Multi-State Election Results and Open Discussion Thread – Virginia, New Jersey, New York and More
The off-year elections take place in various states and municipalities today. The Virginia and New Jersey governors races will be decided along with the New York City mayoral race and numerous other regional elections in FL, OH, MN, PA and MI.
Virginia will be the most watched race as polls close at 7:00pm ET. Virginia passed a new law last year requiring counties to pre-process absentee ballots before the election, which should allow officials to report the result of the advance vote soon after the polls close. However, if you see those previously processed absentee ballots ‘NOT REPORTED’ early that would indicate the vote counters holding back ballot harvest results until they figure out how many they need.
The media will use these early results, likely favorable to Terry McAuliffe, in order to set the tone according to party position and direction from the executive media suites.
State Now Confiscating Bank Accounts, Property, Licenses and Businesses if COVID Fines Not Paid While Unemployed Workers Locked Down
“During the lockdown if you were caught violating any of the lockdown rules, you were subject to a civil citation, a fine or ticket for your COVID violation.
“Several states stepped in to provide wage subsidies so people could purchase essential products and pay their living expenses.
“However, during the lockdown if you were caught violating any of the lockdown rules, you were subject to a civil citation, a fine or ticket for your COVID violation.”
“Get caught too far from home, outside your permitted bubble, and you get a ticket.
“Get caught spending more than the permitted 1 hour outside, get a ticket.
“Get caught without a mask, even by yourself – and yep, ticket.
“Enter a closed quarantine zone (park, venue, etc.) and you get a ticket.
“Tickets were being handed out by police on the street as well as during random checkpoints on the roadways.
“Additionally, people returning to Queensland were put into a system of involuntary quarantine.
“The costs for that quarantine, mostly hotel rooms, were to be paid by the people being involuntarily captive and not allowed home.
“Citizens were required to have their physical location scanned via a QR code on their phone.
“These checkpoints were to assist in controlling the COVID spread and were used for contact tracing throughout the past two years.
“However, the checkpoints and gateway compliance scans also registered your physical location; the consequence was an increased ability for police and COVID compliance officers to catch people violating the COVID rules.
“Ex: If you checked in at the grocery store, they knew how far from home you are, and the police could figure out if you violated your one hour of time outside the home at the next checkpoint.
“The result of all this compliance monitoring was thousands of fines, civil citations for violating COVID rules.
“Thousands of people given thousands of fines that would need to be paid.
“Now the state is requiring all of those civil citations get paid, or else.
“And the enforcement actions to collect these fines from the State Penalty and Enforcement Register are quite extreme.
“Citizens who have outstanding tickets are finding their driver’s licenses suspended; bank accounts are being frozen and seized; homes and property are are being confiscated, as well as business licenses suspended for outstanding citations.
CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations Security Council and the United States have imposed sanctions on a Libyan official over the alleged abuse and torture of migrants in a detention center.
The Security Council and the U.S. said in separate statements late Tuesday that Osama al-Kuni is the de facto head of a detention center in the North African nation’s west. Migrants there are said to have been subjected to torture, sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking.
Libya emerged as a major conduit for African migrants hoping to reach Europe after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed the country’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country subsequently slid into chaos, with rival governments and parliaments based in its western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes.
Both Milad and Kachlaf were sanctioned by the Security Council in 2018 over allegations of human trafficking and abuse of migrants.
A spokesman for the Libyan government did not answer calls seeking comment.
In its statement Tuesday, the U.N. sanctions committee said al-Kuni “has acted for or on behalf of or at the direction” of Milad and Kachlaf.
The Department of the Treasury blamed al-Kuni on “systematic exploitation of African migrants at the detention center where these migrants are subject to various human rights abuses.”
It said he or others under his direction “have been involved in or facilitated the killing, exploitation, abuse, and extortion of migrants at the detention center, including through sexual violence, beatings, starvation, and other mistreatment.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Libyan government to hold al-Kuni and others implicated in human rights abuses accountable.
Libya holds migrants in overcrowded detention centers, like al-Nasr, where torture, sexual assault and other abuses are rife. Detention center guards beat and tortured migrants, then extorted money from their relatives, supposedly in exchange for their freedom, The Associated Press reported earlier this month.
U.N.-commissioned investigators said earlier this month that abuse and ill treatment of migrants in Libya amount to crimes against humanity.
BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — More than 100 people have been arrested in a Florida human trafficking investigation that focused on victims who might be forced into prostitution, a sheriff said Thursday.
The arrests were the culmination of a six-day undercover operation that involved several law enforcement agencies, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference.
Those arrested were charged with a total of 29 felonies and 143 misdemeanors, including solicitation of prostitution and offering to commit prostitution, Judd said. Many had criminal histories that include charges for kidnapping, robbery, aggravated battery, and sex offenses.
Two men are charged with attempting to arrange sex with minors online, the sheriff added. The “minors” were actually undercover law enforcement officers.
“The primary purpose for these operations is to identify victims of human trafficking and those who prey on the victims, as well as the deviant child predators who stalk children online,” Judd said.
The operation used internet ads to arrange meetings between undercover detectives and suspects at a specific location in Polk County.
Maryland man gets 9 years for human trafficking case
October 29, 2021
ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) — A Maryland man was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison for sex crimes against a minor, prosecutors said.
Timothy Ford, 40, of Columbia was sentenced to 25 years with all but nine years suspended for a 2019 incident in Columbia, the Howard County State’s Attorney Office announced in a news release. Ford pleaded guilty last year to human trafficking and filming a child engaged in a sex act.
The victim was panhandling when Ford approached and asked if he was looking for work. Once in the car, Ford told him he could earn hundreds of dollars if he engaged in sexual acts with other people. Instead, the victim said Ford took him to his home and sexually assaulted him, prosecutors said.
Investigators with Howard County Police identified Ford as the suspect and arrested him about a week later.
As part of his sentencing, Ford must complete a psycho-sexual evaluation and treatment, sex offender treatment, have no contact with the victim, have no unsupervised contact with minors and must register as a Tier II sex offender.
Over half of online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases last year occurred on Facebook, report says
BY ELIZABETH ELKIND
From: JUNE 10, 2021 / 10:57 AM / CBS NEWS
The majority of online recruitment in active sex trafficking cases in the U.S. last year took place on Facebook, according to the Human Trafficking Institute’s 2020 Federal Human Trafficking Report.
“The internet has become the dominant tool that traffickers use to recruit victims, and they often recruit them on a number of very common social networking websites,” Human Trafficking Institute CEO Victor Boutros said on CBSN Wednesday. “Facebook overwhelmingly is used by traffickers to recruit victims in active sex trafficking cases.”
Active cases include those in which defendants were charged in 2020, as well as those in which defendants were charged in previous years and charges were still pending in trial last year or the case was on appeal.
Data from the last two decades included in the human trafficking report showed that 30% of all victims identified in federal sex trafficking cases since 2000 were recruited online.
In 2020 in the U.S., 59% of online recruitment of identified victims in active cases took place on Facebook alone. The report also states that 65% of identified child sex trafficking victims recruited on social media were recruited through Facebook.
The tech giant responded to the report’s findings in a statement to CBS News: “Sex trafficking and child exploitation are abhorrent and we don’t allow them on Facebook. We have policies and technology to prevent these types of abuses and take down any content that violates our rules.”
“We also work with safety groups, anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies to address this and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” the statement said.
Instagram and Snapchat were the most frequently cited platforms after Facebook for recruiting child victims in 2020. For adult victims, the next-most cited were WeChat and Instagram.
The annual report uses data from every active federal criminal and civil human trafficking case over the last year, but 2020’s featured an expanded scope.
“This report actually looks at the last 20 years of trends in the federal government,” Boutros said.
The report revealed that children accounted for 53% of identified victims in active criminal human trafficking cases in 2020, and women made up a large majority. Forty-four percent of victims of sex trafficking were women, and half were girls.
While the internet has been the most common place of recruitment since 2013, including 41% of active cases in 2020, the street, stores and cults were also cited by the group as targets of human traffickers.
Researchers note that trends also reflect the DOJ’s methods of tracking down cases.
“These data do not reflect the prevalence of online solicitation in sex trafficking schemes beyond those federally prosecuted. To be sure, the internet is implicated in many sex trafficking situations, but the high numbers of federal prosecutions involving internet solicitation are equally if not more reflective of the strategies law enforcement use to investigate these crimes,” the report states.
The majority of victims in active sex trafficking cases in 2020 were targeted with a fraudulent job offer, the report notes, followed by feigned romance. The data is based on the 602 victims identified in active sex trafficking cases for whom details of their recruitment were known.
“Traffickers often prey on existing vulnerabilities of victims,” Boutros said. “A lot of times we imagine that traffickers are these large group syndicates or networks, exploiting a huge number of victims. But actually most traffickers are not operating as an organized crime enterprise. It is mostly individual traffickers that are operating individually and often exploiting a small handful of victims at a time.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct a statistic on child victims.
Prince Andrew Mounts Attack Against Woman Who Accused Him of Sexual Abuse
Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, said the woman was seeking financial gain from one of the world’s best known royal families.
Lawyers for Prince Andrew on Friday issued a blistering attack on a woman who has accused him in a lawsuit of sexually abusing her when she was still a minor and he was a guest of Jeffrey Epstein.
The lawyers for Andrew, 61, denied in a new court filing in Manhattan that their client, who is also known as the Duke of York, had ever sexually abused or assaulted the woman, Virginia Giuffre, who has been one of Mr. Epstein’s most prominent accusers.
Andrew’s lawyers argued in the court papers that Ms. Giuffre’s lawsuit was part of an effort by her over more than a decade to profit from allegations she had made against Mr. Epstein and others. Andrew’s lawyers claimed that Ms. Giuffre had sold articles and photographs to the news media and entered into secret agreements to resolve her abuse claims.
“Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him,” Andrew’s lawyers wrote. “Most people could only dream of obtaining the sums of money that Giuffre has secured for herself over the years.”
The lawyers added that “accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press.”
Andrew’s lawyers issued their attack on Ms. Giuffre as part of a brief asking the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, to dismiss her lawsuit, which was filed in August in Federal District Court.
In the lawsuit, Ms. Giuffre, 38, claimed that Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, sexually abused her when she was under 18 on Mr. Epstein’s private island, Little St. James, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and at his mansion in Manhattan.
She also accused Andrew, along with Mr. Epstein and his longtime companion, Ghislaine Maxwell, of forcing her to have sexual intercourse with Andrew at Ms. Maxwell’s home in London.
Ms. Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, and has been detained on charges she helped Mr. Epstein recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls. An indictment also accused Ms. Maxwell of involvement in the sex trafficking of a 14-year-old girl, saying that she groomed the girl to engage in sexual acts with Mr. Epstein and later paid her.
Ms. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In their request to have the suit dismissed, Andrew’s lawyers also argued that Ms. Giuffre’s claims were barred under terms of a 2009 settlement release reached in a lawsuit she had filed against Mr. Epstein in Florida.
David Boies, a lawyer for Ms. Giuffre, said in a statement that Andrew’s motion to dismiss “fails to confront the serious allegations” in Ms. Giuffre’s suit.
Mr. Boies said that Andrew’s “attempted reliance on an irrelevant 13-year-old release, to which he is not a party, and which he did not even know about until recently, is just another in a series of attempts to avoid facing the merits of the serious charges against him.”
As the court battle over Ms. Giuffre’s lawsuit against Prince Andrew escalated on Friday, dueling legal papers were filed by federal prosecutors and lawyers for Ms. Maxwell in her case before a different judge, Alison J. Nathan, in the same federal court in Manhattan. Ms. Maxwell’s trial is scheduled to be begin there on Nov. 29.
The prosecutors asked that some of Ms. Maxwell’s accusers be allowed to testify using pseudonyms or first names, citing concerns about publicity, harassment and the risk of “significant embarrassment, anxiety and social stigma.” Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers argued in their motion that this would create unnecessary confusion and prejudice the jury against Ms. Maxwell.
Federal prosecutors also revealed that the four women described as victims in the indictment would testify at trial, in “explicit detail,” about sexual abuse that took place before they were 18 years old, and about how they were recruited by — and in turn recruited — other victims who were minors.
Ms. Maxwell’s lawyers also asked Judge Nathan to allow them to present evidence and arguments about prior investigations into Mr. Epstein and how they were resolved, including an investigation by federal prosecutors in Florida that resulted in a 2007 non-prosecution agreement for Mr. Epstein and several of his associates.
But prosecutors, in a response filed on Friday, asked Judge Nathan to prevent the defense from scrutinizing the roots of the federal investigations in both New York and Florida, saying it would be an improper effort to cast doubt on the government’s motives and credibility.
“The defense would like to (inaccurately) argue that the New York investigation was opened in response to the non-prosecution agreement,” and that the government rushed to investigate Ms. Maxwell after Mr. Epstein’s 2019 death and led a “sloppy investigation” because of public pressure, prosecutors wrote in a response to the defense’s motion also filed Friday.
Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.
Benjamin Weiser is a reporter covering the Manhattan federal courts. He has long covered criminal justice, both as a beat and investigative reporter. Before joining The Times in 1997, he worked at The Washington Post. @BenWeiserNYT