Teacher allegedly molested teens • HS basketball player suffers cardiac arrest • Tax package complaints
THURSDAY NEWS HIT - A former teacher from Plymouth is now facing major charges in connection with the alleged sexual assaults of at least four children under 16 years old.
Investigative sources say James Baird's victims were visually impaired and that the sex assaults took place during school vision tests.
Attorney Ven Johnson represents the victim’s parents.
"Today thank God, Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy, thank you madam prosecutor for doing the right thing as she so often does," said the attorney.
Wayne County investigators say the assaults date back to January 2018 when Baird allegedly sexually assaulted a then-10-year-old victim multiple times during a vision test.
Then in March of that year over in Westland at a school on Bayview Street, prosecutors say he blindfolded a then-13-year-old victim before she was sexually assaulted. Later in May 2019 in Garden City, an 11-year-old girl was once again, blindfolded then sexually assaulted.
"You have a person, I won’t call him a man, who has at least six incidents where three at Garden City, where a number of our clients are," Johnson said. "Douglass Elementary, Livonia Public Schools hired this guy. They did not go and get the 12-30-1230B form that they should have requested - in this day and age, is mandatory. You’ve got to do that.
"And had they done that, and sent that to his former employer Allegan. They’d have found out that this guy was fired from Allegan for taking pictures with high school girls."
Parents of alleged victims spoke with FOX 2 in the summer of 2021 after a lawsuit was filed saying visually impaired victims as young as just 8 years old, were sexually molested at Livonia and Garden City Schools.
"Any person, a child, anybody to have to deal with this, it’s just, it’s totally unfair," said mother Gabrielle Washington.
"And once my baby said she was uncomfortable, he should have let her out that room. Instead, he prolonged it," said mother Danica Petty.
"We’ve already taken the deposition of the Livonia superintendent and he agrees with everything I just told you," Johnson said. "He didn’t know that, had they done that and found out that that’s what was going on, he never would have hired this man and never would have been in Garden City, Livonia or Wayne."
In the meantime, advocates who strive to protect children say there are crucial signs of possible sexual abuse you should look for.
"A loss of appetite, not wanting to engage with people, nightmares also just, they may not even want to do their school work sometimes or even go to school. And it may be some things that they just may be feeling uncomfortable about even talking to their parents or talking to anyone that love them about that. "
The suspect was arraigned this morning in Westland and Garden City. The probable because the conference is scheduled for February 9, 2023
In the meantime, Livonia Schools tells they are unable to comment at this time.
Detroit Northwestern senior suffers cardiac arrest on basketball court
An 18-year-old basketball player from Northwestern High School suffered a cardiac arrest during a game Tuesday night. Senior Cartier Woods was raced to Henry Ford Hospital after collapsing on the court.
The longtime-basketball player was administered CPR on the court before paramedics took him to the hospital. He was placed on life support. The sudden health problem has flummoxed his already-frightened family, who says he has an active lifestyle and is still very young.
"He has a lot, a lot, a lot of people that loves him - from kindergarten to now - they just love him - he's no bad kid - they love Cartier Woods," said his aunt Dwanda Woods.
The medical emergency is eerily reminiscent of the horrifying scene during a recent Monday Night Football game when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after a hit. A registered nurse told FOX 2 that an automatic external defibrillator, which was used on Cartier, can save lives if used at the right time.
GOP upset over Michigan Dem's tax relief package
With the legislature back in session, so is debate over the flurry of packages that Michigan Democrats have brought up for a vote in what's been described as a blistering pace of legislating. Among the moves causing consternation is a new tax relief package.
Its implementation would lower taxes for seniors and low-income families, which would benefit about 1 million residents. There's also a scheduled reduction in the state's income tax from a 2015 state law that's scheduled to take effect.
But GOP lawmakers are nervous that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may circumvent that reduction. "Well, the governor told the press corps that she was simply analyzing the scheduled income tax cut. It turns out she was actually devising a shell game to swindle taxpayers out of their money," said Sen. Arc Nesbitt (R-Porter Township).
Much of the negotiations around the package has been done behind closed doors, meaning there is much still unknown about the new bills.
Woman returns bag of $15,000 in cash she found while walking to work
Diane Gordon is very familiar with her route to the VC Fresh Marketplace - she walks it every day when she goes to work. On Jan. 21, she stopped at a BP gas station for a snack. That's when she noticed something peculiar.
"I looked down on the ground and found a plastic bag with a large sum of money in it," she said. "When you turned it over there was even more money."
According to police, it never even occurred to Gordon to hang onto the money. White Lake police came out to investigate, finding wedding cards from a wedding that had happened that day - along with $14,780 in cash.
It would have been money that Gordon could use since she doesn't have a car. Instead, police set up a gofundme for her because "the world could probably use a few more Dianes," according to Lt. Matthew Ivory. If you’d like to help get Diane a car you can find a link to that fundraiser HERE.
Thieves hit Detroit car dealership 13 times
A break-in early Wednesday is the 13th one a Detroit car dealership has experienced. "They're going to deal with someone who's not like me and who knows what's going to happen," said Mary Colon, who owns C&M Auto Sales.
Colon has been in business for 18 years. She brings vehicles worth $15,000-$40,000 from Georgia to her lot on Livernois near I-94. She said she thinks the types of cars she has, such as Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s and Yukons, draw attention and criminals.
She said she's doing all she can to stop these brazen thieves. "I put Green Light, I put poles, I put gates, I put bars. I have 18 cameras all around. This time with 13 people, I can't deal with all of them at the same time," Colon said.
Wednesday's break-in is the third one in the last six months and the first since she installed the Project Green Light camera two months ago. Colon said the thieves won't stop her, and she is going to continue to protect her business. If you know anything about crimes, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.
Live on FOX 2
Thursday will be a little bit warmer than previous days - but the relief won't last for long as temperatures are expected to plunge later tonight. The wind will make conditions feel like they're below zero.
What else we're watching
- Tragically, Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter. The groundhog emerged from his burrow in the quiet town of Pennsylvania Thursday morning to deliver the news.
- Emagine Entertainment is celebrating Black History Month with a variety of films for only $5 a ticket. They will showcase some of the most influential Black entertainers in modern history. Learn more here.
- Arctic air will descend on Michigan in a freezing fashion Thursday night. AAA is asking residents to be prepared for the incoming cold, including having enough gas in your car and ready with a cell phone and car charger.
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a bill that would move up Michigan's presidential primary. It's unclear if it will be enforced by the national party.
- A man who resisted arrest from a Detroit police officer before attempting to drive into the troopers is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. The incident happened in April 22.
Fight during middle school basketball game leaves Vermont man dead
The Vermont State Police is investigating a man's death after a fight at a middle school basketball game Tuesday night in Alburgh. Russell Giroux, 60, was pronounced dead after he was taken to a hospital.
"The circumstances of his death are under active investigation," authorities said in a news release.
Police were called to the Alburgh Community Education Center before 7 p.m. local time in response to a large altercation involving multiple people during a 7th and 8th grade boys' basketball game.