Upstate woman calls out accused rapist teacher in three billboards inspired by Hollywood film

ALBANY — A woman who said she was raped as a student by a teacher at a prominent upstate private girls school is borrowing a page out of a recent Hollywood film by renting three billboards calling out her attacker — and pushing for passage of the Child Victims Act. Kat Sullivan, who said she was raped in 1998 by a male teacher at the Emma Willard School School in Troy, was inspired by the recent film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” in which a mother rents billboards to highlight her daughter’s unsolved murder. Sullivan rented one billboard on a highway close to the state Capitol, one in Fairfield, Ct., where her alleged rapist once lived and taught, and one in Springfield, Ma., where he now lives. "I have no legal recourse against my rapist, and as a result he's been free for the last 20 years to hurt other young girls," she said. "Child sex abuse is an epidemic in New York and it's time our laws work to protect children, not the people who harm us.” Sullivan’s alleged attacker, Scott Sargent, was fired by the school for sexually abusing a student, but never charged with a crime. The school wrote him letters of recommendations that allowed him to continue teaching in other states. Sargent could not be reached for comment. One billboard says: “My rapist is protected by New York State law. I AM NOT. Neither are you. Neither are your children.” A second reads: “NY Pass the Child Victims Act.” Sullivan is seen with the words, “Stop Sexual Assault” written on her hands.” The third has the outline of a man with a question mark on him. The billboard promises “The Truth Will Be Revealed.” A website listed on the billboard says that “at the advertising agency's request, the name and image of my rapist has been redacted. In 28 days, the billboards will go down and I will be free to tell you directly via this website who is NAME Continue Reading

Donors can help family of FDNY firefighter Michael Davidson, killed in Harlem blaze

Those wishing to donate to the Firefighter Michael Davidson’s family can do so through the FDNY Foundation’s Firefighter Michael Davidson’s Children’s Educational Fund at or by calling (718) 999-0779. “The FDNY has suffered another loss of one of their brave members,” said FDNY Foundation Board Chairman Stephen Ruzow. “And while we know that nothing can offer solace during this difficult time, but we are privileged to honor Firefighter Davidson's memory with this donation for his children.” Donations can also be made through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation at Davidson is the 1,150th FDNY member to die in the line of duty. Fallen FDNY firefighter played with his kids before Harlem blaze Sign up for BREAKING NEWS Emails privacy policy Thanks for subscribing! Send a Letter to the Editor Join the Conversation: facebook Tweet Continue Reading

FDNY firefighter who died of 9/11-linked cancer honored with plaque at East Harlem firehouse

Firefighter Ronald (Ronnie) Brenneisen, who died in September 2014 of 911-related cancer, was memorialized with a plaque at Ladder Company 43 firehouse in East Harlem on Friday. FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro attended the unveiling ceremony, which came on a day when no one needed a reminder of how dangerous a job firefighting can be. Firefighter Michael Davidson died early Friday after a blaze broke out on a Harlem movie set. Department bagpipers played “Amazing Grace” and Brenneisen’s granddaughter, Qanaya Bermudez, sang a chilling rendition of the Andra Day song “Rise Up,” which had several people in the small group choking back tears. The fallen firefighter’s daughter Jessyca Brenneisen recalled spending time in the firehouse, eating her father’s grilled cheese sandwiches. “I feel so honored to be the daughter of a firefighter. You all have the heart of a lion,” Brenneisen said. Sign up for BREAKING NEWS Emails privacy policy Thanks for subscribing! Send a Letter to the Editor Join the Conversation: facebook Tweet Continue Reading

State Senate candidate bankrolled Harlem hate-spewer’s nonprofit

Former Councilman Robert Jackson, who is running for state Senate, once funded a kids nonprofit run by a Harlem man who repeatedly posts anti-semitic, homophobic and sexist comments on social media. Jackson steered $3,500 in City Council discretionary funds to Hugs for Harlem in 2009 to mentor and educate youth in computer classes and job training. He also tried to give the charity another $7,000 in city money in 2011 and 2012 but those funds weren’t approved. The director of Hugs for Harlem, Michael Green, has a history of posting anti-semitic quotes and rants from controversial figures like Louis Farrakhan. He posted a pic of Farrakhan on Instagram on Dec. 20, 2017, in which he holds a book by the Nation of Islam titled “Jews Selling Blacks: Slave Sale Advertising by American Jews.” Green posted a homophobic photo on Instagram on Feb. 19, 2018. “Stop comparing gay people with black people. Having Melanin is a gift, being gay is a European curse,” the photo says. Green also repeatedly posts crude sexual references on his Instagram feed. “F*** all that Good Morning s***… What color panties you got on?” he wrote in 2017. In another, he posted a photo of nine nude women and wrote, “Just grab them by the p***y.” He also posted two photos of him posing with Jackson, including one where the pol wears a Hugs for Harlem shirt. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office accused Green in 2013 of stealing city funds from the Harlem charity that were supposed to be used on after-school programs. A Department of Investigation probe found that he used money to pay for fast food, phone cards and taxi rides. The DOI report at the time said that Hugs for Harlem’s Twitter handle posted “profanity, references to drug usage, sexual content, and other matters which are not suitable” for children. It’s unclear about the disposition of the Manhattan Continue Reading

FDNY firefighters bid farewell to unsung 9/11 hero Thomas Phelan at Brooklyn funeral

Nattily dressed in their blue uniforms and offering a crisp salute, scores of city firefighters on Tuesday bid a final farewell to Thomas Phelan, an unsung hero of 9/11 who helped evacuate hundreds of people from lower Manhattan before joining the FDNY. Hundreds were on hand as Phelan’s casket was carried out of St. Michael’s Church on 42nd St. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and put on a back of a firetruck for its final trip to GreenWood Cemetery. Phelan, 45, died Friday of cancer, officials said. His illness was believed to be related to his exposure of toxic fumes at Ground Zero. Although Phelan wasn’t a firefighter when terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center, he was a pilot for Statue of Liberty Cruises and quickly turned his cruise ship into a rescue vessel and ferried hundreds of people out of lower Manhattan. FDNY hero who evacuated hundreds on 9/11 dies of cancer at 45 “He brought supplies, rescue workers & was a huge part of the operation,” according to the NYC Fire Wire Facebook page. Phelan went on to join the FDNY in May 2003. He was still an active firefighter when he died. He was first assigned to Engine Co. 55, but was later promoted to marine patrol and transferred to Marine 9 in Staten Island, where he manned a fire boat. Funeral services for Phelan happened as firefighters raised black mourning bunting on the Bureau of Fire Investigation’s Citywide South headquarters in Brooklyn for FDNY Fire Marshal Christopher (Tripp) Zanetis, one of two firefighters killed in a military helicopter crash in Iraq. N.Y. primary postponed to honor 9/11 anniversary, Rosh Hashanah Zanetis, 37, died Thursday when his Pave Hawk chopper struck a power line and went down along the Syrian border. The crash also killed FDNY Lt. Christopher Raguso, 39, and five other service members. Continue Reading

City health commissioner backs sites for addicts to do drugs in battle against opioid crisis

Mayor de Blasio’s health commissioner said she thinks supervised sites for drug addicts to shoot up are an effective way to fight to opioid scourge. “I think the public health literature is clear,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett told the City Council Tuesday. The controversial facilities — which have been opened in other countries, but not in the U.S. — allow drug users to inject themselves under watchful eyes, making it less likely they will overdose or get HIV from a dirty needle. A long-awaited Health Department report on the issue is expected next month, as is a decision by de Blasio’s office. De Blasio pumping another $22M to fight opioid crisis Though Bassett is already sold on the effectiveness of the sites, there are legal obstacles to allowing New Yorkers to use illegal drugs at an officially sanctioned site. “The legal [status] is a source of concern,” Bassett said. “I imagine that’s what the mayor is considering.” City Councilman Mark Levine, chair of the health committee, said the city should forge ahead anyway. “We have a scientifically proven method to prevent fatalities,” he said. “Let’s battle forward — and if the federal government wants to sue us, we’ll take on that fight.” Trump vows that some drug dealers will get death penalties The health commissioner also reiterated her support for slapping a tax on sugary sodas — though she sees little chance it will be approved in Albany, which is required for the city to act. “My favorite strategy would be a soda tax,” she said, adding that other cities have driven down soda drinking with a tax of a cent or two per ounce. “But as you’re aware, that is something our governor has been unwilling to entertain.” A tax could only happen if Gov. Cuomo changed his mind, she said. Continue Reading

Nerves and practice spell success for Daily News Spelling Bee winners

So, how was 10-year-old Jahira Davis feeling about her round Tuesday at the Daily News Annual Spelling Bee? N-E-R-V-O-U-S. “She wasn’t nervous until she got off the train,” Lois Davis said of her daughter, a student at Public School 705 Brooklyn Arts and Science in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. “Every day when we get in the car and drive to school, we go over words. I transfer them to index cards.” Jaden Lugo, 11, who goes to Martin Luther School in Queens, was feeling the same way. Luckily, no one asked him to spell “stomach” or “butterflies.” “It’s just my first time being in a citywide spelling bee,” Jaden said. “There’s a lot more people than I thought there would be. I don’t know what’s going to happen at this point. I didn’t think the spelling bee would be in the Daily News.” For 54 years, New York’s Hometown Paper has sponsored the spelling spectacular that this year drew 71 students from all five boroughs to compete for the honor of being the best at reciting rarely-used words one letter at a time. Neel Iyer, an eighth-grader from East Side Middle School in Manhattan, was the superior speller, taking home the prize by spelling “rheology” — which, if you have never used the word in a sentence, is the study of the deformation and flow of matter. Among those excited about the contest at Manhattan’s Food and Finance High School was Department of Education budget director Richard Grzelewski, who is used to having to spell his name. As the spelling bee’s official pronouncer (yes, there is such a thing), he has to study even harder than the students. “I just have a knack for pronouncing these words,” said Grzelewski. That’s G-R-Z-E-L-E-W-S-K-I. “I don’t get to see kids all the time for my day-to-day Continue Reading

N.Y. teen dies of burn injuries year after DUI crash

A severely burned teenager has died more than a year after a New York car crash. The Albany County district attorney’s office says 17-year-old Niko DiNovo died Monday evening. The Times Union says he suffered third-degree burns to 95% of his body in the October 2016 crash in Colonie. DiNovo’s friend, Michael Carr, was driving 60 mph in a 30-mph zone when he lost control and hit a parked truck. Carr pleaded guilty to assault and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He was sentenced to six years in prison. DiNovo’s aunt posted frequent Facebook updates under the hashtag #prayforNiko. Sign up for BREAKING NEWS Emails privacy policy Thanks for subscribing! Send a Letter to the Editor Join the Conversation: facebook Tweet Continue Reading

Letitia James, Legal Aid take action against penny-pinching NYCHA in heat-outage crisis

The Housing Authority appears to have no intention of handing out rent rebates to thousands of tenants who suffered without heat during January’s Big Freeze. The Legal Aid Society tried to get NYCHA to grant rebates without a lawsuit, but on Feb. 27 notified the city they intend to sue. And on Tuesday Public Advocate Letitia James demanded that the authority do the right thing, writing to NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye: “I strongly urge you to comply with the demands made by your residents and the Legal Aid Society without forcing the need for legal action.” In response to Daily News inquiries Tuesday, NYCHA spokeswoman Jasmine Blake stated, "Every dollar spent on a rent abatement would be one less dollar for staff and repairs that we need to restore and maintain heat service." Judith Goldiner, Attorney-In-Charge of Legal Aid’s Civil Law Reform Unit, warned that NYCHA is “running out of time. We really hope that they simply do what is right by their conscience and by the law." Sign up for BREAKING NEWS Emails privacy policy Thanks for subscribing! Send a Letter to the Editor Join the Conversation: facebook Tweet Continue Reading

MTA big concedes that agency hires crooked contractors

Call it a 12-stop program. An MTA executive admitted Monday that the transit agency hires notoriously corrupt contractors in hopes of straightening them out. “New York City Transit and the MTA as a whole for many, many, many years — certainly for the 30 years that I’ve been here and for many before that — have looked at this as a rehabilitative organization,” Senior Vice President Stephen Plochochi said at a transit committee meeting. “We don’t take this lightly; we don't let them get away with it.” Plochochi’s statement came after MTA board member Charles Moerdler read a list of corruption convictions of two MTA contractors. “My issue is when people commit crimes from bribery to worse we have a public responsibility as fiduciaries to make sure there is no reoccurrence,” Moerdler said, calling for high level monitoring of rogue contractors. “If we have other companies out there that are willing to do the work, why on earth would we want to continue to go back to the well and deal with people who have repeatedly shown themselves to not rehabilitate their behavior?” asked board member Peter Ward. Andy Byford, president of NYC Transit, said the contracts the transit committee were considering were necessary and needed to be approved. He gave assurances that monitors would be installed on both contractors. Sign up for BREAKING NEWS Emails privacy policy Thanks for subscribing! Send a Letter to the Editor Join the Conversation: facebook Tweet Continue Reading