Saturday, February 27, 2010

Man obsessed with college classmate kills her, is killed by police

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) – A man apparently infatuated with a special education teacher he knew from college shot and killed her as she walked into her elementary school Friday, shortly before students began arriving.

The suspect was killed in a shootout with a deputy a short time later about 10 miles away, said Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer. The man had been released on bail Monday after being arrested a week ago for violating a protective order the teacher, Jennifer Paulson, obtained in September 2008, said Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum.

The victim's father, Ken Paulson, said she was kind and loving, and that's probably why she was a special education teacher. He described the 30-year-old as a devout Christian. The father said the man who killed his daughter was Jed Waits, of Ellensburg. The two had apparently known each other since she was in college, when they worked together at a cafeteria at Seattle Pacific University.

In her petition for the anti-harassment order filed in Pierce County District Court, Paulson said she and Waits occasionally socialized with co-workers and friends outside of work as a group but "never had any sort of romantic involvement." She said she heard from Waits about once a year since she graduated from college in 2003, but on the days she heard from him, he would sometimes call 10 to 15 times in one day.

Then in spring 2008, he showed up at her school, walked into the building and passed the office, where he was stopped by a secretary. "I never told him where I work and do not know how he found out," Paulson wrote.

He also sent roses and a bear to her at the school. Paulson's principal called Waits' commander in the National Guard to inform him of the harassment, she wrote.

The anti-harassment order banned Waits from going within 1,000 feet of Paulson's home or school. But she saw him as she was leaving work Friday, so she called 911 from her car. Waits was arrested that night, and after he made bail, Paulson stopped staying at her home, at least temporarily, her father said. Fulghum said there had been no indication that Waits had a weapon or had threatened Paulson with a weapon, but it "sounds like he had a pretty good infatuation with her."

The shooting happened at Birney Elementary, which has about 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Classes were canceled for the day, and officials had not made a decision about Monday's classes.
The shooter was waiting for the teacher when she arrived at 7:35 a.m. and shot her multiple times as she was trying to enter the school, Fulghum said.

Omar Moreno, 22, who lives across the street from the school, said he heard three gunshots.

"I heard a teacher screaming at the top of her lungs — just screaming," he said. "I looked out my window and I saw the guy. He started running down the middle of the street and got in his car."

Moreno said the man, wearing a white snow cap and white gloves, drove off in a tan car. Soon after, Moreno said, a custodian barreled out of the school screaming for someone to call the police.

Moreno said he saw the victim laying on the ground, bleeding from the mouth. It was clear to him she had died, he said.

A deputy pulled over the suspect's car in the parking lot of a daycare, and he came out firing a handgun, Troyer said. The deputy returned fire and killed the man.  "We're lucky our guy's OK. The guy did have semiautomatic and did fire a round," Troyer told KCPQ-TV.

School district spokesman Dan Voelpel said Paulson worked in the language resource center helping students one-on-one with reading problems. She had been with the district since 2004 and at the school since 2007. Paulson's death "knocked everyone flat," Voelpel said. "It's going to hit this community hard."

The shooting occurred three days after a 32-year-old man with a history of mental illness opened fire in a middle school parking lot in Colorado, wounding two students.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Florida woman - sex predators target women as well as kids

This letter to the editor of the St. Petersburg (FL) Times shows the societal unwillingness to face up to the fact that sexual predators target women as well as kids. I agree 100% with this Florida woman's rant.

I cannot express enough how angry I am when I read an article like the one in the paper Wednesday regarding child sex offenders. The headline asks Have sex-offender laws made children safer? Instead I ask, Have they ever made women in Florida safer? The answer is no.

The term "sex offender" has been used by Florida politicians following the tragic death of Jessica Lunsford, and in turn by Florida newspapers. Such an emotionally charged term leads to the general public's immediate yet mistaken assumption that anyone legally registered as a sex offender is a child sex abuser, when in fact most registered sex offenders were convicted of sexually assaulting women.

I find it shameful that Jessica Lunsford's death resulted in an onslaught of politicians clamoring to be the first ones to show their support for a bill protecting Florida's youth. Does no one care enough about the incidence of rape against women in the state of Florida to think to protect them?

This article only barely addressed the issue of the misuse of the term "sex offender" as a catch-all term when it stated the concerns of Jennifer Dritt of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.

The council's Web site reports that 11,214 forcible sex offenses were reported in Florida in 2007 (statistics provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement) and only 3,064 arrests were made for said forcible sex offenses in 2007. The incidence of children as victims is significantly lower than that of women as victims.

All Floridians should look inside themselves and ask: What about the women of Florida? Don't they deserve protection against sex offenders too? This is an issue that our Legislature should address.

Stacey Kroto, Pinellas Park

MS college student killed by boyfriend gets justice

(Original Post 12-4-07)

Latasha Norman, 20, was found murdered after her ex-boyfriend led police to her body in the woods, which lay among debris and trash. The ex-boyfriend, Stanley Dwayne Cole of Greenville, MS, was interviewed by detectives Thursday [November 29, 2007], said Jackson Police Sgt. Jeffery Scott. She was last seen leaving classes at Jackson State University on November 13th [2007].

Norman had been allegedly attacked by Cole before her disappearance. Cole was charged with simple assault for allegedly hitting his ex, and Norman’s tires had been slashed with her license plate stolen. The disappearnce of Norman sparked candlelight vigils from classmates and an outpouring of support in Jackson.

(Update 2-26-10) Tuesday, February 23 saw justice done for LaTasha. After 2 1/2 hours of deliberation, a Hinds County, MS jury convicted Cole of murder, meaning that he will get an automatic life sentence. Hinds County Circuit Judge Swan Yerger denied a defense request for the option to convict the now 26 year old Cole on manslaughter charges, an option which would have exposed him to a maximum of 2 decades in prison.

During the trial, the fact that Norman was killed by Cole was never in dispute - only whether the killing qualified as manslaughter or murder. Now with the jury rendering a guilty verdict, may LaTasha finally rest in piece.

Australian ex-policeman gets 15 years for driving wife off pier in car

KATE HAGAN [The Australian Age]

February 26, 2010
A WOMAN who narrowly escaped death when her husband chained her inside his car and drove off a pier fears he will come after her when he is released from prison.

Former policeman Cameron Neil Cook, 44, was sentenced to 15 years' jail, with a minimum of 12 years, yesterday for a brutal four-hour attack on his wife that began at the couple's home at Cheltenham.

After private investigators confirmed his wife was having an affair, Cook pinned his wife to a bed and bound her hands, feet and mouth with tape before punching her in the face and calling her a whore.

He threatened her with a knife before chaining her to the rear seat of his car and driving to Mordialloc pier.As he drove at high speed into the water, he said: ''I'm sorry but I'm taking you with me. I am not going to let someone like you raise my son.'' However, the car landed in shallow water and the woman was able to free herself .

Sentencing Cook in the Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said he had shown no remorse over the 2007 attack and had said to a prison officer about his wife, ''She's a f---ing bitch, and when I get out of here I will do the job properly.''

Cook had also told his parents in various recorded conversations that his wife would ''get hers'' when he was released from custody.

Outside court yesterday, Cook's wife, who cannot be named, said she was scared about what would happen when Cook was released and she considered the possibility of him hurting her to be ''very real''. ''I'm just really relieved that it's over,'' she said. ''It's been a 2½-year legal battle.''

The woman said it had been difficult for her son, whom Cook had given a sleeping tablet before setting out to kill his mother. ''It's been tough for him, what a nine-year-old makes and understands out of this I really don't know,'' she said.

Justice Hollingworth called the attack on September 7, 2007, ''cowardly, violent and unprovoked'', and said Cook had left his wife with permanent physical and psychological injuries. Cook pleaded guilty to three charges, including attempted murder.

Justice Hollingworth said stories of people attacking partners out of jealousy or an inability to accept the end of relationships were ''all too common'', and general deterrence was relevant in sentencing. She said Cook did not seem to have accepted responsibility for his actions and was still hostile towards his wife.

Justice Hollingworth said such feelings might diminish with time ''or it may be that your feelings will intensify, as you sit in prison continuing to ruminate and obsess about your predicament and blame your wife for what happened.

''Your conduct was a completely inappropriate response to the breakdown of your marriage. It cannot be said that there is no real risk that you will try to harm your wife when you are eventually released from prison. The need for specific deterrence remains a very real sentencing consideration in this case.''

Justice Hollingworth was not swayed by defence arguments that Cook's time in jail would be more onerous because of restricted access to his son. ''You brutally attacked and tried to kill your son's mother after drugging the young boy and leaving him alone in the house; it is hardly surprising that one of the consequences of your actions has been some restriction on access to your son.''

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pasadena, MD teacher sentenced to probation for "relationship" with 17 year old student

An Anne Arundel County, MD teacher and coach who had a relationship with a 17 year old student was sentenced to probation yesterday. 29 year old Kristyn Breeds, formerly of Severna Park, currently of Lusby MD, was sentenced to 3 years of probation by Annapolis District Court Judge Thomas Pryal. The probation was offered "before judgement," which allows Breeds to get her record expunged if she stays out of trouble for 6 years.

Breeds faced a year in prison and a $1000 fine, a sentence which still could be handed down if Breeds continued to see her victim. "This relationship was inappropriate and unacceptable, but it was also illegal. This relationship cannot continue.”

The "relationship" started when Breeds and the victim attended Northeast High School in Pasadena, MD. The victim's mother, Celeste McDonald, grew suspicious last May, even though both her son and Breeds denied it.  Breeds kept the "affair" going by using a secret cell phone. The sexual exploitation ended after rumors started spreading around the high school in December.

McDonald said that "I did suspect they were a little bit closer than a normal student and teacher relationship was, but she was also like that with many of the students on the track team. She was their peer more than their mentor."

Breeds was pulled from the classroom on Jan. 4, and suspended when charged 10 days later with three counts of a fourth-degree sex offense. School officials will move to fire the former nominee for teacher of the year. When the teenager was questioned by police he initially tried to protect Breeds, Smith said. According to charging documents, Breeds told police that she and the 17-year-old had sex at the park-and-ride lot on Leelyn Drive in Severna Park, at her Severna Park home and at Queenstown Park.

Prosecutor Michelle Smith said the decision to accept the guilty plea was done to avoid retraumatizing the victim. "We did not want to have to basically retraumatize him by going forward in testimony, so I think it was appropriate that Ms. Breeds pled guilty, admitted what she'd done and it was inappropriate." Smith also said that the victim lied about his involvement to protect his teacher. "The student initially tried to protect Miss Breeds. It was apparent that he cared very much for her."

McDonald said that "The damage she caused in the family, the school and the community is deplorable. She had no right...If you only had just an inkling of what he is going through. I had to withdraw him from high school because of the stigma on him. He will thrive."

McDonald also told the perp that the respect she had from her track players was gone. "The kids on the track team who looked up to you - that's gone now. I am mad, I am mad. Oh my goodness, I am mad."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

18 year old accused of sexual coercion, blackmail of HS students pleads guilty in suburban MIlwaukee courtroom, gets 15 years prison

(Original Post 2-5-09)

An 18 year old man originally investigated for a bomb scare at the New Berlin High School was charged with sexual assault, and other offenses for coercing fellow male students into sex using Facebook. If found guilty on all charges, he faces 293 years in prison.

Anthony "Tony" Stancl, 18 was charged with posing as a girl to trick 31 boys, ranging in age from 13 to 19, into posing for nude pitcures. The boys, all Stancl's former classmates, were contacted through their Facebook pages. While posing as a girl, Stancl threatened to release the nude photos to the public unless the victims agreed to perform sex acts.

The sexual assaults occurred in 2008 in a bathroom at the high school, the school parking lot, a New Berlin Public Library restroom, parks and at some of the victims' homes, according to the criminal complaint. At least seven boys, 15 to 17, were forced into performing sex acts, the complaint says.
Police learned of Stancl's alleged activities after he was accused in a bomb threat that closed Eisenhower and one victim came forward to police.

Stancl, who was expelled after the bomb scare, is charged with a bomb threat, plus repeated sexual assault of same child (at least three violations of first- or second-degree sexual assault), possession of child pornography, second- and third-degree sexual assaults and five counts of child enticement.

The child porn charges stem from 600 photos of both commercial porn and about 300 photos/movie clips of the New Berlin victims found on Stancl's computer.

(Update 7-16-09) Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis lowered Stancl's bail from $250,000 to $75,000, a move which puts his release within reach. Defense attorney Craig M. Kuhary said that Stancl's parents were able to access $75,000 in their retirement funds. Stancl's parents will also pay the $20 per day electronic monitoring fee.

Kuhary said Stancl would like to get his high school diploma, possibly from New Berlin West or Waukesha County Technical College. Davis said he will allow Stancl to complete his education but he can be on school grounds only for scheduled purposes and with adult supervision.

Davis said Stancl would be allowed to go to the homes of his grandparents in West Allis and Hartland, his attorney's office, police departments and court. Stancl would not be permitted to use the library, access the Internet, or possess a cell phone.

District Attorney Brad Schimel objected to the bail reduction due to the severity of the charges and the potential maximum sentence in convicted. The New Berlin School District, through its Superintendent Paul Kreutzer, released a statement saying, in its entirety, "Mr. Anthony Stancl, under no circumstances, will be involved at any level with the School District of New Berlin."

GQ has a story, "Sextortion At Eisenhower High," which gives much more background into this case.

(Update 12-22-09) Tony Stancl pled guilty before Waukesha County Circuit Judge James R. Kieffer to 2 counts of sexual assault on a child in a Waukesha County, WI courtroom today. 10 other charges against him were dropped by prosecutors as a result of the plea agreement. District Attorney Brad Schimel is asking for a substantial prison sentence, which could be as long as 30 years with 20 years of extended supervision after release. If Stancl had went to trial and been convicted on all charges, he would have faced 176 1/2 years in prison.

Schimel's view about the agreement and outcome of the case is below.

 I contacted each and every one of the victims in this matter and each of them felt that this was a very positive resolution of the case. It was important for them that this be resolved before the holidays....I've never had a case where victims and parents have been more apprehensive about testifying than in this case. There has been an enormous amount of publicity, maybe unprecedented in a child sexual assault case, and all happening in a school where all of the victims went, along with the defendant.

This resolution is something that is going to set them at ease in the coming weeks. This was going to continue to get more troubling to them as we approached trial. So this resolution is something that I view as a fair resolution and from the victims' perspective, they are relieved that we are doing this.

 I think a lot of parents learned something from this. Usually in child sexual assault cases...the media attention is relatively minor...This one has just attracted a lot of attention because it's bigger than what just happened here. There are people all over the country looking at this, I hope, and questioning what are kids up to. What are kids doing with their photo phones? What are they doing on their computers? There's been this other message beyond just dealing with the defendant and the victims.

(Update 2-25-10) Stancl was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 13 years of extended supervision this afternoon by Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis because as someone who has proven to been manipulative and self-centered, he was still potentially dangerous and "I am afraid of what he can and might do."

District Attorney Brad Schimel asked for "substantial" prison time, without being specific. No victims spoke at the sentencing, but some had sent letters asking for substantial prison time. Some of the victims required hospitalization for suicidal thoughts, medication or have had to undergo therapy, Schimel said.

Schimel said substantial prison time was needed because of the number of victims, the scheming nature of the crime and the impact on victims. He also said that the very nature of the crime - repeatedly coercing sex by extortion - was a pattern of deviant sexual behavior. Schimel also cited a 2004 juvenile case in which Stancl, then 13, was found delinquent for sexual assault of a 3-year old in a home where he was a babysitter.

Defense attorney Craig Kuhary suggested 5 years in prison with a decade of extended supervision, stating that Stancl's problems began after he was outed as gay by a former "lover" who went to his school. "Once word got out that he was gay, everything shut down," Kuhary said.

Stancl's uncle, Al Turk, from California spoke on behalf of the family saying his nephew and godson was loving, intelligent, athletic, a former altar boy and a technological whiz kid who worked at a software company while going to school and maintaining good grades.

"Like many young men his age, he's made a serious mistake," Turk said. Emphasizing his Catholic upbringing in a supportive and forgiving family, Turk said he remains a joy to his family who'll be there for him when his "penance" is served.

Stancl himself made a statement saying that he needed to treat others the way he wanted to be treated, and that after prison, "I am determined to become once again a productive and law-abiding citizen."

Besides prison, extended supervision, and the sex offender list, Stancl was banned from contact with the victims or their families, the New Berlin school district under any circumstances. He can't use the Internet or have contact with minors without correctional supervision after he gets out of prison.

Schimel explained his role in the prosecution of Stancl. "I had two jobs here. I had a job to get him locked up for some reasonable amount of time to protect the community, but I also had to look out for the welfare of these seven kids, and I think we struck that balance. I asked for substantial prison, and 15 years of initial confinement followed by 13 years of extended supervision is a substantial prison sentence that takes away Anthony Stancl's youth," said Schimel.

He also reiterated that parents must be on guard when it comes to electronic devices and protection from sexual predation. "They have to know that the more capability they give their kids electronically with this stuff, the less control they have over their kid's safety."
Last, but certainly not least, Schimel reminded parents that this was how most sex offenders work. "This is how sex offenders work. They compromise their victims. Very few of the sexual assaults we see involve some sort of person jumping out of the bushes and grabbing someone. Most of the time, it's someone that the victim knows, and they get manipulated into a position where it becomes difficult to say something, to speak out. That's what happened with these kids."

Second female teacher in as many months charged with child seduction at Indianapolis high school

(Original Post 2-18-10)

For the second time in two months, a female employee at Indianapolis' Pike High School was charged with child seduction, a Class D felony. After school officials contacted Indianapolis police and after questioning the night of February 17, 40 year old Taine Abdullah was charged with an illegal sexual relationship with a 17 year old special needs student today.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Abdullah was an instructional assistant who tutored the boy after he returned to school in January. Police said that in one of three encounters, Abdullah performed oral sex on the boy and then texted him about the encounter, later asking him to delete the text because she could get in trouble for what she had done.

Investigators said that in a Feb. 5 incident, the boy skipped school and stayed at Abdullah's house, where they fondled each other.

"She admitted that she knew what she had done was wrong," according to the affadavit. Lieutenant Jeffery Duhamell stated why Abdullah was charged with child seduction when Indiana's AOC is normally 16. "She's a person of trust and he's a student, and that's supposedly how they met, and, basically, that crosses the line and becomes a criminal act."

Abdullah, who has worked as a teacher's aide at Pike High, has been removed from the classroom, according to officials. She's being held on $30,000 bond. Besides Abdullah, former coach Sara Strahm has been charged with the same crime for a relationship with a player on her girls' basketball team.

(Update 2-24-10) Abdullah pled not guilty at her arraignment yesterday. Her bond was reduced to $500, allowing her to be placed on house arrest until trial. Her attorney, Jack Crawford, described the conditions of house arrest.

"The judge was very firm. She cannot have any contact - she cannot even pick her daughter up at school or drop her off at school. She's gonna have to make different arrangements while this case is pending and that's understandable. The charges are serious. They involve young people, so while these charges are going on, she must avoid young people."

The reason Abdullah can't pick up or drop off her daughter is because she was fired from Pike High and barred from going onto the premises. She still has supporters from her church.

"She needs all the support she can get," said Anthony Chapman, a church member. "I'm not discounting the fact that she's made a mistake. But at these times it's important to have support of your church family."

Her church members have a message for the student and his family involved in this case. They're hoping the student's family can look past the alleged conduct.

"Hopefully they can find it in their heart to forgive. Its about forgiveness and reconciliation and in America you have a lot of high profile cases and celebrities who make mistakes as well as common people," said Chapman.

Abdullah faces 1 to 3 years in prison if convicted as charged.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Repeat sex offender sentenced to 40 years for rape

A registered sex offender was sentenced in a suburban Denver courtroom to 40 years in prison for burglarizing a house and raping a 59 year old woman inside. 23 year old Ryan Ray Iliff was sentenced Friday, February 19 to 40 years imprisonment in Jefferson County District Court. Iliff pled guilty January 4 to kidnapping with sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, and 1st degree criminal trespass.

In the hours prior to the early-morning assault, the 23-year-old Iliff got drunk following a fight with his girlfriend. Iliff then drove into a residential neighborhood in south Jefferson County carrying duct tape and rope in a backpack.Iliff failed to get into the first home he tried to invade: He pried out window screens, cut the phone line and attempted unsuccessfully to pry the metal security bar out of the track of a sliding glass door.

He went next door and was able to get in. Inside the second home, the woman awoke to find Iliff with his hand over her mouth. He sexually assaulted the victim and then ran from the home. The victim immediately called 911 and was careful not to disturb any evidence left by her assailant, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Law enforcement lifted Iliff's fingerprints from the crime scene, leading to his arrest.

Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey priased the victim, saying, "The victim in the case showed extraordinary courage. She has serious health issues that have been exacerbated by the trauma of the sexual assault. In this case, with her full agreement, we let the defendant plead guilty to avoid going to trial and having to put the victim through the difficult process."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rapist released from prison charged with new rape after cutting off monitoring bracelet

A convicted Massachusetts rapist, who was out on probation after serving 8 to 9 years imprisonment for a previous rape, was charged with raping another woman last Thursday evening at about 11:30 PM local time. 29 year old William French had been released June 24 to his grandparents' custody in Framingham, MA for what was supposed to have been 6 years of parole, which he immediately violated January 4. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead could have sent French back to prison, but ordered him to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet during a February 16 hearing.

The terms of French’s six-year probation require him to stay drug- and alcohol-free, submit to random drug screens, undergo sex offender treatment and have no contact with the victim.

In the prior rape case, French told the victim he had a gun and threatened to kill her and her 13-year-old daughter, who was sleeping in another room, if she did not comply, court records show. French’s record also includes a string of prior arrests for larceny, assault, threats, and burglary.

On Thursday at about 11:25 p.m., probation officials received an alert indicating that French had removed the GPS monitor from his leg, and an arrest warrant was issued at 11:45 p.m., the DA’s office said.

French was arrested early Friday morning, while the victim was treated and released from a local hospital. He was arraigned in Framingham District Court Friday afternoon by Judge Sara Singer and charged with the following - 2 counts of aggravated rape, kidnapping, assault and battery, unarmed robbery, threats to commit a crime, and removing the GPS monitoring device. He is currently being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled February 25.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Suburban Milwaukee teacher, coach charged with sexual assault on female player

A Brown Deer, WI teacher and girls soccer coach has been charged with sexual exploitation of a student by school staff for sexual relationship with one of her soccer players. 26 year old Emily Patterson allegedly started the sexual relationship after the 16 year old victim began having problems with her home life. This eventually led to facebook contact and sleepovers, with Patterson and the girl fondling each other over clothes during a sleepover.

Patterson's contract with the Brown Deer School District ended with the 2008-2009 girls' soccer season. However she was still considered a volunteer coach because of her involvement with an open gym night for girls interested in playing soccer, according to the complaint.

The district said it has remained in dialogue with the Brown Deer Police Department about the investigation, and the school has counselors available. Administrators stated, "The safety and welfare of our students is always the district's highest priority."

Parents of Brown Deer High students said that the case reinforced that parents need to monitor the use of cell phones and social networking sites. Mother Neila Bond stated "Well, I think for one thing, they shouldn't have their home phone number or cell phone number that would be a clue that something might be a little off." 

Another mother, Cynthia Hines, stated that "Check e-mails, check Facebook. Check everything to have a conversation with your child."

Patterson is currently employed as a teacher at Mukwanago High School. Brown Deer and Mukwanago are suburbs of Milwaukee, WI.

Bartender sentenced to probation, sex offender treatment for following, groping customer

On Wednesday, February 17, Norwalk Superior Court Judge Bruce Hudock sentenced a former South Norwalk, CT bartender to a suspended 2 year sentence and three years probation for following a female customer home and forcibly touching and groping her breasts on October 28, 2008. The man stopped his assault only after the victim began to cry.

John Flavin, a 46-year-old former Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar, 63 North Main St., received a suspended jail sentence of two years and three years of probation. The sentence was approved by the victim, according to the prosecuting attorney.

At court on Wednesday, the victim detailed the effect that the incident had on her life, stating that she experiences anxiety attacks and persistant nightmares.

Judge Hudock admonished Flavin, telling him "The fact is, Mr. Flavin, that you have traumatized this young woman to the point that you have ... traumatically changed her life. There is little doubt in my mind that it will take a long time for her to deal with the consequences of your actions."

Just as the criminal act changed the victim's life, the sex offender treatment Flavin was sentenced to was meant to do the same to Flavin, according to Judge Hudock. "Just as you have changed the life of the victim, the sex offender treatment will change your life dramatically."

Brevard County Detention Center inmate gets 2 years for role in gang rape

Brevard County Detention Center inmate Phillip McCullough, 24, was sentenced to 2 years in prison Friday, February 12, for helping three other jail inmates restrain and rape a fourth inmate.

According to Brevard County Sheriff's Office reports, the victim twice lost consciousness as the four men hogtied him in his cell with bed linens, slammed his head against a wall and choked him with a mesh laundry bag while one of them assaulted him.

Spokeswoman Lynne Bumpus-Hooper of the Florida state's attorney's office said that "the victim wasn't interested in testifying. He said he would be satisfied if Mr. McCullough received some punishment for the act."
The 2 years for the rape conviction - actually felony counts of battery and false imprisonment - will be served concurrently to other sentences for felony convictions. These sentenes include 40 years for attempted murder and five years for helping a convicted triple murderer smuggle a gun into the Brevard County Detention Center.
Court records show that McCullough still faces prosecution on a felony home invasion charge.

He rejected a plea deal last month that would have allowed him to serve 40 years for six felony cases and shielded him from additional prison time on four homicides he's suspected in as long as he cooperates with investigations in those cases.

Another inmate has also pled guilty in the case. Terrance Coles, 22, of Jacksonville Beach, was sentenced to 19 months in prison. Two other inmates - Emanuel Edwards, 19, of Mims and Justin Heyne, 28, of Titusville, are awiating trial.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ghanian immigrant gets 20 to 40 years for murder of wife in front of their 7 year old child

A Ghanian immigrant was sentenced to 20-40 years for strangling his wife and leaving her 7 year old son to find his mother's body by Allegany County, PA Common Pleas Judge Kathleen A. Durkin. Jude Agbley, 35 and of Forest hills, a suburb of Pittsburgh, was handed the maximum for the 3rd degree murder of his wife Brenda Agbley, 40 because "It's an especially traumatic situation for the child to see his mother [killed]."

In a victim impact statement, Corey Gibson, the 7 year old son of the victim, said "Keep Jude in jail for life. I wish my dad hadn't done what he did to my mom. I am still angry at my dad, Jude, and I will miss him."

Heather Lorigan, the 23 year old daughter of the victim, and Corey's half sister, said that Agbley should be imprisoned for life - something which is mandatory in Pennsylvania only for 1st and 2nd degree murder.

For Lorigan and her family, her mother's death was the second tragedy to strike. Eight months earlier in May 2008, two people attacked Heather and her father, Thomas Lorigan, in Greenville in Mercer County. Thomas Lorigan died in the attack and Heather, who was stabbed in the head, now uses a wheelchair.

The victim's mother, 61 year old Marilyn Allen, said Agbley's murder of her daughter compounded her family's tragedy. "We had just gone through all of that eight months earlier and Jude knew that," she said.

Mrs. Agbley was found dead on the living room couch in her Ogden Avenue home by her son. A week later, immigration agents captured Mr. Agbley at a Greyhound bus station in Detroit. Detectives found 14 threatening text messages on Mrs. Agbley's cell phone, sent from a number listed in her directory as "Jude." The text messages suggested that Mr. Agbley believed his wife was cheating on him.

Agbley was facing outstanding burglary charges and a failure to appear warrant on them dating from 2003, and ICE agents issued a deportation order for him the following year. He apologized to the victim's family, saying "I deeply regret this unfortunate incident. I pray for Brenda every day and I hope that she can find peace and comfort."

However, Assistant District Attorney Mike Sullivan pointed to the brutality and callousness of the crime in explaining why he believed Agbley's "remorse" was an act. "He leaves the body on the couch and doesn't call police. He leaves an 8-year-old boy alone. The remorse Mr. Agbley is attempting to express is nothing more than a ruse."

Husband who murdered high school receptionist gets 30 years without parole

A Rockford, IL man who murdered his wife as she slept was sentenced to 30 years without parole. Winnebago County Judge Joe McGraw sentenced 65 year old Thomas McFeegan to that term Wednesday, February 17 after a guilty plea. The victim was a longtime receptionist at Rockford's Auburn High School Main Campus, and co-founded a homicide victims' support group.

McFeggan’s wife, Carol, 62, was discovered the morning of June 29 by their daughter, Sarah McFeggan, and Sarah’s friend, Valerie Heinisch, inside the couple’s northwest Rockford home. Police found the woman deceased in her bed. Police spoke to Sarah McFeggan, who gave officers a note written by her father that she said she had found in the kitchen.

In the note, Thomas McFeggan wrote that he killed Carol McFeggan, and that her death was not a suicide. He also revealed in his note that he and Carol were facing foreclosure on their home, although Carol didn’t know about it. Thomas also wrote that he had planned to commit suicide.

However, instead of killing himself, law enforcement found Thomas fishing in a Vilas County, WI lake, where he was arrested July 1. He was found with a .38 caliber handgun, which he admitted using against his wife when Rockford detectives interviewed him.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rape myths in Britain are alive and well - New Statesman

The results of a survey published [Monday] suggest that more than half (54 per cent) of women think that rape victims are sometimes to blame for the crime.

Of these women, 71 per cent thought that the victim should accept responsibility if they got into the same bed as their attacker, compared with 57 per cent of men. Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of women said that the victim should accept partial responsibility if they went back to the attacker's house. 23 per cent thought that a victim who danced suggestively on a night out was to blame if they were subsequently raped, and 31 per cent thought the same of those wearing provocative clothes.

These statistics -- gathered in an online survey for Havens sexual assault referral centres -- are sadly indicative of the culture of blame and disbelief that still surrounds rape. It is particularly worrying that the youngest age group -- those between 18 and 24 -- were the least forgiving, showing that these attitudes are not undergoing any positive generational shift.

Indeed, if this survey is cross-referenced to a similar poll five years ago, it appears that attitudes may have actually hardened -- then, a minority of British people blamed women for rape, although there was no notable difference between the genders. On specifics, results were similar: 30 per cent thought that a woman was at least partially responsible for being raped if she was drunk, and 22 per cent if she had had many sexual partners.

These results are depressing, but perhaps not wholly surprising. Why are people -- and women specifically -- so keen to blame the victim? These entrenched social attitudes may well be tied into the culture of disbelief in the justice system, and in the media. I have blogged before about the fact that the UK has the lowest conviction rates in Europe -- just 6.5 per cent of reported cases, compared with 34 per cent of other crimes.

It is also notable that cases of false accusations receive a disproportionate amount of newspaper coverage. A quick internet search yields innumerable results, although Rape Crisis estimates that false reporting rates for rape are around 6-8 per cent, exactly the same as for other crimes. This excessive coverage was reflected in the survey, where 18 per cent of respondents said that they thought most accusations of rape are probably false.

But the fact is, if so many people are ready to believe that a woman is culpable in her own violation, jury trials will inevitably be affected: it is a self-perpetuating, vicious circle. While the majority of people in the Havens poll were keen to assign partial blame to the victim, one in five women said that they would not report it to the police if they were raped, saying that they would be ashamed, or would not be believed. This feeling is justified -- just last year a freedom of information request showed that some police forces were failing to record more than 40 per cent of reported rape cases -- but we have no hope of changing police attitudes if these attitudes continue to proliferate across society.

We urgently need education; a high profile campaign, starting with schools, to educate the public and eradicate the view that rape is sometimes deserved.

In response to the survey, the BBC had reactions from rape victims, including these from victims whose rapists groomed them into relationships before the attacks.

I was raped by my husband as he became increasingly possessive and violent. How can you blame a woman who has gotten into bed with the person beforehand? Where there is violent, intimidation, where you feel obliged to get into bed with the person just to quell their temper like I did. I never went to the police because I am glad to have escaped my husband. Now, I want to forget it.

Anonymous, Bristol

  My ex-boyfriend tried to rape me. I had got into bed with him at the end of night, I told him I didn't want sex (or anything) and if we were going to become an item again then I wanted to take things slow. He tried to force himself on me and I was screaming and fighting him when my housemates came in and pulled him off of me. I may have been naïve but I was not responsible for his inability to control himself.

K, London

Zionsville, IN man pleads guilty to bashing death of ex-wife, sentenced to 43 years

(Original Post 12-21-09)

A Zionsville, Indiana man was given a plea deal by Boone County, IN prosecutors Thursday, December 17 in the slaying of his ex-wife on June 11, 2009 because the price of getting a murder conviction would be making their 5 year old son testify about the night his father bashed his mother's head in. 32 year old Michael Stayer pled guilty to the charges in exchange for a 43 year prison sentence in the Indiana Department Of Corrections.

According to Stayer's confession, he and the victim, his ex-wife, got into an argument at her Whitestown apartment. While he was in their daughter's bedroom, he said, Beth Stayer charged at him with a hammer, which he took from her and proceeded to use on her as their son watched.

Prosecutors said Beth Stayer also was beaten with a metal can and other objects for approximately five minutes. Leaving his ex-wife in a pool of blood on the floor, Stayer called 911. Beth Stayer was rushed to Methodist Hospital, where she died the next day.

The Stayers, divorced for less than two months at the time of the slaying, had marital trobles, and Michael had stalked and threatened his wife. Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer said "The cost to get a murder conviction was too great. In order to get the murder conviction, we would have to call Carson Stayer as a witness. . . . Making him relive the crime is too significant of a burden to put on a 5-year-old child."

Ned Masbaum, forensic psychologist, said that testiying against his father "could be more harmful to Carson by his feeling more unrealistic guilt and depression. He is too young to be able to put his role as a witness into the concept of justice for his mother."

Stayer also made a deal with the Indiana Department of Child Services for his parental; rights not to be terminated in exchange for Carson and his 2 year old sister Ashleigh to continue to live with the victim's father. Boone Circuit Judge Steve David will formally sentence Stayer on February 17. Stayer is expected to become parole-eligible in 2030.

(Update 2-18-10) Sentencing, as expected, took place yesterday for Stayer. Stayer will serve 43 years in the custody of the Indiana Department Of Corrections. Judge David said that "Your lack of remorse is disturbing to me. It's appalling, if not shocking...Your children may never fully recover from your reckless act of violence. Innocent people have been affected by your actions."

Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer said that "I don't think he's in touch with the reality of what he's done and what he's done to his family."  Sheriff Ken Campbell said that when he transported Stayer to the courthouse, he was making small talk with the guards. Campbell said Stayer would be placed in the custody of the Indiana Department Of Corrections as soon as possible because "I don't want him in my jail."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wyoming sex assault case highlights kids are not the only targets of online sexual predators

(AP) CASPER, Wyo. - Authorities say a Casper woman was assaulted at her front door, raped at knifepoint in her living room and left bound on the floor, and they say one of the men charged in the brutal attack claimed that he thought it was invited.

Two men are accused in the crime. One is charged with carrying out the rape. The other, the woman's ex-boyfriend, stands accused of posing as the victim online and claiming she harbored a rape fantasy and wanted to be assaulted.

The case in the central Wyoming city of Casper, population 54,000, illustrates that middle America isn't immune to the dangers of Internet anonymity and predators who target victims through online ads that hint at sex and prostitution.

Prosecutor Mike Blonigen, the Natrona County district attorney, declined to comment on the specifics of the ongoing rape case. But he said Internet cases generally pose a challenge to law enforcement.

  "Tracking down who's involved is relatively difficult," Blonigen said. "It's pretty easy to set up a false identity in cyberspace, so that's always an issue. And of course, they have to make some overt act to actually accomplish any of these things. We're not the thought police."

In the Casper case, Blonigen's office has charged Ty Oliver McDowell, 26, of Bar Nunn, a Casper suburb, with three counts of first-degree sexual assault, one count of kidnapping and one count of aggravated burglary. Jebidiah James Stipe, 27, a Marine based in Twentynine Palms, Calif., is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault. Lawyers representing McDowell and Stipe declined comment.

A few days before the Casper woman was raped, she had complained to the Natrona County Sheriff's Department that someone had made a false Craigslist posting about her, including photographs and personal information. The ad read, "Need a real aggressive man with no concern for women," authorities said.

Craigslist took the advertisement down when the woman complained. Yet prosecutors say it was posted long enough to catch the attention of McDowell, a medical technologist.

According to a statement filed in court by Natrona County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Sexton, McDowell waived his right to remain silent and talked to deputies investigating the case. "McDowell admitted to going to the victim's residence ... and having sexual contact with (the woman) to fulfill a 'rape fantasy' for her," Sexton wrote.

McDowell told investigators that he had corresponded with a person he thought was the woman at an e-mail address featured on the advertisement, Sexton wrote. However, prosecutors charge that McDowell was actually communicating by e-mail with Stipe, the woman's former boyfriend. They say Stipe posted the ad to set the woman up for the attack without her knowledge.

The San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sheriff's Department on Dec. 16 arrested Stipe, a private first-class in the U.S. Marine Corps then stationed at Twentynine Palms. A spokeswoman for the Marine Corps said Stipe enlisted in July 2001 and, "was being processed for administrative separation as a result of a pattern of misconduct at the time of his arrest."

The Casper case is one of several sex crimes to grab headlines recently in which the Internet linked perpetrators and victims. Law enforcement officials around the country also have in the past accused Craigslist of promoting prostitution.

Scrutiny of Craigslist increased significantly when prosecutors in Boston last year charged that former medical student Philip Markoff used Craigslist to arrange a meeting with masseuse Julissa Brisman. He's accused of shooting her to death last April and of attacking other women he met through the site.

In 2008, Craigslist agreed to tighten its adult services advertisements as part of an agreement with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and with the attorneys general for 43 states and territories, including Wyoming.

Under the agreement, Craigslist started requiring a working telephone number and charging a small credit card fee for each such ad. "Requiring credit card verification and charging a fee to post in this category raises accountability to a point where we expect few illicit ads will remain," Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said in November 2008 in a joint statement with the state prosecutors and the children's center.

Craigslist didn't respond to an e-mail sent to their San Francisco headquarters seeking comment on the Wyoming rape case, although a company phone message requests that press inquiries be made by e-mail.

Blonigen, the Casper prosecutor, said Craigslist was cooperative with Wyoming investigators. "I would prefer that they maybe not run these ads," Blonigen said. "You know somebody's going to do it even if they don't."

Wyoming State Sen. Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, is a criminal defense attorney and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the state Legislature. He said the committee may have to consider whether state law is up to the challenge of dealing with sexual predators who prowl the Internet. "The world is changing so rapidly here, particularly with regard to Internet, cyber crimes, and things like that, that we're going to see a whole new evolution of law, it seems to me," Ross said.

(Update 2-14-10) Last Tuesday, Ty Oliver McDowell, the alleged actual rapist, appeared before Judge Scott Skavdahl and entered a not-guilty plea in Natrona County District Court. He is being charged with conspiracy to commit sexual assault, which carries a maximum life sentence. He's being held on $250,000 bond in the Natrona County Detention Center and his trial is scheduled for late April.

His codefendant, Jebidiah James Stipe, the victim's ex-"boyfriend," is being held on $500,000 bond. He's yet to be arraigned.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ft. Smith prison guard sentenced to 4 years for coercing sex from inmates

A former jailer in Arkansas was sentenced to 4 years in prison for 2 counts of 3rd degree sexual assault after pleading guilty Wednesday, February 10. Sebastian County Detention Center ex-guard Leon Wilson Wood, 65, was convicted of coercing 2 women inmates into sex acts on his shift, June 15, 2009. After his shift ended, the victims notified other officers about the attack. They told authorities that they felt trapped because Wood was in a position of authority over them.

Wood was given a four-year prison term plus six years suspended on one count, and 10 years suspended on the second count, meaning he’ll be on a suspended sentence for 16 years once he’s released from prison.

Wood, who worked at the detention center for about a year, was a battalion chief for the Fort Smith Fire Department and had served there from 1968 to 2000, according to a fire department official.

His son, 40 year old Timothy Wood, is also a former Ft. Smith firefighter and convicted sex offender. Police arrested Tim for trying to solicit a detective posing as a 13 year old girl for sex. Officials found child pornography, and is serving a federal prison sentence.

Former Riverside officer gets 3 months jail, lifetime SO registration for coercing woman into oral sex

A former Riverside, CA police officer will have to serve 23 more days for coercing a woman into oral sex while on duty. Robert Allan Forman, 39, sentenced yesterday, will serve a total of 3 months in jail and three years probation. Forman only has 23 days to serve on his jail term, but must register for life as a California sex offender. He was convicted December 12 of a count of forced oral copulation, and misdemeanor petty theft for stealing from a john. 

According to prosecutors, Forman went to a Riverside woman's home in March 2008 to investigate a check fraud case, then returned to the house alone to receive oral sex. The woman testified she felt forced to comply because he was a police officer and she feared going to jail. Jurors acquitted Forman of a second charge when a prostitute alleged he picked her up in a local park and forced her to perform oral sex.

Forman testified that the relations were consensual, but admitted during his sentencing hearing Thursday that he acted inappropriately, said his attorney, Mark Johnson. He has maintained he is innocent of any crime. "He placed himself in a position that made him vulnerable," Johnson said.

Deputy District Attorney Elan Zektser declined to comment after the sentencing.

Johnson said his client's case can be compared to David Kushner, the Moreno Valley ex-officer sentenced to 3 months in jail and 5 years probation for 2 counts of forcible orla copulation and kidnapping.

The victim in the criminal case and the prostitute Forman was criminally acquitted of abusing have both filed complaints against the city of Riverside. These claims are for a total of $11.6 million.

17 year old sentenced to 16 years for burglary, attempted rape

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Kubicki Jr. sentenced 17 year old Deonte Leary to 16 years for two burglaries and the attempted rape of a Madisonville, OH teacher yesterday. The sentence was part of a plea deal reached where Leary plead guilty to burglary, aggravated burglary, attempted rape and aggravated robbery. Two other charges were dropped against him.

Leary broke into a Madisonville home April 12, looking for money, but finding none. He accessed porn on the victim's computer instead. Two days later, he broke into the home of a Madisonville teacher, looking for more money. This time, Leary tried to rape the teacher, but she fought back, ripping off his mask while he ripped off her Ipod. All of the 16 year sentence must be served. 

Curry poisoner gets minimum 23 year sentence for murder of "lover" after refusing to leave fiancee

By Caroline Gammell [London Telegraph]
Published: 3:46PM GMT 11 Feb 2010

Lakhvir Gaur Singh murdered Lakhvinder “Lucky” Cheema when she learned that he had rejected her and chosen a younger bride, Gurjeet Choough. Singh, 45, laced their vegetable curry with aconite, nicknamed the Queen of Poisons, which left Mr Cheema dying in agonising pain. His fiancée spent three days in a coma after the poisoning in January last year and has yet to recover fully.

Singh looked close to tears in the dock at the Old Bailey as she was told she would be nearly 70 by the time she was released. Passing a life sentence, Judge Paul Worsley said: You were not just a spurned lover, you did not simply explode in anger at your rejection. “You set about a cold and calculating revenge. You knew how deadly aconite was and how agonising the effects would be.”

Singh, a married mother of three, was found guilty of murder and grievous bodily harm but was cleared of attempting to poison 39-year-old Mr Cheema on an earlier occasion. Many of Mr Cheema’s relatives were in the public gallery to watch as Singh was sentenced.

His fiancee, now 23, said: “The poisoning led to Lakhvinder’s death and took me to the brink of death. I believe it will affect me for the rest of my life. I can never forgive Lakhvir as she has murdered one person and seriously harmed me. “Lakhvinder was looking forward to having children and also having his elderly father with us but none of this is now possible.”

Mr Cheema’s sister Narinder Kaur Singh, from Windsor, said her life and that of her two sons had been destroyed by Singh’s actions. “With Lakhvinder’s departure I cannot see any reason for living. In our culture a family goes on only through a sin but this has been snatched away from our family. All our joys have been snatched away.”

Mrs Singh, 48, said her husband Varinder – whom Singh tried to blame – had left the family home and she was spurned by her in-laws. “I feel as if there is only emptiness in my life. When my brother was alive he could not bear to see me crying, now I am left to cry for the rest of my life.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Allanah Benton-Wells, Flint, MI ex-teacher, gets 25-38 years for sex with 12 year old student

While we're on the subject of hefty punishment for sexual assault, as shown by many of the recent sentencings below, Allanah Benton-Wells, a Flint, MI teacher was sentenced to 25 to 38 years imprisonment yesterday for her sexual abuse of a 12 year old boy who she was supposed to have been tutoring around Halloween 2007. The victim wasn't a student in her regular classes at Williams Elementary School, according to Flint Schools spokesman Bob Campbell.

Benton-Wells, who has a history of dating younger men, was convicted on two counts of 1st degree criminal sexual conduct on December 22. Her ex-husband said that Benton-Wells had been in the presence of the boy late at night when he was shirtless and she was in a nightgown. The boy himself testified before running away that Benton-Wells told him to keep their sexual encounters a secret.

At Benton-Wells' sentencing, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Richardson cited the running away as proof of the damage inflicted by the encounters.

Richardson said the victim was a troubled child before his relationship Benton-Wells, where he considered her his “girlfriend,” but his behavior, respect for authority and his attitude toward women have gotten worse since that time. "She took a 12-year-old student under the guise of monitoring and made him a man in his eyes,” Richardson said.

Prosecutor David Leyton said that the crimes, which ripped apart the families of both the victim and the perpetrator, merited a long sentence. “If a teacher or any grown up has sex with someone who is under the age of 13, the sentence should be severe.” He also said that teachers should treat their students "like gold," and  "should keep their hands off.”

Genessee County Judge Geoffrey L. Neithercut, after complaining the mandatory 25 year minimum for 1st degree criminal sexual conduct tied his hands, sentenced Benton-Wells to 25-38 years in prison.  “I heard these words during the trial, ‘a school teacher having sex with her sixth-grade student is the most disgusting, reprehensible thing we can imagine.’ That’s why you’re going to prison."

Benton-Wells maintained her innocence through the trial, and said just before sentencing, "I didn’t commit any of these acts, and I’m innocent...I maintain my innocence and that’s all I can do." She'll appeal the sentence, according to her attorney Michael Cronkright. “She thinks the jury got it wrong,” he said.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

NY state legislator convicted of misdemeanor assault of girlfriend - sentenced to 3 years probation, expelled from NY Senate

(Original Post 10-17-09)
A prominent New York politician escaped a felony conviction Thursday, October 15 for beating his girlfriend, 30 year old Karla Girardo. However, it seems like 42 year old New York State Senator Hiram Monserratte won't be entirely in the clear. There are already calls for the Democratic Senator representing the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens to be ousted. Felony convictions automatically lead to dismissal from the New York lesiglature, but not misdemeanors.

Addressing a crowded and tense courtroom, Erlbaum said that Monserrate was guilty only of shoving around Giraldo - an attack captured on tape and played in court.

"Only two people" know for sure what happened inside Monserrate's apartment on Dec. 19, 2008, when Giraldo's face was cut, the judge said.

Erlbaum said he could not say for sure if Giraldo was lying, as prosecutors contended. "Can one know she's not being forgiving or that she's not being compassionate?" he said. "One can't know that." Erlbaum concluded, "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is lacking."

"Yes!" a Monserrate supporter yelled after Monserrate skated on the most serious charges.

Those charges come from an incident in which the state senator from Queens allegedly pushed around Giraldo and cut her face up with a piece of broken glass. The misdemeanor assault charges the politician was found guilty on stemmed from a scuffle in front of security cameras. Queens DA Richard Brown had no problems with the conviction on lesser charges, stating that  the verdict (and surveillance camera) showed that "the defendant physically abused his victim."

Though the misdemeanor conviction calls for a sentence of up to a year in jail, Monserrate will probably get probation, according to his attorney Joe Tacopina. "On a reckless misdemeanor, first offense, he won't go to jail," Tacopina said.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle, as well as leaders of the New York chapter of NOW, are demanding Montserrate's resignation, even though the resignation could cost NY Democrats there slim majority in the NY Senate.

According to state senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), the conviction meant that "ouster is an option . . . it should be seriously considered. It's an assault against a woman. I would hope he would just step aside and move on, but I know better. He ain't going anywhere."

"I was praying that [expletive deleted] would get convicted and he would be gone," said an anonymous Democratic politician. A second senator stated that "a lot of people want to oust him. As the days go by, I think most people will (agree) that we should get rid of the guy. This is not a guy who most of his colleagues want to see back."

Marcia Pappas, president of New York NOW, said "The man is violent. If the Democratic leadership took some kind of action it would certainly send a strong message to women around the state that they are serious about protecting women."

New York Daily News columnist Joanna Molloy has her own take on this incident.

Amazingly, according to Tacopina, "She loves him, as she testified in court. As he said yesterday, he loves her...And they're looking to get back together and resume their marriage...uh, relationship."

To which GDNY (Good Day New York) anchor Rosanna Scotto said, "Will they get married?" and Tacopina replied, "Maybe I said marriage, maybe I let the cat out of the bag, but that's where it's heading."

A few of Monserrate's constituents were also taken aback by the verdict. One woman said, "How do you accidentally smack her with a bottle? I think he did it and she’s afraid. He should be in jail," while a man who previously voted for Monserrate but won't do so again told the NY Times, "He’s a lucky man. Any normal person would be locked up for years. Domestic violence. Guaranteed. You don’t hit a woman. You love a woman."

Monseratte faces up to a year in jail at his sentencing December 4.

(Update 12-5-09) Monserrate was sentenced to 3 years probation, a $1000 fine, 250 hours of community service, and domestic violence counseling for the attach on Giraldo yesterday. He said before Judge Erlbaum that "I am here because of my own actions . . . I am so sorry for the harm Karla Giraldo endured and suffered...It's very difficult, your honor, not to be with her. She deserves happiness, nothing but good."

Giraldo said in Spanish that  "I don't need an order of protection. I want to be with him. I want to continue my normal life," Giraldo, 30, told the judge in Spanish. "Before this we had plans. We would like to get married."

Judge Erlbaum, to his credit, recognized that Giraldo was still under the thrall of her abuser, so he continued the protection order barring Monserrate from seeing her. "I am loath to say you can't be together. But a promise alone that Mr. Monserrate will respect her autonomy is a far cry from remedying the green-eyed monster of jealousy. I hope the time will come that Karla Giraldo will have the self-respect to stop acting like a slave."

Giraldo's lawyer hopes that the protection order is lifted. The New York Senate's Special Committee of Inquiry will decide whether to expel him later this month.

(Update 2-11-10) On Tuesday night, Monserrate was expelled from the New York State Senate by a 53-8 vote. This was the first expulsion from the NY Senate since 1861. All 30 Republicans and 23 Democrats voted for expulsion, with Governor David Patterson announcing a special election for March 16.

Monserrate said that his expulsion was unwarranted because others expelled from the New York Senate committed other, more serious violations.

   Make no mistake about it, this is an effort by some in this body to publicly demonstrate that it is going to expiate all of its sins, and Hiram Monserrate is the perfect scapegoat for your absolution...[I] have also seen a long list of others who were convicted or plead to misdemeanors; many negotiated these pleas to avoid felony convictions. And in all that time no one stood up to say, ‘enough’s enough,’ even when the behavior became common knowledge .

   Yet with all of this history of corrupt and suspect behavior, no senator has ever been forced to face the prospect of expulsion until now...Let me remind everyone that a new election cycle is right around the corner,” he said “If my sins are of such magnitude that the voters of the 13th Senatorial District feel that they can no longer support my continued service-then so be it. It should be up to them to expel me, if they should so decide, but not up to this body.”

Major state newspapers applauded the decision. So did the president of New York NOW, Marcia Pappas, who said, "Anything less than expulsion was not acceptable. Any form of violence against women is not acceptable."

Torrance, CA man who threw bride off cliff convicted of 1st degree murder - sentenced to 25 years to life

(Original Post 12-20-09)
A man who threw his wife of a few weeks off of a cliff to her death in Rancho Palos Verdes will be sentenced to 25 to life for her murder in February. Brandon Manai, 28, and from Torrance, CA, was found guilty of 1st degree murder on Thursday, December 17 in the slaying of 24 year old Julie Rosas, according to Deputy District Attorney Jodi Link.

Manai, who was on probation for choking his girlfriend as a teenager, had dated Rosas only a short time before they were married June 19, 2005, in Las Vegas. The relationship had been rocky, with late-night arguments, Manai showing up at Rosas' workplace unannounced, and incessant phone calls and text messages, Link said. And things did not change after their wedding. Within 48 hours of the ceremony, Rosas was asking her friends how to seek an annulment.

Nearly two weeks later, on July 2, Manai picked up Rosas and was supposed to drive her to a downtown L.A. nightclub where she would meet up with girlfriends. Cellphone signals showed the pair made it to downtown, but they never made it to the club and her friends never heard from her, according to the prosecutor.

Manai, however, had went to the Rancho Palos Verdes cliff, where he threw Rosas 200 feet to her death around 2:30 AM. Manai confessed to a friend over lunch, and that afternoon, a beachgoer found Rosas' body, which went unclaimed until July 6, when her family filed a missing persons report.

Meanwhile, Manai tried to cover his tracks by calling Rosas' home, detrroying her belongings, and writing a diary entry where he wondered where the victim was. Cellphone records unmasked Rosas, as he was found to have been in contact with Rosas up to 55 times a day before July 3, but not at all after July 3.

(Update 2-11-10) As expected, Manai received 25 years to life. The victim's siblings were in court, and Manai said to them at the hearing, "I didn't kill your sister. I didn't throw her off a cliff. It was an accident," contridicting the verdict and the police report. Here is the letter Manai wrote to the victim's sister. Judge James Brandlin entered the letter into the record, and barred him from contacting the victim's family.

Oro Valley man gets 25 to life for strangling "girlfriend," mom of 2

An Oro Valley, AZ man was sentenced to 25 years to life yesterday for the beating and strangulation death of his "girlfriend," 25 year old Lisa Berrie.

On Aug. 12, 2008, [36 year old Paul] Beam's father called 911 to say there had been a domestic violence incident at his son's Oro Valley apartment and his son's girlfriend had been injured. Beam was outside when police arrived, but he turned and went back inside, according to court documents. When police got him to open the door, he said he and two children were the only ones in the apartment.

During a search of the apartment, police found Berrie unconscious on the bedroom floor. She was pronounced dead at University Medical Center about an hour later. An autopsy revealed Berrie had been beaten and strangled.

During his trial, Darlene Edminson-O'Brien, assistant Pima County public defender, asked jurors to convict Beam of manslaughter, saying Beam acted in the heat of passion after Berrie told him she was leaving him and taking their 2-year-old daughter, Katlyn.

However, the victim's parents, Marc and Linda Berrie, told the court that their daughter told them Beam was abusive and that she feared for her life if she ever left him. The parents also helped their daughter apply for jobs in their home state of Delaware for an eventual move back there.

Besides the loss of their daughter, the victim's parents had to move to Tucson to take care of their grandchildren, Katlyn and 8 year old Jeremy. This was because Arizona did not want the children moved out of state. The victim's mother had to retire and become her grandkids' full time caregiver, and this has cost them their life savings.

As for the kids, Katlin reeancts her mother's last moments with her dolls and asks why she can't go and see her mom.

The victim's sister, 24 year old Suzanne Berrie, said that her sister, "a strong Viking woman," would have fought back if given the chance. "He's not a man. He's an animal." 

Jeremy, before showing Pima County Superior Court Judge Clark Munger a picture of his mother, said "I feel mad and sad. Because of this man, my sister is an orphan."

Beam himself read a statement about his "extreme regret" for the killing of Jeremy and Katlin's mom. "I cannot give back what I've taken and for that I'm truly sorry...I do not ask for forgiveness because I can't forgive myself. This never should have happened and I accept responsibility for that."

Wife who set fire, ran over husband sentenced to life without parole

A woman who murdered her husband was sentenced to life without parole by a Michigan judge Monday, February 8. Linda Kay Stermer, 45, was found guilty by a Van Buren County circuit court jury of 1st degree and felony murder. On Jan. 7, 2007, Sterner set fire to the house she shared with her husband and sons. Her husband was incapacitated by the perpetrator by either medicine or a hit upside the head, according to prosecution witnesses.

Todd Stermer, 42, made it out of the house, according to testimony, but was run over by a van driven by his wife and died shortly after emergency personnel arrived.

Michigan State Police investigators testified during the five-day trial that the fire at the residence in the 66500 block of County Road 215 was deliberately set. Forensic laboratory specialists said Todd Stermer’s clothing had gasoline on them and a gas station employee testified to seeing Linda Stermer purchased gasoline that she dispensed into a container earlier on the day of the fire.

There was testimony linking Linda Stermer to another man, that she and Todd Stermer had been arguing and that she had sent their boys to a Kalamazoo mall on the day of the fire.

Even after her conviction and sentencing, Linda still claimed innocence. “I didn’t set the fire. I did not kill my husband. And at this point, I fully believe that it was not arson, either.”

Brad Sterner, the victim's brother, shot back, saying “The jury didn’t get it wrong, Linda. They got it right. When you go to prison, we will be relieved that his children will be safe and you’ll never hurt anyone again."

Helping those kids become productive adults will be part of Sandra Stermer's job. She thanked prosecutors for speaking for her. “I hadn’t thought about standing up to speak. The police, the prosecutors, the jury got it right. They spoke for me.”

Cedar Rapids man sentenced to 30 years prison, lifetime parole for rape, beating of wife

A Cedar Rapids, IA man was sentenced Friday, February 5, to 30 years in prison and lifetime parole for the rape of his then-wife. Shawn Kruse, 32, pled no contest to second-degree kidnapping, second-degree sexual abuse, assault while participating in a felony, going armed with intent and eluding charges for the attack last December. Kruse must serve 17 1/2 years on the abuse and kidnaping charges before being eligible for parole.

The assault began after Kruse grabbed and choked his now ex-wife, forcing her into their basement. According to the victim impact statement Kruse's ex-wife read, he then beat, gagged, raped, and then stomped on her pubic bone.

She said the only reason her torture that lasted for hours stopped is because he left the house to get a shotgun, so he could kill them both.

Before he left, he piled a sofa and an ottoman on top of her, so she couldn’t escaped. Once he left, she loosened the tape around her wrists and the belt around her legs and got out from under the furniture to get to her cell phone and call her mother. She first called 911 but she had the gag on her mouth and the dispatcher hung up on her because she couldn’t understand her.

In the meantime, Kruse came back to the house but when he saw police he turned around. Police later found him and he led them on a high speed chase on Highway 30 before crashing his car into a ditch. Kruse remains paralyzed from the waist down.

In Linn County District Court, he apologized to his family and friends, and his now ex-wife's family and friends. The victim still has nightmares and can't catch her breath due to the attack.