RealTime: Clinton Hostage Drama Rooted in Sex Abuse

Scott Swenson

The hostage crisis at Clinton campaign headquarters in New Hampshire proves once again why reality trumps dogma when it comes to human sexuality.

Tim Grieve at Salon reports on the alleged sexual molestation by Catholic priests of the man, Lee Eisenberg, who held hostages in Clinton campaign headquarters yesterday.

Leeland Eli Eisenberg, the man arrested tonight after taking hostages at Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, N.H., appears to have served time in prison for aggravated rape and filed a lawsuit in 2002 alleging that he had been molested 20 years earlier by a Catholic priest in Massachusetts.

The suit alleged that Eisenberg was 21, "homeless and living in abandoned cars in a local junk yard" when he sought help at a Catholic parish in Westford, Mass. A priest offered him work at the parish in exchange for room and board until he could get back on his feet, the lawsuit alleged.

While Eisenberg was living and working at the parish, the lawsuit alleged, a second priest would frequently take him to dinner, buy him drinks, then return to the parish afterward for more drinks. The priest would then "bring out a box of pornographic material, sit behind Plaintiff on a couch, pull out pornographic pictures and magazines and insist the Plaintiff look at the pornographic materials. [The priest] would then sexually molest the Plaintiff."

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

The lawsuit alleged that the priest molested Eisenberg at a "peep show" in Boston and attempted to "rape" him after he'd been picked up drunk by local police. After that incident, the lawsuit alleged, Eisenberg fled the parish and, a short while later, attempted to kill himself by jumping off a bridge in Ayer, Mass.

Once again we see the reality of sexual repression, the abuse of power in sexual relationships, the ability for the powerful to prey on people perceived as weak, and the horrifying results in one man's life, and the harm he in turn is guilty of inflicting on others.

"Pro-life" forces who accuse women of crimes for exercising their rights to bodily autonomy, deny comprehensive sexuality education, and would prohibit the use of contraception if given the power to do so, need to understand the correlation between denying people the right to healthy, respectful, informed choices about natural human sexuality and the painful consequences of sexual dysfunction.

News Law and Policy

Supreme Court Tie in Dollar General Case ‘Clear Victory’ for Tribal Sovereignty

Nicole Knight Shine

The case, Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, hinged on whether the tribe had the authority to resolve civil lawsuits involving non-members—in this case, a $20 billion company—on Native lands.

A U.S. Supreme Court tie on Thursday represented a win for tribal court authority in a case involving a Dollar General employee accused of molesting a 13-year-old more than a decade ago.

The case, Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, hinged on whether the tribe had the authority to resolve civil lawsuits involving non-members—in this case, a $20 billion company—on Native lands.

Justices deadlocked 4 to 4 in their opinion, leaving in place a federal appellate court decision that rejected Dollar General’s challenge to tribal court jurisdiction.

“It’s a clear victory,” said Mary Kathryn Nagle, counsel to the nonprofit National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC), in an interview with Rewire. NIWRC filed an amicus brief in the case in favor of tribal sovereignty, along with 104 other organizations. “Dollar General spent a lot of time, and lot of money, and a lot of resources attempting to completely eliminate tribal jurisdiction.”

In 2003, Dale Townsend, a Dollar General store manager, allegedly engaged in repeated acts of sexual molestation at the store on a then-13-year-old Choctaw boy, who was placed there by a youth job-training program. The Dollar General store sits on tribal trust lands, agreed to Mississippi Choctaw tribal court jurisdiction regarding its store lease, and operates under a business license issued under Choctaw code.

In 1981, the Court ruled in Montana v. United States that tribal authority extends to non-Natives entering into consensual relationships with a tribe “through commercial dealing, contracts, leases, or other arrangements,” as SCOTUSblog wrote in the case preview.

Dollar General, however, argued the tribal court had no authority. In its appeal, the Tennessee-based corporation invoked a 1978 ruling, Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, in which the Supreme Court held that tribal courts lacked judicial power over non-members in criminal cases.

The boy’s case, however, was a civil matter. While the tribe’s attorney general took steps to bar the Dollar General manager from the reservation, the U.S. Attorney did not bring criminal charges against Townsend. The boy’s family is suing Dollar General and the store manager for damages in excess of $2.5 million, a case that can now continue in tribal court.

Advocates had called the closely watched case an “attack on tribal sovereignty.”

“Nowadays, it’s a very good thing when tribal rights and powers are freshly affirmed,” Robert Coulter, executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center, told Rewire in a phone interview Thursday. “Had Justice Scalia been sitting on the Court, this case would have depended on Scalia’s vote. That’s why there was a great deal of concern and anxiety about the outcome of the case.”

The death of conservative Justice Scalia, and Republican gridlock, has left the highest court in the land with only eight justices.

“If Dollar General had been successful … tribal governments would have been stripped of their inherent jurisdiction over the majority of individuals attempting to harm their men, women, and children,” Nagle, counsel for NIWRC, told Rewire.

“In Indian country, our men, women, and children face the highest rates of sexual assault, domestic violence, and murder—higher than any other population in the United States,” she noted. “The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that the majority of these assaults are committed by non-Indians.”

When prosecutors decline to pursue these kinds of crimes, survivors have increasingly turned to civil courts for recourse.  

More than four out of five Native women are subjected to some form of violence, and 56 percent have experienced sexual violence, according to a May 2016 National Institute of Justice Research Report.

Mississippi Choctaw Tribal Chief Phyllis Anderson told the Associated Press that the Supreme Court tie was a positive outcome “not only for our tribe, but for all of Indian country.”

News Law and Policy

Fraud Complaint Could Be ‘Nail in the Coffin’ of ‘Conversion Therapy’ Groups

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission urges the agency to investigate so-called "gay conversion therapy" practitioners.

Advocates from human rights organizations filed a federal consumer fraud complaint against an organization that promotes so-called “gay conversion therapy,” charging the group defrauds consumers into believing that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that can be “cured.”

The complaint, filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against People Can Change (PCC), alleges PCC is an organization that preys on vulnerable LGBTQ people and families by using damaging and discredited claims that it can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

PCC relies on what advocates claim is junk pseudoscience that has for decades been linked to depression, substance abuse, decreased self esteem, and self harm, including suicide, according to the complaint.

The complaint was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

The complaint alleges that PCC’s advertisements and business practices, which expressly and implicitly claim that they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, constitute deceptive, false, and misleading practices that can cause serious harm to consumers, all in direct violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

“Conversion therapy is abusive, harmful to children, and we urge the FTC to join our call to ban its practice once and for all,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “This is dangerous junk science that uses fear and shame to tell young people the only way to find love and acceptance is by changing the very nature of who they are.”

The complaint also alleges that, in violation of FTC guidelines, PCC, like other practitioners in the “conversion therapy” industry, falsely claims that its “services” have a basis in science, and fails to disclose that its practices can lead to harm. PCC and other conversion therapy practitioners target and exploit highly vulnerable groups, including LGBTQ youth, who already experience bias and rejection at alarming rates in society and their own homes, advocates claim.

“After decades of advocacy, the voices of conversion therapy survivors have carried all the way up to the highest levels of government,” Samantha Ames, NCLR #BornPerfect campaign coordinator, said in a statement. “This historic complaint is not only the first clear opportunity the Obama Administration has had to end these deadly practices for good, but, if investigated fully, could very well be the final nail in the coffin of the entire conversion therapy industry.”

The FTC complaint builds on legal successes by advocates against conversion therapy practitioners. Last year, a SPLC lawsuit forced the New Jersey conversion therapy provider JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing) to permanently stop its program and pay damages to plaintiffs. A jury found that JONAH had committed consumer fraud and engaged in unconscionable commercial practices in violation of state law.

The complaint follows a groundbreaking Department of Health and Human Services report called Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth. The new legal challenge comes months after President Obama, Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy each issued statements calling for an end to conversion therapy.

The advocates are asking the federal government to take enforcement action to stop PCC’s deceptive practices and investigate practitioners making similar claims.

PCC has not yet responded to the complaint.