Monthly Archives: August 2019

Attorney of woman accused of livestreaming rape claims she tried to help victim

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An 18-year-old Ohio woman accused of livestreaming the rape of her 17-year-old friend with a social media app was trying to record the assault as evidence, the woman’s attorney said Friday in a defense a prosecutor flatly dismissed.

Marina Lonina pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple charges including rape, kidnapping, sexual battery and pandering sexual matter involving a minor. A judge set bond at $125,000 for Lonina, a student at New Albany High School, outside Columbus.

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Her co-defendant, Raymond Gates, 29, also pleaded not guilty, with a judge setting his bond at $300,000. A public defender representing Gates did not comment about the allegations.

READ MORE: Woman charged after livestreaming alleged rape of 17-year-old friend on Periscope app

Lonina and her friend — who attends the same high school — met Gates at a Columbus mall for the first time the day before where he bought them a bottle of vodka and encouraged them to meet him the following day, her lawyer Sam Shamansky said.

He acknowledged his client filmed the February assault of her intoxicated friend but said she was trying to get the girl out of the house where the attack happened.

Lonina is in the habit of filming everything with Periscope, Shamansky said. The app for smartphones allows users to stream live video.

“She does everything possible to contain the situation even to the point of asking while it’s being filmed to these Periscope followers, ‘What should I do now? What should I do now?’” Shamansky said.

WATCH: Woman indicted, accused of live streaming friend’s rape on Periscope

Lonina and her friend are naturalized U.S. citizens from Russia, and Gates is also of Russian descent, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. The comments on the video are in Russian.

O’Brien said Lonina is seen trying to help only briefly during the 10-minute video. O’Brien said the victim was clearly screaming “stop” and “no” during the assault.

Although Lonina told police she was trying to record the assault as evidence, her behavior as people watching via Periscope “liked” the assault painted a different picture, O’Brien said.

“She got, I guess, taken up with all the ‘likes’ that her livestream was getting and therefore continued to do it, and did nothing to aid the victim,” O’Brien said.

Independent of the rape count, Lonina is also charged with livestreaming her friend nude the day before the assault, which is a felony, O’Brien said.

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Residents raise pointed questions at Spallumcheen water meeting

SPALLUMCHEEN – There was clear frustration at a public meeting in Spallumcheen Thursday night. The aim was for provincial ministries and the local health authority to explain the province’s plan to deal with high nitrate levels in a local drinking water supply.

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“Sure the public is frustrated. I understand that,” conceded Rob Birtles with the Interior Health Authority. “We had to give the public an opportunity to provide comment back to us. We had to have an opportunity to provide information to the public. We are moving forward with our action plan and we will come back to the public.”

Some have been living with a water quality advisory since 2014 because of high levels of nitrates in their water source: the Hullcar Aquifer.

In July 2014 the health authority recommended babies, the elderly and those with certain health conditions not use the water from that aquifer because of the nitrate levels.
“We can’t drink the water from the tap that is the bottom line,” said resident Ric Parker. “A couple times a week I’ve got to go get a five gallon jug [and] take it up for my elderly parents because they can’t drink the water from the tap.”

The provincial plan includes inspecting farms and reviewing water quality data with the stated aims of “scientifically” determining where the nitrates are coming from and having safe drinking water.

But some were clearly not satisfied with the meeting.

“This is a real serious issue for everyone in this valley and we don’t see government doing a heck of a lot to protect us,” shouted one man.

“There have been a whole series of meetings and discussions have been going on and on and on and really nothing is moving forward,” said Parker.

Read More: IHA investigating high nitrate levels in water supply

However, the health authority says it needs data to back up its actions.

“The request has been to issue a Section 25 order under the Drinking Water Protection Act. In this case we would have to have some form of empirical evidence to indicate who the offenders are in this aquifer,” said Birtles. “When I say offenders these are the nutrient contributors.”

Read More: Interior Health pushed to act on nitrate in drinking water

However, the public also had questions about why it is taking government so long to officially pinpoint the causes.

Al Price, of the advocacy group Save Hullcar Aquifer Team, pointed out that as far back as July 2014 interior health said it was “involved in investigating the source of the nitrates” along with the Environment Ministry.

“That is two years ago. If they can’t figure it out in two years, there is something wrong. Either that or they haven’t really been doing what they said they were going to do,” says Price.

Interior Health has argued in the past that it is difficult to tell where the nitrates in the aquifer are coming from as there are many public practices that can contribute.

“The land over top of the Hullcar Aquifer is agricultural and residential based. Everyone is actually contributing nitrates to that aquifer via their animals, via their agricultural practices, septic systems [and] lawn nitrification,” said Birtle in February. “All those practices do contribute.”

The Ministry of Environment says it is “taking all necessary actions to ensure the residents of Spallumcheen have safe drinking water, while preserving the region’s agriculture economy.”

However, it seems officials have a way to go to convince the public their plan will be enough to fix the problem.

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‘GownTown’ comes to Calgary: taking the stress out of the hunt for a grad dress

“We have gowns; we have short, we have long, we have puffy,” Kim Wiltse explained, as she wheeled a rack of dresses through Calgary’s Marlborough Mall on Friday.

The organizer of this weekend’s “GownTown” event, Wiltse was pleased with all the donated dresses she’d received.

“A little bit of everything. Enough to suit every girl’s dream.”

GownTown takes away part of the high price tag that can come with celebrating the end of high school.

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READ MORE: Spruce Grove woman asking for prom dresses and services for Alberta grads

Graduating students can pick up a dress that’d normally cost hundreds of dollars for $10 at GownTown, with all the proceeds going to charity.

Wiltse expects a big response this year, saying she’s “anticipating a lot more girls this year, just the way the economy is.”

Calgarians are stepping up to meet that demand, with GownTown receiving 200 dresses–double the usual amount of donations.

Two graduating students got an early chance to check out the selection on Friday.

Hadien Saley and Nicole Wilkes wearing the dresses the found at “GownTown.”

Gil Tucker / Global News

Nicole Wilkes was pleased with the peach-coloured gown she found, grateful for the people who donated.

“What they do for us is great!” she said.

READ MORE: Canadians plan to spend more than $500 on prom this year, says survey

Wilkes’ friend, Hadien Saley, was glad to find an elegant grey dress.

“I’m so thankful that we found our dresses and we can go party,”

Graduating students with photo ID are welcome to stop by GownTown between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday, April 17.

If you’d like to donate a dress, you can drop it off during normal shopping hours at the customer service desk at Marlborough Mall, anytime before Sunday.

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Ted Cruz defended ban on the sale of sex toys in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — Defending a Texas state law banning the sale of sex toys, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz argued in a 2007 court brief that individuals have no legal right to use them, even in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

Prior to becoming a U.S. senator, Cruz was for more than five years Texas’ solicitor general, arguing the state’s legal positions in court. He often cites that experience to burnish his credentials as a Christian conservative.

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On the campaign trail, Cruz frequently reminds audiences that he used the job to defend capital punishment and oppose abortion, while preserving the words “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and defending a monument to the Ten Commandments on the state Capitol grounds.

READ MORE: Donald Trump or Ted Cruz: Whose views are more extreme?

But Cruz makes no mention of a decade-old case he lost — his defense of Texas’ sex-toy ban. The story was first reported by Mother Jones magazine.

The law, approved in the 1970s, banned as obscene any device “useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.” The same law also declared that anyone possessing six or more such items was presumed to be promoting sex-toy usage through manufacture, sale, lending, delivery or other means.

Joanne Webb, a 43-year-old mother of three and former fifth-grade teacher, was arrested in 2003 after selling a sex toy to an undercover police officer during a gathering of adult couples similar to a Tupperware party held at a home in a Fort Worth suburb.

Though the criminal charges against Webb were eventually dropped, a collection of sex-toy companies sued in federal court to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s ban.

WATCH: Ted Cruz rides rollercoaster to show ‘ups and downs’ of campaigning

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals later ruled that the Texas law violated 14th Amendment privacy rights. Then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, now the state’s Republican governor, unsuccessfully appealed, asking the full appeals court to review the case.

As solicitor general Cruz co-wrote an 83-page brief arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court “has never suggested that the substantive-due-process doctrine ensures individuals’ ability to stimulate their genitals in ways that are neither connected to procreation nor associated with any particular lifestyle.”

Cruz campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart sought to distance the presidential candidate from his old legal brief, noting in an email that as solicitor general, Cruz had an obligation to defend Texas’ laws in court, regardless of whether he agreed with them.

READ MORE: Republican voters standing by Donald Trump, champion of political incorrectness

“Senator Cruz personally believes that the Texas law in question was, as (Supreme Court) Justice (Clarence) Thomas said in another context, an ‘uncommonly silly’ law,” Stewart said. “But the office was nevertheless duty-bound to defend the policy judgment of the Texas Legislature.”

Cruz defended the Texas ban as “protecting public morals — discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification” and argued that in doing so the state had a vested moral interest in discouraging “autonomous sex.”

Cruz’s brief also suggested that the legal sale of sexual enhancement drugs such as Viagra was different because it can’t be described as a “device.” Couples, even married ones, willing to use sex toys may also “believe that hiring a willing prostitute or engaging in consensual bigamy would enhance their sexual experiences,” Cruz warned.

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Halifax pays homage to victims of Titanic, 104 years later

The mighty ship that was hailed as “unsinkable” went down 104 years ago, on April 15, 1912.

The RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England on April 10, destined for New York City.

She never made it.

READ MORE: Impact of Titanic still felt in Halifax 104 years later

Just before midnight on April 14, the ship struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The damage was irreversible and the ship began to gradually fill with water. By 2:30 that morning, she broke apart and foundered, sinking with over 1,000 people still on board.

Halifax led the rescue expedition and is the resting place of 150 victims that were recovered from the sinking site.

“All the bodies were brought back here,” David LeBlanc with the Titanic Society of Atlantic Canada explained.

“Other than the ones that were paid for and sent back by the families, back to their home burial places.”

The deadly sinking is considered one of the greatest marine disasters of all time.

Halifax has three different Titanic grave sties.

“There’s Fairview Lawn Cemetery, there’s one just up above at the Jewish cemetery and then there’s the Catholic site, the Mount Olivet,” LeBlanc said.

Many of the graves at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery are only identified by the number marking the order they were pulled from the ocean.

There’s also a grave dedicated to the memory of an unknown child.

Who was identified in 2008 as Sidney Leslie Goodwin, a 19 month old boy from London.

On Friday, the day of the anniversary, there was an angel placed beside it.

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