Saturday, September 20, 2008
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WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg man awaiting trial for rape has had all charges dropped after the alleged victim admitted she sent the accused cards and explicit love letters behind bars.
Crown prosecutor Wendy Friesen initially told court earlier this month that the woman adamantly denied sending the letters and that they must have been forgeries.
But after a brief recess, Friesen said the woman changed her story and admitted she had written them.
The woman claimed in the letters that she missed the accused and was pregnant with his child.
The woman had originally claimed the accused broke into her home in October 2007, choked her, forced her to drink alcohol and snort cocaine, and then took advantage of her after she passed out.
Defense lawyer Sheldon Pinx said the woman should be charged with mischief, obstruction of justice or even perjury.
By RONI CARYN RABIN
Kidnapping. Sexual abuse. Childhood cancer.
If parents of young children were asked to name their biggest fears, these three would probably top the list, if only because they are so terrifying, so cataclysmic — and so widely publicized when they occur.
But they seldom do. The biggest threats to children’s health and well-being are often right under parents’ noses, present in activities so mundane that caregivers are desensitized to their risk, like bathing, swimming or riding in a car.
“What really stands in the way of kids surviving into adulthood and being healthy so they can accomplish their dreams are accidents — unintentional injuries,” said Ileana Arias, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Injuries are the No. 1 killer of kids.”
Accidents and unintentional injuries — mostly a result of drownings and motor vehicle accidents — kill more than 4,000 children ages 1 to 14 annually in the United States, according to the C.D.C. That number also includes deaths caused by fire and burn injuries, pedestrian accidents and suffocation; poisoning accounts for just 1.3 percent of accidental deaths of children in this age group.
Though cancer is the second leading cause of death among young children, it causes far fewer deaths than accidents or unintentional injuries, with 1,377 children ages 1 to 14 dying of cancer annually, C.D.C. figures show.
Children are far more likely to be affected by other less lethal but more common chronic illnesses, like asthma (9 percent of children under 18); obesity (16 percent of children 2 to 19); and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (7 percent of children 3 to 17).
Autism, which receives a lot of attention in the news media, affects fewer than 1 percent of children, according to a national report on the prevalence of autism in 8-year-olds issued last year by the C.D.C., which found a mean rate of 6.7 cases of autism per 1,000 8-year-olds.
Children are often victims of crimes, but not necessarily of the sort that keep parents awake at night, said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham and the author of “Childhood Victimization: Violence, Crime and Abuse in the Lives of Young People.”
“Assaults by other children are the most common, and if you factor in sibling assaults, more than half of all kids are victimized each year,” he said. “Some people say, ‘You can’t count that.’ But children are intimidated and hurt by their siblings.”
Although parents worry about strangers kidnapping or sexually molesting their children, these kinds of crimes are rare, he said, noting that it is family members and close acquaintances who commit most serious crimes against children. “Children face substantial risks, but there is misplaced anxiety,” he said, attributing it to a natural tendency to trust people who are known and part of the community.
According to one Department of Justice study, about 115 child kidnappings each year fit the stereotype of stranger abductions — that is, someone who does not know or barely knows the child; who holds the child overnight or takes him or her 50 miles or more away from home; and who kills the child, demands ransom or plans to keep the child permanently. It is teenage girls, not young children, who are most likely to be the targets of a stranger kidnapping and sexual assault, Dr. Finkelhor noted. Teenagers in general are two to three times as likely as adults to be victims of a conventional rape, robbery or aggravated assault, according to the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey, derived from interviews with about 100,000 citizens each year (the survey does not include children under 12).
The message for parents is to take all available precautions to prevent accidents and injuries, Dr. Arias of the C.D.C. said. That means enforcing car seat use for children until age 8, regardless of weight and height, and keeping them in the back seat until they are 10 or 12, depending on their size, she said.
Bicycle helmets should be worn for skateboarding and biking, she said. A recent study in Ontario, Canada, found that bicycle-related death rates for children 1 to 15 years dropped 52 percent after enforcement of a helmet law started in 1995.
Information compiled from the Washington Post, “Congressional Sex Scandals in History,” and other sources.
10. Sen. Daniel Inouye. The 82-year-old Hawaii Democrat was accused in the 1990s by numerous women of sexual harassment. Democrats cast doubt on the allegations and the Senate Ethics Committee dropped its investigation.
9. Former Rep. Gus Savage. The Illinois Democrat was accused of fondling a Peace Corps volunteer in 1989 while on a trip to Africa. The House Ethics Committee decided against disciplinary action in 1990.
8. Rep. Barney Frank. The outspoken Massachusetts Democrat hired a male prostitute who ran a prostitution service from Frank’s residence in the 1980s. Only two Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to censure him in 1990.
7. Former Sen. Brock Adams. The late Washington Democrat was forced to stop campaigning after numerous accusations of drugging, assault and rape, the first surfacing in 1988.
6. Former Rep. Fred Richmond. This New York Democrat was arrested in 1978 for soliciting sex from a 16-year-old. He remained in Congress and won re-election—before eventually resigning in 1982 after pleading guilty to tax evasion and drug possession.
5. Former Rep. John Young. The late Texas Democrat increased the salary of a staffer after she gave in to his sexual advances. The congressman won re-election in 1976 but lost two years later.
4. Former Rep. Wayne Hays. The late Ohio Democrat hired an unqualified secretary reportedly for sexual acts. Although he resigned from Congress, the Democratic House leadership stalled in removing him from the Administration Committee in 1976.
3. Former Rep. Gerry Studds. He was censured for sexual relationship with underage male page in 1983. Massachusetts voters returned him to office for six more terms.
2. Former Rep. Mel Reynolds. The Illinois Democrat was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault with a 16-year-old. President Bill Clinton pardoned him before leaving office.
1. Sen. Teddy Kennedy. The liberal Massachusetts senator testified in defense of nephew accused of rape, invoking his family history to win over the jury in 1991.
When I had my vegetable garden, one of the biggest challenges was weeds and keeping them under control.
By this time of the year, it was hard to tell the weeds from the plants, because the plants were fading and the weeds had pretty much taken over the garden.
I remember one year, though, when my sister-in-law came to visit from Lebanon, I gained a greater appreciation of weeds.
One of the weeds that grew prolifically in my garden was purslane (Portulaca oleracea). It is a succulent plant that grows along the ground and develops lovely flowers. But it is a weed.
Well, when my sister-in-law came to the garden with me, she excitedly exclaimed, ''Fishule!''
''Huh?'' I responded.
''Fishule,'' she repeated.
She pointed to the purslane and asked, ''What do you call this?''
''Purslane,'' I answered.
''Fishule ... we use this in salads,'' she explained.
That night we had purslane (''weeds!'') in our salad! Who knew you could eat purslane and that it is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, the same good oils found in fish?
Jesus once told a parable of the weeds and the wheat growing together.
A farmer sows a field of wheat, and during the night an enemy comes along and sows weeds. When the workers go out in the morning and discover there are weeds in the field, they go back and ask the farmer what they should do.
''Do you want us to go and pull the weeds out of the field?''
The farmer surprises them by answering, ''No! For in doing so, you may pluck up the good wheat.''
The farmer advises them to let the wheat and the weeds grow together, and at harvest time the wheat will be gathered and the weeds will be pulled up and burned in the fire.
Our human tendency is to identify, of course, with the good wheat. We figure that we are the good wheat, and ''they'' are the bad wheat.
The problem is that this is the stuff of prejudice. Because we think we know what is good and what is not, we continually want to take on the role of God, deciding who is good and who is evil, who is in and who is out.
We tend to judge by looking on the outside. People who look different, talk different, dress different, and maybe even smell different than us -- all tend to be put in the ''them'' category.
We are more inclined to stay close to our own kind.
We often forget that looks can be deceiving. Some of the most heinous crimes are committed by people who, on the outside, are ''just like us.'' We are particularly shocked when someone in a faith community commits a crime or turns out to be a sex offender.
It's important for us to remember that God looks on the inside. God judges the heart.
It is not just what we say and do, it's what we think as well that God looks at. We need a consistency between our thoughts and our deeds.
The people we might write off as worthless, God may deem otherwise. Only God knows who and what are useful in making this world a better place.
Jesus also warned his followers that as we judge others we will be judged.
Martin Luther King Jr., once said, ''God's purpose is not wrathful judgment; God's purpose is redemption. And the road to redemption is by way of reconciliation. Only in that way will the world finally be saved.''
We are not the ones to judge. We are the ones who are called upon to make this world a better place. To do that, we are called to love one another, to show compassion for one another, and to work for peace and reconciliation.
The final judgment of who is good and who is evil, who is useful and who is useless is not ours to make.
That is reserved for God and God alone. And we are to leave the weeding to God.
The Rev. Kathleen E. Jamhoury is the interim associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown.
The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a sex offender was not discriminated against when he was charged with violating a residency rule that he claimed was not in effect when he bought his house.
Timothy Willard, 39, of Alburnett, was convicted in 1997 as a sex offender. He bought a house within 2,000 feet of a school in 2005.
Willard was charged with and convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor for violating the residency restrictions. He filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that his rights to due process and other constitutional protections were violated.
Willard contended that he had bought the house based on a February 2004 U.S. District Court of Southern Iowa decision that found the 2,000-foot rule was unconstitutional. He argued there was a federal court injunction in effect when he purchased the house.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision in April 2005. Willard signed a contract to buy the house in May 2005.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde ruled his rights were not violated.
Willard then appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, arguing discrimination based on his conviction and denial of equal protection and due process.
The court Friday upheld the district court's decision.
The court stated the enforcement of the rule was to resume Sept. 1, 2005, and Willard shouldn't have been "under any illusion" that he could live in the house.
"Iowa's 2,000 foot rule has withstood constitutional challenges on several occasions," the ruling stated.
Willard argued he was being punished because he was a sex offender, but the court concluded he was punished for violating the residency restriction that was in place to protect children.
Willard also argued the restriction denies his right to make a home with his family and a right to travel based on his criminal history.
The restriction doesn't prevent sex offenders from living with their families, but does regulate where they live, according to the court.
The right to travel argument also was denied because Willard didn't argue that point to the district court and this court couldn't consider it.
By DEANNA BOYD - email@example.com
FORT WORTH — A registered sex offender from Hurst who was questioned this week by Fort Worth police in connection with four rapes dating to 1997 was found dead Thursday after leaving behind a note that he didn’t want to drag his family into his problems.
DNA tests confirmed Friday that biological evidence in the four sexual assaults matched Gary Lynn Brown, said Sgt. Cheryl Johnson, sex crimes unit supervisor.
Brown, 43, had served time in prison for sexually assaulting and kidnapping two young girls — 7 and 8 years old — in Roswell, N.M., when he was 19.
He was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound by Hurst police about 8 a.m. Thursday inside a shed in his back yard.
Sgt. Craig Teague, Hurst police spokesman, said a concerned family member called police after finding a note in Brown’s home in the 300 block of Elm Street.
The four cases — two in 1997, one in 2000 and one in 2001 — were linked in January 2005 by the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which examines biological evidence of unsolved crimes for possible connections.
In three of the cases (details on the fourth were unavailable Friday), the victims were walking or standing on the street when they were approached by a heavy-set man wearing prescription glasses.
The suspect’s vehicle was described as a dark-colored, four-door car in the earlier assaults and a red Ford Mustang in the 2001 case. Johnson said one of the earlier victims had been able to obtain the first three letters of the license plate.
A new look
Officer Rick Benson had begun reinvestigating the cases this past month as part of a unitwide review of cold cases involving CODIS hits, Johnson said.
Benson asked crime analyst Quannah Diffee to run a police report search looking for dark-colored, four-door cars with the same partial license plate.
"She came up with a 1996 report involving prostitution where Gary Lynn Brown was stopped in a Buick four-door with the first three letters of that license plate," Johnson said.
Johnson said investigators then began researching other vehicles Brown had owned and found he had bought a maroon or red Mustang in March 2001.
Brown "matched the description right down to some scars on his body that had been described by two separate victims," Johnson said.
Police obtained a search warrant for DNA, and on Wednesday Brown was taken to Fort Worth police headquarters, where he gave a DNA sample and was interviewed by Johnson and Detective Jeremy Spann.
"At that point, he denied any involvement in the crimes," Johnson said.
Johnson said about 24 hours later, investigators learned of Brown’s suicide. On Friday, police received confirmation that his DNA matched semen obtained in the four sexual assaults.
"They’ll be closed by exceptional means due to the fact that he cannot be prosecuted," she said.
Johnson said Brown’s profile will be uploaded into the national CODIS database for comparison with other unsolved rapes across the country.
Brown first came to the attention of Hurst police last year.
"A general vehicle description matched his vehicle on a reported offense in Hurst," Teague said.
Though the offense could not be linked to Brown, Teague said the man’s criminal history convinced police that the man should be registering as a sex offender.
"He came in on our radar doing a background check," Teague said. "That’s when I located the stuff out of New Mexico and felt he should be complying with the registration statutes in Texas.
"I think very much that the law was designed to track and to warn society of this type of a person," Teague said.
Criminal history Brown was sentenced to 18 years in prison in December 1984 on three counts of criminal sexual penetration and 9 years in prison on two counts of kidnapping after pleading guilty in the sexual attacks of two girls, ages 7 and 8.
Records show Brown had been riding a 10-speed bike in the neighborhood on Aug. 23, 1984, claiming he was searching for a little black dog, when he lured a 7-year-old girl into an alley and asked if she wanted to see some chain tricks.
Records show Brown held the girl’s wrists in front of her but released her after she began to cry. However, he grabbed her again and assaulted her before fleeing.
A short time later, an 8-year-old girl reported that Brown approached her on his bike and, saying he would show her a magic trick, chained her hands behind her back with his bicycle chain. She said he then led her into a field of weeds, placed her on the ground and assaulted her before unchaining her and pedaling off.
Source: District Court records in Chaves County, N.M.
DEANNA BOYD, 817-390-7655
What a load of BS Mark! If you were ashamed, you would put yourself on the sex offender registry and suffer for life, like all the others you put there by helping pass laws which you should face as well.
By Jim Turner (Contact)
TREASURE COAST — On the day a two-year state investigation into sexually explicit electronic messages ended Friday without charges, former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley declared he is "deeply ashamed" by the inappropriate, sexually explicit electronic messages he sent to House pages.
"I accept full responsibility for my inappropriate conduct, and continue to pray for forgiveness from those I have disappointed and caused any emotional harm," Foley stated in a prepared message read by his attorney David Roth.
- Why should people forgive you when others are in prison for the same thing? You should be in prison as well, and once you are out of prison, you should be on the sexual offender registry for life, like everyone else.
"But for my faith, the prayers of loved ones, hundreds of friends, total strangers, and most importantly the grace they have given me, I would never have survived this ordeal I am solely responsible for."
Foley called the incident the most "difficult and painful" period of his life.
Foley did not attend an afternoon press conference in West Palm Beach on Friday afternoon on the advice of his mental health and substance abuse therapists, Roth said. He continues to recover from alcohol abuse and sexual abuse at the hands of his parish priest.
Repeating often they were unable to get access to the computer hard drives used by Foley, Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators concluded there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges against Foley, 54, as an Internet sex predator.
- The chat transcripts alone should be enough. It has been the only evidence used to put others in prison who did basically the same exact thing, so he should be in prison and on the registry for life, like everyone else. All you have to do it get a warrant for the computers, it's not all that hard, you are just brushing this under the rug to protect the republican party, Mark or someone else.
Roth said a similar investigation conducted by the FBI was completed July 30.
"We had not commented on that. It has been Mark's position that we would not comment on the pending investigation until all investigations were closed, and to the very best of our knowledge all investigations have been closed," Roth said.
According to the FDLE, Foley was able to keep investigators from looking at his computers because of the Speech and Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which the general counsel for the House claimed prohibited providing anyone access to the equipment or backup tapes without authorization from the congressman.
"FDLE conducted as thorough and comprehensive investigation as possible considering Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data," FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said. "Should additional information arise which is pertinent to this case, we will ensure it is appropriately investigated."
Roth said "possibly thousands" of hours were spent by the Department of Justice and Foley's attorneys reviewing the computers.
- Reviewing what computers? I thought you could not get access to them?
"Other than the Speech and Debate Clause protection, which the House of Representatives asked to be protected, all other information was made available," Roth said. "There is no information that adds anything to what was known in Sept. 2006."
Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida political science professor, said the excuse investigators couldn't fully complete their investigation will not satisfy Americans.
"When the public hears that it will be one more reasons that they're down on Congress and elected officials," MacManus said. "Right now, Congress is at record low ratings, and this involved possible child abuse, and that will not sit well with the public."
- The sheeple will believe anything said on the news or by politicians! Why do you think there is not an outrage about this?
The report notes even if state investigators had more access to Foley's text messages, Director Maureen Horkan of the Office of Attorney General, Child Predator Cyber Crime Unit, stated the statute of limitations regarding the alleged inappropriate instant messages sent by Foley on February 2 to 3, 2003, would have expired February 2 to 3, 2006.
The reported added: "However, it is important to note that even if the statute of limitations had not run, there would be no prosecutable case. There are no original records of the 'instant messages.'"
- So why is that? Did someone destroy evidence? Sounds like it to me.
Foley, resigned from Congress in September 2006 after reports surfaced that he exchanged a series of sexually charged online messages with teenage congressional pages.
Almost immediately after his resignation, law enforcement officials began investigating the online messages.
One incident in particular caught the eye of investigators, they said. While campaigning for a Senate seat in 2003, Foley sent online messages to a male teenager describing sexual acts, a clear violation of the state's law on Internet sex predators.
The law states "any person who knowingly utilizes a computer online service or Internet service to seduce, solicit, lure, entice, or attempt to seduce a child" would be committing a third-degree felony and could receive a jail sentence of up to five years.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT MARK FOLEY
Here’s what several local leaders said about the announcement Friday that Mark Foley will not face state criminal charges.
“He’s old news. That’s not what’s important today.” -- St. Lucie County Democratic Party leader Celeste Bush
- Old news? He committed a crime, and is getting a way with it.
“My opinion was Mark Foley could have really brought down the Republican Party if he had stayed in office and then fought all those charges in 2006. I think he went to the party heads and said, ‘I’m going to resign quietly and just leave me alone from now on.’ And I think that’s pretty much what they’ve done.” -- Martin County Democratic Party leader David Dew
- Exactly, to protect their own butts! If this was some John Doe, they would be in prison now.
“Obviously, two years ago, it led (Palm Beach Gardens Democrat Tim) Mahoney into office. We’re hoping, now that it’s concluded, it will lead him out of office.” -- Martin County Republican Party leader Susan Auld
“I think it’s old news. I think most people are just happy he’s no longer an elected official. I think people will focus on the issues and who they think will be the better performer, Mahoney or (Tequesta Republican Tom) Rooney.” -- Martin County Commissioner Lee Weberman, a Republican from Hobe Sound
- I beg to differ. He committed a crime, the same crime as many other people, who are in prison and suffering because of his helping pass laws, and now he does the same thing and is walking free!
“It’s disappointing that they couldn’t get the e-mails. I don’t know that they would have shown anything, but they should have been released so that there could be a full investigation." -- State Rep. Gayle Harrell, a Republican from Stuart
By Stephanie Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ― If you take a closer look at myspace, facebook, and other social networking websites you'll find vicious words like slut and sex offender, written by students in our area describing their classmates and teachers!
We've also learned how hateful messages like that can lead to tragedy, after the much publicized suicide of California teenager Megan Meier and Vermont's young Ryan Halligan.
Serena Martin who attends Philadelphia University says she's familiar with cyber bullying. "It gets back to school and everyone goes against each other because of what people say on MySpace or Facebook and like they'll get into fights and teachers never took charge."
- You see, teens cannot handle the Internet, so it's time we set an age limit on it, just like we do with drinking alcohol, smoking, driving, etc. You see, teachers do not want to get involved, because they may be labeled a sex offender...
They're hands were tied because it happened OFF school property. Times however have changed. A new Pennsylvania law signed by Governor Rendell (Contact) over the summer requires all schools in the state to put a cyber bullying disciplinary code in place by January. It allows for detention and even expulsion.
That's a relief to many superintendents and students through the area who are hoping to curb the cruelty. You can see their reaction in our video report.
Technology attorney Dorothy Bollinger wants to remind students and parents that sometimes, school discipline just can't go far enough. Bollinger says, "Sometimes it really involves getting an attorney involved because it's so harmful to the child. You would have to file a lawsuit of defamation, extortion, or harassment."
So we're giving generation tech a heads up! Be careful what you write because it could send you to the principal's office… or worse.
And, one more note. If you've been a victim of online harassment and those hateful messages are still out there in Google searches. You can eliminate them from searches by going to sites like reputationdefender.com or defendmyname.com. That will certainly help you when you enter the work force, since you really don't want your boss's Google search to turn up some nasty false information!
Good luck, stay safe on the web, and try to be nice to one another!