TIME Crime

Man Charged in Oklahoma With Child Abuse in Kenya

The accused's attorney said on Tuesday the affidavit is riddled with inaccuracies and that his client is innocent

(OKLAHOMA CITY) — An Oklahoma man has been charged with sexually abusing boys and girls while volunteering at an organization in Kenya that assists neglected children.

Matthew Lane Durham, of Edmond, is accused of engaging in sex acts with as many as ten children aged from 4 to 10 years while volunteering at Upendo Children’s Home in Nairobi from April to June 2014.

The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Oklahoma last week says the 19-year-old Durham has volunteered with Upendo since June 2012.

Durham wrote and signed a confession that an Upendo official provided to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, according to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Scott Lobb.

In it, he admitted to sexually abusing boys and girls in a bathroom at the children’s home. At least one of the victims is HIV positive, according to the affidavit.

During previous visits, Durham lived with sponsor families in Nairobi, but for his most recent trip he requested to stay at the children’s home in an “overflow bunk,” Lobb wrote.

A live-in caretaker at the children’s home became suspicious of Durham’s behavior and inquired with the children, who told her about the abuse, the affidavit states. The caretaker then reported the allegations to Upendo officials, who obtained a confession from Durham, confiscated his passport and notified local police, Lobb wrote.

Durham’s attorney Stephen Jones said Tuesday the affidavit is riddled with inaccuracies and that his client is innocent.

“The FBI affidavit is based upon second-hand, or in some cases third-hand, hearsay,” Jones said.

Jones said Durham’s “alleged confession” was elicited by Upendo employees through “a bizarre combination of Kenyan tribal actions, pseudo-psychology, law enforcement techniques and religious zealotry.”

Durham returned to the U.S. last month. He was arrested Thursday in Edmond and is currently being held at the Logan County jail, according to the U.S. Marshal’s Office. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 1.

A statement from Upendo Kids International Director Eunice Menja said the Edmond-based company is cooperating with authorities, but declined further comment.

Durham faces four counts: traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct; engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places; attempt and conspiracy; and aggravated sexual abuse with children. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

TIME Crime

Behind the Video of Eric Garner’s Deadly Confrontation With New York Police

TIME talks with the man who filmed the fatal incident on Staten Island

+ READ ARTICLE

On July 17, Ramsey Orta was talking to his friend, Eric Garner, about where to eat dinner — Friday’s, maybe, or Applebee’s. They eventually decided on Buffalo Wild Wings, but Garner never made it. Soon, a fight broke out nearby, Orta says, and after Garner helped break it up, New York Police Department officers on the scene accused Garner of selling untaxed cigarettes and attempted to arrest him.

Garner, a 43-year-old father of six who was unarmed at the time, argued with the officers about why he was being targeted. To corral Garner, one officer used what appeared to be a chokehold, a technique banned by the NYPD. Several others helped drag him to the ground. Garner, who had a history of health problems, died soon after.

Orta recorded the incident on his phone and the video has helped turn the fatal encounter from a local tragedy into a national debate over the use of force by police. Orta, 22, says he’s known Garner for several years and called him “the neighborhood dad.” Orta’s video shows what appears to be one officer pressing Garner’s face into the sidewalk as other officers attempt to subdue him. On the ground, Garner can be heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.”

“I felt like they treated him wrong even after the fact that they had him contained,” Orta says.

Since Orta’s video became public, the officer who grabbed Garner by the neck, Daniel Pantaleo, was ordered to turn in his badge and gun; another was reassigned to desk duty. The four emergency medical workers who responded to the scene have also been suspended without pay. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “very troubled” by the footage, and both prosecutors and the NYPD are investigating the incident.

Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, criticized the department’s response as “a completely unwarranted, kneejerk reaction for political reasons and nothing more.”

Orta recorded another violent arrest at the same location in Staten Island a week earlier. He says officers have harassed him since the Garner video became public, but he says he isn’t likely to put his camera away if something happens in his Staten Island neighborhood again.

“It just gives me more power to not be afraid to pull out my camera anytime,” he says. “Even if they’re pushing me back, I might just like keep going forward and if I get arrested, hey, I got something on camera.”

Video reported by Paul Moakley, edited by Raymond Chu

TIME Crime

DOJ: Newark Cops Have Pattern of ‘Unconstitutional Policing’

Embattled City Of Newark Holds Mayoral Election
People walk by a police car in downtown on May 13, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Violations range from stop-and-frisk to use of excessive force

Following a three-year federal investigation, the Newark Police Department was mandated by the Department of Justice Tuesday to overhaul its behavior due to “a pattern of unconstitutional policing,” which included stop-and-frisk tactics and the use of excessive force.

The DOJ report said that Newark police used excessive force in more than one out of five arrests. Some police, the report found, arrested individuals who either questioned cops’ tactics or behaved in a “disrespectful” manner, a potential breach of the First Amendment. The report also said that many officers in drug and gang units were found to have stolen property from people they had arrested.

“Our investigation uncovered troubling patterns in stops, arrests and use of force by the police in Newark,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “With this agreement, we’re taking decisive action to address potential discrimination and end unconstitutional conduct by those who are sworn to serve their fellow citizens.”

The DOJ probe was launched in 2011 after New Jersey’s American Civil Liberties Union filed a misconduct complaint.

TIME Crime

Mystery White Flags on Brooklyn Bridge Provoke Social Media Frenzy

"We will not surrender"

The New York Police Department has removed a pair of white flags that mysteriously replaced the American stars and stripes on top of the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday morning.

While the unexplained security breach is under investigation by police, the incident has incited a slew of social media confusion and some conspiracy theories.

Has Brooklyn surrendered?

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams issued a statement that no, “We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time.”

Were the flags in question actually American flags that had been whitewashed? Oren Yaniv of the Daily News said yes:

Even more suspiciously still, the police folded the flags in a ceremonial manner after taking them down:

While Adams is approaching the confusing stunt very seriously — “If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing. The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets.” — others online are taking a lighter approach.

It’s a marketing stunt for a little-remembered British singer of the 1990s:

Some thought it was a message from the borough on the other side of the bridge:

Others speculated what Brooklyn might be giving in to:

If it helps, public officials aren’t sure either. In the words of an NYPD Deputy Commission for Public Information officer to Business Insider, “We don’t know anything.”

TIME National Security

Friend of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Guilty of Obstructing Justice

Azamat Tazhayakov
In this courtroom sketch, defendant Azamat Tazhayakov, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, sits during a hearing in federal court in Boston on May 13, 2014. Jane Flavell Collins—AP

Azamat Tazhayakov is the first of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends to be put on trial for obstructing the investigation

A federal court found a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of obstruction of justice and of conspiring to obstruct justice for interfering with the investigation.

Azamat Tazhayakov, a former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student, faces a possible 20-year sentence for the obstruction charge and five years for the conspiracy charge, the Boston Globe reports.

The 12-member U.S. District Court jury deliberated for 15 hours over the course of three days. The sentencing has been set for Oct. 16, according to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

Prosecutors argued that Tazhayakov knew of another friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, who allegedly removed evidence from Tsarnaev’s room a few days after the bombing and worked with him to help protect Tsarnaev.

Tazhayakov is the first of three friends of Tsarnaev to be put on trial on charges related to hindering the investigation. Tsarnaev’s trial is scheduled to begin in November.

[Boston Globe]

TIME Crime

Trial Begins in Porch Shooting of Unarmed Detroit Teen

This undated file photo is the cover of a funeral program showing 19-year-old Renisha McBride from a service in Detroit.
This undated file photo is the cover of a funeral program showing 19-year-old Renisha McBride from a service in Detroit. AP

Jury selection in Theodore Wafer's murder trial set to begin Monday

Jury selection is set to begin Monday in the trial of Theodore Wafer, 55, who is charged with shooting and killing an unarmed 19-year-old Detroit woman on his front porch.

Wafer shot Renisha McBride in the head with a shotgun at his suburban Detroit home in November, after the inebriated teenager pounded on his door in the middle of the night.

Prosecutors believe McBride was seeking help from Wafer after crashing into a parked car some blocks away. The defense argues Wafer feared for his life and acted in self-defense when he shot her. Wafer has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. According to the Associated Press, he faces life in prison if convicted.

The defense is reportedly working to paint McBride as aggressive and violent. According to the Detroit Free Press, the judge has ruled against allowing the jury to see McBride’s cellphone photos or text messages at the time of trial, which the defense wanted to support their claims. The jury will likely hear testimony about crime in Detroit, and the Dearborn Heights suburb where McBride was shot.

“If Ms. McBride had stayed at the scene of her car crash, where help was on the way, Mr. Wafer would never have been put in the situation … to use deadly force to protect himself,” defense attorney Cheryl Carpenter said, the Associated Press reports.

The prosecution plans to argue that the use of deadly force was unnecessary. “Someone who claims lawful self-defense must have an honest and reasonable — not honest or reasonable — belief of imminent death or imminent great bodily harm,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said, when she filed charges.

TIME Crime

NYPD Officer Loses Badge After Man Dies During Arrest

Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Rev. Al Sharpton hold Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, during a rally at the National Action Network headquarters for Eric Garner, July 19, 2014, in New York City.
Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Rev. Al Sharpton hold Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, during a rally at the National Action Network headquarters for Eric Garner, July 19, 2014, in New York City. John Minchillo—AP

Daniel Pantaleo has been assigned to desk duty while authorities investigate the death of Eric Garner

A New York City Police Department officer had his gun and badge removed after a man died in custody when the officer put what looked like a chokehold on him, police said Saturday.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who has worked for the NYPD for eight years, has been reassigned to desk duty following the Staten Island death of 43-year-old Eric Garner, the Associated Press reports. Another unnamed officer involved in the arrest has also been reassigned but will keep his badge and gun.

Video footage obtained by the New York Daily News shows an officer putting Garner in an apparent chokehold, a move that is prohibited by the police department and can be fatal, after he refused to be handcuffed. Garner can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” as officers bring him to the ground while trying to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes on the street.

Police union President Patrick Lynch called the reassignment a “completely unwarranted, knee-jerk reaction” that “effectively pre-judges the case” in a statement.

Federal court records show that Pantaleo has been sued by three men in the past two years for racially-biased arrests on Staten Island. Pantaleo could not be reached for comment by the AP.

Though officials believe Garner died of a heart attack, a medical examiner’s office spokesperson said the exact cause of Garner’s death has yet to be determined.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio called the circumstances of Garner’s death “very troubling.”

[AP]

TIME justice

New York Man Dies After Police Try to Arrest Him

Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Rev. Al Sharpton hold Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, during a rally at the National Action Network headquarters for Eric Garner, July 19, 2014, in New York City.
Rev. Herbert Daughtry and Rev. Al Sharpton hold Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, during a rally at the National Action Network headquarters for Eric Garner, July 19, 2014, in New York City. John Minchillo—AP

The fatal incident, which police commissioner Bill Bratton called a "tragedy," was caught in a terrifying video and is currently under investigation

A New York City man died Thursday after a police officer appeared to put him in a chokehold in an incident that was captured on video.

Eric Garner, 43, died of an apparent heart attack after police in Staten Island attempted to arrest him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department told TIME.

In the graphic video, obtained by the New York Daily News, Garner can be heard complaining that he can’t breathe and at one point appears to fall unconscious as police attempt to tackle him. The officer who appears to put a chokehold around Garner also appears to push his head into the ground.

Two officers, with eight and four years of experience in the Department respectively, have been placed on desk duty, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a Friday news conference. He said the police officer in the video did appear to use a chokehold, which he said is “prohibited by the department.” Prosecutors and the department’s internal affairs have opened probes into the incident.

Bratton, who was hired this year by Mayor Bill de Blasio with a goal in part of improving police-community relations, called Garner’s death a “tragedy for all involved.”

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Garner, who died yesterday afternoon while being placed in police custody,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We are harnessing all resources available to the City to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the circumstances of this tragic incident.”

In the video, a frustrated Garner denies having done anything wrong. “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” says Garner, who has been arrested 31 times for charges including drug possession and selling untaxed cigarettes, according to the Associated Press. “I’m tired of it. It stops today…. I’m minding my business please just leave me alone.”

TIME Crime

Arrested Man Orders Pizza to Police Station, Gets in More Trouble

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Getty Images

He faces a slew of new charges for the stunt

A man in Kentucky who was arrested for shoplifting and public intoxication decided to pull a little prank — which totally ended up backfiring.

This jokester — 29-year-old Michael Harp — asked for permission to make a call on his cell phone and then used it to order five pizzas from Domino’s, WKYT reports. The pies arrived under the name of Officer Wilson, who had originally arrested Harp. They tracked the call to Harp pretty easily since, you know, he’d used his own cell phone.

Harp, however, denied the whole thing.

“I’m wrongfully accused on this here,” he told WKYT. “They’ve charged me with two felonies over this pizza deal because I had my phone inside the holding cell. There was about 10 people who probably used the phone, so it’s hard to say. Like I said, I never heard anyone say a word about Domino’s pizzas. Any of it.”

Still, he’s now facing additional charges including theft of identity, theft by deception and impersonating a police officer. Rough.

TIME Parenting

How Overparenting Makes Kids Overweight

dv2014006
Digital Vision.—Getty Images

A study found that maternal overprotectiveness increased the odds of children being overweight.

Maybe if we stopped calling it The Obesity Epidemic and started calling it The Fear Epidemic we could finally make a dent in the widening waistlines of our country’s kids.

A study just published in the journal PLOS One is the first to prove a link between helicopter parenting and obesity: Between ages 10 to 11, the researchers found, maternal overprotectiveness “was associated with a 13 percent increase in the odds of children being overweight or obese.”

This link makes intuitive sense. The fear of predators is part of what’s making kids fat, by keeping them inside, sedentary, and near the fridge. After all, most of us grew up on cookies and milk every day after school – whole milk! – and no one was worried about the big O. That’s because we’d walk home, eat, then run outside to play some more.

But today, to keep our kids “safe,” we drive them back and forth to school. “Arrival” and “dismissal” have morphed into “drop-off” and “pick-up.” Kids are delivered like FedEx packages. About 1 in 10 use their legs to get to school.

This intense oversight happens not just in neighborhoods riddled by crime and drugs, where a tight leash makes sense, but in areas parents deliberately chose because they wanted to raise their kids someplace nice and safe.

And yet, when are the kids taking advantage of all that nice safety? After school they’re either off to a supervised activity or they’re back home, never to venture out again, in part because of massive homework loads, in part because of endless electronic options, but also in great part because they are not allowed to go outside on their own. Their parents, even if one of them is at home, are afraid they’ll get abducted.

While the overprotectiveness study concentrated only on moms (in Australia, no less), we have become an entire generation afraid for our kids. Predator panic is not a minor part of the culture. ABC appointed Elizabeth Smart its special correspondent for missing children. It seems America’s got four main categories of stories: news, weather, sports — and kidnapping.

No wonder parents are terrified! I heard from one mom who was actually outside with her kids, reading while they played on the lawn, when a woman walked by shouting, “Put down that book! Don’t you realize your children could be snatched at any time?”

That is the exact fear of our era: If we take our eyes off our kids, even for a second, we will never see them again. Another mom wrote to tell me that, despite a twinge of trepidation, she decided to let her six-year-old walk four houses down to his friend. This was in a gated community, during the day.

The boy came back from his playdate happy as a clam (who can walk). But when this mom told other friends about her son’s big adventure – or what passes for a big adventure in 21st century America – one of them said, “Oh my goodness! You just kill me! Anything could have happened.”

Anything? That’s true. But the odds of “anything” being terrible are tiny. The U.S. crime rate today is lower than any time since the advent of color TV. That means any parents who grew up in the ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s were playing outside when the crime rate was higher than it is today. Yes, higher! Nobody called their parents negligent for letting them stay out till the streetlights came on. That was just a normal – and incidentally fat-defying – childhood. Today the number of children age 9 to 13 playing outside, unsupervised, in any given week, is 6 percent.

That’s ridiculously close to zero.

“It doesn’t take much to see that this generates a vicious cycle. Captivity breeds inactivity,” says Joshua Gans, a professor at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and author of Parentonomics. “If you fear letting your kids loose outside, that is when the risk of obesity expands.”

But we can’t just blame fearful parents for keeping the kids cooped up. The government, which should be encouraging outdoor play, is busy doing the opposite. A man in suburban Pittsburgh dropped off his kids, age 6 and 9, at the park while he ran some errands. This sight was so unusual – children playing on their own – that a passerby called 911. The police came and charged the dad with two counts of child endangerment. This happened recently in D.C., too. And again in South Carolina, just last week. In fact, I hear about an incident like that almost weekly now.

Why is it endangerment to let your kids have fun and burn calories, but it’s not endangerment to keep them inside where they run the risk of getting fat and diabetic?

If we are going to be obsessed by a fear for our kids, let’s at least choose the right one.

Because in a panic, it’s impossible to think straight. That’s why I keep getting letters from parents who have been harassed or even ticketed by the authorities for letting their kids play outside, sometimes right next to their house. One mom got a visit from Child Protective Services because her children were playing in the rain! It has become a radical act to let kids play beyond the living room. This results in weird things, like one of the original public service announcements for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. It was almost guaranteed to make sure kids move less.

The spot shows a mom in her kitchen chopping healthy veggies (natch’), when her daughter leans over the banister and says, “Mom, can I have a dollar?” The mom sees her wallet right next to her on the counter but then gets a clever idea. “I think my purse is upstairs on the bed!” she tells the girl, who bolts up the stairs. When of course it isn’t there, the mom says to “Try the downstairs closet!” then the upstairs closet, etc., etc., with the girl running up and down until finally she spies the wallet in the kitchen. Then the ad reminds parents it’s our job to find ways to get kids moving.

No, it’s not! It has never been any parent’s job to come up with 365 days’ worth of clever ways to trick our kids into moving their limbs for an hour. It is simply our job to get our kids outside. In turn, it’s the government’s job not to criminalize, demonize or criticize parents who let their children play outside the way our parents did.

Until we all get over the idea that our kids need a security detail every time they leave the house, inside the house they’ll sit, getting older and wider. We are overprotecting them from incredibly unlikely crimes, while making them lots more likely to end up Santa-shaped.

If we are going to be obsessed by a fear for our kids, let’s at least choose the right one.

Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range kids. Her show “World’s Worst Mom” airs on Discovery/TLC international. This piece originally appeared at The Weekly Wonk.

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