Monday, March 30, 2009

911 Operator William West Admitts to Molesting Child


A 911 operator was fired Monday from the sheriff's office in Seminole County and arrested for a sex crime. The operator is charged with lewd and lascivious behavior with a young girl and apparently the girl is not a random victim; it is someone he knew.

Over the years, deputies said 39-year-old William West has probably taken several calls about kids being abused. Now he's admitted to molesting a child.

For the past 9 years, West has been on the other end of the line when frantic victims called 911 for help, but Seminole County deputies said he also had a very dark secret; he was abusing a child.

"Unfortunately, it appears he was sexually molesting, inappropriate touching, making inappropriate comments for the last few years, so that's very concerning to us," said Lt. James Clark of the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said West admitted to molesting the girl, who he is familiar with. The victim, now in her teens, came forward and said West has been touching her for the past five years.

"We don't believe he was perpetrating these acts on other victims, these are isolated acts," said Clark.

The sheriff's office said West was once a supervisor in the 911 center, but was demoted because he wasn't showing up for work. He had also been disciplined for inappropriately using a computer. Deputies said he brought a CD full of games and tried to play them in the office.

Residents in West's neighborhood said they are shocked.

"It's sad, of course, it's sad. It's surprise me too," said Sam Filippelli, neighbor.

West is being held in the Seminole County jail on a $10,000 bond. If he does post bond, deputies say he is prohibited from having any contact with children.


Three Windsor Officers on Trial for Beating Man in Handcuffs

Three Windsor police officers — one of them the son of the chief of police — Tasered a man two years ago and beat him while he was in handcuffs, a complainant alleged Monday at the start of a Police Services Act hearing.

Constables David Tennent, Ken Price and Tony Smith each face one count of using excessive force and one count of discreditable conduct.

Tony Smith is the son of Chief Gary Smith. All three officers are members of the Windsor police tactical team, the Emergency Services Unit.

The complainant, Leke Vushaj, was born in Albania and testified through an interpreter.

“They grabbed me by the arms and put me in a chair and started beating me,” Vushaj testified. “They were punching me in the face. They were hitting me all over. They grabbed me by the hair and were punching me.”

The incident took place around 4:20 p.m. Feb. 13, 2007. Vushaj alleged that several masked police officers broke open the door to his apartment in the 1100 block of Lillian Avenue. He said the officers burst into his bedroom pointing guns and flashlights at him, ordering him to lay down.

Vushaj said he complied and was handcuffed, but the officers then brought him to the kitchen and repeatedly struck him with their fists, knees and feet. Vushaj said he was also tasered, lost consciousness, and was woken with water for the beating to continue.

He alleged that the beating went on for an hour or more. He said his face was covered in blood, and that officers wiped the blood off, but continued to strike him.

Under examination by defence lawyer Andrew Bradie, Vushaj said he was eventually brought to downtown police headquarters, then taken to hospital by ambulance. He said a doctor told him his nose was dislocated, and he was given pills for the pain. No X-rays were taken.

A member of the Windsor police drug unit testified that officers went to Vushaj’s residence because they had received information there were illegal drugs and a firearm there.

A 9-millimetre semi-automatic handgun was found between the mattresses in Vushaj’s bedroom. The drug unit officer also testified that a digital scale was found in the kitchen.

Vushaj has a pending court date on a firearm possession charge.

While questioning Vushaj, Bradie suggested that Vushaj was simply trying to win himself a better deal by filing a complaint against police. Vushaj denied this.

Under examination, Vushaj maintained that he did not know who owned the gun, and questioned why he was being grilled on a firearm charge when the hearing revolved around officers’ conduct.

Bradie also noted that Vushaj did not file the complaint until the case had reached the disclosure stage in court — 31⁄2 months after the alleged beating took place.

Vushaj said he felt the need to complain after reading “things that were untrue” in the disclosure documents. But he also testified that he would’ve made the complaint anyway.

The adjudicator, Toronto Police Services Supt. Jane Wilcox, heard through testimony that Vushaj had two other run-ins with Windsor police after the raid, including an incident on July 7, 2007, when he was arrested in front of a downtown nightclub.

Vushaj had been drinking alcohol — a breach of his bail conditions. Vushaj said the arresting officer was Smith. Vushaj alleged that Smith smiled at him and asked him if he recognized him.

Through further questioning by Bradie, the hearing was told that Vushaj has previously pleaded guilty to a drug charge. Vushaj refused to elaborate on the nature of the drug charge.

Officer Todd Kidwell Accused of Punching His Ex-Boyfriend

A Denton police officer accused of punching his ex-boyfriend in the face was arrested early Saturday, a Denton County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

Todd Kidwell, 39, apparently got into an argument with the man in the parking lot of a restaurant in the 1000 block of U.S. Highway 380.

A passing motorist saw the men fighting and flagged down a deputy, the Dallas morning news reported.

The officer was taken to the Denton County jail and charged with assault. He was released at about 4 p.m. Saturday after posting a $2,500 bond.

The Denton County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident as The Denton Police Department conducts its own internal investigation.


Officer James Parker III Charged with Aggravated Child Abuse


Avon Park police officer James Hilton Parker III remained in Highlands County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond Monday, after being charged Sunday with aggravated child abuse of the 20-month-old baby girl of his live-in girlfriend.

The child, who had multiple bruises over her body and an apparent fractured skull, was on life support Monday at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, according to the sheriff's office. She remained in "very very critical condition," according to Sheriff's Capt. Randy LaBelle.

Parker, 32, of Sebring, was arrested at 1:18 p.m. Sunday at his home, hours after he and the child's mother brought the girl in at 12:45 that morning to Highlands Regional Medical Center in Sebring.

Parker reportedly called the child's mother between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m. Sunday to tell her the girl was "not acting right."

Authorities learned of the incident after getting a call around 1:25 a.m. Sunday from hospital personnel, according to the sheriff's arrest report.

While at the hospital, detectives learned that Parker was taking care of the girl while the mother was at work, according to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's Sgt. Darin Hood said Parker did not have "a plausible explanation that was consistent with the injuries of the child."

Hood was not at liberty to say what explanation Parker offered the detectives.

The mother, who reportedly works as a nurse, began her shift at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and Parker was at their home watching several children, the report stated.

When the mom walked into the home, she reportedly told investigators she saw her daughter lying in Parker's arms as he sat in a recliner in the living room, the affidavit added.

She saw the child "had a bad color, was limp and was breathing shallow" and immediately grabbed the girl and had Parker drive them to HRMC, the report stated.

Doctors told detectives the child suffered multiple skull fractures, according to a sheriff's news release.

A helicopter could not take the child to a trauma center due to inclement weather, so All Children's Hospital sent a staffed mobile pediatric unit to Sebring to transport the child to the hospital around 6:40 a.m. Sunday.

The child was listed in very critical condition Sunday evening after undergoing surgery, the sheriff's report stated.

According to doctors, the use of extremely high force on the girl's head caused the severe injury to the skull, the report stated.

Aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony.

Parker has been with the Avon Park Police department since 2006 and worked for the department for about 20 months between 2002 and 2004.

He has been placed on administrative leave without pay, pending further investigation, according to Avon Park City Manager Sarah Adelt.

"I think it's an opportunity for the community to see we all live under the same rules and everyone will be treated equally," Adelt said.

The recent death of Sgt. Marc Wilbur, along with Parker's arrest and the November arrests of officers Alberto Perez and Adam Willis, leaves the department short staffed by at least four officers.

Police Chief Matthew Doughney said Monday he did not wish to discuss his department's staffing issues.

As far as the three recent arrests tarnishing his department's image, Doughney said it's been difficult, with him having been there only 10 months.

"It's hurtful to the men and women who work here when other officers are arrested while they are working hard to make a difference in the community," he said. "My concern right now is for the child."

The case continues to be investigated jointly by the Highlands County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Unit and the Special Victims Unit along with the state Department of Children & Families.

Parker also was involved in a 2008 New Year's Eve ruckus case involving Pete and Sue Diaz. A jury recently cleared the Diazes of battery charges against Parker.

Parker was also arrested in June 26, 2004 on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge involving his former wife. He entered into a diversion program and the States Attorney's Office eventually deferred prosecution.

Parker, then 27, was reinstated in late July 2004 after completing a two-day suspension without pay, according to former Police Chief Frank Mercurio in a previous report.

When Parker attended his arraignment on July 19, 2004, his ex wife withdrew charges, Mercurio said.

A deferred prosecution agreement was signed in lieu of Parker attending an anger management program for 12 weeks. All criminal charges were dismissed after he successfully completed the class.

Parker was initially held Sunday without bond. Monday afternoon, bond was set at $250,000, along with conditions that include:

That Parker not have contact with the victim or the victim's mother nor come within 300 yards of victim's residence without having this order lifted by the judge.

Parker was not to harass, touch, strike or threaten to touch or strike the victim against her will.

He was to check in with Pre-Trial Release by landline or in person twice a week.

He could not leave the county without the court's written approval.

He had to turn in all weapons.

Parker's next court appearance is scheduled for April 27.