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State/County - Bensalem Township

PA Lawmakers to Introduce Measure Banning ‘Gay and Trans Panic’ defense in Criminal Proceedings.

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Two state Representatives are introducing a bill that would ban the ‘Gay and Trans Panic’ defense in criminal proceedings. 

State Reps. Dan Miller and Adam Ravenstahl, Democrats from Allegheny County, moved to introduce a measure banning the use of  that defenses in criminal cases by defendants. 

“I was appalled to learn that it is still possible in Pennsylvania for people to hide behind hate as justification for their actions,” Ravenstahl said. “As a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, we need to continue moving forward to ensure that all Pennsylvanians, regardless of whom they love, have the same basic civil rights.

“Removing the possibility of this abhorrent defense from the books is a step the right direction and one that I hope will receive broad bipartisan support and swift passage,” Ravenstahl concluded.

The defense strategy is outlawed in California, Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii, New York and New Jersey, according to the LGBT Bar Association, the lawmakers say. 

“To many Pennsylvanians in the LGBTQ+ community are living in fear,” Miller said. “It is simply unjustifiable in any context that this type of defense can be used in 2020 as an excuse for a crime of violence. With acts of hate unfortunately on the rise in recent years, it is very important that we say, ‘enough is enough,’ and stand in support of our LGBTQ+ community.”

The “gay and trans panic” defense theory can allow perpetrators of criminal actions against Pennsylvanians in the LGBTQ+ community to receive a lesser sentence and in some cases even avoid being convicted or punished by placing the blame for their actions on a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The “defense” has been used to “justify” both assaults and murders, the representatives said.

Similar legislation — S.B. 212 – has been introduced in the Senate also by Lawrence Farnese, Jr (D-Philadelphia) also. Its been referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Both Miller and Ravenstahl said the legislation is especially pertinent given the unprecedentd rise in hate crimes in recent years.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2017 was one of the worst years for crimes against members of the LGBTQ+ community. NCAVP found that as of Aug. 23, 2017, 36 hate-violence-related homicides of LGBTQ+ and HIV affected people had been reported, which represents nearly one homicide a week of a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

In addition to this legislation, both Miller and Ravenstahl have co-sponsored several other bills related to LGBTQ equality, including H.B. 1404, the LGBT Civil Rights Protection Act which is awaiting action in the state House.

 

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

New LBTQ+ Advocacy Group Fairness Pennsylvania Launches

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Fairness Pennsylvania (FPA), the first full-time statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights program in several years kicked off on Monday, June 3 with Pennsylvania organizers, advocates, and legislators  at the state Capitol.

“We are ready to hit the ground running,” said Sarah Hammond, Fairness PA’s State Director, in a press release. “There are so many engaged activists and strong voices working right now in communities across the state. Our first priority is to identify ways that a new, statewide organization can assist these dedicated activists to move the needle here in Harrisburg and around the state.”

Hammond said. “…FPA is dedicated to promoting equality and fostering nondiscrimination principles in PA so that our LGBTQ+ community can be open, honest, and safe at home, at work, and in our communities across the state.”

In a statement, Governor Josh Shapiro said, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was founded on the ideals of tolerance and understanding and I’m proud to stand alongside Fairness PA as they work to promote those values and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for all.”

Credit: Submitted

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to, you deserve equal protection under the law in Pennsylvania….” said Shapiro. “It’s long past time we put partisanship aside and pass a nondiscrimination law that protects LGBTQ Pennsylvanians,” continued the press release.

Hammond said that an immediate priority for Fairness PA would be passage of the Fairness Act, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the state, according to the press release. The Fairness Act passed in the state House in April 2023 but has yet to be considered in the state Senate. Shapiro earlier this year called on on the General Assembly to finally come together and pass the Fairness Act.

Fairness Pennsylvania can be found online at fairnesspenn.org or @FairnessPA on social media.

For more information, please visit Fairness PA or contact Pete Shelly at pshelly@clearpointpa.com.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Man Charged for Possessing Kiddie Porn

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A Bensalem man stands accused of uploading and saving pornographic images involving children to his Google account.

Michael Dunbar, 55, was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Michael W. Gallagher Thursday morning on one felony count of child pornography and one count of criminal use of communication facility with his bail set at 10 percent of $300,000.00.

According to Bensalem Police,  on Thursday, April 25, 2024, a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was received.  The tip referenced a particular Google account that had uploaded and saved numerous videos depicting child pornography, including prepubescent boys and girls engaging in sexual acts with each other. Detectives began an investigation and were able to determine that the owner/user of the Google account was Dunbar.

On Thursday, June 20, 2024, Bensalem Detectives served a search warrant on Dunbar’s residence.  The suspect was interviewed, and he allegedly admitted to intentionally uploading child pornography into his Google account after finding the videos on the Dark Web.

Bensalem authorities did not comment about the results of the  executed search warrant.

Dunbar was unable to post bail as of early Friday morning and was remanded to Bucks County Correctional Facility. He is currently scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on July 2 and has no attorney of record presently, according to court records.

 

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Courts & Fire - Other

Nearby: Wellness Check Turns into Homicide Investigation, Son in Custody

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What started as a wellness check of an elderly woman turned into a homicide investigation in Northampton Township  and the victim’s son says he’s responsible , said police.

The woman was identified as Dolores Ingram and lived in a condominium on Beacon Hill Drive in the Holland section of the township.

The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Northampton Township Police Department are continuing their investigation into the killing of the 82-year-old woman. An autopsy will be conducted Tuesday, June 18, authorities said.

Northampton Township Police said they were dispatched to do a wellness check of a resident on Sunday, June 16, 2024, after her son, William Michael Ingram, 49, had been taken into custody in Washington D.C. for allegedly assaulting an officer and damaging a police vehicle. During his arrest, he told several Metro D.C. police officers, he killed his mother.  On Monday, he was charged with stealing his mother’s vehicle, authorities said.

The victim was located inside her home after Bucks County radio dispatchers received a call from the Metropolitan D.C. Police Department to check on her well-being.

Northampton Township police officers responded to the address. From the outside of the first-floor condo, they observed blood on a windowsill and more blood smeared on the walls, window, and floor inside. The furniture inside appeared in disarray. Police forced entry through the locked front door. The living room appeared to have been cleared out, with the exception of a pile of clothes, towels/linens, furniture, and other household items on the far-right side of the living room. One of the officers began to pull items off the pile and move the couch. As he moved the couch, he observed a foot, which felt cold to the touch. The officer noted there appeared to be no signs of life, police said.

Credit: Laughs for Recovery

Northampton Township Police and the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office launched a death investigation. Investigators obtained a search warrant, and the deceased female was identified. authorities said, she appeared to have sustained severe head trauma. She was buried under a pile of household items, including furniture and clothes, in the main living room area

The Bucks County District Attorney’s office said, a witness reported being awakened at 1 a.m. Saturday to the sound of loud banging. While the witness was awake, she reviewed her home camera and at 1:42 a.m., the camera showed William Ingram running out of the condo shirtless. He walked back a minute later. Hours later, at 10:03 a.m., the camera showed him leaving the residence. He was wearing a shirt and carrying a duffel bag. The witness said she had not seen him since.

Police located +Ingram’s vehicle in the complex’s parking lot, but his mother’s white 2015 Honda Civic was missing. Using license plate readers, investigators tracked the vehicle to two locations: at 10:13 a.m. at the 413 Bypass and Route 332 East in Newtown Township, and at 10:21 a.m. on Route 332 and Stony Hill Road in Lower Makefield Township. Based on the readings, the vehicle was traveling away from the residence. During a search of the residence, police could not locate the keys to Dolores Ingram’s Honda Civic, but they did locate a key fob for William Ingram’s vehicle next to his mother’s body, said police.

Detectives with the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Northampton Township Police Department are handling the investigation, with help from the Metropolitan D.C. Police Department. This case is assigned for prosecution to Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Reckner, said Bucks County District Attorney’s Office spokesman, Manuel Gamiz Jr.

Court records show William Ingram is currently charged with two felony counts with the theft of his mother’s car. .

He remains in custody in Washington D.C. Additional charges against him will be filed at the appropriate time, said the Bucks County District Attorney’s office.

 

 

 

 

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