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.
Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack
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.
R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial
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.
Prosecutors Say R. Kelly Abused 17-Year-Old Boy
Prosecutors say that former R&B singer R.Kelly abused a 17-year-old boy in 2006 after meeting him at a Chicago McDonald’s.
What We Know:
- Lawyers claim that the singer, whose real name is Robert Kelly, initially offered to help the boy with his music career and invited him to his studio. After Kelly questioned the boy on what he would do to make it in the industry, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with the minor.
- The young boy also introduced his 16 or 17-year-old male friend to Kelly; the singer eventually began a relationship with this other boy. Prosecutors allege that Kelly filmed the two minors engaging in sexual acts with others, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, including an under-aged female.
- In addition, when Kelly faced child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the first boy told him he knew one of the jurors. Kelly proceeded to ask the boy to contact the juror and vouch that Kelly was a “good guy.” However, the prosecutors’ filings do not specify if the youth did so.
- Attorneys want judges to consider hearing this evidence during Kelly’s upcoming August trial. They believe this information will show that Kelly’s actions “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern.”
- The Grammy Award winner has faced scrutiny for his sexual behavior for a while. Currently, he faces charges for recruiting women and girls for sex and pornography and exercising control over them. These include child sexual exploitation, making indecent images of minors, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. According to lawyers, Kelly managed a “criminal enterprise” alongside managers, bodyguards, and other employees. These charges involve six different victims. In addition to the aforementioned sufferers, prosecutors want jurors to hear the stories of more than one dozen others who experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of Kelly.
Because of the accusations, Kelly has been in jail for two years while awaiting his day in court.