Friday, August 7, 2009

Steven Garber Sentenced for Beating, Burning, and Starving Child

The parents of a child who was beaten, burned and starved nearly to death last year were sentenced Thursday by a Blair County judge.

The father will go to a state correctional institution and the mother to Blair County Prison.

Steven Garber, 26, of Altoona RD 1 will serve 10 to 25 years behind bars and then serve 12 years' probation. Once Garber gets out of prison, he will not be allowed to have contact with children younger than 18, Judge Elizabeth Doyle ordered.

Garber entered guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

At the sentencing, Blair County Assistant District Attorney Deanne Paul said Garber was so "demented" that he carried pictures of the child's injuries on a flash drive which he had on his key ring. She said he showed no remorse.

Paul broke down in court and was unable to speak as she described the physical abuse and pain the child suffered between February and July 2008 when city police and officials of Blair County Children and Youth Services entered the child's home and took the 13-month-old toddler into custody.

Melissa Hunter, 20, of 60th Street entered pleas to endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. She will serve 11 to 23 months in county jail, followed by 12 years' probation.

Hunter described herself as a "dependent person" who did not act to stop the repeated beatings inflicted on the child by Garber.

The child's court-appointed guardian, attorney Mary Ann Probst, described the child as "gaunt" when he was first admitted to the hospital. He has regained his health, she said, describing the youngster, now in the custody of grandparents, as a "delightful child."

When it came to Hunter, the court placed an emphasis on teaching her how to be a good parent.

Hunter was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation. She also will participate in Women Aware, a program for women who are easily dominated by others, and take parenting classes through the county.

Hunter had another child after her arrest in July 2008. She told Doyle she didn't know she was pregnant at the time.

She is likely to regain custody of her children upon the completion of her jail term, according to Altoona Detective Sgt. Ben Jones and Paul.

Doyle told Hunter that while a majority of the "terrible acts" against the child were committed by Garber, she, too, bore responsibility.

"We can't excuse your role. ... You do bear responsibility for the condition of your son," Doyle said.

Jones investigated the abuse, which began when the baby was 7 months old. He said that if police and county officials had not intervened, the child would have died.

Garber was accused by police of regularly beating the child with a closed fist, burning the child's fingers with a cigarette lighter and slamming the child's head on a concrete floor.

When taken into custody, the toddler had bruises on his body, lumps on his head and healing bone fractures.

Garber and Hunter were both lodged in Blair County Prison late Thursday.

Thomas Rinehart Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse

An eastern Illinois man already in prison for child sexual assault and child pornography convictions has pleaded guilty to molesting three young girls.

Thomas Rinehart of Coles County was sentenced to an additional 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Court officials say Rinehart admitted he abused the girls between November 2005 and September 2006. All three were younger than 13.

The 40-year-old Rinehart was already serving 38 years at Menard Correctional Center in southern Illinois after being convicted of child sexual assault and possession of child pornography in 2007.

Rinehart will serve the sentences consecutively.

Zachary James Pence Charged with Rape of Child

A 19-year-old Clinton man has been charged with rape of a child and aggravated child abuse or neglect.

Zachary James Pence was arrested Thursday by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office after a grand jury returned a three-count indictment. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.

The indictment was the result of an investigation involving the abuse of an 18-month-old boy and 3-year-old girl in July.

Pence is the boyfriend of the children’s mother, and she has not been charged. The investigation is continuing, however, according to Anderson County Chief Deputy Mark Lucas. More charges may be forthcoming.

The children have been removed from the home and are in the custody of the Department of Children’s Services.

Susan Blalock Arrested for Child Abuse

A one-year-old boy is found sitting in the middle of a sharp curve on a DeFuniak Springs roadway, and the baby’s caregiver is facing a felony charge. On Thursday morning, a couple was driving along High Lonesome Road when they suddenly stopped due to the child sitting by himself in front of them.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office personnel along with Department of Children and Family Service case workers arrived on the scene. Authorities would knock on the front door of Susan Blalock’s Arielle Lane home. She told authorities’ that she was the baby’s caregiver.

The 38-year-old woman told investigators that she came home earlier that morning. She took the baby out of the crib before feeding and dressing him. Blalock says she then laid the child next to her on the couch and fell asleep. At one point, the baby apparently got up and wandered out of the house while Blalock slept.

Sheriff’s officials say this is not the first time they were called to the residence. Last April, a similar incident took place involving the child. Following Thursday’s case, DCF personnel decided to remove the boy from the home.

Blalock was arrested on a charge of cruelty to a child without great harm and transported to the Walton County Jail. Her bond has been set at five-thousand dollars.

Bay City Man Arrested for Abusing his 7-year-old Son


A Bay City man who authorities say abused his 7-year-old son and allowed others to torture the boy has pleaded guilty in the case to a charge of first-degree child abuse.

The 37-year-old man entered the plea Friday in Bay County Circuit Court. A charge of second-degree child abuse was dismissed as part of the plea. He faces nine to 15 years in prison when sentenced Sept. 21.

Authorities say the abuse took place in 2007 at the man's Bay City home, and a couple also living at the home starved, tortured and burned the child.

The case was uncovered in September 2007, when a social worker from the Department of Human Services visited the home and noticed a burn on the child's arm.

The boy's mother died in 2003. He has since been adopted by family members.

Benjamin Koller Arrested for Abusing 10-week-old Son


A 10-week-old Lafayette infant who was rushed to Children's Hospital in Aurora two weeks ago with life-threatening injuries from alleged abuse has been moved out of the intensive care unit and is breathing on his own, according to Lafayette police.

When Jack Koller arrived at the hospital July 21, he was placed on machines to help him breathe, according to authorities. A week later, his condition was upgraded from critical to fair, and this week Jack was taken off life support, said Lafayette police Cmdr. Mark Battersby.

"It's a good sign that he's breathing on his own," Battersby said.

Jack's father, Benjamin Koller, 26, of Lafayette, was arrested July 24 on suspicion of abusing his son by dropping, shaking, suffocating and biting him. He was formally charged a week ago with child abuse resulting in serious injury, and he's being held on a $1 million bond in the Boulder County Jail.

Koller's common-law wife, Jennifer Schmidt, 20, has not been arrested in connection with her son's injuries, but detectives are continuing to talk with her.

Battersby said authorities are working with the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services in regards to custody of baby Jack.

Leslie Denise Nichols Charged with Sexual Abusing 9-year-old

A North Carolina-based civilian family readiness officer faces charges of sexually abusing a 9-year-old.

Leslie Denise Nichols, an employee with Marine Corps Community Services at Camp Lejeune, was arrested July 29 and charged with first-degree sex offense, five counts of indecent liberties with a minor, and five counts of child abuse by sexual act, according to warrants filed in the Onslow County, N.C., courthouse.

Nichols, 39, is the FRO of 2nd Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, according to an outgoing message on 2nd ANGLICO’s family readiness officer voice mail.

The alleged sexual abuse occurred between June 29 and July 29, according to the warrants. Nichols is in the Onslow County jail under a $300,000 bond, and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 20.

Brian Buchholz Charged with Sexual Assault

A 43-year-old York man is set to stand trial on two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child.

Police say Brian Buchholz forced the girl to watch a pornographic movie and sexually assaulted her.

If convicted on both counts, Buchholz could be sentenced to 100 years in prison.

Buchholz is free on $10,000 bond.

Ronald Preston Sentenced to Life for Sexual Abusing Children


A McLean County judge says a man convicted three times of sexually abusing children will spend the rest of his life in prison.

District Court Judge Charles Reynard sentenced 51-year-old Ronald Preston to two life terms plus 180 years in prison Friday for predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Prosecutors at Preston's trial in June said the most recent victim was abused for about five years -- beginning at age 5 --in the home where Preston and his wife baby-sat children.

Assistant State's Attorney Suzanne Geller said one victim who testified at Preston's trial could not come to court for the sentencing since she had been hospitalized for a suicide attempt.

Preston was earlier convicted of sexually abusing children in 1987 and 1995.

Timothy Adam Stary Charged with Sexual Assault

A judge upheld three sexual assault charges against a former juvenile-detention employee Thursday during a preliminary hearing in District Court.

The ruling means prosecutors can proceed with felony charges against Timothy Adam Stary, 31, a former shift supervisor at the Robert E. DeNier Youth Services Center.

The three charges include one count of sexual assault on a child and two counts of sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist.

District Judge Jeffrey Wilson needed more time to determine whether prosecutors can charge Stary with two counts of sexual conduct in a penal institution. There was some question about whether DeNier is considered a penal institution under Colorado law because it is not overseen or operated by the Department of Corrections.

Stary is suspected of performing sexual acts with a 17- and a 19-year-old inmate at DeNier.

The alleged assaults occurred between October 2008 and January 2009.

According to an arrest affidavit, Stary had sexual intercourse with the 19-year-old woman on five different occasions inside the jail. He groped the 17-year-old girl on about four different occasions, the affidavit said.

The alleged sexual contact with the 19-year-old was consensual, but it is prohibited in a penal institution or if Stary can be considered a psychotherapist.

Jay Koedam, program director at DeNier, said Stary counseled inmates and acted as a mentor or parent to them.

Stary worked at DeNier from January 2008 to February 2009.

The alleged sexual contact with the 17-year-old girl was nonconsensual, according to the affidavit.

DeNier is a juvenile-detention center located in Bodo Industrial Park. The facility is owned by the state and operated by Rite of Passage, a private company based in Nevada.

In a written statement e-mailed to The Durango Herald on Thursday, Koedam said there have been no allegations of this kind in DeNier's 10-year history.

"I ask the community not to judge the DeNier center, its staff and the 10 years of its positive work solely on the alleged actions of one individual," Koe-dam wrote.

He said all DeNier employees are thoroughly interviewed and are required to pass state and federal background checks. Stary passed the background checks, had no previous allegations of impropriety and received "boundary training," the e-mail statement said.

"The DeNier Center's ultimate responsibility is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all of the individuals in our care," Koedam wrote. "We have, and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation in coordination with the Division of Youth Corrections policies to ensure that justice is served."

Stary appeared Thursday in court wearing shackles and a jail-issued jumpsuit.

He is being held in the La Plata County Jail on $100,000 bail.

An arraignment and bond hearing is set for Aug. 13 in La Plata County.

Carl Blake Charged with Sexual Assault

A Pahrump man is in custody facing two dozen criminal charges including sexual assault, child abuse, and lewdness with a minor.

Nye County Sheriff's officials say 35-year-old Carl Blake is being held on more than $123,000 bail. He was arrested this week after police got reports that he was sexually assaulting several young children.

In all, Blake is charged with 12 counts of sexual assault, seven counts of child abuse, and one count each of domestic battery with a deadly weapon, open and gross lewdness, ex-felon in possession of a firearm, lewdness with a minor under age 14 and child sexual abuse.


James Kersey Arrested for Child Porn

Leesburg man has been arrested on 29 child porn-related counts, after investigators discovered he was attempting to distribute the material, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

James B. Kersey, 39, was arrested Thursday on 16 counts of possession of child pornography; two counts of transmission of pornography, prohibited; and 11 counts of attempted transmission of pornography, prohibited.

He is held on $10,000 bond for each of the 29 counts.

A search warrant was served at Kersey's Leesburg residence on Thursday.

During the search, Kersey "admitted that he intentionally downloaded numerous movie files of child pornography via his computer to DVDs with the intent to mail them to a person out of state," according to his arrest affidavit.

Kersey told deputies he used the search term "pthc" -- or pre-teen hardcore -- to find movies with images of children.

Investigators were able to download some of the porn. Kersey also admitted knowing that he had child pornography files available for others to download

Investigators found at least six movie files on the computer and at least 11 movie files on the DVDs containing child porn.

"All of the movies show young female children clearly under the age of 18 based on their lack of physical development," the affidavit states.