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  • An Oklahoma man was arrested in Mexico earlier this month amid allegations that he “married” his 11-year-old stepdaughter in a van, abducted her and kept her captive as his “wife” for nearly 20 years.  Henri Michele Piette, 62, is charged with first-degree rape, two counts of lewd molestation and child abuse by injury, according to Oklahoma court records. He was taken into custody Oct. 5 in Mexico, where he lived with the victim and their children for years after her alleged abduction.  The Oklahoman reported that the now 33-year-old victim, Rosalynn Michelle McGinnis, is speaking out about her ordeal since returning to the United States. Court records show that McGinnis escaped captivity last year with eight of her nine children and found her way to a U.S. Embassy in Mexico, where she received help.  Her oldest child, a boy, had already run away from the remote village in which they lived. McGinnis told People magazine in August that she has since been reunited with her son.  Piette was still at large and under investigation by federal investigators when McGinnis first detailed her ordeal and subsequent escape.  “I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I’d either go insane or I would end up dying and leaving my kids with that man,” McGinnis told the magazine. She alleged in her interview that she was raped, beaten, stabbed, choked and shot during her captivity.   Piette, who has since been returned to Wagoner County for prosecution, told Fox23 News in Tulsa last week that he’s innocent.  “Most of it are lies,” he told the news station as he shuffled into a courtroom for a hearing, surrounded by deputies. “Ninety-nine percent are lies. I’m telling the truth.” He also denied raping McGinnis. “I never raped any children. I made love to my wife,” Piette said. “We were married.” McGinnis told investigators that Piette first raped her at the age of 11 at their home in Wagoner, the Oklahoman reported. He later “married” her in the back of a van, giving her a ring. Piette’s son told FBI investigators in January that he performed the “ceremony” for his father. The son was 15 at the time. McGinnis told People that her “marriage” to Piette took place the day before he legally married her mother.  McGinnis’ mother later left Piette because of abuse in the home, the Oklahoman said. She and her daughter were living at a woman’s shelter in Poteau, about 100 miles southeast of Wagoner, when Piette abducted the girl in January 1997 from her new school.  Piette introduced McGinnis to his children as their new mother, court records obtained by the newspaper showed. In the subsequent years, they moved frequently, living in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Idaho before moving on to Mexico. “McGinnis stated that she was sexually assaulted multiple times a day almost every day while she was with Piette,” the court documents read. >> Read more trending news Piette would return to Oklahoma occasionally and make McGinnis mail letters from there so authorities would believe she was still living somewhere in the state, she told investigators. He also changed everyone’s names often to stay hidden. McGinnis told People that, at the age of 18, she was forced by Piette to get her name and photo taken off national missing persons’ lists.  “He parked three blocks down the road from the Phoenix Police Department, and he had three of my children,” she told the magazine. “He told me what to tell them. He said that if I didn’t come back within two hours, I would never see my children again.” McGinnis said she walked into the police station and told officers that she had run away from home at 12 because her parents were drug addicts and that “nice people” had taken her in and raised her. Police, with no evidence to the contrary, were forced to believe her.  She returned to Piette and her captivity, where she remained for another 13 years. In that time frame, she had another six children by her alleged abductor. 
  • A 24-year-old mother of four is accused of killing her two youngest sons “by placing them in an oven and turning it on,” according to an arrest warrant obtained Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. An official autopsy is pending. Fulton County jail officials said Lamora Williams waived her first appearance in court Monday on felony murder charges. >> Read more trending news The arrest warrant alleges Williams put her sons in the oven sometime between midnight Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday. Williams called her sons’ father, Jameel Penn, on Friday night and showed him by video chat that something was wrong in her Atlanta apartment home. Penn said he immediately called the police. When officials arrived at the Oakland City West End Apartment complex, the boys, 2-year-old Ke’Younte Penn and 1-year-old Ja’Karter Williams, were dead. Related: 2 children found dead in Atlanta apartment; mother charged Friends and family members of Williams told the AJC she suffered from undiagnosed mental health problems that were exacerbated by her father’s death when she was 19 and by having four children younger than 7. They said she was also a single mother who had some help from Penn, but not enough considering her mental health. Williams’ longtime friend Neesa Smith said Williams quit a job about a month ago because she couldn’t find a babysitter for the kids.  “Nobody could tell what she was going through,” Smith said. Williams’ sister, Tabitha Hollingsworth, said Williams is at risk and should be put on suicide watch in the Fulton County Jail, where she remains without bond.
  • Even as President Donald Trump urged Senators on Monday to find a bipartisan deal on short-term fixes to the Obama health law, the consensus among health insurance experts is that Mr. Trump’s decision last week to no longer make payments to insurance companies to cover the health-related costs of some Americans might actually cost the federal government billions more in the years ahead. At issue is the “Cost Sharing Reduction” payments that had been made by the Obama and Trump Administrations – that money helps subsidize insurance costs of some consumers in the Obamacare exchanges. Those payments were never expressly approved by the Congress, leading many Republicans to charge that the spending had been illegal, and spurring the President to block the payments. And that’s where the subject gets a bit complicated. “The Congressional Budget Office estimated that not funding CSR would lead to a net increase of $194 billion in more spending over the next decade,” said health care researcher David Anderson of Duke University. Repealing CSR could increase federal deficit. No CSR = Higher Premiums = Higher APTC = increased federal deficit. https://t.co/NPWFjAKGUw — Thomas Tsai (@Thomasctsai) October 13, 2017 But wait – how would halting an expected $10 billion in payments in 2018, a move that would save Uncle Sam money – how would that lead to such a big cost for the feds over the next decade? “While the federal government would save money by not making CSR payments, it would face increased costs for tax credits that subsidize premiums for marketplace enrollees with incomes 100-400% of the poverty level,” wrote officials of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on health care policy matters. In other words, different subsidies doled out under the Obama health law would go up as insurance companies raise premiums to deal with the loss of the CSR federal payments – those are known as “Advance Premium Tax Credits,” which can go to families of four with a yearly income of up to $97,000. Who Bears the Brunt With the End of ACA Cost-Sharing Subsidy Payments? https://t.co/pMhUQwvpeC by @larry_levitt — Kaiser Family Found (@KaiserFamFound) October 16, 2017 “The biggest effect from the termination of cost-sharing subsidy payments is that premiums are going up to offset the loss,” said Larry Levitt of Kaiser, who labeled the impact of the Trump CSR decision, “confusing and complicated.” One example of that started to appear on Monday in in Pennsylvania, as state officials said health coverage “rates will increase by an average 30.6 percent in the individual market ,” instead of by 7.6 percent. One recent story from the Miami Herald found that the Trump move on CSR payments would mean a big increase for Florida in the amount of federal dollars spent to subsidize those who get their health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges in that state. Some experts argue that Mr. Trump’s decision will have the biggest negative impact on insurance rates in states that are normally in the Republican column – especially if those states did not move to expand the Medicaid program during the Obama Administration. In recent months, a bipartisan group of Senators had been working to figure out a way to tinker with the Obama health law, and make sure the CSR payments were made by Congress, led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who told reporters on Monday evening that he had already spoken with the President about his CSR decision. Alexander on his call with TRUMP: 'He said 'I don't want people to suffer.' Those are his words.' — Peter Sullivan (@PeterSullivan4) October 16, 2017 Some GOP Senators have grumbled in recent weeks about the talks between Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), worried that it will contain little in the way of concessions by Democrats on the operations of the Obama health law. That’s a concern for Republicans in the House as well, and could lead to a stalemate in Congress on any short-term effort to deal with the Obama health law. “At this time, in my opinion, doing nothing is an acceptable outcome for liberal policy preferences while doing nothing moves policy further away from stated conservative policy preferences,” said Anderson of Duke University. “I want to get healthcare that’s much more affordable and much better healthcare, and that’s what we’re doing,” the President said on Monday when asked about the CSR payments decision. What that exactly means for the President is still not clear.
  • A familiar scam seems to be making the rounds again. The FBI is launching a new awareness campaign about a fake kidnapping scam, after receiving hundreds of reports of similar calls, including some in St. Johns County.  During the call, we're told the scammers will claim to have kidnapped your child and if you want them back alive, you have to pay up.  FBI Assistant Section Chief Tim Ferguson tells our partner Action News Jax, the calls usually come from criminals in Mexican prisons, using cell phones that have been smuggled in.  'It's a get rich quick scheme, where they can extort victims and have them wire money into Mexico,' explains Ferguson.  Ferguson says after making the calls, family or friends of the prisoners will pick up the cash sent by the victims.  To know if the call you're getting is a fake, the FBI says out-of-state area codes are one tip off. Requests to wire smaller amounts of money from multiple locations down to Mexico is another.
  • A long time in the making, the first phase of redeveloping the Barnett Building and Laura Street Trio in Downtown Jacksonville gets underway this week. WOKV first told you about the redevelopment plans in January. The $90 million project includes adding parking and a signature hotel, converting the historic buildings to office space, residential space, dining, retail, and more. The City of Jacksonville has committed to $10 million in incentives for the completion of the entire project. Now, the SouthEast Development Group of Jacksonville and The Molasky Group of Companies of Las Vegas say they’ve contracted local construction management firm Danis to get the project in motion. We’re told the early work won’t be visible to the public, because it will be concentrated on interior remediation and improvements. The Barnett Building is slated to open during the last quarter of 2018. A new parking structure housing at least 550 secure spaces and retail space will also open at that time. The Laura Street Trio- collectively the Bisbee Building, Florida Life Building, and Marble Bank Building- will be developed in a later phase of the project. “After years of planning and preparation, the transformation of Jacksonville’s Central Business District is at hand. Rehabilitating these irreplaceable historic structures and bringing the properties back into service is a tangible example of how private investment and public commitment can achieve great things when leveraged together,” says a statement from SouthEast Development Group’s Principal and Managing Director Steve Atkins. The CFO and President of Covernment Projects for The Molasky Group of Companies, Bradley Sher, believes this project will be “the crown jewel of downtown”. The Jacksonville Historical Society tells WOKV the current plans embrace the historic elements of the complex, while bringing in more life. “More people Downtown, more restaurants Downtown, a more vibrant Downtown- and that corner is the heart of that story,” says Jacksonville Historical Society Executive Director Emily Liskka. When combined with other redevelopment projects underway in Jacksonville, like the Cowford Chophouse poised to open in the old Bostwick Building, Liskka says Downtown has an energy like we haven’t recently seen. She says it’s “fortunate” this revitalization is coming with new life for historic buildings.

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