This is such an incredibly sad story. An 11-year old girl and her deaf grandparents died in a house fire in Youngstown, Ohio. It is being reported that the young girl was also deaf. Around 3:30 this morning the neighbors heard a loud explosion followed by a second explosion. One neighbor said the entire house was engulfed in flames from the bottom up after she heard the explosions. The little girl was to appear as a witness in the trial against the man charged with raping her.
Robert Seman, Jr. age 46, had been charged with four felony counts each of rape and gross sexual imposition, according to local news. The victim’s mother contacted police in March, 2014 to report that her daughter told her Seman had been engaging in sexual conduct with her for several years. The rape charges could put Seman away for life if found guilty. He was to go on trial this morning, but due to the fire, the trial has now been delayed. Also of note, is that Seman was arrested and his bond was revoked this morning just hours after the fire because he allegedly tried to bribe a potential witness in the case.
…and THIS is why the true crime community is going to shit and many true crime authors are now writing fiction. Once long ago, it was enjoyable to write about true crime and to interact with intellectual people who discussed the case and the legal process. That was until they started going full blown potato and tossing all legalities and sanity aside. Every high profile case has its share of nutters, but from my perspective — those outweigh the rational fans of true crime and that includes the not so high profile case discussion.
The Casey Anthony case was the pivotal point where the intellectuals fled the scene like rats on a sinking ship and the participants were replaced with people who screamed conspiracy, foul, “kill the bitch forget Constitutional rights, kill them again – who needs a trial”. Did I mention “kill them again and their little dog, too“? That is excessive, but unfortunately those types of comments reflect the mentality of the current state of the true crime community. Legal rights, procedure and the law mean nothing. What becomes the battle cry of these true crime junkies includes none of those items. Instead, the masses glom onto communal butt hurt and threaten jurors for voting the “wrong way” as they are now doing in the Jodi Arias matter, and as they did in the Casey Anthony case.
Last year I wrote about Leonard “Mac” McQuown who was walking across America under the guise of raising money for homeless veterans. He was met with scrutiny along every step of his journey because he had defrauded others in the name of our veterans before. Well…a grifter’s gonna grift and I have been alerted that he is preparing for yet another “walk” in the name of veterans. In 2011 McQuown allegedly founded a charitable organization called Operation Walk America. McQuown used the “organization” as a ruse to solicit funds and convert them to personal use when no legally registered 501(c)(3) organization existed. During the course of his “walk” and not so charitable fundraiser he defrauded many, including being at the center of romance scams along the way.
McQuown has NEVER shown proof that ANY veterans organization has received donations. In fact, legitimate veterans’ organizations have stated publicly that he defrauded them out of money. Ravens Outreach went public regarding McQuown’s paypal donation. McQuown was under pressure to prove that he was giving the money to veteran’s programs, and he posted screenshots of an alleged paypal donation to prove that he was giving the money to veterans’ programs, and then he rescinded the donation.
The book is set to release on March 3rd. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. It finally hit me the other day that OMG – I’m published. Something that I had always dreamed of, but never put much thought into. I write mainly for the “release” that it gives me. I’ve kept a diary or in big girl words – have journaled since I was in second grade. I still have all of those journals. Some silly stuff in there, but there are also the journals and notebooks that I have kept over the past two years during the Steubenville “saga” (for lack of a better term). I pulled them out the other day and read some of the entries – which were like pouring salt in a wound at times. I kept my blogging mainly to discussion about the case and haven’t really talked much about the emotional things I was going through during that time. It was bad…really bad at times. Having your ass kicked online by faceless strangers on a daily basis, and having your friends and family targeted because you decided to write about a rape case was very tough at times. My best friend, Michelle, literally talked me off the ledge numerous times. I don’t like to admit when I feel weak or vulnerable and that made this experience even more challenging because in my mind I was supposed to portray that “I am woman – I am strong” facade at all times, and in doing so it came at a great cost to my health and at times, my emotional well-being. Even writing that and reading those words makes me feel squeamish, but there were times that I was NOT strong and I was NOT okay. This experience really came with a long lasting price.
The Steubenville case does not define who I am. I was me long before I wrote about the case, but my experiences while living in Steubenville gave me knowledge of the culture there so that I was able to communicate it to those who had never been there or lived there. That knowledge brought with it a lot of hate tossed my way. Those who I used to be friends with were angered that their town was getting international attention and they blamed me for bringing the negative attention rather than acknowledging the real issue: attention was brought to Steubenville when I and 25 John Doe commenters from this blog were sued for defamation. Attention was brought when the crime was advertised on social media.
I lost friends which hurt, but I also gained new friends and supporters, so I suppose in the end it all evens out. I was invited to contribute an essay to Nina Gaby’s book Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women, and I wrote about my former best friend “Kathy”. To this day, her betrayal still stings but I have moved on and chalked it up as one of life’s lessons. I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. It might hurt or be uncomfortable at times, but in the end there is a reason or a greater purpose for that lesson. I treasure the memories I had with my former best friend, and wish her no ill will and have forgiven her long ago, but I can never forget. Her actions to this day cause me great pain…but life goes on, right? I haven’t stopped being me and if anything has been learned from this part of the journey in my life it is to look back with no regrets and to move forward with hope and promise of better days to come.
I hope you all will enjoy the book. It is getting fantastic reviews and I am beyond excited about the day when I can actually hold this anthology in my hands. My story is one of 25 and the others are equally as intriguing and important. I hope that everyone takes something positive away from each story and that we learn from these collective experiences about being “dumped”.
At the start, I was appalled by some of the women’s stories. Let’s clarify: these women weren’t dumped. They were bullied. A couple of the women were isolated in high school and required therapy as adults. In perhaps the most chilling account, the whistle blower of the Steubenville, Ohio high school rape by star football players was publicly betrayed by her childhood best “friend” Kathy. Kathy publicly published the author’s secrets and home address on Twitter, and in cult-like fashion, had others bully her supporters.
“How do you recover from this type of betrayal? Most people would say you can’t. But I have. I feel sorry for Kathy that she chose to jump on that passing wagon, using my trust in her as a means to validate her existence with the other haters. I never lashed out at her publicly. I never broke her confidence. Instead, I sat by and watched as she attempted to destroy anyone that I cared about just to get back at me for speaking my mind and pointing out an injustice, and speaking the truth about our town.” –Alexandria Goddard, “Breaking Omertá”
Seven years ago I had written about a child murder case in Steubenville, Ohio. The father of the baby, Fred Roman, bashed his son’s head against a wall because he was crying. Today, the mother of that child is in jail on a charge of child endangerment, and her son is dead. COVERED in bruises from head to toe according to Sheriff Fred Abdalla and had burns on his feet.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said the child suffered severe injuries including bruises head to toe, front and back, as well as burns on top of his feet. He said Fleischer walked a mile to the fire department to ask what to do about her dead child rather than ask a neighbor for a phone, which she claims she did not have.
Abdalla went on to say the injuries to the feet happened sometime in December of last year and that Fleischer refused to take the child to the emergency room. Fleischer claimed the baby fell down the steps and was hurt by another child. She told authorities she was afraid Children Services would be involved and take the baby away.
In June 2007 WTOV9 reported about this same woman after her son was murdered:
Drugs Found in Pregnant Woman’s System Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 ; 07:18 PM Updated Friday, June 29, 2007 ; 08:27 PM Watch Story Video
Woman faces judge Friday. Story by Dave Elias Email | Bio
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Seven months pregnant, Channe Fleischer of Jefferson County,Ohio, already has lost a 16-month old son.
Now, authorities fear she could lose an unborn child because of drug uese.
She was in a Jefferson County courtroom on Friday after test results showed high levels of Oxycodone and marijuana. Fleischer’s son Jacob died recently, allegedly at the hands of his father, Fred Roman Jr., according to officials.
Roman had custody of Jacob after Channe was thrown in jail for drug charges. The baby’s head had been smashed against a wall, reportedly because he wouldn’t stop crying.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla wants the charge of harming an unborn child to be filed against Fleischer, but Tom Strauss said those charges are hard to prove right now.
Fleischer was ordered to get treatment for her apparent drug problem. She’s been ordered to undergo an evaluation.
Sheriff Abdalla said that there was no way Nicholas got the bruises from falling down the stairs as is being alleged. The burns on his feet — he was NEVER taken to the hospital for treatment. WHO DOES THIS!!! Who doesn’t have their baby treated for burns? I should probably just shut up now because I have nothing nice to say about this woman or anyone who had any contact with this child knowing that he needed medical treatment.
Last week the State of Ohio dropped charges against former Steubenville schools superintendent, Mike McVey. The basis of the agreement was that McVey would resign from his job, agree never to work for Steubenville schools again and avoid contact with those who were party to the case or his former co-workers. While McVey was accused of deleting emails and obstructing the investigation into the rape case, here is my issue with this whole dog and pony show. Where is the justice in punishing someone by dropping charges and then basically making them the leper of the city by disallowing him to have contact with his peers when this disallowed contact hasn’t been defined? This is such an odd end to a case that the State of Ohio vigorously pursued.
WTOV9 news sat down with Mr. DeWine and some of the things that he said just do not make sense.
“You know we feel this is a just resolution of the McVey case and the judge agreed in court. He was to resign and did resign. He is no longer to work for the school, and in addition to that, he agreed not to have really any contact with the witnesses or anyone connected with the case.
“not to have really any contact with the witnesses or anyone connected with the case.” What does this even mean? Is there an Order that states he is not to have any contact with these individuals and how long is this Order in effect? What type of contact? If he is at the grocery store and one of his former coworkers walks in – is he violating this no contact order by virtue of being in the same establishment as them? How can the State of Ohio restrain him from contact without specifically citing the specifics of potential contact? WTOV9 then asked Mr. DeWine if the punishment for being charged with felonies was sufficient enough, Mr. DeWine responded with:
It was announced today that the court accepted a plea from Mike McVey. McVey agreed to resign from the Steubenville City School system and tendered his resignation this morning. The school board accepted it this evening after a special executive session. The agreement states McVey will not seek any employment with city schools, nor have any contact with school board members or the administration, witnesses or co-defendants in the special grand jury.
According to the State of Ohio, they were not confident that they had enough evidence to get a conviction as far as whether McVey wiped systems or deleted emails.
Angela Canepa, assistant attorney general, said the evidence in the case may not have been able to prove it was McVey who deleted e-mails and other information on his computer as believed by the grand jury.
Canepa said there wasn’t much direct evidence against McVey. She added there was no way to tell what was in the deleted e-mails, even though Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation computer forensic experts checked city school computers.
I guess my thought here is why wait until now to end this when it appears as though it could have been done long ago. If they knew that they might not be able to get a conviction – how long ago did they know and why not drop charges then? I never believed that Mr. McVey woke up one morning and thought to himself, “well, gonna go to work and obstruct justice today“. I have always believed that someone instructed him to do so, if emails were deleted. The fact of the matter is – no one will ever know the full extent of what occurred in the days following the rape and who done what or he said/she said. It did become obvious that there was a disconnect with staff and administration regarding the mandatory report laws. I don’t think it was necessarily a lack of knowledge about mandatory reporting as it was an unwillingness to abide by the mandatory report law. Just an opinion, of course.
I also find it a bit odd that McVey cannot have contact with school board members, witnesses or co-defendants in the special grand jury. Steubenville is not a big town, and he has worked for the school system for almost 20 years. It just seems like an odd punishment for deceptive behavior. But…it is what it is.
Honestly, I’m fine with how things turned out. I think a lot of people are just glad to see this case finally put to rest. Sure there are questions, but we are not the judicial system and they did what they saw fit to do. There are always things that we don’t know. It’s easy to make assumptions, and from the very beginning – this case was filled with them. The good part of all of this is: This case has spawned an international discussion about rape culture and bystander intervention that has continued to grow over the past two years. That in itself is more important than the outcome of judicial proceedings against some of the players in this case.
12/17/14PRAECIPE FOR SUBPENA FILED AND SUBPENA ISSUED TO SHERIFF OF JEFFERSON COUNTY FOR SERVICE ON BEHALF OF STATE OF OHIO FOR 01/12/2015.
STEVE WESTLAKE, father of Evan Westlake who was granted immunity in rape case
AMY CARDUCCI, Wells Academy teacher
BARRY GULLEN, Asst. Superintendent at Steubenville City Schools
LISA BRUZZESE, Steubenville City School District – purchasing director/finance
MELINDA YOUNG, Interim superintendent
LYNNETT GORMAN,teacher Steubenville City Schools
JAYME BROWNING, Superintendent Secretary/EMIS Coordinator at Steubenville City Schools
ANTHONY CRAIG, one of three granted immunity in rape case
SHAWN CROSIER, Steubenville High School Principal
LEE GILLISON, Guidance Counselor
FRED HEATHERINGTON, Steubenville High School baseball head coach
12/22/14 PRAECIPE FOR SUBPOENA FILED AND SUBPENA ISSUED TO SHERIFF OF JEFFERSON COUNTY FOR SERVICE ON THE FOLLOWING ON BEHALF OF STATE OF OHIO FOR 01/12/2015
12/30/14PRAECIPE FOR SUBPOENA FILED AND SUBPENA ISSUED TO SHERIFF OF JEFFERSON COUNTY FOR SERVICE ON THE FOLLOWING ON BEHALF OF DEFENDANT FOR 01/20/2015:
RICK SHUSTER, Director of Technology at Steubenville City Schools
JOE NOCERA, Principal of Wells Academy
DR. CHARLES JOYCE, former Superintendent
WILLIAM HENDRICKS, School board
RUTH ANN BRUZZESE,President of the Steubenville City Board of Education
MICHAEL GIANNAMORE, school board
MIKE BOWMAN, Facilities Director of Steubenville City Schools
DAVE HINDMAN, Steubenville HS (Big Red) Booster Club
RICH DELATORE, Steubenville HS (Big Red) Booster Club
JERRY BARILLA, Steubenville HS (Big Red) Booster Club
DR. JAMES BABER, Executive vice president for academic and student affairs EGCC
REV. DR. VAUGHN A. FOSTER,
FRED HEATHERINGTON, Steubenville High School baseball head coach
RENO SACCOCCIA, Head Coach Steubenville High School Big Red Football
SARAH ELLIOT, School Psychologist
DR. CHUCK KOKIKO,
BARRY GULLEN, Asst. Superintendent at Steubenville City Schools
GREG AGRESTA, school board and foster father of Ma’lik Richmond
01/07/15 NOTICE OF APPEARANCE FILED ON BEHALF OF STEUBENVILLE CITY SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION BY G. DANIEL SPAHN.
01/07/15 PRAECIPE FOR SUBPOENA FILED AND ISSUED TO SHERIFF OF CUYAHOGA COUNTY FOR SERVICE ON: DAN CLARK, DIRECTOR OF PROFESSIONAL TRAINING FOR CRCC; ATTORNEY KARRIE M. KALAIL ON BEHALF OF DEFENSE FOR 01/20/2015.
From an LA Times article regarding Dan Clark:
Since the case became big news, Steubenville City Schools Supt. Michael McVey said an extra crisis counselor had been hired and life skills classes were putting heightened emphasis on dating violence.
School employees were required to attend an educational session with Dan Clark, director of professional training at the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. In February, Clark held a session for parents to discuss teenage sexual activity, drinking and definitions of rape.
The crisis center expected hundreds of parents. Only 18 people showed up.
“Quite honestly, it’s probably the folks that weren’t there that needed to hear the message,” said Clark, a former law enforcement officer.
Clark blamed the low turnout in part on the session being held on a weeknight. But talks with a focus group of parents before the meeting also revealed a desire to not discuss the case. “People were saying, ‘We just want to be done with this,'” Clark said.
McVey clearly is also eager for the case to be over. He said his battle now was keeping the students and staff focused on the classroom, not the courtroom a few blocks away.