TIME Crime

St. Paul’s School Leaders Respond to Rape Verdict

The entrance to the elite St. Paul’s School is seen Friday Aug. 14, 2015 in Concord, N.H., Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, Owen Labrie, a former student, goes on trial Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, for taking part in a practice at the school known as “Senior Salute” where graduating boys try to take the virginity of younger girls before the school year ends. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Jim Cole—AP The entrance to the elite St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., is seen on Aug. 14, 2015.

They note the perils of 21st-century dating

The leaders of St. Paul’s School wrote a letter to the school community Friday, denouncing the culture of sexual competition described in the trial of Owen Labrie, who was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl while they were both students at the school.

The letter from Rector Michael G. Hirschfeld and President of the Board of Trustees James M. Waterbury was sent just after a jury issued a mixed verdict in Labrie’s case Friday afternoon. The jury determined Labrie was not guilty of felony sexual assault but found him guilty of three related misdemeanor charges, and a felony charge of luring a minor through a computer. He will have to register as a sex offender and could face up to 11 years in prison.

The girl alleged Labrie raped her in a remote area of the school after sending her an invitation to participate in the “senior salute” ritual, a tradition in which upperclass boys are said to compete to “score” with as many girls as possible before graduation. Labrie said he and the girl never had sex. From the jury’s mixed verdict, it seems that they believe the pair had sex, but were divided on whether it was consensual.

In the letter to the St. Paul’s community, Hirschfeld and Waterbury said the sexual “traditions” discussed during the trial were not actually part of the school’s history. “Many terms, including ‘senior salute’ and ‘score’ that are part of the student vernacular, have been discussed as part of the trial,” the letter said. “There is no place for inappropriate and hurtful behavior that disrespects any member of our School. Conduct that is damaging to the fabric of our community and inconsistent with our values has never been—and will not be—tolerated.

“The Rector first heard about the ‘senior salute’ in the spring of 2013,” the letter continued. “It is not a decades-old ‘tradition’ as some have alleged.”

The St. Paul’s leaders also noted that the incident and subsequent trial could be considered a wake-up-call about the role of social media in romantic relationships, and how teenage sexual activity has changed in the 21st century.

“We have been painfully reminded of the fact that social media can provide an adult-free space for negative student culture to form and perpetuate itself,” Hirschfeld and Waterbury wrote. “We have learned that what was once termed ‘dating’ or ‘courting’ behavior has been inverted in some instances from our traditional sensibilities—sexual contact is now seen as the point of origin of many relationships, not a part of an emotionally developed relationship.”

TIME celebrities

Zoe Kravitz Says Mom Lisa Bonet Is ‘Disgusted’ By Bill Cosby Allegations

"She’s just as disgusted and concerned as everyone else is," Kravitz says of her mom, who played Cosby's daughter on The Cosby Show

Lisa Bonet, Bill Cosby’s television daughter on The Cosby Show, hasn’t spoken publicly about the allegations of sexual assault against Cosby. But her real life daughter, Zoe Kravitz, said what her mom is thinking.

“She’s just as disgusted and concerned as everyone else is,” Kravitz told the Guardian. “But I don’t think she has any insight. It’s news to her as well.”

Kravitz admitted that her mother was extremely tight-lipped about the scandal: “She’d plead the fifth, even to me.” But she also said that “she’s a very straightforward person. If there was something she felt the world needed to know that would help this case or help any women who had been abused, she would say something.”

Cosby has been accused by more than 40 women of sexual assault. He is facing a criminal investigation, but he has not been charged.

[The Guardian]

TIME Ecuador

U.K Lodges Formal Protest Over Assange’s Continued Stay in Ecuadorian Embassy

A police officer stands outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London
Peter Nicholls—Reuters A police officer stands outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London August 13, 2015.

Hugo Swire of the Foreign Office called the issue a "growing stain" on Ecuador's reputation

The British Ambassador in Quito lodged a formal protest to the Ecuadorian government Thursday over the country’s continued harboring of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Foreign Office officials confirm.

Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, saying he was afraid his extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges would be followed by further extradition to the U.S. to stand trial for leaking classified and sensitive documents through his organization. He has been living at the embassy since then.

“Ecuador must recognize that its decision to harbor Mr. Assange more than three years ago has prevented the proper course of justice,” Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire told the BBC before the written complaint was delivered in Quito. The issue is both a moral and a financial one: U.K. officials estimate that the cost of policing the area around the London embassy is nearing $19 million.

Swedish authorities were forced to drop two allegations of sexual assault this week due to that country’s statute of limitations policy. Under Swedish law, an individual may not be charged until he or she has been questioned by authorities, an action that investigators say has been made impossible by Assange’s stay at the Embassy. He still faces a more serious allegation of rape, on which the statute of limitations will not run out until 2020.

“I am an innocent man. I haven’t even been charged,” Assange told the BBC. “From the beginning I offered simple solutions. Come to the embassy to take my statement or promise not to send me to the United States. This Swedish official refused both. She even refused a written statement.”

Sweden’s director of public prosecution told the BBC that authorities had submitted a request to interview Assange inside the embassy as he suggested but had not received permission.

[BBC]

TIME isis

How ISIS Justifies Its Culture of Rape and Sex Slavery

"He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God"

Rape has become a central part of the religious beliefs of members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group, according to a chilling new report in the New York Times.

The report found that men in ISIS believe sexually violating women and girls of the Yazidi religious minority is sanctioned, and even encouraged by the Quran. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” a 12-year-old rape victim told the Times.

These incidents of rape are bound in a larger, formal institution of sex slavery within the group, which can be used as a recruiting tool for young men.

Read more at the New York Times.

TIME sweden

Sweden Drops Sexual Assault Investigation Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London
John Stillwell—Reuters WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (R) speaks as Ecuador's Foreign Affairs Minister Ricardo Patino listens, during a news conference at the Ecuadorian embassy in central London August 18, 2014

He still faces a more serious rape allegation

Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into two sexual assault allegations — one of sexual molestation and the other of coercion — against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange due to the country’s statute of limitations, AFP reports.

Assange is still facing a more serious rape allegation, which will not expire until 2020, according to the BBC.

Under Swedish law, an individual may not be formally charged with a crime until he or she is questioned. As investigators were not able to question Assange before the two deadlines passed this week, the investigation has been ended.

They were not able to question Assange, who founded the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, because he has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. He claimed asylum there in order to avoid extradition to Sweden, saying he fears he will then be further extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for releasing classified documents. He denies all the assault allegations.

Discussions continue between Sweden, Ecuador, and the U.K. regarding the circumstances under which Assange might be questioned about the remaining rape accusation, the BBC says. Assange has said he would be willing to be interviewed by videolink from the embassy, but no agreement has yet been reached.

The U.K. argues that Ecuador must allow Assange to be extradited both to fulfill what they characterize as a legal obligation and to resolve what has become a very expensive situation. The BBC reports that the cost of maintaining police personnel around the Ecuadorian embassy over the past three years stands at nearly $19 million.

[BBC]

TIME Crime

Homicides Are Spiking This Year After Falling for Decades

A study says homicide rates are down. But 2015 rates—especially for gun violence—are very different.

Since 1960, U.S. homicide rates have been falling—that is, until this year. Meanwhile, intimate-partner violence and child abuse affect up to 12 million and 10 million Americans, respectively, according to a survey released Tuesday in JAMA. Taken together, it paints a bleak picture for Americans’ safety, and it has violence prevention scholars trying to figure out what led to the changes—and when.

At the annual meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Monday, police chiefs grappled with the fact that some cities are seeing a 50% increase in murders compared with last year. Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier pointed to the nation’s capital as an example: This time last year, D.C. had 69 homicides; this year, D.C. has seen at 87 homicides. Nearby Baltimore tallied 42 homicides in May alone, with 45 in July. And in Chicago, there have been 243 homicides this year so far—a 20% spike from last year.

Until 2012, “we saw decreases for homicide and aggravated assault,” says Dr. Debra Houry, a co-author of the JAMA study who works with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “It’s promising because it shows that violence is preventable.”

Homicide rates in 1980 stood at 10.7 per 100,000; by 2013, they’d been cut in half. Aggravated assault saw a similar halving of incidences between 1992 and 2012.

But Andrew Papachristos, a professor of sociology at Yale and a criminal justice expert who has focused much of his research on Chicago’s gang and gun violence, says that JAMA‘s findings may not offer a nuanced enough picture of what’s going on in the United States, because it looks at general trends across the country. While on average crime might have fallen until to this year, some cities, such as Chicago and Milwaukee, are still facing severe problems with violence, particularly in certain areas of the city. Indeed, within cities, “the rates of violence across neighborhoods can be exponentially higher in certain areas and almost zero in others,” he says.

Policy changes can make a difference, says Papachristos. Programs that aim to decrease unemployment, particularly among African Americans, is a critical policy adjustment, he says, since unemployment is correlated with gun violence. He also cites outdated gun laws as part of the problem.

One policy bright spot was found in a study released by the American Journal of Public Health earlier this summer, which looked at Connecticut’s permit-to-purchase handgun law as a case study. The law dates to 1994 and it requires gunowners to purchase a license prior to acquiring a handgun. The state would only allow people to buy guns if they passed a background check and gun-safety course. The result? Connecticut residents can credit the law for a 40% reduction in gun-related homicides. (Of course, in a dreary statistic that illustrates Papachristos’ point, it’s not down everywhere in the state; Hartford is experiencing a massive surge in gun violence this year.)

But even with some signs of promise, any changes to law or policy might come too late for many victims of American crime this year. Criminal justice expert Rod Wheeler told Fox that America is snowballing into the most violent summer the country has seen in decades.

“I said this back in June, that we’re going to have a long, hot, bloody summer,” he said. “And unfortunately, it’s coming to pass.”

TIME celebrities

Bill Cosby Forced to Testify on Sexual Assault

The California Supreme Court just cleared the way for one of the mounting sexual assault cases against the comdedian to head to litigation

The California Supreme Court just cleared the way for one of the mounting sexual assault cases against Bill Cosby to head to litigation.

The Court denied Cosby’s petition to review the case Wednesday night, which means the civil suit can continue to the trial phase, CNN reports. Although many women have come forward with sexual misconduct allegations against the comedian, this particular suit was filed by Judith Huth, who claims that Cosby sexually assaulted her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974 when she was 15 years old.

According to Business Insider, Huth’s attorney said they plan to take Cosby’s deposition under oath within the next 30 days.

While Cosby has admitted to giving a woman Quaaludes before having sex with her, he has continued to deny all allegations of sexual impropriety.

Read next: Watch Judd Apatow Slam Bill Cosby During Tonight Show Stand-Up Set

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME celebrities

Bill Cosby No Longer Has a Hollywood Agent

An Evening With Bill Cosby At King Center For The Performing Arts
Gerardo Mora—Getty Images Actor Bill Cosby performs at the King Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 21, 2014, in Melbourne, Fla.

Organizations are scrambling to distance themselves from the comedian

Bill Cosby now has no talent representation in Hollywood.

Deadline Hollywood reports that his erstwhile agency CAA quietly decided to dump him last year after two dozen women accused him of drugging and raping them.

“We do not represent him at this time,” a CAA official recently confirmed to Deadline.

In 2012, Cosby left the William Morris Agency after 48 years and made the move to CAA. He was reportedly considered one of WMA’s biggest clients at the time thanks to the popularity of the Cosby Show on NBC.

Now organizations are scrambling to distance themselves from the comedian after court documents supporting the allegations against the comedian were released. Most recently, Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando got rid of a bronze bust of the comedian.

It’s unlikely that Cosby will find a new agency to represent him in Hollywood unless the charges against him are proved false, Deadline says.

[Deadline Hollywood]

TIME celebrity

Bill Cosby Avoids Sexual-Assault Charges in Atlantic City Case

Bill Cosby at the 2014 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala in New York City on May 1, 2014.
D Dipasupil—Getty Images Bill Cosby at the 2014 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala in New York City on May 1, 2014.

Lili Bernard claimed Cosby drugged and raped her in Atlantic City in the 1990s

Comedian Bill Cosby will not be charged following sexual assault charges made by Lili Bernard this past May. The actress claimed Cosby drugged and raped her in Atlantic City in the 1990s, but according to a statement from Cosby’s New Jersey lawyer, Edwin J. Jacobs, charges will not be filed.

“Whatever she was claiming was far beyond the applicable statute of limitations,” Cosby’s New Jersey lawyer Edwin J. Jacobs said in a statement obtained by EW. “That was my analysis and the analysis of the Atlantic County Prosecutor. Ms. Bernard’s lawyer apparently thought other wise, but was wrong.”

While New Jersey does not presently have a statute of limitations on sexual assault cases, the state did before 1996. Jacobs told Press of Atlantic City that the allegations pre-date the law change. As such, the investigation has been terminated and its file closed.

Multiple allegations of sexual assault from over 30 women have come against Cosby since early 2014. The 77-year-old has said he will not address the claims. Cosby has never been charged with a crime.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME celebrities

Rolf Harris Has Written a Derogatory Song About the Victims of His Sexual Assaults

Rolf Harris On Trial  For Alleged Indecent Assault
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images Artist and television personality Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London on May 14, 2014

He appears to show no remorse for repeatedly molesting young girls

Australian-born TV personality and musician Rolf Harris, currently in prison in the U.K. for a string of sexual assaults against underage girls, has written a song accusing his victims of being after his money.

The 85-year-old entertainer penned lyrics to the song in a letter from prison, sending them to a shocked friend who promptly passed them on to British tabloid the Mail on Sunday, Agence France-Presse reports.

In the letter, Harris said his “inner rage has come to the fore,” prompting him to write the song (which he says will have a “country rock sound with a heavy backbeat”) about the “injustice of it all.”

The song includes lyrics like “You’ve festered down there long enough/ time’s right to grab your chance … Clap eyes on a rich celebrity and make the bastard dance.” He also uses offensive terms like “perfumed sultry wench” and “slimy little woodworm” to refer to his victims.

Harris was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail last July after being convicted of repeatedly molesting four girls — including his daughter’s best friend — between 1969 and 1986. The actor and singer-songwriter will soon be eligible to apply for parole, but Liz Dux, the lawyer who represented his victims, argues that the song should be grounds for denying him that right and for making him serve his full sentence.

“I am totally revolted by what he has written,” one victim reportedly told the Mail on Sunday. “He has shown no remorse and continues to think he can treat his victims like dirt. His arrogance is beyond belief. I am devastated by reading this and it will set back my recovery at a time when I am trying to rebuild my shattered life.”

[AFP]

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