The latest local news

Davenport Civil Rights Commission’s makeup could be decided by a judge

WQAD News -

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- At Thursday's special meeting of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, there was at least one point of agreement.

"Fortunately, the legality of the four new commissioners has not been questioned," said Lee Gaston, who is one of three new members appointed to the seven-member panel by Mayor Frank Klipsch in December.

He was referring to commissioners Michael Liendo, Erie Johnson, Ruby Mateos and Linda Gilman, all appointed by Mayor Klipsch in April, and present on Friday, May 17.

With the four new members forming a quorum, Gaston said he would abstain from voting at the meeting.

"I’m willing to not participate so the commission can move forward. I believe if any of the former commissioners participate it taints any decision the commission takes," he said.

He said one of those commissioners who was also present at the meeting, Susan Greenwalt, should have recused herself as well.

"I don’t believe she’s legal. She believes she is," he said.

Greenwalt's term expired in December, but she and two others have refused to vacate their seats, citing technical and political reasons.

"It hasn't been done according to the law," she said of the Mayor's December appointments.

"[The mayor] had a city council meeting on December 12, and he presented three commissioners, and they voted, but it was two days after the time frame." She said the appointment should have been made within 10 days.

"The city council wanted to do a takeover. It is to be kept an independent agency," she said of the commission.

The board has moved to elect a new chair at a special meeting and training for new members set for May 31, but Greenwalt said she'll stay on as commissioner until a neutral party can settle the matter.

"I’ll still be a commissioner, just not the chair, until it’s settled in court," she said.

Gaston in a statement provided to the media said, "the circus atmosphere created by the obstruction and delaying tactics, quite likely discourages individuals from bringing their concerns to the commission which is to serve as a protector for all residents, but particularly the marginal and vulnerable."

Nicole Bribriesco-Ledger, one of the four commissioners replaced by Mayor Klipsch's April appointments, has filed a lawsuit against the mayor and the city's handling of the appointment, in Scott County Court.

A hearing has been set for May 24 for a motion to keep the four commissioners on until the court reaches a final decision.

Flood assistance center opens in Carbon Cliff

WQAD News -

CARBON CLIFF- The Red Cross and the Rock Island County Emergency Management are hosting a resource center for those impacted by flooding.

Trained caseworkers will be available to help people create personal recovery plans, navigate paperwork, and locate assistance for their specific disaster-caused needs, such as assistance for groceries, rent, medicine, and other items or services.

Representatives from government, nonprofit, and faith-based disaster relief organizations will also be on hand to assist those directly impacted by flooding.

There will also be agencies that can help those who need long-term recovery assistance such as rebuilding and repairing homes or mold remediation. Individuals and families can meet with agencies for referrals if your family is not eligible for government assistance or if that assistance is inadequate to meet your needs.

There will be free childcare and lunch and dinner will be provided at the Flood Assistance Center in Carbon Cliff.

Individuals and families applying for assistance are required to bring identification showing address and proof of residence to be eligible for assistance from some agencies.

Flood Assistance Center – Illinois Focus

Tuesday, May 21 and Wednesday, May 22

Hours: 10am-7pm

Location: 

Carbon Cliff Village Hall

1001 Mansur Avenue

Carbon Cliff, IL. 61239

Sterling lays to rest a native son nearly 69 years after he was killed in the Korean War

WQAD News -

STERLING, Illinois -- The city of Sterling laid to rest a native son, Korean War infantryman Corporal John G. Krebs. He was killed in action at age 19 in 1950, but his remains were only just identified last December.

"Not in my wildest dreams," said his niece, Devetta Harris. "From the 1950s, it's just miraculous," she said.

Harris said her family didn't talk much about her missing uncle. It was a tough subject.

But members of the Rolling Thunder non-profit group roared into Sterling on their motorcycles to make sure Krebs' long overdue homecoming wouldn't go unnoticed.

"You see everybody stop what they're doing, pay attention, salute the flag or place their hand over their heart and reflect as the motorcade passes and the hearse as well," said Steve Johnson, who rode near the front of the motorcade with two POW flags and the Marine flag affixed to his motorcycle.

Jefferson Elementary students could be seen standing at attention and showing their respects, waving the black MIA/POW flag and showing that while John Krebs was lost long ago, he was not forgotten.

And in his return to Sterling, he won't be alone.

"It's so heartwarming that we're able to bury him next to his twin brother here in Sterling where they were born," said Harris.

John Krebs and his twin brother George served in Korea together. They were killed on the same day in the same battle. George's remains were quickly recovered and identified, and he was laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery. But John ended up in the tomb of the unknown soldier in Hawaii for nearly seven decades.

"It's good to see that he got back to his hometown," said Vietnam War Veteran Ron Anderson, who came to Sterling to pay his respects. "May he rest in peace with his twin brother," he said.

Former Oklahoma teacher charged with rape, sexual battery of multiple students

WQAD News -

POCOLA, Okla. — A former Oklahoma high school teacher faces multiple charges after she allegedly had sex with three different students.

An Oklahoma grand jury indicted Janet Kaye Barnes for rape and sexual battery on Friday.

Barnes, 44, is accused of having sex with multiple minors between 2014 and 2016, according to an indictment from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

Barnes allegedly had sex with two separate minors between January 2014 and November 2016 while she worked at Pocola High School.

She is facing two second-degree rape charges for each incident.

During the same time, the indictment states Barnes committed sexual battery against another minor, unrelated to the ones she is accused of raping.

Barnes no longer works at the high school.

A LeFlore County judge signed a warrant for her arrest and set bail at $250,000, according to court documents.

Second-degree rape has a term of imprisonment in Oklahoma no less than one year and no more than fifteen years. The sexual battery charge carries a term of imprisonment in Oklahoma no more than 10 years.

California man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting neighbors’ 3-year-old

WQAD News -

SAN DIEGO — A registered sex offender who broke into his next- door neighbor’s home, where he raped and sodomized a 3-year-old girl, pleaded guilty Friday to four felony charges and is facing an 85-year prison term.

Francisco Diaz, 47, entered his plea to four counts of forcible lewd acts on a child, and admitted serious prior felony convictions, according to Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 17.

Diaz broke a screen and curtain rod and climbed through a window of the sleeping child’s bedroom last August. When the toddler woke up and cried while being sexually assaulted, Diaz carried her out through the window and was walking her toward his home when the defendant’s mother saw them and wrapped the child — who was naked from the waist down — in a blanket.

Police were called around 9:45 a.m. and Diaz was arrested.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Grasso said following Diaz’s arraignment last year. “The violation, the betrayal, (it’s just) horrific. I think that not only does it impact the victim but it impacts the entire family, who now have to look over their shoulder, who now cannot feel safe in their own home. It causes you as a parent to be more cautious, more protective.”

According to the Megan’s Law website, which tracks the state’s sex offenders, Diaz has a 2007 conviction for annoying or molesting a child.

Dixon man arrested for sexual assault of a child

WQAD News -

DIXON, Illinois- A Dixon man is behind bars and charged with several counts of abusing a child.

Jason E. Johnson,46, of Dixon, Illinois, was arrested May 17, for predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (4 counts), a class x felony, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse (5 counts), a class 2 felony.

Dixon Police say they began the investigation in October 2018.

Johnson’s bond was set at $150,000.00.

Tony Robbins accused of sexual harassment, verbally abusive tirades

WQAD News -

Tony Robbins wants you to come to his seminars and immerse yourself in his motivational mantras, but from BuzzFeed comes the story he “doesn’t want you to read.”

It’s the result of a yearlong probe into the self-help life coach, complete with allegations of sexual harassment toward staffers and followers, verbally abusive behavior toward victims of rape and domestic violence, and exposure of fans to potentially risky techniques.

The outlet relied on interviews with Robbins’ insiders and fans, internal files, and secret recordings that BuzzFeed describes as being “expletive-ridden tirades” against the very people he’s supposed to be helping.

In one tape, Robbins can be heard laying into a woman who told him her husband had been emotionally abusive and physically violent. Robbins’ response: to tell her he knew she was “lying” based on her “body” and “words,” and to ask her, “Does he put up with you when you’ve been a crazy b—-?” (Hear that clip here.)

Two fans signed under-oath statements for BuzzFeed claiming Robbins sexually harassed them by aggressively pursuing them despite their disinterest, while two ex-assistants say they had to work in his presence while he was naked; a third former staffer says she was fired after a consensual sexual relationship with him.

Witnesses also back up for BuzzFeed claims that Robbins created and maintained a “highly sexualized environment.” A letter from Robbins’ legal team denies much of the allegations, including “engaging in any alleged ‘inappropriate sexual behavior'” or ever being “intentionally naked” in front of staffers.

Robbins “admits he has made mistakes in relationships and other aspects of his life, but he never behaved in the manner intimated by these salacious and false accusations,” the statement notes. Read BuzzFeed’s in-depth piece here. (The story also notes Robbins’ 2018 #MeToo misstep.)

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Woman allegedly attacked boyfriend with box cutter because he didn’t get her a birthday present

WQAD News -

WEST NEWTON BOROUGH, Pa. – A woman is accused of attacking her boyfriend with a box cutter because she didn’t get the birthday she was expecting.

A few hours after taking Georgia Michelle Zowacki out to dinner for her 55th birthday, her boyfriend said she became upset nobody bought her a card, cake or gift. He also said she had been drinking vodka throughout the day to celebrate.

“Next thing you know, I’m getting stabbed,” the boyfriend, David Rae, told KDKA.

Rae alleges Zowacki attacked him with a box cutter, putting it near his throat and threatening to kill him. “She went to my neck, she says, ‘I’m going to kill you,’” Rae explained. He said his girlfriend then slashed his arm with the weapon.

After cutting him, Rae told Westmoreland County Police Zowacki went into his bedroom and threw his TV set on the ground, broke his bed, tipped over his nightstand and threw other objects around the room.

“Destroyed my bedroom,” Rae said. “Destroyed it.”

The two had been living together at their West Newton home for about four months prior to the incident, according to the criminal complaint.

After the alleged attack, police said Zowacki left the residence on foot. When police arrived at the scene, she was on a nearby neighbor’s porch.

Zowacki spent the rest of her birthday in jail. She has been charged with aggravated assault, held on a $25,000 bond.

Meanwhile, Rae received several stitches. But he told KDKA, he feels lucky he didn’t end up dead.

California parents protest new sex education guidelines

WQAD News -

Parents across California planned to keep their children home from school and attend state-wide sit-outs dubbed the "SeXXX Ed" rallies Friday to protest a recent controversial overhaul of the sexual education guidance.

The Health Education Framework, which was approved last week by the California State Board of Education, provides information for school teachers to use in the sex education curriculum and suggests talking to kindergartners about gender identity, using LGBTQ-inclusive language, advising teenagers on navigating relationships and having safe sex. It also suggests teaching students about sex trafficking and the continued teaching of HIV prevention.

Teachers are not required to teach anything in the framework; it only acts as a guide.

While some residents praised the guidance for being inclusive, some parents and conservative groups have protested the changes, arguing that the new framework exposes children to ideas that should be taught at home.

The controversy predominantly centers on whether the suggested material in the framework is age-appropriate, especially on topics such as masturbation and gender identity.

The framework provides guides for teaching students in kindergarten through 12th grade and differentiates lessons for four main age groups: kindergarten through third grade, fourth through sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, and ninth through 12th grade, according to an online draft of the framework.

Some parents have also protested certain books suggested in the framework, such as "S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties." Protesters described the material discussed in the book as explicit and graphic.

When the framework was approved May 8, around 200 protesters gathered outside the state Capitol holding signs that read “No to Explicit Sex Ed” and “Too Much Too Soon,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Friday's state-wide sit-outs were started at 11 a.m. and took place at each county's department of education building, according to a post by the Informed Parents of California.

In Los Angeles, the protest was held at the Los Angeles County Office of Education where protestors held signs that said "No SeXXX Ed" and "Stop Attacking Our Parental Rights."

One parent holding a "Mama Bear Says No" sign told KTLA that she was protesting the guidance to protect parental rights.

The mother said she views the guidance's recommendation to speak with children in kindergarten about identifying as transgender as wrong and "confusing my daughter to think that she is OK to feel as a boy at such a young age when I can teach my children that everything has a time."

Another mother at the protest said, "this is too much too soon."

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