tzahiV/iStock(NEW YORK) — The New York City Police Department is “failing sexual assault victims across the city,” two Brooklyn women alleged Thursday in a lawsuit that accused the nation’s largest police department of a “male-dominated culture” unwilling to address “an entrenched gender bias.”Jennifer Welch Demski and Alison Turkos said they were ridiculed and mistreated by the NYPD’s Special Victims Division when they came forward with allegations of sexual assault, according to the complaint.Turkos and Welch are seeking unspecified damages from the city, which they accused of creating a deficient investigative infrastructure. In addition to the City of New York, the lawsuit names New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan and Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.“The NYPD has been criticized for years for failing sexual assault victims who are brave enough to come forward and report to the police,” said Mariann Wang, the attorney with Cuti Hecker Wang LLP representing Welch and Turkos. “Time and again, women have been treated aggressively by untrained and biased officers, being asked — in the midst of their trauma and at a moment when they expect support — why they went on a date or why they wore a skirt or a dress, as if they should have expected to be sexually assaulted.”Welch reported in January, 2016, that she had been sexually assaulted by a man six months prior only to be told by an officer at her local precinct “that she had not in fact been raped,” the complaint alleges.“The sergeant commented that Ms. Welch looked attractive in her driver’s license photograph and dismissed her claims of having been assaulted by observing that he frequently has sex with his wife while she is asleep and that his wife does not report such conduct as rape,” the lawsuit states.Welch pursued her claim, bolstered by a recent report from the New York City Department of Investigation that detailed shortcomings of the Special Victims Division, but said she was told the district attorney’s office would not prosecute, according to the complaint.“The NYPD had failed her,” the lawsuit stated.In October 2017, Turkos reported she was kidnapped by a Lyft driver, taken to a location in New Jersey and “viciously and brutally raped at gunpoint,” according to the complaint.What followed, the lawsuit states, “was an exceedingly frustrating several months” with an NYPD special victims detective before her case was turned over to the FBI.“The FBI has told Ms. Turkos that certain deficiencies in the way the NYPD handled the investigation initially … had severe and significant negative impacts on her case,” the lawsuit said.In a statement, the police department defended its conduct and affirmed its commitment to improve.“The NYPD is committed to doing anything and everything to ensure survivors feel the safety and support needed to come forward and help the NYPD bring them the justice they deserve,” the statement read.“Over the last 10 months, the NYPD has made major improvements to strengthen the Special Victims Division with a victim-centered approach, including new leadership, significant policy enhancements, facility improvements and deepened training to amplify our ability to respond effectively to survivors, while continuing to conduct full and thorough investigations. NYPD leadership continues to meet with survivors, advocates, elected officials and other partners to solicit feedback, which has been an important part of the bureau-wide review,” the statement added.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Nilvarda/iStock(INDIANAPOLIS) — A religious school in Indiana broke with the archdiocese after refusing to fire a teacher who was in a same-sex marriage.Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School announced in a statement Thursday that they had a “sincere and significant disagreement” with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis over the issue.“Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage,” the letter from the school states. The teacher’s name and gender were not identified.The regional Jesuit community appears to be supporting the decision, with Brian Paulson, the leader of the Jesuits Midwest Province, writing a letter about the “disappointing development” posted to the group’s website.Paulson noted that the teacher’s same-sex union has been known within the community since the summer of 2017 when “this act became publicly known via social media.”The Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Paulson wrote, “requested verbally two years ago that Brebeuf Jesuit not renew this teacher’s contract because this teacher’s marital status does not conform to church doctrine.”The disagreement appears to have now come to a head as the archdiocese is expected to formally withdraw support from the school.Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1962 as an independent Catholic school and has “enjoyed a collaborative partnership with the Archdiocese for nearly 57 years,” the school’s letter states. It noted that the school always had control of the school’s governance, which included staff hiring and firings.Paulson wrote that on Thursday, the Jesuits received an advanced copy of a canonical decree set to be published Friday that states that the Archdiocese will no longer recognize Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School as a Catholic school.The Midwest Jesuits will be appealing the decision, Paulson wrote.“This is an issue that cuts to the very heart of what it means to be a Jesuit institution with responsibilities to both the local and universal church, as well as for the pastoral care we extend to all members of our Catholic community,” Paulson wrote.A statement from the archdiocese published by local station WISHTV said, “All those who minister in Catholic educational institutions carry out an important ministry in communicating the fullness of Catholic teaching to students both by word and action inside and outside the classroom. It is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice.”ABC News was not able to reach the archdiocese, whose office is closed on Fridays.“To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching,” the statement added.The statement goes on to say, per WISHTV, that “regrettably” the school does not subscribe to the belief that all teachers must be seen as ministers of the church and “be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church.”The issue has drawn national attention, and the school is getting support from one of the best-known Jesuits, James Martin, a Jesuit priest and outspoken supporter of greater inclusion within the Catholic Church.Martin, who regularly speaks publicly about the church, tweeted that he supports “my brother Jesuits who stand with our LGBT colleagues and stand against the relentless targeting of LGBT people.”“Other employees do not conform to, or agree with, church teaching: straight couples living together before marriage, practicing birth control, etc…..as well as employees who are not Catholic, not Christian, or not believers. Yet they are not targeted. The targeting of LGBT employees must cease, and Brebeuf and the Midwest Province are here standing with the marginalized. This is the most Catholic thing that they could do,” he wrote in two tweets.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.