When Kristan Morgan joined the U.S. Bureau of Prisons three years ago, the 30-year-old nurse expected to spend her days caring for the chronically sick and injured inside the nation’s largest correctional system.
What she didn’t expect: Being abruptly plucked from the busy medical unit in Tallahassee to pull guard duty in cell blocks — including a wing for solitary confinement.
An off-duty officer with the Chicago Police Department has died after he was “senselessly murdered” in a downtown building Tuesday afternoon, police said.
Commander Paul Bauer, of the 18th District, was chasing a suspect when he was “shot multiple
times,” Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference.
Johnson stated that earlier Tuesday afternoon, Chicago police saw someone “acting suspiciously” who quickly fled from the tactical officers. A description of the suspect was broadcast on police radio, and when Bauer, who was off-duty, saw the offender, he reportedly approached the individual.
A West Virginia city has agreed to pay a former police officer $175,000 to settle a wrongful-termination lawsuit after he was fired following his decision not to shoot a distraught suspect who was holding a gun.
The lawsuit accused the Weirton Police Department of wrongfully terminating officer Stephen Mader after he chose not to shoot a 23-year-old man while responding to a domestic disturbance in 2016.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy to put this chapter of my life to bed,” Mader said in a news release by the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia.
A naked driver crashed into a daycare center, hit a tree, rolled her car, then had to be subdued by police with a stun gun, authorities said.
The suspect, identified as Malina Churchill, 44, allegedly crashed into the Stay-n-Play Day Care Center in Putnam County, Fla., on Thursday night, Fox 30 reported.
Becky Cox, owner of the business, told the station she received a call from her alarm company, notifying her that a “burglary” was in process. One of her employees who lives near the daycare center went to investigate and told Cox “the wall’s gone.”
Another woman says a former Louisville police officer raped her. She’s the fourth. A fourth woman has filed a lawsuit against a former Louisville police officer, accusing him of raping her in his cop car while in uniform.
On Saturday, Aditya Sastry, Joey Velez and Tom Krajnak were in Seattle, Washington, minding their own business as they lined up to get a pizza when they became the targets of a woman’s racist rant.
According to Sastry, who filmed and later posted video footage of the altercation on Facebook, the unidentified woman was already in the middle of verbally assaulting other locals when she chose to zero in on the group of friends.
An inmate who escaped from a federal prison in southeast Texas was arrested Wednesday while allegedly trying to sneak back in with snacks, alcohol, tobacco and cooked food, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The Daily Mail reports a white woman in London was yelling at a Pakistan postal worker. She claims the postal worker was laughing at her and screamed, “What woman would want to look at that? Make sure you post my card, or else I’ll come back and get a refund, you fat Paki c*nt.” Paki is a term for “Pakistani,” a British slur against people of Pakistani or Indian nationality. The woman continued, “Go back to your own country! You’re not wanted here, you fat motherf**ker P*ki.”
Former JSO officer reaches plea deal in child sex trafficking case
The former officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office accused of paying a woman in Texas for pornography that also involved the woman’s child has pleaded guilty according to documents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The plea agreement shows Michael Eugene Williams, 60, admitted to one of the eight charges he faces.
Williams pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a child, which is a mandatory sentence of at least 15 years in prison.
A former NYPD lieutenant accused of raping and sexually assaulting two underage girls he knew is headed for trial in April.
Judge Williams DeProspo set April 4 for the start of jury selection for Nicholas McAteer, 46, of Greenwood Lake, who faces an 82-count indictment in Orange County Court. He was arrested in August and indicted in October 2017.
This Teenager Accused Two On-Duty Cops Of Rape. She Had No Idea The Law Might Protect Them.
When Anna said she was raped by two on-duty cops, she thought it would be a simple case. She had no idea she lived in one of 35 states where officers can claim a detainee consented.
I went to Wisconsin’s Bad River Reservation to find out why 14-year-old Jason Pero was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy. But tribal members didn’t only want to talk about the shooting: “You’ve heard about the women, right?”
ODANAH, Wisconsin — Hours after seeing her 14-year-old grandson, Jason, lying in the street just feet from her home, with police and EMS hovering over his motionless body, Cheryl Pero found herself in the cavernous gymnasium of the Bad River Reservation community center.
Cheryl and her husband, Al, couldn’t go home — where they’d raised Jason since infancy — because it was a crime scene.
So the family awaited word in the local gym about why an Ashland County Sheriff’s deputy had just fired two shots into the chest of Jason, who friends and family say was a relatively normal, happy child. With news of the shooting spreading rapidly via text message and Facebook, members of their tight-knit tribal community soon joined them.
Tracy Bigboy, a neighbor and victim services coordinator for the tribal government, was dispatched to take care of the Peros’ needs. She stood in the cold air outside of the community center, quietly smoking a cigarette, until Ashland County Sheriff Mick Brennan pulled off Highway 2 and into the parking lot.
With his squared-off shoulders, neatly cropped silver hair, and mustache, the 62-year-old Brennan has a carefully crafted by-the-book reputation and looks every inch the small-town sheriff. As he and one of his investigators approached, Bigboy stopped them, warning the sheriff that emotions were running high inside the gym and urging him to talk to the family privately.
As the Peros huddled in private with Brennan, it seemed to the family that the sheriff hadn’t come with answers, or even condolences. His main message, as the grieving Peros remember it: Let him control the public narrative of Jason’s death.
“Don’t talk to the media,” Bigboy and the Peros remember Brennan telling them. “Let us go first so we can tell you what to say.” And they say he had a warning for the community: Settle down and don’t riot.
Now, two months after Jason took two bullets to the chest on Nov. 8, his family still doesn’t know exactly what happened the morning that Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich shot him dead. Jason’s family says the sheriff has told them nothing, and Brennan did not respond to multiple requests to speak to BuzzFeed News about the shooting and about local law enforcement’s relationship with the Bad River community. Michael Nieskes, the St. Croix County District Attorney who has been appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate the case, declined to comment.
The feeling of sadness and loss is palpable among members of the Bad River Band. But there’s also a deep sense of numbness and fatalism here that manifests in the nonchalant ways people talk about other violent encounters involving law enforcement and Native Americans. Jason’s death was at least the second time in as many months that a member of the Bad River Reservation had been killed by uniformed officers: On Oct. 28, a Jackson County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed 27-year-old Lucas DeFord in nearby Black River Falls.
“This has been going on for generations and generations, and it’s not going to stop.”
Locals have long complained about being pulled over for what they consider no good reason. “Driving while Indian,” they call it. And then there’s “the women,” a sort of shorthand that refers to allegations detailed in federal lawsuits that Sheriff Brennan did nothing as one of his jailers repeatedly raped and assaulted Native American women. “You’ve heard about the women, right?” locals say almost between thoughts.
The lack of information since Jason’s shooting has only compounded tensions here, laying bare the deep-rooted, systemic racial divisions between the Bad River tribe and the white community of Ashland.
“This has been going on for generations and generations, and it’s not going to stop,” Bigboy said.
In April 2013, a Native American woman with the initials J.L. arrived in the Ashland County Jail.
It didn’t take long for J.L., then in her early twenties, to catch the eye of Ashland County correctional officer Christopher J. Bond. The women’s showers, with their waist-high walls and central location in the jail, gave Bond — and anybody else who happened to walk by — a perfect view to ogle female inmates as they bathed.
According to a federal lawsuit filed in March by J.L., Bond would leeringly comment on her “pretty mouth” and simulate ejaculating into it when she ate jail-issued meals of hot dogs or kielbasa. He’d regularly corner her in areas of the county jail without cameras, forcing her to open her jumpsuit so he could grope her, said the lawsuit, one of five filed since January 2017 against the county and sheriff’s department alleging violation of the women’s civil rights. On nights he was on watch, Bond would direct J.L. to lie naked on her bed and masturbate while he watched on the jail’s surveillance cameras, the 25-year-old woman alleges.
On Nov. 2, 2013, Bond was designated by prison officials to drive J.L. 70 miles west to St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, for an emergency medical procedure to remove an abscess from one of her breasts.
J.L. was loaded into the back of a sheriff’s cruiser outside the jail, the lawsuit alleges, but once outside the county line, Bond pulled the car over, unshackled the prisoner, and ordered her to sit in the front seat beside him and unbutton her jumpsuit. Then, as he drove down the highway, Bond groped and fondled J.L., according to the lawsuit. Thirty minutes later, he pulled into a rest stop and ordered J.L. to follow him into the men’s bathroom, where he allegedly raped her. Afterward, J.L. said, he used water and paper towels to erase evidence and avoid arousing suspicion from medical staff at St. Luke’s.
According to court filings, at least four other women — all of whom are Native American — were also repeatedly assaulted or raped.
Even after she was released, J.L. said, Bond continued to torment her. In September 2015, while she was still on parole and seven months pregnant, Bond forced her to have sex with him in his pickup truck, her lawsuit says. J.L. said she had no choice but to go along — Bond, after all, was a correctional officer and worked for the sheriff. Plus, her parole officer was Bond’s girlfriend at the time, the lawsuit says, and J.L. worried she’d be sent back to jail.
J.L. wasn’t Bond’s only alleged victim. According to court filings, at least four other women — all of whom are Native American — were also repeatedly assaulted or raped by Bond between 2013 and August of last year.
Bond’s alleged reign of terror over women in the Ashland County Jail would only come to an end on Aug. 24, 2016, when another correctional officer caught him and a prisoner leaving a closet where he’d allegedly forced the woman to perform oral sex. Later that day, Bond killed himself. According to a source familiar with the case, Bond shot himself in the head.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native Americans are more likely to be killed during an interaction with law enforcement than any other racial group. In 2017 at least 31 indigenous people died as a result of an encounter with law enforcement. In 2016, the number was 29.
On a per-capita basis, Native Americans are 12% more likely to be killed by law enforcement officers than black Americans — and three times more likely than white Americans.
If you live on one of the dozens of reservations across the country in which local, white police forces from nearby border towns have jurisdiction, the chances that you’ll end up in jail are high. In Ashland County, for instance, Native Americans make up 11% of the population but account for 44% of the inmates in the county jail, according to data collected by the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit criminal justice research and reform group.
For tribal leaders here and across the country, that leads to one conclusion. “That becomes a disproportionality that speaks to some sort of institutionalized injustice going on,” says Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins.
To understand the complex relationship between indigenous Americans and border town police means understanding that in these communities, history is in the present tense.
For most Americans, Native Americans are little more than a footnote in the history books, bit players in the founding and expansion of the United States. But in hundreds of communities like Ashland, 235 years of colonization, forced relocation and assimilation, and racism is very much a reality.
Established as part of an 1854 treaty with the broader Ojibwe nation, the Bad River Band’s sprawling reservation is home to more than 1,300 members, according to US Census data. Like many reservations, Bad River is relatively poor: Census data shows more than 9% of the population is unemployed, and 20.1% of families live below the poverty line.
You don’t have to look far back for examples of racial tensions boiling over here. During the Wisconsin Walleye War between 1988 and 1991, white protesters hurled racial epithets and sometimes eggs and rocks at Ojibwe tribal members spear fishing for walleye, a tradition protected under treaties between the US government and the tribe. Although the violence eventually ended after a federal judge upheld the Ojibwe right to spear fish, distrust and bitterness between the two communities remained.
“As much as you do as a parent bringing in a new generation to try and break those cycles, it’s never going to be broken.”
Native Americans say the discrimination they face is not only systemic, but largely accepted, and it’s gotten worse under President Donald Trump. Trump has derisively referred to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas because of Warren’s claim to have Native American heritage. In November, Trump hosted Native American Code Talkers at a White House event that prominently featured a portrait of President Andrew Jackson — who committed acts of genocide against Native Americans. Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, modifications to the Bears Ear National Monument in Utah, and other projects impacting Indian Country have also angered many Native Americans. “The sad thing about it is that the majority of our country thinks just like that,” Bigboy said, a few hours after the Code Talkers event at the White House. “As much as you do as a parent bringing in a new generation to try and break those cycles, it’s never going to be broken. Because this is a white predominant area that we live in.”
For all the distance between the two sides, however, they are inextricably linked, and in places like Ashland County, white residents and Native Americans coexist in an uneasy truce of convenience and routine. The reservation’s small casino is a significant economic driver, particularly during the summer tourism season. Each day, hundreds of tribal members commute into Ashland for work, and their children attend Ashland’s public schools.
Under federal law, the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department is one of dozens of local law enforcement agencies across the country with authority over neighboring reservations. Known as Public Law 280, in practice, the 1953 law has resulted in largely white forces with little understanding of Native American communities policing them.
Things are better than they used to be, said Wiggins. “In the ’70s and early ’80s, that was light years worse than it is today,” he said, adding that back in the ’80s, during hunting season, one sheriff’s deputy was notorious for using routine traffic stops to confiscate Native Americans’ rifles — which he used to stock his black market rifle business.
“It’s indoctrinated into us … that you don’t want to call the police, because they’re not to be trusted.”
The problems with law enforcement extend to those parts of Indian Country where the Bureau of Indian Affairs — the federal agency responsible for overseeing much of Indian territory — remains the primary law enforcement agency. Ruth Hopkins, a Lakota Indian and former tribal judge for the Spirit Lake Nation in North Dakota, said she was repeatedly frustrated by the bureau’s responses to crimes reported on the reservation. Hopkins recalled a 2016 case in which a Spirit Lake woman reported being raped by a nontribal member. The case was referred to the BIA for prosecution, but when tribal leaders tried to determine if a criminal case was being pursued, Hopkins said they were stonewalled.
The result is that few Native Americans trust law enforcement.
“As somebody born and raised on the reservation, it’s indoctrinated into us … that you don’t want to call the police, because they’re not to be trusted,” Hopkins said.
To a large degree, law enforcement attitudes toward Native Americans are simply a reflection of how the broader white community sees them. Particularly in border towns like Ashland, pressed uncomfortably close to reservations, stereotypes of the “drunken, lazy Indian” have calcified into truths for many whites. In many ways, the racial divide in border towns is as much muscle memory as anything else. “For the people who grew up in these border towns, it’s what they were taught,” said John Dossett, general counsel for the National Congress of American Indians.
“That’s what border towns do,” said Ashland City Councilman Richard Ketring. “You get this cancerous atmosphere that is really hard to eradicate.”
In the local gym that November day, after their meeting with Sheriff Brennan, the Pero family was stunned.
Jason’s parents pressed the sheriff for answers but were met with curt replies, they said. The angrier and more frustrated the family got, they say the shorter Brennan became with them. At one point, the Peros said, Jason’s mother, Holly, confronted Brennan, demanding he answer for his deputy’s actions.
Brennan, clearly annoyed, interrupted the grieving mother.
“Wait until the evidence comes out,” Jason’s grandparents recall the sheriff saying.
That came in the form of a press release from the state’s Department of Justice three days later. The release implied Jason may have intentionally provoked the officer into shooting him, citing unspecified evidence seized from Jason’s bedroom and “initial reports” indicating he had been despondent and that he’d called 911 to describe a man with a knife — a description the sheriff’s office said fit Jason himself. The release said Jason lunged at the deputy with a knife and ignored multiple commands to drop the weapon.
“Bullshit,” Jason’s grandmother Cheryl Pero said flatly.
The release described Jason as 5 feet 9 inches and 300 pounds; his family and friends say he was 5 feet 3 inches and weighed significantly less than 300 pounds. No other information has been provided. The Ashland Sheriff’s Department has repeatedly refused to comment and hasn’t released any official documents related to the case, including the transcript or audio of the 911 call, the official police report, or the autopsy report.
The press release came as the family was burying the 14-year-old, and by nightfall, the narrative the family says Brennan had crafted had taken hold. While, initially, local media outlets had emphasized Jason’s age and his family’s demand for justice, a new storyline had appeared, one that painted Jason as the aggressor who’d brought the shooting on himself.
“Our children represent the survival of our tribe, of our nation moving forward.”
“What hurts us the most is lots of people saying things about Jason that wasn’t true. That he was this monster, he was this 5-foot-9 man. He was a kid!” his friend Vinnie Bender said.
Despite his youth, Jason held a prominent place in his community, in part because of his interest in traditional Ojibwe culture. He played in a tribal drum group, studied the Ojibwe language, and was part of a group of young tribal members committed to preserving the tribe’s culture. “Our children represent the survival of our tribe, of our nation moving forward. Jason was one of many that we consider a national treasure here in Bad River. His loss is devastating,” said Chairman Wiggins.
Vinnie and Lilly Wiggins, Jason’s two best friends, insist that he was a stabilizing force in many of his peers’ lives, not the despondent young man the sheriff’s department described.
“I struggle a lot with depression. And he helped me with that a lot. Just like the way he’d talk to me, and he’d call me in the middle of the night to make sure I was OK. He was that type of person,” Lilly said.
Vinnie dismissed questions about Jason’s Facebook page, where he would occasionally post dark memes, like one with a boy holding a gun to his head saying “I make everything weird, I hate myself,” that could suggest an unhappy side. “They’re memes, little jokes that adults don’t get. Just kid jokes,” Vinnie said.
And even if Jason was depressed, one of the nagging questions for Bad River residents is what happened in the eight minutes between the 911 call, at 11:40 a.m., and the moment Mrdjenovich shot Jason at 11:48 a.m. If Mrdjenovich had tried to de-escalate the situation, for instance by calling for backup or trying to reason with Jason, Wiggins said far more time should have elapsed before the deputy opened fire. But the press release gave no details of what occurred once Mrdjenovich got the call.
“There was too much that was missing,” said Wiggins, who before entering politics worked as a firearms instructor for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Among other things, he trained conservation officers in the use of deadly force, de-escalation, and other tactics.
Wiggins has written to the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to request a formal investigation into Jason’s death, charging that Mrdjenovich “inflicted injury without knowing the circumstances of the situation.”
The DOJ has not yet responded to Wiggins’ request. A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment on the issue.
For Jake Deragon, a father of five and neighbor of the Peros, Brennan’s handling of the case hits particularly hard. “He was my first sergeant when I was in the military, so I actually trained with him. We trained under the NATO rules of war, ya know? We don’t shoot civilians, we don’t shoot women and children, we don’t target them,” Deragon said. “He’s not the man I once knew. I’m ashamed that I once shed blood, sweat, and tears with that man. Because I was willing to lay down my life for him.”
“Poor Jason was gunned down like cattle,” he said acidly.
Nobody knows when the sexual assaults in the Ashland County Jail started. After all, female tribal members told me this sort of behavior is so common, so normal, it’s become hardly worth mentioning.
“We’re Indian women. We don’t have a voice,” said Sandy Gokee, a cousin of Jason’s. “Who’s going to believe us?”
In the months following Bond’s death, J.L. and the four other women filed federal lawsuits against the county, Sheriff Brennan, and Ashland County Jail Administrator Anthony Jones.
In their complaints, a disturbing picture emerged of Bond targeting Native American women in their twenties and early thirties, often while other correctional officers were aware of his actions. All five complained of being forced to shower in plain sight of male and female guards and inmates, and of Bond making lewd comments and of using blind spots in the jail’s surveillance system to assault them. For instance, the complaints say that Bond would routinely take the women into the jail’s booking area ostensibly to arrange for bail. In the booking area, out of sight of jail cameras, he’d assault them, the suits allege.
“We’re Indian women. We don’t have a voice.”
According to the complaints, while Bond tried to hide his behavior, there is video evidence of assaults, including footage of Bond leading the women into parts of the jail not covered by cameras on multiple occasions. In at least one case, court documents say, video shows Bond reaching through the bars of one woman’s cell and fondling her — video allegedly viewed by Brennan after he became aware of Bond’s suspicious activity.
In addition, the complaints allege at least one other correctional officer witnessed Bond leading a woman out of the library closet, where the woman says in her lawsuit that she was forced to perform oral sex on Bond. That woman’s cellmate also heard Bond ordering her to expose her breasts to him, the suits say.
Two of the women — J.L. and a woman identified in court documents as B.L.W. — allege that when Brennan became aware of Bond’s behavior, rather than suspend or investigate him, he pressed the city’s police department to investigate the women for prostitution. Police Chief James Gregoire told the Ashland Daily Press the investigations had been asked for by the county district attorney “to make sure that the inmates were not providing sexual favors for something, like extra meals or in and out early, or talk to a defense attorney, or whatever.”
Neither Brennan nor Jones responded to requests for comment on the lawsuits. Both remain on the job. The state’s Department of Corrections is looking into the allegations, but it’s unclear if the sheriff’s department has launched its own internal investigation.
According to one source familiar with the jail, a blanket now partially obscures the view of the women’s shower from a jailer observation station.
The sheriff’s department has hired one of the state’s top law firms, Axley, to represent it in the case. Although the trial isn’t expected to begin for several months, defense attorney Lori Lubinsky has filed court documents that include statements from the women acknowledging they did not report Bond to Brennan or other jail officials, potentially setting up a defense based on the argument that the department had no way of knowing about Bond’s behavior.
Lubinsky declined to comment.
In the wake of Jason’s death, the tribal council is beginning a review of its relationship with the sheriff’s office. The situation is made particularly difficult because, like much of the country, Bad River has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. Without the money to pay for its own police force, the tribe relies on the county.
“It’s gotta be a part of the norm, and part of the way the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department approaches our tribe.”
One solution could be a shift to a community policing model by the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department. In the 1990s, there were several officers who worked on the reservation who, by becoming an active part of the community, built trust and respect among the residents. But those officers have since retired, and efforts by law enforcement to build trust since then have been few and far between, reservation residents said.
“It’s gotta be a part of the norm, and part of the way the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department approaches our tribe. It’s getting out of the car and walking into the gym at night and talking to kids, and stuff like that,” Wiggins said.
Of course, that will require communication between the tribe and the sheriff’s office. So far, neither the state nor Brennan’s office have provided any further information on the shooting. During a community meeting on the reservation in late December, it was announced that Mrdjenovich had returned to work after a month of paid suspension.
At the request of the tribe, Brennan did not attend the meeting.
The impact of Jason Pero’s death has rippled throughout both the Bad River and Ashland communities.
Some of the effects have been relatively mundane. Wiggins says, for instance, that while white hunters normally flock to the reservation during deer season, this year they were notably absent. Wiggins speculated the drop may be because some whites worry about reprisals for Jason’s death.
Others have been more pronounced. “I don’t see no kids playing outside like they used to. There were always kids playing outside. All over Odanah. Since the shootings you don’t see kids playing outside,” said Jason’s grandfather, Al.
“This has been going on for 300 years, and this is where we say ‘Enough’s enough.’”
“It scares me. My son’s 6’2”, 350 pounds, and he’s 13 years old. He’s a big man for being 13 years old,” said Deragon. “What scares me is what were the motives behind this cop? What was he looking for, a large Indian person? That fits the bill for a lot of our youth.”
Gokee, who teaches at Ashland’s middle school, was suspended over an angry Facebook post in which she accused Deputy Mrdjenovich of murdering Jason. Ashland School Superintendent Keith Hilts, in his letter notifying Gokee of her suspension with pay, accused her of creating racial tension in the school and making the children of white police officers feel unsafe. Gokee returned to work at the beginning of January.
Gokee said her post was provocative but didn’t threaten Mrdjenovich or other police officers. Instead, she said, it was an expression of her anger and frustration, not just about Jason’s death but about broader systemic problems facing Native Americans. “This is not a new thing. This has been going on for 300 years, and this is where we say ‘Enough’s enough, we can’t take it anymore,’” Gokee said.
Some white students began taunting Jason’s friends, they and teachers familiar with the situation said. “They’d say, ‘Oh, he deserved it. He had a knife,’” said Jason’s friend Vinnie.
Early on the morning of Dec. 2, Jason’s grandparents, Cheryl and Al Pero, once again found themselves in the reservation’s community center. The couple sat quietly by the door to the gym, greeting arriving friends and family with sad smiles.
It would be a difficult day. Ojibwe believe that when someone dies, relatives must not speak their name or look at their picture. To do so can interfere with the journey to the afterlife, keeping their souls connected to this world.
Still, the family understood the importance of the gathering. Jason’s friends had organized a “healing walk” from the reservation to downtown Ashland to honor their friend and, they hoped, to plant the seeds of a new movement, which they’re calling Jason’s Message, to address the conflicts between the two communities.
As volunteers handed out T-shirts and tote bags emblazoned with the Jason’s Message logo — a turtle with two roses atop its shell — that his friends had designed, the gym slowly began to fill with friends and family. Many carried signs with pictures of Jason on them.
Representatives from other Ojibwe bands, the Lakota nation, and other tribes across the country came for the walk, as did Ketring, the city councilman, and a number of other white residents from Ashland. Clyde Bellecourt, an 81-year-old Native American civil rights pioneer, also came, along with a group of volunteers from the American Indian Movement to provide security for the walk. The only condition Jason’s friends had set for the walk was that no Ashland County sheriffs be there.
All told, more than 500 people participated in the 12-mile trek from the Pero home.
Shortly after sunset, the marchers reached downtown Ashland, huddling close to the town’s band shell in the cold December wind.
Jason’s friends took turns reading from a statement the group had written in which the Bad River youth called on their community and the white community of Ashland to come together “in unity and love because that is the message our friend and brother would want us to share … this is not an Indian issue. It is not a white issue. This is a community issue.”
As the students read aloud, much of white Ashland stood just one block over, their backs to the march as they watched the annual Christmas parade go by in the other direction.
A 66-year-old Connecticut man who molested a 4-year-old girl and then told police the child initiated and enjoyed the contact has been sent to prison.
The Day reports that John Adrian was sentenced Tuesday to 1½ years in prison after pleading guilty to risk of injury to a minor. Prosecutors say they agreed to a plea deal so the girl wouldn’t have to testify in court.
Adrian also will be subject to five years of probation after serving his prison term.
Investigators say Adrian lived in the same Stonington neighborhood as the girl when he molested her in 2014.
Adrian’s attorney said he felt his client’s admissions to police made going to trial risky.
Adrian was convicted of a similar crime in 1986 in Illinois.
A chain of massage spas with almost 1,200 locations across the nation is facing hundreds of sexual assault complaints amid concerns that it ignored or mishandled the allegations.
At least 180 people have filed sexual assault civil suits, police reports or complaints to state boards against Massage Envy, its franchises and their employees, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation.
Massage Envy, responding to an inquiry from USA TODAY, called the incidents “heartbreaking” and said they occurred over 15 years among 125 million massages.
BuzzFeed, however, says lawyers for the victims maintain many more people have settled claims outside the courts with no paper trail. The article, by investigative writer Katie J.M. Baker, also points out that most sexual assault victims file no complaints at all.
Massage Envy does not compel franchisees to notify police of sexual assault complaints except where such reports are required by local laws. The company requires internal investigations but provides little counsel on how to conduct them, BuzzFeed says.
Part of the article focuses on James Deiter, a massage therapist who last year was sentenced to more than five years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting nine women at a Massage Envy in Pennsylvania in 2014 and 2015.
One of Deiter’s victims, Susan Ingram, told BuzzFeed she left the spa after being assaulted, then called back to complain. Unhappy with the response, she called police. Officers questioned Deiter, who quickly admitted to assaulting the nine women — some of whom had previously complained to the spa, BuzzFeed reports.
The company, in an email to USA TODAY, said it recommends franchisees “support and assist clients who choose” to report assaults to police. The policy is based on consultation with experts who say victims of sexual assault should have the power to decide whether to report the attacks, the company said.
Massage Envy also said it requires franchisees to conduct “prompt, fair and thorough investigations.” Training on how to conduct them is made available multiple times each year, the company said.
Massage Envy says any violation of its zero-tolerance policy by a therapist requires termination. But BuzzFeed says some franchises have kept massage therapists on staff despite multiple misconduct complaints. Others have quietly fired therapists without reporting their offenses, allowing the therapists to move on to new professional opportunities with a clean record.
Ingram told BuzzFeed she thinks Deiter might still be working as a massage therapist if she hadn’t called police.
“Massage Envy is a partner in crime,” Ingram said. “They had every opportunity, on multiple occasions, to remove him from his position, and they chose not to.”
According to its website, Massage Envy, founded in 2002, has franchises in every state but Wyoming. The company says it employs more than 35,000 “dedicated wellness professionals.” Its core values include striving “to earn and to keep the trust of those we serve by delivering exceptional service” to its more than 1.5 million members and guests.
“We believe that even one incident is too many,” the company said in its statement to USA TODAY. “We are constantly listening, learning and evaluating how we can continue to strengthen our policies with respect to handling of these issues.”
Martin Blake, a 40-year-old Montana man, has pleaded guilty to one count of felony incest after he was caught raping his 12-year-old daughter. Initially, prosecutors in the case charged Blake with several counts of incest rape against the young girl, but as part of the Montana man’s plea agreement decided to allow Blake to admit guilt to a single charge
Blake agreed, as part of his plea deal, to a 100-year prison sentence for his horrendous crimes, with 75 years of that sentence suspended. In total, the admitted child sex offender agreed to a sentence that would have kept him imprisoned and off the streets for 25 years. However, at his sentencing hearing on Friday at Valley District Court, the public was shocked and stunned by the judge’s actions in court.
During the hearing, Judge John C. McKeon opted not to sentence Martin Blake to a single night in prison. Rather, he sentenced the Montana man to a nothing more than probation for the next three decades.
The Glasgow, Montana community is so furious over the admitted child sex offender’s sentence that a petition has been created to have the judge that presided over Martin Blake’s case removed from the bench. The Petition To Impeach Judge John McKeon has already gathered nearly 10,000 signatures.
NBC Montana also reports that the judge in the Martin Blake case has spoken publicly in his own defense. According to McKeon, the Montana man’s own family sent letters to the court begging for leniency in the case.
Additionally, the judge who handed down the prison-free sentence for Montana man Martin Blake added that nobody in the family spoke on the behalf of or in defense of the 12-year-old rape victim during the sentencing hearing.
The mother of the victim, reportedly walked in on Martin Blake sexually assaulting her daughter gave a statement to the court begging for her daughter’s rapist to be treated, not imprisoned.
Likewise, the victim’s grandmother also spoke out on behalf of the Blake. According to the victim’s grandmother, Martin Blake’s young sons would have been harmed and “devastated” if their father was imprisoned for two-and-a-half decades.
Reportedly, an evaluation by the court indicated that Martin Blake could be successfully and safely treated and monitored within the local community.
In addition to his 30 years of probation, Montana man Martin Blake was also sentenced to 60 days in jail, but given credit for 17 days that he’d already served. He is also going to be required to undergo “sex offender treatment.” According to the judge in the case, Blake’s sentence was “quite restrictive and quite rigorous.” Judge McKeon is reportedly due to retire next month.
Scott R. Brunton, a former model and actor, told The Hollywood Reporter Friday that he was groped by Takei at the actor’s Los Angeles condominium in 1981.
Brunton, who was 23 at the time of the alleged incident, claims that Takei took advantage of him when he was most vulnerable.
“This happened a long time ago, but I have never forgotten it,” Brunton tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “It is one of those stories you tell with a group of people when people are recounting bizarre instances in their lives, this always comes up. I have been telling it for years, but I am suddenly very nervous telling it.”
Brunton says he was living in Hollywood in 1981, working and beginning a career when he met Takei.
At one point, Brunton broke up with his then-boyfriend, he spoke with Takei for comfort and advice.
Brunton says “He was very good at consoling me and understanding that I was upset and still in love with my boyfriend. He was a great ear. He was very good about me spilling my heart on my sleeve.”
The two men went back to the actor’s condo for a drink the same night. “We have the drink and he asks if I would like another,” Brunton recalls. “And I said sure. So, I have the second one, and then all of a sudden, I begin feeling very disoriented and dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out. I said I need to sit down and he said sit over here and he had a giant yellow beanbag chair. So I sat down in that and leaned my head back and I must have passed out.”
“The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear,” Brunton says. “I came to and said, ‘What are you doing?!’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ He goes, ‘You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do this.’ And I pushed him off and he said, ‘OK, fine.’ And I said I am going to go and he said, ‘If you feel you must. You’re in no condition to drive.’ I said, ‘I don’t care I want to go.’
So I managed to get my pants up and compose myself and I was just shocked. I walked out and went to my car until I felt well enough to drive home, and that was that.”
Takei, now 80, rose to fame playing Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek television series. He is also an author and activist and has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights.
In a series of tweets Saturday morning, Takei denied the allegations.
“The events he describes back in the 1980s simply did not occur, and I do not know why he has claimed them now. I have wracked my brain to ask if I remember Mr. Brunton, and I cannot say I do,” he said. “Right now it is a he said / he said situation, over alleged events nearly 40 years ago. But those that know me understand that non-consensual acts are so antithetical to my values and my practices, the very idea that someone would accuse me of this is quite personally painful.”
Brunton claims that he met up with Takei years after the incident in Portland, Brunton’s current home, while the actor was there on a book tour. “I wanted to see him,” Brunton says. “I always wanted to ask him — I just felt really betrayed. I thought I was a friend and here I am later, just another piece of meat. So I called him up at the hotel — I figured out which hotel he was at — and he said ‘Hi, Scott. I remember you.’ I wanted to ask him why. We met for coffee, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was just too uncomfortable.”
Brunton says he considered going to the media with the story for years, but he assumed no one would take him seriously. “Who’s going to believe me? It’s my word against his,” he says.
Brunton’s reasoning changed after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and specifically when Takei spoke out regarding allegations leveled against Kevin Spacey.
Actor Terry Crews has reportedly filed a police report against a Hollywood executive just weeks after claiming that he was sexually assaulted at a party.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Terry Crews has filed a police report after alleging that he was groped by a high-level Hollywood executive, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Thursday.
Crews “is the victim in that report,” LAPD Officer Drake Madison told The Times on Thursday morning.
The LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division, which according to its website handles sexual assaults involving high-profile individuals, will be overseeing the investigation, the spokesman said, without providing any further details.
Wednesday, the actor was seen leaving LAPD’s Hollywood division and confirmed to TMZ that the report was about the groping incident. Crews also said he plans to file a civil lawsuit.
Crews only identified the perpetrator as a “high-level Hollywood executive” when he recalled the incident on Oct. 10.
He wrote that the man groped “his privates” in front of his wife and then “grinned like a jerk.” He said that he considered ”[kicking] his ass right then” but had concerns about how the situation would play out in the media.
Several outlets, including NBC News and local station CBS 3, have since named Adam Venit, a talent agent with Williams Morris Endeavor (WME), as the alleged groper, citing law enforcement sources.
Venit, who is said to represent actors Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Gal Gadot and Sylvester Stallone, has since been placed on leave, Variety reported on Friday.
WME did not immediately respond to requests for comment from HuffPost on Thursday. Attempts to reach Venit for comment were not immediately successful.
Berks County, PA- Christopher R. Tucker, 34, of Albany Township, has been charged with murder and criminal homicide for allegedly killing 19-year-old Tara Serino, state police said. She was last seen by her family Monday.
Tucker asked Serino to marry him at his Berks County home some time between Monday and Tuesday. She said no and then told him she was involved with other men. Tucker allegedly told police he then snapped, choking Serino until he thought she was dead. He then poked her eyes out, snapped her neck and beat her with a hatchet, police said.
He wrapped Serino in a rug and left it in his home as he fled to Illinois, police said.
Authorities in Champaign County, Illinois, picked Tucker up at a truck stop after he tried to break into a farmer’s combine and took him to a hospital for evaluation. There police executed an arrest warrant from Pennsylvania State Police.
Troopers searched Tucker’s home following his confession to detectives and found Serino’s body. He’s being held in an Illinois jail.
Attorney information for Tucker was not immediately available. State police are working to extradite him back to Pennsylvania.
Andrew Corish, a teacher from an all-girls school in Croydon, U.K. has admitted he used his phone to film up students’ skirts and stored the images and videos on his phone. As a punishment for preying upon young girls and taking advantage of his position as an assistant headteacher, he potentially faces a classroom ban.
He will not go to prison, because what he did technically, does not constitute a criminal offense, as upskirt photos are not illegal.
Cornish initially pleaded guilty to voyeurism, but a month later the judge rejected the plea, ruling that the students weren’t in a place where they could reasonably expect privacy, such as in their homes or a changing room, and therefore Corish’s actions don’t constitute voyeurism. The Crown Prosecution Service applied for indecent images of children charges to be added, but the judge ruled the images “were not of an indecent nature”.
Without facing any legal ramifications, Corish’s behaviour was examined by The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) misconduct panel, in which Corish admitted all the allegations in a witness statement. The panel chair ruled that Cornish’s actions “involved breaches of the teachers’ standards” and it will consider whether to recommend sanctions or a ban to the education secretary. It will consider whether to recommend sanctions or a ban. Despite admitting his guilt, Corish hasn’t immediately been banned from entering a classroom.