Apr 18, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon


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11Steubenville Rape Defendant Trent Mays Admitted Performing Sex Acts On 16-Year-Old Girl

“Big Red” quarterback Trent Mays admitted in text messages that he used his hand to penetrate a 16-year-old girl and also sent messages to his buddies trying to persuade them to cover up what had happened.

Mays, 17, is one of two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players accused of raping a West Virginia girl last summer. The other defendant is 16-year-old wide receiver Ma’Lik Richmond. Both players have been charged. Mays is also facing a charge of child pornography because he took photos of the victim that eventually leaked to social media.  

“Just say she came to your house and passed out,” Mays texted the friend who hosted the party where the incident occurred. Defense lawyers for the young men are saying that the sex was consensual, but witnesses have said that girl was so wasted that she vomited and had difficulty walking and talking, according to The Daily News.

She also sent text messages that implied she was drugged. “Swear to God I don’t remember doing anything with them,” the girl wrote in a text message to a boy who supposedly witnessed the assaults. “I wasn’t being a slut. They were taking advantage of me.”

The case has received a lot of attention because some people have claimed that authorities are letting other players who saw what happened off the hook because high school football is such a huge part of the local community. One judge and one prosecutor were forced to recuse themselves from the case because they had connections to the team.

Outside of the courthouse on Thursday, two dozen protesters were holding signs in support of the girl and wearing the masks that have become the symbol of hacktivist group Anonymous. Earlier this year, the group posted a picture of the defendants carrying the girl by her ankles and wrists. If convicted, Mays and Richmond could be imprisoned in a juvenile jail until they turn 21.

Source: The Daily News

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11Wisconsin Group Protests Crosses On Municipal Building In Stratton, Ohio

A group in favor of furthering the separation of church and state has continued its protest over a pair of crosses displayed on the municipal building in Stratton, Ohio. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, of Madison, Wis., threatened to sue the small town in January if the crosses were not removed. 

Stratton’s Mayor John Abdalla initially refused to remove the religious symbols but finally did after seeking legal advice. 

"I don't like it - not one bit," Abdalla told the Steubenville Herald-Star at the time. "Worse, I can't find out who is (behind this). This is very upsetting. Those crosses have been there for years. The (Freedom From Religion Foundation) even sent pictures of the crosses.”

In April, though, he placed them back on the building in preparation for the Easter season.

He told the Steubenville paper in early April that the city was allowed to display the crosses during the Christian holiday.

"I'm allowed to put the crosses back up during (holidays)," Abdalla said. "They will stay up at least through the end of this month.”

He added that the Freedom From Religion Foundation had not contacted the city since January. 

That changed April 8 when he received a letter from the foundation according to the Associated Press.

"While the permanent display of these crosses by the Village is indisputably unconstitutional, the seasonal display of the crosses in recognition of Easter, the Christian celebration of Jesus's resurrection, is no less illegal,” Rebecca Markert, staff attorney for the foundation, wrote in the letter. "The display of these crosses is illegal because it represents government endorsement of the Christian religion.”

On April 9 the Herald-Star published an editorial stating the paper’s staff stood with Abdalla even though they knew he was fighting a “losing battle.”

“It's a losing battle because the United States has become a multicultural nation bent on pleasing everyone,” the editorial read.

Abdalla has refused to comment further on the crosses. He would neither confirm nor deny whether the crosses were still on the building when contacted by the Associated Press Wednesday. 

He said he didn’t want to discuss the matter and couldn’t suggest anyone who did.

"No one's going to talk about this," Abdalla said.

The foundation said the city has not responded to the letter requesting that the crosses be removed.

Easter is April 20. City officials may simply be waiting for the holiday to pass and hoping that, with it, the scandal will too.

Sources: Herald-Star (January Story), Herald-Star (April Story), Cleveland Plain Dealer (AP Story), Herald-Star (Editorial)

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11Ohio Man Pleads Guilty To Beating Disabled Brother To ‘Push The Gay Out’

An Ohio man who is the caregiver to his disabled younger brother was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for punching and threatening to slice off his genitals to “push the gay ouf of him.”

Lawrence L. Featheroff, 38, pleaded guilty to attempted complicity to commit felonious assault and abduction, both third-degree felonies.

A felony charge of domestic violence was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Fairfield County Common Pleas Judge Chris A. Martin sentenced him Monday to 30 months in prison for each crime.

Featheroff’s brother, Jason A. Meyers, 26, came to live with him and his girlfriend after he was abused in a group home. Meyers suffers from developmental disabilities, but detectives said he is reasonably high functioning.

Lancaster police said they found Meyers with a concussion, bruises to his face, and a sprained ankle during a Jan. 15 welfare check.

Meyers told police his brother; the brother’s girlfriend, 40-year-old Jamie R. Smith; and a family friend, Brent M. Disbennet, had hit him repeatedly. He said they forced him to run up and down a hill holding a heavy railroad tie.

Meyers said they only allowed him to eat once a day.

Detective Brian Lowe testified that Featheroff told police he was upset with Meyers because he admitted to having sexual thoughts about men and boys.

He said he “wanted to toughen him up to push the gay out of him and make him a normal person.”

Featheroff previously served time for domestic violence.

Smith pleaded not guilty to complicity to commit felonious assault and abduction, and Disbennet, 25, pleaded not guilty to felonious assault. Their cases are pending.

Sources: Columbus Dispatch, Lancaster-Eagle Gazette

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11Federal Judge Orders Ohio To Recognize Out-Of-State Gay Marriages

A federal judge on Monday ordered Ohio to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states. 

The Washington Post reports that Judge Timothy Black ruled that the state’s refusal to recognize gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and “unenforceable in all circumstances.”

“The record before this court ... is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” he wrote in his decision.

The ruling, however, is only a partial victory for supporters of gay rights. It does not force Ohio to allow gay marriages to be performed within its borders. Voters there banned gay marriage by referendum in 2004.

Black may still issue a stay of his ruling pending appeal. Attorneys on both sides will present arguments regarding the stay on Tuesday. The stay would not apply to the four couples who filed the lawsuit in February with Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein.

"This is a great day for many Ohio families,” Gerhardstein was quoted as saying in a USA Today story. ”Yesterday, they lived in a state that discriminated against them; today they live in a state that has declared them equal. Their marriages, the very foundations of their families, are recognized under the law. This ruling is a sweeping declaration in favor of same-sex marriage recognition.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he would appeal the ruling. In that appeal DeWine would be representing the Health Department which is part of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration.

"The governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, he supports Ohio's constitutional ban on same sex marriage, and we're glad the Attorney General is appealing the ruling,” said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich’s administration.

The appeal will go to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

"Ultimately, the Sixth Circuit is going to decide this case, and maybe even the United States Supreme Court," DeWine said.

The Sixth Circuit is also waiting to hear similar cases out Kentucky and Tennessee. The decision in Kentucky has been stayed pending the appeal and the Tennessee case only applies to three couples.

In Ohio Gerhardstein has chalked Black’s decision up as a victory and has said he plans to file a lawsuit in a couple of weeks to force Ohio to allow marriages of same-sex couples to be performed within the state.

Sources: Washington Post, USA Today


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11Judge Forces Man To Stand At Intersection With Sign That Reads "I Am A Bully" (Video)

An Ohio man who bullied his neighbors was forced to stand at a busy intersection wearing a sign after a judge handed down an unusual sentence.

Edmond Aviv, 62, spent years bullying his neighbors, including two children with special needs, so when he finally faced South Euclid Municipal Court Judge Gayle Williams-Byers, his punishment was certainly justified.

Aviv was ordered to stand at the busy intersection for five hours wearing a sign that reads, “I am a bully! I pick on children that are disabled, and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in." The judge made it clear that the lettering must be big enough for people to read it from 25 feet away.

In addition to having to wear a sign, Aviv will also spend 15 days in jail, seven months on probation, attend anger management classes, receive counseling, and perform 100 hours of community service. Michael Prugh, the son of Aviv’s neighbor Sandra Prugh, went into detail about the bullying that started back in 1998.

"He came running up immediately and told her to stop weeding,” Michael said of the first day the bizarre bullying began. “That was when it all started. It still doesn't make any sense. One day he poured fabric softener in our yard where my mom was working. He spit in my mom's face. He's thrown dog feces into our yard and on our car's windshield. He attempted to sue us because of where our laundry vent is, saying we were trying to kill him with fabric softener.”

Prugh said that Aviv also went after his two adopted brothers, both of whom have special needs. The Prughs are white, but the boys Sandra adopted are black, and Michael claims that Aviv called the woman “Monkey Momma.”

“One time our neighbors on the other side said they smelled gas, or fuel,” explained Prugh. “It turned out it was coming from his house. We called the fire department and they found that it was coming from a high dryer vent he had rigged, he's an electrician by trade, to blow kerosene fumes out from inside his garage at our house. By disabled brother had gotten sick from the fumes and had to be taken to the hospital. Another time he threw dog feces on a wheelchair ramp we were having built so that they couldn't proceed. It's been going on forever.”

Williams-Byers called Aviv’s actions “appalling” and said she gave him a punishment that fit the crime.

"This was seemingly a pattern of conduct that had continued over such a long period of time and that the behavior had ratcheted up to such a degree that it had become dangerous for all of the parties that were involved," said Williams-Byers.

Aviv allegedly wrote an apology letter to the family, as instructed by the judge.

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11Teens Arrested After Filming Themselves Attacking Random Man (Video)

Police have arrested three teens they say randomly attacked and robbed a man in Dayton, Ohio last month.

According to reports, the attack happened on March 7 when the high school students from Stivers School of the Arts videotaped themselves randomly assaulting the man, 51-year-old Ronald Baird.

"Oh that's me right there, definitely. He's sneaking up, I didn't even know he was coming,” said Baird while watching video of the attack. “I didn't even see that coming. I was like what the heck.”

The teens were able to take $3 from Baird before running off. A teacher at Stivers notified police of the incident after seeing the video on a student’s phone.

"They were emulating something they probably saw before online,” said Dayton Police Detective Nathan Curley. “It doesn't really make a lot of sense. You would think what are they trying to gain from this? They didn't get a lot of money. Didn't get a lot of property. They were looking for some kind of level of respect from their peers. Some street credibility for robbing random people filming it and showing the video. It is sad."

Baird was reportedly treated for minor injuries, and now, all three teens are in juvenile detention facing charges.

"It's terrible," said Baird. "It's petty, I hope it doesn't happen to anyone else. I hope these guys learn from what they did."

Officer Curley says he hopes other teens will learn from this and realize that what they’re doing is not funny.

“I think that this is kind of a copy cat thing,” said Curley. “They’re seeing other people online, on YouTube, doing this and they think it’s cool. Obviously, there is a victim in this crime who was injured and hurt, and I would say would you like someone to do this to your relative?”

Officials are reportedly attempting to try the teens as adults.

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11WW2 Veteran Outguns Home Invader

Ohio man Robert Kelly Jr. was outgunned when he tried to wield a knife and rob homeowners on Monday.

Kelly allegedly talked his way into Ruby and Hugh Mathis’ house before pulling a knife on Mr. Mathis.

Kelly regularly did odd jobs around the neighborhood like cutting grass and was known by neighbors. So, when he knocked on the Mathis’ door and asked to use the phone, the couple held no reservations about letting him in.

When Mr. Mathis and Kelly were alone, Kelly revealed his knife and demanded money.

“They were talking real low, and I came in to see what it was,” Mrs. Mathis said. “[Kelly] was standing in front of Hugh with a knife saying, 'Give me the money out of your pocket,’ so when I heard that I ran to the bedroom and got the gun.”

When Kelly realized he was outgunned, he bolted out the front door. He was arrested the same day after a warrant was issued.

Kelly is currently being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center with a bond set at $1.5 million for three counts of aggravated robbery.

Sources: WLWT, Daily Motion

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11Convicted Child Rapist And Murderer Denied Organ Donation Request Before Execution

Ohio death-row inmate Ronald Phillips will not be allowed to donate his organs to a family member.

The decision was reached because Phillips would not have enough time to recover from the organ donation surgery before his execution.

Phillips’ execution was postponed by Gov. John Kasich from November 2013 to July 2014 to see if he was a viable kidney donor for his mother, who has kidney disease. It was also discussed that he may donate his heart to his sister, who suffers from heart disease.

The transplant surgery had to take place by March 23, wherein Phillips would have at least 100 days to recuperate before his execution date of July 2, reports Cleveland.com.

Stephen Gray, chief counsel for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, sent a letter to Phillips’ attorney, Timothy Sweeney, on Friday, March 21, stating “it appears certain” that Phillips would not meet the deadline.

Gray also stated in the letter that the state “fully intends” to carry out Phillips’ execution, reports TheNews-Messenger.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction warned Phillips of the upcoming deadline in a letter two months ago where Gary wrote, “Only a little progress has been made by your client and his mother to move forward with this process.”  Phillips’ mother was to attend a transplant educational session at Ohio State University’s medical center January 21.

The state views Phillips as any other inmate, and thus has an obligation to make sure he is healthy, even given the fact that he will be put to death.

“Anyone who’s undergone surgery, it’s humane to have time to heal,” said Ricky Seyfang, a spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Phillips, 40, was sentenced to death in 1993 for raping and killing 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans, the daughter of his girlfriend.

The state of Ohio approved the last-minute request to postpone Phillips' execution for possible organ donation, after the prison system denied his request. The state wanted time to see if was possible to comply.

“I realize this is a bit of uncharted territory for Ohio, but if another life can be saved by his willingness to donate his organs and tissues, then we should allow for that to happen,” Gov. Kasich said in a statement at the time.

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Kasich, said the governor will not further postpone Phillips’ execution.

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11Judge Urged To Disregard Teen Jamal Vaughn's IQ And Try Him As An Adult

Prosecutors in Summit County, Ohio have asked a juvenile judge not to consider a defendant’s IQ when deciding whether he should be tried as an adult. According to a story in the Akron Beacon Journal, 15-year-old Jamal Vaughn, who was just 14 when arrested as an accomplice in a brutal double murder, has an IQ of 70 with minimal reading, math and spelling skills. 

Authorities say Vaughn played a part in last year’s “New Franklin murders,” as they are known in the area. The main perpetrator was 18-year-old Shawn Ford, Jr., the former boyfriend of the victims’ daughter. It is alleged Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert were beaten to death with a brick and sledgehammer by the two young men. The motive, police say, was the married couple’s refusal to allow Ford to visit their daughter in the hospital. Cleveland’s Fox 8 News reported that Ford has also been charged in the assault that landed the young girl, Chelsea Schobert, in that hospital bed.

Juvenile Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio ruled last August that there was sufficient evidence to transfer Vaughn’s aggravated murder case to adult court. State law, however, requires that an “amenability hearing” be held to decide if Vaughn is capable of rehabilitation in a juvenile detention facility if he is convicted.

Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi says Vaughn is not. 

“What is it we’re rehabilitating? He has a low IQ,” LoPrinzi told the judge in closing arguments Tuesday, “and we’re not going to change that.”

A court psychologist testified at the hearing that Vaughn was being treated for depression over the breakup of his parents. However, there was no other psychological or emotional issue that could be documented or treated according to the professional.

Vaughn’s attorney, Adam VanHo, painted his client as a victim of Ford’s coercion, calling Ford a “monster.” 

“If Shawn Ford wasn’t there that night,” VanHo told the court, “none of us would be here in this courtroom and the Schoberts would still be at home.”

He also argued that Vaughn is not emotionally or physically mature enough to withstand time in adult prison.

“To put him into that prison system,” VanHo said, “is to essentially give him a death sentence.”

The judge did not give a deadline for her ruling, but said she would issue a written decision after considering all testimony as well as Vaughn’s school records.

Sources: Akron Beacon Journal, Fox 8 News


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11Ohio Attorney General: Barring Candidates From Lying Is Violation Of Free Speech

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is arguing in the U.S. Supreme Court that Ohio’s election law banning candidates from making false statements with malice is unconstitutional.

DeWine says the law has a “chilling” impact on free speech and on organizations that want to advertise against a candidate, according to legal filings.

“Ohio law prohibits the use of false statements in both candidate campaigns and ballot issue campaigns,” reads the website of Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler. “Included in statute are specific prohibitions against making false statements about a candidate’s schooling or training, indictments or convictions, treatment for a mental illness or voting record as a public official.”

DeWine argues that the law “polices not just false speech, but speech that indisputably is protected under the First Amendment.”

The legal challenge involves a case in which a political action committee was accused of violating state election laws by making false statements in a tweet, as well as another case in which a billboard owner refused to put up a nonprofit’s sign after the candidate it criticized, former Rep. Steve Driehaus, Democrat, filed a complaint with the state elections commission.

DeWine says the law intimidates opponents and makes them waste time and money responding to complaints.

“The speaker is forced to use time and resources responding to the complaint, typically at the exact moment that the campaign is peaking and his time and resources are best used elsewhere,” DeWine wrote. “In other words, the state has constructed a process that allows its enforcement mechanisms to be used to extract a cost from those seeking to speak out on elections, right at the most crucial time for that particular type of speech. And if the allegations turn out to be unfounded, there is no possibility of timely remedy.”

Sources: Springfield News-Sun, Columbus Dispatch

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