NJ State Trooper Pulls Drowning Deer
From Swimming Pool
A New Jersey state trooper rescued a deer drowning in a swimming pool at a home.
Trooper Dwayne Phillips was dispatched to the Harmony Township residence Friday afternoon after a worker discovered the buck struggling in the pool.
Phillips jumped into action, grabbing the deer by its rack and pulling it from the water.
The exhausted animal remained on the ground for some time until it was able to stand up on its own and eventually run off.
In a Facebook post, the New Jersey State Police said Phillips did an “outstanding” job.
“Believe it or not, we don’t necessarily teach recruits in the academy how to rescue drowning deer, but we do teach them how to think on their feet and adapt and improvise when a peculiar situation presents itself,” the post read.
“Now, there is always the possibility of serious injury or worse when trying to rescue a drowning victim and even more so when the victim is a wild animal. But this trooper did an outstanding job!”
Ronnie White case highlights school district
handling of Child Abuse, Neglect complaints
Springfield, MO – Arguing for a stiffer sentence for a former Springfield teacher who admitted to sexually abusing a student, Greene County prosecutor Nathan Chapman noted that it wasn’t the first time Ronnie White had been accused of misconduct.
Chapman, a first assistant in the prosecutor’s office, said by citing several complaints of “inappropriate comments, inappropriate touching” in White’s district personnel file, he was attempting to establish a pattern of questionable behavior.
But mention of earlier complaints — which do not appear to have been passed on to authorities — have called into question the district’s handling of the allegations against White, a longtime Parkview High School teacher and coach.
“My comments weren’t meant to be any kind of indictment of Springfield Public Schools,” Chapman told the News-Leader. “What I was talking about, in context, was especially back then, the way things were handled unfortunately provided kind of a shelter for him to continue to be around kids.”
Public entities connected to the case — including the prosecutor’s office, the school district and the Springfield Police Department — declined to provide details or turn over documents that would reveal the nature of the other complaints, how they surfaced and how they were handled.
All agree, however, that if the complaints were made today, they would not have been handled the same way.
“It is my belief that not just Springfield Public Schools but most local institutions, both public and private, including schools, churches, day care centers and medical facilities, have improved mandated reporting since the 1990s,” said Jill Patterson, a school board member and former prosecutor recognized as an expert on mandated reporting laws. “I am confident that reporting has become a priority at SPS and that the required training requires employees to err on the side of the child.
“Reporting may have been inconsistent in the 1990s and the 2000s, but it has become the norm.”
Lisa Turner, chief human resources officer for the district, said she cannot talk about what happened years ago.
“I feel good about what we do today,” she said. “I don’t know what happened five, 10, 15, 20 years ago.”
The News-Leader requested the prosecutor’s office and police department release the investigative reports and other documents gathered as part of the case but was told they would not be released until the deadline for White to appeal has passed. Citing privacy laws, the district also declined to release the reports.
Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said the statute of limitations for prosecuting a mandated reporter for failing to report allegations of misconduct by White — if that is even what happened — would have expired years ago.
Asked if his office considered looking into what happened with the other complaints, Patterson said they “would have been concerning,” but little could have been gained.
“Given the statute of limitations, it would not have been an effective use of resources,” he said.
The White case
White had a lengthy career with the Springfield school district.
Between 1984 and 2010, he taught physical education, health, driver’s education and other subjects at six schools. He spent 11 seasons as the Parkview basketball coach.
A former Parkview student came forward and told investigators that White performed sex acts on her, about once a week, for two years between 1991 and 1993. It reportedly started when she was age 14.
The case never went to trial. In May, White pleaded guilty to deviate sexual abuse.
At the Aug. 22 sentencing hearing, Chapman argued White displayed a “very casual attitude” about his behavior, suggested it was the girl’s idea and described the abuse as a “slip-up” or “little mistake.”
He said the investigation reviewed the personnel records for the former teacher and coach and raised questions about the attitude of his employers and the role the “environment” of the district may have played in the victim’s reluctance to come forward.
Citing the records, Chapman said there were at least four other complaints ranging from the early 1990s to the late 2000s.
He said a student who complained about inappropriate behavior in the early 1990s was asked to take a polygraph.
“They took the victim and made her do a lie detector test. And, not surprisingly, ruled that, you know, the defendant really didn’t do anything wrong,” he said, according to an official transcript of the sentencing hearing, which was obtained by the News-Leader.
“And then through 2002, 2007, 2008, other students coming forward, saying — talking about inappropriate comments, inappropriate touching; and, again, every single time, the school goes out of its way to investigate and finds some way that these students were wrong or they just misunderstood.”
Chapman said the district issued a letter telling White that “you really need to not be touching the students.”
Dan Patterson said by bringing up the previous concerns, Chapman was able to put White’s alleged behavior in context and show it was “not an out of character, one-time thing.”
“We don’t know if he got as far with these other women, but there was grooming activity,” he said.
In an interview with the News-Leader, Chapman said the other complaints raised questions about how allegations were handled at the time and at least suggested White had been sheltered by the district.
He said the allegations were brought up because he anticipated Dee Wampler, the attorney representing White, might argue that the incidents with the victim were isolated and he had acted appropriately in the decades that followed.
“I knew the defense argument would be ‘Well, this happened over 20 years ago and since then, nothing,” he said. “I wanted to make sure the judge knew that was not true, it’s not like nothing (else) has happened.”
Judge Calvin Holden gave White a seven-year sentence, but he was initially placed in a sexual offender assessment unit for 120 days. At the end of that 120 days, White could be released on probation.
Under state law, school employees are mandated reporters. That means if they have reason to suspect a child has been abused or neglected, they must report it.
The mandated reporter law, which emerged in the 1960s, has been changed and strengthened over the years.
Chapman, who provides training on the law along with prosecutor Chris Hoeman, said the last major revision moved away from having a “designated agent” make the hotline call and emphasized the individual responsibility of those who work with children in schools, hospitals, day care centers, libraries, churches, and law enforcement agencies, among others.
“My answer to pretty much every question is, if you are having a moment when you’re thinking ‘Should I report it?’ then report it,” he said. “You don’t do an investigation or ask permission.”
Jill Patterson, now the Title IX coordinator at Missouri State University, said the latest changes leave no doubt that if you hear or see something, you must speak up.
“The whole concept of mandated reporting of child abuse and neglect is to require individuals who interact with children to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect to Children’s Division in an effort to intervene at the earliest possible point,” she said. “There is good evidence that abuse and neglect, left unchecked, often becomes chronic and escalates in severity.”
In the Springfield school district, all new employees must go through mandated reporter training.
Additionally, the overwhelming majority of school employees — including teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors, principals, secretaries, bus drivers and more — must review the guidelines in the first 30 days of each school year.
Teresa Bledsoe, director of communications, said the annual refresher training is provided online and completion is closely monitored by the district.
“If you’ll remember, in the old days, you’d gather in the staff lounge, around a VCR tape and TV and everyone watches it together,” she said.
Ray Smith, a regional director of the Missouri National Education Association based in Springfield, said safeguarding children is a top priority for teachers.
“They take it very seriously,” he said. “It’s one of their professional duties.”
During the past three years, the Springfield school district has made 3,904 hotline calls, or an average of 1,301 a year.
“This district errs on the side of caution in protecting students. I want to protect students and employees,” Turner said. “It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s coming through, we’re going to hotline it and I think that’s an absolutely outstanding practice.”
Investigator Amber Salsman, who works for the district, said if a teacher or other school employee is the subject of the hotline call, top district officials are notified.
She said if the allegation is serious, the employee is typically removed for the duration of the investigation. If the report is less severe, such as lack of supervision, an extra adult is typically placed in the classroom until the investigation is complete.
“If it’s a staff member and it’s a sexual or an injury report then they are immediately removed from the classroom,” Salsman said. “They are placed on paid administrative leave or suspension.”
Salsman said the investigation is led by the Springfield Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office or the Children’s Division of the state Department of Social Services.
As the district’s investigator, Salsman will be kept in the loop and check for violations of board policy.
“We support them in that role and we do the personnel side,” she said.
Asked how many serious allegations involving staff are made annually, Salsman said there are years where none are reported.
“I’d say two or three a year would potentially be severe ones,” she said. “The rest of them fall into the lower (category).”
The Springfield school board voted Sept. 20 to unanimously approve updates to its policy, originally adopted in February 2013, regarding reporting and investigating child abuse and neglect.
Among other things, the policy outlines the steps the district takes to support and comply with the mandated reporter law.
The changes, recommended by the Missouri School Boards Association, were to clarify expectations that mandated reporters hotline “all suspected incidents of student-on-student abuse as well as abuse perpetrated by someone with care, custody and control of the child.”
“That is actually new,” said Susan Goldammer, an attorney with MSBA. “It’s because the legislature clarified that Children’s Division can investigate child-on-child abuse.”
The wording of the policy was rearranged and definitions were added to stress that mandated reporters must make the hotline call. They are not required or expected to notify a supervisor in advance when a school employee may be involved in the abuse or neglect.
“Now there has to be direct reporting,” Goldammer said. “The concern was that it would delay reporting and the person — the counselor or the principal — might try to investigate on their own.”
Goldammer said mandated reporters who fail to report what they suspect or know are breaking the law. She added that it is in each community’s best interest to have well-trained school employees, who know the signs of abuse and neglect.
“Schools are where most of the abuse is caught,” she said. “Schools are incredibly important to stopping abuse and neglect and school employees take their responsibilities seriously.”
Grandparents sue Child Protection Agency over Child Sex Abuse
There is NO WAY that I will list the details of this case. ANYONE that would sexually abuse a Child should live the remainder of their perverse life in confinement, AT THE VERY LEAST!!!!
~ Robert StrongBow ~
CONCORD, NH – The grandparents of two young sisters who were sexually abused by their parents while in foster care are suing New Hampshire’s child protection agency.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday by the girls’ grandparents, who have adopted them. It alleges the Division for Children, Youth and Families allowed the biological parents to have unsupervised visits with their children in 2013, even after police began investigating reports that the couple had molested other children at a homeless shelter where they were living.
Attorney Cyrus Rilee says major reforms are needed, starting with an immediate increase in child protection workers.
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers says the department takes the need to ensure child safety and wellbeing seriously and has been working to improve staffing.
Children need parental supervision from the day they are born to the day they turn 18-years-of-age. All it takes is one minute alone with the wrong person to seriously alter their once-bright future. Be the parent your Child deserves. ~ Robert StrongBow ~
Internet, Mobile Phones, and Texting Safety
Tips for Kids
Do not post personal information online (name, age, birth date, address, telephone number, or school name). This information can be used by others to find out where you and your family live.
Do not post your picture or pictures of your family online – they can be copied or changed or used to find you.
Do not send any inappropriate photo or message by email or text.
Do not post your plans and activities in a chat room or on your personal website.
Do not post entries that make it clear that no one is at your home.
Do not communicate with someone who has made you uncomfortable or afraid. Tell your parents or a trusted adult if someone does.
Do not join online groups or games without talking to your parents.
Do not meet with someone you met online without first telling your parents or guardian.
Do not post hurtful or inappropriate messages. If someone else posts hurtful or inappropriate messages — do not respond, but do tell a teacher, parent or other adult.
Do not click on any link that you do not know, and you are not sure is legitimate.
Do not buy any “apps” or “in app” purchases without talking to your parents or guardian.
Do not enable any location services without talking to your parents or guardian.
Do remember that people can lie online and say they are something they are not. Someone who says they are a 12-year-old girl could really be an older man looking to harm you.
Do save messages that upset you and show them to your parents.
Internet, Mobile Phones, and Texting Safety Tips
Do teach your child not to post identifying information on the Internet.
Do set a limit for how much time your child can spend online.
Do keep the computer in a public room in the house. Do not have an Internet-connected computer in your child’s bedroom.
Do utilize parental controls provided by your Internet Service Provider and/or blocking software. (Contact your Internet ISP if you have questions).
Do talk to your children about purchasing “in app” products.
Do talk to your child about using any location services on their device.
Do periodically review your child’s computer, emails and messages. You should have all of your children’s passwords.
Do spend time with your child online. Have them show you their favorite online destinations. Get to know your child’s online friends as you would their real-life friends. Learn to navigate the web.
Do know who they text and email. Most providers have online ways to identify frequent contacts so you can see if someone new appears as a contact.
Do monitor your child’s access to the Internet and texting.
Do talk to your child about the danger of Internet predators.
Do watch for unexplained changes in your child’s behavior.
Do NOT hesitate to seek help from law enforcement if you think a predator may be targeting your child.
For more helpful Internet safety information, please visit http://www.netsmartz.org/. Netsmartz.org has age appropriate videos, activities, and information for students in elementary school, middle school, and high school.
Former N.Y. state champion girls basketball coach charged with Sexual Assault of student
New York – A paraprofessional at Edison Career and Technology High School has been charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child involving an incident with an East High School student in 2015.
Mariano Velazquez, 51, of Rochester was a paraprofessional and athletic coach at East at the time of the alleged incident, according to a release from police.
A letter from Edison to families of the school said Velazquez was suspended when the allegations first surfaced in early 2015, but “the allegations could not be proved and he was allowed to return to work.”
In the past two weeks, new information was brought to police that led to Velazquez’ arrest and days later he was placed on leave and “will not be allowed to have contact with students in any district school until this legal matter is resolved,” the letter reads.
Velazquez is the former girls varsity basketball coach at East. He was named All-Greater Rochester coach of the year after leading his team to the state championship in 2012.
“We have no reason to believe that inappropriate activity occurred on school property or that other students were involved,” reads the letter from Principal Walter Larkin and School Chief of Secondary Schools Amy Schiavi. “However, if you or your child have information relevant to Mr. Velazquez or this case, please call 911 and speak with the police.
“We regret having to share this news, which creates a painful situation for the student and family involved. We ask our entire community to respect their privacy as we allow the justice system to run its course.”