05-22-2018  12:43 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family seeks answers after Oregon student injured on trip

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of an Oregon college student is searching for answers after the 22-year-old was found injured and unconscious near railroad tracks in Truckee, California.The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Aaron Salazar remains in the critical care unit at a hospital in Reno,...

Oregon mom raises awareness after baby dies from meningitis

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Summer Poff knew something was wrong with her 7-month-old son, Blaize, early in the morning on May 11.He was fussy, feverish and wouldn't go to sleep. The Salem mom tried to soothe her baby and gave him Tylenol, but at 3 a.m, she knew she needed to take him to the...

Lawsuit says Army Corps is failing to protect marine habitat

SEATTLE (AP) — Three conservation groups have sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saying it fails to protect marine habitat because it doesn't adequately regulate seawalls and other structures built along many stretches of Puget Sound shoreline.Sound Action, Friends of the San Juans and...

Facelift of Seattle's Space Needle nears completion

SEATTLE (AP) — Tourism is booming in Seattle. Just take a look at the Space Needle.The family-owned landmark is set to unveil the biggest renovation in its 56-year history next month, a 0 million investment in a single year of construction that transformed the structure's top viewing...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Man charged with shooting at black teen waives hearing

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A white suburban Detroit homeowner accused of shooting at a black teenager who came to his door to ask for directions will stand trial.Jeffrey Zeigler was bound over Tuesday to circuit court after waiving his preliminary examination on assault with intent to...

GLAAD study finds LGBTQ representation in film fell in 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Despite high-profile Oscar wins for art house films like "Call Me By Your Name" and "A Fantastic Women," LGBTQ representation in films from the seven biggest Hollywood studios fell significantly in 2017 according to a study released Tuesday by the advocacy organization...

Black man ordered to pay [scripts/homepage/home.php],000 for racist campus graffiti

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A former Eastern Michigan University student who admitted to painting racist graffiti on campus has been ordered to pay more than [scripts/homepage/home.php],000 in restitution.The Ann Arbor News reports 29-year-old Eddie Curlin learned his punishment Monday after earlier pleading guilty to...

ENTERTAINMENT

Soccer star Brandi Chastain or Gary Busey? Fans pan plaque

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Social media is finding little to like about the likeness on a plaque honoring retired soccer champion Brandi Chastain.The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in San Francisco unveiled the plaque on Monday night. Chastain said, "It's not the most flattering. But it's nice."On...

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer R. Kelly sexually abused a woman, locked her in rooms and vehicles for punishment, and infected her with herpes, the woman said in a lawsuit filed in New York.Faith Rodgers said in the suit filed Monday that she met Kelly about a year ago after a concert in San...

A farewell to the road for Paul Simon

NEW YORK (AP) — Farewell tours don't always mean farewell, but are a ripe time for appreciation and appraisal. Paul Simon's concerts and a new biography offer the opportunity for both.Simon's "Homeward Bound" tour began last week in Vancouver and takes him across North America, to Europe and...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Soccer star Brandi Chastain or Gary Busey? Fans pan plaque

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Social media is finding little to like about the likeness on a plaque honoring retired...

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer R. Kelly sexually abused a woman, locked her in rooms and vehicles for punishment,...

APNewsbreak: Pentagon adopts new cellphone restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of debate, the Defense Department approved Monday new restrictions for the...

Brazil leader won't seek re-election

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's President Michel Temer is ending speculation that he might seek re-election...

Rights group: Rohingya insurgents massacred Myanmar Hindus

BANGKOK (AP) — Amnesty International said Wednesday that Myanmar's army was not the only group that has...

Romania court acquits Senate speaker of lying under oath

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian court has acquitted the Senate speaker of making false statements...

CNN


Two Northern California men are due in federal court Wednesday in what began as another big pot-growing drug bust but what has become a horrifying story of one teenager's alleged torment, captivity and sexual abuse.

The criminal complaint against the two men -- Ryan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Pearmain, 24 -- outlines the allegations of a 15-year-old girl's ordeal of being held in a coffin-like box for hours on end at a marijuana-growing "farm" where she worked trimming plants.

Balletto and Pearmain were criminally charged in federal court earlier this month -- and are in custody without bail -- with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants and with using a minor in a drug operation. Additionally Pearmain faces state charges of kidnapping to commit robbery or rape and unlawful sex with a minor. Balletto faces state charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a child.

Efforts Tuesday to reach attorneys for the two men were not successful.

The girl sometimes was held in a metal toolbox 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and 2 feet high, authorities said. According to the criminal complaint, she told authorities that the men "put her in the box to 'teach' her because they had a 'point to prove.'"

The girl referred to the marijuana operation as a "mission" and said the men locked her in the box to protect the operation, according to the complaint.

"Specifically, they did not want (the girl) to 'ruin the mission' or 'go off and say something about the mission,'" the complaint stated.

The box was hoisted at an angle to allow a hose to be inserted "to wash her off and rinse human waste from the inside of the box without letting her out," the complaint said.

Federal authorities declined to comment Tuesday on the whereabouts or current condition of the girl.

But a psychologist who had read about the case told CNN that he was shocked by the details and that he believes the girl will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"She is so different from, say, a POW ... She was in a box. She's going to need a lot of therapeutic treatment," said California-based clinical psychologist Mark Burdick, who is not involved in the case.

"This is obviously a very traumatic situation for her...It is cruel, cruel and unusual punishment for a 15-year-old girl, and she will undoubtedly need a structured therapeutic environment for what could be years," Burdick said.

According to the criminal complaint, federal agents began a suspected narcotics investigation in late 2011, and Balletto was one of the individuals suspected. Last August, agents identified land that he had bought in Lake County, California, north of San Francisco.

During a surveillance flyover of that land in April, a Lake County detective spotted two greenhouses that appeared to be full of marijuana plants.

Meanwhile, also in April, the Los Angeles Police Department "requested urgent assistance of the Lake County Sheriff's Department regarding a missing juvenile from the Los Angeles area," the complaint stated.

The minor was traced from a cell phone call to a hotel in Sacramento, where she was found with Pearmain on April 30, the complaint said. He was immediately taken into custody, and the girl was placed in protective custody.

Authorities said they also found a black notebook in Pearmain's possession with a script apparently for the girl to read from if confronted by police.

Balletto was taken into custody on May 1 when he was found in a trailer on the property that had been under surveillance.

According to the complaint, the minor said she worked for Balletto by trimming the marijuana plants on what she referred to as the "farm."

The girl then went on to describe an ordeal of being held in the box twice "for a total of approximately three days," according to the complaint. She said both men "engaged in multiple sex acts with her," and Balletto "told her she was a 'trooper' because she didn't scream in the box," the complaint said.

"A poem signed by (the girl) found in Balletto's trailer described her life as being locked inside a box with holes in it," the complaint added.

At the property, authorities found the two greenhouses with 970 individually potted and irrigated marijuana plants, according to the complaint. Authorities later found a third greenhouse with an additional 346 plants.

Authorities also uncovered a stash of weapons including, assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, loaded magazines, night-vision scopes, ballistic face masks and gas masks, body armor and a large cache of assorted ammunition, according to the complaint.

The Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office said a search of Balletto's residence uncovered even more weapons, including several sniper rifles and additional assault rifles.

Lake County Sheriff's Department Lt. Chris Chwialkowski said the stash was one of the largest collection of weapons seized in his department's history.

Tatum King, acting special agent in charge of investigations for the Homeland Security office in San Francisco, which mounted the federal narcotics investigation, said, "The criminal groups involved in growing and trafficking marijuana have repeatedly shown they have no qualms about using violence and intimidation against those who get in their way.

"In this case the alleged victim was only 15 years old."

 

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