Category Archives: Good People

Neither Snow, Rain, Heat, Nor Trafficker

.jpg photo of postal worker and young girl he saved
Crystal Allen, 16, gave postal worker Ivan Crisostomo a warm hug when she saw him Thursday.

Postal worker rescues teen who managed
to escape hands of sex traffickers

SACRAMENTO, CA  –  A California teenager had the opportunity to reunite with her unlikely hero — the postal worker who saved her from sex trafficking.

Sixteen-year-old Crystal Allen gave postal worker Ivan Crisostomo a warm hug when she saw him Thursday, but the first time they met, Allen feared for her life.

Allen’s mother Stacy Ohman said her daughter met a “friend” who had lured her to Sacramento, where she found herself trapped in a world of drugs and sex trafficking.

“I was kidnapped, and held captive, and abused and stuff,” Allen said.

One day, she found the opportunity to escape.  Allen was inside her captors’ car in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood when she heard them discussing a crime.  She then jumped out of a car, grabbed one of their phones and ran for her life.

That’s when Crisostomo found her.

“I heard this crying when I came out of the vehicle, so I approached her and I asked her.  She was afraid, she didn’t want to talk,” he said.

Eventually, he convinced the terrified teen to call her mother.

“She was frantic.  I didn’t know what was going on,” Ohman said.  “I couldn’t even understand her she was so upset and that’s when I told her she had to reach out to someone for safety and she gave the phone to Ivan and he instantly kicked into gear and told me that he would save my daughter.”

Crisostomo let Allen sit in his postal truck until police arrived on scene.

“He stepped up where a lot of people would have just kept driving down the road. He made a huge positive impact in this young girl’s life,” said Deputy David Cuneo of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

Crisostomo said he’s just happy Allen is safe.

“The way I see her, she has a wonderful future ahead.  She’s doing so well.  I’m happy. I’m really happy,” he said.

Thank You For What Some Never See

.jpg photo of Florida Cops honored for saving choking baby
Curt and Ana Graham, their son William, daughter Lucia and Palm Beach Gardens Police Officers Robert Ayala and Rafael Guadalupe.

Gardens cops who saved choking baby at mall are ‘angels,’ mom says

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL  –  Two Palm Beach Gardens police officers are heroes to a panicked mom whose 14-month-old daughter turned blue while choking on a chicken nugget at The Gardens Mall two weeks ago.

Lucia Graham has been eating solid food — and a lot of it — since she was 9 months old, but on that afternoon, the chicken nugget she was chomping on got wedged in her throat, mom Ana Graham said.  The Wellington mother of two could tell right away that something was wrong.

“On her second bite, I noticed she looked at me with her eyes wide open.  She started turning red,” she said.

She yanked Lucia from her stroller and patted her on the back like the pediatrician taught her, but to no avail.  Lucia started turning blue.

Then, “like angels from heaven,” two Palm Beach Gardens police officers who had been sitting across the food court appeared, she said.

Officer Robert Ayala, who had been assigned to the mall July 21, saw Ana Graham “frantically” get up and go to the stroller minutes after the family sat down.  He ran up and grabbed the baby, put her face down on his left hand and struck her upper back with his palm a few times.  Then he swept her mouth with his finger.

No luck.

The stubborn chicken nugget remained stuck until Ayala forcefully patted little Lucia on her back again.  That’s when she finally spewed out the mushy nugget.

As the ordeal was unfolding, Officer Rafael Guadalupe immediately got on his radio to call for Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue and talked to Ana Graham to try to keep her calm.

Ayala said he usually likes to walk around the mall so that people see him in uniform as a crime deterrent.  He was at the food court only because Guadalupe was there for lunch.

“It was just the right place at the right time,” he said.

Palm Beach Gardens police undergo CPR and first aid training — including how to respond to choking adults and infants — at least every other year, department spokesman Maj. Paul Rogers said.  Ayala credits his training for his quick response.

“This thing happened so fast, you didn’t have time to react.  It’s just like muscle memory,” said Ayala, a father of three.

The Palm Beach Gardens City Council honored Ayala and Guadalupe Thursday night.  Ayala previously received a life-saving award for forming a human chain with other officers to save two firefighters who got trapped in a rip-current effect as they attempted to rescue a young man who drowned in a spillway while wake-skating.

As for Lucia, paramedics checked her out as a precaution.  The scare didn’t stop her from finishing her lunch.

Lucia’s 2 1/2-year-old brother, William, unfazed by the incident, continued eating his chicken and french fries.

Dad Curt Graham got a very long text message while he was at work, “which is never a good thing.”  He called his wife, who was shaken up as she recounted what happened.

He’s “eternally grateful for the fast action,” he said.

MO Man Charged With Cruel Child Abuse

.jpg photo of man charged with Child Abuse
James L. Hays Jr., 48

Sedalia man charged with Child Abuse

SEDALIA, MO  –  A Sedalia man has been charged with physically abusing three children.

James L. Hays Jr., 48, of the 300 block of East 14th Street, was arrested Monday afternoon at his residence and was charged Tuesday in Pettis County Circuit Court with three counts of abuse or neglect of a child.  He is at the Pettis County Jail on a $1 million bond, cash or surety.

According to a Sedalia Police Department report, an officer took a report July 23 in reference to several allegations of child abuse to three children.  Detective Travis St. Cyr began an investigation and a search warrant was served at Hays’ home Monday.

The probable cause statement indicates the children’s grandmother took them to Bothwell Regional Health Center after she noticed large bruises on them and they disclosed to her that a man known to them, identified as Hays, had been physically abusing them.  The children are ages 12, 9 and 8.

All three children were interviewed at Child Safe of Central Missouri on July 27, according to the probable cause statement.

The 9-year-old said Hays would “kick them, make them do punishments and drown them” when their mother wasn’t home.  The child showed the Child Safe interviewer a bruise and a knot on her leg from Hays kicking her, explaining it happened when she was eating granola bars.  She said Hays took the food away, spanked the child a few times, kicked her and made her do push-ups.

The girl said he “yells at them, kicks them a lot, and spanks her” when the children try to get food, court documents state.  Hays barely feeds them, she said.

The child also talked about occasions when Hays forced her to eat hot peppers, poured water over her head causing her to be unable to breathe, hit her with a belt, and called her names.

The 8-year-old said Hays makes him do “up-downs, push-ups, jumping jacks and gets spankings with a belt” when he’s in trouble.

All three children told the interviewer about numerous occasions when he would hit, kick or spank them, usually leaving bruises.  The 8-year-old recalled a time when the 9-year-old’s legs were hurt so badly she could barely walk, and another time the 12-year-old was shot with green bullets, which detectives later discovered with an airsoft gun during the search warrant.

The children all also talked about Hays locking them in the bathroom and forcing them to sleep in a closet in the bathroom.  The 9-year-old said Hays locks the door with a bar on the outside.  The 12-year-old drew pictures of the two metal bars she said Hays uses; one is black with “Hays” written on it while the other is red with Neo-Nazi symbols, court documents state.

The 12-year-old said they’ve been sleeping in the bathroom for four years.

Two children said their mother isn’t allowed to do anything about Hays locking the children in the bathroom.  The 9-year-old talked about their mother “sneaking food to them while locked in the bathroom.  She specifically mentioned peanut butter and jelly.”  The 12-year-old said a few times their mother either tried to call someone or get the children out of the bathroom, but Hays wouldn’t let her.

According to court documents, during the search warrant SPD officers found the black metal bar, the red metal bar, belts matching the children’s descriptions, and a long rifle airsoft gun with green plastic BBs loaded inside, all consistent with the children’s disclosures.

The bathroom door didn’t have metal brackets attached, “but it was clear that they were recently removed.”  Officers found brackets inside a toolbox that matched up with the holes on the door frame.

Online court documents do not list an attorney for Hays, and a hearing has not been scheduled.

MD Teacher Charged With Child Abuse, Sexual Assault

.jpg photo of MD teacher arrested for child abuse and sex abuse
Scott Thomas McCruden, 31, was charged with child abuse and sexual assault Tuesday.

Baltimore County substitute teacher
arrested on Child Sex Abuse charges

Baltimore, MD  –  Baltimore County police charged a substitute teacher with child abuse and sexual assault Tuesday morning.

Police say Scott Thomas McCruden, 31, of Essex had “inappropriate physical and sexual contact” with a 9-year-old girl he was babysitting and tutoring.  He was arrested and charged with sex abuse of a minor, third-degree sex offense, fourth-degree sexual contact, and second-degree child abuse of a child in his custody.

Police investigators concluded that he had “inappropriate physical and sexual contact” ranging from “disciplinary” pinching to inappropriate touching and pinching of the girl’s buttocks.

McCruden was employed by Baltimore County Public Schools as a substitute teacher between September 2017 and June 2018, working mainly in schools in eastern Baltimore County.  Police and Baltimore County school officials said they do not believe he behaved inappropriately with children while working as a substitute teacher on school property, but are asking parents to speak with their children and notify police if they learn of inappropriate behavior.

McCruden began babysitting and tutoring a 9-year-old girl in September 2017, police said.  Her parents ended his employment this past May when their child began to show signs of anxiety and distress at times when he was scheduled to babysit, police said.

McCruden is no longer employed by Baltimore County Public Schools, police said. He was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center awaiting a bail review hearing.

He did not have an attorney listed in online court records.

NC School Employee Accused Of Child Sex Abuse

.jpg photo of man accused of Child Sexual assault
Todd Van Nguyen, 61

Wake County bus driver charged in
Child Sex Crimes

RALEIGH, NC  –  A Wake County Public School System employee is suspended without pay after being accused of sex crimes against a child.

Todd Van Nguyen, 61, is a bus driver for Knightdale High School, Lockhart Elementary School, and Douglas Elementary School, according to a spokesperson with the school district.

He is facing three charges of indecent liberties with a child.

The arrest warrant alleges that Nguyen “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did commit and attempt to commit a lewd and lascivious act upon the body” of a child under the age of 16.

Court records indicate all three charges involve the same child, a 14-year-old girl.
Raleigh police said the charges are not related to his job as a bus driver.

School officials released this statement following the incident:

Parents,

Because it’s important to keep you informed, I want to share information about a recent incident.  None of our students have been directly affected by this incident.

On July 19, bus driver Todd Nguyen was arrested for taking indecent liberties with minors.  It is important to note that the alleged victims were NOT students.  I wanted to notify you immediately because our records indicate that Mr. Nguyen was the assigned driver for your student’s bus route.

While privacy laws prevent us from sharing specific details, I want to assure you that upon learning of the arrest, WCPSS officials took swift and appropriate action.  They immediately began an investigation and suspended the bus driver, which prevents him from being present on any WCPSS property.

While we are fortunate none of our students were affected, the alleged behavior is abhorrent and deeply distressing.  Please know that our primary concern is the safety of your child.  We will continue to take every measure to ensure that safety.