criminal justice

Unmasquerade to mark Cocoon’s 13th year

From THE COCOON This year, The Cocoon’s first Unmasquerade will be held on June 22 at Nazareth Hall, 21211 West River Road in Grand Rapids, Ohio from 6-10 p.m. From its humble beginnings in 2005 with just six beds, the event celebrates The Cocoon’s thirteenth anniversary, to include dinner, live and silent auctions, and a guest speaker. Guest speaker Leslie Morgan Steiner, a writer, editor, publisher, business professional, and survivor of domestic violence will be sharing her story, facilitating a more nuanced understanding about the experiences of survivors and how to make a difference. About the event theme, “Violence is a very taboo topic,” explains Arielle Patty, Shelter Manager at The Cocoon. “I always get excited when people who are passionate about unmasking these issues come together to celebrate those of us who are working to end violence. The theme Unmasquerade honors the topic with elegance, in addition to celebrating the amazing growth we see our survivors make every year.” “We are very fortunate to be in a community whose generosity allows us to continue providing services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence at no cost to them,” says Kathy Mull, Executive Director of The Cocoon. “100% of funds raised from this event will go directly toward supporting programs and services at The Cocoon.” Registrations and additional information are available at www.bidr.com/events/cocoon, but space is limited. The Cocoon provides safety, healing, and justice to survivors of sexual and domestic violence. In 2017, the organization responded to 5,739 service calls and provided more than 3,100 nights of emergency, safe housing.

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BG police seeking suspect who passed counterfeit $100

The Bowling Green Police Division is seeking assistance in identifying a fraud suspect. On 5/30/17 at approximately 10:20 pm, an unknown male passed a counterfeit $100 bill at Circle K gas station located at 1602 E. Wooster Street, Bowling Green, Ohio.  The suspect is described as a late 20’s to early 30’s,  6-foot tall, 185-200 lb black male with chin hair.  The suspect was wearing all black and blue tennis shoes. If you have any information related to this crime, please contact BGPD at 419-352-1131 or Wood County Crime Stoppers 419-352-0077.  You may be eligible for a reward if the information leads to a conviction.


Faculty members urge BGSU to be a leader in addressing sexual violence

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Sandra Faulkner wants Bowling Green State University to be the leader in combating sexual assault on campus. The director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies hopes that the recent protests over the way BGSU handles sexual assault will lead to innovation, not duplication of other universities’ “best practices.” “No institution in higher education handles sexual violence well,” she said. Faulkner and her colleague Sarah Rainey, an associate professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies, met with Dean of Students Jodi Webb Friday in the wake of a protest that drew about 200 students. In their meeting with Webb, Faulkner and Rainey brought with them a list of actions, drafted by members of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty, that BGSU could take immediately to start addressing the problem. On Monday President Mary Ellen Mazey announced the formation of Task Force on Sexual Assault. Rainey is one of 17 members appointed to the task force. The task force includes faculty, staff, students, the student member of the Board of Trustees, and a representative from The Cocoon. (http://bgindependentmedia.org/mazey-to-launch-task-force-on-sexual-assault/) According to President Mary Ellen Mazey’s letter announcing its creation, the task force’s charge is: “to review our policies and procedures for Title IX and sexual assault, benchmark our efforts against best practices across the country, and provide recommendations to improve the campus culture and our policies. In addition, the task force will examine our services for supporting sexual assault victims and evaluate our awareness and prevention efforts.” Both Faulkner and Rainey were encouraged by the composition of the task force. Faulkner is concerned about the word “benchmark.” “We shouldn’t be benchmarking with anyone,” she said. “We should innovate. We should do more.” Other institutions should be looking to BGSU as the model. While the Task Force is expected to gather before summer, Rainey said she expects the work to start in earnest in August when the fall semester begins. It would be hard to meet throughout the summer given faculty and students are not always on campus. They indicated a report would be made by the end of the year. Before then they and their colleagues and students would like certain steps to be taken. The university must do a better job of educating students about the issue. That would include information about prevention as well as what options are available to victims. All student victims have the right to have a victim’s advocate. That service is through The Cocoon, and is paid for by the Cocoon through a…


Phishing attack hits several BGSU employees in pocketbook

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Four university employees recently had their banking information hacked, with three having their pay redirected, and one of them had a fraudulent tax return filed by hackers. John Ellinger, the university’s chief information officer, reported on the incidents at Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting. He did not notify campus through a mass email because he did not want to tip off the hackers about how the university was responding. He assured the senate that no university data had been accessed. However, the way that information could be endanger is if hackers find a pathway using personal data of those who have access to university information. Ellinger said the problems began in January when the employees – three faculty and one staff member – clicked on a phishing e-mail originating from an account at Texas Tech. The e-mail subject line read “get you pay here.” With that connection, he said, the hackers were able to shadow the accounts. None of the four had completed the new Duo security protocol being implemented on the university’s MyBGSU system. As of today everyone will have to have signed in the two-step authentication process to access MyBGSU. Using information culled from the shadowing, the hackers were able to get onto MyBGSU and set up Duo accounts. Once there, they changed the routing for the employees’ direct deposits. Ellinger said that unlike in the past, these hackers were astute enough to send the paychecks to four different accounts set up at four different overseas banks to avoid detection. They used burner phones with four different area codes to supply the needed telephone number. One employee discovered the change before the pay was rerouted, three, however, did not and only realized the problem when their pay did not appear in their bank accounts. The university was able to make those employees whole. However, the hackers did file a tax return for one employee, who “is now in limbo land where the IRS has to determine who is authentic,” Ellinger said. Ellinger said that the incidences of compromised accounts “where someone has given away their password” to a hacker, is skyrocketing. In 2015, the university had 250 compromised accounts. In 2016 that number jumped to 1000. In 2017 already as of March 14, 450 accounts have been compromised. The activity has spiked in the last 90 days in institutions around the country, Ellinger said. His only explanation was that there is money to be made through phishing by waylaying pay and tax returns and by stealing personal data,…


Verdict in – Chidester retires leaving secure courthouse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Tom Chidester took the job as chief constable for the Wood County Courthouse 21 years ago, he had a tall order to fill. The Supreme Court order requiring courthouses to be made secure meant some unpopular decisions. But as he prepares to retire at the end of March, Chidester can sit back and rattle off the threats over the years that were stopped before they entered the courtrooms. In addition to standards knives and guns, there was a sword hidden in a cane, mace, plus knives hidden in phones and wallets. Oh, and then there was the six-pack of beer in a backpack. When Chidester, a former trooper with the Ohio Highway Patrol, took the job in 1996 there was little courthouse security in place. There were no metal detectors, no court security staff to keep an eye during emotionally charged trials. But there were orders in place that courthouses around the country were expected to obey. One of the biggest problems at the historic Wood County Courthouse was the number of building entrances that would need to be staffed. So county officials took the bold move of closing down all but one entrance. And former Wood County Commissioner Alvie Perkins came up with the idea for the atrium that would connect the courthouse and the county office building, which houses one of the common pleas courtrooms. “The elected officials were kind of divided on how the public would react,” Chidester recalled. “They went through many public meetings.” In December of 2005, the atrium opened and security measures went into place. There was some grumbling about just one entrance and about people needing to pass through a metal detector – but that all seems second nature now to those who use the courthouse. Chidester worked on meeting all 12 standards for courthouse safety, including such additions as cameras in courtrooms, panic buttons, limited access, metal detectors, X-ray machines and properly trained personnel. “I built it up slowly over the years,” he said, often able to get grants to pay for some of the expenses. “We were one of the first courts that met the standards.” Chidester was on a team that helped other courthouses meet the security challenges. “Most courts didn’t meet any of the standards.” Wood County’s court security now has four full-time and nine part-time officers. They scan people as they enter the courthouse complex and are posted in all criminal trials. The most common weapons confiscated at the entrance are knives. “A lot…


DeWine stumps for governor during stop in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than a year out from the next gubernatorial election, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine brought his early campaign for the office to Bowling Green on Thursday. DeWine, a favorite for the Republican ticket for governor, spoke at the party’s Lincoln Day Dinner at Stone Ridge Golf Club. As attorney general, DeWine has worked to strenghten victims’ rights and to correct some wrongs in the legal system. He spearheaded efforts to get hundreds of sexual assault kits tested after they had languished for years in evidence rooms. Many of those have resulted in DNA matches with people already in the system. DeWine has worked with State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, to create a violent offender registry. This was done in response to the abduction and murder of Sierah Joughin, 20, in Fulton County. Like the sex offender registry, this registry would notify communities of someone with a violent criminal past living nearby. And DeWine continues to work on solutions to the opiate epidemic in Ohio. Following the advice of people with addiction experience, DeWine said more emphasis needs to be put on K-12 age appropriate education on drugs, “to lessen people going down the path of addiction.” “As attorney general, sometimes I feel I’m picking up the pieces” after problems occur, he said before speaking Thursday evening. So he’s now looking at getting in front of problems – as governor. DeWine and others arriving at the Lincoln Day Dinner drove past a group of protesters at the entrance to the golf club. “One of the lessons from the last election is that people want government that works,” he said. “They want people in office to make things happen.” DeWine said he plans to do that as governor. One of his goals would be to create a business climate for job growth. That means stable taxes that are predictable from year to year for businesses. “We need to keep regulations reasonable,” he added. The number one concern of the business community right now, he said, is education. They can’t find people with the right skills, and in some cases, can’t find people who can pass drug testing. And some can’t find people who “know how to work,” he said. Businesses in Wood County have expressed those concerns. The biggest overall problem DeWine sees in Ohio is stressed and dysfunctional homes. “People can’t live the American dream,” he said. “There are a significant number of people who can’t live up to their potential.” “Jobs do solve an awful…


Citizens urged to support ‘sanctuary campus’ plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Undocumented immigrants protected under President Barack Obama’s administration now face uncertainty when Donald Trump is sworn in as president next week. Across the country, approximately 800,000 people have registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation. But that status is now at risk. “These undocumented youth are stuck in the middle of this,” said Luis Moreno, who teaches Latino studies at Bowling Green State University. Based on Trump’s stance during the presidential campaign, those previously protected are now exposed. Since DACA was an executive order by Obama, Trump could revoke it as soon as he is in office. “Students might be detained next week,” said Michaela Walsh, who also teaches Latino studies at BGSU. People who previously signed up for DACA gave the government information, “which makes them even more vulnerable.” Moreno and Walsh led a community meeting Thursday evening about efforts to create a “sanctuary campus” at BGSU. More than 350 signatures have been collected on a petition that will be presented next week to the BGSU Faculty Senate. The goal is to garner support and convince BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and the university trustees to consider the sanctuary concept. “We want to provide buffers from people being deported,” Walsh said. Bowling Green has a large immigrant population, including those undocumented. “There is a community here of undocumented students and employees at the university,” Moreno said, though no numbers were known. “As citizens, it’s our duty to protect those people,” Walsh said. A woman in the crowd at the community meeting at Grounds for Thought agreed. “It’s time for people in this community who feel safe to stand up,” she said. Moreno noted how BGSU’s president has worked to promote diversity on campus, and added that he hoped that her dedication to students would extend to undocumented students. Other universities across the nation are considering similar actions. A student in the crowd asked how they could help. It was suggested that students make their opinions known to Mazey as she begins a “listening tour” on campus. “You have a lot of power,” Walsh said. Another person in the crowd asked if BGSU would lose federal funding if it became a sanctuary campus. The organizers said that is possible, but “there’s time to mount resistance to that,” Walsh said. Another audience member, Raymond Gomez, said the issue extends far beyond campus. He…