Maryland officer charged with raping two women, sexually assaulting a third

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Maryland officer charged with raping two women, sexually assaulting a third

A detective began investigating the allegations after finding out that “several” women were claiming that an officer had sexually assaulted them.
By Tim Stelloh

A Maryland police officer was charged with raping two women and sexually assaulting a third, according to the statement of charges filed in Maryland District Court in Baltimore.

An arrest warrant was issued Saturday for Baltimore County officer Anthony Michael Westerman, 25, court records show. Westerman is being held without bond on two counts of second degree rape and three counts of second degree assault, according to the documents released Monday.

Image: Officer Anthony Michael Westerman
Officer Anthony Michael Westerman. Baltimore County Police

The documents say that a Special Victims Unit detective began investigating the allegations in October after she found that “several” women claimed that a Baltimore County police officer had sexually assaulted them.

One of the women alleges that Westerman, who began working at the department in 2013, offered to get her an Uber back to her home one night in 2017 when she was too drunk to drive home, the documents say.

The woman passed out during the ride there, and when she awoke she and a friend were instead at Westerman’s house, according to the documents.

Inside his home, the woman passed out on a couch and her friend fell asleep, the documents say. The woman woke up to Westerman raping her.

Westerman “told her that he liked when she pushed at him and when she told him to stop and get off,” while he continued to force himself on her, the documents say.

In another case, a woman told the detective that Westerman raped her while she was staying in his guest bedroom earlier this year.

The woman said she didn’t immediately report the allegation because she knew Westerman was an officer, the documents allege.

A third woman claimed that Westerman forcibly kissed her twice while they were at a bar north of Baltimore.

Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt called the allegations “reprehensible” and said in a statement that they aren’t “representative of the values and ethics” of the department.

It isn’t clear if Westerman has a lawyer. Court records don’t list one.

London: Another Terror Attack On The London Bridge

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

LONDON — A man was shot by police Friday afternoon after several people were stabbed near London Bridge, officials said.

The area surrounding the incident was cordoned off and bus, subway and train stations were closed. Shops and restaurants in the area were evacuated.

Video posted to social media from eyewitnesses appeared to show armed police and members of the public crowd around a person on the floor, on the north side of the bridge. Police are treating the incident as though it were terrorism-related on a precautionary basis.

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Please stay away from ! I just saw a man with a knife being shot in the head by police. Please be careful London!

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The attack was first reported just before 2 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) and the Metropolitan Police confirmed “a number of people have been injured.” Their condition is not known.

Transport for London confirmed that London Bridge station, a major terminus for commuters across the southeast of England, was closed.

The London Ambulance Service declared a major incident and confirmed it had a number of crews at the scene.

Metropolitan Police

@metpoliceuk

Police were called at 1:58pm to a stabbing at premises near to London Bridge.

Emergency services attended, including officers from the Met and @CityPolice.

A man has been detained by police. We believe a number of people have been injured. Further info to follow.

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Police vehicles and a fire truck could be seen arriving at the scene 90 minutes after the incident.

A bystander who declined to provide a name described hearing “rapid gunfire” and seeing police officers dragging a motionless body away from the scene.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement released via official Twitter account: “I’m being kept updated on the incident at London Bridge and want to thank the police and all emergency services for their immediate response.”

London Bridge was the scene of a terror attack in 2017, in which eight people died and 48 were injured.

At least 25 dead as plane crashes into homes in Congo

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

At least 25 dead as plane crashes into homes in Congo

A small passenger plane carrying at least 17 people crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday in Congo’s eastern city of Goma.
Image: Smoke rises from the scene after a small plane crashed in Goma, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Nov. 24, 2019.

Smoke rises from the scene after a small plane crashed in Goma, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Nov. 24, 2019.Pamela Tulizo / AFP – Getty Images

By The Associated Press

GOMA, Congo — A small passenger plane carrying at least 17 people crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday in Congo’s eastern city of Goma, killing at least 25 people, including people on the ground.

There are two survivors, including one member of the crew, according to the National Border Health Program, which confirmed 25 dead in a statement later Sunday. The survivors are being cared for at a local hospital, it said.

The 19-seater aircraft crashed into residential homes in the Mapendo district near Goma’s airport in the North Kivu province shortly after “missing” its takeoff, according to provincial governor Nzanzu Kasivita Carly. Black smoke rose from the plane in the morning, whose wreckage could be seen amid destroyed homes as dozens of men tried to help with the rescue efforts. The smoke cleared as rescue workers carried bodies in stretchers and hundreds gathered at the scene.

Image: Rescuers and residents gather near debris of a small plane after it crashed in Congo's eastern city of Goma on Nov. 24, 2019.
Rescuers and residents gather near debris of a small plane after it crashed in Congo’s eastern city of Goma on Nov. 24, 2019.Justin Kabumba / AP

Placide Kambale, a local pilot, said he took a taxi to the scene of the crash to help out. When he got there, the plane was on fire.

“I called other young people from the neighborhood, they helped me to try to remove those who still moved,” he said. “We have managed to recover two that was quickly sent to the hospital,” but then the fire expanded.

Joseph Makundi, coordinator of the North-Kivu civil protection, said that at least 25 people had been killed.

The Dornier 228-200 was owned by private carrier Busy Bee and was headed to Beni, about 220 miles north of Goma in the same province.

Congo’s government said there were 17 passengers aboard the plane, according to the manifest.

The U.N. mission in Congo said it sent an Emergency Crash and Rescue team with two fire engines to support Congolese authorities.

Plane crashes are frequent in the central African nation of Congo because of poor maintenance and relaxed air safety standards. None of Congo’s commercial carriers, including Busy Bee, are allowed to fly into European Union airspace because of safety concerns.

1 dead, several ill after chemical accident at a Buffalo Wild Wings

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Doha Madani
One person was killed and 10 other people were sickened in a chemical accident at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant Thursday in Burlington, Massachusetts, authorities said.a young boy is dressed in a costume: Hazardous materials technicians and officials at a Buffalo Wild Wings location in Burlington, Massachusetts, where an employee died after being exposed to a strong cleaning agent.© NBC Boston Hazardous materials technicians and officials at a Buffalo Wild Wings location in Burlington, Massachusetts, where an employee died after being exposed to a strong cleaning agent.A restaurant employee was rushed to a hospital after being exposed to sodium hypochlorite, a powerful cleaning agent, and died shortly thereafter, Michael Patterson, assistant chief of the Burlington Fire Department, told reporters Thursday night. The worker told firefighters who arrived on the scene that he was feeling nauseated after breathing in fumes.

“Anyone who was in the restaurant at the time and believes they may be impacted by the incident should seek medical treatment immediately,” the fire department said in a statement.

Two customers and eight other employees were treated at hospitals, Patterson said. They were believed to have not been seriously stricken, he said.

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“What we believe happened is a worker at Buffalo Wild Wings used a cleaning agent on the floor. The cleaning agent is Super 8. The chemical definition or chemical identification is sodium hypochlorite,” Patterson said. “What sodium hypochlorite is a high concentration of chlorine.”

The building was evacuated at about 6 p.m. for a Tier 1 hazmat incident, Patterson said.

The fire department that there was no active threat to public safety and that the investigation was ongoing. It said the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration had been notified.

Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement Thursday evening that it was referring questions to local authorities.

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of this horrific accident at our franchise-owned sports bar and are working closely with our franchisee and the authorities while they conduct an investigation,” the company said.

13-year-old charged with two murders in North Carolina back in custody after escape

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

13-year-old charged with two murders in North Carolina back in custody after escape

The boy escaped authorities after a court appearance Tuesday. His mother turned him in Wednesday evening.

1 dead, 4 injured in cliff collapse at Southern California beach

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

1 dead, 4 injured in cliff collapse at Southern California beach

The beaches north of San Diego are known for their unstable bluffs.
Image: Emergency responders attend to a collapse that has trapped people at a beach in Encinitas, California

Emergency responders attended to victims of a cliff collapse Friday at a beach in Encinitas, California.Paul Ecke / Reuters

Scientists are searching for a mirror universe. It could be sitting right in front of you.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

 

Scientists are searching for a mirror universe. It could be sitting right in front of you.

If the “mirrorverse” exists, upcoming experiments involving subatomic particles could reveal it.
Illustration of woman holding hands up to a mirrorverse where her reflection is shining back at her.

A mirrorverse could be just as real as our own universe but almost completely cut off from it. Jackson Gibbs / for NBC News

‘Love has no borders’: Arizona man fulfills Christmas wish list for Mexican girl who sent it by balloon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

‘Love has no borders’: Arizona man fulfills Christmas wish list for Mexican girl who sent it by balloon

“It really touched my heart to find it,” said Randy Heiss, who spotted a balloon with the note attached.
By Janelle Griffith

It was a Christmas wish that crossed international borders. An Arizona man fulfilled the Christmas list of an 8-year-old girl in Mexico whose letter to Santa reached him by way of balloon.

Earlier this month, Randy Heiss was hiking in Patagonia, Arizona, when he saw the ragged remains of a balloon with a note attached.

One side of the note read: “Dayami.” On the other was a numbered list written in Spanish.

Heiss’ wife translated the list and the pair identified its likely sender as a girl named Dayami. The note was intended for Santa and asked for art supplies, slime, a doll and a dollhouse, among other things. No contact information was left on the note.

“It really touched my heart to find it and I said, ‘Well, how in the heck am I going to be able to figure out how to make contact with this little girl and make her wishes come true?’” Heiss told NBC affiliate KVOA in Tucson.

Heiss believed the winds carried Dayami’s Christmas wish list about 20 miles away from Nogales, Mexico.

He shared the letter on his Facebook account. After a few days with no leads, he enlisted the help of Radio XENY, a station in Nogales. The station posted Heiss’ story to its Facebook page.

Within an hour, they were able to find Dayami, who lives in Nogales.

The radio station told NBC News on Monday that it helped to arrange for Heiss and his wife to meet Dayami and her family at its offices late last week.

Heiss and his wife delivered the toys to Dayami and her sister younger sister, Ximena, during the meeting. It brought him “healing joy” to see the children’s happy faces, Heiss told the “Today” show.

“Love has no borders,” he said. “That wall melted away for the day.”

As it turns out, the experience was a gift for the couple, too.

“We lost our son nine years ago,” Heiss told KVOA. “So we don’t have grandchildren in our future and so really getting to share Christmas with kids was something that’s been missing in our lives.”

Lindsey Graham: ‘Impossible to believe’ Saudi Crown Prince was unaware of Khashoggi killing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Lindsey Graham: ‘Impossible to believe’ Saudi Crown Prince was unaware of Khashoggi killing

“He is irrational, he is unhinged, and I think he has done a lot of damage” to the U.S.-Saudi relationship, Graham said.
Image: Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham speaks with Chuck Todd on Meet The Press on Nov. 18, 2018.NBC News

 / Updated 
By Kailani Koenig

WASHINGTON — Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday harshly condemned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over his alleged role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling him “unhinged” and pointedly refusing to work with the prince in the future.

“The fact that he didn’t know about it is impossible for me to believe,” Graham said on Sunday’s “Meet The Press.” The South Carolina senator said he hasn’t been given an official briefing on the matter, but maintained that the conclusion that the crown prince had a role in Khashoggi’s murder should be clear to anyone with knowledge about the country.

“If he is going to be the face of Saudi Arabia going forward, I think the kingdom will have a hard time on the world stage,” Graham added. “They are an important ally, but when it comes to the crown prince, he is irrational, he is unhinged, and I think he has done a lot of damage to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and I have no intention of working with him ever again.”

The United States announced sanctions this week against 17 Saudi Arabian officials over the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

NBC News reported on Friday that the CIA has concluded that the crown prince himself ordered the assassination.

Graham said he doesn’t want to let the individuals who carried out the killing to become “the fall guy,” but instead, “I am going to do whatever I can to place blame where I believe it lies: I am going to put it at the feet of the crown prince who has been a destructive force in the Mideast.”

The senator noted that he previously had a lot of hope for the prince’s potential as a reformer in the region, but “that ship has sailed as far as Lindsey Graham is concerned.”

Graham’s language on Saudi Arabia stands in stark contrast to President Trump, who repeatedly told “Fox News Sunday” this weekend that the crown prince has continually denied involvement in the incident.

Asked whether the prince was lying, Trump responded, “he told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points.”

The president also asked, “Will anybody really know? He did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved.”

On Sunday, Graham was asked about the bond between the crown prince, Trump, and Jared Kushner, and he said, “I’ll leave it up to the president to find out how to handle Saudi Arabia from the executive branch side.”

“From the legislative branch side, we’re going to do as much as we can, as hard as we can, to send a signal to the world,” he continued. “This is not how we expect an ally to act. What happened in Turkey violates every norm of civilized society and it will not stand. And if John McCain were alive today, he’d be the first one saying that.”

Graham also maintained that the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khalid Bin Salman, should not be allowed back in to the United States as ambassador.

Also on “Meet The Press,” Graham publicly called on the president to move forward on the issue of criminal justice reform, asking him to “pick up the phone” and lobby Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring their bill on the issue to the floor.

“The Republicans are the problem here, not the Democrats,” Graham said.

Catholic priest abuse in Pennsylvania shows the church is a criminal syndicate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC)

 

Anthea Butler: The grand jury report about Catholic priest abuse in Pennsylvania shows the church is a criminal syndicate

The Catholic church hierarchy systematically covered up the abuse of at least 1,000 kids by 300 priests over 70 years.
Image: A man prays at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as he waits for Pope Francis to lead an open-air mass

A man prays at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as he waits for Pope Francis to lead an open-air mass in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sept. 27, 2015.Jewel Samad / AFP – Getty Images

It is time to face the horrible truth: The Catholic church is a pedophile ring.

According to the grand jury report of six dioceses in Pennsylvania, over a period of 70 years, 300 priests abused over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania and Church officials repeatedly covered it up. The release of the report is a searing indictment of the filth that has existed in the Catholic church.

Sexual abuse has been institutionalized, routinized and tolerated by the church hierarchy for decades. If you think this statement is hyperbole, consider that the grand jury report includes, but is by no means limited to, the case of a ring of pedophile priests in the Pittsburgh, who raped their male victims, took pornographic pictures of them and marked them by giving them gold crosses to wear so that they could be easily recognized by other abusers.

At an emotional news conference Tuesday, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro stood before some of the victims of the abuse in the six Pennsylvania dioceses (which includes Pittsburgh and the state capital Harrisburg). Announcing the report, Shapiro said that, for the first time, “we can begin to understand the systematic coverup of church officials”.

The report was written by 23 grand jurors wrote over the course of two years, and is very clear about how the authorities of the church protected the clergy while further abusing victims with payoffs, silencing and attempts to denigrate their character. Two cardinals, Cardinal Wuerl and the now-deceased Cardinal Bevilacqua (who also figured prominently in the Philadelphia grand jury report) are among those who disciplined but moved around clergy who sexually abused children.

While this report covers only six dioceses in Pennsylvania (there are eight in total, but the archdioceses of Philadelphia and the diocese of Altoona-Johnston were the subject of three previous grand jury investigations), it is breathtakingly horrific in documenting the scope of sexual abuse of children. It chronicles in detail how the Catholic hierarchy from the diocese to the Vatican worked not only mitigate the church’s legal exposure, but to maintain strategies to “avoid scandal.”

Sexual abuse has been institutionalized, routinized and tolerated by the church hierarchy for decades.

These strategies used to subvert stories of abuse were so common that the FBI reviewed a significant portion of the evidence collected and received by the grand jury and found a series of practices engaged in by church leaders to conceal the truth. For instance, church authorities who documented the cases for internal use never used the word “rape,” only “inappropriate contact.” Investigations were conducted by other clergy members, rather than trained personnel. Church-run health centers, not lay psychiatric facilities, were used to examine priests accused of pedophilia. Housing and funds were provided for priests, even when it was known they were raping children. Priests were moved from the area only if their communities found out, to other communities where the abusers and abuses were not known. Most importantly, the hierarchy was instructed to not inform law enforcement about abuses reported by parishioners, but to consider any such cases an “internal personnel matter”

These practices sanctioned by the church hierarchy allowed the abuse of children to continue.

The grand jury report is also rife with horror upon horror — anal rape, fondling, oral sex, child pornography, pregnancies, suicides — perpetrated upon children by priests, who were then moved about by church leaders who knew full well the despicable deeds they had done to children, and often did again.

For instance, one woman was raped by a priest at the age of seven in her hospital room after surgery on her tonsils, was raped again by the same priest at age 13, and then again at age 19 while pregnant; she considered suicide. What was the priest’s punishment for her and other rapes and molestations to which he admitted? Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg, in submitting the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated: “I believe the scandal caused by his admission of the sexual abuse of minor girls has been sufficiently repaired by acceptance of the penal precept.” In other words, Gainer did not want the priest defrocked and so, as punishment, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith decided, after reviewing his file, that the priest in question should lead a life of prayer and penance.

Prayer, and penance. An inadequate, paltry response for repeatedly raping a child.

What is clear from this report — as well as the previous grand jury reports from Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011 and Altoona-Johnston in 2016 — is that the Catholic church cannot be and never should have been trusted nor expected to root out pedophiles in the midst, let alone punish them appropriately. Mercy was not extended to victims, but to perpetrators.

Rules, it seems, were for the Catholics who continued to sit in the pews, not the ones who stood at the altars. The former were supposed to refrain from premarital sex, same-sex relationships, abortions and masturbation. The sexual prohibitions of the church did not extend to the clergy raping children, and priests in Pennsylvania even got a pass for paying for abortions for young girls they raped and got pregnant.

Adding insult to injury, the Catholic church in Pennsylvania is currently fighting an effort by Rep. Mark Rozzi, himself a victim of clergy sexual abuse, to have the civil statute of limitation in such cases eliminated. Currently, victims can file civil claims until the age of 30 and criminal claims until the age of 50; the church supports the latter but opposes the former. Once again, the desire to protect the church, not the victims of the clergy, continues to be the priority for bishops and cardinals in the Catholic Church.

Rules, it seems, were for the Catholics who continued to sit in the pews, not the ones who stood at the altars.

It is long past time for not only abusive priests, but monsignors, bishops and cardinals to be held accountable by local, state and federal law enforcement for their crimes against children. To date, the only administrator convicted of any crime was Monsignor William Lynn of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, whose conviction was subsequently overturned, and has been scheduled for retrial. But most of those who habitually moved abusers, such as Cardinal Wuerl, enjoy the prestige and perks of being high-ranking clergy, while many abused children must try to manage their physical and psychological pain.

What the now-multiple Pennsylvania grand jury reports show clearly is that the Roman Catholic church has treated the protection of its pedophiles, rapists and sexual abusers as their highest priority. They have been unwilling and unable to police clergy sexual abuse while determined to keep responsibility for doing so within the Church — but they don’t want to be held accountable for mishandling it. Like a criminal syndicate, it is time for the Church to be broken apart and cleaned out.

Anthea Butler is an associate professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of “Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World” (The University of North Carolina Press) and her forthcoming book is tentatively titled “From Palin to Trump: Evangelicals, Race, and Nationalism” (The New Press).

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