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Florida teacher accused of molesting 13-year-old girl

A Florida teacher and another man have been arrested after being accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl in a school classroom, Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies said. 

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Teacher and soccer coach, Sonny Juarez, 29, faces charges of lewd and lascivious molestation, which occurred between November 2016 until March 2017, WFLA reported. 

Juarez, who taught at RCMA Academy in Wimauma, allegedly molested the girl for five months on campus in the back of the classroom while she was pregnant, according to deputies. 

Investigators told WFLA that another man, Felipe Diaz Hernandez, 54, also abused and sexually battered the girl, and is the man who got her pregnant. The victim gave birth to a baby girl in September, WFLA reported. 

Juarez has since been fired from the school and was released from the county jail on a $15,000 bond. Hernandez faces charges of child abuse and sexual battery. He remains in jail on a $600,000 bond, according to jail records. 

3-month-old girl among 84 rescued in sex trafficking sting

A 3-month-old girl and her 5-year-old sister were rescued in Denver by undercover agents during this month’s FBI-led sting operation against sex traffickers, CNN reported.

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In announcing details of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI officials said 82 other juveniles were rescued during a nationwide sweep last week. The FBI said 120 people were arrested.

In the case of the two sisters in Denver, the alleged trafficker was a friend of the children’s family who made a deal to sell them for sex for $600, the FBI said. The friend communicated with an undercover agent. 

"Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested -- and the number of children recovered -- reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.

The average age of the victims recovered from this year's operation is 15, the FBI said. Traffickers would offer the victims to outsiders from hotels, truck stops or from online, the FBI said.

On Oct. 13, the second day of the operation, a minor was rescued by the FBI in El Paso, Texas, when a 16-year-old female victim was advertised online for "entertainment," CNN reported.

The girl was accompanied by a 21-year-old female who offered an undercover agent sexual intercourse with both her and the underage victim for $200, the FBI said.

At a news conference in Denver on Thursday, District Attorney George Brauchler reminded traffickers that undercover agents and task force officers are always lurking, whether behind cameras, on the Internet or in a casino, prepared to make another bust.

"To those out there who are watching this who might avail themselves at the opportunity to exploit children or to engage in even the adult sex trade, this is a bit of a warning. ... The people that you can't see behind those cameras, they are fins. They are fins in the water and they represent sharks who are there all the time,” Brauchler said.

"And my advice to you is to stay out of those waters where the kids are, to stay out of those waters where exploited adults are for sex, because they are out there and they will get you. And when they get you, my office will handle the rest."

Volunteer co-leader of Girl Scouts troop arrested on child porn charges

A Maryland man who was a co-leader of a Girl Scouts troop was arrested and charged with the possession of child pornography, The Evening Sun reported.

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Stacy Mizrahi, 45, of Ellicott City, faces four counts of possession of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography, according to a Maryland State Police report.

Maryland State Police began investigating in August, when their Computer Crimes Unit found child porn being distributed from a Maryland residence, WJZ reported. Authorities obtained a search warrant for Mizrahi’s home, and a preliminary forensic review found multiple images and/or videos of child pornography on a computer, The Evening Sun reported.

Mizrahi was a volunteer co-leader for Girl Scouts Troop 715 in Howard County, Maryland, according to the Maryland State Police release.

In a statement, Violet M. Apple, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, said Mizrahi has been suspended from the troop.“It is our No. 1 priority to ensure all GSCM members are safe,” Apple said. “All GSCM employees and volunteers are required to pass a background check, and Mr. Mizrahi passed his when he registered as a troop leader.

“It is GSCM policy that male volunteers are not permitted to meet with girls without the presence of a female co-leader," Apple said. "Mr. Mizrahi served as a co-leader with an unrelated female and the troop was supported by four additional volunteers – all of whom passed background checks prior to registering as a volunteer.”

Police have not found any evidence at this time that any crimes have been committed involving the children he had contact with, The Evening Sun reported.

ACLU: Oklahoma school's national anthem policy is unconstitutional

The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday that an Oklahoma school's national anthem policy is unconstitutional.

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The statement was released after Stuart Public Schools enacted a policy requiring all students, staff and spectators to stand for the national anthem, prohibiting any form of protest.

The Hughes County school's policy was announced amid a nationwide conversation about kneeling during the national anthem. Professional football players started kneeling in protest of police brutality against minorities. The protests received increased scrutiny after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who chose to join the protests.

While some say the protests are disrespectful to U.S. service members, other say they fall under free speech and raise awareness to an important domestic issue in the country.

The ACLU of Oklahoma's legal director released a statement Wednesday:

“Stuart Public Schools’ new policy is blatantly unconstitutional and unenforceable. The Supreme Court has made clear that students have the right to express themselves. Our Constitution guarantees that public schools can neither mandate forced displays of patriotism and nationalism, nor forbid lawful protests against injustice. Stuart Public Schools has chosen to violate both of these guarantees. This school district’s school’s leaders are in desperate need of a First Amendment lesson, one that they are likely to receive swiftly in the event they actually attempt to enforce this unlawful policy.”

The organization's director of external affairs also released a statement:

“Forcing students to stand for the National Anthem is irresponsible and flies in the face of every conceivable understanding of the First Amendment. If this school district were actually interested in real patriotism, they would do their duty as a government actor to uphold the values of the Constitution rather than waste taxpayers’ time and resources with an unlawful attempt to shut down the expression of their students and staff.”

Fugitive turns himself in, with doughnuts, after issuing challenge to police

A man made good on his promise to turn himself in to police in Michigan this week with a box of doughnuts in-hand after he challenged officers to get a Facebook post shared 1,000 times after taunting the department on social media.

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“You guys suck!” wrote 21-year-old Michael Zaydel, who goes by the name “Champagne Torino” on Facebook, in response to an Oct. 6 post from the Redford Township Police Department.

Zaydel was wanted on multiple misdemeanor warrants and taunted police on social media, writing that he was sure they didn’t know his last name and later messaging officers with a challenge.

“If (your) next post gets a thousand shares I’ll turn myself in along with a dozen doughnuts,” Zaydel wrote, according to a screenshot shared by police. “And that’s a promise. And I’ll pick up every piece of litter around all your public schools.”

The post was subsequently shared more than 4,500 times. Police said they topped the 1,000 share mark in less than an hour.

Zaydel turned himself in to authorities 10 days later, according to authorities.

“He walked in on his own, and not only did he bring the donuts, he brought one bagel!” police said in a Facebook post. “We would again like to express our gratitude for the support of all who followed this, shared it and left us positive feedback.”

Man killed in shooting was previously shot 10 times in six months, police say

An Alabama man gunned down outside a gas station in broad daylight Tuesday afternoon had previously been shot 10 times in a six-month period. 

Antoine “Twin” Collier, 29, of Birmingham, was killed when two unidentified gunmen fired more than 40 bullets in the parking lot of an Exxon service station in the city, AL.com reported. He died on the sidewalk in front of the store. 

A Birmingham police spokesman said the shooting took place just before 1:30 p.m., as Collier and his girlfriend were entering the convenience store. AL.com reported that Collier’s girlfriend was not injured, but a female bystander who had just gotten food at a pizza place adjoining the Exxon was struck multiple times.

The unidentified woman was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition. 

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Police officials were familiar with Collier, who investigators believe was the target in the shooting that ultimately took his life.

“These guys were looking for him,” Lt. Sean Edwards, a police spokesman, told AL.com. “It’s obvious they were looking for him. They definitely targeted him.”

In at least two of the previous shootings in which Collier was injured, he was accused of stealing illegal drugs from another person, police officials said. Birmingham police Chief A.C. Roper said the circumstances that may have led to his killing do not matter.

“It’s a tragedy for his family, but regardless of the circumstances that led to his murder, we need to bring the killers to justice,” Roper told AL.com

In April, Collier’s mother, Kimberly Flowers, spoke out about her son’s past

“I’m the mother who hates to answer the phone,” Flowers said at the time. “You worry about your child.”

Her son, whose name was not made public at that time because he was a target for harm, had been released from prison a year before, but kept finding himself in trouble. The most recent shooting prior to Tuesday’s fatal one had been the most serious, with Collier suffering a gunshot wound to the face. 

At the time of Flowers’ April media interview, Collier was still recovering from that shooting in a protective rehabilitation facility, AL.com reported. In a text message, Collier expressed hope that participation in the city’s Violence Reduction Initiative could help him turn his life around.

“I’ve cried till I can’t cry anymore, ‘cause I’m blessed,” Collier wrote, according to AL.com. “I think when my health gets better, I wanna speak to young black males about violence.” 

Collier was released from the rehab facility this summer. 

Alleged cop-killer smears feces on self in court, halting jury selection in murder trial

A man accused of murdering a New Orleans police officer in 2015 halted jury selection in his trial Wednesday by smearing feces on his face, head and mouth, horrifying potential jurors and courtroom spectators. 

Travis Boys, 35, apparently put the feces, wrapped in tissue, in his pocket during a bathroom break earlier in the day, NOLA.com reported. He was seated at the defense table with his attorneys when he pulled the tissue out and silently rubbed the waste on himself. 

>> Read more trending news

Boys is charged with first-degree murder in the June 20, 2015, shooting death of Officer Daryle Holloway. The officer was transporting Boys to jail when Boys allegedly shot him inside his police SUV. 

Boys escaped custody and was at large for about 24 hours before being recaptured. If convicted, he faces life in prison. 

The Advocate reported that criminal defense lawyer David Belfield, who is Holloway’s uncle, witnessed the incident. Belfield said he believed Boys was trying to sway potential jurors. 

“It’s calculated, and it shows that he’s not insane, not crazy,” Belfield told the newspaper

Boys has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, the Advocate reported. District Court Judge Karen Herman ruled last month that Boys was competent to stand trial in Holloway’s slaying. 

After halting the proceedings Wednesday, however, Herman ordered that another competency hearing be held on Thursday. His attorneys have argued that Boys suffers from low IQ and mental health problems. 

Though Herman ruled him competent to stand trial, she is allowing the defense to present evidence of schizophrenia in Boys’ family, the Advocate said. 

The judge dismissed the panel of potential jurors who witnessed Boys’ actions on Wednesday. 

The Advocate reported that the odor of bleach clung to the air an hour after the incident. 

Police: Man stabbed baby in heart, held her for hours before suffocating her

A New Orleans man who told police he killed his 18-month-old daughter because “God told him to do it” stabbed the girl multiple times in the heart then held her as she cried for hours before suffocating her, authorities said. 

Mark Hambrick, 45, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, Orleans Parish jail records show. He is being held without bond. 

NOLA.com reported that Hambrick, who called 911 early Tuesday morning to report that he’d killed his daughter, told investigators that he stabbed the girl four times in the heart with a serrated kitchen knife.

He waited for her to “bleed out,” holding the crying baby in his arms for nearly five hours, court documents said. Finally, he suffocated her. 

New Orleans police Superintendent Michael Harrison said during a Tuesday news conference that Hambrick told 911 dispatchers he suffocated the girl to “put the child out of its misery.”

A warrant for Hambrick stated that he told police “God told him to” kill his daughter so “the State of Louisiana can kill him so he can be resurrected,” NOLA.com reported

The Advocate in Baton Rouge reported that Hambrick’s daughter, who police have not named publicly, was identified on social media as Amina. 

Hambrick’s wife, Amina’s mother, was working in Baton Rouge at the time of the slaying. Monika Gerhart-Hambrick is on the staff of Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

Broome said in a statement Tuesday that she stood behind Gerhart-Hambrick during this “unimaginable” situation. 

“This is a horrible tragedy,” Broome said, according to NOLA.com. “No parent should ever have to lose a child, especially in such a violent way. We are here for Monika and her family for whatever they need.”

Neighbors in Hambrick’s Bywater neighborhood were stunned by Tuesday’s slaying, and by the allegations against Hambrick, who worked as an internal audit analyst at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. One neighbor described the family to NOLA.com as “sweet people.”

Other neighbors said that the baby had recently learned to walk and was talkative, often heard babbling as her parents took her for walks in her stroller. Hambrick’s own Facebook page has a number of photos that appear to show a happy family. 

Hambrick seemed like a normal dad, neighbors told New Orleans’ WVUE television station

“They interacted with each other well,” one neighbor said. “There was no body language that would indicate that something like this would happen.”

Harrison said Tuesday that investigators were looking into Hambrick’s background to determine if mental illness or drugs or alcohol played a part in the homicide. Despite his explanation of why he killed his daughter, Hambrick told detectives that he knew what he did was wrong, according to NOLA.com

>> Read more trending news

Hambrick called 911 around 7 a.m. Tuesday and told dispatchers what he had done. Harrison said in a news conference, recorded and shared by NOLA.com, that Hambrirck gave dispatchers a description of himself and of his daughter, and told them where he and the child would be when officers arrived. 

Officers who responded to the scene found Hambrick sitting on his porch, as he said he’d be. They handcuffed Hambrick and went into the house, where they found the child lying dead on a bed. She had multiple stab wounds.

Harrison said an autopsy will determine if the baby was also suffocated. The knife used in the slaying was found near the girl’s body. 

Dispatchers who questioned Hambrick asked why he killed the baby, Harrison said.

“He gave us some details, but simply put, he told us over the phone that God made him do it,” the police superintendent said Tuesday. 

Food Lion vice president arrested in underage sex sting, police say

An executive at Food Lion's corporate office was arrested Wednesday in a sting and charged with a sex offense.

>> Watch the news report here

Detectives from North Carolina's Hendersonville Police Department took Paul Robert LaCroix, 54, into custody following the investigation.

Lacroix, from Concord, has been charged with conspiracy to commit a first-degree statutory sex offense. He is being held in the Henderson County Detention Center under a $100,000 secured bond.

Investigators said LaCroix, a vice president with Food Lion, was communicating with who he thought was an underage girl online and attempted to meet her for sex, but the girl was a law enforcement officer, police said.

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Officers are continuing their investigation after they took LaCroix's computers and cellphone.

A spokesperson for Food Lion confirmed that LaCroix was a vice president with the company and has been suspended immediately.

"Food Lion was recently made aware of the situation involving Paul LaCroix today. He was suspended immediately from the organization, pending further investigation," Food Lion said in a statement.

2 security officials fired after United Airlines passenger dragged off plane in viral video

Airport security officials who were caught on video in April forcibly removing a passenger from a United Airlines flight in Chicago have been disciplined. Two employees were fired and two suspended following the incident, which caused public outrage after the footage went viral, the Washington Post reports.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

The fiasco became a huge public relations headache for United. In the videos, officers are seen aggressively grabbing a passenger — Dr. David Dao — who was reportedly selected at random to be removed from the overbooked flight so that his seat could be given to a United crew member.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: United passenger dragged from plane reaches settlement with airline

In a quarterly report, Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General found that a Chicago Department of Aviation security officer “improperly escalated the incident” and that a sergeant “made misleading statements” and “deliberately removed material facts” from employee reports on the April 9 incident aboard United Express Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. The first officer and the sergeant were fired, and another two officers involved in the incident were suspended — one of whom subsequently resigned, the report said.

>> Read more trending news 

The security officers “mishandled a non-threatening situation,” which led to the “violent” removal of the 69-year-old Dao, the inspector general’s report said. “The use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in a concussion, a broken nose and the loss of two teeth,” a news release accompanying the report stated.

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