Man in court for belly button fixation sparks autism debate

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 3:24 PM
Updated: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 3:23 PM


            Graig Burrier sits in the courtroom during a hearing Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in the Summit County Common Please Court in Akron, Ohio. An Ohio judge must decide how to deal with Burrier, a man who has been diagnosed with autism and has repeatedly violated his probation for sexual battery by asking women to touch their bellybuttons. Burrier, 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a probation violation after approaching a female jogger and asking to see her bellybutton on two days in July. (Karen Schiely, Akron Beacon Journal via AP)
Graig Burrier sits in the courtroom during a hearing Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017 in the Summit County Common Please Court in Akron, Ohio. An Ohio judge must decide how to deal with Burrier, a man who has been diagnosed with autism and has repeatedly violated his probation for sexual battery by asking women to touch their bellybuttons. Burrier, 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a probation violation after approaching a female jogger and asking to see her bellybutton on two days in July. (Karen Schiely, Akron Beacon Journal via AP)

A judge must decide how to deal with a man diagnosed with autism who has repeatedly violated his probation for sexual battery by asking women to touch their bellybuttons.

Graig Burrier, 29, of Stow, pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating probation after approaching a female jogger and asking to see her bellybutton twice in July.

Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Rowlands must decide whether to send Burrier back to state prison or to an inpatient treatment program for sex offenders in Minnesota.

Burrier's attorney, Joe Gorman, says his client is autistic and should be given treatment, not prison. Prosecutors argued that Burrier is not autistic and want him to finish the remaining two years of a suspended prison sentence.

"This was not an impulsive behavior; it was deliberate," Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said in a statement on Thursday. "This is not the type of behavior someone with autism typically exhibits."

Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term for a group of developmental disorders that can affect a person's ability to communicate. Repetitive and inappropriate touching could be a sign of the disorder, but it is difficult to say, said Angela Scarpa, a psychology professor at Virginia Tech, who was not addressing Burrier's case specifically.

Burrier was charged with rape in 2011 after he told a pregnant 19-year-old that he needed to touch her bellybutton for a fraternity ritual. Authorities said he pushed her against a wall and digitally penetrated her.

As part of a plea deal, he was sentenced to five years' probation and a four-year suspended sentence, and was released from prison in 2016.

Burrier previously had been diagnosed with autism. But when Rowlands ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, psychologists said he did not "display symptoms" of the disorder, according to the evaluation obtained by The Akron Beacon Journal.

The evaluation listed five incidents between 2007 and 2010 when asked to see women's bellybuttons. In one instance, he paid an 18-year-old woman $3 to kiss her navel.

Court records show that Burrier had been charged with three previous probation violations. Less than four months after being convicted in 2012, his probation officer said Burrier was suicidal and had made no progress in treatment. He was sent to prison in August 2015 for another probation violation and was released in July 2016.

Prosecutors say Burrier already had a chance at treatment and sending him to prison would protect women from harassment. Gorman argued the treatment wasn't enough and that inpatient care is a better long-term solution.

"I can't imagine housing him in our state prison facility for two years is going to stop the problem," Gorman said. "They've already tried that."

Matthew Lerner, a professor of psychology at Stony Brook University in New York, said autistic people often run into challenges because of their difficulties with different social contexts.

"It's a really pressing matter," Lerner said. "The criminal justice system is not often equipped to handle people with autism."

Crash closes St. Paris Pike in German Township, Springfield

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 5:07 PM

Both drivers were transported to the hospital with non life threatening injuries after this head-on crash in the 3900 block of St. Paris Pike Monday afternoon.

A head-on crash in German Township has closed St. Paris Pike until further notice. The accident occurred around 4 p.m. and two people were transported to Springfield Memorial Hospital. 

Both victims sustained non-life threatening injuries according to the German Township Police Department.

RELATED: See more trending stories on WHIO.com

St. Paris Pike is shut down West of Upper Valley Pike and German Township Police advice motorists to find an alternate route. 

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Accused I-75 wrong-way driver has previous intoxication, wrong-way cases

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 4:46 PM

WATCH: ODOT Camera captures wrong way driver crashing on I-75

A man accused of being under the influence and causing a wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 in Dayton on Saturday had an open court case for public intoxication and was cited in 2016 for driving the wrong-way on a one-way street, according to court records. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Drugs, alcohol suspected factors in I-75 wrong-way crash

Glenn Ellis, 47, of Dayton, was suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he drove north in the southbound lanes on I-75 on Saturday morning, according to the record. 

Ellis crashed head-on into a car driven by Anthony Revels, 59, of Dayton, near the Ohio 4 exit, according to a police report. Revels and his passenger were injured, but were treated and released from Miami Valley Hospital, the report said. 

On Monday, Ellis was charged with OVI, failure to control a motor vehicle, failure to wear a seat belt, and driving on the wrong-side of a divided roadway, according to online court records. 

RELATED: Defying odds: 3 men survive Dayton wrong-way interstate crash

Court records obtained by this news outlet indicate Ellis was cited for public intoxication on in the 400 block East Second Street in Dayton on Oct. 7, 2017.

“[Ellis] was subject of person down call,” according to the Dayton police citation. “He was highly intoxicated, [and] passed out in the rain.” 

The case is still listed as open, according to court records. 

Ellis was also cited for driving without a driver’s license and driving the wrong-way on a one-way street on Monument Avenue at North St. Clair Street in Dayton on Feb. 5, 2016. 

That citation states that Ellis was traveling on Monument Avenue and turned onto North St. Clair Street and didn’t realize North St. Clair was a one-way street. 

Court records indicate the charges were dismissed and Ellis was ordered to pay court costs. 

“There’s a car coming the wrong way!”

On Monday, Anthony Revels of Dayton was at a tow lot retrieving personal belongings and removing the tags from his totaled Prius.

Revels, 59, said he got on the I-75 going south at Wagner Ford Road.

“All of a sudden I looked up and saw a car passing other cars, literally coming at me,” he said

He told his passenger, Michael Jackson: “There’s a car coming in the wrong way! Wrong way!” 

Revels started taking his car right. The other car was still swerving in his direction, he said.

“We’re going to get hit,” he shouted to Jackson right before impact.

 As the cars came to a stop, Revels and Jackson checked on each other’s injuries. 

Neither was seriously hurt. Both were wearing their seat belts and all six of the car’s airbags deployed, Revels said.

At the hospital, Revels spoke with a police officer. 

“He seemed really shocked at the outcome of our accident – a head-on collision and we only had minor injuries,” Revels said.

Anthony Revels inspects the damage to his Toyota Prius on Monday after he and a passenger survived a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver on Interstate 75 early Saturday morning. SUBMITTED(SUBMITTED/SUBMITTED)

Revels said his chest has been sore since the accident in which he also banged up his right hand. He said his passenger also suffered minor injuries to an arm, leg and ribs.

“I went right. I just turned right,” he said. “That’s all you can do.”

Revels said God protected them during the crash.

“After going through this and looking at the car, I believe it,” he said.

Attempts to reach Ellis Monday were unsuccessful. 

ODOT video captures crash

An Ohio Department of Transportation camera, positioned at the I- 75 and Ohio 4 interchange, captured the crash. 

The camera, which was zoomed out, captures the moment a northbound vehicle slams into a southbound vehicle on the highway. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

MARTA bus blocks feed of Georgia Dome implosion at worst possible time

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 1:25 PM
Updated: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 2:51 PM

Footage of the Georgia Dome implosion was heavily marred for at least one person when a MARTA bus rolled into view and hit the brakes. 

Hundreds of people looked on in person as the Georgia Dome fell Monday. 

Many of those onlookers recorded the big moment for those who couldn’t be there, and for posterity. 


READ: The Georgia Dome had a farewell AMA on Twitter. Here’s what we learned

READ: Mercedes-Benz Stadium says it is world’s greenest sports venue


But footage was heavily marred for one very unhappy cameraman when a MARTA bus rolled into view and hit the brakes. 

Video courtesy of The Weather Company/weather.com.

The cringe-worthy video was also posted on Twitter Monday morning, with James Crugnale lamenting that he’d been streaming the Dome for 40 minutes before the bus stopped in front of the camera as it imploded. 

Take a look:

And what does MARTA have to say about all this? 

“Given the potential dangers of bringing down the largest structure of its kind... If this is the biggest story, we’re really glad about that,” Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Goldie Taylor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Over on Twitter, Taylor “sincerely apologized” on MARTA’s behalf for ruining the live shot.

Then, she trolled. 

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Watch the implosion of the historic Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Related

Street closures planned for Friday holiday festival in Dayton

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 4:54 PM

Crowds gathered for the Grande Illumination of the Christmas tree Friday night, Nov. 25, 2016, during the 2016 Dayton Holiday Festival on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.
Jim Noelker / Staff
Crowds gathered for the Grande Illumination of the Christmas tree Friday night, Nov. 25, 2016, during the 2016 Dayton Holiday Festival on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.(Jim Noelker / Staff)

Some streets in downtown Dayton will be closed Friday to accommodate the 2017 Dayton Holiday Festival.

Depending on which street, the closures will begin at different times, but all will be closed until 10 p.m., the city announced today.

RELATED >>> Christmas officially arrives starting this weekend

Closures

9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Third Street between Main and Ludlow streets

3 to 10 p.m.

Second Street between Perry and Vista View Drive

5:30 to 10 p.m.

Wilkinson Street between Second and Third streets; Ludlow Street between First and Second streets

7 to 10 p.m.

Main Street between First and Fifth streets; Second and Third streets between Jefferson and Perry streets; Fourth Street between Jefferson and Ludlow streets; Wilkinson Street between Monument Avenue and Fourth streets; southbound Red Cross Lane between First and Second streets; and southbound Stafford Street between First and Second streets.

MORE >>> 10 must-see holiday light displays close to home

During the closures, access to the arts garage will be maintained from Ludlow Street.

For more information, call the Downtown Dayton Partnership at (937) 224-1518, or visit daytonholidayfestival.org.