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Sexual Assault

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The family of a slain Texas soldier has filed a lawsuit seeking $35 million in damages from the U.S. government. Vanessa Guillen, 20, was sexually harassed and killed at U.S. Army base Fort Hood. Her family is seeking damages for sexual harassment, abuse, assault, rape, sodomy and wrongful death. Military officials found Guillen was sexually harassed and leaders failed to take appropriate action. The lawsuit follows a Thursday's decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a law baring troops from seeking damages over injuries during service did not apply to a sexual assault lawsuit.

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A sheriff in rural southwest Georgia has been arrested on charges of sexual battery and violating his oath of office. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it arrested Miller County Sheriff Richard Morgan after the local district attorney asked its agents to look into allegations of sexual misconduct involving the sheriff. The agency said in a news release that the charges stemmed from an incident that took place during a 911 call, but gave no further details. The sheriff's office said Morgan wasn't available Friday and referred a reporter to an attorney representing him. Attorney Thomas V. Duck III did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. The 54-year-old old sheriff is serving his second year in office.

Police in Florida say they will investigate a lawmaker’s allegation that a transgender student may have sexually assaulted a female student in a middle school bathroom over the summer. But school officials in Brevard County say no such attack took place and investigators say they received no reports about the rumor. Melbourne police assigned two detectives to investigate the allegations after reading Republican State Rep. Randy Fine’s social media posts about the alleged attack. Fine says parents told him that they learned about the incident from a teacher who is afraid to go public with the information. Russell Bruhn disputed Fine’s allegations, saying, “No attack took place."

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The campaign committee of North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein plans to ask a federal court to block enforcement of a state law looming in a probe of a TV ad aired against Stein's election rival in 2020. The state law makes it illegal to knowingly circulate false reports to damage a candidate’s election chances. Stein beat Republican Jim O'Neill that November. A Stein committee attorney filed the notice Wednesday, after a judge refused to stop a district attorney from potentially using the law to prosecute anyone over the disputed 2020 campaign ad. No one's been charged. Stein's committee argues the law is overly broad and chills political speech.

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A judge has opened the door for a district attorney to try to prosecute someone for a 2020 campaign ad by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein using a specific criminal count that Stein argues is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles refused on Tuesday to issue a preliminary injunction two weeks after she signed an emergency order blocking temporarily enforcement of the state law. Stein’s campaign committee was worried the Wake County district attorney’s office was taking the case to a grand jury last month. The law makes it a misdemeanor for someone to knowingly circulate false “derogatory” reports about candidates to damage their election chances.

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The U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal judge this week to bar Idaho from enforcing its near-total abortion ban while a lawsuit pitting federal health care law against state anti-abortion legislation is underway. The Idaho law is set to automatically take effect on Aug. 25. It makes it a crime for anyone to perform abortions, punishable by up to five years in prison. Physicians who are charged can defend themselves at trial by arguing that the abortions are necessary to save a patient's life or that they were performed because of rape or incest. Meanwhile, a Wyoming judge is considering whether to put that state's abortion ban on hold while another lawsuit moves forward.

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DNA technology has helped investigators make an arrest in the 1992 slaying of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted in Northern California from a bus stop, raped and killed. A 75-year-old Hawaii man is in custody. The Mercury News reports Karen Stitt was waiting for a bus in Sunnyvale when she disappeared in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, 1982. A delivery truck driver discovered her body among some bushes 100 yards away from the bus stop. The newspaper reported that Sunnyvale police arrested Gary Ramirez in Maui last week after they say his DNA matched the blood from Karen’s leather jacket and the 4-foot cinder block wall where the killer left her after stabbing her 59 times. It was not immediately clear if he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

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Indiana has become the first state in the nation to pass new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade. Indiana lawmakers on Friday approved the near-total abortion ban with some exceptions, including in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb immediately signed the bill. Indiana was among the first Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling that removed constitutional protections for the procedure.

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When the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a right to abortion, it sparked legal changes and court challenges in states nationwide. In some states, there are multiple bans and multiple lawsuits in play, keeping the landscape unsettled. And further legislation could soon change things again. The June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling is expected to lead ultimately to bans or deep restrictions on access to abortion in about half the states. Meanwhile, most Democrat-led states have put into place policies intended to protect abortion access.

Violence against illegal miners in South Africa has spread despite calls for restraint from the country’s president. It follows the arrests of more than 80 men, some thought to be miners, over the gang rapes of eight women last week. Miners’ camps were torched Friday and roads around townships outside the town of Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, were barricaded with rocks and burning tires as residents protested against the presence of illegal miners. Many of the miners are migrants from other African countries, and the violence has raised concerns over xenophobia. Police said eight women were raped on July 28 during an attack by heavily-armed men, some thought to be illegal miners.

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A lawyer representing two dozen women who have accused Deshaun Watson of sexual assault or harassment says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has a chance to “do the right thing” now that the league has appealed a six-game suspension for the quarterback. Attorney Tony Buzbee says “Every victim of sexual assault is watching Roger Goodell and the NFL right now.” The NFL’s appeal of an independent disciplinary officer’s decision gives Goodell or someone he designates the authority to increase Watson’s penalty. Goodell has named former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey as his designee to hear the appeal.

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A deeply divided Indiana House has voted to keep exceptions in cases of rape or incest in a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in the state. The Republican-dominated House voted 61-39 to defeat an amendment that would have removed those exceptions, with a majority of GOP members wanting their removal. The House vote displayed a similar division among Republicans to that seen in the state Senate over exceptions for rape and incest, which remained in the bill when an attempt in the Senate last week also failed to strip them out. Republican Rep. Karen Engleman sponsored the amendment, arguing that even a child conceived in a rape or incest attack deserved a chance at life.

The attorney who represented Mystikal on rape and kidnapping charges that were dropped in late 2020 said Thursday that he is once more representing the 51-year-old rapper — and is confident that he will again be cleared. Joel Pearce said he met Thursday with Michael Tyler at the jail where he is being held without bond. The attorney said he will ask for a full bond hearing at which evidence can be given. A judge denied bond Tuesday. Pearce said that was not a bond hearing but what is called a 72-hour hearing, and Tyler wasn't able to present evidence.

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The Associated Press has obtained nearly 12,000 pages of sealed records from a child sex abuse lawsuit against the Mormon church. The documents offer the most detailed and comprehensive look yet at the church's so-called “help line” for dealing with child sex abuse accusations against officials and members. Families of survivors who filed the lawsuit said they show it’s part of a system that can easily be misused by church leaders to divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and instead to church attorneys who may bury the problem, leaving victims in harm’s way. One victim was 5 when her father told his bishop that he was sexually abusing her. The abuse went on for seven more years, while the bishop failed to report it to authorities.

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A Louisiana judge has refused to set any bond for rapper Mystikal, who is accused of raping and choking a woman at his home outside Baton Rouge. The Advocate reports that state District Judge Steven Tureau ruled on Tuesday that evidence against 51-year-old Michael Tyler, his past history and the victim's fears met the standard for holding him without bond. Defense attorney Roy Maughan Jr. maintains that Tyler is innocent. But he told the newspaper after the hearing that Tyler probably won't appeal the judge's ruling.

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A Louisiana sheriff says rapper Mystikal is again accused of rape. Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre said in a Facebook post on Monday that Michael “Mystikal” Tyler was arrested on charges including rape and domestic abuse battery. The sheriff's office inmate lookup shows the 51-year-old is being held without bond on 10 charges. Attorney Joel Pearce says he believes bond will be discussed at a hearing Tuesday. Pearce says he's supposed to meet with Mystikal on Wednesday or Thursday and will make a statement then. Pearce represented the rapper when prosecutors dropped rape and kidnapping charges against him in late 2020, after new evidence was brought. Those charges had kept him jailed for 18 months.

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Several doctors have told Indiana lawmakers that physicians fear they could face criminal charges when they provide emergency treatment for pregnant women if a proposal aimed at banning nearly all abortions in the state becomes law. The testimony Tuesday came after an Indiana House committee broadened the language of the proposed ban that was narrowly approved by the state Senate to allow abortions to protect the health of the mother. It also removed the Senate-approved time frames based on age for abortions in cases of rape or incest. The committee voted to advance the bill to the full Republican-control House for action later this week.

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The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit that challenges Idaho’s restrictive abortion law, arguing that it conflicts with a federal law requiring doctors to provide pregnant women medically necessary treatment that could include abortion. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the suit on Tuesday. Garland said the federal government was bringing the lawsuit, which seeks to invalidate the state’s “criminal prohibition on providing abortions as applied to women suffering medical emergencies.” It's the first major action by the Justice Department challenging a state trigger law since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

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A former parishioner at a Massachusetts church has filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused as a child more than 30 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest who is now an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The lawsuit filed Monday in Boston says the plaintiff was a 12-year-old parishioner at Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn in 1989 and 1990 when he was sexually assaulted about 25 times by Paul Fitzpatrick Russell. The Archdiocese of Detroit in a statement said Russell denies the allegations. He has been placed on limited ministerial duty.

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