News from across the nation: Officer charged with rape; Inmates face sex abuse, report says

May 18, 2013
PENNSYLVANIA
Retired officer is charged with rape

A former Philadelphia police officer, once hailed as a hero and given a seat next to the first lady at a 2009 speech by President Obama, has been arrested and charged with rape and other crimes.

Authorities allege that Richard DeCoatsworth left a party with two females early Thursday and took them to another location, where they allege that he produced a handgun and “forced the two females to engage in the use of narcotics and sexual acts.”

A police spokeswoman said the two called police after he left, and 27-year-old DeCoatsworth was charged with rape, sexual assault, terroristic threats and related offenses.

DeCoatsworth was hailed as a hero after he was shot in the face during a traffic stop in September 2007 but still managed to chase after his attacker, who was later sentenced to 36 to 72 years in prison.

DeCoatsworth was invited by Vice President Biden to attend the president’s televised address to Congress in February 2009 and sat with first lady Michelle Obama.


In this Feb. 24, 2009, photo, first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, stand with Philadelphia police officer Richard DeCoatsworth during President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. The former Philadelphia police officer has been arrested and charged with rape and other crimes. (Evan Vucci/AP)

WCAU-TV, which first reported his arrest, said DeCoatsworth retired from the department on disability in December 2011.

— Associated Press

CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Report: Inmates face sex abuse by guards

Inmates at jails in Indianapolis, Baltimore, St. Louis and Philadelphia face the nation’s highest levels of sexual abuse at the hands of guards, according to a new federal report based on surveys of inmates at U.S. jails and prisons.

The report by the Justice Department found that the Marion County Jail’s inmate-intake center in Indianapolis had a 7.7 percent rate of staff sexual misconduct involving inmates — the nation’s highest for jails — and well above the average 1.8 percent rate among all jails surveyed.

The second-highest rate was among inmates surveyed at the Baltimore City Detention Center, where a 6.7 percent rate of sex abuse by guards was found, based on inmate interviews. The St. Louis Medium Security Institution and the Philadelphia City Industrial Correctional Center had the next-highest rate — both with a 6.3 percent abuse rate, based on the inmate surveys.

— Associated Press

NEW YORK
Police: Killing was anti-gay hate crime

A gunman used homophobic slurs before firing a fatal shot point-blank into a man’s face on a Manhattan street alive with a weekend midnight crowd, a killing New York’s police commissioner called an “anti-gay” hate crime.

Before opening fire early Saturday, the gunman confronted the victim, Harlem resident Marc Carson, and his companion in Greenwich Village and asked if they “want to die here,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The shooting follows a series of recent bias attacks on gay men in New York, but this was the first deadly one.

At a news conference, Kelly described the events leading to the violence that erupted amid a lively social scene a few blocks from Washington Square Park and New York University:

About 15 minutes before the bloodshed, the gunman was seen urinating outside an upscale restaurant a few blocks from the Stonewall Inn, a birthplace of the gay rights movement. He then went inside the restaurant and asked if someone was going to call the police about him.

Police said the gunman told both the bartender and the manager, “If you do call the police, I’ll shoot you,” and opened his sweatshirt to reveal a shoulder holster with a revolver.

The gun was used minutes later in the killing, the commissioner said.

— Associated Press

Police bullet killed Hofstra student: A police officer’s bullet killed a New York college student during the response to a home invasion at an off-campus home, authorities said. Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata said Saturday night that Andrea Rebello was killed by a police officer as she was being held in a headlock by a masked intruder. Azzata said the police officer opened fire as Dalton Smith made a motion to fire at the officers early Friday morning.

Wildfires continue near Los Angeles: A pair of tamed but persistent wildfires still burned in the hills and mountains around Interstate 5 after a wild week of brushfire in the area north of Los Angeles. A new fire that broke out Friday, the third major blaze in the area in a week, quickly surged to 712 acres. Some 350 firefighters, who battled both flames and unpredictable winds, were able to hold the line against it Saturday morning, however.

6-year-old dies from pony kick: A 6-year-old boy died after he was kicked in the throat by a pony on a south-central Pennsylvania farm, authorities said. Police in Lancaster County told the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era that the boy was playing with other children in a New Holland pasture Thursday morning when he approached the pony from behind. The animal became startled and kicked the child in the throat, leaving him unable to breathe.

— From news services

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