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1 day ago · by · Comments Off on Gas Explosions Rock 3 Massachusetts Towns

Gas Explosions Rock 3 Massachusetts Towns

 

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On September 13, dozens of explosions erupted in three towns in northern Massachusetts.  As many as 70 fires, explosions and suspected gas leaks were reported to state police.  At least 39 homes were affected in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. An 18 year old man was killed when a chimney collapsed on his car and at least 25 more people were reportedly treated for injuries.  The fiery explosions forced residents of the three towns north of Boston to flee for their lives as the rapid-fire explosions took place.

Officer Ivan Soto of the Lawrence Police Department, whose own home went up in flames, tried to save Leonel Rondon, 18, who was killed after a chimney toppled by an exploding house crashed into his car. “We jumped on the car, and we were trying to pull the chimney,” Soto said. “We just want to get it off of him, you know. We wanted to save him.”  Rondon was rushed to a Boston hospital but pronounced dead that evening.

Soon after the first fires, Lawrence City Councilor Marc Laplante was warning residents in the Colonial Heights neighborhood to evacuate but said traffic had become a problem.  “People need to get out of this area safely,” he said at the time. “It’s really difficult because the traffic right now is horrendous.”  Entire neighborhoods in the three towns were evacuated as crews scrambled to fight the flames and shut off the gas.  Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield told reporters “It looked like Armageddon, it really did.  There were billows of smoke coming from Lawrence behind me. I could see pillars of smoke in front of me from the town of Andover.”  Aerial footage of the area showed some homes that appeared to be torn apart by blasts and engulfed in flames.  Authorities believe up to 80 houses were damaged or destroyed.

Lawrence resident Ra Nam says he was in his yard when the smoke detector in his basement went off around 4:30 p.m.  When he ran downstairs and saw the boiler on fire, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and put it out.  Minutes later, Nam said he heard a loud boom from his neighbor’s house and the ground shook.  Nam said a woman and two kids had made it out of the house but the basement was on fire.  The three communities have more than 146,000 residents about 26 miles north of Boston, near the New Hampshire border. Lawrence, the largest of them has a population of about 80,000.

Officials say the cause of the explosions is still under investigation but that it could have been caused by an over-pressured gas line. Columbia Gas was upgrading the gas lines in the three towns when the dozens of homes suddenly went up in flames.  Governor Charlie Baker has said it may be days or weeks before the 8,600 people displaced could return to their homes.  He added that state and local authorities are investigating and checking each house serviced by Columbia Gas company, to shut off the gas line and make sure the home is safe.  “This is still very much an active scene,” he said. “There will be plenty of time later tonight, tomorrow morning and into the next day to do some of the work around determining exactly what happened and why.”

In a statement, Columbia Gas said a total of 8,600 customers will be without service until safety teams can ensure that their homes and businesses are leak-free.  Around 18,000 customers of National Grid electric company are also without power, after the lines were shut off to prevent any sparks that could ignite stray gas.  By late Thursday, all of the fires had been doused but many areas remained silent and dark after residents fled and power companies cut electricity.  Schools in all three communities were canceled for Friday and some schools were being used as shelters for residents.

 

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2 days ago · by · Comments Off on Off Duty TX Officer Kills Man In His Own Apartment

Off Duty TX Officer Kills Man In His Own Apartment

 

 

 

 

Many are outraged after a Dallas police officer has only been charged with manslaughter after shooting and killing 26-year-old Botham Shem Jean in his own apartment.  Police Officer Amber Guyger, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, says she thought she was in her own apartment and fired after thinking she was confronting an intruder in the dark apartment.  She turned herself in and was released on $300,000 bond.  Investigators have taken a blood sample from the officer to test for drugs and alcohol but the results have not been released.

As more details of what happened that night are released, the incident seems more and more confusing, adding to the mystery of the case.  According to Guyger’s account, she arrived home around 10pm after working a 15-hour shift to the South Side Flats apartments on September 6th.  She didn’t realize she had parked her car on the wrong level of the parking garage and entered the wrong floor of her building.  Guyger lives on the fourth floor while Jean lived on the third floor.  Once she entered what she thought was her own apartment, she says she saw a “large silhouette” in the dark apartment and she thought she had walked in on a burglary.  She fired, hitting Jean in the chest, ultimately killing him and only realized that the apartment was not hers when she turned on the lights in the apartment.  She then called 911 and checked the apartment number outside the door as she explained what occurred to the dispatcher.

Details of a September 9 arrest affidavit filed after Guyger turned herself in only add to the confusion.  The affidavit, which was written after an interview with Guyger, states that Jean was actually shot farther into his apartment.  In that account, after Guyger returned home and entered the wrong floor of the building, she attempted to use an electronic key to open the apartment front door. However, the door was slightly ajar and the force of using her key pushed the door open, despite the fact that her key did not open the lock.  Guyger then entered the apartment and after seeing a “large silhouette” issued verbal commands and then fired twice.

Attorney Lee Merritt, who is representing the family, said they are skeptical that Jean would have left the door to his apartment ajar, saying the PricewaterhouseCoopers worker was a “meticulous” person who would have made sure his door was locked for his own safety.  Merritt also said that two sisters who live in the building had come forward giving details that contradict the affidavit.  The sisters claim that before the shooting, they heard knocking followed by a woman’s voice saying, “Let me in. Let me in.” Then they heard gunshots, followed by a man’s voice saying, “Oh my God, why did you do that?”  One of the women also took a video after the shooting, which shows what appears to be Guyger pacing outside the apartment as emergency responders arrive.

The case is still under investigation by the Texas Rangers and separately by the district attorney’s office– and will be presented to a grand jury.  A grand jury will decide whether to indict Guyger on a different charge than manslaughter or not to indict her at all.  Jean’s family and community members have raised a number of concerns about the pace of the investigation and how it is being handled.  They argue that Guyger is receiving deferential treatment that a civilian suspect would not receive, noting that she was charged with manslaughter rather than murder and that the charge did not come until three days after the shooting.

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2 days ago · by · Comments Off on Police Make 2nd Arrest In Killing of Enfield Teen

Police Make 2nd Arrest In Killing of Enfield Teen

 

 

 

 

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Enfield, CT Police have made a second arrest in connection with the death of 16-year-old Justin Brady, who was fatally stabbed during a fight with another teen outside an Enfield home late Sunday evening.  Police have charged 20-year-old Michael Joseph Cerrato, who lives at the home where Brady was killed, with hindering prosecution in connection with the murder.  On September 11th, an 18-year-old Hartford teen identified as Shyheim “Trey” Adams was charged with manslaughter in the first degree and is being held on $1 million bail.  The most profound question is why no one called 911 sooner.

Shortly after midnight on September 10th, Enfield Police responded to calls of several teens standing around someone laying on the ground.  In one call, a neighbor tells the dispatcher that some of the teens kept going in and out of the house next door.  Officers found Brady bleeding from multiple stab wounds, clinging to life in a front yard near 15 Hoover Lane.  Brady, who was a junior at Enfield High School, where he played football and basketball, was rushed to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Michael Cerrato’s father, the Enfield Assistant Town Attorney, Mark Cerrato, who lives at 15 Hoover Lane where the killing took place, was placed on indefinite paid leave pending the investigation.  Mark Cerrato told police he went to bed around 11pm just after telling his son, his son’s girlfriend and a friend he knows as “Trey” to keep the noise down as they were playing video games.  In his first interview, Cerrato told police he was awakened shortly after by a knock at the door and a “tall kid was at the door holding 2 phones in his hand saying that his friend needed a doctor and asked Mark if he could bring him.”   Cerrato told police he tried to use one of the phones but couldn’t dial because it was locked.  In his second interview he told police that he was awakened when he heard the garage door open and saw his son taking his Toyota Rav4.  Police searched the home and removed blood stained clothing found in the basement and a knife that was hidden under a mattress in a bedroom.

Police said Brady and Adams had been arguing on social media throughout the day and eventually met outside the Hoover Lane residence to fight.  In initial interviews, Michael Cerrato claimed he didn’t see anything and left the house around 11pm.  He later admitted that Trey and Brady had been arguing over the phone and thru Snapchat.  Trey left the room to take a call and returned saying Brady was on his way over to fight.  Cerrato stated that he didn’t believe Trey because he lies a lot and that Justin Brady had previously called him out on it.  Cerrato said Brady arrived 15 minutes later and they went outside.  Brady and Trey were in the street yelling at each other when Brady hit Trey in the chest.  They were wrestling and ended up on the ground.  Cerrato says that he heard Brady yell “he’s cutting me” and witnessed his friend stabbing Brady fast from about 10 feet away.  Trey took a step back and Justin looked down and was covered in blood, yelling to call 911.  Trey ran inside the house and Cerrato followed and saw him washing his hands.  Cerrato, who never called 911, says the knife came from inside his home but he did not know Trey had it until the stabbing occurred.  Cerrato and his girlfriend left in his father’s SUV and dropped Trey off in Hartford.

Another witness says that after the fight he went into the house through the garage and witnessed Trey and Mike in a room, Trey was changing his pants and Mike kept saying “we gotta get out of here”.  The witness went back outside to check on Justin and that Tre, Mike and his girlfriend came out saying to get Justin out of there.  After they left the witness started banging on the front door of the home for help after he saw Mike’s father close the garage door.  He says Mike’s father came to the door and when he asked for help, Cerrato’s father told him “I don’t know what to tell you.”  He says Cerrato’s father started to call 911 but stopped halfway thru.  Thirty minutes had elapsed between the time the trio left the scene and officers arrived and found Brady.

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6 days ago · by · Comments Off on Gunmen Kills 3 At Cincinnati Bank

Gunmen Kills 3 At Cincinnati Bank

 

 

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In Cincinnati, a gunman opened fire at a downtown bank, killing three people and injuring two others before he was shot and killed by police. Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the gunman, who they believe acted alone, fired more than a dozen shots from a legally purchased 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol.  Authorities have identified the gunman as Omar Perez, though a motive for the shooting is still under investigation.  The gun used in the shooting was recovered at the scene along with multiple magazines and around 200 rounds of ammunition.

Police say Perez, 29, of Northbend, Ohio, has no known connection to the bank and it is unclear how he got to Fountain Square but that he entered multiple businesses before going to the bank. He opened fire in the building’s loading dock before continuing into the lobby area and firing more shots.  Officers responded to a 911 call around 9:10 a.m. local time about an “active shooter” at the bank.  Multiple officers then “engaged” the suspect, who was fatally shot multiple times.

Five people were shot, some multiple times, including three who died from their injuries.  One person died at the scene and two victims died at the hospital.  Those killed in the shooting were a grandfather, a father and a son.  Richard Newcomer, 64, a father of 3 and grandfather of 8, who was supervising a construction project on the building’s third floor was shot as he entered the building.  Luis Calderón, 48, a father to a 13 year old and 16 year old, was also killed as he arrived to work.  He had moved to Cincinnati last year to work for the bank and provide a better life for his children.  The third victim was identified as Prudhvi Raj Kandepi, 25, a programmer and consultant for Fifth Third who was described by family as someone who would give everything he could to friends and family.

Police have released security footage of the gunman “firing shots at anyone he sees” while inside the lobby of the building.  The security footage shows Omar Enrique Santa Perez walking in the lobby with his gun held up and carrying a briefcase containing hundreds of rounds of ammunition over his shoulder. A security officer was seen helping people get to a safe location as the gunman was randomly firing shots at anyone he sees. Perez then turns toward the windows and fires shots at approaching officers.   The body camera footage shows officers approaching the gunman and shooting through the glass of the lobby.  The officers on the scene engaged the shooter within three and a half minutes of the first 911 call and fired 11 shots, taking out the gunman.  Police later found that Perez’s gun had jammed during the four-minute rampage.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley praised the officers for ending the shooting quickly.  “You could see in the video … the guy is shooting at the cops, you can see them not being afraid and engaging and ending it.”  “If he had gotten on the elevator, gone up to a floor, if he had been there earlier or a little bit longer, many more people would have been killed.”

Fifth Third Bank is headquartered in Cincinnati but has locations across 10 states.  The company released a statement via Twitter.  “Earlier today, an active shooter entered our headquarters building in downtown Cincinnati. The situation is contained and the shooter is no longer a threat. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone caught up in this terrible event. We continue to work with law enforcement as we ensure the safety of our employees and customers. We are grateful for the support and concerns from our neighbors throughout Cincinnati and the country.”

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7 days ago · by · Comments Off on Mollie Tibbetts Father Speaks Out Against Her Death Being Politicized

Mollie Tibbetts Father Speaks Out Against Her Death Being Politicized

 

 

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The father of murdered Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts is demanding politicians and white supremacists stop using his daughter’s death to promote hate against immigrants.  In an article for The Des Moines Register, Rob Tibbetts wrote, “Do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist. The act grievously extends the crime that stole Mollie from our family.  The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people.  To suggest otherwise is a lie.  Sadly, others have ignored our request, they have instead chosen to callously distort and corrupt Mollie’s tragic death to advance a cause she vehemently opposed.”

Tibbetts doesn’t want to see his daughter used as a “pawn in others’ debate,” he said.  “She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate. Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie’s memory, I’m imploring you to stop.”

Rob Tibbetts also addressed animosity towards immigrants at his daughter’s funeral when he said “the Hispanic community are Iowans, they have the same values as Iowans. As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”  “To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology.  That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody.”

Before she went missing, Tibbetts’ brother dropped her off at her boyfriend’s house so she could dog-sit.  Her family reported her missing the next day after she did not show up for work.  The last time anyone saw Tibbetts, 20, was around 7:30 p.m. on July 18th as she was jogging in Brooklyn, a community of 1,500 people in eastern Iowa.  According to her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, Tibbetts had sent him a message saying she was heading out for some exercise as part of her typical routine.  A massive ground search involving more than 200 people broken up into 37 teams was conducted on July 20 encompassing the farmlands and fields within a five-mile radius of Brooklyn, with helicopters hovering above, according to authorities.  Investigators had received more than 1,500 tips and conducted more than 500 interviews in the case.

The investigation led to 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera of rural Poweshiek County, an undocumented farmworker from Mexico who has been charged with first-degree murder for her death.  Investigators say their search led to Rivera after they acquired surveillance camera footage that showed Mollie running, as well as the travel patterns of a vehicle believed to belong to Rivera. After reviewing the video, they determined that Rivera was one of the last people to see her running.

During the police interview, Rivera said that he had seen Tibbitts before and when he saw her running on July 18th, he began following her.  He parked his car and began running alongside and behind her.  At some point, Mollie took out her phone and told him “You need to leave me alone. I’m going to call the police” and then she took off running.   Rivera told police that he got angry and chased her down but that he blacked out and woke up at an intersection in rural Poweshiek County.  He told investigators he realized he had put the woman in the trunk of his car and when he took her out, he saw blood on the side of her head.  He then drove to a rural cornfield and left the body in the field, covering it with corn leaves.   Investigators said that after the interview, Rivera led investigators to her body.

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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Jacksonville Landing Shooting

Jacksonville Landing Shooting

 

 

 

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In Jacksonville, Florida, authorities say a man opened fire at a restaurant hosting a Madden 19 video game tournament, killing two people and wounding 10 before killing himself.  One person was also injured while trying to escape.  The shooter has been identified as David Katz, a 24-year-old gamer from Baltimore, Maryland.  Katz’s motive in the shooting remains under investigation, police said.

Katz, like many other gamers, was in town for the tournament at GLHF Game Bar at the Jacksonville Landing, a downtown shopping and dining complex.   Witnesses said he had been eliminated from the tournament the day before when two other players beat him.  Dennis Alston, one of the gamers who beat Katz, said that he tried to shake the shooter’s hand after the game but that Katz refused his hand and stared at him blankly.  Alston said that he noticed Katz had returned to the tournament the following day wearing the same clothes.

Katz went by the gaming naming “Bread” and previously won Madden tournaments in 2017.  Authorities say Katz walked past patrons in other parts of the restaurant and then opened fire on his fellow competitive gamers before killing himself.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office identified the victims as Eli Clayton, 22, and Taylor Robertson, 28. Both were competitive Madden players, and Robertson had won the Madden Classic.  Authorities said Katz had legally purchased two weapons in Baltimore over the past month and one of the weapons had a laser sight that attached to the gun.

Gunshots and piercing screams echoed through the Twitch live stream of the tournament in real time, leaving millions of helpless online viewers shocked before the live stream was cutoff.   Shortly after 1:30 p.m., 911 calls started pouring in about a shooting and officers were on the scene within two minutes.  About a dozen firefighters with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department were training in the structure just north of the Landing when the gunfire rang out.

They treated the “walking wounded” outside the restaurant, then made their way inside to find flipped tables and broken dishes scattered across the floor.   They made their way through the restaurant and found the three deceased in the gaming room: Taylor Robertson, 27, of Ballard, West Virginia; Eli Clayton, 22, of Woodland Hills, California; and the shooter, later identified as David Katz, 24, of Baltimore.

Both Elizabeth and Richard Katz are cooperating with investigators and have told authorities that their son had mental health issues.  Katz underwent treatment for psychological and emotional issues during his parents’ divorce and highly contentious custody battle in 2006.  He was once placed on an antipsychotic medicine used to treat schizophrenia. The alleged gunman was also placed on two antidepressants.

 

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Former Officer Sentenced To 15 Years In Jordan Edwards Shooting

Former Officer Sentenced To 15 Years In Jordan Edwards Shooting

 

 

 

 

 

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Former Balch Springs, TX police officer Roy Oliver, 38, was found guilty of murder in the shooting of Jordan Edwards, an unarmed teen who was a passenger in a car that had left a party.  Oliver was fired by the Balch Springs Police Department just days after the shooting for violating several departmental policies.  A Texas jury sentenced Oliver to 15 years in prison and imposed a $10,000 fine for the murder of the 15-year-old honor student.  The jury found Oliver not guilty on two counts of aggravated assault.

During the trial Oliver claimed that he fired at the car after seeing it move toward his partner, Officer Tyler Gross, and thought Gross’s life was in danger.  Officer Gross testified that he did not fear for his life and didn’t feel the need to fire his own weapon.  Oliver faced up to life in prison on the murder conviction.  Prosecutors were pushing for at least 60 years in prison, while defense argued for 20 years or less.  Oliver’s mother and wife asked for a lenient prison sentence.  His wife, Ingrid Llerena, testified that she’s concerned about their 3-year-old son, who is autistic, and the boy’s future without his father at home.

In April 2017, the police were responding to a call about a house party when they encountered Jordan, his brothers and his friends in their car, attempting to leave. The officers first claimed that the boys were “backing down the street toward officers in an aggressive manner,” before later retracting that statement and acknowledging that the teens had been driving away.

Police body cam video shows Oliver fired his assault rifle into the car carrying the five teenagers as they drove away from the officer, hitting Jordan in the head.  One of the car’s passengers says the officer never even ordered the boys to stop driving before opening fire. Edwards, was shot in the head as he was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car, along with his two brothers and two friends.

Jordan’s father Odell, said that his son Vidal, continued driving away so that no one else would be shot.  He stopped the car two blocks from the party and called his father while his two friends in the back seat called their parents.  “All I could hear was screaming and crying and the boys saying that police had just shot and killed Jordan.   Jordan Edwards was a freshman at Mesquite High School and a straight A student with a 4.0 GPA who played quarterback and receiver on the football team.  He lived in an upper middle class neighborhood in Balch Springs with his parents, two older brothers and younger sister.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson described Oliver as a “killer in blue” who violated his oath to protect citizens. Johnson said she wished Oliver’s sentence was much longer, but she respected the jury’s decision and realizes a guilty verdict for an officer is rare in police shootings. Charmaine Edwards said she would have preferred a sentence of 25 to 30 years for the killer of the stepson she raised.  “That was my exact thought: They gave a year for his age,” Edwards, said outside a Dallas County courtroom after the sentence was handed down.  “He can actually see life again after 15 years, and that’s not enough because Jordan can’t see life again.”

 

 

 

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Asia Argento Allegedly Paid Off Sexual Assault Accuser

Asia Argento Allegedly Paid Off Sexual Assault Accuser

 

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A New York Times report revealed that Italian actress Asia Argento recently quietly paid former co-star Jimmy Bennett $380,000 after he accused her of sexually assaulting him in 2013, when Bennett was 17 and Argento was 37. The age of consent in the state of California is 18.  Argento emerged as a leader in the #MeToo movement after she was one of the first of more than 100 women to accuse disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape and sexual harassment.   The Times reports that she paid off Bennett months after she spoke out publicly against Weinstein and that it has seen the legal documents that lay out Bennett’s assault claims and the payments arranged between his lawyers and Argento’s.

Bennett’s lawyers sent a notice of intent to sue Argento to her lawyers in November, claiming that the sexual assault was so traumatic that it affected his mental health and stymied his acting career.  In the documents, Bennett claims that he arrived at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey to meet Argento in her hotel room on May 10, 2013, with a family member. Argento asked to be alone with Bennett and the family member left. Bennett claims Argento gave him alcohol and also showed him notes she had made on hotel stationery. She then proceeded to kiss him and perform oral sex before having intercourse with him.

The documents say that Argento then asked to take a number of photos with him. Photos of Argento and Bennett semi-clothed in bed, as well as an Instagram post of their faces taken on that day, were included in the notice of intent to sue.  Bennett’s lawyers claim that Argento presenting herself as a victim of sexual assault as well as taking a prominent role in the #MeToo movement triggered memories of his own assault, according to the legal documents.

Argento and Bennett worked together on the 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, which Argento also wrote and directed. Bennett, a 7-year-old at the time, played Argento’s son in the movie.  The two seemingly kept in touch on Twitter up until August 2012 and Instagram until May 2013, though Bennett’s Twitter account is no longer active.  Argento and Bennett referred to each other on social media as mother and son, a reference to their The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things characters, and he claims she was a mentor in the legal documents.

Bennett, now 22, had roles in the Star Trek reboot, Poseidon, Evan Almighty and Firewall. His lawyers claim that the assault affected him emotionally and was detrimental to his career. Since the incident, Bennett only has a few film and TV credits to his name. Bennett’s attorney, Gordon K. Sattro, issued a statement on Monday, saying, “Jimmy is going to take the next 24 hours, or longer, to prepare his response. We ask that you respect our client’s privacy during this time.”

Argento has denied the assault allegation in a statement saying that Bennett tried to extort her and that her then-boyfriend, the late Anthony Bourdain, offered the payoff to make the situation disappear. “I am deeply shocked and hurt having read the news that is absolutely false,” she said, in part. “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennet.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on MI State Health Director’s Case Will Go To Trial Over Flint Water Crisis

MI State Health Director’s Case Will Go To Trial Over Flint Water Crisis

 

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Michigan’s state health director Nick Lyons is facing trial for involuntary manslaughter over the deaths of two men amid an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint after the city switched its water supply to the Flint River in an attempt to save money.  The Flint region’s 2014-2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened another 79 people.  Michigan has admitted 12 people died in the outbreak, but a recent report by PBS “Frontline” has found the death toll from the water crisis in Flint may be higher than Michigan officials have acknowledged.

Judge David Goggins issued a ruling sending Nick Lyon’s criminal case to a full trial, meaning the judge believes there is enough valid evidence for a jury to consider.  The ruling came at the end of a 10-month preliminary hearing that started in September and wrapped up in early July after more than 25 days of testimony.  Lyons is the highest-ranking state official to face charges so far over Flint’s water-poisoning crisis.  He’s also being charged with willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office for the deaths of John Snyder and Robert Skidmore.  The involuntary manslaughter charge is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Lyon’s felony misconduct in office charge is for allegedly obstructing academic researchers from studying the outbreak, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Both men allegedly died from Legionnaires’ disease caused by Flint switching its drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.  They did not ensure that the water was properly treated to prevent corrosion in old plumbing. This caused lead and other metals to leach into the water, exposing residents and risking permanent neurological damage to local children.  The improper water treatment also interfered with disinfectants and caused the release of iron and other bacterial nutrients into the water, which can spur the spread and growth of Legionella bacteria. When those germs are aerosolized and inhaled from sources such as hot showers, humidifiers, and water coolers, they can cause a deadly form of pneumonia called Legionnaire’s disease.

Flint experienced a surge in Legionnaire’s disease after the water switch, with cases totaling around 100 and leading to at least 12 deaths, including Skidmore and Snyder’s. Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention genetically linked the bacteria infecting patients to those found in the city’s water.  Prosecutors argued Lyon, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director, waited too long to alert the public to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint during the water crisis. He allegedly knew about the outbreak in early 2015 but waited nearly a full year before alerting the public.  Both men were said to be healthy and active prior to their hospitalizations.   Lyon’s defense attorneys argued he was not negligent in the men’s deaths and that prosecuting a public official who did his best amid a wide-ranging crisis would have a chilling effect on other public employees doing their duties.  They pointed out Skidmore and Snyder “would have received the same medical treatment” even if Lyon had made an announcement sooner.

In a statement issued after the ruling, Governor Rick Snyder praised Lyon’s work during the Flint water crisis and said Lyon would remain on the job as Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director during the trial.  An additional 14 current or former state and local officials have been criminally charged in connection with the water issues.

State officials now say that the city’s water meets federal standards for lead and other contaminants but the water can still pick up toxic ingredients from contaminated pipes. For now, residents need to continue drinking bottled or filtered water until the city’s plumbing is replaced, which the city is working to do by 2020.

 

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on PA Grand Jury Report Exposes Diocese Sexual Abuse and Cover up

PA Grand Jury Report Exposes Diocese Sexual Abuse and Cover up

 

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A Pennsylvania a grand jury report revealed how more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused over 1,000 children and possibly thousands more over seven decades and that the church leadership covered up the abuse. The report chronicles how the church used an array of tactics to conceal the abuse, including lying to the community about why a priest was removed from the parish, transferring pedophile priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in a “secret archive.”

The report also details how priests raped young girls and boys, including one priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out. Another priest impregnated a young girl and then arranged for her to have an abortion. One priest who had been repeatedly accused of child abuse asked for—and received—a letter of recommendation to work at Disneyland.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said “Today, the most comprehensive report on child sexual abuse within the church ever produced in our country was released,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Pennsylvanians can finally learn the extent of sexual abuse in these dioceses. For the first time, we can all begin to understand the systematic cover up by church leaders that followed. The abuse scarred every diocese. The cover up was sophisticated. The church protected the institution at all costs.”  “The term ‘secret archives’ is not my term. It is how the church officials themselves refer to the troves of documents sitting in filing cabinets, just feet from the bishops’ desks. In each diocese, the bishops had the key to the secret archives, which contained both allegations and admissions of the abuse and the cover-up.”

The 884-page document, two years in the making, exposed the predators and the efforts of their bishops to protect them.  Several clergy abuse victims who had testified before the grand jury attended Shapiro’s news conference and at least one of them could be seen breaking down in tears.

In a statement issued Thursday—two days after the grand jury delivered its report—Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke described the abuses as criminal and morally reprehensible.  “There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow. The Holy See treats very seriously the work of the grand jury and the report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors. The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. The acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and, in many cases, also their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from the past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

The Vatican told victims Pope Francis “is on their side” and promised action to “root out this tragic horror.” The statement came just months after the pope said he mishandled a Vatican investigation into widespread sexual abuses by clergy in Chile, and less than two months after a Vatican court sentenced the church’s former ambassador to Washington, D.C., to five years in prison on a child pornography charge.

 

 

 

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