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    Betfair Australasia begs Aussie states for tax relief

    betfair-australasia-tax-relief-pleaBetfair Australasia is warning Australian state governments that their plans to impose online betting point of consumption taxes (POCT) are going to blow up in their faces.

    On Friday, the Brisbane Times disclosed the existence of a report prepared by the Betfair Australasia betting exchange urging the state governments in South Australia and Western Australia to rethink their decision to impose a 15% tax on all online wagers placed by their states’ residents.

    South Australia began collecting its POCT last July, while Western Australia’s new tax is set to take effect on January 1, 2019. Australia’s federal government is also mulling imposing a national POCT in order to harmonize the country’s online taxation system.

    Betfair Australasia, which is owned by casino operator Crown Resorts and licensed in the Northern Territory, warned the states that the tax hikes would force it to hike its own commission fees, which will cause “leakage” of its customers to internationally licensed online gambling sites that aren’t subject to the states’ tax grab.

    Betfair CEO Tim Moore-Barton claimed to have endured numerous instances of high-volume bettors who shifted their action off his site in response to previous fee increases and in search of better value for their wagering dollar.

    Moore-Barton further claimed that this leakage will not only reduce his company’s revenue – which will in turn reduce both the states’ tax take and contributions to racing bodies – but will also create an integrity “black hole” through the inability of state gaming regulators to monitor real-time betting data for suspicious patterns.

    As ever, the Philippine-licensed CITIbet betting exchange was singled out in the report as the most likely beneficiary of customers forced off Betfair by fee hikes. CITIbet is often cited as the bête noire of Australian betting operators and racing stakeholders.

    Other NT-licensed Australian online wagering sites will also struggle under the weight of the new taxes, possibly leading to a wave of down under consolidation. William Hill recently put its Australian operations under review, citing the POCT as well as new restrictions on both online in-play and credit betting.

    Betfair Australasia’s future is marked by other uncertainties, including how long its owner Crown intends to keep it in the fold. In December, Crown announced it was selling its 62% stake in the CrownBet online betting site, part of Crown’s ongoing effort to reduce the scope of its operations to just its domestic resorts.

    The CrownBet sale reduced Crown’s digital division to just Betfair and a Texas-based social gaming operation, neither of which seems to qualify as a land-based casino.


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    AGS receives regulatory approval to offer its gaming products in Ohio

    Company to enter market with Class III and Table Game Products

    LAS VEGAS, February 23, 2018 – PlayAGS, Inc. (“AGS” or the “Company”), a leading designer and supplier of electronic gaming machines (“EGMs”) and other products and services for the gaming industry, today announced that the Ohio Casino Control Commission has approved the Company’s application to begin selling and distributing its Class III EGMs and table game products to commercial casinos throughout the state.

    AGS Receives Regulatory Approval to Offer its Gaming Products in Ohio“We are very pleased that the Ohio Casino Control Commission has approved our license application and are confident in our ability to grow our Class III and table game product businesses within this robust marketplace,” said David Lopez, President and CEO of AGS. “This approval will allow us to leverage our already established relationships with many of the state’s casino operators who are eager to begin offering our consistently high-performing products like OrionSM, ICON™, and Bonus Spin™.”

    The Ohio Casino Control Commission oversees all commercial gaming in the state, which includes the Hollywood Casino Columbus and Hollywood Casino Toledo, both owned and operated by Penn National Gaming, and the JACK Cincinnati Casino and JACK Cleveland Casino, both owned and operated by JACK Entertainment. Upon approval of its Ohio license, AGS’ total license count has climbed to include 257 different jurisdictions, a 102% increase in total available market opportunity since 2012.

    About AGS
    AGS is a leading designer and supplier of electronic gaming machines (“EGMs”) and other products and services for the gaming industry. Historically we have focused on supplying Class II EGMs to the Native American gaming market. We have recently expanded our product line-up to include: (i) Class III EGMs for commercial and Native American casinos, (ii) video bingo machines for select international markets, (iii) table game products, and (iv) interactive social casino products. 

    Forward-Looking and Cautionary Language

    This press release contains, and oral statements made from time to time by our representatives may contain, forward-looking statements based on management’s current expectations and projections, which are intended to qualify for the safe harbor of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements include statements identified by words such as “believe,” “will,” “may,” “might,” “likely,” “expect,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “believes,” “continues,” “projects” and similar references to future periods, or by the inclusion of forecasts or projections.  All forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and projections of future events. 

    These forward-looking statements reflect the current views, models, and assumptions of AGS, and are subject to various risks and uncertainties that cannot be predicted or qualified and could cause actual results in AGS’s performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the ability of AGS to maintain strategic alliances, unit placements or installations, grow revenue, garner new market share, secure new licenses in new jurisdictions, successfully develop or place proprietary product, comply with regulations, have its games approved by relevant jurisdictions and other factors set forth under “Risk Factors” in the registration statement on Form S-1 and its annual report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 10, 2017, as amended on December 18, 2017. All forward-looking statements made herein are expressly qualified in their entirety by these cautionary statements and there can be no assurance that the actual results, events or developments referenced herein will occur or be realized. Readers are cautioned that all forward-looking statements speak only to the facts and circumstances present as of the date of this press release. AGS expressly disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether because of new information, future events or otherwise. 


    Julia Boguslawski, Chief Marketing Officer & EVP of Investor Relations, AGS
    o: 702-724-1125


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    WATCH: Train like an Olympian

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    Saudi Arabia to host first card-playing contest for cash prizes

    saudi-arabia-card-contest-cash-prizesSaudi Arabians are simultaneously celebrating and bemoaning their government’s decision to hold the deeply conservative country’s first national card-playing tournament for cash prizes.

    Last Thursday, the official Twitter feed of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority (GSA) announced that the country would hold its first card-playing national competition for cash prizes from April 4-8 at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in the nation’s capital Riyadh.

    The contest, which will be overseen by the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports, will be centered around Baloot, a wildly popular local trick card game with similarities to the French game Belote. Baloot is also available on multiple Android and iOS mobile apps, some of which are among the top game apps in Saudi Arabia.

    The top four finishers of the contest will share a total prize purse of SR1m (US$270k), half of which will go to the overall winner. Many observers expressed surprise at the amount of the prizes, given the lack of precedent for the contest.

    Predictably, news of the tournament has delighted the nation’s Baloot fans while enraging social conservatives, some of whom view even the game of chess as a waste of time that promotes forbidden gambling activity.

    Those conservatives should brace themselves for even greater outrage, as one veteran Baloot player told Arab News that he expects women to take part in the contest. Assuming that’s allowed, it would mark another bold step forward for Saudi women, who will finally be allowed to drive cars starting this June.

    The end to the female driving ban is part of crown prince Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision 2030 program, which aims to reshape the national economy to create a more modern and secular country. Just this weekend, the government announced that women would be allowed to start their own businesses without the permission of a male guardian.

    It remains to be seen whether the prince is pushing too hard on the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Many of the Twitter comments criticizing the Baloot contest half-joked that it wouldn’t be long before Riyadh started to resemble another desert city – Las Vegas – through the addition of casino gambling.


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    Calling the Clock: WPT title blues; partypoker MILLIONS news

    In this week’s Calling The Clock we remind you that Mike Leah upset a few people after cutting a deal during his World Poker Tour Main Event win in Fallsview, partypoker made more announcements than a sofa company during sale season, and much more. 

    Walk around with a baby’s head on a spike, and you’ll receive the same abuse Mike Leah got on social media this week. It should have been the best weeks of his life. It turned out to be one of the most challenging.

    Calling the Clock: WPT title blues; partypoker MILLIONS newsThe Canadian pro topped a field of 517 entrants to make the heads-up phase of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Fallsview Poker Classic Main Event. Sitting in the way of him and the Championship was Ryan Yu and a 4:1 chip deficit.

    Despite the lead, Leah’s opponent suggested a deal in which he would be happy to take an even ICM deal, including giving the title, Champions Club berth and $15k Tournament of Champions seat to Leah.

    How can you turn that down?

    As the WPT doesn’t allow dealmaking, Yu raise-folded the vast majority of his chips until Leah took the dominant chip lead, who moved all-in until the rest of Yu’s chips were in Leah’s stack.

    The move caused an outcry in the public domain. A cross-section of poker players questioned Leah’s integrity and the potential damage to the WPT brand.

    Leah responded in a Facebook post you can read here, and I share my thoughts on the debacle, right here.

    The Leah sting occurred in the same week the WPT struck a multi-year partnership with the social poker giant Zynga Poker. It’s an incredible deal for the WPT, who need to push their brand in front of other audiences as more youngsters choose non-TV platforms for their form of entertainment.

    Other Live Tournament News 

    Switching from the World Poker Tour to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and a couple of results to catch up on this week on the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC).

    Keven Stammen continued his impressive run of form after taking down the $1,675 WSOPC Main Event at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. The WSOP bracelet holder defeated a field of 604 entrants to capture the $190,265 first prize. Stammen also finished 5/106 in the $2,200 High Roller. It’s his third win in the past four months.

    With that win, Stammen qualifies for the WSOP Global Championship, and the 2015 winner of that event picked up her fourth gold ring this week. Loni Harwood Beat 120 entrants to take the $10,801 first prize in a $365 No-Limit Hold’em event in the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek.

    And he may not have a WSOP bracelet, but Stephen Chidwick does have a major title to his name after winning the US Poker Open this week. The UK-born pro bagged the title with a game to spare after making five of the eight final tables, securing four top-three finishes, and winning two for a combined haul of $1.2m. Keith Tilston finished runner-up after winning the $50k NLHE Main Event for $660,000 in addition to three more cashes.

    Lastly, PokerListings owners Net Gaming Europe AB sold the Battle of Malta (BOM) to Casino Malta for €300,000, this week. The company said the BOM added very little to the company’s bottom line. As part of the deal, PokerListings remains the chief marketer of the event that won a European Poker Award in 2014 as the Best Live Tournament With a -€2k Buy-In.

    America’s Cardroom Develops a Joey Ingram Problem 

    American-based online poker players searching for a game have fewer choices this week after Joey Ingram created and released videos #2 & #3 of the three-video series alleging widespread bot use, multi-accounting and collusion on Winning Poker Network’s (WPN) America’s Cardroom (ACR).

    In the follow-up videos, Ingram directed his ire at the WPN CEO Philip Nagy for not doing enough to prevent the alleged cheating. Ingram confirmed that since video #1 hit the social media airwaves, ACR has banned 13 suspicious accounts, lending some legitimacy to Ingram’s claims.

    Ingram’s content revealed a loophole in the MTT software allowing groups of accounts to sit together at the same table during the late registration period. Ingram also questioned whether the WPN and ACR even have a security team given the diabolically low level of interest from both since Ingram started shouting from his considerably lofty rooftop.

    You can catch up on the saga here and here.

    The Rest of the Online Poker News 

    It was a busy week for partypoker.

    The gang is enjoying the atmos at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov where they are currently hosting MILLIONS Germany. Patrik Antonius and Johannes Becker were victorious in the €25k High Roller events, winning €425,000 & €320,050 respectively, and Chi Zhang took the €800,000 first prize in the €50k event. The MILLIONS Main Event is still ongoing at the time of writing.

    In other partypoker news, they revealed the new destination of the Caribbean Poker Party (CPP) as the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas; promised $10m in guarantees for the new KO Series and declared their intention to guarantee €23m for the MILLIONS Grand Final in Barcelona. And talking about European poker, it was also the week that partypoker revealed plans to merge their French and Spanish traffic as part of the new shared liquidity deal (Portugal and Italy are set to join at a later date).

    partypoker won’t be operating alone in the shared European liquidity market. The French regulator ARJEL granted Winamax permission to begin merging their traffic sources in the four nations this week, and PokerStars has already started that work being the first online operator to be granted a shared licence from the French regulator.

    Bits and Bobs 

    The Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) announced plans to host the second season this week. Details are scarce, but there will be ten teams competing in a single day event in Kolkatta. Overshadowing the announcement was the news that MILP founder, Raj Kundra had launched a defamation case against the former Goa Kings franchise owner, Sachiin Joshi for failing to pay his dues and alleging that Kundra fixed the first season.

    The American Poker Awards (APA) revealed the shortlists for the 4th Annual Awards and Poker Central stole the pre-show with eight award nominations. Doug Polk looks likely to be the individual star with three nominations, including going head-to-head with Daniel Negreanu, a man Polk referred to as an ‘embarrassment to poker’ this week.

    Last but not least, NYPD arrested poker player Micah Raskin for dealing drugs, and Doyle Brunson revealed he turned down a $230 million offer to buy his online poker room ‘Doyle’s Room’ and then watched as the American government introduced the UIGEA and turned the offer to dust.

    Time ladies and gentlemen, please.

    Someone has just called the clock.


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    Partypoker release the MILLIONS Grand Final schedule, and it’s huge

    Partypoker has released the schedule for the first-ever MILLIONS Grand Final, and it promises to be the biggest live tournament ever held on European soil.

    Partypoker release the MILLIONS Grand Final schedule, and it's hugeSo, partypoker like guarantees. Well, I have one for them. The MILLIONS Grand Final in Barcelona will smash every target they create.

    In a week that saw PokerStars continue to play around with their live tournament format with the cancellation of the Chilean leg of the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), partypoker reacts by releasing one of the most ambitious live poker schedules in history.

    7 – 15 April, Casino Barcelona.

    Poker players, pencil it in your diary and throw away the rubber. John Duthie and the gang are promising €23m in guaranteed prize money, making the first MILLIONS Grand Final the biggest live event held on European soil.

    888Poker. The World Poker Tour (WPT). They have all held events at the Casino Barcelona, but it’s PokerStars who turned it into the mecca it’s become. Along comes partypoker to benefit from all the hard graft. Barcelona expects. partypoker will deliver.

    Nine events, short, sweet and succulent.

    It begins on Saturday 7 April with a €1,100 buy-in, €1m Guaranteed MILLIONS Open featuring four starting flights. There are five High Rollers – 2 x Single Day €25k events on 7 & 8 April, a €50k on the 9th, a €100k on the 10th and a €10k on the 11th. All High Roller events carry a €2m Guarantee.

    There is a three-day €2,500, €1m GTD MILLIONS Grand Final Warm-up featuring a single re-entry, and the flower on the end this mighty stem is the €10,300, €10m Guaranteed Main Event, the first of four flights starts on 11 April. The series ends with a €1,100 unlimited re-entry Finale.

    Cash games will also be on tap.

    If those prices are too steep, then you can try to qualify online at partypoker where the team are offering routes to Barcelona beginning as low as 50 cents for a €16k package. Fans of the live game can compete in five live super-satellites at the Casino Barcelona where 225 Main Event seats are up for grabs.

    Raúl Horta, Poker Manager, Casino Barcelona paid homage to partypoker for putting on the festival with the highest guaranteed prizepool in the history of poker tournaments ever held in Europe, calling his home one of the world capitals of poker. 

    The winner of the Grand Final will bank a minimum €1.4m, the runner-up receives €1.2m, and the third-place finisher picks up €1m.


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    Teen Dating Violence: Know the Signs

    By Sara Kleine, 17, Contributor

    February 13, 2018

    Ruby, 17, of Takoma Park, MD thought she was in a healthy relationship with her boyfriend of almost two years. Then, she started to pick up on some bad signs. “He got mad when I hung out with my friends,” she says. “I tried to break up with him a few times, and he threatened to hurt himself if I did.”

    Abuse in teen relationships is not often discussed, but it’s more common than many people think. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 9.6 percent of high school students who dated in 2014-2015 were physically abused by a partner, and 10.6 percent were sexually abused by a partner. Emotional (also known as psychological) abuse in teen dating relationships is even more common; some studies show it happening at numbers much higher than those for physical or sexual abuse. The CDC says that teens who experience dating violence—whether it be physical, sexual or psychological—are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and engage in unhealthy behaviors such as drug abuse. There’s a lot at stake for teen victims of dating abuse, which is why we recognize Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month during the month of February and start important conversations about how to recognize dating violence and get help if you need it.

    There are a lot of signs of psychological abuse, but they can be easy to miss., a website that supports victims of domestic violence of all kinds, lists jealousy, isolation, possessiveness and threats as some common signs of psychological abuse. Ruby’s boyfriend’s attempts to prevent her from hanging out with friends, along with his threats of self-harm, were warning signs of abuse.

    Ruby stresses that it’s good to know these red flags. Communicating with your partner is key. If you suspect that you’re being abused, Ruby advises being honest. “Don’t be afraid to be like, ‘Hey that’s kind of abusive’…because maybe they don’t realize it. You should be open and communicative,” she says. The exception to this advice is if you are in a situation where you don’t feel safe and comfortable enough to confront your partner. In this case, talking to a doctor, school counselor or trusted family member is best. If you’re unsure if your partner’s behavior is abusive, asking close friends what they think can be helpful. They may have a different perspective on your relationship than you do.

    After seeking advice from friends, Ruby decided to break up with her boyfriend. Soon after the breakup, he contacted her often and tried to make her feel guilty for leaving. Ruby says that this was hard for her, but she realized that ending her abusive relationship was the healthiest choice in the long run.

    Ruby’s story shows how difficult it can be to recognize and then leave an abusive relationship. If you believe that you are in this situation, tell a trusted adult immediately.

    You can also get help through these resources:, (1-866-331-8453), and The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (1-800-799-7233).

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    WATCH: Celebrity meditation guru shares simple guide to meditating live on 'GMA'

    Transcript for Celebrity meditation guru shares simple guide to meditating live on ‘GMA’

    We are here with Bob Roth, the meditation teacher to the stars. He’s worked with Katy Perry, Michael J. Fox, Jersey seinfeld and Hugh Jackman just to name a few. The two of you. You do know your audience. You really got me excited. This was the greatest gift you gave me, George, when you introduced me to this man who has a new book, “Strength in stillness.” Please welcome Bob Roth. I mean that. I really do. You gave me a gift. I know, there was a time that something was really crazy going on in the studio and I was losing it and look at George. He was so calm and I said I want some of that and he said, it’s you. And talk about meditation and how the analogy to an ocean. Well, first of all it’s not me, it’s the technique. The technique is what works but I appreciate that. I like to use when I describe transcendental meditation, I like to use the analogy of an ocean. We know an ocean can be very turbulent on the surface but by its nature an ocean is very silent and calm at its depth and the mind is the same. The surface of our mind is that active gotta, gotta monkey mind, all the millions of things we have to do and every one of us has a desire to have some inner calm we like to have upper equanimity, equilibrium. Is there such a thing as an inner and if so how did we get there and transcendental meditation is a simple, natural technique that gives effortless access to the stillness that lies within. You keep using the word technique. It captures your voice and the way you approach people and I think a lot of people may be watching at home and think, oh, transcendental meditation, that sounds like a religion. I’m never going to be able to quiet my mind down but it’s a technique. How did you feel? That’s what I was like when you came to me. I’m not sure this is going to work for me. I don’t want all this metaphysical Cal stuff but would love to learn how to find some peace, some calm. I am by nature a very skeptical person. I don’t — I love science. I love practicality so in that way you would think I’m not your typical meditation teacher but I think that whole understanding of typical meditation teacher needs to be brushed aside. We’re talking in transcendental meditation a medical tool that can just give anyone access whether they believe in it or not you can be 100% skeptical and anyone can learn it. How to allow the active thinking mind to just access calm and when that happens, your body according to research gains a profound state of rest. You say it’s what the mind wants. Yes. The nature of the mind, that’s the interesting thing. There are many meditations that I think many think of, oh, I could never do it. I could never clear my mind of thoughts. When I heard that, someone said clear your mind, I said, all right, I’ll create peace in the Middle East. But in transcendental meditation, we just effortlessly access these deeper quieter calmer levels that are already there and it happens effortlessly because the nature of the mind is to be drawn to something more satisfying and inside most satisfying. Also like to have no expectations and everything in life, we have expectations and intentions but when we meditate it’s just the opposite but one thing people are concerned about, time. The time, the amount of time. Does it have to be the 20 minutes. I told this story, a man came into the office with his 14-year-old son and he was complaining, said, I want to do this but 20 minutes twice a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon, who has the time? And his son who must have done the math said, dad, there’s 1,440 minutes in a day. You don’t have 40 minutes to take care of yourself? So kind of shut him up and learned to meditate. You like it. You look forward to it. It’s not hard work. I think it creates time. I think if you invest in 40 minutes a day you go through the rest of the 22 hours, whatever, 23 hours feeling more calm, more focused, more connected to everyone around you and that’s invaluable. It’s who we are when we’re not stressed. Stress is just — sticks to us so you do this first thing in the morning, you get up 20 minutes earlier and people say, are you kidding? I need my sleep. You said that to me and I thought you were nuts. It’s deeper than sleep. Do it first thing in the morning. It’s an investment. More resilient. Have more energy, more focus, you get things done faster, more efficiently and you’re enjoying it. It caughts you and energized you at the same time. It’s the oddest thing. Give us a quick little quiet time. So as I said, to learn transcendental meditation it’s taught in personal instruction I wanted to say. One-to-one. I don’t have the time to do that here but the first thing that you have to do when you meditate is you close your eyes. There are many meditation techniques that tell you to push out thoughts, this isn’t. So it’s just a simple thing. Close your eyes for a moment. Everybody, do that. Do that. And then just know when you learn this technique we will give you a mantra which is a word and sound and teach you how to access the deepest level of your own being and when you do that, your body gains profound rest and you come out energized so you can open your eyes now but just know that the simplicity of closing your eyes then you learn this technique from a teacher and it can transform your life. That is true. Bob, thanks for coming in. Offering for our crew to do this for us and we’re so grateful. Bring it home with you because “Strength in stillness” is out now and we’ll be right back.

    This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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    Gymnasts Say #MeToo and Are Finally Heard

    By Ashley Fowler, 18, Staff Writer

    February 9, 2018

    #MeToo, originally coined by activist Tarana Burke in 2006, has become a rallying call to discuss and prevent sexual assault in many fields, including athletics. Recently in the news were the trials of Larry Nassar, a doctor who worked for U.S.A. Gymnastics and Michigan State University for decades. Nassar pled guilty to federal charges of child pornography and state charges of criminal sexual conduct. In one of the trials regarding his extensive sexual abuse of female gymnasts, some of whom went on to the Olympics, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave the floor to over 150 victims to speak about their assault by Nassar.

    This wasn’t the first time someone spoke up publicly against Nassar. The story first broke in 2016, when Rachael Denhollander, a former gymnast who is now a lawyer and coach, told The Indianapolis Star that Nassar had molested her. When Denhollander initially filed a police complaint, she was concerned she wouldn’t be listened to—and rightly so, as both she and other gymnasts who had spoken up about the issue previously were not believed or listened to.

    It’s not new that people doubt sexual assault accusations. In this case, some of the doubt came from the fact that parents were sometimes present during Nassar’s exams, and given his esteemed reputation as one of the best gymnastic doctors, Nassar was trusted. He made his young patients think he was on their side, and families thought they were lucky to get to see him. One woman recalls that when she tried to discuss her assault, she was told it was a medical procedure and not abuse. The fact that victims are so often questioned or not believed is a main reason why they may not come forward.

    What should we take from this story? First, as Judge Aquilina did, we should acknowledge the tremendous courage it takes to come forward after enduring sexual assault. We should listen when people come forward rather than being dismissive of them. Further, one of the great things about the #MeToo movement is that it has showcased the power of people when they come together. One can only hope that survivors of sexual assault will feel less alone and like people will believe them if they come forward.

    Are you or someone you know experiencing sexual abuse? Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).

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