Posts Tagged ‘Criminal’

Monica Conyers Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison

March 11, 2010

Well, yesterday the city of Detroit finally received some well-deserved justice.  Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers (wife of the Congressman John Conyers), was sentenced to serve 37 months in a federal prison after she plead guilty to accepting bribes.

Her plea was for taking bribes to support a contract with Synagro, a sludge processing company; however, the trial of her former aide, Sam Riddle, also exposed a series of other payoffs.  Because of that,  U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn was going to increase Conyers’ sentence.  He had originally planned on 3 years, then wanted to move up to 4-5 years, but Conyers protested and claimed she was a victim of an overzealous media out to get her.  She wanted to take back her guilty plea, but the judge wouldn’t allow it.  Instead, he backed down on the sentencing and went back to 3 years (37 months).

Here is a video, courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

And when reporters went to talk to Conyers, again courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

Conyers absolutely deserved this (in fact, she probably deserved the full 5 years).  She plead guilty to the charge, and then when she saw that she as going to get a REAL punishment, she tried to back out of it.  If she wasn’t guilty, she never should have plead guilty the first time.  Detroit deserved some justice yesterday, and I am happy to see Monica Conyers going to jail.  Her crooked ways and the ways of those like her (Kwame Kilpatrick, for one) are purely disgusting, and not what Detroit needs.  Hopefully, this, along with the sentencing of Kwame Kilpatrick, mark the road to recovery for Detroit politics and an end to corruption in Detroit.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Dennis Lennox Charged with Misuse of Public Funds

January 30, 2010

Dennis Lennox, Wikipedia vandal … I mean Cheboygan County Drain Commissioner has been charged with a one-year, $1000 criminal misdemeanor for allegedly sending 250 Christmas cards using county-paid postage, but including campaign literature in the Christmas cards, meaning that he was allegedly using taxpayer funds to finance his campaign.  Lennox is expected to surrender himself to the Cheboygan city police by early next week.

A press release from Cheboygan County prosecutor Daryl Vizina said that Lennox had been asked to reimburse the county for the cost of the postage, but originally refused; however, once the criminal investigation began, he offered to pay.

Vizina said, “If this was any other citizen we would charge him, so we want to be consistent.  If a employee at Subway was taking company resources for themselves, we would charge them.”

Lennox, on the other hand, says that this is all a political vendetta from the Democratic prosecutor (Lennox is a Republican – although I’ve always thought that he makes our party look bad).  Lennox said, “This is a Democratic political vendetta.  I campaigned against this prosecutor, who is a Democrat, and I campaigned to get rid of this police department.  I also campaigned against the judge.  My lawyer will probably be the candidate who ran against her.”

What’s even more ironic is that Denny Lenny ran on a platform of abolishing the position of Drain Commissioner because it was a “waste of taxpayer money.”  He even went so far as to say, “There is nothing for the drain commissioner to do in Cheboygan County except waste taxpayer money.”  Well, that turned out to be more true than he originally intended us to think it was.

Lennox should be ashamed of himself – he has let down the citizens of Cheboygan County, and he has disgraced the Republican Party.  For the sake of the Republican Party, Republicans across Michigan should come out against Lennox, somebody who has shown hypocrisy and dishonesty in the past.

This pretty much kills his chances of winning the race for the 105th State House District, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

15-Year-Old Beaten and Gang Raped for 2 Hours After Homecoming Dance

October 27, 2009

I just heard about a story out of Richmond, CA that really made my blood boil. On Saturday, a 15-year-old girl was beaten and gang raped for 2 hours after she left her school’s homecoming dance. After leaving the Richmond High School homecoming dance around 9:30 P.M. to get a ride home with her father, the girl ended up meeting up with some kids on the school campus who were drinking.

Richomnd Police Lieutenant Mark Gagan told reporters, “The series of events that occurred over the next two and a half hours got more severe and more vicious to where she was ultimately gang raped, beaten and her injuries were so severe that she had to be sent to the hospital in a helicopter.”  The victim is still in the hospital, currently in stable condition.

There’s been some controversy over whether or not the school is safe.  After being asked by reporters if he thought the school was safe, one male student said, “No it’s not. Not at night time.”  Charles Ramsey, a Richmond school board member disagreed, saying, “It is a safe school, 95 percent of the students here perform well, do what they’re expected to do, but do we have a part of the campus element here that is out of control?  Yes.  We do understand and are not putting our head in the sand around the fact that Richmond has a lot of issues and problems in terms of safety.”

The school district spokesman, Marin Trujillo said, “There’s just so much control that one can do after that, once they leave the sidewalk we can’t follow them home,” regarding the safety of the homecoming dance.

Since the attack, 2 arrests have been made: a 15-year-old student, as well as a 19-year-old former student, Manuel Ortega, who was caught as he tried to flee the scene of the crime.

Gagan said that police arrived as the 2+ hour-long rape was still taking place, and that “we’re looking at four to seven active participants of sexual assault and extremely violent felonies.  We’re also suspecting there were up to a dozen people who witnessed what had happened and their involvement is unknown.”

The 15-year-old male was arrested after being pulled from class for questioning.  Another student was pulled out of class for questioning, but was released.

What I’d like to know is how the heck could 12 people stand by and watch this happen?  What kind of sick twisted person wouldn’t call the police!  The people who joined in and raped and attacked this girl need to be arrested and locked up for the rest of their lives.  I would argue that they should probably be given the death penalty, considering how heinous of a crime this was, but the death penalty isn’t an option in rape cases any more.  But they should certainly be locked up for the rest of their lives.  A crime this heinous and disgusting deserves a harsh punishment.

And while those who watched may not be charged with any crime (depending on whether or not they cheered it on, they could possibly be charged as conspirators or accomplices in the crime), they need to take a look at themselves and ask, “What the heck is wrong with me?”  How could you sit by and let something like this happen to a 15-year-old girl!  What’s wrong with you!

It’s stories like these that make me begin to lose hope in humanity. When 4-7 people gang rape a girl, and 12 people sit around and watch, there’s something wrong with what’s going through our children’s heads.  I don’t know what, but something needs to be done.  Sitting by and watching something like this is unacceptable, and the people who watched this rape are should have to live with a whole lot of guilt for the rest of their lives.  I hope they realize how despicable it was for them to just sit by and watch.

And I hope the other attackers are caught and arrested.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victim of this attack – hopefully she recovers soon, but I have no doubt that she will be mentally scarred for years to come.

UPDATE: Somebody from Newsy, a video news website asked me to embed their story covering the gang rape:

more about “Newsy | Girl Gang Raped While Others …“, posted with vodpod 

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

11-Year-Old Shoots Dad’s Pregnant Fiancee; Should Be Charged As An Adult

February 24, 2009

3_21_022109_brown_350Alright, so I just heard about this story and figured I’d give  my input.  This story comes out of Wampum, Pennsylvania: 11-year-old Jordan Anthony Brown (pictured on the left; photo courtesy of the Lawrence County Prison) shot and killed his dad’s pregnant fiancee at point blank range, and is now being charged as an adult.  Brown allegedly shot the woman with his 20-gauge shotgun in the back of the head.  He had wrapped the shotgun in a sheet to muffle the sound.

But apparently, his lawyer isn’t happy with this and wants him to be tried in juvenile court.  Brown is currently being held in the Lawrence County Prison in Pennsylvania.

On Saturday, Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo charged Brown, as an adult, in the murder of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk. Houk was 6 months pregnant.  Bongivengo said that he has to be charged as an adult because Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow for criminal homicide charges to be filed  against Brown in juvenile court.

Brown originally lied to police about seeing a suspicious vehicle on the property, but later, police realized that he was lying after finding multiple inconsistencies in his story.  The victims 7-year-old daughter ultimately implicated Brown in the murder.  Bongivengo told reporters, “She didn’t actually eyewitness the shooting.  She saw him with what she believed to be a shotgun and heard a loud bang.  [The gun was found in the] location we believe to be in the defendant’s bedroom.”

Jack Houk, the victim’s father, told reporters, “An 11-year-old kid — what would give him the motive to shoot someone?  Maybe he was just jealous of my daughter and the baby and thought he would be overpowered.”

Brown’s attorney, David Elisco met with Brown, after which he told reporters, “I don’t think he knows what’s going on.  I walked out of there thinking he was innocent.  I believe Jordan did not do this and I’m looking forward to seeing the physical evidence to see if it matches with what I think happened.”  Elisco also met with Christopher Brown, the boy’s father.  He characterized Christopher as being “in a state of actual shock and disbelief.”  When asked if the boy disliked Houk, Elisco answered, “This is a tragic, extremely tragic situation, and it’s way too early to have any substantive comment.”

Apparently jealousy was the motive.  According to the victim’s brother-in-law, Jason Kraner, “He [Jordan Brown] actually told my son that he wanted to do that to her.  There was an issue with jealousy.”  Elisco responded to that claim, saying, “I think it’s all bull shit–there’s no animosity.”

Elisco wants Brown moved out of the county jail.  He told reporters, “I don’t think anybody wants him there. … I want him to be occupied and busy and back, essentially, in school. … I wouldn’t say he’s in good spirits.  He’s confused.  He looks and acts like a typical 11-year-old.”

He acts like a typical boy?  Are you crazy?  He shot a woman at point blank range!

Lawrence County Warden Charles Adamo also wants Brown moved out of his prison.  He says that his facility just can’t accommodate an 11-year-old boy.  Apparently they have to keep him ultra-isolated from any adult inmates, so he can’t even have visitors, since it’d mean that he’d have to be around other adults.  It’s also difficult to coordinate showers, since he has to shower alone, meaning that a whole cell block of 63 inmates must be locked down.  According to Elisco, they don’t even have clothes that fit him: “They put a shirt on him; he’s swimming in it, and his pants are cuffed up about 10 times.”  I find that a little hard to believe – they don’t have small clothes at all?  What happens if they arrest a dwarf or midget?  I feel like they must have clothes somewhere that would fit him.

Personally, I don’t care if he’s in an adult prison or not, as long as he is CHARGED as an adult.  This kid knew what he was dong.  It was premeditated (the sheet wrapped around the gun).  We have a girl who saw everything but the actual shooting (anybody can put 2 and 2 together.  Boy with shotgun + big bang + dead woman = boy killed the woman).

This freak of a kid needs to be charged with double homicide and needs to spend the rest of his life in jail.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Illinois House Votes to Impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich

January 9, 2009

The Illinois House of Representatives, just in the past hour, voted to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich (D), 114-1.  The only representative voting against impeachment was Milton Patterson (D-South Chicago).  Representative Elga Jefferies (D-Chicago) voted “present.”  Typical Cook County politics, if you ask me.  I commend the other 114 representatives who voted in the affirmative to impeach Governor Blagojevich.  This will no go to the Senate, who will decide whether or not to remove Blagojevich from office.

Let’s get some quotes:

  • House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), chair of the House panel that held the impeachment hearings, said, “Due to his conduct, the governor has failed to uphold the oath of office.  He is no longer capable of defending our liberties.  He should be impeached.”
  • Representative Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) characterized the situation as a “plague” on the state.  He later said, “Our duty is to clean up the mess and stop the freak show that has become our government.”
  • Representative John Fritchey (D-Chicago) said, “My Illinois is not the Illinois of George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. Our Illinois is the Illinois of Abraham Lincoln and Paul Simon and Barack Obama.”

This vote comes after the House investigation committee voted on Thursday, 21-0 to proceed with impeachment for Blagojevich’s abuse of power.  The committee issued a report, saying, “The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own.  It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so.”

Blagojevich has remained mostly silent for the day, but is expected to release a statement at 2:00 P.M. (I’m assuming that will be in Central time).  Personally, I think for the sake of his dignity (or what’s left of it), and for the sake of Illinois, Blagojevich should resign.  He still maintains his innocence, but I don’t see how he can avoid embarrassment if he goes through with it.  I think Blagojevich will step down this afternoon (or at least announce his resignation - who knows when it’ll go into effect).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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2 Michigan Teens Arrested for Throwing Rocks at Cars

December 18, 2008

Yesterday, 2 cousins from Eastpointe, Michigan, both high school freshmen, were arrested for throwing rocks on cars driving along I-94 in Saint Clair Shores.  The teens claimed that they did it because they were bored of playing  video games.  In all, 16 cars were damaged, and in addition to probably paying for the damage, the teens have been charged as juveniles with malicious destruction of property.  Here’s a FOX 2 video report on the incident:

Now, these teens should have known better.  And they did know better.  Freshmen in high school aren’t stupid.  If you drop a rock on a car, that’s going to shatter the windshield if it hits it (as it did) or put a dent in the metal.  What happens when your windshield shatters?  Somebody could die.  And people have died in the past.

These teens need to be taught a lesson and need to be given a strict punishment.  Michigan Compiled Laws Chapter 750.377a (Act 328 of 1931) states:

750.377a Willful and malicious destruction of property; personalty.

Sec. 377a.

(1) A person who willfully and maliciously destroys or injures the personal property of another person is guilty of a crime as follows:

(a) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $15,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $20,000.00 or more.

(b) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $1,000.00 or more but less than $20,000.00.

(c) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.

(d) If the amount of the destruction or injury is less than $200.00, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

I’m guessing that most of the damage is going to fall under subsection (c), meaning that the teenagers could face  up to 1 year in prison or a fine of $2,000 (since I’m guessing that most of the repairs won’t be more than a few hundred dollars).

Personally, I’d be locking both of them up for 16 years (as long  as all the damage was over $200 for each car).  They knew better, and they need to pay, in both a criminal and civil court (civil court would be where the teens would have to pay for the damage, probably around $500/windshield if it’s totally busted, so they’re looking at a few thousand dollars depending on what all was done to the different cars).

Make an example out of these teens to show that you don’t play around with dangerous stuff like this.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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John and Revé Walsh Hold a Press Conference on the Solving of Adam Walsh’s Murder by Ottis Toole

December 16, 2008

Today, the Hollywood, Florida Police Department announced that the case of Adam Walsh’s murder had been solved and that Ottis Toole, a long-time suspect was indeed the killer.  This decision was made by Police Chief Chad Wagner, the Hollywood Police Department, the Broward County District Attorney’s office, and the Walsh family.

After Adam was murdered, John and Revé Walsh, Adam’s parents, became advocates for missing children and founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  The Walshs also helped in getting the Missing Children Act of 1982, Missing Children’s Assistance Act of 1984, and Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 passed.

Here’s 3 clips of today’s press conference (all courtesy of MSNBC).  The first is Chief Wager’s statement:

And here is Revé’s statement to the press:

And lastly, here is John’s statement at the press conference:

Well, I am happy that this case has  finally been solved.  I’ve always watched America’s Most Wanted, and I have a lot of respect of the Walsh family and what they do.  I am glad that justice was finally served for little Adam.  My thoughts and prayers are with all the other families who have gone through what the Walsh family has gone through these past 27 years.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican

Barack Obama “Saddened and Sobered” Over the Arrest of Blagojevich

December 9, 2008

Today, while meeting with Vice President-Elect Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore to discuss energy and climate change, President-Elect Barack Obama confirmed that he was in no way involved with Governor Blagojevich’s attempts to profit off of the Senate nomination that he was going to make.  Obama said that he was “saddened and sobered” about the events that transpired earlier today.  I’ll let you watch the video for yourself:

Obama did say, “I had not contact with the governor or his office, uh–and so we were–I–I was not aware of what was happening.  And as I said, it is a sad day for Illinois.  Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”

So, assuming that Obama is telling the truth (and I think he is – he has NO reason to lie, since that will only hurt him, and he already knows that there are numerous conversations that were recorded where he would be found out if he had done anything wrong), this really won’t affect Obama at all.  Again, I believe Obama is telling the truth.  I don’t see why he’d lie, because he would only eventually be found out anyway.

Hopefully the state of Illinois can move on and try to recover from this situation.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested on Corruption Charges Regarding Obama’s Senate Replacement Selection

December 9, 2008

This is currently a developing story–this morning, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested and charged with corruption.  His chief of staff, John Harris, was also indicted this morning.  This is the result of a 5 year investigation of corruption allegations.

A copy of the affidavit, from the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois can be found here.  Parts of it are actually pretty funny, if it wasn’t so sad that this is a government official we’re talking about.

Here are the two counts that Blagojevich has been charged with:

Count One

From in or about 2002 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants did, conspire with each other and with others to devise and participate in a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois and the people of the State of Illinois of the honest services of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, in furtherance of which the mails and interstate wire communications would be used, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341,1343, and 1346; all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349.

Count Two

Beginning no later than November 2008 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, being agents of the State of Illinois, a State government which during a one-year period, beginning January 1, 2008 and continuing to the present, received federal benefits in excess of $10,000, corruptly solicited and demanded a thing of value, namely, the firing of certain Chicago Tribune editorial members responsible for widely-circulated editorials critical of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with business and transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, the provision of millions of dollars in financial assistance by the State of Illinois, including through the Illinois Finance Authority, an agency of the State of Illinois, to the Tribune Company involving the Wrigley Field baseball stadium; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 2.

He has been accused of saying, “I want to make money” as a result of his Senate appointment to replace President-Elect Barack Obama.  The job of replacing the former Senator falls soley on the Governor’s shoulders, under Illinois law.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that Blagojevich (it gets easier to type after you’ve done it a few times) “put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator.”

The affidavit even cites a recording where Blagojevich said, “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.  You hear what I’m saying.  And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.”

According to the affidavit, there are 5 candidates in the running.  The affidavit makes  it sound like Obama (who is referred to as “President-elect”) wants “Candidate 1″ to get the seat.  The affidavit shows conversations between Blagojevich and Harris and others where Blagojevich wants to make a deal with the President-elect, but there are no accusations (or evidence) that Obama knew about any of this.  All the affidavit indicates is that Obama had indicated who he wanted to replace him, and that’s a perfectly legal and normal thing.

So far, the Obama transition team has not returned any phone calls to the press.

I’m going to give you some quotes from the affidavit (warning: the following does contain some harsh language) (the page numbers are the pages of the actual affidavit, not the PDF, which contains 2 introduction pages which are not numbered):

  • On November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Deputy Governor A. … “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” (p. 58)
  • Later on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the Presidentelect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect. During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, “unless I get something
    real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying.” … “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I’m saying. And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.” … “[the Senate seat] is a fucking valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” (56)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams, stating “how much are you offering, [President-elect]? What are you offering, [Senate Candidate 2]? . . . Can always go to. . . [Senate Candidate 3].” Later ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he will make a decision on the Senate seat “in good faith . . . but it is not coming for free. . . .It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states “[President-elect], you want it? Fine. But, its got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat].” (57)
  • On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. … In regards to the Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.” (59)
  • HARRIS suggested a “three-way deal,” and explained that a three-way deal like the one discussed would give the President-elect a “buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [Senate Candidate 1].” (61)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” (63-64)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if he appoints Senate Candidate 4 to the Senate seat and, thereafter, it appears that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might get impeached, he could “count on [Senate Candidate 4], if things got hot, to give [the Senate seat] up and let me parachute over there.” HARRIS said, “you can count on [Senate Candidate 4] to do that.” Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.” (66)

So, as of now, it’s really unclear who all is ivolved in this, but it does appear that some of the potential Senate appointees were involved.  I’ll keep updating this as we find out more abut who all was involved.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Parents of 2 Suspended Cheerleaders File Lawsuit Over Nude Photos

December 8, 2008

Alright, so here’s a story I heard about that’s supposed to be featured on the news tonight, but I figured I’d go digging and just do the story now: On Monday the parents of two Bothell High School cheerleaders filed a lawsuit in the King County Superior Court against the Northshore School District (in Washington).  The suit alleges that school officials acted unfairly when they suspended the girls from the squad earlier this year after nude photos of the teens circulated through the student body via text messages.

Here’s the background on the case (according to the lawsuit):

  1. Summer, 2005: A topless photo of one of the cheerleaders is taken and sent to her then-boyfriend’s phone.
  2. Summer, 2005: The picture is accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  3. June, 2008: The other teen’s photo was taken when she and another cheerleader used their cell phones to take totally nude pictures of themselves.  Those photos were later accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  4. Shortly after the June pictures were taken: BHS school officials heard rumors the pictures were circulating the student body, especially within members of the football team, so the school sent a letter to all of the cheerleaders’ parents.  That letter said that if inappropriate photos were found, the consequences could be suspension from the squad.
  5. Football players were also told to delete the pictures from their cell phones if they received them
  6. August: BHS administrators received copies of both photos.
  7. Some dispute has arisen over who contacted the police first, and whether or not the school properly notified the girls’ parents about the photos.
  8. One girl is suspended from the squad for 30 days.  The other is suspended from the squad for the year.

Attorney Matthew King, representing both families, told reporters that  the lawsuits allege that BHS administrators violated the girls’ due process rights by needlessly sharing the photos with other school staff members and failing to promptly report the matter to police as child pornography.  King also said that it was unfair that the teens were suspended, but that football players and other BHS students who sent/received the texts were not punished.  King told reporters, “We’re not technically challenging the sanctions as being too strict, we’re saying they weren’t evenly enforced across the school.  There should have been some punishment meted out to those who were in possession of the photos. … It seems like the girls are getting the brunt of it.”  King wants the disciplinary action expunged from both girls’ school records.  Additionally, he wants the girl who was suspended for the whole year to be reinstated to the team, and he is demanding an apology from BHS officials for their lack of discipline on other students.

Northshore spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus disagrees, saying that the school acted appropriately, reporting the photos to the police and giving the girls a chance to appeal their suspensions to both a disciplinary committee as well as the School Board, saying, “Everyone along the line agreed the discipline was appropriate.  Obviously, we take these things seriously, but we really don’t believe this [suit] has a lot of merit.”

King also claims that the district’s student handbook doesn’t specifically prohibit what the girls did, and that it doesn’t outline outline potential disciplinary action for a case like this.  He told reporters, “My clients fully realize what they did was stupid,” and that they never wanted the photos to be distributed.  King said that he still does not know how they were accidentally sent out.

Northshore officials again disagree, saying that the girls violated the district’s athletic code  According to Stoltzfus, “When you sign up to be a cheerleader–or for any student activity–you agree to certain codes of behavior.We consider them student leaders, and we want them to be role models.”

I took a look at the athletic code, and although it doesn’t expressly prohibit the production or distribution of child pornography (or any pornography), it does state the following:

Northshore School District
Student Athletic Code

The opportunity to participate in the athletic program in the Northshore School District is a privilege available to all students. Because of the public nature of athletic programs sponsored by the district, students choosing to participate are expected to conduct themselves at all times during their season of participation and between consecutive seasons in a manner that will reflect the high standards and ideals of their school and community. These high personal standards for conduct promote maximum achievement, safe performances, commitment to excellence in health and conditioning, and fulfill responsibilities as student leaders by setting a positive example for other students.

The regulations below are included in the Addendum of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Concerning Pupil Conduct. In addition to this Code of Conduct, individual schools may establish other expectations specific to their own individual programs.

Students must meet the standards for interscholastic eligibility as outlined in Article 18 of the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association handbook, the KINGCO League and the Northshore School District and their individual school. Copies of these rules and regulations may be obtained from the school Athletic Director upon request.

The expectations for being a participant in a schoolʼs athletic program, including specific eligibility requirements, training rules and team rules shall be communicated to team members at the beginning of the season of participation. All program expectations and team rules shall be in writing.

Any athlete in a District-sponsored athletic activity who willfully performs any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs shall be subject to discipline. As participants in extracurricular programs, students are faced with choices. If a studentʼs choices interfere, impede, hinder their personal or group/team performance or render the individual as unfit to serve as a representative(s) of the districtʼs schools, they forfeit the privilege to participate. Misconduct by participants in the athletic program at any time, on or off campus, school related and/or non-school activities during the season of participation and between consecutive seasons of participation constitutes cause for discipline including denial of participation in and/or removal from the athletic program. Seasons begin with the first turnout and conclude with the season ending recognition/awards program in the individual sport.

II. Consequences for Athletic Code violations;

A. Student Athletic Code violations are accumulative during grades seven and eight and then again in grades nine through twelve. Any ninth grade student shall be considered a high school student.

B. Consequences for specific violations:
Probation is a period of time in which an athlete may be given time to correct deficiencies that could result in denial of participation for a given period of time or removal from athletic team participation. Denial of participation means that the athlete is allowed to practice but not compete in games. The loss of athletic eligibility, which may carry over to subsequent sports seasons, means the athlete will not participate in interscholastic competition or be in uniform. During the period when a student is assigned a suspension from school, the student is not eligible for any form of participation or attendance at school activities including athletic program participation.

So, although it doesn’t expressly ban what the girls did, I think what they did falls s under “any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs.”

So, where do I stand?  I stand on the side of the girls; however, I disagree with what they want done.  I agree that BHS officials were way too easy on pretty much everybody other than the 2 girls.  I think that the girls should be suspended (or have other disciplinary action taken against them) for failing to follow the athletics agreement.  In addition, ANYBODY who possessed the pictures (other than the administrators, who I’ll discuss in a minute) should have been charged with possession of child pornography, and should have had disciplinary action taken against them if they were in a sport (but it had to be a sport that was in season at that time).  Obviously, it would have to be proved that the person kept the pictures.  I wouldn’t charge anybody just because they received the pictures.  The administrators, if they really did report it to the police, did nothing wrong.  HOWEVER, if additional copies were passed around for no reason, those responsible should be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.  I do think that BHS officials are wrong in not punishing the football team and other students; however, the way to solve this is NOT to expunge the records of the girls, but to punish ALL who were responsible.

EDIT: I’ve been talking with some people about this, and the argument has come up that perhaps the girls were of age so that it wasn’t child pornography.  In addition to the fact that the names are not being released because the girls are minors, I found this photograph from July 4th, 2005, courtesy of the Woodinville Rotary Club.  Now, of course this isn’t official, but to me, none of those girls looks 18 (except maybe the one on the left in the front row).  Additionally, the one picture was taken in 2005, so we’re guaranteed that that girl wasn’t 18 when the picture was taken:

bothell_parade_07_04_05_019_-_bhs_cheerleaders

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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