Entries in Liberty (3)


Fourteen Men Facing Charges in Texas Gang Rape of 11-Year-Old Girl

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LIBERTY, Texas) -- A group of fourteen defendants accused of sexual crimes against an 11-year old Texas girl appeared in court Wednesday, facing a series of sexual assault charges. Fourteen men, along with five juveniles, are being charged for crimes that occurred late last year.

Four of the accused face charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child, while the majority of the men have been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Cleveland police began investigating the case in December of last year after cell phone video showing the alleged sex attack started circulating among students at Cleveland schools, according to court documents. The video shows the girl engaged in sexual acts with several men.

The girl told authorities that the weekend after Thanksgiving she was asked if she wanted to ride around with three of the defendants in the case. The girl, described as a straight-A student by those who know her, rode with the young men to a blue house with white trim, according to court documents.

As the night unfolded, numerous men came to the house and later an abandoned trailer to have sex with the girl, according to court documents.

The video surfaced because some of the girl's attackers used their cell phones to take photographs and to film the assaults.

The girl, who has not been identified because she is a minor and the alleged victim of a sex crime, said that she was told by the men that they "would have some girls 'beat her up' or she would not be taken back to her residence" if she didn't have sex with them, according to court documents.

When a relative of one of the defendants was heard returning to the blue house, the group hurriedly moved to an abandoned trailer. The girl left behind her bra and panties, according to the court documents.

Most of the men who face charges are free on bond. One of the accused men, Marcus Porchia, 26, has been implicated in another unrelated case for sexual assault.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Texas 'Grave' Mistake: The Psychic Dilemma, Texas) -- It was a bombshell tip that led to potentially the largest police investigation in the history of Liberty County, Texas: an informant said Tuesday that dozens of bodies, some of them children, were buried in a mass grave outside a rural home. As law enforcement officials -- from local police to federal agents -- swarmed on the home, their every move followed closely by eager reporters, a small problem emerged. The tip had been called in by someone claiming to be a psychic and it turned out to be completely wrong.

"No bodies were found [and] there is nothing to indicate a homicide occurred here," Capt. Rex Evans of the Liberty County Sheriff's Office told the assembled group of reporters outside the home Tuesday night, after hours of waiting and speculation.

While the local and national media may have seized prematurely on the sheriff's office interest in the case, the department is hardly the first law enforcement group to take seriously claims made by people claiming to be psychics and to mobilize significant resources to investigate those claims.

"In 30 years in law enforcement, it happens in every high-profile case," former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said. "The more high-profile, the more the psychics call."

Though the Texas mass grave case was not high-profile until after the so-called psychic's tip started it all, Garrett said that usually even psychic tips out of the blue warrant at least a low-profile follow-up by police.

Stuart Grabois, a former assistant U.S. attorney, said he does not believe psychics are the real deal, but agreed their tips have to be investigated.

Garrett said that across the board, the people calling in to law enforcement claiming to have clairvoyant information are not attempting to mislead investigators, but are well intentioned and strongly "believe they see what they see."

During the massive investigation into Chandra Levy's 2001 disappearance, Garrett said investigators received dozens of tips from psychics from around the world about the Washington, D.C., intern -- some with startlingly specific visions of the location of Levy's body -- but none of them were accurate.

Despite some public failings of psychics, Grabois said he was personally astounded by one back in the 1980s when he was investigating the disappearance of New York six-year-old Etan Patz -- not because the psychic was able to find the boy who had been missing since 1979, but because most of the other leads she described panned out. The woman, a schoolteacher referred to Grabois by a state official, knew things about locations she could not have seen before and even predicted children's clothes would be found in certain locations, Grabois said. She also gave an accurate description of the prime suspect in Patz's disappearance, a man currently in prison on other charges, he said.

Though the boy was not where the psychic said, she was so specific with other facts that Grabois "took a second look" at her as a possible accomplice in the case before clearing her of any involvement.

Despite his experience, Grabois said he does not believe psychics generally help solve cases. Garrett said other investigators may disagree.

Last year, a psychic appeared to have predicted the location of the victims of what police believed to a serial killer on Long Island, the New York Post said. The psychic said that a body would be found buried in a place looking over the water and there would be a "G" on a sign nearby. In December 2010 investigators uncovered the remains of several victims on Long Island's Giglo Beach -- but none were buried.

Still, in a telephone interview with ABC News, the owners of the Texas property surrounded by police Tuesday appeared amused by the unwarranted spectacle. They had been out of town when the authorities descended on their home. When told a psychic had started it all, they just laughed.

A spokesperson for the Liberty County Sheriff's Office did not return requests for comment on this report.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New 'Liberty' Rocket Proposed for Commercial Space Projects

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/ATK(WASHINGTON) -- ATK, the company that made the strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRBs) for the space shuttles, has an idea.  If, as the Obama administration suggests, the future in space belongs to private companies launching astronauts, they'll need rockets to get up there.  So why not use what already exists?

ATK announced Tuesday it would propose to build a 300-foot-tall rocket called Liberty, using shuttle SRBs for its first stage, and the core of Europe's Ariane 5 launcher as its second stage.

Both have flown a lot, and while they might not be as fuel-efficient as some newer designs, ATK says it would be cheaper and faster to get the project started.  It could even make use of Launch Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center -- the same pads used for the shuttles and the Saturn V moon rockets, starting in 1967.

Liberty would be able to lift 44,500 pounds to the International Space Station, and the first test flight could be in 2013.

“Together we combine unique flight-proven systems and commercial experience that allows us to offer the market’s most capable launch vehicle along with flexibility to meet a wide variety of emerging needs," ATK Aerospace Systems Group President Blake Larson said in a press statement.   "Liberty provides greater performance at less cost than any other comparable launch vehicle.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio