Missouri Woman Indicted in MySpace Cyber-Bullying Case That Ended in Teen’s Suicide

Thursday, May 15, 2008  

Such a sad and senseless tragedy my heart goes out to Megan’s family and friends.

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted a Missouri woman Thursday for her alleged role in a MySpace hoax on a teen neighbor who committed suicide after being spurned by the “boy” in the fake profile.

Lori Drew, of Dardenne Prairie near St. Louis, was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

Drew allegedly helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact Megan Meier, who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named “Josh Evans.”

Megan, 13, hanged herself at home in October 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.

Drew’s attorney, Jim Briscoe, did not return FOXNews.com’s requests for comment about the indictment.

Click here to read the indictment.

Drew has denied creating the account and sending messages to Megan.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used before to address Internet hacking, but this was the first time it has been used in a social-networking situation.  [For full Article]

Update: Alleged Child Rapist’s Case Under Appeal for Dismissal – Stating “Improper Decision to Dismiss” as State felt accused understood English therefore did not need an interpreter

1:45PM 7/23/07

The following information was given today at a news conference on Fox News.

Fox News aired the news conference when State’s Attorney John McCarthy reported his office was appealing the court’s decision of dismissing this case on the grounds that it was an “improper decision” to dismiss the case due to lack of finding an interpreter and in doing so delayed the accused’s right to a speedy trial. 

The reason for this is the fact the accused does speak English.  He sought assylum here in the states where he attended and graduated from high school and continued on to community college for 2 years.  It is the law you can not graduate from high school without being able to speak English.  Since the accused could speak English the court was wrong in delaying the trial for 3 years while trying to find an interpreter.   Even after one had stepped forward just recently the judge still dismissed the case. 

The terrible part is if this case is not allowed to be brought back to trial this could set a precedent for many immigrants whose native language is NOT English.

Alleged Child Rapist Goes Free Because Court Can’t Find Interpreter

Md. Judge Dismisses Sex-Abuse Charges

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 22, 2007

This is without a doubt one of the worst, if not THE worst case, that shows the quality or “lack of” in our judicial system to allow something as horrible as this to occur.  Not only did it allow this to occur but in my mind this may very well have set a precedent for anyone where English is not their native language. 

Washington Post – Full story 

A 7-year-old girl said she had been raped and repeatedly molested over the course of a year. Police in Montgomery County, acting on information from a relative, soon arrested a Liberian immigrant living in Gaithersburg. They marshaled witnesses and DNA evidence to prepare for trial.

What was missing — for much of the nearly three years that followed — was an interpreter fluent in the suspect’s native language. A judge recently dropped the charges, not because she found that Mahamu Kanneh had been wrongly accused but because repeated delays in the case had, in her view, violated his right to a speedy trial.

“This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in a long time,” Katherine D. Savage said from the bench Tuesday, noting that she was mindful of “the gravity of this case and the community’s concern about offenses of this type.”

Loretta E. Knight, the Circuit Court clerk responsible for finding interpreters, said her office searched exhaustively for a speaker of Vai, a tribal language spoken in West Africa.

[Kanneh was granted asylum in the United States, according to State’s Attorney John McCarthy. A conviction could have led to deportation proceedings.]

[Kanneh was arrested in August 2004 after witnesses told police that he raped and repeatedly sexually molested the girl, a relative.

In a charging document, Detective Omar Hasan wrote that the girl “attempted to physically stop the behavior from the defendant, but was unsuccessful.” Hasan wrote that Kanneh threatened the young girl “with not being able to leave the apartment unless she engaged in sexual behavior with the defendant.”]                                                                                                          

Artist eats dog to protest alleged animal cruelty

POSTED: 8:29 p.m. EDT,
May 30, 2007

In my book I can think of better ways of protesting without going to this extreme to get a point across.  To me this is just as cruel, if not worse.


LONDON, England (AP) — A British performance artist has eaten part of a corgi — the breed of dog Queen Elizabeth II favors as pets — to protest the alleged mistreatment of animals by the royal family.

Mark McGowan dined on corgi meatballs Tuesday at a table set up on a London street in hopes of drawing attention to media reports that Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, had beaten a fox to death during a hunt. The event was broadcast over a live radio program.

Yoko Ono, featured on the same radio program, also tasted a bit of the dog, McGowan said. Ono’s spokesman did not immediately return calls or e-mails seeking comment.

“We love our animals in Britain,” McGowan told AP Television News. “Why is it then that we then allow people — especially people who are supposed to be ambassadors for this country — to treat animals with such disrespect?”

Buckingham Palace declined to comment, and Britain’s top animal-protection charity said there was no evidence to support the claim that Prince Philip abused the fox.

To make the corgi more palatable, it was minced with apple, onion and seasoning, turned into meatballs and served with salad.

McGowan said the corgi he consumed had died recently at a breeding farm and had not been killed for the purposes of the protest. He did not say what the dog had died from.

“I ate three lumps of it. But I spat two of them out, so I really ate one and a half of them,” McGowan said.

The stunt was aired during the Bob and Roberta Smith radio program, broadcast at a London-based arts station.

The queen has a particular fondness for corgis, and they have the run of Buckingham Palace — even during formal state events.

Dad dumps preschooler in box for unwanted newborns

POSTED: 7:50 a.m. EDT, May 16, 2007

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — A Japanese drop box for unwanted babies triggered a wave of nationwide soul searching Wednesday, a day after it was discovered a preschooler — and not an infant — had been dumped there by his father on its first day of operation.

Nationally circulated newspapers warned that the anonymous drop-off, known as “Stork’s Cradle,” is open for abuse and could traumatize youngsters. They also condemned the father, saying his action could spur copycats.

The drop-off was opened last Thursday by the Catholic-run Jikei Hospital in the southern city of Kumamoto to discourage abortions and the abandonment of children in unsafe public places. The same day, a boy believed to be 3 was found inside.

The boy, who was in good health, reportedly said he was dropped off by his father, who was seen holding the youngster’s hand as they approached the hospital. They apparently rode Japan’s bullet train to Kumamoto, but it was unclear where they lived.

“I came with Daddy,” the boy was quoted as saying by the Mainichi newspaper.

The find triggered a wave of outrage among political leaders on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying “Anonymously throwing out a child is unacceptable.” He urged parents to consult social workers for help if raising children gets too tough.

Local media reported that the boy was able to identify himself by name. But it was unclear whether the father had been identified.

The hospital has refused to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns, but said there were age limits on its drop-off service.

Police have decided no crime was committed in the current case because the child was left in a situation in which it was not exposed to immediate harm, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

“We must rethink the meaning of the baby drop-off,” the conservative Sankei newspaper said in an editorial. “Unlike a baby, a toddler may suffer from trauma.”

“This little boy must be experiencing great loneliness. We urge his mother or father to come forward,” the newspaper said, calling his abandonment “unforgivable.”

The Yomiuri newspaper said it was too early to judge the baby-drop, but said that it must be used for its original purpose of receiving newborns, not young children. Parents should also be encouraged to seek outside help before dumping their offspring.

The Mainichi said the misuse of the box could inspire copycats.

A small hatch on the side of the hospital has been set up to allow people to drop off babies into an incubator 24 hours a day.

The drop box was created after a series of high-profile cases in which newborn babies were left behind in parks and supermarkets, triggering a public outcry and government warnings against abandoning babies.

Information source: cnn.com

Woman Gets Prison for Caging Grandson

The Associated Press
Saturday, May 12, 2007; 3:30 AM
How in the hell can they consider child abuse misdemeanor. I don’t understand it I think they need to take a hard look at their crimes = punishments every where as this should not even have the word “misdemeanor” in the sentencing at all. It just makes me sick.
BRIGHTON, Colo. — A 62-year-old woman was sentenced to three years in prison for locking her grandson inside a dog kennel every night for three years while she went to work as a jail counselor.

Under a plea bargain, June Candelario was also sentenced Friday to one year of probation.

“I cannot imagine any society that would say it is just and fair to inflict this harm on a child that cannot protect himself,” Adams County District Court Judge Harlan Bockman said.

Candelario, a former state trooper, put the boy in a 4 foot by 3 foot kennel each day at 4 p.m. and let him out hours later when she returned from work, authorities said.

She pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit child abuse that resulted in bodily harm and a misdemeanor count of child abuse.

The boy was 10 when the abuse began and 13 when Candelario was arrested last May.

“I felt like I was in a prison in my home,” said a letter from the boy, which was read in court. “When I was in the cage, I felt scared and lonely and that I was not loved by my grandma.”

The boy’s foster mother said the boy refused to attend sentencing because he remains afraid of Candelario.

Information source: washingtonpost.com

Police: Man neglected sons, kept wife drugged

S.C. house was trashed except for tidy room used for gambling

Updated: 12:39 p.m. ET May 12, 2007

CHESTER, S.C. – For nearly four years, a South Carolina man held his wife and two sons captive in a house infested with maggots and human waste, authorities said.

The boys slept on a bare mattress as their mother was kept in a drug-induced stupor in a house that was decrepit except for a tidy one-room illegal gambling parlor run by Danny William Dove, police said.

Police found maggots infesting the refrigerator. Human waste and used toilet paper littered the bathroom floor and the house smelled like a dead animal, according to police photographs and authorities who visited the home after Dove was arrested this week.

The living room was covered in trash and upturned furniture, the kitchen’s cabinets were falling apart and dirty clothing was piled in waist-high heaps.

“There was chaos everywhere,” Chester County Sheriff’s Detective Scott Thompson said Thursday. “I don’t think we’ll ever really determine how it happened — how you get to live like that. I think he got so wrapped up in drugs and wanting to control everything, nothing else mattered.”

Boys monitored via video
The young boys, ages 4 and 8, didn’t go to school. Police say they rarely were allowed out of the house and that a video camera monitored their room and the doors to the home. The boys’ own grandmother says they’re hard to understand unless they’re cursing.

Dove, 45, plied his wife, Tamara, with prescription painkillers, cocaine and crack, and forbade her to go outside, police said. Thompson said he didn’t expect the 37-year-old mother would be lucid enough to be interviewed for weeks.

“People don’t understand why she just doesn’t leave,” Thompson said. “But with a little intimidation and a lot of drug use, this is what they grew to know as normal life.”

Dove was charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of criminal conspiracy, operating a gambling establishment and two counts of child neglect. He remained in jail Thursday without bond. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

But Dove’s mother said her son held no one hostage and that his wife was the root of the couple’s drug addiction.

“She’s driven my son crazy,” Helaine Young said in an interview at her home.

Once owned convenience stores
Young said she threw up when she visited the home with police, her first visit since Christmas 2005, when she said she left after being threatened by her daughter-in-law.

Young said her son was once a wealthy owner of several convenience stores, paying for anything his wife requested including baby sitters and house cleaners. Her son installed the cameras for the family’s security when he renovated the home in a rural town near the North Carolina line, she said. The pair met about 13 years ago, Young said.

Young, who has taken care of the couple’s 12-year-old son since he was an infant, said she’s asked the Department of Social Services repeatedly over the last six years to investigate.

Messages left with Department of Social Services were not immediately returned Friday.

Dove’s oldest child, 20-year-old Brittney Dove, said she and a friend used to take care of the boys when she stayed in the home. But she last saw them about three years ago, she said.

“She would not get out of the bed,” Brittney said of the boys’ mother. “It disgusts me that he’s in jail. I’m not condoning what he did. There’s no excuse for the child neglect. But she should be there, too. He honestly loved her. He was nothing but good to her.” (*now there is a totally insane statement*)

‘Cuss words’ from boys
Thompson said the boys were socially inept.

“The oldest one can communicate, but it’s on a 3- to 4-year-old, broken-English level,” he said. “The 4-year-old jibber jabbers. It’s rambling stuff.”

Young said the two knew how to curse because that’s what they heard at home.

“The cuss words were the plainest words you can hear from them,” she said, recalling phone conversations with the boys.

The boys are living safely with a relative, Thompson said.

“Maybe now we’ve given these kids the chance of a normal life,” Thompson said.

Information source: MSNBC.com

Texas mom accused of selling teen daughter to man

Houston & Texas News
May 10, 2007, 2:15PM
Associated Press

WICHITA FALLS — A mother suspected of selling her 15-year-old daughter to a man accused of child sex crimes has been indicted for the alleged $3,000 sale.

Tina Valdez, 37, reported her daughter missing to authorities in August, claiming the teen was a runaway, Archer County Sheriff Ed Daniels said today. Valdez had a note she told police her daughter had written that said the teen was going to look for her father, Daniels said.

Late last month and after federal authorities had spoken to the teen, who was in Mexico, Valdez told investigators that she had sold her daughter while they interviewed her about filing a false report about her daughter being a runaway, he said.

“She just needed money, clothes and food,” Daniels said.

The sheriff said that after purchasing the Windthorst teen, the man and the girl went to Mexico.

Once located in Mexico by federal authorities, the girl went to the U.S Consulate in Mexico and is now back in the U.S. in foster care, officials said.

Valdez and the man who allegedly bought her daughter, 35-year-old Jason Carlile, were indicted Monday on charges of purchase or sale of a child, a third-degree felony, said Jack McGaughey, the district attorney for Clay, Archer and Montague counties.

Valdez remained in the Jack County Jail on Thursday on $150,000 bond. It was not clear whether she had an attorney.

Carlile, who surrendered to Mexican authorities before being brought back to Texas, remained in the Harris County Jail today on $150,000 bond.

Carlile, who faced charges of indecency with a child and possession of child pornography in Wichita County at the time he allegedly took the teen to Mexico, didn’t have an attorney yet, a jail official in Houston said.

Information source: Houston Chronicle

Top News- Parents Allegedly Locked Sons in Dog Cage – AOL News

I think these parents should be locked up in a dog cage!!!   I honestly just don’t understand how parents can treat children like this or even consider harming them in any way period. 

Parents Allegedly Locked Sons in Dog Cage
Also Made 10-Year-Old Wear Shock Collar, Officials Say

TOLEDO, Ohio (May 4) – A couple locked their 10-year-old son in a small dog cage while his father used drugs, and at times they forced him to wear a shock collar meant for training animals, authorities said.

Jessica Botzko and John Westover are accused of punishing their two sons by putting them in a dog cage and repeatedly shocking one boy via a remote-controlled collar

(Jessica Botzko and John Westover are accused of punishing their two sons by putting them in a dog cage and repeatedly shocking one boy via a remote-controlled collar. Lucas County Correction Center / AP)

Jessica Botzko and John Westover are accused of punishing their two sons by putting them in a dog cage and repeatedly shocking one boy via a remote-controlled collar.

Jessica Botzko, 28, and John Westover, 37, were arrested Wednesday, a day after the boys were left alone at home and ran away. They were found on a neighbor’s porch.

The couple appeared briefly in court Thursday on charges of child endangerment and making or selling drugs in front of the boy and his 5-year-old brother.

The older boy told officers that he took off because he was tired of being left in the cage, which was less than 2 feet high by 2 feet wide, police Capt. Ray Carroll said.

“He had to tuck his knees into his chest, and he fell asleep in there on a couple occasions,” Carroll said. “It wasn’t continuous. It was probably on and off for punishment.”

Court documents say the boy was repeatedly shocked at the family’s home through the remote-controlled collar.
It was not clear whether the younger boy had been caged, Carroll said. The boys were in state custody.

The 10-year-old told officers that his father put him in the cage when he was using or making drugs, Carroll said. Police searched the mobile home and found it filled with dirty clothes, garbage and empty boxes.

The boy looked thin and told authorities he had not eaten for a couple of days, police said. He weighed 61 pounds, Carroll said.

Neighbors said they often heard the couple fighting. Catherine Hightower said she saw the oldest boy a few times when he was taking out garbage.
“I’m just finding out they had more than the one boy,” she said.

The parents’ hearings were continued because neither had a lawyer. A message seeking comment was left for them at the jail.

The oldest boy was previously removed from the home in 1998, when Botzko was charged with child endangering. Westover had an extensive criminal record and was wanted on a child endangering charge in suburban Toledo.

In addition, the couple had a daughter who died a few years ago of sudden infant death syndrome, and police plan to take another look into the death, Carroll said.

Another Ohio couple, Michael and Sharen Gravelle of Norwalk, were convicted in February of child abuse and endangerment for keeping some of their 11 special-needs adopted children in wire and wood enclosures

Source: Top News- Parents Allegedly Locked Sons in Dog Cage – AOL News

911 Call Played in NYC Sex Assault Trial (assailant disguised in Fire Dept uniform)

Published: May 2, 2007
Filed at 4:56 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) — Through sobs, the victim of a Halloween 2005 sexual assault told a 911 operator how her assailant had used a disguise to get into her apartment and begin a 13-hour attack.

”He banged on the door in a Fire Department uniform,” the victim said, according to a tape of the call played in court Tuesday. ”He said there was a fire outside, but I think he just made that up. I think it was smoke bomb or something.”

Emergency operator Marian Grillo testified about the woman’s call on the morning of Nov. 1, 2005, made after her attacker had left and when she finally escaped her bonds. The victim, weeping and screaming, detailed her night of terror.

”He wanted to kill me!” the victim shouted near the start of her call. Grillo said she urged the woman to calm down, but the caller remained upset — even when police officers arrived at her Manhattan apartment, where the assault took place.

The victim was so rattled by her encounter with the phony firefighter that she refused to let the officers inside until they showed badges and official IDs, testified Jeannia Robinette, the woman’s best friend.

The tape and testimony came during the second day of the trial of freelance journalist Peter Braunstein, who is charged with kidnapping, burglary, sex abuse and robbery. The victim testified on Monday that Braunstein was wearing fireman’s gear, right down to a plastic shield on his face, when he drugged and abused her, starting on the night of Oct. 31, 2005.

The 911 call came two hours after the attacker left her tied to her bed, naked but for a pair of thong underpants and high-heeled sandals he had put on her. The Associated Press is not identifying the woman because she reported being the victim of a sex crime.

On the 911 call, the operator asked whether the man had any weapons.

The victim said he had a knife, a gun and a videocamera, and told Grillo, ”He was taping me while I was naked.”

The woman had been a co-worker of Braunstein’s at Fairchild Publications, publisher of Women’s Wear Daily and W magazine. She testified that he was someone she would see in the hallways occasionally, but they didn’t know one another.

Braunstein has pleaded not guilty, but his lawyers concede that he committed most of the crimes charged. They say he is mentally ill and is unable to form the intent that would make him criminally responsible for the attack.

”This trial is about why it happened,” defense attorney Celia Gordon told the jury in opening remarks.

But Assistant District Attorney Maxine Rosenthal told the jury that Braunstein, who had been fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend, planned the attack ”out of anger and a need for revenge.”

Rosenthal said he ordered the firefighter’s gear, the BB gun, the knife, a replica Detroit police badge, handcuffs and materials for making smoke bombs from Internet sites weeks before he talked his way into the woman’s apartment.

When he was captured on the University of Memphis campus six weeks after the attack, Braunstein stabbed himself in the neck with a dagger. He was subdued by police with pepper spray and arrested Dec. 16, 2005.

Information source: The New York Times