5 most-read stories today: Gary man charged with murder after mother of his children told him the shooting victim physically harmed her

Court docs: Gary man charged with murder after mother of his children told him the shooting victim physically harmed her HAMMOND — A 30-year-old man is accused of fatally gunning down a Gary man last week after receiving a phone call from the mother of his children who police say lied about the victim physically harming her.  Jason Ryan Burgess, of Gary, faces murder charges in connection with Thursday's killing of James D. Franklin, 57, of Gary, and attempted murder charges for shooting in the direction of Franklin's son, who was walking with Franklin that night. Prosecutors tacked on an enhancement to the murder charge because Burgess allegedly used a weapon to carry out the killing, according to a probable cause affidavit.Gary police were dispatched at 10:43 p.m. Thursday to the 4200 block of Kentucky Street for a report of shots fired to find Franklin lying in the middle of the street, struggling to breath with a pool of blood surrounding his lower body.A shot to Franklin's right thigh severed his femoral artery. Franklin was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:50 p.m. Franklin's girlfriend told police she and Franklin got into an argument earlier that night, court records state. "(The woman) admitted Mr. Franklin was not the aggressor, rather she was the aggressor and Mr Franklin's actions were only to keep her off of him," a detective wrote in the affidavit. The woman stated she chased him out of the house, striking him several times with a piece of wooden trim that had nails protruding out of it, records show. The woman admitted to calling Burgess during this time, telling him she was "tired of everything," and claimed Franklin put his hands on her and shoved her to the ground. Burgess allegedly responded, "I'm on my way."The woman told police she knew from past experiences in calling him that Burgess intervening likely meant he would either pull a gun on or physically assault Franklin, court records Continue Reading

Were you sexually harassed, assaulted or raped at work? Here’s what steps you can take

For victims who decide to report sexual harassment or assault at work, outcomes can be unclear.  Every case is different. Workplace policies are different. Law is different by state. Some might be handled within the company. Some might need police involvment. Some might be brought to court, with civil and/or criminal implications. Lawyers say how victims report the harassment or assault matters greatly.  More: Matt Lauer fired from NBC for 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace' More: Weinstein aftermath: All the men accused of sexual misconduct How to report:If a victim has been raped or assaulted, lawyers say reporting it to police quickly is important because of the statute of limitations (laws dictating the maximum time allowed to report a crime), which varies between states."It is important to act quickly, especially because the earlier they report, the more evidence there may be available to evaluate their own experiences," said Alexandra Harwin, senior litigation counsel with an emphasis on discrimination and harassment cases at Sanford Heisler Sharp. "Additionally, the earlier they report, the earlier this kind of unlawful conduct can be brought to a halt. That of course has benefits for them, the employees, and others who may be subjected to the same kind of conduct."Those not comfortable with coming forward immediately can still take steps to document the incident privately: Write down what happened or tell a close friend or loved one. Having a record of what happened can help substantiate the story if a victim decides to come forward later.If someone is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Those seeking medical help at a hospital can also tell medical professionals they'd wish to report the crime. Not sure whether or not to report your situation to the police? The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, operates the National Continue Reading

UA frat banned over hazing, assault claims may fight decision

The president of the international Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity called the hazing and assault allegations against the University of Arizona chapter "completely unacceptable" and said the national office fully supports criminal charges being filed. One member has been expelled from the fraternity and another 10 members, who attended the event and generally were bystanders, were held accountable in various ways, including suspension from the Greek organization, said Gordy Heminger, president and CEO of the Alpha Sigma Phi International Fraternity."Any member, anywhere in the country, who hazes or assaults another human will be a former member and Alpha Sigma Phi will work with law enforcement to ensure criminal charges are filed," he said in a statement Wednesday to The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com.Officials at the national office headquartered in Carmel, Ind., are continuing to review the incident.At this time, they are supporting the local chapter president as he prepares to appeal the university's decision to ban the fraternity from campus "on behalf of the 150 members of Alpha Sigma Phi who were not involved with this unacceptable incident," Heminger said. UA officials announced on Tuesday the local chapter had been kicked off campus for multiple violations of the university's student code of conduct, including allegedly serving alcohol to minors, hazing and physically assaulting one member. An investigation by the university alleges members hazed pledges by blindfolding them and forcing them to drink alcohol at an event at the off-campus fraternity house on March 23. One pledge was shoved into a pillar as he made his way down the hallway at the fraternity house, according to the UA's investigation. He was later seen hunched over, complaining of stomach pains and was taken to the hospital. The student required "long-term hospitalization," UA officials said. UA police have arrested a Continue Reading

Why a University of Arizona fraternity accused of hazing and physical assault is fighting to stay on campus

A fraternity is fighting to return to the University of Arizona campus after being kicked off for allegedly hazing pledges, physically assaulting one member and serving alcohol to minors at a party. The local chapter of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity has filed to appeal the university's decision to pull the group's recognition for the next four years. Fraternity President Samuel Walsh said Wednesday the vast majority of the fraternity's 200 members did not participate in the March event where the violations allegedly occurred and don't condone what reportedly happened that night. "Those involved have been disciplined by myself and the chapter, including the permanent expulsion of the one member who allegedly assaulted a new member," he said in a statement.Walsh said members "are confident that if given the opportunity to present our case to an impartial hearing board, the decision made by the university will be overturned."An investigation by the university alleges members hazed pledges by blindfolding them and forcing them to drink alcohol at an event at the off-campus fraternity house on March 23. One pledge was shoved into a pillar as he made his way down the hallway at the fraternity house, according to the UA's investigation. He was later seen hunched over, complaining of stomach pains and was taken to the hospital. The student required "long-term hospitalization," UA officials said. UA police arrested a student, Cody Ward, 19, in connection with the assault and said the investigation continues. UA officials said they also received reports that fraternity members threatened to retaliate against anyone who reported the incident.In a letter to the fraternity, the Dean of Students Office said they talked with witnesses who feared retaliation. "A witness was allegedly told by members of the fraternity the night of the assault that 'we kill rats.' "  Continue Reading

‘Scientology’ accuses church leader David Miscavige of physical abuse

Scientology adversaries, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder headed to Seattle, Wash. and Los Angeles, Calif. in Tuesday’s episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which focused on founder L. Ron Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige.Former parishioners Remini and Rinder met with ex-Scientologists Jeff Hawkins, Tom DeVocht and Ron Miscavige, father of the current leader, in part four of the A&E docu-series.Hawkins and DeVocht discussed weighty allegations of physical abuse in Seattle, while Ron described his experiences at the Church’s international headquarters, dubbed “Gold Base” near Hemet, Calif.“(David) was a mean guy,” said Hawkins, a parishioner of three decades who Rinder described as "the marketing guru of Scientology." “David Miscavige physically assaulted me five separate times.”Hawkins recalled one alleged beating when he attempted to explain a script he’d written for an infomercial he said David didn't like.“(David) just keeps working himself into a tizzy,” Hawkins told Remini. “Then, finally, he jumps up on the table, launches himself at me, knocks me back against the partition wall, starts hammering my face, knocks me down on the floor. I was scratched up. My shirt was ripped off.”DeVocht, who Rinder referred to as David's "go-to guy," also was a member for 30 years. He left in 2005.DeVocht said he was once attacked by David when he failed to obtain a permit to tear up the sidewalks outside the organization’s property in Florida to ward off a protest.“(David) goes, ‘Did you get it?’” DeVocht shared. “I said, ‘No, sir,’ and before I could even think he dove across the table, grabbed my (expletive) tie, and shoved it up. And I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk.”DeVocht said he left the denomination because he found that several claims were unsubstantiated, including what the Church's path to Continue Reading

Buss: ‘MeToo’ cheapens assault

‘MeToo” has gone viral this week as a way to highlight sexual misconduct. The Hollywood actors who started the campaign decided they could heighten awareness of sexual harassment and sexual assault by exposing how widespread those issues are.But sexual harassment and sexual assault are very different things. Even with Harvey Weinstein’s reported abuses, most of the accounts describe uncomfortable advances that women were mostly able to reject.Conflating harassment and assault insults those who have actually been sexually assaulted. It cheapens the trauma they’ve endured.Some might label me a woman-hater (although plenty of men have shared their stories, too) for criticizing these efforts, or uncaring or clueless.But I was a victim of repeated sexual assault as a 4-year-old. I’m someone who should feel empowered by the recent wave of attention. Instead, it feels empty.Harassment involves words and innuendo. It’s uncomfortable and unfair, and can certainly affect career mobility — as Hollywood’s leading women have now decided to emphasize. But it can be rebutted. It typically doesn’t involve violence or physical force. It takes place on street corners, in offices, bars, movie studios and pretty much anywhere people interact.Assault, on the other hand, is one of the most brutal experiences a person can endure — at any age and in any situation. It typically involves a man asserting physical control over another human being, and can lead to myriad injuries (including mental), disease, pregnancy and even death.Sorry, but hashtags can’t make equal things that are not.Remember the schoolyard chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?” Words simply aren’t the same as actions. They’re not treated the same — nor should they be — under the law. And their ultimate effects are vastly different.There’s a spectrum of victimization. At one end Continue Reading

Mets GM Omar Minaya: I have no regrets bringing in Francisco Rodriguez despite K-Rod’s assault

Omar Minaya responded with a long pause, a shrug and a careful answer when asked Friday if he regretted bringing Francisco Rodriguez to New York. "Do I regret bringing him?" Minaya said, in his first public comments since the closer, who signed a three-year, $37 million contract before last season, allegedly punched his girlfriend's father Wednesday night at Citi Field and was arrested on an assault charge. "No, look, I do not," Minaya continued. "Because whenever you bring in players, you also understand that players sometimes are going to make mistakes. He's one of 25 players, and players are going to make mistakes." Following this particularly high-profile mistake, Rodriguez will return to the team and address the media this afternoon, having served his two-game suspension. Minaya said the team would not further discipline its pitcher, and a league source said that Major League Baseball is satisfied with the punishment, which will likely include anger management counseling. "We felt that was the right amount of time," Minaya said. "Of course, any time you do these things you have to have conversations with the Players Association. We felt that it was something we needed to do. We felt that we needed to act upon it immediately, and that's what we decided." The GM spoke to Rodriguez Thursday. The closer expressed remorse, but did not explicitly say he was sorry. "Did he apologize to me?" Minaya said. "I mean yeah, I think in his (manner), how he was. Did he use those words? I'm not going to tell you that. I will tell you that he does not feel good about those actions. "He's not happy. He regrets the actions that he did. It's not what you like to see happen. It's not something that we condone." Minaya said he did not present Rodriguez with any sort of ultimatum regarding his behavior and status with the team. Though the closer argued with former team executive Tony Bernazard last season and bullpen coach Randy Niemann this year, Minaya said Continue Reading

Defense rests in State Sen. Hiram Monserrate’s assault trial – without putting Queens pol on stand

State Sen. Hiram Monserrate won't be telling it to the judge. The outspoken Queens politician did not take the witness stand before the defense rested in his assault trial Thursday. His lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, defended the move, saying he plans to convince the judge who will decide Monserrate's fate that "reasonable doubt permeates this record." "This is not a chess game. It's a trial," Tacopina said on the steps of Queens Supreme Court, where the nonjury trial is wrapping up. "Obviously, he's got a lot to say about it, but this is not a forum to make speeches. It's not about clearing up the record. We're very comfortable where we're at." Monserrate's silence means that after nine days of testimony and 16 witnesses, Justice William Erlbaum did not hear a firsthand account of what happened Dec. 19, 2008. Monserrate's girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, took the stand, but prosecutors did not ask how she got cuts around her left eye that took 40 stitches to close. They knew her answer wouldn't jibe with their version of events - that he purposely slashed her with a broken water glass in a jealous rage. And when she got a chance, Giraldo blurted out: "This was an accident, and I always said this was an accident." Without Giraldo on their side, prosecutors are hoping Erlbaum gives more weight to the testimony of doctors and nurses who treated her and who say she then blamed Monserrate. In closing arguments Tuesday, Tacopina will argue his client was bringing water to a drunk Giraldo, and she jumped up and smacked her face into the glass. The main piece of physical evidence in the case is a surveillance video from Monserrate's apartment building that shows him dragging her out the door. Prosecutors say it shows a couple in the throes of a nasty fight. Tacopina says Monserrate is just trying to get a reluctant Giraldo to seek medical attention. "There's not a stitch of evidence in this record that explains what happened in that bedroom," Continue Reading

With cyber bullying, girls gone wild gets a horrifying new meaning

Victoria Lindsay will never forget the day she was attacked. Footage of the beating, perpetrated and videotaped by girls she thought were friends, is now all over the Internet.Lindsay is the latest victim in a shocking trend. Camera-wielding attackers, increasingly teen girls, beat a victim so that they can post the video on popular sites like MySpace and YouTube. Lindsay's attack shows how bullying is crossing genders and going online. On March 30, she was lured to a friend's home in Lakeland, Fla. While two boys stood guard outside the house, six girls attacked Lindsay, knocking her unconscious by slamming her head against a wall. After she came to, the gang surrounded her and continued to slap and kick her. When Lindsay's father arrived at the hospital where she was taken after the incident, he couldn't believe what he saw. "I didn't recognize my own daughter when I went in," he said. "Her face was disfigured. She was crying." After their arrests, some of the girls charged with the attack sat making jokes in their holding cell. One asked if she would be able to make it to cheerleading practice the next day, according to a report in the Lakeland Ledger. Lindsay isn't alone. In 2006, three ninth graders, age 14, at Long Island's North Babylon High School cornered a 12-year-old in front of a local elementary school. After pulling the girl's hair and slapping and kicking her, they ran away laughing. A video posted by the attackers led to their arrest. Teen girls also were involved in videotaped assaults at Baltimore's Reginald F. Lewis High School last week, and in the infamous Brooklyn subway assault video that became a YouTube must-see last year. "They're living in a culture now where, when you put yourself on a video, it's a way to be famous," says developmental psychologist Cooper Lawrence about the teen girl attackers. "They see themselves as an actor playing a role. Even when they were arrested, they were like, 'Oh, we're going to be late for cheerleading Continue Reading

Kanye West settles lawsuit by paparazzo who accused rapper of assault, seals deal with handshake

Kanye West flashed a big smile to settle a paparazzo's lawsuit and avoid trial. The musician and designer skirted the courtroom battle — which had been set to start next week — by reaching a private pact with celebrity photographer Daniel Ramos. The settlement included an in-person apology and friendly photo op sealed with a handshake, Ramos' lawyer Gloria Allred announced Tuesday. The lawyer declined to give any financial terms of the deal. "We cannot discuss the details of the settlement, except to say that one important aspect of it was an apology by Kanye West to our client," Allred said. "We believe that this case sent an important message," she said. "Celebrities are not above the law, and they have no right to physically attack someone simply because they were asked a question." That July 2013 physical altercation began when West lost his cool with Ramos outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX airport. Ramos and other photographers were gathered out on a sidewalk waiting to snap globetrotting celebs when West exited the terminal to a flurry of questions. "Kanye, can we talk to you, Kanye? ... What's going on? Why can't we talk to you? I mean why?" Ramos asked from about 10 feet away, according to Allred. The shutterbug was inquiring because a week earlier, West shouted at a different photographer that he didn't want any paparazzi speaking to him or "anybody" he knew. West stopped walking, put his bag down and suddenly attacked Ramos "without provocation," Allred said. Ramos held onto his camera as West tried to wrestle it away. He fell down on his knees on the paved sidewalk with enough force that he sustained injuries to his right hip and was in "great pain," Allred said. Ramos flagged down a passing officer and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment, a police source previously told the Daily News. The photographer filed his civil lawsuit in August 2013 Continue Reading