On a pleasant, partly sunny afternoon, an armed security guard stood watch over an apartment building in the Hubbard Farms neighborhood in southwest Detroit.
The guard wouldn’t say why he was there. But behind him last Tuesday, scrawled onto the ornate stone facade of the building, the word “rapist” could still be seen, even after efforts that morning to scrub it off. A faded blue arrow sprayed above the graffiti letters still pointed to an apartment window, still condemning whoever lived in that first-floor home.
But the 43-year-old occupant wasn’t there any longer. His family moved him, afraid he’d be killed.
Inside the homes on these tight-knit blocks and along the thriving businesses and vacant storefronts of Vernor Highway in Detroit’s Mexicantown, the former resident of that apartment is widely believed to be a rapist. His accuser is a 15-year-old girl who, as the streets have it, was cajoled into his apartment on July 17 and attacked. She’s from the neighborhood, too. She has Down syndrome. The neighborhood is furious.
A Lake County property where two men allegedly kept a Los Angeles-area girl in a metal box and sexually abused her had been under federal investigation for the previous 18 months, court documents said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had been investigating a 680-acre property owned by Ryan Balletto, 30, in a remote section of Lakeport since December 2011, according to a criminal complaint against Balletto that was unsealed July 16.
The case cracked open in late April, according to the document, when Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives called Northern California deputies about the missing 15-year-old girl.
There was reason to believe she was with Balletto, authorities said.
A follow-up by Lake County sheriff’s deputies revealed more than any of them could have expected.
“It was kind of like opening Pandora’s box,” said Lake County sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Ostini.
The break came April 30 when the girl called sheriff’s deputies and confirmed she was with Balletto, the document said. The teen said she was OK and deputies traced the call to West Sacramento, where she was found in a hotel room with Patrick Steven Pearmain, 24.
Allegations that three teenage boys sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl who later committed suicide have shaken the Santa Clara County community of Saratoga.
The boys, all 16, were taken into custody Thursday at two different high schools and booked into juvenile hall in connection with the attack on Audrie Pott, who hanged herself, according to media reports.
Officials with the Los Gatos-Saratoga school district released a statement to the San Jose Mercury News saying the they are fully cooperating with authorities and that their “sympathies go out to all of the families.”
“Collaborating with our parents, students, staff and community we will continue to work diligently to maintain a positive climate at our high schools based on respect, responsibility, and open communication that discourages cyber bullying and inappropriate conduct,” the statement read.
Because kids with assault rifles makes such good sense…
Kids make the perfect target audience for the NRA
Responding to Americans’ declining interest in shooting sports, gun manufacturers are developing programs to market their products to younger children. The National Shooting Sports Foundation trade association and the industry-funded National Rifle Association spend millions of dollars annually to recruit kids as gun enthusiasts. And those efforts increasingly focus on pushing semi-automatic assault weapons, including the very model used by the shooter in the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy.
The New York Times reports:
The pages of Junior Shooters, an industry-supported magazine that seeks to get children involved in the recreational use of firearms, once featured a smiling 15-year-old girl clutching a semiautomatic rifle. At the end of an accompanying article that extolled target shooting with a Bushmaster AR-15 — an advertisement elsewhere in the magazine directed readers to a coupon for buying one — the author encouraged youngsters to share the article with a parent.
“Who knows?” it said. “Maybe you’ll find a Bushmaster AR-15 under your tree some frosty Christmas morning!”
He was the “spiritual father” of a 15-year-old girl, terminally ill with cancer, who had convinced the girl’s mother to rely on faith instead of medicine to try to heal her.
But when it came to his own cancer and pneumonia, Ariel Ben Sherman was treated in a hospital in South Carolina, records show.
“It’s sad and ironic,” Loudon County Deputy District Attorney General Frank Harvey said.
Harvey said Sherman and Jacqueline Crank, the mother of Jessica Crank, rejected medical treatment for the girl’s rare cancer and turned to prayer instead. Jessica died in September 2002.
Sherman’s death certificate showed he died at age 78 on Nov. 28 in a South Carolina hospital of respiratory arrest while being treated for small-cell cancer.
“He (Sherman) lived by a different standard,” Harvey said.
Sherman’s death ends one part of a convoluted legal case that has wound its way through the judicial system.
Last year at this time, self-described prophet Warren Jeffs was predicting the end of the world. According to eight revelations he issued from a jail cell at the beginning of December 2012, divine vengeance was slated to fall upon a nation “fully ripening in iniquity.” Earthquakes were to rock Arizona, and “melting fire” was supposed to roll out across Idaho.
This year? Jeffs is predicting the same demise, only this time compliments of the geysers at Yellowstone National Park. Once they blow their tops, it’s the end for all humankind.
“By December 23rd, [the world is] going to have ended,” former FLDS member Isaac Wyler, who has seen the revelation, told KUTV in Salt Lake City. Jeffs told his followers to prepare grey or blue backpacks, of a certain size, and pack them with essentials to be ready to go when God calls them, Wyler said.
Jeffs, 56, is the imprisoned head of a sizeable Mormon breakaway polygamous sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). He became a fugitive in 2005, after he was charged with conspiracy to commit rape for arranging a marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old girl and her 17-year-old cousin, and then pressuring the girl to have sex with the young man. He was arrested more than a year later, and convicted of two rape conspiracy charges, drawing two terms of five years to life in prison.
Then, in a separate trial last year, he was convicted of raping his 12-year-old “spiritual bride,” as well as sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. Evidence of those attacks turned up in 2008, when Texas authorities raided an FLDS compound in the town of El Dorado, and included a document in which the supposed prophet of God wrote, “If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree.” He was sentenced to two life terms in that case.
A 17,000-member megachurch has been rattled by allegations that five employees waited two weeks to report the rape of a 13-year-old girl in a campus stairwell.
The Tulsa police say the girl is among at least three victims of sex crimes committed by two former employees of the church, Victory Christian Center.
The police said this week that the worldwide ministry’s pastor and co-founder, Sharon Daugherty, whose daily broadcasts are heard in more than 200 countries, knew about the accusations, but trusted employees to follow policies on reporting such assaults.
A former church employee, Chris Denman, 20, was arrested Sept. 5 on charges of raping the 13-year-old before a church service on Aug. 13. He also is charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl between Aug. 13 and Aug. 17.
Texas prison officials have found polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs guilty of “a major disciplinary infraction” following an investigation into whether he violated policy by — among other things — preaching a Christmas day sermon from prison, a state spokeswoman said Monday.
Jeffs’ phone privileges have been suspended for 90 days, added Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons.
While refusing to elaborate on the content of the conversations, Lyons said that Jeffs was found guilty of making conference calls on several occasions. “It was obvious to us he was talking to a group of people,” she said.
The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jeffs is serving a life-plus-20-year term in Texas for sexual assault. He was convicted last August of the aggravated sexual assaults of a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl that Jeffs claimed were his “spiritual wives.”
The state criminal justice department announced in late December that it had initiated an investigation into allegations that Jeffs used a prison phone to preach to his congregation on Christmas.
Records show that Jeffs made two phone calls on December 25, said Jason Clark, a Criminal Justice Department spokesman.
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has had his phone privileges revoked for 90 days after prison authorities concluded he broke rules concerning prison phone use.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice determined that on Christmas Day, Jeffs gave a telephone conference directed at multiple people, which is against the rules for Texas prisons, TDCJ spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said.
“It was apparent in reviewing the phone calls that he was talking to a group,” Lyons said.
Lyons said she didn’t have specifics on what was said in the calls but that the calls were each 15 minutes long, the maximum length allowed for a single phone call. Prisoners get 240 phone call minutes each month.
Two people had been stricken from the list of people Jeffs was allowed to call during the investigation, Lyons said. Their identities are not public record, she said.
Jeffs, 56, is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and fathering a child with a 15-year-old girl.