests for decades.
"So the Pope is sending the signal that he is honouring the cardinal who may be his most successful keeper of secrets, who has suppressed the crisis and silenced the victims most successfully," Ms Doyle said.
Bishop Accountability.org documents priests accused of abuse and carries accounts by their victims. From 1950 to now, more than 5000 priests had been exposed by their archdioceses as paedophiles, it said.
"We believe that double or triple that figure actually have abused kids," Ms Doyle said, citing court documents and press reports. The Pope's trip was announced on Monday by US bishops.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the Vatican had "played a fairly abysmal role" in the scandal that rocked the US Church by not punishing implicated individuals and even promoting some of them. But the Pope was not going to Boston.
"Benedict has been at the upper echelons of the Church for decades," national director David Clohessy said. "So it's hard to imagine that he's not had direct dealings with these cases.
"He is passing up a golden opportunity because, while the wounds are still deep and fresh throughout the American Church, Boston is perhaps the best place for him to begin addressing those wounds."
Catholic authorities in the US have paid out almost $US2.8 billion ($3.14 billion) in damages to hundreds of victims, many of whom accused the Church of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse.
An unidentified young man abused as a boy by a Catholic priest had been awarded a record $US3 million dollars in compensation from a diocese in Pennsylvania, Church officials said on Friday. #
Second body in sandpit
The Sunday Times (Perth, W. Australia), By CHARLES MIRANDA in London, p 37 and pp 50-51, November 18, 2007
LONDON, England -- POLICE in southeast England have begun tearing apart a house after finding a second body In what is becoming a new "house of horrors".
The remains of a young woman, which a post mortem examination is expected to confirm is Dinah McNicol, 18, were found buried at 50 Irvine Drive, Margate, in Kent.
Ms McNicol vanished in 1991 after hitchhiking home from a music festival.
Her father, Ian, was with police when the remains were found. "I will be absolutely elated if they have found her," he said. "It will mean we will be able to grieve as a family. I always said I wanted to know what happened to my daughter before I died and, hopefully, I will now."
This week, police found the body of Vicky Hamilton, 15, who disappeared 16 years ago. Tobin was charged with Vicky's murder.
Police began searching the house after arresting handyman Tobin. They found a knife hidden in the roof of Tobin's former home in Bathgate, near Edinburgh.
The knife had Ms Hamilton's DNA on it.
Police were expecting to find Ms McNicol's body, but instead found Ms Hamilton's.
Now police suspect Tobin, who is serving life for raping and killng Angelika Kluk, 23, last year and burying her body in a Glasgow church, could have murdered at least 10 other young women.
Tobin lived at Irvine Drive for several years and had built a sandpit for his children.
Police found the two bodies in the sandpit.
During a fingertip search of the sand pit, police also found personal items belonging to the two women.
Yesterday the patio of the three-bedroom house was being taken apart, the walls torn down and floor lifted.
Police have vowed to search the many houses the 61-year-old Scotsman has lived in.
Before murdering Miss Kluk, Tobin had served seven years for sexually assaulting two 14-year-old schoolgirls.
■ News Review: Pages 50-51
[P. 50] Outrage at sex report [***] Margaret Mackintosh, one of Tobin's former wives ... said "... There were times when he ... left me locked up ... he would rape me just for the hell of it. [...]
His third wife, Cathy Wilson, 37, ... [P. 51] he was violent to her on almost a violent basis. [***]
He was 21 when he cut off the head of his teenage girlfriend's labrador. The animal was found by children playing in a street near his flat.
No one knew that churchgoing Tobin, fond of quoting the scriptures, was capable of such cruelty.
"He was always saying 'Jeremiah said this, and Jacob said that'," someone who knew him from his Glasgow days said. [...]
His second wife, Sylvia Jefferies also lived in constant fear.
Tobin married his third wife, Cathy Wilson in 1989. At 16, she was more than 20 years his junior. She, too, became a prisoner in her home and suffered abuse. [...]
Teacher gets off two sex charges
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By CHRISTIANA JONES, p 18, Tuesday, November 20, 2007
PERTH – A former home economics teacher was acquitted yesterday of two sex charges before the end of her trial, which centres on allegations that she had a lesbian affair with a 16-year-old Perth schoolgirl in the late 1990s.
Elizabeth Anne Crothers, 50, who faces 12 other charges of sexual penetration and nine of indecent dealing, was acquitted of one count each of sexual penetration and indecent dealing when District Court Judge Michael Muller ruled that the alleged victim's testimony did not support the charges.
The age of consent for females is 16 but the jury was told earlier that it increases to 18 when a person in a role of authority is involved.
Prosecutor Tony Elliott highlighted Ms Crothers' failure to go to police with her accusation that the former student threatened to make false sex abuse claims unless Ms Crothers paid her up to $30,000.
He suggested Ms Crothers tried to paint the alleged victim as a stalker who prompted her stress leave but continued to meet the girl.
Defence lawyer Mark Trowell attacked the reliability and credibility of the alleged victim, saying she had been a daily cannabis user when compiling her police statement in 2004, years after the alleged offences, and admitted lying to her parents about contact with the accused.
He suggested that criminal injuries compensation might be a "mighty big incentive" for the allegations.
The trial continues. #
Eskimos to get Jesuit sex abuse cash
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , p 28, Tuesday, November 20, 2007
ANCHORAGE (Alaska, U.S.A.) – The Jesuit order of the Catholic Church has agreed to pay $US50 million ($56 million) to 110 Eskimos to settle claims of sexual abuse by priests and missionaries in some of the world's most remote villages.
The settlement with the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus was the biggest yet against a Catholic religious order, said Alaskan lawyer Ken Roosa, who called it "a great day" for the victims.
"These are people who were altar boys and altar servers and altar girls," Mr Roosa said.
"These are people who tried to tell their story and in many instances were beaten or told to shut up and told, 'How can you say such things about a man of God?'"
The settlement did not require the order to admit fault, Mr Roosa said. None of the priests faced criminal charges.
The settlement announcement was premature because some issues needed to be finalised, said the Very Rev. John Whitney, provincial superior of the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, which covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
"When those issues are resolved we will be available for a more complete discussion of the matter," Father Whitney said in a prepared statement.
He described the settlement announcement as "premature and detrimental".
Mr Roosa said issues involving the plaintiffs had been resolved. The only issues that remained were with the religious order's insurer, he said.
Mr Roosa produced an email sent last Friday by lawyer Dick Hansen, who was representing the religious order.
It read: "This email will confirm that a settlement has been reached. The settlement calls for $US50,000,000 to be paid to the plaintiffs/claimants in exchange for releases of all claims against the Jesuit defendants."
In the email, Mr Hansen said he was glad to "put this matter to rest". He did not respond yesterday to calls for further comment.
The sexual abuse allegations involved 13 or 14 clerics from 1961 to 1987, Mr Roosa said. The children were aged from five years to in their teens.
"Despite all this, no Catholic religious leader has yet to admit that problem priests were dumped in Alaska," Mr Roosa said. "For our clients, this settlement represents a long overdue acknowledgment of the truth of their stories of abuse, stories that until today were largely denied and belittled by apologists for the abusers."
The Catholic Church first was notified of the Alaskan cases of abuse in 2002, Mr Roosa said.
The cases did not include those against the diocese of Fairbanks, which owned and managed churches in villages in rural Alaska where the Jesuit priests were assigned. Those 135 lawsuits had been reduced to 10. The cases were expected to be mediated in December. #
Home economics teacher escapes jail for lesbian sex with student
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By CHRISTIANA JONES, p 3, Wednesday, November 21, 2007
[Picture] Suspended term: A handcuffed Elizabeth Crothers is escorted into court yesterday. Picture: Barry Baker
PERTH – A home economics teacher convicted of having lesbian sex with a 16-year-old schoolgirl has escaped jail despite the prosecution saying her offence was in "flagrant disregard" of warnings against the relationship and warranted imprisonment.
Elizabeth Anne Crothers, 50, was given a two-year suspended term after a jury found her guilty of one count of sexual penetration and one of indecently dealing with a child in her care whom she taught at a Perth high school in the late 1990s.
District Court Judge Michael Muller found that because the jury convicted Crothers of only the final two of 21 sex charges, her crimes had to be seen as stemming from an "isolated incident" after resisting temptation.
Both Crothers and the victim admitted they shared a 2½-year relationship after the girl left school but Crothers denied sexual contact while the teenager was a student.
The conviction centred on the former schoolgirl's claim that she and her teacher engaged in mutual digital penetration while she was a student.
Judge Muller said the guilty verdicts "swung" on evidence from a former school friend of the victim that he returned to a bush spot to find Crothers and his friend readjusting their clothes and that the teenager introduced Crothers as her "girlfriend".
In evidence, the victim claimed Crothers, who was aged in her 40s and had two teenage children at the time, had sex encounters with her at a Cottesloe beach changeroom and one night she dressed in black and "commando crawled" to meet her secretly at her family home.
Defence counsel Mark Trowell attacked the victim's credibility and reliability after Crothers testified she threatened in 2002 to go to police with sex abuse claims unless she was paid up to $30,000 which she believed she was owed.
The alleged blackmail came after their relationship dissolved into violent arguments and a suicide attempt by the teenager.
Prosecutor Tony Elliott said Crothers warranted immediate jail because she breached the trust put in teachers and disregarded a ban on out-of-class contact with the victim after the teenager's parents complained to the Education Department.
Judge Muller agreed there was a breach and said the law preventing teacher-student relationships was to protect students.
But there was no evidence Crothers "groomed" the girl or encouraged her to leave school and home to continue a sexual relationship. He took into account Crothers' lifestyle and professional changes since the offences and believed a suspended jail term fulfilled community expectations.
Outside court, defence solicitor Tim Kucera said Crothers, whose family supported her, was shocked by the convictions, which would end her long career in education. #
Family First favours porn and incest party
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By CHRIS JOHNSON, p 17, Thursday, November 22, 2007
PERTH (W. Australia) – Family First has given priority to a party which endorses pornography, prostitution and guns and thinks incest should not be illegal ahead of Liberal, Labor and the Christian Democratic Party on its Senate preference list for WA.
The questionable deal, made between the party which lays claims to family values, and the Liberty and Democracy Party, is designed to keep the Greens out of the race even though Family First has confessed to not believing in the LDP's policies.
The strategy also hopes to knock off the CDP, which threatens to snatch Family First's Christian vote in WA and place it as the pre-eminent family party in the State.
Only three Independent candidates, as well as Family First's own three candidates, are placed higher than the LDP, but Family First's only senator, Steve Fielding, claims to have not been involved in the preselection process.
Email correspondence seen by The West Australian, between Family First's State campaign director David Bolt and a constituent, reveals the thinking behind the deal.
Asked where Family First had placed the LDP in preferences in WA, Mr Bolt replied: "We put them No. 7. We are hoping to knock them off and collect their preferences before their preferences flow to the Greens. We don't support or endorse their policies." #
Teacher abused me on road trip: former schoolboy
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By RYAN PEDLER, p 17, Thursday, November 22, 2007
PERTH (W. Australia) – A successful Sydney businessman broke down in tears yesterday when he told a District Court jury that a teacher at his all-boys Catholic school raped and molested him during a holiday in WA more than 25 years ago when he was just 13.
The man, who is now married with children, said former Marist College religious education teacher Stephen Francis Dobbie, now in his 50s, abused him throughout a five-week road trip from Sydney to Perth during the summer school holidays.
The man sobbed as he told the jury he had been too scared to protest or tell anyone what had happened and did not report the matter to police until 2002 because he felt guilty and ashamed. "I thought I was doing a pretty good job keeping it to myself," he said. "As I got older I felt guilty that I hadn't told anyone. In 2002, that was it, that's when the bubble burst."
Mr Dobbie went on trial in Perth yesterday after pleading not guilty to two counts of indecently dealing with the man, when he was 13, by touching his anus and genitals and two counts of having carnal knowledge of him.
The man told the jury that he was excited when Mr Dobbie invited him, another teacher and another student to travel to Perth and stay in Mr Dobbie's caravan at various stops during the trip.
But Mr Dobbie allegedly began molesting him a short time into the trip in a double bed they shared inside the caravan. He told the court he was "paralysed with fear" and too scared to protest the first time Mr Dobbie molested him. "I was just petrified, "he said. "I felt really quite helpless."
The man said the abuse continued and when they reached WA, Mr Dobbie sexually assaulted him on two separate nights.
He said he did not tell anyone about the incidents for many years because he felt ashamed that he had not fought back, was worried his devout Catholic mother would not believe him and was worried people would think he was homosexual.
"I felt really guilty, really ashamed with myself," he said. "That guilt and shame carried on even to where I am right now." The trial continues. #
Sex abuse teacher ‘should be jailed’
The West Australian, www.thewest. com.au , By BETHANY HIATT, p 18, Thursday, November 22, 2007
W. AUSTRALIA – A teacher who received a two-year suspended jail term after she was convicted of having lesbian sex with a 16-year-old school girl should have been given a much harsher penalty, WA's main parent group said yesterday.
WA Council of State School Organisations president Rob Fry said that if a male teacher had committed a similar crime he would have been jailed.
"I think that there appears to be some discriminatory process there," he said. "As a parent I believe the penalty did not suit the crime."
On Tuesday, a jury found former home economics teacher Elizabeth Anne Crothers, 50, guilty of one count of sexual penetration and one of indecently dealing with a child in her care whom she taught at a Perth high school in the late 1990s.
District Court Judge Michael Muller found that because the jury convicted Crothers of just two of 21 sex charges, her crimes had to be seen as stemming from an "isolated incident".
But Mr Fry said Crothers had abused her position as a teacher to take advantage of a child who did not have decision-making power.
"I believe that the penalty should have been far more severe for a person in the trusted position of a teacher," he said. "This person used their position of trust and their position as an adult who had power over a child and did not do the right thing and should be penalised appropriately.
"She effectively got off scot free, except I suppose the greatest penalty she will suffer is that she will never be able to teach in a school again in Australia."
Education Minister Mark McGowan said he was surprised by the sentencing decision but understood the need to have criminal issues dealt with by the courts.
"We have a zero-tol