- Created on 07 May 2013
(CNN) -- An Air Force officer who served as a branch chief for the service's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program was arrested and charged with sexual battery over the weekend.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 41, has been removed from current duty, an Air Force official said Monday. The official declined to be named because it is an ongoing law enforcement matter.
Krusinski was placed in charge of a section of the service's sexual assault prevention and response program in February, running a five-person office, the Air Force official said.
He was arrested just after midnight Saturday in Arlington, Virginia, and is accused of grabbing a woman's breasts and buttocks, Arlington County police said. Police said the woman fought off her assailant when he tried to grab her again before she called authorities.
Krusinski was held on a $5,000 bond. Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said the woman did not know her attacker.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed the matter Monday with Air Force Michael Donley, according to the Pentagon.
"Secretary Hagel expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively," said George Little, Pentagon press secretary.
Krusinski's arrest comes as the Pentagon has been under closer scrutiny from Congress over its handling of sexual assault cases in the uniformed services.
"Sexual assault and rape are not about the weakness of the victim, they're about power and control," Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said at a March hearing on the issue. "In a military context, that becomes an even greater problem."
The Defense Department reported 3,192 allegations of sexual assault involving service members in 2011. It's expected to report an increase in 2012, but officials said that it is not clear whether that's due to an increasing number of incidents or because victims are becoming more comfortable in reporting a crime that is often not reported.
The department has stepped up efforts to hold perpetrators accountable, establishing a "special victims unit" to handle cases, working to improve tracking of reports and speeding transfers for troops who report a sexual assault by a member of their unit.
"Secretary Hagel has been directing the Department's leaders to elevate their focus on sexual assault prevention and response, and he will soon announce next steps in our ongoing efforts to combat this vile crime," Little said Monday. "Sexual assault has no place in the United States military."
- Created on 07 May 2013
(CNN) -- Amanda Berry was last seen after finishing her shift at a Burger King in Cleveland in 2003. It was the eve of her 17th birthday.
Georgina "Gina" DeJesus disappeared nearly a year later, in April 2004. She was 14.
Michele Knight vanished in 2002, at age 19, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
All three were found alive in a home in a Cleveland neighborhood Monday night, police announced in a development hailed as a miracle by their families.
"Help me, I am Amanda Berry," Berry told police in a frantic 911 call from a neighbor's house. "I've been kidnapped, and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here, I'm free now."
Police swiftly moved in on the house where the three women said they had been and later arrested a 52-year-old man, identified as a former school bus driver. Two others, identified as his brothers, ages 50 and 54, also have been arrested, Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba told reporters late Monday. Police believe only the middle brother lived at the home, he said.
The men are being held in the city jail awaiting charges. An FBI team is collecting evidence in the house.
"This is a great, great outcome that we have them still with us," Tomba said. "It's just truly, truly amazing and it's a blessing to the community and to the members of the police department and their families that they're alive. I can't tell you how happy we are."
Those feelings were echoed at Cleveland's Metro Health Medical Center where the three women and a fourth person were being treated.
"This isn't the ending we usually hear to these stories, so we're very happy," said Dr. Gerald Maloney, an emergency room physician there. "We're very happy for them."
The three women were in fair condition. Maloney would not identify the fourth person being seen at the hospital, but witnesses said Berry, who escaped from the house with the help of a neighbor, had a young child with her.
Neighbor Charles Ramsey was sitting down to a fast food meal when he heard screaming.
"I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house," he told CNN affiliate WEWS. "I go on the porch and she says, 'help me get out. I've been in here a long time.'"
Figuring it was a domestic dispute, Ramsey kicked in the bottom of the door and the woman came out with a little girl and said, "Call 911, My name is Amanda Berry," according to Ramsey, who admitted he didn't recognize the name or know she was missing.
Free from the house where they had been held captive, Berry pleaded for a phone.
"They were crazy, screaming, 'Help, call police, please help.' ... They were desperate, crying, running," said Angela Garcia, whose aunt provided the phone for them to call police.
Ramsey also called 911, less than a minute later.
"She's like, 'This (expletive) kidnapped me and my daughter,'" he told 911.
DeJesus's mother, Nancy, met with her at the hospital, cousin Sylvia Colon, told CNN's "Piers Morgan Live." She had never given up hope of finding her daughter alive.
"She has always said that she just could feel it, a link a mom can feel, but she always believed Gina was alive and well," Colon said. "She always believed that. I just want to say what a phenomenal Mother's Day gift she gets this Mother's Day."
Brian Cummins, a councilman who represents the area where the women were found, identified the suspect in whose home the women were found as Ariel Castro.
The Plain Dealer reported that Castro was arrested at a nearby McDonald's.
His uncle, Julio Castro, told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that his family had grown up in the same west Cleveland neighborhood and knew the DeJesus family.
Castro used to work as a bus driver for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, according to district spokeswoman Roseann Canfora. She did not have specifics Monday night on how long he was employed, when he left or whether he was fired or left voluntarily.
Ramsey told reporters the suspect wasn't known for anything exciting -- "until today."
"We see this dude every day. I've been here a year. I barbecued with this dude. We eat ribs and listen to salsa music," Ramsey said.
And Garcia said neighbors "never saw nothing suspicious."
"We never saw the girls there, and we were always outside," she said. "We only saw the guy."
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said there were "many unanswered questions regarding this case, and the investigation will be ongoing." But he added, "I am thankful that these three young ladies are found and alive."
CNN's Steve Almasy, Laura Ly and CNN's Rande Iaboni contributed to this report.
- Created on 07 May 2013
The Bronner Sisters, identical twins Kirstie and Kristie Bronner, have been named co-valedictorians for the Spelman College Class of 2013. With a 4.0 GPA, the Bronners are the first twins to receive the designation in the history of Spelman.
"Being co-valedictorians of our class is very exciting and a blessing for us," said Kirstie.
Following graduation, Kristie and Kirstie, both music majors, say they plan to join the youth ministry at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Atlanta, pastored by their father Bishop Dale Bronner. In between directing youth events and counseling in the music department, they look forward to recording a contemporary Christian CD. On the heels of the CD, they want to pen a book offering advice to high school students about achieving academic success in college and beyond.
The Bronners attribute their academic achievement to a disciplined study routine, time management and their faith.
"We maximized our study time," said Kirstie. "People would ask us 'do you want to go do this or that on a weekday' and the response was an automatic 'no.' We saved recreation for the weekend. Our philosophy was and is, pay now and play later."
"We prayed before every homework assignment and before every exam," added Kristie. "We can sum up our progress with the saying, 'Work like it's all up to you and pray like it's all up to God.' Prayer accounts for things you can't do. What you are able to take responsibility for, do it. Don't act like God is supposed to do it all for you."
The sisters are third-generation Spelman graduates. As youngsters, they looked up to their mother, Nina Cobb Bronner, (class of '85), and grandmother, Dorothy Gibson Cobb, (class of '56), and decided to continue the Spelman tradition. However, Kirstie initially decided in high school that she wanted to go to a school with more diversity. Her perspective shifted when the sisters took part in a National Society of High School Scholars campus tour of Spelman their senior year.
"When I heard the whole idea behind [Spelman's mission] 'a choice to change the world,' I realized Spelman was the place for me," Kirstie said. "The experience of being here and hearing that Spelman emphasized leadership, community service, legacy, and changing the world was an affirmation because those things had been instilled in us throughout our lives. It clicked with who I was and made me realize this was a place I needed to be."
The Bronners rounded out their academic career by studying music abroad their junior year in Milan, Italy as part of the Institute for the International Education of Students. It's an experience Kristie described as "one of the more enriching semesters of my life." They joined the Spelman College Glee Club their first year, and each earned a leadership position within the Glee Club by their senior year – Kirstie as a section leader and student conductor and Kristie as a section leader and chaplain.
"Spelman has emphasized not just the academic side but the development of the overall person," said Kristie. "There is a nurturing environment here that establishes a foundation on which you can stand. It's been a nurturing environment for my overall growth as a Black woman."
Shay Johnson, C'2013, has been named salutatorian for the Class of 2013, earning a 3.94 GPA. Johnson, a native of Marietta, is a political science major with a Spanish minor. She plans to attend Harvard Law School in fall 2013 and specialize in international law. Johnson wants to transition her interest in human rights into a career litigating in the area of corporate social responsibility.
Spelman College's 126th Commencement will be held Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. at Georgia International Convention Center. Baccalaureate service will take place Saturday, May 18 at 9 a.m. at Spelman. Learn more about commencement activities and speakers.
- Created on 07 May 2013
Fourteen Atlanta Public Schools (APS) high school students have been awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship. APS has more winners than any other school district in the state of Georgia.
"At a time when the perception of our academic programs has suffered, it is reassuring to see our students compete and achieve some of the most prestigious academic awards offered to high school students," said Erroll B. Davis, Jr., superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.
The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. In addition, award recipients receive personal and professional development through Gates leadership programs along with academic support throughout their college career.
- Created on 07 May 2013
George Zimmerman‘s legal team filed a motion to have the processes of the voice recognition experts challenged in regard to a 911 call made during the altercation between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, according to the Orlando Sentinel. During the 911 call, a voice is heard repeatedly calling for help, but is then dramatically silenced with a gunshot. To date,...