Friday, August 14, 2009

Claude Coleman Accused of Molesting Boy

PASCAGOULA, Miss. -- A grand jury will hear evidence in the case of a former bank vice president accused of molesting a young boy and possessing child pornography.

Claude A. Coleman waived a preliminary hearing Thursday before Jackson County Judge Larry Wilson.

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence said the case against the former vice president of Regions Bank in Pascagoula could be heard by the grand jury as early as this fall.

Coleman, 44, was arrested July 27 at his south Gautier home, where Jackson County investigators seized his computer and other items.

Investigators said more charges are likely. Coleman is being held on $850,000 bond.

Eric Bradley Arrested for Downloading Child Porn at Fire Station

Federal court documents allege a former Lexington firefighter charged with receiving child pornography downloaded videos and photographs while on duty at a city fire station.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Eric J. Bradley was arrested Wednesday in his Nicholasville home.

He was being held at the Fayette County Jail.

Federal investigators said they found about 50 videos and more than 100 photographs of child pornography on Bradley's laptop.

Bradley had been a firefighter with the city since 2000 but had been on paid administrative leave since July 3 before resigning on Thursday.

Benjamin Dale Russell Pleads Guilty to Having Child Porn

Benjamin Dale Russell, 21, 1838 Fresno Lane, pleaded guilty before Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge David Strong Wednesday to two counts of the exploitation of a child after he was found with child pornography.

Russell was sentenced on the first count to 10 years, with five years suspended and five years to serve, and to 20 years on the second count, with 15 years suspended and five years to serve. The sentences are to be served concurrently, meaning Russell will spend five years behind bars for his crime, said AG Public Affairs Officer Jan Schaefer.

Russell will be required to register as a sex offender with the Mississippi Department of Corrections upon his release from prison, with five years of post-release supervision. He was fined $50,000, plus ordered to pay court costs, $500 to the Crime Victim's Compensation Fund and $500 to the Cyber Crime Unit.

Schaeffer said the investigation into Russell began when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipped off the AG's Cyber Crime Unit that Russell had posted child pornography on a Yahoo group site. Further investigation found that Russell viewed and possessed child pornography, but had also posted it on the Internet.

"We prefer to give out as little information on the victims as possible, to protect their privacy," Schaeffer said. "I can tell you he did not know the two children involved in the counts he pled to."

AG's officials declined to comment on if the children in Russell's pornography were from the Brookhaven or Lincoln County area.

Schaeffer said a forensic examination of Russell's computer showed that he possessed numerous images of child pornography. She said there were at least two different children in the photos.

"He pled to two felony counts of possession of child porn," she said. "He possessed two different pictures of two different children."

Franklin Schafer Sentenced for Sexually Abusing 6-year-old

Franklin D. Schafer, convicted June 18 of sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl as her 7-year-old brother watched, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years to life in prison.

Schafer, 50, of Dickersonville Road, Porter, is planning an appeal. He did not take the bait when Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza advised him to “own up” to what he did.

“There’s a lot of things I can say,” Schafer said. But he kept them to himself.

A letter from the victims’ mother, read aloud in court, called Schafer “a horrible monster.”

“It makes me sick to my stomach when I hear anyone believe Frank over my children,” the mother wrote.

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello said of Schafer, “He has forfeited his right to live in decent society.”

After 15 hours of deliberations and re-reading of testimony over a two-day period, the jury found Schafer guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child for having oral sex with the girl. Schafer also was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of child endangerment.

The jury acquitted Schafer on another predatory assault count that accused him of having intercourse with the girl. The incidents occurred Jan. 3 in Schafer’s home.

Defense attorney Scott Stepien filed a motion, which was denied, asking Sperrazza to overturn the verdict because of a purported error in re-reading the 6-year-old’s testimony to the jury.

At Stepien’s request, Sperrazza had ordered that the children be told not to mention a particular sex act. When the girl got into that on the stand, Sperrazza said, “Let’s move on.” In the read-back, that part was omitted.

Sperrazza said Thursday that the girl’s testimony was practically whispered. “I am confident the jury did not hear the three or four words that are at issue,” she said.

Donatello noted that Stepien agreed with that at the time. Quoting the trial transcript, Donatello said Stepien commented, “I think it’s pretty obvious the jury didn’t hear it.”

“He chose not to bring it up,” Donatello said. “To ask the court to revisit it is ludicrous.”

Stepien said he thinks Schafer’s conviction will be overturned on appeal based on precedents regarding incomplete assistance to the jury. But Donatello said “objectionable testimony” need not be read back.

She also denounced Stepien for calling the children “pathological liars” in the written text of his motion to overturn the verdict. “Unconscionable,” the prosecutor called it.

Sperrazza rebuked Stepien, saying no evidence about the children’s reputation for truth or falsehood was offered.

Stepien said he did not present such evidence because he thought Sperrazza would rule it inadmissible.

Jeremy Erickson Guilty of Causing Death of His Son

It was brief jury trial for 24-year-old Jeremy Erickson of Kimball who was found guilty of causing the death of his 15-month-old son Tristen in December.

Erickson was found guilty of a Class IB felony charge of child abuse resulting the death of the child. The charge states Erickson knowingly and intentionally caused harm to the child.

Emergency responders found the toddler unresponsive and not breathing after responding to a call to a mobile home in Dix on Dec. 9. Tristen was flown to an Aurora, Colo., hospital and taken off life support two days later.

Autopsy results showed that the boy's skull was fractured and he had spinal cord and brain injuries. Also found were retinal hemorrhaging and outer skin bruising.

Erickson will be sentenced in a Kimball courtroom on October 20. He faces 20 years to life in prison.


SIDNEY - Jury trial began this week in Kimball County District Court for a 24-year-old Kimball man accused of causing the death of his 15-month-old son.

Presentation of evidence began Tuesday in the case of Jeremy R. Erickson, who is charged with child abuse resulting in the death of his son, Tristen. The toddler died shortly after being removed from life support Dec. 11 at an Aurora, Colo., hospital. Doctors said his death was the result of injuries he sustained while in his father’s care.

Kimball County emergency crews responded to a mobile home in Dix on Dec. 9 where they found the unresponsive child in respiratory arrest. He was airlifted to Denver Children’s Hospital. Doctors there told authorities that all attempts to revive Tristen were unsuccessful.

Erickson was arrested by Kimball County authorities Dec. 12 and remains the sole suspect in the death of his son, authorities said.

The child abuse charge is a Class IB felony, which carries a minimum punishment of 20 years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.

According to Nebraska statutes, child abuse is a Class IB felony if the offense is committed knowingly and intentionally and results in the death of such child.

The trial is expected to last through Aug. 17.

Jesse Pacheco & Jessica Arrowood Arrested for Stangling Daughter

A mother accused of strangling her own daughter to get back at her boyfriend is behind bars. The woman's boyfriend was arrested last week. He's accused of beating the woman's four-year-old son so badly, he's now in coma.

Greenwood police were first tipped off to the abuse when the mother brought her son to the hospital with severe head injuries. When police were questioning her about the abuse, she first denied it, but later admitted both she and her boyfriend beat the children. Greenwood police say the abuse has been going on for at least 17 months.

Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said it's something he's never seen before.

Cooper said Jesse Pacheco and his girlfriend Jessica Arrowood would regularly abuse at least two of Arrowood's children whenever they were mad at each other. Arrowood is now under arrest for allegedly severely beating her five-year-old daughter, Alea.

Greenwood Police Department Commander Matt Fillenwarth said, "Alea was Pacheco's favorite and Arrowood would beat her to get back at him. She would pick the little girl up by her hair, choke her and then throw her around the room."

The probable cause affidavit said Arrowood had, "snatched Alea up by her hair, picked her up by her throat one-handed, threw her like a rag doll and wrapped her arms around Alea's throat."

Police said the last time Arrowood strangled her daughter was the day before Pacheco beat the four-year-old within inches of his life.

Court records detail the incident saying, "Alea stopped screaming and turned blue when Jessica began choking her...(Jessica Arrowood) threw Alea across the room."

Police say Arrowood also hit four-year-old Raymond. Investigators believe abuse against the boy could've been caught before he was hospitalized. Court documents say the daycare center Raymond went to saw the marks on him and told Jessica that they "wouldn't report her this time."

An administrator at Kid Co. Childcare Inc. initially denied neglecting the signs of abuse but then, a few mintues later, she changed her tune.

"The police was in on this, CPS was in on this, everything was done," she claimed. "I'm not arguing with you."

Greenwood police said they will be investigating the daycare.

Pacheco and Arrowood are both in jail on battery and neglect charges. Arrowood also faces strangulation charges.

The children are with child protective services. Police are investigating whether the other two children were also abused.

The four-year-old is still at Riley hospital in critical but stable condition.

Wesley Paul Canipe Arrested for Drowning Child

Neighbors held a candlelight vigil Friday night outside the apartment were Lilly Willover, 2, lived and died.

Police said Wesley Paul Canipe, 20, intentionally drowned his girlfriend's child Thursday night. Canipe is charged with murder and child abuse.

Shelby police said they were called to an apartment on Eaves Road shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday when Canipe reported that he found the child he was caring for unresponsive in the bathtub. Canipe is the boyfriend of the child’s mother and was watching Lilly Willover while her mother was at work.

Neighbor Laura Hamrick, who is trained nurse and mother, said Canipe came to her for help. She fought back emotion as she spoke.

“Absolutely heartbroken. That was the most beautiful baby,” she said.

She said she thought of Lilly as an adopted granddaughter.

“(Canipe) banged on my door and said it was Lilly and said she wasn't breathing,” she said.

Hamrick tried to revive the girl until Shelby police arrived, and they tried CPR, too.

Another neighbor, Sherry Pressley, recalled seeing an officer run out the door of the apartment carrying Willover in his arms.

“The officer, he was crying and saying, ‘I tried. I really tried. I couldn’t do anything, but I tried,’” she said.

Pressley said everyone was devastated, except Canipe.

“He wasn’t upset. He wasn’t crying. He didn’t even come out to the ambulance to see if the baby was OK,” she said.

Rescue crews rushed Willover to a local hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Neighborhood children have placed teddy bears in front of the door of the apartment in memory of Willover. Those who knew her said she was friendly and full of joy.

One neighbor brought a note for her mother and used a tiny angel pin to clip it to a stuffed animal.

“Remember your precious, sweet girl forever,” she said, reading it aloud.

Officers said that while Canipe reported Willover was taking a bath and he was not in the room when she drowned, they found through further investigation that Canipe was responsible for her death.

Arrest warrants for Canipe said officers found bruises on the child’s face.

Police said Canipe has been cooperative with them but they won’t say what he told them or elaborate on the circumstances surrounding Willover’s death other than to say she was killed.

Canipe is being held in the Cleveland County Jail. Prosecutors said if convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Anyone with further information for police is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-481-TIPS or the Shelby Police Department at 704-484-6845.

A fund has been set up to help Willover’s family pay for funeral expenses.

Money can be donated to Lilly Rae Willover and family in care of Marshall Bradley at the Wachovia at 231 South Washington Avenue in Shelby.

Desiree Gonzalez Arrested for Child Abuse

A woman and her 16-year-old male roommate were arrested after authorities said they found her 5-year-old son locked in a closet, emaciated, battered and bruised.

Desiree Gonzalez, 31, and the unidentified roommate were taken into custody Tuesday after San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies received an anonymous call saying a child was being held hostage and denied food and water. They also were told that he was being burned and beaten.

When they arrived, deputies found nine children, three adults and the boy in the closet. The boy was weak and covered with lacerations. "The first thing he asked for was a drink of water," said sheriff's spokeswoman Jodie Miller.

He was taken for treatment to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital. The other children were removed by the county Department of Children and Family Services.

Nickholas Dejuan Campbell Arrested for Molesting

The brother of a man sentenced to life in prison last week for killing a San Jose police officer in 2001 has been arrested on suspicion of molesting underage girls, authorities said.

Nickholas Dejuan Campbell, 22, of San Jose is being held at Santa Clara County Jail on numerous counts of child molestation and possession of marijuana for sale.

On Wednesday, county social workers contacted police to investigate reports that Campbell had sexually molested a girl, said San Jose police Officer Jose Garcia, a department spokesman. Investigators determined that Campbell had molested other girls, some of whom were his relatives, police said.

Campbell is the brother of DeShawn Campbell, 29, who was sentenced last Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally shooting San Jose police Officer Jeffrey Fontana in October 2001 to avoid being sent back to jail.

After the sentencing, another brother, Edwin Campbell, 33, said DeShawn Campbell was the victim of "improper justice. It's like we lost my brother."

Mikeal Wah-hab Sr Sentenced to 10 Years for Killing Son

L.A. County officials at a skid row shelter had decided Mikeal Wah-hab Sr. could care for the infant. The 2005 death of his son led to changes in the way social workers deal with homeless children.

A homeless man accused of killing his 3-month-old son just weeks after Los Angeles County social workers at a skid row shelter decided he could care for the infant pleaded guilty Thursday to child abuse, authorities said.

The November 2005 death of Mikeal Wah-hab III led to sweeping changes in the way social workers deal with homeless children, including a revamped team of county officials who search out and assess children living on skid row.

Mikeal's body was found in a Monterey Park motel room where county social workers had taken the father and child to live temporarily. Coroner's officials concluded that the boy had died of a head injury consistent with shaking.

Just weeks earlier, the boy's father, Mikeal Wah-hab Sr., had carried his son into the Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 1, 2005, and told the shelter's staff that his wife had abandoned them.

County social workers interviewed Wah-hab at the mission but did not check whether he had a record of child abuse or neglect. In fact, the county had removed the couple's previous son in 2002 after the newborn tested positive for drugs. Baby Mikeal's mother has had at least 11 children removed from her care.

The day after Mikeal's body was discovered, his mother was arrested on suspicion of possessing crack cocaine and later sentenced to three years in prison. Authorities have said they do not consider her a suspect in the boy's death.

Wah-hab, 51, was arrested and charged last year, two months after a Times article highlighted the unsolved death along with the efforts by Supervisor Gloria Molina to press detectives and prosecutors to resolve the case.

After Thursday's guilty plea, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner sentenced Wah-hab to 10 years in prison, according to a district attorney's spokeswoman.

Thomas Estes Arrested for Child Porn

A convicted sex offender is back in jail in Springdale.

Thomas Estes, 37, was arrested at his home after investigators said they found a number of illicit images and videos of underage boys on his computer.

Estes now faces felony child pornography possession charges in connection with the discovery.

Jackie Soward Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Porn

A 58-year-old Fort Worth man pleaded guilty Friday in federal court to one count of attempted possession of child pornography.

Jackie R. Sowards faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.

A postal inspector working undercover mailed a fictitious advertisement for child pornography to Sowards at his home in May.

Sowards requested two catalogs that advertised child pornography, the news release said.

After receiving the fake catalogs, Sowards ordered seven DVDs and sent a money order for more than $375, the release said.

On July 1, postal inspectors executed a federal search warrant at Sowards’ residence.

Sowards was already serving 10 years’ probation for possession of child pornography that was handed down in state court, according to Tarrant County court records.

Sowards admitted that he was addicted to child pornography and has been sexually attracted to children for more than 30 years, according to the news release.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in November.

Six Myths About Childhood Sexual Abuse

Before we start thinking about such dreadful topics as incest and other sexual abuse, I want to ask you to think for a moment about the number of children you know who wear braces on their teeth. We'll get back to that later.

Myth 1 - Childhood sexual abuse doesn't happen to people "like us."

Some people think childhood sexual abuse involves something out there, involves someone else... a dirty old man in a raincoat, for instance. Most sexual abuse is committed by a family member, a family friend, someone that the child and members of the child's family know. Childhood sexual abuse occurs in families that are faithful Roman Catholics or Baptists or members of no church at all. It happens in black and white families, in rich and poor families. A former Miss America has been very open in discussing her childhood sexual abuse, and so has Oprah Winfrey.

If you are working with young people in an elite prep school or in a juvenile prison, you are working with someone who has been sexually abused.

Myth 2 - Only men sexually abuse children, and only girls are abused.

The truth is, as many as one quarter of sexual abusers are women, and the proportions of boys and girls abused are about equal.

Myth 3 - The adult must be drunk or on drugs to do such a thing.

Childhood sexual abuse is so horrible, in fact, that we want to believe that the adult must be drunk or on drugs to do such a thing. Of course, the use of alcohol and drugs—of alcohol and other drugs—is involved in many sexual offenses. But there are many people who use drugs who do not abuse children, and there are people who abuse children who will not allow alcohol in their homes.

Myth 4 - The adult cannot help himself/herself. He/she is so attracted to the child.
This is not about "abusive sex with children." It is about "sexual abuse of children." Of course, in all honesty, perhaps most sexually "normal" (whatever that means) adults have probably seen a young person, let's hope at youngest a teenager, and felt sexually attracted.

But, these myths are not about sex but abuse. What happens in any abuse of children? A stronger person takes advantage of a weaker person, imposes his or her feelings onto the weaker person. A person who weighs maybe a hundred eighty pounds takes advantage of someone who weighs perhaps forty pounds to act out his/her anger or frustration or drunkenness. Imagine that you are facing a seven hundred pound sumo wrestler... and he has just been fired.

Sex is just one more way of taking advantage. Many sexual abusers offend against boys and girls alike, because it is not a matter of being attracted to boys or to girls but of being attracted to anyone smaller, weaker. Quite often, the child can understand the issue of power even though he or she is too young to understand what sex is about. That sense of powerlessness stays with survivors of childhood sexual abuse long after the abuse ends.

Myth 5 - Incest is not as bad as other sexual abuse since the child at least recognizes, knows, and perhaps loves the adult.

That the child knows and loves the adult makes incest the worst abuse of all. If you are being abused by your father, stepfather, uncle, or grandfather—or your mother, stepmother, aunt, or grandmother—then you are being abused by someone who should be there to protect you from abuse. The people you should trust violate that trust, and you may never be able to trust anyone again.

Myth 6 - ...

The final myth is so awful, so dangerous that I am not going to call it a myth anymore. It is a lie, purely and simply, a lie. This lie is that the child somehow wants, asks for, or brings about the sexual abuse. I have friends whose abuse began before they started to school.

If you do not remember anything else from this aticle, remember this: The child is not responsible for the sexual abuse. The child is not and cannot be responsible for the sexual abuse. The child is not and is never under any circumstances responsible for the sexual abuse. And, in case there is any doubt, any sexual contact between an adult and a child is abuse.

Now that we've gone through five myths and a lie about childhood sexual abuse, I want to review them, but this time, I want to tell you the six corresponding truths about childhood sexual abuse:

Truth 1 - Childhood sexual abuse occurs in all groups.

Yes, even in your group.

Truth 2 - Not all sexual abusers are men.

Nor are all victims girls.

Truth 3 - Alcohol and other drugs are not necessarily a part of childhood sexual abuse.

They certainly are not an excuse.

Truth 4 - Childhood sexual abuse is a form of child abuse.

It is about power, not about sexual attraction.

Truth 5 - Incest is the worst kind of childhood sexual abuse.

That is, if we can say that one form is worse than another.

Truth 6 - The child is not responsible for the sexual abuse.

Take a minute to say that last one aloud: The child is not responsible... for the sexual abuse....


I asked you about people wearing braces because... the number of children who wear braces is less than the number of children who are sexually abused.