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Three women contractors raped in Iraq testify before a Senate committee: why has the Justice Department failed to prosecute crimes like these?

A "rogue sociologist" gains unprecedented insight on the day-to-day workings of a Chicago gang.

When guns claim lives where any middle-class child might be, America mourns. But in barrios, projects and trailer parks, it's as if the crime never happened.

Will any candidate have the fortitude to link America's crimes abroad with crime at home?

Mourning a slain young mother in New Orleans, the only way to dignify her death is to try to create real justice here.

As the clock ticks down to former gang leader Stanley
Tookie Williiams's scheduled execution on December 13, football great
Jim Brown is helping lead the fight to convince Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger to grant clemency.

In a cluster of beach bungalows in Ghana in December 2000, my wife and I encountered the Peace Corps dream.

"Iwouldn't ask him to escort my daughter to her senior prom," explained
one of the jurors who in mid-November acquitted Robert Durst of
murdering his quarrelsome neighbor, Morris Black.

When I was in college, I joined a court-watching project in Roxbury,
Massachusetts. We observed criminal trials, then interviewed judges,
lawyers and witnesses.

Boston's Bernard Cardinal Law deserves the Watergate Award for Obfuscatory Declamation: He has characterized his nearly two decades of cover-up of felonies--namely, the rape and molestation of hundreds of Boston-area children by scores of priests--as "tragically incorrect." Records uncovered by the Boston Globe's Spotlight Team disclose the shocking extent to which Law's cold-shouldering of young victims made him an enabler of known recidivist pedophiles, including former priest John Geoghan, whose thirty-six-year spree of child sexual exploitation ended in a prison sentence on February 21.

Over and over, Law sought to pay hush money to victims of known molesters and then moved the predators to new parishes, where they once again had access to children. For years Law counted on the cooperation of several judges who, sharing his belief that the faith of rank-and-file church members might not survive a reckoning with the truth about the priestly criminals in their midst, moved to seal archdiocese files. Even as the child-rape stories were breaking, Law permitted his lawyers to pursue a defense based on "comparative negligence"--the theory that the abuse was partially due to victims' negligence.

Ever since Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney's November ruling forced public release of documents detailing the crimes, the Cardinal's voice has had a from-the-bunker timbre. At his official residence, Law has been hunkered down with wealthy male advisers from Boston's Catholic elite--bankers, executives, university presidents and politicians who together calibrate the spin of each statement that issues from the Chancery. But sometimes a furious Law bursts through the kitchen-cabinet insulation: His Nixonian response to the news that nearly half of polled Boston Catholics want him to resign--including those faithful who keep a Law-Must-Go vigil in front of his residence--was to declare them enemies of the Church. His persistent disparagement of the Globe reporters who sued to unseal those documents is not a response to stress; it's his longstanding M.O. In 1992, after the Globe exposed Father James Porter as a serial rapist, the cosmopolitan Harvard-man Cardinal inveighed, "By all means, we call down God's power upon the media, particularly the Globe."

While the US Catholic Church has so far paid out $1 billion in settlements for clerical molestation cases, the predator priests are less emblems of fatal flaws in doctrine--including the doctrine of celibacy--than they are evidence of the mortal danger posed by any institutional leadership that perpetuates the myth that it is answerable to no laws but its own. (This presumption of immunity has taken an ominous new turn, as bishops across the country fling priests alleged to have molested from their jobs: As one Massachusetts picket sign reads: There Is No Due Process in Cardinal's Law.) Protestants have sustained public-relations catastrophes and paid huge sums for years of cover-ups: In December the Anglican Church of Canada announced that ten of its thirty dioceses are facing bankruptcy as a result of child sexual-abuse claims. Australian Governor General Peter Hollingworth faces mounting cries for his resignation since evidence surfaced that while he was an archbishop, he grossly mishandled cases of pedophilia. The children sexually exploited by Deacon Robert Tardy of Washington's Peace Baptist Church have never heard one word of apology from church authorities. Predators and their protectors are also ensconced within synagogue walls. This past summer Boca Raton's Jerrold Levy, rabbi of the largest Reform congregation in the South, was prosecuted for procuring underage boys in four states via the Internet. After he was convicted on one count, federal prosecutors abruptly reversed their sentencing recommendation from sixty years to six and a half, reportedly because of pressure from influential synagogue members. Several weeks ago Cantor Howard Nevison of Manhattan's famed Temple Emanu-El was arrested for an alleged two-generation-long rampage of child rape; some suspect his low bail is connected to Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau's position as a trustee of Nevison's temple.

As Law's regime wrapped a blanket around criminals in the priesthood, it swung a terrible swift sword in the direction of women aspiring to fuller participation in Catholic liturgy. Two years ago, an organization called Massachusetts Women-Church, made up primarily of lifelong-Catholic mothers and grandmothers advocating the ordination of women, was banned by Law from church-affiliated buildings. When members picketed outside a church, Law shouted at them, "You are in violation of your faith!"

Treating women as contaminants and children as invisible while coddling criminals in Roman collars allowed Boston's imperial bishopric to shore up support for Law's real goal: making a permanent move to Rome as the first American Pope. If Law had been, say, director of a daycare center or a summer camp, he would probably be on his way to jail. But with powerful people at his elbows, Law is as unlikely to serve prison time as he was to let the violated bodies of children get in the way of his career building. When Boston Catholics finally force him out, he'll probably be humming "My Way" as he packs his bags.

Blogs

Conservative militants struck in Las Vegas and Georgia over the weekend. 

June 9, 2014

Sexual assault survivors forced campus officials to listen up. Last week’s news shows the feds picking up what’s been their work all along.

May 9, 2014

As reforms have caused incarceration rates to fall and the sky has not fallen with it, Americans are increasingly supportive of such measures. 

May 7, 2014

De Blasio distinguished himself from his electoral opponents by advocating an independent overseer of the NYPD—now he’s fulfilled that promise.

March 28, 2014

The numbers look good. Someday they won’t. Let’s not talk about them so much.

March 12, 2014

US officials claim the capture of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is a major drug war victory. They're wrong.

March 7, 2014

Overall stops and arrests are down, but arrests of panhandlers and peddlers are way up.

March 6, 2014

There's only one solution to the American obsession with personal safety: more guns.

February 25, 2014

A little wonkish background on the arrest and release of Brooklyn pastor Orlando Findlayter.

February 14, 2014

Human Rights Watch finds that private probation companies are fostering a new form of debtors’ prisons.

February 6, 2014