Trolls target accusing mega-church pastor

Hello. This is the Friday, September 23 edition of First Up, the Star’s daily morning digest. Sign up to get it earlier every day, in your inbox.

Here’s the latest Star story that turned out to be more complicated years later, how online trolls stumbled upon an alleged victim of clergy sex abuse and Canada’s new ambassador to China.


Ismael was just 17 when a journalist told the story that made him a hero in the eyes of the world – years later he made a shocking revelation

In 2010, Star national security correspondent Michelle Shephard met a boy in Mogadishu. Ismael Abdulle was 17 when he told the reporter that members of al-Shabab, a Somalia-based group that later joined al-Qaeda, tried to recruit him, but he refused. As a result, they cut off his left foot and right hand, he said. Michelle told the story of a young survivor who embodied bravery in the face of terrorism. What followed was global coverage, a global rescue campaign and a documentary. But years later, he confessed to parts of the story. In this article – and in an upcoming film – Michelle corrects the account of what turned out to be a much more complicated story.

  • After: Ismael’s story was aired as part of a feature on the victims and perpetrators of Somalia’s civil war. It was the cover of the Star’s Insight section in January 2010.
  • Go further: The group held the boy in jail for 25 days. He was one of four men whose limbs were severed.
  • To watch: “The Perfect Story” will screen at Hot Docs on October 5, air on TVO on October 18, and stream online November 1 at the NFB.

His allegations brought down megachurch pastor Bruxy Cavey. Then the anonymous trolls came looking for her

When she filed a sexual assault complaint against famed megachurch pastor Bruxy Cavey, she said she wanted to prevent others from having the same experience. But since filing her complaint, the woman, using the pseudonym Alanna, has faced a barrage of online harassment. Morgan Bocknek reports on accusations and online trolls going so far as to publicly name Alanna.

  • After: “The safety of life away from him that I had fought to create was ripped from me the instant my anonymity was taken,” she told the Star.
  • Go further: The church hired a third-party victims’ advocate who received three dozen “allegations, disclosures and concerns” about clergy sexual misconduct. She says she also received threatening emails.

Canada’s new ambassador to China pledges to raise human rights concerns

In a move meant to push the reset button on diplomatic relations, the federal government has named career diplomat Jennifer May Canada’s new ambassador to China. In an exclusive interview with Tonda MacCharles, May said her priorities would be to defend human rights and repair Canada-China relations. Here’s how she plans to bring her concerns to Beijing and why she says it’s important to collaborate.

  • Wait what? Relations between Canada and China hit a low point when Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Vancouver in 2018 led to trade retaliation and Beijing’s nearly three-year detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
  • After: May will speak about the abuses of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province, the repression of legal freedoms in Hong Kong and individual cases like Huseyin Celil’s dual citizenship.


  • A Canadian Armed Forces reservist who equated COVID-19 vaccinations with ‘murder’ has pleaded guilty to misconduct. Here’s how he apologized.


A chart of the year-over-year percentage change in the Consumer Price Index shows that transportation inflation is slowing while food prices are rising.

Transport inflation is slowing, but food prices are rising relentlessly. Here’s how Canadians are feeling the pressure.


A man walks down a path to the Humber River Recreational Path near Weston Rd and Conron Pl. in York, October 30, 2019.

YORK REGION: A man walks on a path leading to the Humber River Recreational Trail on October 30, 2019. Here’s when and how the leaves will change color this fall.

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