Articles Posted in Crimes on Land

MIAMI, FL—November 8, 2011 – A South Florida day care worker accused of child abuse and neglect in a pending civil lawsuit confessed to those allegations during a recent disposition, according to information provided by NBC Miami. A female J. Ruiz Learning Center employee, whom is being referred to as “Miss Emma” in the pending lawsuit, was questioned as to whether or not she had ever struck a child on the job and ultimately answered, “yes.”
Surveillance footage also showed the Miami-Dade day care employee standing by as a fight between several children ultimately ended with a 5-year-old girl having one of her braids yanked violently from her head. Upon being asked about her apparent failure to intervene, the accused day care employee contended, “They were just playing. They were just playing.”
Trina Jackson, the 5-year-old girl’s mother, filed a civil lawsuit against the Hialeah day care center, claiming both child neglect and abuse on the part of “Miss Emma.” J. Ruiz Learning Center is situated at 4111 Northwest 22nd Avenue.

Also deposed in the child abuse case was Jose Ruiz, who strongly insisted that no children have ever been subjected to abuse at the children’s learning center. When the plaintiff’s attorney asked Ruiz whether the day care worker’s actions would result in the termination of her employment, he apparently responded, “She was under a lot of pressure. She was questioned for hours. I didn’t see enough of the clip. I have to see more before I make a determination.”

Although no criminal charges have been filed against “Miss Emma,” reports indicated the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) fined the Hialeah day care upon completing a probe into the said child abuse allegations.

Denise Hodge, whose three children used to be enrolled at the day care center, also filed a lawsuit related to the case. Hodge reportedly got a job at J. Ruiz Learning Center, as to better understand the complaints her children were making about “Miss Emma.” Hodge contended, “She [“Miss Emma”] would let little kids fight each other… She’d even hit the little kids if they didn’t listen to her.”

When Hodge went on to report what she’d witnessed to Jose Ruiz, she faced backlash for doing so. Hodge claims she was fired for unjustified reasons the following day. Her lawsuit not only seeks $15,000 in damages, but also aims to have officials close down the facility for good and prohibit “Miss Emma” from attaining employment within the child care industry in the future. Hodge also seeks the introduction of legislation that would require all day care centers make an ongoing stream live surveillance footage available to parents who want to check up on their kids.

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MIAMI, FL— November 7, 2011 – A lawsuit alleging sexual assault and other defilements is pending against Morton’s Steakhouse in Boca Raton, NBC Miami reported. The ex-Morton’s chef being represented in the lawsuit not only accused some of his former coworkers of sexually assaulting him on the job, but also claimed management witnessed and allowed a chef to place vegetables in his underwear before serving the potentially soiled food to customers.

According to a civil lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County on Oct. 3, plaintiff Reggie Williams claimed Morton’s Steakhouse management witnessed Morton’s kitchen staff members verbally and physically abuse other employees at the Boca Raton restaurant on several occasions, though nothing was done to stop the harassment.

For instance, the lawsuit alleges former employee Edmond Bleus would not only verbally abuse the men he worked with, he would try to kiss and grab their genitals as well. Bleus is also accused of sticking stalks of asparagus in his pants to make it seem like he had an erection and then serving that asparagus to unwary customers.

The suit contended Morton’s Steakhouse management stood by and observed the heinous acts, but never reported them or attempted to stop them from continuing.

Williams quit his job as a chef after Bleus followed him into the restaurant’s cooler and allegedly sexually assaulted him. The lawsuit claims Bleus undressed himself from the waste down before seemingly attempting to rape the plaintiff.

Although Chicago-based Morton’s Steakhouse would not comment on the case, spokesman Roger Drake stated, “Morton’s is firmly committed to providing a safe and harassment free environment for all of its employees and patrons. In the event that any Morton’s employee acts contrary to our policies, Morton’s takes immediate and appropriate steps to rectify the situation. Morton’s also adheres to the highest industry standards in regard to food safety and food service.”
The South Florida sexual assault case is underway.

* The Miami personal injury law firm of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. has no affiliation with the case above.

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MIAMI, FL—October 27, 2011 – A former Miami Beach Police officer and his friend are being sued in connection with the alleged drugging and raping of an aspiring model, who uploaded modeling photos on a social networking website in hopes that she would be contacted by talent/modeling agencies. According to NBC Miami, the rape victim claims the ex-cop posed as a talent agent and persuaded her to come to South Florida for an audition via, which is also being named as a defendant in the pending sexual assault lawsuit.

Reports indicated 40-year-old Lavont Flanders, a former MBPD officer, and his friend, 45-year-old Emerson Callum were charged with 22 counts of human trafficking on August 17. During an FBI raid, agents reportedly confiscated multiple boxes of porn DVDs, as well as other pieces of unspecified evidence in the case. Flanders and Callum’s criminal trial is set to begin in November.

According to federal prosecutors, Flanders, who was employed by the Miami Beach Police Department between 1995 and 1997, pretended to be a talent scout and modeling agent as a means of enticing women to come to South Florida to “audition” for a nonexistent agency since 2006.

Reports state Flanders would allegedly put drugs in the women’s drinks and then film Callum, the president of pornography company Miami Vibes, rape the women. Those porn films were subsequently sold for profit through online retailers, as well as at local adult film stores. It was not clear how many sexual assault victims there were in all.

The pending rape lawsuit against Flanders, Callum and social networking site was filed on Oct. 24 and seeks unspecified damages.

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MIAMI, FL— October 26, 2011 – Following the Oct. 12 arrest of a Kissimmee nurse accused of sexually assaulting two patients at Osceola Regional Medical Center this year, local authorities announced that they have not yet ruled out the potential for additional victims in cities where the male nurse (and former Air Force Nurse Corps captain) worked in the past, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Shean Michael Galvin
, the accused male nurse, received national recognition in 2003 when he directed the medical evacuation of a recovered U.S. prisoner of war. Upon being rescued by U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel, Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch was reportedly medevac’d from Iraq—where she was injured and subsequently held captive by Iraqi forces—to a German hospital for treatment.

Galvin was arrested on two counts of sexual battery in connection with the alleged sexual assault of two patients at Kissimmee-based Osceola Regional Medical Center this year. Furthermore, police reports suggested rape allegations brought by a patient at Clermont-based South Lake Hospital prompted an inquiry by the Florida Board of Nursing in Oct. 2007.

Employed by South Lake Hospital between 2005 and 2007, Galvin apparently told that particular patient he could administer the injections she normally received for migraine headaches at her home, as opposed to in the ER. A nursing inquiry revealed that on Oct. 3, 2007, Galvin signed out three vials of the drug Dilaudid. That was the same day the woman claimed Galvin came to her home under the premise that “he would give her the shots of medicines” in exchange for “sexual favors.
The woman in that case told police that not only did she take a bath and wash the majority of her clothes following the alleged assault; humiliation deterred her from reporting the incident until 12 days later. Given that there had been “destruction of possible evidence by the victim” and Galvin maintained he only went to the woman’s house to show her how to properly administer her own injections, he was not arraigned in that case.

He did however have his nursing license suspended due to the fact that he had no authorization to sign out the said vials of Dilaudid. He was also placed on probation for that offence.

In the 2011 cases, one Osceola Regional patient claimed she was forced to perform an explicit sexual act on Galvin during her stay at the hospital. Another victim claimed the male nurse administered her injections and then went on to inappropriately touch her.

According to Capt. Warren Shepard of the Kissimmee Police Department, “We are working on a timeline and plan to release it as soon as possible. We’re hoping to alert these communities there was a predator in their area who may have harmed people in his care… People are most vulnerable when they go to an emergency room and trust the people who are there are looking out for their best interests. This person obviously wasn’t.”
Although Galvin posted bond and has since been released from jail, he was also suspended from Osceola Regional Medical Center, which is expected to conduct its own investigation into the sexual assault allegations. The Florida Department of Health will also be investigating the sexual battery case.

Reports noted that while Galvin was serving overseas as an Air Force Reserves captain in 2003, he was a nurse under the employment of Reno-based Washoe Medical Center. In the past, Galvin was employed as a nurse in Nevada as well.

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MIAMI, FL— October 20, 2011 – A woman who was raped by an ex-Miami Police officer in March 2007 and went on to file a lawsuit against the city is expected to receive a settlement payment of $500,000, following the unanimous approval of city commissioners. According to information provided by the Miami Herald, the plaintiff, who was employed as a South Beach waitress at the time of her attack, sued on the grounds that the Miami Police Department hired Michael Ragusa “despite the obvious red flags concerning his qualifications to be a police officer.”
Upon filing an application with the MPD, not only did Michael Ragusa admit to stealing money from a restaurant that he employed him in the past, he confessed to soliciting prostitutes and paying strippers to have sex with him, according to the lawsuit. Ragusa, who was once a boxer and weightlifter, also allegedly confessed to having a short temper.

The lawsuit further claims that while six addition police departments and agencies denied him a job, the Miami Police Dept. “engaged in only the most cursory scrutiny of his background history” and went on to hire him in March 2004.

In March 2007, Ragusa went on a rape binge of sorts. In a matter of weeks, the ex-cop sexually assaulted three women, including the unidentified plaintiff who was en route to her home from a Miami Beach bus stop when she was raped. Although Ragusa’s last rape victim convinced him she had an STD so he wouldn’t rape her, the uniformed police officer went on to demand that she give him her phone number nonetheless.

The third victim seemingly contacted Miami Beach Police officials upon receiving a text message from her. He was apprehended on multiple rape charges in March 2007. The following year, he pleaded guilty to various felony charges of that nature was sentenced to 10 years in prison. When Ragusa is released from prison, he will be regarded as a “sexual predator” and spend an additional 10 years on probation.

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MIAMI, FL— October 13, 2011 – Authorities from the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) on Oct. 11 arrested and charged a former youth counselor after a teenage boy reported being assaulted, both physically and sexually, by him. According to information provided by NBC Miami, 44-year-old Raphael Castillo, who is being currently being detained in lieu of $20,000 bail, faces four counts of sexual assault and battery.

In a sworn statement on Oct. 11, the unidentified 17-year-old victim gave a detailed account of the explicit sexual advances and encounters involving his court-ordered youth counselor Raphael Castillo. At the time of the alleged assaults, Castillo worked at a Plantation-based non-profit organization that helps troubled adolescents and young adults. According to the non-profit behavioral health agency’s website, The Starting Place “provides therapeutic prevention, intervention programs, and rehabilitative and educational counseling for adolescents and their families in Broward County.”
Castillo was accused of engaging in conversations of a sexually explicit nature with the minor, as well as touching him inappropriately and ultimately having sex with him on Sept. 21 and Oct. 10, respectively. Both of those incidents seemed to have occurred after the alleged sexual assault victim had already completed the court-ordered counseling program. Reports stated that in the Oct. 10 incident, which took place in Castillo’s car, the former counselor had sexual intercourse with the teen in a Hollywood alleyway.

Castillo admitted to having sex with the 17-year-old and is being currently being detained on $20,000 bail. As investigations into the South Florida sexual assault case are ongoing, The Starting Place CEO Joel Kaufman maintained, “Our uppermost concern is for the client and his family and doing whatever we can to make sure they are receiving the assistance they need as they move through this process… If any parts of the allegations prove to be true, the actions would have been those of a rogue employee acting outside the normal course and scope of his employment and in a criminal manner.”

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MIAMI, FL— October 7, 2011 – A 16-year-old Tampa boy is facing sexual battery charges after a teenage girl reported having been raped by him in one of their high school’s bathrooms. Officials from the Tampa Police Department continue to investigate the alleged sexual attack, which occurred at Chamberlain High School on the morning of Oct. 3, as reported by WESH.

According to Laura McElroy, a Tampa PD spokeswoman, an unidentified 16-year-old girl told Chamberlain High School’s resource officer that a male student followed her down an empty hallway before shoving her into a bathroom and raping her on school property. The young victim claimed that the boy returned to class following the sexual assault, which occurred in close proximity to the school’s gym.

Although the teenage boy initially claimed he never touched the alleged rape victim, McElroy noted that the suspect’s story did not remain the same. Both of the suspect’s stories were said to be “inconsistent” with the victim’s version of what happened. The suspect’s assertions also appeared to contradict findings from the girl’s post-assault physical exam.

While the Tampa Police arrested the young rape suspect and charged him with sexual battery, investigations into the alleged high school rape case are ongoing.

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MIAMI, FL—October 6, 2011 – A former Bethune-Cookman University (BC-U) woman’s basketball player filed a lawsuit against the private Daytona Beach university, claiming the student, a freshman at the time, was raped by several members of the men’s basketball team. Pending litigation accuses the school of having insufficient campus security and failing to avert “the distribution of alcohol to minors,” the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

According to information provided, the 18-year-old plaintiff, who remained unidentified, reported being gang-raped in a vehicle owned by former Bethune-Cookman University basketball player C.J. Reed. The suit contends that on Dec. 5, 2010, Reed plied the underage woman with alcoholic beverages “in his white Mercedes-Benz while on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University.”
The plaintiff alleges that upon taking a couple sips of the drink, she “became incapacitated” and proceed to pass “in and out of consciousness in the back seat of his car.” She further claimed that Reed went on to pick up three unidentified BC-U basketball players, who raped her that night. It was not clear if the plaintiff underwent a medical examination to determine whether she’d been given the date rape drug prior to the alleged sex attack.

Although the lawsuit claims Reed was involved in the sexual attack, he has not faced any criminal charges, nor is he currently under investigation for the alleged gang rape. According to Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) Chief Mike Chitwood, although the alleged rape victim reported the attack, the accuser’s lack of a desire to take part in the investigation spurred police to suspend the probe.

While Bethune-Cookman University spokeswoman Meredith Rodriguez told reporters that the private university is indeed aware of the lawsuit, she would not comment on the pending litigation.

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MIAMI, FL—August 30, 2011 – Authorities from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) are searching for the suspect involved in a recent armed robbery that took place at the St. Augustine Premium Outlets mall. The shopping mall attack occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. on August 28, as reported by News4Jax.

According to the unidentified 40-year-old crime victim, a robber attempted to steal his wallet as he was drying his hands in one of the outlet mall’s restrooms. A physical fight reportedly broke out before the robber retrieved a firearm from his waistband and held it up to the victim’s head, allegedly stating, “I will (expletive) kill you and your kids outside.” The robbery victim then surrendered his wallet and the thief fled the scene with another unidentified man, who appeared to have been an accomplice in the mugging.

Speaking with St. Johns County investigators, the victim described the armed robbery suspect as an approximately 250-pound black man in his 40s. The robbery suspect, who was also said to be around 6 feet tall, apparently had short length hair and no facial hair. Authorities have released a composite sketch of the robber to the public and urge any witnesses or individuals with information concerning the mall robbery to contact Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS.

The apparent robbery accomplice was described as an approximately 160-pound black man who appeared to be just over 6 feet tall. That suspect also had short length hair and no facial hair at the time. The Florida armed robbery victim told detectives that the suspect’s weapon appeared to be a black 9 mm semiautomatic Beretta handgun.

It was not clear if the offender left the mall by foot or by car, nor did reports mention if there was any surveillance footage of the suspect. Investigations into the case of armed theft were expected to be underway.

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MIAMI, FL—August 17, 2011 – In analyzing U.S. Department of Education data concerning crime on college campuses during the year 2009, ABC Action News I-Team reporters found that the rate of forced sexual encounters at Florida State University (FSU) was twice as high as both Tallahassee-based Florida A&M University and Winter Park-based Rolllins College, which had the next highest rates of on-campus sexual assaults within the state.

According to reports, although FSU authorities made self-defense classes available to all female students interested in taking them since 1996, there were 10 cases of sexual assault reported on campus in 2009. The classes are reportedly offered through the university’s “rape aggression defense” program.

Terming college campus rape and sexual assault a “silent epidemic,” the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that the majority (as many as 95 percent) of forcible sex offenses are not reported to officials. Furthermore, it is estimated that about 25 percent of female students are subjected to an unwanted sexual encounter at some point during their college career.

Additionally, data posted on the American Association of University Women (AAUW) website stated that nearly half (40 percent) of sexual assault and rape victims unfortunately develop sexually transmitted diseases (STD), while just about as many seek mental health treatment following their attacks.

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