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Saturday
May042013

Teen Mom's Photo Banned from High School Yearbook

Courtesy Caitlin Tiller(TRINITY, N.C.) -- When Caitlin Tiller receives her high school yearbook later this month, she won’t find a single picture of herself on its pages.

Tiller’s photo was not allowed in the high school yearbook because she held her baby boy in the picture.

“The lady who runs the yearbook texted me and said, ‘We can’t use your picture in the yearbook because it promotes teen pregnancy,’” Tiller, 18, from Trinity, N.C., told ABC News about the exchange last month.

Wheatmore High School, in Trinity, N.C., allowed students to use a prop in their yearbook photos that would show something they were proud of when they posed for the photos last summer.

“There were no stipulations,” Tiller’s mom Karen Morgan, 42, also from Trinity, told ABC News. “They said, ‘Use whatever you want.’”

Tiller’s son, Leelin, 1, had just been born last summer when she took him to her yearbook photo appointment. “Everyone saw me with Leelin,” Tiller said. “No one said anything about me having my picture taken with him.”

That was until April 12, just days before the yearbook was going to print when the teacher at the school sent her the text notifying her that she had two days to submit a new photo without Leelin or not be in the yearbook.

“If he wasn’t going to be in it with me, I didn’t want be in it at all,” Tiller said.

Tiller, who graduated from high school early in December and is now attending Randolph County Community College, said the school fully supported her during her pregnancy. “They all helped me when I needed the help,” Tiller said. “I don’t understand why they’re being like this.”

Tiller said her best friend, who has a child, was also not allowed to have her picture with her child in the yearbook. She said, however, that a photo of a pregnant student, who posed with hands around her stomach, was allowed to be in the yearbook.

Both Tiller and Morgan said they tried to speak to school officials, but were not successful. ”I tried to fight it, but no one was budging,” Tiller said. Morgan said one school board member even hung up on her.

Donald E. Andrews, superintendent of Randolph County Schools, said in a statement to ABC News, “The practice at Wheatmore High School regarding yearbook pictures for seniors has been to include only graduating students in the senior section, and to permit family members and friends to be featured with our seniors in the ad section of the yearbook.”

Andrews said they offered Tiller this option and regretted not making their policy clearer to her.

“I feel like it’s discrimination,” Tiller said.

Morgan said the school is trying to hide its teen moms rather than being proud of girls who stay in school and achieve their goals like her daughter.

“She finished high school early, started college this year, and is working 30-36 hours a week,” Morgan said. “It’s ridiculous. She has proven so much and been such an inspiration to teen moms.”

While it is too late for Tiller’s photo to be in the yearbook, she and Morgan hope that the attention her story has gotten will help other teen moms gain recognition for their hard work. ”Having a baby is not easy,” said Tiller, who is currently studying to be a medical assistant.

When asked what advice she had for teen moms, she said, “Keep on fulfilling your dreams.

“Don’t give up because that little baby needs you.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec032012

Middle-School Love Letter Displayed at Wedding 22 Years Later

Courtesy Aislinn Kate Photography(PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- What started innocently enough as a sixth-grade boy’s plea for the girl of his dreams to meet him at the end of the hall after school ended up with that girl eventually meeting him down the aisle 22 years later.

When Cathy and Trevor Webb, of Pensacola, Fla., said their “I do’s” on Oct. 20, their guests got to view a special piece of history the middle- schoolers had shared. A rather persistent love letter Trevor had written to Cathy in 1990 at Ferry Mass Middle School was proudly on display, proving the couple’s love had been two decades in the making.

Written in all caps at the top was an oh-so-serious “DON’T LET ANYONE SEE THIS,” which was immediately followed by Trevor’s more anxious tone urging Cathy to decide which boy, he or Brad, she was going to choose to date.

The note reads, “Dear Cathy, I still like you and I still want you to go with me. I know Brad likes you. Please decide who you’re going to go with. Think hard and let me know your decision. I’ll be standing at the end of this hall and the beginning of the other hall. Meet me there as soon as school’s out and you can tell me. Sincerely, Trevor.”

Cathy did meet him at the end of the hall that day, but despite his efforts, their sixth-grade romance was short-lived.

“He sent me that note and I ended up meeting him at the hallway and we went out for two weeks,” Cathy, 32, told ABC News. "We called it ‘going out’ back then. I think we went to an Addams Family movie, and I brought a friend with me. He never lets me live that down.”

Trevor also never lets Cathy live down the fact that after only two weeks, she broke his heart by dumping him for another guy. But as time went on, although the pair wasn’t dating, they remained close as “just friends.”

“We actually went to the same high school and remained best friends through high school,” Cathy said.

But they went their separate ways for college. Trevor attended University of Florida, and Cathy headed to East Carolina University. Upon graduation, she moved to University of Florida for grad school just as he was moving away to New Orleans.

“Then Katrina hit and he moved back to Pensacola. And I got a job back in Pensacola around the same time,” Cathy said. “He was dating a different girl, and I was getting jealous. It was weird, because he was always such a close friend.

“One night we were just hanging out at the beach. Then all of a sudden we kissed, and it’s just been me and him ever since.”

The couple’s relationship finally came full circle when Trevor took to a knee to propose during one of Cathy’s roller derby practices at Dreamland Skate Center, the exact same skating rink where he had given her a $40 gold ring 20 years earlier.

“He gave me a little ring at Dreamland Skate Center. It’s been in business for years, and we all used to go there on Saturdays. He gave me a ring there, and when we broke up, I gave it back to him,” Cathy explained. “He was so mad he threw it in a pond behind his house. It was $40, too, which is a lot for a little sixth grader.”

But Trevor eventually got over his anger and devised a plan to replace the old gold ring with a much more permanent one.

“I started playing roller derby, and at one of our practices he showed up and surprised me. He had gotten all my teammates involved. We were stretching, and all the lights went out and our song came on,” said Cathy. “He came out in a white tux with tails and the brown rental skates. They had me stand in the middle while my teammates were skating around the outside with glow sticks. He got down on a knee and had the new ring. It was really a special moment. I’ll never forget that night.”

The rest, as they say, is history, until their wedding photographer, Aislinn Kate Rehwinkel, posted a picture of the middle-school love letter on her Facebook fan page.

“It’s so crazy how all this happened,” Rehwinkel said. “I was going through post production of all their photos. I took that picture and I posted it on my Facebook fan page because it was such a special detail from their wedding. A random fan, in a different city and different state, loved it and posted it on the Reddit account.”

The photo has now gone viral since it was posted to Reddit on Nov. 27, and the couple couldn’t be happier to prove that nothing is more romantic than putting pen to paper.

“He’s very romantic. He still writes me notes from time to time,” Cathy said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

Photo of Iceberg That Sank the Titanic Up for Sale

Universal History Archive/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An auction house is selling a black and white photo of the iceberg that experts say the Titanic struck shortly before it sank on its maiden voyage.

The photo was taken on April 12, 1912, two days before “the unsinkable ship” met her demise when she hit an iceberg shortly before midnight on April 14, killing 1,502 people.

The photo shows a huge iceberg with a distinctive elliptical shape.  The photograph was taken by the captain of the S.S. Etonian, according to RR Auction of Amherst, N.H.  The caption reads, “Copyright. Blueberg taken by Captain W.F. Wood S.S. Etonian on 12/4/12 [April 12, 1912] in Lat 41° 50 N Long 49° 50 W. Titanic struck 14/4/12 [April 14, 2012] and sank in three hours.”

There were no photos of the iceberg before this one emerged, but two Titanic crew members drew sketches of the iceberg that they saw on April 14.  Both sketches are similar to the elliptical shape of the iceberg in the photo, according to RR Auction.

The coordinates scribbled on the photograph are not far from where the wreckage of the ship lies on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

“In my professional judgment, this iceberg is the one that sunk the Titanic,” Titanic artifact collector Stanley Lehrer told the Daily Mail.

Lehrer is noted for his collections of rare Titanic artifacts that have been displayed around the world.

“The captain took the pictures because he was fascinated with the unusual shape of the iceberg.  This particular iceberg had an ellipse on the top right of the iceberg,” Lehrer added.

RR Auction expects the photograph to sell for $8,000 to $10,000 when bidding opens on Dec. 13.  The photo is one of more than 400 items from the Titanic that are up for bidding.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov082012

iPhone Photo of Hurricane Sandy Makes the Cover of 'Time'

Time Magazine(NEW YORK) -- When superstorm Sandy was approaching, New York photojournalist Ben Lowy, 33, didn’t grab his high-end camera equipment. He grabbed his iPhone 4S, put it in his pocket, and headed out on assignment for Time magazine.

Time sent out a handful of photographers with iPhones to capture the storm, but it was Lowy’s photo that made the cover of the Nov. 12 issue. “The photo was taken on Coney Island,” Lowy told ABC News. “I was watching the waves come in and I went into the surf about waist deep and waited for some crazy waves to come along.”

The photo was taken with just the iPhone 4S -- no lens accessories. Lowy did use Hipstimatic, an application that lets you add effects to photos. Lowy actually created his own photojournalism lens pack in the app with the help of the company.

Apps like that and the great optics of the iPhone make him feel comfortable leaving his higher end camera equipment at home now, he said. “I used to not feel confident, but I definitely do feel that way now.” His one complaint about the iPhone is poor image quality in low light. Apple has tried to improve that with the iPhone 5; Lowy hasn’t yet upgraded to one.

Lowy has been shooting with his iPhone since 2010.  He shot a series of photos in Libya for The New York Times Magazine and the political conventions for The New Yorker.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct232012

LSU Apologizes for Erasing Crosses from Photo

LSU Athletics(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- Louisiana State University officials have apologized for editing painted crosses off the bodies of four dedicated football fans.

The students are part of a group known as the Painted Posse. The spirited group attends LSU Tigers games in full body paint and since many of the group’s members are also devout Christians, they paint small crosses over their hearts.

On Oct. 13, the diehard fans attended the LSU-South Carolina game in their usual painted attire. A photo was taken of four male students passionately cheering on their team. Two days later, a promotional email from the school to its sports fan was sent out, using the photo, but the crosses were gone.

Hundreds of people took to LSU’s Facebook page to complain about the airbrushing decision.

“When you erased the crosses, you erased the truth and the reality,” one commenter wrote. “This is a problem in our country and world.”

Another wrote: “You also erased everything this country is made from and was built upon, furthermore erased those boys’ freedom of speech and or religion.”

On Monday, the school posted a message on Facebook explaining, “In messages to sports fans we attempt to convey no religious or political messaging.”

“We did not intend to offend anyone by the editing of this photograph and in the future we will use another photo rather than make a similar edit,” the school wrote. “We erred in our judgment and we have communicated our apologies to the group of young men represented in the photo whose school spirit is second to none.”

The original photo with the crosses was posted on the school’s Facebook page and website.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May262012

Yearbook Flasher? Student Picture Stirs Controversy

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAKE NORMAN, N.C.) -- A North Carolina high school is ending the school year with controversy thanks to a photo in the school’s yearbook that is similar to the famous scene in the movie “Basic Instinct,” in which actress Sharon Stone bares her … well, essentials.

The group photo was taken at Lake Norman High School 2011′s graduation.  In the photo, one of the nine students is spreading her legs appears not to be wearing any undergarments.  The photograph went largely unnoticed until the recent end-of-year publication of the school’s yearbook.

Word of the photo spread like any high-school gossip would. One parent told ABC station WSOC about the photo as soon as the annual school memoir was published.

“People were texting each other to turn to page 14,” the parent said.

The girl in the photo has not been identified by the school, but district officials said they were investigating the incident and were in touch with the former student.  It was unclear if the provocative photo was a mistake or if the student intentionally orchestrated a barely-there senior prank.

School district official Dawn Creason said that the photo was not clear and the possible flash may have been created by an optical illusion.

“Really looking at the image, though, we’re not sure that’s what it is at all,” Creason said.  “We think, probably, it was the way she was sitting and the angle of her gown.  We’re not convinced, at all, that you’re seeing what you think you are.”

It’s unclear how the photo made it past the yearbook staff or the faculty member that oversees the group.

School officials stressed the student was 18 at the time the photo was taken -- ruling out any child pornography charges.

The local sheriff’s office has not said what, if any, criminal charges the girl could face, and was waiting for the school district to perform its investigation before launching one of its own.

The district has sent a letter to parents and has offered a refund on the $100 yearbook fee.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

New Photo of George Zimmerman Shows Bloodied Back of Head

Seminole County Sheriff's Office(SANFORD, Fla.) -- A new photograph obtained exclusively by ABC News shows the bloodied back of George Zimmerman's head.  The photo, taken three minutes after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, gives possible credence to his claim that Martin had bashed his head against the concrete as Zimmerman fought for his life.

The revelation comes as his attorney and prosecutors prepare for Zimmerman's bond hearing on Friday, which could result in him being freed from custody on bail.  The 28-year-old is being held on charges of second-degree murder for the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, charges that could carry a life sentence if he is convicted.

The exclusive image shows blood trickling down the back of George Zimmerman's head from two cuts.  It also shows a possible contusion forming on the crown of his head.  The original police report the night of the incident notes that the back of Zimmerman's head was wet, and that he was bleeding from the nose and head.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PHOTO -- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT ]

That night, Zimmerman told police he shot and killed Martin in self-defense after the teen punched and pounced on him.  Zimmerman told police that Martin then bashed his head into the concrete ground surface during the altercation that took place in the tidy middle-class development of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla.

Zimmerman was treated at the scene by paramedics, then cuffed and driven in a police cruiser to the Sanford police station.  He was questioned and later released. 

In police surveillance video obtained last month by ABC News, Zimmerman's wounds are not apparent, and there are no bandages on his head.  He also was not admitted to a hospital nor did he have his wounds sutured the night of the incident.

The photographer told ABC News exclusively that they did not see the scuffle that night, but did hear it.  The source saw Martin's prostrate body on the wet grass and claims the gunpowder burns on Martin's gray hoodie were clearly visible.  Those gunpowder marks could show that Martin was shot at very close range.

The photographer says that after the shooting, Zimmerman asked to call his wife.  When the photographer asked what to say, Zimmerman allegedly blurted out "man, just tell her I shot someone."

ABC News has learned that investigators have seen the photo.

"How bad could it have been if they didn't take him to the hospital [and] didn't stitch him up," Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement to ABC News in response to the image.  "The special prosecutor has seen all the evidence and still believes George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin."

Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara says his client has spent enough time behind bars.

"He needs to get out.  He should not be in jail," O'Mara said.  "I want him out because I need him out.  He wants to get out.  His family wants it out.  It should happen."

If Zimmerman is released, his attorney tells ABC News that he has a number of potential safe houses prepared.  In the meantime, O'Mara says the former altar boy has been reading the Bible while in protective custody.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov222011

Accused Drunk Driver Knees Officer in Groin, Vamps for Mugshot

Yavapai County Sheriff's Office(PRESCOTT, Ariz.) -- A DUI suspect is in hot water, but she remembered to turn her post-arrest frown upside down in time for her mugshot. The Arizona woman became belligerent when police approached her for allegedly driving drunk. She kneed a police officer in the groin, yelled profanities and fought back when she was placed under arrest, according to a Prescott Police Department report.

Back at the police station, 24-year-old Michelle Watson brazenly posed for her mugshot with disheveled hair, a big smile and two thumbs up.

Police were called when Watson was observed driving her white Honda Civic erratically, hitting numerous curbs and driving on the sidewalk, according to the police report.

When an officer approached her, he observed that Watson had “dilated pupils and red, watery and bloodshot eyes” and that her “breath was heavy with an intoxicating beverage,” according to a Prescott Police Department report.

“Watson was wearing a purse which was draped over her shoulder. Ofc. Wing attempted to remove the purse. When doing so, Watson, using her right knee struck Ofc. Wing in the crotch,” according to the police report. “Watson was then taken to the ground and placed in handcuffs.”

Watson was arrested and charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer, resisting arrest and driving under the influence.  Her DUI charge was categorized as “DUI-Super Extreme” in the police report. She posted bond and was released on Nov. 18.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

9/11 Anniversary Photo of Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Touches Family

JUSTIN LANE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A photo of a father's private moment mourning the son he lost on 9/11 went viral Monday much to his surprise and to the surprise of his family, who said they wouldn't have otherwise known about his quiet prayer.

Robert Peraza, 68, had been selected as a reader at the tenth anniversary ceremony Sunday, but before the memorial opened to family members, Peraza took a moment to walk near the memorial's North Pool around 9:45 a.m.

It was there that he found his son's name: Robert David Peraza, who was killed when American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center. Peraza had been working on the 104th floor of the North Tower.

Peraza, thinking he was alone, bent down on one knee, placed one hand over his son's name and prayed.

"I was just honoring Rob," said Peraza, who is Catholic. "I was saying a prayer for his soul."

Justin Lane, a press pool photographer, took Peraza's picture and it soon appeared around the world, showing up Monday on the cover of the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post, to name a few.

Robert Peraza's son Neil Peraza, 38, a finance and accounting director at Hilton, had brought his seven-year-old daughter to New York to attend the anniversary ceremony. They were waiting in the area designated for family members along with Robert Peraza's wife, brother, and two cousins.

"The next thing you know my cellphone would not stop buzzing," Neil Peraza said. "My wife said, 'You have got to see this picture.'"

When he saw his father kneeling in front of his brother's name, the image told him more than words ever could have.

"I was like, 'Oh my god.' It was breathtaking. It kind of sums up how a lot of us were feeling," he said. "My heart breaks for my dad and my mom -- the two of them especially. As a parent now myself, I cannot imagine losing a child."

Neil Peraza and his father are both quick to say 30-year-old Rob Peraza did not "die" on 9/11. They say he was murdered.

"It was a murderous act that happened on 9/11 and we should not forget that," said Robert Peraza, who is now retired from his job as a systems manager at Proctor and Gamble.

Rob D. Peraza, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, was passionate about rugby. In 2002 his family established a scholarship for rugby players at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University.

It's a sentiment Robert Peraza expressed during the brief time he was allowed to say a few words about his son, after reading the names of 10 others: "Dearest Robert we love you and pray for you every day. We will never forget, we will never forget, we will never forget."

So far the family has raised about $250,000 in scholarship money for Catholic college St. Bonaventure through yearly golf tournament fundraisers and the university's website.

Since 9/11 three incoming students from St. Bonaventure who play rugby, one of Rob Peraza's passions, have benefited from the need-based scholarship.

"Right now we're at a level where we're giving out half tuition. It's a pretty big deal," Neil Peraza said.

The family also established a scholarship for students at Norwich High School in New York.

In August 2001, Peraza's son had written a four-page letter to his family, "saying how wonderful his life was," Robert Peraza told ABCNews.com.

His son was planning on getting engaged and enjoying his job as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, where 657 others also died on 9/11.

Rob Peraza had been scheduled to run the New York City Marathon in 2001, and was assigned number 1461. He never got to run that race, but in the 10 years since 9/11 a relative has run the race using his number. This year it will be his sister, Joan.

Had Rob seen the picture of his father taken Sunday, Neil said, "I'm sure Rob would be really sad because we're all sad. But I think Rob would be really proud that as a family we're celebrating his life every day."

The Perazas revisited the 9/11 memorial Monday when it opened to the public, and paused once more in front of the North Pool to pay their respects to all 2,753 people who died after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

"After 9/11 my wife and I realized that life continues and you have two children you have to live for," Robert Peraza said. "Rob was the kind of young man who would have been very upset if my wife and I wilted."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

State Voter ID Laws Draw National Scrutiny

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice is reviewing, and has the power to reject, a controversial new law passed in South Carolina that requires a registered voter to present a government-issued photo ID before his or her vote is counted.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill into law in May and she’s not alone.  Four other states have passed similar voter ID laws in 2011, including Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee and Kansas.  But thanks to the DOJ, South Carolina’s law could still be rejected by federal officials.

And while other states have passed voter photo ID laws in the past, the laws passed in 2011 are by far the strictest with the exception of the law passed in 2005 by the state of Indiana.

Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act empowers the DOJ to review election laws passed in select southern states, as well as Alaska and some counties throughout the country.  Crafted in a time of great racial strife, the act was meant to codify the power of the 15th Amendment, which forbids racial discrimination at the polling booth.

South Carolina, which is subject to federal review, is the only state to have petitioned the Obama Justice Department for approval while other states such as Texas opted to clear their law through the D.C. District Court, which is also permitted.

Critics of a stricter photo ID law argue that the requirement will make it tougher for poor and minority voters to cast their ballot while proponents call it a common sense provision.

Voters without the means to produce correct documents or the disabled can verify their identity through an affidavit but many still see the ID requirements as too burdensome.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio