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An ex-Jehovah’s Witness says she was raped at 5 — and forced to hug her rapist to ‘keep the peace’

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It should come as no surprise that the Catholic Church is not the only insular religious institution that would allow child sex abuse to go unchecked for decades — or that when the stories come to light, the leadership seems to care more about protecting the abusers than helping the victims.

A story published by the Philadelphia Inquirer today describes how three years after a Center for Investigative Reporting expose revealed tales of widespread sex crimes in the organization, its leadership denied them.

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Stephen Lett, head of the small governing body that oversees the Witnesses, appeared on video in 2015 to undermine the accusers, urging his followers to reject “false stories” and painting the accusations as religious discrimination.

“As an example, think about the apostate-driven lies and dishonesties that Jehovah’s organization is permissive toward pedophiles,” Lett said, according to the Inquirer. “I mean, that is ridiculous, isn’t it? If anyone takes action against someone who would threaten our young ones, and takes action to protect our young ones, it is Jehovah’s organization.”

As the Inquirer report indicates, however, Lett was well aware of the mishandling of abuse—long before his public denial.

Twenty-nine-year-old Chessa Manion says that when she was just 5 when she was raped by a 14-year-old neighbor, whose family were also Jehovah’s witnesses. A doctor confirmed her parents’ fears and told them they had to go to the authorities.

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Her mom said the powerful members of the congregation pressured her into not reporting the crime.

“There were friends of both families that felt if we would just make peace with this and each other that we wouldn’t have to go to the authorities,” she said in a recent interview.

Marion tells the Inquirer that she was forced to hug her rapist. “I was made to hug him,” she said, “because the elders told our families that we needed to keep the peace.”

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“My parents received a lot of opposition, even though I was only 5,” Chessa said. “I was marked as ‘dirty.’ ”

In 2002, Manion’s father sent a letter to Lett describing their ordeal.

“Most of the people we have told over the years have shunned us,” he wrote. “Some even thought and said openly to others that we must have done something to deserve this.”

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Swiss holding ‘funeral march’ to mark disappearance of an Alpine glacier

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Dozens of people will undertake a "funeral march" up a steep Swiss mountainside on Sunday to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier amid growing global alarm over climate change.

The Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, told AFP.

The organisation which helped organise Sunday's march said around 100 people were due to take part in the event, set to take place as the UN gathers youth activists and world leaders in New York to mull the action needed to curb global warming.

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2020 Election

UAW strike ‘threatens to upend the economy in Michigan’ — and could destroy Trump’s re-election: report

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At the end of the first week of a major strike by the United Auto Workers, the employment standoff threatens to upend President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election map, the Chicago Times reported Saturday.

Approximately 46,000 workers have been striking against General Motors.

There are two major threats to Trump's campaign from the strike.

The first is that the strike could cause regional recessions -- threatening Trump's political standing in key Rust Belt states.

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Security forces fired live rounds at protesters calling for the ouster of Egyptian president: report

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Egyptian security forces clashed with hundreds of anti-government protesters in the port city of Suez on Saturday, firing tear gas and live rounds, said several residents who participated in the demonstrations.

A heavy security presence was also maintained in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's 2011 revolution, after protests in several cities called for the removal of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Such demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi.

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