Police news


Grief-stricken neighbors gathered in small clumps today outside the Dorchester home of Martin Richard, the eight-year-old boy who was killed when two bombs detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

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Richard was fatally injured and his mother and sister seriously wounded as they waited for their father and husband, Bill Richard, at the finish line on Boylston Street, friends said. Bill Richard was active in the Ashmont community issues.

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Neighbor Dan Aguilar said the Richard family was close-knit, and that on most days — regardless of the weather – Martin Richard and his brother were in the family’s backyard, playing soccer, hockey or baseball.

“They are just your average little boys,’’ Aguilar told reporters gathered near the family’s home on Carruth Street. “They are a good family. They are always together.’’

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Aguilar said he last spoke with the family on Easter Sunday when they were gathered outside, enjoying the day.

He said, he is still wrestling with the idea that a child he knows has died.

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“That little boy will never come home again,’’ Aguilar said. “It’s still unreal. I have no words. I have no words.’’

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Richard is one of three people killed in the bomb explosion, and so far is the only victim to have been publicly identified by friends and colleagues.

This morning, no one was at home at the Richard house, which was watched over by a Boston police officer parked in a cruiser nearby.

At the end of the driveway, someone had written the word, “Peace.’’

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Text  by Evan Allen and John R. Ellement, Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff  (Boston Globe, 4-16-2013)

A 17-year-old Canadian girl died Sunday, days after she attempted suicide following two years of what her mother described as near-constant bullying by classmates.

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In November 2011, when Rehtaeh Parsons was just 15, the Nova Scotia girl got extremely drunk after consuming vodka at a party. According to the girl’s mother, she was raped by four teenage boys, one of whom snapped a picture of Rehtaeh being assaulted, CBC News reported.

Ultimately, police said, there was not enough evidence to bring charges in connection with the girl's alleged rape. This image was taken from a Facebook page created by Parsons' mother called "Angel Rehtaeh." 

Ultimately, police said, there was not enough evidence to bring charges in connection with the girl’s alleged rape. This image was taken from a Facebook page created by Parsons’ mother called “Angel Rehtaeh.” 

That photo quickly circulated among Parsons’ classmates, sealing a fate as cruel as the crime her mother says she endured at the party. Many at her school branded her “a slut,” her mother said. 

“She was never left alone. She had to leave the community. Her friends turned against her. People harassed her. Boys she didn’t know started texting her and Facebooking her asking her to have sex with them. It just never stopped,” Leah Parsons told the CBC.

An image of Rehtaeh Parsons and her mother posted on Facebook. Parsons hung herself after being gang-raped and repeatedly bullied, her family said. 

An image of Rehtaeh Parsons and her mother posted on Facebook. Parsons hung herself after being gang-raped and repeatedly bullied, her family said. 

Ashamed and distraught, Parsons let a week pass before she told her mother what had happened. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were eventually called, and although an investigation was launched into the incident, Parsons and her mother were told that there was not enough evidence to charge the boys.

“[The police] said that they would go talk to them and that [the boys] realized what they did was wrong, but [there was] nothing they could do, criminally,” Leah Parsons told the CBC radio program “Maritime Noon.” “It was a slap in the face.”

Meanwhile, at school and online, the taunting didn’t stop, and eventually the family moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax.

A photo of Parsons being assaulted spread among her classmates, prompting taunting, her family says. 

A photo of Parsons being assaulted spread among her classmates, prompting taunting, her family says. 

The trauma of what happened followed the girl, however, and Parsons was shadowed by what her mother called “depression and anger” over her being ostracized and bullied. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Parsons checked herself into the hospital in March.

Just days after being released, Parsons tried hanging herself in the bathroom of her home last Thursday.

“By the time I broke into the bathroom it was too late,” Leah Parsons wrote on a Facebook page she started in tribute to her daughter. “My beautiful girl had hung herself and was rushed to the hospital where she remained on life support until last night.”

In a final wrenching decision, Rehtaeh’s mother removed her from life support on Sunday.

“She made my life complete,” Leah Parsons wrote. “When Rehtaeh was born I dedicated everything to her and promised her the world. Others in this world took that away from her.”

 

BY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, APRIL 9, 2013

A predatory sixth-grade teacher used cellphone code names to keep his wife in the dark about an affair with his 14-year-old former student, whom he bedded at least a dozen times in his family home, Queens prosecutors said yesterday.

Daniel Reilly, 36, was arraigned on statutory-rape charges yesterday for allegedly preying on the teenager, to whom he once taught English at IS 237.

His humiliated lawyer wife, Annemarie, and her mom showed up to court to pay his $30,000 bail.

Reilly, an ex-Marine with an 11-month-old girl, initiated the relationship last year by texting “sexually graphic” messages, but she “just wanted to be friends,” law-enforcement sources told The Post.

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He refused to take no for an answer, and continued to pursue her — eventually roping her into a sexual affair starting in August, prosecutors said.

He allegedly used a code name to conceal her identity on his cellphone so his wife wouldn’t find out.

The girl also used a code name for the teacher to keep it from her family and friends, authorities said.

Investigators would not release the code names because they believed it would reveal the young victim’s identity.

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For their first encounter, Reilly waited until his wife and baby were away from their Forest Hills home and had the girl come over, according to the sources.

He then repeatedly asked her back to his place, where they had intercourse at least 10 times and oral sex at least twice, authorities said. They most recently hooked up on Monday, just hours before he was arrested, the sources said.

The victim’s sister allegedly discovered their secret relationship when she saw several text messages on the girl’s cellphone.

The girl — who no longer attends the school — came clean and admitted to the affair with Reilly, prosecutors said.

Her panicked mother called the school on Monday, and Reilly was yanked from his classroom until cops showed up to haul him away.

“The defendant planned to keep the relationship a secret,” a prosecutor in Queens Criminal Court charged yesterday.

Reilly is charged with second-degree rape, criminal sexual acts and endangering the welfare of a child. Prosecutors issued an order of protection for the teen.

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“This case is particularly disturbing,” Queens DA Richard Brown said. “Schools should be safe havens for children. Instead, this defendant is accused of sexually preying upon one of his former students and rendezvousing with her at his residence.”

Defense attorney Eric Franz said Reilly’s family is “just happy he’s back home.”

Reilly joined the city Department of Education in 2007, when he was hired to teach English at IS 237. He earns $61,000 per year.

The teacher, who has a clean employment record, has been reassigned from the classroom while the case is investigated.

Reilly was honorably discharged in 2000 from the Marines, his lawyer said. He served in the Aircraft Maintenance Administration for five years.

He was stationed in Japan and Cherry Point, NC — and was discharged with multiple awards in 2000, a Marine spokeswoman said.

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  • By JAMIE SCHRAM , CHRISTINA CARREGA and LARRY CELONA, New York Post, April 10, 2013

President Obama came here on Monday before a roaring, enthusiastic crowd to remember the tragedy of 20 children and 6 educators slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School and put new pressure on a recalcitrant Congress to honor them with gun-control legislation.

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In an impassioned speech that at times took on the tone of a campaign rally, Mr. Obama told an audience of 3,100 at the University of Hartford that he came to Connecticut to ensure that the deaths in the school in Newtown would not recede and to remind Americans how important their voice is as the gun debates unfold.

“If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act,” Mr. Obama said. “Now’s the time to get engaged. Now’s the time to get involved. Now’s the time to push back on fear and frustration and misinformation. Now’s the time for everybody to make their voices heard, from every statehouse to the corridors of Congress.”

But as Mr. Obama spoke, Republicans on Capitol Hill were threatening to prevent a gun-control measure from even coming up for debate.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced Monday that he would join at least 13 other Republicans who have vowed to block consideration of gun legislation passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and assembled by the Democratic leadership. That effectively made the threatened filibuster a test of Republican unity.

Mr. McConnell made his announcement as the Senate returned from recess and the legislative struggle over new gun safety legislation entered a critical phase. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, took steps to force a vote to start a broad review of gun-control proposals and accused those threatening a filibuster of “blatant obstruction,” even as they showed no signs of backing down.

“Shame on them,” said Mr. Reid, a Democrat.

Mr. Obama spoke in Hartford less than a week after the Connecticut General Assembly passed a sweeping package of gun and mental health legislation with bipartisan support.

The president was introduced by Nicole Hockley, whose first-grade son, Dylan, was killed at Sandy Hook. She recalled her life with her two sons before the tragedy and said she no longer had the option of turning away from the effects of gun violence. She said she was convinced that she and others had approached Connecticut lawmakers with the “love and logic” that persuaded them to pass the bill. She believed that approach could work with Congress, she said.

“If you want to protect your children, if you want to avoid this loss, you will not turn away either,” Ms. Hockley said. “Do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.”

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Mr. Obama, who last visited Connecticut for a raw and emotional memorial shortly after the Dec. 14 shootings in Newtown, met again with the victims’ relatives before his speech. Afterward about a dozen family members left with him from Connecticut on Air Force One to make their case in Washington to members of Congress this week.

Mr. Obama, who was wearing a green Newtown bracelet, made reference in his speech to the brutal cases of recent mass violence from Aurora, Colo., to Virginia Tech. He pushed for a broad agenda that would include universal background checks for gun buyers, restraints on gun trafficking and a ban on assault weapons. But he focused on the background checks, which he said were supported by 90 percent of Americans. “There’s only one thing that can stand in the way of change that just about everybody agrees on, and that’s politics in Washington,” he said.

Mr. Obama, who included remarks respectful of gun owners, said “common-sense” gun measures could be enacted that would acknowledge the rights of gun owners and the Second Amendment. But he said that at the very least, Newtown and similar tragedies demanded a vote in Congress on gun control issues.

“If our democracy’s working the way it’s supposed to and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy, you’d think this would not be a heavy lift,” Mr. Obama said. “And yet some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that.

“They’re not just saying they’ll vote no on ideas that almost all Americans support,” he said. “They’re saying they’ll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They’re saying your opinion doesn’t matter, and that’s not right.”

Still, Democrats said they were encouraged that senior Republicans, including Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, had indicated that a filibuster of gun legislation would be a mistake.

Connecticut has enormous symbolism in almost every way in the gun debate. Beyond the tragedy, the state legislature last week passed a major package of new gun laws, joining states — including Colorado, Maryland and New York — that have moved to enact strong gun legislation as efforts have largely stalled in Washington. But bipartisan talks on Capitol Hill were continuing in an attempt to reach a compromise on background checks that could lead to a breakthrough.

The bills before Congress would make penalties for buying guns illegally more onerous, address trafficking, and greatly expand the number of sales covered by background checks, which gun control advocates see as an essential component. The fight over background checks has been about the balance between how far to expand the current checks at licensed dealers and conservatives’ fears over a paper trail that they insist could lead to a de facto national gun registry.

Mr. Obama said, as he has in the past, that the day of the Newtown massacre was the toughest of his presidency. He said that a failure to respond on gun issues would be tough, too, but that he believed the nation was not as divided as its political culture could seem.

“We have to believe that every once in a while we set politics aside, and just do what’s right,” Mr. Obama said.

After the speech, as the Newtown family members boarded Air Force One, one mother wiped away tears and another held up a notebook. On it were written two words: “Love Wins.”

When the president’s plane landed at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, Mr. Obama could be seen through its windows gathered with the families. A White House official said he was telling them where matters stood in Congress ahead of their lobbying this week.

Then they exited together, the president standing at the portal as each passed to descend the Air Force One stairs. He returned to the White House by helicopter; they were driven in government vans to Washington.

By  and , Published: April 8, 2013

Peter Applebome reported from Hartford, and Jonathan Weisman from Washington. Jackie Calmes contributed reporting from Hartford, and Jennifer Steinhauer from Washington.

“WE DON’T go around shooting people, the sick people do. They need to be fixed.” So said the gun-owning pensioner in the Korean War veteran’s hat, demonstrating outside Connecticut’s state capitol on March 11th. He was holding a sign reading: “Stop the Crazies—Step Up Enforcement of Current Laws”, and like many of the gun-rights supporters rallying in Hartford this week, he wanted to talk about how improving mental health care was the proper response to massacres such as December’s school shooting in Newtown, an hour’s drive away.

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Your reporter was in Hartford to report on the gun lobby, and its campaign to push back against state and federal gun-control plans proposed after Newtown’s horrors, which saw 20 young children and six staff murdered. The politics of gun control will form the basis for this week’s print column, but this posting is about something more specific: the gun lobby’s focus on mental illness as the “true” cause of such massacres.

The message discipline of the National Rifle Association and congressional allies has been impressive. After an initial period of silence, the NRA came out with a consistent narrative about mass shootings. The problem, said such spokesmen as Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice-president, was that criminals and the dangerously ill can get their hands on guns.

At moments, the NRA and supporters almost sounded like liberal gun-control advocates. “We have a mental health system in this country that has completely and totally collapsed,” Mr LaPierre told NBC television on December 23rd last year, days after the Newtown murders. The NRA backs the FBI-run instant background checks system used by gun dealers when selling firearms, Mr LaPierre noted. It supports putting all those adjudicated mentally incompetent into the system, and deplores the fact that many states are still putting only a small number of records into the system.

On the chill streets of Hartford this week, that same sentiment went down well with the Korean War veteran and his fellow demonstrators. All of which is perfectly sensible, yet puzzling. For the demonstrators, holding signs that read “Stand and Fight” and “Feels like Nazi Germany”, made clear their deep distrust of government. Did they really support a large expansion of officialdom’s right to declare someone mentally unfit, trumping their right to bear arms under the constitution’s second amendment? In Hartford the question provoked some debate. But most demonstrators followed the NRA’s line in opposing any talk of moving to “universal” background checks: jargon for closing the loophole that currently allows private individuals to buy and sell guns without any checks on the criminal or mental-health records of buyers. Almost 40% of gun sales currently fall through that loophole.

Mr LaPierre’s line is both clear and not. He supports improving the quality of the federal database used for background checks, but opposes using that same database more often, calling any talk of universal background checks a ruse paving the way for the creation of the national gun register that the government craves, so it can confiscate America’s guns.

He talks of improving mental-health treatment, but then uses the harshest possible language to describe the mentally ill, telling NBC:

We have no national database of these lunatics… We have a completely cracked mentally ill system that’s got these monsters walking the streets.

So what is really going on? Interviewing the Democratic governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, he accused the NRA of a “bait-and-switch”, in which the gun lobby is trying to appear constructive without allowing any gun rules to change.

The argument quickly drifts into party politics. Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, casts the debate about post-Newtown gun controls as an either/or question, in which gun curbs and improved mental health are somehow antithetical. Responding to President Barack Obama’s calls for ambitious gun controls in the wake of the school shootings, including a renewed ban on assault weapons, Mr Rubio said:

Nothing the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook… Rolling back responsible citizens’ rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill.

On the Democratic side, the new junior senator for Connecticut, Chris Murphy, asserts that the general public are not buying such arguments, which he calls a “smokescreen”. People understand that a mental-health system that can pick out mass murderers before they strike is a “policy illusion”.

On balance, the talk of a gun lobby smokescreen is fair. Examine the NRA’s arguments more closely, and Mr LaPierre demolishes his own suggestions even as he makes them. Ina ferocious speech to supporters in Salt Lake City on February 23rd, he predicted that criminal records and the mentally incompetent would “never” be part of a background check system, which was really aimed at “one thing—registering your guns”.

Instead, Mr LaPierre and allies paint a picture of an American dystopia, in which hand-wringing liberals, having closed down mental hospitals during the civil-rights era, refuse to put dangerous criminals behind bars:

They’re not serious about prosecuting violent criminals… They’re not serious about fixing the mental-health system. They’ve emptied the institutions and every police officer knows dangerous people out there on the streets right now. They shouldn’t be on the streets, they’ve stopped taking their medicine and yet they’re out there walking around…

The powerful elites aren’t talking about limiting their capacity for protection. They’ll have all the security they want… Our only means of security is the second amendment. When the glass breaks in the middle of the night, we have the right to defend ourselves

Such rhetoric has effects far beyond the world of gun rights. Both in Congress and in state legislatures around the country, politicians are debating proposals for increased supervision of the mentally ill, and mandatory reporting of those seen as posing a danger to themselves or others.

New York state has already passed a package of gun-control measures that includes a requirement for mental-health professionals—from psychiatrists to social workers and nurses—to report anyone deemed likely to seriously harm themselves or others. A report triggers a cross-check against a database of state gun licences and police may be authorised to find and remove that person’s firearms.

Such intense attention to mental illness—for years the forgotten Cinderella of public-health policy—both pleases and alarms doctors and academics working in the field. Professor Jeffrey Swanson of Duke University has written a commentary for the Journal of the American Medical Association, examining the “promise and the peril of crisis-driven policy”, and arguing that in a nation with constitutionally protected gun rights, the “real action in gun control is people control”, or preventing dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun.

That carries risks, he writes:

The first is overidentification; the law could include too many people who are not at significant risk. The second is the chilling effect on help seeking; the law could drive people away from the treatment they need or inhibit their disclosures in therapy. The third is invasion of patient privacy; the law amounts to a breach of the confidential patient-physician relationship. Mental health professionals already have an established duty to take reasonable steps to protect identifiable persons when a patient threatens harm. However, clinicians can discharge that duty in several ways… For example, the clinician could decide to see the patient more frequently or prescribe a different medication. Voluntary hospitalization is also an option for many at-risk patients

Reached by telephone as he waited for a flight, Professor Swanson elaborated on a fourth risk, that of over-estimating the small proportion of violent crimes carried out by the mentally ill. What’s more, he noted, the mental-health system is good at describing behaviour patterns but very poor at predicting specific acts by specific people. With hindsight, mass shooters are often described as obviously disturbed, he notes. “But you can’t go around locking up all the socially awkward young men.”

In one area—suicide by gun—mental illness plays a very strong role, Professor Swanson says, and closer supervision could do real good, despite the risks. In 2010 suicide accounted for 61% of gun-injury deaths in America.

Such statistics do not fit the narrative of the gun lobby, of course, with their insistence that a gun in the home makes citizens safer. Yet even here, where improved gun controls linked to mental health could do real good, it is vital to get the details right and avoid “knee-jerk” law-making, says Dr Howard Schwartz, chief psychiatrist and director of the Institute of Living, one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals in America, founded in Hartford in 1822.

The post-Newtown national discussion about mental health is distinctly double-edged, says Dr Schwartz. It may increase access to some programmes. But the debate is also being used by those with other motives. Mental illness is ubiquitous, he notes, with rates of schizophrenia or bipolar disorders more or less the same around the world, with some rare exceptions. Yet rates of gun violence differ dramatically between America and comparable countries. And those differences tally closely with differences in the accessibility of weapons. To Dr Schwartz the diagnosis is straightforward: “the NRA is demonising mental illness to distract from the obvious, in-your-face relationship between the availability of guns and murder rates.”

Opponents of gun controls may respond with familiar flurries of statistics. In Hartford, for instance, several pro-gun demonstrators cited the same talking point, claiming (falsely) that home invasion rates soared in Australia after that country banned the most powerful forms of guns in 1996, following a mass shooting. Actually, home break-in and robbery rates have fallen sharply in Australia since 1996, as have gun-death rates, with no corresponding rise in other forms of homicide.

The most recent Australian crime statistics may be found here, and set out the historical trends clearly. As this newspaper noted shortly after the Newtown killings:

America’s murder rate is four times higher than Britain’s and six times higher than Germany’s. Only an idiot, or an anti-American bigot prepared to maintain that Americans are four times more murderous than Britons, could possibly pretend that no connection exists between those figures and the fact that 300m guns are “out there” in the United States, more than one for every adult

Mr LaPierre of the NRA is a proud patriot. But when he talks of mentally ill “monsters” and “lunatics” walking the streets in such numbers that all prudent citizens must arm themselves to the teeth, he is slandering both them and his country, just as surely as any American-hating bigot.

(Photo credit: AFP)

It was Christmas night when Sincere Smith, 2, found his father’s loaded gun on the living room table of their Conway, S.C., mobile home. It took just a second for Smith’s tiny hands to find the trigger and pull. A single bullet ripped into his upper right chest and out his back.

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His father, Rondell Smith, said he had turned away to call Sincere’s mother, who had left to visit a friend. His back was turned to the toddler, he said, for just that moment.

Sincere was still conscious when his father scooped him up and rushed him to the hospital, just a few minutes away.

Eleven hours earlier, Sincere Smith had woken up to Christmas — the first that he was old enough to appreciate. His father remembered their last morning well -– his son ripping through wrapping paper, squealing with delight with each new gift — his first bike, a bright toy barn.

It was quite a sight seeing Sincere so happy around a cloud of crinkled wrapping paper. “We bought him a little barn thing,” Smith said. “He knew what a barn is. He just seen it -– ‘Oh Mommy, Daddy! Barn!’ He went crazy over it. … He lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Smith, 30, lit up too. “I just wanted to see him open them up,” he said. His own parents were teenagers when they had him. He had vowed to be there for his five children, giving up college and a possible basketball career to take care of them. With Sincere, he promised his wife he’d be a hands-on parent. He said he considered Sincere his best friend.

The two kept close that day visiting relatives for more presents and a Christmas dinner of chicken and macaroni and cheese. “Everything was normal,” Smith said. “He was happy. Everything was good then.”

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Two weeks earlier, Smith had bought a .38-caliber handgun to protect his family after bandits had tried to break into their home. He doesn’t know what to say about the national gun-control debate. He just wants that lost second back. “I would say, man, keep them out of your house,” he offered. “It’s just. Boy. All it takes is a second. Just a second to turn your head. I don’t know, sir.”

Sincere died on an ambulance gurney as he was transferred to a second hospital in Charleston.

He never got to ride his new blue Spiderman bike outside. It sits in the trunk of his grandmother Sheila Gaskin’s car. “He didn’t get to ride his bike,” she explained. “It was cold [on Christmas]. My daughter doesn’t want to take it back to the store.”

Gaskin lives across the street from her daughter and Smith. She saw Sincere every day of his life. “He hear me coming down the road, my gospel music blasting and he hollering ‘Nana!'” she recalled. Now, she said she visits his grave every day. She hasn’t gotten a full night’s sleep since the accident. “It’s just killing me,” she said.

After Sincere was shot, Rondell Smith thought about taking his own life, Gaskin said. “It’s just not good,” she said. “It’s not good at all. He just has to stay prayed up. … That’s all he can do is give it to God.”

Smith wasn’t at Sincere’s side when he died in the ambulance. He was being interrogated by the police, who eventually charged him with involuntary manslaughter. His next court date is Feb. 8.

As he was rushing Sincere to the hospital, Smith said he told his son that he loved him. “He couldn’t really talk,” Smith said. “Last thing I heard him say was, ‘Daddy.’ He kept trying to say ‘Daddy.’ Believe me I hear it every day.”

There were 29 other shooting deaths across the U.S. on Christmas. A soldier was shot and killed in his barracks in Alaska. A man was murdered in the parking lot of Eddie’s Bar and Grill in Orrville, Ala. A 23-year-old was shot at a party in Phoenix. A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employee was killed in a drive-by.

A 20-year-old Louisville, Ky., man was shot and killed after walking his sister home. On Christmas Eve, he had posted an R.I.P. on his Facebook page for a friend and former classmate, who had been gunned down that day.

A 10-year-old in Memphis, Tenn., Alfreddie Gipson, was accidentally shot to death by gun purchased by an older brother, who had gotten the weapon after being bullied at school. Gipson was jumping on a bed when the gun slipped out of a mattress. It discharged when his 12-year-old brother tried to put it back, their mother said at a vigil.

There were at least 41 homicides or accidental gun deaths on New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Day, at least 54 people died from bullet wounds.

Through Google and Nexis searches, The Huffington Post has tracked gun-related homicides and accidents throughout the U.S. since the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., on the morning of Dec. 14. There were more than 100 such deaths the first week after the school shooting. In the first seven weeks after Newtown, there have been more than 1,280 gunshot homicides and accidental deaths. Slate has counted 1,475 fatal shooting incidents since Newtown, including suicides and police-involved shooting deaths, which The Huffington Post did not include in its tally.

A 17-year-old took his last breath in the backyard of an abandoned house in New Orleans. Prince Jones, 19, was found bleeding to death in a 1998 Buick LeSabre in Nashville, Tenn. A woman was slumped over the steering wheel in Houston, the engine still running.

A 52-year-old man was shot and killed at a Checkers parking lot in Atlanta. A 26-year-old man was shot to death in a church parking lot in Jacksonville, Fla. Steven E. Lawson, 28, was shot and killed just outside a church in Flint, Mich., where he was attending a funeral for another gunshot victim.

On a Tuesday morning in Baton Rouge, La., police knocked on Alean Thomas’ door and told her: “You have a young man dead in your driveway.” It was her 19-year-old son. Three days later, a 17-year-old in California was killed visiting family for his birthday.

On a Thursday afternoon in New Orleans’ Sixth Ward, Dementrius Adams was murdered on his way to buy groceries for his mother. He was 28 and had a 5-year-old daughter. “He was a hard-working man,” his sister said told a reporter. “He was so proud of his job. … He was a good brother, a good father — he was a loveable man.”

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Adams had just been promoted from a dishwashing job to cook at a New Orleans restaurant.

The dead included grandmothers and a 6 month old. There were police officers and a Texas prosecutor. There was a Bodega worker in Queens, N.Y., and a gas station attendant in East Orange, N.J.

A high school majorette, a college freshman at Auburn University and a man planning to get his GED in Bradenton, Fla., were killed. One victim became Chicago’s 500th murder of 2012. Another was his town’s 40th. One was found frozen and bloody in an alley — Tacoma, Wash.’s first slaying of 2013. The victim, a mother, was planning to move with her daughters to Manhattan.

“I am lost, hollow,” said the mother of the GED aspirant gunned down at a Chevron station on New Year’s Day.

In Newport News, Va., after a shooting broke out, a mother ran outside to protect her two sons, ages 5 and 7. She yelled at one of the gunman and was killed.

A Davidson, N.C., husband murdered his wife, then shot himself . Their 3-year-old daughter was found watching T.V. in another room.

There were murder-suicides in Florida, Kentucky, Oregon, Texas and California. Most were men killing women, husbands killing wives, boyfriends killing girlfriends, sons killing mothers.

There were so many drive-bys.

On Jan. 11, in Baltimore, Devon Shields, 26, was found lying in a street with a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. Three hours later, Delroy Davis was found lying face-up between two houses. Two-and-a-half hours later, Baltimore police rushed to a double-shooting that left one man dead with multiple gunshot wounds. The next day, Sean Rhodes was found “lying face-down in a pool of blood,” according to the Baltimore City Paper. Two others survived gunshot wounds.

Silly arguments became final arguments. A man was murdered over two broken cigarettes. Another after getting into a spat at a taco truck. Travis Len Massey, 23, was shot and killed by his sister’s boyfriend in a family dispute over a missing gun. A 52-year-old Jacksonville man shot and killed a longtime friend over an argument, according to police. When asked what the argument was about, the gunman said he didn’t remember, according to a television report.

A 6-year-old accidentally killed a 4-year-old. A different 4-year-old accidentally killed a 58-year old.

Alexander Xavier Shaw, 18, put a gun to his head to show how safe it was. “Witnesses told officers that Shaw, his uncle, grandparents and some friends were on the back patio talking when he showed them a .38-caliber revolver,” a St. Petersburg, Fla., newspaper account said. The gun accidentally fired, killing Shaw.

 

* Mark Hanrahan, Melissa Jeltsen, Benjamin Hart, Adam Goldberg, Peter Finocchiaro, Chelsea Kiene and William Wrigley contributed reporting. (Feb.1, 2013)

 The search for what caused a massive, deadly explosion that rocked an Indianapolis neighborhood turned to natural gas Monday, with officials checking gas lines and a homeowner saying a problem furnace could be to blame.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to check gas main and other lines serving the neighborhood where two people were killed and seven injured in the weekend blast. Local gas supplier Citizens Energy said it also was checking gas lines and a meter at the home that exploded.

But officials cautioned that it was too soon to rule out other causes, saying only that they do not believe a meth lab was to blame for the explosion that obliterated two homes and severely damaged dozens of others.

“It’s too early to speculate that this might have been caused by a gas leak,” Citizens Energy spokeswoman Sarah Holsapple said at an afternoon news briefing.

The owner of one of the homes that was destroyed said there was a problem with the furnace in the last few weeks.

John Shirley, 50, of Noblesville told The Associated Press that he received a text message within the last week and a half from his daughter, who complained that the furnace in the home where she lived with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend had broken. The malfunction had forced them to stay in a hotel, the girl said.

When Shirley asked if the furnace had been fixed, his daughter said yes. He said he wasn’t aware of any additional problems until he heard from his daughter again Sunday morning.

“I get a text from my daughter saying ‘Dad, our home is gone.’ Then I called my ex-wife and she said what happened,” he said.

His ex-wife, Monserrate Shirley, declined to comment Monday.

Scott Davis, president and principal engineer of GexCon US, an explosion investigation firm, questioned whether a furnace could cause the type of damage seen in the neighborhood. Furnaces have multiple safety triggers that prevent them from releasing that much natural gas.

“For a furnace to allow that much gas through, you’d have to defeat many of the safety features,” he said.

Investigators said it could be some time before they determine a cause for the blast that sparked a massive fire, blew out windows, collapsed ceilings and shook homes up to three miles away.

“It’s a methodical investigation. You have to move one step at a time,” said Gary Coons, the city’s homeland security director.

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said investigators will treat the area as a crime scene until they rule out foul play.

The blast forced about 200 people out of their homes in the once-tidy neighborhood of one- and two-story single-family houses. Some have been allowed to reoccupy their homes, and others have been escorted in to retrieve valuables and other belongings. Adam Collins, the city’s deputy code enforcement director, said 29 remained uninhabitable Monday.

Mark Karnes, whose house is four doors down from the blast site and suffered severe structural damage, hoped to retrieve clothes and look for his cat. But he also questioned the wisdom of going back inside the house given the extent of the damage.

“Because the walls bowed out and separated from the ceiling, I don’t think it’s safe,” he said.

The blast flattened the house Shirley co-owns with his ex-wife and one next door that belonged to second-grade teacher Jennifer Longworth and her husband, John. Indianapolis police said Monday the bodies of the pair were found in the basement of their home, which was leveled in the blast.

A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night at the school where Jennifer Longworth teaches. Her husband’s employer, consumer electronics company Indy Audio Labs, issued a statement Monday saying it was “saddened by the loss.”

Greenwood Community Schools Superintendent David Edds said Jennifer Longworth had taught at Southwest Elementary School for 12 years. Her husband had worked at Indy Audio Labs for 10 years and was director of product development and technology, according to the company.

John Shirley said Jennifer Longworth was quiet but funny and her husband was a huge Indianapolis Colts fan who maintained a garden of beautiful wildflowers along the side of the house.

“They were just very sweet people,” he said.

Indiana real estate records show Shirley’s house had been for sale for a year until it was taken off the market in March.

By CHARLES WILSON and TOM LoBIANCO | Associated Press – Nov.12

Associated Press researchers Lynn Dombek and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

Aaron Thomas would go for walks that had almost a scripted ending. He’d see a woman. His heart would race. His hands would shake. He’d approach her. He’d scare her into submission.

Then he would rape her.

Explore the timeline

Aaron Thomas is suspected of carrying out at least a dozen rapes and other attacks.

“They were objects,” Thomas said. “Whoever came down the street, an object.. . . It’s awful. It’s scary. . . . I don’t know why I couldn’t just stop.”

Thomas says he is the East Coast Rapist: the man who terrorized women in the Washington area and New England beginning in the early 1990s, culminating in an attack on three trick-or-treating teenagers in Prince William County in 2009. His crimes, which spanned nearly half his life, gripped the region with the kind of fear that comes from an unknown man, lurking in the darkness, attacking strangers who were doing such everyday tasks as walking home from work, waiting for a bus, moving out of an apartment or even sleeping in their own bed.

In hours of telephone interviews with The Washington Post from his jail cell in Prince William County, Thomas for the first time publicly acknowledged that he attacked women in several states. He said he has struggled to understand why he did it, and why he did it so many times — more than a dozen rapes by his count, although police think there were probably many more.

Thomas’s unusual pretrial confessions offer the first real picture of the man who eluded police for decades. Interviews with Thomas, his family and others close to him tell a brutal story about the troubled son of a D.C. cop who grew into a ruthless criminal. He was a doting father figure and fun-loving companion but also jealous, violent and prone to sneak out at night, when he would prey on the vulnerable and hide his actions from everyone.

He was street-smart, tough, physically chiseled and unpredictable. Thomas was also careless enough to leave his DNA at 13 different attack locations, according to police, creating a long trail that would inevitably tie him to them all. Loved ones said he hinted several times that he had done terrible things, but he was never specific and they never pressed him. Those around him didn’t put the pieces together, or they didn’t want to. So he got away with it for years.

Now, Thomas is poised to accept responsibility for his crimes. He is scheduled to plead guilty on rape and abduction charges in Prince William County on Tuesday for the Halloween attacks and in Loudoun County on Nov. 30 for a 2001 rape in Leesburg, law enforcement officials said. Thomas faces the possibility of several life terms in prison.

Thomas began his conversations with The Post with a lie. He blamed the crimes on an alter ego named “Erwin” — a character he told his family and police about after his arrest in March 2011. But Thomas eventually admitted that he was faking a split personality and that Erwin was just a name he gave to his problem.

Thomas met with psychiatrists for months as his defense attorneys prepared for an insanity defense — an argument that would center on Thomas not knowing right from wrong at the time of the rapes or having irresistible urges. But late last month, his attorneys informed the court that they would not pursue that defense.

 

By , November 10, 2012 (Washington Post)

 

Nearly every woman I know can recall one or more instances in which she was sexually assaulted, harassed, threatened, inappropriately touched or even raped.


Yet few told anyone about it at the time, or reported it to the police.
I have clear memories of three such episodes from my childhood, one of which involved a man who owned a store in my neighborhood. Not knowing at age 11 anything about reproduction (in 1952, expectant teachers had to take leave when they “showed”), I was terrified that I could become pregnant from having been forced to touch his penis.

I had trouble sleeping, and I avoided the block where the store was. Yet, fearing that the assault was somehow my fault, I said nothing to my parents.
Experts on sexual assault and rape report that even today, despite improvements in early sex education and widespread publicity about sexual assaults, the overwhelming majority of both felony and misdemeanor cases never come to public or legal attention.

It is all too easy to see why. More often than not, women who bring charges of sexual assault are victims twice over, treated by the legal system and sometimes by the news media as lying until proved truthful.
“There is no other crime I can think of where the victim is more victimized,” said Rebecca Campbell, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University who for 20 years has been studying what happens legally and medically to women who are raped. “The victim is always on trial. Rape is treated very differently than other felonies.”

So, too, are the victims of lesser sexual assaults. In 1991, when Anita Hill, a lawyer and academic, told Congress that the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her repeatedly when she worked for him, Ms. Hill was vilified as a character assassin and liar acting on behalf of abortion-rights advocates.

Credibility became the issue, too, for Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant chambermaid who accused the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of forcing her to perform fellatio in a Manhattan hotel room.Prosecutors eventually dropped the case after concluding that Ms. Diallo had lied on her immigration form and about other matters, though not directly about the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn.
When four women, two of whom identified themselves publicly, said they had been sexually harassed by Herman Cain, the Republican presidential hopeful, they, too, were called liars, perhaps hired by his opponents.

Charges of sexual harassment often boil down to “she said-he said” with no tangible evidence of what really took place. But even when there is DNA evidence of a completed sexual act, as there was in the Strauss-Kahn case, the accused commonly claim that the sex was consensual, not a crime.
“DNA technology has not made a dramatic change in how victims are treated,” Dr. Campbell said in an interview. “We write off a lot of cases that could be successfully prosecuted. It’s bunk that these cases are too hard to prosecute.”

Victims must be better supported with better forensics, investigations and prosecutions, Dr. Campbell said. “This is a public safety issue. Most rapists are serial rapists, and they must be held accountable.”

In one study, published in 1987 in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 126 admitted rapists had committed 907 rapes involving 882 different victims.
Rapists are not the only serial sexual offenders. Witness the all-too-frequent revelations of sexual abuse of children involving multiple victims and persisting for decades even when others in positions of authority knew it was going on.

In the latest such scandal, an assistant football coach at Penn State University stands accused of molesting 10 boys. The charges led to the firing of a revered head coach, Joe Paterno, and forced the resignation of the university president for failing to take more immediate action.
The Risks

Last year, according to the Department of Justice, 188,280 Americans were victims of sexual violence.

Among female victims, nearly three-quarters are assaulted by men they know — friends, acquaintances or intimate partners, according to federal statistics.
But fewer than 40 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police. Underreporting is more common among male victims and women raped by acquaintances or domestic partners. Only one-quarter of rapes are committed by strangers.

The result of underreporting and poor prosecution: 15 of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail, according to the network. Dr. Judith A. Linden, associate professor of emergency medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in September that in the United States, “fewer than half of rape cases are successfully prosecuted.”

Victims may be reluctant to report a rape because they are embarrassed, fear reprisals and public disclosure, or think they won’t be believed. “Victims often think they somehow brought it on themselves,” said Callie Rennison, a criminologist at the University of Colorado in Denver. “Rape is the only crime in which victims have to explain that they didn’t want to be victimized.”

These feelings are especially common among college women who may have been drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs when raped by a date or acquaintance.

Victims may not realize that any form of sexual behavior that is not consented to and that causes discomfort, fear or intimidation is considered sexual assault in most jurisdictions. That includes indecent exposure, unwanted physical contact (including kissing and fondling) and lascivious acts, as well as oral and anal sex and vaginal rape, whether with a body part or an instrument.

A minor — in general, 16 or 17, depending on the state — can legally consent to sexual activity. A person of any age who is forced or threatened, developmentally disabled, chronically mentally ill, incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, unconscious or preparing to undergo a medical procedure cannot legally consent to sexual activity.

Among young children, girls and boys are equally at risk of being sexually abused. But as they age, girls increasingly become targets; among adults, women represent about 90 percent of cases.

Experts have long debated whether rape should be seen as an act of aggression and control or the product of an irresistible sexual urge. To the victim, the distinction is moot.

The consequences can include pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease; feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and low self-esteem; self-blame and depression; substance abuse and eating disorders; fears of intimacy; numbness;post-traumatic stress disorder (nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety attacks, difficulty functioning); borderline personality disorder; unexplained physical problems; and even suicide.

Thus, even if rape victims choose not to report the attacks, prompt medical attention and psychological counseling can be critically important to their long-term well-being.

 

* Text by JANE E. BRODY, NYT, December 12, 2011

The FBI estimates that each year more than 100,000 underage American girls are exploited for commercial sex

Underage prostitution in the US is organized crime’s third biggest money-maker after guns and drugs. But the kids get blamed instead of the criminals. Young girls are put behind bars for walking the streets, with no offer of rescue or help.

The US State Department regularly puts out reports on how horrific human trafficking is in other countries.
Yet for the home country, the FBI estimates that each year more than 100,000 underage American girls are exploited for commercial sex. The average age is 13 years old. But the usual treatment the children get, when arrested, is either jail time or probation.

In the US, prostitution laws do not exempt minors from prosecution. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported 1,600 juveniles were arrested for prostitution within just one year.
But lawyers say in the US, the paradox of the system is that the children are prosecuted for crimes for which they cannot legally give consent.

“We say that this child is a victim and yet we send them to jail. Somewhere along the line, there’s something wrong with that and we need to take a look at ourselves and a look at the fact that we have made detention, and law enforcement, and the criminal justice system, and juvenile justice system a default setting for what happens to these kids. And we just kind of lock them up and shove them away. And that’s the end of our response to these issues, this system. We wanna make sure that these kids are treated as victims,” says Raychel Lloyd from Girls Educational and Mentoring Services.

But treating the victims and providing for their recovery requires funding.
“There’s no federal money for US victims of trafficking,” says Tina Frundt who works with a non-profit group in Washington, which helps the children to get their lives back providing them with housing and medical treatment. She herself was trafficked at the age of 13.

Tina says it is easier for the government to label the children as prostitutes, charge them and send them to detention centers, rather than fund shelters and invest in their future.

“There’s not enough housing for sex trafficking victims at all. So what they’re saying is that for their safety we will arrest them and put them in jail. Then we charge the victim. We don’t put rape victims in jail, why would we put victims who were trafficked in jail?” asks Frundt.

Almost all of the victims of child trafficking remember being constantly raped and abused both by pimps and clients.
“Many of the young people we served have been incarcerated and charged as an adult under the age of 16. So they have this lengthy 15, 20, 30, 40 arrests both as a juvenile and as ‘an adult’ for prostitution. When they go to apply for public housing, they are not eligible for that. When they go to do certain employment, that pops up in a background check and they are booted out of an employment training program,” says Raychel Lloyd.

The past of such children is already scarred as it is. And the non-profit organizations that help victims of sex trafficking say by prosecuting the children and by not investing in their recovery it is the government that scars their future.

Published: 16 April, 2011

 

 

Nine years after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, a memorial and a transportation hub are taking recognizable shape and skyscrapers are finally starting to rise from the ashes of ground zero.


That physical rebirth is cause for celebration on this anniversary. It is a far more fitting way to defy the hate-filled extremists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and to honor their victims, than to wallow in the intolerance and fear that have mushroomed across the nation. They are fed by the kind of bigotry exhibited by the would-be book burner in Florida, and, sadly, nurtured by people in positions of real power, including prominent members of the Republican Party.


The most important sight at ground zero now is Michael Arad’s emerging memorial. The shells of two giant pools are 30 feet deep and are set almost exactly in the places where the towers once were.


The huge waterfalls around the sides, the inscribed names of victims and the plaza are promised by the 10th anniversary next year. But two 70-foot tridents that were once at the base of the twin towers were installed last week. The museum will be built around them by 2012. And the first 16 of 416 white swamp oaks were planted on the eight-acre surface.


Surrounding that memorial will be a ring of commercial towers — eventually to be filled with workers, commuters, shoppers, tourists, the full cacophony of New York City. The tallest skyscraper is now a third of the way up. The developer Larry Silverstein has one of his skyscrapers taking shape — this one by the Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. The bases of two more are finally beyond the planning stage.


The first outlines of Santiago Calatrava’s elegant PATH station are visible. Giant white ribs and other structures that will support the birdlike hall are moving into place. The temporary PATH station shuttles 70,000 commuters a day through the construction site.


After years of political lassitude and financial squabbling, rebuilding at the site began in earnest two years ago. That was when Mayor Michael Bloomberg exerted his considerable muscle to make sure the memorial is finished by 2011. At about the same time, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey established more control of the site. The authority and the mayor turned out to be a good team.
That cooperation and the visible progress are such a contrast with the way some political figures have been trying to use the Sept. 11 attacks to generate antipathy toward all Muslims. For weeks, politicians — mostly but definitely not all on the right — have been fanning the public controversy over plans to build an Islamic community center two blocks away from ground zero.


Then, Terry Jones, a minor preacher in Florida, managed to create a major furor by scheduling a ritual burning of the Koran for Sept. 11. Alarmed by hyperbolic news coverage, the top general in Afghanistan, the secretary of defense, the State Department and the president warned that such a bonfire would endanger Americans and American troops around the world.
It was bad enough to see a fringe figure acting out for cable news and Web sites, but it was deeply disturbing to hear John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House, equate Mr. Jones’s antics with the Muslim center.


In both cases, he told ABC News, “Just because you have a right to do something in America does not mean it is the right thing to do.” The Constitution does, indeed, protect both, but they are not morally equivalent. In New York City, a group of Muslims is trying to build something. Mr. Jones and his supporters are trying to tear down more than two centuries of religious tolerance.


It is a good time to remember what President Obama said on Friday, echoing the words of President George W. Bush after the attacks: “We’re not at war with Islam. We’re at war with terrorist organizations.”


By NYT. (September 10, 2010)

Ted Genoways was just 31 when he took over as editor of The Virginia Quarterly Review in 2003, determined to propel the storied but old-fashioned literary magazine at the University of Virginia into the 21st century. Three years later he made good on his promise. The tiny journal won two National Magazine Awards and six nominations — up against perennial glamour titles like The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine and Vanity Fair — and Mr. Genoways was hailed in national literary circles for his spunk and vision.

But by this summer, things had gone dangerously south. Mr. Genoways had become alienated from his small staff, some of whose members repeatedly complained to the university president’s office about his absences and his attitude. His initially warm relationship with the university’s English department — whose renowned creative writing division includes novelists and poets like Ann Beattie, John Casey, Rita Dove and Deborah Eisenberg — had cooled after he sought a position there and was summarily rejected.



Then on July 30, the review’s managing editor, Kevin Morrissey, took a gun to a coal tower on the outskirts of town and killed himself, an act that some of Mr. Morrissey’s friends and family attributed partly to stress in the workplace — even going so far as to lay that stress publicly at Mr. Genoways’s door.
Now the 85-year-old review is in limbo. University officials have canceled the winter issue and closed the offices until an investigation into the staff’s complaints is complete. Mr. Genoways is fighting for his job, his reputation, his $134,000-a-year salary and his legacy as the editor who helped put the review on the literary map far beyond the “academical village” founded by Thomas Jefferson, where William Faulkner, a pipe between his teeth and a Tyrolean hat on his head, once strolled as writer-in-residence.


“I was hired to steward an old and valuable institution,” said Mr. Genoways, his hands folded in his lap during an interview last week. “Until anyone tells me otherwise, I still see myself in that role.”
His fate could hinge on the results of the investigation, which may be completed by the end of the month. In announcing it on Aug. 19, the university’s new president, Teresa A. Sullivan, said in a statement, “The review will, I hope, provide a factual basis for understanding this workplace and deciding what corrective actions, if any, the university should undertake.”


In the last few weeks, returning faculty and staff members — still reeling from the violent killing of a female university lacrosse player in the spring — have been shocked to arrive back on campus and watch the aftermath of Mr. Morrissey’s death playing out on blogs and in the national media. The Hook, a newsweekly here, ran a cover article on Aug. 18 reporting that the 52-year-old Mr. Morrissey had asked the university to intervene in the workplace situation in the months and weeks before his suicide, but his pleas had not been addressed in time.


Carol Wood, a spokeswoman for the university, said that mediation had been discussed with Mr. Morrissey and was planned.
Many of Mr. Genoways’s contributing writers have spoken out publicly on his behalf, attesting to his character and professionalism. But his support within the university appears to be more limited. Since Mr. Morrissey died, Mr. Genoways said, “I’ve only heard from one faculty member regularly.”
From its founding as “a great serious publication wherein shall be reflected the calm thought of the best men,” The Virginia Quarterly Review has kept its offices on the stately grounds of the university. Its home at the Jeffersonian center of the University, at 1 West Range, is steps from the iconic Rotunda and the preserved and showcased room at 13 West Range where Edgar Allan Poe lived as a young student.
When Mr. Genoways was brought on as editor, he replaced Staige Blackford, who had served as editor of the review for 28 years and was days away from retiring when he was killed in a car crash. Over the decades Mr. Blackford had nurtured relationships with the members of the faculty, many of whom frequently wrote for the magazine. Mr. Genoways began his time as editor by doing the same, inviting professors to meetings and asking for their input on the magazine’s design.


Lisa Russ Spaar, a professor in the English department who knew Mr. Genoways when he was a graduate student at Virginia — earning his M.F.A. in poetry writing — said that he initially dazzled the literary world on campus with his energy and passion.
“I do think that Ted was very interested in making V.Q.R. more competitive,” she said. “He wanted to move it from being a reader’s-reader kind of quarterly to being something that was bold and took risks.”
But after Mr. Genoways was denied a position in the department, his relationship with the faculty became strained, a situation that some faculty members saw as a missed opportunity.
“There are certain ways in which the journal can draw on the kind of contacts and expertise and advice that the faculty of a university can provide,” said Jahan Ramazani, a professor of English. “And in turn, the faculty can benefit from a relationship with V.Q.R.”
Mr. Genoways’s relationship with the members of his staff was deteriorating as well. Beginning last fall, they said, he was showing up in the office only a few days a week for a few hours a day. He was lax about returning their phone calls. He began transferring more editing duties to them.
“Ted was rarely in the office, he would rarely answer e-mails to us and he would not tell us about major decisions,” said Sheila McMillen, an editor who has been placed on paid leave while the university conducts its investigation. “When we would attempt to talk to him, he would get angry and extremely defensive.”


John Casteen IV, a friend of Mr. Genoways’s who is a volunteer on the magazine’s poetry board — and a son of the former university president, John Casteen III, who hired Mr. Genoways — was skeptical.

“The description of Ted’s behavior is totally inconsistent with anything I ever saw when I was in the office,” said the younger Mr. Casteen, who has contributed articles on poetry to the review.

Mr. Genoways acknowledged that the office dynamics had grown tense, but said that he had successfully argued for pay raises to compensate for the staff’s increased work. While he was spending more time out of the office, he said, he was busy working from home.
“They may have seen me working on V.Q.R. less,” he said. “But in the last year to year and a half the amount of work I’ve done on V.Q.R. has been at times overwhelming.”
Mr. Genoways also said he was increasingly worried about the magazine’s finances. The endowments, heavily invested in the stock market, have suffered, he said, and a fund of about $800,000 had been spent down by more than half as Mr. Genoways invested in the kind of long-form journalism and color photography that contributed to its rise in the magazine world.

The staff members began to grumble over the editorial direction of the magazine. It was too dark, too gritty, too morose, they said, with too many articles about war and conflict and death. Mr. Genoways, who frequently sent reporters to Iraq and Afghanistan, made no apologies for the content.
“If the subject matter was dark, to me it was never presented in an air of despair,” he said, acknowledging that the magazine’s subscription numbers, which now hover around 2,400, were falling about the same time. “So were everybody else’s in the country. I didn’t see those things as related.”
Molly Minturn, an associate editor, insisted that Mr. Genoways had created a “toxic work environment” that the university did not do enough to repair. Mr. Morrissey, described by his co-workers as a gentle person who never graduated from college, read voraciously and organized his life around work, seemed to have been affected the most by the tension.

By July, Mr. Morrissey, who struggled with depression, appeared to be despondent over his interactions with Mr. Genoways, Ms. Minturn said. After she told university officials that month that she feared Mr. Morrissey would harm himself, they did not act quickly, she said.
“The issue here is the way V.Q.R. was managed, and the questions that remain unanswered,” Ms. Minturn said. “I’m hoping that this investigation will answer them.”


By JULIE BOSMAN (September 10, 2010)

An American soldier in Iraq who was arrested on charges of leaking a video of a deadly American helicopter attack here in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of American embassies around the world, the military here announced Tuesday.


The full contents of the cables remain unclear, but according to formal charges filed Monday, it appeared that a disgruntled soldier working at a remote base east of Baghdad had gathered some of the most guarded, if not always scandalous, secrets of American diplomacy. He disclosed at least 50 of the cables “to a person not entitled to receive them,” according to the charges.

With the charges, a case that stemmed from the furor over a graphic and fiercely contested video of an attack from an American helicopter that killed 12 people, including a reporter and a driver for Reuters, mushroomed into a far more extensive and potentially embarrassing leak.

The charges cited only one cable by name, “Reykjavik 13,” which appeared to be one made public by WikiLeaks.org, a whistle-blowing Web site devoted to disclosing the secrets of governments and corporations. The Web site decoded and in April made public an edited version of the helicopter attack in a film it called “Collateral Murder.”
In the cable, dated Jan. 13, the American deputy chief of mission, Sam Watson, detailed private discussions he held with Iceland’s leaders over a referendum on whether to repay losses from a bank failure, including a frank assessment that Iceland could default in 2011. (The referendum failed, but negotiations continue.)

WikiLeaks, which reportedly operated in Iceland for a time, disclosed a second cable from the nation in March profiling its leaders, including Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

Although hardly sensational in tone, the cable does reveal a complaint over the “alleged use of Icelandic airspace by C.I.A.-operated planes” by the Icelandic ambassador to the United States, Albert Jonsson, who is described as “prickly but pragmatic.” Such are the sorts of assessments that diplomats go to great lengths to keep private.

WikiLeaks has not acknowledged receiving the cables or video from the soldier, Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, 22, who worked as an analyst and whose case has been the subject of vigorous debate between defenders and critics.
Private Manning, who served with the Second Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, based at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, was arrested in May and transferred to a military detention center in Kuwait after the military authorities said he had revealed his activities in online chats with a former computer hacker, who turned him in.

Private Manning now faces an Article 32 investigation, the military’s equivalent of a civilian grand jury, into charges that he mishandled classified information “with reason to believe the information could cause injury to the United States.”

That investigation could lead to administrative punishments or more likely, given the gravity of the charges, a court-martial.
Officially he has been charged with four counts of violating Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for disobeying an order or regulation and eight counts of violating Article 134, a general charge for misconduct, which in this case involved breaking federal laws against disclosing classified information.
The formal charges suggested an extensive effort by military investigators to scour the official and personal computers he used, in order to trace the recipients.
The charges cited unauthorized handling of classified information from Nov. 19, 2009, until May 27 this year, two days before his detention and well after the leak of the helicopter video. The charges accused him of using the classified network to obtain the “Reykjavik 13” cable on the day the one disclosed by WikiLeaks was written.
He was also charged with downloading a classified PowerPoint presentation, one of those heavily used by the American military, but what secrets it contained remained unknown.

Adrian Lamo, the former hacker who reported Private Manning to the authorities, has said that they struck up an online friendship in which the private complained of personal discontent with the military and American foreign policies.
Because the investigation continues, military officials here would not elaborate on the case.
The United States Embassy did not respond to a query. One senior commander, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the investigation, said, “It appeared he had an agenda.”

By STEVEN LEE MYERS, (BAGHDAD —NYT. July 6, 2010)

Feeling her Toyota Mark X station wagon lurch forward at a busy intersection, Masako Sakai slammed on the brakes. But the pedal “had gone limp,” she said. Downshifting didn’t seem to work either.


“I tried everything I could think of,” Mrs. Sakai, 64, said, as she recently recalled the accident that happened six months ago.
Her car surged forward nearly 3,000 feet before slamming into a Mercedes Benz and a taxi, injuring drivers in both those vehicles and breaking Mrs. Sakai’s collarbone.
As shaken as she was by the accident, Mrs. Sakai says she was even more surprised by what happened after. She says that Toyota — from her dealer to headquarters — has not responded to her inquiries, and Japanese authorities have been indifferent to her concerns as a consumer.

Mrs. Sakai says the Tokyo Metropolitan Police urged her to sign a statement saying that she pressed the accelerator by mistake — something she strongly denies. She says the police told her she could have her damaged car back to get it repaired if she made that admission. She declined.
The police say it was a misunderstanding and that they kept her car to carry out their investigation.
But veterans of Japan’s moribund consumer rights movement say that Mrs. Sakai, like many Japanese, is the victim of a Japanese establishment that values Japanese business over Japanese consumers, and the lack of consumer protections here.


“In Japan, there is a phrase: if something smells, put a lid on it,” said Shunkichi Takayama, a Tokyo-based lawyer who has handled complaints related to Toyota vehicles.

Toyota has recalled eight million cars outside Japan because of unexpected acceleration and other problems, but has insisted that there are no systemic problems with its cars sold in Japan. The company recalled the Prius for a brake problem earlier this year.


Critics say many companies benefit from Japan’s weak consumer protections. (The country has only one full-time automobile recall investigator, supported by 15 others on limited contracts.)

In a case in the food industry, a meat processor called Meat Hope collapsed in 2008 after revelations that it had mixed pork, mutton and chicken bits into products falsely labeled as pure ground beef, all under the noses of food inspectors.

A 2006 police inquiry into gas water heaters made by the manufacturer Paloma found that a defect had resulted in the deaths of 21 people over 10 years from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Paloma initially insisted that users had tampered with the heaters’ safety device; the company ultimately admitted that the heaters were at fault — and that executives had been aware of a potential problem for more than a decade. Executives are now being charged with professional negligence, and a court verdict is due in May.
When it comes to cars, the rapid growth of the auto industry here and of car ownership in the 1960s and ’70s was accompanied by a spate of fatal accidents. A consumer movement soon emerged among owners of these defective vehicles.

The most active was the Japan Automobile Consumers Union, led by Fumio Matsuda, a former Nissan engineer often referred to as the Ralph Nader of Japan. But the automakers fought back with a campaign discrediting the activists as dangerous agitators. Mr. Matsuda and his lawyer were soon arrested and charged with blackmail. They fought the charges to Japan’s highest court, but lost.

Now, few people are willing to take on the country’s manufacturers at the risk of arrest, Mr. Matsuda said in a recent interview. “The state sided with the automakers, not the consumers,” he said.

It has become difficult for drivers to access even the most elementary data or details on incidents of auto defects, says Hiroko Isomura, an executive at the National Association of Consumer Specialists and a former adviser to the government on auto recalls. “Unfortunately, the Automobile Consumers Union was shut down,” she said. “No groups like that exist any more.”

For the government to order a recall, it must prove that automobiles do not meet national safety standards, which is difficult to do without the automakers’ cooperation. Most recalls are done on a voluntary basis without government supervision.
An examination of transport ministry records by The New York Times found that at least 99 incidents of unintended acceleration or surge in engine rotation had been reported in Toyotas since 2001, of which 31 resulted in some form of collision.


Critics like Mr. Takayama charge that the number of reports of sudden acceleration in Japan would be bigger if not for the way many automakers in Japan, helped by reticent regulators, have kept such cases out of official statistics, and out of the public eye.
In 2008, about 6,600 accidents and 30 deaths were blamed on drivers of all kinds of vehicles mistakenly pushing the accelerator instead of the brakes, according to the Tokyo-based Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis.
But Mr. Takayama has long argued that number includes cases of sudden acceleration. “It has become the norm here to blame the driver in almost any circumstance,” he said.
“Regulators have long accepted the automakers’ assertions at face value,” said Yukiko Seko, a retired lawmaker of the Japan Communist Party who pursued the issue in Parliament in 2002.



The police strongly deny pressuring drivers to accept the blame in any automobile accident. “All investigations into auto accidents are conducted in a fair and transparent way,” the Tokyo Metropolitan Police said in response to an inquiry by The Times.
Figuring out who is really to blame can be hard because of Japan’s lack of investigators.
Japan’s leniency has also meant that automakers here have routinely ignored even some of the safety standards for cars sold in the United States. Until the early 1990s, Japanese cars sold domestically lacked the reinforcing bars in car walls required of all vehicles sold in the United States. Critics say skimping on safety was one way automakers generated profits in Japan to finance their export drive abroad.

A handful of industry critics like Mr. Takayama and Ms. Seko have, over the years, voiced concern over cases of sudden acceleration in Toyota and other cars in Japan. Under scrutiny especially after the introduction of automatic transmission cars in the late 1980s, Toyota recalled five models because a broken solder was found in its electronics system, which could cause unintended acceleration.

In 1988 the government ordered a nationwide study and tests, and urged automakers to introduce a fail-safe system to make sure the brakes always overrode the accelerator. This month, more than 20 years later, Toyota promised to install a brake override system in all its new models.
Meanwhile, Toyota maintains a large share on the Japanese market, with about 30 percent. The Prius gas-electric hybrid remained the top-selling car in Japan in February despite the automaker’s global recalls, figures released Thursday showed.

But Japan’s pro-industry postwar order may be changing.
In 2009, in one of the last administrative moves by the outgoing government, a new consumer affairs agency was set up to better police defective products, unsafe foods and mislabeling.

The new government’s transport minister, Seiji Maehara, has been outspoken against Toyota.
He said last week that he would push to revamp the country’s oversight of the auto industry, including adding more safety investigators. The government has also said it was examining 38 complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas reported from 2007 through 2009, as well as 96 cases in cars produced by other automakers.


Toyota continues to deny there are problems with unintended acceleration in Japan.
“Yes, there have been incidents of unintended acceleration in Japan,” Shinichi Sasaki, Toyota’s quality chief, said at a news conference last week. “But we believe we have checked each incident and determined that there was no problem with the car,” he said.
Mrs. Sakai said she has called and visited her Toyota dealer, as well as Toyota Motor itself, but has not received a response.

A Toyota spokeswoman, Mieko Iwasaki, confirmed that the automaker had been contacted about complaints of a crash caused by sudden acceleration in September. She said, however, that she could not divulge details of how the company handled each case.
“We are investigating the accident alongside the police, and are cooperating fully with investigations,” she said. “Anything we find, we will tell the police.”
Makiko Inoue and Yasuko Kamiizumi contributed from Tokyo.

By HIROKO TABUCHI-NYT (TOKYO —March 5, 2010)

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