The internet is a powerful thing. Words typed in anonymity online – whether intended to be taken seriously or not -- often bite back with real world consequences. Minnesota high school student Reid Sagehorn is finding this out the hard way.
Sagehorn has been suspended for over two months after sending out a tweet claiming to have had sexual relations with a teacher at his school. Sagehorn, a student at Rogers High School, sent out the tweet in response to a rumor on the “Rogers Confessions” page on ask.fm. Ask.fm is a popular social media site in which users – often through a veil of anonymity – ask and answer questions online.
A rumor on the site alleged Sagehorn had sexual contact with a female teacher at his school. In typical high school male bravado, Sagehorn responded to the rumor saying that “Yes, actually” he did have a sexual interaction with the teacher. Sagehorn’s claim spread quickly amongst students and didn’t take long to reach school administrators.
Police interviewed the 28-year-old teacher at the center of the rumor and found that Sagehorn’s claim was false. Rogers High School suspended Sagehorn for two months for making a false claim that had the very real ability to tarnish a teacher’s reputation and ruin her career.
The student body at Rogers High has taken to Sagehorn’s defense. They say his claim was just a joke and that his suspension is an overreaction. What’s worse, the students are directing much of their anger at the teacher involved in the rumor, as if she somehow contributed to Sagehorn’s suspension.
Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen spoke to the Star Tribune recently about Sagehorn’s comment and the student body’s protests.
“It’s like screaming ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater or ‘I have a bomb’ on an airplane,” Beahen said. “If you say something on a very public forum, there are consequences. This young, innocent teacher is the victim here…no one seems to care about the teacher … and that’s a sad experience. She’s, frankly, being bullied and harassed by students.”
Elk Area River Schools Superintendent Mark Bezek defended the teacher as well.
“The teacher involved, she did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said. “In the cyberworld, she’s getting crucified. Our staff members wonder: ‘Is this going to happen to me?’”
Police Chief Beahen says that in addition to his suspension, Sagehorn may face criminal charges. Since the teacher would be committing a crime if she had enagaged in sex with Sagehorn, his claim that she did so is a false criminal accusation.
“That’s a crime,” Beahen said.
Sagehorn may face either felony or misdemeanor charges for his comment. For a felony charge, Beahen said, “You have to prove intent, that the accused was fully aware that harm would occur.”
A misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge could apply if prosecutors decide not to pursue the felony charge. Beahen says the county attorney will decide which route to take following an investigation.
Superintendent Bezek says the ordeal serves as a warning to students to take their online conduct seriously. He called the internet a powerful thing that “can also cause so much harm. We’ve just given it to them without the proper training. You don’t let a kid drive a car, shoot guns without the proper training.”
No question about it, ding dong ditch is an obnoxious game. Anytime a bunch of kids repeatedly ring a doorbell and run off, it’s going to get a few people angry. But regardless of how annoying the game is, there’s no question Florida resident Ashley Crossland got way too upset about it recently.
In January, a young group of boys were playing ding dong ditch in Springfield, Florida. As chance would have it, the boys decided to walk up to Crossland’s home and ring her bell. A furious Crossland quickly came outside following the ring. All of the boys quickly ran off, with most going in one direction, but another, identified as J.D., running the opposite way.
Crossland was way too mad to let the boys get away with the prank. She hopped in her van and started chasing J.D. down the street. She drove on lawns and driveways as she tried to trap the boy. A police report says Crossland nearly hit the boy’s legs during her pursuit.
Eventually she cornered J.D. into a fence. She got out of her van and told J.D. to get into her van or else she would cut him. He got in. Once inside the car, Crossland took out a hunting knife and pointed it at the boy. She reportedly “told him she was going to murder him and slit his throat and his family’s throats.”
The boy said Crossland repeatedly used racial slurs against him during the drive. She demanded J.D. direct her to the house the boys were staying at. Fearing for his life, J.D. complied. The boy reports Crossland punched him on the face and head three times during the drive.
Once at the house that the boys were staying at, Crossland barged inside. She stood in the entryway and yelled at all the boys, threatening to kill them and harm their families. A man who lives at the house came upstairs after hearing Crossland’s screams. He demanded she step outside, and she did. The man called police.
Police quickly identified the furious woman as Crossland. She has now been charged with four felonies including kidnapping, armed criminal action, burglary, and unlawful use of a weapon. She has also been charged with assault and harassment.
In an interview with Springfield Police, Crossland admitted that she “probably called him [J.D.] some things I shouldn’t have” and said her words were “really racist.”
Crossland has prior convictions for felony forgery and felony assault. She seems to have an affinity for threatening to slit throats, too. In her assault case, prosecutors argued that “By committing these offenses and threatening to slit the throats of several individuals, defendant has demonstrated that she is a threat to the victims and this community.”
Louisiana man Cartrell Brooks, 40, is facing charges of intentionally infecting over a dozen women with HIV.
DeSoto Police became aware of his criminal activity while investigating claims that he slept with a 14-year-old girl. In addition to charges of purposefully infecting women with HIV, Brooks has been charged with aggravated incest and drug possession. He has been arrested 53 times in his life and is a known career criminal.
During their investigation of Brooks, many women from the southeastern region of the U.S. contacted police and reported that Brooks gave them HIV. All of the women said Brooks never informed them that he was HIV positive before having unprotected sex with them. Brooks is the father to at least 27 children.
“I don’t know if he contracted it from a woman and has a grudge, or it’s something else,” Sgt. Garland Hensley of the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office said. “I’ve dealt with lots of things, but this is a first.”
Brooks was sentenced to four years in prison in 2009 on charges of attempted criminal sale of a controlled substance. He finished his sentence for those charges on July 16, 2013. Now that his intentional HIV spreading has been brought to light, he’ll likely be starting a new prison sentence soon.
Intentionally infecting unaware partners with HIV is a felony in Louisiana. Brooks is being held in the DeSoto Parish Correctional Facility until a pending court date.
The Southern Tier AIDS Program Executive Director John Barry says that although people like Brooks are not the norm, his case is a strong reminder to always know a new partner’s sexual history before having sex with them.
"Communication is crucial,” Barry said. “Know who your partners are, go ahead and ask these questions.”
Custody battles can get really ugly sometimes. We all know that. But what took place in Pinal County, Florida recently is on an entirely different level.
35-year-old woman Connie Villa is facing a slew of charges including first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, kidnapping, and child abuse.
Villa told Pinal County investigators she strangled her daughter to death because she wouldn’t take prescription narcotic drugs. Villa succeeded in forcing her other four children to take the drugs, though police report the children are now in good health.
Oddly, Villa told detectives her motive in abusing the children was to ensure her ex-husband did not get custody of them.
Villa’s attempted murder charges comes after she tried to kill her ex-husband. According to Pinal County police spokesman Thomas Anderson, Villa lured her ex-husband into her home and proceeded to stab him in his upper torso. She again said her reason for the stabbing was to prevent the man from attaining custody of their children.
In total, Villa has been cited with 11 felony charges. She was formally charged in an indictment released by a grand jury on Monday.
An Illinois man has been sentenced to three years in prison after authorities say he ordered an appetizer, drinks and an entree at a restaurant, and then couldn’t pay the $70 bill.
Anthony M. Malabehar, 47, pleaded guilty to a theft charge that accused him of stealing from the Alamo Steak House restaurant in Mattoon on April 4. That was the second time in about two months that he had been accused of stealing from a restaurant.
Malabehar’s record apparently includes several theft and other property offense convictions, which is why he ended up with jail time. Normally a theft of $70 would be a misdemeanor offense. Due to his prior record Malabehar was charged with a felony.
The convicted thief was fortunate, because he was eligible for an extended prison sentence of up to six years because of his earlier convictions, the Journal Gazette & Times Courier reported.
Malabehar never gave an explanation of why he stole from the restaurants, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Rob Scales. During both incidents, Malabehar informed restaurant workers that he couldn’t pay for what he had ordered and then calmly waited for police to arrive without causing any problems.
In addition to the jail time, Malabehar’s sentence also included restitution to the restaurant and a $100 fine.