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Australian hairdresser dragged assaulted in Bali bag snatch

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An Australian woman is in intensive care after a violent bag snatch in Bali.

Emma Bell was walking alone in tourist hotspot Canggu when a motorcyclist drove up beside her and grabbed her bag.

The 25-year-old from Byron Bay hit the ground head first and was dragged for several metres before blacking out.

Emma Bell has broken cheek bones and bleeding on the brain after a violent bag snatch in Bali. (9News)
Hairdresser Emma Bell's friend Josh Sleep told 9News she has a strong support network with her in Bali.
Hairdresser Emma Bell’s friend Josh Sleep told 9News she has a strong support network with her in Bali. (9News)

“She couldn’t really remember much,” friend Josh Sleep told 9News.

“She’s got broken cheek bones and bleeding on the brain which doesn’t seem very positive.

“But she’s got a good support crew here and a lot of loving friends around her and hopefully she can pull through.”

Friends are now rallying to cover the “beautiful soul’s” hospital expenses and medivac back to Australia for desperately needed surgery.

Emma Bell was walking alone in tourist hotspot Canggu when a motorcyclist drove up beside her and grabbed her bag.
Emma Bell was walking alone in tourist hotspot Canggu when a motorcyclist drove up beside her and grabbed her bag. (9News)

“She recently moved to Bali as she was sponsored to do her all-time love of hairdressing at an amazing salon,” friend Emi Thompson said.

“She had it all sorted and has been living the dream.

“We just want her to recover the best she can so she can be healthy again. It’s oh so scary. We are all in utter shock.”



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NY Lawsuit Targets Shuttered Sex Marketplace Backpage – NBC New York

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What to Know

  • A woman who says she was exploited for years starting at age 12 by a sex trafficker who used Backpage.com to sell her is suing the site founders
  • The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Melanie Thompson charges that the men who ran Backpage advertised her for sex even though they knew she was a minor
  • Backpage was shut down by the federal government in 2018

A woman who says she was exploited for years starting at age 12 by a sex trafficker who used the shuttered website Backpage.com to sell her is suing the founders of the site under New York’s Child Victims Act, which loosened the statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in state court in Manhattan by Melanie Thompson, now 23, charges that the men who ran Backpage advertised her for sex even though they knew she was a minor, masking her age in the ads to keep law enforcers at bay.

“As a result of being advertised for sex on Backpage.com, Melanie was repeatedly raped, sexually abused and exploited by men who purchased her for sex,” the complaint says.

The lawsuit targets Backpage.com, its former CEO Carl Ferrer, its founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin and several holding companies that had ownership stakes in the company.

Messages requesting comment were sent Tuesday to their attorneys.

“I really just want people to understand that nobody, unless they’ve lived this life, can honestly fathom the amount of pain and trauma that comes from Backpage,” Thompson, who attends college in New York City and works as a youth outreach coordinator for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, said Friday. “I suffer every day because of the things that happened to me years ago.”

Launched in 2004 as part of the classified section of the Village Voice and other alternative weeklies, Backpage grew to become the nation’s largest online marketplace for sex.

The company weathered criticism for years that it was fostering the illegal sexual exploitation of women and children, with defenders arguing that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protected the site’s content.

But Backpage was seized by the U.S. Justice Department in April 2018, and Ferrer pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering, and agreed to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation.

Larkin and Lacey pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in Arizona in May. Ferrer is awaiting sentencing and could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors say Backpage brought in a half-billion dollars over its lifetime.

Thompson says she was forced into prostitution at age 12 by a man who held her against her will and sold her on the street and in an underground strip club.

Her exploitation worsened when her trafficker discovered Backpage because he could sell her more efficiently, Thompson said.

“There was an influx in the amount of sex buyers that purchased me from the website as opposed to street prostitution,” she said. “There were a lot more individuals and a lot of them were more violent.”

Thompson is being represented by the Seattle-based law firm of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, which won a settlement against Backpage in Washington state in 2017 on behalf of three women who said they were sold for sex on the site as teens.

Jason Amala, one of Thompson’s attorneys, said New York’s restrictive statute of limitations for sex abuse made it difficult for Backpage victims to file lawsuits in the state before the Child Victims Act was enacted last year. Under the act, people who were sexually abused as minors can file civil lawsuits up until the age of 55. Prior to the passage of the act, they had to file their complaints before turning 23, Amala said.

Amala said Thompson’s lawsuit should inspire other New Yorkers who were victimized by Backpage to follow suit. “I think she’s hoping that other people will come forward, particularly in New York, because the statute was so conservative,” he said.

Thompson, whose lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, said she wants other survivors “to see that they do have a voice and that they can use their voice in the way that I’m attempting to now.”



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Metro-North Train Strikes Tractor-Trailer In Rockland County – CBS New York

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SLOATSBURG, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Metro-North train crashed into a tractor-trailer in Rockland County on Tuesday evening.

It happened in Sloatsburg, New York, around 6:30 p.m. at Route 17 and Washington Avenue.

Witnesses watched in horror as the 5:25 p.m. train from Secaucus, New Jersey, hit a big rig stuck on the Port Jervis tracks.

Witness Chris Schucht of Tuxedo, New York, caught the moment of impact on video.

“The gates from the crossing came down and that’s when you go into panic mode. It was just scary,” he told CBS2’s Tony Aiello.

The diesel locomotive that smashed into the truck cut the trailer in two, spilling a cargo of hundreds of HP laser printers onto the ground.

Brittany Coriaty was on the train that hit the truck.

“I couldn’t believe that we actually sliced through something like that. Everybody on the train was saying it was a tractor-trailer and I didn’t believe them. When we got off the train and saw all the debris, it was really startling,” she said.

The train was coming around a bend after stopping in Sloatsburg when passengers felt a jolt as the engineer started to slow down.

“It didn’t stop in time, so we kinda jolted forward for a stop and then we did a huge jolt forward for when we hit the tractor-trailer,” Coriaty said.

Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

The Metro-North Port Jervis rail line was suspended in both directions on Jan. 21, 2020, after a train hit a tractor trailer. (Credit: CBS2)

The truck driver stayed at the scene.

Witnesses say he obviously got stuck on the tracks trying to navigate the narrow turn onto the Route 17 access road.

“He was froze. He was definitely, he didn’t know what to do, and by the time the gates came down and I saw the train coming around the corner, I knew it was going to be ugly,” Schucht said.

Hundreds of passengers were delayed. Some trains left passengers in Sloatsburg due to the accident farther up the line.

“I thought I’d be home by 7:20, it’s 8 o’clock and we’re just out here waiting for the buses to come take us home,” commuter Tammy Primus said.

By 8:40 p.m., the line was reopened with trains slowly rolling past the impact site.

Anyone who takes the affected line should check Wednesday morning for any possible residual delays.

CBS2 has been told the clean-up will likely cost the trucking company north of $100,000.

It’s unclear if the truck driver, who remained in the truck at the moment of impact, will be hit with any citations.

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Grammys CEO Says She Was Ousted After Reporting Harassment – NBC New York

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The ousted Grammys CEO fired back at the Recording Academy on Tuesday, alleging that she was removed after complaining about sexual harassment and pay disparities and for calling out conflicts of interest in the nomination process for music’s most prestigious awards.

Lawyers for Deborah Dugan, who was placed on administrative leave last week after six months in the job, filed the discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just five days before the Grammy Awards. She alleged she was sexually harassed by the academy’s general counsel, Joel Katz.

Dugan detailed the harassment and other issues in an email to an academy human resources executive on Dec. 22, 2019, according to the complaint.

The complaint also states that Dugan was paid less than former academy CEO Neil Portnow, who left the post last year, and that she was also subject to retaliation for refusing to hire Portnow as a consultant for nearly half his former salary.

Portnow had been criticized for saying women need to “step up” when he was asked backstage at the 2018 show why only two female acts won awards during the live telecast. Portnow called his comments a “poor choice of words” and later said he chose not to seek an extension on his contract.

A filing with the Internal Revenue Service shows that Portnow was paid $1.74 million in 2016. Dugan said she was pressured to hire him as a consultant for $750,000 annually. Dugan’s compensation was not revealed in Tuesday’s filing.

Last week, the academy said Dugan was put on leave following an allegation of misconduct by a senior leader at the organization. In the complaint, Dugan’s attorneys called that accusation false, saying there was no mistreatment and the senior leader was the executive assistant she inherited from Portnow.

In her Dec. 22 email, Dugan called the academy “a boys’ club.”

While trying to resolve a lawsuit against the academy, Dugan said one of the claimants characterized the organization’s leadership as “a boys’ club” that “put their financial interest above the mission.”

“At the time, I didn’t want to believe it,” said Dugan, the former CEO of Bono’s (RED) charity organization. “But now after 5 months of being exposed to the behavior and circumstances outlined here, I have come to suspect she is right.”

The academy said in a statement that it “immediately launched independent investigations to review both Ms. Dugan’s potential misconduct and her subsequent allegations.” Both of those investigations are ongoing.

Dugan, according to the statement, was placed on administrative leave after offering to step down and demanding $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit organization.

“Our loyalty will always be to the 21,000 members of the Recording Academy. We regret that music’s biggest night is being stolen from them by Ms. Dugan’s actions, and we are working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”

An email from Katz said the attorney was out sick. Katz’s firm said it had not yet seen the complaint and could not comment on its allegations.

In the complaint, Dugan alleges that in May 2019, when she had accepted the CEO position but had not begun her work, she had dinner with Katz, the academy’s general counsel, alone at his request in Laguna Niguel, California, on the eve of a meeting of the academy board.

There, Katz acted “extremely inappropriately,” according to the complaint, calling Dugan “baby,” and making “an obvious and unwelcome attempt to ‘woo’ Ms. Dugan into a romantic relationship.”

The complaint states Dugan made it clear she wasn’t interested and was in a relationship, but he still attempted to kiss her at the end of the night. Dugan “quickly turned away, repulsed.” Katz continued the harassment in subsequent interactions, the complaint alleges.

It also contends Katz and his firm were paid inappropriately by the academy, and that his role representing both the academy and artists who are up for Grammys was a conflict of interest.

The complaint is also critical of the Grammys voting process, specifically its use of nomination committees to select the final list of nominees, which can range from five to eight depending on the category.

“Rather than promoting a transparent nomination process, the Board has decided to shroud the process in secrecy and ultimately controls, in large part, who is nominated for Grammy Awards,” the complaint read.

For the top four awards, committees select the final nominees from the top 20 contenders, based off ballots from its voting members. But the complaint said the committee members sometimes include artists who did not make it in the top 20 because of their personal or business relationships with those artists.

“This year, 30 artists that were not selected by the membership were added to the possible nomination list,” the complaint read.

The complaint also claimed that one of the song-of-the-year nominees — who placed 18th in the top 20 — sat on the committee deciding the song-of-the-year nominees and is represented by a member of the academy board.



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