OAG’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests
Anderson County Man for Possession of
AUSTIN, TX – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested 43-year-old John Aaron Burney, of Palestine, on one count of Possession of Child Pornography, a third-degree felony.
Burney could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Following a CyberTipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, CEU investigators executed a search warrant at Burney’s residence, where child pornography was discovered on his cell phone.
Investigators seized additional digital storage devices that will be examined by the attorney general’s Digital Forensics Unit.
Burney was booked at the Anderson County Jail without incident.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.
The CEU proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.
Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.
If you suspect someone of producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC, or The CyberTipLine
Recently-Released Child Molester Moves in Next Door to Victim — and It’s Legal:
‘The Law Is Not on Our Side’
OKLAHOMA – A convicted Oklahoma sex offender recently released from prison is living next door to the woman he molested when she was a little girl — and it’s legal for him to do so.
Reached by phone Thursday, Danyelle Dyer, 21, tells she was “extremely shocked” to learn her abusive uncle would be living just yards away upon his release from prison June 13.
“I was pretty outraged, but I have channeled that rage into a more positive outlet, which, for me, is sharing my story and empowering other victims of sexual assault,” Dyer says, adding her parents researched state laws in the hopes of blocking the move, only to learn they had no legal recourse.
“It was disheartening to learn the law is not on our side,” she says.
When Dyer was a little girl, her uncle, Harold English, sexually abused her. English, now 65, served more than a dozen years behind bars following his 2004 conviction on lewd molestation charges.
Upon his release, English moved into his mother’s home in Bristow, next door to where the victim has always resided.
“I was coming back from class and he was out mowing in my grandmother’s backyard, and it made me uneasy just being home,” Dyer tells. “I go to school in Edmond so I’m only home half the time, and I think twice before going home now. I have a very close family, so it’s hard for me to not constantly be with them.”
Only five states — including Alabama and Tennessee — place restrictions on how far an offender can live from his or her victim.
Lawmaker: ‘This is Unacceptable’
Dyer revealed the abuse through a Facebook post, just days after learning her abuser was her next-door neighbor. She hopes that by coming forward with her story, she can help other victims in similar predicaments.
To that end, Dyer and her family have been meeting with State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, who says he is committed to introducing fresh legislation to bar offenders from living within a certain distance of their victims.
“I feel so terrible for Danyelle, because every day, she comes home and she has to relive that nightmare over and over again,” Hilbert says. “This is unacceptable and should not be allowed in Oklahoma and frankly, anywhere in the United States.”
Current Oklahoma statute bars sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, or daycare facility. However, updating that legislation might not be effective, says Hilbert, who represents a densely rural portion of the state.
“The problem is, in this area, 1,000 feet could actually still be your closest neighbor,” Hilbert explains. “I want to introduce language that goes further than that. Such a burden should not be placed on the victim.”
Hilbert says he is “incredibly proud” of Dyer for having the courage to take a public stand against her abuser, and believes her bravery will end up having an impact on the lives of victims throughout the state.
Oklahoma’s legislature only meets between February and May, meaning lawmakers won’t return to the capital until 2018. Hilbert says he has plenty to do between now and then, and hopes to get the new bill in front of the state house as soon as possible.
For now, Hilbert says Dyer may be able to seek a “victim protective order” from a local judge, which would force English to find new living quarters. Dyer says she started pursuing such an order this week.
Dyer says she no longer wants anything to do with her grandmother because of her decisions; when she was in high school, her uncle was released and lived with her grandmother until he violated probation and “went right back” to prison.
“She is supposed to protect me, she is supposed to take care of me,” Dyer says, “so for her to turn on me like this, she obviously doesn’t care about me.”
The reporter was unable to reach English or his mother, and Dyer says she, too, has had no contact with them since June 13. She did write her grandmother a letter about the situation, but did not get a reply.
On Friday afternoon, Dyer and others will take to the streets outside her home, to let her uncle know his presence is not wanted.
“We’re doing a peaceful protest rally at my house and we’re lining the streets with signs,” she says. “If I can’t make him move, I want to make him as uncomfortable as possible.”
PEABODY, MA – A Peabody father charged with grabbing his 11-year-old daughter by the throat and hitting her with a belt after learning she had the Snapchat app on her phone will remain in custody until trial, a Peabody District Court judge ruled on Friday.
Judge James Barretto made the ruling following a hearing where Sean Nguyen’s sister, Michelle Nguyen, testified that she was misquoted in a police report about the June 17 incident. Michelle Nguyen told the judge Friday that she never saw her brother hitting the child with a belt, despite what it says in a Peabody police report.
Barretto was not convinced, saying he did not find her testimony on Friday to be credible.
Sean Nguyen, 31, of 2 Aborn St., Peabody, has pleaded not guilty to strangulation and assault and battery on a child causing injury.
The incident occurred late Saturday night, while Sean Nguyen’s daughter was visiting him for the weekend. He learned that the girl had installed the Snapchat application on the phone, and wanted to see if there were any inappropriate photos.
Michelle Nguyen, who was called as a defense witness Friday, testified that she was downstairs in her own apartment when she heard yelling and screaming, and went upstairs, where she found her brother and his daughter in the girl’s room.
“I want the phone,” he said. “I want to see the pictures.”
“Chino, you need to chill,” she said she told her brother. “That’s when I grabbed her.”
Michelle Nguyen told the judge that she took the girl to her apartment downstairs, and then to her sister Vikki’s home in Salem.
From there, they took the girl to the Salem police station.
Prosecutor Deirdre Foley suggested that the actions of both of the defendant’s sisters that evening show that they were concerned for the girl’s well-being.
“Ms. Nguyen cared enough, and was concerned enough, to take her niece out of the home,” said Foley. “They were telling him, ‘Calm down, Chino.’ He was angry. It’s fair to infer that he was out of control.”
Foley said Sean Nguyen’s response to discovering the Snapchat app was “beyond anything that could ever be considered reasonable.”
‘Responsible and loving’
Sean Nguyen’s lawyer, Kevin Chapman, pointed to a Department of Children and Families report that says the girl told investigators it was the first time her father had acted aggressively toward her.
The girl’s mother also expressed surprise at the allegations, Chapman said, citing the DCF report. She told investigators that Sean Nguyen had “never been abusive” to either her or their child.
“He has always been responsible and loving toward this child,” Chapman said, citing the mother’s statement to DCF.
He noted that the girl’s mother, who has custody of the girl and lives in another county, has not sought a restraining order. The girl was also described in the DCF report as being “not afraid” of her father, he said.
Chapman argued that police have overcharged his client, noting that while Sean Nguyen is facing a charge of assault and battery on a child causing injury, police found no marks on the girl and there is no evidence she suffered any physical injury.
He told the judge he plans to seek dismissal of that count at the next hearing in the case on July 17.
Sean Nguyen was visibly upset during the hearing, and after the judge’s ruling ordering that he remain in custody, he tried to address the judge directly.
“As a father,” he began, before being cut off by his lawyer and the judge.
Chapman said outside court that he plans to appeal Barretto’s decision to a Superior Court judge.
Because of extensive coverage of the case on local television earlier in the week, Sean Nguyen has been held in an administrative segregation unit at the Middleton Jail, his attorney said.
Former Henry County Sheriff honored for
Child Abuse work
CAMBRIDGE, IL – Former Henry County Sheriff Jim Padilla has been named the Hero of Hope award recipient by Braveheart Children’s Advocacy Center in Cambridge.
The award was presented at Mr. Padilla’s retirement event in Kewanee presented by Henry County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Kerry Loncka, acting Henry County Sheriff, and Johanna Hager, forensic interviewer for Braveheart CAC.
“He (Mr. Padilla) was an investigator with the sheriff’s department and became involved with the CAC in the 1990s when we had a series of child abuse deaths that happened in our county and he was deeply saddened by that,” said Capt. Loncka, Captain Loncka, a Braveheart CAC board member. “It was then that he and several other people founded the advocacy center.”
The award honored Mr. Padilla “for going above and beyond in his efforts, dedication and compassion for the fight against child abuse.”
“My heart and soul is in that place,” Mr. Padilla said of Braveheart CAC. “I have received awards and commendations throughout my career, but this one touches my heart the most — the most meaningful and the one I will cherish the most.
“Before the center opened in Cambridge, we were using a backroom in the courthouse and that wasn’t really suited for forensic interviewing,” he said. “When the center opened it was a like a breath of fresh air. It made it so much easier to interview the children because they felt more comfortable. It also provided a comfortable place for families to wait.
“Those people who work daily with abused children, there‘s a special place for them,” he said. “It takes a certain kind of special person to work with children who have been physically or sexually abused.”
Mr. Padilla served on the Kewanee Police Department eight years and the sheriff’s department for 33 years. He was elected Henry County Sheriff in 2010. Experienced in strategic weapons and tactics and FBI sniper training, Mr. Padilla said learning how to interview child crime victims was the most challenging, both physically and mentally draining.
He said in retirement he plans to focus on his family and hobbies of fishing, hunting, competitive shooting, riding his Harley and spending time in his RV.
“Sheriff Padilla was an original member of the Braveheart CAC of Henry County and the Protecting All Children Together (PACT) advisory board,” said Braveheart CAC Case Manager Constance King said. “We want to thank him for over 40 years of service in law enforcement and his ongoing commitment and dedication to children and families.”
The center’s name represents the courage it takes for children to share their experiences, the education of the center’s team and “the innocence at the heart of every child and the heart of the community to speak up in partnership with us,” Ms. King said.
The name became official in 2007 when the Henry County center added services to children in Marshall, Putnam, Stark and Bureau counties.
“I was at the center one afternoon and the name ‘Braveheart’ popped into my mind,” he said. “It’s all about the kids, and it takes a lot of guts for a child to be able to tell the story of what happened to them.
He said he would feel badly if he’d lost one of the cases involving a child victim, which was an incentive to work hard. His most difficult case, he said, was in the 1990s when five children died at the hands of their mother’s boyfriends. He said those were the only autopsies he ever attended, for the children.
“If there was something about my job that I didn’t like, it was that,” Mr. Padilla said.
Florida swim instructor sentenced to life for
molesting three 6-year-old girls
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – A former swim instructor was handed four life sentences in a Florida court on Friday after being convicted of molesting three of his students in his class at the Deerfield Beach Aquatics Center in 2015.
The three victims, all just 6 years old at the time, testified to have been groped inappropriately by Francisco de Aragón underneath their swim clothes. Lawyers for De Aragón defended this as a technique and he later testified that there was possibly “accidental contact” and that his actions may have been misinterpreted.
After a three-day trial and four hours of deliberations this past week, de Aragón, 28, was found guilty of all five criminal counts against him – including sexual battery of a child, which comes with an automatic sentence of life imprisonment.
However, de Aragón – who rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a 25 years behind bars – remains adamant that he is innocent.
“This is not me. There is no justice in this sentence. There is no justice in putting a life sentence on a man who is innocent,” he protested. “The facts in this case show innocence, not guilty, not that I am some monster, not that I am some sort of molester, some secret pedophile.”
It is likely he and his family will appeal the conviction.
“This is a case where they got it wrong,” his father, Frank de Aragón, told local station CBS4. “An innocent man, who is trying to help people learn and save themselves, is now in prison for life.”
Francisco’s wife, Savannah de Aragón, who is reported to have fled the courtroom in tears, expressed concern for her husband’s safety given his child sex offender status.
“I’m scared and terrified he is going to get hurt in there,” she said.