AP News in Brief 04-20-19

  • The leveled house of Delores Anderson is seen Friday after a tornado touched down in Franklin County, Va. (Heather Rousseau/The Roanoke Times via AP)

Parents who starved and shackled children sentenced to life in prison

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The eldest son and daughter of a couple who starved and shackled 12 of their children spoke publicly for the first time Friday, alternately condemning and forgiving their parents before a judge sentenced the pair to up to life in prison.

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Since being freed from their prison-like home more than a year ago, the two adult children of David and Louise Turpin described how they had gained control of their lives and, despite receiving little education at home, were now enrolled in college and learning simple things, including how to ride a bike, swim and prepare a meal. They are still thin from years of malnutrition.

“I cannot describe in words what we went through growing up,” said the oldest son, now 27. “Sometimes I still have nightmares of things that have happened, such as my siblings being chained up or getting beaten. But that is the past and this is now. I love my parents and have forgiven them for a lot of the things that they did to us.”

The hearing put an end to a shocking case that had gone unnoticed until a 17-year-old girl escaped from the home in January 2018 and called 911. Investigators discovered a house of horrors hidden behind a veneer of suburban normalcy.

The children — ages 2 to 29 — had been chained to beds, forced to live in squalor, fed only once a day, allowed to shower only once a year and deprived of toys and games. They slept during the day and were active a few hours at night.

Storms in South kill girl in Florida, bring tornado threat

ATLANTA — A strong storm system barreling through the South on Friday killed an 8-year-old girl in Florida and threatened to bring tornadoes to large parts of the Carolinas and southern Virginia.

A tree fell onto a house in Woodville, Florida, south of Tallahassee, killing the girl and injuring a 12-year-old boy, according to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. The office said in a statement that the girl died at a hospital while the boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Their names weren’t immediately released.

The same storm system was blamed for the deaths a day earlier of three people in Mississippi and a woman in Alabama.

The threat on Friday shifted farther east, where tornado warnings covered parts of northeast Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.

The national Storm Prediction Center said 9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were at a moderate risk of severe weather. The region includes the Charlotte, North Carolina metro area.

Family detention space goes unused as Trump warns of crisis

HOUSTON — President Donald Trump has warned that Central American families are staging an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has threatened to take migrants to Democratic strongholds to punish political opponents. And his administration regularly complains about having to “catch and release” migrants.

At the same time, his administration has stopped using one of three family detention centers to hold parents and children and left almost 2,000 beds unused at the other two. It says it does not have the resources to transport migrants to the centers.

Immigrant advocates accuse the administration of closing off family detention to further the perception of a crisis.

The Karnes County Residential Center in Texas used to hold up to 800 parents and children at a time, who would usually be detained before an initial screening to judge whether they qualified for asylum.

But ICE last month started to release families until they were all gone from Karnes. Advocates who work there say ICE is now restricting legal access to the roughly 400 adult women being detained there.

Two-wave US flu season is now the longest in a decade

NEW YORK — Three months ago, this flu season was shaping up to be short and mild in the U.S. But a surprising second viral wave has made it the longest in 10 years.

This flu season has been officially going for 21 weeks, according to reports collected through last week and released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes it among the longest seen since the government started tracking flu season duration more than 20 years ago.

Some experts likened the unusual double waves to having two different flu seasons compressed, back-to-back, into one.

“I don’t remember a season like this,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan researcher who had been studying respiratory illnesses for more than 50 years.

The previous longest recent flu season was 20 weeks, which occurred in 2014-2015.

From wire sources

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Heiress pleads guilty in NXIVM sex slave case

NEW YORK — An heiress pleaded guilty on Friday in a sensational case accusing a cult-like upstate New York group of creating a secret harem of sex slaves for the group’s self-anointed spiritual leader.

Clare Bronfman admitted in her plea in federal court in Brooklyn that she harbored someone who was living in the U.S. illegally for unpaid “labor and services” and that she committed credit card fraud on behalf of Keith Raniere, the lead of a group called NXIVM.

Bronfman – the 40-year-old daughter of the late billionaire philanthropist and former Seagram chairman Edgar Bronfman Sr. – told the judge that she had wanted to help people through NXIVM but ended up dishonoring her family.

“Your honor, I was afforded a great gift by my grandfather and father,” Bronfman said. “With the gift, comes immense privilege and more importantly, tremendous responsibility. It does not come with an ability to break the law.”

She added: “For this, I am truly sorry.”

Polanski asks court to restore his film academy membership

LOS ANGELES — Roman Polanski asked a judge Friday to restore his membership in the organization that bestows the Academy Awards nearly a year after he was expelled from it for sexual misconduct.

Lawyers for the 85-year-old fugitive director petitioned Los Angeles Superior Court to compel the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make him a member in good standing again.

In May, the academy made the rare move of expelling Polanski and Bill Cosby, months after ending the membership of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

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Polanski appealed the decision, and in January the academy rejected his appeal.

Friday’s five-page filing states that by not giving Polanski sufficient notice of his expulsion, and not giving he or his lawyer to argue his case in person during the appeal, the academy “failed to comply with its own rules, policies and regulations.”

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