Review Category : National News

YouTube Sensation Opens Up About Her Revenge Porn Legal Battle

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Chrissy Chambers is one half of the YouTube sensation “BriaAndChrissy,” a singing duo whose message of LGBT empowerment has earned them hundreds of thousands of followers.

But it was a different kind of attention that suddenly spun Chambers’ world out of control. One day, she started getting disturbing comments like these from followers calling her a “slut,” a “hypocrite” and “disgusting.”

Chambers said she had no idea what was happening, but eventually she discovered that a sex tape of her with her ex-boyfriend had been posted online.

“It was single handedly probably one of the hardest moments of my life,” Chambers said. “I found out after Googling myself it was just — it was such a horrific pain like to be hit with a baseball bat. … I literally just collapsed on the floor.”

It wasn’t just the shock that a sex tape had been made public. It was also that it existed at all because Chambers said she has no memory of making the video.

Chambers said her ex-boyfriend secretly taped himself having sex with her while she was passed out drunk then allegedly released the video online three years ago. She calls it an online attack.

“I had been assaulted because I was unconscious when the videos were filmed,” she said. “Someone was posting on our channel links to the videos to our fans and we couldn’t even keep up … that this person you cared about so much could betray you in such an intense way. It was horrific.”

Chambers said the trauma surrounding her alleged cyber assault impacts every aspect of her life.

“The biggest thing I feel I lose in my life was the feeling of control … control over my own body, my image, it was just so damaging in so many ways but that invasion of privacy is such a sharp sword,” she said.

And with a public career built around sharing her life with fans though posting videos online, it was those viewer comments she said that cut deep.

“It was really hard because after the videos came out we heard from some of our subscribers, you know, ‘I’ve been watching for a while but I can’t respect somebody who would do this, or is a slut and a whore, I can’t look up to you,’ and it broke our hearts every time we read something like that,” Chambers said.

Chambers said she is one of many victims of revenge porn, which is a form of non-consensual porn or the distribution of sexually graphic images without consent.

Carrie Goldberg, a New York-based attorney who handles Internet privacy and sexual consent cases, said revenge porn “could be a rape video that’s gone viral or pictures that were originally created and distributed with the context of an intimate relationship.”

There are an estimated 2,000 websites dedicated to revenge pornography worldwide — websites where often jilted exes post intimate photos or video at a former lover’s expense. It’s a cyber-threat that’s difficult to track and even harder to prosecute.

“The biggest frustration that I hear from clients is, I mean, everyone wants their images taken down, and they want to sue the website,” Goldberg said. “There are actually federal laws that immunize online service providers for content that other people post.

“It’s still oftentimes really, really hard to get law enforcers to take complaints seriously and to get investigators and detectives to use their limited resources to investigate these cases, and to get prosecutors and judges to also see these cases through the end,” she added.

Goldberg said 80 percent of her cases are related to revenge porn.

“When clients contact me, they are in the middle of a tornado. It’s a crisis moment,” she said. “They’re often hysterical, crying. They can’t see beyond this and so they think for the rest of their life they’re always going to be exposed on the Internet.”

For Chrissy Chambers, the road to justice has already been long and hard, complicated in part because Chambers said her alleged offender posted the footage in England, forcing her to file suit overseas. ABC News’ efforts to reach the ex-boyfriend were not successful.

“They didn’t have a revenge porn law yet and just felt like we were getting shunned and pushed away. We felt so helpless,” Chambers said. “They would say, ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you, but we can’t help because we don’t have a revenge porn law,’ or ‘since he was in another country that was just too much. It’s out of our hands.’ And while it was in enraging it was just more devastating.”

England and Wales have a revenge porn law on the books now, but the law doesn’t apply to Chambers’ case because her alleged assault happened before their law was in place.

Attorney Ann Olivarius and her team plan to bring a civil suit against Chambers’ alleged offender. While a civil suit is often an option in the United States, it would be the first of its kind in England.

The fight against revenge porn has come a long way in recent years, spurred on by other advocates, with 27 states and the District of Columbia passing specific criminal laws to protect against it. Activist groups like the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative are working for victims to provide online resources, legal support and even a crisis helpline. Tech companies like Twitter, Google and Microsoft now offer tools for users who wish to de-link or remove images they claim to be revenge porn.

Chambers and her girlfriend Bria Kam have been chronicling their journey on their YouTube channel, and there are also notes of hope. Some viewers have commented that they sympathize with Chambers’ situation.

“It’s just incredible how, like we have seen the darkest side of the Internet. But we’ve also seen the most beautiful side of the Internet,” Kam said.

Chambers has also used their YouTube channel as a platform to encourage reform and her quest for change has also led her to petition for a federal law to criminalize revenge porn. The duo put out a song last year called “Can’t Break Me” as “a form of therapy for us,” Chambers said.

“The whole song was basically my message to my ex. And what I would say to him,” she said.

Using her voice is a source of power for Chambers, one she hopes will inspire others.

“He wanted to ruin me and he wanted to hurt me, and he succeeded in that, but he couldn’t silence me forever,” she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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‘Copscotch’: Police Officer Jumps to Help 11-Year-Old Homeless Girl

Huntington Beach Police Department(HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.) — This police officer literally jumped to help cheer up an 11-year-old homeless girl who he discovered had been living out of a car with her mother in Huntington Beach, California.

While his partner talked with the mother to help get them housing arrangements, Officer Zach Pricer decided to distract the girl from the “adult people problem” with a game of hopscotch, or as he likes to call it, “copscotch.”

Pricer’s partner was able to shoot a video of the encounter on Wednesday. It was later posted to the Huntington Beach Police Department’s Facebook where it’s been viewed nearly 1 million times and has gotten thousands of positive comments.

“I had to check the welfare of the little girl, so I have to earn her trust and get her comfortable with me first,” Pricer told ABC News. He explained that he’s used other games and toys like Nerf guns as “ice breakers” to gain children’s trust.

Pricer said that once he got the 11-year-old to open up, he was “blown away by her intelligence and happy-go-lucky attitude.”

“She was very gracious,” the officer said. “Despite having nearly nothing, she was offering to me everything she had to play with. She showed me her bubbles and her little pink shoes that were falling apart but that she still loved. It was amazing to see how thankful she was for what she did have.”

The police department’s Housing Task Force is currently working on finalizing plans to help get the girl and her mother into a housing arrangement, Pricer said.

“And I just want to say that this is the kind of thing a lot of cops in communities across the country do every day,” he added. “It just so happened my buddy was messing around and happened to capture it on film.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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High School Student Offered Over $1 Million in College Scholarships

Mallory Family(LYNN HAVEN, Fla.) — Hard work definitely does pay off, or at least it does for one high school student, from Lynn Haven, Florida. Mimi Mallory, a senior at Mosley High School, was offered more than $1 million in merit-based college scholarships.

“It was crazy,” Mallory, 18, told ABC News. “I just didn’t know what to think.”

As one college acceptance after another came in, they were also paired with a lot of cash. Mallory was awarded a combined total of $1,052,400 from the 11 schools where she was accepted.

The highest scholarship Mallory was offered came from Mercer University, totaling $212,000. She also received a full tuition scholarship from the University of Alabama.

Mallory decided to accept the offer from her dream school, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas. “It’s crazy to think I can go to SMU,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to because of how expensive it was.”

SMU awarded Mallory $166,000 in scholarship money, so she will only have to pay a few thousand dollars each year out of pocket.

Though Mallory was shocked to receive such substantial scholarship awards, she has worked hard in preparation for the college admissions process, maintaining a high GPA and participating in several extracurricular activities.

She is Vice President of the senior class, Secretary of her honors society, president of the productions team that runs the high school announcements, and still maintains a 4.625 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Her weighted GPA comes from Mosley’s Advanced Placement Program for Success, which offers 21 Advanced Placement classes and 19 Dual-Enrollment classes — a rigorous curriculum she credits as one of the main reasons she earned so many scholarships.

Mallory has also been an equestrian rider since she was in fifth grade. She started as a jumping equestrian but, after breaking her femur in freshman year, she quickly picked up dressage — when the rider and horse perform a series of memorized movements — and even placed second in the nation for a national award.

Mallory also credits her parents for her success and their unwavering support through her busy schedule.

“They never pushed me in school, only praising me for the hard work that I put in,” she said. “I think it contributed to the way I am to be self-motivating, and I definitely owe a lot to them.”

For college, Mallory plans to stay involved in many activities, much like her high school years. She said she will continue riding and plans to be either pre-med or pre-law.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Winter Blast and Snow Expected This Weekend

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It may be spring, but Old Man Winter appears set to roar back to haunt us as we head into the first weekend of April, before temperatures warm for good.

A blast of arctic air is expected to plunge into the Great Lakes and Northeast this weekend, bringing chilly conditions and even snow in some areas.

Though these conditions are not unusual for April, but it’ll be a shock for residents who’ve grown accustomed to the long stretch of mild conditions throughout the winter.

The Alberta clipper, responsible for the blast of arctic air, will move eastward late Saturday and into Sunday, bringing a surge of colder air, strong winds and some snow from the Great Lakes to New England.

Sunday morning, wind chills will be in the teens and 20s from the Great Lakes to Northeast. It’ll feel like the 20s from Washington, D.C. to New York City and Boston.

A High Wind Watch is in effect from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia to New York City, which could see wind gusts up to 60 mph early Sunday morning. Some wind damage and power outages will be possible in parts of the Northeast.

Snowfall amounts will generally be a coating to 3 inches from the Great Lakes to New England. Areas around the Great Lakes make see higher amounts of snow.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Man Who Shot VA Trooper Had ‘Extensive Criminal History,’ Police Say

Virginia State Police(RICHMOND, Va.) — The man who allegedly shot and killed a Virginia State Police trooper at a Richmond Greyhound bus station yesterday had 143 rounds of unspent ammunition, state police superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty said Friday.

James Brown III of Aurora, Illinois –- who allegedly whipped out a handgun and fired at 37-year-old trooper Chad P. Dermyer at point blank range during a routine police training exercise -– had an “extensive criminal history” and a record of gun violence, Flaherty told reporters.

According to police, Brown did not buy the semiautomatic pistol used in the shooting. It was purchased legally 13 months ago, they said, but investigators do not yet know how it ended up in his hands.

“I’m concerned he was able to obtain a gun,” said Flaherty. “It is very troubling that he would have a gun.”

Immediately following Brown’s shots, two other troopers returned fire, wounding Brown, who was later taken to a hospital, where he died of his wounds. Two female bystanders sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the shootout.

Asked if the troopers responded appropriately, Flaherty said investigators are examining the situation, adding, “they were confronted with a hostile situation and they responded to it and eliminated the threat.”

Dermyer, a former Marine, succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds sustained in the attack. Survived by his wife and two young children, he is the 62nd Virginia State police trooper killed in the line of duty in the department’s 84-year history, according to the police department.

He was not wearing a bullet-proof vest.

“We encourage our people to wear vests,” Flaherty said. But “whether the vest would have saved his life or not, I don’t know … we’re talking about a 40-caliber weapon inches from his chest.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Army Allows Sikh Soldier to Wear Turban and Beard as Part of Uniform

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In an historic decision, the Army has decided to allow Capt. Simratpal Singh to wear a turban and unshorn beard and hair while in uniform as required by his Sikh faith.

In December, Singh had received a temporary accommodation to wear the turban while in uniform. Now he will be allowed to wear it during his active duty service with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Singh is a 2010 West Point graduate, a combat veteran with a tour in Afghanistan and has successfully completed Army Ranger School. But throughout his Army career he has served on active duty but without the long hair and beard required by the Sikh Articles of Faith.

In October, 2015 he requested an accommodation from Army grooming standards that do not allow beards and turbans to be worn as part of the Army uniform.

In a memo obtained by ABC News, Debra S. Wada, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs writes “I grant your request for an exception to Army personal appearance and grooming standards, subject to the limitations described below.

“While assigned or performing non-hazardous duties, you may wear a beard, turban, and uncut hair in a neat and conservative manner that presents a professional and well-groomed appearance. The bulk of your hair, beard, or turban may not be such that it impairs your ability to wear the Army Combat Helmet (ACH) or other protective equipment or impedes your ability to operate your assigned weapon, military equipment or machinery,” the memo says.

Wada writes that she will assess the decision in a year’s time or less if needed.

The decision will not affect three other Sikh-American soldiers who recently sued for the right to wear turbans as part of their military uniform.

“My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” said Singh in a statement from the Sikh Coalition. “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”

Singh is currently assigned to an engineering battalion based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

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Meet the Man Who Bought the Popemobile for $300K

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — No, this isn’t an April Fools’ Day joke.

A used Fiat 500 Lounge Hatchback, once occupied by Pope Francis himself during his visit to the United States, just sold for $300,000. The Fiat in question has a starting price of $24,695.

The new owner, Jewish businessman and philanthropist Miles Nadal, bought the Popemobile during an auction hosted by Charitybuzz, a site that works with celebrities, CEOs and other luminaries to benefit those in need.

“I’ve followed Charitybuzz for a long time and have had unbelievable experiences with them,” Nadal told ABC News.

Nadal, who built MDC Partners, one of the world’s top ad agencies, is a renowned car collector. The businessman has a world class collection of more than 130 cars and motorcycles, and says he is always looking to add to the collection.

“I look for iconic, one-of-a-kind cars and thought this would be a cool conversation piece to have,” Nadal said of the Popemobile.

Nadal says the added benefit here is that the money will be going to Catholic schools and charities, including Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, according to Charitybuzz.

“As a Jew, I thought it was a unique opportunity to support Catholic charities and children,” Nadal said of the purchase. “It was a chance to make a substantial difference.”

What’s more, Nadal will have the opportunity to meet with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will bless the car.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Nadal said of the upcoming visit. “It will be a unique experience.”

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Knife Found at OJ Simpson’s Old Property Not Connected to Murders

POOL/AFP/Getty Images)(LOS ANGELES) — A knife found years ago at O.J. Simpson’s former property has no connection to the infamous Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman double-murder case, the Los Angeles Police Department said Friday.

But the investigation remains open, police said.

Last month, the LAPD said it was conducting tests on a knife that was purportedly found at Simpson’s old property. Police said in March that they recently recovered the knife from a retired LAPD officer.

#LAPD has determined knife has no nexus to Simpson/Goldman murder investigation. The investigation remains open

— LAPD Online News (@LAPDonlinenews) April 1, 2016

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Onlookers Flee as San Diego Bay Cruise Boat Slams into Seawall

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) — Dramatic new video shows the moment a 150-foot bay cruise boat crashed into a seawall near its dock in San Diego on Thursday.

There were 139 passengers and five crew members on board when the Adventure Hornblower slammed into the walkway at about 12:55 p.m. local time, according to a statement released by the Port of San Diego. Three passengers were injured and transported to the hospital. Their status is currently unknown.

In the video, the horn can be heard repeatedly alerting unsuspecting onlookers, who began scrambling out of the way as the vessel approached. One woman with a walking stick can be seen crossing the path of where the boat hit just seconds before the incident.

The Adventure Hornblower is just one of the vessels operated by Hornblower Cruises & Events. It has three decks, four bars and is certified for ocean cruising and whale and dolphin watching, according to the company’s website.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hornblower Cruises & Events did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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Arab-American Family ‘Seeks Correction Action’ After Airplane Removal

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — An Arab-American family who was removed from an United Airlines flight last month is seeking “corrective action” through the advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The move comes after Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley posted on her Facebook account on March 20 about an altercation between her family and an United Airlines flight crew on a Washington, D.C. bound flight from Chicago O’Hare.

The Chicago chapter of CAIR said they sent a letter to United Airlines which calls for a formal apology to the family, disciplinary measures of the crew involved and sensitivity training for employees.

According to CAIR representative Renner Larson, who is working with the family, the incident happened when Shebley, who wears an Islamic head scarf, or hijab, asked for an additional strap for the booster seat for one of her children. After discussion with a flight attendant about the strap, the family was asked to remove the booster seat, which they say they did.

A short time later, Larson said the family was told they would have to leave the plane because of safety concerns, which they did. They questioned whether it was a “discriminatory decision.”

“They felt singled-out and helpless,” Larson told ABC News. “We are tired of more and more of these instances: of Muslims being taken off flights for flimsy reasons.”

United Airlines maintains that the reason the family was asked to leave was because of safety concern over the child’s seat.

“We reached out to the family following their flight on March 20 to discuss their concerns,” a United Airlines representative said in a statement to ABC News. “They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, D.C., but we re-booked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations.”

“Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination,” the company added.

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