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    It was supposed to be a way for Glastonbury businesses to promote themselves and raise money for the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce, but a calendar photo has cost 4 realtors their affiliation with a popular realty company.

    The calendar is a fundraiser for the chamber and features men from various local businesses baring almost everything.

    The calendar sparked a controversy last week after some raised objections to the cover photo, which included four realtors from Coldwell Banker posed with a young boy who was nearly naked and held a sign that read "SOLD" across his waist.

    In a statement, Coldwell Banker said it has ceased its affiliation with the four men in the photo.

    "The company does not condone the action that the independent contractors took in this circumstance. It did not support the agents in their participation and did not authorize the usage of its logo in this manner," Aglaia Pikounis, public relations manager for Coldwell Banker, said in the statement.

    Pikounis stressed the men were not Coldwell Banker employees, but independent contractors with an affiliation to the company.

    NBC Connecticut reached one of the men in the photo, who said he did not want to comment at this time.

    The president of the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce said last week that he felt the chamber did nothing wrong by publishing the photo, but would change the picture for later printings of the calendar.

    Calls to the chamber regarding the Coldwell Banker agents have not been returned.


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    Hartford police have arrested a man they say was targeting elderly victims, stealing from their cars as they visited the graves of loved ones at the Cedar Hill Cemetery on Fairfield Avenue.

    There have been 10 thefts at the cemetery reported in the past six weeks, according to police.

    After weeks of investigating, officers developed leads on a suspect a vehicle that may have been involved with the thefts.

    An officer spotted the suspected car in a parking lot on Maple Avenue on Wednesday and found several stolen items inside. The vehicle was also stolen, police said.

    Officers arrested 40-year-old Alfredo Claudio. He is charged with third-degree larceny, theft of a plate and other charges.

    The stolen items were returned to their rightful owners, police said.



    Photo Credit: Hartford Police

    Police said 40-year-old Alfredo Claudio stole from elderly victims who were visiting graves of loved ones at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford.Police said 40-year-old Alfredo Claudio stole from elderly victims who were visiting graves of loved ones at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford.

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    A witness said a man was using his cell phone to take pictures up a woman's skirt while he was helping her with her car, Glastonbury police said.

    Joseph Ferrell, 42, or Southhampton, Massachusetts, admitted to using his cell phone to take video and pictures up a woman's skirt without her knowing on Winding Brook Drive in Glastonbury. 

    Glastonbury Police Department determined that Ferrell, who works in the building, may have been engaged in this type of activity over a period of months at 655 Winding Brook Drive as well as around the center of Glastonbury.

    Ferrell has been charged with voyeurism for "up-skirting" this victim in particular on Dec. 14.

    Anyone with information is urged to call the police at (860) 633-8301



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    New Haven Police are hoping photos help them find the driver who left a father of five in the hospital earlier this month. 

    On December 1st, police found Dennis White, 37 of New Haven, bloodied in the middle of the road with no evidence that he had been hit by a car. White was transported to Yale-New Haven hospital and suffered serious injuries including a fractured skull.

    White remains hospitalized in stable condition.

    Police said he was pinned underneath a light colored Audi A4 and dragged for at least a block before he was found.

    Police are now looking for the driver who they say dragged White from Orchard Street to Davenport Avenue and then on to Elliot Street. The car was last seen on Sylvan Avenue.

    In addition to the driver, police are also looking for any witnesses. No one called 911 the night it happened, according to police.

    Police are seeking an Audi A4 that is white or silver in color with a fin-style rear roof mounted antenna, tinted windows, 5-spoke wheels and a sunroof.

    Anyone with information is asked to call New Haven Police at 203-946-6304.



    Photo Credit: New Haven Police

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    Congress is scheduled to vote on Friday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would keep the government afloat until next October but the bill is filled with things that are not directly related to financing the government, NBC News reported. 

    Some of the add-ons onto the bill include things like a budget boost for the Food and Drug Administration to aid in its food safety efforts. 

    The bill is full of digs at the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. It delays the so-called Cadillac tax on the most generous health insurance plans, costing the government an estimated $87 billion in revenue from 2018, when it was supposed to kick in, through 2025.


    Congress is scheduled to vote on a Budget Bill on Friday that would keep the government afloat until October.Congress is scheduled to vote on a Budget Bill on Friday that would keep the government afloat until October.

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    President Obama trekked the Alaskan wilderness on "Running Wild With Bear Grylls," which aired on NBC Thursday night.

    The episode, which was filmed in September, is part of Obama's ongoing push to highlight the effects of climate change — while showing the more adventurous side of the president. 

    Obama and Grylls ate wild salmon that was picked at by a bear, shared tea made out of catkins and discussed fatherhood, fears and Gryll's habit of drinking urine.

    "He said it was one of the best days of his presidency," Grylls told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters. "There were times along the route I had to pinch myself and think, actually, this is the president of America'."



    Photo Credit: NBC via Getty

    'President Obama' Episode 209'President Obama' Episode 209

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    A family was having breakfast when an SUV crashed into their house on Thursday.

    The driver lost control of his SUV in Lockport, Illinois, and clipped one house, drove across the lawn, knocked over a wrought-iron fence and ended crossing the back patio of another home and crashing into it, according to police. Thankfully, nobody inside of the house was injured.

    The driver, a 29-year-old male, was traveling west in his black Toyota on 151st around 8 a.m. when he went off road and struck two houses that suffered extensive damage in the incident.

    “I was standing probably right about here and all of a sudden it was like a bomb went off,” said mother Ashley Kwasnecki.

    Kwasnecki described how the incident transpired for those who were in the home.

    “It looked like the wall was coming toward us and I had no idea what was going on and I just stood there in shock a few seconds,” Kwasnecki said.

    The driver was transported to Silver Cross Hospital. There was no word on his condition.

    Police said they do not believe drug or alcohol were a factor in the incident.

    The family says they feel lucky that despite a plywood wall and some debris, they're safe to be in their own home for Christmas.
     


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    A pregnant woman was shot in the abdomen after three strangers tried to enter her home in a southern Chicago suburb Wednesday, police said.

    The woman was in a home around 6 p.m. in the 22400 block of Strassburg in Sauk Village when three men knocked on the door to her house. A man inside the home answered the door and the suspects asked for someone the homeowner didn’t know, according to Chief Robert Kowalski.

    When the homeowner became suspicious and started closing the door, one of the suspects opened fire, Kowalski said. The bullet went through a wall in the home and hit the pregnant woman in the abdomen close to her side.

    The woman, who police say was in her 30s, was taken to an area hospital but was later transferred to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County because of her pregnancy. Her condition was not immediately known.

    Police said the homeowners did not know the suspects and it was not clear what the motive was in the shooting.

    Residents say the news has stunned the normally quiet community.

    “The fact that the lady was pregnant, I don’t know why people would want to do that,” said Miranda Vittorelli.

    Kowalski said nearby towns were alert about the shooting and authorities are advising residents not to answer their door if they don’t know the person knocking.

    “We’re going to solve this one way or another,” he said.


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    The grandest of gestures sometimes start with the simplest of things. In Paul Crowell’s case, he simply loves dogs.

    “Since I was a little kid I was always all about the dogs,” the 45-year-old Crowell said.

    It is why, after a full days work caring for other people’s pets at San Francisco’s Fog City Dogs, a canine day care and kennel, Crowell packs a backpack with food and heads out looking for more dogs.

    The dogs of the homeless he passes by every day on his way to a from work.

    Crowell says there was no grand plan at first. He saw the dogs, and he saw good quality, leftover food at his work that was just being thrown out.

    “Over here food is being thrown away. Dogs are hungry over here. Duh,” Crowell said.

    Not long ago, though, the policy at Fog City changed and the food was no longer available to Crowell. He could have ended his feeding program right then. He chose to keep going, though.

    “Some people call it resilience. I just say I’m stubborn,” Crowell said.

    Crowell has dubbed his project Project Open Paw and taken to social media to raise money and donations so he can keep feeding the dogs he sees on the street.

    Crowell says he is out on the streets almost every day with food. Some dogs are regulars, others he may feed just once. He says he passes on judgement on their owners and how they got into the situation, but knows their dogs often mean a lot ot them and so he wants to keep them healthy.

    It all certainly keeps, Crowell happy. 


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  • 12/17/15--22:26: Autopsies in Murder-Suicide

  • Two newly released autopsies reveal why an elderly husband may have murdered his aging wife before killing himself.

    William and Rose Welch, 77 and 72 respectively, were both found dead in separate recliners in their La Mesa home in the 6900 block of Wyoming Avenue.

    The victim of homicide, Rose’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to her head, though a contributing factor was asphyxia due to a plastic bag wrapped around her head, the autopsy states.

    Blood spatter was spotted on the ground and on the Mickey Mouse phone near the recliner, the investigator noted in the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s report. William, whose death was a suicide, died from morphine intoxication.

    The couple’s daughter, Wendy Owen, reported their deaths on Oct. 14, but according to the autopsy, she knew her mother had died before that.

    When La Mesa police and the medical examiner first arrived, Owen and her boyfriend, George Runer, obtained a lawyer and did not want to talk about the Welchs’ deaths.

    An email sent from a police detective to the medical examiner five days later explained why. According to the report, Owen and Runer had visited the Welchs’ home on Oct. 12, and during that visit, William told them he had “tapped” his wife with a dumbbell and put a bag over her head to “finish her off.”

    He said he was not an expert at this and did not want his wife to wake up again, according to police. William lived with his wife’s body for days after her death, investigators said. It’s unclear how long Owen waited to go check on her parents.

    Owen told police that Rose’s arthritis had gotten worse in recent years and she had suggested going to Oregon to “end it,” referring to the state’s law allowing terminally ill patients to legally end their lives.
     


    The scene after William and Rose Welch were found dead on Oct. 14, 2015The scene after William and Rose Welch were found dead on Oct. 14, 2015

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    A deadly stowaway was found on a container ship at Port Elizabeth this week, but captured before it could do any harm. 

    The poisonous Indian cobra snake was discovered at the APM Terminal Monday as crews were unloading a ship that had traveled through South Asian waters en route to the Garden State.

    Worried crew members on board the Maersk Sana called federal officials and wildlife authorities, and the Bronx Zoo's Kevin Torregosa, a herpetologist, a zoologist that studies reptiles and amphibians, responded with his partner.

    The Indian cobra is among the four snake species that inflict the most snakebites on humans. Its venom acts on the synaptic gaps of the nerves, paralyzing muscles, and in severe cases leads to cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. The Indian cobra is the snake often seen with charmers.

    Torregosa said he and his partner boarded the ship and made sure their flash lights illuminated any dark corners so they weren't reaching around blindly. They found the 18-inch, 1-year-old snake not far from where longshoremen unloading the cargo had first seen it.

    He said the snake was a bit dehydrated and week, but he had doses of anti-venom with him just in case.

    The female snake was taken to the Bronx Zoo. She has been named Sana, in honor of the ship on which she was found. No one on the ship could say how the snake got on board, so the reptile will be quarantined for 30 days. It's not clear if the snake will stay at the Bronx Zoo, but if it does, it will be the only one of its species at the facility.

    The Bronx Zoo is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society.



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

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    President Barack Obama is preparing to take questions from reporters at the White House before starting his annual Hawaii vacation.

    The White House says Obama will hold his traditional year-end news conference on Friday afternoon. Then the president will depart for San Bernardino, California, where he plans to meet with families of the 14 victims of the recent mass shooting. Obama doesn't plan any public appearances while in California.

    The California stop will be Obama's last before he travels to Hawaii to spend Christmas and New Year's with his family. Obama has vacationed in Hawaii every year since taking office.

    Obama is scheduled to return to the White House on Jan. 4 to start his last year in office.



    Photo Credit: AP

    President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at the Pentagon, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at the Pentagon, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015

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    In her first media interview since her daughter Sierra Clayborn was killed in the San Bernardino terror attack, Wendy Womack-Smith admits to struggling with the loss of her firstborn.

    Womack-Smith spoke on the eve of a visit by President Barack Obama who is scheduled to arrive in San Bernardino on Friday, where he will meet privately with the families of victims of the Dec. 2 terrorist shooting at the Inland Regional Center.

    "Emotionally overwhelmed," she said. "Sierra was more than my daughter. It's like I gave birth to my best friend."

    Clayborn, 27, graduated from the University of California Riverside and was a county food inspector based in Big Bear.

    Her family had no idea Clayborn was in San Bernardino when mayhem erupted at a staff holiday party.

    "My phone kept ringing," Womack-Smith said. "Everybody kept asking Wendy have you talked to Sierra? I said no, 'it's only 4:30. She usually comes down the mountain between 4:30 and 5.'"

    Wendy had a premonition but still hoped to hear from Sierra.

    "Maybe she just lost her phone? And maybe she can't call. You know? I was holding on to that. And hoping that she would be there."

    Confirmation came at the family emergency center with witness accounts from a surviving colleague.

    "One minute Sierra was right next to me. And then we all hit the floor. And then I didn't see her anymore. So I was like, 'Oh, OK.'"

    Clayborn's family says they're focused on her goodness, knowing the world has lost someone special.

    "She was very highly intelligent," her brother Winston Eatmon said. "She always tried to push me to do well in school, possibly better than her. I can truly say with all my heart, there was nothing undone. Nothing unsaid. No emotion. Never kept anything from her. She was amazing, amazing."



    Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Clayborn family

    Sierra Clayborn, 27Sierra Clayborn, 27

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    Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges Thursday against the longtime friend and former neighbor of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

    The first criminal charges stemming from the mass shooting were brought against Enrique Marquez, friend and former neighbor of attacker Syed Rizwan Farook, according to the Department of Justice.

    Marquez appeared in court Thursday afternoon and, in a brief six-minute appearance told the judge he understood the charges against him.

    Marquez has been charged with three criminal counts, including conspiring with Farook in 2011 and 2012 to commit terrorism, illegally purchasing the two assault rifles used in the Dec. 2 attack and violating immigration law by entering into a sham marriage with one of Farook's family members, according to the Department of Justice.

    There is no evidence Marquez participated in the Dec. 2 attack.

    Investigators have said Marquez bought the two assault rifles three years ago that wound up being used in the Dec. 2 shooting at a health center in San Bernardino. Marquez told the FBI that he bought the weapons as a favor so Farook, who worked with many of the victims, would not have to go through a background check or be on record as the buyer, officials told NBC News.

    According to prosecutors, Farook and Marquez met in 2005 when Marquez moved to Riverside. Farook introduced Marquez to Islam and Marquez converted in 2007. The pair spent time reviewing radical Islamic materials, including "Inspire," the publication of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

    Marquez told investigators that the pair discussed making plans in late 2011 to carry out acts of terror, including a plot to attack the library or cafeteria at Riverside Community College, where they had both been students.

    The pair also discussed a possible attack on the 91 Freeway at rush hour.

    The friends bought firearms, ammunition, explosives materials and other items needed to carry out the attack, but in 2012 Marquez began to distance himself from Farook and ceased plotting.

    There was no response Thursday morning from family members at the home where Marquez lives with his parents. Law enforcement agents raided the home a few days after the mass shooting.

    The American-born Farook, 28, and wife Tashfeen Malik, 29, shot and killed 14 people attending a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. They were killed hours later in a shootout with law enforcement agents.

    Federal authorities have said the pair had self-radicalized in the years before the mass shooting.

    Investigators also were exploring whether Farook and Marquez discussed plans to launch some type of attack several years ago. They became apprehensive because of unrelated arrests in the area, NBC News reported.

    Marquez had deep ties with Farook that extended to a family connection. The two grew up next door to each other in Riverside and then became related through marriage, which investigators now say was a sham marriage for immigration purposes.

    On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey said there is no evidence that the couple posted publicly on social media about their commitment to jihad before Malik arrived in the United States in 2014 on a K-1, or fiancee visa. The clarification was intended to address confusion over whether the husband and wife posted extremist messages publicly that could have been detected when Malik applied for a visa before coming to the United States.

    All of Malik's statement in support of jihad were part of private messages or emails, Comey added. Those private social media posts were not discovered by authorities until after the mass shooting.

    There also is no indication that the couple had direct contact with terror organizations, Comey said.

    On Friday, President Barack Obama plans to meet with the victims' families. The meeting in Southern California was added to Obama's long-scheduled trip to Hawaii for Christmas vacation.

    Marquez will be back in court Monday when a judge may consider bail.

    Tony Shin and Kelly Goff contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: Mona Edwards

    Courtroom sketch shows Enrique Martinez, who has been charged with plotting a terror attack in 2011-12 with San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook. Martinez is also accused of illegally purchasing two AR-15s that Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, used to kill 14 people. Martinez appeared in court Dec. 17, 2015.Courtroom sketch shows Enrique Martinez, who has been charged with plotting a terror attack in 2011-12 with San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook. Martinez is also accused of illegally purchasing two AR-15s that Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, used to kill 14 people. Martinez appeared in court Dec. 17, 2015.

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    Mother Teresa will be made a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Friday.

    She will likely be canonized in September to coincide with the 19th anniversary of her death, according to an Italian Catholic Newspaper report.

    The Vatican said in a statement that the pope approved a second miracle — which is required for sainthood — performed by the nun, NBC News reported. It concerned the cure of a Brazilian man with a brain illness, according to the newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference. 

    Her Missionaries of Charity helped the poor on the streets of Kolkata, India, which won her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

    Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was beatified in 2003 for healing an Indian woman’s tumor through prayer.



    Photo Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

    Mother Teresa accompanied by children at her mission in Calcutta, India.Mother Teresa accompanied by children at her mission in Calcutta, India.

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    On Thursday night, theaters were packed for the much anticipated opening of the newest Star Wars movie.

    Based on the crowds which left the first showing of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” the film met expectations.

    “Absolutely incredible, exactly what I expected and more,” says Cathleen Cusachs of Meriden.
    “It was really good. Yeah, but nothing can beat the classics though,” says Marchello Delucia of East Haven.

    Many fans we talked to applauded the work of J.J. Abrams and his first time directing a Star Wars movie.

    “They did a phenomenal job. Everything is great. Everything is literally fantastic,” says Josh LeBella of Portland. “Definitely better than the prequels.”

    “This is my first time I’ve been to an opening night of Star Wars. But holy, like blew my expectations,” says Eric Thompson of Wallingford. “It captured what the originals were meant to capture in terms of like the plot was amazing.”

    There were six screenings as the movie opened at 7:00pm at Wallingford’s Holiday Cinemas Stadium 14.

    “Honestly it’s like my childhood. I know it means a lot to so many people and to be a part of it is like history,” says Joe Grywinski of Wallingford.

    The theater recently underwent a renovation.

    The general manager hopes this film kicks off a strong holiday season.

    “There’s been a lot of pre-sale. So, we know there’s a lot of people who couldn’t make it tonight but I’m sure over the weekend they’re going to get out and see it,” says Kevin LaFlamme, general manager of Holiday Cinemas Stadium 14.

    Overall, critics are also giving the movie high marks. On the online site, Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 95 percent rating.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    The family of the two young girls who died in a Connecticut car crash over the weekend told NBC Connecticut that the police admit they were wrong on who caused the crash.

    Police originally faulted the girls' mother, Kayla Torres, who was driving and survived the accident in Bristol just after midnight on Sunday, Dec. 13.

    Bristol Police told NBC Connecticut at the time of the accident that Kayla's Nissan Sentra crossed the yellow line, but a passenger in the car said their account was not true.

    "For some reason the Nissan Sentra that was traveling northbound crossed over the double yellow line and struck an oncoming car at this time it’s still under investigation as to why it actually happened," Lt. Richard Guerrera said.

    Miguel Melendez, the front seat passenger and cousin of the driver of that Sentra, told NBC Connecticut it was another car that crossed over the yellow line.

    "A car was coming at us and she tried to avoid it and they hit us. She tried. They tried to correct themselves and they came right at us, that’s the only reason she went over the line."

    Miguel was in the car with 7-year-old Veronica and 4-year-old Yvette Martinez who died in the accident.

    Torres was taken to the hospital after the crash and is now recovering at home.

    According to family members police have recently spoken to them to let them know it was not Kayla who crossed the line, but a 2002 Ford Windstar that was involved in the crash.

    The 26-year-old driver of the Windstar has not been charged in the crash and police continue to investigate exactly what happened.

    Police did not agree to an on camera interview with NBC Connecticut Thursday and will not confirm whether the information they previously gave to us this week was incorrect, but they say they have been able to interview more people since we last spoke with them. The crash is still under investigation.

    NBC Connecticut has also learned Torres has hired an attorney.

    "At this time we are asking everyone to respect the privacy of Ms.Torres and her family as she continues to deal with this tragic loss. Once the investigation is concluded, we will be happy to speak further on the matter," said Attorney Joseph McDonald. "We will say that when the investigation is concluded that it will show Ms. Torres was in no way responsible for this accident."

    A vigil in memory of Veronica and Yvette is scheduled tomorrow at Casie Field in Bristol at 6 PM.

    Their funeral service will be held Monday 9:30 AM at Erickson and Hansen funeral home in New Britain.



    Photo Credit: Facebook

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    Detectives are searching for other possible victims of a 15-year-old YouTube star who allegedly exploited a 12-year-old girl, offering to introduce her to celebrities and include her in a made-up MTV special in return for sex, Los Angeles police said.

    The investigation began Nov. 13, when Compton, California, resident Steven Fernandez, who goes by "Baby Scumbag," used his celebrity status to get the victim into a car being driven by his 22-year-old manager, Jose Barajas, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

    Fernandez's skateboarding videos have garnered millions of views on YouTube. He also markets a popular clothing brand and was the subject of a "Frontline" documentary when he was 13.

    According to police, Fernandez allegedly promised the 12-year-old victim he would introduce her to A-list celebrities and give her an appearance in his non-existent MTV special if she had sex with him and two other people, including his manager and 27-year-old professional skater Keelan Lamar Dadd.

    Fernandez and Barajas were arrested four days later after detectives posed as the victim and arranged through text message to meet the suspects at an abandoned home for sex, police said. Dadd surrendered to police on Dec. 3.

    All three were booked on charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14.

    Fernandez was released to his mother and ordered to wear an ankle tracker pending his court appearance, police said.

    Though he is a minor, police say Fenandez's name was made public because state law allows it when a perpetrator sexually targets minors. Fernandez "was the prime mover in this conspiracy," police said.

    Bail for Barajas was set at $475,000 and Dadd at $200,000. Both men were out on bail. It's not clear if any of the three suspects hired attorneys who could comment on the charges.

    Police are asking any potential other victims to come forward.

    "We want parents to look at the names and pictures of the defendants and ask their daughters if there's been any contact," LAPD Det. Ninette Toosbuy said. "The suspects tended to cruise the West San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and Compton looking for young girls to solicit."

    Fernandez grew up poor in Compton and supported his family with the money he earned from posting videos on YouTube, according to "Frontline."

    A post on a Twitter account that appears to belong to Dadd said, "I ask that you please hold your judgment of me until all of the facts come to light and the truth is uncovered. I am innocent. I could, nor would I ever, do any of the things that are being alleged. To those of you who have reached out offering your support, words cannot express my gratitude. - Keelan"



    Photo Credit: Los Angeles Police Department

    Steven Fernandez, 15, known on YouTube as Steven Fernandez, 15, known on YouTube as "Baby Scumbag," is accused of asking a 12-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him in exchange for an appearance in his non-existent MTV special.

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    Parents in San Jose, California, plan to pull their kindergarteners out of school Friday after the principal canceled a decade-old tradition of writing letters to Santa and delivering them on a field trip to a local coffee shop.

    Parent Vanessa Howe will carry on the tradition by staging a walkout at 10 a.m. Friday, the day the field trip was scheduled to take place. She is urging anyone who wants to join to meet at the corner of Woodford Drive and Hallmark Lane. Parents will bring their children to Big E's coffee shop to visit Santa.

    "We had a person come in last week to my son's class to speak about Hanukkah, and it would be like saying, 'I don't want you coming into the classroom because I don't want my son around that, or learning about that,'" Howe said.

    It comes after the Jewish mother of a child at Sartorette Elementary School sent a four-page letter to the school district asking for the event to be canceled. She brought up "best practices" concerns  and told administrators she is not anti-Christmas, but feels it's inappropriate that only one religion be represented in school.

    The parent, who wants to be identified only as Talia, had the support of the superintendent and the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C., which said the field trip to see Santa during public school hours was inappropriate and ill advised.

    In a letter to the school board, Talia said the "Dear Santa" letters and field trip are not "inclusive of all students."

    Talia went to see Supt. Carrie Andrews, and worked out a compromise: To attend the field trip and drink hot chocolate without Santa. Parents could take their kids to see Santa on their own time. She also advocated for a more multi-cultural holiday approach, which her own kindergarten teacher readily adopted. Parents from eight cultures came to class on Thursday to teach about customs across the globe.

    But the principal canceled the trip, which is upsetting other parents. Many said the biggest issue is that they were not consulted by the school board.

    As Andrews pointed out to NBC Bay Area, however, the decision wasn't the school board's to make. Andrews acknowledged a "communication breakdown on a personnel level" was at the root of it.

    "(School officials) preemptively made a decision without getting further input beyond one person it appears, so I'm here to hear what they have to say for themselves," parent Mitch Williams said late Thursday.

    Still, other parents ended up siding with Talia.

    Elizabeth Snowden, who is Christian, never realized the tradition might cause people of other faiths to feel left out.  Snowden said she actually felt jealous of the multicultural party held in Talia's daughter's class, and was thinking of bringing her own 5-year-old to that. "I think kids in her class are getting a much better holiday party," she said. 

     NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    Sartorette School in San Jose.Sartorette School in San Jose.

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    A car hit an apartment building on Great Hill Rd. in East Hartford Friday morning.

    The car slammed through a fence,  flipped over on its roof and was resting against the building when emegency crews arrived. Police said at least one person fled the scene and was located nearby.

    The cause of the accident is under investigation.


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