Niles Indiana Police Officer Ivery Cross Arraigned – Charged With Sexually Assaulting Teen Inmate – Family Shows Up In Court And Causes A Scene

March 31, 2011

NILES, INDIANA — It was a tumultuous scene Thursday outside Berrien County Trial Court in Niles where supporters and family members of Ivery Cross, a Niles police officer accused of the sexual assault of a 19-year-old inmate in the holding facility at the Niles Law Enforcement Complex, gathered following Cross’s arraignment.

Mary Cross, the officer’s mother and one of the few family members who was willing to identify herself, shouted several times that her son is innocent as Mark Coulston, the Trial Court bailiff, attempted to move the angry group of roughly 40 people outside into the parking lot.

“I don’t believe it,’’ she said, apparently referring to the charges authorized Wednesday against her son, who’s black. “This is a prejudiced town and a prejudiced court.’’

Others took the media to task for their coverage of the high-profile case, yelling at cameramen and other media representatives that they’d “already lynched’’ Cross. One woman who seemed to support that position leveled criticism as well at the county’s criminal justice system, shouting that her mother had been raped several years ago and that the perpetrator had been allowed to go free.

That woman, too, refused to identify herself, as did yet another woman who had to be restrained as she shouted at TV cameramen and reporters.

In court, Cross, 25, a life-long Niles resident and a member of the city’s police department for a little more than two years, hugged family members and supporters prior to his appearance before Schofield. He was represented by R. McKinley Elliott, who told Schofield he was filling in for another attorney who had a conflict.

Neither Elliott nor Steve Pierangeli, a Berrien assistant prosecutor, asked Schofield to recuse himself based on the judge’s previous dealings with Cross in his role as a police officer. Neither did Elliott object when Pierangeli asked the judge to order Cross to turn over his uniform, weapons and other police equipment, to have no contact with the Niles schools where he had worked as an assistant football coach and to impose a curfew.

But Elliott did object when Pierangeli asked that Cross’ $25,000 bond, which he posted Saturday, be increased to $250,000. Pierangeli asked for the higher bond based on the “serious nature’’ of the charges — 1st degree criminal sexual conduct (digital penetration), three counts of 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct (contact with genitals and a buttock) and one count of misconduct of office. The 1st degree charge is punishable by a maximum of life in prison.

Despite Elliott’s objections, Schofield agreed to the $250,000 bond but said Cross could post $100,000 should he submit to home tether. One of Cross’ supporters shouted to the media in the parking lot that they’d have the money raised by this morning.

Cross is scheduled to have a pre-exam conference on Thursday. His preliminary exam is set for April 12.

Suspended by the department without pay, Cross stands accused of assaulting the teenager in a bathroom at the LEC’s holding facility on March 17. The teen had been picked up on a charge of possession of marijuana.

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Greeley Colorado Police Officer Daniel Shepherd Arrested, Charged With Sexually Assaulting Female Teen Motorist

March 31, 2011

GREELEY, COLORADO — A Greeley police officer was charged Thursday with sexual assault, accused of molesting a teen girl during a traffic stop.

Daniel Shepherd, 28, was arrested last Friday at the police department. Shepherd was charged with one felony count of sexual assault and one count of official oppression.

According to the arrest affidavit, the incident occurred on March 13 at 20th Street and 28th Avenue in Greeley.

The girl told police that she was asked to leave a party after she got drunk and started yelling at other people.

She said the officer called to the party — Shepherd — told her to go home. When she said she would wait for her sister to give her a ride, the officer walked her to her car and started the car for her, even though she was obviously drunk, according to the affidavit.

The teen said she drove a bit and then pulled over to the side of the road, thinking the officer was following her. She said she didn’t see him so she drove off again, just to be stopped by Shepherd minutes later.

Once she got out of the car and had her facing the car, the officer held her hands behind her back with one of his hands, grabbed her breasts and put his hands down the front of her pants, she said in the affidavit.

“She said she felt trapped during the patdown and felt if she wouldn’t have quickly grabbed her phone and called her sister, it would have gotten worse … She felt the officer could have raped her if she hadn’t called her sister,” detectives wrote in the affidavit.

When the officer told her she was too drunk to drive and asked, “What should we do about this?” she felt his question was a strong hint for a sexual favor.

While she was on the phone with her sister, the teen suddenly realized that the officer who had just stopped her had left.

The teen was never ticketed or cited.

When investigators first questioned Shepherd, he denied pulling her over and said that he only had contact with her at the party.

An electronic device confirmed Shepherd’s car was stationary at the alleged assault location for five minutes. Shepherd later admitted he did stop the teen but denied groping her.

Shepherd is out on $50,000 bond and due in court next month.

He has been a police officer for three years.

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2 Veteran Chicago Illinois Police Officers Arrested, Suspended, And Under Investigation For On-Duty Sexual Assault

March 31, 2011

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Two Chicago police officers are under criminal investigation amid explosive allegations they played strip poker with a young woman and sexually assaulted her in her Far North Side apartment while on duty early Wednesday.

At a news conference, an outraged Terry Hillard, the interim police superintendent, noted he is a father before calling the officers’ conduct “inappropriate. You just can’t justify it.” He referred to the allegations as “heinous criminal activity.”

Hillard said at least one of the officers allegedly sexually assaulted the woman. The officers were arrested later Wednesday and questioned at Belmont Area headquarters with legal counsel present before being released without charges.

The criminal inquiry continues as investigators collect “evidence and forensics,” Hillard said. Cook County prosecutors have been notified about the allegations. In the meantime, the 10-year veterans were relieved of police powers and put on administrative duty, he said.

The alleged sexual assault took place at the woman’s Rogers Park apartment, several miles from the Town Hall District, where the two officers were assigned to work patrol duties on the overnight shift.

The uniformed officers, driving a marked police SUV, had offered the 22-year-old woman a ride as she walked near Wrigley Field, crying and upset after drinking and arguing with a male friend, according to a police report.

According to the report, the woman said she accepted, and while they were en route to her residence, she had sex with one officer in a passenger seat. At her apartment, the three of them played strip poker, and she again had sex with one of the officers.

But she told police she began to feel intimidated and was afraid to refuse their sexual advances, according to the report. She said she pounded on the wall to get her neighbor’s attention and later got up and ran screaming out of the apartment. A neighbor saw her and called police about 3 a.m. The woman was treated at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston.

Another neighbor contacted by the Tribune said he opened his door after hearing the commotion and saw a naked man running down the hall and another man who may have been wearing a police uniform.

Detectives found a cell phone belonging to one of the officers as well as parts of the officers’ uniforms in the woman’s apartment, according to police sources.

Hillard, a retired superintendent who was appointed to the interim post until Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel names a permanent successor, bristled when asked about reports that the alleged victim was drunk and may have first had consensual sex with one of the officers before the alleged assault.

“I’m a father,” he said after a pause. “I also used to be a policeman before I retired. … Inappropriate. You can’t justify it.”

At another point, Hillard said whether the woman was drunk “has nothing to do with the case.”

“If proven true, these officers will fully be held accountable and punished,” he said. “I will not tolerate this type of behavior. The Chicago Police Department will not tolerate this type of behavior.”

Police Department records show both officers are 38 years old and were hired in 2001. They’ve worked for at least the last three years in the Town Hall District, which encompasses parts of the Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Uptown neighborhoods.

Neither officer has had any cases before the Chicago Police Board, which hears appeals of disciplinary suspensions of six to 30 days as well as cases in which the superintendent moves to fire an officer, according to Max Caproni, its executive director.

This is not the first time a Chicago police officer allegedly committed a sexual assault while on duty. Sgt. John Herman was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for allegedly raping a woman at her South Side apartment in 2004 after giving her a ride home.

But in a unanimous decision last month, the Illinois Appellate Court threw out Herman’s conviction, saying the alleged victim’s crack-cocaine habit as well as inconsistencies in her testimony shed serious doubt on her credibility.

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600,000 US Taxpayer Dollars For Gurgling Toad Sculpture?

March 31, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – A $600,000 frog sculpture that lights up, gurgles “sounds of nature” and carries a 10-foot fairy girl on its back could soon be greeting Defense Department employees who plan to start working at the $700 million Mark Center in Alexandria, Va. this fall. That is unless a new controversy over the price tag of the public art doesn’t torpedo the idea.

Decried as wasteful spending that will be seen by just a couple thousand of daily workers who arrive on bus shuttles, foes have tried to delay the decision, expected tomorrow, April 1. But in an E-mail, an Army Corps of Engineers official said that the decision can’t be held up because it would impact completion of the huge project.

The City of Alexandria just announced that there are four works of art being considered and that a final decision needs to be made fast. The artwork was put on display for public comment from March 24 to today. The Alexandria News first reported the hasty announcement to decide a winner.

The schedule surprised some who thought that the costly artwork project was on the “back burner,” according to critic Donald Buch, a member of the mayor’s advisory committee overseeing the Mark Center project. “What’s the rush?” he asked.

Buch says he’s not opposed to art, just high-priced works that won’t be seen by many. He estimates that only 2,500 will see the artwork every day as they use the bus transfer station at the Mark Center. “Who the heck is going to see it,” he asked. “To spend six hundred grand to amuse the same people every day is nuts.”

The Mark Center is one of the facilities that thousands of defense workers will be reporting to as part of the Base Realignment and Closure plan, or BRAC, that is shifting workers around Virginia and Maryland. The BRAC plan itself has been criticized as wasteful.

The four art proposals for the bus terminal include works for a wall and sculpture. But the one drawing most attention is the fairy and frog from artist Cheryl Foster. Her proposals describes the sculpture this way: “A 10-foot fairy, using an American Toad as ‘transportation,’ scurries to the entrance of the station. The interior of the toad is illuminated and the sounds of nature emanate from his throat.” She said that nature inspired her.

Buch suggested instead that the Corps should consider a nature park or water feature, not a toad.

According to the Corps, the artwork was the city’s idea. A city official, however, said that Alexandria officials didn’t demand art, but just asked that public artwork be included in the structure. What’s more, the official said that the $600,000 is federal money, and that no Alexandria funds will pay for the art.

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Secret Meeting: President Obama Gets “Transparency” Award

March 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama finally and quietly accepted his “transparency” award from the open government community this week — in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House on Monday.

The secret presentation happened almost two weeks after the White House inexplicably postponed the ceremony, which was expected to be open to the press pool.

This time, Obama met quietly in the Oval Office with Gary Bass of OMB Watch, Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Patrice McDermott of, without disclosing the meeting on his public schedule or letting photographers or print reporters into the room.

“Our understanding going into the meeting was that it would have a pool photographer and a print reporter, and it turned out to be a private meeting,” Bass told POLITICO. “He was so on point, so on target in the conversation with us, it is baffling why he would not want that message to be more broadly heard by reporters and the public interest community and the public generally.”

Just hours before the White House put off the original event, White House press secretary Jay Carney was defiant in his defense of Obama’s transparency record against criticism that it might have been premature.

“This president has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and openness that is greater than any administration has shown in the past, and he’s been committed to that since he ran for President and he’s taken a significant number of measures to demonstrate that,” Carney said in a testy exchange with Fox News reporter Wendell Goler on March 16.

The transparency advocates who presented the award to Obama say that the recognition is important, because despite the work left to be done, Obama has done a lot to change the government’s posture toward openness issues.

But others believed the positive reinforcement was more than a little unnecessary.

“I don’t feel moved today to say ‘thank you, Mr. President,’” said Steve Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. But he said he understands the award to be “aspirational,” in recognition of Obama’s potential to do more on the transparency front.

“And in that sense, one could say it resembles the award at the Nobel Peace Prize,” Aftergood said. “It’s not because Obama brought peace to anyone but because people hoped he would be a force for good in the world, and maybe that’s the way to understand this award.”

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Feds Admit That 1,825 Miles Of Mexican Border Is Not Under Control Of US Border Patrol – Nothing To Stop Illegal Crossings Between US And Mexico

March 31, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Richard M. Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office (which is responsible for “auditing agency operations to determine whether federal funds are being spent efficiently and effectively”), told the Senate Homeland Security Committee yesterday that the federal government can actually prevent or stop illegal entries into the United States along only 129 miles of the 1,954-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border.

That leaves 1,825 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border where the Border Patrol cannot prevent or stop an illegal entry.

Nonetheless, Stana told the committee, the Border Patrol itself says it has established “an acceptable level of control” along 873 miles of the 1,954-mile-long southwest border. This is because of the way the Border Patrol defines “an acceptable level of control” of the border.

“According to Border Patrol,” Stana told the committee, “an acceptable level of border control is established when it has the capability (i.e., resources) to deter or detect and apprehend incursions at the immediate border or after entry.” [Emphasis added.]

In addition to the 129 miles where the Border Patrol says it can actually “deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries” at the border itself, Stana told the committee, there are another 744 miles where the Border Patrol says it has the capability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entrants after they have entered the county and penetrated U.S. territory to “distances of up to 100 miles or more away from the immediate border.”

The 3,918-mile-long northern border of the United States is virtually wide open, according to Stana’s testimony. The Border Patrol, Stana said, reports that it has established “an acceptable level of control” along only 69 miles of this border and that of those 69 miles there are only 2 miles where the Border Patrol can actually prevent or stop an illegal entry.

Along the remaining, 3,916 miles of the northern border the Border Patrol does not have the capability to deter or detect and apprehend an intruder.

“As we testified in February 2011 about our preliminary observations on this measure, Border Patrol indicated that in fiscal year 2010, 873 of the nearly 2,000 southwest border miles and 69 of the nearly 4,000 northern border miles between Washington and Maine were at an acceptable level of control,” Stana told the committee in his written testimony.

“Within this border security classification, Border Patrol further distinguished between the ability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border versus after entry—at distances of up to 100 miles or more away from the immediate border—into the United States,” Stana wrote.

“Our preliminary analysis of these Border Patrol data showed that the agency reported a capability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border across 129 of the 873 southwest border miles and 2 of the 69 northern border miles,” Stana testified. “Our preliminary analysis also showed that Border Patrol reported the ability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries after they crossed the border for an additional 744 southwest border miles and 67 northern border miles.”

Stana said that in fiscal 2010 “about $11.9 billion [was] appropriated to secure the entire U.S. border (for personnel, infrastructure, and technology).”

Only about a third of this money was spent to secure the border in the vast territories between the official ports of entry (POE). “CBP reported that $3.6 billion was appropriated in fiscal year 2010 for border security efforts between the POEs,” Stana testified.

Overall, the federal government spent $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. That means the $11.9 billion the government spent on securing the entire U.S. border equaled 0.3 percent of federal spending and the $3.6 billion the federal government spent on securing the border between the ports of entry equaled about 0.1 percent.

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Unarmed And Shot In The Back: New Orleans Police Officers David Warren And Gregory McRae Murdered Man And Burnt Body – Sentenced To Just 25 And 17 Years In Prison

March 31, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – A former New Orleans police officer was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday for shooting a man to death without justification after Hurricane Katrina, and his ex-colleague was given 17 years for burning the body.

Former officer David Warren was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Henry Glover, 31, outside a strip mall less than a week after the August 2005 storm. Ex-officer Gregory McRae was found guilty of burning Glover’s body in a car near a police station.

Warren faced a maximum sentence of life in prison while McRae could have received 50 years.

Lawyers for the men argued they deserved some leniency, partly because of the horrific conditions they faced in the chaos that followed the hurricane.

The judge said he didn’t believe Warren’s testimony that Glover posed a threat. “He was not at the strip mall to commit suicide, he was there to retrieve some baby clothing,” U.S. District Judge Lance Africk said. “You killed a man. Despite your contentious arguments to the contrary, it was no mistake.”

Glover’s family sat in the courtroom as he was sentenced.

“I forgive these men because if I don’t forgive them Jesus won’t forgive me,” said his mother, Edna Glover.

Jurors also convicted former Lt. Travis McCabe of writing a false report on the shooting. His sentencing has been postponed while his lawyers seek a new trial based on what they say is newly discovered evidence.

The jury cleared Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann of charges he burned Glover’s body and beat one of the men who brought the dying Glover to a makeshift police compound in search of help after the Sept. 2, 2005, shooting. Robert Italiano, a retired police lieutenant, was acquitted of charges he submitted a false report on the shooting and lied to the FBI.

Prosecutors said Glover was unarmed when Warren, 47, shot him in the back. But the former officer said he opened fire because he feared for his life. Warren said he was guarding a police substation at a shopping mall when Glover and a friend, Bernard Calloway, pulled up in a stolen truck and started running toward a gate that would have given them access to the building. He testified that the men ignored his commands to stop and that he thought he saw a gun in Glover’s hand before he fired one shot at him from a second-floor balcony.

His partner that day, Officer Linda Howard, testified Glover and Calloway weren’t armed and didn’t pose a threat.

McRae, 49, admitted he drove Glover’s body from the police compound to a nearby Mississippi River levee and set it on fire. The car belonged to one of the men who had driven Glover to the compound. McRae said he burned the vehicle because he was weary of seeing rotting corpses after the storm. Another officer, however, testified he saw McRae laughing after he set the fire.

McRae’s attorney argued his client deserved some leniency for accepting responsibility and admitting during the trial that he set Glover’s body on fire.

“Your conduct was barbaric,” Africk told McRae. “The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was made uglier by your disturbing actions. At a time when more was expected of you, you failed miserably.”

Warren has been in custody since his indictment last year. McRae has been free on bond but was immediately taken into custody after sentencing.

A total of 20 current or former New Orleans police officers were charged last year in a series of Justice Department civil rights investigations. The probe of Glover’s death was the first of those cases to be tried.

Next week, two officers are scheduled to be tried on charges stemming from the July 2005 beating death of a 48-year-old man. And a trial is scheduled to start in June for five current or former officers charged in deadly bridge shootings and an alleged plot to make the shootings appear justified.

Police shot and killed two people and wounded four others on the Danziger Bridge less than a week after Katrina. Five other former officers already have pleaded guilty to participating in a cover-up of the shootings.

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