Police and FBI agents across the country are receiving reports of a disturbing video depicting child pornography on Facebook that has spread on the social network like a poisonous weed.
Reports began last week of a video showing a white male with brown hair and a dark circular mark on his right forearm sexually abusing a young girl — a video that was reportedly shared tens of thousands of times and received 4,000 “likes” on Facebook.
The pornographic video itself is old and was first spotted online in May 2005, an FBI spokeswoman confirmed to FoxNews.com. Authorities are still searching for the perpetrator, known only as “John Doe 8.”
‘Don’t comment on it. That’s like adding gasoline to the fire.’
– Sgt. Byron Fassett of the Dallas police child exploitation unit
Fred Wolens, a Facebook spokesman, told FoxNews.com the company has removed all known instances of the video from the site. Yet disgust and outrage have spread from Las Vegas to Dallas to Connecticut as users post notes to each other’s walls, comments expressing revulsion and outright anger.
That visceral need to respond is unfortunately part of the problem, helping to spread the video, said Sgt. Byron Fassett of the Dallas police child exploitation unit.
“Don’t comment on it,” Fassett told the Dallas Morning News. “That’s like adding gasoline to the fire.”
With the viral power of Facebook and social media, the video made its way across walls and the Internet like a creeping weed, often shared unwittingly by users. Gary Mala, superintendent of schools in Avon, Conn., sent a letter on Monday to parents and staff warning about the video. He called it a “virus.”
“The video is quite graphic and it will be very disturbing. If your child has a Facebook account, please tell your son or daughter to refrain from clicking and opening any shared videos. Students should delete any shared videos upon their receipt to avoid viewing the disturbing images and downloading the virus,” he wrote in a letter dated March 25.
Mala was not immediately available to comment.
The latest reports of the nearly 8-year-old video began in Las Vegas before spreading to Dallas, the paper reported. Police in Naugatuck, Conn., are also warning about the video, according to local reports, and a number of other police departments in Connecticut have reported receiving similar complaints.
Facebook’s Wolens stressed the company’s no-tolerance approach to such material.
“This material has absolutely no place on Facebook. We have zero tolerance for child pornography being uploaded onto Facebook and we are extremely aggressive in preventing and removing child exploitive content,” he told FoxNews.com.
Outrage about the disturbing video has crossed country boundaries as well, said Michelle Collins with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“This is a global issue,” Collins said on Friday. “We’re getting inquiries from this all over the world.” The volume of reports had slowed down by Tuesday, she told FoxNews.com, but continued to come in — too often fueled by social media.
“A lot of people were sharing the file under the misguided hope of trying to identify the child or offender. And unfortunately, that’s not the best way to go about it,” she said. A better approach is to contact the site hosting the file, or visit the FBI’s Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP), which shows pictures of unknown perpetrators from videos.
Anyone with information about the video can definitely help, said Katherine Chaumont with the FBI’s Dallas Field Office.
“The FBI is requesting that in this matter (like the other John Does on the ECAP portion of the FBI Web site) that if the public has any information regarding the identity of the toddler girl depicted in the video, the identity of the individual known as John Doe 8, or the location/jurisdiction of where the two might be located to contact their local FBI office,” she told FoxNews.com.
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A teacher charged with sexually abusing four children in LAUSD’s unfolding misconduct scandal had been prosecuted 15 years earlier for molesting a young neighbor, but he was allowed to return to the classroom after the trial ended in a hung jury, according to documents and interviews.
After Paul Chapel III was reinstated following the investigation and sex-abuse trial in Simi Valley in the late 1990s, he was reassigned to Telfair Elementary in Pacoima, where he is now charged with molesting at least one student.
In addition, just months before Chapel was hired by Los Angeles Unified to teach elementary school in 1988, he was sued after he was was accused of making racial slurs and inappropriate sexual comments to a class at the private Chaminade High School, resulting in a $56,000 payout to settle the case.
Only now, with Chapel facing new molestation charges, are details of his past emerging from personnel files unearthed at LAUSD headquarters. Officials say his case exposes gaps in state law and the district’s personnel practices, and raises new questions about how LAUSD handles teachers accused of misconduct.
“I am at my wit’s end, I am beyond distressed,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a phone interview this week from Washington, D.C., where he was meeting with federal education officials.
“Why are there processes in this state and this district that do not serve the students? There need to be wholesale adjustments to protect youth and adults.”
Deasy last month ordered a top-to-bottom review of personnel files amid allegations of sexual abuse and employee misconduct at Miramonte Elementary, Telfair and other schools. But that task has been hampered by a provision in the teachers contract that requires unproven allegations of misconduct to be removed from active personnel files and placed in an “expired file” after four years.
Chapel’s file was discovered in that expired archive just as the Daily News uncovered the same information through
Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima, Calif., photographed on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)court documents and Public Records Act requests.
Deasy said he was outraged and sickened by what he found in Chapel’s file.
Chapel first appears in LAUSD records on Feb. 10, 1982, working as a teacher’s aide at an unspecified campus. This was midway through the five years he spent at California State University, Northridge, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1985.
Newly graduated, he was hired that fall to teach biology at Chaminade, a Catholic high school in West Hills.
There, during lessons on human sexuality, Chapel so offended two sisters from Lancaster that their father instructed them to keep notes on their teacher’s behavior. From Dec. 18, 1986, through Jan. 15, 1987, the girls compiled a litany of comments and actions that formed the basis for a lawsuit filed in September 1987 against both Chapel and Chaminade.
According to the suit, the rookie teacher told dirty jokes to the coed class and talked about having sex with women who were menstruating. He riffed about the caloric content of semen and made vulgar comments as he played and replayed a video demonstrating ejaculation.
He also made disparaging remarks about blacks – the plaintiffs were African-American – and pulled his eyes tight when speaking about Asians, a gesture that “visibly devastated” a student of Chinese descent, the lawsuit said.
The suit said the sisters had to undergo psychological therapy as a result of Chapel’s comments.
Both Chapel and Chaminade denied the allegations, according to court documents.
Nevertheless, they agreed to a settlement in July 1989 that paid each girl $28,000 to cover tuition and living expenses for four years at UCLA.
In approving the settlement, the court also suggested that Chaminade implement a policy mandating the immediate dismissal of any employee who uses “profanity, putdowns and racial or ethnic slurs.”
Chapel left the school in 1987, but it is unclear whether he resigned or was terminated.
Officials with Chaminade did not return phone calls.
Armed with a state teaching credential issued in October 1987 – a month after the lawsuit was filed – Chapel was hired by LAUSD
HIGHLIGHTS FROM PAUL CHAPEL’S PAST
1980-85: Paul Chapel earns bachelor’s degree at CSUN.
Feb. 10, 1982: LAUSD hires Chapel as educational aide.
1985-87: Chapel works as a biology teacher at private Chaminade High in West Hills.
Sept. 1987: Two students file suit against Chaminade and Chapel claiming inappropriate conduct by the teacher.
Oct. 1987: Chapel receives state teaching credential.
April 1988: LAUSD hires Chapel to teach at Andasol Elementary.
July 1989: Chaminade pays $56,000 to settle the students’ suit.
Feb. 9, 1997: Eight-year-old neighbor accuses Chapel of molesting him during a sleepover at his Simi Valley house.
Feb. 27, 1997: Simi Valley police arrest Chapel. LAUSD removes him from classroom, and state suspends his credential.
April 30, 1998: Jury deadlocks on charges that Chapel committed a lewd act on a child.
Aug. 24, 1998: Court dismisses charges against Chapel.
Sept. 15, 1998: State reinstates Chapel’s teaching credential.
Sept. 22, 1998: LAUSD lifts Chapel’s suspension.
Oct. 9, 1998: Chapel assigned to teach third grade at Telfair Elementary in Pacoima.
April 15, 2011: LAUSD removes Chapel from classroom while police investigate alleged abuse.
Oct. 8, 2011: Chapel arrested on 16-count complaint of sexual abuse and lewd acts involving four children. He is jailed on $2.2 million bail.
Nov. 4, 2011: Chapel pleads not guilty.
Feb. 10, 2012: The Daily News reports Chapel’s arrest, and LAUSD notifies Telfair parents.
in April 1988 and assigned to Andasol Elementary in Northridge.
Deasy said there was nothing in Chapel’s hiring packet to indicate that Chaminade had alerted LAUSD to the complaints or lawsuit against Chapel.
Officials with the California Credentialing Commission said private schools like Chaminade are not required to report teacher misconduct, and the licensing agency does not have the authority to investigate a teacher based on a civil complaint.
However, applicants for a credential must answer questions, under penalty of perjury, about their past employment and any investigations, charges or convictions. State officials said they could not discuss details of Chapel’s application.
Chapel experienced no problems at Andasol, officials said. In fact, the principal at the time later told authorities “he was a good teacher and the kids love him.”
On Feb. 9, 1997, Chapel was accused of molesting a friend of his 12-year-old adopted son during a sleepover at the teacher’s four-bedroom home on Potter Avenue in Simi Valley.
According to a complaint filed with the Simi Valley Police Department, the 8-year-old boy ran home just after midnight. Frightened and embarrassed, he told his parents that he had awakened to find Chapel’s “mouth on his private parts.”
The parents contacted police after the youngster provided enough detail to convince them he wasn’t mistaken or just dreaming.
Simi Valley Detective David Del Marto, who interviewed the youngster, on Tuesday recalled him as a “tough kid” who “did a good job” in telling authorities about his experience that night.
The boy’s statement to detectives was redacted from the police report, which was obtained under the state’s Public Records Act.
Chapel was arrested Feb. 27, 1997, and jailed on $20,000 bail. That same day, the district “housed” Chapel – reassigning him from the classroom to an administrative office – and the state suspended his teaching credential.
On March 3, the neighbor boy’s mother took out a restraining order against Chapel.
Ventura County prosecutors charged Chapel with a single count of performing a lewd act upon a child with a special allegation of substantial sexual conduct.
The case went to trial on April 12, 1998. Prosecutors based their case on testimony from the boy and on DNA evidence – saliva samples taken from the youngsters’s underwear – which they said proved sexual contact.
But jurors weren’t convinced, and on April 30 they told the court they were hopelessly deadlocked, 7-5 in favor of acquittal.
“The DNA technology and evidence available at the time was inconclusive,” said Miles Weiss, a senior deputy district attorney for Ventura County. “The results did not substantiate the allegations, which can cause significant hurdles for the jury.
Given the “dramatic split” among jurors, Weiss said, prosecutors doubted they could win a conviction during a retrial and so the charges were dismissed on Aug. 24, 1998.
Back to the classroom
Since Chapel was not convicted, the state reinstated his credential on Sept. 15, 1998. Following the state’s lead, the district lifted Chapel’s suspension on Sept. 22, and he was allowed back in the classroom. He reported to work on Oct. 9, 1998, teaching third-grade at Telfair Elementary in Pacoima.
An 18-year-old Pacoima woman who had Chapel as her third-grade teacher remembered him as overtly affectionate. And when she mentioned it to her mother, she was simply told to steer clear of the teacher.
“I remember he used to tell me and the other girls to sit on his lap, and sometimes he’d kiss us on the mouth,” said the woman, who asked not be identified. “I never thought about telling anybody because I didn’t think it was wrong.”
But this past fall, a child came forward with allegations of misconduct. The Los Angeles Police Department investigated and identified four alleged victims, at least one of whom was a Telfair student.
On Oct. 8, Chapel was arrested on a 16-count criminal complaint that includes charges of continual sexual abuse and committing lewd acts against three girls and one boy, all under age 14, between Sept. 13, 2010, and April 15, 2011.
He remains jailed on $2.2 million bail in a cell block at Twin Towers that is reserved for suspects who may need protection from other inmates.
Chapel’s attorney, Jeff Weiss, has refused to comment about the case.
Chapel has pleaded not guilty, and a preliminary hearing has not yet been set to determine whether there is enough evidence to try the case. Deasy said he’s not waiting for the justice system and has already taken steps to fire Chapel.
“In the year since I’ve been here, I’ve summarily dismissed 850 teachers,” Deasy said. “There doesn’t need to be criminal misconduct to say a teacher shouldn’t be in front of children. You can be fired for not knowing how to teach algebra. You can be fired for incompetence or on grounds of moral turpitude.”
The Miramonte scandal, in which a teacher is accused of blindfolding children and spoon feeding them his semen in a “tasting game,” has sparked an outcry from parents, educators, district officials and legislators demanding changes in existing law to better protect children and increase the accountability of public agencies.
Deasy wants to immediately eliminate the four-year limit on keeping unsubstantiated misconduct complaints in personnel files, a proposal that United Teachers Los Angeles says it is open to discussing.
Assemblyman Richard Lara, D-South Gate, wants a legislative audit of the LAUSD’s handling of sex-abuse cases, a suggestion that Deasy supports.
Tamar Galatzan – who is in the unique position of being a school board member, an LAUSD parent and a career prosecutor – wants the Legislature to change state law so school districts can more easily fire undesirable teachers.
“Under rules in place right now, the district has people `housed’ that we don’t feel comfortable returning to classroom but under current state law, we can’t fire them. What are we supposed to do with those people?” Galatzan asked.
Board member Nury Martinez wants greater accountability in dealing with LAUSD employees.
Her district includes Telfair Elementary, and she has been dealing with the fallout from the current allegations against Chapel. Although he was arrested last fall, the district didn’t notify parents until mid-February – and only after it was reported in the Daily News.
“I’m very upset about the racial and sexual allegations in the Chaminade case,” she said. “What is the district’s process for looking into (applicants’) pasts? And how was Chapel able to get a credential with the settlement for a civil lawsuit?
“What do we tell the parents? They’ve lost faith in the district and I don’t know how we reinstate that trust.”
A 22-year-old man has been arrested in the abduction and assault of a 6-year-old girl in Kensington on Thursday, police said today.
Her mother called police and officers were on their way to the house, the girl arrived and reported she had been sexually assaulted, according to a timeline provided by police.
She told police the man approached her inside the store, said he knew her relatives and walked out of the store with her, police said. He took her to a nearby property on E Street and sexually assaulted her, police said. Acting on the tip, police arrested Turner at his home at 6:25 p.m.
Here is a timeline provided by police:
2:45 p.m. – The victim leaves her house for the market to buy an afternoon snack.
3:00 p.m. – The victim’s mother realizes that her daughter should have returned home. She checks the corner store where she was supposed to be and cannot locate her daughter.
3:10 p.m. – The victim’s mother calls 911 to report her daughter missing.
3:15 p.m. – The victim returns home and informs her mother that she had been abducted and sexually assaulted.
3:20 p.m. – Police are dispatched to the victim’s home and begin the investigation.
3:45 p.m. – 25th District officers notify the Special Victims Unit and investigators are dispatched.
4:20 p.m. – Officers interview the store owners and view surveillance video.
5:15 p.m. – A photo of a male fitting the description of the offender is discovered by investigators.
5:50 p.m. – SVU investigators send the photo to the Public Affairs Unit.
6:10 p.m. – The photo is released to the public via the news media.
6:20 p.m. – A concerned Philadelphian recognizes this dangerous offender and directs police to his residence.
6:25 p.m. – Marcise Turner is arrested by 26th District officers.
Police credited the use of surveillance photo and a tip from a citizen who saw it in leading to the speedy arrest of Marcise Turner, of the 2000 block of East Huntingdon Street.
The girl disappeared after walking from her home on Rorer Street near Tioga to a store at Tioga and E Streets about 2:45 p.m.
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A 39-year-old Palm Coast man who had video images of sadistic sexual conduct involving children stored on a business computer has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and 10 years of supervision after his release.
In addition to approximately 10 video files, the computer used by Bryan Ross Spears also contained more than 14,000 chat log files including some related to sexually explicit conduct by children and molestation of very young children, according to the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
The files were discovered at a Palm Coast business run from a private home where Spears used one of three computers. A Volusia County Sheriff’s Office detective using a database to track child porn trading and porn access led to the business.
Spears must also register as a sex offender. On Sept. 15 he pleaded guilty to receiving child porn over the Internet.
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