TIME

Video Shows Teacher Forcing Girl Into School Pool

The physical education teacher is being charged with corporal injury to a child

A physical education teacher in Stockton, California is facing charges after a video surfaced of him allegedly trying to force a 14-year-old girl into a pool during gym class.

Denny Peterson, who has been employed in the local school district for more than 10 years, is seen in a video attempting to pull the girl into the pool at Edison High School in an incident that occurred in August, USA Today reports. The 95-second video was captured by another student.

The girl was reportedly avoiding the pool because she had gotten her hair done that morning for an event later in the day.

Peterson is facing a charge of corporal injury to a child. “Regardless of her participation (in the class), it should disgust you how this man put his hands on a 14-year-old girl. She said multiple times, ‘My top is falling down,'” said Gilbert Somera, a Stockton attorney representing the girl and her family.

[USA Today]

TIME justice

Obama Tells Ferguson to ‘Keep Protests Peaceful’

Woman stops to visit the memorial set up where Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson
A woman stops to visit the memorial set up where Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, Nov. 22, 2014. Jim Young—Reuters

"Using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law, contrary to who we are"

President Barack Obama urged protestors in Ferguson to remain peaceful as they await the grand jury’s decision in this summer’s fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man.

“I think first and foremost, keep protests peaceful,” Obama said in an interview, the Associated Press reports. “This is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust. But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law, contrary to who we are.”

A grand jury decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is due any day now, and police are preparing for further unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

Michael Brown senior, the victim’s father said “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.”

[AP]

TIME Crime

University of Virginia Contends With Outrage Over Horrific Rape Reports

The fraternity where a brutal gang rape allegedly took place said it was suspending all of its chapter activities and surrendered its Fraternal Organization Agreement

Groups at the University of Virginia moved this week to respond to an article published by Rolling Stone that describes the brutal rape of a first-year student called Jackie. Students and faculty organized events Saturday to protest the campus’ culture as the administration called on local police to investigate “sexual misconduct” allegations.

University faculty organized a rally scheduled for Saturday night called “Take Back the Party,” with the aim of protesting the risks faced by woman on campus. “The purpose of ‘Take Back the Party’ is to protest a social culture that puts our female students at unacceptable risk,” said UVA faculty in a statement published by NBC.

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of people took part in an on-campus “Slut Walk” to protest the allegations outlined in the Rolling Stone article as well as demand change on campus. “I think we’ve reached the point where people are ready to take steps,” the second-year organizer of the march, Defne Celikoyar said. “People are coming together to act up against it. We want to change it. We do not want to live like this anymore.”

Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity where the brutal gang rape described in the article allegedly took place, said Thursday it was suspending all of its chapter activities and surrendered its Fraternal Organization Agreement.

Students at UVA wrote in to Rolling Stone after the article was published, recounting numerous other instances of rape on campus, blaming a “culture of sexual assault,” according to one commenter.

Teresa Sullivan, the president of UVA, responded to the article by saying the school had asked local police to investigate the sexual assault on Jackie, and said she was reexamining the university’s response to rape allegations. “I want to underscore our commitment to marshaling all available resources to assist our students who confront issues related to sexual misconduct,” Sullivan said.

Rolling Stone describes the violent gang rape in 2012 of a first-year named Jackie, who was reportedly lured into a Phi Kappa Psi frat house bedroom and penetrated by a group of fraternity brothers. The article caused a campus outcry over the administration’s apparent cover-up of sexual assault allegations.

TIME Transportation

Taxi App CEO: Uber Is an ‘A–Hole’

136011080
View of taxi board Thomas Bonfert—Getty Images/Flickr RF

Rakesh Mathur wants to help cab drivers disrupt the disruptors

As Uber weathered a storm of bad publicity this week, a relatively small competitor put a new CEO at the helm. Rakesh Mathur is a serial company-founder who worked at Amazon after it bought his e-commerce startup Junglee. He’s now running Flywheel, an e-hailing app that everyday taxi drivers can use to pick up smartphone users and fight back against the disruptors.

Flywheel is in a mere three cities, compared to Uber’s 220 worldwide. And while the company just announced $12 million in funding, Uber is raising rounds by the billion. TIME spoke to Mathur about privacy, the pros and cons of Uber’s creative destruction and how the company plans to take over America despite the competition.

TIME: In a recent email, one of your company representatives described Flywheel as the “non-a–hole” alternative to Uber. Can you comment on that positioning?

Mathur: I think the last couple of days have been pretty shocking, right? Where you’re not just being told, “Hey, I know how to violate your privacy. I do that all the time. But I’m even worse than the [National Security Agency]. I’m going to take that information and do bad things to you.” I think a–hole is probably a mild word. And the fact that across the organization they feel so open using things like their God View, where you can see anybody who rides in an Uber car. Every driver that drives for Uber is tainted.

These transportation startups generally have the ability to know where their drivers are and where customers are needing to be picked up. What is your policy at Flywheel about who has access to that information and when?

It exists for some complaint or something that we’re solving, like disputing a fare. Certainly we can collect all the data on trends, so we know where demands are peaking and so forth . . . No one should have access to this information. It shouldn’t be called out. It should be available to solve consumer-initiated complaints. I don’t think monitoring individual information about people’s individual rides is something that is anybody’s right to know.

How do you see Lyft as a competitor that is different from Uber?

Their corporate philosophy projects as a lot kinder, gentler. Lyft is every bit as fierce a competitor.

Do you see Uber as a more direct competitor, more similar to a taxi service than Lyft, where riders are invited to sit in the front seat and chat?

We don’t need to obsess about Uber and Lyft beyond a certain point. Our primary job right now is to get into this huge supply that is available to us. And that’s going to keep us busy for a few years, making sure we are in all the cabs in America. I would liken worrying to much about Uber and Lyft to driving by looking in the rearview mirror.

What are your plans for expansion?

There’s so much inbound interest right now from markets all over the country. We’re going through them and figuring out which of the fleets in which markets give us critical mass. There’s also a lot of interest from software service providers within the taxi industry. So we’ve got our plate full.

We do you think you’ll go next?

We’re in San Francisco. We have toeholds in Seattle and Los Angeles. And in the next three-to-six months, we should be in many of the bigger cities in the United States.

Are we talking another three cities? Another dozen?

More like another dozen than another three.

I know you said you try to keep Uber in the rearview mirror, but how do you compete with a service that is raising funds a billion dollars at a time?

In terms of capital, I’ve built multiple companies. In the past 20 years, I’ve sold six companies. I’ve got pretty deep connections in the venture, finance and angel world. With any luck, we’re going to raise all the capital we need. The other part is that if I had $100 million right now and I felt compelled to spend it, I could make some terrible mistakes that I haven’t thought through. And it’s very hard to scale back.

You have a lot of advantages in leveraging the already-existing taxi industry. No surge pricing. Allies in some transportation authorities. You may have an easier time getting legal access to airports. What do you see as your key advantage?

Taxi companies offer a more safe and knowledgeable environment. Safe, as in taxi drivers, for all the insults that are hurled at them, have to go through fingerprinting and checks against national databases, including the FBI’s. The standard Uber or Lyft driver is, maybe, slightly more checked out than the general population. I’m fiercely concerned about how unsafe the unregulated part of the industry is. And in many to most instances, you’re dealing with people who know their city very well if you’re dealing with a taxi. . . . It’s a regulated industry with a huge supply. We don’t have to recruit supply. It’s a more stable model.

What do you see as your disadvantage in the market?

At an overall level, the regulatory system is a dual-edged sword . . . We’re on the right side of the law everywhere. That said, we don’t feel that it would make any sense to come up with rules to govern how we price, how we behave, et cetera. To the extent that regulators want to try to regulate us, that would be a bad thing.

How do you plan, as a new CEO, to do things differently at the company?

My main charter is scaling, to make sure that the technology that worked in San Francisco is applicable and scales, all while eliminating things like ridestacking [when drivers accept a ride through the app and then pick up a street hail], more integration with other systems inside the cab, making it much more bullet-proof and delightful for the consumer. The other part of it is dealing with the ecosystem in a very aggressive way and making sure our deployment into all the cabs in America goes as fast as possible.

Before they had this new competition, were taxi companies too lax in customer service?

Absolutely. Uber has been a godsend for the taxi industry. They’re starting to realize who they serve, the person who gets into the taxi. The service levels have gone up. The importance of hailing from a smartphone has been recognized. I think they’ve also unified the taxi industry. It’s been good for the taxi industry. Uber and Lyft have delivered very valuable service to everybody, despite the fact that one of them seems to be a company that only has sharp elbows.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

 

TIME movies

The History Behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Imitation Game

Alan Turing wasn't the only one who suffered

The new movie The Imitation game is bringing fresh attention to a dark period in early 20th century, when homosexuals in the U.S. and the U.K. were criminally prosecuted because of their sexuality.

The movie, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, depicts the life of Alan Turing—a mathematician, computer scientist and code breaker known as a key architect of the modern computer and an instrumental figure whose skill for breaking Nazi codes helped the allies win World War II.

Despite his genius, Turing was prosecuted in England in 1952 for engaging in a homosexual relationship with a man. In lieu of prison, he was sentenced to take estrogen treatments to reduce his libido, a practice dubbed “chemical castration.” In 1954, he killed himself by cyanide poisoning at the age of 41.

The film depicts the Turing’s unjust prosecution and punishment for homosexuality, though slightly inaccurately (for more information, the Guardian did a helpful analysis of the film’s facts).

What happened to Turing was not uncommon in the United Kingdom and the United States during his lifetime in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. In the U.S., it was “the worst time to be queer because you are not being ignored, you are actively searched for and persecuted,” said John D’Emilio, a professor of gay and lesbian studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “The nice thing about the movie is that it is calling attention to this bit of history that people don’t know anything about.”

MORE: The price of genius

In Britain—where America’s own sodomy laws originated—the story begins in 1533, during the reign of Henry the VIII. That year, the Buggery Act made male sex a capital offense in Britain, punishable by death, usually by hanging. That remained the law until 1861, when the sentence was changed from death to prison, usually with hard labor. In 1885, the law was broadened to criminalize “gross indecency” a vague, catch-all term used to prosecute anything considered to be deviant sexual behavior outside of sodomy, mostly between men. In 1895, the playwright Oscar Wilde was convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years of prison and hard labor, about which he penned a poem called “The Balad of Reading Gaol.”

During Alan Turing’s life, public concern over the possibility that homosexuals serving in the military or aiding in the war effort could be blackmailed by enemies intensified the stigma of homosexuality in Britain. After Turing was convicted in 1952, the British government took away his security clearance. Turing was exposed after he reported a petty theft to the police, involving his lover. Their relationship was discovered by the police through his reporting of the crime. He pleaded guilty and opted for hormone treatments, known as chemical castration, instead of prison time. He tragically killed himself with cyanide in 1954.

The 1950s, was the beginning of the end for Britain’s laws against homosexual sex, as the prosecution of prominent people stoked a public backlash against the laws. In 1954, a well known journalist, Peter Wildeblood was convicted of homosexual acts with two prominent and wealthy men, Lord Montagu and Michael Pitt-Rivers, in a public trial that resulted in prison time for all of the men and public opposition to laws against homosexual sex. The trial lead to the creation of the Wolfenden committee of government representatives, ministers, educators, and psychiatrists, which in 1957, published a report recommending the discontinuation of laws against homosexuality.

The report eventually led to the 1967 Sexual Offenses Act, which ended the criminalization of homosexual sex between consenting men over the age of 21 in Britain and Wales. In 1994, the age was lowered to 18, and in 2003, it was lowered to 16, the same age for consenting heterosexual sex.

The U.S. history is slightly different from Britain’s. The fervent prosecution of gay sex didn’t start to happen in earnest until the very period during which Turing lived. The U.S. had anti-sodomy laws inherited from the English settlers, but it wasn’t until the late 1930s, 40s and 50s, during a period coinciding with the World Wars and a strong strain of Christian morality, that police in the U.S. made it a priority to enforce laws against homosexuals.

As in England, concerns that homosexuals could be blackmailed by Communist spies—an idea popularized by Senator Joe McCarthy—drove some of the fervor against homosexuals during that period. In the U.S.—more so than in Britain, it seems—the period was marked by increased police enforcement of the laws. Police officers went undercover in public parks where homosexuals went to meet each other for sexual encounters, in order to uncover them. It was a period of fear for homosexuals in America unparalleled before or since. “This is the height of what I call the homosexual terror in America,” said William Eskridge, a professor at Yale Law School and the author of Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America.

MORE: TIME reviews The Imitation Game

During this same period, Eskridge said, states began to pass laws that allowed courts to institutionalize gay people indefinitely in mental institutions for having “psychotic personalities,” where were experimented on, lobotomized, and given shock therapy.

As was the case with Turing, the prosecution of gays also denied the U.S. some very bright minds who, but for their homosexuality, might have been allowed to contribute more to society. In the late 1950’s, Frank Kameny, an astronomer with a Ph.D. from Harvard, was kicked out of the Army Map Service and barred from serving in theUS government because he was a homosexual.

“One of geniuses of 20th century, the father of modern computers who helped win World War II, who was a lovely person, was destroyed by the anti homosexual terror,” Eskridge said of Turing.

TIME Crime

Los Angeles Schools to Pay $139 Million in Child Abuse Scandal

Mark Berndt, right, a former South Los Angeles-area elementary school teacher at Miramonte Elemenary during his arraignment in Los Angeles Municipal Court Metropolitan Branch on Feb. 21, 2012.
Mark Berndt, right, a former South Los Angeles-area elementary school teacher at Miramonte Elemenary during his arraignment in Los Angeles Municipal Court Metropolitan Branch on Feb. 21, 2012. Al Seib—AP

The settlement affects about 150 children

The Los Angeles public school system said Friday that it will pay $139 million to settle legal claims from students subjected to lewd sexual acts committed by a third-grade teacher.

The settlement with the Los Angeles Unified School District comes in a grisly case that has been ongoing since an employee at a photo development store uncovered inappropriate pictures of the teacher, Mark Berndt, with students in 2010. Berndt, a former teacher at Miramonte Middle School, pleaded no contest to charges of child abuse in 2013 and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Parents of about 150 students filed legal claims arguing that the school district was negligent in protecting children.

“Throughout this case, we have shared in the pain felt by these children, their families and the community,” school superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said in a statement. “Each day, we are responsible for the safety of more than 600,000 students. There is a sacred trust put in us to protect the children we serve.”

TIME Crime

Michael Brown’s Family Calls for Calm as Ferguson Grand Jury Nears Decision

Police form a line opposite of protesters in front of the police station on Nov. 19, 2014.
Police form a line opposite of protesters in front of the police station on Nov. 19, 2014. Huy Mach—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Polaris

"They do not advocate any violence, any looting, any rioting"

The family of the unarmed black teenager whose shooting death at the hands of a white police officer sparked violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., earlier this year appealed for calm Friday as a grand jury nears its decision on whether or not to charge the officer.

“They do not advocate any violence, any looting, any rioting,” Anthony Gray, an attorney for Michael Brown’s family, said during a news conference. The family called on Ferguson residents to keep their protests peaceful regardless of whether or not the grand jury charges Officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.

Ferguson has been on edge ahead of the grand jury’s decision, which is expected to come in a matter of days if not sooner, with sporadic protests breaking out and isolated arrests.

Brown’s family members aren’t the only ones calling for calm as the St. Louis County grand jury deliberates. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a preemptive state of emergency Tuesday, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made a plea for any protests to be peaceful in a video Friday.

“History has also shown that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to nonaggression and non-violence,” Holder said. “I ask all those who seek to lend their voices to important causes and discussions and seek to elevate these vital conversations… to do so in a way that respects the gravity of their subject matter.”

TIME Crime

Watch Live: Michael Brown’s Family Speaks Ahead of Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

Decision expected soon

The family of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose shooting death at the hands of a white police officer sparked violent protests in Ferguson, Mo. earlier this year, is holding a news conference Friday ahead of a decision by a grand jury probing the case.

Attorney General Eric Holder appealed for calm in a video Thursday ahead of the decision, and Brown’s father has also called for calm.

Watch the news conference live above.

Read next: Michael Brown’s Family Calls for Calm as Ferguson Grand Jury Nears Decision

TIME Government

Americans Actually Love the Post Office

United States Postal Service clerks sort mail at the USPS Lincoln Park carriers annex in Chicago
USPS mail clerks sort packages in Chicago, November 29, 2012. A new Gallup poll shows that most Americans think the post office is doing a good or excellent job despite its financial difficulties. John Gress—Reuters

Poll finds that the beleaguered USPS is the nation's most-liked government agency

Complaining about the post office is an American pastime, like griping about Congress, or whining about the DMV. Who, in their right mind, actually likes dealing with the post office?

A lot of people, it turns out. According to a new Gallup survey, 72% of Americans say the U.S. Postal Service is doing an excellent or good job. That puts the USPS ahead of 12 other government agencies, including the FBI, the CDC, NASA and the CIA. And the younger the respondent, the more likely they were to think highly of our much-maligned courier: 81% of 18-to-29-year-olds rated the post office’s job as excellent or good, while 65% of those over 65 said the same thing.

So what accounts for the post office’s surprising popularity? Age, for one.

(MORE: The Postmaster General Hangs Up His Mail Bag, With a Parting Shot at Congress)

As the volume of letters has declined, the USPS has evolved to become as much a courier of packages as it is a way to send and receive first-class mail. In the last few years, the post office has not only expanded its delivery of parcels (it recently began a partnership with Amazon to deliver on Sundays), but it also often delivers packages for FedEx and UPS in what’s called “last mile” delivery, which are shipments to residents that private carriers don’t service. That means millennials interact less with the USPS at its worst — the interminable lines at understaffed post offices — and more from the comfort of home, where the mailman is the person at the door with their new shoes from Amazon or their iPhone from the Apple store.

The post office is also the one agency that Americans actually see doing its job each day. You see postal employees on their routes. You can see post offices open. When’s the last time you saw an FDA worker inspecting your local restaurant or the Federal Reserve Board in action as it plotted the end of quantitative easing?

Not that the latest survey should make the post office rejoice. The faltering institution has run deficits every year since 2007 and its aggressive efforts to adapt to the digital age have not yet been enough to offset the substantial drop in mail volume and onerous Congressional mandates to fund retirees. But it never hurts to have the public on your side.

TIME Crime

Report Identifies Missed Chances to Treat Newtown Shooter

This undated file photo circulated by law enforcement and provided by NBC News, shows Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter.
This undated file photo circulated by law enforcement and provided by NBC News, shows Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter. NBC News/AP

Connecticut's Office of the Child Advocate has released a report on Adam Lanza, who carried out the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012

The school system unwittingly enabled Adam Lanza’s mother in her preference to “accommodate and appease” him as he became more withdrawn socially, according to a state report issued Friday on the man who carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The Office of the Child Advocate identified missed opportunities to provide more appropriate treatment for Lanza, whose social isolation and obsession with mass killings have been detailed by police reports that found the motive for the shootings may never be known.

The advocate’s office investigates all child deaths in the state for lessons on prevention. The authors of the Newtown report said it aims to reinforce the importance of effective mental health treatment and communication among professionals charged with the care for children.

The report, which refers to Lanza only as “AL,” noted that recommendations by specialists for extensive special education support and expert consultations largely went unheeded.

“Records indicate that the school system cared about AL’s success but also unwittingly enabled Mrs. Lanza’s preference to accommodate and appease AL through the educational plan’s lack of attention to social-emotional support, failure to provide related services, and agreement to AL’s plan of independent study and early graduation at age 17,” the authors wrote.

The authors of the 114-page report said they could not say whether more effective treatment could have prevented the tragedy.

“This report raises, but cannot definitively answer, the question as to whether better access to effective mental health and educational services would have prevented the tragic events at Sandy Hook,” they wrote.

Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, then shot his way into the Newtown school on Dec. 14, 2012, and gunned down 20 children and six educators before committing suicide.

The police investigation into the massacre concluded more than a year ago with prosecutors saying in a summary report that a motive might never be known. It said Lanza was afflicted with mental health problems, but despite his dark interests, he did not display aggressive or threatening tendencies.

Documents released by police in December 2013 included descriptions of sporadic treatment for his mental health troubles. At one point, experts at the Yale Child Studies Center prescribed antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication, but his mother, Nancy Lanza, discontinued the treatment after her son was unable to raise his arm after taking the medicine and never scheduled follow-up visits, police reports said.

A Connecticut judge last year ordered Newtown school officials to give Lanza’s records the Office of Child Advocate for its investigation. The governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for the office’s report before releasing its recommendations on what the state can do to prevent and respond to future mass killings.

Child Advocate Sarah H. Eagan already has met with the families of the victims and Newtown school officials to discuss the findings.

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