Second woman accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault

NORFOLK, Va. - A second woman has now come forward accusing Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, saying he raped her in 2000 while they were students at Duke University.

Meredith Watson released details of the assault through her attorney.

In a statement, her attorneys wrote that Watson "immediately" told friends after the incident that Fairfax had raped her. She also shared her account with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that the law firm now says it has.

"Mr. Fairfax's attack was premeditated and aggressive," the statement reads. "The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship."

"At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character," said her attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, in a statement Friday. "She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages."

Watson wants Fairfax to resign from office, Smith said.

Fairfax's spokeswoman, Lauren Burke, said, "We're calling for an investigation on all of these matters," according to The Washington Post. She said Fairfax would have further response later.

- The Virginian-Pilot


Trump EPA fines plunge

WASHINGTON - Numbers released by the Trump administration Friday show an 80 percent drop in some penalties levied against polluters, the latest sign that the Environmental Protection Agency has become a less aggressive watchdog.

Injunctive relief - the amount of money polluters commit to pay to correct problems and prevent them from reoccurring - fell from $20.6 billion in fiscal 2017 to $3.95 billion in fiscal 2018. That represents a 15-year low for the agency.

Civil penalties in 2018 declined to $69 million. That was far less than the $1.68 billion in 2017, but that year's figure was impacted by fines negotiated during the Obama administration.

In releasing the figures, EPA officials said they were focused in 2018 on ensuring that facilities were in compliance and expediting site cleanup.

- Los Angeles Times


Armed kidnapping scheme targets undocumented immigrants, police say

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Three people have been arrested and there could be more after a kidnapping, armed robbery and beating that may be part of a criminal scheme targeting undocumented immigrants, Davie police said.

The abduction happened about 9 p.m. Saturday and ended about 8:45 a.m. Sunday after the victim was beaten, robbed, and threatened with death or deportation if he went to the police, said Sgt. Mark Leone.

"It is believed that this group is targeting undocumented immigrants and robbing them for their cash," he said. "We believe that they target these undocumented immigrants because they are less likely to report being a victim of a crime to the police."

Natalie Rebecca Williams, 34, Joshua Aaron Greiff, 30, and Andres Rafael, 31, have been charged, so far. They were among seven people involved in the crime, police said.

- South Florida Sin Sentinel


Venezuela aid organizers imagine a 'river of people' overwhelming Maduro's blockade

CUCUTA, Colombia - A call goes out and thousands of Venezuelans rush into Colombia, ignoring threats from their own military. Soon, they're swarming back across the border carrying bags full of life saving food and medicine.

That's one of the scenarios being floated as Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro continues to reject international aid - going so far as to blockade a road that might have been used for its delivery.

On Friday, Lester Toledo, a representative of Venezuela's Interim President Juan Guaido, and who's in charge of the international aid effort, hinted that a "river of people" might be summoned to move goods that are being collected near the Colombian border town of Cucuta.

Recalling an incident in 2016, when white-clad Venezuelan women pushed through police barricades to go shopping in Colombia, Toledo suggested it might happen again.

"We know how we're going to get it across and we know when we're going to get it across and we know who's going to support us in getting it across," Toledo said Friday of the aid delivery efforts. "The immense majority of people are going to accompany us - it will be a river of people - to make sure it gets there."

Toledo said that Guaido might let his supporters know "in coming days and hours" if they should concentrate along the Colombian border to create a "humanitarian corridor."

_Miami Herald


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