Attack on Jussie Smollett Opens Investigations into Potential Hate Crimes


Investigations are under way in the attack of Jussie Smollett, star of Fox’s Empire, Tuesday morning. According to authorities, this could be associated with a letter that was sent to Fox studios on January 22nd. The letter carried threating messages towards Smollett, as well as a white, powdered substance, believed to be Tylenol.

The attack on Smollett happened in downtown Chicago, while Smollett was making a trip to a nearby Subway restaurant. According to Smollett, two men attacked him. During the attack, Smollett told police the attackers were yelling “MAGA country.” According to Smollett, they beat him, then poured some sort of chemical on him, believed to be bleach, then proceeded to put a rope around his neck.

Video surveillance from the Subway shows Smollett inside, but does not show the attackers, nor do street cameras.

When police arrived, they found Smollett with the rope still on his neck. He was taken to Northwester Memorial Hospital for examination and treatment. The police have stated that this case will be seriously investigated and approached as a hate crime. FBI investigations into the threatening letter sent to Fox, are hoped to yield further evidence as to the identity of the attackers.

As part of their statement, the police department said, “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline. The victim is fully cooperating with investigators and we ask anyone with information about this incident to contact Area Central Detectives at 312-747-8382 or report it anonymously to www.cpdtip.com.”

Members of the cast of Empire were stunned to find out about Smollett’s attack. This was further compounded when they learned of the letter that had been sent to the studio. According to Terrence Howard, Smollett’s co-star, security at Fox Studios has been increased, offering the cast, individual, round-the-clock security. “It was offered up today that we could have 24-hour security. Someone parked in front of our house during the evening, someone to drive us, or to follow us to and from work.” Howard said during a Good Morning America interview.

Howard went on to say that without Fox’s support, personal security would be costly. “It makes it hard for people not to want to think about going and just getting a license to carry a concealed weapon because it would be much cheaper, but then what does that say about our country?” Howard added.

Lee Daniels, creator of Empire, made an Instagram video to address Smollett’s attack. He decried that Smollett didn’t deserve something like this, especially having a noose put around his neck, which no one deserves. Daniels became emotional during the video, pleading for those watching to just love each other no matter who or what they are.

A statement from Fox was released addressing the apparent homophobic and racial attack against Smollett, “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stand united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”

Weinstein Indicted on Rape Charges, More to Follow


A grand jury in New York voted Wednesday to indict disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein on charges of rape, stemming from evidence that Weinstein forced a woman to perform oral sex on him in his office, and that he raped a second woman at a hotel, according to the Manhattan district attorney. The indictment has been expected by the public since dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein surfaced last year, and several months of investigative work by prosecutors and police concluded with the arrest and indictment of Weinstein this week.

“This indictment brings the defendant another step closer to accountability for the crimes of violence with which he is now charged,” Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement.

Mr. Weinstein surrendered to police Friday and was charged with first-degree rape and other offenses. District attorney Vance Jr. was required to obtain a grand jury indictment on these charges within six months of an arrest, but prosecutors moved rapidly after Weinstein declared he would refuse to testify in his own defense before a grand jury.

The criminal indictment charges Weinstein with first-degree and third-degree rape, and a first-degree criminal sexual act. The highest charges carry a potential of five to 25 years behind bars, if convicted. Weinstein was released Friday after surrendering his passport and posting $1 million bail.

The superstar producer, known for making award-winning films, has become an international symbol of sexual misconduct and the catalyst for the global #MeToo movement. Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex acts during what she believed was a casting opportunity at Weinstein’s TriBeCa office in 2004, co-operated with the district attorney’s office in the investigation. Her testimony resulted in the charge of first-degree criminal sexual acts against Weinstein.

The identity of the rape victim in the charges against Weinstein is not known at this time, but prosecutors said she was attached by Weinstein on March 18, 2013. “This defendant used his position, money and power to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually,” the lead prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, said at Mr. Weinstein’s arraignment. Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said both encounter were consensual, arguing Evans did not report the attack for over a decade, and that the second woman continued a romantic relationship with Weinstein for years after the alleged attack.

The district attorney said attempts by Weinstein’s legal team to discredit the legitimacy of the accusers fit his past behavior of manipulation to discredit women’s complaints and keep them silent. “The defendant’s recent assault on the integrity of the survivors and the legal process is predictable,” Vance said in the statement. Brafman said Weinstein would plead not guilty and “vigorously defend against these unsupported allegations that he strongly denies.”

“If this case actually proceeds to trial, we expect Mr. Weinstein to be acquitted,” he said.

Weinstein notified prosecutors that he was willing to provide his narrative to a grand jury, but his legal team later notified prosecutors they had insufficient time to prepare testimony after learning more details about his accusers on Friday. Brafman said the district attorney denied requests to postpone convening a grand jury to accommodate Weinstein’s legal team.

“Regardless of how compelling Mr. Weinstein’s personal testimony might be, an indictment was inevitable due to the unfair political pressure being placed on Cy Vance to secure a conviction of Mr. Weinstein.” Brafman told reporters.

District attorney Vance has faced previous criticism from law enforcement and women’s groups for his choice not to prosecute Weinstein in 2015, when a model accused him of sexual battery during an interview. Vance has defended his decision, saying prosecutors could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Richard Simmons Sues National Enquirer Over Sex Change Report


Richard Simmons, now 68 years old, has been hailed as the king of fitness.  He has been in the spotlight for years and is now suing National Enquirer as well as Radar Online for running falsified stories that he underwent a sex change operation.  The media has stated that he is in receipt of “castration, hormone treatments, breast augmentation” and a full blown sex change operation.  Simmons is suing the medias for issuing “cruel and malicious” stories that are defaming.  Simmons has been on break from being in the public eye and is now issuing libel as well as invasion of privacy.

Simmons’ manager, Michael Catalano, is quoted stating, “People have a right to privacy…just because someone is a public figure doesn’t mean their right to privacy is gone.”  Simmons has fallen prey to victimization, stalking, extortion and blackmail from his former assistant as well.  Simmons has contacted the publication entity multiple times to no avail.  He states that the information is not from a credible source, nor a reliable one.  He has stepped out of the spotlight and the media started a firestorm regarding the reasons as to why, yet no confirmation from Simmons himself.  Simmons has confirmed though that he is alive and just a little under the weather while reaching out to his fans thanking them for thinking of him.

Military Judge Refuses to Dismiss Trump Commentary Case


During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, he referred to 30-year-old Army Sargent Bowe Bergdahl as a “dirty rotten traitor” and “a very bad person” and suggested he be executed by a firing squad. Sargent Bergdahl, faces charges of desertion and endangering troops after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was then held captive by the Taliban for five years.

Bergdahl’s lawyers said their client walked away from his post to warn officers at another base about problems in his unit.

When Donald Trump was inaugurated and assumed the role of commander in chief of the military, Bergdahl’s lawyers argued Trump’s statements could be constituted “unlawful command influence.” That statement is a military term in which references a person who is holding command authority wrongly by taking actions that influence a court case. Bergdahls’ lawyer, Eugene Fiddell said, “President Trump’s long vilification of Sergeant Bergdahl raises profound questions for the integrity of the military justice system and, more broadly, the rule of law in our country.”

A military judge ruled the criminal case against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to continue despite negative comments made by President Donald Trump during his campaign. According to Army Colonel, Jeffery R. Nance, on Trump’s comments being “disturbing and disappointing,” he determined they did not “problematic potential” for the case.

Nance proceeds to call Trump’s commentary troubling, but not exemplifying  unlawful command influence nor did they influence the court in a way that would interfere with keeping the trial fair.

Nance added the defense would be allowed wide room to grow in asking about Trump’s comments and advised the defense could again request for the case to be dropped after a jury selection.

Judge Nance pledged “to vigilantly ensure a fair trial,” and ordered both prosecution and defense attorneys to prepare a list of questions for prospective jurors about unlawful command influence and other issues in the Bergdahl case, which all could discuss before jury selection began.

Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, said he would appeal Nance’s ruling to continue the case before the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday.

White Football Player Accused Of Coat Hanger Assault On Black Teen With Disabilities Will Avoid Prison


An Idaho activism group is questioning the state’s decision to enter into a plea agreement that will allow a white football player to avoid jail time in the alleged sexual assault of a black teen with disabilities.

The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, in a statement posted online, is urging Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to take immediate action against state Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer.

“Deputy Attorney General Hemmer’s actions and statements dehumanizes the young man who was heinously penetrated and fuels and sanctions our culture of sexism, racism, able-ism, domination, aggression, and violence,” it said.

“The young man who was brutally penetrated was viewed as less than our dominant culture ‘ideal’ of masculinity. This was a sex crime … The actions by the football players and Dietrich High School were racist,” it added.

Idaho’s Twin Falls Times-News reported John R.K. Howard, 19, entered an Alford plea Friday in a Twin Falls courtroom to a reduced charge of injury to a child. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction.

A former Dietrich High School football player, Howard was accused of sexually assaulting a teenage victim, who was not identified, with a coat hanger while others participated or watched. The teen, according to court documents obtained by The Washington Post, has “mental disorders including learning disabilities.”

Howard will serve two to three years of probation as part of the agreement. He will not have to register as a sex offender and can have his conviction dismissed upon successful completion of the terms of his probation. A judge is expected to accept the agreement when he sentences Howard on Feb. 24.

During Friday’s court proceeding, Hemmer reportedly called Howard’s behavior “egregious” and acknowledged it caused the victim “a lot of suffering,” but said it did not amount to a sex crime.

“We don’t believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender,” Hemmer said in court.

According to court documents, the alleged assault took place inside a high school locker room on Oct. 23, 2015. A teen, under the pretense of giving the victim a hug, restrained him while another teen “physically forced a coat hanger into the plaintiff’s rectum,” the documents say.

Howard kicked the coat hanger several times while it was inside the boy’s rectum, the documents allege.

“I screamed,” the victim testified during an April preliminary hearing, according to the Times-News‎. “I was pretty upset. I felt really bad. A little bit betrayed and confused at the same time. It was terrible — a pain I’ve never felt.”

The assault caused injuries that required medical treatment, authorities said.

After a months-long investigation, the state attorney general’s office initially charged Howard and two underage teammates on the football team in March, with felony forcible penetration by use of a foreign object. The charge carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Because Howard’s co-defendants are charged in juvenile court, the disposition of their cases is not publicly available.

The victim’s family has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the school and 11 employees, including administrators and coaches who are accused of failing to stop the abuse.

The lawsuit alleges the victim was subjected to frequent racist abuse by Howard and other teammates — all of them white. The victim was “taunted and called racist names by other members of the team, which names included ‘Kool-Aid.’ ‘chicken eater,’ ‘watermelon,’ and ‘[n****r],’” the lawsuit alleges. It also claims Howard posted a confederate flag on the victim’s computer and made him recite a racist song titled “Moonman Notorious KKK,” which references lynching.

Howard, according to the lawsuit, was the leader of the abuse.

“Mr. Howard is a large and aggressive male who had been sent to live with his relatives in Idaho due to his inability to keep out of trouble in Texas,” the complaint says.

Coaches and administrators “ignored or were deliberately indifferent to the behavior of Mr. Howard, which included aggression, taunting and bullying of the plaintiff and other students in the district,” the lawsuit alleges. “With deliberate indifference, the defendants did nothing to curb the vicious acts of Mr. Howard who brought with him from Texas a culture of racial hatred towards the plaintiff.”

The lawsuit is still pending.

Hemmer in court Friday denied racism was a motive in the case.

“I will say that there are things that we found going around that school and that locker room involving a lot of the parties here that had racial undertones,” Hemmer told the judge. “But it’s not our belief that this was a racially motivated crime. This was more of a vulnerable-victim-motivated crime.”

Howard’s attorney, Brad Calbo, also told the judge he wanted it made “crystal clear” in the court record that “this victim was not at any time pinned down, raped, or pinned down and subjected to any sort of forcible penetration,” The Idaho Statesman reported.

The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence is asking for: “Nothing short of a complete retraction by the Attorney General of Hemmer’s outrageous actions and statements and immediate action against Hemmer.”

“This was more than a “vulnerable-victim” motivated crime ― it was hate and unimaginable sexual violence against a young black high school student with a disability,” it said. “This was able-ism.”

The state attorney general’s office said it is not allowed to comment on the case until after sentencing, per a gag order from the judge.

Source: Huffington Post Crime

Bill Cosby’s deposition on sex, drugs OK for criminal case, judge says

Bill Cosby, who his lawyers now say is legally blind, has been escorted into his recent court hearings on the arms of his representatives.

(CNN)A 2005 deposition in which Bill Cosby admits to extramarital affairs and giving other women drugs with their consent so they’d have sex with him can be used by attorneys in a criminal case against him, a judge ruled Monday.

The deposition is from a civil case brought by Andrea Constand, who says Cosby drugged her and then sexually assaulted her. Cosby now faces criminal charges in the case.

Cosby attorneys said he only answered deposition questions because Bruce Castor, the district attorney at the time, promised to never bring a criminal case based on Constand’s allegations. Constand was a former employee at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University.

Castor said he made that promise so the entertainer would not be able to use the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions in a deposition, according to an email from Castor to his successor, Risa Vetri Ferman. The civil suit was the best chance Constand had for finding justice, the Castor email said.

The current district attorney, Kevin Steele, responded in court documents that a formal nonprosecution agreement never existed, just a press release. He also said this kind of immunity can only be extended to a witness, not a defendant.
In issuing the order, Judge Steven O’Neill said a promise to not prosecute Cosby in the future did not exist based upon the evidence presented in court.

Cosby’s eyesight an issue

This is the first time Cosby has faced criminal prosecution. He is charged with three counts of felony aggravated indecent assault from a 2004 case involving Constand.

She said she went to his home in a Philadelphia suburb for a career consultation and he gave her a mix of pills and wine that left her incapacitated and unable to consent to sex.

The criminal case against Cosby is based partly on the 2005 deposition. In that testimony, he said the sexual encounter with Constand was consensual. Portions of that deposition were unsealed for the first time in 2015 after a lawsuit by The Associated Press that paved the way, prosecutors said, for re-opening the 2005 criminal investigation against Cosby in Pennsylvania.

In the deposition, Cosby said he had sexual relationships with at least five women outside his marriage, gave prescription sedatives to women he wanted to have sex with and tried to hide the affairs from his wife. He said he first met Constand at a Temple athletic facility when he showed her a back-relaxation technique, according to the deposition.

When asked how Cosby developed a romantic relationship with Constand, he said he acted as a mentor, by “inviting her to my house, talking to her about personal situations dealing with her life, growth, education access and thoughts to how to acquire a more aggressive attitude, protecting oneself in business,” according to the deposition.

In the current criminal case, Montgomery County’s district attorney has asked O’Neill to allow the testimony of 13 women who say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them from 1964 to 2002 to be included as evidence in the criminal case. O’Neill has not decided on the request. A hearing is scheduled for December 13 and 14.

The motion to show “prior bad acts of defendant” states, “what became clear was that the defendant has engaged, over the course of a lifetime, in a pattern of serial sexual abuse.” It does not name the women but provides their ages, when they met Cosby and how their relationship with Cosby developed.

Rule 404(b) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence allows prosecutors to call witnesses about a defendant’s previous conduct if it is substantially similar to the trial at hand.

Cosby’s trial is scheduled to begin on June 5, 2017. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Cosby’s team did not have a comment on the judge’s ruling.

CNN’s Ralph Ellis and Steve Forrest contributed to this report.

Death Toll in Oakland Warehouse Fire Rises to 36 as Search Continues


OAKLAND, Calif. — Carmen Brito was asleep on Friday night when she suddenly woke up gasping for breath. Outside her small studio, one floor down from where a raging concert was taking place, she saw her neighbor’s wall on fire.

“I’m pretty sure I was the first person to see the fire, and when I saw it, it was bigger than I was,” said Ms. Brito, 28. The inferno killed at least 36 people and is regarded as one of the worst structure fires in the United States in over a decade.

On Sunday, firefighters were digging through the ruins of the warehouse, where people had gathered for an electronic dance show on Friday when flames ripped through the building, collapsing the floors. The search of the building, which had only two exits, could continue for days, officials said at a news conference, warning that the death toll could climb considerably higher.

The authorities said on Monday that 11 victims have been positively identified. One victim was the son of a local law enforcement officer, said Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County sheriff’s office. “This tragedy has hit very close to home for our agency,” he said. Other victims were from countries in Europe and Asia. The officials were in the process of contacting agencies abroad.

Ms. Brito was just one member of a community of roughly 25 artists who inhabited the building illegally — but in plain sight of Oakland city officials. The building, which was known as the Ghost Ship and has been under investigation for code violations, had a permit to function as a warehouse, but not as a residence or for a party. A criminal investigation began on Sunday.

Ms. Brito said the fire started at the very back of the building, in a studio next to hers, when the couple who occupied the room were gone. She said a firefighter investigating the blaze had asked her whether the couple had recently installed a refrigerator, which they had, raising the possibility that the building’s electrical system played a role. The officials said on Monday that they believed they had identified the section of the building where the fire started, but cautioned that they were no closer to finding a cause.

Ms. Brito and another survivor, Nikki Kelber, 44, said the building’s renters had repeatedly asked its owner to upgrade the electrical system, which failed often enough that residents had flashlights in their studios.

Ms. Kelber and Ms. Brito said that the building had many fire extinguishers and that one of the residents, Max Ohr, tried to use one on the flames but soon gave up.

“It was like trying to put out a bonfire with a squirt gun,” Ms. Brito said.

The residents of the building said they had been priced out of parts of the San Francisco Bay Area that have become increasingly unaffordable. They called themselves refugees and were happy to be living among a community of like-minded artists paying an affordable rent.

Oakland itself has seen rents and home prices skyrocket with the technology boom. The high cost of living has led to alternative housing arrangements across the region, from a community of homes made of shipping containers to lines of recreational vehicles on Silicon Valley side streets.

But these spaces, while often illegal, are subject to the same market forces rippling through the broader market. That has given outsize power to the so-called master tenants who control the lease of a building and, at least in some cases, can make money by subletting to struggling artists willing to live in substandard conditions.

The Ghost Ship was one of these illegal living spaces. Residents and visitors described it as both a haven for artists and a fire trap, with a warren of trailers, broken pianos and stacks of wood and a complex network of electrical cords and generators.

It was home for jewelers, metalworkers, dancers, musicians and others, and parties that brought hundreds to its labyrinthine corridors. But it was also plagued by discord and the whims of its two master tenants, Derick Ion Almena and Micah Allison, who lived there with their three children, ages 13, 7 and 6.

Several residents said they were lured in by the promise of cheap rent and a creative community, only to find that their new home had no heat, sporadic electricity and a master tenant — Mr. Almena — who would bring in homeless people to harass residents who crossed him. Mr. Almena was serving a sentence of three years’ probation, having pleaded no contest in January to a felony charge of receiving stolen property. Mr. Almena and Ms. Allison could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

“A lot of people were his friend because they believed in the miracle,” said Shelley Mack, 58, who moved into the space in October 2014, paying $700 to live in a mobile home inside the warehouse. “But it was a sick place.”

Ms. Mack left after several frightening episodes, she said. In one, she said, a friend of Mr. Almena’s pulled a gun on several residents.

In March 2015, the Alameda County Social Services Agency removed Mr. Almena and Ms. Allison’s children from their custody after relatives expressed concerns about safety. The agency returned the children this past June.

People familiar with the space questioned why the police did not do anything to shut down the Ghost Ship.

“That place was a tinderbox,” said Danielle Boudreaux, 40, who had visited the warehouse. “Anybody who went in there who had any kind of authority should have not allowed it to continue.”

Mr. Ohr, who took on a supervisory role among tenants, said they told the landlord that the electrical system needed upgrading. “We reached out on multiple occasions, complaining that the power wasn’t working,” Mr. Ohr said. “They made no attempt to make it right.”

The area where the fire had started had been closed off to the partygoers and was “unmonitored,” Mr. Ohr said. “There are plenty of signs that point to it being an electrical fire.”

Ms. Kelber’s studio was near one of the building’s exits, and when she spotted a “ball of fire” coming down the hallway she had only seconds to react. “After 15 seconds, the power went out, and another 30 seconds later it was completely engulfed. It went so fast.”

Ms. Kelber and Ms. Brito described confusion in the seconds after the fire was discovered because the urgent and panicked cries of residents were drowned out by a D.J.’s music in the building’s mezzanine, where the concert was underway.

The wooden statues, exposed beams and countless other objects made of timber on the ground floor of the building helped fuel a fire that raged for hours and gutted the entire structure.

One of the residents escaped barefoot in his pajamas carrying his two dogs.

Another resident appeared to have injured himself in a fall while trying to escape, Ms. Brito said. A fellow resident, Bob Mule, heard his cries but was unable to pull him from the fire.

“Bob tried pulling him out but had to leave him behind because Bob was starting to get burning things falling on him,” Ms. Brito said.

After they escaped, Ms. Brito and the other survivors stood outside the building, helplessly watching it burn.

“It was something out of a horror film, with cloud after cloud of black smoke,” Ms. Brito said. “Occasionally a body would come hurtling through the door toward the street.”

Ms. Brito said residents were aware that they were living in the warehouse without permits and recognized the risks involved.

“I get why people could look at us and think that we were responsible,” she said. “But we were doing our best with what we had.”

Source: NY Times

Bill Cosby is legally blind, according to defense attorneys

Bill Cosby, who his lawyers now say is legally blind, has been escorted into his recent court hearings on the arms of his representatives.

(CNN) Bill Cosby’s defense attorneys declare he is legally blind in a new motion filed in a Pennsylvania court, and they argue that the impairment will hamper his ability to defend himself at his criminal trial.

In a footnote within the motion filed Thursday, Cosby’s attorneys say he is “legally blind” — which means he has a vision of 20/200 or less in the better eye, according to the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind — and has registered with the state Commission. A copy of a doctor’s report will be provided at the next hearing in the case, set for Tuesday.

Cosby faces three charges of felony indecent assault stemming from a 2004 incident involving Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University.

Defense attorneys say prosecutors have “chosen to turn this case into a platform for Mr. Cosby’s other accusers to air their even staler, long-ago time-barred claims that were never reported to authorities.”

“No 79-year-old blind man could possibly defend himself against a claim that he sexually assaulted someone he supposedly met once, half a century ago — and the Commonwealth knows it,” they say.

The defense argues “without his eyesight, Mr. Cosby cannot even determine whether he has ever even seen some of his accusers, let alone develop defenses and gather exculpatory evidence.”

The motion is part of an effort to get the charges dismissed.

A tentative trial date has been set for June 5.

Prosecutors haven’t responded to this latest motion but in previous court filings regarding requests for a dismissal, attorneys for the state have said that the defense’s arguments are part of a pattern Cosby employs to use his “fame and fortune” to cover up his crimes and “hide his true nature.”

Source: CNN Crime & Justice

Death of LAPD detective investigating Derrick Rose rape allegations called likely suicide


Los Angeles Police Department detective who was investigating rape allegations against NBA star Derrick Rose died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Wednesday.

Officers found LAPD Det. Nadine Hernandez, 44, suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest Tuesday afternoon in a Whittier home, according to the Whittier Police Department. She was transported to a local hospital where she later died.

“At this time, there are no signs of foul play, and this incident is being investigated as a suicide,” Whittier police said Wednesday. “However, this is an ongoing investigation.”

A firearm was recovered at the scene, police said.

In a statement, the LAPD said Hernandez was “among several” detectives assigned to the Rose case.

“At this point there is no indication that her case work had any connection to her death,” LAPD said. “The Rose investigation will continue unimpeded.”

Whittier police received a call at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday reporting an attempted suicide in the 8400 block of Via Sierra Ramal, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said.

Hernandez was taken to PIH Health Hospital in Whittier, where she died at 3:27 p.m., according to Dean and the L.A. County coroner’s department.

LAPD investigators responded to the house Tuesday, but Whittier police are conducting the investigation, authorities said.

Law enforcement sources said the house where Hernandez was found belonged to a relative. Property records show the home was registered to a retired LAPD lieutenant.

News of the LAPD’s investigation of Rose came to light last month as an attorney representing the woman in a civil case against Rose and other men made a last-ditch appeal to a judge to conceal her identity.

The woman’s attorney, Brandon Anand, filed a request, in light of the LAPD’s investigation, asking U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald to reconsider a decision to have the woman identified during trial.

Anand included in his request a letter from Hernandez, whom he identified as the officer investigating the case. In it, Hernandez wrote that being able to offer anonymity to people who come forward to accuse others of rape is “an invaluable investigative aid to investigators.” She added that the LAPD would continue to guard the woman’s identity throughout its investigation.

The letter was widely reported in national media.

The plaintiff and her attorney were visibly surprised in court Wednesday when told of Hernandez’s death.

LAPD sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the case confirmed that Hernandez was a detective in the department’s Robbery-Homicide Division Special Assault Section. She frequently was involved in high-profile sex crime cases, authorities said.

Hernandez worked for the LAPD for nearly two decades. As an officer, she worked in the department’s media relations office before moving up the ranks to detective.

“We are heartbroken about the tragic death of Detective Nadine Hernandez, a 19-year veteran of the department,” the LAPD said. “It is a loss that touches us all in the LAPD family.”

Hernandez made the news in 2000 when she and a fellow officer fired shots at a murder suspect who tried to drive toward her and other officers during a confrontation in Studio City. The suspect was struck in the forearm and taken into custody.

Source: LATimes.com

Derrick Rose’s Accuser Testifies During an Emotional Day in Court

Wizards v/s Bulls 02/28/11

LOS ANGELES — The woman who has accused Derrick Rose and two of his friends of rape spent several hours on the witness stand Thursday, appearing soft-spoken and jittery as she gave her first testimony in the civil trial.

The woman, Rose’s former girlfriend, offered few details about the encounter with the men, saying she had a foggy memory of the evening because of alcohol intoxication. Most questions posed to her by both parties’ lawyers centered on her relationship with Rose, the circumstances that led up to the episode and her reasons for waiting two years to sue.

In her lawsuit, the woman, 30, is asking for a minimum of $21 million.

Rose, the 28-year-old Knicks player, whose presence was not required by the judge for the start of the trial on Tuesday, made his first appearance about an hour into the woman’s testimony. After he arrived, her reserved demeanor gradually gave way to nerves and occasional tears.

Asked by her lawyer, Waukeen McCoy, what had prompted the suit, the woman said, “I wanted to be an example and come forward.”

She said she had waited to bring the suit because of a fear of losing her privacy and of possible retaliation against her family members. She said she decided to sue “after numerous people speaking to me, and I was convinced to pursue it.”

Later, when pressed by Mark Baute, a lawyer for Rose, she acknowledged wanting to spare the player of potential consequences.

“I cared for him,” she said. “I didn’t want to be responsible for anything that could be a bad outcome.”

She originally met Rose, she said, at a Hollywood nightclub in 2011 during the N.B.A. lockout. She indicated that they at one point discussed a future together, and she gave no reasons in court for their eventual breakup.

The pair separated in mid-2013, the woman said. A few months later, she told Rose via text message on a late-summer Monday morning that he was an “inspiration” and sent along a photo of herself. Rose responded with an invitation to visit the Beverly Hills home he was renting.

Thus began a chain of text messages, which both sides in the trial hope will support their case to the eight-person jury.

Hours after the text exchange began, Rose sent a car to pick up the woman at her apartment. While waiting to be picked up, she said she had two vodka drinks, then consumed a small bottle of wine en route to the house. She complied with a request by Rose to bring along a female friend.

She was tipsy upon arrival, she said, and then had about three shots of tequila. She felt on the verge of blacking out at Rose’s, and said she thought that she might have been drugged.

“I never felt that way before,” she said, contrasting it with previous nights of drinking.

The woman left Rose’s residence with her friend in a taxi, returned to her apartment and, after vomiting in the bathroom, fell into bed while still wearing a dress.

She awakened soon after and resumed texting with Rose, little of which she says she remembers.

The intent, she testified, was for Rose to send over another car to take her back to the house where he was. Rose’s lawyer suggested the woman was inviting Rose to her place. The three men wound up in her apartment, where each engaged in what the defendants’ lawyers claim was consensual sex with her.

She provided minimal specifics about the encounter and was unsure if both of Rose’s companions participated, though she recalled that all were in the bedroom.

Later that morning, she arrived at her property management job an hour late and worked a full day. Asked by McCoy why she did not obtain a rape kit, she said, “I was in disbelief.”

Rose, wearing a dark blue suit, declined to comment as he departed the courtroom.

Source: NYtimes.com