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Girls in gangs ‘failed by authorities’

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Media captionNequela Whittaker was jailed at 17 – she is now a youth worker

Girls involved in gang crime are being overlooked and failed by the authorities, the children’s commissioner for England has said.

Half of children involved with gangs are girls and they “desperately need help to get out”, Anne Longfield said.

They are often used to carry knives or drugs because they are less likely to be stopped by police, she told the BBC.

The Local Government Association said “limited funding” meant councils had to prioritise those at immediate risk.

‘Under the radar’

Ms Longfield told the Victoria Derbyshire programme she was writing to the government and local authorities calling for a review into support for female gang members, who were “not getting the help they need”.

“Teachers, social workers, GPs and youth workers need to be doing more to help get these girls out of gangs,” she said.

“So many are trapped with nowhere to go.”

Two-thirds of children in England assessed by councils as being involved in gangs are boys (66%) and one third girls (34%), figures analysed by the children’s commissioner’s office suggest.

Estimates from the Office for National Statistics suggest a higher figure – that as many as half may be girls.

But the Metropolitan Police Service’s gangs matrix database lists 3,000 male gang members known to the authorities in London and just 18 female gang members.

And London’s deputy mayor for policing, Sophie Linden, said a lot of girls were going “under the radar”.

Image caption Anne Longfield is writing to ask the government for a review into how girls involved in gangs are supported

Nequela Whittaker, who used to be in a gang but is now a youth worker, said girls as young as 11 were now telling her they carried weapons for “boyfriends, other counterparts and gang members”.

“As young as these girls are, they are not scared to carry a weapon and if something went wrong to use it,” she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

“They are the ones who are getting away with it, mostly because they are not looked upon as a person of interest, as opposed to a young male.”

Sexually exploited

Until recently, “Samira”, 18, was a member of a south London gang who had groomed her into carrying weapons from the age of 12.

“It would mostly be kitchen knives, for gang members and for my own protection,” she said.

Asked if she was aware of the harm this could lead to, she replied: “All you think about is yourself. You don’t really care about what happens to the other person.

“All you want to do is protect yourself and you’re willing to do anything to do that.”

She said she had also seen other girls being sexually exploited by senior gang members.

“I saw people getting stabbed, getting shot, people getting beaten up and getting robbed,” she said.

She is now pregnant, which she said had allowed her to escape gang culture.

Image caption Police say gender should not be a factor in who is targeted by stop and search

Ms Linden, said it was heartbreaking to hear young girls talk about being groomed and abused.

“We are doing our best to engage with those we know about and make sure we are actively reaching out to communities, to ensure we are working with young women and girls who are being exploited.

“We haven’t forgotten them.”

The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils across England, said: “Councils are being forced to divert the limited funding they have left away from preventative work, including young offenders teams and youth work, into services to protect children who are at immediate risk of harm.”

Follow the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Facebook and Twitter – and see more of our stories here.

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‘I changed my gender after my wife got dementia’

Image copyright AoC
Image caption Stephanie, a skilled carpenter, has gained beauty therapy qualifications at her local college since her transition

When Steve Gilbert met his wife, Jill, he had just left the Royal Marines, unnerved by a growing realisation that he was attracted to men – “especially the hunky guys”.

Almost 40 years on, Jill has dementia and lives in a care home – and Steve, now Stephanie, has had gender reassignment surgery.

“I always felt female,” Stephanie says.

“But you learn to hide everything when growing up – to fit in to society.”

Steve and Jill were both into sport and fitness when they met, at their local leisure centre, near Redruth, Cornwall.

Image copyright S Gilbert
Image caption Steve and Jill on their wedding day

Jill was 18 years older, with three children from a previous marriage, so they decided to just “play it by ear” but as time went on, Stephanie says: “I fell in love with her and it just got deeper and deeper.”

Steve told Jill he felt he should be female – but when she told him marriage would change this, he put his misgivings to one side to concentrate on being a good husband and immersed himself in sport.

In his 20s, he was particularly successful at judo, coming third in his weight category in the national judo championships three years running.

But rather than going away, the feeling that he should be female grew – and in his late 40s, he decided he wanted to live as a woman.

“And, of course, that’s when the difficulties started in the marriage – arguments,” Stephanie says.

Image copyright S Gilbert
Image caption Steve immersed himself in sport, coming third in his weight category in the national judo championships three years running

After a referral to a gender identity clinic in Newton Abbot, Devon, Steve was accepted for hormone treatment – but, Jill, then in her late 60s, hated the idea.

They had all but decided to separate but Jill had a series of family bereavements and was also ill herself, with breast cancer and, later, arthritis.

So Steve decided to put his transition on hold “until things were sorted out”.

“I couldn’t put her through it.”

Soon afterwards, Jill began to show the early signs of dementia.

“At the beginning, you notice little things… and then you think there’s more to it as she repeats herself and then you find that you got like half a dozen tins of mustard powder and loads and loads of kitchen paper but no toilet paper. You think, ‘No, something’s not right.'”

Jill never recovered properly from a general anaesthetic almost nine years ago and Steve, a skilled carpenter and joiner, whose work took him all over Cornwall, became increasingly concerned about her safety while she was at home on her own.

‘Gender neutral’

“In the end, I had to take the knobs off the cooker,” Stephanie says.

“It got too much and I gave up work completely to look after her full time.”

Giving up work also gave Steve the opportunity to live as Stephanie full time.

“At home, I would just be who I wanted to be and try to look after Jill – but it wasn’t brilliant,” she says.

“I had to sort of almost be gender neutral so it was indistinguishable. She still had some of her faculties about her.”

‘Couldn’t cope’

Becoming a full-time carer was exhausting. If Jill needed the toilet in the night, she was often unable to find her way back to bed.

“As the illness developed, I ended up getting fine-tuned to her. So as soon as I heard her get up, I’d be awake instantly,” Stephanie says.

Eventually, Stephanie became so stressed and depressed that she was admitted to hospital for five days.

Jill’s children took over as carers but quickly realised how tough it was and called in social services.

“It sort of got took out of my hands. I knew she was going to have to go into care but it ended up being sooner rather than later.

“I couldn’t cope any longer,” Stephanie says .

‘An inspiration’

With Jill in a care home, Stephanie began to pick up the pieces of her life.

She went back to the gender clinic and was prescribed hormones – and there were other big changes.

“I decided I would pursue my dream of beauty therapy, I’d looked at it previously when I was Steve,” she says.

Stephanie was accepted at Cornwall College, which has “a really good diversity policy”.

“I think it just helped educate them a bit more,” she says, “because, as a trans person, I’ve always tried to let people know we’re just human beings who want to live our lives.”

Image copyright AoC
Image caption Tutors at Cornwall College say Stephanie is “an inspiration”

Her course tutor, Paula Riley, has described Stephanie as “an inspiration in her open approach to transitioning”.

Paula says Stephanie’s college work was always exceptional despite the emotional upheaval of gender reassignment and her wife moving into a care home.

In November 2017, at 59, Stephanie finally underwent surgery and returned to the college early in 2018 to complete a course in Swedish massage.

Her resilience led to her being awarded 2018 Adult Student of the Year by the Association of Colleges – and this September she will begin a higher level course in sports massage.

Image copyright Cornwall College

Sadly, Jill’s dementia has progressed to the extent that she no longer recognises her husband of 30 years at all, even if Stephanie wears a short wig and gender neutral clothes.

Stephanie now has a salon in her home and does treatments for friends, including other trans women, but she still makes her living as a carpenter and joiner on building sites, as the pay is so much better.

She finds the work tough as the hormone therapy means she has lost a lot of strength, but still displays the tenacity and humour that made her so popular at college.

“I’m back on the building site, educating the guys, winding them up something rotten,” she says.

“It’s like, oh, they just really cringe and I say, ‘Haallo!’

“I’ve got to be careful I don’t get done for sexual harassment. It’s so funny. We have a good laugh.”

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Walmart to expand in-store tech, including Pickup Towers for online orders and robots

Walmart is doubling down on its technology innovations in its brick-and-mortar stores in an effort to better compete with Amazon. The retailer today announced the expanded rollout of several technologies — ranging from in-store Pickup Towers to help customers quickly grab their online orders to floor-scrubbing robots. These jobs were, in many cases, previously handled by people instead of machines.

The retailer says it will add to its U.S. stores 1,500 new autonomous floor cleaners, 300 more shelf scanners, 1,200 more FAST Unloaders and 900 new Pickup Towers.

The “Auto-C” floor cleaner is programmed to clean and polish the store’s floor after the area is first prepped by associates. Publicly introduced last fall, the floor cleaner uses assisted autonomy technology to clean the floors instead of having an associate ride a scrubbing machine — a process that today eats up two hours of an employee’s time per day.

Built in partnership with Brain Corp., Walmart said in December it planned to deploy 360 floor-cleaning robots by the end of January 2019. It’s now bumping that rollout to include 1,500 more this year, bringing the total deployment to 1,860.

The Auto-S shelf scanners, meanwhile, have been in testing since 2017, when Walmart rolled out 50 robots to U.S. stores. It’s now adding 300 more to production to reach a total of 350.

These robots are produced by California-based Bossa Nova Robotics, and roll around aisles to scan prices and check inventory. The robots sit in a charging station until given a task by an employee — like checking inventory levels to see what needs restocking, identifying and finding misplaced items or locating incorrect prices or labeling.

In the backroom, Walmart has been testing FAST Unloaders that are capable of unloading a truck of merchandise along a conveyor belt in a fraction of the time it could be done by hand. The machines automatically scan and sort the items based on priority and department to speed up the process and direct items appropriately.

Unloading, the company noted earlier in testing, was also a heavily disliked job — and one it had trouble keeping staffed. Last summer, Walmart said it had 30 unloaders rolled out in the U.S. and was on pace to add 10 more a week.

Now, 1,200 more are being added to stores, bringing the total to 1,700.

The Pickup Towers have also been around since 2017, when they arrived in 200 stores. A sort of vending machine for online orders, the idea is that customers could save on orders by skipping last-mile deliveries, as shipping to a store costs Walmart less. Customers then benefit by getting a better price by not paying for shipping, and could get their items faster.

In April 2018, Walmart rolled out 500 more towers to U.S. stores. It’s now adding 900 more, which will see 1,700 total towers in use across its stores.

The company claims all this tech will free up its employees’ time from focusing on the “more mundane and repetitive tasks” so they can instead serve customers face-to-face.

Of course, that’s what they all say when turning over people’s jobs to robots and automation — whether that’s fancy coffee-making robotic kiosks, burger-flipping robots or restaurants staffed by a concierge but no kitchen help besides machines.

Walmart, however, claims to still have plenty of work for its staff — like picking groceries for its booming online grocery business, for example. Grocery shopping, generally, accounts for more than half its annual sales, and more of that business is shifting online.

The company also said that many of the jobs it automated were those it struggled to find, hire and retain associates to do, and by taking out the routine work, retention has improved.

“What we’re seeing so far suggests investments in store technology are shaping how we think about turnover and hours. The technology is automating pieces of work or tasks, rather than entire jobs,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “As that’s happening, we have been able to use many of the hours being saved in other areas of the store — focused more on service and selling for customers,” they continued.

“We have now added over 40,000 jobs for the online grocery picking role in stores over the last year and a half. These jobs didn’t exist a short time ago. The result so far: we’ve seen our U.S. store associate turnover reduced year-over-year,” the spokesperson added.

The tech announced today will roll out to U.S. stores “soon,” Walmart says, but didn’t provide exact dates.

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Man Asks To Use Market’s Bathroom, And Employee Allegedly Stabs Him

When Harold Williams needed to answer nature’s call on March 16, he asked the employees of a Florida market if he could use their bathroom.

The Bahamian native said he received permission, but then one of the employees of Pines Market stabbed him in the face when he attempted to use the facilities.

Williams says he believes the incident was racially motivated and wants charges against his attacker increased from aggravated battery to attempted manslaughter or attempted murder, according to NBC Miami.

“I don’t know what motivated him to attack me, but I watch the news in the United States and I see how black and brown people are treated, and I can’t help but wonder if he stabbed me in the face because of the color of my skin,” Williams said, according to the station.

There’s a sign posted at Pines Market that reads, “No public restroom. Do not cross beyond this point,” but Williams said he didn’t see the sign and that the two clerks on duty gave him permission to use the bathroom. One employee, 24-year-old Fawaz Hassan, accompanied him to the rear of the market, according to CBS Miami.

On the way to the restroom, Williams says, Hassan reached out toward his face and struck him. Williams said he first thought Hassan had punched him but quickly realized the employee had stabbed him in his left cheek.

He described the weapon as a kitchen knife between 8 and 10 inches long.

“The only thing I asked was to use the restroom, and I was attacked. The man nearly took my life,” Williams said.

Harold Williams says his doctor told him he may need surgery to repair the muscle in his jaw.

Williams’ attorney Jasmine Rand told CBS Miami that surveillance video supports her client’s story. 

“There is video evidence of my client entering the store. The video evidence before he was stabbed and after he was stabbed it is very clear that my client was not committing any crime,” she said. “My client was unarmed, unprovoked, and it’s unjustifiable.” 

Surveillance video showed Williams entering the business and then retreating with his hands up after being stabbed, police said.

“I didn’t say anything to him. I just said, ‘Sorry, I wanted to use the restroom,’” Williams told local station WPLG TV.

Williams made it to a nearby urgent care center, where employees did a CAT scan. Although the knifing didn’t damage any vitals, Williams said his doctor told him he may need surgery to repair the muscle in his jaw.

Police took Hassan into custody and charged him with aggravated battery.

Hassan’s attorney Eric Schwartzreich claims his client felt the need for self-defense when Williams attempted to go to the back of the business, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“He had to defend himself and stabbed the victim in the face,” Schwartzreich said. “It was not a random attack. He’s not a psychopath. It wasn’t done for any racial animus. It was done because of what [Hassan] perceived to be a need for a legal self-defense.”

There was no evidence that Williams had a weapon or intended to commit a crime in the business, investigators said.

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Age is no barrier: meet the world’s oldest top athletes

Richard Godwin catches up with five pensioners, aged up to 108, who thrive on extreme exercise

Edwina Brocklesby: triathlete, 76, Kingston-upon-Thames

I didnt do any exercise at all until I was 50. I remember trying out for the long-jump team at university for a laugh and I couldnt move for two weeks afterwards. So that was the end of my athletics career. And then I had three children and I was busy with my job. I was a social worker and ran two adoption agencies.

One day, I went to see an old friend from Nottingham University who was running a marathon. I thought that would be fun to do, at least a half marathon, anyway. I came back and told my husband and he laughed and said I wouldnt even be able to run as far as Northampton, which was about three miles from where we lived at the time. Its good to have a challenge like that! Sure enough, it did inspire me to run my first half marathon.

Then my husband died when I was 52. By then I had a small group of running friends and they were brilliantly supportive. I trained as a counsellor myself, but I found running better than counselling for dealing with grief. For one, you always feel better after youve been for a run as the endorphins kick in. But I think what is more important is the social element. Youre with people who support you and value you. You can talk if you want to, or you can be silent if you want to.

The running club was only small, but it did have one place in the London Marathon and thats when it became more serious for me. I ran my first marathon in 1996, when I was 53. I moved to London and became a member of the Serpentine Running Club and, with them, I completed my first London Triathlon when I was 58. I dont have an anterior cruciate ligament in either knee my daughter told me that Id need surgery if I kept pounding the streets like I used to and thats how I got into cycling and swimming as theyre a little easier on the joints. When I started swimming, at 56, I couldnt do crawl at all and swam breaststroke with my head above water like most women of my age. But swimming is a wonderful feeling. It might have something to do with our spending the first nine months of our gestation suspended in water.

Theres so much evidence that if you keep physically active, you dont experience some of the difficulties associated with ageing. There are lower rates of type 2 diabetes among the active, but falling over is the biggest thing. If you can keep your bone and muscle strength up, youre less likely to fall and you might also be able to prevent yourself from hitting the ground if you do fall. Falls are one of the things that costs the NHS the most money.

Im getting slower as I get older, of course I am. I do manage to run 5k, but I walk a bit more. I feel lucky that I can still jog along the Thames.

Edwina Brocklesby is the director of Silverfit, a charity that promotes physical activity among ageing people. She is also the UKs oldest Ironman triathlete. She was recently awarded the British Empire Medal

Eddy Diget: personal trainer, 74, Milton Keynes

Mature people are much more aware of the goodness that can come out of training: Eddy Diget. Photograph: Pl Hansen/The Observer

Ive always trained: cross-country running; ice skating; roller skating; fencing; cycling I represented England in the Commonwealth Games in Perth 1962 in diving and swimming. Ive been doing weight training for about 45 years now and I was British bodybuilding champion twice, once at 58 and once at 68. Ive been a stuntman. I was a medical officer in the Royal Navy. And I have been recognised as a Shaolin Master for my commitment to Chinese martial arts. Some Shaolin monks turned up at my studio in Oxford Brookes one day in their saffron robes and presented me with a piece of parchment. I broke down and wept. It was such an honour.

In a way, I have my father to thank. He was an extremely aggressive man. A big man, too. He used to knock me and my mother about quite a bit. The only way I could escape from him was to be outside and thats how I discovered sport.

One day, when I was 16, I was fishing at Tooting Bec ponds when my mum came round with a black eye. She said: Joes in a real bad mood. Hes coming to find you. All of a sudden, my father came down the hill and started punching me. I think I was coming up to a brown sash in kung fu at the time and I just tore into him. It was over in seconds, 16 years of pent-up fear and hate. I blinded him in one eye, which I wasnt happy about. But after that we were the best of mates. And he was a different man. A respectful man. He never touched my mother again.

People have become more educated about being fit over the years, especially the over-50s and over-60s. Mature people are much more aware of the goodness that can come out of training.

But younger people in particular are looking for a quick fix. The personal trainers are all 10mg of this, 10mg of that. Its become too complicated. You see the same people come into the gym every day, doing the same exercises. Its so they dont have to think about it. But the more you change it, the more results youll get.

I am a rehab consultant, so I train people who have had cancer, wheelchair users, people with chronic regional pain syndrome, amputees. But I also train Ironmen, ultra-marathon runners and an Olympic fencer. It really is an extreme diversity of clients and I feel incredibly privileged and humbled to do it. Personal training is not really about the training, its much more to do with the person.

Id never been ill in 74 years, never even been inside a hospital. But last year, thanks to the NHS bowel screening programme, I learned I had bowel cancer. I went in on the 19 November at 11am and came out a 8.30pm with a whole section removed. Im pleased to say Ive never had any pain at all because of my fitness. The consultant commented on it before my surgery. He said: I dont see many people with your stamina or your outlook. But Im a fatalist. Theres nothing I can do about it. Im just pleased I caught it. And now I feel fabulous. I feel on top of the world.

Eddy Diget is a stuntman, model and personal trainer at the DW Fitness First gym in Milton Keynes

Gwyn Haslock: surfer, 73, Truro

I entered my first competition in 1965 as the only woman, and then I was the first proper British ladies champion in 1969: Gwyn Haslock in Cornwall. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

My family always used to go to the sea when I was growing up. We all started surfing in the 1950s on the north coast of Cornwall with wooden belly boards, which are like planks of wood. Then the lifeguards started to import Malibu longboards, which were 10ft long, and before long they started making them there in Newquay. I bought a secondhand one and started properly surfing in 1965.

I wasnt what youd call a typical surfer like in the Beach Boys songs. A lot of the good surfers worked in the surfing trade, in surf shops and so on, but I worked for the council as a shorthand typist. It was very 9 to 5, but I surfed at weekends.

I just liked the sea. And when I saw people standing up as if they were walking across the water, I thought, Id like to have a go at that. It took me about a month before I could stand up and a year before I got any style. I entered my first competition in 1965 as the only woman, and was the first proper British ladies champion in 1969. But like any sport, youre always learning.

I always say to people, the most important thing with surfing is paddling. Youve got to paddle out, so you have to duck dive under the waves or push yourself over them. Then youre out the back, as we call it. Youll see a lovely wave coming, paddle for it and up you get. You need to be fit to build up the momentum and then its like floating in air, but across the wave. Sometimes its just seconds, sometimes the wave peels and it can go on and on. Sometimes at Fistral, you get nice long rides right along the beach. But the conditions are never the same and it always tests you.

Ive never seen any sharks in Cornwall. I have surfed near dolphins and you do see seals sometimes. I sprained my wrist once, but Ive never had any bad accident. I know my limits and now I wear my helmet. I want to enjoy it.

I never married. I lived with my mother until she died seven years ago, and Ive been retired for eight years now. When I was working, I couldnt go surfing in the week so much, but now I can go whenever I like, which is good as it gets busy at weekends. Back in the 60s there was a lot more water space it wasnt like now when everyones in there. I like playing tennis, too. I do a bit of fencing. Gardening. Theres lots of things to do.

Ive surfed in Wales, Ireland, France and once in Portugal. Australia and New Zealand they dont appeal to me at all. I did go to California on holiday once and we drove through Malibu and I wasnt that impressed with it to be honest. We have plenty of surf down here, why do I need to go anywhere else?

Gwyn Haslock was Britains first competitive female surfing champion

Ida Keeling: sprinter, 104, Harlem, New York

I go to the gym, ride my bike, work out, stretch, reach, do push-ups: Ida Keeling with her daughter. Photograph: Poon Watchara-Amphaiwan

I was 67 when I started running. I had lost my two sons to drug-related violence in 1978 and then in 1981. It was so quick. They were stabbed up or shot up or whatever they did to them. Too quick. No warning. It just broke me. I was very depressed.

My daughter Cheryl came by one day and saw I was down in the dumps. That isnt usually who I am. She wanted to take me out for a mini run and since I was already so down I said: All right, go ahead. And it did good for me. It kept me moving. I could feel myself getting stronger and feeling more free. It helped me immensely. And Im still running now.

I grew up in Harlem, USA, in San Juan Hill they call it Hells Kitchen now. I was one of eight children. Everybody was poor. There was already a Depression there even before they called it a Depression. But there are happy memories. Children dont have to pay rent. My dad took us to Central Park on his day off from the factory. We had a good time, looking at all the fishes swimming and doing all the things children do: run, play, jump, roll and all that type of stuff. In the summertime when it was hot, the police department would put a sprinkler on top of the fire hydrants for the children to play in.

We hung swings from the fire escapes at the back of buildings. And on Saturdays the bigger boys from around the corner would turn up with a pail and a couple of wooden spoons to drum on it and wed do the Charleston, the drag, and everything else. We played hooky from school to go and watch the Lindy Hop dancers at the Apollo. We had some good times coming from bad times. But Harlem changed when drugs came in. Everybody wanted to make this quick money. And it dragged in my sons.

I felt like I was being held in a grip, or like I was in a bag or something. But the more I ran, the faster and stronger I became. As I was running like crazy, I released the hold that death had on me. From then on, I belonged to track and field. I said, shoot, sprinting is faster. Im not going to do all this long-distance, Im going to sprint. I wanted to go as fast as I could.

Now Im 104, Im not so fast. But I go whatever distance I can and if I start a race, I finish it. Im always the winner for my age group as I dont have no competition. Im usually chasing myself. But I go with what Ive got left. I go to the gym, I ride my bike, I work out, I stretch, I reach, I do push-ups, I do upper weights, I get on the floor and turn my feet up over my head, and when I dont get out, I stay right here and work out in my room. Im as healthy as a 25-year-old, my doctor says. I have no intention of slowing down. Age aint got nothing to do with it. When you really want to do something for yourself, go and do it. And if you fail, try, try, try again.

Fauja Singh: marathon runner, 108, Redbridge

Freedom for me is being independently mobile: Fauja Singh, who ran a marathon at 89 and stills walks 5m a day. Photograph: Hindustan Times via Getty Images

I was born in a village in Punjab in India in 1911. My memories are of a simple life without the stresses that people all over the world seem to have nowadays. I came from a farming family, and we learned to live within our means after working hard and honestly. We remembered God and were thankful to him. We shared with others less fortunate than ourselves. This is in keeping with the three tenets of my Sikh religion.

I had a happy childhood and I was nurtured because I was weak. I couldnt walk until l was five. I wanted to be sporty, but until then, I lacked the strength. But I enjoyed watching all the simple sporting activities that were prevalent in the rural environment at the time. And I remember the joy all around me when I became strong enough to be able to walk.

As I never went to school, I farmed all of my working life. It was always handy to be able to run after straying cattle, but that was about as exciting as it got.

I didnt really run competitively until I arrived in England 20 years ago.

Since then I have been looked after by one of my two remaining sons this is the Asian culture where the parents are looked after by their children. I dont speak English and not being able to communicate with those whom you meet does pose problems, but a smile always helps. I am usually accompanied, but over time I have become familiar with the routes and places I visit regularly. It must be equally frustrating for those who want to communicate with me. One thing is for sure: shouting or saying things slowly does not make it easier this is what I observed from tourists visiting other countries! Being illiterate and monolingual does have its advantages I am not aware of any abuse that may be directed at me. Anyone who is different sadly suffers this in the modern world.

When I attempted to run a marathon for the first time at 89, the reactions were mixed. Some were excited to see if I could do it and wished me well, others doubted I could do it. Those who have been constant in supporting me were my coach, Harmander; my running club, Sikhs in the City; and my family.

Training was easy: I just followed the instructions of my coach without question. If it was a training run, he never let me be exhausted as he said it is good to train but not so good to strain. When it came to the race, I was simply awestruck by the support from the crowds along the route. My coach always ran alongside me and held me back from exerting myself too much in the early stages of the race. He then encouraged me to keep going later on in the race, when the going got tough. I also then started talking to God to help me get through to the finish.

I dont think I ran competitively in the true sense it was simply a case of me finishing a distance as fast as I could. My records seem to be simply a by-product of my age. Records are meant to be broken and I wish the person who breaks my records all the best. If running a marathon at my age has inspired others to not give up then I am pleased to have had a positive impact on society.

My last race was the Hong Kong 10km in 2013 when I was 101. Currently, I am not able to run as I have a hernia, but I remember fondly the feeling of freedom when I used to run not so long ago. I am just pleased that I am still mobile and independent. I still walk about five miles each day.

Freedom for me is being independently mobile, and retaining a sound mind and a positive outlook. The rest is up to God.

Fauja Singh has been awarded the British Empire Medal. He is thought to be the oldest person to complete a marathon, but as India did not issue birth certificates in 1911, the record is deemed unofficial. This interview was translated by Harmander Singh

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Facebook to ban white nationalism and separatism content on platform

A Lin-Manuel Miranda follow is almost worth more than the presidency.
Image: emma mcintyre/getty images

Mayor Pete husband’s Chasten Buttigieg is a rare thing: a Twitter celebrity who deserves his fame. 

So it was a beautiful thing to see Lin-Manuel Miranda, an equally deserving Twitter celebrity, follow Buttigieg on Twitter. But it wasn’t just that Miranda followed Chasten. It was how Chasten responded that brought joy to the rest of the internet.

“Doing a quick bit of laundry. Hear loud scream. Run into kitchen terrified, expecting to see @Chas10Buttigieg in pool of blood,” Pete wrote on Twitter. “Am thereupon informed that @Lin_Manuel is following my husband, whose life is now complete.”

You would think that Chasten Buttigieg’s husband becoming president would be his life goal. But I get it. Lin Manuel Miranda is a nearly perfect human. Hamilton deserves the obsessive following.

A Miranda following is the approximate equivalent of ten thousand presidential endorsements, using social media math.

Folks on Twitter understood the feeling.

Congratulations to Chasten Buttigieg on nearly becoming president. 

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Masterchef winner not planning restaurant

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Media captionThe Masterchef 2019 winner on her show highlights.

Retired banker Irini Tzortzoglou has won this year’s MasterChef – and quickly said she has no plans to start a new career running a restaurant.

The 61-year-old triumphed in the BBC One show’s first all-female final.

For the final three-course challenge, she cooked red mullet with a squid risotto, griddled rosemary lamb chops and a fig and hazelnut baklava.

Irini, who took inspiration from her Greek childhood, grew up in Crete and now lives in Cartmel, Cumbria.

She was one of 56 amateur chefs who competed for the coveted MasterChef trophy in the show’s 15th series.

Over the course of several gruelling rounds of cooking challenges, they were whittled down to the final three.

Irini was particularly pleased to have been in the show’s first all-female final and said she wished she could have shared her trophy with her fellow finalists Jilly McCord and Delia Maria Asser.

Image caption Irini beat off competition from Delia Maria Asser (far left) and Jilly McCord

She said: “It happened so quickly that I felt all the final that the three of us were like one.

“We were all doing our own thing, but actually we were in unison – so my instinctive reaction was: ‘Can I share it? Can I share it with my friends?'”

Irini continued: “We are just lucky we are three women who love and respect each other and have grown to be very fond and appreciative of each other’s talents.”

Image caption Irini Tzortzoglou said she wouldn’t follow past winners in opening a restaurant

Irini said being filmed throughout the series did not bother her because she remained “totally focused”.

In an interview on BBC Breakfast, she said: “The cameras didn’t disturb me because you really need to ignore them if you want to cook.

“And the guys are fantastic, Gregg [Wallace] comes and relaxes you – he used to joke with me about Greek history, challenge me, laugh with me – and then John [Torode] is like a younger brother who cares for you, he wants you to do as well as you want to.

“They didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I loved being around them.”

Past winners of the show, such as 2005 champion Thomasina Miers and 2011’s Shelina Permalloo, have gone on to own their own restaurants.

But despite impressing some of the biggest names in the food industry throughout the competition, Irini’s future plans do not involve opening her own professional kitchen.

“I don’t think that at my time of life I want to run a restaurant,” she said.

“I want to spend more time with my mum and I would love to go round Greece and do some research – maybe make a programme, if I’m lucky.”

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email,

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Underwater Restaurant Has Been Completed In Norway And It Looks Out Of This World

The first, the largest and the most research-friendly. Under is the world’s largest underwater restaurant with a total seating capacity for 100 guests, it’s the first of its kind in Europe, and it also functions as a research center for marine life. The Snøhetta-designed dining experience started operating just yesterday but people are already adding it to their Norway destination lists.

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

In Norwegian, ‘under’ means both ‘below’ and ‘wonder.’ Half-sunken into the sea, the building’s 111-foot long monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest on the seabed below. Taking it a step further, the structure is built to eventually fully integrate into its marine environment, as the roughness of the concrete shell will function as an artificial reef, welcoming limpets and kelp to inhabit it.

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Thick concrete walls allow it to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions and, like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s massive panoramic window offers a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions.

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Image credits: snohetta

Under is a natural progression of our experimentation with boundaries,” Snøhetta Founder and Architect, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen said. “As a new landmark for Southern Norway, Under proposes unexpected combinations of pronouns and prepositions, and challenges what determines a person’s physical placement in their environment.”

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Image credits: underlindesnes

“In this building, you may find yourself underwater, over the seabed, between land and sea. This will offer you new perspectives and ways of seeing the world, both beyond and beneath the waterline.”

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Image credits: underlindesnes

The restaurant focuses to create a fine dining experience based on high quality, locally-sourced produce, emphasizing on sustainable wildlife capture. Danish expatriate Nicolai Ellitsgaard from the acclaimed restaurant Måltid in Kristiansand is the Head Chef, bringing an international, 16-person kitchen team with experience from top Michelin restaurants.

Image credits: under

Image credits: under

In Norway, Lindesnes is known for its intense weather conditions, which can change from calm to stormy several times a day. Upon arriving at the site, the visitor’s impressions of the unruly outdoors quickly dissolve as they are ushered through into the hushed, oak-clad foyer. The rich interiors create a warm, welcoming atmosphere inside the restaurant.

Image credits: Inger Marie Grini

Image credits: Inger Marie Grini

As a metaphor for descending from land to sea, textile-clad ceiling panels reference the colors of a sunset dropping into the ocean, accompanying one climbing down the stairs. Moreover, the elegance of the finely woven ceiling panels provides the building with a serene ambiance.

Image credits: underlindesnes

Image credits: underlindesnes

The furniture perfectly represents the philosophy of the whole project as well; to build solid structures for the future without compromising the natural beauty that lies inherent in the raw materials.

Image credits:

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

But Under isn’t just a restaurant. The building also houses a marine research facility. It welcomes interdisciplinary research teams that will be able to study marine biology and fish behavior through cameras and other measurement tools that are installed on and outside the facade of the restaurant. They will be able to document the population, behavior, and diversity of species that live in the surrounding areas. The goal of the research is to collect data that can be programmed into machine learning tools that monitor the population dynamics of key marine species on a regular basis.

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Image credits: underlindesnes

According to Snøhetta, Under is a story of contrasts: the contrast between the landscape and the sea as well as above and below. The project underscores the delicate ecological balance between land and sea and draws our attention to sustainable models for responsible consumption.

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

It emphasizes the coexistence of life on land and in the sea and introduces a new way of understanding our relationship with our surroundings – above the surface, under the water, and alongside the life of the sea.

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

Image credits: Ivar Kvaal

“For most of us, this is a totally new world experience. It’s not an aquarium, it’s the wildlife of the North Sea. That makes it much more interesting. It takes you directly into the wildness,” Rune Grasdal, lead architect of Under, told Dezeen. “If the weather is bad, it’s very rough. It’s a great experience, and to sit here and be safe, allowing the nature so close into you. It’s a very romantic and nice experience.”

Image credits: Snøhetta

Image credits: Snøhetta

“The idea was to make a tube that would bring people from above sea level down under the sea,” Grasdal said. “That transition is easy to understand, but it’s also the most effective way to do it. It also feels secure, but you don’t feel trapped.”

Image credits: Snøhetta

Image credits: Snøhetta

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This Ultra Modern, Luxury Tiny House is Pretty Impressive

Living Big in a Tiny House recently toured Matt and Lisa’s impressive tiny house with some interesting features and design elements.

Matt’s skill as a builder is evident and he also runs his own kitchen and bathroom remodelling business. You can see the video tour embedded above and find more information and photos on the tiny house here.

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She Told Me It Was Gods Love: Women Sexually Abused By Catholic Nuns Speak Up

The predator nun walked into Trish Cahill’s life straight out of the blue, on a busy summer day in the late 1960s.

Cahill was a teenager back then, wire thin with long, chestnut brown hair framing her face. She was babysitting her cousins in Glen Rock, New Jersey, and there were eight of them to look after ― a big Catholic family, much like her own.

One cousin was playing outside that day and Cahill had another little one in a high chair in the kitchen. It was quite a common child care tactic at the time, she said ― stick a kid in a playpen in the yard and watch through the window while doing chores and taking care of the others inside.

Cahill was washing dishes at the sink when she looked up and spotted a nun, in a full religious habit, hovering over the baby’s playpen.

At that point in her life, the teenager was still trying to make sense of a painful secret ― the sexual abuse she says she experienced just years earlier from her uncle, a Catholic priest. So when she saw the nun leaning over the baby, Cahill said, she sprinted outside to protect the child.

“It was like, ‘You’re not going to touch her, you’re not going to put your hands on her,’” Cahill remembers thinking.

But the nun she met took her by surprise.

Sister Eileen Shaw (pictured above) was 21 years older than Trish Cahill when they first met in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

The woman introduced herself as Sister Eileen Shaw, telling Cahill that she was out on a walk from her nearby convent.

“She’s nice to me, which was confusing,” Cahill recalled.

The two struck up a conversation, Cahill said, which led to an invitation for the teen to play guitar at an upcoming Mass. That invitation led to more special treatment, private phone calls and private trips.

In fact, this strange encounter on the lawn was just the beginning of a long period of grooming and emotional manipulation, Cahill said. She didn’t realize until much later that the 12 years of history she had with Shaw was not a relationship ― but sexual abuse.

“She stole from my body, my mind and my soul,” Cahill, now 66, told HuffPost. “The woman was a thief who did not keep her vows.”

For over a year, the Roman Catholic Church has faced a reckoning over the crime of clerical sexual abuse. Catholics are once again demanding answers about bishops’ mishandling of abuse allegations, after high-profile scandals in the U.S., Australia and Chile toppled prominent figures. In response to this renewed call for transparency, Pope Francis acknowledged for the first time ever this February that nuns have been victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. Nuns from across the world have come forward to share their stories and demand change.

But stories like Cahill’s, about nuns being the perpetrators of sexual violence, have largely been lost in this new wave of accountability. Although abuse allegations against “women religious,” meaning nuns and Catholic sisters,are rarer than allegations against priests or monks, Cahill and other survivors of nun abuse are convinced that there are more stories out there. But because of gender stereotypes about female perpetrators of abuse, it is much harder to see the broader picture.

As survivors push more states to extend their statutes of limitations for child sex abuse cases, experts believe more of these stories will start coming to light.

“Why are they not coming out?” Cahill mused about fellow survivors of abuse by nuns. “They don’t have any other survivors to see what’s happened. They’re the only one.”

“The boys thought they were the only ones for a hundred years,” Cahill added. But now, she said, “the girls think they’re the only ones.”

A Childhood Lost

Trish Cahill is a 66-year-old survivor living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Church was an integral part of Cahill’s life growing up. Her family made sure to respect holy days of obligation ― the days in the liturgical calendar that Catholics are expected to attend Mass. Her parents sent her and her siblings to Catholic schools. Cahill said she was taught from a very young age to believe that heaven and hell were real places where people would be sent based on their earthly deeds.

So when her uncle ― the priest ― allegedly threatened that she would “burn and blister in the fires of hell” if she told anyone about the sexual abuse he was inflicting on her, Cahill said she believed him.

Cahill said the alleged abuse from the Rev. Daniel F.M. Millard, who died in 1973, happened between the ages of 5 and 13. (The Diocese of Camden told HuffPost that Millard’s name was not on a recently released list of credibly accused priests because Cahill’s allegation against Millard ― “the only accusation ever received about him,” it said ― “was deemed not credible.” The diocese also pointed to a 2005 article in which a family member questioned Cahill’s reliability. The diocese said it has not been provided with additional information since 2002.)

Trish Cahill claims she was abused as a child by her uncle, the Rev. Daniel F.M. Millard.

Because of the abuse Cahill claims happened to her as a little girl, when she met Shaw, she was already feeling vulnerable and lost.

At the time, Shaw was a teacher at St. Catherine School in Glen Rock. Cahill was a student at Paramus Catholic Girls’ High School, which was staffed by Shaw’s religious order, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth.

Back then, Cahill said, she was just flattered that an adult who seemed so kind and caring was paying attention to her.

“For her to be nice to me was just fantastic. She cared like she wanted to be with me. She was 36. I was 15. Who gets to hang out with a 36-year-old?” Cahill said. “Everything was in my favor.”

Looking back, the unusual nature of the pairing seems so obvious, Cahill said. She said she now wishes she had somebody “just watching out for me.”

Cahill remembers Shaw calling her at home for private, scheduled chats. The nun gave the teen gifts. Cahill said she soon felt safe enough to confide in Shaw about her uncle’s abuse.

About three months after they first met, Shaw allegedly invited Cahill to her bedroom at St. Catherine Convent ― which is where the abuse first turned physical.

In the years afterward, Shaw used to pull the teenager out of high school in the middle of the day, Cahill said. They would go to a nearby motel, where the pair would stay for hours.

“Then she’d bring me back to school, so I was there for dismissal,” Cahill said. “Nobody questions a nun.”

Trish Cahill is pictured with Sister Eileen Shaw in this photo collage. Cahill said Shaw sexually abused her throughout high school. The pair remained close until Cahill was about 27 years old.

They started taking trips together ― to Shaw’s parents’ house and vacation home, to religious retreat houses, to Atlantic City, to the Meadowlands Racetrack. They traveled all over the East Coast, Cahill said, from Florida to Quebec. They went on camping trips and slept in the same sleeping bag, she said. Shaw allegedly taught Cahill how to gamble on horse races and introduced her to alcohol and drugs. The nun told her how to dress and fashion her hair, and discouraged her from dating boys, Cahill said. They once went to a gay bar in New York City’s Village neighborhood, she said.

“She told me she loved me,” Cahill said. “I believed it.”

Shaw had a medal inscribed with the religious name she took when entering her religious order ― Sister Marian Anthony. That medal took on another meaning during their time together, Cahill said.

“She would take it off of herself at night and put it on me, and then we would have sex. Not a relationship, sex,” Cahill said. “And then, in the morning, it would go back on her. It was the seal of confessional.”

“It worked.”

Cahill told HuffPost that members of the Sisters of Charity knew or at least suspected that she was spending an inordinate amount of time alone with Shaw.

“At one point, I slept in the same bedroom with a nun in the next bed while we were in bed,” Cahill said.

But the Sisters of Charity maintains that its leadership was unaware of Shaw’s abusive behavior until 1994, when Cahill, then 41 years old, approached the religious order with an attorney.

“The Sisters of Charity have worked to act in a responsible, compassionate and just manner for all concerned,” the religious order told HuffPost in a statement.

Shaw, now 85 years old, is still a member of the Sisters of Charity. Her religious order has placed her in a “restricted, confined lifestyle.”

“She accepts responsibility for her actions and the harm that they have caused,” the Sisters of Charity told HuffPost. “She continues to pray daily about this.”

Seeking A Legal Remedy

Photos of Sister Eileen Shaw are laid out on a table inside Trish Cahill’s home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

When she was 27 years old, Cahill started attending a 12-step recovery group to confront her alcoholism and other drug addictions ― coping methods often sought out by childhood abuse victims. It was there that she started opening up to fellow group members about her experiences with the nun.

“They were the first ones that said this is not a relationship, and I thought they were crazy,” Cahill said.

She moved to Europe to try to get away from Shaw. Eventually, with her life spiraling out of control, Cahill decided to go back to Shaw’s religious order in 1994 to seek justice. But at the time, she was far outside the statute of limitations in New Jersey, so she had no basis to file a lawsuit.

In 1994, the Sisters of Charity agreed to an out-of-court settlement with Cahill, according to documents provided by Cahill’s current lawyer James Marsh. The settlement had a confidentiality clause that prevented Cahill from talking to the media about her claims. In the agreement, the Sisters of Charity denied that the order was negligent or otherwise legally responsible for Cahill’s abuse. (The order declined to tell HuffPost where it stands on that statement today).

Marsh told HuffPost that back in 1994, there were fewer options available to victims seeking justice ― so for the Sisters of Charity to offer any financial compensation may have seemed an act of charity at the time.

“Trish got caught in this trap where zero times zero is zero and some money is better than no money,” Marsh said. “That was a reasonable position to take in 1994.”

Cahill claimed a significant amount of the money from her settlement went toward lawyers’ fees and therapy. But more than the money, she said she wanted an apology from the sisters for failing to speak out and stop the abuse.

The Sisters of Charity told HuffPost that the order was “deeply saddened” that Cahill did not view the settlement as a “heartfelt response to her situation.”

The religious order claims that immediately after receiving Cahill’s allegation in 1994, it removed Shaw from ministry and had a “response team” composed of lay and religious professionals conduct an investigation, which substantiated Shaw’s “improper conduct.” Since the settlement, the Sisters of Charity said that Shaw has been ordered to undergo therapy and restricted from working with individuals under 21 years of age. She continues to live with fellow sisters and is currently engaged in “relapse prevention” with a licensed social worker.

In the years that followed, while abuse committed by priests began to capture more headlines, abuse committed by nuns largely remained under the radar.

Survivors Of Abusive Women Face Skepticism 

Survivors and activists protest in Rome on Feb. 23, 2019, as Catholic bishops from around the world convened for a historic papal summit on the sex abuse crisis.

For decades, there have been more Catholic nuns and sisters in the U.S. than Catholic priests. Still, sex abuse allegations against these women appear to be far less common than allegations against priests or religious brothers.

Bishop Accountability is a website that collects data on the abuse crisis. Of the many U.S. settlements it has tracked online, only a handful involve abuse allegedly committed by religious women.

One of the best approximations of the occurrence of nun abuse in the Catholic Church comes from a nationwide study of child sexual abuse published by the Australian government in 2017. The Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse gathered data from Catholic Church authorities in the country regarding claims of child sexual abuse received between Jan. 1, 1980 and Dec. 31, 2015. The data showed that of all known alleged perpetrators, 5% were religious sisters.

This dovetails with statistics collected by U.S. police departments that suggest female sex offenders are relatively rare. According to data collected by the FBI between 2007 and 2017, women represent only about 2% of adult arrests for rape and about 8% of adult arrests for other sex offenses.

But since the majority of sexual assaults are not reported to police, these statistics don’t show the whole picture. Researchers have also found that survivors who experience childhood sexual abuse at the hands of both women and men are more reluctant to disclose the abuse they suffered from the female perpetrator.

Lara Stemple, director of the health and human rights law project at the UCLA School of Law, has studied female perpetrators of sexual violence. Stemple said it’s highly likely that sex crimes committed by female offenders are underreported.

Stemple said a better picture of the prevalence of female sex offenders comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, which is collected through phone interviews with victims across the country. Stemple and her colleagues analyzed the 2011 data and found that men and women were equally likely to report experiencing nonconsensual sex in the previous 12 months, and that most male victims reported female perpetrators.

The CDC data suggests to Stemple that female perpetrators of sex abuse are more prevalent than is often assumed.

However, Stemple said, because of gender stereotypes about women being passive and nurturing, people may find it hard to believe that women are capable of sexual violence. Mental health, social work, public health and criminal justice professionals also tend to think of female sex offenders as less serious offenders than males. They may try to explain away female-perpetrated sexual violence as a “misguided expression of love,” she said ― something she noted would rarely be said about the actions of male perpetrators.

Stemple said these stereotypes make it harder for survivors of this type of abuse to come forward.

“[Women are] not seen as the stereotypical abuser,” Stemple said. “So a lot of times, victims have trouble identifying what happened to them as being abuse.”

No matter the gender of the perpetrator, Stemple said, it’s important to remember that at its core, sexual abuse is about an imbalance of power. And nuns have considerable power in the eyes of a Catholic school student ― both as teachers in charge of the classroom and as people who are set apart and consecrated within the church.

As a feminist, Stemple said, she doesn’t think it does the feminist movement any good to assume that women are incapable of committing abuse.

“Women are complex, they’re multidimensional. They have good traits and bad traits,” Stemple said. “And sometimes, when they have power, that they abuse it is no surprise to me.”

Mary Dispenza, an organizer with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, poses for a portrait at a vigil in Vatican City on Feb. 21, 2019.

Mary Dispenza, a Seattle activist with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), is the advocacy group’s point person on nun abuse. A former nun herself, Dispenza said that religious women have largely been the “face of service, kindness and dedication” for the Catholic Church, often serving as teachers and social workers.

“When I think of them as perpetrators, even for me, it kind of gives me the shivers a bit. It’s so far from what you expect from them as women, as nurturers,” Dispenza said. “But the truth is men and women are both perpetrators, and to shy away from that is a sin.”

Marci Hamilton, CEO of the advocacy organization Child USA, told HuffPost there has been so much publicity about boys being sexually abused by priests that it detracts from the fact that there have also been a number of girls sexually abused by priests and girls sexually abused by nuns.

“Abuse by a female nun of a girl, it’s so far outside the expected parameters of what we read about,” Hamilton said. “It’s hard enough for victims to come to terms with what really happened to them, but to try to come to terms with something that doesn’t seem to be happening to anyone else is doubly hard.”

Dispenza said that several nun abuse survivors reached out to her after last year’s landmark Pennsylvania grand jury investigation into sex abuse in the Catholic Church. She said she now has a list of about 56 people who claim they were sexually abused by nuns or sisters.

Hearing from survivors prompted Dispenza to come to her own realization earlier this year. She said she remembered that while she was a postulant for her religious order in the late 1950s, one of her superiors called her into a private meeting and kissed her.

“I’ve held it as a story of confusion and just never named it for what it was,” Dispenza said. “It was just recently that I named it and realized that was a misuse of power and sexual abuse.”

Dispenza said she thinks more survivors of nun abuse will come forward once they realize they are not alone.

“These stories are very, very, very important,” she said. “I think with one story being told, it gives courage to another survivor. That’s going to make the difference, I believe.” 

Another Survivor Speaks Up

Anne Gleeson is a 61-year-old survivor living in O’Fallon, Missouri.

After spending years as an anonymous “Jane Doe,” Anne Gleeson has decided to open up about her story of nun abuse.

Gleeson, a 61-year-old from O’Fallon, Missouri, told HuffPost she was sexually abused by Sister Judith Fisher, a former member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Although she revealed her identity in 2008, this is first time she has publicly described the abuse in detail.

Gleeson said it began in 1971, when she was 13 years old. At the time, the nun would have been around 37 years old ― about 24 years Gleeson’s senior.

Both the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where the sisters are based, declined to comment on Fisher’s case out of “respect for the privacy of any person who reports abuse.” The religious order stood by this statement even after being informed that Gleeson was giving it her “full and complete permission” to answer questions about the case.

Fisher was Gleeson’s eighth grade homeroom teacher at the Immacolata School in Richmond Heights.The nunstarted grooming her for abuse not long after the school year started, Gleeson said, leaving presents on the teenager’s desk and adding special personal notes on graded papers. The nun asked her to stay after school frequently, played with the teenager’s hair and pressed up close while the class watched movies, Gleeson said.

Anne Gleeson (center) is pictured in a class photo from Immacolata School in Missouri. Judith Fisher (far left, center row) was her eighth grade homeroom teacher.

“It would kind of send these waves through me, and I didn’t quite understand it,” Gleeson remembered.

By December of that year, Gleeson said, Fisher had invited the teen to a sleepover in the basement of her convent. The next time Gleeson spent the night, it was in the nun’s bedroom. That’s when she said the nun asked to touch her. 

“It just became sexual all the time after that,” Gleeson said.

Gleeson said the nun always described the abuse as “God’s love” and claimed it had to be kept a secret because, “Nobody else is gonna understand it. It’s too special for them to get.”

Fisher also became close to Gleeson’s mother, siblings and grandmother, Gleeson said, lulling family members into thinking it was safe for the teen to spend so much time alone with the nun.

Gleeson said she kept a record of everything that was happening between her and Fisher in a calendar that she used as a personal diary. Her parents discovered the diary under her mattress in 1974 ― and were devastated.

Like Cahill, Gleeson said she was raised in a staunchly Catholic family. Her father was an active and devout member of their local parish ― volunteering in the choir, as an usher, and as a lector. Her mother, through Fisher’s influence, had become very close to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

A photo illustration shows Judith Fisher (left) and Anne Gleeson preparing for bed inside Fisher’s convent. Superimposed on the photo is an entry from Gleeson’s calendar that reads, “Spent night at convent OXXXOO.”

When her parents found out that Fisher was preying on their daughter, they did what many Catholics did at the time ― they went to the church for help.

Gleeson said that her parents confronted their local priest with proof of the abuse. She said the priest promised to take care of it, urged Gleeson’s father not to go to the police, and asked him “not to bring scandal to his parish.”

“So he kept quiet,” Gleeson said about her dad. “And he believed that they would fix it. And reprimand [the nun], and that there was no need to go to the police.” 

But Gleeson claims nothing came of the priest’s promises. In fact, the abuse became more of a secret, she said, and Fisher was able to prey on her for years afterward.

Her parents tried pushing her to stop meeting with Fisher. But as a teenager, Gleeson said her instinct was to fight against that. So she began lying to her parents about where she was, just so that she could go see the nun. As the nun drew her closer, she began to be increasingly isolated from friends in high school.

Gleeson said Fisher made it seem like the abusive relationship was like a “romantic novel or a Romeo-Juliet thing.” 

“An adult grooms you like that and preps you, it’s like the longest foreplay in the world,” Gleeson said. “And it’s got that forbidden aspect, and so it’s enticing, and it singles you out, and that person becomes everything to you.”

The sexual abuse allegedly continued until Gleeson was 19 years old, she said. 

“It was all done gently. It was all done in the name of love,” Gleeson said.

This slideshow shows a book Anne Gleeson created as a Christmas gift for Judith Fisher (pictured in the last slide) in 1973. The teenager took the words from the song, “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Gleeson said the nun held on to the book for years, giving it back when Gleeson was in her 40s. 

Fisher was eventually transferred to Colorado, where she became the principal of St. Francis de Sales School in Denver. Around 1977, Gleeson said Fisher told her she was going to be exclaustrated, meaning that she was getting permission to live outside her religious community while remaining bound by her vows. (Church officials declined to confirm Fisher’s exclaustration to HuffPost. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet told The Associated Press in 2008 that Fisher left the religious order in 1979.) The pair remained in touch for years, Gleeson said.

When she was about 40 years old, a therapist suggested to Gleeson that she had been sexually abused as a child. At first, Gleeson said, she defended Fisher and insisted that what she had with the nun was a love that no one else could understand. But eventually, she came to understand that Fisher had been a pedophile.

“It rocks your world,” Gleeson said of the realization. “And it takes you back to a new starting place, and it makes a fool out of what you thought was solid.”

In the late 1990s, Gleeson started attending SNAP meetings and hearing from fellow survivors of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. In 2003, Gleeson decided to file a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and Judith Fisher.

She said the archdiocese immediately sought to distance itself from the abuse.

“Even though they employed her, even though that’s who my parents went to, even though they knew of it, they’re like, ‘You can’t get us,’” she said. 

Since so many years had passed, Gleeson said, she hoped that Fisher would want to confess and answer questions about the abuse. But Fisher died in 2004, before she could be deposed. The death left Gleeson feeling “robbed.”

“I thought maybe she was ready to answer some questions so that I could forgive, put things aside. And it never happened,” Gleeson said. “It wasn’t the money I was after, it was just some closure. And I couldn’t do that without explanations, and it’s left me with questions.”

Gleeson eventually decided to settle with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. (The archdiocese was not a party to the settlement, according to her former lawyer.) In 2005, the religious order’s leaders sent private letters to Gleeson apologizing for the harm caused by Fisher’s sexual abuse. Gleeson provided photos of these letters to HuffPost.

Looking back, Gleeson said she has regrets about remaining anonymous during the suit. She revealed her name to The Associated Press in 2008. Since then, she’s watched fellow survivors coming out of the woodwork thanks to the Me Too movement. The movement, Gleeson said, has given survivors hope that if they speak up, they might be believed.

Gleeson believes survivors of nun abuse are “everywhere,” but are afraid to come forward because of the bias against seeing nuns as sexual abusers.

“Nuns kind of get a free ride. It’s women. They’re sweet,” she said. “You think of women as being nurturing. And you trust them more. And when it’s done gently and sweetly and they paint it to be to your benefit, you believe it.”

“It’s a true form of brainwashing,” she said. “I have to believe that, because how else could I have been so blinded?”

A Scandal Uncovered

Members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (top right) and American bishops gathered in Dallas in 2002, as the bishops voted on the Dallas Charter, a document addressing clerical sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church.

After The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team began reporting on the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis in 2002, U.S. Catholic bishops came together to set up guidelines for how to prevent child abuse in the future. The document that came out of these discussions, the Dallas Charter, set up procedures for how the church should respond to sex abuse allegations, cooperate with civil authorities, discipline offenders, and be accountable to its lay members. The charter has been updated several times since it was first approved in June 2002.

While the charter was a step forward with respect to Catholic priests, it doesn’t apply to all Catholic officials. Only men can be ordained in the Catholic Church. While nuns and religious sisters are consecrated members of the church, they are technically part of the laity. The church generally has closer oversight of clergy than it does over its nuns and sisters.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80% of Catholic sisters in the U.S., told HuffPost that it encourages members to adopt sexual abuse prevention policies and believes most of its affiliated religious orders already have these in place. However, the group is a volunteer organization that can’t mandate that its members take that step, a spokeswoman said.

Sharon Euart, a religious sister and canon lawyer with expertise in matters concerning religious orders, told HuffPost that as of now, there is nothing similar to the Dallas Charter that applies to all orders of religious women in the U.S. 

In response to the sex abuse crisis, Euart said thatreligious institutes ― another phrase Catholics use to describe religious orders ― have typically created their own standards and procedures for handling abuse allegations. These groups look to the Dallas Charter and to her group, the Resource Center for Religious Institutes, for guidance. However, the RCRI can only recommend that each order has an abuse policy in place, Euart said ― there’s no way to enforce that suggestion.

“What’s happening right now for most institutes is that it’s the first legal action they’ve ever had,” she said. “Hopefully they have a policy on what to do.”

Even if a religious order is of pontifical right, meaning it is under the authority of the pope, this technicality doesn’t mean the diocese is off the hook in a sexual abuse lawsuit. Religious orders need to have permission from local bishops to operate in a specific diocese.

Hamilton, from the advocacy group Child USA, said that both a religious order and its local diocese can be named as defendants in lawsuits.

“Archdioceses try to argue that they don’t have any obligation and try to move all responsibility to the order,” Hamilton said. “That’s not the way canon law operates.”

With a renewed push to change to laws around sexual abuse, there’s a chance that many survivors of nun abuse can finally get their day in court.

Changes Brewing

Most survivors take years to come to terms with childhood sexual abuse. Studies suggest that the average age that victims disclose their abuse is 52This means that by the time survivors are ready to come forward, they’ve often missed the legal deadline ― or statute of limitations ― to pursue their claims in court.

Marsh, Cahill’s lawyer, said when his client got her life together in the 1990s and realized that what happened to her was abuse and exploitation, she was far outside New Jersey’s statute of limitations.

But changes are brewing.

Since 2002, survivors and advocates have been pushing for states to change their statute of limitations laws to accommodate child abuse survivors. For many, this means extending the amount of time victims have to file criminal or civil lawsuits. It also often means opening a temporary window for victims who previously missed the deadline to file lawsuits.

The Catholic Church has lobbied hard to prevent statute of limitations reform, arguing that doing so would expose the church to financially crippling lawsuits that would impact its ability to keep schools and social service programs open.

But for the first time in years, the scales seem to be tipped in favor of victims. This year, New York, which had some of the most restrictive statute of limitations laws, passed the Child Victims Act. The law gives victims until their 28th birthday to seek criminal felony charges and until their 55th birthday to bring civil lawsuits. The law also creates a one-year-long “look-back window,” starting this August, that will allow old claims to be revived.

Lawmakers in New Jersey, where the Sisters of Charity order is based, passed legislation in March that gives victims more time to file lawsuits. The bill, which is expected to be signed by the state’s governor, will establish a two-year look-back window for older cases, beginning on the date the law goes into effect. 

Marsh said he is now considering taking legal action against the Diocese of Camden and the Sisters of Charity based on his client’s claims. If that happens, it could be the first time Cahill’s claims are heard in court.

“Trish’s long struggle for accountability exemplifies the pain and despair that so many victims and survivors experience,” he said. “Now that the playing field has been leveled in New Jersey, Trish and others like her can hold accountable the institutions responsible for her abuse and begin the long, difficult, but hopeful, process of recovery.”

For her part, Cahill said she also wants justice and accountability. But years of grooming from Sister Eileen Shaw have left a deep wound. So sometimes, she wavers.

“I want her in jail. I’ve been in jail for my entire life,” Cahill told HuffPost.

A little later, she hedged that statement.

“I say that, and then I say to you, ‘I don’t want to hurt her,’ and I don’t,” Cahill said. “There’s a real conflict here.”

Decades after she first spotted the predator nun who would change her life, Cahill’s pain is still raw.

“I feel like I’m in a hole. I feel like that little girl that fell in the cave a hundred years ago, and they almost didn’t get her,” Cahill said. “And I can see the blue sky, but I can’t get up. I feel like I’m doing that right now with my life.”

“Why doessheget to live on the blue sky, the pink cloud, and I’m in the dungeon? I never hurt anybody.”

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Former ‘Girls’ Star Andrew Rannells Reveals A Catholic Priest Sexually Assaulted Him As A Teenager – Perez Hilton

Andrew Rannells is opening up about a particularly tough time in his life in his new memoir, Too Much Is Not Enough.

The former Girls star has revealed — in an excerpt from the memoir first published by Vulture — that a Catholic priest in his 60s allegedly molested the then-future TV star when he was just a teenager back in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

A good portion of the memoir looks back at Rannells’ upbringing in the Catholic church, where the now-openly gay TV star had served as an altar boy at his local diocese. The star claims in the book that at one point during his days as a high school student at a Jesuit school, he was struggling with his sexuality before fully coming out — and he decided to confide in a priest who he refers to as Father Dominic, describing the older man (below):

“He was probably in his sixties, but he worked out every day and remained lean and sinewy. He also took an interest in me because I did well in his classes. That’s what I thought anyway. He seemed so strong, but so kind, and I was hopeful that he could save me from myself.”

The now 40-year-old also recalled that first rite of confession about struggling with homosexuality — and how the alleged sexual contact with Father Dominic began (below):

“This was not your typical confession with private rooms and curtains drawn. Priests would set up two chairs close to each other in various darkened corners of the quad, turn on music at a low volume to muddle the sound of confessions, and then you would basically just get right up in a priest’s face and whisper your sins. Sometimes he would close his eyes and grab the back of your neck firmly while you confessed. I sat across from him in a dark corner, our knees touching. He grabbed my neck, as expected, and I started to talk. I started to try to explain what was happening with me, but I couldn’t make the words come out right. Instead, I started to cry. I was so embarrassed. Father Dominic squeezed my neck harder, and he grabbed both my hands with his free hand. His hands were like baseball mitts. We just sat there while I cried. He finally said, ‘It’s okay. You’ve done nothing wrong.’ It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it still felt nice.”

Obviously, as the A Simple Favor star notes, that’s far from a “typical’ confession”… but things quickly went from bad to worse, he alleges, when the 60-something priest took things to the next level with the vulnerable teenage boy.

Andrew continued, describing the point of no return (below):

“He stood up and pulled me up with him. He hugged me tightly. I felt safe and heard and understood. Then, with unexpected force, he kissed me. On the lips. He muscled his tongue into my mouth and held the back of my head still. Then he released me and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. He smiled.”


The forcible kiss is disgusting enough, and then when combined with the religious imagery and the vulnerable moment in which Rannells came forward only to be allegedly taken advantage of… so predatory and scary!

Former Girls star Andrew Rannells walks the red carpet in January 2019. / (c) WENN

Understandably, the actor was “stunned” by the encounter — and as most anyone would do, he tried to avoid Father Dominic for the rest of the year. That worked well for much of the time, until his mother — who didn’t know about the alleged sexual assault — invited the priest and a few of Rannells’ other teachers to his graduation party that spring.

He recalled (below):

“At some point, Father Dominic needed to leave, and he asked if I could show him out … We stood at my parents’ front door and said our good-byes for the final time, and then he grabbed me by the back of the neck and forced his tongue in my mouth. I just stood there and let him. I didn’t kiss back, but I also didn’t move. He smiled at me and walked to his car. I went into our kitchen and slammed a glass of wine before going back out to the party.”

Such gross (and illegal) behavior!!!

While those two moments have understandably had a profound affect on the actor through his entire life, though, it sounds like he quickly resolved to move past the situation as well as could be expected.

The author shared (below):

“It was time to leave high school, it was time to leave the Catholic Church, it was time to leave Omaha, and it was time to leave this idea that I had to go along with whatever older man was calling the shots, behind. I was eighteen years old, and I couldn’t be anybody’s altar boy anymore.”

Amen!!! (No pun intended.)

Obviously, a couple powerful sentences resolving to move past a sexual assault won’t just make things magically better, but at least it’s a small relief to know he quickly found himself determined to move forward as best he could.

Here’s hoping the star continues to find the good things in life — though it’s scary to think about the flip side of him leaving Omaha, and the potential that other young boys were also taken advantage of by this Father Dominic. Ugh…

What do U think, Perezcious readers? Let us know your reactions to this memoir reveal in the comments (below)…

[Image via WENN]

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My Husband Said Hes Leaving Me for Another WomanThen I Heard the Truth Whispered in My Ear

It was the worst news. It was the darkest moment. I asked my husband to pull the car over. “I’m sick to my stomach,” I said as he held my hand, guiding me to the nearest bathroom.

All came out — my dreams for a happy marriage and a promising future all spilled out.

The culprit was the blindness that robbed my sight at 30. It turned my world upside down with grief, with anguish and hopelessness. And my husband, who wasn’t prepared to handle such tragedy in our marriage, announced he was leaving me for someone else.

I begged for an answer. And I asked him a thousand times why. But my unexpected blindness covered any trace of wisdom or reasoning.

I was empty. What I needed to fill me was buried in my sorrow. Until the day God whispered to my soul. He spoke the truth of who I was. And He poured His grace and wisdom to express the needs I had tucked inside for way too long. Here are 10 things I needed but didn’t know how to ask for.

1. A wife needs her husband to acknowledge her worth.

As rejection seared my heart, I longed to silence the lies that I was ugly, unworthy and pitiful. Instead, I clung to God’s view of who He said I was.

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“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psa 139:13-14

2. A wife needs her husband’s love to mirror Christ’s love.

In the depth of my pain, I cried out for my husband’s love to [mirror] Christ’s.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27

3. A wife needs unconditional love.

What my heart hungered for was to have his unconditional love…whether I was sighted or blind.

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5:28-29

4. A wife needs a humble husband.

I prayed for his humility so he would accept God’s discipline as well as His love.

“Do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves…” Hebrews 12:9

5. A wife needs a marriage marked by repentance and forgiveness.

I needed God to purify our marriage by revealing our flaws, sin, and weaknesses.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord…”

“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau…” Hebrews 12:14 and 16

6. A wife needs a husband committed to their wedding vows.

I needed God’s help for us to look beyond our pain and instead make a commitment to uphold our wedding vows.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31

7. A wife needs a husband who is full of wisdom.

Because heartache shook our relationship, I longed for my husband to be filled with wisdom to lead the restoration of our home.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

8. A wife needs a husband who longs to follow all of God’s commands.

Since we were both vulnerable and lost, I needed my husband and [me] to be filled with Godly discernment.

”My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble…” Proverbs 2:21-23

9. A wife needs a husband she can trust.

I wanted to hear the truth from his lips. I longed to believe in his word and trust in his commitments.

“Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.” James 5:12

10. A wife needs a husband dedicated to prayer.

I stayed awake at night, wishing him to repent, to express remorse and wished to hear his acknowledgment that he had marred our marriage.

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge… a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:4

After weeks of diligent prayer, I drew courage from God’s wisdom. And I drew strength from His truth. In a loving way, I expressed my needs and expectations clearly.

He heard them all as he saw the change in me. I wasn’t the shaken up, afraid wife anymore. Instead, I had become confident In God’s power to change. He did a transformation in me. And I knew He would do the same in my husband too.

We sat at the kitchen table one evening and he held my hand. “I made my decision,” he said, “I’m leaving it all behind and I will be devoted to you and our sons.”

We began to pray together. We started to talk. He became my best friend. We fell in love all over again, and on a cruise ship, we recently celebrated 41 years of marriage.


**This post originally appeared on Published with permission.

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