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In The News

Oct 20, 2009

MILITARY – Last month former soldier Steven Green was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences for the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager, and the murder of three of her relatives, the Washington Post reports. Green and three other soldiers entered Abeer Qassim al-Janabi’s home, and killed her mother, father and sister. They then raped her and shot her in the face. Al-Janabi’s body was then set on fire. Four other soldiers (the three that entered the home and one who played a lesser role) were tried in a military court. Green was prosecuted as a civilian because by the time the Army pressed charges, he had been honorably discharged with a personality disorder.

CA – Award-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich last month and is awaiting extradition to the United States on 30 year-old charges of statutory rape. Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor. Polanski’s arrest has sparked worldwide controversy, with some in the entertainment industry and in Europe, where Polanski lives, speaking out on his behalf – but many violence prevention experts have challenged them. The New York Times editorialized, “We were glad to see other prominent Europeans beginning to point out that this case has nothing to do with Mr. Polanski’s work or his age. It is about an adult preying on a child. Mr. Polanski pleaded guilty to that crime and must account for it.”

CA – After being held captive, repeatedly raped, and living in backyard shacks for nearly 20 years, Jaycee Dugard and the two-children fathered by her captor are safe and living with Dugard’s mother. Then just 11, Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 by Phillip Garrido, a convicted sex offender. California parole officers who checked on Garrido never discovered Dugard or her children, the Contra Costa Times reports. Vice Chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission Cranston Mitchell and Deputy Attorney General Janet Neeley who oversee California’s sex offender registry suggested that Garrido “could have easily slipped through the sex registry cracks.” Garrido and his wife are awaiting trail in El Dorado County Jail on charges of rape, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

CT – In response to widespread anger, a Marriott Hotel has abandoned its claim that a woman raped at gunpoint in the Stamford Marriott parking garage – in front of her young children – had been careless and was partly at fault, the Associated Press reports. The hotel originally filed papers charging that the victim “failed to exercise due care for her own safety and the safety of her children and proper use of her senses and facilities.” Her attacker, Gary Fricker, is serving 20 years in prison for the crime.

CT – Gail Burns-Smith, lifelong advocate and co-founder of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and Executive Director of the Connecticut Sexual Assault Center of Crisis Services, passed away on September 5. In the Congressional record, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called Burns, “a tireless advocate for victims of sexual assault and abuse” and an “unspoken hero.” Memorial contributions may be made to the Gail Burns-Smith “Dare to Dream” Scholarship Fund, CONNSACS, 96 Pitkin Street, East Hartford, CT 06108.

TX – The Houston school district has banned sexting – sending nude or semi-nude photographs or videos via cell-phone or email. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) revised its student code of conduct in response to concerns expressed by principals. HISD’s Assistant General Council Hans Graff told the Houston Chronicle, “To the extent it’s an issue…we want to put kids on notice we’re not going to tolerate it.” HISD serves more than 200,000 students.

WI – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was badly beaten in August when he tried to diffuse an incident of domestic violence. Barrett overheard a man yelling at a woman and her young grandchild, and when he tried to intervene, the suspect hit him in the head and torso with a metal pipe. Police said the suspect was intoxicated and threatening to shoot himself and others, the Associated Press reports. Co-Executive Director of Sojourner Peace Center, a Milwaukee domestic violence shelter and advocacy group, told WUWM that though she applauds the mayor’s actions, people have to be careful and asses if a situation is safe before getting involved.

SUDAN – Lubna Hussein, the female journalist facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public, has instead received a $200 fine, the Associated Press reports. Hundreds of protesters swarmed the courthouse for Hussein’s initial court date in July. Hussein said that she will serve one month in prison instead to protest the Sudan’s so-called morality laws. “The flogging, yes, it causes pain,” Hussein told the New York Times. “But more important, it is an insult. That is why I want to change the law.”