CLEVELAND (AP) — A man accused of holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for about a decade pleaded not guilty Wednesday to hundreds of charges, including rape and kidnapping.
Ariel Castro is charged with kidnapping the three women and keeping them — sometimes restrained in chains — along with a 6-year-old girl he fathered with one of them.
Castro, 52, didn’t speak during the arraignment, which lasted less than a minute. He stood motionless, dressed in an orange prison outfit, and looked toward the floor as the plea was entered.
His attorneys planned to make a statement later Wednesday morning.
The grand jury charged Castro with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, saying he purposely caused the unlawful termination of one of the women’s pregnancies. He also was indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault and one count of possession of criminal tools.
The 142-page indictment covers only the period from August 2002, when the first victim disappeared, to February 2007. Prosecutors say the investigation will continue and they are leaving the door open to pursuing a death penalty case against Castro.
News that the women had been found alive electrified the Cleveland area, where two of the victims were household names after years of searches, publicity and vigils. But elation soon turned to shock as allegations about their treatment began to emerge.
The indictment against Castro alleges he repeatedly restrained the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. It says one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.
Later, he moved them to upstairs rooms where they were kept as virtual prisoners, according to investigators.
All the while, Castro continued driving a school bus and playing bass in local bands, with fellow musicians saying they never suspected a thing. He was fired as a bus driver last fall after leaving his bus unattended for several hours.
Castro has been held on $8 million bail, which was continued. Last week he was taken off suicide prevention watch in jail. Cuyahoga County jail logs show him spending most of his time sleeping, lying on his bunk, watching TV and occasionally drawing.
Castro was arrested May 6, shortly after one of the women broke through a door and yelled to neighbors for help.
She told a police dispatcher in a dramatic 911 call: “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years, and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.”
The women — Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with DeJesus’ family and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.
The women haven’t spoken publicly since their rescue.
Berry, 27, told officers that she was forced to give birth in a plastic pool in the house so it would be easier to clean up. Berry said she, her baby and the two other women rescued with her had never been to a doctor during their captivity.
Knight, 32, said her five pregnancies ended after Castro starved her for at least two weeks and “repeatedly punched her in the stomach until she miscarried,” authorities said.
She also said Castro forced her to deliver Berry’s baby under threat of death if the baby died. She said that when the newborn stopped breathing, she revived her through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The picture of Castro as a friendly musician began to erode soon after the women were freed, as family members told of a man who terrorized his common-law wife, beating her and locking her in an apartment and the same house where the women were later kept.
Castro’s two brothers were arrested the same day but were released at a hearing a few days later after it was determined they weren’t aware of the activities their brother is accused of. They denounced him in later interviews.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the three women were widely circulated by their families, friends and law enforcement authorities for years during their disappearances and after they were found.
I know that our Constitution states that we are innocent until proven guilty, and I know that our laws are basically written (not to protect the innocent) but the guilty. The question is: when is enough, enough? If DNA results prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the child born to Amanda Berry is his, then WTF!!!
The scummy lawyers who protect these vermin are getting richer and richer as taxpayers dish out more and more tax dollars each year, and for what? I say that in these open and shut cases, such as the one with the Muslim scum-bag in Boston, where there is NO DOUBT the individuals committed the crimes for which they are charged, the trial should be limited to three (3) days, and after the douche-bags are found guilty they should immediately be fried, hanged, shot, injected (States’ choice) and be done with it! TGO
Refer to story below. Source: The Lookout
Lawyers for Ariel Castro say he’ll plead not guilty to charges of kidnapping and raping three women while holding them captive for a decade in his west Cleveland home.
“The initial portrayal by the media has been one of a ‘monster’ and that’s not the impression that I got when I talked to him for three hours,” Craig Weintraub, one of Castro’s lawyers, told Cleveland’s WKYC-TV late Tuesday.
The 52-year-old is being held on an $8 million bond in Cuyahoga County Jail and is under a suicide watch.
“He doesn’t have a television, doesn’t have radio, doesn’t have magazines, no access to newspapers,” Jaye Schlachet, another Castro lawyer, said. “He’s completely isolated from society.”
Castro is suspected of kidnapping Michelle Knight in 2002, Amanda Berry in 2003 and Gina DeJesus in 2004, and then holding them captive in his west Cleveland home. DNA tests confirm he fathered a daughter with Berry in 2006.
“I can tell you that Mr. Castro is extremely committed to the well-being and positive future for his daughter, who he loves dearly,” Schlachet said. “And if people find that to be a disconnect from what he’s alleged to have done, then the people will just have to deal with it. We just know how he feels about his little girl.”
Castro’s attorneys say that how he came into contact with the women will be revealed “as the case progresses.” And they say they may seek a change of venue to get a fair trial.
“I know the media wants to jump to conclusions, and all the people in the community want to say terrible things about the person who’s accused,” Schlachet added. “We are not even at the beginning of the process. If this was a marathon race, we’re not even at the starting line yet.”
The guy on the left is kidnapper and the other two are his brothers. The kidnapper deserves the worst kind of agonizing pain and suffering which any human being has ever endured. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Good Morning America
By ALEX PEREZ, MATTHEW JAFFE and ALYSSA NEWCOMB | Good Morning America
The two brothers of accused kidnapper Ariel Castro — who is charged with kidnapping and raping three women for more than 10 years — described him as a “monster” and distanced themselves from the alleged crimes, saying if they had known what was happening behind closed doors, they would have reported it to police.
Castro’s two brothers – Pedro and Onil — were initially taken into custody with their brother but released Thursday after investigators said there was no evidence linking them to the alleged crimes against Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 27.
The brothers told CNN in an exclusive interview that their brother is a “monster” and since they were arrested with him they have received death threats.
“I hope he rots in that jail,” Onil Castro, 50, said. “I don’t even want them to take his life like that. I want him to suffer in that jail to the last extent. I don’t care if they even feed him. What he has done to my life and my family’s.”
“I can’t go nowhere because they think I’m a monster, too, and I’m not,” Pedro Castro, 54, said. “And it just keeps going over and over in my head that people are just thinking that I did this.”
The brothers said they fear people will still believe they are connected to the alleged kidnappings.
“People think Pedro has something to do with this. Pedro don’t have nothing to do with this. If I knew I would have reported it, brother or no brother,” Pedro said.
Pedro said whenever he visited his brother’s home it was filled with background noise.
“If not the radio, the TV. Something had to be on at all time in the kitchen. So, I couldn’t hear nothing else, but the radio or the TV.”
Pedro told CNN he did not visit the home much, but when he did he was not allowed past the kitchen.
Ariel Castro, 52, was arraigned Thursday in an Ohio court on charges of kidnapping and rape. Bond was set at $8 million. He has not entered a plea.
In the early hours of the investigation, Onil and Pedro’s mugshots were distributed along with Ariel’s connecting them to the grisly details behind the imprisonment of the three women and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter, who was fathered by Ariel Castro, DNA tests revealed.
“I could not never think of doing anything like that. If I knew my brother was doing this, in a minute I would call the cops,” Pedro Castro said.
New cellphone video has emerged during the tense moments Cleveland police arrived at Castro’s home and pried open the front door, freeing DeJesus and Knight. The women’s first glimpse of freedom was caught on video by Ashley Colon and Jasmina Baldrich as they were driving down Seymour Street when they noticed the commotion and pulled over.
Moments earlier, Berry and her daughter Jocelyn escaped the home and made that frantic call to 911. Colon and Baldrich saw Berry tell her dramatic story for the first time to arriving police officers.
“We heard everything. She was saying we are in danger. Please protect me and she kept grabbing him,” Colon said. On Sunday, attorneys for the three women issued statements on their behalf thanking authorities and neighbors for support.
Michelle, Amanda and Gina “are extremely grateful for the generous assistance and loving support of their families, friends and the community” and thank authorities “for the tireless efforts of numerous law enforcement officials.” attorney James Wooley said.
Wooley then read statements directly from all three women.
Berry said, “Thank you so much for everything you do and continue to do. I am so happy to be home with my family.”
DeJesus said, “I am so happy to be home and want to thank everybody for all your prayers. I just want time now to be with my family.”
Knight said, “Thank you to everyone for your support and good wishes. I am healthy, happy and safe and will reach out to family, friends and supporters in good time.”
In response to numerous media requests, the attorneys said the women “will not be participating in any interviews” at this time due to the pending criminal investigation and prosecution and, more importantly, Wooley said, because they want privacy “so that they can continue to heal and reconnect with their families.”
How stupid does a person have to be to attend a church where the redneck pictured below is the pastor? Even dressed in a thousand-dollar suit with Italian-made shoes (neither of which they sell at the local Walmart) would this dumb-looking character resemble a man of God; only his actions would demonstrate that. For it is generally men of God who commit the worst crimes against their fellow human beings. Televangelist thieves, Muslim suicide bombers, pedophile priests, etc.
Delinquents have often used the guise of faith and God to get away with murder, sometimes literally. Yet people continue giving these delinquent scumbags their hard-earned money in exchange for “peace with God” and the promise of salvation.
In the end, it all comes down to conscious-money. Christians have been so successfully indoctrinated into believing that they are sinners who will go straight to hell upon their death that they try to buy their way into heaven. Unfortunately these people are too dumb to realize that these places, heaven and hell, do not exist. These are simply necessary components of the make-believe world of faith. Good and evil, reward and punishment, virtue and vice, heaven and hell. The story of Santa Claus is based on this same premise, as he rewards children with toys based on their good behavior. The invisible man in the sky supposedly does the same for adults. Each of these fairy tales is as good as the other, and both are equally untrue. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press
LADSON, S.C. (AP) — Dale Richardson was saved at a tent revival 32 years ago, was called to preach the Lord’s word in 2006 and, for the past year, had served as pastor at Freedom Free Will Baptist Church, a modest red brick structure on a South Carolina side road running along a railroad track.
Now he’s in jail, charged with kidnapping and raping three women at gunpoint — two of them in a trailer behind the church — and kidnapping a fourth who was not sexually assaulted.
According to an incident report, about noon on a Saturday last month, Richardson picked up a woman and gave her a ride. When the 20-year-old tried to get out of the car, Richardson allegedly pulled a gun, bound her hands, covered her head and took her to the gray-blue trailer home behind the church.
The report said he later dropped the woman in a wooded area, threatening to shoot her if she turned around. Police said the woman was able to identify Richardson from his picture on the church website, which also displays a short biography detailing how he became a Christian and then a pastor.
Richardson has since been charged with two other similar sexual assaults, both of which occurred last year. He is accused of bringing one of those women to the church trailer. The third woman claims she was raped in a wooded area outside nearby Summerville, a bedroom community about 20 miles northwest of Charleston. He is also charged with kidnapping a fourth woman.
Richardson said little last week when, dressed in a gray and white striped prison jump suit with his ankles and wrists shackled, he appeared before a Dorchester County magistrate on the latest charges. He said he understood the charges against him and was denied bond when the magistrate said he was a danger to society.
Richardson’s public defender said it’s too soon to comment on the case. During his initial bond hearing when he was first arrested, Richardson said he has a spotless record and will put up a strong defense.
Maj. John Garrison of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office said serial rape cases are unusual in the area. He said this case is drawing particular interest because the suspect is a preacher.
Garrison, then at the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department, helped investigate the so-called Lowcountry serial rapist that attracted national headlines two decades ago. Authorities believe Duncan Proctor, who was convicted of two rapes and burglaries and sentenced to life in prison, may have raped as many as 30 women between March 1990 and June 1992.
Most neighbors on the quiet cul-de-sac where Richardson lived in a neat yellow house refused to talk last week. But Mary Milligan, who lives two doors away, came to Richardson’s defense.
“I don’t believe any of this. I have never had a problem with him. He’s kind. He’s a member of this community. He mows the neighbors’ lawns. I am just blown away by all these accusations,” she said.
There was no one home at the Richardson residence, where a paving stone beside the walkway is inscribed “Believe in God. Believe also in me. John 14:1.”
The church website says Richardson became pastor of the church on June 9, 2010. It says he graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. — the college founded by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell — and has a wife and two grown daughters.
But his name has now been removed from the sign outside the church that has a congregation of about 50 people. Those attending last Wednesday night’s service who were willing to be interviewed did not condemn Richardson.
“He’s always been a real sweet person. He’s always taught God’s word,” said Virginia Davis, who has been attending the church about a year. “He’s been honest with me since Day 1. I’d let him look me right in the face and tell me he did it, because I don’t believe he did it.”
The Rev. Dean Mandrell, who has been helping by preaching at one of the church’s three weekly services, said the congregation has drawn closer.
“Nobody is leaving, they are staying right here. They are just worshipping God. They are not condemning. They are not tearing down or poor-mouthing or bad-mouthing him,” he said.
Mandrell’s Wednesday sermon was about judging others, based on Matthew’s biblical account of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus says people with a log in their own eye should not be concerned about the speck in another’s eye.
The South Carolina Free Will Baptist State Association has suspended Richardson’s preaching credentials pending the outcome of the investigations because “the misconduct alleged against him is forbidden by God.” The Rev. Todd Smith, executive director of the statewide association numbering almost 120 churches, said in a statement the association would cooperate with investigators.
“Our prayers are with all involved,” he said.
If ever there were two individuals who deserve not just to be put to death, but systematically tortured for not days, or weeks, or months, but years, it is the two worthless pieces of excrement pictured below; Phillip and Nancy Garrido.
By the way, the psychiatrists involved in Phillip Garrido’s parole and the federal parole agents who visited the house where Jaycee Dugard was held captive should, if still employed by the government, be immediately fired for incompetency and negligence. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A day after releasing disturbing footage videotaped by one of Jaycee Dugard’s captors and a report highlighting law enforcement failures in the case, a California prosecutor plans to join a state lawmaker Wednesday to develop ideas for improving supervision of parolees.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson on Tuesday discounted claims by federal officials that Phillip Garrido’s parole agent had not missed opportunities to find Dugard and the two daughters she bore the convicted rapist.
“The system as a whole failed, and we should all be angry about it,” he said during a news conference Tuesday in the state Capitol.
In his report, Pierson said the agent visited Garrido’s home in the San Francisco Bay area town of Antioch only once between May 1991, the month before Dugard was snatched off her South lake Tahoe street, and May 1995, eight months after she had given birth to her first child by Garrido.
During the 1991 visit, the agent was shown Garrido’s backyard recording studio, which became the first place Dugard was confined and raped after her kidnapping just weeks later.
“Had the federal parole agents been doing their job and searching the residence (and the recording studio they were aware of), then they would have found Jaycee Lee Dugard imprisoned in the back yard,” Pierson asserted.
The district attorney also made public a 1993 video tape of Garrido’s wife luring a young girl into the couple’s van, asking her to do the splits and videotaping her. Nancy Garrido later told authorities she made 10 to 20 similar videos at area parks and playgrounds for her husband’s sexual gratification.
“That’s it. Can you go all the way down?” Nancy says to the girl, who is blurred out in the video released by authorities.
The girl says she can go down farther.
“Let me see, I bet you can go down really easy,” Nancy Garrido said.
When the girl notices a light on the camera, she asks Nancy Garrido about it.
“I don’t know anything about that camera,” says Nancy, quickly changing the subject.
The report says Garrido should not have been freed from prison in 1988, where he was serving a 50-year federal sentence and a five-years-to-life Nevada state sentence for a previous kidnapping and rape. Pierson said the parole system relied too heavily on psychiatric advice in determining Garrido’s suitability for parole.
After Garrido nabbed Dugard in 1991, Pierson said federal and state parole agents failed to investigate his history of sexual crimes and instead relied on reports from psychiatrists. This led to agents missing numerous warning signs over dozens of visits.
The report also lists dozens of incidents in which Garrido should have had his parole revoked, including once in 1988 when he contacted a woman he earlier had been convicted of raping and kidnapping, and other times when his urine tested positive for methamphetamine or he was caught diluting his urine samples.
In her book and grand jury testimony, Dugard said Garrido would go on sex binges with her after he took amphetamines.
In 1994, it was learned that Garrido wore a prosthetic penis during drug screenings. “Garrido would wear a fake penis and use warm Mountain Dew to fool the urine tests conducted with this counselor,” the report states.
In response to the report, the California Department of Corrections, which assumed responsibility for monitoring Garrido in 1999, said it has repeatedly acknowledged there was a need for changes in the wake of Dugard’s discovery two years ago this month.
The department said it has made “significant improvements,” including requiring parole officers to work with federal and other state parole authorities, and re-evaluating all sex offenders. They’re also using GPS monitoring for parolees.
But Pierson said he hoped his report would begin a process of exploring potential legislative solutions that will help law enforcement do a better job of supervising and detecting sexual predators.
On Wednesday, he will participate in a public meeting with Republican state Sen. Ted Gaines, who represents the area where Garrido snatched Dugard, then 11, in 1991.
Gaines said he hopes to introduce legislation that would change the rules for evaluating parole of serious offenders, and pass it this month with bipartisan support.
Since a 2008 California Supreme Court decision that said the parole board cannot deny release solely based on the nature of the original crime, the number of paroles granted to prisoners serving life terms has soared, Gaines said.
He said it would be appropriate to give the parole board more discretion to hold prisoners based on their crimes, especially sexual predators who may be more likely to commit new crimes if released, he said.
Garrido is serving a sentence of 431 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to raping Dugard and other charges. Nancy Garrido was sentenced to 36 years to life for kidnapping and rape.
Associated Press Writer Adam Weintraub contributed to this report from Sacramento.
Newly released video of Nancy Garrido: http://www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/ELDODA/Press_Release/2011/Findings_Re__Jaycee_Lee_Dugard_Case.aspx
This is the most amazing story I have ever heard! How this woman (who was 11 years old when kidnapped) was able to survive the living hell that she was put through for 18 years boggles my mind!
By the way, in this particular instance I don’t condone the death penalty for the scum who abducted this girl and his slut-wife. I believe in their systematic torture, each and every day, until the day they die. And even then, they’re getting off easy in my opinion. There is nothing that could be done to these two beasts that would compare to what Jaycee Dugard was put through.
Note: Click on link below to watch video. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: ABC NEWS
By JESSICA HOPPER, July 11, 2011
Jaycee Dugard gave an unflinching and unsparing look into her life while held captive by kidnappers Phillip and Nancy Garrido. Now two years into her freedom, her triumph in her healing process and her bravery in recounting the horror she’s overcome teaches us all valuable lessons for how to be survivors in our own lives. Here’s a few of them.
1. Hold On To Hope: Even though Dugard was stripped of her name and subjected to horrible abuse and manipulation, she proudly proclaimed to ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that Phillip and Nancy Garrido “didn’t get all of me.” She said that she had to “hold on to any kind of hope to survive.”
Throughout her 18 year ordeal, Dugard held onto hope that she would see her mother again. When Phillip Garrido took her pink clothes and the backpack that she wore the day she was kidnapped on June 10, 1991, she hid a butterfly pinky ring given to her by her mother. She’d hide that ring for nearly two decades.
Simple things like a glance at the moon reminded Dugard of her mother and the life that she hoped to return to. Before her abduction, Dugard and her mom, Terry Probyn, used to sing a song about the moon together and debate which moon was prettier: a crescent or a full moon. Staring at the moon became a way to remember one another. The two women ironically looked at the same moon just two days before Dugard and her daughters were rescued in August 2009.
Dugard still marvels at the hope both women held onto. “Being a mom now, you know, I know that she never forgot about me because I could never forget about my kids… But she kept…her hope. I don’t know how she did that. You know? How did I keep my hope? How did she keep her hope,” Dugard said.
2. Find Meaning in The Day, Even if it Is a Day in Hell: Dugard told Sawyer that the life she lived under Phillip and Nancy Garrido seems “unimaginable” now. She and her two daughters lived in squalor in a backyard compound of dilapidated sheds. There was no toilet. Dugard didn’t stand in the sunlight until six years into her captivity.
Still, Dugard found ways to bring beauty into an unfathomable situation. She turned a tent into her sanctuary. “I felt like I had something that was mine. So I have, you know, good memories of my tent if you can believe that with all the leakiness.” Dugard planted flowers outside the tent, making a garden. She also tried to make life as normal as possible for her daughters. In the corner of the backyard prison, she made a school.
3. When There Is No Way to Escape, Adapt: Dugard said that there was a “switch” she had to shut off to survive. “You just do what you have to do to survive,” she told Sawyer. Dugard learned that surviving meant keeping her feelings to herself so that she didn’t rile the emotional and delusional Garridos. She found a way to channel her emotions by scribbling on scraps of paper that she kept as a journal. “It helped me get through a lot of days, my imagination.”
Dugard named the spider in her room – Bianca. She came up with stories about the tree outside the lone window in the soundproof studio the Garridos first locked her in. She made doll furniture out of milk cartons. The things Dugard couldn’t say out loud, she wrote in her journal. She described dreams of seeing her mother. She set goals of riding in a hot air balloon, being a veterinarian and even wondered if one day she’d find a soul mate.
4. Do Not Forget What Real Love or Goodness Is: Perhaps the greatest reminders of real love and goodness was the birth of her daughters in 1994 and 1997. She writes that having her first daughter meant that “I wasn’t alone any more. [I] had somebody that was mine… And I knew I could never let anything happen to her.”
Dugard said that caring for her daughters helped her remember her mother. She worried over the 18 years that she was forgetting what her mom looked like, but she’d see her mom in her daughters’ faces. She said that gave her “another little piece of my mom to hang onto.”
Dugard also said she gave and received love from the many cats she cared for over the years. She was so fond of one, she kept a journal for him: “Eclipse’s Journal.” Excerpts of the journal are in her memoir, “A Stolen Life.” One journal entry reads, “last night I started to cry and she heard me and she came to me and sat next to me and after that, I felt a little better…when she looks at me I see love, curiosity, intelligence, but most of all I see her love for me.”
5. Stare The Past Down With Strength, Not Shame: Dugard has spent the past two years with her therapist, Dr. Rebecca Bailey, learning that what happened to her is not her fault. “It is not her shame. Those things happened to her,” Bailey told ABC News. Dugard said that she is telling her story so that there are no more secrets. “Why not look at it? You know, stare it down until it can’t scare you anymore,” Dugard told Sawyer.
In giving an honest account of how a predator operates, she’s giving voice to the many victims of sex abuse and a glimpse into the rare occurrence of stranger abduction.
Knowing the hazards that abound in these countries with their unstable governments, why would anyone of sound mind risk their life by going there? Danger is easy enough to find without actually going out of one’s way looking for it. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press
KHARTOUM (AFP) – Unknown gunmen overnight swooped on the offices of German humanitarian group THW in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region and abducted two aid workers, a United Nations official said on Wednesday.
The raid late on Tuesday took place in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state, the official of the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) told AFP.
“They were kidnapped on Tuesday evening from their office in Nyala by armed men in civilian clothes,” said UNAMID communication chief Kemal Saiki.
He identified the abducted aid workers as two Germans. The kidnappers also briefly held a Sudanese employee before they released him.
Another peacekeeping official said that seven men, four of them armed with assault rifles, abducted the aid workers at about 10:00 pm local time (1900 GMT).
Saiki added that the unidentified kidnappers then headed in the direction of Kass, a city north of Nyala.
The aid workers work for the Federal Agency for Technical Relief, the disaster relief arm of the German interior ministry.
Humanitarian officials said the group was closing its offices in south Darfur, but would keep working in north Darfur.
Darfur has seen a wave of kidnappings targeting foreign aid workers since an international court in March 2009 issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Beshir on charges of war crimes in Darfur.
Most of those abducted have been released unharmed, but an American female aid worker kidnapped in May is still being held hostage.
The United Nation estimates that 300,000 people have died since ethnic rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government, complaining of discrimination.
Haiti is really “going places” with the reputation they’ve established in the world, particularly following the January 12th earthquake. TGO
Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The U.S. Embassy says a kidnapped person was among four U.S. citizens killed in Haiti since the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The U.S. State Department expanded its travel warning for Haiti on Monday to say that dangers of killings and kidnappings persist, and “some kidnap victims have been killed, shot, sexually assaulted or physically abused.”
Embassy spokeswoman Mari Tolliver says “one of the deceased American citizens was the victim of a kidnapping.” She gave no details and police spokesman Gary Desrosiers said he knows nothing about the case.
Last week two European aid workers who were kidnapped and held for five days were released unharmed.
This whole thing smelled bad from the start. I always felt there was more to the story than an honest attempt by this Baptist group to save these children. Ms. Laura Silsby is in for a rough time. And if it’s proven that she’s guilty of shady business involving children, she deserves every bit of it… TGO
Refer to brief story below. Source: Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The last of 10 American missionaries detained in Haiti on suspicion of kidnapping is facing a new charge.
Judge Bernard Saint-Vil says Laura Silsby has been charged for a newly discovered, alleged attempt to bus child earthquake survivors to the Dominican Republic on Jan. 26.
She already could face trial on kidnapping and criminal-association charges from her group’s attempt to take 33 children across the border without permission three days later.
Saint-Vil has added the new charge of “organization of irregular trips,” from a 1980 law restricting travel out of Haiti that was signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.
The judge said Friday he has until early May to decide whether to release Silsby or order a trial.
As I stated in my previous post on this yesterday, there is something more to this story than the “innocence” on the part of the Baptist group that has been portrayed all along. Something just doesn’t “smell” right to me. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Ten U.S. Baptist missionaries were charged with kidnapping Thursday for trying to take 33 children out of Haiti to a hastily arranged refuge just as officials were trying to protect children from predators in the chaos of a great earthquake.
The Haitian lawyer who represents the 10 Americans portrayed nine of his clients as innocents caught up in a scheme they did not understand. But attorney Edwin Coq did not defend the actions of the group leader, Laura Silsby, though he continued to represent her.
“I’m going to do everything I can to get the nine out. They were naive. They had no idea what was going on and they did not know that they needed official papers to cross the border,” Coq said. “But Silsby did.”
The Americans, most members of two Idaho churches, said they were rescuing abandoned children and orphans from a nation that UNICEF says had 380,000 even before the catastrophic Jan. 12 quake.
But at least two-thirds of the children, who range in age from 2 to 12, have parents who gave them away because they said the Americans promised the children a better life.
The investigating judge, who interviewed the missionaries Tuesday and Wednesday, found sufficient evidence to charge them for trying to take the children across the border into the Dominican Republic on Jan. 29 without documentation, Coq said.
Each was charged with one count of kidnapping, which carries a sentence of five to 15 years in prison, and one of criminal association, punishable by three to nine years. Coq said the case would be assigned a judge and a verdict could take three months.
The magistrate, Mazard Fortil, left without making a statement. Social Affairs Minister Jeanne Bernard Pierre, who has harshly criticized the missionaries, refused to comment. The government’s communications minister, Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, said only that the next court date had not been set.
U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten showed up after 5 p.m. outside judicial police headquarters, where the Americans are being held and where President Rene Preval and top ministers now have temporary offices because theirs were destroyed in the quake.
“The U.S. justice system cannot interfere in what’s going on with these Americans right now,” he told reporters. “The Haitian justice system will do what it has to do.”
U.S. consular officials have been making regular visits to the missionaries.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Americans’ behavior “unfortunate whatever the motivation.”
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. was open to discuss “other legal avenues” for the defendants, an apparent reference to the Haitian prime minister’s earlier suggestion that Haiti could consider sending the Americans back to the United States for prosecution.
It’s unlikely the Americans could be tried back home, according to Christopher J. Schmidt, an expert on international child kidnapping law in St. Louis, Mo. U.S. statutes may not even apply, he said, since the children never crossed an international border.
Silsby waved and smiled faintly to reporters but declined to answer questions as the Baptists were whisked away from the closed court hearing back to the holding cells where they have been held since Saturday. People rendered homeless by the quake sat idly under tarps in the parking lot, smoke rising from a cooking fire.
Earlier, Silsby expressed optimism about being released.
“We expect God’s will will be done. And we will be released. And we’re looking forward to what God is going to do,” she told APTN before learning they would be charged.
Coq complained about conditions where the Americans were being held. He said they are sleeping on the floor without blankets and aren’t being provided with adequate food. He said he had delivered pizza and sandwiches.
Silsby had begun planning last summer to create an orphanage for Haitian children in the Dominican Republic. When the earthquake struck she recruited other church members to help kick her plans into high gear. The 10 Americans rushed to Haiti and spent a week gathering children for their project.
Most of the children came from the quake-ravaged village of Callebas, where residents told The Associated Press that they handed over their children to the Americans because they were unable to feed or clothe them after the earthquake. They said the missionaries promised to educate the children and let relatives visit.
Their stories contradicted Silsby’s account that the children came from collapsed orphanages or were handed over by distant relatives. She said the Americans believed they had all the paperwork needed — documents she said she obtained in the Dominican Republic — to take the children out of Haiti.
“They are very precious kids that have lost their homes and families and are so deeply in need of, most of all, God’s love and his compassion,” she told the AP in a jailhouse interview Saturday.
The Dominican consul in Haiti, Carlos Castillo, told the AP on Thursday that the day the Americans departed for the border, Silsby visited him and said he had a document from Dominican migration officials authorizing her to extract the children from Haiti.
Castillo said he warned Silsby that if she lacked adoption papers signed by the appropriate Haitian officials her mission would be considered child trafficking. “We were very specific,” he said.
Back home in Idaho, Silsby faces questions about her business practices. As many as nine unpaid wage claims by employees of PersonalShopper.com, the online shopping business she founded and for which she is listed as CEO. One of those claims alleges the company owes the employee more than $22,000.
A Roman Catholic official in the Dominican Republic, meanwhile, told the AP that Silsby had agreed to rent 45 rooms at a former hotel owned by the Church in Cabarete, a northern beach resort.
Silsby agreed to rent the rooms for $7,000 a month and solicited a list of required repairs, said Jose Hidalgo, the real estate agent who brokered the deal.
The assistant pastor of Silsby’s church in Meridian, Idaho, said neither Central Valley Baptist Church nor any of the missionaries’ relatives had any comment about the decision to charge the Americans.
Drew Ham had defended the missionaries on Wednesday, saying they were putting the children’s’ interests first at a time of chaos.
The church was locked on Thursday afternoon but lights were on. Signs on the church’s front door said “No Entrance. Thank you for your understanding.” A church official told reporters massed outside that no statement was anticipated for Thursday.
The children are being cared for at the Austrian-run SOS Children’s Village in Port-au-Prince. An official there, Patricia Vargas, said none of the children who are old enough to talk have said they were orphans.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Washington, Abel Guzman in Santo Domingo, Todd Dvorak and Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, and Paisley Dodds in Port-Au-Prince contributed to this report.