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Three Men Charged with Threatening and Intimidating R. Kelly Accusers

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On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced charges against three men accused of threatening, intimidating, or bribing women who have accused R&B artist R. Kelly of abuse in an attempt to silence them.

What We Know:

  • Michael Williams, Donnell Russell, and Richard Arline Jr. are charged with separately trying to intimidate or influence the testimony of the women named as victims in the New York federal case against the musician, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. “The men charged today allegedly have shown that there is no line they will not cross to help Kelly avoid the consequences of his alleged crimes — even if it means re-victimizing his accusers,” Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said in a statement.
  • The criminal complaint against Williams alleges that he intimidated and misled one of the victims in an attempt to influence her testimony against Kelly. Williams was also suspected and charged with setting a vehicle on fire outside a home where the alleged victim was staying. In a news release, authorities said Williams additionally conducted internet searches for “the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering and countries that do not have extradition with the United States.” On Tuesday, he was arrested in Florida.
  • According to another complaint, Russell, a manager and advisor to Kelly, threatened to release sexually explicit photographs of a woman who sued Kelly, saying he would release the photos if she did not withdraw her civil lawsuit against Kelly seeking damages. Prosecutors also said Russell threatened the mother of the alleged victim through text messages, writing “Pull the plug or you will be exposed”. He is expected to appear in the Eastern District of New York before a judge at a later date.
  • A third complaint filed against a longtime friend of the indicted singer, alleges Arline Jr. offered to pay a victim $500,000 to keep her from cooperating in Kelly’s prosecution. Arline Jr. attempted to persuade the testimony of the alleged victim by trying to bribe her “with intent to influence her testimony as a witness”. On Wednesday, he was arrested in Illinois where he was brought before a federal judge the day before in Chicago.
  • Kelly, a Grammy-award winning musician, has denied ever abusing anyone, pleading not guilty to dozens of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York. The charges against him range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls. In Minnesota, Kelly has also been charged with two counts of prostitution with a minor. The singer is also accused of having unprotected sex with a girl in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes.
  • A defense attorney for Kelly said he had “no involvement whatsoever” in any attempt to silence witnesses. “He hasn’t attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so,” attorney Steve Greenberg said on Twitter.

The singer is currently being held in federal custody in Chicago while awaiting a federal trial for child pornography and sexual exploitation of children in Illinois. It is unclear whether Kelly’s Brooklyn federal trial will begin in late September as scheduled, due to coronavirus concerns.

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Nigeria State Says Rapists Will Face Surgical Castration, Death Penalty

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Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai said the drastic penalties are required to help further protect children from serious crime. (Twitter/@elrufai)

The Governor of Nigeria’s Kaduna state signed and executed a law that states, men charged with rape will face surgical castration, and anyone who rapes a child under age 14 will face the death penalty.

What We Know:

  • Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, stated these drastic measures are to protect children from serious crimes. Its not only men who will be facing heavy punishment, but any women charged of raping children may also be punished with bilateral salpingectomy, or the removal of their fallopian tubes, and death.

  • The former law had a maximum penalty of 21 years incarceration for the rape of an adult and life incarceration for the rape of a child.
  • Related cases of rape in Nigeria have sky-rocketed significantly during the months of coronavirus limitations, urging the state’s governors to declare a state of emergency. Women’s groups have called for stricter measures, including the death penalty.
  • Kaduna state’s new law is the strictest against rape in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
  • This new law comes two days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan proposed surgical castration as punishment due to the violent gang rape to a woman who ran out of gas on a lonely highway in the country’s Punjab province.
  • Here in the United States, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill ordering “chemical castration” last year as a punishment for convicted child molesters as a circumstance of parole. The law would require sex offenders whose crimes have to do with children under 13 to simply receive medication meant to lower their testosterone levels and sex drive.
  • Seven other U.S. states have such penalties on the books, but it is seemingly rarely used and is highly controversial.

Maybe other states will follow in Nigeria’s shoes and see that leading by example can make a difference and save our children!

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Lawmakers Introduce Senate Bill Making Attacks on Police Officers a Federal Crime

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Thom Tillis (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Several U.S. senators have presented the “Protect and Serve Act”, legislation that would create federal penalties for those who purposely target local, state, or federal law enforcement officers with violence.

What We Know:

  • The Protect and Serve Act was presented on Thursday by Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina.

  • This bill would make it a federal crime to intentionally cause or attempt to cause serious bodily injury to an officer, with up to 10 years in prison for convictions. If the crime committed includes murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, or attempted kidnapping, the felon could receive a life sentence.
  • Senator Tillis mentioned police officers in North Carolina and across the country risk their lives every day to keep communities safe. The rise of these insensible acts of violence towards law enforcement officers, and causing injury or loss of life, is entirely unacceptable.
  • Senator Tillis also states he is committed to supporting the men and women who took an oath to protect us. This is why he introduces this bill that will create federal penalties for felons who attack police officers. Making reference to Sheriff Deputy from North Carolina Ryan Hendrix and officers in Los Angeles, hence its time to pass such a bill, letting criminals know the acts of violence are unacceptable, and there is no escape from justice.
  • The Protect and Serve Act has been endorsed by multiple law enforcement associations, including the Fraternal Order of Police and Major County Sheriffs of America.
  • Tillis said the Protect and Serve Act would face this problem by giving federal prosecutors the instruments needed to hold those responsible who target law enforcement for assault and attacks.
  • This law would pertain to federal law enforcement officers and would also pertain to state and local officers in situations where the federal government may establish jurisdiction over the case.

The proposed bill passed the House by a vote of 382 to 35 with support from both parties.

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Eric Trump to Comply with New York AG’s Subpoena Only after Election Day

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Eric Trump. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)
Eric Trump. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)

The president’s son, Eric Trump, has come out and said he will finally be willing to comply with a subpoena from the New York Attorney General’s office’s probe of the Trump Organization issued by Attorney General Letitia James. The only condition is that it would have to be done after the U.S general election.

What We Know:

  • According to a Thursday court filing, the chosen timeframe after the upcoming presidential election aims to avoid “any appearance of politicizing” the process. Eric Trump’s attorneys also explained that he is willing to appear and gave several dates to proceed after the Nov. 3rd election. They noted that one of the main reasons was simply because of Eric Trump’s “extreme travel schedule and related unavailability”.

“In this regard, we note that the OAG investigation has been ongoing for approximately 18 months and that additional examinations are scheduled in October 2020 for certain other individuals,” stated the filing.

  • To confirm Eric’s claims, the filing elaborated how “given all the circumstances and the fact that counsel’s requested dates are, for all practical purposes, just 30 days after other scheduled depositions, and given the importance of avoiding any appearance of politicizing the investigatory process”.
  • Just last month, James reportedly urged a judge to force Eric Trump, along with the Trump Organization, to comply with subpoenas in an effort to carry on with the office’s investigation of President Trump. A related investigation is looking into alleged illegal inflation of his assets to reap loans and appeal to investors. “No one is above the law, period,” responded James to the Thursday filing.

  • That same month, James also accused Eric Trump of refusing to comply with a subpoena for his testimony. According to NBC News, she alleged that the Trump Organization and its lawyers were setting a motion that would “shield thousands of documents from investigators”.
  • The attorney general went on to say in a statement that “we cannot comment on the particular steps we’re taking on specific litigation,” but she made it clear that they wouldn’t allow any outside force control have the investigation moves forward or allow anyone to “evade a lawful subpoena”.

The related investigation opened by the New York attorney general last year followed President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who testified to Congress that the president tampered with financial statements in order to benefit from better insurance rates, loans, and tax breaks.

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