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Loophole lets teen rapists return to same school as victims, Michigan lawmakers told



Two teenage rape survivors are urging state lawmakers in Michigan to close down a loophole that allows rapists to return to the same school as victims after finishing their sentences.

Gianna Duva and Mya Zaplitny, both 14, were raped off school grounds last year by a 16-year-old male student at Brighton High School in Michigan. They were only 13 and 12 at the time of the crimes.

The boy pleaded guilty to six of more than 30 criminal charges, but was tried as a juvenile and received only a 45-day sentence.

Upon his release, the boy was set to return to the very same school Duva and Zaplitny attend due to a gap in state law that prohibit schools to expel a student if the sexual misconduct happened off school property.

“The sentence was crushing, it made me feel like it wasn’t worth all the pain,” Duva said, according to WLNS. “But what really crushed me is that he could possibly come back to the same school I go to.”

After outrage from the parents, however, a court ruled in December that the perpetrator could not return to the school. He is currently under house arrest and undergoing a court-mandated psychiatric evaluation.

But the two girls are now speaking out and demanding a change in the law.

“It feels like it’s become more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist,” Duva told members of the state House, Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press reported. “We need to keep these sexual predators out of our school district.”

“I have found that sometimes the juvenile criminals have more rights than us survivors,” she added. “This needs to be discussed and fixed before any more survivors drop out of school.”

“We need to keep these sexual predators out of our school district. I have found that sometimes the juvenile criminals have more rights than us survivors.”

– Gianna Duva, teenage rape victim

Republican state Rep. Lana Theis is sponsoring a bill that would end the gray area in the law and prevent anyone who is guilty of a form of criminal sexual conduct against another student from coming back to the same school as the victim. The perpetrator would be given an option of either transferring to another school or go to an online school.

“The holes in our law are massive,” Theis said, according to the Free Press. “These victims face the real possibility that their assailant would return to their same high school. I can’t imagine the pain and fear these victims and their families went through. The possibility of having to share space with the person who assaulted them is unconscionable.”

Another bill, sponsored by state Rep. Sylvia Santana, D-Detroit, would ban the assailants from school grounds.

“There were so many holes in the process along the way that we had to bring attention to them,” said Ashley Duva, Gianna’s mother.

She added: “The thought that it was even a possibility that he could be back at the school blew my mind. Something needs to change. Our girls came forward even before ‘#MeToo’ became a thing. They wanted to put a face to sexual assault. If that isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is.”

The state House is likely to vote on the two measures next week.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

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Brexit doom-mongers will be 'pleasantly surprised' says Boris as he teases talks with EU



BORIS JOHNSON said he is “optimistic” his critics will be “pleasantly surprised” by the success of Brexit once early issues are resolved.

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EU snub! Gibraltar brings down EU flag and replaces it with Commonwealth banner



GIBRALTAR has replaced the EU flag despite ministers agreeing to join the Bloc’s border-free travel area after Brexit, it has emerged.

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Only one New York governor has ever been impeached. Some lawmakers hope Cuomo will be the second.



Republican lawmakers in New York introduced a resolution Monday to begin impeachment proceedings against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo — which hasn’t been done in New York in over 100 years.

“There’s been one bombshell after another,” Will Barclay, the Republican leader of the state Assembly, told reporters at the state Capitol in Albany, where he announced the impeachment resolution.

Cuomo has been besieged by bipartisan calls to either resign or be impeached over dual scandals that have rocked his administration in recent weeks: allegations that his administration intentionally undercounted Covid-19 nursing home deaths and allegations from five women that he sexually harassed them. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing with the nursing home numbers, and he has denied having harassed women while apologizing for how his behavior might have made some of them feel.

“The real problem now is the governor’s lost so much credibility and trust that we don’t feel like he can go forward and govern,” Barclay said. “So we want to move ahead, do this impeachment in the Assembly.”

The impeachment resolution isn’t likely to proceed at the moment. Democrats control 106 of the Assembly’s 150 seats, and only a handful of members have said they would vote to impeach.

If Cuomo is impeached, however, there’s “very little precedent to rely on,” said Peter Galie, a professor emeritus of political science at Canisius College in Buffalo.

Only one New York governor has ever been impeached — William Sulzer, who was impeached for campaign finance violations and removed from office in October 1913 after a three-week trial. Historians have said he was targeted for having crossed Tammany Hall, the corrupt political organization that had once backed him.

“During his tenure, his efforts to remove Tammany Hall influences in state government resulted in an investigation that discovered fraud in his own campaign contributions,” the National Governors Association website said.

Sulzer said his impeachment was a “political lynching” and “the culmination of a deep-laid political conspiracy to oust me from office.”

As for the impeachment process itself, Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, said, “it’s a lot like but not the same as in the federal system.”

Impeachment begins in the Assembly and “requires a majority of the members of the Assembly” to vote to charge the governor.

Unlike the federal Constitution, New York’s Constitution makes “no mention of high crimes and misdemeanors,” Galie said. In terms of possible charges, “there’s nothing there at all,” leaving the way forward entirely up to the Assembly, he said.

If the Assembly votes to charge the governor, a trial is held before the state Senate. Unlike in the federal system, the senators aren’t the only judges/jurors. Judges from the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, hear the case, as well. That could be a boon for Cuomo, who appointed all seven of the judges.

Gillers said the judges probably were added to eliminate appeals, because the “state high court judges would already have participated in the impeachment trial.”

A two-thirds vote is required for conviction, and the penalty is removal from office. The Senate and the judges could also vote to ban the governor from holding any other state office — a penalty that wasn’t used against Sulzer. He was elected to the Assembly just weeks after he was impeached.

A spokesman for Cuomo responded to the impeachment threats Monday by saying Cuomo is focused on his work.

“There’s a job to be done, and New Yorkers elected the governor to do it, which is why he has been focused on getting as many shots in arms as possible, making sure New York is getting its fair share in Washington’s Covid relief package and working on a state budget that is due in three weeks,” said the spokesman, Rich Azzopardi.

Twenty Democratic female legislators issued a statement Monday calling for state Attorney General Letitia James to be given time to complete her investigation of the sexual harassment allegations, saying, “Our democracy demands that we be diligent and expeditious in our search for truth and justice.”

James announced later Monday that her office had hired Joon Kim, a former acting U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne L. Clark, an employment discrimination lawyer, to lead an independent investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment.

“These are serious allegations that demand a rigorous and impartial investigation. We will act judiciously and follow the facts wherever they lead,” Kim said in a statement.

Tom Winter contributed.

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