Articles on this Page
- 05/28/13--12:31: _East Windsor High S...
- 05/28/13--12:30: _Crash Causing Delay...
- 05/28/13--13:41: _Route 2 West in Col...
- 05/28/13--13:29: _2-Year Sentence for...
- 05/28/13--09:07: _Suspects in New Hav...
- 05/28/13--13:02: _Metro-North Track F...
- 05/28/13--16:17: _Trailer Carting Ant...
- 05/28/13--19:03: _New Haven Approves ...
- 05/29/13--06:59: _Disneyland's Toonto...
- 05/29/13--08:27: _Library Book Return...
- 05/29/13--15:35: _Waterbury Principal...
- 05/29/13--05:32: _First Selectman Rec...
- 05/29/13--05:55: _Several Break-Ins R...
- 05/29/13--09:04: _Two in Custody Afte...
- 05/29/13--05:57: _Middletown High Sch...
- 05/29/13--10:33: _Drivers See Adolf H...
- 05/29/13--06:48: _NY Man Exonerated o...
- 05/29/13--15:04: _"Fast & Furious" Fa...
- 05/29/13--07:21: _Woman Thought She H...
- 05/29/13--09:21: _FB's Mea Culpa, Wil...
- 05/28/13--12:31: East Windsor High School Students Mourn Loss of Classmate
- 05/28/13--12:30: Crash Causing Delays on I-95 in Bridgeport
- 05/28/13--13:41: Route 2 West in Colchester Closed
- 05/28/13--13:29: 2-Year Sentence for Man in Cat Killing
- 05/28/13--09:07: Suspects in New Haven Home Invasions Arrested
- 05/28/13--13:02: Metro-North Track Foreman Killed By Train
- 05/28/13--16:17: Trailer Carting Antiques Stolen in Tolland
- 05/28/13--19:03: New Haven Approves 2013-2014 Budget
- 05/29/13--06:59: Disneyland's Toontown Reopens After Loud Explosion
- 05/29/13--08:27: Library Book Returned 32 Years Late
- 05/29/13--15:35: Waterbury Principal on Leave, Accused of Drunken Incident
- 05/29/13--05:32: First Selectman Recovering After Being Crushed By Tree
- 05/29/13--05:55: Several Break-Ins Reported in New Haven Neighborhood
- 05/29/13--09:04: Two in Custody After Country Club Break-In
- 05/29/13--05:57: Middletown High School Evacuation Over
- 05/29/13--10:33: Drivers See Adolf Hitler in Teapot Billboard
- 05/29/13--06:48: NY Man Exonerated of Rape, Murder Gets Degree
- 05/29/13--15:04: "Fast & Furious" Fan Saves Woman From Crash
- 05/29/13--07:21: Woman Thought She Had Time to Turn “Trick” Before Cops Arrived
- 05/29/13--09:21: FB's Mea Culpa, Will Do More to Monitor Hate vs. Women
Students at East Windsor High School returned to an emotional day of class on Tuesday, just days after one of their classmates was killed in a car crash over the weekend.
Brooke Wormstedt, a 15-year-old sophomore at East Windsor High, was one of two people who died on Saturday after the SUV she was in with four other teens slammed into a tree on Abbe Road in South Windsor.
Wormstedt’s friends said they can’t believe they’ll never see the 15-year-old again.
“It’s a gloomy mood around town right now,” Ryan Bagdikian, a senior at East Windsor High, said. “She was an understanding person. She was a loving person and she will be dearly missed.”
“It’s still hard to believe,” said Nick Fernandez, who is also a senior at the school.
East Windsor superintendent Theresa Kane said grief counselors will be at the high school “for as long as students need,” to help them cope with the tragedy.
Bagdikian said Wormstedt was on the school’s track team and was a javelin thrower.
Bagdikian was with a friend when the fatal accident happened on Saturday.
He said he drove by the scene, unaware that his friend had just died in the crash.
“We didn’t know exactly who had passed at the time, but when we found out, it was a sad thing,” he said.
Fernandez, meanwhile, said he’s still in shock and admits he didn’t know what to do when he was told Wormstedt died.
“I almost cried right then and there,” he said.
As friends and family continue to grieve over the sudden passing of Brooke Wormstedt, Bagdikian said the teen’s hometown of East Windsor will deal with the tragedy the only way they know how.
“I think we’re going to be more tight-knit. It’s a small town and I think we’ll come together in the end.”
The other victim killed in the crash was Matthew Masse. The 18-year-old was a student in Vernon.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Students are in mourning over the death of Brooke Wormstedt.
A crash on Interstate 95 Northbound in Bridgeport this afternoon is causing delays.
There is an overturned tractor-trailer between exits 26 and 27, according to an alert from the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The right and center lanes on the northbound side of the highway are closed and the road is congested for six miles, between exits 18 and 27, according to DOT.
The Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Company Tweeted a traffic alert about delays extending through Westport and beyond. They advise drivers to avoid I-95 North.
Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation Traffic Cameras
A backup is growing on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport after a tractor-trailer crash.
Route 2 West in Colchester is closed at exit 16 because of a crash involving a van and a sedan.
State police have responded.
Aetna Ambulance Service, Inc. and ASM released a statement saying one person was transported to Hartford Hospital.
State police could not confirm that there are any injuries.
\No additional information is available.
A crash has closed Route 2 West at exit 16 in Colchester.
A man accused of killing three cats by beating them and throwing them off a staircase has been sentenced to two years in prison, suspended after 30 days,
Stanislaw Ternacki was charged with seven counts of cruelty to animals and one count of second-degree breach of peace.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
A Connecticut man is accused of killing cats.
New Haven Police have arrested two men suspected of working together to commit two daytime home invasions in the city this month.
The two crimes happened in the mid-afternoon, a week apart and the intruders tied the victims up.
On Monday, May 6, two women ages 71-year-old and 58, were returning with groceries to their Huntington Street residence at 4 p.m. when the home invasion occurred, police said.
A man with a gun and another man confronted the two women, forced them inside and tied them up, police said. They fled in one victim’s car.
Then, at 3:17 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, there was another home invasion on Osborn Street.
Two residents, a 38-year-old man and 32-year-old woman, told investigators they were inside their home when two masked men with handguns confronted them, tied them up and ransacked the residence for valuables.
The intruders stole a victim’s car in that case as well, police said.
Police recovered both vehicles and surveillance video from one case led to a suspect.
A camera on Henry Street captured surveillance footage of the vehicle taken during the Osborn Street home invasion, including a suspect, police said.
Investigators connected the home invasions to someone named “Jovann,” police said. Last week, Hamden Police helped New Haven police find him, police said.
Hamden officers were chasing a stolen car and apprehended Jovann McCullough, 19, of New
Haven. New Haven detectives were told he closely resembled the person captured on the video surveillance, went to speak with him and charged McCullough with home invasion.
Then, police identified John Benjamin, 22, of New Haven as McCullough’s conspirator, police said.
On Monday night, New Haven police and members of the U.S. Marshals Service Task Force apprehended Benjamin at his Highland Street home.
He is being held on $1 million bond and was served with a warrant by parole for first degree escape from a halfway house that he’d been remanded to.
He is due in court on Wednesday morning.
McCullough, who has been in custody since last week, has been held on $150,000.00 bond. He is to be served with the warrant for the second home invasion which has a $500,0000 bond, according to police.
Photo Credit: New Haven Police
Police have arrested Jovann McCullough, left, and John Benjamin, right. They are accused of home invasion.
A Metro-North track worker is dead after being hit by a train in West Haven, according to Metro-North and West Haven police.
Metro-North identified the worker as Robert Luden, 52, of East Haven. Luden, a track foreman, was a 27-year veteran of Metro-North, a spokesperson said.
A westbound Metro-North train that left New Haven at 11:53 a.m. struck a Luden in the area of Hood Terrace around noon.
He was on the tracks, working with a crane and moving a boom when he was hit, officials said. Luden said a train was on one track and Luden was on a second track, He was not operating the crane, officials said.
It is too early to determine how this happened.
Workers said the train was heading to New York and the employee was on a maintenance train working on the new West Haven station.
One employee said she heard the whistle alerting people to get out of the way minutes before the train came through.
Service was shut down in both directions in the vicinity of Milford. It has since been restored between New Haven and Milford, and Upper New Haven line service is operating on or close to schedule, according to Metro-North.
A passenger said the train was moving slowly because it was going through a construction zone and came to an abrupt stop.
Officials said there will be an investigation.
The last time there was a fatal Metro-North incident involving a worker was in January 2009 in Paris, New York, a Metro-North official said.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
A track worker is dead after being hit by a train.
Someone stole a 20-foot trailer holding thousands of dollars worth of antiques last week and state police are trying to find whoever committed the brazen crime.
The Capitol Salvage trailer holding $30,000 to $50,000 worth of antiques was taken from Industrial Park West in Tolland around 10:15 a.m. on Friday, according to state police.
The trailer contained an 1883 blue creamery cabinet, a wooden English clothing store mannequin, Grain painted Ohio factor counter (porcelain feet), 76 linear feet of 50-inch high pine paneling (wainscot), a set of four gothic porch piers, two highly decorated folk art carnival wheels. quarter sewn oak RR cabinet, 1940s industrial aviation machinist cabinet, 19th century 12-foot blue sled, two fancy Victorian fretwork gables, 10-foot long multi drawer apothecary, 9-foot-long custom mahogany counter, 14-foot-long zinc topped potting table with three heavy iron legs, more than Victorian corbels, white with finials, marble plant stand and 13-foot-long oak and chestnut bar/table top.
Police said a red Ford extended cab style-pick-up with an 8-foot bed towed the trailer. It had a silver tool box and white lettering on the driver's side door that might say "BROX PROPERTY MANAGEMENT" with unknown Connecticut license plates.
A witness reported seeing the stolen trailer traveling west on Route 30 at 10:15 a.m. on Friday and take a left onto Route 31 and get onto Interstate 84 at Exit 67 in Vernon and headed West toward Hartford.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Trooper T.K. Merrill at 860-896-3200.
State police are looking for this red truck and its driver, who stole a trailer containing as much as $50,000 worth of antiques.
Tonight the New Haven Board of Alderman unanimously approved the 2013-2014 fiscal year city budget.
The vote came during a special meeting Tuesday evening. The board approved the $497,454,609 budget without any amendments or debates.
The new budget, which takes effect on July 1, sets the mill rate at 41.88. This is a mill rate increase of two over and will result in about a $25 a month increase in property taxes for the average homeowner.
The approved budget will preserve core city services such as senior centers, parks and libraries. It also aims to strengthen public safety by providing each of the city's police districts with two new walking beats.
In a statement, Mayor John DeStefano noted that he believed it is prudent that the city's budget preserve the core services that are offered by the city.
The budget will also provide for the recruitment, training and hiring of 80 new firefighters. The fire department has not hired new staff in six years.
Disneyland's Toontown reopened Tuesday night after a loud explosion prompted authorities to close it for hours as a precaution.
The explosion was caused by dry ice in a water bottle, according to bomb squad and Anaheim Police Department officials. No injuries were reported.
"At this point, we don't know it was on purpose or by accident or accidently thrown away," said Sgt. Bob Dunn, with the Anaheim Police Department. "We are looking at all aspects."
Dunn added that people too often mistakenly try to enclose dry ice. Investigators plan to review surveillance video to determine who placed the item in the trash bin.
"We do respond to these quite a bit, so we know what to look for," he said.
Disneyland issued this statement late Tuesday:
"This afternoon, a small bang was heard in a trash can at Mickey's Toontown (and) in an abundance of caution, we evacuated Toontown to allow local authorities the opportunity to investigate," Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said.
The exact time of the explosion wasn't clear, Dunn said.
However, some Twitter users mentioned the incident at about 5:30 p.m.
"Something went BOOM in Toontown at Disneyland and now they're evacuating," wrote @theallenwolf at 5:33 p.m.
Minutes later, @SurelyShawna tweeted: "Was sitting in Toontown at Disneyland and something exploded in the trash can. I felt the sound waves of it and Toontown is closed."
Allen Wolf was writing on his computer near Toontown's City Hall -- about 20 feet away from the explosion -- when he heard a "loud boom."
He said there was no panic among parkgoers (pictured below), but there was a "tenseness."
"It sounded like a gun shot, but it was so out of place because we're in Toontown that most of (us) didn't know what to think," Wolf said. "When no one panicked and there was no indication of what happened," we continued doing what we were doing.
Soon after, Disneyland employees began escorting crowds from the area.
"They don't really tell you anything," Wolf recalled. "They just stay smiley and they say, 'We don't know what's going on but we need you to evacuate.'"
Photo Credit: Allen Wolf
Throngs of visitors leave Disneyland's Toontown on May 28, 2013, after a loud explosion went off, caused by what may have been dry ice in a water bottle.
Better late than never at a Northern California school where a library book originally checked out for "overnight use" has been returned 32 years later.
The book about birds was checked out from the Albany Middle School Library on May 19, 1981.
The full title is "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom."
It was just returned, in pretty good shape, in an envelope with no return address.
Unlike today's library books, it still carried a pouch inside the cover for a check-out slip. However, the name on the slip is hard to read, so they have no idea who sent it.
The library has no record of the book.
The librarian isn't sure what the school will do with it, since the text is a bit dated. It has a copyright of 1970/1971.
Photo Credit: Photo courtesy the Albany Patch
The photo on the left is the book that was returned. The photo on the right is the slip that shows the original due date.
A elementary school principal in Waterbury has been placed on leave after a drunken night landed him behind bars, according to police.
Brian Goggin, principal of Bunker Hill Elementary School, has been removed from the school and is on paid leave.
Police said Goggin was arrested on Monday morning while trying to enter a downtown bar at 2:35 a.m.
According to Acting Deputy Chief Christopher Corbett, a police sergeant saw Goggin trying to enter Boru's Bar & Grill on West Main Street and informed him that the bar was closed.
Goggin then tried to walk away, but stumbled and stepped into oncoming traffic, according to police. The sergeant grabbed Goggin and pulled him to the curb.
When Goggin tried to walk away again, he was taken into custody for disorderly conduct and released on a promise to appear in court.
In May 2010, Goggin was placed on administrative leave when he was charged with drunken-driving after leaving a strip club in Berlin.
He was allowed to return to work in August of that year after agreeing to partake in a treatment program.
Supervising Vice Principal Shrelta Taylor will oversee Bunker Hill in Goggin's absence.
Photo Credit: Waterbury Police
Brian Goggin, principal of Bunker Hill Elementary School in Waterbury, is on paid leave after his arrest over the weekend.
The state Department of Occupational Health and Safety is investigating in Preston after a tree ame down on the First Selectman earlier this month.
“I think I’m very lucky. I think it was a close call,” First Selectman Bob Congdon said. “I never saw it coming, that's for sure."
On May 16, the town leader received a complaint about a branch that blocked River Road, so he showed up and cleared it himself, then another one snapped.
“I heard a loud crack like a tree breaking. That's all that I remembered,” Congdon said.
Congdon said there was no time to react and it fell right on him. Minutes later, a neighbor found Congdon lying in the street and dialed 911.
“I probably would have been there until a car went by. ... I’m very thankful,” he said.
Congdon was rushed to the hospital with severe injuries. He had internal bleeding, broken ribs and required staples in his head.
Tuesday was his first full day back to work.
“It’s incredible how much better I feel day by day,” he said.
State Representative Timothy Bowles placed the call to Congdon about the problem on the road in his neighborhood.
“I was very shocked,” Bowles said. “Any time I feel there’s an issue of that nature, I’ll be calling the foreman of the Public Works Department and not the First Selectman.”
“It is surreal that it happened,” Congdon said.
He knew the outcome could have been much worse, considering a falling tree killed a woman in East Hampton on Monday afternoon. It was a tragedy he said could have easily happened to him too.
"You hear a tree break and I don’t know if you can react fast enough to get out of the way,” Congdon said
Neighbors on Everit Street in New Haven are concerned about crime after reports of at least five home and car break-ins in recent days and police are urging residents to take measures to protect their possession.
Thieves broke into the home of Richard Prum, a Yale professor, and stole two laptops, a briefcase and a PlayStation.
"It was a no-effort entry," Prum said "Because of suddenly warm weather, one of the kids had opened up the screen door to the back porch."
On Tuesday morning, he and his wife noticed that possessions were missing.
"Obviously it feels like a violation to have somebody come into your home and take things," he said.
Prum was not the only person whose privacy was violated. There have been several car break-ins and multiple bikes were stolen from Everit Street on Monday night.
There have been at least five thefts in two days, in addition to a garage break-in on Willow Street, according to SOHU, or the South of Humprey Block Watch.
"I grew up in the country where nobody ever locks their door," John Mackay, a Yale professor, said.
Officials said the recent break-ins have happened because car and house doors were left unlocked.
"Generally, the area is very safe so I feel comfortable here as a resident," said Michael Palmieri, who keeps his car in a garage and has constant surveillance over his home. "If anyone plans on coming around here, I'm going to know who's doing something."
These recent incidents happened as New Haven Police tracked down two suspects in two recent home invasions.
Prum is just thankful nobody was hurt.
"We just have to be careful. Most of the house is pretty secure. We just goofed on a door at night," Prum said.
With the nicer weather, police urge residents to lock up at night to make homes less appealing to robbers.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Residents of Everit Street in New Haven are urged to keep their homes and cars locked after several break-ins.
Police have taken two people into custody after a break-in at the Indian Hill Country Club in Newington early Wednesday morning.
The officer manager said one of the suspects is her son and he used to work at the club.
Police were alerted at 2:59 a.m. when a motion detector went off.
Responding officers found a chair under an open window on the north side building.
"The gentlemen apparently pushed in an air conditioning unit that was located on the north side of the building," Sgt. Christopher Perry, of the Newington Police Department, said
Officials set up a perimeter and an officer observed a person moving inside the building.
Because the facility is large, police from surrounding towns, including New Britain, Wethersfield, Farmington and Berlin, were brought in to help.
Using the police cruiser PA system, police communicated with one suspect, identified as Miguel Sanchez, 23, of New Britain.
Sanchez left the building and was taken into custody around 4 a.m., according to police.
Police then searched the inside of the building. Around 6:30 a.m., they found Alan Hopper, 26, of Meriden, hiding underneath a staircase, police said.
Hopper's mother, Karen Hopper, is the office manager of the country club.
"Unfortunately, it’s someone that we know closely," said Karen Hopper.
There have been other recent break-ins at the club, Hopper said,, and she fears her son might have been involved.
"We had had two break-ins previously in April, so there may be a connection," Karen Hopper, said.
Sanchez and Hopper were both charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, sixth-degree criminal attempt to commit larceny, sixth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, second-degree criminal mischief, first-degree criminal trespass and interfering with police.
Both are being held on $75,000 bond and are due in court on Thursday.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com and Newington Police
Alan Hopper, 26, of Meriden, (top) and Miguel Sanchez, 23, of New Britain. are accused of breaking into the Indian Hill Country Club in Newington this morning.
Middletown High School was evacuated as a precaution this morning over a suspicious item and the scene is now clear.
The police and fire departments responded to call about a suspicious package found within the school and removed it, police said.
All school buses will be late by about 20 to 25 minutes, according to the superintendent.
The only people at the school when it was evacuated were teachers, police said on Wednesday morning.
Police later said the students and staff were evacuated from the high school to a safe location.
No one was injured. Police are investigating.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
School buses will be late by 20 to 25 minutes after an evacuation at the high school. The evacuation is over.
Sometimes, a teapot is just a teapot. Other times, it sort of looks like Adolf Hitler if you squint.
That's apparently the case on a JC Penney billboard in Culver City, Calif. Photos of the big ad posted to social media websites have gone viral, prompting the retailer to take down the billboard.
Viewers argued that the teapot looked almost like a minimalist caricature of the late German dictator, who masterminded the Holocaust and whose aggressive annexations of other countries led to World War II.
The teapot's rounded handle swoops down to the right, much like the despot's hairstyle. A little knob atop the lid looks a little bit like his signature mustache.
A thin, vertical reflection in the metal of the pot falls right about where a necktie would hang. The teapot's spout juts out like a Nazi salute.
JC Penney has responded to angry, offended and amused Twitter users.
"Certainly not intentional," the company tweeted. "We would have gone with something cute. Think 'puppy dog', not dictator."
The company then posted a photograph of another teapot, saying, "If we'd designed the kettle to look like something, we would've gone (with) this."
The new teapot was sculpted in the likeness of a smiling snowman holding some sort of red bird.
Though, if you squint...
Observers on the Internet felt that this tea kettle looked like Adolf Hitler, the late German dictator who presided over the Holocaust and started World War II.
A New York man who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit is celebrating a new milestone in his life as an exonerated man: a master's degree in criminal justice.
Jeffrey Deskovic received his degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Tuesday.
"I've come so far, between there and now, and the emotions kind of got the better of me," he said.
Deskovic was 16 when he was convicted of raping and murdering a teenage girl in Peekskill, despite the fact that the DNA didn't match. But police got him to confess.
"They wore me down after interrogating me for seven and a half hours," said Deskovic. "I didn't have an attorney present, my parents didn't know where I was, I wasn't given anything to eat."
While in prison, Deskovic fought for his freedom with the help of The Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people. In 2006, he was freed, but getting used to normal life proved difficult.
So Deskovic decided to return to school, and in addition to getting his master's, he also started the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice to help other innocent people get out of prison.
Thanks to the foundation, William Lopez was released from prison in January after serving more than 23 years for a murder he didn't commit.
Lopez now regards Deskovic as an inspiration.
"He was also incarcerated for so many years, and to have achieved this -- it's extraordinary," he said.
Deskovic has received a more than $8 million settlement, some of which was used to establish the foundation. But with a dozen or so active cases, and another 800-plus applications to consider, he's always searching for grants and donations.
"I need to feel like I'm making some sort of a difference so I can make some sense out of what happened to me," he said.
Photo Credit: NBCNewYork
A woman survived a fiery crash in suburban Chicago early Wednesday thanks to a good Samaritan who helped her escape the wreck.
State Police said the woman crossed four lanes of traffic on northbound I-290 in Elk Grove Village before slamming into a concrete barrier. The witness who saved her was on his way home from "Fast & Furious 6" when he saw what looked like a scene from the movie.
"I just saw her come over this [expressway] and then careen right into this wall," Austin Ketelsen said. "Jeez, everything was just so fast."
Ketelsen also moved fast, running over to get the driver out of the minivan before it burst into flames. Ketelsen said the woman's face was bleeding and she seemed dazed when he told her she had to get out of the vehicle because it was on fire.
"I could tell that she was rummaging for something, like maybe her phone," he said. "We were like, 'Miss, your car's on fire. You need to get out.'"
The two walked away before the minivan became fully engulfed. The woman was taken by ambulance to Alexian Brothers Hospital. It's not clear how bad her injuries are.
Firefighters said the woman has Ketelsen to thank for saving her life.
"We appreciate their efforts and any other bystander that stopped and offered assistance," Battalion Chief Scott Peterson said. "That made it a happy ending tonight, that we didn't have a fatality and we were able to successfully get her out of that van before it got engulfed in fire."
Firefighters were able to put out the fire without traffic issues. State Police said the woman was charged with driving under the influence.
Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com
A Good Samaritan pulled a woman from her minivan before it burst into flames after it crashed.
A woman who called police to report her “pimp” for harassment was charged with prostitution when she underestimated how long it would take police to arrive at her motel, according to police.
Jennifer Lowery, 34, contacted West Haven police on Sunday to report that her “pimp” was verbally harassing her, according to West Haven police.
Officers responded to Super 8 Motel, at 7 Kimberly Avenue, and said they found Lowery in a motel room with Richard Burford, who police said paid Lowery $200 for sex.
Nothing happened between them because police arrived to speak with Lowery before they engaged in any sexual activity, police said.
“I thought it would take the police a while to show up, so I figured I would turn a trick,” Lowery said, according to police.
She was charged with prostitution and Burford was charged with patronizing a prostitute.
Photo Credit: West Haven Police
Police said Jennifer Lowery contacted police to complain about her pimp, then officers arrested her when she tried to service a client before police arrived, police said. Richard Burford was charged with patronizing a prostitute.
Facebook made a mea culpa, acknowledging in a blog post that it has "become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate."
On Tuesday, Mark Levine, vice president of global public policy, said the Menlo Park-social media giant announced several steps the company would be taking to monitor and train its teams to review and evaulate hateful speech and harmful content on Facebook sites, while working with legal experts and women's coalitions in taking improper posts down. Early in the day, at least 800 people had "liked" the change.
Facebook's announcement did not specifically mention this month's threats against U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) — which were posted on a military-oriented Facebook page that graphically belittled her and her efforts to stem sexual misconduct in the military. But it did come within the same month that the congresswoman has been quite vocal about military members posting denigrating comments on Facebook.
Speier is not the only one who has felt denigrated; other feminist groups have wanted to ban Facebook pages and posts that glorify violence against women, too.
Speier was threatened on a Facebook page, littered with comments by some active-duty Marines, shortly after she had sent a letter May 8 to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel informing him of a Facebook page which, according to Speier, helped "contribute to a culture that permits and seems to encourage sexual assault and abuse."
U.S. Capitol Police, who are investigating the threats, have asked Speier and her staff not to divulge the nature of the threat. Facebook has since taken the page down.
In addition, there were photos posted mocking Jewish concentration camp prisoners, African Americans, and President Barack Obama, shown with a rope around his neck. But the Facebook page's primary theme involved deriding women in the military, particularly those within the Marines. The administrator posted pictures titled "this is my rape face," and "I can 'bang' even when I'm not on my back!!" atop the image of a woman holding a gun in her camouflage uniform.
There also was a picture of Speier, photoshopped with a black eye. One poster — whose personal Facebook page lists his occupation as "Military infantry" — wrote of Speier: "I still firmly believe someone needs to struggle snuggle the s*** outta her."
In a brief interview Tuesday at a California restaurant, Speier told NBC Bay Area that the military has a "big job ahead of itself cleaning up a very distorted culture that has been allowed to persist for decades."
Facebook, which also lists its "law enforcement guidelines," has been known to cooperate with police agencies with active investigations that may delve into a suspect's Facebook accounts and activity. To read Facebook's prohibited speech and community standards, click here.
Speier has been actively campaiging for the military to more to crack down on vulgar Facebook pages by its members.In her May 8 letter, also sent to Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, Speier said it was her "understanding that not only is the Marine Corps Inspector General aware of this page and monitoring it, but they have been doing so for over three years."
Speier has authored three bills aimed at transforming the military justice system’s treatment of sexual assault cases. Those include the STOP Act (HR 1593), which seeks to take all cases of sexual assault outside of the chain of command by creating an independent office within the military to handle the reporting, investigation, and prosecution of such crimes. The bipartisan bill has 122 co-sponsors but has not been placed into consideration for a House vote.
NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro contributed to this report.
Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo). May 27, 2013