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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:39 pm 
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US presses UN council to confront sex abuse by peacekeepers
By EDITH M. LEDERER
March 4, 2016

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United States is pressing the U.N. Security Council for the first time to confront the escalating problem of sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers, which has undermined the organization's credibility.

The United States is the biggest financial contributor to U.N. peacekeeping operations, and U.S. officials said Friday the Obama administration wants the council to send a strong signal that it will not tolerate sexual crimes by troops and police sent to protect vulnerable civilians, especially children. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said in a statement the U.S. has always urged the Secretary-General to take action on sexual abuse and would further press individual countries to take action when their personnel are involved. "The United States has expanded our outreach to troop and police contributing countries to press for immediate and necessary actions to complement the UN's efforts to bolster justice and accountability measures for perpetrators of (sexual exploitation and abuse)," the statement reads.

The council resolution drafted by the U.S. is a response to a new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon detailing the 69 allegations in 2015 which for the first time named the countries of alleged perpetrators. "I am ashamed to call myself a peacekeeper when I think of some of these cases," Undersecretary-General Atul Khare told reporters Friday. "Anyone serving under the U.N. flag and preying on the vulnerable is truly an abomination."

Of the allegations in 2015, 23 allegations involved sexual activity with minors. The U.N. has over 100,000 peacekeepers serving in some of the world's most volatile and poverty-stricken areas.

The report identified the peacekeepers accused of abuse as coming from Congo, South Africa, Morocco, Tanzania, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Benin, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Slovakia, Niger, Moldova and Togo. Over half of the allegations were made in two of the U.N.'s 16 missions: 22 against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and 16 in Congo.

The mission in the Central African Republic, or CAR, has made headlines for months with reports of peacekeepers in the impoverished country trading sex for money and sexually abusing minors. The U.N. already has begun acting on its vow to repatriate troops over alleged abuses, recently sending home military units from Congo and the Republic of Congo from CAR. Often no one is punished because peacekeepers come under the legal jurisdiction of their home countries. "We have no authority to prosecute," Khare said.

The secretary-general called for on-site court-martials of alleged perpetrators and DNA testing to identify them. He urged U.N. member states to update their national laws to ensure they apply to sex crimes committed by their citizens serving in U.N. peace operations.

The proposed Security Council resolution would endorse the secretary-general's decision to repatriate U.N. troops or police if there is a pattern of exploitation and abuse by their unit, U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations have been private. The resolution would also ask the secretary-general to replace peacekeeping units if the country that sent them doesn't follow up on allegations, the U.S. officials said. Countries contributing troops to U.N. peacekeeping operations are sensitive about interference from the United Nations, so it's unclear whether the council will approve the proposed resolution.

Associated Press writers Dave Bryan at the United Nations and Cara Anna in New York contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:03 pm 
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Indictment: Ex-Missouri deputy sexually abused women
By JIM SALTER
March 4, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A former eastern Missouri sheriff's deputy already facing state sex crime charges is now accused in a federal indictment of sexually abusing four women and enticing a minor into prostitution.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in St. Louis on Friday announced the indictment against Marty Rainey, 52, of Sullivan. He could face up to life in prison if convicted. Attempts to reach Rainey for comment were unsuccessful; his phone number is unlisted and records indicate he does not have an attorney. Rainey was charged last year in state court with several sex crimes related to the same investigation. A lawsuit filed by one woman alleges she was drugged and sexually assaulted by Rainey, who had sent her sexually suggestive texts after she called asking about a protective order against her estranged husband.

Rainey was a deputy in Gasconade County but also worked at two small police departments, in Hermann and Rosebud. The indictment alleges that between June 2010 and March 2012, he committed aggravated sexual abuse involving four women while serving in his capacity as a law enforcement officer. The indictment accuses Rainey of enticing a minor under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution in August 2012.

Gasconade County Sheriff Randy Esphorst and Rosebud's police chief were out of the office Friday and unavailable for comment, according to their offices. A message left with the Hermann police chief seeking comment about the allegations also was not immediately returned.

Rainey was charged in January 2015 with several crimes, including acceding to corruption by a public servant, sexual assault, statutory rape and use of a child in a sexual performance. He has pleaded not guilty in the case, though no trial date has been set. His attorney in the state case withdrew as his defense counsel last month; messages left with that attorney were not returned.

The investigation began when a woman told Gasconade County sheriff's investigators that she had sexual relations with Rainey and another man, and Rainey resigned in November 2012. The following year, the sheriff's office received additional complaints from other women who alleged they were sexually abused by Rainey. The investigation widened to include the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI.

The lawsuit filed by one of the woman alleges that Rainey's pursuit of her began in July 2012, when she called the sheriff's office to ask whether a protective order had been served on her estranged husband. Rainey obtained the woman's personal contact information from the call, and over the next few weeks, he called her 87 times and sent 1,288 texts - many of them sexually explicit. The lawsuit alleges that Rainey picked her up in his patrol car in August 2012, and took her to an Owensville motel where he sexually assaulted her after secretly drugging a drink.

In a yearlong investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement published last year, the Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sex crimes. However, that number is an undercount because it represents only those officers whose licenses to work in law enforcement were revoked, and not all states take such action. In January, former Oklahoma City officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping and sexually victimizing women on his beat.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2016 2:58 pm 
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Rampaging South Sudan troops raped foreigners, killed local
15 August 2016

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- The soldier pointed his AK-47 at the female aid worker and gave her a choice. "Either you have sex with me, or we make every man here rape you and then we shoot you in the head," she remembers him saying.

She didn't really have a choice: By the end of the evening, she had been raped by 15 South Sudanese soldiers.

On July 11, South Sudanese troops, fresh from winning a battle in the capital, Juba, over opposition forces, went on a nearly four-hour rampage through a residential compound popular with foreigners, in one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in South Sudan's three-year civil war. They shot dead a local journalist while forcing the foreigners to watch, raped several foreign women, singled out Americans, beat and robbed people and carried out mock executions, several witnesses told the Associated Press.

For hours throughout the assault, the U.N. peacekeeping force stationed less than a mile away refused to respond to desperate calls for help. Neither did embassies, including the U.S. Embassy. The Associated Press interviewed by phone eight survivors, both male and female, including three who said they were raped. The other five said they were beaten; one was shot. Most insisted on anonymity for their safety or to protect their organizations still operating in South Sudan.

The accounts highlight, in raw detail, the failure of the U.N. peacekeeping force to uphold its core mandate of protecting civilians, notably those just a few minutes' drive away. The Associated Press previously reported that U.N. peacekeepers in Juba did not stop the rapes of local women by soldiers outside the U.N.'s main camp last month.

The attack on the Terrain hotel complex shows the hostility toward foreigners and aid workers by troops under the command of South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, who has been fighting supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar since civil war erupted in December 2013. Army spokesman Lul Ruai did not deny the attack at the Terrain but said it was premature to conclude the army was responsible. "Everyone is armed, and everyone has access to uniforms," he said. A report on the incident compiled by the Terrain's owner at Ruai's request, seen by the AP, alleges the rapes of at least five women, torture, mock executions, beatings and looting.

The attack came just as people in Juba were thinking the worst was over. Three days earlier, gunfire erupted outside the presidential compound between armed supporters of the two sides, at the time pushed together under an uneasy peace deal. The violence quickly spread. By Monday, as both sides prepared to call for a cease-fire, some at the Terrain started to relax.

And then the soldiers arrived. A Terrain staffer from Uganda said he saw between 80 and 100 men invade the compound after breaking open the gate. "They were very excited, very drunk, under the influence of something, almost a mad state, walking around shooting off rounds inside the rooms," one American said.

For about an hour, soldiers beat the American and fired bullets at his feet and close to his head. Eventually, he was told to leave. He made his way to the nearby U.N. compound and appealed for help.

Meanwhile, soldiers were breaking into a two-story apartment block in the Terrain which had been deemed a safe house because of a heavy metal door guarding the apartments upstairs. The soldiers then sexually assaulted women and shot through the door of a bathroom where several people were hiding, said Jesse Bunch, an American contractor who was hit in the leg. "We kill you! We kill you!" the soldiers shouted, according to a Western woman in the bathroom. "They would shoot up at the ceiling and say, 'Do you want to die?' and we had to answer 'No!'"

The soldiers found John Gatluak, a South Sudanese journalist. The tribal scars on his forehead made it obvious he was Nuer, the same as opposition leader, Machar. The soldiers then forced the foreigners to stand in a semi-circle, said Gian Libot, a Philippines citizen. One soldier ranted against foreigners. "He definitely had pronounced hatred against America," Libot said, recalling the soldier's words: "You messed up this country. You're helping the rebels."

Then Gatluak was hauled in front of the group. One soldier shouted "Nuer," and another soldier shot him dead.

Source: Yahoo! AP

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 3:17 pm 
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Moscow criminal police set up underage gay brothel, blackmailed rich customers
30 September 2016

MOSCOW -- Three serving policemen, including Andrei Lomakin, the head of a regional Moscow criminal police force, are among eight people arrested for involvement in operating a gay brothel with children serving paedophiles.

Two former policemen are also among those arrested. All the arrested men were involved in running the underage brothel, which was also used for blackmailing customers. The Russian state news agency Tass reported on Friday that the child prostitutes were told to report to their masters if their customers appeared to be wealthy. The customers were then blackmailed by the police, who demanded money in exchange for not pressing criminal charges for involvement in underage prostitution.

Source: Tass

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:33 am 
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Italian priest, army officer arrested for sexual assault
21 October 2016

Palermo, Italy (ANSA) - Italian police on Friday arrested a Catholic priest and an Army officer on sexual assault charges.

Father Salvatore Anello, known in Palermo as an exorcist and a healer, is accused of fondling two women and three underage girls when they turned to him for help. Colonel Salvatore Muratore, 52, is accused of sexually assaulting four women and one underage girl.

The officer co-founded a group called the Renewal of the Holy Spirit, and went to people's homes along with the priest to allegedly free them from demonic possession and conduct "healing prayers". When the victims protested at the abuse, the colonel reportedly replied, "I'm invoking the demon of lust in order to liberate you".

Exorcism from the devil is a permitted rite in the Catholic Church, but it must be authorized by higher-ups. Anello was not recognized as an exorcist by his diocesis, sources said.

Source: ANSA

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:15 pm 
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Air Force officer's sexual assault sentence called lenient
February 26, 2017

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- An Air Force noncommissioned officer convicted of misconduct with eight women, including three who accused him of sexually assaulting them, was sentenced to three months confinement and another month of hard labor, a punishment a victims' rights advocate called "shockingly light."

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Lizana, 35, also was reduced in rank to airman first class and was given a dishonorable discharge Saturday night at his trial at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

The San Antonio Express-News reports the jury of two officers and five senior noncommissioned officers could have sentenced Lizana to nearly 38 years in prison for his conviction on four charges and eight specifications of misconduct that included dereliction, adultery, assault consummated by battery and sexual assault. Military prosecutors originally lodged seven charges and 17 specifications of misconduct against him. Conviction on all those charges could have resulted in more than 87 years in prison. Lizana's attorneys presented no witnesses in his defense.

Women testifying against him accused Lizana, in the Air Force for 15 years and a married father of two young children, of unwanted sexual misconduct. The most serious charges involved sexual assaults against three women. He was convicted on only one of the specifications, for touching a senior airman's crotch in 2015 without her consent. He was drunk at the time, according to prosecutors.

In testimony, another airman said she was disturbed when Lizana twice bear-hugged her at a surprise off-base birthday party for her and hinted that he bought a sex toy as her birthday present. Testimony also showed two women said they had affairs with him and weren't aware at first that he was married and a father. "The person I was 16 months ago is not the person who stands before you today," Lizana told jurors in a statement that asked for mercy. The statement also referred to his alcoholic parents, an older brother in prison for murder and his own time as a heavy drinker.

Lizana's civilian attorney, Tom Fleener, told jurors a dishonorable discharge "has a lasting effect forever" and was enough punishment. Prosecutors asked for nine years and reduction to the lowest rank. "I think it reflects that there is a massive need for reforming the way we do sentencing in the military," Don Christensen, a former Air Force judge and president of Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy group for military sexual assault survivors, told the newspaper. "I would say this is more the norm than the exception that we get shockingly light sentences for serious misconduct in the military. It reflects the military's inability to take sexual misconduct that strikes at the heart of good order and discipline seriously."

Lizana worked in a medical supply warehouse at Lackland and was accused of giving shoulder massages, hugging and kissing young, lower-ranking women and three sexual assaults. The senior prosecutor, Capt. Bradley Palmer, said most of the victims were first-term airmen out of high school and were inexperienced, vulnerable and uncertain how to handle some situations.

Palmer said their first job out of technical training school was the Lackland warehouse where Lizana was "the guy in charge, the guy who is supposed to be the adult in the room, creates the environment." The dereliction in performing his duties with three women occurred from Sept. 1, 2014, to Dec. 1, 2015. He also was convicted of kissing an airman on her forehead in 2014 and 2015.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:21 am 
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Sexual assault reports up at several military academies
By Lolita C. Baldor
March 15, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Reports of sexual assaults increased at two of the three military academies last year and an anonymous survey suggests sexual misconduct rose across the board at the schools, the Associated Press has learned.

The new data underscore the challenge in stemming bad behavior by young people at the military college campuses, despite a slew of programs designed to prevent assaults, help victims and encourage them to come forward. The difficulties in some ways mirror those the larger military is struggling with amid revelations about Marines and other service members sharing nude photos on websites.

Assault reports rose at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, while dropping at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. The Air Force decline was sharp, going to 32 last year from 49 in 2015, contributing to an overall decrease in the overall number of reported assaults at the academies. The total reported cases fell to 86 from 91 in 2015, according to details obtained by the AP.

Pentagon and military officials believe more people are reporting sexual assaults, which they see as a positive trend because it suggests students have more confidence in the system and greater willingness to seek help.

But the anonymous survey results suggest more assaults and crime occurring. They showed more than 12 percent of women and nearly 2 percent of men saying they experienced unwanted sexual contact.

In that survey, the largest increases in sexual misconduct were also at the Navy and Army academies. A vast majority of students said they didn’t file a report on the assault because they didn’t consider it serious enough. Many women said they took steps to avoid the perpetrator, while more than a third of the men said they confronted the person.

Senior defense officials expressed disappointment. They were particularly concerned that more men and women said they experienced unwanted sexual contact. The rate two years ago was about 8 percent of women and 1 percent of men.

“This is almost a new population of folks every four years and that makes it a little bit more difficult for the messages to build up and gather momentum,” said Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office.

Officials struggled to identify a reason. They said some blame may fall on student leaders and how much they are willing to emphasize and enforce sexual assault prevention programs among peers.

“Unless the students have a bit of accountability on their own, unless they take the charge themselves, (senior) leadership can really only take them so far,” said Elizabeth Van Winkle, who is currently the assistant defense secretary for readiness. “If the students aren’t taking the charge themselves, you won’t make as much headway in this population.”

Galbreath said sexual assault prevention instruction may be getting lost amid the many messages about social behavior, including not drinking and driving, or texting and driving.

The Pentagon, he said, is encouraging the academies to increase the amount of time they spend talking about how future leaders must foster a climate of dignity and respect. He said students should know that enforcing good conduct is something they will need to do as officers when they graduate and lead troops in combat.

In recent months, military leaders have met to try and find what Galbreath called the “holy grail of prevention.”

One example, he said, would involving taking more to the students about when and how to intervene when they see a bad situation developing. Such scenarios include when they are in a bar drinking or in a workplace in which a boss is the problem.

“What we want those folks to do at the academies is to find those things that seem to really be hallmark situations and help people be better scouts and identify those precursors earlier and also give them a wider range of things that they might be able to do to intervene,” Galbreath said.

Galbreath and Van Winkle said drinking remains a major concern, factoring in about 60 percent of incidents women cite and nearly half of those men cite. They said the academies have been putting alcohol programs in place, including some that require students to take a class before turning 21.

Sexual harassment reports filed by students dropped at all three academies.

The overall total fell to 10 last year from 28 in 2015. The anonymous survey showed roughly half of the women and slightly more than 10 percent of men saying they were sexually harassed, near the same level as the previous survey. The surveys are conducted every two years.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:58 am 
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Rape, abuse, death of girls at Guatemala home burned by fire
By ALBERTO ARCE and SONIA PEREZ D.
22 March 2017

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- When firefighters entered the home for troubled youth, they discovered more than two dozen girls on the floor of a locked room, most of them dead.

A moan rose from one of the bodies, piled on top of each other. When firefighter Danial Perpuac turned the girl over, flames came out of her mouth - she was burning up inside.

"That is something you cannot forget," Perpuac said helplessly. "I know I will have the smell of grilled meat and hair in my nose and throat for life."

The fire on March 8 that killed 40 girls at the Virgen de la Asunciуn Safe Home started when ringleaders took a match to a foam mattress to protest the abuse they had suffered there. Their hell at the government-run shelter began long before the inferno, as documented in several warnings from four different agencies. At least two orders for closure were ignored.

The Virgen de la Asunciуn home is on a hill 14 miles east of Guatemala City. The shelter, protected by high walls and barbed wire, is surrounded by an idyllic pine forest covered with mist every morning. The forest and ravines have offered hiding places for more than 100 children who have escaped what they consider a jail.

About 700 children - nobody knew exactly how many - lived in a home with a maximum capacity for 500. Some dormitories housed more than twice the number of children authorized for the space.

The majority had committed no crime. They were youths sent there by the courts for various reasons - they had run away from home, they were left in the streets, they were abused, they were young migrants. Most came from families so poor they could not afford the $50 in lawyers' fees to get their children out.

Once inside, the children lost out on schooling. Because of a lack of funds, their education was limited to six hours per week in classrooms with up to 80 students.

The abuse at Virgen de la Asunciуn was no secret, and the courts had intervened before. Teacher Edgar Rolando Diйguez Ispache has been in prison since 2013 and is on trial for alleged rape. Another employee, mason Josй Roberto Arias Pйrez, has been in prison since 2014 for raping a mentally disabled girl. He was sentenced to eight years.

Several reports criticizing the shelter were put out by the country's attorney general and the National Adoption System in 2015 and 2016. One recommended the gradual closure of the facility, and another its immediate closure.

Despite the complaints and the reports, the abuse continued.

The story of one girl who escaped the shelter on Oct. 30, after six weeks inside, was told in a case file seen by The Associated Press. The girl, 16, is not named because she is an alleged victim of rape.

She fled from her own house in August to escape the extortion demands by a gang that had been threatening her with rape for a year. On Aug. 13, she told her mother she had had found a job and would be home late. Instead, she ran away to protect herself and her family.

"She hugged me tight that day, tighter than normal," her mother said.

The mother reported her missing daughter to police. On Aug. 22, they located the girl, and a youth court sent her to Virgen de la Asunciуn. Officials separated mother and daughter as they cried.

"Mama, get me out of here," the girl begged, according to her mother.

The shelter did not have a procedure for visits, and they did not see each other for a month. By the time of a hearing on Sept. 13, the girl had been beaten, forced to get a tattoo with the name of a female staffer, and repeatedly raped, her mother said.

The first time, the female staff called her in for a physical exam and sedated her. She woke up and her whole body hurt, and she realized what they had done, according to the case file.

Several days later, they took her to the same place. This time, she was awake and tied to a gurney. The young man who raped her had his face covered.

The third time, it was several men, she said. They raped her and beat her.

A little more than two months after she was sent to the shelter, the daughter escaped along with three others. The girl was afraid to return home because that could mean being sent back to the shelter, but she contacted her brother. The family contacted their lawyer, who filed a motion for habeas corpus.

The lawyer managed to return the girl to her mother, but she didn't reveal all that had happened to her until after the fire. At that point, she said she wanted to testify against her abusers.

On Nov. 11, the state attorney requested that the center be closed. He asked that areas known as "the cage" and "the chicken coop" be closed within 48 hours. Both facilities looked like punishment cells, with metal doors and no windows.

Also in November, a state human rights prosecutor filed a complaint with the Inter American Human Rights Commission charging rampant abuses. The accusations included charges as serious as "forced recruitment for human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution."

There were complaints about sexual abuse by male residents against female residents, including some under 13. One girl was killed in 2013, hanged with a scarf by two other girls.

On Dec. 12, the Sixth Court of Children and Adolescents of the Metropolitan Area condemned the state of Guatemala for violations committed against the rights of minors guarded in the home. It also gave 48 hours to clarify the legal situation of a number of minors inside the home.

Nothing happened.

The secretary of social welfare, Carlos Rodas, who was responsible for the home, appealed the judicial decision. Rodas, who has since been arrested, has denied negligence and refused to resign. He blamed the girls' mutiny on them not liking the food, and said they had sharp weapons hidden in their hair.

"The problem is that judges mix children who have committed crimes with children abandoned by their families," he said. "We ask the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate but we do not directly blame anyone."

On March 7, about 60 girls escaped from the shelter, as some had done on several occasions before. They rebelled because shelter staff had tried to beat them, said a 14-year-old survivor who had been there three months.

The girl, whose family did not want her name used out of fear for her safety, said she was not raped but officials took away her food. The girls also were made to wake up at 3 a.m. to bathe in cold water, she said.

So the girls jumped from the roof of the facility to the wall, and from there into the trees.

Riot police caught them and returned them to the shelter by force. The police sprayed pepper gas in their mouths and eyes, hit them with batons and kicked them, the 14-year-old told the AP. Police did not comment on the case because of a judicial order that prohibits discussion.

The angry teens waited outside the shelter for hours. They started throwing things at the police. Girls complained that they were abused, attacked and beaten.

The escapees eventually were brought in and locked in a 500-square-foot classroom as punishment. It is as yet unclear who locked them in and who held the key.

By 7:30 the next morning, they had been held for about six hours. They were not let out even to use the bathroom, the girl said.

Four girls who were ringleaders at the home had managed to get matches to smoke cigarettes during their brief escape. In an attempt to protest the lockup and force somebody to open the doors, they set fire to a mattress propped against a window.

The foam stuffing was already coming out of the mattresses because girls used it to fashion pads for menstruation when they didn't have anything else. The burning mattress fell onto other mattresses, and the flames quickly spread.

Locked into the room, the girls shouted, "Help me! Help me!" the 14-year-old said.

Nobody did.

"I saw how they burned, how they screamed, how they died," she said.

She fainted. When she came to, somebody had finally opened the door. She ran out, and the staff doused the girls with water until ambulances arrived.

The girl suffered burns on both arms, a shoulder and part of her face. For many, it was too late. By 9 a.m., 19 of the girls were dead, burned and asphyxiated. Twenty-one more between the ages of 13 and 17 would die at local hospitals over the next few days.

Kimberly Palencia Ortiz was one of the dead. The 17-year-old had been a ward of the state for nearly a year. Her father was in prison, her mother had disappeared, and her grandmother did not have the means to take care of her.

"It is an injustice," Valeria Yojero said tearfully at her granddaughter's burial. "Nobody should die for being poor."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:53 pm 
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Investigators in photo-sharing scandal face a grueling task
By LOLITA C. BALDOR
May 5, 2017

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (AP) -- In a cramped office at the Marines' Quantico base outside Washington, about 20 investigators sit elbow to elbow, staring into their computers as images of naked men and women flash across the screens.

On the walls are white boards with statistics, crime lists and a montage of social media messages directed to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The objective of this disturbing sleuth work: Rooting out the extent of a nude photo-sharing scandal that has rocked the Corps, embarrassed its leaders and spread to other military services. And the sheer scope of the job is daunting.

"If you do that eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week, you get pretty burned out," NCIS Director Andrew Traver said in an interview. New agents cycled in after the first month, he said, "just because of the burnout factor, especially the ones that are doing the image review."

This is Task Force Purple Harbor. What began as a response to military members posting nude photos online has morphed into a growing criminal investigation that now includes 21 felony cases and more than 30 others referred to Marine commanders for possible administrative action. Five Marines have received administrative punishments so far, but no details have been provided.

For the investigators, men and women, it is a broad and grueling process. Agents from all four services and the Coast Guard have scoured close to 200 different websites. They've pulled more than 150,000 nude or semi-nude images. They've identified 20,000 with a possible military connection. More than half are of men.

The overwhelming majority are selfies or photos subjects posed for and then voluntarily shared, which is not illegal even under military code. That leaves just a small number of people who could potentially be prosecuted for crimes such as extortion and stealing or hacking into someone's computer hard drive.

More than a dozen military members - mostly women - have asked the task force for help. They want to know if any of their intimate photographs ended up on the largely private websites without their consent. In four cases, facial recognition software has helped identify victims. One woman confirmed an image was of her. The other three are still checking.

It's the kind of investigation that could go on forever. A simple word search of "uniformed military nude" got nearly 80 million hits, Traver told the Associated Press during the interview in his Quantico office. And the anonymity of the internet makes it difficult to identify either suspects and victims.

"People that are posting and reposting, generally are not posting under their real name and some people are posting under multiple identities," said Traver. "It's very difficult for us to find the origin, to find the person that started the whole chain."

In the computer room, agents stare into their computer screens for hours a day. Tucked between the keyboards are cups, scattered papers, Fig Newtons, a cereal box.

The investigators are reviewing seemingly endless images to ferret out those they can link to the military and that appear to have been posted without permission.

It's a moving target. Site hosts shut pages down and open new ones, often within a day or two. The websites are usually private and require an invitation, which is vetted by hosts demanding a "tax." The tax, or entry requirement, is usually a naked photo, said Curtis Evans, chief of the NCIS criminal operations division. "As law enforcement, we can't do that, and they know it," Evans said.

He described some of the internet memes online that taunt the investigators. One is a gorilla wearing an NCIS hat with a sign saying "add me." Others mimic Facebook pages, saying they are open to "Friends and NCIS" or "Only Media and NCIS."

When an investigator does secure an invitation into a closed website, Traver added, "we don't last long." When the hosts see that someone isn't posting photos or making comments, the person is kicked out.

Still, investigators have made headway. They've opened 21 criminal cases. Sixteen suspects have been identified: nine active duty Marines, two Marine reservists, three Navy sailors, one Navy reservist and a civilian. Suspected crimes include extortion, stalking, threats and theft of photos.

NCIS' cyber experts are providing help sorting through the massive reams of data. They've developed new tools and software to analyze photos more quickly. All the data on a website can be stripped and each photo reviewed to determine if it includes a military uniform, a male or female, signs of consent. A process that once took 40 seconds now takes only five to 10.

Perpetrators are getting quicker, too. The task force has seen cases when someone has posted a photo online of a military member in uniform, snapped perhaps in the chow hall or on base, and then asked for naked images of that person. Traver said it sometimes takes only an hour-and-a-half for someone else to post a naked or semi-nude photo in response.

After two months, Traver said, the investigation has slowed. They're now working more on individual cases than on the initial internet photo search. "Now that we're sensitized to this, this will become another aspect of that type of work that we do in cyberspace," Traver said. "It's another realm that we hadn't really seen before."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:45 pm 
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UK police used helicopter to film sex, nudists
18 July 2017

LONDON (AP) -- Prosecutors say a British police helicopter crew filmed people having sex and sunbathing naked.

The police are accused of using the aircraft's powerful video camera to film members of the public. Prosecutor Richard Wright said Tuesday the filming was a "gross violation" of the victims' privacy. He said the public has a right to hope that police helicopters are being used to keep communities safe, not to film sex acts from the air.

The case against five men in Sheffield Crown Court relies in part on a graphic, eight-minute film consisting of footage from the South Yorkshire Police helicopter. One police officer, 50-year-old Adrian Pogmore, has pleaded guilty to misconduct. Four other men deny the charges. Prosecutors say the couple filmed having sex were friends of Pogmore.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:02 am 
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UK ex-police officer jailed for filming sex from chopper
8 August 2017

LONDON (AP) -- A British ex-police officer has been given a year in jail for using a helicopter to film people having sex.

Judge Peter Kelson sentenced Adrian Pogmore at Sheffield Crown Court for using the South Yorkshire Police helicopter to capture graphic scenes of sex and sunbathing. Kelson told Pogmore "You, quite literally, considered yourself above the law."

Pogmore admitted four counts of misconduct in a public office last month. He was fired by the police. Two other officers were acquitted in the case after testifying they had no idea what Pogmore was doing with the high-powered camera on the aircraft.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:32 am 
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New rape claims against UN peacekeepers in Central Africa
11 October 2017

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic are accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl, the United Nations said Wednesday, the latest in a spate of rape claims that have hit the UN mission.

The minor was taken to hospital after being allegedly assaulted on September 30 in the southern town of Bambari, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. The UN said the girl was 16 years old, but Amnesty International, which interviewed her, said she was 19.

News of the allegation came as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is preparing to meet victims of sex abuse by UN peacekeepers when he visits the Central African Republic later this month. It will be the UN chief's first visit to the poor African country struggling with sectarian violence since the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize.

The United Nations has notified the country that sent the peacekeepers involved of the rape allegations and has requested that the government investigate, Dujarric said. The country was not named, but UN sources said it was Mauritania. Under UN rules, it is up to the country contributing troops to a peacekeeping mission to investigate and prosecute criminal cases.

Amnesty International said the victim told them that she had been drugged by the peacekeepers. They had given her tea when she approached them at a Bambari checkpoint after she became ill. "She said she passed out not long after she drank the tea, and woke up on the ground nearby, several hours later, nearly nude," an Amnesty statement read.

Guterres has made combating sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers a priority since taking over from Ban Ki-moon nine months ago. The 12,000-strong MINUSCA force has been plagued by a wave of sexual abuse allegations since the mission to help restore stability to the country began in 2014. In June, about 600 troops from Congo Republic who were serving in MINUSCA returned home following several allegations of sex abuse and other misconduct.

UN critics in the United States -- many of whom are in the US Congress -- point to the mounting cases of misconduct by UN peacekeepers to support their campaign to cut funding to peacekeeping.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:57 pm 
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Men report rape, branding and torture by Sri Lankan forces
By PAISLEY DODDS
8 November 2017

LONDON (AP) -- He was barely a teenager when Sri Lanka's civil war ended, spared by youth from witnessing its horrors. But last year, the brutal conflict caught up with Witness #205.

Raped, branded and beaten, he is one of more than 50 men who say they were abducted and tortured under Sri Lanka's current government. The men's previously unpublished accounts conjure images of the bloody civil war that ended in 2009.

The men agreed to tell their stories to the Associated Press and to have the extensive scars on their legs, chests and backs photographed in July and August. The AP reviewed 30 medical and psychological evaluations and conducted interviews with 20 men. The strangers said they were accused of trying to revive the Tamil Tiger rebel group and tortured between early 2016 to as recently as July of this year.

Sri Lankan authorities deny the allegations. "The army was not involved - and as for that matter - I'm sure that police also were not involved," Sri Lanka army commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake told the AP in an interview last week in Colombo. "There's no reason for us to do that now." The Sri Lankan government minister in charge of the police agreed to an interview with the AP last month but did not follow through. Sri Lanka's current government was elected in 2015. Many had hoped the new leadership would bring long-promised reforms.

Piers Pigou, a South African human rights investigator, said he has not seen torture of this scale in his 40-year career. "The levels of sexual abuse being perpetuated in Sri Lanka by authorities are the most egregious and perverted that I've ever seen."

Sri Lanka has so far failed to investigate war crimes allegations stemming from its 26-year civil war. At the end of August, human rights groups in South America filed lawsuits against Sri Lanka's ambassador to Brazil, a former general accused of overseeing military units that attacked hospitals and tortured thousands at the end of the war. Upon his return, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said neither the former general nor other "war heroes" would be touched - a pledge that drew criticism from human rights groups.

Nevertheless, Sri Lanka's international profile is on the rise. In May, the European Union restored the special trade status that Sri Lanka lost in 2010 after failing to implement key international conventions. The country also participates in U.N. peacekeeping missions. Recently, the Indian Ocean nation was asked to sit on a U.N. leadership committee trying to combat sexual abuse, despite the fact that an AP investigation earlier this year found that 134 Sri Lankan peacekeepers participated in a child sex ring in Haiti that persisted for three years - and no one was ever prosecuted.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, a top U.N. diplomat who has pushed for accountability in Sri Lanka, was aghast at the AP's report on the men's torture. "While the U.N. is unable to confirm this until we mount an investigation, clearly the reports are horrifying and merit a much closer inspection from our part, especially if they occurred in 2016 and 2017," said Zeid, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

The International Truth and Justice Project, an advocacy group administered by the Foundation for Human Rights, has gathered testimony from more than 60 Sri Lankans across Europe - 52 of whom were part of the AP's investigation. The group has been lobbying governments and international organizations to get justice for victims.

Most of the men say they were sexually abused or raped, sometimes with sticks wrapped in barbed wire. Witness #205 said he was held for 21 days in a small room where he was raped 12 times, burned with cigarettes, beaten with iron rods and hung upside- down. Another man described being abducted from home by five men, driven to a prison, and taken to a "torture room" equipped with ropes, iron rods, a bench and buckets of water. Blood stained the walls.

A third said prisoners had grown accustomed to the sound of screaming. "It made us really scared the first day but then we got used to it because we heard screaming all the time."

Despite the shame of the sexual abuse, the men said they felt obligated to tell their stories. "I want the world to know what is happening in Sri Lanka," a 22-year-old known as Witness #205 told the AP during an interview in July. "The war against Tamils hasn't stopped."

Associated Press writer Katy Daigle contributed to this report from Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Source: AP

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