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4-year-old boy with autism bound with belts, set on fire by mother, police say

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 6:20 PM

4-Year-Old Autistic Boy Bound With Belts, Set On Fire By Mother

A Wisconsin woman is accused of killing her 4-year-old son with autism, who police officials say was found burned and bound with seven belts in the bathtub of their apartment. 

Amelia Di Stasio, 23, of Milwaukee, is charged with first-degree intentional murder, according to jail records. She is being held in the Milwaukee County Jail in lieu of $350,000 bond. 

Fox 6 News in Milwaukee reported that firefighters were dispatched to Di Stasio’s home Sept. 28 after smoke was spotted coming from the apartment. The firefighters forced their way in and found smoke coming from the stove and the bathtub.

In the tub, they found the body of Antonio Di Stasio, the news station reported. The boy’s hands were bound behind his back and there was a garbage bag secured tightly over his head.

“(A) majority of his body was burned,” a criminal complaint obtained by Fox 6 News said. Antonio’s autopsy revealed “significant charring” and thermal injuries.

His death was ruled a homicide, but it was not immediately clear if he died of the burns or of asphyxiation from the plastic bag on his head. 

Antonio’s grandfather, Ralph Di Stasio, told the news station that his daughter suffers from bipolar disorder. The grieving grandfather said he is trying to understand how she could have hurt her son.

“She loved Antonio with all of her heart,” he said. “That’s why this was so hard.”

Di Stasio wrote on Facebook that his grandson was “bright and happy,” but that his autism caused him to “act out” and scream, which caused neighbors to complain about the noise. He said the apartment where the boy died was his third home in a little over a year. 

“Your (sic) all gonna be down on his mother. But she loved him,” Di Stasio wrote. “Took him everywhere with her. Tried to get him treatment. And she's now under arrest. I don't know what happened, only that I've lost both my grandson and a daughter.”

A neighbor of Amber Di Stasio’s told police that the day before Antonio’s body was found, she heard the boy crying, “Please, Mommy. Stop! I won’t do it again,” and then his mother yelling at him to “shut up,” the criminal complaint said. The witness said she heard a banging noise coming from the Di Stasio apartment the next morning. 

Antonio’s pet guinea pig was found drowned in its cage next to the bathtub, the news station reported. An open bottle of canola cooking oil was sitting on the sink and the apartment’s smoke detector had been removed and submerged in water. 

>> Read more trending news

Police officers who responded to the scene found Di Stasio’s cellphone, on which they discovered searches asking: “How do canabals (sic) die” and “how to kill a canabal (sic),” the complaint said

The search results included a link to the message board about an online game in which players fight cannibals, the news station reported. The messages detailed ways to kill a cannibal, with the first suggestion being to “kill it with fire.” 

The board also offered details of the game, in which the cannibals “like to bathe in oil,” Fox 6 News reported

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a witness told investigators she saw a woman who looked “frazzled” jump from the window of the apartment shortly before firefighters arrived. 

Di Stasio was taken into custody a few hours later after a Milwaukee police officer spotted her walking along a street several miles north of the crime scene, the Journal Sentinel said. In her purse were identification cards for both her and her son, as well as a piece of paper with a name and phone number on it.

When an officer called the number, he talked to a man who said he’d given the phone number, which belongs to his wife, to a woman he saw crying at a bus stop that morning. The man told the officer that he’d asked the woman what was wrong.

“I did something really bad (and) I need to talk to a pastor,” the woman told him, according to the criminal complaint. 

The man said he offered the woman his wife’s name and number because his wife is a Christian, the Journal Sentinel reported. Investigators showed the man a photo array, from which he identified a photo of Di Stasio as the woman he’d met. 

Antonio’s family members told Fox 6 News that they are struggling to understand his death. 

“He was a good kid. Always smiling,” his uncle, Juan Allen, said. “It’s just sad. That’s an innocent life that’s gone. I’m just trying to cope with the pain right now.”

The boy’s aunt and Amelia Di Stasio’s sister, Eva Allen, told WTMJ-TV that she is angry with her sister. 

“I love my sister regardless, you know, and I know she was sick. I want to tell her I’m angry. I’m very upset with her,” she said. “I just want to know why.”

USA Today editorial: Trump 'not fit' to clean Obama library toilets, shine George W. Bush's shoes

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 4:24 AM

President Trump And Twitter

USA Today's editorial board blasted President Donald Trump on Tuesday in a scathing response to his controversial tweet about Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

What You Need To Know: Kirsten Gillibrand

>> Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand calls Trump tweet 'a sexist smear'

Trump's Tuesday morning tweet, which accused Gillibrand of "begging" him for campaign contributions and said she "would do anything for them," was widely criticized as being sexually suggestive. His post came after Gillibrand called for his resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations.

>> See the tweet here

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied claims that Trump's tweet was sexist and said those who read it as suggestive had their minds "in the gutter."

USA Today's editorial board disagreed.

"With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office," the editorial board wrote. "Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low."

>> Alabama Senate race: Doug Jones defeats Roy Moore

The editorial added that Trump "is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush."

"This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions," the piece continued. "Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt."

The editorial described Trump as "uniquely awful" and blasted him for what it called "sickening behavior."

>> Read more trending news 

"The nation doesn’t seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed," the piece concluded. "But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great."

Trump accusers call for congressional investigation into alleged sexual misconduct

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 1:39 PM
Updated: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 3:19 PM

Accusers of Trump Sexual Misconduct Call for Congressional Investigation

Update 3:15 p.m. Dec. 11: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the allegations levied against President Donald Trump in a news briefing Monday, telling reporters that the president has “addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.”

"The American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we're ready to move forward," she said. "This took place long before he was elected to be president and the people of this country had a decisive election."

Original report: At least four women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment called on Monday for a congressional investigation into Trump’s behavior, pointing to recent investigations announced into lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct.

>> Read more trending news

Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Lisa Boyne were among the more than a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual harassment in the run-up to last year’s election.

“They’ve investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that (Trump) be investigated as well,” Holvey said Monday at a news conference. “I think also a nonpartisan investigation is very important, not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is how women are treated every day.”

In a statement, White House officials dismissed the accusations as false and politically motivated.

>> Related: Who is accusing Trump of sexual misconduct? 

Leeds said she was motivated to speak out again in the wake of recent allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

“In some areas, the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously. People were being held accountable. Except for our president,” Leeds said. “In fact, his staff made a big point of calling us all liars.”

Earlier on Monday, Crooks, Leeds and Holvey appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” to share their stories.

Leeds said she shared her story because she "wanted people to know what kind of person he is.” Holvey said his election despite the allegations against him made Trump’s inauguration day particularly difficult.

“It was like the entire country said, ‘Meh, we don’t care that he’s like this,’” she said.

Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant, told CNN last year that Trump inspected each woman during an event in New York City in the month before the contest. 

"He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat; we were just sexual objects; that we were not people," Holvey told CNN. "You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It's that feeling."

Crooks told The New York Times that she shook hands when she met Trump while working for a firm in Manhattan's Trump Tower in 2005. Crooks, then 22, said he wouldn't let go of her hand, kissed her cheeks, then kissed her "directly on the mouth."

>> Related: Rep. John Conyers announces retirement in wake of sexual harassment allegations

"It was so inappropriate," she told the Times. "I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that."

Leeds told The New York Times that Trump put his hands up her skirt after meeting her on a plane in the early 1980s.

"He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."

Boyne told The Huffington Post that Trump made models walk on a table during a dinner in New York in 1996.

She told the news site Trump “stuck his head right underneath their skirts” and made crude comments about their underwear and genitalia.

In a statement released Monday, White House officials called the accusations false.

“The American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory (last year),” the statement said. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”

Crooks called the White House statement “laughable.” 

“I think, if they were willing to investigate Sen. (Al) Franken, I think it’s only fair that they do the same for Trump,” Crooks said.

>> Related: Al Franken will resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Franken announced last week that he plans to resign in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him by several women. The Minnesota Democrat was accused of groping women as they posed for photos with him and forcibly kissing at least two women.

He is one of three lawmakers who have announced their intention to leave office in weeks amid sexual misconduct scandals.

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations but said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last week that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.

Lawmakers call for investigation into Trump sexual misconduct allegations

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:21 PM

Congresswomen Call For Probe Into Trump Accusations

More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are calling on the House Oversight Committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct levied against President Donald Trump, a group of female U.S. representatives said at a news conference Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

More than a dozen women have accused the president of forced kissing, unwanted groping and making inappropriate sexual comments since 2015, when Trump announced his plan to run for office. The allegations span decades.

The president has repeatedly denied the claims.

The chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Florida, said Tuesday that “the time is right to get the truth” about the allegations. She said a letter requesting a congressional investigation had garnered more than 100 signatures from Democratic lawmakers by Tuesday afternoon.

>> Related: Who is accusing Trump of sexual misconduct?

“The #MeToo movement has arrived,” Frankel said. “Sexual abuse will not be tolerated, whether it’s by a Hollywood producer, the chef of a restaurant, a member of Congress or the president of the United States.”

The letter, sent to the chair and vice chair of the House Oversight Committee, said that the president has made statements that have appeared to give credence to the allegations against him.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) (4th L) speaks as she holds a news conference with other Democratic Congress members, including Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) (3rd L) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) (7th L), December 12, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. House Democrats call on "investigating President Trump for sexual misconduct." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“The President has boasted in public and in crude terms that he feels at liberty to perpetrate such conduct against women,” the letter said, referencing a 2005 video from “Access Hollywood” in which Trump could be heard making crude comments about women. 

“Subsequently, Mr. Trump apologized and called it ‘locker room talk.’ He has since called all his accusers liars.”

>> Related: Melania Trump defends husband's lewd comments about women as 'boy talk'

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Michigan, the vice president of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, said Tuesday that Americans “deserve to have a thorough investigation that will reveal the facts.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the call for an investigation as unnecessary and unwanted by the American people.

“The president has answered these questions,” she said Tuesday at a news briefing. “He has spoken to these accusations and denied and pushed that they are all false and fabricated accusations. Frankly, I think if Congress wants to spend time investigating things they should prob focus on some of the thins that the American people would really like to investigate, like how to secure our borders, how to defeat ISIS (or) how to pass tax reform that actually impacts them.”

Four of Trump’s accusers on Monday called on Congress to investigate Trump’s behavior. Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Lisa Boyne first accused Trump of sexual harassment in the run-up to last year’s election.

“They’ve investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that (Trump) be investigated as well,” Holvey said Monday at a news conference. “I think also a nonpartisan investigation is very important, not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is how women are treated every day.”

The pressure to investigate Trump’s actions has grown as the “#MeToo” movement has encouraged more women to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. Earlier this month, three lawmakers announced their intention to resign or retire amid sexual harassment scandals.

>> Related: Trump accusers call for congressional investigation into alleged sexual misconduct

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, announced last week that he plans to resign in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him by several women. He was accused of groping women as they posed for photos with him and forcibly kissing at least two people.

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations but said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last week that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.

Al Franken: What happens to his Senate seat if he resigns?

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 8:16 AM

What You Need To Know About Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken, (D-Minn.), will make an announcement on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday as to whether he will resign his seat amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Franken is expected to speak at 11:45 a.m. ET.

Franken has been accused of inappropriate conduct by several women. On Wednesday, more than 20 fellow senators called for Franken to resign.

What happens to his seat if he does? Here’s a look at the process of filling the seat.

Requirements:

A person who would be a senator from Minnesota must:

Be at least 30 years old

Be a resident of Minnesota

Be a U.S. citizen for at least nine years

Who makes the decision on a replacement?

According to state law, Minnesota’s governor is authorized to fill the vacancy if a senator resigns. The governor, Democrat Mark Dayton, can make temporary appointments to fill Senate vacancies, but a special election must be held to fill the seat until the next scheduled election of that seat is held.

When would a special election be held in this case?

In Minnesota, if the seat is vacated at least 11 weeks before a scheduled primary, then a special election must be held the following November. There is a primary set for Aug. 14, 2018, in Minnesota, so that would mean that a special election would have to be held in November 2018 if Franken resigns before May 29, 2018. Minnesota’s other senator, Amy Klobuchar, (D), is up for re-election in that election.
 

The winner of the special election would serve out Franken’s term, which ends in January 2021. If that person wants to stay in the seat for the six-year term that begins in January 2021, he or she would have to face re-election in November 2020. 

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) looks over his papers during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands, on Capitol Hill November 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)