MINNEAPOLIS — Local police are investigating the reported rape of a University of Minnesota student by a classmate who used his position as a fraternity member to coerce the victim into a sexual act.

The victim, who was pledging Alpha Epsilon Pi at the time of the assault, told police that he was raped by one of the fraternity’s members on Jan. 29 at the Marshall Apartments, an off-campus student housing complex in Dinkytown. The victim later went to a nearby hospital, where he underwent a rape exam, according to a search warrant affidavit.

What started out as consensual encounter between the two men swiftly took a frightening turn, the victim told police, according to court filings.

The suspect reportedly also “threatened to document the sexual encounter,” the filings said, “by photos and video that he could use to blackmail (the victim) into silence about the assault.” It was unclear whether the suspect actually filmed or photographed the encounter.

He also told the victim that he would use his stature within the organization to keep the other man from joining the frat unless he did as he was told. He later sent the victim a threatening message on the popular messaging app Snapchat, warning him not to tell other frat members about the incident, authorities said.

The first-year student, who has since been suspended from the fraternity, has not been charged, which is why the Star Tribune is not naming him.

—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)


Vandalism at Jewish cemetery in Pa. predated reports, superintendent says

PHILADELPHIA — The toppling of about 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia’s Wissinoming section occurred at least five days earlier than first reported to police on Sunday, according to a cemetery superintendent who visited the site last week.

Bill Doran, the superintendent of Laurel Hill Cemetery in North Philadelphia, said he was at Mount Carmel Cemetery on Tuesday morning, Feb. 21, when he first noticed the vandalism that would go on to make headlines worldwide.

“I didn’t raise any red flags because when I got there the gate was unlocked and open so I assumed the people that run it knew about it and didn’t want publicity,” Doran said.

The incident was first reported to authorities and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, by a man who went to visit his relatives’ graves and noticed the toppled tombstones.

For 33 years, Doran has worked at Laurel Hill, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. He specializes in selling and installing monuments. One of the families he’s working with has a relative buried in Mount Carmel and requested Doran duplicate a headstone from that cemetery.

So on Feb. 21, Doran traveled to Mount Carmel to take pictures and measurements of the tombstone. What he saw shocked him.

“I came back and told my peers I was just in this Jewish cemetery and it was vandalized,” he said.

Doran believed that the cemetery gates were unlocked every morning and locked again at night, so he assumed the owners were aware of the vandalism. But after word broke Sunday about the toppled stones, he said he’s no longer positive that someone checked on the grounds daily.

The individuals who run Mount Carmel also own Har Nebo Cemetery and Monuments in Oxford Circle. They have not returned messages left by reporters or concerned families at the business. They also did not return a message left by Doran. The office mailbox is now full.

—The Philadelphia Inquirer


Hollande unfazed by accidental police gunfire during speech

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande was unfazed Tuesday when his speech to inaugurate a new railway line was interrupted by an elite police marksman accidentally opening fire.

Hollande was detailing the history of the Paris-Bordeaux high-speed rail project when what sounded like a rifle shot rang out.

Video from the scene showed him pausing and looking up, saying, “I hope it’s nothing serious.”

After looking off to the side, seemingly for confirmation, for a moment, he added, “I think not,” and continued speaking about the railway line.

The head of the local administration later told reporters that an elite marksman positioned on a roof nearby had fired by accident, causing minor injuries in the legs of two people.

Hollande had spoken with the victims after ending his speech as scheduled, prefect Pierre N’Gahane said.

France has been on high alert for terrorist incidents since deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group over the last two years in Paris and Nice, among others, cost 238 people their lives.



Nicaraguan woman dies from burns incurred during exorcism

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — A woman died in northern Nicaragua from severe burn injuries suffered during an exorcism, local authorities said Tuesday.

The leader of a religious sect had ordered that the 25-year-old be thrown upon a pyre. “We did all we could to save her. But the third-degree burns on 80 percent of the body could not be healed,” hospital director Luis Moreno told Nueva Radio Ya.

Before the final act of violence, the woman was held for a week in the religious group’s compound. The sect’s leader said the woman must be burned in order to free her of demons.


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