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Two Afghan military officers training in Mass. go missing over weekend

Two Afghan military officers who were in Massachusetts for training went missing over the weekend after not showing up for a flight at Logan Airport. 

>> Read more trending news

The two were transported to the airport on Saturday to catch a flight home, but the plane left without them on it. 

"It's embarrassing," Northeastern University associate professor Max Abrahms said. "I want to know the identity of these people, their backgrounds and what they were trying to do."

The two were guests at a United States Department of Defense training exercise that took place at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod last week.

More than 200 service members from five countries attended.

In 2014, three Afghan officers attending the same type of training program walked away from a group outing at the Cape Cod Mall and were captured days later at the United States-Canada border in Niagara Falls. 

The Department of Defense said that they are unable to verify the report, despite confirmation from the Massachusetts National Guard. 

 

Dozens of tips pour in on missing North Carolina boy with special needs 

The search for a 6-year-old North Carolina boy who vanished from a Gastonia park continued for a third day on Monday as authorities sifted through dozens of tips that have poured in.

>> Watch the news report here

Maddox Ritch was last seen at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday with his father and a friend.

Update 10:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 24:

Officials said they've received 80 leads as of Monday afternoon, and they're looking into them all.

"No piece of information is too small,” Gastonia Police Chief Rob Helton said. “Something that you may think is insignificant can help us."

Later in the evening, local and federal authorities posted to social media outlets asking people to not spread rumors.

"The Gastonia Police Department and the FBI ask the public not to spread rumors on social media about the search for Maddox Ritch," the post read. 

(Original story)

>> On WSOCTV.com: Search for boy with special needs at Gastonia park

Overnight, dozens of people continued to look for the child, and more than two dozen agencies are helping with the search and investigation.

Police said Maddox was with his father and another adult, who officials have yet to identify, before he disappeared.

Maddox is autistic and nonverbal but officials said there is a special team with the FBI that is highly trained and experienced in mysterious missing children's cases that are working to find him.

"We're going to explore all possibilities, including abduction, but we're also going to make sure we search every inch of land around here to make sure that he's not simply lost," said FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan.

Police said the boy’s family has been interviewed and they are cooperating with law enforcement.

>> Read more trending news 

On Sunday, search dogs roamed the area near Rankin Lake, where Maddox was last seen. Search boats also checked the lake with divers and sonar devices.

Police are asking anyone who may have been at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday and saw Maddox, especially if they have pictures or videos, to call them.

"If you were at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday and saw Maddox or took video or photos of their outing at the park, call us," Helton said. "We know a lot of people were in the park and we have spoken to many of them, but we have not spoken to everyone. No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case.”

Crews have been searching more than 1,400 acres and will continue Monday morning. Search and rescue crews have been patrolling areas of the park on foot and on ATVs.

Maddox was last seen at the park at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

He was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt with “I’m the man” on the front. Maddox is 4 feet tall and weighs 45 pounds. He has blond hair and blue eyes.

"They were walking around the lake,” Gastonia spokeswoman Rachel Bagley said. “They got around to the back side of the lake. He started running, according to the parents, and when they started running after him, they lost sight of him, and no one has seen him ever since."

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's helicopter was used Sunday night once the sun set, and used its infrared technology. 

The city confirmed crews are reviewing surveillance video at the park, and crews worked through the night searching on foot and with dogs.

Officials said hundreds of volunteer agencies have assisted in the search, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is also helping.

Gastonia police said additional search units from around the region have joined the search. They said hundreds of law enforcement, search and rescue teams, and state and federal authorities are now involved. 

Officials said they are receiving assistance from the Gastonia Police, Gaston County Sheriff's Department, Gaston County Emergency Management, Gaston County Police, Gastonia and Gaston County Fire Departments, Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, Lincolnton Fire, Charlotte Fire, Stanley Rescue, Lincoln County Land Search team, Spartanburg County Search and Rescue and Search and Rescue Dog Assistance, and Central Carolina K-9 Search Team. 

A spokesperson with the city said the park will be closed until further notice as crews continue their search.

Police advise the public to stay away from the area surrounding the park as they continue their search in the nearby neighborhoods. Officials are also asking people who live near the park to search areas around their homes where a child might hide.

“If you have a shed, barn, wooded area, go take a look and call us immediately if you find anything out of the ordinary,” Helton said.

If you have any information regarding Maddox's whereabouts, police encourage you to call the new 24-hour tip line at 704-869-1075.

“Every second counts when a child is missing,” Kaplan said. “Our focus is to find Maddox as quickly as possible and to bring him home.”

Brett Kavanaugh denies sexual assault allegations in TV interview: ‘I never did any such thing’

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh used an interview on Fox News Monday night to defend himself against allegations of sexual misconduct ahead of a planned hearing on the matter by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning.

>> Read more trending news 

Kavanaugh, who was seen as a shoo-in for the high court when President Donald Trump first announced his pick for the seat vacated by the retiring Anthony Kennedy, has, instead found himself at the center of a growing maelstrom of allegations about his behavior as a high school and college student, including sexual assault, drunkenness and lewd behavior.

“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” Kavanaugh told Fox host Martha MacCallum in response to a question about why college professor Christine Blasey Ford would accuse him of such a thing. 

“I never did any such thing,” he said.

Ford said the incident happened at a party when they were both in high school.

>> Related: SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in first TV interview repeatedly denies sexual assault accusations

“I was never at any such party,” Kavanaugh said.

“I was never at a party like Dr. Ford described.”

Ford said Kavanaugh assaulted her at a small gathering at a house in a Maryland neighborhood in 1982 when both attended elite prep schools.

“People might have had too many beers on occasion, and people generally in high school — I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit,” he said, but he went on to deny he did anything wrong.

“I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect,” Kavanaugh said throughout the interview. 

“Again, again, I’m just asking for a fair process where I can be heard and defend my integrity and my family’s integrity,” he said repeatedly.

>> Jamie DuPree: Kavanaugh won’t withdraw as judge heads for Thursday showdown hearing

Kavanaugh said he’s looking for a fair process to defend his integrity and clear his name.

Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, was by his side during the interview and said the sexual assault allegations don’t make any sense.

“I know Brett and I’ve known him for 17 years ... (This) is not consistent with Brett,” she said.

She also said the allegations have been “incredibly hard” on their family. The couple have two girls together.

When asked about a second woman who accused him of acting in a lewd manner at a Yale University dormitory party when they were freshmen, Brett Kavanaugh again denied the allegation.

“I never did any such thing.”

>> Related: Second Kavanaugh accuser: Who is Deborah Ramirez?

In a question about a potential third accuser who has reportedly alleged Brett Kavanaugh was part of a gang rape culture in the 1980s, he vehemently denied it, calling it “totally false and outrageous.”

“I didn’t do this or anything resembling this,” he said.

“I’m telling the truth.” 

SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in first TV interview repeatedly denies sexual assault accusations

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is under fire as accusations of sexual misconduct cloud what was expected to be a simple nomination process.  

>> Read more trending news 

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing at 10 a.m. ET Thursday, in which a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers will testify about the alleged incident. 

>> Related: Brett Kavanaugh nomination: When is the hearing? What happens next?

Another woman came forward Sunday to accuse the Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct during a drunken party in a dorm room when they were both freshmen at Yale University.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 7:30 p.m. EDT Sept 24: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh repeatedly defended himself in his first television interview since he was nominated for the high court by President Donald Trump.

“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” Kavanaugh told Fox host Martha MacCallum during an interview Monday night in response to a question about why college professor Christine Blasey Ford would accuse him of such a thing.

“I never did any such thing,” he said.

Ford said the incident happened at a party they were both at during high school.

“I was never at any such party,” Kavanaugh said.

“I was never at a party like Dr. Ford described.”

Ford said Kavanaugh assaulted her at a small gathering at a house in a Maryland neighborhood in 1982.

“I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect,” Kavanaugh said throughout the interview. 

>> Related: Second Kavanaugh accuser: Who is Deborah Ramirez?

“Again, again, I’m just asking for a fair process where I can be heard and defend my integrity and my family’s integrity,” he said repeatedly.

Kavanaugh said he’s looking for a fair process to defend his integrity and clear his name.

Kavanaugh’s wife Ashley was by his side during the interview and said the sexual assault allegations don’t make any sense.

“I know Brett and I’ve known him for 17 years ... (this) is not consistent with Brett,” she said.

She also said the allegations have been “incredibly hard” on their family. The couple have two girls together.

When asked about a second woman who accused him of acting in a lewd manner at a Yale dormitory party when they were freshman, Kavanaugh again denied the allegation.

“I never did any such thing.”

In a question about a potentially third accuser who has reportedly alleged Kavanaugh was part of a gang rape culture in the 1980s, he vehemently denied it, calling it “totally false and outrageous.”

“I didn’t so this or anything resembling this,” he said.

“I’m telling the truth.” 

Update 6:00 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: In his first TV interview since becoming a Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh again denied allegations that he assaulted California college professor Christine Blasey Ford at a party while the two were still in high school.

“The truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise,” Kavanaugh said in an excerpt from the  Fox interview.

“I’m not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place, but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” he said.

>> Related: New Yorker: Another woman alleges sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh during college years 

Kavanaugh also told Fox host Martha MacCallum he was a virgin in high school and college.

"I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter  and the girls from the schools I went to, and I, were friends,” he said.

Update 5:00 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley sat down Monday afternoon for their first television interview since Kavanaugh was nominated to the high court. 

The interview, with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum, is scheduled to air at 7 p.m. ET on Monday.and comes amid accusations that the judge sexually assaulted at least one woman and may have behaved inappropriately toward another woman. 

The couple is expected to address those allegations during the interview.

Update 3:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: In a letter released Monday by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, Christine Blasey Ford reiterated her commitment to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about an encounter she said she had with Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.

Ford, a professor at California’s Palo Alto University, told The Washington Post earlier this month that Kavanaugh drunkenly groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party in the 1980s.

“While I am frightened, please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions,” Ford said in the letter, which was dated Saturday. “I ask for fair and respectful treatment.”

Ford said she contacted her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo, after she learned Kavanaugh was on the short-list for consideration for nomination to the Supreme Court.

“My original intent was first and foremost to be a helpful citizen – in a confidential way that would minimize collateral damage to all families and friends involved,” Ford wrote. “I thought that knowledge of his actions could be useful for you and those in charge of choosing among the various candidates.”

Ford said she later contacted one of her senators, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein.

Update 3:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Democrats for “aiding and abetting” in what he called a “shameful, shameful smear campaign” against Kavanaugh.

"Senate Democrats and their allies are trying to destroy a man’s personal and professional life on the basis of decades-old allegations," McConnell said Monday from the Senate floor.

Update 2:15 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: In a letter addressed Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh called the allegations against him “smears, pure and simple.”

“They debase our public discourse," Kavanaugh wrote. "They are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination -- if allowed to succeed -- will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service."

At least two women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in incidents that happened three decades ago.

Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at California’s Palo Alto University, told The Washington Post earlier this month that Kavanaugh drunkenly groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers in the 1980s.  The New Yorker reported Sunday that Deborah Ramirez, 53, said Kavanaugh made unwanted advances during a drunken party at a dormitory during the 1983-84 school year, when they were both attending Yale University.

"I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process," Kavanaugh wrote Monday. "The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed."

>> Read the full letter from Kavanaugh to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Kavanaugh and Ford are expected to appear Thursday for an open hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Update 9:10 a.m. EDT Sept. 24: President Donald Trump reiterated his support of Kavanaugh on Monday, telling reporters that the judge is “an outstanding person, and I am with him all the way.”

>> Related: Who is Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court?

“I think it could be, there’s a chance that this could be, one of the single-most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate to happen for anything, but I am with Judge Kavanaugh and I look forward to the vote,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations in New York. “People who  come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mentioned it, all of the sudden it happens. In my opinion it’s totally political.”

Update 2:24 a.m. EDT Sept. 24: The White House on Sunday again defended President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Kavanaugh after new allegations surfaced.

Earlier Sunday, The New Yorker reported reported that Deborah Ramirez, 53, said Kavanaugh made unwanted advances during a drunken party at a dorm during the 1983-84 school year while they both attended Yale.

“This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man,” said White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec.

>> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: White House denounces ‘smear campaign’ against Kavanaugh

Meanwhile, attorney Michael Avenatti, who recently made headlines as porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, “claimed to represent a woman with information about high school-era parties attended by Kavanaugh,” The Associated Press reported. He told the AP that he would reveal more details, including the client’s identity, in the next few days and later clarified that his client is not Ramirez.

Update 8:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 23: An unredacted letter of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh has been released.

Update 8:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 23: Officials are looking into another sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Deborah Ramirez, 53, said Kavanuagh made unwanted advances toward her during a drunken party at a dorm during the 1983-84 school year, while they both attended Yale, The New Yorker reported

>> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: White House denounces ‘smear campaign’ against Kavanaugh

“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so,” Kavanuagh wrote in a statement, The New Yorker reported. “This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name -- and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building -- against these last-minute allegations.”

Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 23:  The Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed that a public hearing will be held Thursday on a sexual assault claim made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to The Associated Press.

>> Related: Who is Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser?

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford said Sunday in a statement that their client will testify in an open hearing Thursday morning, CNN reported. The statement -- from attorneys Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich -- came after a call with staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sunday, CNN reported. 

Original report: Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify next week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ford’s lawyers said in a statement released Saturday afternoon.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had previously said the committee would hold a hearing Monday on allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh unless a last-ditch effort to negotiate with Ford and her attorneys was reached by 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Grassley had extended the deadline multiple times as both sides negotiated the details of Ford’s possible appearance before the committee.

In a new development reported by NBC Saturday morning, Garrett Ventry, a GOP communications aide and adviser who has helped coordinate the party’s messaging amid Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh has resigned. Ventry allegedly was fired from a previous job due to a sexual harassment allegation, NBC reported. Ventry denied any misconduct.

>> Related: Trump casts doubt on Kavanaugh accuser: 'Very hard for me to imagine anything happened'

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay,” Grassley said in a statement earlier this week.

>> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Republicans press for Kavanaugh vote if accuser won't testify 

California college professor Christine Blasey Ford said she was assaulted by a drunk Brett Kavanaugh at a party in the early 1980s when the two were still in high school. Another person, Mark Judge, was present at the time, but Judge has refused to testify about what happened in a bedroom when the three were present.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, saying the incident never happened.

“It would be a disservice to Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, this committee and the American people to delay this hearing any further,” Grassley said, according to media reports.

>> Related: Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford wants FBI investigation before testifying in Senate

Ford’s attorney, Lisa Banks, said the professor is willing to testify, but believes a “full, non-partisan investigation” is needed first.

>> Related: Trump: FBI shouldn't investigate Kavanaugh allegation

“The committee’s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good-faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceedings,” Banks said.

Late Friday, Grassley set a Saturday afternoon deadline for Ford to decide whether she’ll testify next week.

Atlanta rapper charged with trafficking $4M worth of cocaine

A rapper from Atlanta was indicted on federal drug trafficking charges after he was part of a multistate distribution ring, investigators said.

Tommie Walker -- also known as "Columbia BT" -- and Juan Carlos Garcia-Martinez were arraigned on Friday. They face federal charges of drug trafficking and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

“These defendants were allegedly part of a multi-state drug distribution scheme that transported and distributed cocaine worth approximately $4 million,” said U.S. Attorney B.J. Pak. “Thanks to the work of law enforcement in Georgia, South Carolina and Colorado, this drug enterprise is now history.”

BACKGROUND

According to Pak, the investigation began in August 2017.

Pak said Walker is accused of operating a warehouse in the Atlanta area where he received shipments of cocaine hidden in tractor-trailers from Colorado. The cocaine would then be distributed throughout Georgia and South Carolina. Garcia-Martinez is alleged to be a co-conspirator.

During the investigation, officers seized more than 135 kilograms of cocaine valued at more than $4 million. They also confiscated more than $220,000 in cash.

According to Pak, Walker allegedly used his illegal drug proceeds to finance a “lavish lifestyle” that he displayed in rap videos.

Some of the property seized from the drug proceeds included a 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn and a 2013 Bentley Mulsanne, Pak said.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Waler, 42, is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and three counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

Garcia-Martinez, 37, and Samuel Anchondo-Galaviz, 40, are each charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

“This investigation is an excellent example of the working relationships that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Atlanta-Carolinas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) have with their law enforcement partners,” said Robert J. Murphy, special agent in charge of the Atlanta DEA Field Division. “The defendants were transporting large quantities of drugs throughout our neighborhoods, and the dismantlement of this criminal organization will have a positive local impact and sends a clear message that we will not tolerate illegal drug trafficking in our communities.”

Six Flags offers $300 for spending 30 hours in coffin

In the 1942 film “The Corpse Vanishes,” actor Bela Lugosi explains that he finds a coffin “much more comfortable than a bed.”

>> Read more trending news 

Six Flags St. Louis is seeking people who find lying in coffins within their comfort level. The Missouri theme park announced on its website Friday that to celebrate the 30th year of Fright Fest, it will host a 30-Hour Coffin Challenge.

Six contestants will be chosen to spend 30 hours in “deluxe,” “slightly used” coffins measuring 2 feet wide by 7 feet long, the Post-Dispatch reported. Hours of repose will be from 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, until 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at the park.

Contestants will be allowed to bring a friend, the park said on its website, but only during Fright Fest operating hours. After hours -- from midnight Saturday until noon Sunday -- they will be on their own, but “some of our Fright Fest Freaks will be lurking about in the darkness.”

There will be six-minute bathroom breaks every hour, but a contestant will be eliminated from the competition if he or she gets out of the coffin.

Park officials did not specify whether this is an open or closed casket competition, but for health (and liability) reasons, we’ll assume it’s an open showing.

However, to ensure comfort, contestants are encouraged to bring a pillow and blanket. The park will provide, food, drinks and snacks, and will provide cellphone charging stations to pass the time.

Contestants who make it through the 30 hours will receive two 2019 Gold Season Passes and a Fright Fest Prize Package, which includes tickets to the haunted house and Freak Train. As for the $300 prize, if more than one person makes it through a drawing will be held to award the cash.

But nobody goes home empty-handed. All winners will be allowed to keep the coffin, the park said on its website.

After all, the challenge organizers want their contestants to rest in peace.

All you need to know about the Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon will grace the night sky Monday, casting a glow in the Northern Hemisphere that skywatchers anticipate every year - but the event was once much more than celestial entertainment.

>> Read more trending news

The full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox is known as the Harvest Moon, and usually that happens in September, according to Earthsky.org.

Before electricity, farmers relied on moonlight during the fall months to help them harvest the late summer and early autumn crops. Because moonlight was an essential part of farming during this time and the moonrise happened very quickly after sunset, it became known as the Harvest Moon, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Another reason the Harvest Moon is so different from other full moons is that throughout the year, the moon generally rises an “average of about 50 minutes later each day,” the Almanac reported, but closer to the autumnal equinox, there’s only a 30-minute difference.

“The Full Harvest Moon rises at sunset, then will rise very near sunset for several nights in a row,” making it seem like there are “full moons multiple nights in a row,” according to the Almanac.

Folklore also has it that every full moon has a special name that explains something about the season or the month, according to NASA.

There’s  the Snow Moon, the Wolf Moon, the Worm Moon, the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Flower Moon, the Strawberry Moon, the Thunder Moon, the Sturgeon Moon, the Long Night’s Moon, the Beaver Moon, the Hunter’s Moon and this month’s moon, the Harvest Moon.

Philadelphia Flyers unveil new mascot

The Philadelphia Flyers have a new mascot. Meet Gritty.

The team unveiled the new mascot Monday morning. 

According to the Philadelphia Flyers website, the name Gritty describes the team's attitude. 

Gritty is “loyal but mischievous” and the “ultimate Flyers fan,” the website said. He’s orange and black, the same colors of the team he boosts.

Penguins fans will agree, we'll take Iceburgh over Gritty any day.

Bill Cosby facing as little as 4 years behind bars for drugging, molesting friend

The first day of a two-day sentencing hearing in suburban Philadelphia for comedian Bill Cosby is over after a jury found him guilty earlier this year of drugging and molesting a onetime friend in 2004.

>> Read more trending news

Update 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24: Comedian Bill Cosby could see less than 4 years in jail after the judge Monday merged the three counts of aggravated indecent assault Cosby was convicted of into one for sentencing purposes because the counts were all connected to one event, according to news outlets. Cosby may not even see any jail time based on criminal guidelines in Pennsylvania and the fact that he has no previous record. He was facing as much as 30 years behind bars.

Also during proceedings Monday, victim Andrea Constand and members of her family delivered impact statements.

Constand said she just wants “justice” in the case, according to CNN.

"I have testified, I have given you my victim impact statement. You heard me, the jury heard me and Mr. Cosby heard me. All I'm asking for is justice as the court sees fit," Constand said in court.

Her mother, father and older sister also delivered impact statements.

The defense has not called any witnesses, yet, including Bill Cosby, but could tomorrow.

(Original story)

Cosby, 81, could spend the rest of his life behind bars. He is facing as many as 30 years in prison, although state guidelines for someone like Cosby, who does not have any prior convictions, call for between one and four years in prison.

The sentencing hearing will begin with testimony about Cosby's sex offender evaluation and whether he should be deemed a sexually violent predator. That would make him subject to lifetime counseling and community notification.

Related: Bill Cosby found guilty in sexual assault trial

A jury found Cosby guilty in April 2018 of drugging and molesting onetime friend Andrea Constand in 2004. Constand was in court Monday for Cosby’s sentencing hearing.

Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, making his the first conviction of a celebrity accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era.

Related: Camille Cosby says ‘mob justice, not real justice’ led to Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction

The guilty verdict came less than a year after another jury deadlocked on the same charges. 

Jurors deliberated for more than 52 hours over six days in June 2017, but they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on whether Cosby drugged and molested Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home, The Associated Press reported.

Cosby maintained that he and Constand shared a consensual sexual encounter. Cosby's attorney said Constand was a "con artist" who leveled false accusations against the comedian so that she could sue him.

Dozens of women have made high-profile accusations that Cosby had drugged and assaulted them, but Constand’s case was the only one to result in criminal charges against Cosby. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

T.I. plans pop-up trap music museum, trap house escape room in Atlanta

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of his album, “Trap Muzik,” rapper T.I. is bringing a unique, pop-up trap music museum to the hip-hop capital of the South.

Fader reported that the artist took to Instagram to announce the new project. “I made it a album... but WE MADE IT A GENRE!!!!” he wrote. “This is a celebration of ALL OF OUR CONTRIBUTIONS to the CULTURE WE CALL TRAP MUZIK!!!!”

>> Read more trending news 

The Trap Music Museum doesn’t have a set location just yet, but according to the official website, the venue will also feature an escape room.

Cost of entry for Escape the Trap Room will be $30.

Related: 2 Chainz announces Haunted Pink Trap House

In the museum, attendees will learn about a variety of featured trap artists, including 21 Savage, Future, the late Shawty Lo and more.

Fader reported the museum will open on Sept. 30. Guests can RSVP and get more information, including hours for the museum and escape room, at the Trap Museum website.

Multiple injuries after school bus runs over embankment near Pittsburgh

A school bus carrying children ran over an embankment in a construction zone in Mars, Pennsylvania, Monday afternoon and landed on its side.

>> Read more trending news 

Update 5:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: The exact number of students who received medical care is not known, but Mars district officials said six children were hospitalized immediately for treatment of minor bumps and bruises. Other students were taken to area hospitals for a check-up as a precaution.

(Original story)

Police and emergency responders are on the scene, according to WPXI-TV, and multiple injuries have been reported.

At least four people were receiving treatment at the scene for minor injuries, according to officials with the Mars Area School District, who also confirmed 41 students were on the bus at time of the accident. 

Here’s the statement the district issued after the accident.

“Mars Area School District School Bus #4 was involved in a single vehicle accident on Route 228 at approximately 3 p.m. today (Monday, Sept. 24).

As per District procedure, 911 was immediately called and emergency responders were dispatched to the scene. All students are being examined by emergency medical personnel. Some minor injuries were reported.

The District is contacting the parents of all students who were on the bus at the time of the accident directly. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”

>> Related: Parents feel pressured when making child safety choices, study says 

Mars is located between Pittsburgh and Butler in southern Butler County.

Man who collected over 14 million child porn images gets 100 years in federal prison

A man who authorities say amassed the largest stockpile of child pornography in Pennsylvania history has been sentenced to 100 years in federal prison. 

Lawrence “Larry” Jamieson Jr., 59, of Malvern, was sentenced last week on charges related to the sexual abuse of a young girl, the manufacture of hundreds of sexually explicit videos and photos of the abuse and his collection of child porn that he downloaded from the internet. 

The U.S. attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania said Jamieson’s collection, which he began 15 years ago, contained “some of the most demented images imaginable” of young children enduring sexual abuse. 

“Jamieson is the worst of the worst type of criminal -- a child predator who derives satisfaction from abusing society’s must vulnerable members,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. “The details in this case are horrific. This defendant amassed a collection of child pornography that exceeded 14.4 million images, reportedly the largest collection in Pennsylvania. 

“And on top of that, he concocted and carried out a plan to sexually abuse a child within his care -- someone he knew was susceptible to his influence. For more than 18 months, Jamieson and his co-defendant repeatedly lied to his victim and engaged in an unconscionable course of sexual abuse and exploitation.”

>> Read more trending news

McSwain’s staff reported that Jamieson targeted a girl who he knew was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. She also has other learning disabilities and mental health issues. 

“He targeted this underage girl by first recruiting another adult male to pose as a teenaged boy so that they could dupe the victim into believing he was her boyfriend and gain her trust,” McSwain said in a news release. “The ‘boyfriend’ then engaged her in sexual activity, photographed and videotaped her, and distributed the videos and images back to Jamieson. Her images were also distributed out to others over the internet.”

The girl was 15 and 16 at the time of the abuse. 

The Daily Local News in Exton reported that the sexual assault victim is now 19 and living with her mother. She has trouble eating and sleeping and cannot forget the images of her that were distributed over the internet. 

“She is completely broken,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella told the newspaper. “She just feels like she can’t move forward.”

Jamieson, who pleaded guilty on the charges in September 2017, apologized to the court, the girl and her mother and to his own family during his sentencing hearing, the Daily Local News reported. He is part of a well-known and respected family in Philadelphia’s Main Line community. 

His late father, Larry Jamieson Sr., was a successful insurance agent and once served as a member of Downingtown Borough Council. Jamieson’s mother owns a well-known interior design business in Haverford, the newspaper reported.

WPVI in Philadelphia reported that Jamieson and his accomplice, John Brown, of Norristown, were arrested in August 2016 after the Willistown Police Department received a complaint about the sexual abuse. Police officials said at the time that Jamieson and Brown convinced the victim that Brown, 23, was a 17-year-old cyber school student. 

Brown changed his appearance to look younger, the news station said. Once he began abusing the girl, Jamieson also joined in. 

“Even after decades of serving in law enforcement, the scope and nature of these crimes are staggering,” Willistown Township Police Chief John Narcise said in a statement obtained by the news station. “I have never seen as large a trove of child pornography in the history of Chester County, and the rest of the conduct is unspeakable. I do not know what kind of a depraved mind could possibly enjoy this sickening abuse of innocent children."

Rotella said prosecutors are pleased with Jamieson’s sentence. 

“He will never be getting out (of prison) again,” she told the Daily Local News. “He is just a true predator and, if he had ever been released, it is a virtual certainty that he would have victimized someone else.”

Brown, now 27, has also pleaded guilty to similar charges and is scheduled for sentencing later this year, the newspaper reported. 

Celine Dion ending Las Vegas residency in 2019 

The Celine Dion era of Vegas is ending in 2019.

Billboard reported that the vocalist announced that her “Celine” residency for The Colosseum at Caesars Palace will end next year. The last show date is June 8, after initially being set to end Jan. 20. The last round of shows start Feb. 26.

>> Read more trending news 

“I definitely have mixed emotions about this final run,” Dion said in a statement. “Las Vegas has become my home and performing at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace has been a big part of my life for the past two decades. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m so grateful to all the fans who have come to see us throughout the years. Every show we do at the Colosseum throughout this fall, and right up until the final one, will feel very special.”

Fans can get presale tickets to the final shows Tuesday at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Sept. 28.

“Celine” is Dion’s second Vegas residency. It started March 15, 2011. Her first, “A New Day...” started March 25, 2003, and ended Dec. 15, 2007.

Reports: Rosenstein considered resigning, will meet Thursday with Trump 

President Donald Trump and Rod Rosenstein spoke Monday amid reports that the deputy U.S. Attorney General was considering resigning from his post.

>> Read more trending news

The New York Times reported Monday that Rosenstein was considering resigning after reports surfaced last week that he floated the idea of secretly recording Trump and removing him from office using the 25th Amendment.

Update 3:05 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Trump confirmed that he and Rosenstein will meet Thursday to determine the deputy U.S. attorney general’s fate in the White House.

“We’ll be determining what’s going on,” Trump said while at the United Nations in New York. “We want to have transparency. We want to have openness, and I’m looking forward to meeting Rod at that time.”

Update 12:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: It was not immediately clear whether Rosenstein submitted his resignation or not. An unidentified source told Bloomberg News that the White House accepted his resignation Monday while The Associated Press reported that Rosenstein was expecting to be fired.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Trump and Rosenstein spoke Monday “to discuss the recent news stories.”

“Because the President is at  the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.,” she said.

Original report: Axios reported Monday morning that Rosenstein "verbally resigned" to Chief of Staff John Kelly in the wake of reports that claimed he discussed trying to remove President Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment and that he floated the idea of secretly recording the president. 

>> Rod Rosenstein proposed invoking 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, reports say

An unidentified source told Bloomberg News that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation Monday.

White House officials did not immediately confirm the reports.

The Associated Press reported that Rosenstein was expecting to be fired after The New York Times reported Friday that he spoke to Justice Department and FBI officials about secretly recording Trump and recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office shortly after the May 2017 firing of then-FBI director James Comey.

>> What is the 25th Amendment and how does it work?

In the aftermath of Comey’s firing, Rosenstein became frustrated by Trump’s use of a memo he wrote in justifying Comey’s dismissal, according to the Times. The three-page memo was critical of Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while in office.

>> Who is James Comey? Things to know about the former FBI director

“Rosenstein began telling associates that he would ultimately be ‘vindicated’ for his role in the matter” shortly after the FBI director’s dismissal, the Times reported.

Rosenstein said in statement released last week that the Times report was “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”

Rosenstein is the top Justice Department official overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to Trump and Trump campaign officials.

>> More on Robert Mueller's investigation

Rosenstein took charge of the investigation in March 2017 after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself under pressure over his own contacts with Russian officials.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Florida man thrown head-first over bridge after argument, police say

Daytona Beach police said they arrested a man for throwing another man head-first off the Main Street Bridge.

Police said an officer was driving over the bridge Sunday around 4:45 p.m. and witnessed Derrick Goodin, 21, in a fistfight with another man. Goodin threw a bike over the bridge into the Halifax River, followed by a man, police said.

>> Read more trending news 

The officer ordered Goodin to the ground, police said. The officer said Goodin initially sat on the curb, but then stood, reached into his pocket and threw what could be a wallet into the water below.

Meanwhile, the victim landed in the water below and was picked up by someone in a rowboat.

The man told police said he was trying to defend a woman Goodin had approached just moments earlier. The suspect and the woman were arguing about a prior money exchange, police said, before Goodin struck the woman in the face.

Police estimated the distance from the bridge to the water below to be around 30 feet. There are concrete pylons in the water that the man could have hit that could have resulted in serious injury, police said.

The man who landed in the water refused medical attention and did not want to press charges, police said.

Goodin was arrested on battery and disorderly conduct charges.

Police also said the incident was captured on surveillance video, but officers have not released it to the public.

Watch: Girl, 7, gives rousing rendition of national anthem before MLS match

There have been many rousing renditions of the national anthem, but a 7-year-old girl who calls herself an “actor, model and anthem girl” turned in a memorable version Sunday.

>> Read more trending news 

Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja of Los Angeles won an anthem contest sponsored by Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy. That allowed Malea Emma to sing before the Galaxy’s match Sunday against the Seattle Sounders.

She has her own Twitter account, which is run by her parents, and Malea Emma already has more than 1,000 followers.

What she produced before the StubHub Center crowd Sunday impressed players like the Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who tweeted that she was “the MVP of the game.”

Malea Emma’s reaction on Twitter? “OMG!

You might have to turn the sound up, but the passion Malea Emma projected is worth it.

Perhaps inspired by the song, Zlatan scored his 501st career goal as the Galaxy won 3-0.

Frozen embryos mistakenly destroyed at Seattle hospital 

Dozens of women hoping to have children are dealing with heartbreaking loss after their frozen embryos were mistakenly destroyed at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.

>> Read more trending news 

Tina Mankowski, director of strategic communications for UW Medicine, confirmed that 31 patients were affected and that the destruction happened in 2014.

The mistake was not known publicly, however, until one of the couples recently filed a complaint for damages.

According to their attorney, "When these embryos are developed, they’re like extensions of themselves.” 

She said her clients felt their frozen embryos were “living beings.”

“To have them destroyed without their consent, without their knowledge -- it was devastating for this couple," the attorney said.

The lawsuit lawsuit filed by the plaintiff’s lawyer alleges that the existence of a UW Medicine letter is proof of medical negligence.

Parents feel pressured when making child safety choices, study says 

More than 90 percent of parents are overwhelmed when researching child safety products, a study released this week asserts.

>> Read more trending news 

The study -- “Shifting Gears: How Becoming A Parent Changes Driving Forever” -- conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Volvo Car USA and coinciding with Child Passenger Safety Week, said that 66 percent of parents are more stressed than last year, when that number was 57. Fifty-seven percent of parents are also more distracted than they were five years ago, up 12 percent from 2017, the study found.

The study also found that 92 percent of parents found it overwhelming to research child safety products, and that rises to 97 percent for first-time parents.

The results come from a survey that was conducted online in the United States by Harris from July 11-17, 2018. There were 1,083 parents age 18 and older who were polled, and these people had children under 18 living in their household.

Other results from the study:

  • Nearly 84 percent of parents surveyed believed that people are more judgmental about the way they care for their children, as opposed to 10 years ago.

  • The top concern regarding child safety involved the car seat. According to the study, 71 percent of parents found the number of models overwhelming, and 58 percent found research frustrating.

  • Buyer’s remorse is sometimes an issue, the study found. Once a car seat was bought, 32 percent wish they had bought a different model. That percentage increases to 41 percent among new parents and to 47 percent among millennial parents.

47 dogs died after PetSmart grooming, investigation says

An investigation from NJ.com has found that nearly 50 dogs have died after visiting PetSmart for grooming.

According to a report from Sophie Nieto-Muñoz and Alex Napoliello, families have claimed that their dogs have died during or soon after a grooming at the retail chain. The investigation found 47 documented incidents of pet deaths across 14 states since 2008.

>> Read more trending news 

The NJ.com investigation found that 32 cases happened after the start of 2015, adding that 20 of the 47 documented deaths are English bulldogs and similar breeds with short noses and smushed faces.

In 2017, PetSmart announced new standards at grooming salons, including an express service solely for English bulldogs, French bulldogs, pugs, boxers Boston terriers and animals mixed with those breeds to minimize risk. The company also said cameras would be installed in all grooming salons and emphasized that pet stylists must be trained for a year.

Related: Two dog owners say their pets died at same PetSmart after grooming appointments

“Some former employees allege PetSmart’s groomer training — which the company touts as the industry’s very best — can fall short of what’s advertised,” the investigation said. “They say they have seen unprepared trainees rushed into stores because of short-staffing, putting dogs at greater risk of injury.

“Increasingly, the company is pressuring groomers to meet sales quotas, the employees said, and many felt either ignored or retaliated against when they spoke up about safety concerns or wrongdoing by colleagues.”

The report added that many owners whose pets died were offered out-of-court payments. In accepting the payment, some had to sign nondisclosure agreements. Those agreements, the investigation said, required them to delete negative comments and social media posts.

Related: Dog owners sue PetSmart after dachshund dies

The report said that individual groomers are not required by any state to be certified, meaning training and safety are not standardized. Owners get little money, should they go to court, because pets are considered property, and causes of death are hard to prove.

PetSmart said it has considered reasons that may be out of the groomer’s control -- such as unknown medical conditions, old age or natural causes -- for the deaths of some animals.

Related: Dog dies during grooming at NJ PetSmart; pet's owner wants answers

“As a company of pet lovers who are dedicated to the health and happiness of all pets, we empathize with these grieving families. Nevertheless, we are not aware of any evidence suggesting that PetSmart services caused the deaths of these pets,” the company said in statement issued Thursday in response to the NJ.com report. 

“In the case of this story, there are 14 names provided for which we have no record of a groom or incident occurring. For the remaining incidents, many of the dogs were advanced in age, overweight or are suspected to have suffered from pre-existing medical conditions. Finally, one specific case involves a pet parent who has repeatedly hidden veterinary records and necropsy reports from PetSmart and the public, but we expect the truth will be revealed through the ongoing litigation process.

“PetSmart works every day to be the trusted partner to pet parents. If an accident or policy violation occurs while a pet is in our care, we take immediate action and full responsibility. We maintain the highest standards in the industry, but by no means are we perfect. That’s why we’re always exploring enhancements to those standards. Our stylists complete at least 800 hours of hands-on instruction and safety certification, working with at least 200 dogs of all breeds and size.”

On Sunday, the company hosted an open house event across the country, inviting pet owners to tour salons and meet groomers.

The full investigation can be read at NJ.com Projects & investigations.

Man charged with threatening 11-year-old who beat him at ‘Fortnite,’ police say

A Long Island man was arrested last week after he threatened an 11-year-old boy who beat him on the online video game “Fortnite.”

Michael Aliperti, 45, of Huntington, is charged with second-degree aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child, Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said during a news conference. Aliperti was arrested on the charges Tuesday. 

The investigation began last Monday after the victim and his parents reported he had received threats via text message and online voice messages on his Xbox after he beat the man in the popular game. 

“He said, ‘I’m going to find you with a gun’ and other threats about, ‘You need to look over your back when you're walking.’” Cameron said

Aliperti also told the boy he knew where he went to school, a move that caused police to step up patrols at RJO Intermediate School in Kings Park, News 12 Long Island reported

“Mr. Aliperti did not directly threaten the school, but he did threaten the 11-year-old, stating he knew where he went to school, so that was good enough for us,” Cameron said

The police chief said Aliperti was introduced to the boy through other teens who were playing the game. They had all been playing the game together for several months. 

>> Read more trending news

“To threaten an 11-year-old with harm, it’s just kind of shocking to me,” Cameron said, at one point telling reporters that Aliperti’s actions gave new meaning to the term “sore loser.” 

Aliperti’s lawyer told News 12 the father of three children has no prior criminal record. He is in the middle of a contested divorce, the news station reported. 

“Parents should be cautioned,” Cameron said. “You have no idea, unless you know exactly the other end of the game, who people are playing with.”

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