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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dustin Hoffman accused of sexually harassing 5 more women, some underage


Five woman came forward Thursday accusing Dustin Hoffman of sexual harassment, with two of them saying they were underage at the time, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported.

These are the latest in a series of accusations leveled at the Oscar-winning actor since November. Representatives for Hoffman did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Hoffman’s attorney Mark A. Neubauer called the accusations against the actor “defamatory falsehoods” in a letter to Variety’s owner, Pensky Media Corp.

The first woman to step forward in Thursday’s reports, Cori Thomas, told Variety that in 1980, when she was 16, she spent a day in New York with Hoffman and his daughter, a friend of hers.

Thomas unexpectedly ended up alone with Hoffman in his hotel room while she waited for her parents to pick her up, Variety said.

While waiting, Hoffman, who had seemingly gone to take a shower, allegedly reappeared in only a towel, which he reportedly dropped in front of the teen, completely exposing himself, according to Variety.

“It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man,” she told Variety. “I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do. And he milked it. He milked the fact that he was naked. He stood there. He took his time.”


Thomas claimed that after putting his robe back on, Hoffman asked her to massage his feet and said, “I’m naked. Do you want to see?”

Her parents reportedly arrived shortly afterwards and Thomas left. The story was corroborated by a family member, who told Variety that they’d learned of the encounter seven years later.

The second accuser, Melissa Kester, said her boyfriend at the time of the alleged incident was working on the music for Hoffman’s 1987 film “Ishtar” in Los Angeles, Variety reported.

During a recording session Kester said she attended, Hoffman reportedly was struggling and asked her to come into the booth with him.

Kester, who was there with her boyfriend and another engineer, told Variety she obliged and when she went inside, Hoffman grabbed her in a “kind of flirtatious” way.

“I felt awkward,” she told Variety. “It’s a little weird. He’s hugging me while he’s singing. But ha ha ha, it’s all a joke. My boyfriend is right there.”


Kester claimed that Hoffman then “stuck his fingers down my pants.” The others outside the room reportedly couldn’t see what was happening, but Kester told Variety that she “made an effort not to react” so her boyfriend wouldn’t notice.

“Then I just ran out of there, and I sat in the bathroom crying,” Kester told the outlet. “I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ I felt like I’d been raped. There was no warning. I didn’t know he would do that.”

Kester said she never told her boyfriend what happened, but she did tell a friend, who reportedly confirmed the allegation to the outlet.

A third woman, whose name was not revealed by Variety, said she met Hoffman during production of “Ishtar” in New York, the outlet said.


The woman, then 22 years old, reportedly had a small role in the movie and met the actor on set. On the final day of shooting, she told Variety that Hoffman invited her to the studio and encouraged her to stay for the wrap party.

Hoffman, she told the outlet, had a driver with a station wagon outside and offered to take her, and others, home. She said the pair lay in the back of the crowded car and Hoffman put his hand up her skirt, Variety reported.

“There are people inches from us,” she said. “And he just took his hand and stuck his fingers right up inside of me. I didn’t know what to do. He’s smiling at me. I was frozen. I was outside of my body.”

At the end of the ride, Hoffman reportedly gave her $20 and wanted her to meet him at his apartment. After driving around in a cab, unsure what to do, the woman said she went to his building, where the pair had sex, Variety reported.

The woman told the outlet that she believed the incident in the car with Hoffman was not consensual, but said “I don’t know” when asked if the intercourse was.

A fourth accuser, who went only by Pauline, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and detailed her alleged encounter with Hoffman. She told the outlet she met him in 1973 when she 15 and worked at a clothing store in New York.

Pauline recounted that Hoffman would often come by the store and once invited her to a premiere of his movie “Alfredo, Alfredo,” to which she brought her twin sister, The Reporter said.

But the alleged harassment reportedly occurred when she visited Hoffman’s apartment after they went to see a movie. He invited her over under the pretense of seeing the puppy he said he bought for his daughter.

When they arrived, Pauline told the outlet that she didn’t see a dog and it didn’t seem like anyone was home. After rejecting Hoffman’s next request to see his daughter’s room, Pauline claimed he said, “Do you want to see something else?” before exposing his genitals and masturbating in front of her, The Reporter said.

“I’d never even seen a naked man before,” Pauline said. “I had never seen anything like it. I didn’t know what to say, what to do.”

“’I’ll be finished soon,’ he said,” Pauline claimed. “I didn’t even know what to say.”

Pauline told the outlet she went home after and didn’t immediately tell anyone what happened to her.

The Hollywood Reporter included a fifth woman, writing that it would call her by an alias, “Carolyn.” She said she’d met Hoffman in 1975 when she was 21, working as a tour guide in Washington, D.C.

She told the outlet that Hoffman’s assistant invited her, on his behalf, to his hotel that night. But when she got there, he reportedly knew more about her than she’d shared with him. 

“It was as if he had researched me,” she said.

When the woman said she wanted to leave, Hoffman allegedly blocked the door and said, “Go home? You don’t think you’re getting out of here without having sex, do you?” the Reporter said.

Hoffman reportedly offered her a choice of two sexual acts, to which she chose oral sex. Afterward, she claimed he gave her $20 for the ride home and she left.

NYPD reviewing rape claims against Russell Simmons as another accuser comes forward


The New York Police Department is reviewing allegations of rape and sexual assault against Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons, an NYPD spokeswoman confirmed to Fox News late Thursday.

“The NYPD has received information regarding allegations involving Russell Simmons in the New York City area and our detectives are in the process of reviewing that information,” the spokeswoman said.

On Wednesday, The New York Times published a story in which three woman accused Simmons of raping them. The allegations stem from the 1980s and 1990s. On the same day, the Los Angeles Times published claims by five different women who accused Simmons of sexual misconduct. Two of the woman quoted in that story alleged that Simmons raped them.

Simmons denied the allegations Wednesday and again on Thursday, writing on Instagram that “I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges.”

Simmons posted his words under a photo that read #NotMe, explaining that he isn’t trying to going against the anti-harassment movement #MeToo, where millions have shared their stories about being sexually harassed and assaulted.

“My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in any way, but instead hold my accusers accountable,” he wrote. “Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #MeToo. It’s just a statement about my innocence.”

Late Thursday, fashion publicist and TV personality Kelly Cutrone told the New York Post that Simmons tried to rape her after they left a party together in 1991.

“He pushed me into his apartment and then he threw me down on the floor and literally tried to … take my clothes off of me,” Cutrone told us, “And I started kicking him really, really hard, screaming, telling him to get the f— off of me. And that I would have him killed if he ever f—ing laid a hand on me.”

Cutrone said Simmons’ “#NotMe” statement amounted to “a call to every man who wants the right to abuse women to continue.”

Last month, model Keri Claussen Khalighi said Simmons coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent in 1991. Simmons said the sex with Klalighi was consensual. Days later, screenwriter Jenny Lumet said Simmons had sex with her more than two decades ago despite her repeated demands that he stop. Following Lumet’s claims, HBO said it would edit out any link to Simmons in its “All Def Comedy” show.

Simmons founded Def Jam Recordings with mega-producer Rick Rubin in 1984. It made stars of such hip-hop artists as LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

WGMD Fishing Report 12-14-17


While I can’t be certain, my guess is no one went fishing on Wednesday.   If they did, they are probably still out there frozen to their fishing rod.

I did stop by Lewes Harbour Marina where Julie gave me the standings for their Striper Tournament.  Right now Bob Fitzwater holds down the top spot with a 43.5-pound striper.  Joe Choma is in second place with his 35.5 pounder and Dave Lynam is in third with a 33-pound rockfish.  The tournament will end on December 23 and I think we will have a few more fishable days before then.

Speaking of Lewes Harbour Marina, the Delaware Saltwater Fly Fishermen will be having fly tying sessions at the shop on Saturday mornings from 9:00 to noon.  If you have any interest at all in saltwater fly fishing you should plan to attend one of these meetings.  The members are more than anxious to help out beginners and welcome ideas from old salts.  The club will also plan trips to different fly fishing shows in New Jersey and Maryland.  During the summer they hold evening fly fishing trips to local locations.

This is Eric Burnley with your WGMD fishing report.


9th Circuit opens sexual misconduct inquiry into famed judge


The chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has opened a misconduct inquiry into a judge accused by six women of inappropriate sexual conduct and comments.

Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas issued the order Thursday based on allegations against Judge Alex Kozinski in a Dec. 8 Washington Post article.

The women were clerks or externs at the largest federal appeals court in the country.

Heidi Bond, who clerked for the Pasadena, California-based judge from 2006 to 2007, recalled three instances in which she said the judge asked her to look at images of naked people.

Kozinski told the Los Angeles Times he did not recall showing pornographic images to others.

A message left for Kozinski with the 9th circuit seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Michigan police probe remains of 3 children found in Montana


Michigan State Police are investigating whether the remains of three children found in Montana could be linked to the 2010 disappearance of three Michigan brothers.

The bones and teeth of three children were found in September in a shed in Missoula, Montana. An anthropologist estimated the children’s ages to be 2-4 years old, 5-8 years old and 6-10 years old.

Tanner, Alexander and Andrew Skelton were 5, 7 and 9 when they were last seen at their father’s Morenci, Michigan, home in November 2010.

Michigan State Police Detective Lt. Jeremy Brewer tells WTVG-TV in Toledo, Ohio, the agency has requested more information from Montana police but the only current connection between the cases is the victims’ approximate ages.

KECI-TV in Missoula reports the remains are undergoing DNA testing in Texas.

Chicken wing company CEO: NFL player protests have hurt sales


Sanderson Farms, one of the country’s largest chicken providers, said Thursday that NFL national anthem protests are having an impact on chicken wing sales.

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The Laurel, Mississippi-based company reported worse-than-expected net income in its fourth fiscal quarter of 2017. Sanderson Farms CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr. blamed the decline in part on less demand from its restaurant chain partners, noting that “the NFL has hurt the wing stores, and that is the traffic going through some of the wing places that we service.”

“The only thing is puzzling me right now is wings,” Sanderson said during a call with analysts. “We have been talking to our wing customers and they’re the ones that are telling us that this — they’re seeing less traffic in their stores, and they attribute that to the NFL. That’s not our judgment.”

Chicken wing prices have plummeted roughly 28% from peak levels last September, when President Donald Trump took aim at NFL players who knelt during the national anthem, Bloomberg reported. Trump called on the league’s 32 owners to fire any player who engaged in national anthem protests, triggering an ongoing war of words between his administration and NFL players and executives.

Sanderson Farms stock fell 13% in trading Thursday after the earnings miss. Shares of rival chicken producers Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods also dropped.

The NFL has drawn criticism from both protest supporters and critics over its handling of the situation. The debate has unfolded amid a decline in television viewership of NFL games, though it’s unclear if the protests have played a significant role in the drop.

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Sanderson isn’t the first executive to suggest NFL protests have impacted business. Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said last month that the NFL’s anthem debate had a negative impact on sales and ripped league executives for “poor leadership.”

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“The NFL has hurt us,” Schnatter said. “More importantly, by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction, NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

Other executives have dismissed any connection between the NFL protests and business. The CEO of Yum Brands, the parent company of Pizza Hut, said the company is “not seeing impact on any of our business” from the NFL’s performance.

Trump, Putin talk North Korea in phone call


President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone Thursday, reportedly discussing a range of issues.

Trump “thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” The White House said in a statement.

The two also spoke about working together to “resolve” the intensifying situation with North Korea.

The Russian Embassy of the U.S. confirmed the White House’s version of the call in a Twitter post and included a variety of emojis.

“President Putin and @POTUS Trump discussed [phone emoji] topical issues of bilateral relations, as well as the situation in crisis points with an emphasis on the settlement of the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula. [Russian flag] [American flag] agreed to continue contacts.”

The phone call came the same day Putin said that talk of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia have “been made up by Trump’s opponents to delegitimize Trump’s time in office.”

Fox News’ Wes Barrett contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

Japan survey shows corporate sentiment at 11-year high


A quarterly business outlook survey by Japan’s central bank shows corporate sentiment has improved to its highest level in 11 years in the latest upbeat signal for the economy.

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The Bank of Japan’s “tankan” index for large manufacturers, released Friday, was 25 in December, up from 22 in September. It was the fifth straight quarterly improvement and the strongest reading since December 2006.

However, the forecast for the next quarter was less optimistic, at 19.

The economy has gathered momentum thanks to a recovery in exports in tandem with improved conditions in China, the U.S. and other major markets.

The tankan survey of 10,645 companies is viewed as a major indicator for the economy. The index is the difference between companies surveyed that have a “favorable” outlook and those with an “unfavorable” outlook. However, 67 percent of large manufacturers responded to the survey saying they had a “not so favorable” outlook. That number is not reflected in the tankan diffusion index.

The survey also showed a steady improvement in demand versus supply, though Japan still has more manufacturing capacity than needed to meet demand. Prices charged by manufacturers remain flat, though costs for making products, such as for energy and components, have risen.

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Corporate investment is forecast to rise by 7.4 percent in the current fiscal year, which ends in March, the survey showed. Manufacturers expect to increase such spending, including land purchases, by 10.2 percent.

California issues 1st licenses for its legal pot market


California has issued its first business licenses for the state’s upcoming legal marijuana market.

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Recreational pot sales for adults start in California on Jan. 1, joining the state’s long-running medical sales.

The state on Thursday authorized its first batch of temporary licenses for retailers and distributors for the new recreational marketplace.

The first license was awarded Pure CA, which does business as Moxie brand products. The company is known for its cannabis extracts.

CEO Jordan Lams says he’s been working toward getting the license for two years, as the state’s marijuana laws shifted.

Voters in 2016 enacted Proposition 64, which legalized recreational sales.

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Lams credited “a lot of the stars aligning” for being awarded the first distributor license for recreational pot.

The company also received a license for medical distribution.

Peru's president faces calls to resign over murky payments


Opponents of Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski are calling on him to resign over payments he received a decade ago from a Brazilian construction company at the center of Latin America’s biggest graft scandal.

Lawmakers from the nation’s two biggest parties said Thursday they would initiate impeachment proceedings against Kuczynski unless he resigns.

The threat comes a day after evidence emerged that as a Cabinet minister in a previous government Kuczynski’s consulting business received payments of $782,000 from consortiums led by Odebrecht.

Kuczysnki said he’s done nothing wrong but his failure to explain the payments and past denials that he had any ties to Odebrecht have earned widespread rebuke even from supporters.

As the political crisis deepened, Peru’s stock exchange on Thursday had its biggest tumble in two years.

Firefighter dies battling California's 4th largest fire in history, officials say


A firefighter was killed battling a massive blaze northwest of Los Angeles that is now considered to be California’s fourth largest wildfire in the state’s history, fire officials announced Thursday.

The firefighter was identified as 32-year-old Cory Iverson of Escondido, an 8-year veteran of Cal Fire. He left behind a pregnant wife and 2-year-old daughter.

“His bravery and years of committed service to the people of California will never be forgotten,” Gov. Jerry Brown said.

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, pockets of unburned vegetation flare up off Bella Vista Dr. in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. After announcing increased containment on the Thomas fire, one of the biggest wildfires in California history, officials Wednesday warned that communities remain at risk and the threat could increase as unpredictable winds whip up again. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, pockets of unburned vegetation flare up off Bella Vista Dr. in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017.  (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

The details of his death remain unknown as authorities say the so-called Thomas Fire will likely keep growing and threaten communities.

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters keep an eye on flames as pockets of unburned vegetation flare up off Bella Vista Dr. in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. After announcing increased containment on the Thomas fire, one of the biggest wildfires in California history, officials Wednesday warned that communities remain at risk and the threat could increase as unpredictable winds whip up again. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, firefighters keep an eye on flames as pockets of unburned vegetation flare up off Bella Vista Dr. in Montecito, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017.  (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

CAL Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said in a press release that the firefighter was a CAL FIRE engineer from the San Diego unit.

“Please join me in keeping our fallen firefighter and his loved ones in your prayers all the responders on the front lines in your thoughts as they continue to work under extremely challenging conditions,” Pimlott said.

State officials said the wildfire straddling coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties covered 379 square miles. That surpassed a blaze that burned inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago.

In this photo released by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a dozer from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department clears a fire break across a canyon from atop Camino Cielo down to Gibraltar to make a stand should the fire move in that direction, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in the Santa Ynez Mountains area of Santa Barbara, Calif. State fire officials predicted Wednesday night that the Thomas Fire northwest of Los Angeles will continue to grow as it eats up parched brush and hot, dry weather continues. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

In this photo released by Santa Barbara County Fire Department, a dozer from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department clears a fire break across a canyon from atop Camino Cielo down to Gibraltar to make a stand should the fire move in that direction, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in the Santa Ynez Mountains area of Santa Barbara, Calif.  (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

Some evacuations were lifted and the risk to the agricultural city of Fillmore was diminishing. But coastal enclaves to the west remained under threat as crews protected hillside homes in Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria.

Schools were closed and many roads remained shut down. The USA Water Polo Women’s National Team match against the Netherlands scheduled for Saturday in Santa Barbara was moved to Orange County.

The National Weather Service said extreme fire danger conditions could last through the weekend due to lack of moisture along with a likely increase in wind speeds. Gusts were expected to top 35 mph by midday Thursday.


Firefighters made some progress Wednesday on corralling the fire, which continued to spread mostly into national forest land.

Since the blaze broke out on Dec. 4, it has burned destroyed 970 buildings — including at least 700 homes. Flames threatened some 18,000 buildings and prompted evacuations of about 100,000 people. Covering more ground than the city of San Diego, it was 30 percent contained.

To the south in San Diego County, firefighters came very close to containing another major wildfire a week after it broke out.

That fire burned down 157 structures, most in its destructive first hours. It also killed 46 race horses at a training center, and left one of their trainers with serious burns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Denver shuts down 26 legal pot businesses, makes arrests


Denver authorities shut down 26 legal marijuana businesses Thursday and arrested 12 people suspected of illegal distribution of pot after a yearlong criminal investigation.

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Potential charges relate to marijuana sales exceeding limits set in state law, police said. Colorado allows people 21 and older to possess an ounce or less of marijuana under a measure approved by voters in 2012.

The city department that regulates marijuana businesses issued the order to close the businesses based on the police investigation, spokesman Dan Rowland said. It marked the first time the city has issued an open-ended suspension to any legal marijuana business since sales began in 2014, he said.

Colorado has made a concerted effort to avoid a federal crackdown on its marijuana experiment, including police and government enforcement against illegal marijuana grows or sales.

Gov. John Hickenlooper highlighted those efforts in an August letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who requested information on marijuana legalization. Sessions has been a longtime opponent of state legalization and has suggested the federal government should crack down.

Special Agent Randy Ladd, a spokesman for the Denver division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said the agency wasn’t involved. Denver police didn’t name any federal agencies as partners in the investigation.

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The city’s order shuttered 26 retail stores and other marijuana growing facilities operating under the name Sweet Leaf. But the police investigation focused on eight locations licensed by the company, and officers searched those addresses Thursday.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said he couldn’t provide more detail on the case because of the ongoing investigation. The department didn’t name the people arrested.

Matthew Aiken, Christian Johnson and Anthony Suaro, three co-owners listed on the city’s order, didn’t immediately respond to email messages seeking comment. Company officials told Marijuana Business Magazine in April that they had 350 employees and $60 million in revenue.

Rowland said the businesses can’t sell or produce any pot products while the order is in place. The city plans to hold a public hearing within 30 days.

“This is a way for us to put a hold on things so we can figure out what’s going on,” he said.

Under Colorado law, marijuana businesses must get separate licenses for various purposes, even if they operate out of the same building. For example, a retail store licensed to sell recreational pot also needs a medical marijuana retail license to sell products designated for medical use.

“One thing I always say about legalization is it didn’t end law enforcement,” said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver marijuana policy law professor. “If you’re going to have a system that works, people not complying with regulations need to be shut down.”

In Washington state, which also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, no legal, regulated pot businesses have faced police raids. Some have, however, had their licenses suspended or revoked for failing to follow industry rules.

Sweet Leaf’s website lists one store in Oregon and 10 stores in Colorado. An employee who answered the phone at the Oregon store Thursday said they were open.

Oregon regulators weren’t immediately available to discuss the company’s status in that state.


Associated Press writers Gene Johnson in Seattle and Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, contributed to this report.

Philadelphia City Council approves bill to remove bulletproof glass from storefronts


The Philadelphia City Council voted Thursday to remove bulletproof glass from the windows of some local businesses, despite a backlash from shop owners who cited safety concerns.

The council voted 14-3 to approve legislation that could eventually force business owners to remove the protective glass outside their storefronts that some lawmakers believe operate as drug fronts and facilitate loitering and public urination, Fox 29 reported.

The bill, which was passed by the city’s Public Health and Human Services Committee on Dec. 4, enables Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections to regulate the bullet-resistant barricades that stand between customers and cash registers in many neighborhood corner stores.


The approved bill, according to Philly.com, instructs the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections to, by Jan. 1, 2021, “promulgate regulations to provide for the use or removal of any physical barrier” in stores that sell food and alcohol.

Storeowners on Thursday pleaded to keep the bulletproof barriers on their storefronts.

“I was the victim of a robbery when I was ten years old, and I don’t want that to happen again,” one storeowner told Fox 29.

Another shopkeeper, through an interpreter, said: “If you took the bulletproof glass from our store, there will be more people die.”


City councilman David Oh had similar sentiments, calling the possible outcome of the situation “worse … than what we have today.”

“If we take down the safety glass, they’re not changing their business model. They’re not moving. What they will do is purchase firearms. I think that is a worse situation than what we have today,” Oh said ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who originally sponsored the bill, said the stores — many of which are delis — are “masquerading as restaurants.”

“They sell almost everything you need to get high, and if they don’t have it, someone loitering inside or outside, has the rest,” Bass said.


Bass told Fox News that the storeowners, who reportedly operate with restaurant licenses, in “more than 90 percent of cases they are breaking the law in terms of operating outside the requirement of their license.”

The approved bill “does not require mandatory removal” of the bulletproof glass, but rather a careful consideration, Councilwoman Helen Gym told Philly.com.

Fox News’ Greg Norman and Frank Miles contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

Bill banning Down syndrome abortions passes in Ohio, heads to Kasich's desk


The GOP-led Ohio state Senate on Wednesday passed a ban on abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and Republican Gov. John Kasich has sent signals that he will soon sign the measure into law.

Lawmakers voted 20-12 in favor of the ban, which would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if doctors know that it is being sought, “in whole or in part,” to avoid a Down syndrome pregnancy.

Doctors who violate the ban would lose their medical license and face a fourth-degree felony charge, including up to a $5,000 fine and 18 months in prison. Mothers would not be punished by the law.

Three Republicans voted against the measure, which was opposed by all of the state Senate’s Democratic lawmakers.

The bill has also divided the disability community in Ohio, with some disability advocates testifying against the proposal because, they said, it prioritizes Down syndrome over other disabilities. 

“This bill sends a very clear message, that some disabilities are more worthy of life than others and that one disability — Down syndrome — is the most worthy,” Jane Gerhardt, a woman whose daughter suffers from Down syndrome, testified Tuesday, according to local reports.

The ACLU has characterized the bill as an unconstitutional effort to usurp well-established abortion rights.

A group of abortion-rights activists staged a silent protest in the Senate chamber after the Down syndrome bill’s approval, standing in a row wearing T-shirts that spelled out “Stop the Bans.”

The legality of aborting fetuses with Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality that causes developmental delays and other serious medical problems, has recently been debated in other states. Indiana and North Dakota already have passed laws like the one that Ohio is advancing.

The Indiana measure, enacted in 2016, was blocked by a federal judge on constitutional grounds after a lawsuit by the ACLU. An appeal by state officials is pending.

The 2013 North Dakota law has not been challenged, so courts have not yet had the ability to rule on its constitutionality. The state’s sole abortion clinic, in Fargo, says the issue hasn’t arisen under its policy of not performing abortions after 16 weeks into a pregnancy.

The Ohio vote was a key policy victory for Ohio Right to Life, the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group.

“Both the House and the Senate sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality,” said president Mike Gonidakis. “We expect Governor Kasich will sign this legislation, as he said he would in 2015. Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.”

Kasich’s spokesman declined to say what the governor would do. Kasich has said in recent weeks that he thought the measure seemed “appropriate,” but that he would review it when he received it.

Last December, Kasich vetoed the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which would have banned abortions after a heartbeat is detected — typically about six weeks into a pregnancy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

The Latest: Firefighter working huge California fire dies


The Latest on California wildfires (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

Authorities have identified a firefighter killed while battling a blaze that’s destroyed hundreds of homes northwest of Los Angeles.

State fire chief Ken Pimlott says Cory Iverson was an engineer based in San Diego. His death was announced Thursday but no details are being released.

Iverson was 32. He leaves a pregnant wife and a 2-year-old daughter.

Iverson had been with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection since 2009.

Dozens of police and fire vehicles escorted his body to the coroner’s office in Ventura County.

It’s the second death blamed on the so-called Thomas fire, which has ravaged Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for more than a week.

Authorities say a 70-year-old Santa Paula woman died from smoke inhalation and injuries from a car crash last week as she apparently tried to evacuate.


12:38 p.m.

A firefighter assigned to the huge wildfire burning in Southern California has died.

The fatality was announced Thursday afternoon by Chief Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, but he gave no indication of the circumstances.

Pimlott says the firefighter was a Cal Fire engineer from a San Diego unit. The firefighter’s name has not been released.

More than 8,000 firefighters are working on what is now the fourth-largest wildfire in California history, covering 379 square miles (982 square kilometers), in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.


9:35 a.m.

The cost of battling Southern California’s huge wildfire is nearing $75 million.

Thursday’s tally of suppression costs for the so-called Thomas fire comes from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The 11-day-old wildfire in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties is now the fourth-largest in California history, scorching 379 square miles (982 square kilometers).

More than 8,000 firefighters and 27 helicopters are assigned to the fire, which has destroyed more than 900 homes and other structures.


7:15 a.m.

The colossal wildfire burning northwest of Los Angeles is now the fourth largest in California history and authorities say it will likely keep growing as increasing winds fan the flames.

State officials said Thursday that the so-called Thomas fire straddling coastal Ventura and Santa Barbara counties now covers 379 square miles (982 square kilometers). That surpasses a blaze that burned inland Santa Barbara County a decade ago.

Some evacuations have been lifted, but authorities say seaside towns including Montecito and Carpinteria remain under threat. The fire is 30 percent contained after destroying 970 structures.

The National Weather Service says extreme fire danger conditions from dry Santa Ana winds could last through the weekend.


5:30 a.m.

Fire officials hope to lift some evacuations for Southern California’s huge wildfire but warn that predicted Santa Ana winds could once again mean danger for communities.

The blaze northwest of Los Angeles is about a third contained and authorities say the risk to the inland agricultural city of Fillmore is diminishing. But coastal enclaves to the west remain under threat Thursday as crews protect hillside homes in Montecito and Carpinteria.

The National Weather Service says extreme fire danger conditions could last through the weekend due to lack of moisture along with a likely increase in wind speeds.

Since the blaze broke out Dec. 4, it has burned more than 372 square miles (965 square kilometers) and destroyed 921 buildings — including at least 700 homes.


12:30 a.m.

Fire lines have been established around nearly a third of one of the largest wildfires in California history, but danger remains.

Coastal communities in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties were warned Wednesday that they’re still at risk if unpredictable winds whip up again and fan the flames.

The National Weather Service extended warnings through Friday of extreme fire danger conditions throughout much of Southern California due to lack of moisture along with a possible increase in wind gust speeds at the end of the week.

To the south in San Diego County, firefighters had come very close to containing another major wildfire. That blaze killed 46 race horses at a training center, and left one of their trainers with serious burns.

Sea lion attack at San Francisco Aquatic Park leaves swimmer severely injured


A swimmer was severely injured after being bit in the arm by a sea lion in San Francisco Bay on Thursday afternoon.

The person was swimming at Aquatic Park. 

John Baxter with the San Francisco Fire Department tells KTVU a tourniquet was applied to the swimmer’s leg to stop blood flow. The tourniquet was applied by the San Francisco Police Department. The swift actions by emergency crews contributed to the swimmer’s life being saved, according to San Francisco Fire. 

The victim is expected to be OK, according to San Francisco fire. 

A man takes a photograph of the city skyline from Aquatic Park in San Francisco, California January 29, 2015. With no rain in the forecast, San Francisco is on course to see its first January without rainfall in 165 years, according to the National Weather Service. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT CITYSCAPE) - GM1EB1U0C1J01

A sea lion injured a swimmer at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park on Dec. 14.  (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

The Marine Unit will be advising local swim clubs of the incident.

At this point, additional details have not been released. 

Click for more from KTVU Fox 2.

Charlottesville car attack suspect gets murder charge upgraded


The Ohio man accused of driving a car into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally this summer in Charlottesville had his most serious charge upgraded to first-degree murder Thursday.

James Alex Fields appeared in court for a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors said they had filed a motion earlier in the day seeking to amend the second-degree murder charge he had previously faced.

Charlottesville General District Judge Robert Downer Jr. certified the first-degree murder charge and all others against Fields. The case will now be presented to a grand jury for an indictment.

Authorities say the 20-year-old, described by a former teacher as having a keen interest in Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler, drove his speeding car into a group of counterprotesters on Aug. 12, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more.

The attack came after a white nationalist rally earlier in the day descended into chaos as fights broke out with counterdemonstrators, and authorities forced the crowd to disband. Charlottesville became a target for white nationalists after the city voted to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Fields, of Maumee, Ohio, sat quietly in a striped jumpsuit with his hands cuffed during Thursday’s hearing.

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2017 file photo, people fly into the air as a vehicle is driven into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. James Alex Fields Jr., the man accused of driving into the crowd demonstrating against a white nationalist protest, killing one person and injuring many more, has a preliminary court hearing Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP, File)

Fields is accused of driving into the crowd demonstrating against a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va.  (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP, File)

Fields’ attorney Denise Lunsford did not present evidence or make any arguments at the hearing, although she did cross-examine a Charlottesville police detective whom prosecutors called as a witness.

A former teacher, Derek Weimer, has said Fields was fascinated in high school with Nazism, idolized Adolf Hitler, and had been singled out by officials at his Union, Kentucky, school for “deeply held, radical” convictions on race.

Fields was photographed hours before the attack with a shield bearing the emblem of Vanguard America, one of the hate groups that took part in the rally, although the group denied any association with him.

During her cross-examination of Charlottesville Police Det. Steven Young, Lunsford asked if searches of Fields’ computer, phone or social media revealed any evidence that he was part of Vanguard America or any other white nationalist group. Young said, “No.”

The judge also presided over preliminary hearings earlier Thursday for three other defendants charged in cases related to the August rally: Richard Preston, who is accused of firing a gun, and Jacob Goodwin and Alex Ramos, who are accused in an attack on a man in a downtown parking garage.

The judge certified the charges against all three men. Their cases will also proceed now to a grand jury.

Mario Batali cut from ABC's 'The Chew'


Famed chef Mario Batali has been fired from ABC’s “The Chew” following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Upon completing its review into the allegations made against Mario Batali, ABC has terminated its relationship with him and he will no longer appear,” on the show, an ABC spokesperson wrote in a post on the show’s Facebook page.

“While we remain unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with our show, ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment and his past behavior violates our standards of conduct,” the statement read.

Batali, 57, has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women — employees and a fellow chef — who have alleged the chef grabbed and groped them, both in the workplace and elsewhere.

Because of the allegations, Batali had previously been asked to temporarily leave “The Chew.” A revival of Batali’s “Molto Mario” series on the Food Network was also put “on hold.”


After allegations against the disgraced chef surfaced, he apologized in a statement and said that “the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted.”

“I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses,” Batali said.

He continued: “I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

On Tuesday, remaining “The Chew” co-hosts addressed the situation with Batali, and told viewers “we take these matters very seriously,” before noting that their “commitment to viewers remains the same — to deliver the entertaining show that you’ve come to expect.”

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

Feds: New York woman laundered bitcoin to aide Islamic State


A Long Island woman is accused of laundering bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and wiring the money overseas to help the Islamic State group.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Zoobia Shahnaz was charged with bank fraud and money laundering in an indictment unsealed in Central Islip on Thursday.

Prosecutors say the former lab technician fraudulently obtained more than $85,000 through a bank loan and credit cards to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies online. They say the Brentwood woman then wired more than $150,000 to individuals and shell entities in Pakistan, China and Turkey.

During this time, prosecutors say Shahnaz accessed numerous Islamic State propaganda websites.

Prosecutors say she was questioned at John F. Kennedy International Airport in July while attempting to travel to Syria.

Her lawyer says she was sending money to help Syrian refugees.

Why 2017 Was a Year to Remember for International Business Machines Corp.


At the end of 2016, I expected IBM (NYSE: IBM) to have another quietly transitional year in 2017. Big Blue had some big growth drivers up its sleeves, but these game-changers often take a while to mature.

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“As a shareholder myself, I could live with another couple of years at lower prices so that the reinvested dividends can buy more stock at lower prices, but I’ll also cheer when the big breakthrough finally arrives,” I said.

That’s exactly what we got. As 2017 winds down, IBM shares have lost 7% of their value this year — missing out on the 19% gain for the S&P 500 market index. But the stock may have bounced off a long-term bottom here, and 2018 is starting to look downright exciting for IBM investors.

Here’s why.

What’s the story?

Over the last five years, IBM has doubled down on its so-called strategic imperatives while shedding operations with lower long-haul growth prospects. This relentless focus on artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data analytics, and social networks has often left IBM investors frustrated by shrinking annual revenues and lower bottom-line profits.

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Those perpetual declines stabilized in 2017, giving IBM a solid platform from which it can launch back into positive growth trends:

October’s third-quarter report saw strategic imperatives collecting 46% of IBM’s total sales, heading further upward at an annual growth pace of 11%. Updated full-year guidance pointed to 3% top-line growth in the fourth quarter, which would be the first venture into positive year-over-year revenue growth since the first quarter of 2012.

A refreshed lineup of mainframe systems helped IBM kick-start its growth engines this year, but that’s far from all.

Looking ahead, the company is diving even deeper into its strategic imperatives. Buzzwords like the Internet of Things and blockchain technologies are more than empty platitudes for this company, which is establishing itself as an early leader in these exploding opportunities.

What’s next?

Management already describes IBM as a “cognitive solutions and cloud platform company.” That battle cry will be IBM’s effective mission statement for the next several years, maybe even decades. This company has come a long way from the typewriters and mechanical calculators on which it was built, making several dramatic strategy changes along the way. Here’s the next one, and it looks like 2017 set the stage for some raging growth in 2018 and beyond.

The stock is trading at historically low valuations while dividend yields have settled near 20-year highs.

I’d call that a fantastic buy-in window, and I’m not alone. Rock-star Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty set her price target for IBM at $192, leaving room for a 25% single-year gain. Even bearish analysts like Barclays’ Mark Moskowitz have been grudgingly raising their price targets as IBM’s big bet on strategic imperatives finally looks ready to bear profitable fruit.

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Anders Bylund owns shares of IBM. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

3 Stocks That Cut You a Check Each Month


A handful of companies choose to send their shareholders a check each month instead of every quarter. That’s an appealing proposition, especially for investors who rely on portfolio income to afford their lifestyle.

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STAG Industrial (NYSE: STAG), Vermilion Energy (NYSE: VET), and LTC Properties (NYSE: LTC) are three such businesses. Let’s look at the bull case for owning each to see if any of them could be worth buying today.

STAG Industrial

Consumers have been shifting their shopping habits in favor of e-commerce sales for more than two decades. This reality is finally catching up with retailers, which are now scrambling to rightsize their footprint. However, for every loser, there’s often a winner, and one hidden beneficiary of this trend is the warehouse industry. After all, e-commerce goods need to be stored somewhere so they can be shipped quickly when purchased.

This is a trend that STAG industrial has been capitalizing on for years. STAG is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that specializes in acquiring warehouse properties that house a single tenant. The company’s business model is to raise capital from investors, buy warehouses on the cheap, and then lease them out to tenants under favorable terms. STAG then passes its rent checks back to investors in the form of a growing monthly dividend. That lifts the share price, and the cycle repeats anew.

This playbook has worked like a charm thus far: STAG’s investors have enjoyed a total return of nearly 250% since its 2011 IPO, crushing the market in general.

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Looking ahead, the warehouse market remains huge, so STAG looks well positioned to keep chugging along for years to come. With its shares currently yielding 5% and the wind at its back, STAG is a monthly dividend payer that certainly deserves consideration.

Vermilion Energy

Many oil and gas producers set up shop in unstable parts of the world. That can seem like a savvy decision when everything is going well, but when there’s a political upheaval or even an armed conflict, it can be a recipe for disaster.

Vermilion Energy is an oil and gas producer that takes a far more conservative approach to capital deployment. The company only invests in politically stable parts of the world — think France, Canada, and Germany — which helps to keep the oil flowing even when there’s civil unrest elsewhere. This cautious method of asset acquisition hasn’t harmed shareholders at all. In fact, Vermilion’s long-term returns have been nothing short of amazing.

The bull case for owning Vermilion’s stock from here centers around its recently completed Corrib gas field in Ireland. This project was a huge drag on the company’s financial statements for years during construction, but it recently turned into a productive project and a financial asset. When that’s combined with Vermilion’s other assets, the company looks positioned to deliver steady production growth over the long term. That should allow its dividend payout to steadily tick higher over time.

On the flip side, this company’s Achilles’ heel is that its financial results will wax and wane along with oil and gas prices. However, Vermilion’s conservative business practices allowed it to maintain its payout through the recent downturn. With a current yield of 6% and a time-tested business model, this is another monthly payer that deserves some attention.

LTC Properties

Like STAG, LTC Properties is a REIT that’s riding a megatrend to success. LTC specializes in acquiring assisted-living and skilled-nursing facilities. Given the rapid graying of the U.S. population — the number of 85-year-olds and over is expected to double over the next two decades — this is a market that is built for some serious growth.

Investors should note that LTC doesn’t actually run the senior-living facilities themselves. That work is outsourced to a handful of top-notch operators. Instead, think of LTC as a landlord that collects monthly rent checks. This removes a lot of operational risks and allows the REIT to remain focused on what it does best: acquiring new properties.

Since the U.S. healthcare real estate market is highly fragmented and worth more than $1 trillion, investors shouldn’t have to worry about LTC saturating its market opportunity anytime soon. That means the company will likely keep its 20-year streak of dividend payments alive for many more years to come. With shares currently offering up a 5% yield, there’s plenty of reason to expect big things from this company over the long haul.

The Foolish bottom line

There’s an argument to be made that all three of these monthly dividend stocks deserve some attention from investors, but I must admit that STAG Industrials and LTC Properties are my two favorites on this list. Both companies have plenty of room left for growth, high dividend yields, monthly payments, and major tailwinds at their backs. If you’re an income investor, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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The author(s) may have a position in any stocks mentioned.

Brian Feroldi has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Stag Industrial. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Dueling statistics used at hearing on racial bias in stings


Dueling experts deployed statistics to make their case Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago in a first-of-its-kind hearing to determine if phony drug stash-house stings run by federal agents dating back to the 1990s are racially biased.

More than 40 people convicted in such stings could go free if a special nine-judge panel eventually rules that discrimination underpins the stings. The operations run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives typically involve agents posing as cartel couriers who talk suspects into agreeing to rob drugs that don’t exist from stash houses that are also fictitious.

While the same question has come up in courts elsewhere, it is the federal trial judges in Chicago who have taken the lead in seeking an answer. And how they decide the sensitive and complex issue could determine if agencies curtail or even abandon their use nationwide.

The answer to whether the stings do or don’t discriminate based on race largely hinges on competing interpretations of statistics.

Jeffrey Fagan, a defense expert who took the stand first, testified that data clearly shows blacks, and in some cases Hispanics, are disproportionately singled out for the stings. Government witness Max Schanzenbach argued later that Fagan’s methodology was flawed.

One panelist, Judge Robert Gettleman, sounded doubtful that competing stats can decide the question. Highlighting the unreliability of statistics, he referred to Mark Twain’s quip about three kinds of lies: “Lies, damned, lies and statistics.”

The judges on the panel each presides over 12 separate stash-house cases with 43 defendants, a dozen of whom sat Thursday in a jury box. Some yawned or sank in their seats as testimony strayed into math, as technical explanations about probabilities.

The judges chose to hear evidence simultaneously after lawyers for all 43 defendants moved for the stash-house charges to be tossed on grounds of racial bias. How they decide — possibly in a single ruling — is expected to influence how courts nationwide deal with similar claims.

Among the panelists who were scheduled to hear a second day of testimony Friday is Ruben Castillo. His ruling in 2013 that there’s a “strong showing of potential bias” in the stings generated years of legal motions and dueling expert reports — culminating in this week’s hearings. Castillo is federal court’s first Hispanic chief judge.

Courts have ruled previously that proving racial bias doesn’t necessarily require proof of explicit racist behavior, such as an official caught using racial slurs. It can sometimes be enough to point to statistical evidence that a racial group is disproportionately hurt by a policy.

Fagan noted that out of 94 stash-house defendants in the Chicago area between 2006 and 2013, 74 were black, 12 were Hispanic and just eight were white. If the ATF criteria for picking targets were truly colorblind, he said, far more whites would have been snared.

But government lawyers have argued it’s only natural that trafficking-related stings are focused where trafficking activity is highest — in low-income areas on Chicago’s South and West Sides.

And their expert testifying Thursday said Fagan was wrong to assume in his analysis that hundreds of thousands of people in eight counties in and around Chicago would be willing to entertain the idea of arming themselves and storming a stash-house. He said that assumption skewed Fagan’s findings that the 43 defendants, many of whom with convictions of violent crimes, were unfairly singled out.

The stings have been criticized on other grounds, including for agents’ power to arbitrarily increase the severity of charges simply by increasing the amount of non-existent drugs they tell targets are in the non-existent stash houses. Suspects can also be charged with trying to distribute the phantom drugs, charges that carry stiff mandatory prison terms.

“The time has come to remind the Executive Branch that the Constitution charges it with law enforcement — not crime creation,” a U.S. judge in central California, Otis Wright, wrote in a scathing 2014 ruling.


Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm


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Larry Nassar’s former boss, Michigan State Dean William Strampel, steps down


Michigan State University has now seen its first administrator resign since its gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar — also a central figure at USA Gymnastics — was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography charges.

William Strampel stepped down as dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine Thursday due to health reasons, MSU spokesman Jason Cody told Fox News.

Strampel, who has been dean of the college since 2002, is currently on medical leave but will remain as a faculty member.


A growing chorus of accusers – including Olympmic gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas – along with lawyers and Michigan’s attorney general have called for MSU to release its internal review of Nassar amid accusations the university covered up Nassar’s crimes, which the MSU “unequivocally denies.”

Nassar is also awaiting sentencing in January in state court in Michigan after pleading guilty to molesting girls.

Dr. Larry Nassar, 54, appears in court for a plea hearing in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. Nasser, a sports doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

In this Nov. 22, 2017 file photo, Dr. Larry Nassar, 54, appears in court for a plea hearing in Lansing, Mich. Nasser, a sports doctor accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University pleaded, guilty to multiple charges of sexual assault and will face at least 25 years in prison.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Lawyers representing Nassar’s accusers say MSU officials, including Strampel, could have prevented the scandal had they followed Title IX and mandatory reporting laws.

Strampel served as Nassar’s boss for the majority of the doctor’s tenure at MSU and led the college during the 2014 Title IX investigation that cleared Nassar of any wrongdoing and deemed his work “medically appropriate.”

According to emails obtained by the Lansing State Journal, Strampel regularly checked in on the investigation, said he supported Nassar and told the doctor he could return to clinical work before the investigation concluded.


The emails also showed there were two versions of the final investigative report. One was sent to Nassar and the other was sent to the woman with information withheld within the conclusion section. She was among the 140 women and girls who filed lawsuits against Nassar, MSU and USA Gymnastics.

Rachael Denhollander, center, listens to her attorney John Manly speak during a press conference after Michigan sports doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Denhollander is one of many former patients of Nassar who have accused him of molestation. (Mike Clark/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Rachael Denhollander, center, listens to her attorney John Manly speak during a press conference after Michigan sports doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Denhollander is one of many former patients of Nassar who have accused him of molestation.  (Mike Clark/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Rachael Denhollander, the first Nassar accuser to speak publicly and file a police report against him in September 2016, told Fox News MSU’s actions are “inexcusable” and “damaging on every level.”

She said it’s nothing more than an “effort to remove a controversial figure so our concerns can be swept under the rug.”

From the left; Rachael Denhollander, Sterling Riethman, Kaylee Lorincz, Jeanette Antolin and Tiffany Thomas appear at a press conference after Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The women are some of the many former patients of Nassar who have accused him of molestation. Nassar was convicted of possessing child pornography and assaulting gymnasts. (Mike Clark/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

From the left; Rachael Denhollander, Sterling Riethman, Kaylee Lorincz, Jeanette Antolin and Tiffany Thomas appear at a press conference after Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The women are some of the many former patients of Nassar who have accused him of molestation. Nassar was convicted of possessing child pornography and assaulting gymnasts.  (Mike Clark/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

“There has still been a complete refusal to recognize that Dean Strampel’s response to, and attitude towards, sexual assault victims, myself included, was abhorrent,” Denhollander said. “His words and actions created a culture where victims were disbelieved, silenced and mocked, and one of the most prolific pedophiles in U.S. history was able to victimize little girls with impunity.”

She continued: “Until MSU addresses the words, attitudes and actions of Dean Strampel, and acknowledges the incredible damage it did, MSU will continue to be an unsafe place for victims. The longer they wait to deal with the real issues, the stronger the message they are sending becomes: MSU does not care about the victims, it does not recognize the horrific problems within the institution, and it will provide no real impetus to handle things better next time.”

MSU did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Denhollander’s claims.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

Massive brawl breaks out at McDonald's in Michigan


A violent altercation allegedly occurred at a Michigan McDonald’s this week, but the cause is still unknown.


A video posted on LiveLeak this week claims that a massive brawl occured at a McDonald’s restaurant in Michigan. 

In the video a group of at least six women is seen trading blows at the fast food chain as customers try to stay out of the way. The women involved in the fight take up most of the space of the store – with one group pulling a woman toward the soda machine and another group pulling a different woman closer to the cash register.

At one point, the footage of the fight shows a woman in a white tank top pushing a woman in a red tank top to the ground with the help of another unidentified woman.


Judging by the mobile phone footage, it appears that no customers were injured during the course of the fight. Several bystanders can be heard yelling throughout the altercation.

The reason behind the mayhem is not known, nor have there been any reported arrests.

2 will go to trial over 36 deaths in Oakland warehouse fire


Two California men will go to trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in the deaths of 36 partygoers in the worst building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade, a judge ruled Thursday.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner said prosecutors presented enough evidence to move forward with their criminal case against Derick Almena and Max Harris. He said witnesses during the hearing described the building as a death trap.

“Whose responsibility was that? I think there is very strong evidence to support the conclusion that it was the responsibility of these two defendants,” he said.

Almena rented the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship that burned on Dec. 2, 2016, during an electronic music concert. Harris also lived in the building, and a witness testified that Harris was in charge of the unpermitted concert.

The warehouse had been illegally converted into living space for artists, was cluttered and had no fire sprinklers. Prosecutors say the men knowingly created a firetrap and deceived the building’s owner, police and fire officials about people living there. The two have pleaded not guilty and say they are being scapegoated.

Oakland was criticized following the blaze for a series of failures that allowed the warehouse to function illegally despite numerous complaints to city officials.

The judge ruled after several days of testimony that provided a glimpse at prosecutors’ case against Almena and Harris.

Aaron Marin, a musician who lived at the warehouse, called it a “museum” filled with musical instruments, trailers and other items. But he testified that he didn’t consider it a fire hazard while he was there.

Marin was able to escape the flames the night of the fire by jumping out an upstairs window. He said the window was blocked by a giant projection screen, so it wasn’t visible to most people.

A second witness, Jose Avalos, testified that he was among 15 to 25 people who lived at the warehouse at any given time and that he paid his rent of $565 a month to Harris.

But he disputed that Harris was second-in-command at the warehouse and said everyone pitched in to maintain the community.

Avalos also said police were called to the building several times to help with evictions before the fire and even knew the leaseholder by name.