Woman accused of killing newborn twins out of jail

GALLATIN, Tenn.—A young Tennessee woman accused of killing her newborn twins has been released from a jail in Gallatin on a $250,000 bond, walking out in the company of her father.

Twenty-five-year-old Lindsey Lowe left jail in Tennessee’s Sumner County with her father escorting her, his arm draped about her shoulders. Broadcaster WTVF-TV reported that the woman’s family had secured a property bond set earlier by a judge and she was released into the custody of her parents.

Police have said Lowe hid her pregnancy and then suffocated her twin boys last week to keep her parents from hearing their cries at her home in Hendersonville.

Calls by The Associated Press to the woman’s home were not immediately answered.

The woman’s supporters had packed a court hearing Monday and several testified on her behalf, describing Lowe as a sweet and humble person who is widely loved and respected. That testimony came during a bond hearing for the woman, who was arrested last week after authorities reported her father had found the body of one of the baby boys in his daughter’s laundry basket.

On Monday, Mark Lowe defended his daughter in court, saying, “Lindsey is a model daughter and we love her very much. She’s as good as it gets.”

Lowe said in that hearing that his daughter had lived at home since graduating from Western Kentucky University and had only gotten her first fulltime job about two months ago, working in billing at a dental office. She spent much of her time taking care of her mother, who had a brain tumor several years ago that had reoccurred in April.

Lindsey Lowe hung her head through much of Monday’s testimony, hiding her face with her hair.

The woman told Hendersonville Police Det. Steve Malach she delivered the babies at home on the toilet and killed them so that her parents would not hear their cries, according to Malach’s affidavit filed with the court.

Police have said they are working to determine the father’s identity.

Lowe’s attorney, John Pellegrin, said the woman was engaged to be married, but he was waiting on the autopsy report to say anything definitive about who the father of the children was.

Authorities said Lowe is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

District Attorney General Ray Whitley said after Monday’s hearing that prosecutors could pursue the death penalty, life without parole, or life with parole.

US mother charged with raping baby son

A woman in the US state of Ohio is accused of raping her 10-month-old son, videotaping it and sending it to her boyfriend in Michigan.

Ashley Jessup, 24, was indicted in Columbus on Thursday on two counts of rape, one count of child endangerment and one count of pandering sexually-oriented material involving a minor.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says the rape charge could land her life in prison.

O’Brien told The Columbus Dispatch that Jessup emailed the videos to her boyfriend in Battle Creek, Michigan, where his ex-girlfriend discovered them and contacted police.

Jessup is being held in the Franklin County Correctional Centre.

The newspaper reported that it wasn’t immediately clear who has custody of the child.

Abusers must face justice, says Vatican

PRIESTS suspected of child-abuse sex crimes should be turned over to the authorities and face legal action, the Vatican says in a letter to bishops on anti-pedophilia guidelines.

The letter laid out provisional procedures against priest sex-abuse crimes and gave bishops a year to deliberate the proposals following a scandal that has spread across the globe and struck the Catholic Church at its core.

“Sex abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil law … (and) the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed,” said the letter, released today.

“The guidelines … seek to protect minors and to help victims in finding assistance and reconciliation.”

The letter said it was up to bishops to notify the authorities in the case of a suspected pedophile priest.

The letter was published in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish, and urged bishops to ensure the Church gives “spiritual and psychological assistance” to victims and their families.

But the letter was dismissed before publication by a US victims’ group, Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which called for internationally-binding policies instead of guidelines.

“We are very disappointed,” said David Clohessy of SNAP, adding that the guidelines were “belated and very grudging”.

“As an absolute minimum there should be a global no-tolerance policy. Fundamentally, the reason that Church officials ignore, conceal and mishandle sex crimes is because they can.”

The Vatican has come under severe pressure in recent years over pedophilia and the scandal of child-abuser priests peaked last year with a string of high-profile revelations in Belgium, Germany and Ireland.

The Holy See has been accused of being slow to out perverse priests.

Last month, Amnesty International said the Vatican was still failing to meet its international obligations to protect children.

 

Father arrested as 12-year-old gives birth

DUTCH police have arrested the father of a 12-year-old girl who gave birth last month, saying he is suspected of sexually abusing his daughter.

Prosecutors say there are “serious suspicions” the 52-year-old man abused his daughter, resulting in her pregnancy.

The arrest yesterday added another shocking twist to a case that already had stunned the nation when news emerged last month that the girl gave birth during a school trip without having realised she was pregnant.

Prosecution spokeswoman Kirsten Smit said the arrest followed analysis of the DNA of the man and the baby girl by Dutch forensic scientists that showed there was a “considerable” chance he was the father.

Neither the father nor daughter are identified under Dutch privacy rules.

Coroner: US toddler was alive when put in oven

A coroner says a toddler in Mississippi who was found in an oven was alive when he was put inside it and died because of the heat.

Washington County Coroner Methel Johnson said police found Tristan Robinson’s body inside the electric oven at his mother’s apartment Wednesday.

Preliminary autopsy results released Friday show the child died from “thermal injuries” from being in the hot oven.

Johnson said the pathologist is still trying to determine if the child was conscious when it was put there. There appeared to be some trauma to the boy’s head.

Greenville police have charged the boy’s 24-year-old mother, Terrie A. Robinson, with murder. She is being held on a US$5 million) bond.

Child sex suspect arrested in Thailand

A BRITISH pensioner wanted for child sex offences in Australia has been arrested in Thailand, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency said.

Roderick Robinson, 73, was detained in Pattaya on Tuesday, having been on the run from Australia since 2001.

Thai authorities said British-born Mr Robinson’s right to stay in the country had been cancelled and he would be deported back to the UK.

Mr Robinson was first arrested in 2001 in Australia for the alleged assault of a young girl and was bailed pending court hearings, according to the Ceop spokeswoman.

He failed to appear to answer the charges in 2001 and fled to New Zealand where he was arrested for child sex offences allegedly committed there.

He was granted bail with the requirement he surrender his passport.

But in November 2009 using a stolen passport, Mr Robinson left New Zealand.

Ceop investigators, working with local police and the UK Border Agency, then traced him to Portugal where he was arrested in March 2010 and brought back to Australia.

But having been given bail, Mr Robinson once again used a forged passport and made his way to Thailand where he was arrested this week.

A Ceop spokeswoman said that once back in the UK, Robinson would be met by police and put on the sex offenders register.

She added: “As part of the notification requirements of this, he will be required to inform police of any travel plans.”

The Ceop spokeswoman said that the Australian authorities could apply for him to be deported to face the outstanding charges there or they might simply allow him to be managed by the British authorities.

Canadian jailed for running child sex ring

A Canadian was today sentenced to 25 years in prison after admitting to running what amounted to a brothel for paedophiles in Thailand that exploited children as young as four.

John Wrenshall, now 64, moved to Asia in the late 1990s after serving about a year in prison in Canada on child abuse charges, prosecutors said.

Once there, he moved in with a Thai family and plied them with money and gifts to facilitate his plan of setting up a house where he could charge other paedophiles to have sex with at least 14 boys.

“Instead of seeking help or doing anything to remove himself from combustible situations, he purposely inserted himself into a new situation even more egregious than the first two,” Assistant US Attorney Lee Vartan said during the sentencing hearing. “He embraced his pedophilia.”

The former Calgary resident’s arrest in December 2008 was the result of a collaboration between federal authorities and Interpol, the France-based international police agency. After computer images surfaced in Norway in 2006 showing a grey-haired man abusing young boys, Interpol launched a rare public appeal to identify him.

Hundreds of leads flooded in, and within 48 hours police in New Jersey had arrested Wayne Nelson Corliss, a small-time actor and children’s entertainer known for dressing up as Santa Claus.

On Corliss’ computer they found correspondence with Wrenshall, and Wrenshall was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport and extradited to New Jersey.

He pleaded guilty last May to one count of conspiring to engage in sex tourism and two child pornography counts.

Corliss is serving a 20-year sentence for his role in the ring, and two US men who patronised the brothel also have been sentenced to prison terms. US Attorney Paul Fishman said two more men may have been involved but that they are not believed to be US citizens. The US attorney’s office did not know whether the Thai family faced charges.

According to prosecutors, Wrenshall began abusing boys at least as early as the 1960s, when he held a job in Canada as a choir master. The abuse continued in the 1970s when he served as a Boy Scout leader. His prison sentence in Canada was related to the abuses in the 1960s.

Under his plea agreement in New Jersey, Wrenshall was to receive between about 22 and 27 years. US District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh said the only reason he didn’t sentence Wrenshall to the maximum was because of his age.

“For more than 40 years he has molested children, and unfortunately he hasn’t been deterred by prison,” Cavanaugh said. “It seems unlikely he will ever overcome his desires.”

Kenneth Kayser, an attorney representing Wrenshall, said his client, who holds two master’s degrees, recognised his tendencies as a young boy and did seek help as an adult, and eventually became suicidal but was talked out of it by Corliss.

Standing in a prison jumpsuit with his hands shackled in front of him, the balding Wrenshall pleaded with Cavanaugh to show mercy.

“I’m very ashamed,” he said. “I’m very sorry for what I’ve done. I will do everything I can to better myself and help other people. I don’t really want to die in prison. I ask you to temper your judgment.”

Fishman called the case one of the most serious his office has prosecuted.

“This is unacceptable conduct in a civilised society,” he said. “Hopefully he will never be able to get out to do this to anybody else.”

Mother guilty of manslaughter after 2nd trial in toddler’s death

After more than seven years and two mistrials, Erika Mendieta has finally been convicted in the beating death of her 2-year-old daughter.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Nola Garton ruled that she does not believe Mendieta’s protests of innocence or the claims of guilt by Johnny Bermudez, Mendieta’s former boyfriend.

In three separate proceedings, Bermudez testified he was to blame for the death of tiny Emmily Lucas after he lashed out at the little girl in the former couple’s North York home.

“I totally reject his complete fabrication,” Garton told a packed courtroom Monday.

She added that she didn’t find Mendieta credible. “I do not believe Ms. Mendieta’s evidence that she did not cause Emmily’s injuries.”

She said it is very likely the two colluded.

Mendieta claimed that for months she believed Emmily’s injuries were caused by an accidental fall down some stairs.

But in a ruling that took four hours to read aloud, Garton found the 34-year-old mother of five not guilty of the second-degree murder with which she was charged, but guilty of manslaughter.

She returns for sentencing Feb. 11.

The judge found that although Mendieta angrily beat her cranky toddler, she never intended to kill her.

“Ms Mendieta gave in to her emotions and her frustration,” the judge said. But once she realized Emmily was unconscious and badly hurt, she called 911 immediately and did everything she could to save her, Garton added. “She was in a panic.”

It was a long road to justice for Mendieta. Her case suffered several missteps, one last November after jurors complained that a Crown lawyer no longer involved in the case distracted them by making faces as he sat in court.

It was also a case marked by high drama, not least Monday night after Mendieta, who had been free on bail awaiting trial, was handcuffed and led away by guards from the courtroom.

As Selina Lucas, the aunt who had raised Emmily, started crying, the handcuffed Mendieta turned to her and angrily accused her of playing to the media. “Why is she f—ing crying?” Mendieta yelled. “Why don’t you go away.”

In the corridor outside, Blanca Parra, Mendieta’s 18-year-old daughter cried inconsolably, hugged by Derrick Parra, 35, who is both her and little Emmily’s biological father.

Parra later told reporters that Blanca is afraid she will lose her mother forever now that she has been convicted, but that he tried to reassure her that it’s not the case.

Parra added that he is extremely sad for his family, despite the verdict. “We move on in life now. My daughter can rest in peace.”

He noted that Emmily would have turned 10 on Jan. 7.

“Justice has finally come through.”

But Jauna Nakata, Mendieta’s mother, protested that her daughter would never harm Emmily. “My daughter is innocent,” she said, in tears.

Neither Crown prosecutor Allison MacPherson nor defence lawyers Robin Parker and Bob Richardson spoke to the media after the verdict.

Emmily Lucas was beaten to the point of convulsions on Nov. 13, 2003. The tot’s body was covered in bruises. Her head and spinal column were severely injured. She died of brain trauma at Sick Kids 10 days later.

Bermudez, Mendieta’s former live-in boyfriend, took the rap in court — testifying that he lashed out at Emmily in a fit of anger in the then-couple’s home near Steeles Ave. and Jane St.

But he testified only under the protection of the Canada Evidence Act, so his testimony couldn’t be used to prosecute him.

Mendieta’s first trial ended with a hung jury in 2009.

Her second trial spiralled into controversy late last year, when the jury asked that a man be removed from the courtroom for making distracting faces during Mendieta’s testimony.

They didn’t know that the man was Paul Alexander, an assistant Crown attorney who prosecuted Mendieta at her first trial but was no longer on the case.

Mendieta also claimed that he threw her off when she was giving her evidence. Garton declared a mistrial and discharged the jury.

Garton then agreed to rule on the case alone, using evidence from the second trial.

Sex offender gets time served, stern warning for 1998 assault

A judge has sentenced a repeat sex offender to the equivalent of seven years in prison for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl in a basement storage room almost 13 years ago.

The girl, now 19, cannot remember what Glenn John Miller looked like, but Toronto Police sex crimes unit officers were able to identify him nine years after the offence through a historic DNA match and arrested him in 2007.

He immediately confessed, but minimized the extent of the assault. He has been in jail awaiting trial ever since.

On Friday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Code sentenced the 50-year-old former soldier to time served — the equivalent of seven years — which means he will be almost immediately released to serve three years of strict probation.

In doing so, the judge accepted the joint recommendation of Crown prosecutor Stefania Fericean and court-appointed defence lawyer Peter Boushy.

He noted that Miller, who uses a wheelchair, has a worsening spinal condition that reduces his risk to the public.

But Code issued a warning.

He told Miller he would be “really, really mad” if he violated any of the terms of his release, which include avoiding places where children gather. “If you come back here again, you’ll never see the outside of a jail.”

Miller entered the east-central Toronto apartment building where the 6-year-old girl lived on Aug. 14, 1998 and lured her to a basement storage room, where he performed a sex act as she cried and begged to be let go.

She was so severely traumatized by the assault by the stranger that she never fully told her parents what happened.

Miller pleaded guilty on Thursday and was convicted Friday for sex assault and forcible confinement. The judge noted his long history of drug abuse, voyeurism and exposing himself. He had a previous sex assault conviction in 1988. He has received counselling and has been diagnosed as a heterosexual pedophile with multiple sexual disorders.

Church leader facing child sex charges

The leader of a Utah sect that believes in polygamy and sex with children has appeared in a US court on sexual assault charges.

Warren Jeffs, the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, did not speak and had the Texas court enter not guilty pleas on his behalf.

Prosecutors say Jeffs had sex with two children, one under 14 years old and the other under age 17.

Jeffs’ new attorney, Gerry Morris of Austin, asked San Angelo district court Judge Barbara Walther for more time to prepare a defence, telling her “I’ve only just been hired to the case and haven’t looked at the materials.”

Jeffs, 55, had been scheduled to go to trial this month on aggravated sexual assault charges, with a separate trial for sexual assault and one for felony bigamy to come later.

Jeffs was extradited from Utah on Nov. 30 and Walther had said extradition rules compelled her court to try him on all counts within 120 days of his arrival in Texas.

Jeffs, who is being held without bond, smiled at three male followers who stood when he was brought into the courtroom.

The Texas charges stem from the 2008 raid of the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, a remote community south of San Angelo in this pecan-growing region.

Authorities seized 439 children and placed them in state custody on suspicion that the girls were being sexually abused and the boys were being raised to be sexual predators.

Most of the children were eventually returned to their families, but seven men in the sect who see Jeffs as their spiritual leader were charged and eventually convicted of child sexual assault and abuse.

Jeffs was convicted in Utah in a case stemming from the marriage of an underage girl to her cousin, but that was overturned in 2007 due to improper jury instructions.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a breakaway sect of the Mormon church and believes polygamy brings glorification in heaven.

Mormons denounced the practice in the 1890s.