Human Rights/Civil Liberties/Secular Humanism

Sex orgies, prostitution, porn:

Allegations shake Catholic Church in Italy

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ROME (RNS) — Lurid accusations of priests involved in sex orgies, porn videos and prostitution have emerged from several parishes in Italy recently, sending shock waves all the way to the Vatican and challenging the high standards Pope Francis demands of clergy.In the southern city of Naples, for example, a priest was recently suspended from the parish of Santa Maria degli Angeli over claims he held gay orgies and used Internet sites to recruit potential partners whom he paid for sex.

The allegations concerning the Rev. Mario D’Orlando were brought to the attention of the diocese when an anonymous letter was sent to a Naples bishop. D’Orlando denied the charges when he was summoned by the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, but is now facing a formal inquiry conducted by local church officials.

In the northern city of Padua, a 48-year-old priest, the Rev. Andrea Contin, is facing defrocking as well as judicial proceedings amid accusations he had up to 30 lovers, some of whom he took to a swingers’ resort in France.

Contin was removed from his parish of San Lazzaro after three women came forward with complaints against him in December. Bishop Claudio Cipolla of Padua cut short a visit to Latin America to deal with the scandal.

“I am incredulous and pained by the accusations,” Cipolla said at a news conference last month. “This is unacceptable behavior for a priest, a Christian and even for a man.”

One woman, who claims to have been Contin’s lover for more than three years, claimed the priest carried sex toys and bondage equipment, prostituted his lovers on wife-swapping websites and also invited other priests from the area to sex parties.

“Even if, at the end of this affair, there are no legal consequences, we have a duty by canon law to take disciplinary action,” said Cipolla.

Pope Francis sits on a bus as the Bernini colonnade is reflected on the windscreen, at the Vatican, Sunday March 5, 2017.© AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia Pope Francis sits on a bus as the Bernini colonnade is reflected on the windscreen, at the Vatican, Sunday March 5, 2017. He also revealed Pope Francis telephoned him personally at the end of January to offer his support and urge him to stay “strong.”

Since his election the pope has taken a tough line on ethical behavior in the church, though he has also recognized the reality of human imperfection and personal flaws.

In recent weeks the pontiff has spoken out many times against “temptation,” and last week he told a gathering of clergy at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome that faith could not progress without the challenge of temptation.

“Temptation is always present in our lives. Moreover, without temptation you cannot progress in faith,” he said.

Alberto Melloni, professor of church history at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, said there is nothing unusual about scandals in the priesthood.

“There is no sin that a cleric doesn’t commit. Scandals to me seem quite normal,” he said.

“And I think the illusion of stopping scandals through better selection of personnel is not very promising and has not yielded great results. ”

Francis has frequently called for a more rigorous screening process for seminarians, and he has taken direct action when scandals erupt in Italy.

A case in point: When reports of “playboy priests” surfaced in the Italian diocese of Albenga-Imperia in the northern region of Liguria in late 2014, the pope sent a special envoy to investigate claims that clerics had posted nude photos of themselves on gay websites, sexually harassed the faithful and stole church funds.

Two years later the pope replaced the leader of the diocese, Bishop Mario Oliveri.

Austen Ivereigh, commentator and author of The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, said the pope distinguished between sinfulness and corruption and was intent on “rooting out” corruption inside the church.

“The remedy for those who succumb to temptation is forgiveness and a fresh start,” Ivereigh said. “The problem is when priests turn their backs on the people, lead hidden lives and end up justifying their conduct. That’s corruption.

“And it’s only possible in the priesthood because of clericalism. That’s why the pope is so intent on rooting it out.”

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Tampa, FL Black Lives Matter Protest

Tampa, FL Black Lives Matter Protest

Tampa, FL Black Lives Matters Protest

Tampa, FL Black Lives Matters Protest

Ai-observers

Amnesty International USA’s human rights observers are ensuring that people can peacefully protest at conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia

Dear Rodrick,

I’m writing to you from downtown Cleveland, where Amnesty International USA has deployed a delegation of independent human rights observers to monitor protests at the Republican National Convention. We’ll be in Philadelphia next week doing the same thing at the Democratic National Convention.

This is the first time we’ve deployed human rights observers to political conventions in the U.S. We’re here because we’ve seen the right to peacefully protest being infringed upon at demonstrations around the country in the years and months leading up to the conventions.

Simply put, we’re here to help ensure that all people’s human rights are respected and protected – as only Amnesty can.

Our 12-person delegation, which includes trained Amnesty staff and members from the U.S. and Canada, are monitoring both sanctioned events and spontaneous protests. They observe protests and police response, documenting what they’re seeing so that we can share it with the public, law enforcement agencies, and state and national policymakers. Following international guidelines for human rights monitors, our delegation is documenting both positive steps that police are taking and problematic police responses.

As of now, the protests that our observers have monitored in Cleveland appeared largely peaceful, with police protecting people’s freedom of assembly and expression. While there have been some situations where observers are still gathering facts and context, they have seen the police take steps to protect the safety of protestors and counter-protestors.

The team will be in Cleveland until Friday morning, monitoring more than a dozen more protests, and then we’ll be in Philadelphia all next week. You can follow developments on AIUSA’s website, Twitter, and Facebook feeds.

You can also help spread the word about the importance of protecting all people’s human right to protest peacefully: Share this facebook post and share this tweet.

We’ll update you with any further information. Thank you for your partnership and support.

Eric Ferrero
DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL INITIATIVES
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA

Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. So where are the investors?

Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. So where are the investors?

Black women may be leading the overall charge among new small-business owners, but a new report says that for black women in tech, it’s not with the help of big investors.

A new report by Digital Undivided surveyed 378 companies led by black women across the country, 88 of which qualified as startups. For those startups, data showed that in 2015, only 56 percent of the black women startup founders in the study raised outside funding. And they raised an average of only $36,000.

This pales in comparison to the industry-wide average: The typical failed startup, most often led by white men, usually raises $1.3 million in backing.

But investor and Digital Undivided founder Kathryn Finney is trying to change this difference by bridging the gap between women of color tech entrepreneurs and investors who want to back the next hot startup. Digital Undivided provides training, networking, and fundraising opportunities to get these new companies off the ground. So far, Finney’s company has helped fund 48 companies.

As an angel investor, Finney sometimes also provides the first small investment to companies she really believes in — around $5,000 to $10,000.  While the contribution may be small, it can be helpful.

Kathryn Finney.

Finney talked to Vox about why investors are ignoring businesses run by women, particularly women of color, and what America’s future looks like without a focus on diversity in tech. (This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity).

Victoria Massie: There’s been a lot of talk about a lack of diversity in the tech industry. Is that also reflected on the investment side?

Kathryn Finney: It’s worse on the investment side.

There’s only one black woman, Kesha Cash, who is the head of her own [venture capital] firm. There’s only about three to four black women venture partners. We are the lowest group of venture partners across, I think, almost every racial group. So I mean, if you’re talking about diversity in general, it’s bad.

When you talk about intersectionality, it gets even worse. Women are severely underrepresented in the venture world. Black men are also very underrepresented — something like 34, 36 black male venture partners. And then there’s black women, which is maybe three. So it just goes way down.

VM: What’s the barrier to increasing wider representation among investors?

KF: I think there’s a lot of things. Particularly, you have to differentiate between angel and venture investing. Angel investors are a lot more diverse than venture investors. So that’s one.

I think, two, to become an accredited investor is incredibly hard, and I think that’s one of the major barriers, to be honest. To be an accredited investor, you have to earn net $200,000 per year as an individual, $300,000 as a couple, or have a million dollars in assets. There are very few people of color who have that. Very few.

VM: But why are angel investors more diverse?

KF: A venture fund is an actual company, whereas an angel investor can just do it as an individual. There’s a lot more rules with venture capitalists than with angels: You have to file with the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission]. For setting up a venture firm, you’d probably have three or four different entities that are a part of that one entity. Also, venture firms are larger, and you have to be able to raise money from “market partners.” You have to be able to go out and get people with money — usually foundations or wealthy individuals — to give you sums of money. That’s really difficult if you don’t know people with large sums of money.

VM: Are there common misconceptions that people have for investing in startups founded by black people or specifically black women?

KF: I don’t think they think about us. I don’t think there is any misconception. I mean, if anything it’s that there are none to invest in. I’m not even sure if we’re at the top of their mind.

VM: What do you think that kind of invisibility means for how we understand tech innovation when an entire demographic is not even being thought about?

KF: It definitely has an impact on how we see tech. Tech is a particularly interesting industry versus other industries with diversity problems — you know, finance, law, and so forth — because tech is creating the future. It’s being created right now. And everything we do in our life is touched by tech.

So if a whole group of people is not a part of creating what is going on, that means we’re not a part of the future. And that’s really problematic, because the future is going to be brown. If brown people aren’t allowed in creating it, what does that mean? I think it’s important to ask tech people that, because it’s one thing to ask me as a brown person. But to ask them, “Why aren’t you doing it? Why aren’t you taking the steps?”

I don’t accept their reasoning. Here are the brightest people in the entire world [with] 50, 100, 200 billion dollars in cash in the bank —Apple, and Google, and other companies like that. And you’re telling me that with the smartness you all have, with the money you all have, you can’t find a solution to [tech’s diversity gap]?

These are people who created driverless cars. These are people who can land rockets on the moon and move asteroids, but you can’t figure out how to deal with this? I just don’t think that’s acceptable.

VM: Even with barriers to investments or jobs in tech, black women are launching businesses at faster rates than any other group. Why is that?

KF: I think there are many different economic reasons. Black women lead 70 percent of black households in the US, and I think for many of us, we need to have multiple streams of revenue and income. We have practiced income diversification. Many of us have small entrepreneurial endeavors along with our regular day job.

I was at a big event speaking at Morgan Stanley. One of the top managing directors is a black woman who was telling this story about this other woman who is a managing director at Ernst & Young — [somewhere around the] top level, partner level. She’s making very good money. Doing well for herself. But on the side, she makes necklaces. This woman does not need to make necklaces, does not need to have a side gig, has a side gig.

As black women, I think that’s really intuitive to us. Many of us have side businesses, things that we like to do, things that we like to sell, things that we do as an outlet. We have 1.5 million small businesses, we’re the fastest-growing group, but our revenues are often under $40,000. We actually have the lowest revenue of any ethnic group. So we’ve started, but we’re not exactly scaling it. So the question is how do we do that?

But I also think historically and culturally, we’ve always had jobs. I think we also diversify income, especially [after] the stock market crash in 2008. We saw that we’re not going to be able to work 50 years at a place and get a pension. We’re gonna have to start to be very entrepreneurial. So I think all of those things combined go into this large number.

Also, I think people started to actually count us. I don’t think people were counting women entrepreneurs in general, but especially black women entrepreneurs.

VM: What are some of the specific barriers women of color face when it comes to raising funds for their companies?

KF: I think some of the barriers they face are not understanding that people want the big idea, so [women often] undersell themselves. There’s a big thing: describing a million-dollar problem, or a billion-dollar problem. Not being big enough in terms of speech. And I think that’s because we’re used to not being big enough. We don’t over-embellish like that, but in tech that’s rewarded. They want people who are going to think big even if they know your numbers aren’t ridiculous. And we often do ourselves a disservice by thinking small. We think we’re being safe, but that’s not what investors want to hear.

VM: So why do you think black women’s startups are undercapitalized?

KF: One, there aren’t enough black women investors — there aren’t really any — so there’s very few people who can identify the market opportunity and understand it. Two, there’s inherent racism and sexism, but we already know that.

Then I also think there’s this belief by some that black people can’t handle money. I’ve had really interesting discussions with people not believing that we can be good stewards of money, and so they may not want to give us as much. It’s a very unconscious bias.

When you think of money, black people in general don’t usually pop into your head. It’s usually a white guy on Wall Street. But I do think there is this undercurrent of belief, almost paternalistic, that we need help in getting money and guiding money. And maybe we shouldn’t give them too much money because we’re not sure they’ll know what to do with it. I mean, that’s completely anecdotal because I don’t have any hard evidence of it.

VM: What are your words of wisdom for women of color in tech in general?

KF: It’s a marathon, not a race. You will have to be twice, three times as good. You will need to know your numbers backward and forward and backward again. It’s going to take you twice as long to raise [money]. It’s just a fact. But saying all that, it’s not impossible. It’s not impossible. It’s just going to be harder.

I think if you’re a black woman, growing up in the US, you already know things are going to be a bit harder. So it’s not anything we can’t do. And if you go in there knowing that, and understanding that you’re going to be challenged, everything you’re going to say is going to be challenged, your numbers, everything, and if you’re overly prepared, you’ll do okay.

———————

Member, Amnesty International since 1998

Member, Board of Directors ACLU Greater Tampa Bay Chapter since 1998

Former Secretary, Humanists of Florida

Co-Founder, Freethinkers@USF

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Flashing Lights is Free Speech

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Prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy killed

The founder of the website Mukto-Mona, Avjit Roy described himself as a "prominent defender of the free thought movement."

Story highlights

  • Avijit Roy was an “advocate of atheism, science and … naturalism”
  • Police: He died after being attacked on a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh

(CNN)A prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger who spoke out for freedom has died after being attacked on a Dhaka street, a local police official said Friday.

Assailants attacked Avijit Roy, the founder of the website Mukto-Mona, and his wife Thursday night as they were walking back from a speaking engagement, said Krishna Pada Roy, a deputy commissioner with the Dhaka police.

Roy was transported to a nearby hospital where he died, Roy said. His wife suffered injuries of her own, including a severed finger.

Based out of the Atlanta area, Roy was a “prominent defender of the free thought movement (and) advocate of atheism, science and metaphysical naturalism,” according to his website. He authored seven books and his writings were also featured in numerous magazines and journals.

Roy’s outspokenness, especially on matters of religion, made him a target in Bangladesh, where nearly 90% of people are Muslim and 10% are Hindu, according to the U.S. government.

Last year, an Islamist activist said that Roy “will be murdered when he comes back” to Bangladesh, the International Humanist and Ethical Union said. Roy reported such threats on his life, the group said.

“This loss is keenly felt by freethinkers and humanists in South Asia and around the world,” IHEU spokesman Bob Churchill said. “He was a colleague in humanism and a friend to all who respect human rights, freedom, and the light of reason.”

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French seal off Mali’s Timbuktu, rebels torch library

By Adama Diarra | Reuters – 38 mins ago

  • A Malian soldiers gestures at a check point at Thy, 15km away from Sevare, January 27, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
  • View Photo

    Reuters/Reuters – A Malian soldiers gestures at a check point at Thy, 15km away from Sevare, January 27, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

GAO, Mali (Reuters) – French and Malian troops retook control of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Monday after Islamist rebel occupiers fled the ancient Sahara trading town and torched several buildings, including a priceless manuscript library.

The United States and European Union are backing a French-led intervention in Mali aimed at removing the threat of radical Islamist jihadists using the West African state’s inhospitable desert north as a springboard for international attacks.

The recovery of Timbuktu followed the swift capture by French and Malian forces at the weekend of Gao, another major town in Mali’s north that had also been occupied by the alliance of Islamist militant groups since last year.

The two-week-old mission by France in its former Sahel colony, at the request of Mali’s government but also with wide international support, has driven the Islamist rebels northwards out of towns into the desert and mountains.

Without a shot being fired, 1,000 French soldiers and paratroopers and 200 Malian troops seized Timbuktu airport and surrounded the town on the banks of the Niger River, looking to block the escape of al Qaeda-allied insurgents.

In both Timbuktu and Gao, cheering crowds turned out to welcome the French and Malian troops.

A third town in Mali’s vast desert north, Kidal, had remained in Islamist militant hands. But the secular Malian Tuareg MNLA rebels said on Monday they had taken charge in Kidal after Islamist fighters abandoned it.

A Bamako-based diplomat confirmed the MNLA takeover of Kidal, saying the Tuaregs were likely to try to press long-standing demands for autonomy for their northern region.

A French military spokesman said the assault forces at Timbuktu were being careful to avoid combat inside the city so as not to damage cultural treasures and mosques and religious shrines in what is considered a seat of Islamic learning.

But Timbuktu Mayor Ousmane Halle reported that departing Islamist gunmen had set ablaze a South African-funded library in the city containing thousands of invaluable manuscripts.

“The rebels set fire to the newly-constructed Ahmed Baba Institute built by the South Africans … This happened four days ago,” Ousmane told Reuters by telephone from Bamako. He said he had received the information from his chief of communications who had traveled south from the city a day ago.

Ousmane was not able to immediately say how much the concrete building had been damaged. He added the rebels also set fire to his office and the home of a member of parliament.

UNESCO spokesman Roni Amelan said the Paris-based U.N. cultural agency was “horrified” by the news of the fire, but was awaiting a full assessment of the damage.

Marie Rodet, an African history lecturer at Britain’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said Timbuktu held one of the greatest libraries of Islamic manuscripts in the world.

“It’s pure retaliation. They (the Islamist militant rebels) knew they were losing the battle and they hit where it really hurts,” Rodet told Reuters. “These people are not interested in any intellectual debate. They are anti-intellectual.”

ISLAMISTS “ALL FLED”

The Ahmed Baba Institute, one of several libraries and collections in Timbuktu containing fragile documents dating back to the 13th century, is named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare and houses more than 20,000 scholarly manuscripts. Some were stored in underground vaults.

The French and Malians have encountered no resistance so far at Timbuktu, but they face a tough job of combing through the labyrinth of ancient mosques and monuments and mud-brick homes between alleys to flush out any hiding Islamist fighters.

Timbuktu member of parliament El Hadj Baba Haïdara told Reuters in Bamako the Islamist rebels had abandoned the city. “They all fled. Before their departure they destroyed some buildings, including private homes,” he said.

The Islamist forces comprise a loose alliance that groups Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) with Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine and AQIM splinter MUJWA.

They have retreated in the face of relentless French air strikes and superior firepower and are believed to be sheltering in the rugged Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range, north of Kidal.

The MNLA pro-autonomy Tuareg rebels who say they now hold Kidal have offered to help the French-led offensive against the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamists. It was not clear, however, whether the French and Malians would steer their offensive further towards Kidal, or hold negotiations with the MNLA.

FRANCE: MALI “BEING LIBERATED”

With its cultural treasures, Timbuktu had previously been a destination for adventurous tourists and international scholars.

The world was shocked by its capture on April 1 by Tuareg desert fighters, whose separatist rebellion was later hijacked by Islamist radicals who imposed severe sharia (Islamic law).

Provoking international outrage, the Muslim militants – who follow a more radical Salafist brand of Islam – destroyed dozens of ancient shrines in Timbuktu sacred to moderate Sufi Muslims, condemning them as idolatrous and un-Islamic.

They also applied amputations for thieves and stoning of adulterers under sharia, while forcing women to go veiled.

On Sunday, many women among the thousands of Gao residents who came out to celebrate the rebels’ expulsion made a point of going unveiled. Other residents smoked cigarettes and played music to flout the bans previously set by the Islamist rebels.

Hundreds of troops from Niger and Chad have been brought to Gao from neighboring Niger to help secure the town.

“Little by little, Mali is being liberated,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television.

“CLEAN-UP” OPERATION SEEN

As the French and Malian troops thrust into northern Mali, African troops for a U.N.-backed continental intervention force for Mali, expected to number 7,700, are being flown into the country, despite severe delays due to logistical problems.

Outgoing African Union Chairman President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin scolded AU states at a weekend summit in Addis Ababa for their slow response to assist Mali while former colonial power France took the lead in the military operation.

Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Niger and Chad are providing soldiers for the AFISMA force. Burundi and other nations have pledged to contribute.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said these regional troops could play a useful peacekeeping role once the main military operations against the Islamist rebels end.

“If there are dormant cells here and there, criminals in places, and of course the environment gives these groups the opportunity to hit and run, that would call for a strategy to help to clean up the region,” Lamamra said.

Yayi put the cost of the African intervention force, now revised upwards, at $1 billion and said up to 10 African countries may be required to send troops.

The AU is expected to seek hundreds of millions of dollars in logistical support and funding for the African Mali force at a conference of donors to be held in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

Speaking in Addis Ababa on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. was “actively considering” helping the troop-contributing African countries with logistical support.

Earlier this month, he had warned that providing such U.N. support for combat operations in Mali could put U.N. civilian staff in the region at risk.

Benin’s Yayi urged other NATO members and Asian countries to follow France’s lead and send troops to Mali. “We have to free the Sahel belt from the threat of terrorism,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis in Sevare, Mali, Bate Felix and David Lewis in Dakar, Maria Golovina in London, Alexandria Sage, Vicky Buffery and Emmanuel Jarry in Paris, Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako, Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Niamey, Richard Lough and Aaron Masho in Addis Ababa; writing by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Daniel Flynn and Mark Heinrich)

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Second Pinellas narcotics officer resigns before testifying under oath

By Stephen Nohlgren, Times Staff Writer

Published Wednesday, June 20, 2012


LARGO — Pinellas sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Taylor, who supervised the narcotics surveillance of a Largo hydroponics store, resigned Wednesday rather than face interrogation under oath about alleged misconduct.

Taylor, 40, spent hours reading evidence that internal affairs investigators had amassed, then turned in his resignation, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

Taylor is the second narcotics officer to resign this week after months of allegations that officers trespassed and lied to judges while building cases against indoor marijuana growers.

Four other deputies did answer internal affairs questions this week, Gualtieri said. Their cases will go before an administrative review board next week, and then the sheriff will decide on any discipline.

Taylor, who could not be reached for comment, supervised a three-man unit that was primarily responsible for investigating customers of Simply Hydroponics, where a sheriff’s surveillance camera recorded people coming and going.

Detective Michael Sciarrino, who worked under Taylor, resigned Monday. Another Taylor subordinate, Detective Paul Giovannoni, did answer investigators’ questions, Gualtieri said.

One allegation involved a suspect who complained that deputies beat him up outside a Largo WingHouse after he had a verbal altercation with Sciarrino’s wife, who worked there as a bartender. Taylor had called in the officers accused of roughing up the suspect.

Suspicions about trespassing came to a head last year after the arrest of Seminole resident Allen Underwood, who had digital surveillance cameras monitoring his yard. Underwood claimed that someone in plain clothes had vaulted his backyard fence just days before deputies came in with a search warrant and seized pot plants and his digital recorder.

Taylor told sheriff’s technicians to erase the digital images, saying they showed the faces of undercover officers. When Underwood’s attorney complained, Taylor was suspended for five days — not for trespassing or evidence destruction, but for mishandling electronic images that might have shown suspicious activity at Underwood’s house.

After the Tampa Bay Times reported that the internal affairs investigation into the erasure was rife with leading questions and conflicting statements by officers, Gualtieri ordered that it be done over.

By then, prosecutors were dropping cases against pot growers and troubles in the narcotics unit had become campaign fodder in the current sheriff’s race.

Given the two resignations this week, “the culture of corruption in the narcotics unit is beginning to collapse,” said Tarpon Springs attorney Jerry Theophilopoulos, who represented Underwood. “Sheriff Gualtieri had a shot at this once already. He is now trying to save face.”

Taylor, a 14-year veteran, stirred controversy in 2005 when he shot and killed Jarrell Walker, an unarmed St. Petersburg man lying face down on the floor during a drug bust. Taylor said Walker appeared to be reaching under a couch, possibly for a gun, and the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney ruled the shooting justifiable homicide.

Officers retain their ability to collect a pension regardless of whether they resign or are fired, Gualtieri said. A state board will decide whether they can maintain certification as law enforcement officers.

Gualtieri would not comment on possible criminal charges against the officers.

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Prosecutor: Mother saw no indication something was wrong with babysitter charged in 2 killings

Published November 02, 2012
| Associated Press

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Prosecutors say the mother of a 5-year-old girl stabbed to death this week would have had no hint that something might be wrong when she left her daughter with the babysitter now accused of killing the girl and the woman’s own 7-year-old son.

Elzbieta Plackowska had watched the suburban Chicago kindergartner fairly regularly since the beginning of the school year, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. As far as prosecutors know, Plackowska has no history of mental illness or hospitalizations. And the investigation has turned up nothing that might have given the girl’s mother pause about letting her continue babysitting, he said.

“There was really no indication,” Berlin said. “Nothing.”

The kindergartner’s mother, Marta Dworakowski, could not be reached for comment Friday. Reached by phone on Thursday, she told the Chicago Tribune, “I’m not ready to talk to anyone yet.”

Investigators continued Friday to interview people close to Plackowska and to comb the car she was driving Tuesday night for evidence. Berlin has said that a bloody knife — one of two believed to have been used in the killings — was found inside the vehicle. On Friday, a judge signed an order giving prosecutors possession of the car once police are finished with it.

Plackowska, a 40-year-old Polish immigrant, came to the United States 12 years ago on a tourist visa, Berlin said. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday it had placed a hold on her because she could be eligible for deportation. ICE officials did not elaborate on the agency’s statement, but one common reason ICE starts deportation proceedings is because someone’s tourist visa has expired.

For now, Plackowska is being held without bail in the DuPage County jail. She has been charged with first-degree murder in the children’s deaths. Authorities say she stabbed them dozens of times as they begged for their lives.

Berlin said previously that Plackowska told investigators she killed her son because she was upset with her husband and the girl because she was a witness. On Friday, he said Plackowska told authorities she had been upset about her own father’s recent death, but he couldn’t say what role, if any, her grief may have played in her actions Tuesday.

The children’s gruesome deaths have shaken Naperville, a vibrant, populous suburb 25 miles west of Chicago. Officers discovered their bodies after Dworakowski reported her 5-year-old daughter, Olivia, missing. Dworakowski had arrived home to discover her door locked and the babysitter’s car gone. Police found Olivia on a bed and 7-year-old Justin Plackowska on the floor beside it.

Plackowska told investigators that the children had been jumping on the bed. She ordered them to kneel on the floor and pray and then stabbed them both dozens of times as they begged for their lives, Berlin said.

Covered in blood, Plackowska drove to a Catholic church. Berlin said Friday that it was the same one where she went to confession before the slayings.

Finding the building closed, she called the church and left a message saying she had “done something bad” and needed help, Berlin said. She then went to a friend’s home where her adult son was staying. Police arrested her there.

Berlin said Plackowska had been babysitting for Dworakowski since the beginning of the school year, although Justin and Olivia went to different schools and it wasn’t clear how or when the two women met. Plackowska babysat Olivia numerous times as her mother works various shifts as a nurse, he said.

___

Don Babwin reported from Chicago. AP News Researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report from New York.

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