Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Eve massacre causes grief in Mexico as well as Covina, CA

Minutes before the Christmas Eve attack, the extended Ortega family had exchanged holiday greetings with relatives in their native Torreon, Mexico.

By Hector Becerra December 30, 2008 - LA Times

As they had for years, the two families -- one in the city of Torreon in Mexico, the other in Covina -- called each other late Christmas Eve on a two-way radio. In Covina, about 25 people -- Joseph and Alicia Ortega, their five children and their grandchildren -- celebrated.

In Mexico, about 35 of their relatives celebrated at the home of Lilia Llamas Sotomayor, their niece. It was about 11 p.m. Amid the revelry, family members clicked a button on the radio and took turns wishing each other Christmas greetings.

"We did that every year. We were always used to calling each other on the radio," Llamas Sotomayor, 51, said. "This year, it was my turn to host the party. It was, 'How are you? We're all together here. How are you over there?' They were happy, and we were happy." Llamas Sotomayor said it was the next day, Christmas Day, that her nephew Charles Jr. called her brother Ernesto in Torreon to tell him about what had happened just minutes after the festive conversations that traversed the radio and two countries.

Charles told his uncle that his grandparents, Joseph and Alicia Ortega; his father, Charles Sr.; his mother, Cheri; his uncle James and his wife, Teresa; his aunt Sylvia; and his aunt Alicia and her 17-year-old son, Michael, had been killed.

"It was horrible. We still can't believe it," Llamas Sotomayor said in a phone interview from Torreon, in the central Mexican state of Coahuila. "We talked to them minutes before this happened." They were stunned to learn that Sylvia's ex-husband, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, had dressed up as Santa Claus, shot an 8-year old niece in the face and then killed nine of their loved ones, burning to the ground a home that had become familiar to them over many years.

Suddenly, an act of violence in a Los Angeles suburb had become a painful event for residents of a city in central Mexico, a reminder of the close bonds that remain between Mexican immigrants in California and their families back home.Relatives in Torreon held a Mass for their U.S. relatives over the weekend. They had been used to visits by their American uncles, cousins and nephews. They in turn frequently visited the elder Ortegas' home in Covina. But now relatives in Torreon were traveling to Los Angeles to attend a mass funeral and to help figure out how best to care for the surviving children.

Joseph, 80, and Alicia, 70, visited Torreon at least twice a year. Alicia was born in Torreon. Joseph was born in the U.S. but his parents were from Torreon. In an interview with a reporter for El Siglo de Torreon newspaper, Consuelo de Dorantes, a sister of Alicia Ortega, described the day her sister and Joseph Ortega fell in love. While visiting his parents in Mexico in 1955, Ortega saw Alicia in front of her parents' home and said, "I'm going to marry her." He wooed her for several months before they married in Torreon. Then they moved to L.A. But the families kept in touch.

De Dorantes told the Mexican newspaper that every third Monday of the month, Alicia Ortega would call her and her sister Lilia -- Llamas Sotomayor's mother -- in Torreon. "Hola, hola, how are you?" she would greet them cheerfully before embarking on hours-long conversations, De Dorantes recalled. When their U.S. relatives visited, they would be served their favorite foods, including chile rellenos, mole, pozole and flavored shaved ice. "The whole family shook with happiness whenever they came," De Dorantes told El Siglo.

The elder Alicia's family in Torreon, the Sotomayors, were relatively well-to-do and well-known, with many in the family running successful businesses. Some sent children to study abroad in Canada and Scotland. Most of the younger Sotomayors spoke English, gleaned both from studying and from travel, Llamas Sotomayor said.

Joseph and Alicia Ortega had brought some of that business savvy with them, opening a shop where industrial parts were painted. Some of their children worked at the shop, and eventually one of their sons, Charles Sr., took over operations of the business, with help from his young son. "He was my uncle's right hand," Llamas Sotomayor said Monday, referring to Charles Sr. "He was always worried about them. They didn't travel if Charlie didn't go. Every time they came, Charlie came with them." Charles and his wife, Cheri, had five children; the eldest, Charles Jr., is in his early 20s, Llamas Sotomayor said.

Also killed in the attack was James Ortega, who was Joseph and Alicia's oldest child.Both of the Ortegas' sons were killed Christmas Eve.The Ortegas had three daughters, two of whom were also killed. One of them was Alicia Ortiz, who was killed with her 17-year-old son, Michael. "She was very strict. Her children spoke perfect Spanish, they wrote it and read it very well. She educated them very well. She wasn't a scolder, but she was strict about their study. She wanted them all to be very good," Llamas Sotomayor said, adding that she thought Alicia may have been a school nurse.

Sotomayor said some of her own siblings would take trips with the Ortegas and their children to Las Vegas, or go camping in the mountains. Sometimes, family in Mexico and the U.S. agreed to meet in different locations, such as Cancun, to get together.

About three years ago, many relatives in Torreon traveled to L.A. to celebrate Joseph and Alicia Ortega's 50th wedding anniversary. "We had a big fiesta. Everyone here went there," Llamas Sotomayor said. "That family had an energy that was very impressive, that didn't stop. They were very happy. They traveled a lot. They took trips to stay united."

Satna gunman who massacred ex-wife's family planned more terror

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The man who police say dressed as Santa Claus and killed nine people at a Christmas Eve party may have also had plans to kill his mother and his former wife's divorce attorney, police said Monday night.

Prime suspect Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, who police said committed suicide hours after he went on a shooting rampage and started a raging house fire in the Los Angeles suburb of Covina, left a rental car with a gasoline canister inside outside the home of attorney Scott Nord, said Pat Buchanan of the Covina Police Department.

Police previously said that Pardo targeted his rampage at his former wife, Sylvia Ortega Pardo, and her family at the family's Christmas Eve party.

A divorce between the two was finalized in court on December 18 in a "somewhat contentious proceeding," Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said last week. Police believe Pardo planned to carry out a similar attack at Nord's house as he did at the shooting and house fire that claimed nine lives.

Another rented car that Pardo used to flee the scene was found booby-trapped after the shooting, police said. That car burned as the Covina bomb squad was trying to disconnect an explosive device in it, police said.

On Saturday, Covina police released the names of the nine people unaccounted for since the shooting and fire. Nine bodies were recovered from the rubble of the house, but authorities said that they are having to work with dental records to establish identities.

"The bodies were so badly burned they cannot be identified any other way," said Covina police Lt. Pat Buchanan.

The nine unaccounted for include Sylvia Pardo, her parents, her sister, her two brothers, both brothers' wives, and a nephew. Ages of the nine range from 17 to 80, police said.

On Monday night, police said Pardo's mother had also planned to attend the Christmas party, but didn't go because she was sick. Pardo had a contentious relationship with his mother, according to Buchanan, because she attended the couple's divorce hearing and had sided with Pardo's ex-wife.

The shooting and fire left 10 children orphaned and three others lost one parent. An "Ortega Family Fund" has been set up at Nord's law offices.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Marianne Mollmann - Biden and Clinton should champion rape victims' rights

By Marianne Mollmann

I have a project for Joseph Biden and Hillary Clinton to work on together: ending impunity for rape. Rape-conviction rates are appallingly low across the globe. I don't mean only in countries that many would think of as lacking good justice systems: Conviction rates hover just above 10 percent of complaints filed in the United States and are a measly 6 percent in Britain. Because the vast majority of rape victims don't file complaints, it does not take precise studies or statistics to conclude that most sexual assaults in most parts of the world end without punishment for the perpetrators.

Over the years, in the course of my work at Human Rights Watch, I have spoken with dozens of rape victims around the world, read rape-related court files from many countries and scrutinized legislation. Although most people agree that rape is bad, legislation and government action on sexual crimes are not always that clear. Indeed, rape seems to be graded on a scale from "unconscionable" through "bad luck" to "much deserved." Exactly where a particular incident falls on that scale often seems to depend on factors that include family status, sobriety and ethnicity. In all too many cases, laws and judicial systems have determined that forced sex is not really rape.

To understand this better, consider this short list of successful defenses:

It's not rape if she is my wife.

Marriage is perhaps the most commonly used cover for rape, so internalized that many women themselves seem to accept it. When I asked a woman in the Dominican Republic in 2004 if her husband ever forced her to have sex, she shrugged and said: "I guess he is a bit violent. He rapes me at times." Unfortunately, this atrocity is often sanctioned by law. Some countries, such as Ethiopia and Indonesia, define rape as something that happens only outside of marriage. In many others, rape is defined more broadly but is interpreted by courts and police as excluding marital rape. The logic can be applied after the fact, too: Several countries, including Brazil and Libya, exonerate a perpetrator of rape if he agrees to marry the victim.

It's not rape if she is my daughter.

Though unconscionable to many, incest is seen in some countries as either unfortunate or not all that forced. In Mexico, for example, the rape of a teenage girl by her father is defined as voluntary until it is proved otherwise. Under most state criminal codes in Mexico, incest is considered a crime against the family, not against the physical integrity of the victim, and the underage victim is initially considered as much a criminal as the adult perpetrator.

It's not rape if she was drunk.

Over the years, Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented how prosecutors and courts are likely to treat testimony by rape victims with more suspicion than testimony regarding other types of crimes. Routinely, women are aggressively questioned about whether the intercourse was really involuntary, whether the victim somehow provoked or deserved the assault, and whether the assault even occurred. The mistrust is particularly pronounced when the victim admits to being anything other than completely sober before or during the attack. The frenzied media coverage in England last year of a controversial proposal to change the burden of proof in rape cases appeared to perpetuate the belief, which seemed to be widely held, that a drunk rape victim "had it coming."

It's not rape if my culture mandates intercourse.

When the presumed next president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, stood trial on rape charges in 2006, he bolstered his defense with references to tradition and culture. Zuma testified that his accuser had signaled her arousal by wearing a knee-length skirt to his house and sitting with her legs crossed. He said that it is unacceptable in Zulu culture not to proceed to a sexual encounter once a woman is aroused. Zuma was acquitted, but regardless of the outcome, it is troubling that a high-level politician in any country, much less a country with epidemic levels of sexual violence, peddles the notion that women may mean yes even when they say no.

Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton can change this. During his time in the Senate, Biden has championed draft legislation that would make violence against women a foreign relations priority for the United States, through, for example, supporting legislative reform abroad and a victim-centered approach to violence. As a senator, Clinton supported this legislation.

As vice president and secretary of state, Biden and Clinton could make central to U.S. foreign policy the fight against perpetrators' getting away with rape and other forms of violence against women. They should start by creating a coordinating office at the State Department to build on this work. Rape is bad no matter what country it takes place in, whatever the age or marital status of the victim. There is no other way to look at it.

Sexual activity peak between Christmas and New Year's Day

By Frank Greve McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — 'Tis the season for making whoopee.

The Christmas-New Year's period produces a year-high spike in sexual activity and conceptions in the United States, according to biorhythm researchers and makers of sex-related products.
They attribute the increase to holiday leisure and New Year's resolutions to have children. New Year's irresolution fueled by alcohol and partying is another contributing factor.

"Right before New Year's Eve is our highest sales peak," said David Johnson, group product manager for Trojan brand condoms, the leading U.S. seller.

As expected, the holiday urge surge also expresses itself as a peak in U.S. births in September, according to David Lam of the University of Michigan's Population Studies Center in Ann Arbor.

Holiday intimacies aren't just an American rite, according to Gabriele Doblhammer of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany. Heavy Christmas-New Year's sex "is characteristic of all Christian cultures in which it has been evaluated," she and co-researcher Joseph Lee Rogers found.

A quartet of British public health researchers went so far as to liken the Christmas-New Year's period to a "festival on fertility" in a 1999 article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Such festivals, they wrote, are "associated with increased opportunities for socializing and a generally more hedonistic approach to life."

Recognizing the risks entailed, the British Health Education Authority once ran a condom ad before New Year's with the tag line: "Just in case old acquaintances aren't quite forgot."
What about the notion that spring is the season of love?

Among partners chronically pressed for time, intimacy flourishes in the rare leisure of three-day weekends, analysts said. Accordingly, the long July Fourth, Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends also produce spikes in condom sales, Trojan's Johnson said.

So does the run-up to Valentine's Day, he added.

"And before Mother's Day, there's a small peak."

The centrality of holidays to the timing of conceptions in the United States is relatively new, Till Roenneberg, of the Institute for Medical Psychology at the University of Munich, said in an interview.

Until the 1930s, fluctuations in temperature, sunlight and humidity yielded much larger seasonal fluctuations in U.S. conception, he said. They still do in less developed countries. In industrialized countries, Roenneberg continued, people increasingly are shielded from sunlight by indoor work and from temperature and humidity variations by heating and air conditioning.

Once the natural fluctuations, which influence human sperm and egg quality, are muted, lesser factors such as three-day weekends become visible, he said. Roenneberg's findings derive from studies of birth date trends in 166 regions of the globe. The data come from as early as 1669 and total more than 3,000 years of human experience.

Father helps catch peeper at college bathroom

(Original Post 5-2-08)

A voyeur who took pictures of women in the bathroom at Santa Fe Community College was arrested after an 18 year old student noticed feet in the stall next to her and she told her father.

The woman's father told police that he saw a man walking out of the women's restroom just before his daughter came out. He followed the man to his car and wrote down the license plate.
Police said that voyeurism just became a crime in New Mexico in the last year.

James McDow, of Glorieta, was charged with voyeurism. It became a crime last year in New Mexico, and that many voyeurs progress to more serious sex crimes, according to Sheriff Greg Solano.

"A lot of these type of voyeurism cases progress on to things like rape and other sexual crimes. So, this allows us to catch on to them before they progress onto larger felonies."

(Update 12-27-08) On December 10, McDow was sentenced to 364 days of supervised probation, and banned from schools and libraries. State District Judge Stephen Pfeffer also ordered alcohol and drug testing 3 times a week.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Austin teacher charged with sexual encounters with 18 year old student

(Original Post 5-16-08)

Allen Cole, a 34 year old teacher at Travis High School in Austin, was arrested on charges of having sex with an 18 year old girl. Another student reported the relationship.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by KXAN.com, the student told police she had met Cole, 34, several times at his apartment between May 6 and May 10. The student told police she had sex with Cole more than 20 times over that 5-day period.

Police confirmed the girl's details of Cole's living room and bedroom. He's charged with improper relationship between a teacher and a student, a class 2 felony in Texas.

(Update 12-26-08) 10 days ago, Cole was sentenced to 4 years on probation, 200 hours of community service, a $1000 fine, and a permanent ban from teaching in any state or contacting his victim. The info is via Assistant District Attorney Allison Benesch.

Connecticut woman pleads guilty to poisoning husband; gets 15 years in prison

(Original Post 9-14-08)
A wife plead guilty Friday to poisoning her husband with antifreeze, then hiring a hitman to try and kill him plead guilty to attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and inciting injury to a person. Jennifer Ratti, 28, from Coventry, CT plead in Judge Terence A. Sullivan's courtroom.

She was first arrested in April 2007, after her husband, Joshua Ratti, told Coventry police that he feared his wife was poisoning him.Joshua Ratti had been approached by one of his wife’s co-workers, who told him that Jennifer had been talking about killing him, Vernon State’s Attorney Matthew Gedansky said Friday.

Jillian M. O’Connor, 28 was approached in York Correctional Institution by Jennifer, which houses both prisoners convicted of crimes as well as those accused of them. O'Connor faces charges related to this case.

Joshua Ratti spoke during Friday’s proceedings in Vernon Superior Court, saying he had discovered that his wife was having an affair and had asked for a divorce. She then began to lace his sandwiches with rat poison and put antifreeze into beverages that she served him, he said.After approaching police, Joshua Ratti was taken to a hospital, where the determination was made that he had been poisoned, according to a police affidavit.

On March 30, 2007, Joshua Ratti called Coventry police and asked for a drug test, prosecutor Matthew Gedansky told the court. Ratti told police he hadn't been feeling well and thought his wife might be trying to poison him.

He ended up at the University of Connecticut Health Center, where ethylene glycol — an ingredient of antifreeze — was found in his system, Gedansky said. He suffered from renal failure, his mother later told the court. Although Jennifer Ratti initially denied involvement in her husband's illness, she eventually turned over containers of antifreeze and ant and roach killer, Gedansky said.

He said he has suffered from sleeplessness, nervousness, and a loss of quality of life since the incident. Because his wife tried to kill him multiple times, Joshua Ratti said, he fears for his life.

"Please accept this sentence, so I can try to get on with my life...I no longer feel safe. I don’t want to live in fear anymore because of what she did.”

A criminal restraining order prohibits contact between the victim and the defendant. The probable sentence will be 10 years in prison followed by 5 years of probation.

While Mr. Ratti found out that his wife could not be trusted, he had the support of his mother Deborah at the hearing, who told the court about more effects.

"He sleeps with a pistol at his bedside. He has been so tired from lack of sleep, she said, he twice dozed at the wheel and was involved in car accidents. Please enable my son to have a safe life back."

(Update 11-15-08) Judge Terence A. Sullivan rejected the plea deal stating that 10 years wasn't enough for the severity of the crime against Joshua Ratti. "I can't accept the sentence. It simply is not adequate to reflect the nature and the seriousness of the crimes. I've gone through this pre-sentence investigation report diligently. Unfortunately, each time that I read it, it doesn't get any better. It is a very striking description of what can only be described as a cold-blooded attempt to commit a murder."

The report, which is not a public document, indicates that the 28-year-old Ratti, a former Coventry resident, is "not remorseful" and "doesn't seem to care about what she's done," Ratti's public defender, Lisa Bennett, said. Bennett disagreed with the writer's conclusion, telling the judge that Ratti does understand the severity of what she has done. "She's absolutely remorseful for the harm she's done," Bennett said.

Jennifer Ratti said, "I want you to know how sorry I am. I wish I could take back what I did to you," but Judge Sullivan ordered Bennett and Tolland State's Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky to come back December 5, for either a longer sentence under a plea, or a trial if the plea is thrown out.

(Update 12-26-08) Jennifer Ratti was sentenced to 15 years in prison on December 5, and accepted the revised plea agreement even though it will cost her an extra 5 years in prison.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

SC mother believes missing 31 year old daughter dead

Associated Press Writer

When Susie Fernandez drives, she tries to glimpse every face in passing cars. In stores, she glances at people in aisles and checkout lines. She's been doing it ever since her daughter, a nurse and devoted mother of a little boy, vanished in September.

"You try to have faith," said Fernandez, who fears her 31-year-old daughter is dead. "Not knowing what happened is just unbearable. It just consumes your life. You just have this pain in your heart that won't go away."

The sharpest pangs come from two thoughts: Fernandez said she believes she knows who is responsible for her daughter's disappearance, and she doesn't feel anybody outside her family is paying attention.

"At times, it seems like no one really cares except us," Fernandez, 47, said recently as she sat in her living room, surrounded by photos of her four children and grandson, Jamel Good Jr.

Maria Fernandez was last seen Sept. 3. Her boyfriend - the father of her son - initially told police he picked her up from work that day. But authorities say Jamel Good's story is muddled. He hasn't been charged, but Union County sheriff's investigators say Good is a "person of interest" in the disappearance and is not cooperating.

His attorney, Thomas White, disagrees. "He's been cooperative with them. There's no evidence that links him to any kind of crime," White said.

Meanwhile, Fernandez's relatives have been frustrated by a lack of new information.
In their minds are details of how authorities handled another missing persons case in the area.

When Susan Smith told police in 1994 that a man stole her car with her two children inside, a large-scale manhunt ensued. Investigators later discovered Smith had killed the boys.
"Where are all those officers now?" said Fernandez's aunt, Toni Davis, 42. "Where is the media?"
While thousands of people go missing each year, cases involving white children or attractive white women typically are the ones that attract media attention. Experts say it takes a passionate advocate to bring attention to a case involving a black person, such as Fernandez.
So her mother has been trying to get people interested. Susie Fernandez has posted fliers asking anyone with information to contact police. She's offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Inside her house, off a busy road leading to this small city in north-central South Carolina, Maria Fernandez's three siblings recently listened as their mother recounted her daughter's life.
Fernandez was a popular nurse at the Ellen Sagar Nursing Home and at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, working two jobs to support her son. She worked long hours, but was at the school bus stop with the boy every morning.

Susie Fernandez said her daughter dated Good for nearly nine years and was living with him at his father's house. But in early September, Maria spent several nights at her mother's home, saying she was leaving Good because he refused to get a job.

On Sept. 3, Good picked up Fernandez at her mother's house because her car was in the shop. He drove her to the nursing home and when her shift ended at 2:30 p.m., Good was waiting.
And that's when the story gets murky.

Authorities say Good told police they went together to look at a new house. Later, Good said he dropped Fernandez off at his father's house and left. When he returned hours later, she was gone.

Numerous attempts to contact Good and his father, who authorities say live together, were unsuccessful. No one answered the door at the house on two visits. An answering machine said it wasn't accepting messages. White said that he hasn't heard from his client in two months, but that police know everything his client knows.

Good has been convicted of several crimes in the past 10 years: driving with a suspended license, drug possession and writing a fraudulent check. With each case, he either received a suspended sentence, probation or a small fine.

Sheriff's investigator Terry Humphries said police don't have enough evidence to charge anyone. He said police have searched several locations and found pieces of Maria's broken cell phone on a roadside.
Humphries said Fernandez would not have willingly left her son.

"She was totally dedicated to her child. There was no way she could leave him behind," he said.
Meanwhile, Fernandez's relatives say they are unable to see Jamel Good Jr. because his father has custody and refuses to let them visit.

As she was preparing for church one recent Sunday, Susie Fernandez dropped to her bed and began sobbing. Her 12-year-old daughter embraced her, whispering, "It's OK, momma. She's in a better place."

Later, looking out her front door, Fernandez brushed back a tear.
"There are so many nights I just wonder: Where are you? What happened?" she said. "I just want to bring my baby back home."

Aussie pimp of Thai women 1st to be convicted of trafficking in women in Australia

From News.Com.Au

Tristan Swanwick

A GOLD Coast hairdresser who forced two Thai women into sexual slavery to pay off debts to violent loan sharks has been jailed for five years.Keith William Dobie, 48, was the first person in Australia charged with people trafficking under new laws brought in two years ago to clamp down on international sex slavery.

The former hairdresser yesterday pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court to two counts of people trafficking, one count of handling proceeds of crime, and four counts of presenting false documents.

Dobie lured the women to Australia to work as prostitutes with promises of easy money and generous working conditions, but turned into an abusive and demanding pimp after they arrived, the court was told.

Prosecutor Peter Flanagan, SC, said Dobie secured visas for the women by presenting false immigration documents to Australian officials in Thailand.He said Dobie was desperate to pay back money he had borrowed from Gold Coast loan sharks to finance his hairdressing salon and gambling addiction.

The women were both mothers and saw the trip as an opportunity to set up their families financially, Mr Flanagan said.But on arriving on the Gold Coast, the women were forced to see as many as five clients a day, even when they were in physical pain from frequent sex and were menstruating.

Mr Flanagan said Dobie earned up to $1000-a-day from the women, giving them the use of a room and $20 dollars a day for food and expenses in return.He sent as little as $600 in total to each of the womens' families.

Mr Flanagan said Dobie was verbally and physically abusive, telling one of the women she "had to work whether she liked it or not", and told them they would be arrested by immigration officials if they tried to escape.

Judge Leanne Clare told Dobie his treatment of the women had been "particularly demeaning and callous".

"Your true intention was to make as much money from these women by working them as often as possible so you could pay off your own debts," she said."

In your numerous appearances before me I have seen no indication of remorse for your crimes or the suffering they have caused."She sentenced him to five years. He will be eligible for parole after serving 22 months.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brian's Rant - Kudos to father trying to protect daughter from Drew Peterson

Brian's Rant

The last two times Drew Peterson married, his wives turned up missing or murdered. Someone’s grown daughter, sister, and friend was murdered, and all the hopes, dreams, and shared experiences they has with Stacy and Kathy came to a deadly end.

This father’s concern for his daughter is a pleasant break from situations where women have been isolated and targeted by adult sexual predators and abusive manipulative “partners.”

Parents have no legal authority after ages 18 or 21, but that does not mean the threat to safety ends. A parent’s role as protector lasts through life. Their sense of duty to their children does not diminish if they haven’t abdicated their moral authority or parental role.

Accountability needs to be reestablished in relationships before a restraining order or criminal charges are filed. Parental or other family involvement at the first sign of trouble would be a way to establish accountability before the situation escalates into criminal activity.

Abusive “partners” can be seen as someone who grooms a same (or similar age) partner into physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Murder would be the extreme expression of this. It is a fact that parental involvement in a minor’s life protects against sexual (and other abuse). When parents step into dangerous situations involving their grown kids, they are simply continuing the concern for their kids they had for the 1st 18 (or 21) years of their life.

Assuming the allegations involving Drew’s last two wives are founded, Peterson is a danger to younger twentysomething women in the same manner as a pedophile is a danger to 10 year olds. The danger isn’t expressed the same way with the wife killer and the molester, but they have a specific grooming method, specific power and control motives for their crimes, and destroy lives equally as effectively. A parent can choose to monitor the situation more closely, and this is what Mr. Raines appears to be doing.

Parents who stand back and sit idly by when sociopaths, sexual predators, or other abusers target their grown kids aren’t just abdicating their parental responsibility, but also an abdicating their common sense. Why in the hell would you do nothing when you see your grown child being brainwashed into believing that her abuser has her interest at heart?

This is what an abuser or other predator wants - lack of family support. Your protective role does not end at age 18. It is a big mistake to assume that children over 18 have the knowledge to protect against all threats at all times. They need someone on their side to protect against subtle tactics of abusive “partners” who have insinuated them into their lives.

If parental involvement in minor children’s lives protect against sexual predators, why can’t parental involvement in their grown child’s lives protect against abusive “partners?” It’s about the tension between the parents’ desire to protect their grown child and the desire to be on an adult footing by the grown offspring. The live and let live attitude is appropriate when there is no abuse of any type. If there is any risk of abuse, parents need to be parents again.

Some things don’t change. Abuse is abuse, and the difference between a rapist of women and a molester of 12 year old girls is the victims’ age ranges. Parents can intervene in DV situations, but too many times, they choose not to until it’s too late, because they focus on autonomy, but forget the safety, if not life, of their grown kids are at stake.

The difference in these perp’s mentalities are only the method of abuse, the way they pick targets, and the age range of a victim.

If there is a consequence of interfering in a grown child’s life, the consequence of a dead woman is much, much more serious that interfering in a grown child’s abusive relationship. Parents will live with the knowledge and shame that they could not have done more for their daughter before her abusive boyfriend/husband took her life.

If you see your daughter (or son with bruises) or a personality changed for the worse, it’s time to say “Get away from my child! (or sister, or friend)”. People with personality disorders and a lack of morals are everywhere, and as I’ve been saying, and not all of them target minors.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Woman's father - Stay away from my daughter, Drew Peterson!

A father has told Drew Peterson to get the heck away from his 23 year old child after an article appeared Thursday about his impending marriage to the young woman. Christina Raines, 23, is Peterson's 6th fiancee and will be his fifth wife if and when his last wife is officially declared dead.
The proposal happened sometime on the week of December 7 - 13, because Chris was spotted wearing a engagement ring Friday the 12th. Drew Peterson is the suburban Chicago (Bolingbrook, IL) policeman whose 4th wife, Stacy Peterson, has been missing since October 2007.

Until the body of Stacy is found or she is legally declared dead, Drew is still officially married to Stacy. After Stacy’s disappearance, Drew Peterson’s 3rd wife Kathleen’s body was exhumed. The cause of Kathleen’s death in March of 2004, originally thought to be suicide by drowning, was found to be murder after bruises were found on Kathy’s body.

The father, 53 year old Ernie Raines, isn't too happy.

"I said, 'You need to take that back. If you don't want to, I will,' " said Ernie Raines, 53. "I said, why would you want to marry someone like that anyway? He's my age for Christ's sake."

Ernie Raines said he and his daughter met Peterson at a Bolingbrook laundromat years ago, and that she has been friendly with him for months. Peterson has brought her roses, taken her to "Blue Man Group," promised to buy her a car and even autographed a book for him, Ernie Raines said.

Concerned about Peterson -- "I don't want a third one to come up missing" -- Ernie Raines said he drove to Peterson's house last month to "let him know that I'm here, that I'm around, that I know where he lives."

He said Peterson asked him, "Did you get my book?""We talked, I said, 'You know me, I'd kill for my kids, you know that,' " Ernie Raines said. "He told me: 'I will never do nothing to hurt your daughter, that's why I didn't put her name out.' "

Besides the suspicions about foul play and the last two wives Drew Peterson had, he also had a assault weapons charge filed against him. The unlawful use of a weapon charge stemmed from Peterson's ownership of a Colt AR-15 assault rifle taken from Peterson's job as a swat team member. The possession of the rifle would have been legal if the gun barrel was 16 inches or longer.

Judge Richard Schoenstedt threw out the weapons charge in November after prosecutors including Assistant State's Attorney John Connor failed to turn over evidence to help the Peterson defense try to prove that their client was a victim of a malicious prosecution.

On December 12, the Will County State Attorney's Office said through their spokesman Charles Pelkie that they appealed the decision to dismiss the case.

"We indicated right from the start that we planned to appeal this decision...We fully expect to win on appeal."

A timeline of the Peterson case can be found here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Grand Rapids, MI lawyer's killer gets 30 to 75 years

Kent County Circuit Judge James Robert Redford sentenced Kevin Elder, 46, to 30 to 75 years today for the stabbing death of his estranged wife Tina Partee-Elder, 41, a prominent Grand Rapids attorney, while her kids, 9 and 11, were home on August 21, 2007. Those kids were forced into the basement while Elder stabbed his victim in the throat, causing deep puncture wounds, according to the Kent County Medical Examiner.

Elder pled guilty to 2nd degree murder to avoid the mandatory life without parole sentence under Michigan law for 1st degree murder, and also to spare his stepkids from taking the witness stand.

Partee's former husband and the father of her children, Fabian Newland, her brother, Terry Partee, and Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Bramble told the judge the maximum 30-year sentencing guidelines for second-degree murder with the possibility of parole did not factor in the brutality of the knife attack.

Bramble said that the fatal stabbing "was not an isolated act of domestic violence," and Judge Redford stated that Partee-Elder, who worked as a public defender, then as a attorney in private practice, was a very accomplished lawyer and truly fine person."

Redford expressed chagrin that for the second week in a row, "it is my duty to sentence a man for murdering his wife. I cannot begin to comprehend how a man can do this."

Elder's statement describing his "sorrow" at the victim's death came across as self-serving and false to her mother and other relatives in court for the sentencing.

"I'm deeply ashamed, sorrowful and embarrassed by the whole situation. I understand your pain and hatred of me and all I can say is, I'm sorry ... . I was in such an incapacitated state, I murdered my wife. I didn't know who I was or where I was."

Elder had a good life before he lost his job two years ago and turned to drugs and alcohol, according to defense attorney Robert Mirque. The night of the murder, he was high on cocaine, according to his lawyer. Partee-Elder filed for divorce in June 2007 and by July had filed a restraining order.

After the sentencing, Bette Partee, the victim's mother, stated his statment was self-serving. "You see what a manipulator he is, even to the end? He doesn't care."

In the end, Judge Redford said that due to the murder, "you extinguished a bright light...Tina is a very accomplished lawyer and truly fine person."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Joffe loses license for sexual abuse of patients after weight loss surgery

Dr. Jacobo Joffe, a 59 year old general surgeon, had his medical licence revoked by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons after he was found guilty of the sexual abuse of four female patients he pursued "romantic" relationships with.

Joffe initially hugged and kissed the two women – identified only as Patient A and Patient B – and told them they were attractive, the panel was told. That summer he engaged in "sexual touching and kissing" with Patient A in his office. He told both women at a Christmas party they were "hot," kissed them on the lips and hugged them.

In January 2004 Joffe met both at a hotel, where he engaged them in sexual touching and kissing. He also later "engaged Patient A in oral sex as well as intercourse at her residence," according to disciplinary hearing documents.

Between January 2004 and 2006, according to the documents, Joffe continued to meet the two women, who were still his patients, at least every two weeks, engaging in sexual acts with them separately and together, in their home and his office.

He also used "illicit drugs" with them which he asked Patient A to buy, according to the documents.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

129 paramedics accused of preying on patients


DALLAS — They answer the call 24-7, often risking their own safety to rescue the sick and injured and rush them to the hospital. But some paramedics have been more predator than hero.
Over the past 18 months, at least 129 ambulance attendants across the U.S. have been accused of sex-related crimes on duty or off, an investigation by The Associated Press found. Some of them molested patients in the back of an ambulance.

“It’s a dream job for a sexual predator,” said Greg Kafoury, a Portland, Ore., lawyer who represents three women who were groped by a paramedic. “Everything is there: Women who are incapacitated, so they’re hugely distracted. Medical cover to put your hands in places where, in any other context, a predator would be immediately recognized as such.”

Across the U.S., emergency medical technicians have been accused in recent months of such crimes as rape, soliciting minors over the Internet and possession of child porn, according to an AP survey of the state agencies that oversee those professions.

Exactly how many of these EMTs were alleged to have committed their crimes on the job is unclear. But some of more shocking cases include:

— A Standish, Mich., paramedic sent to prison in March for molesting a girl who was on her way to the hospital after she was injured at her 15th birthday party.

— A Pinellas County, Fla., paramedic arrested in July after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in an ambulance en route to a hospital.

— A Chester County, Pa., paramedic sentenced in July to up to 20 years in prison for engaging in sex and providing alcohol to teenagers he befriended through their interest in emergency medical service.

— A Copperas Cove, Texas, paramedic awaiting trial in January on charges he exposed and touched an 18-year-old accident victim’s breasts while pretending to tend to her injuries.

— A Chattanooga, Tenn., EMT accused in a lawsuit of giving a 30-year-old woman an extra dose of morphine and then completely undressing her in the back of an ambulance even though her injuries were minor.

State health officials in 23 states reported receiving sex-related complaints involving EMS workers. New York reported the most complaints — 17. Thirteen of the complaints were substantiated and resulted in workers losing their certification.

Texas reported 13 complaints, Massachusetts 11 and Virginia 10. No breakdown was immediately available showing how many of those allegations involved sexual misconduct on the job.

Several EMS officials said the number of complaints is troubling but does not necessarily point to an industrywide problem. They noted that the profession employs nearly 900,000 people in the U.S.

“That number in and of itself doesn’t shock me, knowing the number of providers we have in the country,” said Steve Blessing, state EMS director in Delaware and president of the National Association of State EMS Officials. “Is even one case tolerable? I think most state directors would say no. But we’re bound by reality here.”

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sparta, MI man sentenced to life without parole for strangling wife

In the conclusion of a trial extensively covered in the Grand Rapids, MI area, Kent County Circuit Judge James Robert Redford sentenced a 32 year old man to life without parole December 8 for bludgeoning, then strangling his wife, then dumping her nude body on the side of a road in 2004. The body was discovered by a passer by in southern Montcalm County January 3, 2005.

Julia Dawson, nee Keenan, was murdered December 11, 2004 by her husband of three years in their Sparta, MI home, and the killing was made worse by the two kids she left behind, one from a previous relationship, and the fact that the slaying took place on her parents' wedding anniversary. She was finally vindicated by both the sentence and by the presence of her family members in the courtroom.

A jolt went through the packed courtroom when a child psychologist read statements written by the Dawson children.

"Why did you kill my mom?" wrote Kevin Terrell, Julia Dawson's 9-year-old son from a relationship prior to her 2001 marriage to Timothy Dawson. "I feel sad that I did not protect my mom from you," he wrote. "I want to take the name Dawson off my mom's headstone."

Brittany Dawson, Tim Dawson's 12-year-old daughter from his first marriage, also asked why. Why did Dawson try to take Julia and Timothy's son, Alex, away to Texas? Why did he kill the stepmother who had been kind to her?

Meanwhile, Dawson stated, to the chagrin of his victim's family members, that he was innocent. His attorney, Charles Rominger, plans to appeal the conviction.

"I'm innocent -- I did not commit this crime.I know one day that will be proven, and I hope that one day the pain is taken out of their hearts and God blesses them all. Thank you."

Kevin and Tamara Keenan, Julia's parents, felt in their speech before Judge Redford that the guilty verdict handed down last month and the mandatory life without parole sentence finally will give them a chance to celebrate their wedding anniversary, which will always fall on the same day their daughter died.

"I plan to celebrate my anniversary on Dec. 11. We haven't been able to celebrate our anniversary for four years, and this will be the first time I feel like I'll be able to smile on that day."

The Keenans are caring for their grandson Alex and plan to seek full custody of him. Tammy Keenan also had harsh words for the killer who took her daughter's life.

"Murder is not an accident; it is a choice -- a selfish, vicious, arrogant choice."

British university revewing professor student sex policies after nervous breakdown of 30-something student

A university is reviewing its policy on relationships between staff and students after an undergraduate had an abortion and a nervous breakdown following an affair with a lecturer.

By Alastair Jamieson Last Updated: 5:07PM GMT 07 Dec 2008

Warwick University is considering its stance in the wake of the romance between law professor Istvan Pogany, 57, and a mature student in her 30s.

The human rights expert began a relationship with the woman following the death of his wife.
The affair started in 2007 and the pair travelled abroad on holiday together. When the couple informed the university about their relationship, it advised the professor not to flaunt the affair or mark her papers.

The student fell pregnant in earlier this year and agonised over whether to have an abortion.
She is said to have cancelled a series of appointments before finally going through with a surgical termination and taking the remains home in a conical flask for a proper burial.

The burial is said to have taken place in the professor's back garden at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The affair led to an internet gossip campaign among students and staff and two website petitions, one praising Professor Pogany as a brilliant academic and another that accused him of abusing his position of power. Both online petitions have been removed.

The Hungarian-born lecturer, who teaches Human Rights and international law, is currently abroad on arranged study leave and is not due back to Warwick University until the beginning of January. When contacted for comment, he answered in Hungarian.
The student said: "I just want to put this behind me."

In a statement, Warwick University said: "The university is aware of a relationship between Professor Pogany and a student. We are aware that some institutions within the UK are moving towards the establishment of a code of conduct in respect of such matters and this is also presently under review at Warwick.

"We are mindful that the people involved are both adults and the university has to take this into account in the way it responds both to the situation itself, and also to enquiries about that situation.

"We take our responsibilities to both our students and staff very seriously.
"We are seeking to support and advise both the student and the member of staff. It is not possible to for us comment further without breaching the privacy of those individuals concerned."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

San Antonio teacher caught with his pants down

Paul D. Roberts, 42, was arrested and charged with an improper relationship between teacher and student. Roberts, who taught in San Antonio. TX at Jefferson High School, was caught after a male student saw him and a 18 year old female student engaged in sexual activity. The teacher told the male student to leave, but he came back with a custodian. The relationship, which started with flirting, escalated to touching, then sexual activity which occured around 3 PM in Roberts' classroom. The charge is a 2nd degree Texas felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.

Santa Cruz rapist who tried to get out of plea sentenced to life with parole eligibility

Michael Barnes, 41, was found guilty of raping a woman earlier this year, and after the 1st guilty verdict, Barnes pled guilty to raping the other two women he was charged with attacking. The District Attorney's Office let Barnes plead to a 24 year sentence versus the life sentence he would have faced if he had went to trail on the other cases. Judge Samuel Stevens sentenced him Friday morning in a Santa Cruz, CA, courtroom. The sentencing was scheduled for July, but Barnes filed a motion to withdraw previous guilty pleas, which was denied.

Nevertheless, according to Anthony Robinson, Barnes’ attorney, Barnes refused to admit guilt to some of the charges, but admitted to other things he pled guilty to.
"He said it's a sad situation and he feels really bad for everyone involved,” according to Robinson.

Prosecutor Andrew Isaac described the sentencing hearing as "dignified" and said there were no displays of vindictiveness or anger on the part of Barnes or the single victim who chose to attend.

The two other victims submitted "very moving statements about how they felt about the process," Isaac said, adding that they praised the support Santa Cruz police's victim/witness advocate, Julie Schneider provided to the three women.

"All three victims indicated how important the process and this resolution had been to their piece of mind," Isaac said.

In June, Barnes and convicted child molester Seth O'Connell allegedly were caught plotting to break out of County Jail. The pair apparently shredded jail-issue blankets and braided the strips into a rope. They had amassed about 40 feet of rope before correctional officers unraveled their plan. However, no charges were ever filed in connection with the alleged plot. Had they been convicted, the crime could have added four years to their prison sentence.

Barnes will be eligible for parole in 2029.

Nurse sentenced to life for murder for hire of husband

GATESVILLE, Texas — A prison nurse convicted in a plot to kill her ex-husband with the help of her boyfriend and teenage son has been sentenced to life in prison.

Leslie Megan Lewis-Grant was given the maximum punishment Saturday in the September 2007 death of James Michael Grant Sr., who was stabbed in his sleep before his son stomped on his chest.

John Tarrell Hopkins, the boyfriend who pleaded guilty to killing Grant, testified that Lewis-Grant thanked him repeatedly and said it was the nicest thing anyone ever did for her.
Jamie Grant, her 16-year-old son, pleaded guilty earlier this year to murder and is serving a 45-year sentence.

Lewis-Grant had told jurors she was abused repeatedly during her 13-year marriage. But the 44-year-old, who was convicted of murder, said she wasn't involved in the killing.

Hudson, WI caregiver accused of sexually assaulting patient

A 30 year old woman has been charged Monday, December 1 with 2nd degree sexual assault for having sex with a 56 year old mentally ill and chemically dependant man under her care in Hudson, WI, which is in St. Croix county, WI, not far from the Twin Cities. The sexual contact occured from May to September, according to the complaint. The suspect is the owner of the Heartview Inc. facility, and denies the more serious sex charges, but admits going into the victim's room and kissing him.

Carolyn Ann Lopez of Hudson had sexual intercourse on "numerous occasions" with the patient, now 56, the charges allege. He was being treated for mental illness and chemical dependency. Lopez indicated her duties included "one-to-one contact with residents, going to appointments, groups and shopping, and in getting to know the residents so that they could be appropriately matched with staff," the complaint said.

Lopez' next hearing in St. Croix County Circuit Court will be on December 12.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

19th anniversary of Montreal Massacre rememberances today

19 years ago today, a misogynist gunman shot 14 women engineering students to death in a hate fueled attack on women at the University of Montreal before killing himself. Today, vigils and rallies are being held across Canada, some of which are subsumed in the current political turmoil in that country.

Marc Lepine, then 25, killed 14 women engineering students and faculty at the L'ecole Polytechnique in Montreal after claiming that women took his place at the school. Since then, December 6 is Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The White Ribbon Campaign is also active in the fight against male violence against women.

Sciencewomen remembers the victims of the Montreal Massacre.

Genevieve Bergeron, 21, was a 2nd year scholarship student in civil engineering. Helene Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to take her master's degree.

Nathalie Croteau, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering.

Barbara Daigneault, 22, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and held a teaching assistantship.

Anne-Marie Edward, 21, was a first year student in chemical engineering. Maud Haviernick, 29, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials, and a graduate in environmental design.

Barbara Maria Klucznik, 31, was a 2nd year engineering student specializing in engineering materials.

Maryse Laganiere, 25, worked in the budget department of the Polytechnique.

Maryse Leclair, 23, was a 4th year student in engineering materials.

Anne-Marie Lemay, 27, was a 4th year student in mechanical engineering. Sonia Pelletier, 28, was to graduate the next day in mechanical engineering. She was awarded a degree posthumously.

Michele Richard, 21, was a 2nd year student in engineering materials.

Annie St-Arneault, 23, was a mechanical engineering student.

Annie Turcotte, 21, was a first year student in engineering materials.

The years after the Montreal Massacre featured a push for tougher Canadian gun control, culminating in a gun registry and improved police measures which minimized casulties at the Dawson College shootings in 2006 at Montreal. Greater representation of women engineers in Canada also was pushed as a goal for Canadians to achieve.

However, in Canada (and in all parts of the world), women are still under attack, especially by those who profess to "love" them. Renee, a womanist Canadian blogger, gives these stats:

In a report for Statistics Canada, completed by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statics that compiled a statistical profile in the year 2004, girls and women by far constitute the number of those who have been exposed to violent physical and sexual acts.

• In 2002 females accounted for 8-in-10 (85%) of all victims of spousal violence reported to the subset of police departments. Young females aged 25-to-34 experienced the highest rates of spousal violence.

• In 2002, girls represented 79% of victims of family-related sexual assaults reported to a subset of police departments

• In 2002, older females were more likely than their male counterparts to be victims of family-related violence. Of the approximate 1,100 older adult victims of violence by family members, about 700 (or 65%) were females. This is largely attributed to the fact that females make up the majority of victims of spousal violence.

• Males made up a large proportion of those accused in family violence against older adults, accounting for nearly 8-in-10 perpetrators. Approximately 22% of accused were males aged 65 or older, most often spouses and over one-third were between 35 and 54 years of age, typically adult children.

• Data from the Homicide Survey indicate that between 1993 and 2002, women were more at risk than men of being killed by their spouse (8 homicides per million couples compared to 2 homicides per million couples). The risk was also higher among younger and common-law spouses.

But the main thing is for men to remember that when you are dealing with a woman, you are dealing with someone's daughter, sister, and friend. Acts of abuse, even if not violent, are acts of power over women, not partnership with them.