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Entries in Canton (4)

Wednesday
Nov282012

Ohio Man Sentenced to One Month in Jail After Teasing Disabled Girl

Comstock/Thinkstock(CANTON, Ohio) -- An Ohio man faces one month of jail time for teasing and taunting a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy after a video of the incident went viral.

On Nov. 27, Judge John A. Poulos of the Canton Municipal Court sentenced 43-year-old William Bailey to 29 days in jail.

The taunting occurred on Sept. 26, when Tricia Knight and her mother-in-law were waiting for her children’s bus to return from school. Knight’s three children, including 10-year-old Hope, attend Walker Elementary with Bailey’s 9-year-old son, Joseph.

What happened next was caught on an iPod camera by Knight’s mother-in-law, Marie Prince.

William Bailey “was dragging his leg and patting his arm across his chest to pick his son Joseph up,” said Knight. “I asked him to please stop doing this. ‘My daughter can see you.’ He then told his son to walk like the R-word.”

The next day Knight posted the video on her Facebook page while Prince uploaded the video they called “Bus Stop Ignorance” to YouTube. Within days, the video went viral.

The Knight family has lived next door to the Baileys for the past two years, and the incident at the bus stop, according to Knight, is the culmination of rising tensions and intimidation against her kids.

In the days that followed the taunting at the bus stop, the Knight family filed a complaint with Canton City prosecutors.

Jennifer Fitzsimmons, the chief assistant city prosecutor for this case, says in the three years she’s been in this role, she’s never seen anything like this.

“I think when we look at cases, there’s case law out there regarding people commenting and gesturing against race and religion. But when there’s nothing out there regarding disabilities, it took me a little bit longer to come to a decision.”

After Fitzsimmons reviewed the Knight family’s complaint, a police report based on a phone call from the Knight family, and the video captured by Prince, she decided to press charges.

“It was settled without Hope having to relive what she saw and how it impacted her,” said Fitzsimmons. “I think the trial could have been just as traumatic as the event itself.”

Bailey, who works as a truck driver, was charged twice. He was originally charged for aggravated menacing, a misdemeanor of the first degree. In this charge, the victim was Knight, in an incident she says took place the same day as the bus stop scene.

Bailey, she said, “was swinging a tow chain on his porch, saying he was going to choke me until I stopped twitching. I sent my kids with my mother-in-law to leave with them. My husband called the sheriff.”

In Ohio, a menacing charge is a misdemeanor fourth degree, which carries a maximum of 30 days in jail.

The second original charge, for the bus stop incident, was disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. A disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor and carries no jail time.

Although Bailey’s sentencing technically reflects the charges brought by his actions toward Knight, Hope’s mother, Fitzsimmons explains how the plea deal enabled the sentence to cover his actions toward Hope.

“Because the menacing misdemeanor charge was directed toward Hope’s mother, and they’re all interrelated, the judge took into account all the actions of Mr. Bailey and the entire Holcomb family,” said Fitzsimmons.

Bailey “entered a plea of ‘no contest’ to a menacing charge and to disorderly conduct,” said Fitzsimmons. His sentence will go into effect on Jan. 2.

Judge Poulos required Bailey to pay $400 in court costs as well as other fees. He was given a credit for one day which is why his sentence is 29 days and not the maximum 30.

Following the Nov. 27 hearing, Bailey’s attorney, John R. Giua, released a statement and apology on Bailey’s behalf, according to the The Repository, a newspaper for Stark County, Ohio.

“I don’t think this sentence will change things because it hasn’t so far,” said Knight.

Knight says living next door to the Baileys affects their everyday lives.

Just last summer, said Knight, 9-year-old Joseph Bailey came over to play with Knight’s children and brought over a pocket knife, threatening to “cut [Hope] up,” followed by name calling. That harassment continued into the school year.

Since the bus stop incident, Knight has spoken with the bus driver and the school’s principal. Knight now drives Hope to school every day while her other two children ride another bus to school.

Hope was born 29 weeks premature after Knight was involved in a head-on auto collision. When she was born, Hope weighed only two pounds, 12 ounces, which caused several medical problems resulting in two brain surgeries. Knight says her daughter fought for her life the first two years.

As for whether this case presents a new precedent in Ohio is another debate.

“I don’t know if it sets a precedent so much maybe as it begins a conversation between people,” said Fitzsimmons. “I think conversation starts progress, and I think if it can bring something else to light, it would be good.”

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov112012

School Shooting Protocol Shifts From Lockdown-Only

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CANTON, Mass.) -- Students in Canton, Mass., are the latest to receive training that would give them a more proactive role in responding to a school shooter. Instead of hiding, they would barricade doors and learn counter techniques.

The program, called ALICE -- alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate -- has been implemented in 300 schools since it was founded in the mid-2000s by former SWAT officer Greg Crane and his wife, a former school principal.

After the Columbine shooting in 1999, Crane said he realized the lockdown-only policies most schools have aren't enough to protect students if there is a shooter on the loose. By locking doors and hiding, students become easy targets, he said.

"You look at Columbine and every single child killed in the library that morning," Crane told ABCNews.com, referring to the library in which 52 children and teachers hid for more than four minutes before the gunmen entered and shot 18 of them. "They were all sitting down. ... Why were they there five minutes when they had five minutes to do something else?"

In Canton, the adoption of ALICE training has been received with some hesitation from the Canton School Committee, the Boston Globe reports. After a reporter questioned local officials, the committee called a meeting on Nov. 15 to discuss the program.

"Truthfully, we're a little behind the information curve on all of this," committee chairman John Bonnanzio told the Globe on Thursday. "At the very least we need to be able to ask some questions. We think the community should be able to weigh in, too."

The C in ALICE is for "counter," and that's often the most controversial step, but it's also a last resort, Crane said.

Usually only for older students, "counter" involves making use of students' advantage in numbers over the lone shooter, because 97 percent of shooters act alone, Crane said. In his experience, police are often less accurate shooters during shootouts because of overwhelming stimuli, like noise. Taking that knowledge into account, Crane's program suggests that students keep moving, make noise, and sometimes throw things.

"There are things you can do to make yourself a harder target," Crane said.

Of course, "counter" only happens if the student comes face-to-face with a shooter.

"Maybe it is thought out completely, but we need details," Bonnanzio told the Globe. "Maybe giving these kinds of instructions to children in the high school, as opposed to the elementary schools, is a better idea."

Crane said training differs based on age, but it's ultimately up to local law enforcement to decide who learns what.

Other ALICE steps include an updated version of "lockdown" because doors -- especially those with glass -- can be easy to break through, Crane said. Since shooters know they have a finite amount of time to kill people, Crane said they'll often move on if entering one classroom takes too long. As such, ALICE involves barricading doors. For instance, one teacher he trained plans to tie a 400-pound filing cabinet to the door handle of her classroom to make it difficult to open.

But ALICE has its critics, most notably, Kenneth Trump, a school safety consultant in Ohio who runs a consulting firm called National School Safety and Security Services.

Trump argues on the NSSSS website that Crane's expectations are unrealistic. He told the Globe that as soon as a student is shot obeying ALICE standards, parents are going to ask who taught them to do that.

But Crane says law enforcement haven't proven that they can arrive in time to save lives during a shooting. As such, students should have options and decide for themselves how to react.

Crane said he knows of two instances in which ALICE saved lives. During the high school cafeteria shooting in Ohio this February, for example, a young girl ran from the cafeteria because her mom received training and told her never to just duck and cover during a shooting. The girl brought several friends with her, but four people who remained were shot, and three of them died.

"She did the right thing," Crane said. "She made herself a very hard target."

ALICE trainings will also be held in Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana this month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec062011

Jorelys Rivera Stabbed, Assaulted in 'Calculated' Murder

Handout, Cherokee County Sheriffs Department(CANTON, Ga.) -- Jorelys Rivera, the 7-year-old girl whose body was found in a Georgia dumpster, was bludgeoned, sexually assaulted and stabbed in a remarkably vicious attack by a killer who police believe lives in her apartment complex.

The wounds to the girl's body were so severe that Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan refused to describe them beyond that fact that she had blunt force trauma to the head and stab wounds.

Keenan described the crime as a "very horrific and brutal murder."

Jorelys had been missing since Friday and was last seen at her apartment community's playground in Canton, Ga. Her body was pulled from a dumpster Monday and an autopsy was completed Monday night.

"We don't know if the child was targeted or not. We do know from what was determined through the autopsy and other evidence this was a very calculated and planned crime," Keenan said.

Police believe the murderer is still nearby. "The investigators feel very strongly the killer of the child resides in the apartment complex or has ready access to the apartment complex," said Keenan. "It's very important that persons who live in that apartment complex...If they have any information that could have bearing on this case, to let us know."

Keenan said there are several registered sex offenders who have resided in the River Ridge apartment complex, but they have all been interviewed and, "we have no reason to believe at this point that [those] sex offenders are involved."

The scene of the murder may have been an unlocked apartment at the River Ridge apartment complex where Jorelys lived.

Investigators believe Jorelys was abducted near the River Ridge playground, taken to a vacant apartment within the complex, assaulted and murdered, and then tossed in the dumpster.

"We have found evidence in [the vacant apartment] we believe is blood," said Keenan. "We are awaiting results of the investigation. The lab worked all night long."

Preliminary DNA test results are expected to be released Tuesday.

The award for any information that leads to the capture or conviction of the murderer is now $15,000, up $10,000 from Monday.

Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance told reporters Monday, "What we need is help from the public -- that's the key to this right now."

Anyone with information on the case is urged to call 770-704-7074.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec052011

Missing Georgia Girl: Body Found in Dumpster

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CANTON, Ga.) -- A brutally disfigured body discovered in a dumpster may be that of a 7-year-old girl who went missing at her family's apartment complex in Canton, Ga., investigators told reporters Monday.

"This is going to be a very, very horrendous crime. I am convinced of that after having observed the body," Georgia Bureau of Investigation director Vernon Keenan said. "A child who dies under extreme violence is the absolutely the worst thing that can happen to a human being."

The body, thought to be missing girl Jorelys Rivera, was badly beaten and sexually assaulted, Keenan said. Autopsy results, still pending, will confirm the identity and cause of death.

Keenan said the body was discovered around 12:30 p.m. Monday.

Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance told reporters, "What we need is help from the public -- that's the key to this right now."

Authorities had searched a mile and a half radius from the River Ridge apartment community where Jorelys lived with her mother, enlisting the help of state officers specially trained in child abductions before finally narrowing their search to one dumpster at the complex.

On Monday they took the dumpster to a barren field and emptied it there, pulling a body from the trash.

Now investigators are asking for the public's help in finding the person responsible.

A $5,000 reward is being offered in the hopes of generating more leads.

Jorelys was last seen Friday evening at the playground in her apartment complex. She reportedly left to get drinks for her friends and never returned.

Anyone with information on the case is urged to call 770-704-7074.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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