Today's Deutsche Welle reports that in Afghanistan's Parliament, lawmakers have withdrawn a bill that would have instituted a number of protections for women. The action came after religious parties complained that the proposed law was un-Islamic. The law would have set a minimum age for marriage for girls, outlawed domestic violence, supported shelters for women who were victims of domestic abuse, barred prosecution of women for rapes committed against them, and banned "baad" (a practice of trading a young girl to settle a family dispute). Conservative member of parliament Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada said that the law reflected values not applicable in Afghanistan, that it might encourage promiscuity and give girls ideas about running away from home. In 2009, President Hamid Karzai had promulgated a Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women. The bill in Parliament was an attempt to assure that those protections could not be reversed by a future president.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 10:11 PM
The New York Times reports that in France today, President Francois Hollande signed into law Projet de Loi Ouvrant le Mariage aux Couples de Personnes de Même Sexe, making France the 14th country to legalize same-sex marriage. Hollande's action follows a decision handed down yesterday by France's Constitutional Council rejecting constitutional challenges to the new law. (Full text of decision in French; Council's press release in French). Parliament passed the law last month. (See prior posting.)
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:37 PM
Friday, May 17, 2013
The Concord Monitor reports today that the Catholic diocese of Manchester has settled a breach of contract lawsuit filed against it in February in which a 14-year old boy's parents complained about statements made by a priest to their son during confession at his Catholic school. The suit claims the school failed to provide the safe learning environment that was promised. In the settlement, the diocese will pay only $2000, which will be used for the boy's future educational costs. According to the paper's report:
In the lawsuit filed at Hillsborough County Superior Court, [the parents] accused [Rev. George] Desjardins of asking the boy whether he had “engaged in watching pornographic material and masturbating.” When the boy said that he hadn’t and that he had a girlfriend, Desjardins told the boy to use “rubbers” and warned him to be careful because a girl can “yell ‘rape’ ” during sex, the lawsuit continued.
The parents also accused Desjardins, who is an assisting retired priest at Christ the King Parish, of attempting to grab the boy twice as the student tried to avoid him. [A diocese spokesman] has said that physical contact was nothing more than a handshake after Mass....Even though school officials did not believe that the priest's remarks amounted to misconduct, Desjardins took a leave of absence once the lawsuit was filed.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 4:54 PM
Rabbi's Sex Assault Conviction May Encourage Others In New Jersey Orthodox Community To Bring Complaints To Civil Authorities
AP reported earlier this week that a guilty plea in the sexual assault trial of former yeshiva teacher Rabbi Yosef Kolko "may be a watershed for the prosecutor's office and the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood [New Jersey]." The plea came Monday, part way through Kolko's trial, after two others claiming to have been abused by Kolko contacted the prosecutor's office last week. The Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood has been reluctant to report sex abuse complaints to civil authorities, preferring instead to handle them through rabbis and rabbinical courts. (See prior posting.) In this case, the young victim's family had been ostracized by the community for taking the case to civil courts. Senior Assistant Prosecutor Laura Pierro said she hoped that this trial would open the door to others in the community cooperating with prosecutors.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:30 AM
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri announced Wednesday that 5 defendants were convicted in federal court in a $10.2 million securities fraud conspiracy involving the use of clergy to sell shares in Petro America Corporation. Nine other plead guilty in the conspiracy. According to the press release:
The defendants used religious language in their pitches and often recruited through churches. [Defendant] Hawkins cultivated relationships with numerous ministers, whom he dubbed the Ministers Alliance. The Ministers Alliance was a group of about 15 ministers (most of whom resided in the Kansas City area) who supported and promoted Petro America. He gave them white fedora hats and millions of Petro shares, which he encouraged them to sell secretly, accepting kick-backs from the proceeds. Members of the Ministers Alliance sold Petro shares to their congregants and others. The Ministers Alliance frequently met at restaurants and participated in weekly conference calls with hundreds of investors in dozens of states.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:08 AM
In Thornton v. Carthon, 2013 La. App. LEXIS 923 (LA App., May 15, 2013), a Louisiana state appeals court affirmed the trial court's decision confirming the court-ordered election of the board of trustees of Shreveport's Baptist Temple Church. Some of the newly elected trustees had been attempting to call a membership meeting to oust Rev. Alvin Carthon as the church's pastor. The trial court found, and the appeals court agreed, that a membership meeting purporting to vote Carthon out had been premature, but that Carthon should be enjoined from entering the church without court approval and from acting on behalf of the church in any natter. Affirming the trial court's judgment, the appeals court said: "The court's rulings sanctioning the newly-elected Board and holding Rev. Carthon's immediate participation in abeyance were clearly aimed at allowing the Board and church membership time to deliberate and choose the ministerial leadership for the church."
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 8:52 AM
The Kansas City Star reported that on Tuesday the Kansas City-St. Joseph (MO) Catholic Diocese has agreed to settle a child pornography lawsuit filed against it, Bishop Robert Finn and Catholic priest Shawn Ratigan, for $600,000. The suit was brought by parents of a girl who claimed that Ratigan took sexually explicit photos of the girl when she was 2 years old, and distributed them over the Internet. Ratigan plead guilty to child pornography charges last year, and is awaiting sentence. Bishop Finn was found guilty last year on misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspicion of child abuse. (See prior posting.)
In the civil suit settled this week, the only claim the court permitted to move ahead was one alleging that Bishop Finn and the diocese possessed child pornography by viewing and making copies of Ratigan's photos. The court must still approve the structure of the settlement, which will be covered by insurance. The diocese has been named in dozens of priest sexual abuse lawsuits, including three others involving Ratigan.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 7:09 AM
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Florist Counter-Sues State AG Over Right To Refuse To Create Floral Arrangements For Same-Sex Wedding
As previously reported, last month the Washington state attorney filed a consumer protection lawsuit in state court against a retail florist for refusing, because of her religious opposition to same-sex marriage, to furnish floral arrangements for a customer's same-sex wedding. Now defendants Arlene's Flowers, Inc. and its owner Barronelle Stutzman, have not merely filed an answer, but at the same time filed a third-party complaint, counter-suing the state attorney general for violating the shop owner's free speech and free exercise rights under the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. The third party complaint (full text) in State of Washington v. Arlene's Flowers Inc., (WA Super Ct., filed 5/16/2013) alleges in part:
Barronelle is being sued, and she fears future suits by the Attorney General, for following her conscience in her work, which has resulted in a chilling effect in the exercise of her constitutional rights and a chill in the exercise of constitutional rights by other small business owners in Washington.Alliance Defending Freedom issued a press release announcing the filing of the counter-suit.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 11:28 PM
In Wake of IG Report, Evangelical Leaders Charge IRS Also Dealt Improperly With Religious Non-Profits
As widely reported, this week the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration issued a report (full text) concluding that the Internal Revenue Service used inappropriate criteria in reviewing applications of Tea Party and similar conservative organizations for tax exempt 501(c)(4) status. Now, two well-known Christian evangelical leaders are claiming that the IRS also dealt improperly with certain conservative religious non-profits.
In a May 14 press release, Dr. James Dobson said that Family Talk Action Corp., formed to provide Christ-oriented advice and education and speak on cultural issues that affect the family, filed its Form 1024 application for 501(c)(4) status in September 2011. In March 2013 the group still had not received its determination letter. The attorney who filed the application had a conversation with the IRS reviewing agent. According to the press release:
Ms. Medley [the IRS agent] responded saying, I don't think your Form 1024 ... will be granted because Family Talk Action is "not educational" because it does not present all views. She continued, saying that Family Talk Action sounded like a "partisan right-wing group" because, according to Ms. Medley, it only presents conservative viewpoints. She then added, "you're political" because you "criticized President Obama, who was a candidate."Opposing Views has more on the case.
Meanwhile, as reported by CNN, on May 14 prominent evangelical leader Franklin Graham wrote President Obama (full text of letter) complaining of tax audits last year. After the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ran full page ads supporting North Carolina's proposed Marriage Amendment, the Association as well as an affiliated group, Samaritan's Purse, were notified by IRS that a review would be conducted of their tax status as Section 501(c)(3) organizations for the 2010 tax year. Franklin wrote:
I do not believe that the IRS audit of our two organizations last year is a coincidence-- or justifiable.
UPDATE: On May 17, the Thomas More Society (TMS) announced that it has submitted 150 pages of materials (full text) to the House Ways and Means Committee which, according to TMS, shows IRS harassment of pro-life organizations.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 10:52 PM
In a case that has been closely followed by home-school advocates, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals this week denied asylum to a German family that claimed persecution because of Germany's ban on home schooling. As reported by RNS, the evangelical Christian family prefers home schooling largely for religious reasons. In Romeike v. Holder, (6th Cir., May 14, 2013), in an opinion by Judge Sutton, the court said in part:
When the Romeikes became fed up with Germany’s ban on homeschooling and when their prosecution for failure to follow the law led to increasingly burdensome fines, they came to this country with the hope of obtaining asylum. Congress might have written the immigration laws to grant a safe haven to people living elsewhere in the world who face government strictures that the United States Constitution prohibits. But it did not. The relevant legislation applies only to those who have a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A). There is a difference between the persecution of a discrete group and the prosecution of those who violate a generally applicable law. As the Board of Immigration Appeals permissibly found, the German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or homeschoolers in general for persecution.Judge Rogers wrote a short concurring opinion in addition to joining the majority opinion.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:52 PM
AP reports today on the controversy that has arisen in the state of Georgia over whether it is appropriate to permit Gideon Bibles to be placed in rooms of cabins at state-owned resorts. Atheist Ed Buckner complained about the Bibles after his family visited a state part to celebrate his son's birthday. In response, officials removed the Bibles while the state attorney general looked into the matter. The attorney general soon issued an opinion saying that the Bibles are allowable, and yesterday Gov.Nathan Deal ordered them all returned to cabins in the state parks. The governor issued a press release saying:
Out of an abundance of caution to avoid potential litigation, the commissioner removed the Bibles from rooms – though they were still available on site – after a complaint from a visitor. The attorney general and I agree that the state is on firm legal footing as we move to return the Bibles to the rooms. These Bibles are donated by outside groups, not paid for by the state, and I do not believe that a Bible in a bedside table drawer constitutes a state establishment of religion. In fact, any group is free to donate literature.UPDATE: American Atheists announced (May 17) that it is taking the Governor up on his offer and is sending "enough popular atheist books to place one in every state park cabin in the state."
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:31 PM
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
In Bible Believers v. Wayne County, (ED MI, May 14, 2013), a Michigan federal district court dismissed a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief and nominal damages brought by a group of traveling Christian evangelicals who were escorted away by police and threatened with dsorderly conduct citations at last year's Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. The group preached, using a megaphone, for 90 minutes, insulting and denouncing Islam. Festival attendees-- particularly children-- began hurling objects at the preachers. Police officials tried to stem the crowd. Eventually, however, fearing someone would be injured, they ordered the preachers to leave. The court concluded that police acted in a content-neutral manner and were justified in stopping the speakers because of the actual violence that occurred, even if the violence stemmed from the crowd's disagreement with the speakers. The court said:
Even when construing the evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, the evidence also suggests that sheer size of the crowd and expanse of the Festival grounds made it unfeasible to proceed against the crowd.The court also rejected plaintiffs' free exercise and equal protection claims, and held that even if there was a constitutional violation, municipal liability is inappropriate.
Plaintiffs have filed an immediate Notice of Appeal to the 6th Circuit. The American Freedom Law Center issued a press release on the decision. The Dearborn Press and Guide reported on the decision.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 6:25 PM
The EEOC announced last week that it has filed a Title VII lawsuit against the Florida-based Dynamic Medical Services, Inc. for requiring its employees to attend courses that used Scientology religious practices. The suit-- alleging hostile work environment and failure to accommodate employees' religious beliefs-- claims that the Miami company that provides medical and chiropractic services required its employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved practices such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving. Employees were instructed to attend courses at the Church of Scientology, and one employee was required to under go an E-meter "audit." Two employees who refused to participate were terminated.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 11:09 AM
In Liddie v United Community Church of God, (NY Queens Co Sup Ct, April 30, 2013), a New York trial court dismissed on res judicata and collateral estoppel grounds a suit against United Community Church by a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by the church's pastor while attending a bible study class at the the church. The court found that the issues raised had already been decided on the merits in a prior action in which the court dismissed the claims against the church, finding they failed to state a cause of action.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 11:08 AM
Yesterday, Jenny R. Yang was sworn in as a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, bringing the EEOC up to its full 5 commissioners. (EEOC press release.) Yang was nominated by President Obama in August 2012 and her nomination was finally confirmed by the Senate on April 25, 2013. Since 2003, Yang was a partner in the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll where she litigated civil rights and employment discrimination cases. Prior to that, she was with the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. The EEOC enforces federal employment anti-discrimination laws, including those barring religious discrimination in employment.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 6:36 AM
Monday, May 13, 2013
The Minnesota state Senate today, by a vote of 37-30, gave final passage to HF 1054, a bill authorizing same-sex civil marriage in the state. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by a vote of 75-59. (Legislative history.) According to the New York Times, Governor Mark Dayton promised he will sign the bill tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon. This will make Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
The new law includes a number of protections for clergy and religious organizations that object to same-sex marriage. It provides that non-profit religious organizations and educational facilities they operate or supervise can take action on the basis of sexual orientation with respect to education, employment, housing and real property, or use of facilities, except as to secular business activities unrelated to the organization's religious or educational purposes. Also these religious and educational institutions may refuse to furnish goods, services, facilities, or accommodations directly related to the solemnization or celebration of a civil marriage that is in violation of the organization's religious beliefs. They may not be subject to any fine, liability or loss of tax exempt status for such refusal. No member of the clergy or other person authorized to solemnize marriages may be subject to liability or any penalty for refusing to solemnize a marriage for any reason.
The bill also changes all references in Minnesota statues from "marriage" to "civil marriage", and assures same-sex couples married in Minnesota that Minnesota courts will be available for any future dissolution of the marriage if the couple has moved to a state that refuses to recognize same-sex marriage and divorce.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:08 PM
- Seval Yildirim, Global Tangles: Law, Headcoverings and Religious Identity, (Santa Clara Journal of International Law, Forthcoming).
- Faisal Bhabha, From Saumur to L. (S.): Tracing the Theory and Concept of Religious Freedom under Canadian Law, (58 Supreme Court Law Review (2d), 2012).
- Faisal Bhabha, R v. NS: What's Fair in a Trial? The Supreme Court of Canada's Divided Opinion on the Niqab in the Courtroom, (Alberta Law Review, Forthcoming).
- Carl H. Esbeck, Unwanted Exposure to Religious Expression by Government: Standing and the Establishment Clause, (7 Charleston L. Rev. no. 1 ___ (forthcoming 2013)).
- Bruce Ledewitz, The Vietnam Draft Cases and the Pro-Religion Equality Project, (Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper (May 6, 2013)).
- Bryan Dearinger, The Future of Taxpayer Standing in Establishment Clause Tax Credit Cases, (Oregon Law Review, Forthcoming).
- Lapo Filistrucchi and Jens Prufer, Nonprofits are Not Alike: The Role of Catholic and Protestant Affiliation, (TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2013-013 (April 26, 2013)).
- Radwa S. Elsaman and Mohamed A. 'Arafa, The Rights of the Elderly in the Arab Middle East: Islamic Theory versus Arabic Practice, 14 Marquette Elder's Advisor 1-53 (2012).
- Eric D. Yordy, Caught in the Clause: An Analysis of Same-Sex Marriage Through the Lens of the Establishment Clause, [Abstract], 22 Tulane Journal of Law & Sexuality 55-89 (2013).
- Invisible Constitutions: Culture, Religion, and Memory. Articles by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Kathryn E. Fort, Jeffrey A. Redding, Jelte Olthof, Monica Eppinger, Semahagn G. Abebe and Michal Jan Rozbicki. 57 St. Louis University Law Journal 287-455 (2013).
- Michael D'Antonio, Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal, (Thomas Dunne Books, April 2013).
- Carolyn Renée Dupont, Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1970, (New York Univ. Press, Aug. 2013).
- John Ragosta, Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America's Creed, (Univ. of Virginia Press, April 2013).
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 7:05 AM
Last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released the 2012 annual audit (full text) on diocesan compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. A May 9 Release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops summarizes the findings of the annual report. The audit showed full Charter compliance by all but four dioceses. The accompanying survey of abuse allegations lodged in 2012 showed 363 new allegations relating to abuse taking place in past years and 34 allegations of abuse of minors occurring in 2012. Of the 34 allegations of recent abuse, six were found to be credible and 15 are still under investigation. The allegations of past and current abuse were from 390 people against 313 priests or deacons. 84% of the victims were male. About half were between 10 and 14 when the abuse began.17% were between 15 and 17. 19% were under the age of 10 when the abuse started. As it has done in the past, the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska refused to be audited for Charter compliance or to respond to the survey. 3 Eastern rite eparchies also refused to be audited.
Dioceses, eparchies and religious orders spent $148.3 million in 2012 for settlements, attorneys fees, therapy for victims and support for offenders. Another $26.5 million was spent on child protection programs.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 7:00 AM
Sunday, May 12, 2013
According to KDKA News, in Pittsburgh (PA) last week campus police at Carnegie Mellon University filed misdemeanor indecent exposure charges against two students growing out of their conduct at the College of Fine Arts' Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby. The event was part of the University's April 18-20 Spring Carnival. One of the two students charged was 19-year old Katherine O’Connor who appeared in the art school's parade dressed as the pope, naked from the waist down with her pubic hair shaved in the shape of a cross, and passing out condoms. Prior to the announcement of the filing of charges, the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese had issued a statement saying that it was glad the university was taking seriously complaints about the matter, and said that the student involved "truly offended Catholics and the faith we hold sacred." In a May 10 message (full text) announcing filing of the misdemeanor charges, Carnegie Mellon president Jared Cohon said in part:
The students took part in a campus art event and, in the case of the student who portrayed herself as the Pope, made an artistic statement which proved to be controversial. While I recognize that many found the students’ activities deeply offensive, the university upholds their right to create works of art and express their ideas. But, public nudity is a violation of the law and subject to appropriate action.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 11:49 AM
In Widi v. United States Department of Justice, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62269 (D ME, May 1, 2013), a Maine federal district court dismissed as "fanciful" an inmate's claims, including free exercise claims, objecting to a tuberculosis test.
In Cox v. Glebe, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66497 (WD WA, May 9, 2013), a Washington federal district court adopted a magistrate's recommendations (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66563, March 29, 2013) and rejected a Protestant inmate's claim that prison authorities violated the establishment clause by serving all inmates meatless meals on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent.
In Irvin v. Yates, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66564 (ED CA, May 9, 2013), a California federal magistrate judge allowed plaintiff to move ahead with his complaint that Muslim inmates were denied access to the chapel and forced to attend religious services in the yard, and that they were denied religious dietary accommodations. Claims as to temporary suspension of inmate purchases of religious oils, and as to failure to hire a new Muslim chaplain were dismissed with leave to amend.
In Spivey v. Chapman, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66828 (SD IL. May 10, 2013), an Illinois federal district court adopted part of a magistrate's recommendation (2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67778, March 21, 2013) and permitted a Reform Jewish inmate to proceed with his claim that authorities refused for discriminatory reasons to modify his work schedule so he could take off for his Sabbath. However it concluded that his RLUIPA claim for injunctive relief is moot because he has been moved to a different prison. [Updated].
In Hicks v. Ryan, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66930 (D MA, May 9, 2013), a Massachusetts federal district court permitted an inmate to move ahead with his claim that prison authorities barred wheelchair bound inmates from attending church services and instead limited them to short bedside visits from nuns.
In Perkins v. Chandler, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66715 (WD KY, May 9, 2013), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed an inmate's claim that denial of his parole was based on false charges of homosexual conduct in retaliation for his practice of the Islamic religion, and that the charges were a defamation of his religion.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 11:00 AM
School Board Cancels Official 6th Grade Graduation After Complaints About Prayer; Privately Sponsored Ceremony Planned
In Lake City, Arkansas, the Riverside School District has voted "to no longer sponsor the 6th grade graduation" after the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on behalf of a parent, wrote to object to prayer being part of the graduation ceremony. Yesterday's Christian Post reports that instead several mothers are organizing a graduation ceremony at a local church. Parent Kelly Adams, who objected to the Board's cancellation of the ceremony, argued: "We serve a God. And we should have the right to serve that God anywhere."
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:00 AM
Naharnet today reports that a court in the Saudi Arabian city of Khobar has sentenced two men for helping a young woman, identified only as "the girl of Khobar", convert to Christianity and flee to Sweden. All 3 were co-workers at an insurance company in Khobar. A Lebanese man was sentenced to 6 years in prison and 300 lashes for encouraging the conversion. A Saudi man was sentenced to 2 years in prison and 200 lashes for helping the woman flee the country. The defendants say they will appeal. Still pending are possible charges of corruption and forging official document that allowed the woman to leave Saudi Arabia without her family's consent.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 8:39 AM
Turkey's Constitution Drafters Agree On Freedom of Religion Clause That Will Permit Headscarves In Public Service
The Turkish Parliament in 2011 created a Constitutional Reconciliation Commission made up of representatives of each of the country's four political parties to draft a new constitution. (Background.) World Bulletin reported yesterday that the Commission, which has missed several deadlines for completing its work, has now agreed on a compromise provision on freedom of religion that will allow Muslim women to wear headscarves while serving in government positions. The compromise came after the Republican People's Party (CHP) backed off of its former objections. The Commission has agreed on the following language:
No one can be forced to participate in religious practices or ceremonies or express their religious beliefs or thoughts. No one can be prohibited from or denounced for fulfilling the requirements of their religious beliefs.The Commission also agreed on other language to guarantee the equality of all citizens.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 8:16 AM
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Psychiatrist's License Suspended After His Diagnosis of 16-Year Old As Suffering From Evil Spiritual Entities
As reported by the Boston Globe, on May 8 the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine suspended the medical license of psychiatrist Raymond W. Kam, saying that his conduct in treating a 16-year old patient last year called into question his competence to practice medicine. Kam last year had already signed a voluntary agreement not to practice medicine. Kam, a Boston Children's Hospital psychiatrist, became convinced that the patient was being hurt by "evil spiritual entities." Kam gave the girl a cross to wear in exchange for a different religious symbol she had on. After the girl was discharged from the hospital, Kam, who had withdrawn from the girl's treatment team, obtained permission from the girl's father to act as her spiritual mentor, taking her to his church and exchanging text messages with her. When the girl was kicked out of her house, Kam offered to let her stay at his house on several occasions. He failed to report to authorities an incident in which the girl's mother pushed her down a flight of stairs and tried to asphyxiate her.
The state Board also reprimanded a second psychiatrist who had failed to report the girl's abuse to authorities. Kam could regain his license next year if he completes a psychiatric evaluation and enters a 5-year probation agreement.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 10:22 PM
In Anselmo v. County of Shasta, California, (ED CA, May 9, 2013), a California federal district court dismissed on ripeness grounds a RLUIPA claim by the Catholic owner of a ranch and winery challenging the County of Shasta's assertion that he was violating zoning rules by building a private chapel on his land. The court said:
Plaintiffs never completed the application process for either a rezoning permit or a building permit, and the Notice of Non-Compliance and Warning Notices only indicate that the property is currently violating land use regulations.The court also rejected plaintiffs' free exercise and due process claims. (See prior related posting.) KHSL TV reports on the decision.
Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 9:38 PM