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Celebrities in celebrated sexual abuse cases

By News Express on 13/03/2019

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The codification of the universal declarations of human rights (UDHR) became imperative prior to its writing in 1948, when humanity suffered some of the worst cases of mass-killings and wars that led to the wanton killings of millions of members of the human race through the deployment of weapons of mass destruction. The first and second World Wars, perhaps, occasioned the evolution of the universal principles of human rights.

The advent of these global human right instruments and several other affiliate international laws have revolutionised the way we approach the issues of human rights and human development.

The bringing into being of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights (UDHR) can also be linked to the widespread practices of racial segregation in some societies and, even the alienation of women from participation in electoral activities in their countries.

The outcomes of global campaigns against racism, and the marginalisation of the female gender led to political freedoms of diverse dimensions, just as these new-found freedoms have now opened a new frontier globally.

The latest frontier is the ongoing global conversations around the issue of sexual rights of minorities and women, especially in the work place. With the exception of much of Africa, including the largest black nation in the world which is Nigeria, celebrities from around the world and, especially, in the Western societies are battling different dimensions of accusations by ladies bordering on the sensitive and emotive issue of sexual violations. In Britain, for instance, a prominent official and parliamentarian was compelled to resign due to proven case of sexual violation of a lady who brought up allegations. The United States of America is in the news constantly over many cases of sexual violations of women. Top rated musicians and movie stars have been named and shamed. But some commentators have blamed racism for the overwhelming volumes of allegations directed at hitherto iconic black celebrities by ladies and children who alleged that they were sexually violated. This line of argument is shallow because even the most powerful Catholic clerics in USA and Australia who are both Whites have also been convicted of sexual offences against kids. 

The emerging realisation and clamour for the sanctity of respect for sexual rights of all gender even led to the formation of a group of global advocacy movement known as #Metoo. The following sources are rich in learning about these cases.

They are: Chicago Tribune's piece on prosecutors who revealed sordid details of sex abuse cases against R Kelly; Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment claims case from Yourtango.com; the complex list of sexual abuse allegation against Michael Jackson written by Molly Olmstead and from metoomvmt.org.

Specifically, the #Metoo movement was founded in 2006, to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls and other young women of colour from low wealth communities find pathways to healing. The vision, from the beginning, they said was to address both the dearth in resources for survivors of sexual violence and to build a community of advocates, driven by survivors, who will be at the forefront of creating solutions to interrupt sexual violence in their communities.

In less than six months, because of the viral #metoo hashtag, a vital conversation about sexual violence has been thrust into the national dialogue they recorded.

In the eyes of observers, what started as local grassroots work has expanded to reach a global community of survivors from all walks of life and helped to de-stigmatise the act of surviving by highlighting the breadth and impact of sexual violence worldwide.

From the website of #Metoo we are told that their work continues to focus on helping those who need it to find entry points for individual healing and galvanising a broad-base of survivors to disrupt the systems that allow for the global proliferation of sexual violence.

Their goal is also to reframe and expand the global conversation around sexual violence to speak to the needs of a broader spectrum of survivors. Young people, queer, trans, disabled folks, Black women/girls, and all communities of colour. According to the movement, “We want perpetrators to be held accountable, and we want strategies implemented to sustain long term, systemic change.”

The movement started in earnest, and went viral in 2017 when some celebrities were implicated and accused by a retinue of ladies of sexually molesting or violating their human dignity. These celebrities are mostly based in the United States of America and they cut across all races, classes and status.

They include R Kelly: Prosecutors alleged Kelly sexually abused one woman and three underage girls in separate attacks over a span of a dozen years.

Prosecutors said Kelly's 24-year-old hairdresser came to braid his hair in Chicago’s Near North Side in 2003, but instead he greeted her with his pants down and tried to force oral sex on her.

When she resisted, Kelly ejaculated on her and spit in her face several times, prosecutors alleged.

DNA recovered from the alleged victim's shirt matched Kelly, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors alleged Kelly also sexually abused one underage girl who had sought his autograph while attending his 2008 trial in Chicago on child pornography charges. The girl had sex with Kelly multiple times between May 2009 and January 2010, according to prosecutors. At times, he spit on her, slapped her in the face and choked her, they alleged. She saved a shirt from one encounter and gave it to police in suburban Olympia Fields, where Kelly had a residence. Preliminary testing results showed a DNA match to Kelly, prosecutors said.

Kelly met another victim as she celebrated her 16th birthday at a restaurant, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez said in court. The singer’s associate gave her Kelly's business card, but her mother intervened. However, the girl took the card from her mother's purse, contacted the singer and began having regular sexual contact with him, prosecutors alleged.

Prosecutors also have a videotape purportedly showing Kelly having sex with yet another girl, who was 14 at the time. High-profile attorney, Michael Avenatti, has said he recovered the tape and turned it over to prosecutors last month.

In ordering that bond be set at $250,000 for each of the four separate indictments, Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr described the allegations against Kelly as “disturbing” and barred him from contact with the alleged victims or any witnesses in the case. He also banned the singer from contact with anyone younger than 18.

Kelly's attorney, Steven Greenberg, sought a lower bond, telling the judge that Kelly's finances were in disarray, his record label had dumped him and that he posed no threat to flee.

"He's lived here his whole life," Greenberg said before making a reference to Kelly's hit, I Believe I Can Fly. Contrary to the song, he doesn't like to fly," he said. "He doesn't travel unless he absolutely has to."

Greenberg described the $1 million bond as “exceedingly reasonable”, and said he believed that Kelly could raise the necessary 10 per cent - $100,000 - to win his release.

“He’s trying to get it together,” Greenberg said. “... He doesn’t have it sitting in the bank, sitting in a shoe-box, sitting anywhere.”

As at 9 pm Saturday, the deadline to post the bond, Kelly was still in custody at the Cook County Jail. As yours was writing this, R Kelly had reportedly procured the bail but was locked up once more for failing to pay child-care of over US$160,000.

According to media reports, Kelly, 52, who has been dogged by accusations of sexually predatory behaviour for years, was indicted on Friday on a combined 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for alleged misconduct between 1998 and 2010.

He reportedly turned himself in at the Central District Station, just after 8 pm on Friday; emerging from a dark cargo van with tinted windows into a scrum of photographers and reporters. He was handcuffed and led into a lock-up with a concerned look on his face.

The counts each carry a maximum seven years in prison upon conviction, but could also result in probation.

During Saturday’s 17-minute hearing, Kelly stood, facing the judge in a black hood with his arms behind his back, frowning at times, as he kept his eyes downcast. He shook his head several times in disagreement as prosecutors detailed their evidence, but he otherwise showed little emotion. At one point, he leaned over to whisper something to his lawyer, who patted Kelly on the shoulder. Several relatives of the alleged victims stood in the courtroom throughout the hearing.

Kelly’s appearance at the Leighton Criminal Court Building comes more than a decade after his acquittal on child pornography charges, following a sensational 2008 trial at the same courthouse. Three of the new indictments allege Kelly sexually abused three underage victims. The fourth indictment charged that Kelly sexually abused an adult in February 2003, while he was free on bond on the then-pending child pornography charges.

The singer whose legal name is Robert S Kelly, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Kelly is scheduled to return to the courthouse Monday so a judge can be assigned to oversee his case, and he can plead not guilty to the 10 counts. He gave an emotionally charged interview to a US television channel denying all the allegations.

The next celebrity is Harvey Weinstein.

Weinstein, now 65, is being taken to court to face accusations of sexual harassment towards women that worked with his company. These accusations go back for decades. While there are some that believe these allegations are false, since it has taken 20 years for them to come to light, the women in question are telling quite a different story and explaining it simply as a man in a ridiculously powerful position using his role to suppress their claims.

A-list actresses like Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan are prominent in this case. While Ashley Judd has come forward to put her remarks against the producer “on the record”, Rose McGowan has been fairly silent, only tweeting support from her personal account every so often.

Though McGowan hasn’t come forward and publicly made claims, the Times uncovered the fact that Weinstein paid her $100,000 after something “happened” between her and Weinstein in a hotel room. At the time, McGowan was only 23 years old.

Ashley Judd, on the other hand, said that years ago Weinstein invited her to the Peninsula Hotel for a “meeting.” While there, she was directed to his room where he “appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or [if] she could watch him shower.” She left as quickly as possible.

According to Judd, “Women have been talking about Harvey among ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly.”

Weinstein has allegedly paid out settlements to at least eight women since 1990.

In the same report released by the Times, some of the accusations by these women included “sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact.” These allegations come from many women - assistants, colleagues, models - and each of them was paid small sums of what was likely “hush” money to keep their silence, anywhere from $80,000 to about $150,000 apiece.

One of the women, Lauren O’Connor, even wrote a memo regarding the harassment to executives at his company in 2015. Nothing was done.

Known sexual harassment victims’ lawyer, Lisa Bloom, is his attorney. He is being represented, quite shockingly, by Lisa Bloom - a litigator famous for her representation of sexual harassment victims and oppressed women. This news came as a surprise to many, including Bloom’s own mother, attorney Gloria Allred. Allred, a prominent feminist attorney known for her work as  victims’ rights advocate, who is well-known for representing many of Bill Cosby’s accusers, said that she would not have chosen to work for Weinstein in light of his charges.

Something important to note, however, is that Weinstein recently optioned the rights to Bloom’s book about Trayvon Martin, Suspicion Nation, in March 2017. Many people believe that this is the reason that the woman most famous for representing people like Blac Chyna, Mischa Barton, and even many of the women from the Bill O’Reilly harassment case chose to represent a man who clearly has a significant history with sexually harassing women. After Bill O’Reilly was fired in April, Bloom had famously tweeted, “When women speak our truth the old order shatters. We slew the dragon.”

The biggest of them all is no more the matter, it is nevertheless sensational. His daughter and estate have vigorously defended him. Be that as it may, Michael Jackson is a subject of a controversial documentary, Leaving Neverland, where two men accused him of molesting them when they were children. Wade Robson and James Safechuck are not the first to accuse Jackson. Recall that the singer paid out about $25 million in a settlement with the family of one accuser in 1994 and was tried and acquitted on separate charges of sexual abuse in 2005. In total, Jackson has now been publicly accused of abusing five boys.

Jackson maintained his innocence until his death in 2009, and his estate has continued to fight the allegations, announcing recently that it was suing HBO for $100 million over charges the documentary had violated a non-disparagement agreement. The lawsuit called the documentary a “posthumous character assassination” and “a one-sided hit piece,” and Jackson’s family said the attacks on Jackson amount to a “public lynching.”

Here are the details about allegations against Jackson.

Jason Francia, who was 24 at the time of the trial, testified that Jackson had molested him on several occasions while tickling him. Francia's mother was employed by Jackson as a maid. Francia said that "every time I was being tickled there was some sort of exchange of money", with the understanding that he would not tell his mother

Jordan Chandler, the alleged victim in the 1993 child abuse allegations, left the country rather than appear as a witness

Gavin Arvizo was 15 when he testified. He claimed that after living with Michael Jackson, Jackson had begun serving him and his younger brother wine and making sexual advances. He said that Jackson had masturbated him to ejaculation after they drank alcohol, and then told him that if men do not masturbate, they "might rape a girl.”

Gavin's younger brother, Star, told the court that he had twice seen Jackson molest Gavin. He also said that Jackson had displayed his erection and masturbated in front of them, telling them that "everyone did it" and encouraging them to try it. Star testified that Jackson had given the boys alcohol, sometimes in soda cans, and which Jackson called "Jesus juice". Star also said Jackson had showed the brothers internet pornography on his computer. The Guardian described Star as a "hapless witness for the prosecution, forgetting crucial details that he had revealed to the grand jury, even when prompted by the prosecution.”

The question we need to ask is why the African Continent is so silent about these vital issues, even when the continent is a notorious hub of sexual violations of women and kids?

Why are there no movements strong enough to evolve continental wide conversations, so the sexual rights of African women are comprehensively highlighted and the predators named, shamed and prosecuted.

In Nigeria, there is a clear legal framework of human rights litigation. The National Human Rights Commission is severely weakened by government, any way. But there is a large pool of organised civil rights movements. But they don’t care about this global trend of awareness of women to defend their sexual rights.

There is also the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015, which has abridged time within which cases can be done. Sadly, Nigerian laws on sexual offences are archaic and are in urgent need of reforms. This must be done. Nigeria must not continue to pretend that her girls are not being sexually abused by men holding influential positions, both in the public and private sectors. We need to embrace civilisation.

•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist (www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com), is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).

 

Source News Express

Posted 13/03/2019 7:24:53 PM

 

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