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Archive for the ‘Harassment’ Category

New App Designed to Combat Bullying

March 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am

combat online bullying, CombatHate App, cyberbullying, Simon Wiesenthal Center, empower adolescents, bullying, online bullying, combat bullying The issue of bullying and cyberbullying has increasingly become a hot topic of discussion among members of the public. And while technology has become so ingrained in our everyday lives, it also plays a huge part in making young people the victims of bullying. However, as reported recently by the Chicago Tribune, technology is now being employed to combat bullying as well.

CombatHate App

Chicago officials recently encouraged the use of a new app that could be used to combat online bullying. The app is called CombatHate, and is available for teens to install on their cell phones. It allows the user to take photos or write descriptions of hate speech they find online and send the information anonymously to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is an international Jewish human rights organization. The Center then takes the lead in reporting any information to law enforcement that could be the basis of an online crime. The app also enables patterns of hate that appear online to be tracked, whether the actions rise to the criminal level or not.

The Center’s Associate Dean praised the app, saying it was a way to empower adolescents who are exposed to this type of behavior online every day. Other proponents say the app is especially effective because it works with teens within the world of technology as a way to address the problem of online bullying. It is a means of hope for victims and witnesses to hate crimes.

CombatHate in Chicago

Although the app was introduced in other cities in the past, a news conference was held in Chicago specifically to push its use within the city. This is likely due in part to the use of another app, Yik Yak, which allows teenagers to anonymously post statements to other nearby users of the app. Chicago-area school leaders and educators warned of the use of the app, and said that some students have used it to threaten others. This caused many schools to block the app on their networks and schools also encouraged parents to uninstall the app from their child’s mobile device.

Other Features

CombatHate does more than just curb the incidence of cyberbullying. The app offers tips to victims on how to deal with bullying and get help, and also features recent examples of hate speech and other incidents that users can see within the app. It lists online sites and games which encourage hate, and suggests users avoid them. In addition, the app only encourages teens to use it in serious cases. Users are instructed to upload information only if they believe the incident rises to level of hate speech or terrorism.

Bullying is a serious issue faced by teens today. While not all bullying rises to the level of criminal behavior, it is important to understand your rights if you are accused of such conduct. If you or someone you know has been charged with an incident involving bullying, you should consult with an attorney in the Chicago area who is experienced in juvenile matters. Contact an Illinois juvenile crime attorney today and schedule a consultation to discuss your rights.


Mount Prospect Man Sentenced for Sexual Assault

February 14th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Herbert Burgess, 58, was convicted in early February in a Cook County Circuit Court of a Class X felony and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Burgess was accused of sexually assaulting a youth who worked for him, “the son of friends he had known for years,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Burgess was a former executive for a Buffalo Grove printing firm, and the assault of the young man occurred in Burgess’ residence on Lexington Drive. The 24-year sentence will be served concurrently, according to the Tribune, and includes 15 years for criminal sexual assault and three years for unlawful restraint. One of the key witnesses in the trial was a male who claimed on the stand that Burgess had molested him in 1978 after having been plied with alcoholic beverages. Mount Prospect Man Sentenced for Sexual Assault IMAGE

According to the United States Bureau of Justice, sexual assault can be described for “a wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape.” They usually involve attacks or attempted attacks, and usually involve unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault can also refer to verbal threats. According to a Canadian Justice Department publication, a perpetrator of sexual abuse will “most likely be a friend or family member.” The specifics of the sexual assault in the Burgess case were not revealed to the media, though it was clear that he was an old acquaintance of his victim.

The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) is a group that works with and for survivors of sexual victimization in the state. According to the ICASA, in 2012, the organization served 18,092 adult, adolescent, and child survivors of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. The number was significantly lower than the 2011 figure of 18,896.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a sexual assault crime, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.

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Students Charged With Hazing

January 12th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Students Charged With HazingYoung athletes at Maine West High School are facing misdemeanor charges for allegations of hazing that some are calling child abuse, according to the Chicago Tribune. Tony Romanucci told NBC Chicago, as reported in the Huffington Post, that allegations of sexual abuse go as far back as 2006, and “that coaches at the school knew about what was happening.” The complaint alleges that older players on the soccer teams shoved younger boys down to the ground, beat them, and then sodomized them with their fingers and other objects.

The two soccer coaches, Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, have been put on paid leave from the school until the dust settles surrounding the incident. Six players have been charged with misdemeanor battery and hazing, but as of mid-December there was no evidence to support felony charges for any student involved in the charges. The Huffington Post reports that an additional four students are facing disciplinary actions. There have been other allegations of hazing abuse among the swimming and baseball teams as well, and the mother of one boy—a baseball player—told NBC that when she reported the incident to the principal it was “swept under the rug.”

Lawsuits over hazing gone wrong are nothing new. According to, hazing in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor, unless it results in death or great bodily harm. If it does, hazing in Illinois is a Class 4 felony. Hazing is defined in Illinois law as: “the performance of any act by a student or other person in a school, college, university, or other educational institution of this State for the purpose of induction or admission into any group, organization, or society.”

If you or someone you know is facing hazing charges, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

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Man Held for Role in Fatal Fire in Lombard, IL

August 4th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Todd Mandoline from Villa Park was asked to leave his ex-girlfriend’s birthday party on Saturday, July 22nd.  At some point during the night, Mandoline walked nearly two miles back to the Lombard house, in order to speak to Paula Morgan early on Sunday morning.  After trading text messages for a while, Morgan stopped answering Mandoline’s text and he became enraged.  Mandoline is now being charged with setting the fire that was responsible for killing Morgan one day before her 25th birthday.

Obviously not pleased with the lack of response from Morgan for a couple of hours, Mandoline acted in the heat of the moment.  “The defendant became enraged, picked up a piece of paper, twisted it up, put it in the gas tank of the victim’s vehicle parked in the driveway and took a lighter and set it on fire,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. “The whole car was engulfed in flames. Unfortunately, the fire spread to the home as well.”  The fire spread from the car, then to the attached garage, and then to the home of Paula Morgan and her 6 year old son.

Luckily, Morgan’s son heard a smoke detector alarm and was able to escape from the blaze.  His mother, Morgan, and an acquaintance named Jason Cassidy were trapped on the second floor of the home.  When firefighters were able to remove Cassidy and Morgan from the embers, Morgan had died from smoke inhalation and Cassidy was in critical condition.  He was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where he remains in critical but stable condition.

Todd Mandoline now faces a multitude of charges, one count of murder in the first degree, two counts of aggravated arson, one count of arson, and one count of criminal damage to property.  While he didn’t remain on the scene after setting the fatal fire, he did admit to starting it.  This case is reminiscent of harassment or stalking which escalated into a fire which devastated many lives.  With any criminal charges, it is important to receive the best legal advice possible from a skilled criminal defense attorney in Rolling Meadows.

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