Sex Crimes

Sex Crimes

Texas sheriff’s deputy accused of sexually abusing child and threatening to deport her mother

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A sheriff’s deputy in San Antonio is accused of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl and threatening the child’s mother, who is undocumented, that she would be deported if she told authorities about the abuse. Jose Nunez, 47, who was employed by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, faces a charge of super aggravated sexual assault of a child. Nunez faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, according to Leslie Garza of the Bexar County district attorney’s office.

The victim is related to the suspect, according to Sheriff Javier Salazar, but details of their relationship has not been made public. Salazar noted that investigators believe there may be more victims, and that the abuse against the known victim may have taken place over a period of months or years.

“The details of this are quite frankly heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting and infuriating all at the same time,” Salazar said.

A case of ‘super aggravated sexual assault of a child’ occurs if the victim is less than six years old, or if a victim is less than fourteen years old in combination with other factors, like the use of a deadly weapon, during the assault.

William Chumbley, who is representing Nunez, did not respond to requests for comments by Monday morning.

Authorities became aware of the case after the victim’s mother fled to a fire station at night, according to Salazar. Nunez was arrested before sunrise on Sunday, while he was off duty. He was arrested by his former colleagues of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities are planning to give the victim’s mother protected status, Salazar said. “I would urge anybody that may be undocumented that is a victim of a crime or a witness to a crime to please come forward and report it”.

UCF’s Delta Sigma Phi sued over revenge porn claims

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A student from Arizona has sued the University of Central Florida chapter of Delta Sigma Phi, as well as several of its members, claiming that some DSPhi members shared explicit photos and videos of her and other women in a private Facebook group without their permission.

The complaint, filed in a Florida district court Wednesday, the plaintiff was involved in a long-distance relationship with a Delta Sigma Phi brother at UCF in Orlando. The suit alleges that, in October, he shared explicit photos and videos of her that he received during their relationship on a secret Facebook page called the “Dog Pound”. The secret page is where “fraternity brothers routinely posted electronic video and images of their sexual ‘conquests”, according to the lawsuit.

The New York Times discovered that the national organization governing Delta Sigma Phi suspended the chapter at UCF. It is unclear how long the suspension will last. “While we cannot comment on specific allegations made in the lawsuit, these claims are disturbing and antithetical to our organization’s values and mission,” the fraternity said to the Times.

Content posted to the secret group were allegedly obtained through first-person sexual encounters, and many of the photos and videos posted were of “unsuspecting woman” according to the complaint. Kathryn Novak, the plaintiff in the case, is represented by Michael Avenatti, who has recently become known as the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Novak alleges that she engaged in consensual sex with her former partner, Brandon Simpson, while being recorded by Simpson without her knowledge. Avenatti said there’s “a number of women victimized by this and many videos posted.” Four other fraternity brothers have been named in the suit, and it is believed they viewed the content Simpson took of Novak.

Novak is seeking an injunction to stop the spread of the content online, and $75,000 in compensatory, punitive, and statutory damages.

The University of Central Florida, through a press release, said “These allegations are contrary to our core values. Although UCF is not a party to the suit, we are gathering information. If anyone believes they may have been impacted in this case, UCF wants to hear from you. Visit www.LetsBeClear.ucf.edu to learn about options for filing a report and seeking assistance.”

The lawsuit alleges UCF failed to address the culture that permitted the offenses against Novak to occur, but UCF is not named in the suit. Delta Sigma Phi’s national organization and their UCF chapter have not responded to inquiries lodged by the press.

The use of private digital platforms to spread stolen and non-consensual photos and videos – commonly called “revenge porn” – is a modern phenomenon. These types of crimes have become more common in recent years, including notable cases at Penn State University and the Marine Corps revenge porn scandal.

Facebook has been trying to stop the spread of revenge porn, but the platform’s ability to create and manage secret groups has made it a difficult task. The company has banned nudity on their platform, as well as removing non-consensual images routinely. However, monitoring the content of millions of weekly has become an issue in itself.

According to the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, over twelve percent of Americans have been a target of non-consensual pornography.

Weinstein Indicted on Rape Charges, More to Follow

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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.

Keizer Sex Offender Caught After 48 Hours on the Run

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A convicted sex offender who led California state police on a 100-mile chase is held on $1 million bail after being charged with over a dozen crimes including spousal abuse and kidnapping.

Stephen Houk, 46, was placed on the Marion County Sherriff’s Office most-wanted offenders list for violating his parole, which stemmed from a 2002 child sex abuse case. He was arraigned Monday in Los Angeles on one count each of assault with a firearm, criminal threats, fleeing police, illegal possession of a firearm by a felon and fugitive from justice, and two counts each of kidnapping, child abuse, injuring a spouse, and child detention.

California parole board officials noted that Houk would not return to Oregon to face parole-related supervision violations until the resolution of charges originating in California. The warrant for Houk will remain active in Oregon. He was arrested Thursday in the Mohave Desert after witnesses discovered him hiding in a rail car. Houk’s arrest came two days after he led police on a nearly four-hour chase from Hollywood to Bakersfield.

According to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, a domestic dispute between Houk and Houk’s spouse in the family’s RV escalated when he pointed a firearm at his wife. The couple’s two children, a 3-year-old boy and an 11-month-old daughter, were present during the argument. Houk then forced his wife out of the RV and sped off, leaving his wife to seek help from passersby.

Houk fled from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, where he drove erratically through the freeway, city, and busy parking lots with his children in the vehicle. Entering a rural area, Houk eventually stopped the RV while officers surrounded him. 45 minutes later, his son exited the RV, but Houk was nowhere to be found.

In the 48 hours that followed, Houk shaved his beard to mask his identity, slept outside of a public library, ate at a homeless shelter, and hopped onto a freight train destined for Arizona.

Houk’s conviction in Oregon stemmed from charges of sodomizing a minor in Lincoln County, south of Portland. He surrendered to police in this case, and pled guilty to felony sodomy after a deal was struck that resulted in dropped charges of sex abuse. Houk served eight years in prison.

Larry Nassar gets another 40 to 125 years

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Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who was accused of molesting professional and Olympic-level gymnasts for decades, was sentenced to an additional 40 to 125 years in prison Monday. Nassar, accused of sexually assaulting at least 265 girls and women under the pretenses of medical examinations, apologized to his victims in Eaton County Court. He said the victim impact statements he heard over nine days of hearings “impacted [him] to [his] innermost core.”

Judge Janice Cunningham, however, did not believe he was remorseful. “I am not convinced that you truly understand that what you did was wrong and the devastating impact that you have had on the victims, families and friends,” Judge Cunningham said. “Clearly you are in denial, you don’t get it, and I do not believe there is a likelihood you could be reformed.” Monday’s proceeding is the presumed end of the criminal saga against Nassar, aside from an unexpected appeals process. Over 200 of Nassar’s ex-patients delivered written and verbal testimony over nine days of hearings during the trial.

Despite Nassar’s conviction, the growing scandal facing the US Olympic committee and associated governing bodies is poised to continue. Questions surround the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University, where Nassar was employed for close to two decades, regarding whether credible allegations against Nassar were ignored or covered up.

Victims have allegedly come forward as early as 1997, and the two decades wait for justice was described as a “wake-up call” by Judge Cunningham. ‘”It is unfathomable to think about the number of victims that would have been spared had authorities acted upon the complaints they received years ago.”

Nassar’s sentencing follows the plea agreements made by Nassar’s attorney late last year, following previous convictions in Ingham County for child molestation and a federal conviction for possession of child pornography. Together, Nassar faces between 140 and 360 years in prison in all cases. The most recent conviction in Eaton county originates from abuse performed by Nassar at Twistar’s gym, were promising gymnasts trained.

The first public accusations against Nassar surfaced in September 2016 after an investigation by the Indianapolis Star. Initially, Nassar denied all charges brought in the Star’s article, but was found to be in possession of more than 37,000 images and videos of child pornography later that year. Nassar later pleaded guilty in both cases.

During plea proceedings, Nassar complained to Ingham County Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina about having to listen to his victim’s testimonies, although he later apologized during sentencing. Despite Nassar’s apology, one of his lawyers appeared on a local radio program and said she did not believe many of the girls’ testimonies – and that Nassar used “legitimate medical techniques” that his victims described as molestation. Nassar later disavowed his lawyer’s remarks through a statement issued by his defense team.

Judge Cunningham sealed Nassar’s case with a blistering assessment of Nassar’s legacy: “You have lived an idolized life. You were a prominent doctor in our society. You were the member of an Olympic team. You have been pampered and lived a high-class lifestyle… the result will be spending rest of your life in a small prison cell. I’m sure that is unthinkable to you. But you will be left to sit there with only the memories of destroying your own family. And I do not believe you will have the ability to shut out the words of the children and the young women and the adults who trusted you, and you let down.”

Former Michigan band teacher pleads guilty to sex crime

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Jeffrey Howenstine, 60, has plead guilty to one count of attempting to engage the services of a minor for prostitution. The plea, which came on January 17th in Ingham County Circuit Court, leaves the former Lansing school teacher facing 2.5 years in prison. Originally charged with sexually assaulting a former student, Howenstine will be compelled to register with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for 15 years.

The case against Howenstine developed after officials investigated and charged Tyrone Smith with sex trafficking. Smith, 46, pled guilty to two counts of sex trafficking and was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2016. Smith told Ingham County detectives that Howenstine was a former client of his.

When officers questioned Howenstine, he admitted to paying at least two of the women Smith trafficked for sex, one of whom is was a minor when the crimes were alleged to have occurred. While in custody, Howenstine told a detective he had a “sex addiction”, but said he was unaware that one of his victims was a minor. Ingham County Sheriff’s Office Detective Amber Kenny-Hinojosa told reporters that “(Howenstine) admitted when he looked for prostitutes, he looked for the age of 18 to 25 years.”

Howenstein recently testified in the sex trafficking trial of Amber Speed, a Lansing woman who was recently convicted of running a criminal enterprise involving the prostitution of minors. Howenstein told jurors that he was blackmailed by Speed after soliciting and paying Speed for sex with trafficking victims. He estimates that he paid “at least $20,000” to Speed over two years.

The former Otto Middle School band leader brought the school’s music program to national prominence but was accused of coercing a 15-year-old girl to perform oral sex acts on him in 2000. Howenstein denied the charges and was eventually acquitted by a jury on three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2002.

Following the acquittal, Lansing School District paid Howenstine $120,000 to leave his job. He was then hired as a school band director in Melvindale, working there for nine years until he retired in 2013.

Frank Reynolds, Howenstine’s attorney, said that his client was “looking forward to sentencing in order to conclude [the trial]”. Reynolds also noted that he was not aware of any other pending charges, criminal investigations, or other legal movements against his client. Ingham County Circuit Court will formally sentence Howenstine on February 21st.

USA Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty To More Sexual Misconduct Charges

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54-year-old Larry Nassar has plead guilty to more accusations of sexual misconduct with minors in a highly publicized November 29 hearing in Michigan. Nassar accepted three more of the charges of first degree sexual conduct with children under the age of 16, including one charge involving a child younger than 13 years old. Nassar, the team doctor for the American Olympic gymnastics team for many years, had already plead guilty to abusing seven girls a week prior, and had made a deal that would put him in prison for at least 25 years.

 

At the November 29 trial, when Nassar was pressed on whether or not he had inserted an unprotected finger into the victims, he said “yes” with a sigh. Nassar was very quiet during this second hearing. Sentencing for these additional charges, on top of the 25 years already handed down, will occur some time near the end of January 2018.

 

In the November 22 trial, Nassar admitted to similar misconduct with several members of the gymnastics team, usually veiled by the encounters being of the nature of a medical exam. The acts of abuse spanned from 1998 to 2015, when he was quietly dismissed by USA Gymnastics. Nassar, while pleading guilty at that initial hearing, expressed his desire to move on and to help his victims begin the healing process. Rosemarie Aquilina, the judge presiding over that case, responded harshly on behalf of the victims, saying that it would take some of them years to heal “while you spend your lifetime behind bars thinking about what you did in taking away their childhood.”

 

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The case against Nassar began to be built when Rachel Denhollander came forward to the Indianapolis Star over a year ago, detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by Nassar. In court, Denhollander detailed in the initial court hearing how, beginning in the year 2000, when she was 15 years old, Nassar rubbed her sexual organs and inserted his finger while making it seem the actions were part of a medical treatment. Denhollander says Nassar went as far as groping her breasts at one point. Since Denhollander came forward, over a hundred gymnasts have since followed suit. Nassar initially tried to continue the story that his practices were part of medical procedures, but he began pleading guilty later to charges such as possession of child pornography. Even big names in USA Gymnastics such as McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman put their names in the fight against Nassar.. The public has also since condemned USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University for knowing about complaints about Nassar and not doing enough about addressing them.

Group of Women Sue Carrollton Spa over Harassment

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In late June, a group of five women sued Spa Castle, a spa in Carrollton, Texas, making serious allegations against the establishment. The group contends that male employees harassed them and watched them undress, in some case even taking pictures or video recordings of them in the nude. Four of the women experienced this treatment on a June 15th visit, while the fifth woman recounted similar experiences from her visit on February 14th. Since then, the spa has fired its assistant manager, who was one of the men accused of being a “peeping Tom”. However, the women are now seeking $1 million in damages over the violation of their privacy.

According to the suit, it seems that the male employees had a system in which each one would hold a phone with a towel over it to make it as subtle as possible while still being able to take pictures. Furthermore, it seems that this operation was so organized that there were signals in place to point to the person with the best vantage point to take a salacious picture. One of the women says that at least one male employee simply entered the female locker room and stared at naked women; when the employee was confronted, the woman claims he only responded, “Oops,” with a smirk. The woman tried to file a formal complaint, but was directed to do so via e-mail, as the acting manager was not at work during that shift.

Roshunda Wade, one of the other women involved in the suit, says that her experience was more heated. After a male employee had already unexpectedly entered the women’s nude-only jacuzzi area, under the guise of informing them when the room’s closing time was, Wade says two men refused to leave the bathing area of the locker room in order to allow she and her friend to change. Wade even alleges that the men continued to stare at her body and took pictures of them with a cellphone after refusing to leave. “I remember feeling absolutely disrespected, very angry, disappointed, embarrassed and uncomfortable,” Wade recalls of the situation. Just moments later, Wade also says she saw the men harass another woman in the bathing area, forcing her in the nude to squeeze between them in order to exit. Wade, similarly to the aforementioned woman’s experience, was directed to submit her complaints via e-mail.

This isn’t entirely untrodden territory for the business, as its original branch in New York City has also been accused of lewd acts and safety violations in the past. The original location had to shut down for a period of time last year due to a girl almost drowning after her hair got caught in a drain. The Carrollton branch advertises itself as a family-friendly destination, but this is not the first time they’ve gotten in hot water themselves. For example, two women in mid-July reported finding feces in the women’s-only bathing area, in addition to sarcastic treatment by the employees when presented with the complaint.

Hinsdale South’s Josh King among Michigan State players charged with criminal sexual conduct

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A woman in Michigan was sexually assaulted by one of three football players that played for Michigan State.  The woman claimed she was sexually assaulted at a party where Josh King, 19, was involved.  King is being charged with first as well as third-degree criminal sexual conduct indictments as well as the distribution of images of an undressed person.  King’s position was that of a defensive end and happened to be a 2016 Illinois highest-ranked recruit as well as a two-time state wrestling champion.  King’s teammate, Demetric Vance, 20 years old as well as Donnie Corley Jr., 19 are among the other players being accused of third-degree criminal sexual conduct indictments.

All three players have since been removed from the team by Mark Dantonio, Michigan State coach.  According to Michigan State’s independent Title IX, all three teammates have encroached upon the violence and sexual misconduct policy of the university.  There were prior similar incidents from Minnesota and Baylor that have sparked national awareness regarding sexual assault accusations concerning college sports members.  Dantonio stated, “You ask yourself, ‘Did they break the law?’…That’s to be discovered at a later time. You have to ask yourself about the morals involved in this. My perspective is the morals were not where they needed to be, and conversely this decision was going to be made on recognition of the facts.”

The woman that was allegedly sexually accosted testified that she was pulled into a restroom and forced to perform oral sex on King.  After, she was forcibly raped.  After King, the other two teammates entered the bathroom and performed the same sexual assaults until the woman collapsed on the floor.  King was found with a video of him engaging in sexual conduct with the woman on his cellphone.  Dantonio stated, “There’s been a numerous amount of education thrown at our players, especially our freshman group from the time that they’ve gotten here,” he said. “One week before the episode, we had our Title IX administrator come in and talk about the case at another university. The education, I thought, was there, and they compromised themselves by getting involved in such a situation.”  Dantonio was said to be furious regarding the teammates not heeding to the school policy and education that was given regarding sexual conduct and assault.

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Michigan State is currently being prosecuted for over 95 alleged sexual misconducts that are in relation to USA Gymnastics and doctor Larry Nassar.  The complaint states that the school did not acknowledge the complaints of sexual assaults nor ensure protection from alleged defendant’s vengeance.  Athletic director Mark Hollis stated that “Systems are in place here at Michigan State, but like anyplace else, they have to continue to improve … to prevent and respond … to keep pace with today’s society. Voices must be heard. Bystanders must react. Care and compassion provided to survivors,” as well as “Sexual assault has no place on our campus, on any college campus…in fact there is no culture where it is acceptable for one person to abuse another.”

King was the highest-rated novice to ever be recruited in the history of his high school, Hinsdale South.  Corley was a prominent player for the Spartans in the year 2016 and completed second on his team.  Vance was included as a top player for the Spartans’ recruiting in the year 2016 and was also classified as 3rd in the Big Ten and 17th nationally.  Vance’s attorney, as well as Corley’s attorney, stated that they are falsely accused in this situation and requested them to be dismissed from all charges stating “no criminal history whatsoever.”

 

Stanford Swimmer Receives Light Sentence for Sexual Assault

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On June 7, 2016, California Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner, a 20 year old student at Standford University and all star swimmer, to 6 months for the 2015 sexual assault of an unconscious woman who had come to campus to visit her younger sister.