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Bill Cosby to be sentenced next week

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By Michael Dobuski

Mark Makela/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) — After years of allegations of sexual violence from dozens of women which nearly all share common denominator accusations of being drugged and molested by the world-famous entertainer, Bill Cosby is facing the prospect of walking into a Pennsylvania courthouse next week, never to emerge a free man.

For the first time since the #MeToo movement burst into an urgent national dialogue last fall about sexual harassment and violence against women — a once-extraordinarily powerful American man is facing the imminent possibility of prison time.

Earlier this year, Cosby was convicted of three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from the 2004 drugging and molestation of Andrea Constand, a former basketball coach at Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University. A previous trial last year ended in a hung jury and a mistrial.

Anticipation of this milestone moment has been building for months, and it’s likely to reach its zenith next week when Cosby’s sentence is handed down following two days of what could prove to be viscerally emotional public hearings.

“To see him led out in handcuffs or shackles would be quite a triumph, I think, for all of us,” said Victoria Valentino, a former Playboy model who claims that Cosby raped her in 1969.

“I think it’s going to be a really amazing experience, if that’s what we get to see, and I really hope that we do,” she continued. “I think it would mean a lot to women in general and to the victims across the country, knowing that he’s not going to get away with it, that he really is going to have to suffer the consequences of his own actions.”

“God knows we’ve been suffering the consequences of his actions all these years, so it’s only fair that he gets to feel the bite of all of this too,” she said.

Cosby’s sentencing is scheduled to include two days of pre-sentencing hearings to determine, among other issues, whether he will be designated a sexually violent predator (SVP).

But in a key ruling this week, Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill rejected a prosecution bid to have additional accusers testify at the hearings — clearing a potentially lengthy portion of the proceedings that experts said could streamline the process and allow the hearings to be completed in one day, not two, which means there is the possibility that Cosby’s sentence could be handed down late on Monday.

O’Neill’s ruling was sure to have disappointed prosecutors. This week, Steele’s office had been soliciting written statements from some of the dozens of accusers who have never appeared in court, in anticipation of a favorable ruling that could allow them to share their stories in the courtroom.

From the start, Cosby has consistently insisted that any sexual encounters he had with women were consensual, and he has flatly denied ever taking advantage of any woman.

Through three teams of defense attorneys and two sensational criminal trials, the comedian and his representatives have fought tirelessly — at times ruthlessly — inside and outside of courtrooms, to defend and preserve both Cosby’s reputation and his freedom.

It’s far from clear what sentence will be handed down to Cosby and the possibilities range from probation or house arrest to years in prison.

Taking on the judge

Whether he is released on bail after his sentencing pending his promised appeal, or handcuffed on the spot, he’ll be facing a judge at whom his lawyers have repeatedly aimed pointed, deeply personal allegations about the jurist, his family and his personal life.

O’Neill has twice rejected defense motions to recuse himself: one time over his wife’s work with victims of sexual assault, and a second time earlier this week, after defense attorneys contended in a motion that perceived animosity between O’Neill and a former political rival unfairly informed his decisions in pre-trial hearings before the first criminal trial.

In a flurry of publicity launched just days before his sentencing, Cosby’s third legal team filed a motion last week seeking the judge’s recusal and his public acknowledgement of the alleged long-running feud between him and the political rival, former county district attorney Bruce Castor.

Castor has testified that while he was district attorney, he promised Cosby not to file criminal charges if the entertainer would testify in a civil lawsuit Constand had filed against him. Kevin Steele later became the county district attorney and brought charges against Cosby.

Cosby attorneys also filed a complaint about O’Neill to a state ethics board, a legal strategy accompanied by headline-making attacks on the judge’s character and integrity from Cosby’s longtime wife Camille, who slammed O’Neill as “unethical”, “arrogant” and “corrupt.”

O’Neill forcefully rejected both motions, but it was clear that the personal nature of the petitions have impacted him.

Defending both his judicial integrity and his wife’s work with sexual assault victims, O’Neill suggested that the defense, in its motion, had sought to “trivialize” his wife’s work.

“I am my own individual in making decisions here,” he said from the bench, “and my wife’s personal beliefs and professional pursuits and what she does for a living are just of no consequence.”

Appearing to choke up, O’Neill apologized to the court “if emotions become a part of [this]. But it’s a difficult thing if the parties choose to bring the families into it.”

While legal experts told ABC News that it is a defense attorney’s job to pursue every reasonable path in defending a client, they said that the strategy that Cosby’s various lawyers have pursued could prove dicey.

“In my experience, there’s sometimes a risk in attacking the judge,” said David Rudovsky, a University of Pennsylvania law professor. “Though that depends on who the judge is.”

“I would say that with any kind of high-profile case where a lot of people are …read more

Source:: National News

      

Killing of jogger highlights dangerous reality for women

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By KT

Georgetown Running Club(WASHINGTON) — The viral hashtags #MilesforMollie and #dcrunners4wendy are reflecting an all-too-scary reality for women today.

Runners in the Washington, D.C., area started #dcrunners4wendy after Wendy Martinez, 35 and newly-engaged, was stabbed to death Tuesday while jogging around 8 p.m. in a busy, well-lit area of the nation’s capital.

Mollie Tibbetts, the inspiration behind #MilesforMollie, was found dead on Aug. 21, more than a month after she went missing during an evening jog in Brooklyn, Iowa.

The killings of two young women while doing something as innocent as running outdoors have sparked fear and outrage.

“It’s the unfortunate reality of being a woman,” said Alex Morris, a 24-year-old runner in Washington, D.C., and member of the Georgetown Running Club, a competitive running club. “You always have to think extra carefully and it’s not even just running.”

The deaths of Tibbetts and Martinez came on the heels of two killings last year that also rocked women.

Karina Vetrano, 30, was killed while on an evening jog in Queens, New York, in August 2016.

Five days later, Vanessa Marcotte, a 27-year-old Google employee who lived in New York City, was killed after she left her mother’s home in Princeton, Massachusetts, for a run in broad daylight, officials said.

It’s not just women runners who are in danger. Just this week, a 22-year-old collegiate golf player was killed while she was golfing alone on a course in Ames, Iowa.

A conversation that men don’t have

And lost among those high-profile, tragic killings are the countless instances the mass public rarely hears about of women who escape attacks, who are cat-called, who are scared, who have to run with pepper spray or alter their routes or skip an activity altogether just because they are trying to exist in this world as a woman on her own.

“We have a big group chat and we’re always talking about how people can be safe and that we should be meeting up more often to go on runs because strength in numbers just makes everyone feel safer,” Morris said of her running club. “It’s just a topic of conversation that the men’s team doesn’t have to talk about.”

A survey last year by Runner’s World found more than half of women who run said they are concerned that they could be physically assaulted or receive unwanted physical contact during a run.

In addition to the fear they face, women also face pressure from society to do something (“Don’t wear headphones!” “Change your route!” “Never run at night!”), as though the behaviors of often-male perpetrators are their fault.

“I’ve felt frustrated when the media coverage after these incidents focuses on what women should be doing differently with the subtext that they did something wrong, or that they shouldn’t have been running at that time,” said Kerry Allen, a 30-year-old elite marathoner and Georgetown Running Club member. “At the end of the day, we have to get to a place that every woman feels safe while moving about the city, whether it’s walking, running, biking, anything.”

Allen, who also works full-time on Capitol Hill, said she often has to run early in the morning or late at night, a reality of many women who have to squeeze in workouts wherever and whenever they can.

“I think the unfortunate answer is you can’t always prevent attacks,” she said. “I love running. I’m going to keep doing that.”

A self-defense expert’s advice for women

It is impossible to prevent every attack, experts say, and women should not feel the pressure to do so.

What women can do is empower themselves so they feel stronger and more confident out in the world, says Jennifer Cassetta, a self-defense expert and creator of the Stilettos and Self Defense DVDs.

“I’m personally not going to wait around for men to stop raping,” Cassetta told “Good Morning America.” “That’s not going to happen in our lifetime so how can we get ahead of that and be empowered to do what we want to do and live our lives.”

“It’s about knowing that you have that power,” she said.

Cassetta stays away from the stereotypical advice for women like not running alone and not wearing headphones, she adds.

“A man would say that,” she said.

Instead, she gives women self-defense advice that doesn’t “punish” them.

“For me, teaching is about giving as many choices as possible in these horrible situations,” said Cassetta, who notes that even taking one self-defense class can make a huge difference. “There are so many examples of women fighting back and getting away. It does work. Not all the time, but it can.”

Cassetta’s top 3 empowering tips for women

1. Know the weapons you have on your body and how to use them

Run or walk powerfully with your shoulders back and head up, making eye contact with every person in your path, Cassetta recommends.

If you are attacked, dropping down to a squat or a lunge will drop your center of gravity and make you harder to the throw to the ground, according to Cassetta.

To fight back, Cassetta says to “acquire and fire.”

“The eyes, throat and groin are most effective targets because they are all soft targets where you can do the most amount of damage with the least amount of effort,” she said. “Scratch or gouge the eyes, give a punch to the throat to disrupt breathing and give a punch or a knee or an elbow to the groin.”

2. Be aware of your surroundings

Women should be “alert but calm” when they’re out and about, scanning for red flags and not getting too deep into thought, Cassetta says.

“When we’re being alert, our intuition is our inner GPS, it gives us signals and sends us …read more

Source:: National News

      

New Jersey governor calls for sheriff to resign over racist remarks on Sikh attorney general

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By KT

Bergen County Sheriffs Office(TRENTON, N.J.) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is calling for one of the state’s sheriffs to step down after the sheriff was purportedly recorded making racist comments about New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who is Sikh American.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino allegedly made multiple controversial remarks in a Jan. 16 conversation that took place after Murphy was inaugurated as governor, the recordings of which were obtained by WNYC.

In the recording, Saudino was discussing whether Murphy had made any appointments from Bergen County, according to WNYC. When an undersheriff in the room remarked that Grewal is from Bergen County, Saudino purportedly replied, “He didn’t do that because of Bergen County. He did that because of the turban.”

Grewal wears the turban due to his religious beliefs.

Saudino also purportedly said in the recordings that when the governor spoke about policing issues such as marijuana and better criminal justice reform, he was telling New Jersey residents that they could “do whatever the f— they want.”

“Christ almighty. In other words, let the blacks come in, do whatever the f— they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don’t worry about it,” Saudino said. “You know, we’ll tie the hands of cops.”

In another recording, Saudino purports to question whether Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver is gay, asking, “Is she gay? ‘Cause she’s never been married.”

Grewal wrote on Twitter that he has developed a “thick skin” after being “called far worse.” But, he described Saudino’s apparent comments about the Black community as “wrong, racist and hurtful” and the comment on Oliver as “inappropriate and homophobic.”

The source who provided the recordings to WNYC told the public radio station that they took place inside a county office building after he attended Murphy’s inauguration. Two undersheriffs were also in the room, according to WNYC.

The governor said in a statement to ABC News that if it is Saudino speaking in the recording, he should resign.

“Without question, the comments made on that recording are appalling, and anyone using racist, homophobic, and hateful language is unfit for public office,” Murphy said in the statement. “If indeed that is Sheriff Saudino’s voice on the recording, he must resign.”

Grewal also tweeted that he surmised it was Saudino’s voice after listening to the recording.

In a statement, Saudino apologized, saying the remarks “are not representative” of who he is and are “in no way consistent with the manner” in which he has conducted his life personally and professionally, according to NJ.com.

“In an effort to repair the damage to the friendships that I have built with these communities I have reached out directly to several respected leaders in the communities I have offended and I have personally offered my apologizes and I have asked for their forgiveness and for their communities’ forgiveness,” he said.

Saudino did not mention in the statement whether he is going to step down.

A representative for the Bergen County Sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco echoed Murphy’s statement, saying that he was “shocked and disappointed to hear these comments” and that he has worked with the sheriff “for years.”

“Bergen County’s diversity is our strength and his statements are clearly inconsistent with our values,” Tedesco said in a statement to ABC News. “In the best interest of the public, he should step down.”

This isn’t the first time Grewal, the first Sikh in the country to hold office as attorney general, has dealt with racist comments made publicly.

In July, he was referred to as “turban man” by two conservative talk radio hosts on “The Dennis & Judy Show” on New Jersey 101.5 radio.

Grewal took to Twitter to respond to the radio hosts, saying he told his three daughters to turn off the radio the day they made the remarks.

Saudino, an elected official, is serving his third term, according to his biography on the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office website. He became sheriff in 2011, has been working in law enforcement for 41 years, and has lived in Bergen County for 53 years, his biography states.

Bergen County is New Jersey’s most populated county, and its sheriff’s office is the largest law enforcement agency in the state, with about 600 employees — all of whom are led by Saudino, according to WNYC. His responsibilities also includes assisting municipal police departments and running the Bergen County Jail, among others, WNYC reported.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

Governor Greg Abbott Appoints Fidelie And Okeke To Midwestern State University Board Of Regents

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By lauren.mccanse@gov.texas.gov Governor Abbott has appointed Guy A. “Tony” Fidelie, Jr. and Oku Okeke to the Midwestern State University Board of Regents for terms set to expire on February 25, 2024.Governor Abbott has appointed Guy A. “Tony” Fidelie, Jr. and Oku Okeke to the Midwestern State University Board of Regents for terms set to expire on February 25, 2024.

Guy A. “Tony” Fidelie, Jr. of Wichita Falls is a partner in the law firm Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins and Mott, LLP. He previously served as an assistant district attorney for Wichita County. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the State Bar of Oklahoma, and a member and past president of the Wichita County Bar Association. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors for Faith Mission/Faith Refuge of Wichita Falls, the advisory board for Camp Fire North Texas, and as a trustee for The Priddy Foundation, the Midwestern State University Foundation, and the Texas District and County Attorneys Association Foundation. Fidelie received a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and political science from Midwestern State University, a Masters of Business Administration from the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Texas Tech University School of Law.

Oku Okeke of Wichita Falls is a global customer service manager at Pratt & Whitney Canada. He is a member of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Wichita Falls Manufacturer’s Group and a former member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Additionally, he is a board member of Workforce Solutions North Texas and a member of the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls. He is a former volunteer for the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Organization and a former president and former vice president for the Rider High School Soccer Booster Club. Okeke received a Bachelor of Science in manufacturing engineering from Midwestern State University.

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Source:: Office of the Governor

      

Wisconsin woman wriggles out of handcuffs, escapes local jail, gets re-arrested: Police

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By Michael Dobuski

iStock/Thinkstock(WAUKESHA, Wisconsin) — A Wisconsin woman was caught on tape breaking out of her handcuffs and escaping from a local police station, authorities said.

Thirty-year-old Amber Gonzales was arrested last Friday at the Beaumont Hotel for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Officers took Gonzales to a holding cell in the Waukesha Police Department, where surveillance video shows her alone in the holding cell on her cell phone, allegedly trying to coordinate bail and a ride home.

Video footage captures the 97-pound-woman wiggling and pulling her hand through the cuffs in less than a minute — despite police telling ABC News affiliate WFRV that they placed the handcuffs on the tightest setting.

The defendant stated in the complaint from the Clerk of Circuit Court Waukesha County reviewed by ABC News that she became anxious about going to jail and not seeing her children.

Once she freed herself, Gonzales proceeded to escape the holding cell and walk out of the building from an emergency exit.

She further explained in the complaint that she “took the keys from a door handle and used them to open the door and get outside.”

She then went to a gas station and met up with a truck driver — since identified as James W. Humbert, according to the complaint.

The pair went back to the same hotel where she was initially arrested and the truck driver then allegedly paid Gonzales for sex.

Humbert told police in the complaint that he had met Gonzales at a nearby Wendy’s location two weeks prior to the incident.

“He eventually admitted that he was going to the hotel to engage in prostitution with the defendant”, a law enforcement official noted in the complaint.

About an hour after her escape, police re-arrested her at the hotel on prostitution charges.

This time officers booked her at the Waukesha County Jail, where she was released Monday on bail.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News

      

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