Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A new Satanic child abuse scare

In the current climate, it’s all too easy for fantasists to be taken seriously.

On Thursday 19 March 2015, the High Court released an astonishing judgment in the case of P & Q (Children: Care Proceedings: Fact Finding). Mrs Justice Pauffley of the family division found, after a hearing lasting 11 days, that: ‘There was no Satanic cult at which babies were murdered and children were abused.’

Twenty-one years after Professor Jean La Fontaine produced her report for the Department of Health, confirming the absence of any convincing evidence for the existence of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) in the UK, it is extraordinary that any court should have to conduct a similar inquiry. But it’s a sign of how unhinged British society has become on the subject of child abuse that the repetition of such far-fetched claims now warrants prolonged judicial scrutiny.

Unusually for the family courts, this ruling names names, except for the children, whose anonymity is protected by court order. Mrs Justice Pauffley made short work of the claims, which were drilled into two children by their mother Ella Draper and her new partner, Abraham Christie. Draper had for years been locked in a battle over contact with the children’s birth father, Ricky Dearman. When Christie came on the scene last year, he made a scene at the children’s school, Christchurch Primary School in Hampstead, alleging that the teachers were poisoning them.

In August, Draper and her new partner took the children abroad on holiday. During their travels, they took a series of film clips of the children describing, in the most lurid terms imaginable, their involvement in scenes of horrific abuse and mass sacrifice. Draper and Christie set out to fabricate these accounts in sessions described as ‘brainstorming’. The clips consist of Christie interrogating the children, including encouraging them to chant ‘Kill, kill, kill’. In September, Christie showed the clips to his brother-in-law, who contacted the British police. Bizarrely, the police declined to view these clips, and instead sent them to a property store in Chingford.

The gist of the ‘disclosures’ was that the Draper children, referred to in the case as P and Q, were part of a large group of children from north London who had been sexually abused, and who belonged to a Satanic cult in which there was significant paedophile activity. The stories feature the usual outlandish paraphernalia of SRA and ritual/organised abuse fantasies.

Thus, the cult was supplied with babies ‘from all over the world. They were bought, injected with drugs and then sent by TNT or DHL to London.’ Their throats were slit, their blood was drunk, and cult members would then dance wearing babies’ skulls. P and Q asserted that their own father had involved them in decapitating babies. Christie is heard asserting that ‘snuff movies of the babies’ were made and sold ‘all over the world’. Cult members, P and Q said, also anally abused children with ‘plastic willies’.

As well as the children’s school, Christchurch Primary in Hampstead, seven other local schools were named. East Finchley swimming pool was also said to be another venue for the paedophile ring. Rituals were also, allegedly, performed in an upstairs room at a McDonald’s restaurant, where babies were cooked in a secret kitchen, and then eaten by cult members.

The children’s father, Ricky Dearman, was said to be the leader of this cult; other prominent members included the children’s headteacher, another teacher, a priest at a nearby church, parents of other children, social workers, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) officials and police officers. In all, the family claimed that over a hundred people were involved in ‘doing sex’ to the children.

The judge noted that the video clips had been released on the internet, and that over four million people had viewed them. Activists had published the names, addresses and phone numbers of various alleged cult members, who were threatened as a result. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Draper and Christie declined to attend court. The children’s father and grandparents came, and were comprehensively exonerated.

The judge noted the way in which, when first interviewed by the police and social workers, the children scrambled to give details, which became more and more expansive and grotesque as the interviews progressed. She expressed concern that a consultant paediatrician named Dr Hodes had examined the children repeatedly, using the discredited reflex anal dilation test. Her approach was dogmatic, of the kind which was criticised in the 1987 Cleveland Inquiry. Dr Hodes persisted in her argument that sexual abuse had occurred ‘notwithstanding several noteworthy contraindications’.

The children then retracted all the allegations, stating that Christie had made them say these things, and claiming that he had been physically cruel, pouring cold water over them in their underwear, beating them and ‘asking us questions again, and again, and again’. The children said they did not wish to see their mother or Christie. Hair analysis showed that the children had been given cannabis over a period of months, presumably to obtain their compliance.

The judge concluded: ‘I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true. I am entirely certain that everything Ms Draper, her partner Abraham Christie and the children said about those matters was fabricated. The claims are baseless. Those who have sought to perpetuate them are evil and/or foolish.’

The judge said that the prolonged contact dispute between the children’s birth parents provided fertile ground for false allegations of abuse, as did Christie’s criminal record for dishonesty, drugs offences and violence. The case is an ugly reminder of how easy it can be, in the current febrile climate, for a couple of warped individuals to promote their own dystopian fantasies, oblivious to the very real psychological harm done to children like P and Q, and the turmoil inflicted on large numbers of innocent people as a result.

Original report here

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Chicago: Wrongful conviction leads to record $20 million settlement

Juan Rivera Jr. — wrongly convicted for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl — has been awarded $1 million for every year he spent in prison.

Law enforcement in Lake County, Waukegan and several other towns have agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit by Rivera, who spent 20 years locked up for the 1992 rape and murder of Holly Staker before DNA evidence pointed to another suspect.

"There’s no amount of money they could give me to justify 20 years [in prison], but they decided to give me 20 million and I’m happy with that," said Rivera, who walked out of jail in 2012 when a state appeals court reversed his conviction.

Rivera spent most of his time at Statesville prison, missing his grandmother’s funeral, his mother’s kidney transplant and daily family life.

The 20-year ordeal was painful for Rivera’s family, said his father, Juan Rivera Sr., in Spanish, choking up as he recalled visiting his son in prison.

The settlement means Rivera will get to help pay his family’s medical bills, go to school and even pay for some of his relatives’ education.

He plans to keep his job as a supervisor at a Northwestern University medical research facility, at least until he goes to school to study business administration and accounting.

"Right now I’m working, and I want to keep working, so the future is left to the future," he said in Spanish. "I [am] just trying to live my life with my family the best that we can."

This is the largest wrongful-conviction settlement involving a single person in the United States, said Rivera’s lawyer, Jon Loevy.

Other wrongful-conviction lawsuits — such as Juan Johnson’s in 2009 — have resulted in bigger awards after going to trial. In Rivera’s case, the settlement was reached before going to court; a trial had been scheduled to start in June, Loevy said.

"They conceded that Juan was entitled to the money without the [trial]," Loevy said. "They didn’t want to go [to court] and try to defend themselves; they just agreed voluntarily to pay the $20 million."

Rivera said he had wanted to go to trial for the money to show the corruption that landed him in jail in the first place.

"I still would prefer my 20 years back [over] the $20 million," he said.

Rivera, now 42, is looking forward to move on with his life and said his case doesn’t define him as a person.

"Of course I’m resentful. I’m not going to say that I’m angry, I’m not angry, but I’m hurt, resentful, disappointed, upset [for what] I had to endure," he said, flanked by his family and girlfriend, after the settlement was announced.

Rivera was 19 when he was arrested and charged with raping and murdering Staker in Waukegan; he gave police a signed confession to the murder.

"[The case] highlights the problem with wrongful confessions," Loevy said. "Juan was interrogated for four straight days, at one point for 24 hours at a time — they got a confession from him that wasn’t true."

An investigation into law enforcement officers involved in Rivera’s case has not taken place, but Rivera said he hopes it happens soon.

Rivera sued Lake County, the Waukegan police and other law enforcement agencies; his lawsuit focused on a pair of gym shoes police suggested Rivera wore during the murder.

The Voit high-tops were stained with the victim’s blood and tests later showed another man’s blood was on the shoes. The DNA in the blood matched that of the semen found in the girl’s body.

The shoes were never introduced as evidence in Rivera’s trial, something his lawyers say is proof that Rivera was framed.

"This wrongful conviction is a stellar example of miscarriage of justice," said Locke Bowman, who also represented Rivera through Northwestern University’s MacArthur Justice Center. "This was a deliberate, designed coercion of a false confession . . . this was a deliberate frame-up."

The DNA found in the shoes also matched DNA connected to another murder case for which someone already is serving time. The girl’s real killer has not been identified and remains at large, Bowman said.

Original report here

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Comply or die — trends in modern policing

Every time a police officer is killed in the line of duty, it makes local, if not national headlines. Though always shocking, the number of law enforcement fatalities has remained fairly steady over the years. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 165 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 1917. Fatalities hit relative high points during alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and in 1974 when 280 officers lost their lives. By 2000, this number had fallen to 162.

It is important to note this number includes all deaths, not just homicides. In 2013, the year for which the most recent data is available, 100 officers died. Of these deaths, more than half (57 percent) were the result of car accidents, motorcycle crashes, illness, and other unlikely events, not stabbings or gunshot wounds.

So we know every police officer that dies in the line of duty every year. Moreover, we know how. It may come as a surprise, however, that no such meticulous statistics are kept regarding civilian deaths at the hands of police. Federal authorities allow more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies to self-report officer-involved shootings each year.

Between 2007 and 2012, 753 police departments reported some 2,400 killings. The majority of law enforcement agencies didn’t report their numbers at all. A recent report by the Wall Street Journal found that the number of killings offered in the internal police reports from the 105 largest police departments were some 45 percent higher than the number reported by the FBI.

When taking all these numbers into account we can say two things with certainty.

* Being a police officer is not nearly as dangerous as it’s made out to be (in fact, your roofer is more likely to die putting shingles on your house, or your garbage man collecting trash, than a neighborhood cop patrolling the streets).

* Killings by police are significant and are likely under reported.

The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police, the subsequent failure of grand juries to return an indictment against the officer involved, and waves of protests prompted President Obama to host a summit at the White House on the relations between police and the larger community.

As a result of this summit, the President called for a $263 million spending package aimed at reforming police departments around the country. He stated he would create a task force to recommend ways to improve relations between law enforcement agencies and the community:

"What I have confidence in is that if we do a better job of training our law enforcement to be sensitive to the concerns of minority communities, then overtime trust can be built."

I’ve written elsewhere about the militarization of domestic police. I’m sorry to say, but suggesting "better training" in this case is akin to putting a band-aid on a severed leg and telling the person to "walk it off."

The problem here is much deeper, much more fundamental than training. What we have witnessed in Ferguson, New York, and across the country reflects a deficiency with the underlying institutional structure of our police forces and the way the government provides defense and security.

As opposed to being accountable for their actions, police are shielded by "internal investigations" into wrongdoing and self-reporting. In effect, we trust the police to police themselves. While the police are empowered with their authority (and simultaneously trusted not to abuse it), they have been equipped with more powerful equipment, bigger weapons, and armored vehicles. As opposed to working to protect members of their community, police are trained to act as combatants in a war zone.

Questions regarding police activity and the actions taken by officers are often countered with claims about how officers fear for their lives and the dangers of the job. What we can see from the data mentioned above, however, is that this threat is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I am hopeful that the recent string of high-profile cases will illustrate the pervasive nature of this problem. At a minimum, bringing changes to current police tactics requires a massive shift in public opinion regarding what is acceptable and unacceptable for law enforcement. It’s time we seriously reconsider the mechanisms underlying our criminal justice system. If not, expect more of Ferguson, more of New York City, but repeated in cities and towns across the United States.

Original report here

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Shame of Britain's top cops: Police chiefs claim expenses to spend on extra-marital affairs and are guilty of 'predatory sexual conduct' towards juniors, finds report

Police chiefs put gifts for their lovers on taxpayer-funded expenses and preyed on young female colleagues out of arrogance, a scathing report has found.

They saw themselves as captains of industry rather than public servants, research into a string of misconduct scandals concluded.

A culture of entitlement meant some in the highest ranks believed they had a right to perks and privileges including gym membership, school fees, overseas travel, hospitality and executive cars.

The report added that too many forces tolerated bullying with a ‘boys club’ culture that allowed misconduct to thrive.

It was compiled as part of a College of Policing drive to improve leadership and integrity within the 43 constabularies in England and Wales.

Academics studied the cases of 33 police chiefs, all assistant chief constables or above, who were investigated for, or guilty of, offences including financial misconduct, dishonesty, bullying, racism and sexism since 2008.

Although not named in the report, one is understood to be Terry Grange, the then chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police who used his corporate credit card to pay for meals with his mistress and exchanged politically insensitive and sexually explicit emails with her via the force computer system.

In 2008, the Independent Police Complaints Commission upheld the allegations it investigated. Mr Grange did not face disciplinary action because he had already retired.

In October 2012 Sean Price, of Cleveland Police, was the first chief constable to be sacked in 35 years for gross misconduct after he lied to the police watchdog and ordered a member of staff to do the same.

Experts commissioned by the College of Policing, a professional body for police in England and Wales, studied misconduct investigations triggered by complaints about professional conduct made by spouses or partners when the relationship collapsed. Other cases studied included internal probes over expenses incurred while officers conducted affairs, and inappropriate and potentially predatory sexual conduct towards junior colleagues.

Police chiefs were also investigated for misconduct over pay, perks, hospitality, travel and expenses, racism, sexism, dishonesty and abuses of their force’s recruitment and procurement processes.

One senior officer was given an executive car fitted with blue lights and sirens, even though not trained to use it, because emergency vehicles received tax breaks.

The report found: ‘It was clear in a number of cases that there were factors specific to particular chief officers that appeared to be relevant to their behaviour. [They had] individual weaknesses that were regarded as risk factors. Some [interviewees] suggested that arrogance is a corollary of decisiveness, which is considered a desirable and necessary attribute in chief officers.’

The academics, who interviewed nearly 40 senior police officers and investigators, found that despite cuts of millions of pounds from police budgets, senior officers retained a culture of entitlement towards taxpayer-funded perks.

It said: ‘Some chief officers tended to see themselves as being more akin to "captains of industry" than public servants – with all the entitlements and privileges that came with the CEO role.

‘Several interviewees described a ‘‘culture of entitlement" at chief officer level. A culture of entitlement among some leaders had become ingrained to an extent that rendered it impervious to the changing ethical landscape associated with austerity.’

It found chief officers operated in a ‘distinctive environment that presents considerable risks, pressures and temptations’. They were powerful police officers, who were often isolated and unchallenged by less senior officers. Part of the problem was that challenging a senior officer’s judgement was ‘widely considered to be career-limiting’.

But the report said there were encouraging signs police chiefs were shifting to more inclusive and open leadership styles, which was less likely to lead to corruption within forces.

Original report here

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Republicans rethinking "tough on crime"

Drug crimes are particularly dubious

It wasn’t so very long ago that every Republican running for higher office sounded as if he were really running for sheriff. "Tough on crime" was a slogan that never failed. Remember Willie Horton?

But this time around, something is different. Most of the Republican presidential candidates are touting their positions in favor of reducing prison time, allowing some felons to expunge or seal their criminal records, and even reforming federal drug laws. Rather than putting more people in jail and throwing away the key, Republicans are for letting people out of jail.

Senator Rand Paul, of course, has been the candidate most identified with calls for criminal-justice reform, both rhetorically and legislatively. Recently, for example, he joined Democratic Senators Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) in sponsoring legislation that would repeal the federal ban on marijuana. Paul has also co-sponsored the REDEEM (Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment) Act with Booker, to make it easier to expunge or seal criminal records for nonviolent offenses. The idea behind the legislation is that a youthful arrest for marijuana possession or joy-riding should not become a permanent barrier to getting a job.

But Paul is not the only senator cum presidential aspirant advocating criminal-justice reform.

Senator Ted Cruz has also been an important voice for reform. Recently, he joined Democratic Senators Richard Durbin (Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.), as well as Booker, in introducing legislation that would significantly reduce sentences for many federal drug crimes. That bill passed the Judiciary Committee last year by a vote of 12 to 5. Cruz also co-sponsored legislation with Senator Paul to make the reduction in crack sentencing approved by Congress in 2010 retroactive, as well as cutting the mandatory minimum sentence for a variety of drug offenses in half.

More surprising to some, Cruz’s fellow Texan Rick Perry has also become a leader on these issues. For instance, the former governor told CPAC, "You want to talk about real conservative governance? Shut prisons down. Save that money." He has pointed out that "During my leadership as governor, Texas shut down three prisons, and we saved taxpayers $2 billion. When I left office, Texas had the lowest crime rate in our state since 1968. My administration started treatment programs and drug courts for people who wouldn’t be served well by sitting behind bars. We made sure our parole and probation programs were strong. Most of all, we evaluated prisons based on whether they got results. Did an ex-offender get locked up again? Did he get a job? Is he paying restitution to his victims? In Texas, we believe in results."

Perry also pushed a state-level version of the REDEEM Act, which became law in 2009. And, this month, Perry has joined Right on Crime, a project of the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, which hopes to promote sentencing reform and other alternatives to wholesale incarceration.

Governor Chris Christie has been unwilling to go as far as Paul, Cruz, or Perry, but he has still called for treatment rather than jail for most nonviolent drug offenses, promising that "We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse." Christie has also pushed for bail reform, "giving nonviolent offenders who often sit in jail because they can’t afford bail a chance to reclaim their lives."

Even Jeb Bush appears to be evolving on the issue. Whereas, as governor, Bush once called for building more prisons and emphasized "punishment over therapy" for juvenile offenders, today he supports reforming the criminal-justice system, warning that incarceration can turn low-level lawbreakers into hardened career criminals. Like Perry, Bush has signed onto the Right on Crime initiative.

One big exception to this trend is Scott Walker. Walker ran for governor of Wisconsin as an old-fashioned "law and order" Republican, pledging "to protect our families, our senior citizens and our property." Bills that Walker sponsored while a legislator would have increased mandatory minimum sentences for everything from perjury to privacy invasion to intoxicated boating. He was perhaps the leading backer of Wisconsin’s "Truth in Sentencing" legislation, which ended parole opportunities for many categories of prisoners and increased prison time for others. As governor, Walker has resisted efforts to liberalize the state’s parole system, and the proportion of inmates granted parole has fallen in half during his tenure.

Senator Marco Rubio also appears to be sticking to a hard line on criminal-justice issues. "While individuals from a variety of perspectives have made a compelling case that American law has been over-criminalized and over-federalized," Rubio wrote in an op-ed, "reform should not begin with careless weakening of drug laws that have done so much to help end the violence and mayhem that plagued American cities in prior decades."

But despite disagreements on the details, the need for criminal-justice reform seems clear. The United States has one of the highest per-capita incarceration rates in the world, more than six times higher than the average for other industrialized nations. One out of every hundred American adults is in prison or jail. When you add in those on probation or parole, almost 1 in 33 adults is under some type of control by the criminal-justice system.

The current system is particularly harsh for young African-Americans. For example, illicit drug use is comparable for white and black populations (9.5 percent for whites and 10.5 percent for blacks), but drug-related arrests per 100,000 people are 2.6 times higher for blacks than for whites. Is it any wonder that African-Americans feel that they are unfairly treated?

All this comes at a cost for taxpayers, too, both directly and indirectly. The United States spends more than $80 billion per year on corrections at the federal, state, and local levels, a cost that has more than quadrupled over the past 20 years in real terms. Moreover, the high incarceration rates among the poor and in minority communities lead to increased family disintegration and high unemployment. These conditions in turn give rise to increased welfare spending. As Senator Paul puts it, "If we’re for families with a mother and father around, we need to be for fixing the criminal-justice system."

The result has been a growing bipartisan push for reform, one that has seen the Koch brothers working with the Center for American Progress, and Ted Cruz co-sponsoring legislation with Richard Durbin.

As Grover Norquist recently told The Daily Beast, "By the time we get to the caucuses, every single Republican running for president will be versed on this, and largely in the same place … Some guys will be playing catchup ball, but I do believe that, largely, this will become a consensus issue within the center-right."

At the very least we can expect a very interesting debate in Republican ranks. Sheriffs need not apply.


Original report here

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Thursday, March 26, 2015


A Felon for a Facebook Post: The Abduction of Matthew Townsend

Matthew Townsend was made an offender for using a sidewalk without a police officer’s permission, and then accused of a felony for publishing a Facebook post about the incident.

"Apparently, holding a protest sign, or condemning government abuse on Facebook, is enough to make somebody a terrorist now," Matthew wearily observes.

A small, wiry man with a luxuriant beard and a contemplative demeanor, Matthew is gainfully employed in Meridian, Idaho as a cook. That is to say, he feeds people, rather than feeding upon them. His abductor, Officer Richard Brockbank of the Meridian Police Department, makes neither butter, nor shoes, nor poetry; instead, he makes "offenders" out of people who have done no injury to anybody.

On the evening of February 2, Matthew – a part-time liberty activist – was conducting a one-man protest outside the local branch office of the oxymoronically named Liberty Tax Service. That company often pays people to publicize its services by standing on a sidewalk dressed as the Statue of Liberty.

A devout believer in the principle of truth in advertising, Matthew attired himself in a Grim Reaper costume holding a protest sign. One side bore the inscription "Taxes [do not equal] liberty"; the other pointed out that "Taxes fund terrorism."

"An officer pulled up and told me that I had to get out of the road, and that I couldn’t be blocking traffic," Matthew recalled during an interview in his home. "He tried to get me to agree with him that I was blocking traffic. And I didn’t. He asked me for my name; I gave him my name. He asked me for my ID; I told him I didn’t have it on me."

The officer, later identified as Richard Brockbank, continued to "build the stop" – that is to say, probing for an excuse to arrest someone who had not committed an actual crime.

"He asked me if I had been drinking and … kept trying to get me to agree with him that I was blocking traffic," Matthew continued. "He said, `Well, I saw you.’ I said, `Then charge me.’ And he was silent – just stops, silent. I turned around and hit the button [on the crosswalk signal light]. It said `Go,’ so I started crossing. Half-way across the intersection he starts yelling that he’s not done with me. I stopped on the next corner. He walked over there, and other officers pulled up, and I got arrested."

At least two other officers responded to Brockbank’s urgent call for assistance. As he conversed with his supervisor, another officer took the opportunity to lecture Matthew about his civic responsibilities.

"He told me that I need to read the Constitution," Matthew told me. Either out of politeness or a prudent desire not to antagonize his captor, Matthew refrained from pointing out that he has probably forgotten more about that document than the officer has ever learned.

Although he doesn’t recall having any previous interactions with the officers who kidnapped him on February 2, he said it was "extremely likely" that such contacts had occurred.

"I’ve recorded hundreds of interactions with cops just here in Meridian," Matthew notes, many of them occurring within a few blocks of his house – which until he became a part-time Cop Watch activist had been an exceptionally lucrative ambush spot for the blue-suited banditti.

"They used to hide out behind Les Schwab [a nearby tire store] and pull people over," Matthew observes. "They don’t go there anymore because they know I’ll walk out there with a camera."

His pickup truck prominently displays an "Ada County Copwatch" bumper sticker, and a few years ago Matthew organized a campaign to recall Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney. During last year’s election, Townsend paid a small filing fee to become a candidate for the position of Ada County Coroner. His campaign consisted of displaying a single sign in his front yard that attracted national press attention.

Previously, Matthew ran for the Meridian City Council in the hope of making police officers more accountable to the public. Since becoming a Cop Watch activist in 2010, Matthew has made himself locally conspicuous and has done nothing to disguise or attenuate his entirely commendable contempt for the process of armed revenue-harvesting.

"If you are unfortunate to encounter an initiator of violence this evening, please remember to check their ID so you know it’s okay for them to kill you," he advised New Year’s Eve revelers in a YouTube video. "It would be a shame to be killed by a costumed thug who was only pretending to be an official costumed thug."

At no point during the February 2 encounter did Matthew offer any resistance, nor did he "obstruct" Brockbank in any way – unless a refusal to admit to a non-existent offense qualifies for that description.

Matthew had every legal right to leave, but Brockbank was a State-commissioned agent of aggressive violence who couldn’t countenance a perceived slight to his "authority."

"I was arrested for `contempt of cop,’" Matthew wryly – and correctly – concludes.

His kidnappers demanded a $300 ransom – or, as they would insist on calling it, "bond" – and designated March 19 as the date for a court hearing to validate the abduction.

On the eve of that pretrial hearing, Matthew posted a notice on his Facebook page describing Brockbank’s actions as "terroristic in nature and in other ways unconstitutional and criminal."

"The cop refused to charge me for said `crime’ that he was accusing me of and so I walked away," he explained, "and was soon after kidnapped and hauled away by several costumed State goons for my disrespect of officer Brockbank's harassment towards me."

Given that the charge against him was entirely devoid of merit, Matthew continued, he would seek its dismissal. If this didn’t happen, he advised, "I will begin a non-violent and legal shame campaign that will be remembered. HOA [Home Owners Association]`upsets,’ protests in the aggressors neighborhoods (I know where you all live- this is notification of knowledge and future protests, not a threat), mailers, door hangers, online ads, local and (hopefully) national media- I've done it before and I can do it again as well as other peaceful, but... annoying avenues will commence."

Nothing in that post constituted a threat or an incitement to violence. It was a pure exercise of what we are told is the constitutionally protected right to petition for a redress of grievances – in this case, armed abduction under color of "law." When Matthew showed up for his hearing a few hours later, however, his court-appointed attorney informed him that the Ada County Sheriff’s Office was prepared to arrest him at the courthouse.

Matthew’s Facebook post was being treated as a "terroristic threat" – and a warrant was sworn out by Meridian Police Officer Shannon Taylor accusing him of "attempted intimidation of a states [sic] witness."

The post was tagged to dozens of people and Facebook pages – including many mainstream and independent media outlets. Ironically, the sole "witness" to Matthew’s purported offense, and supposed victim of his alleged threat, was not among those tagged in the post.

"I put the `at’ sign in my post on Facebook and I tagged the Brockbanks that showed up on my phone," Matthew recalls. Officer Brockbank apparently doesn’t have a Facebook page, so "he wouldn’t have seen the post unless it was sent to him by a friend or a relative."

During the March 19 hearing, "the prosecutor told the judge that new information was discovered, and they wanted to increase my bond and charge me with [the] felony [of] intimidating a witness," Matthew recalls. District Judge James Cawthon, presiding at the hearing, apparently considered the charge to be risible: "He wouldn’t allow the no-contact order to go through at that moment, or the other charges."

However, the Meridian PD and prosecutor’s office approached another judge in an ex parte proceeding and obtained both an arrest warrant and no-contact order. That judge’s identity remains a mystery: The affidavit and warrant were immediately placed under a judicial seal, and the signature on the no-contact order is an indecipherable scrawl.

That order forbids Matthew to come within 100 feet of the pitiable being known as Officer Richard Brockbank. The warrant was executed at a time, and in a fashion, best suited to the purpose of intimidation.

Unlike the functionaries who seized and caged him, Matthew has an honest job – one he may have lost if his mother hadn’t been able to pay a significant fraction of $25,000 bail that had been imposed on him as an accused felon.

Owing to his mother’s sacrificial intervention, Matt was at work just a few hours after his most recent abduction, serving the community preyed upon by the people who are trying to send him to prison without a particle of justification.

Matthew’s arraignment on the "intimidation" charge – which is a patently transparent act of official retaliation – is scheduled for March 25. His trial for "resisting and obstruction charge" – or, more honestly described, contempt of cop – is slated to begin on June 4th. His court-appointed attorney is trying to persuade him to waive his right to a trial by jury and settle for a bench trial. Matthew doesn’t appear interested in that option, nor should he be, in my view.

Juries in Idaho, as elsewhere in the soyuz, tend to be much too deferential to prosecutors. The case against Matthew involves such exuberant claims of official privilege – and such obvious malice --that it might trigger the gag reflex of an Idaho jury. It could also precipitate an avalanche of well-earned public ridicule for the incurably self-important people responsible for this travesty, beginning with the bold and valiant – yet oddly timid and fragile – Officer Richard Brockbank.

Original report here

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lizzie Borden Exonerated

Some interesting 19th century history

I like Lizzie Borden.

She was a woman of unimaginable fortitude, intellect, and goodness. My perception of her is based both on study of her life before she was accused and acquitted of the murder of her father and stepmother, during the trial, and thereafter.

With the common person, generally void of independent thought and rationality, even a children’s rhyme carries weight. Say her name, and most I’ve spoken to reply with something like, "The woman who murdered her parents" or "she got away with murder." Really? This in itself shows how far rumor, myth, and societal prejudice can become "fact" in many people’s minds. It seems most people’s opinions, the general public perception, of this woman is based on taking a sordid rhyme as a statement of fact…such is the degree of intelligence of public perception on anything. Those far from critical thought need only hear an individual is charged with a crime to assume guilt…then and now.

The following is but a brief summary of my opinion based upon countless hours of research of and my discernment of Lizbeth Borden (the name she used and was known by for most of her adult life).

Amidst the common misconceptions of Lizzie Borden today, few now or then possess the objectivity to question the common hyperbole of gossip or false assumptions which have become somehow ingrained as "fact" (which is what most people’s opinions when asked about her emanate from) nor are they aware of the downright despicable hounding of the young woman by the prosecutor prior to coming before a court. Due to that inquest (without her lawyer present), that testimony (which I’ve read) was stricken from admissibility in the trial.

Based upon my extensive research, and in particular my reading of the inquest of Ms. Borden and the inquests of others related to the case, it is my opinion that Lizzie Borden’s fate to be actually charged with the murders was a result of over-zealousness. Of course, prosecutors and judges must make a judgment call in every case, however in my judgment there was just no compelling reason (due to lack of evidence) to indict her.

The atrocious line of questioning and her answers during the inquest, reflects not upon Lizzie Borden who was suffering from the tragic loss of her father (along with physical stress of the time of her menstrual period which was known to be particularly difficult for her) as well her receipt from her doctor of high doses of morphine to assist her, but upon a prosecutor who in my opinion went far beyond merely truth-seeking in his questioning, but rather turned the inquest into what would better be referred to as an inquisition. Ridiculous is the word which comes to mind upon reading said transcript(s) of Ms. Borden’s inquest and that of others he questioned at that time.

An inquest should be an objective investigation, a hearing of testimonies of interested parties, it should simply be the evidence gathering to be provided a judge to make his decision as to whether an arrest/indictment is justified. This interrogation, under physical and emotional duress and without the counsel requested, appears to me more an attempt to break her than simply extract the truth (consider Knowlton’s explicit description of her father Andrew’s face and injuries – completely unnecessary, in my opinion, in his questioning of her at that point. It seems to me more a point of shock value meant to disturb her, versus mere questioning.)

Inquest Testimony Supports Her Innocence

Thus, after having read that transcript, knowing the circumstances upon which she was interrogated, I find the few minor inconsistencies in her answers a likely and understandable result of the stress she was under, as well as giving the ring of truth to her answers.

One who can fluently recollect their behavior down to the slightest trivial matters on what (as far as they knew at the time) was to be an ordinary day is far more suspicious than one who may be unable to, for certain, give accurate details on matters such as what they ate, time-frames between mundane activities such as reading/ironing/carrying laundry upstairs, etc. and remembrances of the order upon one which entered various rooms in one’s home.

Think about it, if I were to begin questioning you in minute detail as to your every action on a a day one week ago, you would be able to give me generalities, based on mostly vague recall, along with a few certainties that stand out. You would not, it having been a normal average day in your life, be able to provide extremely accurate answers to the precise order in which you clothed, ate, did laundry, or whatever activities you performed. This is because you had no reason to remember relatively mundane activities. In general, I feel it is liars, one who have a rehearsed story to rely on, who provide accurate down to the detail accounts, not ordinary people living their lives who have no reason to remember a day’s activities…until something happens on that day…and from such a time (not prior), recall, becomes more accurate.

Lizzy’s answers have the ring of truth to them, and I found nothing she was asked and replied to during the inquest amounted to anything substantial against her. Actually, considering the extreme duress she was under, I found much of what she said articulate, thoughtful, and well-spoken. I was impressed by her relative composure and lack of emotionalism (the very attributes some listening to her apparently found disturbing), and I identify with the personality and qualities of mind she evinced. She spoke as I would speak -calmly-deliberately-and strongly- when truth must be said amidst those who one has rational cause to assume are hostile interrogators.

The inquest testimony was not allowed into trial due to the absence of her lawyer and the circumstances of pressure placed upon her. Though I find nothing disturbing in that testimony considering the circumstances of duress she was under, the prosecution, without this weak attempt to discredit her, had nothing else but more incredibly weak circumstantial evidence – in my opinion, more supposition than anything else (the same "arguments" used by those who today base their opinion of guilt upon – the same "arguments" which a bit of research easily dispels.) Despite the relentless and often nonsensical questioning of what seems a frustrated Knowlton, Lizzie Borden never allowed him to provoke her into anger or hysteria.

Reading the inquest, I interpret him as an attorney with a big ego, one who seems to have no intellectual appreciation for a woman who answers his repetitive annoying (and to me, often nonsensical) pedantic questioning so relatively consistently despite his attempts seemingly to provoke her into emotionalism; it is as if he cannot understand (or does not want to understand) logical, rational answers. Listening and interpreting certainly do not appear high on his list of priorities when interrogating Lizzie Borden; judgment, however, seemed to be. (Reading the trial transcripts produced the identical view for me prosecutor Knowlton, and I cite his June 15, 1893 cross-examination of the ice cream man, Hyman Lubinsky, as another clear example of why I have little respect for Knowlton’s performance as an attorney during this case.) He seems a man more controlled by emotionalism than logic or rationality.

Men at the time based on numerous accounts I’ve read, seemed to expect a female to either be somewhat hysterical or at least possess some politically/socially correct expression of "love" for a stepmother, while in Lizzie we find a calm, collected, woman who simply speaks the truth of her relationship with the woman (Abby, wife of Lizzy’s father) as she always had to friends and others who knew her – without malice, but with objectivity, and no false (non-heartfelt) emotionalism which many women are prone to.

She could easily have feigned love for the dead woman, but rather simply objectively described the precise relationship, such as it was. Again, the ring of truth.

"The Calmness of Innocence"

My interpretation/opinion of the inquest: it depicts an aggressive questioner becoming embarrassed as a woman with greater intelligence and emotional maturity simply states answers which, reflect not negatively upon her, but upon the questioner. In my opinion, the severe questioning, and her earnest answers sans counsel, was a negative reflection upon Hosea M. Knowlton (District Attorney), not Lizzie Borden. (The prosecution during her trial was comprised of Hosea Knowlton as lead prosecutor and his co-counsel of William Moody. Shortly after the trial, Knowlton became Attorney General of Massachusetts.)

Indeed, her counsel (the Borden family attorney), Mr. Jennings, argued of what he viewed as the violation of her constitutional rights concerning the process thereto presented to the judge who would decide whether a prosecution would take place, stating she had a right to appear before "a court of unprejudiced opinion," since what the judge had to consider was the testimony in the questionable inquest to which he was barred from attending (despite his making it clear he was to be present at such proceedings) thus stating it was his concern the current proceeding was not before "an impartial magistrate." He argued it appeared they had decided who was guilty long ago and rather than arrest her attempted their own pseudo-trial (my term) in private versus a public trial where she would be defended.

District Attorney Knowlton, however, successfully argued all was done in accordance with the law which allowed him to give witnesses the choice between three possibilities: to tell what they knew, go to jail for contempt, or give a plea of exemption on grounds it would incriminate them.

A grand jury followed by indictment and trial proceeded making her name forever infamous among true crime in the United States.

I consider her subsequent indictment more a reflection upon a legal decision with which I disagree than anything else, as I see no evidence warranting being charged for the crime. Such decisions are subjective judgment calls, and the judge made his based on his perception of what he had been given.

The inability to be disturbed to any self-implication during the inquest, and her general demeanor throughout the ordeal, I view as did her pastor, Rev. Buck, who said, "…her calmness is the calmness of innocence." (The Fall River Herald, "Taken to Taunton" article at the time).

What most people, due to their emotionalism, fail to understand is that those of us who are intellectually and emotionally developed simply speak the truth without resorting to shows of wild feelings. The difference, strange and thus incomprehensible to emotionally controlled people, makes us unemotional when others in same situation would become wild in their physical and emotional demeanor. I’ll give you a simple example: If someone calls someone you love a name…you either get angry and want to get back at them OR you consider the source and think how pathetic they are and you remain calm, void of reaction. That difference is the chasm between emotionalism and rationality. And that, in my opinion, is what is witnessed in Lizzy Borden’s calmness despite the outrageous line of questioning versus what how your average woman and many average men would behave when confronted with an unpleasant or irrational question/statement.

Lizzie Borden’s defense counsel consisted of George Robinson (lead counsel), the Massachusetts’ Governor 1884-1886, and her family’s attorney Andrew Jennings.

Upon reading the transcript of those who testified at the trial (in addition to the inquest testimonies of the many called to give testimony then as well as during the trial), one with any degree of legal understanding as to "guilty" versus "not guilty" must conclude the jury certainly provided a correct verdict under jurisprudence. This, alone, however, does not for innocence make, although in legal consideration I view it was a correct verdict per the rule of law.

Although the actual events of that fateful day of August 4, 1892 will never be known, I firmly believe she to be innocent of the crimes she was put on trial for. Further, I view her as a compassionate, creative, and loving individual…and a remarkable one compared to most of my sisters considering her high degree of rational fortitude.

More here

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

High-flying teen, 17, who killed himself after arrest for drink-driving was mocked by police for being middle-class

Class animosities are vicious in Britain but are normally kept quiet by all concerned

A report into the death of an A-grade student who killed himself days after being arrested for drink driving found 'evidence of a concerning culture' at the police station where he was held.

Joe Lawton, 17, shot himself dead at his parent's £850,000 home in Disley, Stockport, two days after being held at Cheadle Heath police station for drink driving.

During an inquest into his death, lawyers for his parents claimed that police had mocked him for his middle class upbringing and his new car, contributing to his death.

Now an Independent Police Complaints Commission report into Mr Lawton's death, made public for the first time, confirms there were 'failings' at Cheadle Heath police station where the teen was held.

The IPCC probe, which was kept hidden from the teen's inquest but has been revealed by the Manchester Evening News, uncovered 'evidence of a concerning culture' at Cheadle Heath.

Following the report one Greater Manchester Police sergeant was moved from custody duty due to ‘inappropriate behaviour’, while another was given ‘management advice’, the report says.

Two custody detention officers were also subjected to sanctions as a result of the investigation, according to a copy of the IPCC report obtained by the Manchester Evening News.

Mr Lawton was stopped by police in Hazel Grove in August 2012 while driving his new Peugeot 207 home from a party, just weeks after passing his test.

A breathalyzer showed he was over the drink drive limit and he was arrested.

The teen, who had recently gained one A and four Bs in his AS-Levels and was working on his university application and travel plans, was then held for seven hours overnight.

But due to an 'anomaly' in custody laws meaning 17-year-olds are treated as adults, Mr Lawton's parents Nick and Jane were not informed of the arrest after he opted not to tell them.

Two days later he was found dead at home by his father. Next to the body was the police charge sheet, and a note saying he thought he had 'ruined his life'.

His parents have since led a successful campaign to have the age limit raised to 18, after an inquest was told Mr Lawton's suicide could ‘very likely’ have been avoided if they were informed.

The IPCC report, together with a response from Greater Manchester Police, were prepared in time for the inquest but were not submitted as evidence, meaning this is the first time they have been made public.

Nick and Jane Lawton said the inquest was turned into a ‘gruelling and frustrating’ process by the police's failure to reveal the reports.

In a statement, they hit out at the ‘behaviour and attitude of the custody officers’, adding: 'We love Joe and will continue to miss him every day for the rest of our lives.'

The IPCC said the force has said it has ‘learned lessons and had been improving working practice’.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who gave evidence at the inquest, said: 'Our thoughts continue to be with the family of Joseph Lawton, and we sympathise with the issues they have raised following this tragedy.

'When Joseph died in 2012 there was a confusing anomaly where the Police and Criminal Evidence act led the police to treat 17-year-olds as adults, whilst the Children’s Act stated that 17-year-olds should be treated as children.

'Following the case and a judicial review in 2013 the government have changed the legislation relating to 17-year-olds in custody.

'The new legislation states that when a 17-year-old is arrested they are now treated as children for the purposes of informing people about the child’s detention.

'While in custody Joseph made the decision that he did not want anyone to be informed of his arrest. However, if this happened today we would have informed his parents.'

Original report here

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Crown Prosecution Service under fire over Sun journalists' three-year ordeal that ended in acquittals

For Duncan Larcombe, the Sun’s royal editor, the knock on the door came at 6am one April morning in 2012. No fewer than eight officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Elveden were standing outside with a warrant to arrest him and search his home, which they duly did.

His alleged "crime" was that the Sun had paid one of his sources for leaking stories to the tabloid, just as the Sun and other newspapers always have done.

Larcombe, 39, spent the next 1,060 days – he counted every one of them - living with the daily mental torture of uncertainty: wondering whether a criminal conviction and jail term awaited; whether he would ever be able to work again.

The Sun’s chief reporter, John Kay, executive editor Fergus Shanahan and deputy editor Geoff Webster were also arrested at around the same time and subsequently charged with corruption of public officials.

While their colleagues covered events like the London 2012 Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win and the birth of Prince George, the four Sun men stayed at home, on bail, suspended from their jobs, trying to maintain their mental and physical health.

Murderers, rapists and terrorists can expect to wait no more than a year to be tried once they have been arrested, but the four journalists were left in purgatory for three times as long.

During his evidence to the Old Bailey – where at point three separate courts were simultaneously being used to try journalists – Larcombe expressed his bewilderment by telling the jury: "I still have to be convinced why I’m sitting here."

Yesterday, at the end of a two-month trial which has cost the taxpayer £2 million, a jury decided it agreed with him – that journalists doing their job are not criminals - and duly acquitted all four men of all charges relating to corruption of public officials. A former Sandhurst instructor and his wife were also cleared.

It takes the total number of journalists tried and cleared over alleged corrupt payments to 10, with just three convictions, of which two are currently being contested at the Court of Appeal.

A further seven journalists are awaiting retrials after juries failed to reach verdicts in other trials, and nine more are awaiting trial or charging decisions.

The Metropolitan Police’s investigation of journalists for phone-hacking and corrupt payments is already the biggest and most costly inquiry in British criminal history. To date, it has cost £36.1 million, with 125 police officers and staff currently working on it – a figure which was once 195. The cost of the trials adds millions more to the bill.

Operation Elveden alone – the investigation into alleged corruption – has cost £12.4m.

Meanwhile conviction rates for crimes including violence, sex offences, robbery, theft, criminal damage and drugs offences are all going down.

Gavin Millar QC, one of the country’s most senior barristers, suggested it was time for the Crown Prosecution Service to admit it had got it wrong over Elveden.

He said: "These are working journalists who are doing their job, and they are being prosecuted for doing their job in circumstances where there is no personal gain to them.

"Prosecutions are supposed to be in the public interest, but the CPS is being found out by juries, who have their own idea of what is in the public interest, because they read newspapers.

"The CPS should have registered by now that juries are telling them they have failed to prove that this is not legitimate journalism.

"We are not talking about armed robbers or murderers or child sex abusers, so the CPS could perfectly rationally say that they had taken stock and that they had assessed this wrongly, but they just don’t seem willing to do that."

He described some of the prosecutions as "feeble" and said he was increasingly being contacted by journalists who wanted advice on the extent of police powers to snoop on their work.

"There is a feeling of vulnerability among journalists," he said, "and that is very worrying in a democracy."

Mr Larcombe summed up his defence by saying: "If a newspaper is not allowed to hold public bodies to account, be it the police, the NHS, the Royal family, the Ministry of Defence, unfortunately they are not likely to tell us when there are things going wrong, like with Rotherham child abuse and 1200 patients dying in mid Staffordshire.

"Funnily enough government-paid press officers will not tell you about those things in a press release. In that kind of country if you are saying you can't ever pay a public official, it's always a crime, I think that would extremely dangerous."

Mr Kay's barrister Trevor Burke, QC, compared the prosecutions to journalists in Russia and Egypt being "silenced" by the authorities, and urged jurors: "Please recognise how disturbing a development it is that journalists that only report the news accurately, honestly and fearlessly now face being prosecuted in our criminal courts."

The charges under which the journalists were being tried were also "extremely difficult" for the jury to understand, the trial judge Mr Justice Saunders conceded.

Notes sent to the judge by the jury during their deliberations suggested they were grappling with the concept of when a leak became a crime. Even for the public officials, the jury suggested, their conduct might amount to no more than a disciplinary matter.

Mr Larcombe’s barrister Richard Kovalevsky QC said during legal argument: "This offence is a very odd offence, because the jury is being asked to determine what is a criminal offence. The difficulty is that the line is for them to draw."

The toll of the criminal trial on the four defendants was clear as they left the Old Bailey, but all maintained their dignity.

Mr Larcombe said: "I'm not going to say much but 1,060 days ago eight policeman raided my house at six in the morning.

"I am obviously just relieved at the verdicts but there is no celebration whilst this witch hunt continues against my colleagues who are still facing the nightmare that I hopefully one day will wake up from."

Asked if he thought other charges against journalists should be dropped he replied: "Of course I think that but this is all I'm really allowed to say, thank you."

Mr Shanahan, 60, said the trial had been a "terrible ordeal" for the families of the defendants.

He said journalists have "thick skin and can look after ourselves" but their loved ones have been under "the most appalling strain for three years".

Original report here

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Another devastating false rape accusation in Britain -- facilitated by negligent police

False rape accusations seem to come at a rate of roughly once a month on average in Britain

A businessman who spent three weeks in jail after falsely being accused of rape by a woman he met on the internet is suing the police for malicious prosecution and wrongful imprisonment.

Kayode Modupe-Ojo, a former boyfriend of David Beckham’s sister Joanne, said his reputation has been destroyed and he lost his business because police failed to investigate properly the woman’s fictitious allegations – including that he possessed firearms – or the glaring inconsistencies in her story.

The 28-year-old former spa owner was arrested at his home in Cheshire shortly after spending two days with the woman.

His accuser gave a harrowing but entirely false account of being tied up and moved around the north-east of England against her will, after a sexual encounter turned terrifyingly violent.

Mr Modupe-Ojo, who has lived in Britain since the age of three, was dragged from his bed by the police, handcuffed and questioned for three days without legal representation before being charged with multiple counts of rape and kidnapping.

On the basis of the woman’s lies, Durham Police declared he was ‘a danger to women’ and he was remanded in jail for three weeks.

Last week the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee called for people accused of sexual offences to be given anonymity. Mr Modupe-Ojo’s lawyer has referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Paul Schofield, of Farleys Solicitors, said: ‘It illustrates the flaws of a legal system that names and shames those accused of sex crimes, without giving them any protection when the accusations turn out to be untrue.

'Even though it was obvious in court that the woman lied and lied, she is still protected by the legal system because no criminal charges have so far been brought against her.

'As things stands she has a lifetime anonymity while my client remains tainted by the abhorrent stigma of a rape charge. It’s also clearly a case that would not have gone to trial if the police had done their jobs correctly. It was as if they couldn’t be bothered.’

Mr Modupe-Ojo was acquitted when his trial at Newcastle Crown Court collapsed last year due to glaring discrepancies in the prosecution case.

But he said that by then the damage had already been done. ‘The judge directed the jury to acquit me, but my reputation was left in tatters,’ he says. ‘There are people out there who think, "no smoke without fire".

‘It is grossly unfair that my details have been in the media, while my accuser gets away without a blemish to her name. Rape is one of the most repulsive crimes there is.

‘A false claim not only ruins the lives of innocent men, but it damages their families. I did nothing wrong and yet this case almost destroyed me.’

He is supporting the demands of Tory MPs Mark Pritchard and Nigel Evans – both cleared after being falsely accused of rape – that the accused also remain anonymous, unless convicted.

What Mr Modupe-Ojo describes as ‘the most terrifying period’ in his life began in August 2013 when he responded to a ‘friend request’ on Facebook from a beautiful blonde woman he had never met before. The law prevents us from naming her even though the court found her allegations to be entirely false.

He says: ‘She was very attractive. We texted and Skyped each other before meeting. She was the driving force behind our meeting and I was flattered by her attention.’

During their time together Mr Modupe-Ojo took the woman to restaurants, a club and they stayed in two hotels which she booked and paid for. He also drove her home to pack an overnight bag and spent 30 minutes talking with her mother.

‘My accuser was alone in her room upstairs and could have used her phone to call for help if I had been the mad rapist she made me out to be,’ he added. ‘I told all of this to the police questioning me.

'I also gave them the passwords to my phone and laptop so they could check the correspondence between us.’

He still has text messages she sent after they parted. There were also numerous CCTV images of the pair cuddling, kissing and holding hands.

‘There was ample CCTV evidence and witnesses to prove she was all over me in public, but the police didn’t seem to be interested in proving my innocence. They seemed convinced they had their man,’ he says.

‘When the female officer told me I would be remanded because I was a danger to women and a flight risk, my legs buckled. I had done nothing wrong, yet I was facing a lengthy prison sentence if found guilty.’

Further charges for firearms offences and a threat to kill were dropped because no weapon was found in his flat.

Once Mr Modupe-Ojo’s case came to trial, alarming discrepancies emerged. The accuser claimed she had known her attacker for years. Yet in her opening message on Facebook, she admitted they’d never met.

She said she had been tied up and moved around against her will. Yet it emerged she texted her boyfriend to tell him she was OK.

‘She told the court I had stolen her phone and written the text,’ Mr Modupe-Ojo says. ‘But this fell apart when it was revealed she had also texted her friend to say happy birthday and called her mum while we were together.’

Incredibly, the police did not examine the outgoing texts or calls from her mobile. By the time the judge instructed the jury to acquit him, his name had been reported, his bank accounts frozen on order of the police, and he’d lost his salon.

‘I lost everything,’ he says bitterly. ‘I was even evicted from the gated community where I lived after women residents complained about living with a potential rapist.’

But what hurts him most is that the stigma of being a rapist still follows him ‘like a bad smell’. It is the key factor – along with his financial losses – in his decision to sue the police. ‘I want it made clear I did nothing wrong and I was the real victim.’

A spokesman for Durham Police confirmed there was ongoing correspondence but made no further comment.

Original report here

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mother sues police for false arrest after being handcuffed in front of Down's syndrome daughter shouting 'I want my mummy'

Lying British cop

A mother has successfully sued police for wrongful arrest after being handcuffed in front of her Down's syndrome daughter over false claims she left her alone outside for 45 minutes.

Valerie Cadman-Khan was left 'humiliated' when officers led her away from her Middlesbrough home in front of her crying daughter Aimee.

Cleveland Police accused the 56-year-old of negligent behaviour, claiming she left the child alone for 45 minutes in the garden.

Middlesbrough County Court heard how officer Detective Sergeant Colin Helyer lied to the local authority child abuse investigation to justify arresting the mother of five.

On the day in question in November 2008, he had been called to her former partner's home over an unpaid tax bill.

Aimee had been left in the man's care and was sitting outside when police arrived. Mrs Cadman Khan was at work.

But the police officer began 'banging' on the front door and later claimed the child had turned 'purple' because she was not wearing a coat.

Upon her arrival at the property Mrs Cadman-Khan, who left work early because she was not feeling well, was arrested and taken away by police.

Aimee was forced to watch the incident, all the while screaming: 'I want my mummy,' she claimed.

Her mother launched a wrongful arrest suit and has won her case against the force. Her claim for £34,000 in compensation will be assessed at a later date.

Speaking of her ordeal the teacher, who works for the council at East Coast Training, a pupil referral centre, said: 'It was never about the money - it was about clearing my name after the injustice to me and my little girl. 'This should never have come to court, I only wanted an apology.

'All I could hear was my little girl shouting "I want my mummy, I want my mummy". 'It was horrendous.'

After arresting Mrs Cadman-Khan on suspicion of child neglect, Det Sgt Helyer 'lied under oath' to claim Aimee had been mistreated, the court heard. 'He falsely asserted that Aimee had been purple and suggested the client had been violent to him,' Nick Stanage, barrister for Mrs Cadman-Khan said. 'Sadly this was a witness that even when caught in a lie by the court he was unwilling to be honest about it.'

'For a woman of good character from that profession to be arrested and accused of allegations of child neglect and cruelty is of the utmost seriousness.'

'In the balance of probability it was more likely Sgt Helyer overreacted and was led by his concerns for Aimee,' said Nathan Adams representing Cleveland Police.

'He accepted in evidence he lost his temper and was banging on the door. He was concerned for the mental and physical wellbeing of Aimee.'

Judge Gillian Matthews QC however told the court the sergeant had been 'freestyle lying' in his accounts. 'One of your problems is the witness has lied. He was prepared to mislead the court in what I call freestyle lying,' she said.

The force will apologise pending her judgment on suitable reward, Mr Adams added.

Original report here

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Cops are Afraid? Good

Not ideal but we do not live in an ideal world

The Huffington Post‘s Ryan J. Reilly reported last week that two officers were shot during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri. The gathering in question was spurred by news of Thomas Jackson’s resignation as police chief. Jackson quit after the Justice Department released a report revealing racial biases, revenue-driven policies and the criminalization of Ferguson citizens writ large within the Ferguson Police Department.

Interestingly, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar cites the shooting as an example of an "ambush." There has also been talk about the general increase in law enforcement deaths from 2013 to 2014, in particular the rise of ambushes and firearm related deaths.

The FBI defines ambushes as either premeditated or unprovoked, with the former defined as someone consciously trying to lure an officer into a dangerous situation. The unprovoked scenario most often plays out in traffic stops.

One statistic missing from this picture is the number of citizens gunned down by police officers per year. That’s largely because that statistic relies on the willingness of police departments to hold themselves accountable and self-report these incidents. It falls onto organizations like the nonprofit Fatal Encounters to try and document how widespread the occurrence of "death by police officer" is.

According to CNN, Fatal Encounters listed 1,010 deaths at the hands of police officers in 2013 and 1,134 in 2014. The Facebook page Killed by Police estimates that at least 2,088 have been killed since they started counting the deaths on May 1, 2013.

While the data from these sources may be rough, it hardly seems like police are the ones in danger.

Even if those statistics weren’t true it still wouldn’t be the case that cops are more likely than ever to be in danger. As Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, writes, "Policing has been getting safer for 20 years. In terms of raw number of deaths, 2013 was the safest year for cops since World War II."

Balko adds that if we look at the rate of deaths for 2013 we can see that it was one of the safest years for cops in over a century. And even with a projected increase for 2014, it would still stand as the second safest year for police.

If all of this is true, why are police so concerned about ambushes?

One hypothesis is that cops are conforming in their behavior to a version of the popular saying about homophobes: Men who are scared that gay men will treat them as they treat women. Except here, it’s police officers who are worried that we will start treating them like they treat us. That fear is not only warranted; it should be kept in mind by those who put on the uniform.

People living in Ferguson are often criminalized by police and thus they are perhaps more likely than most to start treating the cops as the cops treat them. So seeing events like this happen in Ferguson shouldn’t come as any surprise. This is especially true given how widespread this phenomenon of over-criminalization in Ferguson is. Nathan Robinson at Huffington Post writes, "In 2013, 32,975 offenses had associated warrants, so that there were 1.5 offenses for every city resident. That means that the city of Ferguson quite literally has more crimes than people."

It’s safe to say that if you keep treating people like criminals, it’s only a matter of time until they start acting like criminals. Maybe this makes the cops scared of us? If so, good. Police being afraid of us would likely be an improvement over us being scared of them.

Original report here

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

British cop 'had sex with four women while on duty'

A police officer had sex with four women while on duty, including one liaison at a police station, a court heard yesterday.

PC Adam Rushton is accused of letting the woman handcuff him with police equipment in his office during foreplay and sent another woman photographs of himself naked from the waist down.

The Staffordshire Police officer also groomed a victim of sexual violence before returning to her home after his shift finished to have sex with her, jurors were told.

Prosecutor Duncan Bould said Rushton used his position to engineer relationships with seven vulnerable women - one as young as 17 - during a six-year spell from 2006.

A jury were told how the PC attended homes of people complaining of crimes, then left them his personal number.

Mr Bould said: ‘You can summarise his charges as: ‘I’m on duty, I’m going to rush (over to your home) so you can give me oral sex before I rush back to work’.

‘He picked one woman up while on duty and took her to Longton Police station in Stoke-on-Trent.

‘He picked her up in a marked car, in uniform, and she had to wait in the car while he checked the coast was clear.

‘Then he took her into the police station, it was in darkness, and he told her to keep quiet, and took her to an office.

‘The only purpose of that was for sexual activity. They began to go further, she put his handcuffs on him, and it was intended to go further but they were disturbed so had to leave.’

Another charge, the prosecutor said, related to a woman his visited at home who he persuaded ‘by a lie or ruse’ to show him her intimate areas.

Another woman, who had checked in to a hotel after she had been left terrified to stay at home following an incident of ‘sexual violence’, had sex with Rushton despite his sergeant earlier warning the officer to leave the hotel.

Mr Bould said: ‘She was put in a hotel just over night, so Mr Rushton knew he would have to act quickly.

‘He set about grooming her by flattering her and flirting with her to show his interest in a sexual way. He then turned up at her hotel at about 10.30pm that night.

‘A sergeant heard about it and attended the hotel and pointed out that Mr Rushton should leave because of the way his behaviour was reflecting on the force. ‘But Mr Rushton didn’t leave, he stayed and had sex with her.’

One of Rushton’s victims told the jury how he had sex with her while on duty, after he had attended a burglary at her home. A few weeks later, he was waiting for her outside her home.

The woman said: ‘My relationship with my partner had broken down completely so I was grateful Adam had come round. ‘On his third visit it was different, we didn’t discuss the burglary that time, it was more of a friendship by then. ‘He had been texting me and sometimes he would send me some images of parts of him privately, unclothed below the waist.’

Rushton was suspended after the allegations came to light in early 2013.

Rushton, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, denies ten counts of misconduct in a public office and two counts of obtaining the personal data of women without proper permission.

The trial at Birmingham Crown Court continues.

Original report here

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Predatory British cop admits abusing his position to have sex with THREE vulnerable women he met on duty

A predatory PC admitted abusing his position to have sex with three vulnerable women he met on duty. Darren Heath, who worked as a family liaison officer for Gloucestershire Police, took advantage of his victims over an 11-year period.

The 'manipulative and calculating' 44-year-old also harassed a fourth women and repeatedly went to the home she shared with her partner.

Heath, who also worked in restorative justice, admitted five counts of misconduct in public office between July 2002 and February 2013 at Bristol Crown Court. He also denied two counts of rape, one of theft and two further charges of misconduct in the public office - accessing the police database and failing to report an alleged rape.

The remaining charges will lie on the court file after his not guilty pleas were accepted by the prosecution.

Gloucestershire Constabulary's Professional Standards Department began investigating Heath following a single complaint in 2012. But concerned officers decided to look back through their database and identified a number of other potential victims.

Senior Investigating Officer with the Anti-Corruption Unit, Detective Inspector Giulia Marogna, said: 'It then quickly became clear there were a number of ladies he may have offended against.

'Darren Heath would use his position as a police officer, whether it was during his time working in restorative justice or as a family liaison officer, to identify women he could offend against.

'These were often victims of crime who were already extremely vulnerable but who he wanted to take advantage of even further.

'Our investigation has been lengthy because we have had to spend time regaining the confidence of women who had been badly let down by someone they should have been able to trust, precisely at a time when they needed him the most.

'Heath was manipulative and calculating while he was offending and that is one of the reasons he was able to carry on doing this over a number of years.

Detective Inspector Marogna said the case will now be referred back to the Professional Standards Department to consider the action the force will next take.

She said the most disappointing thing was that Heath showed no remorse and made no comment throughout his interviews.

'Those victims have shown incredible bravery by supporting this prosecution and I want to pay tribute to them for that,' the detective inspector added. 'It doesn't stop here though - I have absolutely no doubt there are more victims out there and I would appeal to them directly to come forward.'

She added that it was 'very satisfying' that justice had finally caught up with Heath.

Heath, who appeared in court in blue jeans, green jacket and blue v-neck sweater, visibly shook as he stood in the dock for the brief hearing. The defendant, of Taynton, Gloucestershire, was released on bail to return to the court for sentence next week.

Original report here

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Los Angeles Police Officer Charged With Immigrant Smuggling

A Los Angeles police officer has been charged with smuggling a Mexican man into the country in the trunk of an SUV.

A federal complaint filed Monday says 34-year-old Carlos Quezada Jr. tried to enter the U.S. at San Diego's Otay Mesa port of entry.

He and a 31-year-old female passenger were arrested Saturday night after an X-ray machine alerted border inspectors to a man hiding in the spare tire area of a Nissan Juke.

Los Angeles police spokeswoman Rosario Herrera says Quezada has worked at the department for 10 years and is assigned to the Hollywood division. He is on paid leave until the investigation is completed.

A judge set Quezada's bond at $20,000 and appointed an attorney, David Silldorf, who declined a request for comment.

Original report here

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Jefferson Parish man wins deal for wrongful conviction but is once again a suspect in fatal stabbing case

I seem to hear some sheriff saying: "Ain't no Goddam n*gger gonna be exonerated by my office"

Jefferson Parish authorities have settled a wrongful-conviction lawsuit filed by Michael Williams Sr., a man who won his release from prison in 2011 after serving 16 years of a life sentence for the murder of a Waggaman woman.

Terms of the settlement, filed last month in U.S. District Court, have not been disclosed.

But in an intriguing twist, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has reopened its investigation of the 1996 fatal stabbing of Michelle Gallagher and named Williams as a suspect, even though newly tested DNA evidence matches another man.

The action by the Sheriff’s Office raises a question at a time when various Louisiana exonerees have struggled to win compensation for the years they spent unjustly behind bars: Why would the authorities agree to settle a so-called malicious prosecution lawsuit brought by a man they say may face new charges in the same death?

Joseph Lopinto, the Metairie attorney — and state representative — who represents Sheriff Newell Normand, said the Sheriff’s Office must consider the interests of taxpayers in deciding whether to settle a claim or take it to trial, weighing the costs of litigation and potential liability.

"This wasn’t an auto accident that may be worth $20,000," Lopinto said of Williams’ case, which had been set for trial in October. "This was a person that was in jail for 16 years." The settlement, Lopinto added, "does not change the fact that there is an ongoing investigation."

Williams, in his 2012 lawsuit, accused the Sheriff’s Office of conspiring with prosecutors to conceal conflicting statements made by the only witness to link Williams with the crime. That witness has since recanted, claiming he concocted his testimony under pressure from law enforcement.

The terms of the settlement don’t appear to be confidential, but attorneys on both sides of the case said they couldn’t discuss the dollar amount because the final paperwork hasn’t been signed. The authorities also declined to elaborate on the reasons Williams remains under suspicion.

"The investigation into Michelle Gallagher’s death has now been reopened," said Col. John Fortunato, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman. "We’re not going to comment beyond that."

Lopinto, however, said newly tested DNA evidence — semen found on the jeans of the victim, who had a history of exchanging sex for drugs — led investigators to a third party "who has given additional information."

The Sheriff’s Office, at the behest of Williams’ attorneys last year, checked the forensic evidence against the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, the national criminal database, and received a match.

The Sheriff’s Office offered no timetable for the investigation, which Sgt. Eddie Klein described in a recent court papers as "very much ongoing."

Williams’ attorneys, for their part, said they learned only last month their client remains a suspect.

"In the past, witnesses have maintained that Mr. Williams is guilty," Michael Maya, an attorney from Washington, D.C., said during a recent court hearing. "It sounds like they are going to continue to say that."

The case isn’t the first in which the Sheriff’s Office has continued to suspect a defendant absolved of murder even after prosecutors abandoned the charges. Investigators in the widely publicized case of Damon Thibodeaux, a man exonerated by DNA testing in the 1996 murder of a 14-year-old girl, were said to be furious at District Attorney Paul Connick’s decision to drop the charges.

Emily Maw, director of the Innocence Project New Orleans, said "there is absolutely no evidence against Michael Williams."

"It serves no legitimate law enforcement purpose to keep sullying his name by suggesting there is some unspecified basis to suspect him of a crime that he has already once been wrongly convicted of, as determined by a court of law," Maw said.

"The DNA matches someone else," she added. "The JPSO should focus on that person and let Michael Williams move on with his life."

Gallagher’s mother, Tracy Garland, said she was heartened the authorities had not given up trying to figure out who killed her daughter. "She was doing dope," she said. "But that ain’t no reason to die."

Eyewitness recants

Williams, 49, of Avondale, served nearly 16 years in prison and fought a lengthy legal battle before winning his release in 2011. The Innocence Project, which took on Williams’ case, presented its findings to the District Attorney’s Office, prompting prosecutors to file a one-page motion acknowledging that "post-conviction relief is warranted." That motion paved the way for Williams’ immediate release.

The state’s case began to unravel in 2009 after the lone witness to implicate Williams, Christopher Landry, a crack addict and criminal, recanted. Landry has numerous convictions and remains on parole today for a burglary in St. Charles Parish, according to state officials.

Landry served as the state’s star witness at Williams’ 1997 trial, testifying that he had seen Williams smoking crack with Gallagher in his vehicle minutes before her death. Landry claimed he had followed the two to a secluded area on his bicycle, expecting the two to have sex. He said Gallagher, 25, refused Williams’ request for sex, adding that he later watched as Williams dumped the mortally wounded woman in the middle of the road "like a sack of potatoes" at River Road and George Street.

According to Williams’ attorneys, Landry had been considered a suspect himself before agreeing to testify under the threat of prosecution. Prosecutors disputed that at the trial, saying Landry had not been a suspect and had "no motive" to lie.

In 2009, Landry signed affidavits saying he actually knew nothing about Gallagher’s murder and that he had been intimidated by the authorities. "I made up all of this," he wrote, adding he’d been high on crack when investigators came to his home to interview him.

Original report here

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