Oregon Father Receives Prison Sentence for Drugging Daughter and Friends at Sleepover

Father Laces Fruit Smoothies with Sleeping Medication to Drug Girls at Sleepover

Michael Meyden, a 57-year-old man from Lake Oswego, Oregon, has been sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to three felony counts of causing another person to ingest a controlled substance. Meyden admitted to drugging his daughter and her friends, all 12 years old at the time, with fruit smoothies laced with sleeping medication during a sleepover last summer. He claimed he wanted the girls to go to bed by 11 pm so they would be well-rested for the next day, and so he could sleep.

5 Key Points

  • Michael Meyden, 57, from Lake Oswego, Oregon, was sentenced to two years in prison for drugging their daughter and friends at a sleepover.
  • Meyden laced fruit smoothies with sleeping medication, causing two girls to pass out after drinking them.
  • The third girl declined the smoothie and alerted a family friend about Meyden’s suspicious behavior.
  • The girls later tested positive for benzodiazepine, a medication used to treat insomnia and anxiety, at a local hospital.
  • The mother of one of the girls condemned Meyden’s actions as indecent during sentencing.

Details of the Drugging Incident at Sleepover

According to authorities, Meyden laced fruit smoothies with sleeping medication and served them to his daughter and her friends during a sleepover last summer. Two of the girls drank the smoothies and eventually passed out, while a third girl, who didn’t want the drink, alerted a family friend by text message after she saw Meyden return to make sure the girls were asleep. The family friend picked up the girl and woke her parents, who then contacted the other girls’ families. All the girls, including Meyden’s daughter, tested positive for benzodiazepine, a medication used to treat insomnia and anxiety, at a local hospital.

Meyden’s Apology and Mother’s Reaction at Sentencing

During his sentencing, Meyden apologized for his actions, stating that his whole life was destroyed and everything important to him was gone. However, the mother of one of the girls condemned Meyden’s behavior, stating, “No decent parent feels the need to drug their child and her friends. No decent parent feels the need to go down and confirm children are unconscious. No decent parent puts their hands on drugged and unconscious young girls without nefarious intent.”

The Breach of Trust and Its Impact on Children

This disturbing incident highlights the importance of trust and safety, especially when it comes to children and their well-being. Parents entrust their children to the care of others, believing they will be protected and treated with respect. Meyden’s actions not only violated this trust but also put the girls’ health and safety at risk. The long-term psychological impact of such an experience on the young victims cannot be understated, as it may lead to ongoing issues with trust, anxiety, and personal relationships.

Raising Awareness to Prevent Future Incidents

Cases like this underscore the need for increased awareness and prevention efforts to protect children from harm, even in seemingly safe environments like sleepovers with friends. Parents, caregivers, and the community must remain vigilant and educate children about the importance of speaking up when something doesn’t feel right or when they witness inappropriate behavior. By fostering open communication and creating safe spaces for children to express their concerns, we can work towards preventing such incidents from occurring in the future.

Bridgeport Diocese Reaches Settlement in Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Priest Accused of Assaulting Boy at Sister’s Wedding

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport has agreed to pay a settlement to a local man who claimed in a lawsuit he was sexually assaulted as a boy by Rev. Kieran Thomas Ahearn, the priest who was going to officiate at his sister’s wedding. The settlement ends the last remaining civil case against the diocese claiming sexual abuse by one of its priests. Rev. Ahearn, listed on the diocesan Credibly Accused Clergy list for Religious Order priests, was removed from ministry in 1993 and died in 1997. The diocese worked cooperatively with the victim to resolve the issue and remains committed to investigating all allegations, regardless of how long the incident may have occurred.

5 Key Points

  • Rev. Kieran Thomas Ahearn, listed on the diocesan Credibly Accused Clergy list, was removed from ministry in 1993 and died in 1997.
  • The lawsuit claims Ahearn repeatedly sexually assaulted the former altar boy at St. Mary’s Church in Bethel from age seven to ten.
  • The diocese removed Ahearn from ministry after learning of his 1993 conviction in Massachusetts for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
  • The settlement amount remains undisclosed, but the plaintiff’s lawyer had previously offered to settle the case for $3 million.
  • The diocese has paid approximately $56 million for 156 allegations of abuse by priests since its inception in 1953.

Diocese’s History of Clergy Sexual Abuse

In 2019, the Diocese of Bridgeport admitted to paying settlement amounts totaling approximately $56 million for 156 allegations of abuse by priests since its inception in 1953 (Diocese of Bridgeport, 2019). A report released by retired Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg and the law firm Pullman and Comley found that 281 people had been abused by 71 priests in the diocese since 1953, and that the abuse had been known to diocese officials who took action to hide it (Holzberg & Pullman and Comley, 2019). The report cited several instances where diocese officials, following then-Bishop Edward Egan’s orders, took action to hide allegations of sexual abuse against priests and to transfer the accused priests to other locations where they could have further contact with children.

Concealment of Abuse Allegations

The Holzberg report states that then-Bishop Edward Egan moved abusive priests to other parishes where they continued to abuse children. Egan, who later became the Cardinal of New York, denied knowing priests abused children until he died in 2015 (Holzberg & Pullman, and Comley, 2019). According to the report, Egan “followed a scorched-earth litigation policy that re-victimized survivor plaintiffs, dissipated valuable diocesan assets in bad-faith procedural maneuvers, and alienated large segments of the laity, the clergy, and the wider public.” Monsignor Laurence Bronkiewicz, Egan’s right-hand man, also took action to hide allegations of sexual abuse against priests and transfer accused priests to other locations where they could have further contact with children (Holzberg & Pullman and Comley, 2019). Bronkiewicz later denied knowing priests abused children before retiring from the diocese.

Advocacy for Survivors

Gail Howard of the Connecticut branch of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) stated, “Given that the Connecticut statute of limitations restricts anyone over the age of 48 (or 51, if the abuse occurred after Sept. 1, 2019) from bringing a civil suit, the church may be done for now with civil claims, but its crimes against the many survivors I have dealt with remain — unjustly — outside of the legal system, ignored by the church and unpunished” (Tepfer, 2024). Howard emphasized the need for ongoing support and advocacy for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, even as legal avenues for seeking justice become increasingly limited due to statutes of limitations.

The Impact of Clergy Sexual Abuse

The long-term effects of clergy sexual abuse on survivors can be devastating, often leading to severe and permanent emotional distress, the need for ongoing psychological treatment and therapy, and difficulties in various aspects of life. The trauma experienced by survivors can have a profound impact on their mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. While financial settlements may provide some measure of acknowledgment and support for survivors, the actual cost of clergy sexual abuse extends far beyond monetary compensation, affecting individuals, families, and communities for generations.

Oregon Jury Finds Johnson & Johnson Liable for $260 Million in Latest Talcum Powder Lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson Suffers Another Significant Loss in Talcum Powder Litigation

In a recent development in the ongoing legal battle surrounding talcum powder and its potential health risks, an Oregon jury has found Johnson & Johnson (J&J) liable for $260 million in damages to Kyung Lee, a 48-year-old woman who claimed she developed Mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer linked to asbestos exposure, after using the company’s talc powder products for more than three decades.

5 Key Points

  • The jury awarded Kyung Lee and her husband $60 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages.
  • Lee alleged that she inhaled asbestos-tainted talc from J&J’s products since infancy, as her mother used it on her as a baby, and she continued using it herself as a deodorant for over 30 years.
  • Johnson & Johnson maintains that its talc products are safe, do not contain asbestos, and do not cause cancer, citing decades of scientific studies that support their safety.
  • The company faces lawsuits from more than 61,000 plaintiffs over talc, with the majority being women with ovarian cancer and a small minority involving people with Mesothelioma.
  • J&J is pursuing a proposed $6.48 billion settlement through a prepackaged bankruptcy to resolve most talc-related lawsuits, requiring the support of 75% of the remaining plaintiffs.

Johnson & Johnson to Appeal the Verdict

In response to the jury’s decision, Erik Haas, J&J’s worldwide vice president of litigation, stated that the verdict “is irreconcilable with the decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming talc is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer.” The company plans to appeal the verdict and is confident it will be reversed.

Plaintiff’s Long-Term Exposure to Talc Products

Kyung Lee’s exposure to J&J’s talc powder began in infancy when her mother used it on her as a baby. She continued using the product as a deodorant for over 30 years. During the trial, a lawyer for J&J argued that Lee’s illness was likely caused by exposure to asbestos used at a factory near where she grew up, rather than the company’s talc products.

Johnson & Johnson’s Efforts to Resolve Talc Lawsuits Through Bankruptcy

As the number of talc-related lawsuits continues to grow, J&J is currently pursuing a proposed $6.48 billion settlement through a prepackaged bankruptcy to resolve most of these cases. The company requires the support of 75% of the remaining plaintiffs to gain approval for the settlement, which would end the litigation, shut off future cases, and prevent people from opting out of the deal.

Courts have previously rejected two of the company’s efforts to resolve the talc cases through bankruptcy. However, J&J remains confident that support from plaintiffs will allow the latest attempt to succeed.

Plaintiffs Oppose Johnson & Johnson’s Settlement Proposal

Not all plaintiffs are in favor of J&J’s proposed settlement. On May 22, a group of plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit aiming to stop the deal, calling it a “fraudulent” abuse of the bankruptcy system.

Mixed Outcomes in Previous Talc Trials

Trials involving talc cases have had varying outcomes, with some significant wins for plaintiffs. In 2021, a $2.1 billion judgment was awarded to 22 women with ovarian cancer. However, in April of this year, J&J won an ovarian cancer case but was hit with a $45 million verdict in a mesothelioma case.

The Ongoing Debate Surrounding Talcum Powder Safety

The Oregon verdict is the latest in a series of legal battles that have raised concerns about the safety of talcum powder products. While Johnson & Johnson maintains that its products are safe and do not contain asbestos, plaintiffs argue that the company has been aware of the potential risks associated with talc for decades.

The scientific community has also been divided on the issue, with some studies suggesting a link between talc use and certain cancers, while others have found no significant association. As more lawsuits are filed and additional research is conducted, the debate surrounding the safety of talcum powder is likely to continue.

The Impact on Johnson & Johnson and the Talc Industry

The Oregon verdict and the ongoing litigation have significantly impacted Johnson & Johnson and the talc industry as a whole. The company has faced increased scrutiny and reputational damage, with some consumers questioning the safety of its products.

In response to the growing concerns, some manufacturers have reformulated their talc products or shifted to alternative ingredients. The long-term effects of the talcum powder lawsuits on the industry remain to be seen. Still, the issue has raised important questions about product safety and corporate responsibility.

The Future of Talcum Powder Litigation and Consumer Safety

The $260 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in the Oregon talcum powder lawsuit is a significant development in the ongoing legal battle surrounding the safety of talc products. As the company continues to face thousands of lawsuits and pursues a settlement through bankruptcy, the debate surrounding the potential health risks associated with talcum powder will likely persist.

The outcome of this case and others like it may have far-reaching implications for Johnson & Johnson, the talc industry, and consumers who have used these products for decades. As more information comes to light and additional research is conducted, companies must prioritize consumer safety and transparency to maintain public trust and prevent further harm.