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Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for sexual assault

Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison for sexual assault

(CNN) - Bill Cosby, once known as "America's Dad," was sentenced Tuesday to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago.Cosby' ... Continue Reading
Judge explains Cosby sentence: 'The time has come'

Judge explains Cosby sentence: 'The time has come'

NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania (CNN) - The judge in Bill Cosby's case had stern words at the comedian's sentencing on Tuesday for sexual assault."This was a serious crime," Montgomery County Judge Ste ... Continue Reading
Secret files suggest Catholic bishop shielded alleged 'predator priests' from the public

Secret files suggest Catholic bishop shielded alleged 'predator priests' from the public

(CNN) - In this hardscrabble Rust Belt city with deep Catholic roots, the Catholic Church's top official is facing calls for his resignation over his handling of sexual abuse allegations against priests.

Documents obtained by CNN suggest Bishop Richard J. Malone did not sanction priests accused of sexual abuse and concealed the identities of alleged "predator priests" from the public.

In a preemptive move in March, Malone released a list of 42 priests in the Buffalo diocese who had left the priesthood after facing accusations of sexually abusing minors. "The diocese of Buffalo is committed to correcting the mistakes and sins of the past," he said at the time.

But a trove of secret diocesan records, first reported by CNN affiliate WKBW and obtained by CNN, show the number of accused priests could be up to 200.

The records are stashed by diocese officials in what they call the "Secret Archives" -- confidential files of living priests who are still being monitored -- or "the Well," which contains case files that are to be shredded.

Part of the trove comes from a thick black binder kept in a closet next to a vacuum cleaner, according to a source familiar with the matter. The source told CNN that the binder is a 300-page briefing book prepared by the dioceses' attorneys for Malone when he became bishop in 2012.

It contains "pending matters" in "anticipation of litigation," and lists the names of dozens of accused priests as well as a number of victim accounts.

The allegations come amid heightened scrutiny in dioceses across the country after a scathing grand jury report last month found credible evidence of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania.

The New York attorney general has issued civil subpoenas for all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a civil investigation into how the dioceses potentially covered up allegations of the sexual abuse of minors.

Taken together, the documents suggest Malone kept the names of alleged predator priests hidden from the public and knowingly allowed some of them to remain in active ministry.

Meanwhile, Malone is facing increasing pressure to give up his leadership of the Buffalo Diocese, home to nearly 600,000 Catholics.

In recent weeks three of his top staff have quit their posts and thousands of people have signed an online petition seeking his ouster. Most recently, a prominent Buffalo businessman and deacon has begun withholding donations to the diocese until Malone resigns and there is an investigation.

Malone has resisted calls for him to resign -- "The shepherd does not desert the flock at a difficult time," he said earlier this month -- and would not agree to an interview with CNN.

But Kathy Spangler, director of communications for the diocese, responded to a handful of questions Tuesday via email.

Asked why the diocese released the names of only 42 priests when internal documents show knowledge of up to 200 priests with allegations against them, she said, "because the list of 42 priests were priests against whom we had substantiated allegations" -- meaning more than one allegation -- and were accused of abusing minors, not adults.

Spangler also said Malone has no intention of resigning.

"There is much support for him to stay on and lead the Diocese through this storm to renewal and purification and a new beginning," she said.

Allegations against a prominent priest

As recently as August, Father Robert Yetter was a leader in Buffalo's Catholic community. He was the top priest at St. Mary's Church -- one of the top-contributing parishes in the diocese -- when Malone released his list of accused priests in March.

But Yetter, who at 70 had spent decades ministering in the Buffalo diocese, was harboring a dark secret: He had been accused of sexual abuse by multiple victims.

A review of internal documents suggest Malone and other church officials were aware of these allegations last year but kept Yetter's name off their public list.

The disclosure has outraged Paul Snyder, a Buffalo businessman and deacon who was ordained by Yetter.

"I felt betrayed by our priest. I felt betrayed by our bishop," Snyder said. He told CNN that members of his congregation have been filling his phone and inbox with concerned messages -- some of them from alleged victims of Yetter who are coming forward to share their stories.

One of them is a former altar boy who CNN has agreed to identify only as Roger. Roger, who didn't want his identity revealed, told CNN that while Father Yetter didn't cross the line with him until he became an adult, he said the priest began "grooming" him in 2nd grade by showering him with hugs and attention and attending regular family dinners at his home.

When Roger was in college and struggling with how to come out to his family as gay, he said he received a phone call from Father Yetter inviting him to dinner.

Roger said he felt reassured, so he took the priest up on what he thought was an odd invitation to accompany him back to the rectory. There, Roger said, Yetter offered him shots of Goldschlager, exposed himself and asked for oral sex.

Roger told CNN he managed to escape the encounter. But when another accuser reported a similar encounter with Yetter last year, according to documents obtained by CNN, the diocese merely sent Yetter to counseling and on a mission trip abroad.

Yetter responded by penning a letter to the diocese last year, cautioning that removing him would have negative consequences for church coffers, since his parish accounted for some of the largest contributions in the diocese.

Four months later, in January, Malone wrote Yetter a letter in which the bishop thanked the priest for his "faithful and effective ministry" and allowed him to continue preaching.

After a new abuse complaint was made against him, Yetter was forced to resign in August and was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the diocese. He has not responded to multiple requests for comment by CNN.

Asked why Yetter was not removed from his ministry after allegations surfaced that he had groped young men, Spangler said, "We have a stringent and effective protocol across the country for the abuse of minors, but we do not yet have a parallel protocol for the allegation of misconduct with adults. We are in the process of generating one at this time."

Yetter was kept off the list of 42 priests because "The priests on the list were those accused of abuse of minors," she said.

Malone: 'We can do better'

A review of email correspondence concerning a secret list of accused priests used by Malone and top advisors in March of this year seems to reveal the justification for leaving Yetter and another accused priest off the public list.

"You were right to keep those 2 names confidential. Thank you," Malone wrote.

When it came to Yetter, the explanation was short: "Not (a) Charter case."

In church abuse parlance a "charter case" is one in which the alleged abuse occurred when the victim was not yet 18. Since Roger was in his early 20s, he would not be a charter case.

The "charter case" justification was not the only one employed to pare the list down to its eventual 42. Other priests were kept off the list because they had only "one complaint" against them, or because the priest was from a separate order.

Malone acknowledged in a statement earlier this month that while he reported instances of abuse involving minors, he had "not acted in the same manner when the victim was an adult at the time of the abuse."

"Let me be clear. My handling of recent claims from some of our parishioners concerning sexual misconduct with adults unquestionably has fallen short of the standard to which you hold us, and to which we hold ourselves," he said. "We can do better. We will do better."

Despite the diocese documents obtained by CNN, the only consequences the Bishop may face are of the ecclesiastical variety. Pope Francis is the only person with the power to remove Malone from his post.

The Vatican has not responded formally to a request for comment on the case. A Vatican source told CNN that given the seriousness of the accusations, a report on the Buffalo diocese has "certainly" already arrived in Rome.

When it comes to potential criminal charges against Malone, there is virtually almost no legal recourse. A New York state law requires teachers, health care workers, child care workers and others to report any suspected child abuse to the authorities, but there is no such mandate for bishops or other clergy members.

"Believe it or not, clergy is not on that list," Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told CNN. "So there's ... a strong probability ... that there is not going to be a prosecutorial case here in Erie County or in any county across the state."

Deacon: 'We still don't know the truth'

If Malone failed to report known abuse in his diocese, he would hardly be the first church official to be spared criminal charges.

Perhaps the most famous such prelate is Bernard Law, the disgraced former Archbishop of Boston who allowed systemic abuse to continue unabated by overseeing the quiet reshuffling of predator priests for almost 20 years. Untouchable to Massachusetts prosecutors, Law retired to a quiet life in the Vatican, where he died last year.

Malone began his clerical career in Massachusetts, worked under Law and considered him a mentor.

"He tragically became a scapegoat," Malone wrote in an email upon hearing of Law's death. "I will always be grateful to him for his priestly example."

This hasn't discouraged Deacon Snyder, who took the extraordinary step of using a Sunday homily this month to call on Malone to resign.

"To not be informed is to put all of the members of our parish family in jeopardy," Snyder told CNN. "Jesus called us to protect the downtrodden: orphans, widows to protect the innocent to protect the poor. He didn't say protect the predators. He didn't say protect the money in our (diocese) trust funds."

Now the devout Catholic is using something arguably more powerful than his pulpit to pressure Malone into resigning.

"I have chosen to set my contributions (to the church) aside," Snyder told CNN. "I will release them to the diocese when this bishop resigns and there's a full investigation, and (when) the truth is revealed about what's taken place (...) within the Diocese of Buffalo. Because we still don't know the truth."

Florida man accused in fatal 'stand your ground' shooting posts $100,000 bail

Florida man accused in fatal 'stand your ground' shooting posts $100,000 bail

(CNN) - The Florida man accused of killing Markeis McGlockton during a parking space altercation at a Clearwater convenience store is out on $100,000 bail, according to the Pinella County Sheriff's Office.

The case has spurred debate over Florida's "stand your ground" law, considered one of the toughest in the country. The law grants immunity to anyone acting in self-defense and puts the burden of proof on the state.

Video surveillance from the store shows Michael Drejka arguing with McGlockton's girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, on July 19 before McGlockton exits the store, confronts Drejka and shoves him to the ground.

Drejka, who is white, pulls out a handgun and shoots McGlockton, 28, an unarmed black man, in the chest as McGlockton appears to back away. McGlockton was more than 10 feet away when Drejka fired, a detective wrote in a criminal complaint.

After being shot, McGlockton runs back into the store and collapses in front of 5-year-old Markeis Jr. He died later at a hospital.

Drejka says he shot McGlockton in self-defense.

An autopsy report obtained by CNN on Tuesday shows the bullet entered on the left side of McGlockton's chest, penetrating tissue, two ribs, the lower lobes of both lungs and the left ventricle of the heart, before coming to a stop near his right armpit.

"The 13-inch wound track was from (slight) front to back, left to right and slightly upward," the report said.

Law complicates charges

Drejka, who was released Monday, had been in jail since August 13, the day Pinellas and Pasco County State Attorney Bernie McCabe overruled the sheriff and decided to charge the 48-year-old in McGlockton's fatal shooting.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had declined to charge Drejka, citing the "stand your ground" law. The sheriff characterized McGlockton's shove as a "violent push" and said Drejka thought he was going to be attacked again after he was "slammed to the ground."

"Markeis wouldn't be dead if Markeis didn't slam this guy to the ground," Gualtieri said at the time.

In an interview with St. Petersburg's WTSP earlier this month, Drejka said he feared for his life during the altercation and believes his actions were protected by the "stand your ground" law. He also said he "didn't know it was a shove."

"It felt like I was tackled or someone hit me from behind with something. I left my feet and slid along the ground," Drejka told the station.

Drejka first confronted McGlockton's girlfriend because she was parked in a handicapped spot.

In the WTSP interview, he said that people misusing handicapped parking spaces had "always touched a nerve with me" because his former high school sweetheart and his mother-in-law are disabled.

Witnesses

According to the sheriff's office's investigative file, numerous witnesses saw Drejka pull the trigger. At least two of them saw Drejka screaming at Jacobs before McGlockton confronted him.

"The white guy got my attention because he was screaming at the black girl so loudly, it took me off focus," Brittny Hicks of St. Petersburg told investigators.

Hicks said she walked out of the store just before McGlockton. Fearing there would be more gunfire, she and a friend left the scene but later returned to talk to police.

Robert Castelli told police he was about 20 feet away when McGlockton was shot. Prior to the shooting, he said, Drejka was pacing back and forth by Jacobs' car, yelling at the woman.

"It's a handicap spot. Some of my family members are handicap. You shouldn't be parked there," he recalled Drejka saying, according to the file.

Castelli went inside the store and asked the clerk to intervene, which McGlockton overheard before going outside, he said.

After the shooting, Castelli said, Jacobs cried and yelled at Drejka, "You shot my baby. You shot him," to which Drejka responded, "He ran up on me. What'd you expect?"

Also in the file is an interview with Drejka's wife, Cara Brooks, who told police Drejka called her shortly after the shooting. She asked him if he was OK.

"I'm fine," he replied.

"What about the guy you shot?" she asked.

It sounded like Drejka said, "As far as I know, he's still breathing," she said. A police officer then told Drejka to get off the phone, she said.

Previous incidents

Several people have said they've encountered an angry Drejka in traffic encounters. In two incidents, witnesses say he pulled a gun. Richard Kelly told a Pinellas County detective that Drejka confronted him over a handicapped parking space at the same Circle A Food Store where Drejka shot McGlockton.

When Drejka told Kelly he was going to shoot him and returned to his car and began rummaging through his console, Kelly drove away, he told police. Drejka later called Kelly's employer at a septic tank company and told him he was lucky he hadn't blow Kelly's head off, the employer said, according to court records.

Drejka apologized to McGlockton's family during the WTSP interview. The family has said Drejka killed McGlockton in cold blood and there is no way the shooting was justified.

McGlockton's father said his son was only standing up for his family.

"If you push a man down to the ground, that man does not deserve to be shot. Stand up and fight with your fists," Michael McGlockton said before Drejka was charged.

URGENT - Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in a state prison

URGENT - Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in a state prison

(CNN) -- Bill Cosby has been sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in a remarkable endcap to the iconic comedian's fall from grace.
Man accused of killing crew member aboard fishing boat off Massachusetts coast

Man accused of killing crew member aboard fishing boat off Massachusetts coast

(CNN) - A man is in custody after allegedly attacking three of his shipmates with a hammer and knife -- one of them fatally -- before scrambling up the mast of a fishing boat miles off the Massachusetts coast.

Mexican national Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez, 27, faces one count of murder and one count of attempted murder and will appear in a Boston court at a later date, US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement Monday.

The US Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts could not say if Vazquez has been assigned legal representation.

Vazquez was one of seven crew members sailing Sunday aboard the Captain Billy Haver, a fishing vessel about 55 miles east of Massachusetts, according to an affidavit filed by a special agent in the US Coast Guard.

According to the affidavit, a crew member said he heard yelling coming from the boat's deck and ran to investigate. He was struck in the back of the head three times and fell down.

The crew member said he looked up to see Vazquez with a knife in one hand and a hammer in another, the affidavit said. Vasquez told him, "Just stay there," according to the affidavit.

Another crew member was lying on the deck, just feet away, with blood coming out of his mouth, the crew member said.

Still holding the knife and hammer, Vazquez then allegedly struck a third crew member with a hammer before climbing up the ship's mast to escape other crewmen who tried to capture him, according to the US attorney's office. He later threw the knife to the deck.

A German cruise ship, the Mein Schiff 6, responded to a distress call from the fishing boat's captain, the affidavit said.

Two of the wounded crew members were taken aboard the cruise ship. One of the victims, who had suffered a head injury and stab wounds to his torso, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the affidavit.

The German ship responded as it was the nearest vessel with "a medical supply option," said Nathalie Holst, spokeswoman for TUI cruises. The Mein Schiff 6 took the victims aboard after consulting with American authorities, she said. The ship arrived in Boston on Monday.

"They bring back two persons. One was sitting and bleeding at the head ... and everywhere was blood, all over the face. And one person was lying there, and I don't know what happened to him," Alex Goebbels, a witness aboard the German ship, told CNN affiliate WBZ in Boston.

WBZ reported that the fishing boat was based in Virginia.

Court documents indicate that Vazquez was in the United States illegally, according to court documents and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In March, Vazquez was arrested in Newport News, Virginia, and accused of abduction by force, intimidation or deception, according to the affidavit. He was released on bond. On April 2, he was placed in immigration proceedings but released from ICE custody April 23, the affidavit said.

ICE released a statement saying its agents "encountered" Meave Vazquez at the Norfolk City Jail in March 2018 and took him into custody upon his release.

"Despite ICE's objections, an immigration judge granted (Meave Vazquez) bond. ICE had to release him from custody April 27 after he posted bond," said the statement from ICE spokesman John Mohan.

The statement did not identify the judge, and ICE did not immediately respond to a CNN email seeking the judge's name.

If convicted, Vazquez faces up to life in prison for the murder charge and up to 20 years in prison for attempted murder. Lelling's office said Vazquez would be subject to deportation proceedings after completing any sentence imposed.

What is a sexually violent predator?

What is a sexually violent predator?

(CNN) - A Pennsylvania judge has designated Bill Cosby a "sexually violent predator" as part of his sentence for aggravated indecent assault. What does that mean for Cosby, exactly?

The label will not affect the length of a potential prison sentence. It means he faces stricter penalties in addition to registering as a sex offender. It has implications for his treatment plan and the terms of his release.

Under Pennsylvania law, a sexually violent predator is someone convicted of a sexually violent offense who has a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.

Anyone classified as a sexually violent predator in Pennsylvania is subject to the following:

- Lifetime registration on the state's sex offender registry;

- Mandatory lifetime sex offender counseling at least once a month;

- Community notification: Law enforcement must notify the community -- neighbors, county children and youth agencies, local day care centers, school districts and institutions of higher education -- that the person is a sexually violent offender and provide his address, offense and photograph.

Judge Steven O'Neill made the determination Tuesday after hearing expert testimony and arguments from the state and Cosby's lawyers.

The Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, which reviewed Cosby's case, recommended that he be labeled a sexually violent predator.

A member of the board said Cosby has a mental disorder that involves urges toward nonconsenting women.

"The behaviors are beyond their controls, so they are urged to act on it. He is likely to reoffend," psychologist Kristen testified in court.

Cosby's lawyers said his age, 81, and blindness made it unlikely that he would reoffend.

Florence to deliver record flooding to Georgetown, South Carolina

Florence to deliver record flooding to Georgetown, South Carolina

(CNN) - Amy Stevens said it was 85 degrees and sunny in Georgetown County, South Carolina, on Tuesday, but no one was letting their guard down.

"It's a beautiful day," she said in a phone interview. "It's hard to imagine. But flood waters are on the way."

Indeed, thousands of people are being urged to evacuate ahead of historic flooding in an area where multiple swollen rivers converge, with authorities predicting the possibility of between eight and 10 feet of water as early as Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

"There's really no reason whatsoever that I know of not to evacuate," Georgetown County Emergency Management Director Sam Hodge said during a Facebook Live update Tuesday afternoon.

Patients from Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital in Georgetown have been relocated to the Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet, according to Stevens, a spokeswoman for Tideslands Health. But emergency operations were expected to continue.

It's the hospital's first evacuation in about 70 years, she said.

Hodge said waters were already rising in the county, with moderate flooding expected Tuesday evening and reaching major flood stage over the next couple of days. Those conditions should peak on Friday and continue into next week.

"This is not going to be a short-term event," Hodge said. "Life is not going to be normal like we see it in Georgetown County town for the next week or so."

At Graham's Landing on Front, a restaurant in Georgetown, part-owner Robert Maring said the community has spent weeks on edge anticipating Florence's arrival and now the threat of major flooding.

"It's like being stalked by a turtle," he said, as workers used sandbags and sheets of plastic to guard the business against rising waters.

"We're preparing to be about this deep," Maring said, holding his hand to his chest, or about five feet.

Jaclyn Valentine said she planned to evacuate her home in Georgetown Tuesday evening to stay with a daughter. She said up to 10 feet of water is expected around her home, essentially covering the first floor.

"Once this flood rises, we'll be trapped in this little town," she told HLN Tuesday afternoon. "Actually, right now, there's no place to go. The hotels are full. Our two hotels in town have been been evacuated and closed down. Our bridge is going to be closed down. ... There's no place to go."

There were thousands of other residents in a similar situation, Valentine said.

The county escaped the brunt of then-Hurricane Florence's wind, but it sits at the mouths of the Waccamaw, Great Pee Dee and Sampit rivers.

Parts of Georgetown County will see at least 10 feet of flooding, forecasters said. The flooding is expected to last through the weekend.

The Great Pee Dee and the larger Waccamaw River have already swollen to record levels upstream -- as demonstrated by the flooding 40 miles north in and around Conway, where the Waccamaw is still rising -- and that water is now traveling downstream at historic levels.

The crest was forecast for about midday Wednesday at 22 feet, which would surpass a previous record of 17.9 feet during Hurricane Matthew.

There is no benchmark for comparison, not even the destruction wrought by Hurricane Matthew two years ago, Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway said.

Making matters worse is the potential for tides to exacerbate floodwater levels. Normally, from low tide to high tide, Georgetown sees about a 3-foot difference in the water level where the Great Pee Dee River meets Winyah Bay.

Monday night's full moon means high tides will be even higher. If the rivers hit peak crest during a high tide, flooding will spread even farther into the city.

Hemingway said water levels were expected to be at their highest later in the week. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources anticipates the waters will crest late Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning, Hemingway said.

How the city is preparing

All of the preparation comes more than a week after Florence made landfall and pummeled the Carolinas with wind and rain.

On Monday, the death toll from the storm rose to 47 after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's office said three more deaths had been confirmed in that state.

The rainfall that Florence dumped on North Carolina has been crawling downriver for more than two weeks. It's now set to inundate the homes and businesses belonging to Georgetown County's more than 61,000 people -- almost 8,000 of whom are being urged to evacuate.

A significant portion of the city of Georgetown is expected to be under water.

Critical infrastructure is already being prepared and hardened. Along Highway 17, which connects Georgetown to the nearby South Carolina coast and its beaches, flood barriers are being erected.

According to South Carolina Transportation Secretary Christy Hall, the agency is using aquadams along portions of Highway 17 to keep water off the road and keep the highway open as long as possible. But officials believe it will need to close at some point.

Officials worry the flooding could wash away the portion of the highway that links the bridges spanning the Great Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers.

As a precaution, the South Carolina National Guard is building a floating ribbon bridge, capable of carrying heavy equipment, across the Waccamaw River.

Experts have arrived to monitor the flooding and keep an eye on the bridges, Deputy Secretary of Engineering for the Department of Transportation Leland Colvin said. The bridges won't reopen until they've been inspected following the flooding.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is also on location, ready to respond, help and offer support in whatever way the state or FEMA ask, according to Brigadier General Diana Holland, commander of the Army Corps South Atlantic Division.

"We know there will be a significant rise in the rivers, where they converge here," she said. "We'll just have to see."

All Georgetown County schools were closed Monday until further notice. Several are "at risk for substantial flooding damage," county officials say. Two of them, Georgetown High School and Waccamaw Middle School, have opened as pet-friendly shelters.

The Georgetown County Water and Sewer District is also scrambling to prepare. The Waccamaw River, which supplies drinking water for the county, will soon contain dangerous pollutants from the floodwater.

Ray Gagnon, executive director of the water district, told reporters that the district is working to protect all of its facilities in the "inundation zone," and preparing other sources of water, including aquifers, recovery wells, groundwater wells and the county's interconnect with the nearby Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority.

Sandbags are also being distributed -- up to 10 per household -- but the county warned on its Facebook page, "Keep in mind that sandbags will not seal out water."

A waiting game

Thomas Cafe sits on Front Street, the main drag in Georgetown. It looks almost exactly like did it did when it opened in 1929.

The menu and the booths are original, as is most of the decor -- even the refrigerator.

In its 89-year history, it has never flooded before. Matthew's floodwater reached only to its back door.

"We're expected to get water in this time," said Olivia Goins, who has waited tables there for five years.

On Tuesday, the cafe won't be serving its famous $10.95 shrimp and grits. It will close for one of the few times in its history so employees can remove the fridges and freezers ahead of the flood.

Like many residents and business owners in the city, they're trying to prepare in any way they can, but in the end, there's not much they can do.

"Water is water," Goins said.

Chuck Richardson spent Monday afternoon trying to fortify a building he owns in Georgetown with large planks of plywood, sandbags and a rubber membrane. He hoped it would be enough.

"Might not keep the water out," he said, "but hopefully keep the fish and crabs and mud out."

He's had plenty of experience preparing for these types of events.

"Oh yeah, we're pros at this," he joked. "We try to do it at least once a year, whether we want to or not."

Andrea Constand's full victim impact statement about Bill Cosby's assault

Andrea Constand's full victim impact statement about Bill Cosby's assault

(CNN) - Andrea Constand was drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby at the TV icon's home outside Philadelphia in 2004, and she has testified about it several times, including in two criminal tr ... Continue Reading
URGENT - Cosby Classified as 'Sexually Violent Predator'

URGENT - Cosby Classified as 'Sexually Violent Predator'

(CNN) -- Bill Cosby will be classified as a "sexually violent predator," according to a Tuesday ruling by Judge Steven O'Neill. That status requires lifetime registration, lifetime mandatory sex offender counseling and notification of the community that a "sexually violent predator" lives in the area. Cosby awaits sentencing Tuesday in a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, courtroom.
North Carolina authorities widen search for missing 6-year-old with autism

North Carolina authorities widen search for missing 6-year-old with autism

(CNN) - Police hope a missing autistic boy will respond to his mother and father's voices, and they're pumping prerecorded messages from his parents into the woods of a sprawling park in Gastonia, North Carolina, in hopes of drawing out the youngster.

The search for Maddox Scott Ritch, who is nonverbal, entered its fourth day Tuesday.

The 6-year-old was last seen Saturday in the city's Rankin Lake Park. On Monday, local, state and federal authorities expanded their search 2 miles beyond the park's boundaries, city police said.

Maddox's parents, who have not been identified, worked with law enforcement to record messages that search teams are piping into the park to coax him out, FBI supervisory special agent Jason Kaplan said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

"If he's lost in the woods, he'll be able to hear those messages played, and we're hoping that he'll come to the words of his mother and his father," Kaplan said.

The park's grounds include trails and paved walking paths, an 80-acre lake, about a dozen picnic shelters and an 18-hole disc golf course, according to city of Gastonia's website.

The expanded search effort includes ground teams with canines and aircraft, including drones. Police are also employing sonar and infrared technologies.

Authorities are draining water from the lake to expose more of the shoreline for examination, and police are contacting businesses around the park to see if they have useful surveillance video, Gastonia police Chief Robert Helton said.

"We want to make sure that we're checking every possible spot to find this child," he said.

Helton said agents and detectives from more than a dozen local, state and federal agencies are conducting interviews and have generated more than 80 leads.

Maddox was last seen with his father and another adult at the park around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, according to CNN affiliate WSOC in Charlotte.

"They were walking around the lake," Gastonia city spokeswoman Rachel Bagley told WSOC. "They got around to the back side of the lake. He started running, according to the parents, and when they started running after him, they lost sight of him, and no one has seen him ever since."

On Sunday, police canceled all activities at the park and closed it to the public until further notice.

Authorities said they are investigating all possibilities into what led to Maddox's disappearance.

"If you were at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday and saw Maddox or took video or photos of their outing at the park, call us," Helton said Sunday. "We know a lot of people were in the park, and we have spoken to many of them, but we have not spoken to everyone. No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case."

Police said Maddox is 4 feet tall and weighs 45 pounds. He has blond hair and blue eyes. Maddox was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt with the words "I am the man," along with black shorts and closed-toe sandals.

Dallas police fire officer charged with fatally shooting man in his apartment

Dallas police fire officer charged with fatally shooting man in his apartment

(CNN) - Amber Guyger, the police officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting of Botham Shem Jean inside his Dallas apartment, has been fired from the department, according to the Dallas police chief.

Guyger was fired during a hearing Monday, Chief Ulysha Renee Hall said in a statement. Jean's mother, Allison, learned of Guyger's termination during a Sunday evening conference call with Hall, family attorney S. Lee Merritt said Monday.

"She also offered an explanation of why it took so long, explaining that she had to consider Ms. Guyger's Fifth Amendment protections specifically so that her termination action wouldn't compromise the criminal matter and lead to, really, the criminal allegations being thrown out altogether," he told CNN.

The Fifth Amendment prohibits self-incrimination and double jeopardy, and guarantees due process for those accused of crimes.

Guyger, 30, said she shot and killed Jean, 26, after she thought she was entering her own apartment, not realizing she was on the wrong floor of her building, police have said. The shooting took place September 6.

An internal affairs investigation concluded that Guyger "engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for manslaughter" on September 9, according to a police statement.

Under civil service rules, Guyger has the right to appeal her discipline, the statement reads.

In the criminal case, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson has said a grand jury could charge Guyger with a stiffer crime than manslaughter.

While Allison Jean was relieved by the news of Guyger's termination, calling it a "satisfactory solution," the family would still like to see Guyger indicted on a murder charge, Merritt said.

The attorney is preparing a civil rights claim in Jean's death. He said Guyger's termination makes his case stronger because it shows the city and police department think Guyger "obviously engaged in behavior that doesn't comport with a police officer," he said.

Botham Jean was scheduled to be laid to rest Monday in his native St. Lucia. At a September 13 ceremony in Richardson, Texas, hundreds gathered to remember the "extroverted accountant" who "shared his love with everyone."

Guyger, who is white, was off-duty when she encountered Jean, an unarmed black man, in his apartment, police said. Still in her uniform, Guyger parked on the fourth floor of the complex and walked to what she believed was her apartment, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The door was slightly ajar as she tried to use her key, which has an electronic chip. When she opened the door, she saw the interior was almost completely dark, according to the affidavit. She described seeing a large silhouette and, believing there was an intruder in her apartment, drew her firearm.

She issued verbal commands, but Jean, being in his own home, did not heed them, and Guyger fired two shots, hitting him once in the torso, the affidavit said.

Guyger, a four-year veteran, then entered the apartment, called 911 and started administering first aid to Jean. She turned on the lights while on the phone with 911, and only when asked for her address did she realize she was in the wrong apartment, she told police.

Jean died at a hospital. Guyger was released from the Kaufman County Jail after posting a $300,000 bond.

The shooting sparked days of protest. Police deployed pepper balls on demonstrators a week after the shooting. Protesters angry with the lack of public information in the case interrupted a City Council meeting to demand accountability and more police oversight in general.

5 things for September 25: Rod Rosenstein, Brett Kavanaugh, South Korea, Florence flooding, Dallas police firing

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Hurricane Florence is about to flood Georgetown, South Carolina. They don't know how bad it will be

Hurricane Florence is about to flood Georgetown, South Carolina. They don't know how bad it will be

(CNN) - Authorities in Georgetown County, South Carolina, are urging thousands of people to evacuate ahead of historic flooding in an area where multiple swollen rivers converge.

The county escaped the brunt of Hurricane Florence's wind, but it sits at the mouths of the Waccamaw, Great Pee Dee and Sampit rivers.

Parts of Georgetown County will see at least 10 feet of flooding, forecasters say. Key words: at least. The flooding is expected to begin Tuesday and will last through the weekend.

"The Pee Dee River is the big elephant in the room," Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway said in a press conference Thursday.

The Great Pee Dee and the larger Waccamaw River have already swollen to record levels upstream -- as demonstrated by the flooding 40 miles north in and around Conway, where the Waccamaw is still rising -- and that water is now traveling downstream at historic levels.

There is no benchmark for comparison, not even the destruction wrought by Hurricane Matthew last year, Hemingway said.

Making matters worse is the potential for tides to exacerbate floodwater levels. Normally, from low tide to high tide, Georgetown sees about a 3-foot difference in the water level where the Great Pee Dee River meets Winyah Bay.

Monday night's full moon means high tides will be even higher. If the rivers hit peak crest during a high tide, flooding will spread even farther into the city.

Hemingway said water levels were expected to be at their highest later in the week. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources anticipates the waters will crest late Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning, Hemingway said.

How the city is preparing

All of the preparation comes more than a week after Florence made landfall and pummeled the Carolinas with wind and rain.

On Monday, the death toll from the storm rose to 47 after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's office said three more deaths had been confirmed in that state.

The rainfall that Florence dumped on North Carolina has been crawling downriver for more than two weeks. It's now set to inundate the homes and businesses belonging to Georgetown County's more than 61,000 people -- almost 8,000 of whom are being urged to evacuate.

A significant portion of the city is expected to be underwater.

Critical infrastructure is already being prepared and hardened. Along Highway 17, which connects Georgetown to the nearby South Carolina coast and its beaches, flood barriers are being erected.

According to Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall, the agency is using aquadams along portions of Highway 17 to keep water off the road and keep the highway open as long as possible. But officials believe it will need to close at some point.

Officials worry that the flooding could wash away the portion of the highway that links the bridges spanning the Great Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers.

As a precaution, the South Carolina National Guard is building a floating ribbon bridge, capable of carrying heavy equipment, across the Waccamaw River.

Experts have arrived to monitor the flooding and keep an eye on the bridges, Deputy Secretary of Engineering for the Department of Transportation Leland Colvin said. The bridges won't reopen until they've been inspected following the flooding.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is also on location, ready to respond, help and offer support in whatever way the state or FEMA ask, according to Brigadier General Diana Holland, commander of the Army Corps South Atlantic Division.

"We know there will be a significant rise in the rivers, where they converge here," she said. "We'll just have to see."

All 19 Georgetown County schools were closed Monday until further notice. Several are "at risk for substantial flooding damage," county officials say. Two of them, Georgetown High School and Waccamaw Middle School, have opened as pet-friendly shelters.

The Georgetown County Water and Sewer District is also scrambling to prepare. The Waccamaw River, which supplies drinking water for the county, will soon contain dangerous pollutants from the floodwater.

Ray Gagnon, executive director of the water district, told reporters that the district is working to protect all of its facilities in the "inundation zone," and preparing other sources of water -- including aquifers, recovery wells, groundwater wells and the county's interconnect with the nearby Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority.

Sandbags are also being distributed -- up to 10 per household -- but the county warned on its Facebook page, "Keep in mind that sandbags will not seal out water."

A waiting game

Thomas Cafe sits on Front Street, the main drag in Georgetown. It looks almost exactly like did it did when it opened in 1929.

The menu and the booths are original, as is most of the decor -- even the refrigerator.

In its 89-year history, it has never flooded before. Matthew's floodwater reached only to its back door.

"We're expected to get water in this time," said Olivia Goins, who has waited tables there for five years.

On Tuesday, the cafe won't be serving its famous $10.95 shrimp and grits. It will close for one of the few times in its history so employees can remove the fridges and freezers ahead of the flood.

Like many residents and business owners in the city, they're trying to prepare in any way they can, but in the end, there's not much they can do.

"Water is water," Goins said bluntly.

Chuck Richardson spent Monday afternoon trying to fortify a building he owns in Georgetown with large planks of plywood, sandbags and a rubber membrane. He hoped it would be enough.

"Might not keep the water out," he said, "but hopefully keep the fish and crabs and mud out."

Thankfully, he's had plenty of experience preparing for these types of events.

"Oh yeah, we're pros at this," he joked. "We try to do it at least once a year whether we want to or not."

There's nothing anyone can really do; the floodwater is coming and, by all forecasts, will be catastrophic. Goins, Richardson and the city of Georgetown are stuck playing the waiting game.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of the Georgetown County Administrator's name

Bill Cosby's maximum possible sentence now 10 years after charges merged

Bill Cosby's maximum possible sentence now 10 years after charges merged

NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Bill Cosby had potentially faced up to 30 years in prison, but he now faces a maximum of 10 years after prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to merge the three counts of his conviction into one for sentencing purposes.

Prosecutors asked a judge on Monday to sentence Cosby to five to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, saying he had shown "no remorse" for his actions.

"This is about a person who put himself in a situation of being a mentor, but we know he had other intentions just from the beginning," District Attorney Kevin Steele said. "We know that from the statements he made. What he saw in Andrea the first time he laid eyes on her. What his plan was. To get to the point they were going to get to. And that didn't involve consent."

However, Cosby's defense attorney, Joseph P. Green, asked for a sentence of house arrest, citing Cosby's advanced age and blindness.

"Mr. Cosby is not dangerous," he said. "Eighty-one-year-old blind men who are not self-sufficient are not a danger, unless perhaps to themselves."

The sentence is expected to come on Tuesday after Judge Steven T. O'Neill decides whether Cosby should be classified a "sexually violent predator." The determination would require him to register with state police and submit to sex-offender counseling and notification for life.

Cosby was convicted in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and assaulting Constand at his home in 2004, in the first high-profile celebrity criminal trial of the #MeToo era.

Judge O'Neill announced that the charges had been merged into one because they all stem from the same event. The state sentencing guidelines indicate 22 to 36 months in prison, plus or minus 12 months because of aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

Monday's hearing also featured victim impact statements from Constand, her parents and her sister. Constand, whose testimony at trial was central to the case against Cosby, spoke for just a few moments in court.

"I have testified, I have given you my victim impact statement," Constand said. "You heard me, the jury heard me and Mr. Cosby heard me. All I'm asking for is justice as the court sees fit."

Sexually violent predator status

A prosecution expert said Cosby should be labeled a "sexually violent predator" because he has a mental disorder that involves urges toward nonconsenting women.

"The behaviors are beyond their controls, so they are urged to act on it. He is likely to reoffend," Kristen Dudley, a psychologist and a member of the Pennsylvania Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, testified in state court.

Defense attorneys challenged her assessment that he would reoffend, saying that his age and blindness made it unlikely.

A state panel had advised that Cosby should be classified as a "sexually violent predator." Cosby declined to participate in the evaluation by Dudley, who said she came to her determination by reviewing trial transcripts and other reports.

O'Neill ruled Monday morning that the state's classification process is constitutional, knocking down the defense's argument that it is not. His expected ruling on Cosby's status will not impact the rest of the sentence.

Cosby's case tests #MeToo

Cosby's conviction represented the first high-profile test of the #MeToo movement in a courtroom. The trial centered on testimony from Constand and also featured testimony from five "prior bad acts" witnesses who similarly said Cosby had drugged and assaulted them.

Several of Cosby's victims also arrived at court Monday for the sentencing, including supermodel Janice Dickinson, who testified at the trial. Cosby arrived with his spokespeople, Andrew Wyatt and Ebonee Benson.

Cosby, the groundbreaking actor and comedian, did not testify at the trial. But when prosecutors asked the judge to revoke his bail because, they claimed, he has a private plane, Cosby stood up and yelled, "He doesn't have a plane, you a**hole," referring to himself in the third-person.

Green downplayed the outburst on Monday when requesting that Cosby receive house arrest.

"Mr. Cosby's frustration got the better of him and he used a name towards Mr. Steele he shouldn't have," Green said, asking the judge to consider the context.

"When Mr. Steele's witnesses at trial made outbursts, that was excused, everybody understands, but when the defendant makes one it deserves 3 pages in a sentencing memorandum?"

Cosby has remained out of prison for the past five months on $1 million bail, and his lawyers said they plan to appeal his convictions. Cosby could also be allowed to remain out of prison until any legal appeal is resolved.

The decision is ultimately up to O'Neill, who oversaw Cosby's 2018 retrial, as well as his mistrial a year earlier that ended in a hung jury.

Constand's family speaks

Constand's mother told the court in her victim-impact statement that her family feels "vindicated."

"This battle was about justice and our family feels that we have been vindicated," Gianna Constand said. "The victims cannot be unraped, all we can do is hold the perpetrators responsible."

Andrea Constand's father, Andrew, told the court: "The thought of what happened to my daughter ... will always be with me forever like a dark cloud hanging over my head."

O'Neill last week denied prosecutors' request to present "numerous" witnesses who would testify that Cosby sexually abused them in incidents that did not result in criminal charges, court records show.

Cosby also could address the court in an "allocution," Kate Delano, spokeswoman for the county prosecutor's office, said. Convicts typically use the opportunity before a sentence is handed down to ask for mercy.

Monday's sentencing came as Cosby's defense team has accused O'Neill of bias and asked him to remove himself from the case -- and to reverse an order that allowed the trial to happen in the first place.

At issue was a "nasty" personal conflict involving a prior district attorney, Bruce Castor, Cosby's team argued. O'Neill last week denied the motion, calling it untimely and "wholly without merit," court records show.

Camille Cosby, Bill Cosby's wife, said in a statement that she had retained a former prosecutor to facilitate her efforts to "uncover the truth" regarding what she says is a feud between O'Neill and Castor.

Since the April verdicts, Cosby has not been permitted to leave his Pennsylvania home. If he wanted to leave the state for another home, he'd have to arrange it ahead of time and wear a GPS monitoring device, O'Neill ruled in April.

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