Category Archives: Good People

80 Percent Of The Time

.jpg photo of man accused of abusing two children
Jacob John Weld, 29, of Petoskey

Petoskey man facing sexual assault,
Child Abuse charges

PETOSKEY, MI  –  A Petoskey area man is facing multiple felony charges in connection with allegations that he sexually and physically abused two young children, respectively.

Jacob John Weld, 29, of Petoskey was arrested last week on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.  The charge is a felony which carries a maximum penalty of up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.  He was arrested on the afternoon of Oct. 10 on the charge.

At the time of his arrest on the sexual assault charges he was out of jail on bond following an Oct. 1 arrest on a charge of third-degree child abuse.  That charge is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison.

According to a Michigan State Police affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, the sexual assault charges stem from allegations that Weld sexually assaulted a young child at a home in Emmet County on at least two occasions in August and September of this year.  Police said the child came forward with the allegation on Oct. 8.  Police further said in the affidavit that when they interviewed Weld, he admitted to the actions with the child leading to the sexual assault charges.

In the child abuse case, Weld is accused of causing injury to a different young child.

In that case, Emmet County Sheriff’s Office deputies said in an affidavit of probable cause that the case was initially referred to police from a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services representative who was investigating a child abuse complaint. In the affidavit, police said the alleged abuse happened on or around Sept. 23. Police said an adult noticed bruising on the back of the child’s leg on Sept. 29. Police said the child reported having been spanked with a belt by Weld.
Police said when they interviewed Weld he said he “probably used a belt to spank (the child).”

Weld was originally released from jail on Oct. 1 after posting a $50,000 surety bond. But he now remains lodged in the Emmet County Jail in connection with the sexual assault case, for which a new bond has been set at $2 million.

Weld is slated to face preliminary examinations in both cases on Oct. 24 in 90th District Court.

Don’t Do This, You Gave NIMW It’s Start

.jpg photo of graphic of Google+ announcement of closing
Google announced that it will shut down the consumer version of Google+ following the discovery of a bug that it opted to keep secret.

Google+ to shut down following bug that
exposed 500K profiles

Google yesterday announced that it will shut down the consumer version of Google+ following the discovery of a bug that it opted to keep secret.

In a blog post, the search giant framed the decision as one that makes sense given that very few people actively use Google+—”90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds,” writes Ben Smith, a Google Fellow and VP of Engineering—and it doesn’t warrant the work required to keep tabs on developers.

But as the Wall Street Journal reports, the move comes after Google discovered a bug that left private user information open to developers in March, but declined to alert users for fear of regulatory scrutiny.

“A memo reviewed by the Journal prepared by Google’s legal and policy staff and shared with senior executives warned that disclosing the incident would likely trigger ‘immediate regulatory interest’ and invite comparisons to Facebook’s leak of user information to data firm Cambridge Analytica,” the Journal says.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly knew about the plan to forego notification.

In the blog post, Smith says Google discovered the bug in March as part of Project Strobe—”a root-and-branch review of third-party developer access to Google account and Android device data and of our philosophy around apps’ data access.”

The bug, according to Google, meant that third-party apps had access to “profile fields that were shared with the user, but not marked as public,” like name, email address, occupation, gender, and age. Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers, or G Suite content were not accessible.

“We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused,” Smith says.

The bug, which Google patched in March, affected about 500,000 Google+ users. Was yours one of those accounts?  Sorry, there’s no way to tell.

“We made Google+ with privacy in mind and therefore keep this API’s log data for only two weeks,” according to Smith.  “That means we cannot confirm which users were impacted by this bug.”

According to Smith, the vulnerability didn’t rise to the level of requiring a notification.  “Every year, we send millions of notifications to users about privacy and security bugs and issues.  Whenever user data may have been affected, we go beyond our legal requirements and apply several criteria focused on our users in determining whether to provide notice,” he says.

It remains to be seen if regulators agree.  Uber kept a 2016 data breach secret, and that just resulted in a $148 million fine.

The Google+ shutdown, meanwhile, will occur over the next 10 months, so get your fill before August 2019.  If you use the service for work, though, Google+ is not going anywhere.

“Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network,” Smith says.  “Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization.  We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses.  We will share more information in the coming days.”

As part of the announcement, Google also promised to give users “more fine-grained control over what account data they choose to share with each app.”  If an app wants access to a Calendar and Drive documents, for example, you can opt to share one but not the other.

Google will also “limit the apps that may seek permission to access your consumer Gmail data,” while Google Play will limit which apps that can ask for a user’s phone (including call logs) and SMS data.

Need More Attorneys General Like TX And NM

.jpg photo of New Mexico Attorney General
NM Attorney General Hector Balderas

New Mexico Attorney General wants to handle fatal Child Abuse cases

Attorney General Hector Balderas wants New Mexico lawmakers to expand his authority by allowing him to take over child abuse cases resulting in death without having to wait for a district attorney to decline to prosecute, dismiss the case or ask for his help.

Why?  Balderas said in a phone interview Friday that his office is well equipped to handle such cases and he wants to be able to step in and help children whenever its resources are needed, “like the Navy SEALs.”

“When prosecutors have referred complex, tragic cases to us, we’ve had above-average success rates,” Balderas said.

Balderas said his office is uniquely equipped to handle complicated child abuse cases because his staff includes victim advocates, investigators, lawyers and appellate attorneys, meaning he could handle all aspects of a case without having to rely on other agencies to bring a case to trail.

“In every community, there are sometimes unhealthy tensions between law enforcement, child protective agencies and the DA’s Office,” Balderas said.  “But we are one unit.  We collaborate at every stage.  We are always working together.”

Under current laws, Balderas said, he has to wait for the prosecutor in the judicial district where a case arises to either ask for his help, dismiss a case or decline to prosecute before the Attorney General’s Office can jump in.

“To me, that’s just not sound policy when we are in a child abuse crisis,” Balderas said.  “Now is the time to make the attorney general an equal partner.  I shouldn’t have to ask for permission.  It shouldn’t be a failure in the system that triggers our ability to intervene.”

Balderas said district attorneys usually work well with his office but sometimes don’t agree on the best way to attack a case.

He pointed to a recent high-profile child abuse death in the Taos area in which authorities say a 3-year-old boy abducted by his father from the child’s mother’s home in Georgia was found dead after being denied medications and instead subjected to Islamic prayer rituals for healing.  Balderas said that case is an example of one that could have benefited from his office’s expertise.

The attorney general said he offered 8th Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos his help at the outset of the Taos County case, but Gallegos didn’t consult with him until after a judge denied a motion to hold the defendants without bail while they await trial.

“I offered meaningful support and strategy so they could win and the community would get a timely and aggressive prosecution,” Balderas said.  “I don’t believe it’s collaboration when you are only calling after a loss or setback.”

Gallegos did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

In other cases, Balderas said, the state Children, Youth and Families Department has made investigative missteps that affected the outcome.

CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson said Friday she didn’t know enough about Balderas’ proposal to comment at length she welcomes the chance to partner with Balderas or any other law enforcement agency on improving front-end investigations to better protect the state’s children.  Jacobson added that her agency might not be affected if the law were changed because CYFD doesn’t participate in criminal investigations.

A spokesman for Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez in Albuquerque referred questions to New Mexico District Attorney’s Association President Dianna Luce.

Luce, a prosecutor in southeastern New Mexico, said in an email that Balderas had not contacted her organization about proposed legislation and that she cannot comment in her capacity as association president until she knows more.

“As the elected district attorney in the Fifth Judicial District,” she wrote, “I’m opposed to giving blanket authority to another entity outside of my district.  Our prosecutors have experience in prosecuting these types of cases and have successfully prosecuted child abuse resulting in death cases.”

In Santa Fe, First Judicial District Attorney Marco Serna said in an email Friday he also hadn’t seen the proposed law change and wanted a chance to discuss it with Balderas and the District Attorney’s Association to see what exactly the attorney general proposes.

“I can’t speak for all district attorneys in our state,” Serna wrote, “but I would anticipate opposition to the Attorney General’s position, considering each DA is elected to their respective districts.”

Serna added that he has a “great working relationship” with Balderas’ office and will continue to request assistance or pull resources from the Attorney General’s Office when needed.

Balderas said he is working to draft legislation and find a legislative sponsor.

IN Mother Draws 20 Years

.jpg photo of man convicted of child sexual abuse
Nicholas Deon Thrash, 34, was sentenced to over 100 years in prison after being found guilty of molesting a 10-year-old girl multiple times. (Grant County Jail)

Convicted molester’s girlfriend admits
letting him assault daughter, 10,
resulting in pregnancy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN  –  Indiana woman on Tuesday admitted to charges that she allowed her boyfriend to molest her daughter, leading to the then 10-year-old’s pregnancy.

The 33-year-old woman, of Marion, pleaded guilty to charges of neglect, aiding child molesting and assisting a criminal.  She avoided a trial by accepting a sentence of 20 years in prison and five years of probation.

“We were certainly ready to go to trial in a few weeks, but the emotional and psychological toll would have been significantly more (for this trial) than the Thrash trial,” Deputy Grant County Prosecutor Lisa Glancy said.

The woman’s boyfriend, 34-year-old Nicholas Deon Thrash, was convicted of 10 counts of child molesting and sentenced last week to 160 years in prison.  The victim, who was not named, testified Thrash had molested her at least 15 times.

The mother admitted her daughter told her Thrash was molesting her, yet she continued to live with him, the Chronicle-Tribune of Marion, Ind., reported.  She reportedly instructed the daughter to say a classmate impregnated her.

Neither the molestation nor pregnancy was reported to police.

Part of the woman’s plea required that she have no contact with her now 12-year-old daughter until a counselor gives permission.  The Associated Press did not name the woman to protect the identity of the girl.

Prosecutors told FOX59 Indianapolis that the girl, after turning 11, gave birth to a boy in September 2017.  The baby was given up for adoption, while the girl now resides in foster care.

“She’s doing better.  That’s all that we can hope for right now.  She’s at a really good place,” Glancy said.

Kentucky Toddler Beat With Leash

.jpg photo of Kentucky toddler beat with dog leash
Jaxsin Fellows is pictured one week after an alleged beating that Jaxsin’s father says involved a dog leash.

`Dad says dog leash used in NKY Child
Abuse case.  Investigator calls it ‘worst
I’ve seen’

Boone County, KY  –  A dog leash was used to whip a 3-year-old boy in Northern Kentucky, according to the boy’s father.

Jaxsin Fellows suffered facial abrasions, a swollen eye and chipped teeth.  He needed five stitches.

His father, Nick Fellows of Erlanger, Kentucky, said his son’s mother, Karen Spurlock, told him a dog leash was used in the beating.

Spurlock and her boyfriend, Shane C. Sasher, face criminal abuse and second-degree assault charges in the incident.  They initially blamed the boy’s injuries on a fall down stairs, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office said.

The pair “thought he was deceased” the morning after the alleged assault, the sheriff’s office said.

Sgt. Philip Ridgell said he and other investigators were appalled by what they discovered.

“In my experience, it’s one of the worst (cases) I’ve seen,” Ridgell said.

Jaxsin’s paternal grandmother, Diane Fellows, established a GoFundMe account to defray medical and rehabilitation bills as well as future legal bills for custody of Jaxsin.

More than $1,200 has been raised toward a $10,000 goal.

Nick Fellows said he also hopes to donate to another family suffering similarly and to ProKids.org of Cincinnati, which works to break the “vicious cycle of child abuse and neglect.”

Jaxsin had been staying with his mother and Sasher in the 10000 block of Irish Way in Union, Kentucky at the time he was beaten, according to Ridgell.

On Sept. 18, medical professionals at St. Elizabeth Edgewood notified law enforcement that Jaxsin had “significant facial injuries consistent with abuse,” including abrasions and contusions beneath his eyes and to his forehead, temples and cheeks.

Over the course of a three-day probe, the sheriff’s office said, investigators learned the boy was alone in the residence with Spurlock and Sasher the night before.
After suffering separate assaults, the sheriff’s office said, the victim was given Motrin and put to bed.  Spurlock and Sasher attempted to wake him up the next morning, and before he awoke they believed he may be dead.

Detectives found inconsistencies in their statements, according to authorities. Spurlock said Sasher told her not to report the initial injuries the boy suffered from the first assault.

Neither Spurlock nor Sasher has confessed to meting out the abuse, Ridgell said. They’re charged equally because they were the only ones in the home when the alleged abuse occurred.

Spurlock and Sasher’s bonds were set at $100,000, Ridgell said.  They remain in custody at the Boone County Jail.

A preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 1.