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Thursday
Sep302010

U.S. Olympic Committee Tackling Sexual Abuse in Sport

Photo Courtesy - USOC(Colorado Springs, Colo.) -- The United States Olympic Committee has announced it will lead governing bodies of Olympic sports in unprecedented efforts to prevent sexual and physical abuse that could affect millions of athletes across the country.  This issue has been in the spotlight after a sexual misconduct scandal at USA Swimming.

A top USOC official said recommendations from a task force led by four-time Olympic skier Nina Kemppel will be implemented within six months, including the centralizing and standardizing of background checks for coaches, staff and volunteers working with athletes.

"The issue does merit more haste, and I think you'll see meaningful progress from us long before six months comes and goes," said USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun.

An ABC News-20/20 investigation in April revealed that 36 swimming coaches had been banned by USA Swimming for allegations of sexual misconduct, including molestation and hidden videotaping of children in locker rooms. San Jose swim coach Andy King, 62, abused more than a dozen teen female victims over three decades and still had a clean background screening from USA Swimming in 2008, despite allegations against him and a police investigation. USA Swimming, the governing body of the sport in the U.S., is facing at least five lawsuits by swimmers who accuse the organization of failing to protect them from predatory coaches and allege cover-up at the top.

Kemppel, the Olympian who led the task force that was convened shortly after the 20/20 investigation, said she didn't anticipate the emotional impact that speaking to athletes who had been victimized had on her.

"I will tell you that it's enough of an issue in sport that people would call me up and explain their story, whether they be athletes or parents or coaches who have been involved in some way in the incidents we're talking about," Kemppel said.

She said athletes can be particularly vulnerable to sexual and physical abuse because of "very unique relationships between athletes and authority figures" and "venues that promote more contact than some other venues outside of sports."

To address problems with criminal background checks, Kemppel's group recommended the USOC work with national governing bodies of Olympic sports to establish a "preferred provider network" and standardize the set of background search criteria across all sports and how to address violations.

In addition, the group recommended the USOC provide sports organizations with standardized training and education resources, including pre-hire screening "so that there is no club-to-club or sport-to-sport jumping," said Kemppel. Other recommendations that the USOC plans on implementing include a centralized online toolkit for sports groups to adopt and customize.

Despite calls for a centralized database of coaches across all sports with allegations of sexual or physical abuse of athletes, the task force ultimately decided not to recommend such a system right now, Kemppel said, although she hopes in the future it will become a reality.

"I think the practicality of doing this right now across all [national governing bodies] would be very difficult," said Kemppel.

"At this point, it would be very difficult for us to require some of the very small sports organizations to keep the kind of records and track the kind of data that would be required to truly keep a unified nationwide database possible and viable," she added. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Test Shows Times Square Bomb Could Have Been 'Devastating'

Photo Courtesy - Department of Justice(WASHINGTON) -- The bomb planted in Times Square last spring could have been "devastating" and killed or injured dozens of people, according to an assessment of a government explosion of a mock "bomb" based on Faisal Shahzad's failed device.

Video of the Joint Terrorism Task Force's explosion, released this week, shows how much damage a successful device could have caused.

Bomb experts said while it is unlikely the resulting blast would have taken down any buildings, glass and twisted metal shooting out from the vehicle housing the bomb would have formed deadly shrapnel.

People in close proximity to the car could have been injured or killed by the fire and blast force, the experts said. In addition, it is possible there would have been injuries from broken glass and falling debris from adjacent buildings.

The bomb test was revealed in the Justice Department's sentencing memorandum for Shahzad, filed Thursday.

"On June 29, 2010, the JTTF conducted a controlled detonation of its bomb after it was placed in the back of a vehicle identical to the one Shahzad used," the memorandum said. "The JTTF also placed other vehicles nearby in order to measure the explosive effects of the bomb. While it is impossible to calculate precisely the impact of Shahzad's bomb had it detonated, the controlled detonation conducted by the JTTF demonstrated that those effects would have been devastating to the surrounding area." 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

Violence Against the Homeless: Is It Growing? 

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Image(WASHINGTON) -- Increasing incidents of violence against the homeless in recent years has alarmed advocates for the homeless and law enforcement groups, who want the federal government to begin formally tracking the crimes.  Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced a bill that would add attacks on homeless people to the list of crimes required to be reported to the Justice Department and FBI. The government currently collects crime data on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability and gender and gender identity.  "We need to have consistent information collected by the FBI so we know the extent of the problem," Cardin said. "The homeless, just because they're homeless, are being victimized and that has to stop in America."  Critics of the legislation, however, say tracking crimes against the homeless is unnecessary and that the problem is overstated. While David Muhlhausen of the conservative Heritage Foundation believes "crimes against the homeless, like all other street crimes, should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," he notes that more than 15, 000 murders occurred last year across the U.S., according to the FBI.  The 43 homeless individuals killed is less than one percent of that total.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

UPDATE: Former President Jimmy Carter Still Recovering from Tuesday's Illness

Photo Courtesy -- Louise Gubb | The Carter Center(CLEVELAND, Ohio) -- A written statement from MetroHealth System confirmed that "former President Jimmy Carter is continuing to recover from the stomach distress that was reported earlier.  His medical team at MetroHealth Medical Center has determined that the likely cause was a viral infection that is now clearing up."  A MetroHealth official added, "President Carter thanks all those who have expressed concern and sent greetings to him."  As reported earlier, the former president became ill on a flight and remained hospitalized Wednesday in a Cleveland Hospital with an upset stomach.

Copyright ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

UPDATE: Rutgers University President Releases Statement After Student Suicide

Photo Courtesy -- Tyler Clementi | Facebook.com(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- ABC News has learned that Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick has released a statement Wednesday following the apparent suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi.  As reported previously, the 18-year-old wrote on his Facebook.com profile, dated Sept. 22 at 8:42 p.m., that he was "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."  McCormick addressed "members of the Rutgers community" by saying, "I deeply regret that today we learned from the family of one of our students that they believe their son has committed suicide.  We are profoundly saddened by this report, and our hearts and prayers are with the parents, family, and friends of this young man, who had started at Rutgers this semester as a first-year student on the New Brunswick campus."  McCormick added that university officials are taking the case very seriously and that it is under investigation by the Rutgers University Police Department and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.  McCormick included that "the students [involved] -- like all who are accused of a crime -- must be presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Copyright ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

Victim of Secret Dorm Sex Tape Posts Facebook Goodbye, Jumps to His Death

Photo Courtesy -- Tyler Clementi | Facebook.com(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, posted a goodbye message on his Facebook page before jumping to his death after his roommate secretly filmed him during a "sexual encounter" in his dorm room and posted it live on the Internet. Items belonging to Clementi were found by the George Washington Bridge last week, according to authorities.  Clementi's post on his Facebook page, dated Sept. 22 at 8:42 p.m., read, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."  Clementi's body has not been recovered, but police have pulled an unidentified male body from the Hudson River just north of the bridge.  Paul Mainardi, the attorney representing the Clementi family, released a statement confirming Clementi's suicide.  Two students, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, have been charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy after allegedly placing a camera in Clementi's room and live streaming the recording online on Sept. 19, according to a written statement by New Jersey's Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.  Both Wei and Ravi surrendered to police. Wei has been released on her own recognizance and Ravi posted $25,000 bail.  Lawyers for both Wei and Ravi did not respond to messages left by ABC News.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

House Passes 9/11 Health & Compensation Act

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House on Wednesday passed final congressional approval of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, which provides medical care for persons exposed to harmful toxins from the 9/11 terrorist attacks. First responders, cleanup workers and those living within the terrorist attack areas are eligible for care.

The bill passed 268 - 160.  17 Republicans supported the measure, while three Democrats voted against the bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in the chair when the vote was announced.

Pelosi spoke out on the House floor in favor of the bill, saying it will help those who jeopardize their health to rescue others, secure necessary medical treatment especially for the unique exposures suffered at Ground Zero, and ensures survivors and victims’ families can attain compensation for their losses.

“They and those who rushed to the scene in real time when it happened risked their lives and their health to do so. They didn’t ask any questions. Is anybody going to take care of me? They were there to help,” Pelosi said. “Today we remember all the heroes of 9/11, we praised the strength of thousands of firefighters, rescue workers, first responders and medical personnel who turned tragedy into inspiration, and gave themselves, of themselves, to help a city and our nation rebuild.”

Pelosi said the legislation, which was introduced by New York Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney, is fully paid for and does not increase the deficit. An attempt last July to get the bill through the House failed because it was brought to the floor under an expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, which it failed to get.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

3-Year-Old's Party Turns Into Bloody Brawl

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(ELMWOOD PLACE, Ohio) -- Police in Ohio walked into a hail of broken beer bottles and flying fists when called to respond to a blood-soaked brawl involving 75 people at a 3-year-old's birthday party. More than 20 officers from seven police departments were called to the scene in Elmwood Place, Ohio, early Tuesday and had to wait before entering the social hall as a melee of flying bottles and chairs erupted inside. Fifteen of the 150 people attending the party were injured, according to police, and five were treated at a hospital including one man who required eye surgery after being hit with a broken bottle. The other four were treated for cuts and released. None of the 30 children at the party sustained injuries, police said. The fight started around 1 a.m. at a Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall when tensions flared between the father of the 3-year-old birthday girl, Joselyn, and her mother's new boyfriend. Despite the number of people involved, only one man, the girl's father Roman Marcelo-Hernandez, 26, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct while intoxicated.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

Pilot of JFK Emergency Landing Speaks Out

Photo Courtesy - Delta Airlines(LAKE MARY, Fla.) -- The pilot who successfully landed a jetliner with malfunctioning landing gear in New York Saturday -- effectively saving the lives of more than 60 passengers and crew -- spoke Wednesday for the first time to thank all those involved, including his company.

"I would like to acknowledge the excellent training that was received at Atlantic Southeast Airlines that was instrumental in preparing us to handle the emergency that we had Saturday night," Jack Conroyd told reporters, according to ABC News' Orlando affiliate WFTV.

Conroyd and co-pilot Larkin Newby were the pilots of Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 4951 which was diverted to John F. Kennedy International Airport for the emergency landing. None of the 64 passengers on board the CRJ 900 twin-engine jet were injured and video of the harrowing skid to safety was caught on a cell phone camera of one of the passengers.

The airline is working with the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the cause of the landing gear malfunction.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

Cities With the Worst Traffic Nightmares

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- For years we have been hearing about the notorious traffic jams of Los Angles, the worst in the nation. But now a new study is saying hold on -- Nashville, Tenn., actually has the worst traffic, and L.A. is all the way down the list at number 17.

Today's new report, backed by supporters of non-car based transportation, suggests that traffic engineers have been looking at congestion problems wrong for 25 years. The problem with traffic isn't just congestion but the total distance that people have to travel. So cities with suburban sprawl -- such as Nashville, Oklahoma City, Birmingham, Ala., Richmond, Va. and Raleigh, N.C. -- top the list.

The report, by a group called CEOs for Cities, was written by a Portland, Ore. firm and paid for with the help of the liberal-leaning Rockefeller Foundation. The group calls it a "dramatic critique of the 25-year-old industry standard created by the Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Report, often used to justify billions of dollars in expenditures to build new roads and highways."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio