Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a national inquiry into institutional responses to the sexual abuse of children.

The move followed pressure from lawmakers amid police claims the Roman Catholic Church had concealed evidence of paedophile priests.

The inquiry will look at religious groups, NGOs and state-care providers as well as government agencies.

Ms Gillard said a Royal Commission was the best way to investigate the claims.

Australia's first publicly accessible register of child sex offenders has been published online in the state of Western Australia.

Initially, the details available include photographs, names and physical descriptions of nine sex offenders the police have lost track of.

Parents will be also able to enter their addresses to see if there are any convicted paedophiles living nearby.

But there are concerns about possible vigilantism and mistaken identity.

Australia's parliament Speaker Peter Slipper has resigned amid a continuing sex scandal, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's government.

He quit despite surviving a vote on an opposition motion to remove him.

Mr Slipper is accused of sexual harassment by a former staff member, and of sending lurid text messages, now revealed in court documents.

His resignation could harm Ms Gillard's slender majority, which relies on votes from independent MPs.

NOTE: This article contains disturbing content that may be triggering for some readers.


By Jethro Mullen and Jessica King

(CNN) -- An Australian commission is hearing allegations of the physical and sexual abuse of boys in the care of the Salvation Army over several decades.

The shocking treatment at some of the organization's boys homes included rape, beatings, locking boys in cages and, in one case, forcing a boy to eat his own vomit, the commission was told Tuesday.

A fresh abuse scandal shocked Austrians on Thursday when police revealed that a father in a small village had allegedly held his daughters prisoner for more than 40 years, sexually abusing them repeatedly. The case came to light only by chance, and the alleged perpetrator has been arrested.

An 80-year-old Austrian man has been arrested on suspicion of holding his two daughters captive for more than four decades, a police spokesman in Linz reported on Thursday. Between 1970 and May 2011, the man allegedly raped both women repeatedly, he said.


By Michael Bugeja


By Ian Duncan

The Baltimore City Detention Center had the nation's second-highest rate of sexual contact between jail staff and inmates, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study released less than a month after federal prosecutors accused corrections officers at the jail of sleeping with gang members.

By Justice Fenton
October 5, 2011

City officials kicked off a public outreach campaign Wednesday to encourage victims of rape and sexual assault to seek help in the wake of revelations that Baltimore police discarded rape reports at the highest rate in the country.

By Justin Fenton

Baltimore police have been underreporting the number of rapes across the city this year, but officials described the problem as a data error and stressed that it did not affect the number of cases being investigated by sex offense detectives.

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld announced the creation of a new hotline for victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault.


The hotline is meant to connect with services and report past incidents or mistreatment that may have occurred while reporting a sexual assault crime. The number to call is 443-279-0379.



Subscribe to News From the Field