| NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
When Madeline Singas, then the acting Nassau County district attorney, was campaigning to keep the top job in 2015, her message to Long Island voters was clear: She was a career prosecutor, not a politician.
In naming her, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo noted Ms. Singas’s history of prosecuting sex crimes. “She’s extremely competent in this area,” Mr. Cuomo said on Thursday during a news conference at his downtown Manhattan office. And then he noted her gender: “So qualifications first and she’s a woman. The victims in this case are women. To the extent that winds up an asset, fine, but that wasn’t the basis of the selection either.”
The appointment may put Ms. Singas’s political skills to the test. The governor rarely chooses a special prosecutor to take on a case. And in this instance, Mr. Cuomo first took the investigation away from the high-profile Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., citing what he called “at a minimum the appearance of a conflict of interest.” Mr. Schneiderman had been investigating Mr. Vance’s working relationship with the New York Police Department on sexual assault cases, including a 2015 investigation into Harvey Weinstein that did not result in charges being filed. The move infuriated Mr. Vance, setting off a political squabble that ended, at least publicly, on Thursday when he vowed to support Ms. Singas in her investigation.
At the height of the #MeToo movement, Ms. Singas may be on tricky ground. “She will obviously be under considerable pressure to prosecute, but if you don’t have decent evidence it’ll get thrown out,” said Daniel L. Feldman, a professor of public management at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
While Ms. Singas, 51, may not be well-known outside Nassau County, she is no stranger to prosecuting high-profile cases there.
She joined the Nassau County district attorney’s office in 2006 and headed its then-new special victims bureau. She was the lead prosecutor in the case of Ricardo Walters, a former New York City correction officer who was sentenced to 203 years in prison for robbing and raping several women, including one who was pregnant.
“She’s very well-known for doggedly pursuing crimes against women and violence against women,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York. “She spent the time getting to know them and building that trust so they would know she was on their side.”
She began her career in the Queens district attorney’s office in 1991 where she helped create the domestic violence bureau and served as the deputy bureau chief. She has spent much of her nearly three-decades-long career prosecuting sex crimes, domestic violence, child abuse and public corruption.
By Nick Quattrini, Asst. News Director/Anchor
BATH, N.Y. (WENY) -- A teenager who's a resident at Snell Farms in Bath was arrested by Troopers and charged with felony sex abuse on Thursday.
State Police say 16-year-old Zachariah D. Hill is accused of having sexual contact with a 9-year-old child at a home in Jasper multiple times.
Hill was arraigned in Wheeler Town Court, and released on his own recognizance. He's due back in Jasper Court on June 5th at 6:00 p.m.
A former New Hampshire boarding school student says in a lawsuit the school violated her civil rights by failing to protect her from sexual assault in a "hypersexualized environment" where older students scored points for having sex with younger ones.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, claims officials at St. Paul's School failed to report the sexual assault of a freshman during the 2012-13 school year. The student said she was forced to leave the school following bullying and retaliation.
The president of the school's board of trustees, Archibald Cox, said the school plans to cooperate with police and the state attorney general to investigate the matter.
"We take these allegations very seriously, but do not know whether they are accurate or not," Cox said in a letter to the school community. "In my experience this administration has taken all reporting obligations seriously and has fulfilled them."
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Jane Doe, a former student who was 13 years old when she enrolled in 2012 and now lives in Maryland. It demands a trial and damages for severe emotional distress.
"From the time she arrived on campus, Ms. Doe experienced unwelcome sexual advances from some male students who were emboldened by formal and informal 'tradition' at the school," the lawsuit says. "Unbeknownst to Ms. Doe, older boys started to sexually target her the moment she set foot on campus."
The lawsuit says school officials failed to report, investigate or address the girl's specific reports of sexual assault to state or local authorities. It says school officials also failed to investigate or eliminate the practice of older students "scoring" with freshman girls.
In January, the school settled a lawsuit with another former student who said it failed to protect her from being sexually assaulted.
Chessy Prout was a 15-year-old freshman at St. Paul's in 2014 when she accused 18-year-old then-student Owen Labrie of assaulting her as part of Senior Salute, a competition among upperclassman seeking to have sex with younger students. Prout's parents sued in 2016, shortly after Labrie was convicted of sexual assault, child endangerment and using a computer to lure her for sex.
The prep academy has denied that it could have prevented the assault and that it had a culture of sexual assault, but it said the case has led to positive changes on campus.
This month, two alumni from the 1970s filed a complaint against the school alleging they were sexually assaulted as students by former faculty members. Cox said the school was "truly sorry" for their pain "and for any failure of the school to protect them."
Most of the former staffers in the complaint were named last year in an investigation conducted by the school into its history of sexual abuse dating to 1947. The school reported allegations against 18 former staffers and shared its findings with the attorney general's office.
Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, is appealing his conviction.
Prosecutors said the former Carpentersville man knew the girl, who was under 13. They say the girl told her mother, who contacted police.
It was the second time Melvin was convicted in the case. He pleaded guilty in 2009 but an appeals court in 2015 ruled his plea was improper and returned the case to the lower court.
Prosecutors say Melvin also was convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault in Cook County in 1998.
At Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis last year, a male teaching aide reportedly touched the bottom of an 18-year-old female student as she waited in a school lunch line. He also showed her pictures of his private parts, she said.
The allegation became public after the aide, who resigned amid an investigation, was indicted.
In East Tennessee, a Lenoir City High School teacher's assistant was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with two students — a 17-year-old and his 21-year-old sister, who has intellectual disabilities.
School officials learned of the April 2017 encounters after reviewing pictures of the female teacher kissing the boy and placing her hands on the young woman's breasts.
Those allegations about the former teacher also emerged in a criminal indictment.
In Middle Tennessee, a Maury County girl at Joseph Brown Elementary School was injured in January 2016 after an educator grabbed her right arm and then tried to restrain her, leaving scratches and contusions on her leg and chest — allegations revealed after the parents filed a lawsuit.
The three cases represent a fraction of investigations by child welfare officials into abuse at schools in Tennessee.
A USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee analysis found the Department of Children's Services investigated 647 allegations of child abuse or neglect involving students in Tennessee schools during a recent 20-month period.
Between January 2016 and August 2017 DCS investigated allegations at more than 460 Tennessee public and private schools, including public charter schools, according to data obtained by the Network. These cases encompass possible abuse or neglect during school hours, at school events or off-site when school employees were involved.
That's an average of more than one investigation initiated per day during that time frame, including summer months when students are not in school.
State education officials did not know how frequently child welfare workers were called to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect of the nearly 1 million students in elementary, middle and high schools across the state.
At the request of the Network, DCS analysts combed through data to provide a school-by-school report of their investigations. It is the first time DCS has compiled statewide data on investigations of child abuse involving schools.
A Network analysis of the data during the 20-month period found that DCS investigated:
373 allegations of physical abuse
130 allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation
97 allegations of children lacking supervision
33 allegations of psychological abuse
Local law enforcement agencies have had a handful of previous interactions over the years with the 7-year-old girl who agents say was sex trafficked by her relatives.
But the girl and her siblings never disclosed abuse — even in interviews with specially trained detectives — according to spokespersons for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the Albuquerque Police Department. No criminal charges were filed in connection with the reports reviewed by the Journal, although one of the suspects, 37-year-old James Stewart, had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abandonment involving the oldest child in 2008. No details about that case were immediately available.
The AG filed a motion for pre-trial detention, asking for the pair to be held in jail until their trial. A hearing on that motion began Friday and will be continued Monday.
The girl and her two older brothers, ages 8 and 14, were taken into CYFD custody.
Sex trafficking investigation
The AG’s investigation began when an elementary school nurse who had taken the AG’s training workshop about sex trafficking reported to special agents in mid-April that she believed the girl showed signs of human trafficking and sexual assault.
When the girl underwent a forensic interview as part of the investigation, she told investigators that Stewart would force her to do sex acts on his friends and would get “weed and pipes and stuff.” She said Sanchez would take her to strip clubs and dress her in high heels, press-on nails and make-up.
While neither APD nor BCSO investigators had found signs of sex trafficking or physical or sexual abuse in their previous encounters with the family, they did report seeing signs that the children were underfed, unkempt and that Stewart and Sanchez were in dire financial straits, according to incident reports filed in each case. The agencies forwarded their reports to the Children, Youth and Families Department for assistance.
In court documents, special agents detailed 25 prior referrals to CYFD, and the department secretary, Monique Jacobson, said last week she had serious concerns about the way her department handled interactions with the family. Four employees have been put on paid administrative leave pending the result of the ongoing review.
The governor also expressed outrage over the charges and expressed concern about the way CYFD had handled previous allegations.
“Governor Martinez has issued executive orders and instituted reforms and rules to address situations just like this case,” spokesman Ben Cloutier wrote in an email Wednesday. “The Governor is very concerned that these executive orders have not been properly followed and has directed CYFD to investigate. If it is determined proper procedures were not followed, there will be severe consequences.”
Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman, said last week that APD will review prior police reports as well. He did not respond to questions about whether this review has been completed but he did email a statement.
“As we continue to assess the interactions and look for areas to improve, our experts in the Crimes Against Children Unit were fully engaged and determined they could not pursue a criminal investigation without disclosures of abuse,” Gallegos wrote in an email. He did not answer specific questions or respond to requests for an interview with a detective.
Incident reports obtained by the Journal this week paint a picture of a family experiencing homelessness and financial hardship.
In 2012, there is a call about Sanchez panhandling with the girl and her brother, then 1 and 2 years old.
The next year, police are called again, this time because the kids were playing, unattended, in a puddle off Central and San Mateo.
A police officer notes in that case the children “appeared to be healthy and happy” but the family’s apartment was dirty and had “minimal nutrition.” Sanchez told the officer she was waiting for her brother to give her $45.
In 2016, Stewart himself called deputies, reporting that the children had been left with a neighbor a couple of days earlier. He said the children told him the neighbor rubbed them on the stomach, back and legs.
The report was forwarded to BCSO’s Special Victims Unit but department spokeswoman Felicia Maggard said the unit did not investigate it further because it “does not denote a disclosure of any kind of sexual contact.”
In April 2017, deputies were called to Lucky 66 Bowl on 4th Street on reports of the girl being left in a pickup truck while Sanchez worked inside.
Sanchez told deputies she and Stewart were homeless and the children stayed with her mother sometimes. She also said she “did not appreciate deputies contacting her while she was singing karaoke,” according to the incident report.
When deputies talked to Sanchez’s mother she told them “she is concerned for (the children) because they along with Teri and James P. Stewart have all been homeless since January of this year,” the deputy wrote in the report. She said “that she doesn’t feel like the children are getting enough to eat nor are they able to properly bathe themselves.”
Maggard said the case was assigned to a Special Victims Unit detective because a welfare check was requested and because there had been another contact within the same week. She said the children underwent a forensic interview — a specialized interview designed to bring out information about mistreatment or abuse.
“There was also some mention of the female child indicating she had been ‘uncomfortable’ sleeping with (Stewart) which caused concern of sexual abuse, but there was NO DISCLOSURE made of sexual abuse at the time of these incidents/investigation,” Maggard wrote in an email. “Forensic interviews were conducted on May 4, 2017, and neither child made ANY DISCLOSURE of abuse (physical or sexual).”
However, she said the cases were forwarded to CYFD because there were concerns about Stewart and Sanchez’s ability to care financially for the children.
Concerns about sex abuse
During the sex trafficking investigation, school officials told special agents with the state Attorney General that the girl, her brother and the family were homeless, that they frequently came to school unkempt and fell asleep in class, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court.
The children are two of approximately 4,000 homeless students enrolled in Albuquerque Public Schools.
School officials recounted one incident with the girl that they found particularly troubling and possibly indicative of abuse. In November 2017, the girl arrived at school unwashed and smelling like urine, according to the complaint.
When her teacher helped her change into clean clothes she saw the girl had blood stains on her underwear and grew concerned about possible sexual assault, according to the complaint.
When the girl and her brother did not attend school the next day, officials called CYFD and an investigator and uniformed police officers visited the family in their hotel room, according to an incident report.
The report lays out the interaction:
The officer brought the girl into the hallway away from Stewart and Sanchez to ask her questions about her well-being and if she felt safe.
“(The girl) stated she did and never made any gestures or statements that would lead me to believe she is being abused somehow by (Stewart and Sanchez),” the officer wrote in the report. “(The girl) stated she felt safe with (Stewart and Sanchez) and stated when she does get in trouble (Stewart and Sanchez) usually just make her go to bed.”
The officer wrote that he then told Stewart and Sanchez to make sure the kids go to school.
School officials later told police they had seen the blood on the girl’s underwear while helping her change but they did not ask how it got there. The report does not say if officers asked Stewart, Sanchez or the girl about the blood.
The CYFD investigator notified detectives with APD’s Crimes Against Children Unit about the call and they interviewed the girl and Stewart and Sanchez again.
According to the incident report, “after their interview there was nothing that would cause concern of (the girl or her brother) being abused in any way by (Stewart and Sanchez).”
SOUTHERN UTAH — A man was booked into jail in southern Utah after a woman told police she caught him performing a sexual act on a 2-year-old child while a 3-year-old was awake in the same room.
The alleged abuse occurred at a home on the Shivwits Reservation May 6, and a woman who lives at the home tells police Nez had come to the residence after a night of drinking in Mesquite. Nez is known to the woman and had access to the home.
The woman told police she heard a noise from the baby monitor in her children’s bedroom and entered to find Nez “performing a sexual act on a two year old child” while a 3-year-old was awake in the same room.
An altercation ensued and Nez left the home. The woman took her children to a safe place and contacted police, who were unable to find Nez. Several day s later Nez was persuaded to turn himself in, charging documents state.
Nez told police he did not remember much from that night but told arresting officer he did “wrong and he needs help.” He was booked into the Washington County Jail on May 9.
Convicted sex offender, Joseph Johnson, offered a 12 year old girl a ride to the store — a vile trick so he could drive her to a secluded spot to sexually assault her.
He’s a Level III sex offender — the worst of the worst.
Why is he even walking around free?
He’s also been convicted of molesting and trying to rape a five year old, molesting a 10 year old and aggravated sex abuse of a nine year old.
Now, he’s failing to register as a sex offender in Pierce County. “He has convictions in both state court and federal court,” said Pierce County Det. Ed Troyer. “He’s very versed in the criminal justice system and he knows we’re looking for him, so if anybody knows where he’s at, we want a phone call, we want to hold him accountable, find out where he’s at and who he’s been around.”
He’s 64 years old, 5’4” and weighs 160 pounds.
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for any information that leads to his arrest.
Call 1-800-222-TIPS(8477), or use the P3 Tips App on your smart phone. It is anonymous.
alleged sexual misconduct
Two Navy SEAL leaders, deployed in Africa, have been sent back to the US after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against the officers.
The commander and a senior officer of Naval Special Warfare Group TWO are under investigation for allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, officials said.
"A commanding officer and command master chief assigned to an east coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit have been relieved of their duties overseas due to alleged misconduct," SEAL team spokesperson Lieutenant Jacqui Maxwell said, as cited by ABC News.
Both leaders are being investigated for allegations of sexual harassment, according to defense officials, and one of the pair has also been accused of inappropriately touching a female service member during the deployment.
The two officers were suspended from their duties on May 10 by Special Operations Command Africa commander, Major General Mark Hicks. The men were directed to return to the US while investigations by the Naval Special Warfare and the Navy's Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are ongoing.
The allegations come as Special Operations Forces in Africa face increasing scrutiny. The US Africa Command issued a statement on Friday to confirm it was reviewing allegations that civilians were killed in a raid it supported against the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia on May 9. The NCIS is also still investigating the alleged killing of civilians last August during a joint US-Somali military operation in Somalia.