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  1. KANSAS CITY, Mo. - District Court Judge Gregory W. Moeller peered down from the bench, aghast. "I was horrified by the case," the Idaho judge recalled recently. In front of him, ready for sentencing, Keith Strawn - a father, 6-foot-3 with black-framed glasses the color of his boyish haircut - stood sad and penitent. Strawn thought he had been doing right by his 15-year-old daughter, Heather, only to realize too late what a massive mistake he had made bringing her to Missouri - the easiest place in America for a 15-year-old to wed. "I love my daughter very much and never would I do anything to intentionally harm her or put her in harm's way," Strawn implored the judge at his May 2016 sentencing inside Idaho's Fremont County Courthouse. "At the time I thought I was making the right decision, but after looking back I realize that that was the wrong decision, and I regretfully made that decision in duress." But the judge was having none of it. The facts of the case were clear. Heather Strawn was 14 years old when she became pregnant by her then 24-year-old boyfriend, Aaron Seaton, who had plied her with alcohol before having sex with her inside his camper parked next to the I-I Fly shop in Ashton, Idaho. Across the nation, that is statutory rape. Related: Missouri is a destination wedding spot — for 15-year-old brides But Heather insisted that she cared for Seaton. So, instead of turning the young man in to police, Strawn, in August 2015, packed the family into his car. On the day of Heather's 15th birthday, when she was nine weeks pregnant, they drove through the night, 17 hours and more than 1,100 miles, to Kansas City to marry her off. That way, the baby would be born within wedlock. And the police, Strawn thought, would be kept at bay. In Idaho, the couple would have had to go before a judge to be married, risking arrest. But in Missouri no judge is needed. All that is necessary is the signature of one parent. From 1999 to 2015, more than 1,000 15-year-olds married in Missouri. Of those, The Kansas City Star's review of data shows, more than 300 married men age 21 or older, with some in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Assuming they had premarital sex, those grooms would be considered rapists. The definitions of statutory rape and other child sex crimes vary from state to state. Missouri defines statutory rape as anyone 21 or older having sex with someone under 17 outside of marriage. Within marriage, sex with a minor is legal. But not before. The number of possible offenders from out of state grows even higher when taking into account other states' stricter laws, some of which prohibit older teens from having sex with younger teens. Back in her home state of Utah, Strawn's ex-wife - Heather's mother - was livid to find out about the marriage. Under Missouri law, her objections didn't matter. She alerted Idaho police. Heather's father and new husband were soon arrested. By the time their trials commenced, the marriage had been annulled and Heather had lost her baby to a miscarriage. "At the time, I really didn't think much of the age difference," Seaton declared to Judge Moeller at his sentencing. In April 2016, he received 15 years in prison and was forced to register as a sex offender. "Everything I've put her family through, and her through, my family through," he said, "I would like to apologize for that, for this whole mess. I'm deeply sorry." One month later, it was Heather's father's turn. His sentence: four years for felony injury of a child. Part of that injury included hauling Heather to Missouri to marry. But because his daughter was somewhat willing and Strawn didn't actually force her into marriage, the sentence was suspended. The judge castigated Strawn for his "abysmally poor parental judgment." "Your daughter needed a parent. Instead she had an enabler," Moeller intoned. "You were supposed to be the one with the better judgment and you completely failed in that regard." Strawn was sentenced to 120 days in jail for his role in promoting "a vile farce of a marriage." "Perhaps as you spend each of those 120 days in jail," Moeller said, "you will think about the 120 days your daughter was married to a rapist because of you." 'I guess' At 21, Jeremie Rook knew he was in violation of Iowa's statutory rape law when he traveled to Platte County, Mo., to marry Brittany Koerselman, 15 and seven months pregnant. But once married, the threat of prison vanished, even though, technically, he still committed the act. "Yeah, they left us alone," Brittany said of the police. "I never heard back from them at all." Ashley Duncan also married because she thought she was saving a boyfriend from prison. If only she'd had a judge to guide her, she might have been saved from a disastrous marriage. She was a kid of 15, a high school freshman in the Bootheel's Pemiscot County. Queasy from morning sickness, her stomach lurched as she climbed on the bus after school that February day in 2009. Two weeks earlier, in the midst of a record January ice storm that cracked branches like brittle bones, she'd discovered she was more than a month pregnant by her 18-year-old boyfriend. Her aunt's voice pealed down the aisle. "Ashley, come on, get off the bus," she recalled Christy Cothran, her guardian, shouting. "You're getting married today." Clad in school clothes and hauling her book bag, Ashley scooted along her seat near the window. The date was Friday the 13th. She could feel the eyes of other students on her. She heard a few muttering. "You're getting married?" they questioned. "You're too young." She said nothing, but she knew in her heart that they were right. She felt afraid as she ambled back up the aisle, out of the bus and into her aunt's car. "They wanted me to get married," Ashley, now 24 and the mother of four, said. "I knew I shouldn't have been making that decision that young. It was just something they told me that, like, I had to do or my child's father would go to jail." Ashley, indeed, said the precise intent was to keep her boyfriend from being charged with statutory rape. It was only recently that Ashley was surprised to discover everyone was wrong. Laws differ from state to state, but in Missouri, statutory rape does not generally apply to an 18-year-old having sex with a 15-year-old. It is defined as sex between anyone age 21 or older with someone under age 17. Had there been a judge to explain the law, she still would have had her baby, while avoiding the painful marriage. Ashley stood rattled and uncertain as she took her vows. She vividly remembers the pastor they hastily found to perform the ceremony asking her if she took her boyfriend to be her lawfully wedded husband. "I said, 'I guess,'" Ashley recalled. Her sister, standing nearby, chided her, "You're supposed to say, 'I do.'" After the ceremony, the family got back in the car. It was a school day. They drove Ashley's younger sister to her volleyball practice. No presents. Later, back home in Steele, Mo., they shared a cake. "I threw cake in his face. He threw cake in my face. Then his niece ended up getting the whole cake and throwing it in the laundry basket," Ashley said. "And that's pretty much how my wedding day was." It's not that Ashley, whose maiden name was Tidwell, didn't like Daniel Duncan, an upperclassman, built small and slender. They met on the school bus. "The first thing I noticed about him is that he was very quiet," Ashley recalled. "He was quiet to everybody but me. He didn't show much attention to anyone else." It made her feel special. Two months after they began dating, they briefly broke up. When they got back together, that was that. "I think I thought I loved him," Ashley said. "I know now that's not what it was." How Daniel feels about it all is unclear. The couple, still legally married, stayed together for about two years but have been separated now for more than six. Ashley said he periodically visits the two children they share, but his appearances can't be predicted. Repeated attempts by The Star to reach Daniel through Facebook, messages through a friend and relatives, at his workplace and by certified mail received no response. If Ashley had it to do over again, "I would not get married," she said. She would still have had her children, certainly. Daniel Jr., called D.J, now 8, was born seven months after her wedding. Her greatest regret: dropping out of school her freshman year, when she was six months pregnant. She once hoped to graduate and go on to become a nurse. "It was getting hard for me at school," she said. "I was getting bullied because I was married, I was pregnant, it was getting confusing to the teachers." But the real problems, Ashley claimed, began in 2014, soon after their second son, Colby, was born. Noxious and even violent arguments broke out in front of their children. By the end of that year, she and the boys were gone. "What made me leave him is what his (Daniel's) dad said to me," Ashley recalled, "He said, 'If you seen somebody doing this to your family, like your sister, would you stop it? Would you tell her to get out of the relationship?' And I said, 'No, I would stop it.' He said, 'Then why are you allowing it to happen to you?' That is the day I left, and I never went back." Romeo and Juliet There is no easy answer for how law enforcement should act in the face of young girls who marry the men who could be their rapists. Do they arrest and prosecute? What if the bride and family aren't complaining? Enforcing criminal law is not the role of the county recorder of deeds. "We cannot do anything, legally," said Gloria Boyer, who for 27 years has issued licenses at the Platte County Courthouse, where Brittany Koerselman was married. "If a parent signs and a couple wants to get married, there is nothing we can do to stop issuing that marriage license. ... "You see situations come through where you're not necessarily really comfortable with it. You know, I'm the recorder. I'm not the police for this." Modern statutory rape laws grew out of a centuries-old English legal doctrine called parens patriae, explained Michelle Oberman, a professor and expert on statutory rape law at the Santa Clara University School of Law in California. The Latin term means "parent of one's country," and speaks to the notion of the government as parent, creating laws or steps to protect citizens who are either too vulnerable or young to protect themselves. Depending on the issue or state, those laws can range all over: 16 to drive; 17 in Missouri to have sex out of wedlock, but if you're one day younger and the partner is 21 or older then it's statutory rape; 21 to drink, although it used to be 18. Lawmakers now debate how young is too young to buy firearms. "The reason why the issue of child marriage is so interesting is that it really forces us to think of what decisions kids are capable of making on their own, and what decisions they actually need to be protected from because they are too young and too vulnerable and they get it wrong," Oberman said. Overlapping that, she said, is the matter of prosecutorial discretion, deciding which cases are worth pursuing. Overall, statutory rape cases come in three varieties, said Leslie Garfield Tenzer, a law professor at Pace University in New York: "There are the sick cases," she said, "the teacher sleeping with the child, or the 29-year-old sleeping with the child. That's an easy case. "Then you have the case in which the parent alerts the authorities and pushes for it. The parent is irate." Those, too, tend to get prosecuted, she said. But the third and thornier type is one in which the law has clearly been broken, but neither the child, partner nor parents are complaining. "When you have a crime," Tenzer said, "basically you're saying that the defendant wronged society. Convicting someone gives the family of the victim some sense of retribution, it maybe rehabilitates the defendant and it is a deterrence to society: Don't do this. "But if you have this girl who's in love with this guy, we really don't need to rehabilitate them. We don't necessarily need retribution if the parents understand that there's love there. And the question is, 'Do we want to take the time of prosecutors and taxpayers' money for a case to basically send a message to the rest of the world?'" In Idaho, the judge sent exactly that message. Heather Strawn's marriage to Aaron meant nothing. She was 14 when she became pregnant. Police acted as soon as they received a complaint from her mother. (The Strawns and Aaron Seaton declined interviews or did not return The Star's inquiries.) In Brittany Koerselman's native Iowa, Chief Deputy Jerry Birkey of the Lyon County Sheriff's Department said that if evidence of statutory rape exists, his office will make an arrest, even if the victims object. "A lot of times it doesn't matter if they don't cooperate, we'll still go forward," he said. Birkey, in fact, said that in Brittany's case, his office knew it could prove a case against Jeremie with DNA as soon as their baby was born. But the county attorney did not want to pursue it. "Our county attorney hates these cases," Birkey said. "We call them Romeo and Juliet cases, because really there is no winner. The victim ends up mad at you because they feel they're in love. "But if you ask any of our officers if charges should be filed, they're going to say yes." Shayne Mayer, the Lyon County attorney, said she could not discuss specific cases. "In general," she said, "I don't think these are easy cases from the sense of what end are we trying to gain here? Do you have an angry parent? Do you have a girl who is being taken advantage of? Obviously, I understand that it's illegal. What do we possibly gain from a prosecution of this individual? Are we going to incarcerate the father of her baby, and then who's going to pay for the child?" Mayer said the decision to prosecute would consider factors such as abuse, coercion and family complaints that might force them to charge and prosecute. "But are you going to put this guy on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life?" she said. "I mean those are the consequences that flow from this type of case." It's also possible that statutory rapists heading to the altar to escape the police are not arrested because law enforcement never learns of them. Statewide, the number of 15-year-olds marrying has dwindled each year, from 104 in 1999 to 16 in 2015. Missouri's Jackson County has recorded 64 marriages of 15-year-olds since 1999, more than any of the other 113 Missouri counties. But more recently in the county, the numbers have dropped to one, two or three such marriages a year. "I suspect we don't see a lot of these cases possibly because they are not being reported to police and, thus, not being submitted to our office," said Mike Mansur, spokesman for Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. "If we were aware of a case or if one were submitted, we would consider filing charges." Even then, Mansur added, "we would need to weigh the victim and her family's wishes. This is not to say that would be the only factor or the major factor, but it would need to be considered." Eight years after saying "I guess," Ashley is happier now, in a loving relationship with Tim Donnor, a pipe fitter, who considers all of Ashley's kids his own. They have two more, Bentley, 5, and Tim, 4. As soon as Ashley can afford a divorce, the couple hope to wed. Ashley said she supports any law that would raise the minimum marriage age to 18. She has long realized that the only reason she got married so young was out of fear and obedience, neither of them good reasons. "It was a little bit of both," she said. "I didn't want my child's father to go to jail. I really thought that he loved me. "I think I would have believed anyone who had said they loved me at 15." Source: Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com ****All pictures are Copyright of all original owners*****
  2. Guidelines for submitting your story of survivor- please read carefully ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. To submit your story of survivor to #wadt here is what you should do- remember everyone has a story, but your story is unique to you, your experience regarding domestic violence issues and how you have overcome the issue are very crucial when relaying your story to our holiday Angels. 2. If still in the thick of it all, we would wish to know how our Angels can help you and the children to breathe free. 3. Please answer the following questions: who, what, when, how, where the issues occurred in your life. 4. Please type or hand write legibly so folks can read what you have written 5. You may type on your phone as e-mail and e-mail your raw narratives to us 6. At the end of your story of survivor, please include the following:Your phone number, Your full name, your children's names, gender, ages, all shoe sizes for you and the children, clothes sizes, your e-mail address. 7. Please note the Angels fulfilling your requests are Corporations and everyday people in the community, their hearts wish to help, you must give them a reason why they need to help your family based on your circumstance. 8. E-mail to: Subject: My Story of Survivor, WADT Angels- e-mail to : wadt at wadt.org PS If posting on the forum, please do not use your real names. Many blessings
  3. Holiday wish list forum 2017 is now open. You may post your request. Please post your wish list ONLY in the Holiday 2017 forum, for ease of access to the community volunteers and WADT angels; also for ease of fulfillment. **Remember to still register your children for toys at the main site- we have 11yr-age limit for toys request, NO age limit for your wish. Happy posting!
  4. Prosper Ortega's family says just six months ago, she was a happy 23-year-old bride. Photos show her beaming and posing with her growing belly. Their child, Ari, would be born June 16th. Now, Prosper in the hospital in serious condition after that same husband, Aaron Uchitel, is charged with aggravated battery, false imprisonment, and cruelty to children. Ortega's family says he tortured her for days, drugging her beverages to keep her weak. Prosper's family says it all happened in front of their weeks-old infant baby boy. The pictures of injuries are difficult to see, but Ortega's family says she insisted they post them because she wanted people to see what had happened to her. Ortega, and her mother, Fawn, have worked with domestic violence victims and helped to combat sex trafficking. They believe Uchitel threatened to leave with the baby, so Prosper initially endured the abuse believing it would make him stay. She wanted to make sure "people are aware this can happen, and that it happened to her and she couldn't believe it because she loved him so much," said Fawn Ortega. The couple had a fight last November and Uchitel had been ordered to take an anger management class. Ortega says Uchitel talked positively about the program, making it even harder to reconcile what happened to her daughter. "Her ribs are broken. He beat her ribs and breast saying her milk was useless and she was worthless," said Ortega. "He tried to blind her so she couldn't see her baby, he tried to make her deaf so she couldn't hear him crying for her." According to Ortega, when her daughter broke a window and tried to run away, the husband tied her to the bed and cut off her hair. He also tried to rip out her teeth and bite off her top lip. Ortega says her daughter was stabbed in the chest and the back of her leg. She was within hours of dying when the mother forced her way inside the house to save her daughter. "I fought him. I fought him. I just went in there and I fought him," she said. The horrific story, and the photos to go with it, have gone viral. Prosper faces multiple medical procedures, and the online community has rallied around that need, donating more than $47,000 in three days. Ortega says what she needs most is for her daughter to heal, emotionally and physically. "I just want her to be okay and I just want to make sure he doesn't get out because she's terrified he's going to get out." Aaron Uchitel remains in jail. Because of the holiday, police could not comment on the case, nor could we get information from the jail on Uchitel's next court appearance. Source: http://www.11alive.com/news/local/husband-tortured-wife-in-front-of-infant-for-days/263236575
  5. Some Atlanta schools could soon be serving students three meals a day. A recent survey of Atlanta teenagers found that a significant number were hungry, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said during an appearance on WABE’s “A Closer Look.” File photo. “That just blew my mind, that we have enough students registering in our survey to say that they don’t have that basic need met,” she said. “I do think it’s time for APS to move fully to breakfast in the classroom.” School lunch has been standard for years. Some Atlanta schools started serving dinner in 2014. See below -------------- Fifty Atlanta schools will start offering free dinner to students participating in school-sponsored after-school programs, thanks to federal funding. That includes students on athletic teams, in school clubs and enrolled in after-school care. Long Middle School and Mays and Douglass high schools have already begun offering the meals. The program will begin at all participating schools on Sept. 15. Participating Atlanta Public Schools: Adamsville Beecher Hills Benteen Bethune Bolton Boyd Brown Bunche Carver High Cascade Centennial Cleveland Connally Continental Colony D.H. Stanton Deerwood Dobbs Drew Charter Dunbar F.L. Stanton Fain Fickett Finch Forrest Hills Gideons Harper-Archer Hope-Hill Hutchinson Jones Kimberly Long Maynard Mays Miles Parkside Perkerson Peyton Forest Price Scott Slater South Atlanta Therrell High Toomer Usher Venetian Hills Washington High West Manor Whitefoord Woodson Young Source: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/atlanta-schools-could-soon-feed-students-three-mea/nqfZM/ ****All imgaes are copyright of their respective owners
  6. A 44-year-old Jonesboro woman was shot Thursday evening in the parking lot of a CVS pharmacy on Tara Boulevard in what Clayton County police are describing as a “domestic-related incident.” Deborah Rahmen, 44, was taken to Atlanta Medical Center. Her condition was not known. Eddie Mack Allison, 50, was charged Thursday evening with aggravated assault, according to Clayton Police Lt. Robert Maddux. Allison’s address was not given. It was unclear if the two were married or how they knew each other. Witnesses said shortly after shooting the woman, Allison calmly got on his cellphone and could be heard saying “I just shot her.” One witness said Allison told her he called the police. The shooting, which occurred at the CVS at the corner of Tara Boulevard and Tara Road, sent people running for cover. Scene of shooting at CVS on Tara Boulevard in Clayton County. TAMMY JOYNER/ TJOYNER@AJC.COMMichael Martin said he had just left the CVS and was backing out of his parking space when a dark red Toyota truck pulled up blocking him in. The truck also blocked Rahmen’s grey Ford. “I was getting ready to get out of my car to see why he just pulled in like that and as I was exiting my car, I heard the first pop. It was a weird pop,” said Martin who lives in Hampton. “Once I got out of the car I heard him say “I’ll kill you!” and then he shot her two more times. Martin said he could hear the victim saying “Help me! Help me!” Rahmen’s mother who was in the passenger seat jumped out of the car and ran into the CVS yelling “He’s shooting my daughter!” Meanwhile Allison paced back and forth in front of the CVS and waited until the police came. “After he shot her, he was calm,” Martin said. “I was expecting him to jump in his truck and take off.” Source- http://ajc.com/local All images are copyright of original owners
  7. One year ago a group of gunmen in Burundi was hired to kill a woman visiting from Australia. But the hit did not go as planned, leaving her with a chance to turn the tables on the man who wanted her dead. "I felt like somebody who had risen again," says Noela Rukundo. She was supposed to be dead. The hired killers had been paid. They had even explained how they would dispose of the body. But now, waiting outside her house for the last of the mourners to leave, she was ready to face down the man who had put out a contract for her murder. "When I get out of the car, he saw me straight away. He put his hands on his head and said, 'Is it my eyes? Is it a ghost?'" "Surprise! I'm still alive!" she replied. Noela's ordeal began five days earlier, and 7,500 miles away in her native Burundi. She had returned to Africa from her home in Melbourne, Australia, to attend her stepmother's funeral. "I had lost the last person who I call 'mother'," she says. "It was very painful. I was so stressed." By early evening Noela had retreated to her hotel room. As she lay dozing in the stifling city heat of Bujumbura, her phone rang. It was a call from Australia - from Balenga Kalala, her husband and father to her three youngest children. "He says he'd been trying to get me for the whole day," Noela says. "I said I was going to bed. He told me, 'To bed? Why are you sleeping so early?' "I say, 'I'm not feeling happy'. And he asks me, 'How's the weather? Is it very, very hot?' He told me to go outside for fresh air." Noela took his advice. "I didn't think anything. I just thought that he cared about me, that he was worried about me." But moments after stepping outside the hotel compound, Noela found herself in danger. "I opened the gate and I saw a man coming towards me. Then he pointed the gun on me. "He just told me, 'Don't scream. If you start screaming, I will shoot you. They're going to catch me, but you? You will already be dead.' "So, I did exactly what he told me." The gunman motioned Noela towards a waiting car. "I was sitting between two men. One had a small gun, one had a long gun. And the men say to the driver, 'Pass us a scarf.' Then they cover my face. "After that, I didn't say anything. They just said to the driver, 'Let's go.' "I was taken somewhere, 30 to 40 minutes, then I hear the car stop." Noela was pushed inside a building and tied to a chair. "One of the kidnappers told his friend, 'Go call the boss.' I can hear doors open but I didn't know if their boss was in a room or if he came from outside. "They ask me, 'What did you do to this man? Why has this man asked us to kill you?' And then I tell them, 'Which man? Because I don't have any problem with anybody.' They say, 'Your husband!' I say, 'My husband can't kill me, you are lying!' And then they slap me. "After that the boss says, 'You are very stupid, you are fool. Let me call who has paid us to kill you.'" The gang's leader made the call. "We already have her," he triumphantly told his paymaster. The phone was put on loudspeaker for Noela to hear the reply. Her husband's voice said: "Kill her." Just hours earlier, the same voice had consoled her over the death of her stepmother and urged her to take fresh air outside the hotel. Now her husband Balenga Kalala had condemned her to death. "I heard his voice. I heard him. I felt like my head was going to blow up. "Then they described for him where they were going to chuck the body." At that, Noela says she passed out. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Balenga Kalala had arrived in Australia in 2004 as a refugee, after fleeing a rebel army that had rampaged through his village, killing his wife and young son. Settling in Melbourne, he soon found steady employment, first in a seafood processing factory and then in a warehouse as a forklift operator. "He could already speak English," recalls Noela, who also arrived in Australia in 2004. "My social worker was his social worker, and they used him to translate Swahili." The two fell in love. They set up home in the Kings Park suburb of the city. Noela had five children from a previous relationship and went on to have three more with Kalala. "I knew he was a violent man," admits Noela. "But I didn't believe he can kill me. I loved this man with all my heart! "I give him, beautiful and handsome, two boys and one girl. So I don't know why he choose to kill me." As the gang's leader ended the call to Kalala, Noela was coming round. "I said to myself, I was already dead. Nothing I can do can save me. "But he looks at me and then he says, 'We're not going to kill you. We don't kill women and children.' "He told me I'd been stupid because my husband paid them the deposit in November. And when I went to Africa it was January. He asked me, 'How stupid can you be, from November, you can't see that something is wrong?'" He might have been a hit-man with principles, but the gang's leader still took the opportunity to extort more money from Kalala. He called him back and informed him that the fee for the murder had increased. He wanted a further 3,400 Australian dollars (£1,700) to finish the job. Back at the hotel, Noela's brother was getting worried about her disappearance. He called Kalala in Australia to ask for $545 to pay the police to open an investigation - Kalala feigned concern and duly wired the money. After two days in captivity, Noela was freed. "'We give you 80 hours to leave this country,'" Noela says the gang told her. "'Your husband is serious. Maybe we can spare your life, but other people, they're not going to do the same thing. If God helps you, you'll get to Australia.'" Before leaving Noela by the side of a road, the gang handed her the evidence they hoped would incriminate Kalala - a memory card containing recorded phone conversations of him discussing the murder and receipts for the Western Union money transfers. "We just want you to go back, to tell other stupid women like you what happened," the gang told Noela as they parted. "You must learn something: you people get a chance to go overseas for a better life. But the money you are earning, the money the government gives to you, you use it for killing each other!" Noela immediately began planning her return to Australia. She called the pastor of her church in Melbourne, Dassano Harruno Nantogmah, and requested his help. "'It was in the middle of the night. I says, 'It's me, I'm still alive, don't tell anybody.' He says, 'Noela, I don't believe it. Balenga can't kill someone!' And I said, 'Pastor, believe me!'" His voice always comes to me in the night - 'Kill her, kill her' Noela Rukundo Three days later, on the evening of 22 February 2015, Noela was back in Melbourne. By now, Kalala had informed the community that his wife had died in a tragic accident. He had spent the day hosting a steady stream of well-wishers, many of whom donated money. "It was around 7.30pm," Noela says. "He was in front of the house. People had been inside mourning with him and he was escorting a group of them into a car." It was as they drove away that Noela sprang her surprise. "I was stood just looking at him. He was scared, he didn't believe it. Then he starts walking towards me, slowly, like he was walking on broken glass. "He kept talking to himself and when he reached me, he touched me on the shoulder. He jumped. "He did it again. He jumped. Then he said, 'Noela, is it you?'… Then he start screaming, 'I'm sorry for everything.'" Noela called the police who ordered Kalala off the premises and later obtained a court order against him. Days later, the police instructed Noela to call Kalala. Kalala made a full confession to his wife, captured on tape, begging for her forgiveness and revealing why he had ordered the murder. "He say he wanted to kill me because he was jealous," says Noela. "He think that I wanted to leave him for another man." She rejects the accusation. In a police interview, Kalala denied any involvement in the plot. "The pretence," wrote the judge at his trial in December, "lasted for hours." But when confronted with the recording of his telephone conversation with Noela and the evidence she brought back from Burundi he started to cry. Kalala was still unable to offer any explanation for his actions, suggesting only that "sometimes [the] devil can come into someone to do something but after they do it, they start thinking, 'Why I did that thing?'" On 11 December last year, in court in Melbourne, after pleading guilty to incitement to murder, Kalala was sentenced to nine years in prison. "His voice always comes in the night - 'Kill her, kill her,'" says Noela of the nightmares that now plague her. "Every night, I see what was happening in those two days with the kidnappers." Ostracised by many in Melbourne's African community, some of whom blame her for Kalala's conviction, Noela sees a difficult future for her and her eight children. "But I will stand up like a strong woman," she says. "My situation, my past life? That is gone. I'm starting a new life now." Source: http://bbc.co.uk All Images are copyright of their original owners
  8. Two centuries ago Sarah Baartman died after years spent in European "freak shows". Now rumours over a possible Hollywood film about Baartman's life have sparked controversy. Sarah Baartman died on 29 December 1815, but her exhibition continued. Her brain, skeleton and sexual organs remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Her remains weren't repatriated and buried until 2002. Brought to Europe seemingly on false pretences by a British doctor, stage-named the "Hottentot Venus", she was paraded around "freak shows" in London and Paris, with crowds invited to look at her large buttocks. Today she is seen by many as the epitome of colonial exploitation and racism, of the ridicule and commodification of black people. Reports of Beyonce planning to write and star in a film about Baartman have been denied by the singer's representatives. But the rumours were enough to generate concern. Jean Burgess, a chief from the Khoikhoi group that Baartman was from, argued that Beyonce lacked "the basic human dignity to be worthy of writing Sarah's story, let alone playing the part". But Jack Devnarain, chairman of the South African Guild of Actors, said filmmakers had the ""right to tell the stories of people you find fascinating and that's what we must be careful not to object to". Even in denying any link to a film, Beyonce's representative said: "This is an important story that should be told." Baartman's life was one of huge hardship. It is thought she was born in South Africa's Eastern Cape in 1789, her mother died when she was two and her father, a cattle driver, died when she was an adolescent. She entered domestic service in Cape Town after a Dutch colonist murdered her partner, with whom she had had a baby who died. In October 1810, although illiterate, Baartman allegedly signed a contract with English ship surgeon William Dunlop and mixed-race entrepreneur Hendrik Cesars, in whose household she worked, saying she would travel to England to take part in shows. The reason was that Baartman, also known as Sara or Saartjie, had steatopygia, a genetic condition resulting in extremely protuberant buttocks due to a build-up of fat. These made her a cause of fascination when she was exhibited at a venue in London's Piccadilly Circus after her arrival. "You have to remember that, at the time, it was highly fashionable and desirable for women to have large bottoms, so lots of people envied what she had naturally, without having to accentuate her figure," says Rachel Holmes, author of The Hottentot Venus: The Life and Death of Saartjie Baartman. On stage she wore skin-tight, flesh-coloured clothing, as well as beads and feathers, and smoked a pipe. Wealthy customers could pay for private demonstrations in their homes, with their guests allowed to touch her. Her arrival in England coincided with speculation over whether Lord Grenville and his coalition of Whigs - known as the "broad bottoms" because of Grenville's own large behind - would try to seize government. This was a gift for cartoonists. One creation, entitled A Pair of Broad Bottoms, shows Grenville and Baartman standing back-to-back, with another figure measuring their respective posterior sizes. Baartman's promoters nicknamed her the "Hottentot Venus", with "hottentot" - now seen as derogatory - then being used in Dutch to describe the Khoikhoi and San, who together make up the peoples known as the Khoisan. The British Empire had abolished the slave trade in 1807, but not slavery itself. Even so, campaigners were appalled at Baartman's treatment in London. Her employers were prosecuted for holding Baartman against her will, but not convicted, with Baartman herself testifying in their favour. "The question remains - was Baartman coerced, as abolitionist/humanitarian campaigners claimed, or was she acting on her own free will?" says Christer Petley, a history lecturer at Southampton University. "If she was coerced, she might have felt too intimidated to tell the truth in court. We'll never know. "The case is complex and the relationship between Baartman and her handlers was certainly not equally weighted, even if she had some element of choice or felt she could gain something - material or otherwise - from her performance." Holmes says Baartman's show also included dancing and playing several musical instruments, and that a "sophisticated" audience in London, a city in which ethnic minorities weren't rare even at that time, would not simply have stopped and looked at her for long on account of her race. After the case, Baartman's show gradually lost its novelty and popularity among audiences in the capital and she went on tour around Britain and Ireland. In 1814 she moved to Paris with Cesars. She became a celebrity once more, drinking at the Cafe de Paris and attending society parties. Cesars returned to South Africa and Baartman came under the influence of an "animal exhibitor", with the stage name Reaux. She drank and smoked heavily and, according to Holmes, was "probably prostituted" by him. Baartman agreed to be studied and painted by a group of scientists and artists but refused to appear fully naked before them, arguing that this was beneath her dignity - she had never done this in one of her shows. This period was the beginning of the study of what became known as "racial science", says Holmes. Baartman died aged 26. The cause was described as "inflammatory and eruptive disease". It's since been suggested this was a result of pneumonia, syphilis or alcoholism. The naturalist Georges Cuvier, who had danced with Baartman at one of Reaux's parties, made a plaster cast of her body before dissecting it. He preserved her skeleton and pickled her brain and genitals, placing them in jars displayed at Paris's Museum of Man. They remained on public display until 1974, something Holmes describes as "grotesque". "The domination of Africans was explained with the aid of science, thereby establishing the Khoisan ('the Hottentots') as the most ignoble group in the progression of mankind, purported to mate with the orangutan," wrote Natasha Gordon-Chipembere, editor of Representation and Black Womanhood: The legacy of Sarah Baartman. After his election in 1994 as President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela requested the repatriation of Baartman's remains and Cuvier's plaster cast. The French government eventually agreed and this happened in March 2002. In August of that year, her remains were buried in Hankey, in Eastern Cape province, 192 years after Baartman had left for Europe. Several books have been published about her treatment and cultural significance. "She has become the landscape upon which multiple narratives of exploitation and suffering within black womanhood have been enacted," wrote Gordon-Chipembere. She argued that, amid all this, Baartman "the woman, remains invisible". Even for those outside South Africa who are unaware of Baartman's story, there have been subtle cultural references. In 2014, the cover of Paper magazine showed reality television star Kim Kardashian balancing a champagne glass on her protruding bottom. Some critics complained the image was reminiscent of contemporary drawings of Baartman. The Kardashian photo referenced a 1976 image by the same photographer - Jean-Paul Goude - which showed black model Carolina Beaumont naked and in a similar pose. Last year, a plaque at her burial site in Hankey was splashed with white paint, causing further distress. This happened a couple of weeks after the removal from Cape Town University of the statue of Cecil Rhodes, the 19th Century businessman and politician who declared the British to be "the first race in the world", following protests by students. "People are working out how they want to deal with these issues over time," says Petley. "Often they've been covered up and it's now time to re-evaluate them. The important thing is to do so in a way that avoids mud-slinging and look seriously at these aspects of our past." Image copyright belong to their respective owners- article is of interest to all women Source- http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35240987
  9. The Stone."..Yet, I refuse to remain a prisoner of the lies that we men like to tell ourselves — that we are beyond the messiness of sexism and male patriarchy, that we don’t oppress women. Let me clarify. This doesn’t mean that I intentionally hate women or that I desire to oppress them. It means that despite my best intentions, I perpetuate sexism every day of my life..." Dear White AmericaBy George Yancy December 24, 2015 3:40 amDecember 24, 2015 3:40 am The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. PhotoCredit Todd Heisler/The New York TimesIn 2015, I conducted a series of 19 interviews with philosophers and public intellectuals on the issue of race. My aim was to engage, in this very public space, with the often unnamed elephant in the room. These discussions helped me, and I hope many of our readers, to better understand how race continues to function in painful ways within our country. That was one part of a gift that I wanted to give to readers of The Stone, the larger philosophical community, and the world. The interviewees themselves — bell hooks, Cornel West, Judith Butler, Peter Singer, David H. Kim, Molefi Kete Asante among them — came from a variety of racial backgrounds, and their concerns and positions were even more diverse. But on the whole I came to see these interviews as linked by a common thread: They were messages to white America — because they often directly expressed the experience of those who live and have lived as people of color in a white-run world, and that is something no white person could ever truly know firsthand. That is how I want to deliver my own message now. • Dear White America, I have a weighty request. As you read this letter, I want you to listen with love, a sort of love that demands that you look at parts of yourself that might cause pain and terror, as James Baldwin would say. Did you hear that? You may have missed it. I repeat: I want you to listen with love. Well, at least try. We don’t talk much about the urgency of love these days, especially within the public sphere. Much of our discourse these days is about revenge, name calling, hate, and divisiveness. I have yet to hear it from our presidential hopefuls, or our political pundits. I don’t mean the Hollywood type of love, but the scary kind, the kind that risks not being reciprocated, the kind that refuses to flee in the face of danger. To make it a bit easier for you, I’ve decided to model, as best as I can, what I’m asking of you. Let me demonstrate the vulnerability that I wish you to show. As a child of Socrates, James Baldwin and Audre Lorde, let me speak the truth, refuse to err on the side of caution. This letter is a gift for you. Bear in mind, though, that some gifts can be heavy to bear. You don’t have to accept it; there is no obligation. I give it freely, believing that many of you will throw the gift back in my face, saying that I wrongly accuse you, that I am too sensitive, that I’m a race hustler, and that I blame white people (you) for everything. I have read many of your comments. I have even received some hate mail. In this letter, I ask you to look deep, to look into your souls with silence, to quiet that voice that will speak to you of your white “innocence.” So, as you read this letter, take a deep breath. Make a space for my voice in the deepest part of your psyche. Try to listen, to practice being silent. There are times when you must quiet your own voice to hear from or about those who suffer in ways that you do not. What if I told you that I’m sexist? Well, I am. Yes. I said it and I mean just that. I have watched my male students squirm in their seats when I’ve asked them to identify and talk about their sexism. There are few men, I suspect, who would say that they are sexists, and even fewer would admit that their sexism actually oppresses women. Certainly not publicly, as I’ve just done. No taking it back now. To make things worse, I’m an academic, a philosopher. I’m supposed to be one of the “enlightened” ones. Surely, we are beyond being sexists. Some, who may genuinely care about my career, will say that I’m being too risky, that I am jeopardizing my academic livelihood. Some might even say that as a black male, who has already been stereotyped as a “crotch-grabbing, sexual fiend,” that I’m at risk of reinforcing that stereotype. (Let’s be real, that racist stereotype has been around for centuries; it is already part of white America’s imaginary landscape.) Yet, I refuse to remain a prisoner of the lies that we men like to tell ourselves — that we are beyond the messiness of sexism and male patriarchy, that we don’t oppress women. Let me clarify. This doesn’t mean that I intentionally hate women or that I desire to oppress them. It means that despite my best intentions, I perpetuate sexism every day of my life. Please don’t take this as a confession for which I’m seeking forgiveness. Confessions can be easy, especially when we know that forgiveness is immediately forthcoming. Being a ‘good’ white person or a liberal white person won’t get you off the hook. As a sexist, I have failed women. I have failed to speak out when I should have. I have failed to engage critically and extensively their pain and suffering in my writing. I have failed to transcend the rigidity of gender roles in my own life. I have failed to challenge those poisonous assumptions that women are “inferior” to men or to speak out loudly in the company of male philosophers who believe that feminist philosophy is just a nonphilosophical fad. I have been complicit with, and have allowed myself to be seduced by, a country that makes billions of dollars from sexually objectifying women, from pornography, commercials, video games, to Hollywood movies. I am not innocent. I have been fed a poisonous diet of images that fragment women into mere body parts. I have also been complicit with a dominant male narrative that says that women enjoy being treated like sexual toys. In our collective male imagination, women are “things” to be used for our visual and physical titillation. And even as I know how poisonous and false these sexist assumptions are, I am often ambushed by my own hidden sexism. I continue to see women through the male gaze that belies my best intentions not to sexually objectify them. Our collective male erotic feelings and fantasies are complicit in the degradation of women. And we must be mindful that not all women endure sexual degradation in the same way. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again. I recognize how my being a sexist has a differential impact on black women and women of color who are not only victims of racism, but also sexism, my sexism. For example, black women and women of color not only suffer from sexual objectification, but the ways in which they are objectified is linked to how they are racially depicted, some as “exotic” and others as “hyper-sexual.” You see, the complicity, the responsibility, the pain that I cause runs deep. And, get this. I refuse to seek shelter; I refuse to live a lie. So, every day of my life I fight against the dominant male narrative, choosing to see women as subjects, not objects. But even as I fight, there are moments of failure. Just because I fight against sexism does not give me clean hands, as it were, at the end of the day; I continue to falter, and I continue to oppress. And even though the ways in which I oppress women is unintentional, this does not free me of being responsible. If you are white, and you are reading this letter, I ask that you don’t run to seek shelter from your own racism. Don’t hide from your responsibility. Rather, begin, right now, to practice being vulnerable. Being neither a “good” white person nor a liberal white person will get you off the proverbial hook. I consider myself to be a decent human being. Yet, I’m sexist. Take another deep breath. I ask that you try to be “un-sutured.” If that term brings to mind a state of pain, open flesh, it is meant to do so. After all, it is painful to let go of your “white innocence,” to use this letter as a mirror, one that refuses to show you what you want to see, one that demands that you look at the lies that you tell yourself so that you don’t feel the weight of responsibility for those who live under the yoke of whiteness, your whiteness. I can see your anger. I can see that this letter is being misunderstood. This letter is not asking you to feel bad about yourself, to wallow in guilt. That is too easy. I’m asking for you to tarry, to linger, with the ways in which you perpetuate a racist society, the ways in which you are racist. I’m now daring you to face a racist history which, paraphrasing Baldwin, has placed you where you are and that has formed your own racism. Again, in the spirit of Baldwin, I am asking you to enter into battle with your white self. I’m asking that you open yourself up; to speak to, to admit to, the racist poison that is inside of you. Again, take a deep breath. Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have. Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’m the racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again. You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the K.K.K., but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism. After all, you are part of a system that allows you to walk into stores where you are not followed, where you get to go for a bank loan and your skin does not count against you, where you don’t need to engage in “the talk” that black people and people of color must tell their children when they are confronted by white police officers. As you reap comfort from being white, we suffer for being black and people of color. But your comfort is linked to our pain and suffering. Just as my comfort in being male is linked to the suffering of women, which makes me sexist, so, too, you are racist. That is the gift that I want you to accept, to embrace. It is a form of knowledge that is taboo. Imagine the impact that the acceptance of this gift might have on you and the world. Take another deep breath. I know that there are those who will write to me in the comment section with boiling anger, sarcasm, disbelief, denial. There are those who will say, “Yancy is just an angry black man.” There are others who will say, “Why isn’t Yancy telling black people to be honest about the violence in their own black neighborhoods?” Or, “How can Yancy say that all white people are racists?” If you are saying these things, then you’ve already failed to listen. I come with a gift. You’re already rejecting the gift that I have to offer. This letter is about you. Don’t change the conversation. I assure you that so many black people suffering from poverty and joblessness, which is linked to high levels of crime, are painfully aware of the existential toll that they have had to face because they are black and, as Baldwin adds, “for no other reason.” Some of your white brothers and sisters have made this leap. The legal scholar Stephanie M. Wildman, has written, “I simply believe that no matter how hard I work at not being racist, I still am. Because part of racism is systemic, I benefit from the privilege that I am struggling to see.” And the journalism professor Robert Jensen: “I like to think I have changed, even though I routinely trip over the lingering effects of that internalized racism and the institutional racism around me. Every time I walk into a store at the same time as a black man and the security guard follows him and leaves me alone to shop, I am benefiting from white privilege.” What I’m asking is that you first accept the racism within yourself, accept all of the truth about what it means for you to be white in a society that was created for you. I’m asking for you to trace the binds that tie you to forms of domination that you would rather not see. When you walk into the world, you can walk with assurance; you have already signed a contract, so to speak, that guarantees you a certain form of social safety. Baldwin argues for a form of love that is “a state of being, or state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.” Most of my days, I’m engaged in a personal and societal battle against sexism. So many times, I fail. And so many times, I’m complicit. But I refuse to hide behind that mirror that lies to me about my “non-sexist nobility.” Baldwin says, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” In my heart, I’m done with the mask of sexism, though I’m tempted every day to wear it. And, there are times when it still gets the better of me. NOW IN PRINT The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments An anthology of essays from The Times’s philosophy series, published by Liveright. White America, are you prepared to be at war with yourself, your white identity, your white power, your white privilege? Are you prepared to show me a white self that love has unmasked? I’m asking for love in return for a gift; in fact, I’m hoping that this gift might help you to see yourself in ways that you have not seen before. Of course, the history of white supremacy in America belies this gesture of black gift-giving, this gesture of non-sentimental love. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered even as he loved. Perhaps the language of this letter will encourage a split — not a split between black and white, but a fissure in your understanding, a space for loving a Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald and others. I’m suggesting a form of love that enables you to see the role that you play (even despite your anti-racist actions) in a system that continues to value black lives on the cheap. Take one more deep breath. I have another gift. If you have young children, before you fall off to sleep tonight, I want you to hold your child. Touch your child’s face. Smell your child’s hair. Count the fingers on your child’s hand. See the miracle that is your child. And then, with as much vision as you can muster, I want you to imagine that your child is black. In peace, George Yancy George Yancy is a professor of philosophy at Emory University. He has written, edited and co-edited numerous books, including “Black Bodies, White Gazes,” “Look, a White!” and “Pursuing Trayvon Martin,” co-edited with Janine Jones. Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and on Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter. Source: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/dear-white-america/?_r=0
  10. Courtesy- AJC --------------- By Craig Schneider - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  Jennifer Rosenbaum, charged with child abuse and murder in connection with 2-year-old Laila Marie Daniel’s death, seemed close to tears before her bond hearing at Henry County Superior Court in McDonough on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM A Henry County woman charged with beating, starving and killing a 2-year-old foster child in her care was granted bond Tuesday, eliciting groans from the little girl’s friends and family in the courtroom. Jennifer Rosenbaum was granted a $100,000 bond by Henry County Judge Arch McGarity, who also ordered her to wear an ankle-monitoring device. She is charged in the Nov. 17 death of Laila Marie Daniel. Laila’s family and friends became visibly upset when Rosenbaum was granted bond. Several gasped and started crying, then rose up to walk out in protest. Some suspected that Rosenbaum, an Emory University law student who had served as an intern in the local court and district attorney’s office, was receiving special treatment. A few said the case should be shifted to another court. “It should be moved to another county,” said family friend Rebecca Bause, 35. Related Video 911 call released in McDonough foster child caseRosenbaum’s attorney, Corinne Mull, said her client never abused Laila, that the child’s death was the result of an accident, and that Rosenbaum isn’t receiving preferential treatment. Henry County District Attorney James Wright had opposed setting bail for Rosenbaum. The majority of murder defendants are not granted bond, said Russell Covey, a law professor at Georgia State University. Another dead child, another grim look at DFCS DFCS fires 2 workers after foster child’s deathCoroner announces foster child’s cause of deathDA reviewing staffer’s action in foster care case“I think it’s relatively rare, but it’s far from unheard of,” Covey said. Bobby Cagle, the head of the state child welfare agency, commented on the case Tuesday to Channel 2 Action News, saying, “I think there may have been opportunities there that we missed.” “In situations where a (caseworker), for instance, sees an injury to a child, they need to be reporting that just as any reporter should,” said Cagle, director of the Division of Family and Children Services. “That’s one of the things we are looking at in this case to determine (whether) we could have done things differently.” +Jennifer Rosenbaum, charged with child abuse and murder in connection with 2-year-old Laila Marie Daniel’s death, seemed close to tears before ... read moreDFCS has a long history of trouble managing children in foster care, and Laila’s death comes at the end of a year of initiatives meant to repair the agency. Distraught, dismayed Before the Rosenbaum hearing, several of Laila’s friends and family gathered in front of the courthouse and held up signs saying “No Bond for Child Murder” and “Justice 4 Laila.” The girl’s great-aunt, Kim Smith, led the group in a prayer, saying, “Lord, we know that justice will be done. … It’s not about the things (Rosenbaum) did for the community. It’s what was done to Laila.” Meanwhile, Rosenbaum’s friends and family anxiously waited outside Courtroom A. Her attorney said she hoped the judge would grant a bond because Rosenbaum was not a risk to flee the area or to influence any witnesses. “She’s distraught, very dismayed, and sad over the death of this child,” Mull said. No criminal history Laila died Nov. 17, about five months after she was placed in the care of Rosenbaum and her husband, Joseph. The arrest warrant for Jennifer Rosenbaum said she killed the child by striking her in the abdomen “with such force the child’s pancreas was transected. The child was believed to enter shock due to the blood loss resulting from the injury.” The warrant noted that Laila was “injured about her body in its entirety,” suffering severe bruising on her back, legs, head and abdomen, and breaks of her legs and arms. The Rosenbaums also abused Laila’s sister, authorities said. During the bond hearing, Rosenbaum sat beside her attorney in a gray pants suit, looking sad. The attorney called a handful of supporters to the stand to praise Rosenbaum’s community involvement and clean criminal history. Rosenbaum had also served as an intern in the state Legislature. ‘A voice for children’ Rosenbaum’s sister, Lauren Banks, said Rosenbaum has been an advocate for children ever since her days as a foster child. She said Rosenbaum had been removed from her mother’s care at an early age and bounced from foster home to foster home. “She wants to be a voice for children in foster homes,” Banks said. “She did everything she could to assist others.” Robert Hinton said he knows Rosenbaum from the local Republican Party. Prior to her arrest, Rosenbaum had announced her candidacy for a seat on the Henry County Commission. Asked whether he thought Rosenbaum might try to flee if she received bond, Hinton replied, “I have no doubt whatsoever that she’d follow the law.” Rosenbaum’s husband, Joseph, charged with child cruelty, had been previously granted a $10,000 bond. Mull, Rosenbaum’s attorney, said Laila died after Jennifer Rosenbaum performed the Heimlich maneuver and CPR to help the child when the girl was choking on some chicken. She said the force of the compressions may have caused the injury to the pancreas. Mull attributed the children’s other injuries to either abuse prior to their stay with the Rosenbaums or the general bumps and bruises of childhood play. Bond: yes or no? In weighing whether to grant bond, judges must consider the severity of the crime as well as whether the defendant might try to flee or intimidate any witnesses, said Covey, the Georgia State law professor. A judge’s decision might also be influenced by the amount of public outcry over the crime, said Mike Puglise, a Gwinnett County defense attorney. He pointed to the intense public uproar over the case of Justin Ross Harris, the Cobb County father accused of intentionally leaving his 22-month-old son in a hot car to die. Harris has been in jail with no bond since June of last year. In granting the bond for Rosenbaum, Judge McGarity noted that just because this is a murder case, it does not mean a person should not receive bond. “It just doesn’t work like that,” the judge said. Source:http://ajc.com
  11. The case summary details a broken leg that Laila suffered while in Rosenbaum’s care. Courtesy- AJC By Craig Schneider - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  Laila Marie Daniel, 2, in an undated family photo. (Family Photo) A state child protection worker and her supervisor failed to investigate injuries spotted on a 2-year-old girl in foster care, who police say later died of abuse, according to documents obtained Wednesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Moreover, the agency workers did not heed warnings about , according to the case summary by the state Division of Family and Children Services. The AJC obtained the summary through the state open records law. Photos: Emotional bond hearing in foster child's death case The case summary details a litany of errors by the agency that had removed Laila Marie Daniel from the care of her birth mother and eventually placed her with Rosenbaum this summer. DFCS’ mission is to protect children, but in this case, the agency placed Laila in the hands of a caretaker who police say eventually beat, starved and killed the child. The case summary details a broken leg that Laila suffered while in Rosenbaum’s care. Rosenbaum told DFCS caseworker Samantha White that the injury occurred while the child was at a gymnastics class. Had White checked out that story, she would have learned that the child was not even enrolled in a gymnastics class, the summary said. “It was definitely a screw-up. That’s where the ball was dropped,” said Gina Banks, the girl’s maternal grandmother. Related Video911 call released in McDonough foster child caseBanks, of Forest Park, said DFCS missed the red flags that could have saved Laila. Banks said the agency needs a thorough review, and that Rosenbaum “swindled her way through the system and pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes.” White and her supervisor, Tamara Warner, have since been fired for violating agency policies that require a review of serious injuries of children in foster care. Coroner announces foster child’s cause of deathDA reviewing staffer’s action in foster care caseWoman charged with killing foster child released on bondThe case summary also pointed to warnings about Rosenbaum from a woman who had been the girl’s prior foster care mother. Patricia Lambert was caring for Laila before the girl was formally transferred to Rosenbaum’s care. The girl made several visits to Rosenbaum’s during that time, but Lambert told the agency that Laila came back with injuries. “She was concerned about their care and the supervision being provided by the Rosenbaums,” the summary said. The caseworker did not file a report on these injuries or investigate them, the summary said. Rosenbaum, charged with murder and child cruelty, was granted a $100,000 bond Tuesday in Henry County Superior Court. Her husband, Joseph, charged with child cruelty, had earlier received a $10,000 bond. Laila died Nov. 17, about five months after she was placed in the care of the Rosenbaums. The arrest warrant for Jennifer Rosenbaum said she killed the child by striking her in the abdomen “with such force the child’s pancreas was transected. The child was believed to enter shock due to the blood loss resulting from the injury.” The warrant noted that Laila was “injured about her body in its entirety,” suffering severe bruising on her back, legs, head and abdomen, and breaks of her legs and arms. The Rosenbaums also abused Laila’s sister, authorities said. Corinne Mull, the Rosenbaums’ attorney, said Laila died after Jennifer Rosenbaum performed the Heimlich maneuver and CPR when the child was choking on some chicken. Mull said the force of the compressions may have caused the injury to the pancreas. Mull attributed Laila’s and her sister’s other injuries to either abuse prior to their stay with the Rosenbaums or the general bumps and bruises of childhood play. White and Warner were also fired because of problems with a background check on Rosenbaum. When DFCS places a foster child with a person, the agency is supposed to check whether the person has a criminal history or any accusations against them of child abuse or neglect. The agency also inspects the home to make sure it’s a safe environment. “We followed the standard background check, but it was not conducted as thoroughly as it was defined in policy,” said DFCS spokeswoman Ashley Fielding. She said the caseworker failed to screen Rosenbaum’s maiden name when determining whether she had a history of accusations of child abuse or neglect. Rosenbaum had no such history, Fielding said, so the check “would not have had an impact on the placement decision.
  12. A police detective who had investigated online crimes against children killed himself Tuesday, moments before police could charge him with having inappropriate contact with two young teens. David Edward Abbott, 39, of Gainesville, was a Manassas City detective. He had served on the Northern Virginia-Washington D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. A police detective who had investigated online crimes against children killed himself Tuesday, moments before police could charge him with having inappropriate contact with two young teens. David Edward Abbott, 39, of Gainesville, Virginia, was a Manassas City detective. He had served on the Northern Virginia-Washington, D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Police tried to serve him with warrants Tuesday, but he refused to surrender, authorities said. Believing Abbott was armed, police began to evacuate nearby homes. At about 7 a.m., as detectives spoke to Abbott, he pulled out a gun and shot himself, police said. Abbott was pronounced dead at the scene, a town home he shared with his sister in Gainesville, Va. The search and arrest warrants were for having inappropriate conduct with two victims while Abbott was a Prince William youth hockey coach. He was to be charged with two counts of taking indecent liberties and two counts of using a communications device to solicit sexual offenses. Police said Abbott made contact with the first victim when the boy was 11 years old. According to police, Abbott solicited sex acts over phone, by text and through social media and email, police said. He also had face-to-face contact with the boy, police said. During the investigation, police discovered a second victim, whom Abbott contacted when the boy was 13 years old. The hockey club said it was working with parents and players to make sure that they got any support that they needed. Manassas police called the day a tragic one, and issued a statement, saying, "In spite of these recent developments regarding the serious allegations against him, we are grateful for the contributions detective Abbott made during his time with Manassas City Police." In 2014, Abbott was the detective in a high-profile case in which a 17-year-old Manassas teen was sentenced for sending explicit texts to his 15-year-old girlfriend. At one point, police had sought to take a photo of the 17-year-old's genitals, including some in an aroused state, to make the case. The request led to protests from the 17-year-old's lawyer, who said at one point, "Who does this? It's just crazy." Source: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/David-Abbott-Police-Officer-Kills-Self-Moments-Before-He-Was-Charged-with-Soliciting-Teens-362452411.html
  13. Years before he was associated with the deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, Syed Rizwan Farook endured a turbulent home life, according to court records. In 2006 divorce filings, his mother detailed a violent marital history in which her children often had to intervene. Rafia Farook said her husband of 24 years was physically and verbally abusive and was “negligent and an alcoholic,” according to documents filed in Riverside County Superior Court. Her husband, she said, forced her and three of her children to move out. They moved into an Irvine residence. Later, in multiple requests for domestic-violence protection, Rafia Farook detailed the maltreatment she said she encountered and that her children witnessed: Her husband had once drunkenly dropped a TV on her. Another time, he pushed her toward a car. After a drunken slumber, he shouted expletives and threw dishes in the kitchen. “Inside the house he tried to hit me. My daughter came in between to save me,” she said about one incident. Police were not called to the home, she said. “He is always mad,” she said. “Screaming on me, shouting at my kids for no reason. … My son came in between to save me.” San Bernardino mass shooting It was unclear if she was referring to Syed Rizwan Farook, who at the time was 19 and living with her, according to documents. “I have been the sole caregiver of the children of this marriage,” she wrote. Rafia Farook, who said at the time she worked 24 hours a week as a revenue support clerk for $16 an hour at Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, sought custody of the couple’s teenage daughter, Eba. She proposed that Syed Rizwan Farook, the younger of her two sons, supervise future visits between her husband and daughter. Rafia Farook also described a February 2008 dispute in which police were called to the home. Her husband and one of their sons fought, and her husband threatened to kill himself, she said. She called her husband’s brother in Chicago, who notified local authorities. They alerted authorities in Riverside. Police arrived at the home about 5 a.m. on an unspecified date. Her husband was placed in a county hospital for a 72-hour observation period, she said. Rafia Farook said her husband “threatens to kill himself on a daily basis.” Eventually, a Riverside police officer served her husband, who is also named Syed Farook, with a restraining order, according to court papers. The case languished for reasons that are unclear. Neither spouse showed up to court-ordered mediation, and in April 2008, Rafia Farook successfully sought to have her divorce case dismissed. But one month after the dismissal, Rafia Farook filed a petition for legal separation, citing irreconcilable differences. Papers show her hours with Kaiser increased to full time and she was earning about $2,900 per month. Still, it did not cover the family’s expenses, including a mortgage and car payment. Her husband, she said, had not held a steady job for “a long time." When her husband was served with legal separation papers, he was reached at an address in Karachi, Pakistan. At this time, she said her sons, Syed Raheel Farook, then 23, and Syed Rizwan Farook, then 20, lived with her, along with her younger daughter. Another daughter, Saira, apparently lived elsewhere. At one point, Rafia Farook had requested in court documents that her husband require written permission to travel outside California, specifically to Pakistan, with their youngest daughter. In October 2008, an entry judgment was declared in favor of Rafia Farook, declaring her legally separated from her husband and giving her sole custody of her teenage daughter. Born in Illinois, Syed Rizwan Farook was a five-year employee of the San Bernardino County public health department. His co-workers said Farook, a Muslim, had traveled to Saudi Arabia recently and returned with Tashfeen Malik, a woman he had met online. The couple had a baby and appeared to be “living the American dream,” said a colleague. The office threw them a baby shower. Farook, 28, and Malik, 27, are suspected of killing 14 people and injuring 17 others at the Inland Regional Center, where Farook's co-workers were attending a holiday party. They were both fatally shot by authorities. For more California news, follow me @MattHJourno Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-san-bernardino-shooter-endured-turbulent-home-life-according-to-court-documents-20151203-story.html
  14. Robert Dear, the man accused of killing three people and wounding nine in a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, made his first court appearance on Nov. 30 by way of video link from jail. (Reuters)By William Wan December 1 at 8:42 PM Before his arrest for last week’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Robert Lewis Dear had on several occasions been accused of erupting in bursts of violence, particularly toward women. At least two of his three ex-wives have accused him of physical abuse, according to court records. And in 1992, Dear was arrested and accused of sexual violence and rape. Since Friday’s shooting at the clinic, which killed three and wounded nine, neighbors and others who crossed paths with Dear have described him as an angry man who often exhibited strange and unsettling behavior. The latest details of alleged rape and domestic abuse were first reported by the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier. The alleged rape involved a woman who worked at a mall. According to police records in North Charleston, S.C., the woman told police that Dear had repeatedly asked her out. Even after she refused — and informed him that she was married — Dear kept calling her two to three times a day. Then, on Nov. 29, 1992, Dear suddenly appeared at her front door as she opened it to take out the trash, according to police records. Holding a knife to her neck, he hit her and began raping her, first on the couch then on the floor. fter Dear left, the woman immediately called a friend, sent word to the ship on which her husband was stationed, and was taken to a Navy hospital. According to police records, Dear acknowledged to investigators that he had sex with the woman, but he said it was consensual. State documents do not indicate what happened in the case. There is no record of a conviction, which means the case was probably dismissed. North Charleston police said that they could not say how the case had been resolved and referred questions to the local solicitors office, where officials did not return calls. Dear has also been accused of violence by his former wives. Married and divorced three times, Dear has at least four sons from those marriages. His second wife, Barbara Micheau, declined to discuss her ex-husband. But in a 1993 divorce affidavit cited by the Post and Courier and the New York Times, Micheau described Dear as a man who was extremely religious and used religion at times to justify abusive behavior. At the same time, he was deeply sinful, she said, describing him as a serial philanderer and gambler. “He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Micheau said in the affidavit. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.” In the divorce papers, Micheau said Dear threw her around a room by her hair on one occasion and beat her head against the ground. In the affidavit, she said Dear “erupts into fury in a matter of seconds,” and that she “lived in fear and dread of his emotional and physical abuse,” according to the Post and Courier. obert Lewis Dear Jr. had a padlocked yellow shack in the woods in rural Black Mountain, N.C. Dear is the alleged gunman connected to Friday’s shooting that killed three. Dear’s third wife, Pamela Ross, also reported domestic abuse to police in 1997, according to reports filed with the sheriff’s office in Colleton County, S.C., where Dear lived at the time. Ross declined to file charges against Dear but told police that she reported the incident because she “wanted something on record.” Outside her home near Charleston, Ross, who has since remarried, declined to comment. Through tears, she said that she has been stricken since Friday’s shooting, and she expressed frustration with reporters who have been calling her nonstop trying to learn more about Dear. Ross’s current husband said the couple has had only sporadic contact with Dear since the divorce. In May 2002, another woman who lived next door to Dear in Walterboro, S.C., complained to police that Dear had been “making unwanted advancements” toward her since she and her husband had moved in a year earlier. The woman told police that she had seen Dear hiding in the bushes next to her house at 5:30 a.m. She “heard her guard dog barking and saw Mr. Dear looking into her house.” Neighbors and others close to Dear, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by Dear or his family, say Dear was born in Charleston and grew up in Kentucky. But recently, he had split his time between North and South Carolina, they said, working as an independent art dealer, selling art prints from gallery to gallery in Charleston and elsewhere. More than a dozen people who lived next door to the string of trailers and ramshackle houses Dear called home over the past two decades described him as silent and sullen, a recluse notable for odd behavior: cruelty to his own dogs, bizarre mutterings about government conspiracies, skinny-dipping and angry rebuffs when they tried to say hello. Dear’s peculiar behavior and pursuit of women appeared to extend online. An e-mail address confirmed as Dear’s by two people close to him was linked to a flurry of message-board postings on Cannabis.com. The posts are mainly political and religious rants, with several focused on death, hell and the end of the world. One post read: “WAKE UP SINNERS U CANT SAVE YOURSELF U WILL DIE AN WORMS SHALL EAT YOUR FLESH.” Another said: “aids , hurricanes, we are in the end times.” One person who had discussed politics with Dear said he had often praised those who attacked abortion clinics as “heroes.” On Saturday, a law enforcement official said Dear used the phrase “no more baby parts’’ after he was arrested to explain his decision to attack Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s largest abortion providers. Online, Dear was often equally interested in trying to attract women: “savannah sexy women wanted,” one post said. “i love to party , tall , aries , male.” Source- http://thewashingtonpost.com
  15. CHARLESTON, S.C. — The man she had married professed to be deeply religious. But after more than seven years with Robert L. Dear Jr., Barbara Micheau had come to see life with him as a kind of hell on earth. By January 1993, she had had enough. In a sworn affidavit as part of her divorce case, Ms. Micheau described Mr. Dear as a serial philanderer and a problem gambler, a man who kicked her, beat her head against the floor and fathered two children with other women while they were together. He found excuses for his transgressions, she said, in his idiosyncratic views on Christian eschatology and the nature of salvation. “He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Ms. Micheau said in the court document. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.” On Friday, according to officials, Mr. Dear entered a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, killing three people and wounding nine others with a semiautomatic rifle. The attack, which ended with his surrender to the police after a harrowing nationally televised standoff in the snow-dusted Western city, was a brutally violent and very public chapter in a life story whose details are not fully known. The musty and weathered trailer in Swannanoa, N.C., from which Mr. Dear ran a business called S Prints Mountain Art Prints. Credit Michael Biesecker/Associated Press But in court documents and interviews with people who knew Mr. Dear well, a picture emerges of an angry and occasionally violent man who seemed deeply disturbed and deeply contradictory: He was a man of religious conviction who sinned openly, a man who craved both extreme solitude and near-constant female company, a man who successfully wooed women but, some of them say, also abused them. He frequented marijuana websites, then argued with other posters, often through heated religious screeds. “Turn to JESUS or burn in hell,” he wrote on one site on Oct. 7, 2005. “WAKE UP SINNERS U CANT SAVE YOURSELF U WILL DIE AN WORMS SHALL EAT YOUR FLESH, NOW YOUR SOUL IS GOING SOMEWHERE.” A number of people who knew Mr. Dear said he was a staunch abortion opponent, though another ex-wife, Pamela Ross, said that he did not obsess on the subject. After his arrest, Mr. Dear said “no more baby parts” to investigators, a law enforcement official said. One person who spoke with him extensively about his religious views said Mr. Dear, who is 57, had praised people who attacked abortion providers, saying they were doing “God’s work.” In 2009, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concerns for the privacy of the family, Mr. Dear described as “heroes” members of the Army of God, a loosely organized group of anti-abortion extremists that has claimed responsibility for a number of killings and bombings. Investigators have only just begun to interview Mr. Dear’s relatives and acquaintances, and are still searching the Internet for his writings. Public information about his early years is limited. Ms. Ross said Mr. Dear had a college degree. He spent a half-year enrolled at the University of Kentucky, and a year at the University of Louisville, according to officials at the two schools. In December 1979 he married a woman in Louisville, Ky., listed in court records as Kimberly Ann Dear. They had a child, Matthew, in 1980. Three and a half years later, they separated. Mr. Dear moved to Charleston, S.C., which Ms. Ross said was his birthplace. He took a few fast-food management training jobs before landing a position at Santee Cooper, the South Carolina power company. Mollie Gore, a spokeswoman for the company, said he began work there in September 1984. Mr. Dear also met the woman who would become his second wife, Barbara Ann Mescher, who now goes by her married name, Barbara Micheau. She met him at a shopping mall while she and a girlfriend were admiring a motorcycle on display. He got her number. They went out. He told her he was divorced, but in the 1993 affidavit, which was also reported in The Post and Courier of Charleston, she said she later learned he was still married. The divorce from his first wife was completed in September 1985, more than a year after he met Ms. Micheau. Ms. Micheau declined to comment for this article. Mr. Dear’s lawyer in Colorado did not respond to messages Tuesday. A cabin along a steep gravel road in Black Mountain, N.C., where Mr. Dear lived around 2005. Credit Michael Biesecker/Associated Press Mr. Dear married Ms. Micheau three months later, after the divorce came through. They settled in a condominium, and later in a suburban-style house. But soon after, she said, he began to stray. In November 1986, he fathered another child, Andrew, with his first wife, Ms. Micheau said. Then in 1990, Mr. Dear had a child, Taylor, with the woman who would later become his third wife, Ms. Ross. The same year, he and Ms. Micheau had a baby together, Walker. Ms. Micheau suspected him of other affairs, but there were other problems as well. In 1989, he left Santee Cooper, where, she said in the affidavit, he “got in trouble a lot and played hooky a lot.” Eventually, he struck out on his own as an “artist’s representative,” selling prints to wholesale art galleries, and driving from gallery to gallery in his truck. But Mr. Dear, she said, racked up debt, and would not help her pay the bills or help clean the house. She said he took trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, often losing large sums of money. She said he spent his money on a new motorcycle and on an “expensive gun.” She accused him of dishonesty in his business dealings. And she said he kicked her and pulled her hair “on many occasions,” and noted other times when he hurt her physically. Money was tight. A 1991 income tax return, filed jointly by the couple, showed their total income as $15,526. In May of that year, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Mr. Dear was arrested and convicted in Charleston for the unlawful carrying of a “long blade knife” and the illegal possession of a loaded gun. In court records, Mr. Dear admitted to engaging in “various acts of adultery,” and agreed with Ms. Micheau that “certain domestic difficulties developed” between them. In the court file, Mr. Dear did not address the more specific allegations Ms. Micheau made about his behavior. In 1992, the couple separated. Records obtained from the North Charleston Police Department show that in November of that year, Mr. Dear was arrested as a suspect in a rape case. But the state Law Enforcement Division, which offers criminal records checks to the public, has no record of Mr. Dear being convicted of such a crime, meaning it is likely that the case was dismissed. According to the police incident report, the woman told the police that a man named Robert approached her at her job at a Sears store in a mall and asked her out on a date. She refused. The man proceeded to call her two to three times a day, she said, “saying he wanted to see her,” according to the report. On the afternoon of Nov. 29, 1992, the woman said, the man turned up at the front door of her apartment, put a knife to her throat, forced her inside and sexually assaulted her. The woman’s husband, Craig Melchor, was on a Navy submarine when he got word that his young wife had been attacked at knifepoint and raped inside their apartment. The suspect, he learned: Robert L. Dear Jr. “I won’t forget that name,” Mr. Melchor said in an interview. Mr. Melchor said his wife wanted to see Mr. Dear face his day in court, but the only other witness, another Navy wife, refused to testify and the Melchors were about to move to Seattle. Prosecutors called them and said: “You’re moving West. The witness you had doesn’t want to be involved,” Mr. Melchor recalled. “And that’s that. I remember. That wasn’t right.” They went to counseling and rape survivors’ groups, but Mr. Melchor said his wife, who died in 2007, sometimes worried that her attacker would come back and find her. He said they both had to accept that the case was out of their hands. “We had to let go and let God take care of it,” he said. According to the police narrative, Mr. Dear acknowledged a sexual liaison with the woman, but said that it was “consensual.” Ms. Micheau said she did not believe the accusation. In the affidavit, she said she believed her husband had “pursued a sexual relationship” with the “approval” of the woman. “I tried to stick with him and help him through it, but it has become impossible,” said Ms. Micheau, adding: “He constantly criticizes everyone around him and he is very hard to please. He really does not have any friends. He does not trust anyone. He looks for a way around anything he has to do and spends a lot of time planning revenge.” By the summer of 1995, Mr. Dear had moved to Walterboro, about an hour west of Charleston, taking up residence in a double-wide trailer on a secluded one-lane road, Winding Creek Drive, that cut through the woods. Ms. Micheau complained in court documents that Mr. Dear would not tell her exactly where he lived, which concerned her because he had visitation rights with their son, Walker. Eventually, Mr. Dear married his third wife, who today goes by Pamela Ross. They lived in the double-wide trailer, raising Taylor, their son, and Ms. Ross’s child from a previous marriage. Walker spent time there as well. Ms. Ross struck a different tone in describing Mr. Dear. He said he had often taken her and the boys out shopping or visiting Lowcountry attractions in Hilton Head and Charleston. She said he believed strongly in the Bible, but did not seem overly zealous. He was against abortion, she said, but not obsessively so: “It was never really a topic of discussion,” she said. A police incident report shows that in 1997, she told the police that he had locked her out of her home and that he had “hit her and pushed her out the window” when she tried to climb in. He also shoved her to the ground, she said. The report said she did not want to file charges. In the interview, Ms. Ross said Mr. Dear would quickly apologize after doing something wrong. Still, the relationship fizzled, for reasons she did not discuss. According to court records, the couple’s divorce went through in November 2001. She described her husband as a man who “erupts into fury” in seconds. She said he had “emotional problems and needs counseling, which he vehemently opposed many times.” The divorce was complete in June 1994. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/us/robert-dear-planned-parenthood-shooting.html?emc=edit_na_20151201&nlid=56977715&ref=cta&_r=0