News of the lawsuit came as The News reported that a Brooklyn grand jury is probing DeVecchio in the mob slaying and other alleged criminal dealings with Scarpa, an infamous Colombo crime family figure who died behind bars in 1994.
DeVecchio, found yesterday at his Florida home in an exclusive gated community, said, "I have nothing to say, I retired 10 years ago and everything that needed to be said is already on the record."
"Anything you want to get, get from my lawyer. There's a lot I would love to say, but I just won't," said the former agent, appearing flustered in a T-shirt and jeans in his doorway.
The slaying of Grancio - a rival of Scarpa - took place at the height of a mob war between factions of the Colombo crime family.
At Scarpa's request, DeVecchio called off surveillance by two NYPD detectives on Jan. 7, 1992, so Scarpa, with two associates, could move in for the drive-by shooting, the suit contends.
The lawsuit will be filed in Brooklyn Federal Court by attorney David Schoen on behalf of widow Maria Grancio. Schoen also filed notice that the FBI and the Justice Department will be also be sued.
Meanwhile, a grand jury convened by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is investigating Grancio's killing and DeVecchio's long, complicated relationship with Scarpa.
One of two NYPD detectives involved in the surveillance, Joseph Simone, now retired, was extensively debriefed yesterday by a prosecutor and investigators from the DA's office, sources said.
Simone has previously testified that he got called off the surveillance duty, calling it "very unusual." He and other law enforcement agents also reported his suspicions that DeVecchio was working for Scarpa.
Simone testified that he got the "call off" from DeVecchio's subordinate at the time, FBI agent Christopher Favo, who was acting on DeVecchio's orders.
Favo was also named as a defendant in the suit, which sites a "corrupt relationship between an informant [Scarpa] and his FBI handler [DeVecchio] as part of a campaign of corruption and concealment."
Favo did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
DeVecchio's attorney, Douglas Grover, has dismissed the DA's investigation as "nonsense," noting DeVecchio has not been prosecuted despite a previous two-year FBI probe into the agent's dealings with Scarpa.
But the DA's office has developed new information on the matter and decided to begin the grand jury probe, sources said.
"Since the murder, DeVecchio, Favo and others lied about the matter and have misled on this subject and other incidents of gross misconduct repeatedly," the Grancio suit says.
This story contains details that some readers may find objectionable.
And FBI employee is on the other side of the law, facing charges of inappropriate conduct in a woman's bathroom on the University of Arizona Campus.
According to a University Police report, a woman was cleaning the bathroom on May 3, when she saw a stall door open. Inside stood a man with his pants down, masturbating.
"That's actually shocking," says student Meghan Carey. "It makes me question who's walking around U of A."
"I think that masturbation can be a very natural form of sexual expression," says student Stephanie Castle, "but there needs to be a time and a place for that."
The police report states, the witness went to get help. When she returned with an officer she spotted the man, later identified as Ryan Seese, outside the same bathroom.
Seese took off down a hallway and ran out the door. Police chased him into a parking garage where he was arrested.
Seese now faces charges of public sexual indecency, sexual indecency and trespassing.
He also told police he's an FBI agent.
The Bureau verifies his employment but will not reveal his position or status.
Meanwhile, students say this incident is a good reminder not to let their guard down, even in a comfortable place like the student union.
"I'll definitely watch out a little more," says Carey. "I have to be more aware."
Some students say they would like to see UAPD set up more patrols around campus to make them feel safer.
2002 charter continues to protect God’s children current article by: By C.T. Maier and Robert P. Lockwood
Five years ago, the U.S. Catholic bishops responded to the clergy sexual abuse crisis by approving the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” and a broad-based effort to address the problem of child sexual abuse in the church and society as a whole.
At the heart of the charter is the bishops’ promise to “work to our utmost for the protection of children and youth.” The charter backs up their pledge with 17 guidelines that promote healing and reconciliation, guarantee an effective response to abuse cases, ensure accountability and protect the faithful by screening those who work with children and youth.
Yet, many Catholics are unaware of what the church has been doing. A recent survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found that as many as 80 percent of American Catholics didn’t know that the church had done anything at all.
Last week in the Pittsburgh Catholic, it was reported how the charter promotes healing and an effective response to cases of abuse. This week, the focus is on how the charter ensures accountability and continues to protect the faithful.
To ensure the accountability to the 17 articles of the charter and the accompanying “Essential Norms,” the bishops established on the national level the Office for Child and Youth Protection.
The National Review Board, a committee of eminent Catholic laypeople, oversees the Office for Child and Youth Protection.
The Office for Child and Youth Protection is charged with assisting dioceses in implementing “safe environment” programs, as well as conducting an annual audit of dioceses to monitor implementation of the charter. The audits are conducted by the Gavin Group, an independent consultancy operated by a former FBI agent.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has been audited three times since the charter was established in 2002. With each audit, the standards have been raised, and the diocese’s safe environment policy has kept pace, not only meeting but exceeding the charter’s requirements. This year, the diocese is set to be audited a fourth time from Aug. 27-31.
“Diocesan leadership, public outreach, administrative and personnel policies, procedures and implementation are of such high standards as to warrant commendation and reference as ‘best practices,’” the audit team wrote in a special commendation after the first audit in 2003.
In addition to overseeing the national effort, the National Review Board has also been involved in studying the overall problem of child abuse in our culture. At the review board’s request, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice published a study of the problem in January 2004. A second study, a comprehensive review of the causes and context of the scandal, is expected to take several more years to complete.
Protecting the faithful
Finally, after providing for the effective response to abuse and the needs of victims, the charter lists a series of action items for dioceses to protect the faithful in the future.
The guidelines call for the establishment of “safe environment” programs and training for both youth and adults; screening the background of candidates for ordination and diocesan and parish personnel who have contact with minors; the notification of bishops and religious superiors about clerics who may be dangers to children or young people; and the coordination with religious communities to respond to allegations of religious clerics.
To keep up with these demands, the Diocese of Pittsburgh established its own Office for the Protection of Children and Young People this spring. The new office, directed by Ron Ragan, former director of the Gilmary Diocesan Center in Moon Township, is busy preparing parishes and schools for the new diocesan safe environment database, which went online this spring.
The database, which responds to the ever-increasing demands of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ audits, allows the diocese to track compliance with the charter’s requirements for background checks — including an FBI fingerprint background check — for all clergy, employees or volunteers who have contact with young people, as well as the completion of training in the diocese’s Code of Pastoral Conduct and “Protecting God’s Children” program, which instructs church personnel on the issues surrounding child sexual abuse and on ways to ensure a safe environment for children.
Ragan, who has a long background working with youth, sees his role as part of a continual process of vigilance. “Protecting children isn’t a one-time event,” he said. “We’re always looking for better ways to ensure their safety. There are always ways to make our parishes and schools safer. We must always remind adults in the church who are responsible for the care of children and young people that it’s not about us. Rather, it’s about doing whatever is necessary to ensure that those entrusted to our care are protected.”
Still a priority
Five years after the adoption of the “Charter for Protection of Children and Young People,” the welfare of young people and all the faithful continues to be the primary concern of our diocesan church. The diocese is implementing a series of steps in order to have in place a consistent and coherent prevention program that provides a safe environment for children throughout our parishes, schools and church-related activities.
“Safeguarding our children and young people is one of the most important things that we do as a church,” said Bishop Paul Bradley, diocesan administrator. “The Diocese of Pittsburgh, like Catholic dioceses across the country, has taken extraordinary steps to make Catholic parishes and schools places where children are as safe as possible. And we intend to continue doing everything we possibly can to maintain that safety and protection.”
But all these efforts are only part of the story. Well before the charter, the diocese has been committed to responding promptly to allegations of abuse, cooperating fully with civil authorities, reaching out to victims and families for healing and reconciliation, educating clergy, being open to the public and ensuring the accountability of procedures dealing with abuse.
Though media coverage ignores its efforts, the Catholic Church in the United States today is actually on the forefront of addressing the sexual abuse of minors. It’s a story that needs to be told.
Ms. Diedre Butler, Unit Chief of the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC, stressed that the law enforcement component of fighting youth crime is made necessary as a result of society not being sufficiently involved in the lives of young people BEFORE they become criminals. Law enforcement, she explained, is the final stage in a very long societal process. If society did more on the front end, she continued, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies would be confronted with far fewer criminal and violent acts later on.
She warned that children from unstable homes, in particular, are heavily influenced by the media’s glamorization of crime and violence and are, therefore, in special need of societal intervention. According to Butler, societies worldwide must develop positive, appealing programs to assist vulnerable youth, in order to undermine the appeal of violence, crime, and gangs. Ms. Butler was a panelist in a session titled “Youth Crime and Gang Violence”. She explained that it is also FBI strategy to removes gang leaders from the community via harsh and lengthy prison sentences.
Doulgas Shipley of the FBI’s Barbados office shared with conference participants the crime prevention benefits of an innovative program in Barbados that helps impoverished young people with no contacts, no collateral, no experience, and (supposedly) no future, establish their own small businesses. These young businesspersons are also provided with business mentors to guide them and stabilize them throughout the process.
When these at-risk young people are given these opportunities, Shipley explained, they have a lower default rate on their loans than traditional banks experience with traditional customers. Most importantly, (i) this program dramatically reduces the appeal of crime as a way of making a living for these young people, and (ii) the society inherits grassroots success stories that serve to inspire and encourage other at-risk young people.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation named a new leader for its Omaha division on Monday, to replace the retiring Paul C. LaCotti, Jr.
John G. Kavanaugh will take over as Special Agent in Charge for the Omaha division. He was appointed to the post by Director Robert Mueller III.
Kavanaugh had been Section Chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section II in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters since April 2005. At that post, Kavanaugh was in charge of many counterterrorism investigations.
He has been with the FBI since 1989.
A Pennsauken police officer was indicted on two counts of child pornography after he allegedly shipped nearly 800 pictures and nine movie files to an undercover FBI agent, posing as a fellow collector.
John Schenberger Jr., a 16-year veteran of the department, was arrested Tuesday at the township police department. An extradition hearing for Schenberger is scheduled for today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider in Camden. He is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia.
The charges were brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Memphis, Tenn.
Schenberger had a number of conversations with the undercover FBI agent, said George Bolds, spokesman for the FBI field office in Memphis.
He sent two sets of files via computer to the agent on June 5, according to the indictment.
Pennsauken Police Capt. Earl Griffin said Schenberger was arrested after federal law enforcement officials questioned him on Tuesday. "Some computer equipment" was confiscated, Griffin said.
"It's a shock," Griffin said, calling Schenberger a conscientious and quiet worker. "He's never, ever been a problem."
Schenberger has worked as a patrolman for his entire 16 years on the force, Griffin said.
Schenberger has been responsible for maintaining the department's computer systems in recent years.
By AMIE PARNESScripps Howard News Service Monday, September 10, 2007
MARK FOLEY TIMELINE
November 2005: A former Louisiana page gives copies of e-mails he received from Mark Foley in the summer of 2005 to the St. Petersburg Times. The Times decides not to pursue the story. The Miami Herald also receives copies of the e-mails but also declines the story because the messages were not sexually explicit and were subject to interpretation.
July 2006: The FBI receives some Foley-related e-mail correspondence but decides no federal law has been violated.
Sept. 28, 2006: ABC News breaks the story of Foley's e-mail exchange with the Louisiana page. Tim Mahoney, Foley's Democratic challenger for his congressional seat, calls for an investigation.
Sept. 29, 2006: Sexually explicit instant messages Foley sent to former pages in 2003 come to light. Foley resigns. Shortly after his resignation Foley's attorney says the former congressman is an alcoholic, gay and had been molested as a boy by a "clergyman."
Oct. 1, 2006: The FBI reopens its preliminary investigation. The investigation is still active.
October 2006: Anthony Merieca, a retired priest living on the Maltese Island of Gozo, admits to massaging Foley in the nude but denies having had sex with him.
Oct. 2, 2006: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement opens its own investigation, which is still ongoing. Foley's attorney announces the former congressman has checked into a rehabilitation facility to treat alcoholism.
February 2007: Foley returns to Florida after leaving an Arizona rehabilitation center in November and staying with a sister in Los Angeles.
July 2007: A federal finance report reveals Foley has paid more than $483,000 in legal fees from his campaign coffers.
August-September 2007 -Officials at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say they are wrapping up their investigation on Foley in the next 7-10 days. Although the investigation still has not concluded, sources close to the investigation told Scripps Howard News Service that Foley is unlikely to face criminal charges for sending sexually explicit online messages to teenage boys.
For Immediate Release September 10, 2007
Washington D.C. FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691
Washington D.C. FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691
Timothy J. Healy has been named Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Intelligence Division of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Director Robert S. Mueller, III, appointed him to this position, which was recently created for Washington, New York, and Los Angeles due to the increased importance of intelligence matters within the FBI. Most recently, Mr. Healy served as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Washington Field Office’s Intelligence Branch, Counterterrorism Division.
Mr. Healy entered on duty as a special agent of the FBI in 1986. Upon completion of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he investigated a variety of criminal matters including white collar and violent crime. He was later assigned to the Ogden, Utah, Resident Agency. During that time, Mr. Healy investigated telemarketing fraud, bank fraud, bank robberies, fraud by wire, murder for hire, and murder on government reservations. In 1989 he initiated “Operation Disconnect,” a proactive telemarketing investigation that eventually included 15 field divisions and the successful conviction of 402 fraudulent telemarketers. In 1995, he was the primary undercover agent on the Montana Freeman case, and for his work received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service.
In 1997, Mr. Healy was promoted to FBI Headquarters, where he managed the Telemarketing Program in the Economic Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigative Division. In 2000 he initiated the Internet Fraud Complaint Center and became the center’s first unit chief. He was transferred to the Baltimore Field Office in 2002, where as a supervisory special agent he supervised a squad investigating child pornography and child sexual exploitation, and later supervised a squad investigating computer intrusions.
In 2003, Mr. Healy was ordered to stand up the new Terrorist Screening Center (TSC). He was later promoted to serve as TSC’s Deputy Director, and was responsible for the Operations, Administrative, and Information Technology Branches. In recognition of his efforts at the TSC, he received the Directors Award for Outstanding Information Management. In 2006, he was designated Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Washington Field Office’s new Intelligence Division.
Mr. Healy graduated from Benedictine University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He began his career as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, completed Naval Flight Training, and was ordered to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, where he flew as a Harrier fighter pilot. Mr. Healy is married and has six children.
An assistant U.S. Attorney from Florida has been arrested on charges he flew to Detroit to have sex with a 5-year-old child.
John David Roy Atchison, 53, was nabbed in a internet sex sting run by the FBI and the Macomb County Sheriff's Department. He was arrested Sunday at Metro Airport.
From the FBI...
Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit, Michigan announces the arrest of John David Roy Atchison, age 53, and a resident of Gulf Breeze, Florida, on Sunday, September 16, 2007.
The arrest warrant was for a complaint against Atchison for traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of having illicit sexual relations with a small child. Atchison was arrested and taken into Federal custody without incident at approximately 5 p.m. at Metro Airport by the FBI, Wayne County Airport Police, and deputies of the Macomb County Sheriff's Office.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI Detroit and the Macomb County Sheriff's Office through a joint Cyber Task Force known as the Macomb Area Computer Enforcement Team.
Jofirstname.lastname@example.orgWASHINGTON - It was supposed to be a vacation, instead a cruise for a West Springfield, Mass., woman turned into a hellish experience after the scuba guide in Mexico pulled her down into dangerously deep waters, cut off her oxygen and molested her.
"I grabbed the rope to get back up to the boat, trying to get away from him, but he grabbed me and began to pull me back down," Angela A. Orlich, a student at American International College yesterday told the House subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
"I tried to fight him off, but he continued to molest me," Orlich said, "Then, he turned off the air on my tank. ... At this point we were about 30 feet under water. I was afraid that I would die, that my body would never be found, and that no one would ever know what happened to me."
But she said her nightmare didn't end when she escaped her attacker.
Orlich told the House panel which is investigating violent crimes, suicides and disappearances of Americans while on cruises that she reported the attack first to the coordinator of passenger activities, then to the security office and then to the ship's physician.
"The ship doctor refused to examine or treat me," she said. "He was totally dismissive and told me to see a doctor when I returned to my home in Massachusetts."
"When the cruise ship returned to Miami, there were no FBI agents waiting to interview me or any other federal agents. The cruise line offered no assistance whatsoever," she said. The scuba guide was not an employee of the cruise line.
Since her attack in 2004, Orlich found a community of Americans - a group called the International Cruise Victims, who share the burden of having atrocious experiences while on cruise and receiving little if any accountability from the cruise lines. One man said his mother and father left for a cruise from California in 2005. Days into the voyage, Michael Phan, of Seattle, Wash., said he received a call from the cruise liner saying his parents were missing. To this day, he doesn't know where they are other than, he said, "in the middle of the sea."
Another woman reported that she was raped by a member of the cruise staff only to find that the ship didn't have a rape kit and no female security officer to interview her.
There are laws that require cruise ships that leave or embark at U.S. ports to report crimes and missing persons to the Coast Guard and the FBI, but U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said those laws weren't being enforced.
"There wasn't any follow up," said Neal, who stopped by the hearing to visit with Orlich. Neal is supporting legislation that would require the cruise industry to give full disclosure to passengers about security risks as well as maintain security levels to protect passengers while on board.
U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, who met with Orlich privately before the congressional hearing, also supports the legislation - saying that the reforms being sought by the International Cruise Victims, of which Orlich is a member, are reasonable.
"Angela is doing everything in her power to ensure that what happened to her will not happen to anyone else," Olver said.
The House held an earlier hearing in March and since that time, the cruise line industry has been training workers to follow the industry's protocol when crimes or accidents against Americans take place, said Michael Sheehan, a spokesman for the corporate office of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., yesterday. He said crimes and accidents aboard cruises are rare.
Royal Caribbean also recently hired Michael Giglia, a former FBI agent, as the company's director of security planning and response, and he has been assigned to assist Orlich in bringing her attacker to trial in Mexico.
By JERRY HARKAVY – 10 hours ago
RANGELEY, Maine (AP) — Physician-scientist Wilhelm Reich, best known for his claims of a cosmic life force associated with sexual orgasm, died in federal prison, and the government burned tons of his books and other publications and destroyed his equipment.
But half a century later, a small number of scientists and other believers are working to advance the European-born psychiatrist's work on what he called "orgone energy" — a theory largely forgotten in the scientific mainstream.
"Personally, I think it's going to be a long time before all of his work is understood and recognized," said Reich's granddaughter, Renata Reich Moise, a nurse-midwife and artist in the coastal town of Hancock.
Reich died on Nov. 3, 1957, in a federal prison in Lewisburg, Pa., where he was sent for ignoring an injunction obtained by the Food and Drug Administration that outlawed a device he called an orgone energy accumulator. Reich believed it could charge the body with essential life energy, heightening vitality and potentially helping to heal disease.
Critics point to some of these more unconventional ideas in deriding him as a quack. But supporters say he was a brilliant man whose ideas warrant further exploration.
The 50th anniversary of his death is being marked by a major exhibition on Reich and his work that opens Nov. 15 at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, the city where he attended medical school, began his psychiatric practice and studied under Sigmund Freud.
Also this month, archives of Reich's unpublished papers, which have been stored at Harvard Medical School, will become available to researchers for the first time. Reich had stipulated that his papers only be opened 50 years after his death.
He also specified that his laboratory at the 175-acre site he dubbed Orgonon, which overlooks Rangeley Lake, be converted to a museum. It opened in 1960.
In Rangeley, where Reich spent his latter years, scientists and doctors from the U.S. and Europe gathered this summer for a conference that explored the prospects of seeking FDA approval for clinical trials of orgone accumulator blankets to treat burn victims.
Reich is described by the American Psychoanalytic Association as "one of the most brilliant, creative and controversial of the pioneering analysts." He was the first to focus on character analysis rather than neurotic symptoms. He linked a healthy sex life, which he called "orgastic potency," to emotional wellness, believing that failure to discharge sexual energy resulted in neurotic disorders.
His more controversial work came after he veered away from psychotherapy into laboratory experiments in Norway that led to the discovery of what he called "bions" — basic life forms that gave off orgone energy.
After moving to the U.S. just before the start of World War II, he focused on isolating and collecting that energy and went on to test its effect on cancer.
His orgone accumulators eventually caught the attention of the FDA.
After an investigation, the agency branded the devices consisting of alternating metallic and nonmetallic materials a fraud. In 1954 it sought an injunction in U.S. District Court in Portland. Reich refused to appear in court, triggering a default judgment and order that his books and accumulators be destroyed.
He was sentenced to two years in prison for contempt of court. He served only eight months before he died of a heart attack.
The FDA's injunction, supporters say, had a chilling effect on his work that persists even today. Moise said she believes there's merit in the orgone accumulator blanket, which her mother used in her medical practice.
Moise has tried it herself to heal burns.
"It's not crazy. It actually works," she said.
Even as the anniversary-related events rekindle memories of Reich and his theories, some of his supporters worry that they are in a race against time.
The challenge, they say, is to keep his work alive and advance it through new studies and experimentation at a time when Reich is not being taught in either medical schools or physics classes.
Kevin Hinchey, who is writing a book about Reich's work in the U.S., said most of the doctors and scientists who've taken an interest in Reich's life are baby boomers.
"If something dramatic isn't done to bring his work before the medical and scientific community, I really wonder what's going to happen when the baby boomers die. There's not a lot of younger people who are reading Reich."
LHS teacher arrested again Schmitz turned over to federal authorities By Evan Carden SA Editor
In addition to the original charges against her, Charlene Schmitz, 55, of Leroy, now faces a charge of tampering with a witness. A federal grand jury has indicted her on one count each of enticing a child by computer and enticing a child by cell phone.
The teacher has been on paid administrative leave from LHS since June 22, when she was arrested for her alleged inappropriate relationship with a 14-yearold ninth grade male student. As a result she faces second degree rape and second degree sodomy charges.
According to Washington County Chief Deputy Terry Beasley, he received a complaint Friday, Nov. 23, that Schmitz had allegedly contacted the student, asking him to meet her behind the elementary school during the football game. Papers filed with the Washington County Circuit Clerk's Office state that the purpose of the meeting was for the student to give Schmitz a folder which supposedly contained information related to the case, which she had instructed him to obtain.
Deputies Ferrell Grimes, Nick Reed and Kenny Sullivan took Schmitz into custody during the game.
She originally had been out on $40,000 bond, but remained incarcerated until a bond revocation hearing, which was scheduled for Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m. Prosecutors hoped to have her bond revoked until her trial.
District Judge Jerry Turner oversaw the hearing. District Attorney Spencer Walker represented the state and asked Turner to revoke Schmitz's bond. Her attorney, in turn, said Walker's motion was baseless due to the fact that his client now faces a federal indictment. He asked for the motion to be dismissed.
Judge Turner dismissed the bond revocation as Schmitz's attorney had requested. The teacher was immediately turned over to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who transported her to Mobile where she was to appear in a federal courtroom later that afternoon.
Following the proceedings, Sheriff Richard Stringer said, "I think her (Schmitz) being taken into federal custody was the best thing that could have happened."
Walker refused comment due to a gag order placed on the case in July by Judge Turner. The case was sent to a Washington County Grand Jury July 24 after Schmitz waived her preliminary hearing.
The alleged victim's mother, who attended Tuesday's hearing with other family members, said she felt very vindicated for what her son had been through. She said this would help in starting the healing process for her family. "I represent the one who has been hurt," she added. She and other family members applauded as Schmitz was placed in the FBI's vehicle.
According to Sheriff Stringer, his department was alerted to the alleged affair by a parent of the juvenile who discovered sexually explicit e-mails, allegedly sent by the teacher, on the child's computer. Schmitz has proclaimed her innocence since her arrest.
The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., reinstated the Rev. Albert James Gondek as pastor of a parish Sunday, saying an investigation had cleared the priest of allegations by a Delaware man that he was sexually abused by the priest more than 40 years ago at a summer camp in Maryland.Gondek and Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis were to meet with parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Lexington, N.C., after the 10:30 Mass."It is a great joy to return Father Al to ministry," Jugis said in a prepared statement. "The Diocese of Charlotte will make every effort to restore Father Gondek's good name and reputation. While this case does not diminish the suffering that sexual abuse causes people in our society, it is proof that the system in our church works to protect everyone."The priest was removed from ministry Oct. 12 after the allegations were revealed by Wilmington attorney Thomas S. Neuberger, who expects to file suit on behalf of the alleged victim, Michael Sowden. Sowden, now 59, said Gondek fondled him while they were swimming at Camp Brisson in Maryland in 1960. Sowden also said he had been molested by the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca, who recently pleaded guilty to similar allegations against a great nephew during his retirement in Syracuse.Gondek has denied the allegations. The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales - the religious order to which Gondek belongs - say the camp was not opened until 1961 and Gondek was not assigned there until 1962. He was a seminarian at the time. They also say Gondek cannot swim.Neuberger says the investigation smacks of "whitewash and cover-up" and says his client was never interviewed by those investigating the claims.Gondek's immediate removal from ministry was done according to the provisions of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The charter requires that priests accused of sexual abuse must be removed from ministry while the allegations are examined.Sowden's allegations were investigated by the Oblates and the Review Board of the Diocese of Charlotte. Both reported their findings to Jugis, who decided to reinstate the priest.The Oblates referred their investigation to retired Chief Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan of Baltimore, who they said has "no connection to the OSFS, the Diocese of Charlotte, the Roman Catholic Church or any of the parties involved."According to the Oblates, Kaplan's investigation included a polygraph examination, performed by former FBI agent and forensic polygrapher Barry D. Colvert. The Oblates said Colvert's report stated that Gondek's answers had a high degree of reliability and were "not indicative of deception."Kaplan's report to the Wilmington/Philadelphia Provincial of the Oblates concluded that the allegations were "without basis in fact."Neuberger, though, said the investigation "smacks of a whitewash and a cover-up. They never even interviewed my client. I'm shocked, shocked, shocked."Neuberger said he was contacted in October by Kaplan, who wanted to set up an interview with Sowden in Baltimore or Wilmington. But Neuberger said the judge never responded to his four-page letter of response. In the letter, Neuberger wrote to Kaplan, asking whether he had any connection to the church and asking for several conditions - that the judge verify that Gondek was a seminarian at the time of the alleged abuse and that he was assigned to the camp, that he produce records of the campers during his assignments, that he interview Gondek before interviewing Sowden to see if he admitted the allegation, and to demand that Morrissey meet with Kaplan and Gondek and order Gondek to be truthful during questioning.Gondek was pleased by the decision."It is a tremendous joy for me to return to my friends at Our Lady of the Rosary parish, and I look forward to finishing my career and my life in Christian service. God tests each of us, sometimes in ways we don't understand. I don't feel that my faith has been tested, but I know I have been tested over these past weeks as a result of these false allegations."
By Josh Poltilove of The Tampa Tribune
Published: January 14, 2008
MySpace.com, a popular social networking Web site, has agreed to make design and policy changes to protect children from harmful images and unwanted contact from adults.
Attorneys general in several states have sought greater controls for networking Web sites so children can be protected from predators.
Investigators have increasingly examined MySpace, Facebook.com and similar sites that allow people to invite contacts and post information and images on the Web. A multistate investigation of the sites – announced last year – was aimed at putting together measures to protect minors and remove pornographic material, but lawsuits were possible, officials said.
"Unfortunately, cybercrime is very prevalent on the Internet, and I commend MySpace and its parent company, News Corporation, for working diligently to protect our children," Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a statement. "We must take every opportunity to make the Internet a safer place for children, and I encourage other social networking sites to adopt many of the design changes announced by MySpace today."
MySpace will create an Internet Safety Technical Task Force, which will work on age and identity verification, according to Florida's attorney general's office.
Task force members will come from child protection groups, social networking sites, technology companies and age and identity verification experts. They will report to attorneys general every three months, issuing findings and recommendations by year's end.
MySpace plans a registry of e-mail addresses by parents who want to restrict their children's access to the site.
MySpace also agreed to create a closed "high school" section for users who are younger than 18 and make 16- and 17-year-olds' Web pages private by default, according to the attorney general's office.
"Today's announcement is a landmark step forward in providing new protections for teenage members of social networking sites such as MySpace," Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, said in a statement. "Social networking sites have been a great innovation for all Americans, regardless of their age. … Our goal is to nurture and expand their community, while providing a safer online experience. We have embraced a constant focus toward online safety as one of the best ways to make sure our users keep coming back to MySpace."
National statistics show that 77 million children are on the Internet every day and that one of seven children between the ages of 10 and 17 will be sexually solicited online, according to Florida's attorney general's office.
A Fort Lauderdale man was charged last month with lewd molestation, lewd battery and enticing a child via the Internet after he had sex several times with a 14-year-old Polk County girl he met on MySpace. Richard Roland Gagnon Jr. took the girl to local motels four times and committed lewd acts during several of those encounters, the sheriff's office said.
"We must all work together to keep our children safe from pedophiles and predators who are online every day using their charm and charisma in order to sexually abuse our children," Sheriff Grady Judd said at the time.
Last April, an FBI special agent with the Innocent Images Task Force in Tampa said it only took minutes for him to find dozens of MySpace pages of River Ridge Middle and High School students.
Some of the students had posted their schedules or cell phone numbers.
"If I'm a predator, now I've got their phone number," special agent Scott Earl said at the time. "This is like one-stop shopping. I can even follow them home from school."
Associated Press - January 15, 2008 6:14 PM ET
PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) - An FBI agent is under arrest in Pueblo for investigation of sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust.
Authorities say 53-year-old David Allan Johnson is being held in the Pueblo County jail today on a $100,000 bail.
Sheriff Kirk Taylor announced the arrest yesterday but few details were released and the arrest warrant affidavit is sealed by court order.
Authorities said Johnson lives in Pueblo West which is outside Pueblo about 100 miles south of Denver.
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