Friday, July 24, 2009

Pastor Kris Lounsbury Charged with Rape

A lay pastor who ran a failed bid to unseat U.S. House of Representatives incumbent Jim Matheson in 2006 made an initial appearance in 5th District Court on Thursday on charges of rape and sexual abuse of a child.

Kris Lounsbury, age 62, of St. George is charged with two counts of rape, two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and two counts of forcible sexual abuse.

Lounsbury ran for the 2nd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives but was defeated by State Representative LaVar Christensen for the Republican nomination to oppose Matheson.

Lounsbury was also the founding pastor of Living Word Christian Fellowship in St. George. He resigned his position as pastor about a year and a half ago, said current pastor John Sullivan.

Lounsbury then became an elder of the church, but stepped down from that position about four weeks ago as a consequence of the allegations, Sullivan said.

"It's a situation that he has repented before the congregation about," Sullivan said.

Sullivan also said Lounsbury is engaged in ongoing counseling with Sullivan and the pastor of another fellowship.

St. George Police Department Officer James Schafer said a complaint was submitted to the Washington County Attorney's Office following allegations on June 19 that three girls were abused by Lounsbury.

"It looks like the charges were enhanced because the suspect was in a position of special trust, which means he was either a relative or in (another) position of special trust with the victim," Schafer said.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of the alleged victims said she confronted Lounsbury after her 15-year-old daughter reported numerous cases of abuse.

The woman said her other daughters told her similar stories and that their friends also said Lounsbury had molested them.

"When my daughter first told me I was skeptical, then when I was talking to my other daughters and they were saying the same thing I was just blown away," the woman said. The Spectrum is not identifying the woman because of her relationship to the alleged victims.

"My main concern is that he is prosecuted correctly and that if there are any more victims out there, that they come forward," she said.

Lounsbury's attorney, Larry Meyers, said the case is still in the early stages.

"We haven't got the discovery yet. Once we get that we'll talk to the prosecutor," Meyers said.

Discovery is the process by which attorneys review evidence gathered to back up the charges against a suspect.

Meyers asked Judge G. Rand Beacham on Thursday to recall a warrant issued against Lounsbury and to allow him to remain out of jail on his own recognizance with an order not to contact the alleged victims, in accordance with an agreement between the defense and the prosecutor for the case.

Meyers said Lounsbury is well known in the community and should not be considered a flight risk.

Beacham accepted the arrangement and set a roll call hearing for Aug. 10.

Convicted Sex Offender Charles Purdum Arrested for Violating His Probation

Maryland State Police have charged a convicted sex offender with violating his probation after a state trooper saw him with a child.

Police said 35-year-old Charles Purdum of Westminster was walking through a store with a 10-year-old boy and a woman July 14.

Troopers say he is a registered sex offender who is barred from contact with boys under the age of 18. Police said Purdum was alone with the boy while the woman, his mother, shopped in other parts of the store.

Purdum is being held without bond after being arrested Wednesday afternoon for violating his probation.

William Travis Brown Charged with Possession of Child Porn

A 39-year-old Sellersburg man was convicted Thursday by a federal jury of transporting and possessing child pornography from a home he rents in Georgetown, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

William Travis Brown was charged with one count of transportation and one count of possession of child pornography. Those charges were part of an amended indictment filed July 8, the press release states.

More than 1,000 images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of minors were obtained through searches on March 20, 2007, at Brown’s rented house in Georgetown and on his computer and CDs.

The investigation was conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Indiana State Police, the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the FBI.

The trial lasted four days and showed evidence that Brown traded images online with others using different forms of Internet technology and chatting, according to the press release.

Brown faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum lifetime term of supervised release along with a fine of as much as $250,000.

No date has been scheduled yet for sentencing.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota, of the Southern District of Indiana, and Trial Attorney Bonnie L. Kane, of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

Kristopher Griffin Charged with Murdering his 6-year-old

Police charged a 35-year-old Mansfield man with murdering his 6-year-old daughter after being alerted to the crime by a note in which he allegedly asked forgiveness for sending her "to heaven."

Kristopher Griffin, 35, wearing a hospital johnny, sobbed and looked at the floor at his arraignment this afternoon on a charge that he murdered Kaitlynn Griffin. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail. A judge ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital and slated another hearing for Aug. 12.

Mansfield police said that at 4:05 a.m. today they received a call from 85 Ware St., where Griffin had been staying, reporting that Griffin was somewhere in town and might have the intention of harming himself. Patrol units were put on the lookout and shortly after that, an officer spoke to Griffin about a half mile from the Ware Street address. At 4:17 a.m., police received a second call from the Ware Street address in which the caller reported that Griffin had left a note asking for "forgiveness for sending Katy to heaven."

Police then went to a home on Chilson Street where the daughter lived, and after a short search found her body in the basement, covered by a blanket, Chief Arthur M. O'Neill said in a statement.

The case is being investigated by local and state police and the Bristol County district attorney's office.

By late morning, 10 to 12 State Police investigators were still busy at the house, a yellow, two-story duplex. Witnesses said that the items removed from the house by officers appeared to include a computer and hard drive.

A child's pink bicycle had been left in the driveway, with a matching pink helmet hanging from the handlebars. A neighbor identified it as Kaitlynn's bike.

Neighbor Jimbo Tardivo said Kaitlynn would sometimes watch from the window as he held cookouts in his yard.

"She was a little peanut, a little star in that window, and I'm going to miss her," said Tardivo.

Christina Haynes Sentenced to 10 Years for Child Abuse

A northern Idaho mother whose child was abused so badly that doctors had to amputate the girl's feet has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Christina Haynes, 27, of St. Maries, was sentenced Friday on one count of felony injury to a child. First District Judge Fred Gibler ordered Haynes to serve at least five years before being eligible for parole.

Haynes pleaded guilty in May, a year after police discovered 3-year-old Kyra Wine, described at near death, at the home of Haynes' boyfriend, Charles Smith.

Doctors performed several surgeries and the community rallied to raise money to help cover medical costs.

Smith, 29, was sentenced to 10 years in prison without parole for his role in the beatings.

The girl and her sister are living with grandparents in St. Maries.

John Derrigo Arrested for Child Porn

An Adams Center man is one of 11 suspects arrested by federal authorities this week for allegedly online activities involving child pornography.

John Derrigo, 58, is charged with receipt and possession of child pornography, according to a release from the United States Attorney, Northern District of New York.

Derrigo was arrested Thursday at his home after the execution of a search warrant. He appeared in court in Syracuse and was detained pending a detention hearing set for Monday.

If convicted, Derrigo would face a minimum five years in prison, a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Three of the other suspects are from Cortland County. Others are from Fulton, Binghamton, Johnstown, Rensselaer County, and Warren County.

Roy Ray Bennett Arrested for Child Porn

A Hanahan man has been arrested by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division during a child pornography investigation.

Roy Ray Bennett, 68, of 2 Lombardi Lane, Hanahan, is charged with second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, SLED said.

According to an arrest warrant, Bennett had visual materials depicting minors engaged in sexual activity on a computer at his home, SLED said.

SLED said Bennett is accused of downloading and disseminating the pornographic images through the use of the internet.

With a search warrant, agents confiscated electronic media from Bennett’s home during an undercover operation, according to SLED.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office and Hanahan Police Department assisted with this investigation.

Second degree sexual exploitation of a minor is a felony offense punishable up to 10 years in prison, SLED said. .

Eleven Arrested for Child Porn in Upstate New York

Federal and state authorities have arrested 11 people across upstate New York in an investigation of child pornography distributed over the Internet.

The arrests this week followed an investigation that led to 17 federal search warrants, U.S. Attorney Andrew Baxter said Friday. The defendants, ranging in age from 18 to 58, are charged with receipt of child pornography. Some are charged with distribution. All could face at least five years in federal prison, prosecutors said.

Authorities said computer images depicting sex with prepubescent children, including toddlers, were posted and downloaded on an Internet file-sharing server. They declined to discuss other details or explain exactly how they identified the 11 suspects.

"One of the things I don't think people necessarily realize is that every image of child pornography depicts a crime scene of abuse of a child," Baxter said. "Child pornography is created by the abuse of real live people, real live children. So that the demand for those images created by people downloading and trading pornography triggers abuse down the line."

Federal authorities expect to bring 75 cases this year in northern New York, up from about 40 to 50 typically, with an additional prosecutor assigned to them. The 11 charged are from eight counties.

Baxter said one recent study from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children showed one in seven children who are regular Internet users are sexually solicited online, suggesting there are thousands of predators.

"It would traumatize people to see the images," Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Spina said.

State Police Capt. Frank Pace, who has headed his agency's Computer Crime Unit for the past year and a half, said he regards child pornography as the crack cocaine of the 21st century. "It's so prevalent out there," he said.

Pace said these are among the easiest cases to prosecute. He said these 11 defendants were not an organized group.

New York Yankees Jimmie Johnson Michael Bloomberg British Airways The View Federal cases typically end with a guilty plea and prison, even for a first offense, Spina said.

"A lot of these people have deep-seated problems. They need professional help," Baxter said. "But the bottom line is they need to stop it or eventually they're going to get caught."

The latest group doesn't include any accusations that the suspects made child pornography. While Baxter acknowledged some material originates outside the United States, technology has made it possible for anybody with a cheap camera to do it in their basement.

6-year-old Dae'von Bailey Dies From Child Abuse

A 6-year-old boy whose battered body was found on the floor of a South Los Angeles home was the subject of roughly a dozen calls to Los Angeles County's child abuse hotline alleging abuse or neglect, a county official briefed on the case told The Times on Friday.

Dae'von Bailey had injuries that suggested blows or other trauma over an extended period of time, said Lt. Vincent Neglia of the LAPD's Abused Child Section. Police are searching for the boy's stepfather, Marcas Fisher, 36, as a "person of interest" in the case.

Dae'von's death appears to fit a pattern in which children have been killed after their cases already had come to the attention of county child welfare officials. The Times previously reported that last year, 14 children died after being evaluated by the county Department of Children and Family Services. Some of those deaths involved breakdowns in the system in which some agencies knew about potential abuse but had failed to share the information with other agencies. In other cases, investigators found that poor decisions by social workers had contributed to the deaths.

The county Board of Supervisors has repeatedly been warned by auditors and other experts that the child welfare system lacks efficient ways to share information about risks faced by children. After the reports in The Times, the board last month voted to approve a new effort to ensure that agencies share information.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes South Los Angeles, called on the board Friday to appoint an independent investigator to thoroughly review Dae'von's case. Thomas said the probe should include looking at the boy's contact with Family Services and any other government agencies to identify any breakdowns that might have contributed to his death. The inquiry, if approved, would be the first of its kind since 2006.

"We need to get to the bottom of this," Ridley-Thomas said. "To have a county that has a stain on its image, to have children dying under these circumstances, is very, very difficult to bear. . . . The public has a right to have confidence that we are taking care of these matters competently."

Family Services Director Trish Ploehn, who since taking office two years ago has made better accountability of social workers a top priority, said she's already launched "a full and comprehensive internal investigation."

"This was a tragic and senseless death," Ploehn said. "I've had a full team of people looking at it all day."

On Friday, neighbors on South 87th Place tried to make sense of what had happened to Dae'von, whom they described as a sweet, well-behaved child. Relatives found him dead on the floor after being alerted by a frantic call from an unidentified person in his home. Fisher was not in the house when officers arrived. Neglia said Fisher had "no history of violent crime" but that he did have a history of property crimes. The coroner's office had not determined the cause of death.

The county official, who was not authorized to comment on the case and therefore spoke on condition of anonymity, said the dozen calls reporting abuse or neglect occurred at various times in Dae'von's life. The source said county officials had opened an investigation after each call. But it remained unclear Friday whether social workers had concluded that abuse had occurred or whether the county had an active case file on Dae'von at the time of his death.

The boy's mother, Tylette Davis, 28, said Fisher had been with her when she was pregnant with Dae'von, but he wasn't the boy's biological father. She separated from him some time ago.

Davis said she never witnessed Fisher abuse Dae'von, but she said that about three years ago, Fisher "whipped" one of her older sons until "his butt was all red."

Davis said that none of her six children, including Dae'von, were living with her because she was "going through things, and I thought he could take care of the kids while I got my stuff together."

Dae'von and Davis' 5-year-old daughter -- who is now in protective custody -- were staying with Fisher; a 14-year-old daughter was staying with a cousin in Compton; and her other three children were staying with her mother, also in Compton.

Early Friday morning, shortly after she was notified of her son's death, Davis said county social workers went to her mother's home and removed her 9-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. She said that she asked a woman why they couldn't stay with her.

"She said I made a bad judgment by letting my two youngest kids stay with" Fisher, Davis said. "I'm hurt. I just lost my son," Davis said. "There's no way to describe the pain. . . . I want Marcas to turn himself in."

Neighbors said Fisher and the children had moved into the house about three months ago. The street, with tall palm trees and tidy stucco homes and apartments, is described by residents as a relatively quiet oasis -- neutral ground for the street gangs that battle over turf elsewhere.

Neighbor Kevin Davis, 49, no relation to Tylette, said Dae'von would stand ramrod straight in the front yard of the house, like a soldier, whenever he came home. With his little sister at his side, the boy would wait for Davis to give them a playful military salute.

"Hey, new neighbors!" Kevin Davis would say. The children would respond with their own salute.

"He smiled when he would see me, man," Davis said of the boy. "He would stop in his play so he could stand and salute me. He was a sweet kid."

Davis said Fisher moved in with his brother, who had lived there by himself. At least two other children -- possibly belonging to Fisher -- and Dae'von and his little sister lived there, Davis said.

Davis added that on Thursday, he had not seen the children playing in the front yard -- something he found odd because Dae'von and the others were outside most days.

He and other neighbors say they heard the movie "Medea Goes to Jail" playing loudly in the house. Davis said the film seemed to be playing in a loop, along with a taped performance by comedian Katt Williams. Later, he wondered whether the sounds were intended to cover up tumult inside the house.

Davis said he left for Bible study in the early evening and that when he returned, the street was blocked by police cruisers.

"When I came back, my brother said, 'Man, they killed that boy,' " Davis recalled.

Friday morning, a neighbor placed white balloons on the front door of the house. A stuffed lion in an aviator outfit sat on the stoop, along with a votive candle with an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Four Boys Charged with Sexual Assault on 8-year-old

With four Phoenix, Arizona, boys ages 9 to 14 charged with sexual assault on an 8-year-old girl, a prosecutor vowed Thursday his office will "seek justice for the young victim in this heartrending situation."

Police say a girl was lured to a storage shed at an apartment complex where she was sexually assaulted.

"This is a deeply disturbing case that has gripped our community," said Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas.

According to Phoenix police, the girl was lured to a storage shed at an apartment complex on July 16. The four boys, who had offered the girl chewing gum, allegedly restrained and sexually assaulted her. At a news conference about the case Wednesday, police did not release any information on the girl's condition, but officers called the case one of the worst they have investigated in many years.

The 14-year-old was charged as an adult and will face two counts of sexual assault and one count of kidnapping, Thomas said Thursday. The other three boys were charged in juvenile court with sexual assault, and two of them also were charged with kidnapping, Thomas said.

All the suspects except for the 14-year-old live in the same apartment complex, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill.

The victim and the boys charged are all from refugee families that have come to the United States from the war-torn West African nation of Liberia, police said.

Detectives said the girl was placed in the custody of Phoenix child protective services after the attack because of her parents' attitude toward her.

"The parents felt that they had been shamed or embarrassed by their child," Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill said.

The Phoenix Police Department has a community response unit that assists with such sensitive cases. "They made some initial contacts with the refugee community. They acted as liaison and were present when the child protective services agency took the victim," Hill said.

Protective services officers "will determine what's going to happen in the days ahead and they'll look at the past history with that family, if there is one," he said.

CNN affiliate KTVK said it interviewed the girl's 23-year-old sister, who said she was baby-sitting the girl at the time of the alleged attack.

The sister, who was not identified by name by the station, expressed mixed feelings about her sister's attack. "I came to her and said it's not good for you to be following guys because you are still little," the sister told KTVK. She also said that she wanted the suspects to be released from jail because "we are the same people."

"When she comes back I'm going to tell her don't ever do that again because all of us, we are the same family, we are from the same place. Now she is just bringing confusion among us. Now the other people, they don't want to see her," the sister told KTVK.

Tony Weedor, a Liberian who fled civil war with his family and now lives in the Denver, Colorado, area, told CNN that cultural aspects are deep in the case. In Liberia rape was not against the law until 2006, he said.

"The family [believes they] have been shamed by her, not a crime, but the name of the family has been degraded and news will get back to Liberia. And they're more concerned about that than the crime," said Weedor, who is co-founder of the CenterPoint International Foundation, which aids Liberian refugees in the United States and provides aid for those still in Liberia.

Edwin Sele, the deputy ambassador of Liberia to the United States, also responded to the incident.

"Having heard the story myself, I'm outraged," he said. "In Liberia, the family and law enforcement officers would be embracing the victim. To hear that the family is not doing that, that should be an isolated case."

Resettlement groups around the country help refugees settle into life in the United States. Among them is the Refugee and Immigrants Relief Center in Phoenix, where Omar Dolleh, a refugee from Sierra Leone in West Africa, is the program director.

As a part of the refugee orientation program, he said, his group touches upon the laws in the United States, but the most immediate goal for refugees and organizations that help them is finding employment and places to live.

Surgeon Bernard Albina Charged with Sexual Abuse

An adult guardian could face charges for taking money in exchange for allowing a Houston doctor access to a child investigators said was one of at least four who had been sexually abused for years by the grandfatherly surgeon, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Orthopedic surgeon Bernard Zacharia Albina, 69, was arrested Tuesday on five charges stemming from years of alleged sexual abuse of four prepubescent boys. He is expected to be arraigned in state district court today.

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Eric Devlin said a guardian for one of the children could face charges for taking money for allowing access to one of the children. He said statutes of limitations may hinder prosecution, but a charge could be levied as part of an ongoing conspiracy.

“It's possible, we're still looking into it,” Devlin said. “We don't usually go after the parents or providers until after the sexual predator is in prison. We wanted to concentrate on getting Albina charged.”

Albina, accused of buying his way into the role of adopted grandfather for several families, may have paid one of the alleged victims $155,000 during 10 years of sexual abuse to keep the boy quiet, Devlin said.

“They were paid over time, from the time they were very young until they grew up. One of the kids may have received $155,000 all the way through. Other kids were paid various amounts of money,” he said.

He said Albina also bought houses where he let the families live rent-free to gain access to the children, who were between the ages of 4 to 6 when the alleged abuse began.

“I know of two houses for certain, but there may be more,” Devlin said.

Tapes of sex acts
Investigators said Albina strived to be a kind and patient “grandfather figure” to troubled youths and disadvantaged families.

“It's very hard to prey on the honor roll student, who has a good family background, who is outspoken,” said Houston police officer J.T. Roscoe, an investigator with the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. “They're called predators for a reason. Predators go after kids who they can tell, ‘No one's going to believe you. Nobody loves you.' ”

Roscoe said police searched Albina's home and offices, seizing hundreds of hours of videotape depicting sex acts with the children . Investigators continue to search for other victims, some of whom were recorded on videotape dating back decades, Roscoe said.

According to court documents, the investigation began in January 2007, after one of Albina's victims, now 26, told police he had been abused, including oral and anal sex, from 1988 to 1998, starting when he was 5.

Albina remains jailed in lieu of $400,000 bail. Court records do not show an attorney of record for him.

Among other sexual assault charges, Albina is accused of continuous sexual abuse of a child, an enhanced first-degree felony that could send him to prison for a minimum of 25 years, with no chance of parole or early release, and a maximum of life behind bars if convicted.

Devlin said two of the victims, now adults, were related to patients of Albina.

“Even though (the victims) might not have been patients, he still met all of them through a doctor role.”

He declined to release details about the other two victims, who now are teenagers.

Donald Nitchman Pleads Guilty to Sexual Acts Against 3 Boys

A 49-year-old Saratoga man has pleaded guilty to committing criminal sex acts against three boys over a period of three years, county District Attorney James Murphy announced today.

As a result, Donald Nitchman is convicted of felony criminal sex act, and two counts of criminal sex act.

According to DA Murphy, Nitchman engaged in oral sex with three male victims, all less than 15 years old, between the summer of 2004 and July 2007. The incidents occurred at a horse farm on Haas Rd., owned by Nitchman.

“By requiring the defendant to plead to the highest possible charge and a felony for each victim, we have held the defendant responsible for his criminal conduct," Murphy said in a press release.

"Threatening young boys to keep quiet and performing lurid and salacious acts upon them, we are pleased that the defendant will serve between 16 and 20 years," Murphy concluded.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 1st.

Robert Crawford Arrested for Child Abuse

Centralia police arrested a child abuse suspect.

Robert C. Crawford, 30, allegedly endangered the life of his 19 month old son by punching him in the chest and in another instance grabbing and squeezing his son’s face in excess.

The acts were reported by family members who claimed to witness the acts.

After an investigation, Crawford is charged with Class C felony charges , two counts of child abuse and one count of child endangerment.

Crawford is in the Boone County jail with a bond of $13,000.

The case is ongoing and the child is in the custody of his mother.


Adrian Dean Hord Arrested for Burning Child With Lighter

A man is charged with criminal abuse and kidnapping in a disturbing Lewis County child abuse case in which a six-year-old boy was allegedly tied up by his mother's boyfriend.

Adrian Dean Hord was arrested Tuesday in Ohio. The boy's grandfather, Donny Highfield told LEX 18 Thursday that Hord was trying to teach the boy a lesson for playing with matches, so he burned him with a lighter on his belly and duct taped his arms, legs and mouth.

Highfield, who is his grandson's legal guardian, said he the boy to a doctor for a physical days later when he learned that of the alleged abuse. He believes the child was hiding the incident from him for a reason.

"I guess he was scared for his mother," said Highfield. "Afraid I wasn't going to let him visit no more."

Highfield says he believes his grandson will recover physically, but worries about how the incident will effect him mentally. "He'll probably remember this his whole life. It could effect him years down the road, being tied up like that."

Investigators also say charges are pending against the child's mother, Stacy Highfield.
Video: Man Charged In Disturbing Alleged Child Abuse Case

Arturo Rivas Charged with Sexual Assault on 7-year-old

Arturo Rivas, 44, of Bellmead, was free on $25,000 bond Thursday evening after he was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child in connection with an incident that happened in 2005.

Rivas turned himself in Wednesday at the McLennan County Jail, Bellmead Police Chief Robert Harold said.

The charge stems from the sexual assault of a 7-year-old girl in December 2005 in a van in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart store in Bellmead.

Harold said the girl had just recently come forward about the assault.

A warrant for Rivas’ arrest was issued as a result of the ensuing investigation, Harold said.