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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:37 am 
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Cop allegedly raped houseguests
6 February 2015

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Was put under house arrest a year ago but allegedly continued. (foto: ANSA)

(ANSA) - Padua - An Italian police officer allegedly used the website Couchsurfing to find women houseguests whom he subsequently drugged and raped, according to a story in Friday's L'Espresso weekly newsmagazine.

The 35-year-old officer, Dino Maglio, was put under house arrest a year ago following a report by a 16-year-old Australian girl who claimed she had been raped by Maglio after drinking wine that he offered her during her stay at his home while travelling with her mother and sister. Investigators said Maglio continued his alleged abuse despite being under house arrest, and after subsequent accusers came forward, he was put in jail.

The Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI) said fourteen other women claiming to be victims of Maglio have since come forward to tell their stories, and six of them have filed formal complaints with the Padua prosecutor's office. The women claimed that after drinking some of the "special wine" that Maglio offered them, they were sexually abused.

Maglio initially said the sex was consensual, but during a search of his home investigators found 40 tablets of a strong sedative drug, which they say Maglio later admitted he used on the 16-year-old Australian girl.

Source: ANSA.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:46 pm 
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Sex assault, drinking push colleges to moment of reckoning
By HOLLY RAMER
March 22, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- On college campuses nationwide, the intertwined problems of sexual assault and alcohol are under intense scrutiny as students increasingly speak up and the federal government cracks down. Pushed to a collective moment of reckoning, colleges and universities are trying a slew of solutions focused on education, environment and enforcement.

At the University of Virginia, a social network will connect female freshmen with older mentors. Brown University hopes to make it easier for women to report sexual assault. In New Hampshire, Dartmouth College has banned hard liquor and plans to take the unusual step of completely overhauling its housing system.

At Dartmouth, where a committee spent nine months researching high-risk drinking, sexual assault and a general lack of community on campus, no one solution stood out. "I was hopeful that they would find some campus that had really unlocked the secret, but what they found is that every campus is suffering from these issues and struggling with these issues," Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon said.

Even as administrators implement changes, new incidents have cropped up. A Penn State fraternity is accused of posting photos of nude women, some apparently unconscious, on a private Facebook page. The University of Wisconsin-Madison terminated a fraternity chapter last week after an investigation found it engaged in hazing that included excessive underage drinking and sexualized conduct.

At the University of Virginia, social activities at fraternities were suspended after the November publication of a Rolling Stone article describing a gang-rape at a fraternity. Though much of the article was later discredited, the school lifted the suspension only after Greek organizations agreed to new rules banning kegs, requiring security workers and ensuring at least three fraternity members are sober.

The university also is considering new courses on safety and a research institute on violence, and a group of administrators, faculty members, students and others will make recommendations next month on changing the university's culture with regard to alcohol and sexual assault.

In Rhode Island, where Brown University students recently protested the handling of a female student's drugging and sexual assault allegations, a task force on sexual assault is expected to release its final report this month. The university has begun implementing some recommendations made in December, including handling complaints more quickly and reducing the "traumatic nature" of the process.

Dartmouth last year overhauled its policies to include harsher sanctions for sexual assault and it is developing a four-year, mandatory sexual violence prevention program. On the fraternity front, it plans to require all student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, to undergo annual reviews to ensure they are being inclusive and diversifying their membership.

But going further, Dartmouth is literally changing how students live. Starting with the class of 2019, each incoming student will be assigned to one of six "house communities" - a cluster of residence halls that will serve as a home base for social and academic programs. Each community will have a professor in residence and dedicated space for academic and social interaction. In recommending the house system, Hanlon's committee faulted the school for failing to invest in residential life over the years and creating a void that was largely filled by the Greek system.

Dartmouth joins a small but growing number of U.S. colleges and universities that have embraced the "residential college" model, which typically involves small, faculty-led communities that include students from various years and backgrounds. The concept goes back centuries in England, but only about 30 U.S. schools have at least one residential college, the vast majority of them created for reasons unrelated to the challenges that led to Dartmouth's decision.

Rice University in Texas, which started its residential college system in 1957, randomly assigns every student to one of 11 colleges. Mixing freshmen in with upperclassmen helps transfer traditions and standards of behavior, and having separate governing systems for each college makes them "incubators of problem-solving," said John Hutchinson, dean of undergraduates. For example, when the university wanted to tackle alcohol abuse several years ago, he said, it gathered together residential college leaders, who then strongly recommended a ban on hard alcohol.

Dartmouth's plans are largely an experiment. No one has specifically studied whether residential colleges make for safer campuses, and like Dartmouth, a handful of schools with residential college systems are under investigation by the Department of Education for how they handle sexual assault and harassment.

But administrators and students say that such systems can help schools deal with problems better. Tennessee's Vanderbilt University, where two former football players were recently convicted of raping an unconscious student in June 2013, opened 10 residential colleges for freshmen in 2008 and two more for older students last fall.

Cynthia Cyrus, provost for learning and residential affairs, said that there have been fewer reports of "extreme behaviors" from the two new colleges compared with traditional housing, and that students living in the freshmen houses and the new colleges more often have what she calls "the difficult conversations" about rape, religion and other issues.

Sophomore Vivek Shah is a resident adviser in Vanderbilt's Moore College, where two dormitories are connected by a central area that includes classrooms, conference rooms, and space for eating and studying. Thanks to his fellow residents, he has enjoyed women's soccer games, theater performances and concerts he otherwise would have skipped. "Living with students not only of both genders but different grade levels and different experiences has really shown me that there is more to campus than just what I do," he said.

At Dartmouth, nearly 90 percent of students live on campus, but many switch rooms multiple times a year and treat their residence halls like hotels, returning only to sleep and do laundry. In contrast, Rice senior Ravi Sheth says he felt at home before he even enrolled when he visited one of the residential colleges as a high school student. That sense of community was a main factor in his decision to attend the university, he said. "It gives students a lot of control," he said, "over the environment in which they live."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 3:45 am 
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Priest Who Ran Meth Ring Sentenced to 5 Years
Thursday, May 7, 2015

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A suspended Connecticut Roman Catholic priest who authorities say dealt pounds of methamphetamine and bought a sex shop intending to launder his drug money will spend another three years in prison after being sentenced on Thursday.

Around 75 people were in court on Thursday to support Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 63, dubbed "Monsignor Meth" in some media reports, and the judge called it an "unprecedented" turnout for a drug trafficking sentencing.

Wallin, who has already served 28 months in jail, was sentenced to five years and five months in prison. With time served, Wallin will be in prison for three more years, followed by five years of supervised release. "My shame remains intense. ... 'I'm sorry' does not convey the remorse I feel," Wallin said on Thursday. "The day I was arrested was a very good day."

In March, Monsignor Kevin Wallin's public defender filed a sentencing request for leniency in federal court in Hartford, citing Wallin's three decades of charitable service as well as more than 80 letters of support, including one from the late New York Cardinal Edward Egan. "I cannot ignore your decision to infect your community with methamphetamine," Judge Alfred Covello said.

In addition to the dozens of supporters, 90 letters supporting wallin were also submitted.

Wallin pleaded guilty in 2013 to a methamphetamine conspiracy charge and agreed to a potential prison sentence of 10 to 11 years, but was asking for a sentence of no more than four years in prison, followed by a year of home confinement, 500 hours of community service and drug treatment. "The record evidence demonstrates that Kevin Wallin is an extraordinary man whose remarkable character and acts have touched thousands of people," Wallin's public defender, Kelly Barrett, wrote in the sentencing request in March. "Kevin tragically became a methamphetamine addict. He fell from grace and did criminal wrong, but has confessed his crimes and has been working hard to atone for them."

Barrett wrote that Wallin's numerous accomplishments include serving as pastor of St. Peter's Parish in Danbury and the Cathedral Parish in Bridgeport, volunteering with a variety of community groups, helping found an AIDS ministry program, leading an inner city charity group, serving on the Danbury Cultural Commission and serving on the board of directors of Sacred Heart University.

Egan, who died in March, was bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000 and praised Wallin in a letter to the court. "He was outstanding in the fulfillment of his assignments and in his concern for people in need," Egan wrote. "Father Wallin was held in highest regard as a dedicated clergyman and an outstanding citizen as well."

Federal prosecutors said Wallin committed serious crimes and most people convicted of conspiring to sell meth are sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. Federal investigators said Wallin had associates in California send him methamphetamine beginning in late 2008 or early 2009. By 2011, Wallin's partners were sending him one to three pounds of meth a month and Wallin was running the drug operation out of his apartment in Waterbury, investigators said.

Wallin also bought the "Land of Oz & Dorothy's Place" adult video and sex toy shop in North Haven and apparently intended to launder drug proceeds that totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, federal agents said in court documents.

Wallin's two accomplices in California — Chad McCluskey of San Clemente and Kristen Laschober of Laguna Niguel — were both sentenced last year to five years in prison. Two men who helped Wallin sell drugs in Connecticut also were convicted. Kenneth Devries, of Waterbury, was sentenced to more than two years in prison and Michael Nelson of Manchester awaits sentencing.

Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport, previously said Wallin is still a priest, but remains suspended from public ministry. "We're asking for prayers for him, understanding and recognizing that many people ... suffer from addiction and they lose control of their lives," Wallace said. "It's time for him to try to rebuild his life."

Source: NBC.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 3:43 pm 
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Couple caught having sex outside bar
18 May 2015

Udine, Italy (ANSA) - A couple were caught having sex on a table outside a bar in front of about 20 people in the northern Italian city of Udine at around midnight Saturday.

One witness called the police who had trouble getting the pair to stop copulating, police said. The couple, aged 53 and 46, were cited for crimes against public decency and also for being drunk.

Source: ANSA

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:23 pm 
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Russian authorities threaten harsh punishment for teens accused of rape
30 September 2015

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Pixabay - Photographs and videos of the abuse were posted online by the perpetrators.

Russian authorities have pledged to harshly prosecute a group of teenagers accused of getting a 15-year-old girl drunk at a party, stripping her naked, raping her, and posting multiple photographs of the abuse online, news reports said.

Governor Andrei Turchak, of northwest Russia's Pskov region, called the case a "horrible crime that defies any explanation from the point of view of human morality," the LifeNews tabloid reported Tuesday. The girl was hospitalized with genital injuries, inflicted by "rape with extraneous objects, presumably a pen," LifeNews reported, citing an unidentified health worker.

The 15-year-old girl, identified as Viktoria E., arrived with a 13-year-old female friend at a party held by four teenage boys, who allegedly got her drunk on vodka, possibly spiked with drugs, which made her pass out, before allegedly abusing her, LifeNews reported. Photographs and videos of the abuse were posted online by the perpetrators, and the consequent bullying resulted in the victim dropping out of school, and the girl's parents reported the incident to the Investigative Committee.

The suspects, all of whom come from wealthy families, are under criminal investigation in a sexual abuse case, Turchak was quoted as saying by LifeNews. Russia's children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said the teenage perpetrators would be sent to juvenile detention centers, the Ekho Moskvy radio reported Tuesday.

Source: Moscow Times

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:13 am 
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Italian police arrest two linked to Ilaria Boemi ecstasy death
3 December 2015

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Messina, Italy (ANSA) - Sicily police on Thursday arrested a teen and a young woman in connection with the drug death of 16-year-old Ilaria Boemi.

A suspect named as Gaia Auteri, 18, and an underage girl are accused of causing Boemi's death by selling her bad ecstasy, while a third underage girl who is not under arrest has been accused of drug dealing. Boemi, a student at the Ernesto Basile Art Institute in Messina, was found dead on the city's Lungomare Ringo beach on August 10.

Police say Boemi bought the ecstasy in the village of St. Agata in the company of another 16-year-old girl and a 39-year-old man. After taking the drugs they went to the beach, where the man tried to have sex with both teens while Boemi was already feeling ill. Boemi went into convulsions, but her companions failed to call for help and the man threw her phone into the sea. He is under investigation for attempted rape and failure to assist a person in distress.

Source: ANSA

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:05 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 Jun 19, 2016 9:45 am 
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Nashville rape case echoes sex assault by Stanford swimmer
By SHEILA BURKE
June 18, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The cases are tragically similar: Student-athletes at two elite universities accused of sex crimes against unconscious women. Yet one is given six months in a county jail, while the other is facing at least 15 years in prison.

Some have questioned why 20-year-old former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who is white, received a far less severe sentence for a January 2015 assault than the one faced by former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey, 22, who is black. The differences took on added significance this week as a white former teammate of Batey's, Brandon Vandenburg, stood trial again in Nashville for his role in the dorm room assault, which took place in June 2013. Vandenburg was convicted of multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery late Saturday.

But the comparison was never so simple. The difference in punishment reflects the number of alleged perpetrators in one case, the acts committed, overwhelming evidence documenting one of the crimes, and variations in how rape is defined in Tennessee and California. "It does seem like an extreme disparity, but I would say this: With these sex crimes, the facts are very important, the details are very important, and the law punishes the conduct differently depending on what conduct can be proven," said Dmitry Gorin, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor specializing in sex crimes. "In the Stanford case, they did not prove rape."

The two cases have moved to the forefront of a national debate about sexual assaults on the nation's college campuses and the conduct of student athletes. And some critics insist the circumstances are too similar to justify the discrepancy. Misee Harris, a Los Angeles-based blogger who used to live in Tennessee and writes extensively about race issues, has been among those criticizing how the two cases were handled. She says neither punishment hit the mark. "One is just excessive and the other is just a little too lenient," Harris said.

The Stanford swimmer was convicted of sexual assault, not rape, after two students discovered him on top of an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The four former Vanderbilt students, three of whom are black, were charged with aggravated rape. Vandenburg now faces the same sentence as Batey: a minimum of 15 years in prison with no parole.

The aggravated rape charges came into play under Tennessee law because the victim was unconscious and there was more than one alleged perpetrator. Two of the Vanderbilt players were charged with aggravated rape even though they did not have sexual contact with the woman because prosecutors considered them active participants.

In the cases of both Batey and Turner, the suspects and victims say they were drunk and remember little or nothing. Legal experts say that puts added weight on physical evidence, which was far more substantial in the Vanderbilt assault. The Vanderbilt case included graphic evidence, such as cellphone videos and photos. No photo or video evidence surfaced in the case against Turner.

Another key distinction involves how the two states view the crime. Juries for both Turner and Batey found that digital penetration took place but did not conclude that sexual intercourse had occurred. Tennessee law considers digital penetration to be rape; California does not. Turner, in fact, was not even charged with rape when he went to trial in March. "They chose not to prove rape because they did not have the evidence for it, according to the records and the press reports," said Gorin, the Los Angeles attorney. "In the Tennessee case, they proved aggravated rape, and the law in the different states punishes the conduct differently."

California has minimum 15-year sentences for certain types of aggravated rape, Gorin said, but that's not what prosecutors proved in the Stanford case. The lesser charges Turner was convicted of in March carried a maximum of 14 years in prison, and prosecutors asked that he spend six years behind bars.

However, the judge did not have to adhere to a strict minimum and gave him six months instead. Tennessee law does not grant the same discretion to judges in aggravated rape cases, said Rob McKinney, a Nashville lawyer and expert in Tennessee criminal law who is familiar with the case. That means the judge in Batey's case must sentence him to at least 15 years in prison when he is sentenced in July. The same is true for Vandenburg, and the aggravated rape convictions for both carry a maximum of 25 years in prison. "That is the floor, not the ceiling," said McKinney, addressing Batey's sentence. "He's not getting out of it. He's going to go to prison."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:36 pm 
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Syracuse man who raped newlywed he met in Armory Square gets 13 years in prison
By Douglass Dowty
December 5, 2016

Syracuse, NY -- A Syracuse man who raped a woman he met in June 2015 in Armory Square will spend 13 years in prison, a judge decided today.

Aleksey Shevchenko, 40, of Van Rensselaer Street, will likely be deported back to Russia after his sentence ends. And if he remains in the United States, he will become a registered sex offender, a judge ruled today. Shevchenko was convicted of first-degree rape after a non-jury trial before County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller. The rapist had faced a sentence of anywhere from 5 to 25 years under law.

Shevchenko was found guilty by the judge of raping a drunken woman he brought home from Armory Square. The victim had recently been married and was in the process of moving in with her husband when the rape happened, she said in court. The victim said she had no recollection of going home from the nightlife district with Shevchenko. She testified the next thing she remembered after being in Al's Wine and Whiskey Lounge was waking up as Shevchenko raped her. She had ketamine, a known rape drug, in her system when tested later. Shevchenko denied spiking her drink with the drug, but had no other explanation for how it got into her system.

The victim said it was all she could do to keep the rape from ruining her life. But it did take something away from her. "Before this, people were my favorite part of life," the victim said in court today. She said she had settled in Central New York after globetrotting to more than 12 different countries. But the rape sent her on an "emotional roller-coaster" that took away her passion for people that had become a lifestyle. "It's one of the hardest and scariest things" that's ever happened, she said. Syracuse.com does not identify the victims of sex crimes. Prosecutor Michael Whalen called it a classic case of a rape involving a helpless victim. "This is everyone's worst nightmare," he said.

Shevchenko, an artist, had come to the United States as a 19-year-old and graduated from an Upstate college with a degree in theology, his lawyer, Michael Spano, said. He identified as a Russian Orthodox Christian. Shevchenko said the rape did not define him. "I wish people knew me better," he said. "I'm not the person they tried to portray me as." The rapist said his goal in life was "looking for a more meaningful existence." Now, Shevchenko acknowledged that he probably would not see his 5-year-old son again. The non-citizen will be going to prison and, if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decides, likely will then be kicked out of the country.

For his part, Shevchenko disputed the victim's account of what happened. He declined to repeat his version of events in court today, but said it has been a "really painful time, a hard time." He apologized for what happened without taking responsibility. "I was looking for justice myself," Shevchenko told the judge. "I was not looking for mercy, but I guess now I'm looking for mercy because I was found guilty."

He did send an 11-page letter to the judge. Parts of it the judge said he found troubling. Shevchenko suggested in the letter that the victim suffered no physical harm. The judge said that wasn't true -- there were bruises -- and the emotional harm went much further. Shevchenko said that the victim would swim in the attention of her compassionate friends. The judge noted that the victim wasn't swimming; she was drowning in the pain of reporting the rape, getting tested and recounting her story to authorities and, ultimately, in open court.

Miller noted that the victim herself admitted to using poor judgment that night by getting incredibly drunk -- one test put her blood-alcohol content at 0.27, or more than three times the legal limit for drivers -- but that Shevchenko took advantage of her vulnerability. "You were found guilty due to your actions," the judge concluded.

Source: Syracuse NY

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:13 pm 
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Austrian court convicts 8 Iraqi men in tourist's gang rape
By GEORGE JAHN
2 March 2017

VIENNA (AP) -- An Austrian court found eight Iraqi nationals guilty on Thursday of gang-raping a German tourist on New Year's Eve more than a year ago and sentenced them to prison terms of between nine and 13 years.

Charges against a ninth suspect were dismissed, said a court statement. The victim - a 28-year-old woman - was awarded 25,000 euros (over $26,000) in damages. Both sides were appealing the decision, the statement said.

All nine Iraqi men, who ranged in age from 22 to 48, came to Austria as migrants between May and December 2015. Five subsequently were given refugee status. The prosecution argued that the eight men convicted exploited the fact that the victim had been drinking heavily on Dec. 31, 2015 and was unable to defend herself.

Rape is punishable by a maximum 15-year prison term in Austria. Explaining the verdict and sentencing, Judge Petra Poschalko said that only two of the defendants had helped the court establish the facts and only one had confessed. The court heard testimony that four of the men took the woman to a Vienna apartment where they were joined by the others and that all took turns raping her. When the alcohol started wearing off, she found herself naked in a bed.

Defense lawyer Andreas Reichenbach observed that the gang rape was committed at around the same time as the high-profile sexual assaults in Cologne by groups of migrants. Reichenbach suggested the sentences imposed Thursday served in part as an "additional message" for asylum-seekers. "As we all know, asylum-seekers don't have the best image here in Austria," he said. "I think that this surely played a certain role, to make it clear to these people that when they come to Austria that such behavior won't be tolerated," he said.

All but one of the defendants denied raping the woman. Some acknowledged having sex with her, but argued it had been consensual. Prosecutor Karina Fehringer said that was impossible, describing the victim as being defenseless in an "unconscious, shock-rigid" state. Fehringer said the victim continues to suffer post-traumatic effects from the assault and requires psychiatric treatment.

The defense argued that the victim might have sent "false signals" that could have encouraged the men. Noting that the woman was extremely intoxicated, Fehringer was quoted by the Austria Press Agency as asking: "Should we stick warnings on bottles: 'Excess consumption could be interpreted as agreement to have sex?'"

Charges were dismissed against the 48-year-old defendant, who said he had been asleep during the assaults. Migrants and refugees from other countries expressed concern that the crime will make Austrians hostile toward all newcomers. "Eight people raping a woman - that's honor-less! Such a thing doesn't exist in our religion," Burhan Akbas, a migrant from Turkey, said. "When such people come here and screw up like that, then everybody will think that Chechens, Afghans, all refugees from war areas are all the same," Mansur Salamou, an asylum-seeker from Chechnya, said. "But it's not like that. For example, the majority of us - we also cause problems, commit crimes. But no rape! Only criminal assaults and robberies."

Associated Press video journalist Philipp-Moritz Jenne contributed.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:54 pm 
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Child sex convictions spark UK debate about race and abuse
By JILL LAWLESS
10 August 2017

LONDON (AP) -- Britain is wrestling with a volatile nexus of crime, race and religion, after 18 people were convicted of sexually abusing women and girls as young as 15.

One woman and 17 men were convicted of, or admitted, to charges including rape, supplying drugs and inciting prostitution in a series of trials that ended this week at Newcastle Crown Court in northeast England.

The crimes follow a pattern that has become grimly familiar from cases across Britain in the last few years. The convicted men mostly come from South Asian Muslim backgrounds. Their victims - who were plied with drugs and alcohol before being abused at parties, in taxis or in back rooms - are mostly white.

The prosecution of child-grooming gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford and now Newcastle has raised uncomfortable questions. Some allege that the crimes were long ignored by authorities afraid they would be branded racist or fearful the allegations might inflame ethnic tensions. Sarah Champion, a British lawmaker from Rochdale, said Thursday that the causes of abuse weren't being tackled "because people are more afraid to be called a racist than they are afraid to be wrong about calling out child abuse."

Ken Macdonald, Britain's former chief prosecutor, said some of the blame lay with particular communities who regarded "vulnerable and disordered young girls (as) just opportunities for sexual abuse." "It is a disease of racism and sexism that will not abate until it is confronted culturally in homes, schools and places of worship as a question of dignity, respect and equal rights," he said.

The recent high-profile cases aren't typical of all child sexual abuse. Most abused children are victimized online, at home or in institutions such as schools, and most of the perpetrators are white men. Police say that in the year to October 2015, 12 percent of offenders in child sexual exploitation cases were from South Asian backgrounds, and 59 percent were white.

But former prosecutor Nazir Afzal, who brought the Rochdale abuse gang to trial, says Pakistani men are disproportionately involved in the sort of "street grooming" seen in Newcastle. He says factors may include sexist attitudes to women and other "cultural baggage," and the large number of South Asian men working in the nocturnal economy. "These young girls are invariably looking for warmth, for transport, for food, for mind-numbing substances," he said. "The predators are hiding among the takeaway workers and taxi drivers."

Some experts say the focus on South Asian perpetrators masks how widespread child sexual abuse is, and overlooks the fact that victims are often ignored by authorities because of their youth and troubled backgrounds. Helen Beckett, an expert on child sexual exploitation from the University of Bedfordshire, said focusing on one ethnic group risked missing other patterns of abuse. "The emphasis that we've had on (abuse) being perpetrated by Asian males means that that is often what we are looking for, and therefore are more likely to find," she said. "We know child sexual exploitation takes so many different forms."

Since the Rochdale case shocked the nation in 2012, police and lawyers have worked hard to prosecute grooming gangs - though some police tactics have drawn criticism. A child welfare group expressed alarm at a police decision in Newcastle to pay a convicted child rapist to act as an informant. Steve Ashman, head of the Northumbria Police force, acknowledged that paying a convicted pedophile "may appear repugnant," but said his information had been crucial to convicting the gang. He said police had "thrown the kitchen sink" at the crime of child sex abuse, deploying 50 officers for more than three years in an operation that has netted 93 convictions, including the ones this week.

Afzal said there had been progress, but that much more needs to be done. "You turn over a stone and you will find this kind of behavior pretty much everywhere in this country," he said. "The demography might change but the behavior remains the same. Where there are available and vulnerable young girls, and boys, there are predators. "There is no community where women and girls are safe. None."

Source: AP

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