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Maryland prosecutors drop rape charges against 2 immigrant HS students

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By Kelly Terez

iStock/Thinkstock(ROCKVILLE, Md.) — Maryland prosecutors announced Friday they are dropping rape charges against two Maryland high school students whose cases sparked a national conversation about U.S. immigration laws.

Jose Montano, 17, and Henry Sanchez Milian, 18, who are both undocumented immigrants, were arrested and accused in March of raping a 14-year-old girl in a bathroom at Rockville High School during school hours.

“After a painstaking investigation and review of these matters, we have concluded that the facts in this case do not support the charges originally filed in this matter,” John McCarthy, the Montgomery County State’s attorney, said Friday during a press conference.

Montano’s attorneys told reporters Friday, “I say the state did the right thing. They reviewed the video, they interviewed multiple witnesses, and they did the correct thing by dropping those charges.”

Both, however, are still facing charges of child pornography for a lewd video sent to them by the 14-year-old victim.

Montano will be charged in juvenile court for possession and distribution. His lawyer refused to comment further due to confidentiality laws.

Milian is facing charges of child pornography in Montgomery County’s Circuit Court.

Maria Mena, one of two lawyers defending Montano, said she feels the child pornography charges against Montano are “egregious” since it’s “against someone who did not even create it, when the person that created it was this young lady who forwarded it and sent it to our client.”

According to the Montgomery County police report, on March 14 the 14-year old victim met Montano and Milian in the school hallway where she was asked by Montano to have sex. When she refused, according to the police report, Montano forced her into the boy’s bathroom, where he and Sanchez Milian raped the victim.

Montano’s attorneys refuted the allegation that their client forced the victim into the bathroom and said the encounter was consensual.

“If you were to look at the school footage, you would be able to see her running across the hallway to meet up with our client,” Mena said, referring to the school surveillance video. “She was not pushed into this bathroom. She walks into this bathroom.”

McCarthy said Friday prosecution in this case is “unattainable” due to the “lack of corroboration and substantial inconsistencies.”

The case sparked renewed criticism of America’s immigration system after it was revealed that the two teenage boys had entered the U.S. illegally and were allowed to remain in the U.S. while awaiting their deportation hearings.

“This is a tragic event and it’s horrendous and horrible and disgusting what this young woman in Rockville went through. I can’t possibly imagine,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during a press briefing at the White House on March 21.

He continued, “Part of the reason the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this.”

On Friday, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters: “We’re always looking to protect the American people. Sean [Spicer] was speaking about what he knew at the time. And certainly I haven’t had a chance to dive into the latest on that. But we will and we’ll get back to you.”

Sanders said she will not retract anything without further information.

In August 2016, Milian had been picked up by Border Patrol when he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border from Guatemala as an unaccompanied minor, but was released to his father’s custody, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was issued a notice to appear at a later time before an immigration judge, according to a March 23 statement from ICE.

According to Montano’s lawyers, he is in deportation proceedings.

“He came here on his own in order to be reunited with his family because he didn’t have any family back home left,” David Wooten, who’s working with Mena to defend Montano, said Friday.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Rockville High School community, particularly the girl who has been the center of this,” Jack Smith, the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, said in a statement. “I know that the staff and students remain focused on healing as a community and ending this school year ‘Rockville Strong.’”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

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Zoe Saldana admits she was "shocked" but not upset when Britney Spears blabbed about her pregnancy

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By Stephen Iervolino

Bravo/Charles Sykes(LOS ANGELES) — Zoe Saldana says there are no hard feelings between her and her Crossroads co-star Britney Spears.

On Thursday night’s Watch What Happens Live, Saldana recalled how, back in 2014, Spears revealed that she was having twins. Zoe said she was shocked but not upset when Britney spilled the beans on her.

“The way that it happened was so innocent that I never even thought of holding her accountable for anything,” Saldana said. “She was just being Britney. I love her. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean that in the way that she lives her life in such truth.”

Saldana went on to explain that the two bumped into each other on a cross-country flight and bonded since Spears is also a mom to two boys.

“We were on the same flight from L.A. to New York and we just talked for the duration of the flight,” the actress said. “She has two boys, I was having twins and we had a beautiful talk. And I forgot; it never even occurred to me to not to say anything. We weren’t trying to hide it; we were just trying to be discreet.

“I was shocked because we weren’t ready to sort of share that. But it was Britney, so it’s OK,” Saldana added with a laugh.

Saldana now has three children with her husband, Marc Perego. They’re parents to two-year-old twin boys Cy and Bowie, and they have a newborn son, Zen, who they welcomed in February.

The actress said she hasn’t ran into Spears since to talk about the incident, but added, “but I’m pretty sure we will. We will.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: Entertainment News

      

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Murder warrant issued for fired Texas cop who killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards

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By Kelly Terez

iStock/Thinkstock(BALCH SPRINGS, Texas) — An arrest warrant for murder has been issued for the former Balch Springs, Texas, police officer who fatally shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, ABC News has confirmed.

Roy Oliver was fired earlier this week, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber announced at a press conference Tuesday. Oliver had been a member of the department for nearly six years.

Oliver turned himself in Friday night to the Parker County jail on a $300,000 bond, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

A spokeswoman for the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department said the warrant was issued Friday.

“The warrant was issued due to evidence that suggested Mr. Oliver intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death of an individual,” Melinda Urbina, the department’s public information officer, told ABC News in a statement. “The warrant gives any peace officer the authority to arrest Roy Oliver for the crime of murder. Mr. Oliver can also turn himself into any peace officer if he so chooses.”

She added: “The investigation into the death of Jordan Edwards will continue and does not conclude with the arrest of Roy Oliver.”

The incident in question took place Saturday evening as police were responding to a report of “several underage kids” who were allegedly drunk at a residence in Balch Springs. Police initially said that Edwards was in a vehicle that backed up in the direction of the responding officers “in an aggressive manner.” Oliver then opened fire, striking Edwards, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Authorities later admitted, however, that they had misspoken in recounting what occurred and that it appeared as though the vehicle was driving away from the officers when shots were fired, based on body cam footage.

“I unintentionally, incorrectly said the vehicle was backing down the road,” Haber said Monday. “According to the video, the vehicle was moving forward as the officer approached.”

Haber added, “After reviewing the video, I don’t believe that [the shooting] met our core values.”

The video footage has not been released to the public.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

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American University issues safety advisory after student leader targeted in online post

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By Kelly Terez

Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — American University police issued a safety advisory to students on Friday with tips for how to respond and prevent cyber harassment after an online post targeted the university’s first African-American female student government president.

In a memo emailed to ABC News, officials say the post encouraged followers to troll Taylor Dumpson. Law enforcement officials immediately responded by sending additional security and technology protection to Dumpson’s home.

“Earlier this week, the threats were on campus. They continue online,” Teresa Flannery, the university’s vice president for communications, said in the memo. “American University will not allow any member of our community to be intimidated.”

Flannery and assistant director of physical security and police technology, Doug Pierce, held a Facebook Live session where they spoke about the online post and ways to push back against hate speech.

The post, which was flagged by the university’s Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, follows reports of bananas found hanging from nooses in at least five different campus locations after Dumpson was elected.

According to ABC affiliate WJLA-TV, the letters “AKA” and the phrase “Harambe bait” were written on some of the bananas, referencing the predominantly black campus sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla that was killed last year after a child fell into its enclosure.

American University releases video of a person of interest in alleged banana hate crime investigation

In a letter released to the student body, Dumpson encouraged her peers to use this time to come together as a community.

“As the first black woman AUSG president, I implore all of us to unite in solidarity with those impacted by this situation and we must remember that ‘if there is no struggle, there is no progress’ – Frederick Douglass,” Dumpson said. “We must use this time to reflect on what we value as a community and we must show those in the community that bigotry, hate, and racism cannot and will not be tolerated.”

A campus town hall was held Thursday afternoon to address the banana incident, followed by a private meeting with administrators and student leaders.

“Right now, we have the opportunity to really change the direction, and apply pressure from a national area,” Dumpson said, according to WJLA-TV. “We have outrage, and people are upset.”

“As one of many schools in the D.C. metropolitan area I’m saddened that this happened but I’m not surprised,” American University graduate instructor David Johns told ABC News about the recent incidents.

Johns, who has taught at AU for the past six years and teaches courses on public affairs and administration, said he believes school officials have done “a good job at showing how urgent and important this issue is, but there is still a lot of work to be done at American and universities across the country.”

Castell Abner III, a 24-year-old law student at American University, says that the school’s diverse culture, especially in the law school program, is what drew him to the university. He admitted that this week’s racist incidents were not the first of its kind.

“There have been several, especially during this last campaign year,” Abner told ABC News. “There has been stuff about Muslims, illegal immigrants, and black lives matter. One African-American law school professor even had something taped to her door.”

Last year, American University law school dean Claudio Grossman addressed that incident in a letter to the school’s community.

“On Friday, March 4th, a handwritten flier with the words ‘All Lives Matter’ was attached to the office doorframe of a faculty member of color – a colleague with a national reputation for doing important work on issues of racial justice in the criminal justice system,” the letter said, according to the Washington Post. “The circumstances and manner of placing this flier on a community member’s door do not involve the kind of civil and thoughtful discourse that we encourage and aspire to in our community, and indeed may serve to intimidate others and discourage their full participation in the marketplace of ideas.”

The American University Police Department is asking anyone with information related to the post to contact the police department at 202-885-3636 or to call 911 for the Metropolitan Police Department. The university is also offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the suspect involved in hanging the noose and bananas earlier this week.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

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New details emerge in horrific Penn State fraternity death

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By Suzie Liu

Getty Images/John Greim(STATE COLLEGE, Penn.) — Eighteen Pennsylvania State University students and a former fraternity at the school are facing charges in connection with the death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza, who died after falling down stairs at the frat house during a pledge ceremony, a prosecutor said this morning, as she released new details in how the deadly night unfolded.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced the results of the grand jury investigation this morning, three months after the Feb. 4 death of Piazza, a 19-year-old Penn State sophomore.

Eighteen Penn State students are facing charges: eight for involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and hazing, among other charges; four for reckless endangerment and hazing, among other charges; and six for evidence tampering. The fraternity itself is facing charges including involuntary manslaughter and hazing.

On the morning of Feb. 3, police were called to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, where Piazza was found unconscious, about 12 hours after he fell down the stairs. Piazza was hospitalized and pronounced dead in the early hours of Feb. 4, according to the Centre County, Pennsylvania, grand jury investigation report released Friday.

Here is how the night of Feb. 2 and early morning hours of Feb. 3 unfolded at Beta Theta Pi, according to the report, which cited evidence including video from surveillance cameras, testimony and phone records.

On the night of Feb. 2, Piazza engaged in drinking as a part of a pledge ritual and his blood alcohol content reached between .28 and .36.

His fall was not captured on surveillance cameras but someone heard it, and when one man went to the top of the basement stairs, he saw Piazza lying face-down at the bottom of the steps. In a group message to other fraternity brothers at 11:53 p.m. that night, that man wrote, “Tim Piazza might actually be a problem. He fell 15 feet down a flight of stairs, hair-first, going to need help.”

Surveillance video at 10:47 p.m. showed Piazza being carried upstairs by four fraternity brothers; in the video, his body appeared limp, his eyes were closed, he appeared unconscious and a bruise was visible on his side. Piazza was placed on a couch and liquid was dumped on his face twice, but he didn’t respond either time.

About a half an hour after the fall, at 11:14 p.m., a newly initiated member saw Piazza lying on the couch, looking “horrible,” he later told the grand jury. He saw Piazza “thrashing and making weird movements on the couch” and screamed at the fraternity brothers for help, stressing that Piazza needed to go to the hospital because he could have a concussion. One brother shoved the newly initiated member into a wall and said they had it under control.

At 11:25 p.m., the pledge master slapped Piazza three times in the face. At 11:37 p.m., one fraternity brother tackled another brother into the couch, physically landing on top of Piazza.

By 1 a.m., some brothers saw Piazza vomit and twitch on the couch. Three brothers filled a backpack with books and placed it on Piazza to try to keep him from rolling to his back if he passed out. At 1:48 a.m., Piazza rolled off the couch and to the floor, and three brothers picked him up and “slammed him onto the couch.” One brother hit Piazza hard once in the abdomen.

By 2:38 a.m., Piazza rolled to the floor and at 3:16 p.m. his legs were moving. At 3:22 p.m., Piazza tried to stand and the backpack came off and he fell back, hitting his head on the hardwood floor. A fraternity brother attempted to shake him for a moment and then left the room.

At 3:46 a.m., Piazza was curled up on the floor in the fetal position with his knees toward his chest. At 3:49 a.m., Piazza positioned himself on his knees, bent over with his elbows on the floor and his head in his hands. At 3:54 a.m., he tried to stand but fell face-down onto the floor. At 4:59 a.m., he stood and then fell head-first into an iron railing, landing on a stone floor.

“He gets up again and attempts to go to the front door but before he reaches it he falls head-first into the door,” the grand jury report says. He later rolled to his side, clutching his abdomen.

At 5:15 a.m., one brother came into the room, stepped over the injured pledge, looked at him and then left the room. At 5:26 a.m., another brother saw Piazza on the floor and walked him to another room but Piazza fell down three steps, and the brother stepped over him on the floor and left him there.

At about 10 a.m., fraternity members found the 19-year-old in the basement lying on his back, breathing heavily and with blood on his face. One brother said Piazza’s eyes were half open and he felt cold. Three men carried Piazza’s unconscious body upstairs and placed him back on the couch. Surveillance footage showed brothers shaking him and trying to prop him up. At 10:48 a.m., a fraternity member called 911 but did not say Piazza fell down the stairs the night before.

The grand jury concluded that after Piazza was taken to the hospital there was an active attempt to conceal evidence of the hazing and underage drinking, from deleting messages to admitting to discussing erasing surveillance video.

In a deleted text that was recovered, one man wrote, “If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind [a bar] the next morning at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing-cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly, because the kid’s health was paramount.”

The grand jury found evidence of a history of hazing at the fraternity that included forced drinking and paddling, …read more

Source:: National News

      

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