How to Help Prevent Sexual Assaults on Flights

Journalist Joanna Chiu recently witnessed what so many have experienced: A creepy guy making creepy comments to the girl who was stuck next to him on a flight.

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Know When a Celebrity Has Been Accused of Harassment With This Chrome Extension

I admittedly don’t stay up to date on a lot of celebrity gossip. That means I don’t typically know who an actor is dating or that they just had a baby. I also don’t know when someone has been accused of sexual harassment or assault unless it’s a story that’s gotten a Weinstein-level of attention.

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Donald Trump: We Can’t Let China “Rape” Our Country

Donald Trump: We Can't Let China Photo: AP

Donald Trump, who launched his presidential campaign by accusing Mexican immigrants of “doing the raping,” once again demonstrated his expertise on the topic while discussing America’s trade relations with China this weekend.

“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” said Trump at a campaign rally on Sunday, adding, “and that’s what they’re doing.”

Luckily, the aspiring SVU agent offered a simple solution to the metaphorical assault that, incidentally, mirrors imagery used in racist propaganda from the 19th Century.

“We’re going to turn it around,” said Trump. “And we have the cards, don’t forget it. We’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China.”

In the past, pundits have criticized Trump’s foreign policy as “incoherent,” but on Sunday his message couldn’t be clearer: Like a powerful piggy bank, America will use its cards to turn around the rape.

John Kasich’s Sexual Assault Prevention Plan: Women Should Avoid Parties With Alcohol

John Kasich, a man whose passion for deli food is matched only by the desperation of his wild clawing at an office that is by no means within his reach, has a lot of thoughts on what women should and shouldn’t do at a party.

In an interview on Sunday with CNN’s Dana Bash, the Republican presidential candidate addressed comments he’d made about sexual assault on college campuses, telling a young woman that his best advice was “don’t go to parties where there’s lots of alcohol.” After an understandably horrified reaction, Kasich defended the comments, without understand why there was a problem:

“It’s just, you have to be careful. When alcohol is involved, it becomes more difficult for justice to be rendered, for a whole variety of reasons. But we can still find the perpetrator.”

Here’s the video of his earlier comments, which he said at a rally in Watertown, New York, on Friday.

A vote for Kasich, it is clear, is a vote for beer-free parties, something that I, for one, cannot endorse.

Brooklyn District Attorney Drops Charges Against All 5 Teens Accused in Brownsville Gang Rape

Brooklyn District Attorney Drops Charges Against All 5 Teens Accused in Brownsville Gang Rape

On Wednesday, the New York Times reports, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said that prosecutors would dismiss first-degree rape charges against the five teenagers who were accused of attacking an 18-year-old woman in Brooklyn early this year.

The young woman initially told police that she and her father had been walking through Osborn Playground, in Brownsville, Brooklyn, on January 7, when they were come upon by armed suspects, who threatened the father and took turns assaulting the woman. However, the suspects claimed that the encounter was consensual, and that the woman had been having sex with her father when they crossed paths in the park.

Four of the five suspects—Denzel Murray, 14; Ethan Phillip, 15; and Travis Beckford, 17; and Onandi Brown, 17—were released without bail a few days after their arrest, when the Brooklyn DA failed to meet the deadline to obtain indictments. Shaquell Cooper, 15, remained in jail, as he faced an unrelated assault charge.

The woman and her father admitted to investigators that they were having sex when the five suspects found them in the park, according to the Times. A rape test showed the presence of DNA from two of the five, including one to whom the woman had not given her consent. However, the woman recently stopped cooperating with investigators and said she was unwilling to testify.

“That night, this young woman’s father and the five young men engaged in conduct that was reprehensible, and wrong, but because of the lack of reliable evidence, criminal charges simply cannot be sustained,” Thompson said in a statement.

Officials said that the woman, who has moved around between foster families, group homes, and other facilities for most of her life, learned her biological father’s identity when she turned 18. After contacting him through Facebook, she came to New York City last July to meet him. From the Times:

Besides the statements the woman made to the police and others, she also met three times with prosecutors in their offices in Downtown Brooklyn. When she was interviewed, it was outside the presence of her father, the officials said. Prosecutors treated the case with sensitivity, the officials said. Experienced sex crimes investigators spoke with her. Counselors and social workers were available to assist her.

But in the last of those interviews, on Feb. 18, the woman told prosecutors she was unwilling to go forward with the case. She portrayed all of what had happened in Osborn Playground as a result of her consensual actions — saying she did not stop the suspects from advancing. At one point, she told investigators she “doesn’t do” court, the officials said. At another, she said she could not explain why she made conflicting statements in the past.

“She didn’t want to testify,” said one of the officials. “She didn’t want to bring the case. She expressed a complete unwillingness to cooperate in any criminal prosecution.”

Spencer Leeds, a lawyer for one of the suspects, Onandi Brown, said he disagreed with Thompson’s description of his client’s conduct as “reprehensible and wrong.”

“I have great respect for him,” Leeds said, “but I respectfully disagree with that characterization he put forth there. I don’t view Onandi’s conduct at any time as being reprehensible, based on our investigation of the case.”

Because the woman is no longer cooperating with investigators, prosecutors cannot bring incest charges against her father. “It is my fervent hope that this young woman gets all the support that she needs going forward,” Thompson’s statement continued. “My office, including our victim advocates who have been working with this young woman, stand ready to provide her with any assistance she may need.”

Fraternity President Charged With Attempted Rape at Cornell

Fraternity President Charged With Attempted Rape at Cornell

The 21-year-old president of an Ivy League fraternity has been arrested in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred last weekend at his fraternity house.

Wolfgang Ballinger, the president of Psi Upsilon at Cornell University, was charged with three felonies, according to Buzzfeed News: first-degree attempted rape, first-degree criminal sexual assault, and first-degree sex abuse. CNN reports that Ballinger

The Cornell University Police Department released a statement on Facebook detailing Ballinger’s arrest:

With the assistance of the victim, police were able to identify Ballinger as the perpetrator. At the request of the police through his attorney, Ballinger turned himself in to Cornell Police investigators Feb. 4 and was charged with first-degree attempted rape, a Class C felony; first-degree criminal sexual act, a Class B felony; and first-degree sexual abuse, a Class D felony.

Ballinger was arraigned in Ithaca City Court and was remanded to the Tompkins County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond. Ballinger is due back in Ithaca City Court on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.

Ballinger, from New York City posted an autobiographical video about his life on YouTube last month:

According to the Cornell Daily Sun, the fraternity is not on interim suspension. The national headquarters of Psi Upsilon also suspended the Cornell chapter after Ballinger’s arrest, saying in a statement that “any form of sexual harassment, is against our policy and in opposition of the values of Psi Upsilon.”

[Image via Tompkins County Jail]

Jian Ghomeshi Begins Trial for Sexual Assault Allegations

Jian Ghomeshi Begins Trial for Sexual Assault Allegations

On Monday, former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi will face the first trial for numerous sexual assault allegations made against him, The Guardian reports. In October 2014, three women came forward with stories of abuse from Ghomeshi, with one claiming he choked her almost to the point of unconsciousness.

A CBC employee claimed Ghomeshi had once grabbed her butt at the office and told her that he wanted to “hate-fuck” her. In the following weeks, more accusers, including one male, came forward saying Ghomeshi had groped, punched or choked them without warning. The number of alleged victims had reached more than twenty.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, Ghomeshi chalked up the claims made against him “as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.”

http://jezebel.com/jian-ghomeshi-...

Ghomeshi, who has maintained his innocence since the allegations first came to light, faces four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. According to CP24, he will also face a separate trial for another sexual assault charge from a different complainant in June.

Image via Getty.

Former Prosecutor Made Agreement With Bill Cosby To Keep 2005 Deposition Out of Criminal Trial

Former Prosecutor Made Agreement With Bill Cosby To Keep 2005 Deposition Out of Criminal Trial

In his 2005 civil deposition, Bill Cosby admitted to buying Quaaludes, “with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with.” That admission came during a lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand who claims that Cosby raped her in 2004. Constand sued Cosby for battery, assault, and defamation.

The case was settled out of court in 2006, but Cosby’s admission revealed a pattern among his attacks. Many of the over fifty women who have accused Cosby said that the comedian drugged them. Now it looks like former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor made an agreement with Cosby to keep his 2005 admission out of any potential criminal trial.

The New York Daily News reports that the agreement says “if Cosby testified in a civil case brought against him by accuser Andrea Constand then that testimony would never be used against Cosby in a criminal case.” In an email to his successor, Castor wrote:

“I can see no possibility that Cosby’s deposition could be used in a state criminal case, because I would have to testify as to what happened, and the deposition would be subject to suppression. I cannot believe any state court judge would allow that deposition into evidence.”

Kevin Steele, the current district attorney who is prosecuting Cosby, said that Castor’s claim is without merit. “There is a specific legal method to grant immunity,” Steele said. “That was not done in 2005.”

The deposition, in which Cosby said that he gave Constand, “three friends to make (her) relax,” was cited as a key piece of evidence prior to Cosby’s arrest. In a statement, Cosby’s attorneys claimed that the charges brought by Steele were illegal and unethical.

The criminal charges brought against Cosby, the statement says, “violate an express agreement made by the Montgomery County District Attorney in 2005, in which the Commonwealth agreed that Mr. Cosby would never be prosecuted with respect to the allegations of sexual assault made by complainant Andrea Constand.”

Cosby was arraigned on charges of aggravated assault in December 2015. He is currently awaiting a trial date.

Image via AP.

Smartphone Video Said to Show Encounter Just Before Alleged Brooklyn Gang Rape Emerges at Arraignment

Smartphone Video Said to Show Encounter Just Before Alleged Brooklyn Gang Rape Emerges at Arraignment

At a hearing in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, the New York Times reports, one of the five teenagers accused in the gang-rape of an 18-year-old woman introduced a smartphone video that his owner and defense lawyers said showed a brief exchange with the victim before the suspected attack.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, at a news conference outside City Hall, Commissioner William J. Bratton conceded that the NYPD should have informed the public more quickly of the alleged attack at Osborn Playground, in Brownsville, around 9 p.m. last Thursday.

“There’s no denying that the department should have—I, police commissioner, the department, our press office—put some information out on Friday,” Bratton said. While the early information was “extraordinarily minimal,” nevertheless, “that would have been sufficient to alert the neighborhood, the community, and to also, if anybody had seen something, to possibly give us assistance.”

Kenneth Montgomery, a lawyer for Denzel Murray, 14, described the smartphone video as “compelling” evidence for his client’s innocence. From the Times:

The smartphone video that emerged on Tuesday was brief and cryptic and showed only the woman, who could only be heard mumbling at times. Whether it might help the defense or the prosecution was unclear.

Billy Sullivan, 24, said the video, less than 30 seconds long, was recorded Thursday at Osborn Playground by his younger brother, Ethan Phillip, 15, one of the five suspects. He said it portrays a fresh snippet of dialogue that would help the argument that any sex was consensual.

“She said yeah,” an unidentified male voice is heard saying on the video, played for a reporter on Tuesday by Mr. Sullivan as he and his mother stood in the doorway of her home. Then a male voice is heard saying: “If you said yeah, it’s lit, like, you know what I mean. I could tell you a freak.”

The department’s chief of detectives, Robert K. Boyce, confirmed reports that detectives are investigating claims that the woman had been having sex with her father when the five suspects came upon them. “That came from two individuals that were arrested,” Boyce said. “That’s the only place we’ve got that from so far.”

http://gawker.com/the-case-of-th...

An unnamed law enforcement official told the Times that, even if those accounts are true, it “does not mean she was not a victim of a pretty horrific attack.”

“What appeared to have happened is that the father may have put her in that compromised position,” the official said. The father was reportedly drunk at the time of the attack, which impeded his ability to communicate to people nearby what was going on. “He’s like that, a drunk, yes,” a next door neighbor said.

An NYPD spokesman, Deputy Chief Edward Mullen, said that investigators were “aware of claims” that videos of the incident had been made, but that they had not seen them. “We are in the process of obtaining search warrants for some of the suspects’ phones.”

Photo via AP Images. Contact the author of this post: brendan.oconnor@gawker.com.

Eight Sororities Put a Stop to Bullshit Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Eight Sororities Put a Stop to Bullshit Campus Sexual Assault Bill

On Friday, seven sororities joined whistleblower Alpha Phi in protesting the “Safe Campus Act,” a nonsense campus sexual assault bill that would make things measurably worse for victims. This bad PR blitz forced the National Panhellenic Conference, the sororities’ umbrella organization, to drop its support of the bill.

http://gawker.com/one-sorority-f...

The Huffington Post reports that the national offices of Phi Mu, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Phi Epsilon, Gamma Phi Beta, Sigma Delta Tau and Delta Gamma all announced Friday that they would not support the Safe Campus Act—a bill that would, at its core, prevent colleges from punishing rapists unless victims agree to go to the police. The Safe Campus Act is a redundant piece of legislation concerned entirely with the rights of the accused, and it is universally opposed by victims’ advocacy groups.

The National Panhellenic Conference and the North American Interfraternity Conference have spent $200,000 lobbying for the Safe Campus Act since July (with the help of former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott). Now, both groups say they have dropped their support of the bill due to a “groundswell of concern” from the organizations they represent.

But the NPC and NIC still have a legislative agenda when it comes to campus sexual assault. In statements released late Friday, both groups announced that they would maintain support of the Fair Campus Act, a similar bill to the Safe Campus Act with one exception: The Fair Campus Act does not require victims to go to the police in order for colleges to investigate sexual assault allegations.

The Fair Campus Act, however, is still curiously and conservatively concerned with the rights of the accused. Per the Huffington Post, it “would allow colleges to use a stricter standard of proof than is currently required to decide whether a student committed sexual misconduct.”

Several sororities have already stated that they do not support the Fair Campus Act, so it’s not clear how long the NPC will be able to get away with lobbying for it. In its statement Friday, the NPC closed by insisting, “We stand ready to work with all to ensure all students feel safe and supported on their college and university campuses.”

Photo via Delta Gamma. Contact the author at allie@gawker.com.

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