Category Archives: Law Enforcement

Women Abuse Children At Higher Rate Than Men

.jpg photo of woman accused of trafficking 11 year old girl
Gigi Mitchell, accused of trafficking an 11-year-old girl in Las Vegas.

Woman charged with sex trafficking of
girl, 11, on Las Vegas Strip

LAS VEGAS, NV  –  An 11-year-old girl boasted of smoking cigarettes and drinking booze on the Strip, and she told men she was a prostitute, according to police.

Now the 40-year-old woman prosecutors allege brought the girl to Las Vegas is charged with sex trafficking and child abuse.

In a brief court appearance Friday morning, Gigi Mitchell clasped her hands at her waist and choked back tears as Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Harmony Letizia told Mitchell she faces a preliminary hearing next month on seven felony charges.

The girl, who admitted to drinking and smoking with Mitchell in casinos, has been taken in by child protective services.

Metropolitan Police Department officers working at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in the early morning hours of March 2 spotted Mitchell and the girl approaching men in the casino, while the girl wore a “tight-fitting” white floral dress and black high heels, according to an arrest report.

When the two were initially questioned by police, they gave what officers believed were “rehearsed” answers, the report said.

Mitchell told investigators that she and the girl were “selling flower pens” and went to The Cosmopolitan for breakfast.

Mitchell initially told police she had just met the men.  Later, she said they were cousins named Brandon and Justin, or Randy and Gary.

The girl, identified in the arrest report as “victim 1,” told police that she and Mitchell had driven to Las Vegas from Arizona around the time of the Super Bowl in early February and had stayed at various hotels along the Strip.

After Mitchell allowed police to review her phone, investigators found a photo of male genitals that she sent to the girl.  She denied sending the photo.

Mitchell’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Mike Feliciano, declined to comment on the allegations.

On the girl’s cellphone, police found various messages with men that appeared to be “prostitution related.”  In her purse, they found two condoms and three pens.

The report detailed various sexually explicit conversations the girl had with an unidentified man, with whom she apparently had engaged in sex acts.

In one, the man mentioned a desire to marry the girl.

“Tyna (thought you’d never ask) come on now I’m not marry type material,” she replied.

He responded: “Why u say that LMFAO”

The girl wrote back: “Cuz ima prostitute LMAO”

The messages appeared to indicate that Mitchell was aware that the girl had sex with the man.

One of the men, identified as “Tony” from San Francisco, messaged the girl about sex and she replied “Sorry hun, we are already done for the night.”

As of Friday, only Mitchell had been charged in the case.

When investigators tracked the man down, the report said, he immediately responded: “I did nothing with the young one.”  He said he discussed sex acts for money with Mitchell before changing his story to say that they “only discussed her giving him a massage for money.”

He said he was first approached by the girl, who wanted to sell him flowers, before she introduced him to Mitchell.  When investigators asked him about text messages he sent to the girl, he told them he had been joking.

Investigators later found records of Mitchell renting rooms along the Strip starting Feb. 3, the day of the Super Bowl.  She paid cash for three nights at Treasure Island, and later that month the two were spotted on surveillance at the New York-New York, Stratosphere, Bellagio and Paris Las Vegas hotels.  One of the men seen on video admitted to taking Mitchell to his room at Stratosphere, but said she “left abruptly” because she “must have thought he was a cop.”

The morning in early March that police found the girl and Mitchell inside The Cosmopolitan, they were seen approaching eight different men within 45 minutes. “Not one time did Gigi Mitchell or victim 1 approach a female guest,” the report said.

“Gigi Mitchell is seen holding flower pens and claimed she and (victim 1) were only trying to sell these pens.  It appears to (police) that Gigi Mitchell and victim 1 are using the flower pens as a cover to hide the activity of prostitution.”

The girl later told investigators that she and Mitchell sold pens to men for “anywhere from $10 to $1,500,” according to the report.

She said she and Mitchell would sometimes go to hotel rooms with men “because they would have more money up there …  Sometimes these men think they are going to do ‘bad stuff’ so they have more money but that she would never do that stuff … When these men would try to have them do stuff, they would just ‘ditch them’ and leave the room.”

Mitchell is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on $500,000 bail.

One Reason The Clergy Thrown Under The Bus

.jpg photo of Chicago teacher that groomed and sexually abused students
Gabriel Valadez has pleaded not guilty after being charged with grooming and sexually abusing a girl for several years.

State was notified of Child Abuse
allegations more than a year before
Waukegan school employee’s arrest

CHICAGO, IL  –  More than a year before a Waukegan school employee was charged with sexually abusing a girl for years, state education authorities were notified that he was fired by Chicago Public Schools on allegations of “child abuse,” records obtained by the Lake County News-Sun show.

Gabriel Valadez, 26, of Darien, was hired by Waukegan District 60 in August 2017, six months after he was suspended by Chicago Public Schools, where he was a special education classroom assistant.  He was fired from CPS in December 2017 after his suspension the previous February.

A letter obtained from Chicago Public Schools shows the Illinois State Board of Education was notified of his termination the following month, in January 2018.  A spokeswoman for the state agency said she could not comment on specific cases, but ISBE records show Valadez’s paraprofessional educators license remains valid.

Defense attorney John Deleon, who is representing Valadez, declined to comment due to the pending charges.  He said his client also would not comment.

An internal Chicago Public Schools memo summarizing Valadez’s 2017 termination hearing concluded that he “exhibited all the classic signs of child grooming behavior,” which occurs when an adult attempts to gain the trust of the child, looks for opportunities to be alone with the child and gives gifts or money to the child.

Valadez, who pleaded not guilty earlier this month, was arrested Feb. 19 at Waukegan District 60’s administrative offices by Chicago police officers and charged with grooming and sexually abusing a girl for several years, when she was between the ages of 9 and 13, according to court records.

He is accused of taking the girl’s hand and having her touch him, of groping her bottom and of asking her to send sexually explicit and nude photographs of herself, according to preliminary complaints filed in Cook County court.

Waukegan District 60 has “not received any official communication” from either Chicago Public Schools or the Illinois State Board of Education regarding Valadez and his time at CPS, district spokesman Nick Alajakis said.

A bill approved by the Illinois House and awaiting action in the Illinois Senate would give the State Board of Education the ability to suspend the licenses of educators under investigation, a change that might have helped Waukegan District 60 learn about Valadez’s history sooner.

The investigation

Valadez joined Chicago Public Schools in May 2014 in office support for the district’s Network 7, according to personnel records obtained from CPS.

Seven months later, in December 2014, he took a job as a special education classroom assistant at Infinity Math, Science and Tech High School in Chicago’s South Lawndale neighborhood, according to personnel records.  A year later, he moved to Jungman Elementary School.

It was at Jungman that questions arose about Valadez’s contact with a student.

Valadez was suspended Feb. 16, 2017, after giving a student a chocolate Valentine’s Day present despite being warned verbally and in writing to have no contact with that student, according to a letter from Chicago Public Schools to Valadez.

Valadez was never the student’s teacher, he told an investigator.  He said during the 2016-17 school year, one of his assignments included taking another student from one classroom to the science lab, where the girl was also assigned during that period.

Valadez was told not to contact the student following a March 2016 incident where he was speaking to the student outside someone’s house after school until the father came home, according to a November 2017 internal memo.

According to the report, Valadez had been reminded of the no-contact order in September 2016 after staff members saw him playing basketball with the student after school hours.  Valadez denied that he had played basketball with the student.

Valadez told Jungman’s principal that he thought it was OK to give the student the chocolates because two other adults were present at the time, according to a redacted copy of the investigative report.  The principal said Valadez told her he had been asked by another special education classroom aide to bring the chocolates for the student.

The other employee told the investigator that she never told Valadez to get chocolates for the students, according to the report.

Valadez later told an investigator that he had brought chocolates and red roses to give to staff, and decided to give the chocolates to the student after he realized he had some left over, according to the report.  He said the student had followed him into the classroom and he gave the student the chocolates and told her, “Get outta here.”

The student told the investigator that she did not know Valadez was not supposed to talk to her, according to the report.  The student said she would often speak to Valadez before and after school, at least once a week, which Valadez denied when interviewed by the investigator.

A union representative who testified on Valadez’s behalf at his termination hearing denied Valadez was engaged in grooming behavior, and said Valadez did not communicate with the student through social media or text messaging.

According to an internal memo, Valadez did not testify at the hearing.

Valadez had previously been investigated in 2015 for alleging staring at student-athletes during practice and making them uncomfortable, for making an inappropriate comment to a former student, and for staring at a student who was in detention, according to the investigative report.

The investigator, who spoke to the students involved as well as staff, found none of the allegations were supported by evidence, according to the report.

Termination and notification

  Following the Feb. 16, 2017, suspension by Chicago Public Schools, Valadez was sometimes paid and sometimes unpaid throughout the course of an investigation and subsequent proceedings, CPS records show.

He was fired in December 2017 and placed on the district’s do-not-hire list, according to a letter from the district to Valadez.

A month later, Chicago Public Schools sent a letter to the Illinois State Board of Education, notifying the agency it had “reasonable cause” to believe he had been fired after “committing an intentional act of child abuse.”

By this time, Valadez had already been hired by Waukegan District 60 as an administrative assistant at its district offices, records show.  Valadez resigned in February, the week after his arrest.

His application with Waukegan, submitted in July 2017, said he was still employed by Chicago Public Schools and had never been fired, which was all true at that point. On a form completed in August, he denied that he had ever been investigated for misconduct, which was not true.

Valadez wasn’t the district’s first pick, according to text messages sent by Superintendent Theresa Plascencia to a school board member following Valadez’s arrest.  Three other applicants, including an internal candidate, received offers but declined the job.

Plascencia did know Valadez from her time at CPS, but she was not involved in his hiring at Waukegan, Alajakis said.

Plascencia was the chief of Network 7 from November 2013 to August 2015 when she took a new role with CPS as executive director for high school design, programs and support.  She left CPS in April 2016 prior to the start of the internal investigation into Valadez’s conduct at Jungman.

Notifications like Chicago Public Schools’ letter to ISBE, which are required under state law, can trigger an investigation by the Illinois State Board of Education and ultimately the suspension or revocation of an educator’s license, ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said.

Matthews, who declined to comment on any particular case, said there is no way to predict how long any single case will take to resolve because each comes with its own set of circumstances.

Valadez still had an active paraprofessional educator license as of Friday, Illinois State Board of Education records show.

ISBE will hold off on an investigation, for example, if the police or Department of Child and Family Services are conducting their own investigations, Matthews said. The amount of time it takes for those investigations and criminal proceedings to conclude “varies significantly.”

That means an educator’s license can remain valid and, if they’ve since moved on to another district, no one there may know they’re under investigation.

ISBE does not have the ability to suspend educators’ licenses while they are being investigated for serious alleged crimes involving physical and sexual abuse, though it would want that authority, ISBE’s general counsel, Stephanie Jones, testified before the General Assembly last year.

A bill that would give ISBE that power passed the Illinois Senate in a 57-0 vote April 11.  It is now being considered by the House.

Timeline

May 2014: Gabriel Valadez joins Chicago Public Schools in Network 7 office support.

December 2014: Valadez takes a special education classroom assistant position at Infinity Math, Science and Tech High School.

December 2015: Valadez moves to Jungman Elementary School.

March 2016: Valadez told to have no contact with a student at Jungman.

February 2017: Valadez was suspended after giving Valentine’s Day chocolates to the student with whom he had been ordered to have no contact.

August 2017: Valadez is hired at Waukegan District 60 as an administrative assistant at its district offices.

December 2017: Valadez is fired from Chicago Public Schools.

January 2018: Chicago Public Schools notifies the Illinois State Board of Education that it fired Valadez over allegations of child abuse.

February 2019: Valadez is arrested at Waukegan District 60’s administrative office on charges of child sexual abuse and grooming.  He voluntarily resigns the following week.

NM Wants Tougher Child Abuse Laws

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic from New Mexico
Child Abuse Advocates believe tougher laws would be a better deterrent.

Advocates organize March Against
Child Abuse

ALBUQUERQUE, NM  –  A child that died on Tuesday had not even seen their first birthday.  The person who reported the death claimed the baby drowned, according to the Albuquerque Police Department.

They have not yet said how the baby died, but that the circumstances are suspicious.

The community is hurting — wanting to know exactly what happened or if someone is to blame.  That will all come out in the investigation, according to APD.

As police continue to investigate, the community is coming together to say enough is enough.

“Burying a child is the worst nightmare anyone can go through and then at the hands of a parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever the case may be, it’s a nightmare,” said Veronica Rael-Garcia, an advocate whose daughter was killed in a road rage shooting.

Rael-Garcia knows that hole left behind after a child dies.  Her daughter, Lilly, was killed in a road rage shooting when she was just four.  It was a case that shook the community.

“The community is upset, they’re scared, they want answers,” said Crystal Gutierrez-Baca, an advocate with New Mexicans Against Child Abuse.  “So now more than ever we need the community to join us.”

Crystal Gutierrez-Baca is teaming up with Rael-Garcia to be the voice for those children.  The goal is that other people and leaders from around our state start making a change.

“There should be programs out there in the city and the state so that if somebody feels overwhelmed they’re able to reach out,” said Rael-Garcia.  “I wholeheartedly believe if we had tougher laws that may be something that does deter it.  Who knows?”

Gutierrez-Baca and Rael-Garcia said the conversation needs to start now.  In recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month, they’re putting together the third annual March Against Child Abuse this Saturday.  It will be at the Bataan Memorial Park from noon to 3 p.m.

Where Are Your Children?

.jpg photo of Child Vehicular Heatstroke graphic
#HotVehicles Are Not #BabySitters

#HotVehicles are not #BabySitters

In 2018, 51 Children died from heatstroke in a hot, locked vehicle.

I think everyone will agree that too many Children have lost their lives in HOT CARS.

The average number of U.S. child vehicular heat stroke deaths is 38 per year. (one every 9 days)

Eighty‐eight percent (88%) of children who have died from vehicular heat stroke are age 3 and younger.

Fifty‐four percent (54%) of heat stroke deaths in vehicles involve children age one and younger.

See a child alone in a car?  Get involved!  Call 911 ASAP#HeatstrokeKills #LookBeforeYouLock

The summer of 2016, Blair Corbett, Founder of Ark of Hope for Children, and I put our heads together and came up with an effective way to slow, and hopefully stop this killer of Our Children.

  1. Share this with everyone
  2. Use and share Our Hashtag: #HotVehicles are not #BabySitters
  3. Set a “TASK” with alarm in smartphone every time you drive Child/Children, set alarm 10-30 minutes early before arrival at destination to drop off Child/Children (depending on distance).
  4. DO NOT TURN OFF ALARM UNTIL CHILD/CHILDREN ARE DROPPED OFF, CONTINUE TO HIT SLEEPER, SET AT 5 MINUTES, UNTIL TASK IS COMPLETED.

NOT IN MY WORLD!!!! uses kidsandcars.org because we have found these great people go the extra mile to help and they have great resources.  Here is their Heatstroke Fact Sheet.

The difference between life or death is minutes in a hot car.  #HeatstrokeKills #LookBeforeYouLock

MO Trooper Goes Extra Mile For 2 Little Girls

.jph photo of Mo Trooper that saved 2 girls
Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Klempke

Trooper awarded for work in
Child Abuse case

A Missouri Highway Patrol trooper has been named Missouri State Employee of the Month for March because of her work on a child abuse investigation in Cole County.

Trooper Ashley Klempke’s investigation led to criminal charges against two parents and the children in their care being placed in protective custody.

Klempke, a road trooper with the Patrol’s Troop F based in Jefferson City, was eligible for the statewide honor because of her selection as Department of Public Safety Employee of the Month for February.

In October 2018, Klempke responded to a report of two young girls walking along a highway in Cole County.  The girls were dressed only in pajamas and had no shoes.

“While other agencies were focused on returning the children to their parents and hesitant to investigate their allegations of long-term abuse, Klempke insisted on conducting a thorough investigation, including medical evaluations,” patrol officials said in a news release.

The medical evaluations supported the girls’ claims of severe abuse, as did forensic interviews, and a search warrant executed at their residence.  As a result of Klempke’s effort, a total of six children were placed in protective custody and both parents were criminally charged.

Klempke’s work in this investigation included conducting 16 interviews and execution of multiple search warrants.

“From the very start, Trooper Klempke approached this not just as two children who had wandered away from home, but as a matter that needed to be fully investigated,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten said in a news release.  “Trooper Klempke handled this case with perseverance, dedication and compassion, and her efforts made a difference.”

Klempke was appointed to the patrol July 1, 2011, as a member of the 94th Recruit Class.  She currently works in Cole County.  A native of Los Angeles, she worked as a corrections officer for the Missouri Department of Corrections prior to joining the patrol. Klempke and her husband, Brandon, have five children.