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Ex-Members of Military-Style Christian Sect Describe Abuse


A secretive Christian sect that waits for Armageddon at its remote New Mexico compound has been thrust into the national spotlight when its self-appointed "general," Deborah "Lila" Green, and three of her followers were arrested and charged with rape and child abuse, NBC News reported.

Green's word is law among the hundred or so members of the Aggressive Christian Missions Training Corps, former followers said.

"Lila claims to be God's prophet and people in the group don't question her," former member Maura Schmierer told NBC News. "To not believe Lila Green is equal to sin."

Branded an active hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the corps allegedly had a compound where births were not reported to authorities and one girl was "treated like a dog" as Green's personal slave, according to arrest warrants.

"The accusations are just re-runs of old lies that have been investigated and shown to be malicious attacks against a legitimate ministry," the group said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: Cibola County, N.M., Sheriff's Department

East Haven Robbery Suspect May be Linked to Other Crimes: PD


East Haven police are trying to identify a suspect in an armed robbery at the Quality Inn on Frontage Road, and say the suspect may be involved in other similar crimes in the area.

Police said that on Sunday an employee at the Quality Inn reported that she left the front desk to check on a room. When she returned, she found a man rummaging through her purse. When she approached him, the man pulled a knife and demanded money from the cash register. He made off with $192 from the register and the victim’s wallet.

The suspect is described as being in his late 20s or early 30s, around 5-foot-9, with a skinny build and a beard. He was wearing a black baseball hat, white t-shirt and blue jeans at the time. A witness reported that the suspect got into a purple Lincoln Continental to flee.

Police said they believe this suspect has been involved in other armed robberies in the area. Anyone with information is asked to contact the East Haven Police Department at 203-468-3820.

Photo Credit: East Haven Police Department

Police Issue Warning About ‘iPhone ID’ Scam


Naugatuck Police are warning residents about a phishing scam that targets their iPhones. 

The scam involves iPhone users receiving an iMessage text message that some could mistake as legitimate. The message tells the recipient that his or her "iPhone ID" is about to expire and directs them to a link where their Apple credentials are requested. 

If the recipient enters their information, the scammers could use it for a host of illegal things, including credit card fraud and possible identity theft. 

Authorities said they first learned about the scam through a Reddit post. 

Police and cybersecurity experts warn the public to never click on any link they receive in a message without first verifying its authenticity at the source. 

That includes going directly to the website of the purported sender (Facebook, Apple, a bank or credit card company, etc.) and confirming that the information being requested in the message is legitimate. 

Additionally, there is no such thing as an "iPhone ID." 

iPhone users log into their accounts using what's called an "Apple ID" so anything referring to the iPhone log-in information as something other than that should raise a red flag. 

Police said that you should delete a message that looks suspicious so you don't become a victim. 

State Trooper Issued Warning for West Hartford Crash


A state trooper has been issued a warning in connection with a crash in West Hartford while he was responding to a report of a barricaded person in Willimantic on Aug. 2.

Police said six cars, including the state police cruiser, were involved in the crash at Albany Avenue and Trout Brook Drive and three people were injured.

The trooper was going east on Albany Drive and collided with two cars that were going south on King Philip Drive, West Hartford police said. Then another three vehicles were struck on Trout Brook Drive.

Police said the cars on King Philip Drive and Trout Brook Drive were going through a green light and the cruiser went through a red light. The lights and sirens were on at the time.

Police said the officer was issued a written warning for a right of way red light violation.

New Law Addresses School Bus Driver Record Concerns


It's a little safer on the school bus this fall, thanks to an investigation by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters - over the next few months Connecticut will take extra steps to make sure school bus operators are keeping better tabs on any arrests or infractions involving their drivers.

The state wants to make sure school bus drivers have been obeying the rules of the road, and haven't been pulled over by police for any other reason, either on duty, or during their own time. A Troubleshooters investigation last winter revealed a third of the state’s largest school bus operators were not regularly checking up on a special list of drivers every two weeks, as state law requires.

The Troubleshooters brought the discovery to state Representative Andy Fleischmann. He worked to push through a bill through last session that allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct random checks of school bus operators to make sure they are keeping tabs on their drivers' records every two weeks, or face fines of up to $1,000 per occurrence.

The DMV said it will update its software so it gets a regular readout on how often school bus operators are checking up on their drivers. The new system will be up and running by early September, and enforcement will begin in November, at no extra cost to the state.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters also revealed many police were not familiar with a law requiring them to report to the DMV any arrest of someone with a public passenger endorsement or school bus driver license. That prompted police departments, including Hartford, to send out reminders to officers. This information is now being automatically transferred to the DMV as Connecticut phases in a new statewide criminal information system.

The Connecticut School Transportation Association, known as COSTA, which represents school bus operators in the state, said "COSTA fully supports any effort on the DMV's part to ensure that all school bus operators are fully in compliance with this law.” 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Texas Team Plays at Home in New Britain Due to Harvey


The New Britain Bees’ four-game series against the Texas-based Sugar Land Skeeters has been moved from Texas to Connecticut because of the impact from the storm Harvey. 

The Bees are also collecting donations for the American Red Cross in lieu of tickets during the four-game series.

While the games will be at New Britain Stadium, the Skeeters will serve as the home team.

In lieu of tickets, the Bees are asking any fans who attend the series to donate to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund.

The Bees staff will be collecting donations at each game during the series. Fans can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to support the American Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts in Houston and the surrounding area in Texas affected by the hurricane.

Monday’s game will be at 4:05 p.m. Tuesday will be a doubleheader, starting at 12:05 p.m. and Wednesday’s game will be at 12:05 p.m.

Pop Squad Investigation Leads to Charges Against Ex-Teacher


A former Plainville High School special education teacher has been arrested after a website that works to expose child predators investigated him and the police determined through a follow-up investigation that the teacher had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy several years earlier, according to police.

Police said they started investigating 49-year-old James Batt Jr. on April 2 after the superintendent of schools in Plainville contacted authorities about a video posted online.

Batt was accused of communicating online and through texts with a person who he thought was a 15-year-old boy and arrived at a Dunkin’’ Donuts on March 28 to meet the boy, according to police.

However, the person Batt was communicating with was actually the creator of Pop Squad, a website that tries to expose child predators, according to police, and Pop Squad posted video of that meeting online.

As police investigated those allegations, they said they determined that Batt had a consensual relationship with a 14- or 15-year-old boy in 2010. 

The statute of limitations had expired, preventing police from file sexual assault charges in that case, but police said they were able to arrest him on other charges because of videos and photos he had.

Batt had resigned from Plainville schools. 

On Monday, police arrested him at his place of employment in Bolton and he has been charged employing a minor in an obscene performance, first-degree possession of child pornography and criminal attempt to commit impairing the morals of a minor.

The court-set bond at $500,000 and Batt is due in Bristol Superior Court today.

Photo Credit: Plainville Police

CT National Guard Airmen Head to Texas to Help After Harvey


The state of Connecticut is sending eight National Guard airmen and a cargo plane to Texas to provide help after Harvey. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy said the state has deployed a C-130H cargo plane and eight Airmen from the 103rd Airlift Wing of the Connecticut National Guard to help with response and recovery efforts in Texas. 

The unit, including C-130H pilots, crewmembers, loadmasters and maintainers, left the Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby this afternoon. 

“We know what it’s like to experience extreme weather events, and we know how vital it is for local and state governments to work together and provide assistance during times of natural disasters or other emergencies,” Malloy said in a statement. “I thank our Connecticut Air National Guardsmen for taking on this mission to give Texas aid during this great time of need. The State of Connecticut stands ready to provide support in the ongoing response and recovery efforts. The growing emergence of extreme weather events has transformed the way we respond to emergencies and is a key reason why we must continue strengthening our infrastructure to withstand the types of catastrophic storms that we’ve experienced in recent years.” 

Harvey is Connecticut's National Guard only mission at this time and it is unknown when the airmen will come home. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all suffering from the effects of Hurricane Harvey,” Major General Thaddeus J. Martin, Adjutant General and Commander of the Connecticut National Guard, said in a statement. “Even on the heels of the unit’s first large-scale, overseas deployment, the 103rd Airlift Wing – and the entire Connecticut National Guard – stands ready to aid the men and women of this nation anytime, anywhere.” 

Photo Credit: State of Connecticut

Hartford Police Detective Charged With DUI in Plainville


A Hartford police detective was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Plainville early Sunday morning and Hartford police said an internal investigation is underway.

Plainville police said they stopped Robert Lanza, 44, of Wolcott, after Bristol police received reports of an erratic driver swerving and weaving all over Route 72 at 12:18 a.m. Sunday and getting off in Plainville. Witnesses said he crossed over the fog lines and almost hit the guardrail several times.

Officers saw Lanza’s gray Honda Accord pull into 72 Commons and approached the car.

Lanza told police he is a Hartford police officer, according to the prosecutor’s report, and he appeared intoxicated, slurred his words and smelled of alcohol even with chewing tobacco in his mouth, according to Plainville police.

Lanza refused to say whether he had anything to drink and declined medical attention, police said.

Police asked Lanza to recite the alphabet from “D” to “S” and he started with “D,” but stopped and said he couldn’t do it, according to police.

Officers then asked him to count backward from 67 to 55 and he started with 57, then stopped, according to the prosecutor’s report.

Police then asked Lanza to walk to the back of his vehicle and he was unsteady on his feet, according to police.

Lanza also declined to call an attorney and refused to take breath tests, according to Plainville police.

He was charged with DUI and interfering with an officer and released after posting $10,000 bond. He is due in Bristol Superior Court on Sept. 5.

Lanza has been with the Hartford Police Department for more than 11 years and is assigned to the Special Investigations Unit.

Hartford police are working with the Plainville Police Department to conduct an internal affairs investigation.

"HPD Internal Affairs investigators are currently in contact with the Plainville Police Department to gather all documents, audio/video, photographs and other evidence related to this incident. The entirety of the incident will be thoroughly reviewed when we receive those items," Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley wrote in an email.

Photo Credit: Plainville Police

Photos: Scenes From Texas, Before and After Harvey


Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, was still largely paralyzed on Monday, and there was no relief in sight from the storm named Harvey that spun into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, then parked itself over the Gulf Coast.

As these before-and-after photos show, it will be some time before the area fully recovers.

Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas

Downtown Houston, Texas

Aransas Pass, Texas

Rockport, Texas

Photo Credit: Aaron Cohen
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Appeals Court Skeptical of Expanding Trump Travel Ban


A panel of federal appeals court judges appeared unwilling Monday to expand the reach of President Donald Trump's travel ban, after a series of rulings allowed the executive order to be enforced but limited its effect, NBC News reported.

The three judges, from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, heard argument on a plea from the Trump administration to let the government use a list it compiled in late June for deciding who can apply for a visa from six Muslim-majority countries while the travel restrictions are in place.

In late June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that while portions of the travel ban could be enforced, people overseas "who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship" with a relative or an organization in the U.S. would be exempt. In response, the State Department said that meant only parents, parents-in-law, spouses, fiances, children, and children-in-law could get visas during the 90 days while the ban is in place.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Scott Olson

Anheuser-Busch Halts Beer Production, Sends Water to Texas


Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Budweiser and one of the largest beer producers in the world, is putting a pause on canning brewskis to can water for Hurricane Harvey emergency relief efforts.

Company spokeswoman Taylor Tchoukaleff said two truckloads of water, over 100,000 cans, will be brought to Arlington, Texas, in addition to the delivery that arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Monday. Anheuser-Busch's distribution partner Mockler Beverage works with the Red Cross to deliver the canned water to communities in need.

Anheuser-Busch Cartersville brewery in Georgia produces cans of emergency relief water a few times a year, according to the company, partnering with the American Red Cross to provide to places in need within the United States.

In 2016, Anheuser-Busch produced and shipped over 2 million cans of emergency drinking water to communities hit by natural disasters, including the California wildfires, the Louisiana floods and Hurricane Matthew.

In May 2015, Anheuser-Busch completely halted beer production at its Georgia brewery in order to produce drinking water for those displaced by heavy storms and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images, File

Trump Defends Decision to Pardon Arizona's Arpaio


President Donald Trump is defending his decision to pardon Joe Arpaio, calling the controversial former Arizona sheriff a "patriot" who loves his country, NBC News reported. 

During a news conference with the president of Finland on Monday, Trump said Arpaio was not treated well by the Obama administration and had success in his long career for the people of Arizona.

Arpaio, formerly the longest-serving sheriff in Arizona, faced a possible jail sentence due to a federal conviction stemming from his immigration raids and sweeps aimed at rounding up illegal migrants. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cromwell Puts Pregnant Police Officer on Unpaid Leave: ACLU


A pregnancy discrimination charge has been filed against the Town of Cromwell after the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU) said an expecting officer was put on unpaid leave. 

ACLU said they filed the charge on behalf of Cromwell police officer Sarah Alicea.

"After my husband and I learned that we were expecting our first child, we were ecstatic. Our excitement soon turned into anger and frustration at how my department and the Town of Cromwell treated me. This roller coaster of emotions and uncertainty has added an enormous amount of stress to what should be the happiest time in my life," Alicea said in a statement sent by ACLU.

The complaint said Cromwell violated Alicea's rights when the town refused to temporarily modify the officer's job duties and "instead forced her to take unpaid leave for the last four months of her pregnancy," according to ACLU. 

ACLU said despite Alicea proposing numerous other law enforcement she could perform safely with her physical limitations, the town rejected them.

The Cromwell officer has not been working since March 2017.

The charge was filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

"Federal law requires covered employers, including public employers such as police departments, to treat pregnant workers the same way they treat other workers who are 'similar in their ability or inability to work,' while Connecticut law goes even further, requiring employers to 'make a reasonable effort to transfer a pregnant employee to any suitable temporary position which may be available'," according to the ACLU.

Alicea, a Cromwell native, worked for four years as a patrol officer and school resource officer during the academic year. She was previously an officer in New London.

The ACLU said her husband is a combat-wounded veteran and Alicea is the family's primary source of income. 

Photo Credit: American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut

Harvey Victims Turn to App Developed in New Haven


People in Houston and southeast Texas are turning to an app created in Connecticut to help report flooding and other issues caused by Harvey.

Some 27,000 people in Houston have downloaded the mobile app SeeClickFix built for that city’s emergency call center.

"Houston was one of the first city users of SeeClickFix," Ben Berkowitz, SeeClickFix CEO and Founder, said.

As the water rises from the torrential rain in Texas, SeeClickFix has been flooded with posts by people in the path of this historic natural disaster.

"I’m not surprised Houston experienced the flooding it did," Berkowitz said. "This is a city that has been met with flooding issues previously."

The flooding images are among the worst Berkowitz has seen since he launched the digital communications platform for citizens to report issues to their local governments ten years ago.

"There are photos from Sandy that rival it obviously because of the housing density, but yeah this is up there for sure," he said.

Robin Ladouceur works at SeeClickFix in New Haven. She showed NBC Connecticut’s photos taken by her sister who lives south of Houston.

"This is my sister in her boots on the sidewalk and this is out the front door," she said. "They were very lucky so far."

While Ladouceur’s family is OK, their neighborhood like so many looks like a river.

"They bought cinder blocks so that they could at least put all of their furniture on the first floor up on cinder blocks," Ladouceur said.

Many of the posts on the SeeClickFix map of greater Houston report drainage problems and damaged property.

"It’s obviously going to be very devastating in the short term and long term as well," Berkowitz said. "It’s going to take Houston a long time to recover from this."

With emergency call centers overwhelmed, Berkowitz said citizens in southeast Texas are leveraging the power of social media platforms like SeeClickFix in a positive way.

"We see them volunteering to help each other out," he said. "To ask each other for help. It’s been some really inspiring stories from the social web of folks getting their neighbors out via boat."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

State Police to Assist With New Milford Officer-Involved Shooting


State police are en route to the New Milford Police Department for an officer-involved shooting.

Connecticut State Police said they will be assisting with the police-involved situation.

No other details were immediately available. Please check back for updates. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Mueller Team: Did Trump Try to Hide Purpose of Meeting?


Federal investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are keenly focused on President Donald Trump's role in crafting a response to a published article about a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr., three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The sources told NBC News that prosecutors want to know what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose.

The meeting occurred at Trump Tower in June 2016 and was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. The meeting, which was first reported by the New York Times, also involved Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya and former Soviet intelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin.

At the time, the White House confirmed that Trump had "weighed in" as the response to the Times report was drafted aboard Air Force One on July 8 as the president returned to the U.S. from Germany.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

At Least 6 Shot, 2 Fatally, at New Mexico Library

'No One Would Help': Owner Leaves Note With Dog in Harwinton


A handwritten letter was left by the owner of a dog abandoned in Harwinton.

"My owner loves me very much, I am their life!" the note reads. "My human went homeless & found out they have a disease & cannot care for me."

The male pitbull, presumably named Fat McFat, was left in a crate behind the Litchfield Hills Veterinary Hospital in Harwinton on Monday morning, animal control said.

Harwinton Animal Control said the dog food and water was left for the dog in bowls and a bag of dog food was left on top of the crate. They described the dog as being very afraid, but do not believe the dog was left for long. 

The letter claims the owner attempted to rehome the pet but no one would take him.

"It is not fair for me to live in a car which I have been for 2 months & my human cries everyday (sic) that they are sorry & love me," the letter reads. 

The dog had no chip, was wearing a red bandana and a prong training collar. 

"My human is heart broken & very sad it has come to this. No one would help," the letter reads. 

Animal control said it appeared the dog hurt himself trying to get out of the crate and his health status is not known yet. The dog had to be tranquilized to move it. 

Harwinton Animal Control is asking the public for help getting more information on the situation. Anyone who recognizes the dog or the situation described is asked to call animal control at (860) 806-8743.

Per Connecticut law, they will wait seven days to find the owner before they can determine if the dog will be adopted/ 

Photo Credit: Harwinton Animal Control
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Mom Passed Rare Tick Borne Illness to Newborn


A Thompson family said a tick-borne infection was passed along to their son while his mother was pregnant.

Jillian and Karl Kuhn said their infant son, Cole, was hospitalized when he was born. 

"Cole who was three and a half weeks old at the time spiked a fever at night and I brought him to the local emergency room," Jillian said.

After the local clinic couldn’t figure out what caused the fever, the Kuhns took Cole to UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, where after much testing, they determined he had Babesiosis, a tick-borne blood infection.

Babesiosis is the same disease that infected a New Milford man and killed him last week.

"They believed that he had contracted it through me during pregnancy which had been unconfirmed at that time but my recent lab work showed that I had had the infection during pregnancy and passed it to him through my placenta," Jillian said.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Dr. Nick Bennett said the infection being passed on congenitally is very rare – with only four cases ever in the world. Luckily, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Bennett, who is head of infectious diseases at the hospital, said the mother would have to become infected first and since symptoms can be mild they are often missed.

The New England Journal of Medicine said the most common symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, sweats and headache. Jillian said she did have flu-like symptoms at one point.

Cole is doing well at home. While doctors tell the Kuhns he is clear from the infection, parents hope what happened to them can be a lesson to others.

"We’re just very relieved that they found it so quickly because had the fever continued it would have… the infection would have become more rampant and would have progressed further," Jillian said.

Jillian said her case is the first known case of congenitally acquired Babesiosis in the state. NBC Connecticut reached out to the State Department of Public Health. They said they cannot confirm that information at this time, but they are working on trying to get information for us.

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