- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2007


Judge tells Palfrey to halt records release

A federal judge yesterday ordered Deborah Jeane Palfrey and her attorney to stop releasing phone records from the escort service that Miss Palfrey ran.

Miss Palfrey, 51, of Vallejo, Calif., is accused of racketeering by running an illegal prostitution ring that netted more than $2 million over 13 years, beginning in 1993. The case has drawn attention because of her threats to expose high-profile Washington officials.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued a similar order in March, but Miss Palfrey gave her phone records to ABC News before the order took effect.

Miss Palfrey, who contends that her business was a legal escort service, hoped that the network would name clients, and that they would testify that they did not have sex with the women who worked for her.

A report last week on the “20/20” newsmagazine mentioned NASA officials, military officers, chief executives and a career Justice Department prosecutor as clients. But the network did not publicly identify the clients, saying their names were not newsworthy.

After the broadcast, Miss Palfrey’s civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, pressured Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to release the name of the prosecutor, threatening to release phone records that had not been previously given to ABC if he did not do so. The Justice Department later said the person had been dead for several years.

In yesterday’s order, Judge Kessler said that Mr. Sibley had issued an ultimatum to the attorney general, and that he was threatening to violate her March order. She barred Miss Palfrey and her attorney from distributing the phone records to any person or organization.



Deadbeat parents now on pizza boxes

Spotsylvania County is trying a new tactic to round up child support scofflaws — putting their names and pictures on pizza delivery boxes.

The program is intended as a deterrent for those starting to fall behind in child support as well as a means of finding people wanted on criminal warrants for failing to pay.

“They might want to pay it before they get their names on pizza boxes,” Sheriff Howard Smith said.

Spotsylvania resident Leslie Sorkhe proposed the idea. She is starting a local nonprofit group called Child Support Link, which aims to enforce child support.

Miss Sorkhe said she got the idea from a police department in Ohio, where she used to live. She pitched the idea to Sheriff Smith, who said he doesn’t know of a similar program elsewhere in Virginia.

Miss Sorkhe hopes to expand the program to other police departments. She said about $2.3 billion is owed to children in Virginia.

“It’s disgraceful,” she said.

Spotsylvania Deputy Sheriff Toby Owens has been contacting local businesses to find participants. Three pizza shops have signed up, he said, and a supermarket and two Asian restaurants have agreed to distribute the fliers in and on grocery and takeout bags.

Spotsylvania CrimeSolvers, which is funded through donations, is paying for the program. The main expense is printing the fliers, which is being done through Spotsylvania’s school Career and Technical Center.


Man held in contempt released after year

The attorney for a Harrisonburg man who has spent more than a year in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury says his client will be released June 1.

Ramiro Sanchez, 19, has been held in the Rockingham County Jail since being found in contempt of court last May. Mr. Sanchez refused to testify before a special grand jury impaneled by the state attorney general to investigate gangs in the Shenandoah Valley.

According to court records, last month Mr. Sanchez pleaded guilty in Rockingham County Circuit Court to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice and was sentenced to serve three months. In exchange, prosecutors dropped his subpoena to testify.



Ex-student found guilty in capital murder case

A former college student was found guilty yesterday of raping and killing a Baltimore woman he met on the Internet.

Baltimore County jurors found John Gaumer guilty of first-degree murder, felony murder and first-degree rape.

Prosecutors said Gaumer beat to death Josie Brown, 27, whom he had met on MySpace.com in December 2005. Authorities say Miss Brown suffered at least 70 blows.

Gaumer told police that he also sexually assaulted Miss Brown, but the medical examiner’s office said her body did not have any injuries consistent with rape.

A sentencing hearing was set for Monday before the same jury. The state is seeking the death penalty. Before a death sentence can be imposed, state law requires an aggravating circumstance, such as killing someone while committing or attempting to commit another crime, such as kidnapping or sexual assault.

Gaumer’s attorneys had said that after spending more than 16 hours in custody before being questioned by detectives, he apparently began to “embellish” his account of what happened the night Miss Brown was killed after being asked repeatedly whether he had also raped her.

Miss Brown was last seen by her roommates leaving for a date. Forty days later, Gaumer led police to her body in a streambed in a wooded area near Interstate 95 and the Baltimore Beltway, south of the city. That night, in a videotaped interview with police, Gaumer described the crime.

Gaumer has no previous criminal record. He was a student at University of Maryland, Baltimore County at the time of the slaying.


Girl, 11, abducted from room, assaulted

An 11-year-old girl was taken from her bed and sexually assaulted early yesterday morning by a home invader who is still at large, Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said.

The girl returned home alone about 30 minutes after the abduction, showing evidence of a sexual assault, Sheriff Mullendore said. She was taken to Washington County Hospital for treatment.

Lt. Mark Knight said the girl’s mother called 911 at 4:35 a.m. to report a burglary and abduction at the family’s apartment on Oak Ridge Drive.

A search of the area with a dog and a helicopter failed to locate the abductor, Lt. Knight said.


Suspect in attacks near UMES still at large

A University of Maryland, Eastern Shore student charged with stabbing a fellow student and shooting two others remained at large yesterday, police said.

Princess Anne Police Chief Russell Pecoraro said Shaun Warrick, 23, also could be charged with unlawful possession of a handgun because of a prior conviction. Police said they haven’t found the gun used in the shootings.

The assaults occurred in separate incidents at off-campus housing. All three victims have been released from the hospital.

Warrick was scheduled to stand trial May 24 in Somerset County District Court on assault charges related to an incident in January.

Police suspect Warrick has left the area. He is described as armed and dangerous.


Appeals court to hear rape and consent case

The state’s highest court has agreed to consider a lower court ruling involving a woman who withdrew her consent to sex after it began. Citing a 1980 precedent, the Court of Special Appeals ruled last year that sex that continues after a woman withdraws her consent is not rape. That decision overturned a conviction in a Montgomery County case.

No date has been set for arguments before the Court of Appeals.

Women’s advocacy groups argue that women have the right to say no at any time and supported the request by the attorney general’s office that the high court hear the case.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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