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NYPD Anti-Harassment Official Investigated for Alleged Racist Online Messages

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Deputy Inspector James F. Kobel, who served as the head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Division for the NYPD, is accused of posting racist messages on an online chat board under the alias, Clouseau.

What We Know:

  • The high-ranking police official is under investigation by city commission officials over racist, misogynistic, and overall discriminatory posts on the online message board, The Rant. The website is commonly utilized among New York police officers to “secretly” post complaints about their jobs.
  • Clouseau, an alias Inspector Kobel used, is thought to be inspired by the fictional Inspector Jacques Clouseau from the Pink Panther movies. The New York Times reports that the user of the account posted racist messages attacking Black people, Puerto Ricans, Hasidic Jews, and even called former President Barack Obama a “muslim savage”.
  • Ironically, Inspector Kobel was also the leader of the anti-workplace harassment for the NYPD. He has now been relieved of his duties while the investigation continues. Kobel denies responsibility for the messages, claiming that he was likely framed by a disgruntled individual who he had previously investigated for internal harassment.
  • The city council’s investigation department, overseen by Councilman Ritchie Torres, has been on this case for a few months, since he decided to look into the website after reading about it in New York Magazine. Torres, who is an openly gay, Black-Latino man, noticed Clouseau’s hateful posts among comments with very specific information about the user.
  • Inspector Kobel posted many messages on The Rant revealing several life events and information that seamlessly connect him to Clouseau. These details include the date of his mother’s death, the date of his engagement, and posts about career achievements that included misogynistic statements about his then-boss. Notably, investigators found an email from The Rant on his personal computer, acknowledging that the account was linked to Clouseau.

Despite all the evidence accumulated against Kobel, he continues to deny his connection to Clouseau, stating, “despite my denial, it will likely end my career”. Seeking empathy, Kobel asks “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”

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Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Crime

New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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Crime

R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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