Rep. Blake Farenthold says he'll repay taxpayers for sexual harassment settlement

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 5:58 AM

Sexual Harassment Claim Against Texas Representative Settle With Taxpayer Money

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, Texas, told KRIS-TV Monday that he will reimburse taxpayers following a Politico report that he settled a 2014 sexual harassment lawsuit with $84,000 from the federal government.

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“Even though I was completely exonerated by [the Office of Congressional Ethics], and the settlement agreement has been paid, I’m doing my best and am going to hand a check over this week to probably Speaker Ryan or somebody and say ‘look, here’s the amount of my settlement, give it back to the taxpayers,’” Farenthold said in the interview.

>> On Statesman.com: U.S. Rep. Farenthold of Texas used taxpayer money to settle sex harassment claim, reports say

“I want to be clear that I didn’t do anything wrong, but I also don’t want the taxpayers to be on the hook for this, and I want to be able to talk about it and fix the system without people saying Blake, you benefited from the system, you don’t have a right to talk about it or fix it.”

Farenthold used a Congressional Office of Compliance account to pay former staffer Lauren Greene, according to the Friday Politico reportNBC News subsequently confirmed the report.

In the lawsuit, Greene presented “allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment,” according to Politico.

Greene had alleged that a male employee told her that their boss said he had sexual fantasies about her. She also claimed that Farenthold once told her he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years,” according to the report.

Greene also claimed she was fired after complaining about those comments.

The revived conversation around Greene’s lawsuit comes after numerous accounts from men and women throughout the country and across industries of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of powerful and high-profile men.

>> On MyStatesman.com: Amid harassment complaints, Texas House panel adopts new policy

Farenthold’s colleague, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan and the longest serving member of the House, is facing allegations of sexual misconduct. In the Senate, embattled lawmaker Al Franken of Minnesota is having the fight of his political life after several women have claimed he touched them inappropriately.

In Texas, The Daily Beast and The Texas Tribune last month detailed claims of sexual harassment and assault by male lawmakers and others over the years at the statehouse. The reports mostly relied on anonymous sources.

Farenthold’s district includes parts of Bastrop and Caldwell counties.

Report: Couple holding 13 children captive were days from moving to Oklahoma

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 10:26 AM

Details Emerge About 13 Siblings Rescued From California Home

A report says David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin, the California couple accused of allegedly holding 13 siblings captive in their home, were planning to move to Oklahoma.

ABC News reported that the parents was moving from California to Oklahoma days before they were arrested and charged with torture and child endangerment, citing multiple unnamed sources.

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David Turpin was getting a job transfer with a defense contractor he was working with, according to ABC News. Moving boxes were reportedly found at the residence. The report says the family has moved to multiple places over the years, including a home in Texas.

Related: Here’s what the children in the California torture house did to cope with the abuse

The couple’s 17-year-old daughter had escaped the home early Jan. 14 and called 911, saying her 12 siblings were “being held captive” at a Perris, California, residence by her parents.

Related: Parents accused of holding their 13 children captive appear in court

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a Jan. 15 news release that the siblings, ranging in ages from 2 to 29, “appeared to be malnourished and very dirty.” Six of the siblings are minors.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were charged with 12 counts of torture and a lewd act on a child by force or fear of duress. The siblings could only have one meal a day and take one shower a year. Hestrin said at a news conference that the siblings were able to write in journals all the time, which will provide “strong evidence of what occurred in that home.”

Related: DA: Captive siblings limited to one meal a day, one shower a year

Two dogs were found by authorities in the home, according to city spokesman Joe Vargo. Vadrgo said in a statement that the two Maltese terrier dogs were in much better condition than the siblings.

Related: Dogs found in perfect condition in home where 13 siblings held captive

“The animals, one white and one black, appear healthy and friendly and are leash-trained, according to Christina Avila, a senior animal control officer,” a news release from the City of Perris said.

The parents made their first court appearance Thursday and entered not guilty pleas to all charges. Their bail is set at $13 million. They are scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 23.

Deputies: 2 arrested after 3-month-old child, 51 pounds of heroin, found in SUV

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:50 PM

Police Two Arrested After 51 Pounds Of Heroin, 3-Month-Old Child Found In SUV

Deputies in Mississippi arrested two women Monday night on suspicion of drug trafficking after authorities said they found 51 pounds of heroin and a 3-month-old child in an SUV the women were driving.

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A deputy pulled over a Ford SUV on Interstate 20 in Rankin County on Monday night for an unspecified traffic violation. Authorities said that during the stop, the deputy became suspicious that the SUV was being used to transport drugs or contraband.

Deputies said the women in the vehicle, driver Arlene Viridiana Moya, 23, and passenger Trisha Lynne Ibarra, 23, allowed authorities to search the SUV. Inside, deputies said they found 51 pounds of heroin concealed in the vehicle.

Deputies in Rankin County, Mississippi, arrested 23-year-old Arlene Viridiana Moya, left, and 23-year-old Trisha Lynne Ibarra, right, on suspicion of drug trafficking on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.(Rankin County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies estimated the drugs were worth between $2 million and $10 million.

Authorities also found Ibarra’s 3-month-old child in the SUV, deputies said. Rankin County Court Judge Tom Broome ordered the toddler be taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

Moya, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Ibarra, of Laredo, Texas, were arrested on charges of aggravated trafficking of heroin.

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

Florida college student says man tried to touch her leg in on-campus parking garage

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 10:42 AM

Florida College Student Says Man Tried To Grab Her In Parking Garage

Police at the University of Central Florida are warning students to be on their guard after a woman said a man tried to assault her in a campus parking garage Monday.

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UCF police said a woman who attends the university was approached around 6 p.m. by an unknown man who asked for help with his car in Garage C. 

During the exchange, the man tried to touch the student's leg, police said, causing her to scream and run away. 

The student immediately called police and described the man as 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was wearing glasses, a gray sweater and dark pants, she told authorities.

UCF police said the description of the incident closely matches two similar incidents that happened on campus within the past month and a half. 

In December, a student reported that she was inappropriately grabbed by a man inside the Business Administration II building, the UCF Police Department said.

The student told investigators that the incident happened at about 5:50 p.m., UCF police spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin said.

The man, who she did not know, was lingering near a vending machine and started talking to her before grabbing her, Gilmartin said.

"It's just unfortunate that we have to deal with that here at UCF. I feel like we're so close as a family and as a university. It's incredible that we have to do this," UCF student Ponatoyas Jusakus said.

Investigators said the woman ran from the building and reported the incident about an hour later.

>> On WFTV.com: 9 Investigates: Sexual assault cases at UCF

The man was described as being dark-skinned with a thin build and about 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was wearing a gray hoodie and jeans at the time of the incident, police said.

A similar incident happened in the same building Dec. 4, Gilmartin said. The victim in that case provided a similar description of the culprit, but no one was arrested.

>> On WFTV.com: Police: Woman screams for help, gets pushed into car at UCF

Police said they do not believe the two incidents are related to a similar encounter at Valencia College this week.

"Detectives are currently revisiting the case from last month and reviewing surveillance video from last night," Gilmartin said. "In regards to the incident at Valencia College Tuesday night, at this point, the circumstances and suspect descriptions do not match."

Florida woman, 81, smashes car into McDonald's: 'Glass flew everywhere'

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 1:54 AM

Woman Smashes Car Into McDonald's Window

An 81-year-old woman suffered minor injuries after she lost control of her Toyota Solara and backed into the glass windows of a McDonald’s west of Boynton Beach, Florida, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

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The woman will be charged with careless driving, PBSO spokesperson Teri Barbera said Monday.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: PHOTOS: A history of cars crashing into things in South Florida

The crash happened around 3:30 p.m. at Military Trail and Boynton Beach Boulevard when the woman backed up and inadvertently drove through the window.

“Glass flew everywhere,” said a witness, who said she was drinking a soda inside when the car plowed through the window.

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The witness, who asked not to be identified, said the glass cut her fingers. She said the driver then drove forward and hit her parked Volkswagen. The driver continued about 150 feet and hit a tree next to a canal, Barbera said.

A McDonald’s representative declined to comment. The store and drive-through remain open.