This is part four of a five-part series. Read the third part here.
White House officials question whether the support of Silicon Valley and the Catholic Church, specifically Google’s Washington lobbyist Susan Molinari and Pope Francis, are appropriate institutions to address the issue of human trafficking. The Catholic Church is an institution mired in pedophilia since. Is this the kind of leadership to turn the tide of history on evil? Is the newer entity, Silicon Valley, with its parsing of rights under the First Amendment to defend the profits it garners from Backpage and other internet platforms, and its refusal to fully cooperate with law enforcement, one we should trust with the integrity that an investigation, analysis and strategy for defeating human trafficking requires? A look at some of the history of these institutions is instructive.
Institutional pedophile rings are trafficking models. Prosecutions of pedophiles and perverts on the internet and victims’ testimonies prove this.
Institutional protection of perverts exists. College athletics, Olympics, Federation of International Football Association, religious institutions and public schools are fertile grounds for trafficking. While reports come to light piecemeal, at no time has the U.S. made a serious effort to find how such institutions protect predators rather than victims. The last significant inquiry was in 1980s when President Reagan ordered a commission on child prostitution and child pornography. Since then, institutional abuse and child sexual trafficking has exploded. Why? The internet.
Society learns remarkable, yet painful lessons, from inquiries and investigations. During South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation on Apartheid, torturers testified they did not register their victims’ faces. Bishop Tutu dramatically asked torturers to turn around and meet their victims sitting behind them, as they never forgot their faces — demonstrating exploitation is dehumanizing.
When internet corporate titans claim they follow regulations and remove child rape images, yet continue to show pornography that is used to groom young children – as young as 8 and 10 years of age online — they harm children, betray their customer-paying parents, devalue corporate brands, deceive investors and shareholders, and reveal their lack of ethics. When Facebook filed IPO papers with the SEC in 2011, they negated a material fact; Microsoft technological runs found tens of thousands of inappropriate child images on Facebook the prior year.
Some inquiries reveal horrifying truths. Australian journalist Louise Milligan’s riveting book, Cardinal – The Rise and Fall of George Pell, powerfully reports Australia’s Royal Commission findings. Auxiliary Bishop Brian Finnegan “made some shocking admissions – including that back in the 1970s, he and other priests didn’t consider things like touching boys’ penises, masturbating and even anally raping them as crimes.” Finnegan found young boys living with pedophile priests in rectories, “a bit unusual, but not unusual,” exposing an institutional lack of morality.
During the recent White House meeting on human trafficking with Ivanka Trump, some claimed Pope Francis is interested in human trafficking. In 2014, Pope Francis stated human trafficking is “a crime against humanity.” Pope John Paul II said he was too concerned, but the Church was complicit in covering up for pedophiles. Pope Francis knows Scripture well enough to know that interest alone is not good enough for Jesus. Scripture calls for Pope Francis to clean his house. If not, the cloak of hypocrisy is the raiment for which his leadership will be remembered.
Unfortunately, the Vatican continues to be steeped in deep, intentional, self-protective, and massive moral lapses about its own institutional crimes.
The church embraced a perfect model of secret deception until judges, prosecutors and law enforcement exercised their power and seized the historical secret archives in Boston in 2002 that led to a global institutional meltdown that continues to this day. That January, this journalist suggested to Boston prosecutors they may want to use the power they had — get a search warrant and seize the historical secret archives that would give them the road map they needed. When large NGOs today claim they need more money, perhaps, the funds should go to fund more law enforcement investigations, and prosecutors, and the smaller NGOs to do transformational work.
In March 2017, Marie Collins, the only victim left on Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors resigned. The only other victim on the Commission was suspended indefinitely for criticizing the slowness of the Commission. Collins felt her integrity compromised if she remained. Her resignation letter describes her opinion of the hierarchy’s hypocrisy, “It is a reflection of how this whole abuse crisis in the Church has been handled: with fine words in public and contrary actions behind closed doors.” Weeks later, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the head of the Pontifical Commission, moved into damage control assuring Catholics that child protection was a primary goal.
Pope Francis may care about human trafficking, but no sane person would bet on the Vatican hierarchy’s pompous puffery to embark on a serious effort to reduce human trafficking at this stage without an institutional exorcism. Pope Francis still employs Cardinal George Pell as #3 at the Vatican as the Secretariat of Finances. As this goes to print, the Australian Victoria Police are investigating Pell for sexually abusing young boys. Their decision for prosecution is imminent.
The marriage of the Vatican and Silicon Valley should prove to be most interesting in light of an October conference this year on cybercrime and the protection of child under the auspices of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University. It is a collaboration of one of the oldest and one of the newest institutions bound by the hypocrisy of their words against the background of their actions. Their proclamation at the end of the conference will prove a Titanic public relations disaster claiming the King is fully clothed when he is stark naked if neither leadership cleans its own house before then.
Silicon Valley hides their dissemination of obscenity behind the First Amendment. Every time someone on the networks says Silicon Valley is dealing with porn and trafficking, the story is short lived. Could it be because of the ad buys, the copious donations Silicon Valley titans pay to politicians, the attorneys, and lobbyists, who are ever present in Washington, and the insidious relationships they have with our intelligence agencies? Google financially supported Backpage’s defense of publishing sex trafficking ads because they too do not want to be held accountable. How much more unethical can this get?
Because Silicon Valley’s lawyers refused to fully co-operate with law enforcement, and turn over the evidence to prosecute the perverts, exactly like the Catholic Church’s lawyers assert Canon Law, law enforcement officials created the Virtual Global Task Force (VGT) in 2003. Silicon Valley still does not fully cooperate with law enforcement. And, the reason Silicon Valley gets away with that is that it is unregulated. Until world leaders stand up for the protection of all children, they are complicit in raising the next generation of pedophiles and increasing sex trafficking. Dr. Michael Seto of Canada says, “We are experiencing the most unregulated human experiment in history,” and the costs to families are unprecedented.
Pope Francis has the power to exercise a global message if he calls for the VGT icon and REPORT ABUSE button on every Catholic school and diocese’s website. Perhaps he could learn the value of child protection deterrence as an added value to his institution so covered in filth. That would be progress to let every family and child know that if something happens online against a child, there are ninja law enforcement officials, who are there to protect them.
It is time for the anti-trafficking arena and those who proclaim they protect children to take these social demons on full throttle, and stop denying the fertile grounds that lead to the increase of trafficking, including those who cover up, and those who play along with those who cover up. Society pays one way or the other — either for preventing this scourge, or for taking care of the broken. Society’s indifference may exist because of denial and ignorance, but the social ills are fully transparent across its landscape. As Milligan reported, Australian Catholic communities are facing upticks in suicides of adults molested by Catholic religious as children.
It is too late for failed models, for entrusting solutions to institutions that give lip service to stopping trafficking and suffering while protecting their interests at the expense of victims. It is unethical to spend the peoples’ money to support models that have failed; it is unethical to cede leadership to those who have abused the victims of this twenty-first century abomination, and play ball with those who cover up. And it is unethical to create a Global Slush Fund that is viewed within the human trafficking arena as a welfare fund for the International Justice Mission (IJM). It hardly seems moral that Gary Haugen who is one of the architects of this Global Fund should ever expect a dime for his organization. That alone is a conflict of interest. It is unethical for any board member or member of Congress or the Trump administration to allow that to happen. That taints the whole fund if those who created it financially benefit from it with U.S. government funds. This is a typical Washington Swamp Fund, and it should be killed. We, as a society, have a moral responsibility to find solutions, not ablutions.
It is time for a national inquiry into the institutional abuse of children, including Silicon Valley’s contribution to the increase in trafficking online. The public has the right to know the depth of this stain on society. Law enforcement worldwide knows it. Silicon Valley needs to be regulated like a business, not protected under the guise of First Amendment. It is time to start telling the truth and demanding more from those who claim to be stewards in this fight.
As Henry Ford stated, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Hopefully, the Trump White House will take the same innovative stance that Henry Ford took to change the face of America.