BREAKING: John Wiley Price arrested this morning

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DMN staff photo/2014

The ongoing legal battle centering on Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price took a new twist Friday morning when the FBI arrested the embattled incumbent at his home.

The Dallas Morning News reports that a sealed indictment was filed on Wednesday, citing Price for:

• Conspiracy to Commit Bribery Concerning a Local Government Receiving Federal Benefits

• Deprivation of Honest Services by Mail Fraud and Aiding and Abetting

• Conspiracy to Defraud the Internal Revenue Service

• Subscribing to a False and Fraudulent U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Price’s attorney Billy Ravkind said he learned of the arrest through media reports. “Next time we want to know something, we’ll call the press,” he told the DMN. “I guess I haven’t been around long enough. I’ve never had this happen before. You win or lose cases in the courtroom. What the government does is irrelevant.”

A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. at the at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas.

This story is breaking. We will be updating readers throughout the day.

—  James Russell

Dallas Voice staffer brings Station 4 pickpockets to justice

Chad

After he used an app to track down his stolen iPhone and called police, Chad snapped this photo of DPD officers taking the suspects into custody.

One of our sales reps here at Dallas Voice, Chad Mantooth, fell victim to pickpockets on the dancefloor of Station 4 on Friday night. As those of us who look through police reports regularly know, this is an all-too-common occurrence. (I would avoid taking your wallet to the club – but if you do, carry it in your front pocket.)

While what happened to Chad is common, what makes his story unusual is that he subsequently took the law into his own hands and tracked down the thieves — who are now facing charges. And thanks to him there are a few less pickpockets in the Cedar Springs gay bars. Below is the real-life, gay-on-gay crime story as Chad tells it:

—  John Wright

Crime watch leader: ‘We have to learn to STOP leaving stuff in our vehicles’

The Dallas Morning News reports today that overall reported crime was down 11 percent in 2012 citywide, despite a slight increase in violent offenses. We’ll have a detailed look at 2012 crime stats for the Oak Lawn gayborhood in this Friday’s print edition. But for now we thought we’d share these maps sent over by Nancy Weinberger, leader of the Oak Lawn crime watch group. The maps show where crimes occurred in the area for December. Note that the crime watch group’s jurisdiction is split into two DPD divisions by Oak Lawn Avenue. The first map shows the portion that’s in the Northwest Division, while the second shows the portion that’s in the Central Division. As you can see BMVs (burglaries of motor vehicles) were by far the most common offense in December, numbering 38. As Weinberger said in her email to the group’s members, “We have to learn to STOP leaving stuff in our vehicles.” Check out the maps below.

—  John Wright

Man abducted at Cedar Springs ATM, bound with duct tape, dumped in Irving

The victim is believed to have been kidnapped from the ATM at the Bank of America at 4023 Cedar Springs Road.

A man using an ATM on the Cedar Springs strip early Tuesday was abducted, hogtied with duct tape and robbed before being dumped in a vacant lot in Irving, according to Dallas police.

A police report says the victim, 43-year-old Rudolph Dinwiddie of Grapevine, was using a Bank of America ATM at 4000 Cedar Springs Road — which is the intersection of Throckmorton Street — at about 1 a.m.

The four suspects pulled up in a vehicle and one of them pointed a “modified sub machine [gun]” at Dinwiddie, ordering him not to move, according to the report. The suspects threatened to kill Dinwiddie if he didn’t cooperate, and forced him into the back seat of their vehicle at gunpoint.

The suspects then handcuffed Dinwiddie and used duct tape and zip ties to bind his arms and legs. When they found his keys in his pocket, they ordered him to direct them to his vehicle, a 2010 Nissan Altima that was parked two blocks away. The suspects then drove their vehicle to a nearby gas station, where they used Dinwiddie’s money to fill up, before taking him to several ATMs in Dallas and Irving and demanding his PIN so they could withdraw more cash.

The suspects finally threw Dinwiddie out of their vehicle in a vacant lot at 1440 Lindy Lane in Irving, where he was found by Irving officers who were flagged down by a passer-by. Dinwiddie suffered scrapes to his back and shoulders, and had visible swelling on his wrists and forearms. He was treated at Colombia Medical Hospital in Irving.

The Bank of America branch with an ATM is at 4023 Cedar Springs Road. The police report also lists an address of 3900 Cedar Springs Road. There are three other sidewalk ATMs near the 3900 block of Cedar Springs, but they are not affiliated with any one bank.

Dallas police spokeswoman Ashaki Hardeman said she was unable to confirm which ATM the victim was using. Hardeman said no further information was available about the incident.

—  John Wright

Gay photographer held up at gunpoint near DART’s Uptown Station, refuses to give up camera

Gay photographer Stephen Masker says he was taking photos of DARTs Uptown Station (near CityPlace) on Monday when three or four men approached in a van and demanded his camera at gunpoint. Masker refused to hand over the camera, and the men eventually fled, according to WFAA:

“I said, ‘What? Like, what are you talking about?’” Masker recalled. “He repeated himself and said, ‘Give me your camera.’ I said, ‘I’m not giving you my camera.’”

Masker said the men tried again, and once more he resisted before the men took off in a tan or gold mini-van.

“It was absolutely terrifying,” Masker said. “It was unreal.”

Highland Park police say a few minutes before, suspects matching the same description held up another man in an alley near Hillcrest and Princeton, taking his phone.

Masker said if he had to do it all again, he would not do it the same way.

“I would’ve given them the camera if it was a do-over,” he said. “If it ever happens again, I’ll give away whatever’s on me.”

Watch WFAA’s report below:

—  John Wright

Public input sought on non-discrimination amendment effort

Fairness Works Houston, a new organization formed to pass a proposed non-discrimination charter amendment in Houston, will hold a public meeting this Saturday, Feb. 25, to seek public input. As previously reported by Houstini, the proposed charter amendment, which is still being drafted, will remove discriminatory language added to the city charter in 1985 and 2001 and make it a crime to deny employment, housing or public accommodation to a person because of their “age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical characteristic.”

The meeting, scheduled for 1 pm at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) in rooms 112/113, looks to identify community resources that can be used both topass the amendment and to gather the 20,000 signatures that will be needed to place the amendment on the November ballot. Scheduled speakers include Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Jenifer Rene Poole who chairs the Caucus’ committee on the proposed amendment.

—  admin

Where crimes happened in Oak Lawn in January

Nancy Weinberger, leader of the Oak Lawn Stakeholders crime watch group, sent out these handy-dandy maps today (click to enlarge) showing where offenses took place in January 2012. Weinberger said Chief Malik Aziz, who’s over DPD’s Northwest Division, will be the crime watch group’s featured speaker during its regular meeting next week, at noon Wednesday at the Oak Lawn Library Branch.

—  John Wright

Remembering John Lawrence, the man behind Lawrence v. Texas

Lawrence

John Lawrence and Tyrone Gardner

Metro Weekly reports that one-time Houstonian John Geddes Lawrence, the “Lawrence” in Lawrence v. Texas, passed away last month at the age of 68:

“In the facts underlying the Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested under Texas’s Homosexual Conduct Law after police entered Lawrence’s home on Sept. 17, 1998, and saw them “engaging in a sexual act.” The couple challenged the law as unconstitutional”

I was 22 and living in Dallas in 2003 when the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence declaring Texas’ law against “homosexual conduct” unconstitutional. A group of over 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the Resource Center of Dallas as Dennis Coleman, then with Lambda Legal, read excerpts of the decision. I remember the exuberant electricity in the air, the crowd bubbling with joy and the relief of centuries of official oppression finally coming to an end. Similar get-togethers took place across the state, as an entire community breathing a collective sigh of relief.

That relief has turn to frustration over the years. Although the Supreme Court decision rendered Penal Code Section 21.06 unconstitutional, the law remains on the books, and efforts to remove it have met with significant resistance. During a hearing this spring on finally removing the unconstitutional law, Rep. Jose Aliseda, R – Pleasanton, lamented that repeal of the law would entail removing portions of the Health Code requiring that HIV education efforts include information that “homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.”

Before Lawrence several attempts were made to remove the law against “homosexual conduct.” The Texas legislature voted to remove it from the penal code as part of a complete rewrite of the code in 1971, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Preston Smith. In 1973 the Legislature again undertook a rewrite of the code, keeping “homosexual conduct” a crime but making it a class C misdemeanor. In 1981 a U.S. District Court ruled in Baker v. Wade that the law was unconstitutional, but as that case was winding its way through an unusually torturous appeals process the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that a similar law in Georgia was constitutional, making the questions in Baker moot. Similarly, in the 90′s there was hope that Texas v. Morales might finally prevail in defeating the “homosexual conduct” prohibition, but the Texas Supreme Court decided that since, in their opinion, the law was rarely enforced, there was no reason for them to rule in the matter.

Lawrence’s legacy lives on in a scholarship named after him and Garner administered by the Houston GLBT Community Center. The scholarship “recognizes outstanding leadership shown by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Texas high school seniors and college
students by contributing to the cost of their continuing education. Selection is based upon character and need.” Tim Brookover, president of the community center, expressed sorrow at Lawrence’s passing “John was a hero, the community owes a great debt of gratitude to John and Tyrone for taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Brookover. “They could have easily allowed it to slip away, but they decided to stay and fight and that makes them heroes and role models.”

The application deadline for the John Lawrence/Tyrone Gardner Scholarship is March 2, 2012.

—  admin

Iconic LGBT activist Ray Hill files for Texas House seat

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

Long time Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill filed paperwork this week to run for the 147th Texas House seat against incumbent Garnet Coleman, D – Houston. The iconic (and iconoclastic) Hill said that he and Coleman agree on many issues but that he had “some issues  that aren’t on the table in Austin.”

Specifically Hill has concerns with the legislature’s approach to criminal justice issues. “The Texas legislature is a serial world class red-necking competition,” says Hill. “What they are doing on criminal justice is wrong and it doesn’t work… we need a serious rethink.”

Coleman has a strong history of supporting LGBT legislation. For the last three sessions he has attempted to pass anti-bullying legislation that would require school districts to report instances of bullying using an enumerated list of motivating characteristics that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, he has also filed legislation to remove the the crime of “homosexual conduct” from the Texas penal code (a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), to equalize age of consent laws in Texas and to add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime law. In the 82nd legislature earlier this year Coleman authored seven pieces of legislation designed to create greater equality for LGBT people, including the first ever filing of legislation to standardize change of gender marker procedures for the transgender community and the first effort to repeal the state’s constitutional prohibition against marriage equality.

Hill recognizes Coleman’s historic contributions, “The incumbent and I agree on a lot of issues,” says Hill, “but we don’t tell young gay people ‘if you work real hard and go to school and do your best you can grow up to have straight friends in Austin who like you.’ No, we tell them ‘if you work hard they can grow up to be Mayor of Houston, or City Supervisor of San Francisco.’”

When asked why the community would be better served by him than Coleman, a 20 year legislative veteran, Hill replies “I understand how government works. A freshman legislator can’t do anything more than irritate, but that’s about all any member of the minority party can do. On that level the incumbent and I are on the same level… I think we need somebody obnoxious [in the legislature] who’s going to purposefully rub the cat hair the wrong direction.”

Since being elected to the legislature for the first time in 1992 Coleman has been unopposed in 5 of his 9 primary reelection bids. No primary challenger to Coleman has pulled more than 21% of the vote.

—  admin

Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens