There's currently much focus on a few famous people on trial for historical sexual offences against women and children as a result of operation yewtree started by the fallout from Jimmy Savile.

A gang of three teens and two men have been convicted for a series of sexual offences against girls in Peterborough that involved street grooming, gang rape and pimping them out. One was a 13 year old with a severe learning disability.

Also in the news is news of arrests in a webcam child sex abuse cottage industry where British and other paedophiles would pay as little as £13 ($21) per session to watch and give directions as children in the Philippines were sexually assaulted by their parents or other family members. Some customers would send regular "gifts" such as items of clothing to be worn or sex toys to be used on the chosen child.



All of these are big news, and there's a fair chance they will make it to the US news and maybe even the jezebel front-page once the Daily Mail puts something up. The next item is much less "serious" than the others, but I also feel like it's one people are unlikely to hear about beyond our shores, hell it hasn't even got high billing anywhere but Channel 4 News as far as I can tell.

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Probably nobody will remember me bringing this up last February but Lord Rennard, former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democratic party, and until this blew up as close as the LibDems come to having an éminence grise, has been under investigation following a series of allegations made by women over several years. The complaints were initially, and repeatedly fobbed off, and generally mishandled terribly by the LibDem party. Eventually after Channel 4 News took an interest the party leadership started actually "acting", by ordering an internal inquiry into the allegations, anyone who watched Yes Minister knows an inquiry is just a way of kicking something into the long grass.

Anyway the report of the inquiry came back (it hasn't been made public in its entirety). The long and the short seems to be that no disciplinary action is "possible" because the accusations probably cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Remember that this is not a criminal investigation (the CPS came to the same conclusion regarding likelihood of success in a criminal trial, under 50%), potential punishment is limited basically to kicking him out of the party, his liberty is not at stake. The report does however go on to say the women's accusations are credible and recommends that Lord Rennard apologise. Somewhat understandably the women involved seem to feel an apology would be insufficient. The party president admitted many of the parties failings and stated that he personally believes the allegations yet sticks to the claim that party rules require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but claims the rules will be changed. When questioned on the day Lord Carlile, Lord Rennards legal advisor, indicated that he saw no reason Lord Rennard should apologise presenting several reasons this is so, only one of which I agree with - namely that Lord Rennard had not been permitted to see the report.

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Lord Rennard has maintained his refusal to apologise today.