Anthony Weiner Gets 21 Months in Prison for Sexting With Teenager

He lost his seat in Congress, his audacious bid to resurrect his career as mayor of New York City, and his high-profile marriage. And he undermined Hillary Clinton’s shot at the presidency in the closing days of the tumultuous 2016 campaign.

On Monday, Anthony D. Weiner, sobbing as the judge spoke, learned the final, personal cost of his seemingly uncontrollable habit of exchanging lewd texts and pictures with women: 21 months in prison.

Mr. Weiner, 53, was the essence of the brash politician fueled by relentless work and unbridled swagger. Until now, he was the beneficiary of multiple second chances, amid earnest vows that he had learned his lesson.

But this time, there would be no second chance for Mr. Weiner, who pleaded guilty in May to one count of transferring obscene material to a minor, and had faced up to 10 years in prison.

His texting habit fueled his long and tortuous downfall. But it was his most recent exchanges with a 15-year-old girl that were the most personally ruinous: his wife filed for divorce, he pleaded guilty and now faces imprisonment.

Before the sentence was pronounced, Mr. Weiner did not so much ask for leniency as try to make a case that he had accepted full responsibility for his crime, and that he was a changed man.

“I acted not only unlawfully but immorally, and if I had done the right thing, I would not be standing before you today,” he said, crying as he addressed the judge.

“The prosecutors are skeptical that I have truly changed and I don’t blame them,” he said. “I repeatedly acted in an obviously destructive way when I was caught.”

Reports of the federal investigation that led to Mr. Weiner’s being charged in the case first surfaced after the 15-year-old victim’s story was told in a DailyMail.com exposé in September 2016.

It was during that investigation that the F.B.I. discovered on Mr. Weiner’s laptop a trove of emails belonging to his wife, Huma Abedin, a senior aide to Hillary Clinton. That led to an announcement in late October by James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, that the bureau had opened a new inquiry into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of official email. The inquiry ended two days before the election; Mrs. Clinton has blamed Mr. Comey in part for her defeat.

The judge, Denise L. Cote of Federal District Court in Manhattan, told Mr. Weiner that his offense was “a serious crime that deserves serious punishment.”

She said that there was a uniform opinion among those who had examined him that he had “a disease that involves sexual compulsivity; some call it a sex addiction.”

The judge said Mr. Weiner was finally receiving “effective treatment for this disease,” including attending group therapy and Sex Addicts Anonymous. “I find he is making an enormous contribution to others who are suffering from that same disease,” she added.

“But the difficulty here,” the judge said, “is that this is a very strong compulsion, so strong,” she continued, that “despite two very public disclosures and the destruction of his career on two occasions, he continued with the activity.”

She cited Mr. Weiner’s illegal exchanges with the girl on Skype, Snapchat and a site called Confide in early 2016. Prosecutors had said in their sentencing memo that during some of these communications, Mr. Weiner “used graphic and obscene language to ask the minor victim to display her naked body and touch herself, which she did.”

“The defendant knew this young woman was in high school and getting her learner’s permit,” Judge Cote said.

After the judge left the bench, Mr. Weiner remained seated at the defense table between his lawyers, Arlo Devlin-Brown and Erin Monju. He was bent deeply forward in his chair, sobbing, his face in his hands.

The judge also fined Mr. Weiner, who must surrender by Nov. 6, $10,000. She said he would also have to register as a sex offender.

During the hearing, Mr. Weiner looked tense and serious, sometimes clenching his jaw. At times, he blinked rapidly, his lips pursed and his nostrils flared. He sipped from a water bottle on the table before him.

When Judge Cote asked if he wanted to speak, he rose and began reading from a statement he had carried with him. His first words were strong and clear; by his third sentence, however, his voice began to break, and he paused often to clear his throat.

“I was a very sick man for a very long time,” he said, his voice growing higher-pitched and weaker.

“I have a disease but I have no excuse,” he continued. “I accept complete and total responsibility for my crime. I was the adult.”

Later, when the judge announced the sentence, Mr. Weiner, who let out a small cry, immediately slumped forward, his hands braced on the table for support. He then lifted his left hand to his face, cradling it, his eyes fixed on the table.

In a letter to the judge, Mr. Weiner had said he felt “profound” regret for his crime, adding that his “continued acting out over years crushed the aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage.”

Ms. Abedin filed her own one-page letter to the judge, asking for leniency on behalf of their son. She did not attend the sentencing.

His lawyers had sought probation for their client, citing what they described as Mr. Weiner’s “remarkable progress” over the past year. In court, Mr. Devlin-Brown asked the judge to hold out prison as a possibility if necessary, “but not apply it now, and give an opportunity for something positive to emerge from the wreckage of all of this.”

The prosecutors, Amanda Kramer and Stephanie Lake, in their sentencing papers, had said probation was “simply inadequate.” The government had recommended a sentence within the range of 21 to 27 months.

“There is a history here that simply cannot be ignored,” Ms. Kramer said in court. “What is required here to stop the defendant from reoffending, to fully pierce his denial and end this tragic cycle is a meaningful term of imprisonment.”

The judge also addressed one issue that Mr. Weiner’s lawyers had raised in their papers: questions about the teenager’s motives and credibility. They noted she had received $30,000 for the DailyMail.com story and was “shopping” a book proposal.

The judge said the girl’s motives and the fact she had initiated the contact with Mr. Weiner were irrelevant: “She was a minor. She was a victim. She is entitled to the law’s full protection.”

Judge Cote also said that because of Mr. Weiner’s notoriety, there was “intense interest in this prosecution, in his plea, and his sentence.”

“So there is the opportunity to make a statement that could protect other minors,” she added.

Mr. Devlin-Brown, in a statement, cited the judge’s comment. “We certainly hope this public service message is received,” he said, “but it has resulted in a punishment more severe than it had to be, given the unusual facts and circumstances of the case.”

Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, said Mr. Weiner’s sentence was “just” and “appropriate.”

Mr. Weiner left the courtroom without comment, and outside the courthouse, cameras flashing in his face, he stepped into the back seat of a dark green Ford Escape and was driven away.


US files charges against teen accused of JCC bomb threats

The US Department of Justice said on Friday it had filed charges against an Israeli-American teenager accused of making over 200 bomb threats against mainly Jewish institutions in the United States.

The teen, whose identity remains under gag order in Israel, was arrested last month in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon after a joint investigation by Israeli and US authorities, including the FBI.

On Thursday an Israeli court extended his remand until April 24.

The 18-year-old living in Israel left scores of messages graphically describing children’s deaths in calls to Jewish community centers and schools across the United States, using an online calling service to disguise his voice as a woman and hide his identity, according to the federal indictment filed Friday in Florida.

He was charged with 28 counts of making threatening calls and conveying false information to police, according to the indictment filed in federal court in Orlando.

Separately, he was charged with three more counts of making threatening calls, conveying false information and cyberstalking in an indictment filed in federal court in Athens, Georgia.

The calls to the Jewish community centers and schools stoked fears of rising anti-Semitism and led to campus evacuations.

Online federal court records in Florida showed no attorney listed for the suspect.

The Florida indictment said that he made 245 threatening calls, most of them to Jewish community centers and schools, from January to March, using an online calling service that disguised his voice and allowed him to hide his identity. He recorded each of the calls himself and kept them in organized files at his home in Ashkelon, along with news articles describing the police responses to the threats, the indictment said.

He also paid for the online calls using the semi-anonymous currency Bitcoin. A large antenna at his apartment building allowed him to make long-distance, outdoor wireless connections, the indictment said.

The Florida indictment said recordings of the calls stripped of the software-enabled disguise revealed a speech impediment in the caller’s voice that matched his.

The Georgia indictment connects him to several incidents of “swatting” in which authorities are called to respond to an emergency that ends up being fake. The indictment alleges that in January the University of Georgia Police Department received a phone call about a home invasion that ended up being untrue.

The JCC Association of North America said in a statement that it welcomed the charges and that it was “enormously proud of the extraordinary commitment to safety and security” at the community centers.

“Today’s charges into these violent threats to Jewish Community Centers and others represent this Department’s commitment to fighting all forms of violent crime,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “These threats of violence instilled terror in Jewish and other communities across this country and our investigation into these acts as possible hate crimes continues.”

FBI Director James Comey added: “This kind of behavior is not a prank, and it isn’t harmless. It’s a federal crime. It scares innocent people, disrupts entire communities, and expends limited law enforcement resources. The FBI thanks our partners for working with us here at home and around the world.”

The suspect, said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth E. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, “allegedly took extraordinary steps to conceal his identity and location through several technological means, including voice alteration, use of proxy IP addresses, virtual currencies and caller ID spoofing.”

A wave of bomb threats to American Jewish institutions since the start of the year helped spread fear amid an apparent increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic acts in the United States. Some said that the rise of Donald Trump as US president encouraged the extreme right and emboldened hate groups.

Shira Nir, a lawyer of an American-Israeli teenager suspected of calling in fake bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the world, shows the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court what she says is an image of a cancerous growth in her client's brain, on March 30, 2017. (Flash90)

The arrest of a Jewish teenager over dozens of the threats complicated the debate, however.

He is also alleged to have made threatening phone calls over the past two to three years targeting schools and other public institutions in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In addition, Israeli police say he is suspected of a bomb threat to Delta Airlines in February 2015 that led to an emergency landing.

His lawyer has said that he has a brain tumor and suffers from autism. His parents have also argued that he is unfit to stand trial, though they have apologized for his alleged actions.

During Thursday’s remand hearing, the teenager’s parents asked the court to replace their son’s attorney with a public defender, but the defendant insisted that his current lawyer, Shira Nir, remain on the case, Channel 10 reported. The court ruled that Nir should remain the suspect’s counsel.

“After I saw documents related to the suspect’s past, I decided to ask his parents to bring a private psychiatrist to the prison, in order to help clarify that he is not fit for detention,” Nir told Channel 10. She said the suspect’s father refused to pay for a private psychiatrist and subsequently asked the court to replace her with a public defender.

Former teacher accused of kidnapping ‘troubled’ teenager captured at a remote California cabin



During the nearly six weeks that Tad Cummins and 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas were missing, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received more than 1,500 tips.

Late Wednesday night, the tip they were desperately hoping for finally arrived.

It came from a caller who told investigators that the 50-year-old Cummins and the teenager he is accused of abducting might be living in a remote cabin near Cecilville, Calif., a onetime mining town about 100 miles from the Oregon border.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon, TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said investigators quickly coordinated with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, which was able to locate a silver Nissan Rogue belonging to Cummins and keep the vehicle under surveillance for several hours.

“The area where the pair was reported to be is a very remote, isolated area with no or limited cellphone services,” DeVine said. “As daylight broke this morning, they were able to take Tad Cummins into custody and safely recover Elizabeth without incident.”

Authorities said Elizabeth was physically unharmed, but they declined to comment on her emotional well-being or where the pair has been since they vanished last month.

TBI Director Mark Gwyn said Elizabeth will be flown back to Tennessee in a TBI aircraft to be reunited with her family. At the same time, he noted, investigators from TBI, the FBI and the Maury County Sheriff’s Office are on their way to Northern California to continue their investigation.

NEW: Here’s the mug shot of Tad Cummins from California. He’s now facing state and federal charges.

Gwyn said Cummins — who is being held by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department without bond — faces charges that “could keep him behind bars for many years.”

“What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end,” he added. “We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”

Once Cummins is extradited to Tennessee, he will be charged with sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping, authorities said.

Acting U.S. attorney Jack Smith said his office had also filed a federal charge of transportation of a minor across state lines for criminal sexual intercourse — a charge that carries a minimum 10 year sentence.

Anthony Thomas, Elizabeth’s father, told NBC affiliate WSMV-TV that he wasn’t surprised that they were in the northwest and said he’d heard the pair were in a commune.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “She’s probably going to be hungry.”

“We’re going to have to figure out what kind of state of mind she’s in, of course, and probably get her some help,” he said. “Maybe a long road, but at least we’ve got her back.”

Maury County Public Schools also issued statement Thursday, calling Elizabeth’s return “wonderful news for our community.”

“Thanks go to all who have kept the message of finding Elizabeth Thomas and working on her safe return as top-of-mind throughout the nation,” it said.

The teen and Cummins — a 50-year-old from Middle Tennessee — had been missing since March 13, when an Amber Alert was issued. Cummins was Elizabeth’s high school teacher at Culleoka Unit School.

“Investigative efforts have revealed a troubling pattern of behavior by Tad Cummins, suggesting the 50-year-old may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her,” the agency said in a statewide Amber Alert.

“Having now been on the run for more than five days, Cummins may have taken her, frankly, anywhere,” the agency said last month.

On March 13, video surveillance at a Columbia gas station showed Cummins filling up his silver Nissan Rogue. A short time later, investigators say, he drove to a Shoney’s restaurant, where Elizabeth had been dropped off by a friend and was waiting. Investigators said they think he manipulated her into leaving with him, but he wasn’t authorized to take a minor, and she wasn’t old enough to consent. That afternoon, investigators say, they determined Elizabeth was 80 miles away in Decatur, Ala.


Then, nothing. After their disappearance, investigators said they had received hundreds of tips from 24 states, but not enough information to tighten the dragnet despite a multi-state manhunt and Cummins’s addition to Tennessee’s most-wanted list.

In a news release, the TBI said Cummins might be keeping Elizabeth out of sight of authorities, possibly sleeping in his car or in a rural community.

Last month, the agency released new images of Cummins in an effort to keep the case in the spotlight. The pictures were from a week before Cummins and Elizabeth disappeared, and they showed him wearing a camouflage cap and pushing a shopping cart at a store.

Long Island teen turned his back on MS-13 gangbanger pal — so they set a trap and butchered him, family says

Jorge Tigre tried to turn his back on a blood-thirsty Long Island gang, only to find he couldn’t get out alive.

The 18-year-old was one of four young men brutally executed near a Central Islip park, leaving his heartbroken mother and sister to explain how the youth failed to escape the gangbangers of MS-13.

“He kept his distance from them,” his sister Monica, 20, told the Daily News as their mother wept Friday inside their home. “I think they set a trap for him.”

The slain boy’s mother sobbed in front of a shrine to her son — a mixture of photos, candles and flowers arranged inside their Bellport home.

MS-13 gangsters suspected in Long Island quadruple murder

Jorge Tigre was one of four young men brutally executed near a Central Islip park.

Jorge Tigre was one of four young men brutally executed near a Central Islip park.


Bertha Ullaguari, 43, agreed that Jorge started to steer clear of the crew after the machete murders of two high school students last September. He previously palled around with an MS-13 member.

“They’ve had been harassing him at school,” the mom said of the gangsters. “On Sunday, he told his uncle ‘They keep harassing me.’

“He wasn’t a bad kid,” the distraught mother continued. “He was a good kid. He was never bad. … He never did wrong by anybody. He was always very well-behaved.”

Jorge Tigre with his mother, Bertha Ullaguari (far left).

Jorge Tigre with his mother, Bertha Ullaguari (far left).


Suffolk County investigators said the gang, already suspected in a half-dozen suburban Long Island homicides, quickly emerged as the likely attackers in the quadruple homicide.

Six MS-13 gang members busted in Long Island teens’ murders

No arrests were yet made after the bodies were found Wednesday night near the soccer fields at the Recreation Village Park.

The man who discovered the four butchered bodies said he broke down in tears after a survivor of the attack steered him to the park.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Suffolk County Police and Crime Scene Units investigate a wooded area in Central Islip, Long Island, April 13, 2017.


Victim Michael Banageas, 18, had earlier told the man that he was heading to Central Islip to play soccer before he and the other three were savagely attacked.

The four victims were lying face-down with multiple wounds, according to the man.

“I can’t give more information because I cried a lot, and didn’t pay attention to my surroundings,” the man said in Spanish.

Tigre’s brother William said a witness who saw the dying victims notified him about the killings.

Tigre’s brother William said a witness who saw the dying victims notified him about the killings.


Monica said her brother stopped going to high school because of constant harassment by gang members, including the repeated flattening of his car tires.

“He never wanted to say anything to my mother,” said Monica. “He was scared of getting hurt.”

Though officials did not release the names of the four slain young victims, Jorge’s relatives and a second family identified their sons as among the dead.

The parents of Justin Llivicura, 16, of East Patchogue, told Newsday their son’s girlfriend received a video showing the butchered bodies of all four victims left in a the park.

The boy’s parents said they recognized their son in part because he was wearing the same clothes as when they saw him two days earlier.

Tigre’s brother William said a witness who saw the dying victims notified him about the killings. The fourth victim was identified as Jefferson Villalobos, 18.



Most people who are against transgender bathrooms say that they are uncomfortable with the idea of letting trans women into women’s bathrooms. They fear that it will make it easier for men to walk into women’s bathrooms and prey on young girls. However, these people have overlooked the fact that when you reverse the genders in similar scenarios, it can be equally uncomfortable; albeit for different reasons.

Take for instance what happened at a school in Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Recently a lawsuit was filed against the school district over their transgender policy. Without alerting parents, the school decided to allow trans kids to change in whatever locker rooms that they preferred. A teenage boy claimed that he was uncomfortable when a biologically female student was changing next to him in the locker room, so he and several other boys voiced their concerns with the assistant principal.

The assistant principal scolded the boys, and told them that they were being intolerant. He told them that they needed to “tolerate” the situation, and make it “as natural as they possibly can.”

The parents of one of the boys is now suing the school district for sexual harassment. According to their lawyer, Randall Wenger, “We trust that our children won’t be forced into emotionally vulnerable situations like this when they are in the care of our schools because it’s a school’s duty to protect and respect the bodily privacy and dignity of all students.”

As you can see, this debate isn’t one sided. It’s not just about letting biological males into female bathrooms. If you remember what it was like to be a teenager experiencing puberty and social pressures for the first time, you know how uncomfortable it would be to change in front of a girl, regardless of what she says her gender is.

Arizona students ruin Jewish teen’s birthday party with swastika cupcakes because it’s funny (VERY VERY GOOD!!!!)

A birthday party for a Jewish girl in Arizona was marred recently when students brought swastika cupcakes as gifts.

KPNX reported that the mother of the teen posted images of the cupcakes on social media in hopes of making the incident a teaching moment. The mother said that she believed the party goers knew what the symbol means because they had recently had a lesson at school about the Holocaust.

The girls reportedly told the mother that they did it to “be funny.” In a subsequent Facebook post, the mother said that the girls had apologized.

“When you joke with symbols like the swastika you begin to normalize them and make it very casual within our society,” Arizona Anti-Defamation League Director Carlos Galindo-Elvira told KPNX.

Video Shows Chicago Police Firing at Unarmed Teen Paul O’Neal



Video released Friday shows Chicago police firing repeatedly at a stolen car as it careens down the street away from them, then handcuffing the fatally wounded black 18-year-old who was at the wheel after a chaotic foot chase through a residential neighborhood.


None of the footage from last month shows the moment Paul O’Neal was shot in the back; the fatal bullet was fired after he exited the stolen car and was running from police. Shortly afterward, O’Neal can be seen lying face-down on the ground in a backyard, blood soaking through the back of his T-shirt.

An officer is heard angrily accusing the suspected car thief of firing at police. Another officer asks, “They shot at us too, right?” suggesting police believed they had been fired upon and that they did not know how many suspects were present.

No gun was recovered from the scene.

Attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who represents O’Neal’s family, said the video showed officers taking “street justice into their own hands.”

Related: In Death of Black Men and Police, A Light On Hard Truths

In all, nine videos were released from both body cameras and at least one dashboard camera. It was the city’s first release of video of a fatal police shooting under a new policy that calls for such material to be made public within 60 days. That and other policy changes represent an effort to restore public confidence in the department after video released last year showed a black teenager named Laquan McDonald getting shot 16 times by a white officer.

The McDonald video sparked protests and led to the ouster of the former police superintendent. The officer who shot him is now awaiting trial on murder charges.

The latest recording catches the stolen car being pursued by officers as it blows through a stop sign. Before gunfire breaks out, the suspect sideswipes one squad car and then smashes into another as officers open fire.


An officer can be heard explaining that the suspect “almost hit my partner. I (expletive) shot at him.” Another officer who apparently fired his weapon laments that he was going to be on “desk duty for 30 (expletive) days now.”

Soon after the July 28 shooting, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stripped three of the officers of their police powers after a preliminary investigation concluded they had violated department policy. On Friday, he promised that if the officers acted improperly, they would “be held accountable for their actions.”

Authorities have not said specifically what policy the officers broke.

In February 2015, former Superintendent Garry McCarthy revised the department’s policy on the use of deadly force to prohibit officers from “firing at or into a moving vehicle when the vehicle is the only force used against the sworn member or another person.”

But the policy also says that officers “will not unreasonably endanger themselves or another person to conform to the restrictions of this directive,” meaning they have the right to defend themselves if they or someone else are in imminent danger of being struck.

The head of the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that investigates Chicago police misconduct, called the footage “shocking and disturbing.” She did not elaborate.


The officer who killed O’Neal said he believed O’Neal had fired at him and he returned fire with three to five rounds.

The moment of the shooting was not recorded because the officer’s body camera was not operating at the time, police said.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officer’s body camera could have been deactivated when the stolen Jaguar slammed into his squad car and set off the air bags. He also pointed out that the body camera suddenly starts working after the shooting — an indication that the officer, believing the incident was over, thought he was turning the camera off when he was actually turning it on.

“We don’t believe there was any intentional misconduct with body cameras,” he said.

Oppenheimer alleged that the non-operating body camera was part of a police effort to cover up what he called a “cold-blooded murder.”

RELATED: Why Body Cameras Are Winning Converts Among Cops

Officers seemed keenly aware that they were wearing body cameras and that those cameras were recording all of their comments. At one point, an officer can be seen telling others that he did not know who was firing. Then another officer came up and said, ‘Hey,’ perhaps a quiet reminder about the cameras. Whatever the intent, the officers immediately stopped talking.

An autopsy confirmed that O’Neal died of a gunshot wound to the back.

Oppenheimer said O’Neal’s family viewed the video Friday, and relatives were so distraught that they left without speaking to the media.

Ja’Mal Green, an activist who identified himself as a family spokesman, repeatedly said there was no explanation other than murder to describe the shooting.

During the pursuit, more than a half-dozen officers race between houses into backyards in a desperate search for the person who fled from the car. One officer needs help scaling a wooden gate. Another is unable to climb over and walks around to the rear of another home where the suspect is on the ground.

Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo said it was important the public not rush to judgment of the officers involved in the shooting.


“Due to the fact that this chaotic incident occurred in a matter of moments, each individual perspective needs to be taken into consideration,” he said, adding the union hopes the investigation is guided by “the utmost level of professionalism and expertise.”

On Thursday, before the videos were released, Angelo said their public airing would be unfair to the officers and could turn public opinion against them and even jeopardize their safety.

Pregnant Connecticut Teen Who Tested Positive for Zika Virus Says She Will Keep Her Baby: ‘God Has Given Me a Miracle’



A pregnant Connecticut teen who tested positive for the Zika virus has decided to carry her baby to full term despite the risks of birth defects.

“I’m not happy that my baby is going to be born with Zika but God has given me a miracle,” Sara Mujica tells PEOPLE.

The 17-year-old from Danbury, Connecticut, says that doctors told her she would never be able to conceive because she had meningitis at age 15.

“Doctors said that I would never get pregnant so this is a big miracle for me,” she says.

Pregnant Connecticut Teen Who Tested Positive for Zika Virus Says She Will Keep Her Baby: 'God Has Given Me a Miracle'| Pregnancy, Medical Conditions, Pregnancy, Real People Stories

Sara Mujica


Mujica and her fiancé, Victor Cruz, 19, learned they were pregnant on March 14 – just four days after she started exhibiting symptoms of the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects, including microcephaly.

“I was getting rashes all over my body: my legs, my arms, my face everywhere, and I also had a fever and headaches,” she remembers. “I started researching Zika but I also thought it could be chicken pox.”

The teen believes she contracted the virus while visiting her fiancé in Choloma, Honduras, where he currently lives.

Upon her return to the U.S. on March 30, she went to a hospital where she was tested for the virus. The test results took more than a month, during which time Mujica flew back to Honduras to be with her fiancé.

Pregnant Connecticut Teen Who Tested Positive for Zika Virus Says She Will Keep Her Baby: 'God Has Given Me a Miracle'| Pregnancy, Medical Conditions, Pregnancy, Real People Stories

Victor Cruz


Then, on May 2, Mujica’s mother received the news that her daughter’s Zika test results came back positive.

“My mom called me hysterically crying, she told me her heart was breaking for me,” Mujica says. “I was in shock.”

While the Zika virus has been linked to birth defects, medical professionals cannot know for certain how the baby will be affected until it is born. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend pregnant women who test positive for Zika undergo frequent ultrasounds to monitor their babies’ development.

“The current recommendations would be for Sara to confer with her obstetrician and get periodic ultrasounds to find whether the development of the head is continuing on an appropriate basis,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University medical center, tells PEOPLE. “But we know that ultrasounds, although helpful, are also not perfect. In the best of hands the ultrasounds may not detect the microcephaly.”

Pregnant Connecticut Teen Who Tested Positive for Zika Virus Says She Will Keep Her Baby: 'God Has Given Me a Miracle'| Pregnancy, Medical Conditions, Pregnancy, Real People Stories

Sara Mujica’s ultrasound


The teen says she and her fiancé deliberated whether or not to keep the baby given the risks.

“I mean it’s a hard choice, I don’t know exactly how I’m going to bring up a child with a disability,” she says. “But I am Catholic and I believe that I must raise the child that God gave me.”

According to health officials, microcephaly is just one of many health risks the baby could face.

“Microcephaly as we get more and more information is a dramatic and tragic aspect but it’s not the only kind of fetal damage that could occur such as hearing and visual problems,” Dr. Schaffner continues. “All that is still under investigation as more women deliver babies.”

Now, Mujica is trying to raise the money she needs to return to the United States sooner than her current return ticket so she can seek the healthcare recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pregnant Connecticut Teen Who Tested Positive for Zika Virus Says She Will Keep Her Baby: 'God Has Given Me a Miracle'| Pregnancy, Medical Conditions, Pregnancy, Real People Stories

Sara Mujica and Victor Cruz


“I have a return ticket for July 24,” she says. “If I had the money I would come back this week but I spent all my money on that ticket.”

She’s also working to secure a visa so that her fiancé can come back with her. “He’s helping me with anything and everything possible and I’m going to really feel alone without him,” she says.

Mujica and her fiancé have set up a GoFundMe to help support their baby.

Israeli, Palestinian and American collaboration saves life of Nablus teen

Cooperation between Israelis, the Palestinian Authority and the US National Institutes of Health has saved the life of Jummana, a 17-year-old girl from Nablus who had been suffering from a serious and rare endocrine problem.

Working together under a new model of treatment called “Bring the Patient, Bring the Surgeon,” her PA doctors to referred her to Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, where she arrived in a wheelchair suffering from extreme pain in her bones and was diagnosed with hypophosphatemia (extremely low phosphate levels). The cause of the condition, however, left her physicians puzzled.

Following an examination, pediatric endocrinologist Prof. Dov Tiosano realized they were dealing with the hormone FGF23, which is secreted from the bones.

Jummana underwent successful surgery at Rambam last week and it is expected that the collaboration will now benefit others suffering from the rare condition.

FGF23 only came to the attention of physicians in the past decade. Over-secretion of the hormone generally is related to a genetic disease resulting from consanguinity – the marriage of two first cousins, as are Jummana’s parents. However, testing revealed no genetic problems.

Tiosano believed the only other possible cause could be a tumor, and contacted a colleague in the NIH who helped clinch the diagnosis – a rare tumor just 0.5 centimeter in size in Jummana’s palate that was consuming massive amounts of calcium and phosphorous from her bones.

Rare in adults, such a tumor in a teen was virtually unheard of.

Diagnosis made, the NIH turned to Prof. John A. van Aalst, director of the plastic surgery division at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for advice regarding the best-qualified hospital to perform the surgery, which was complicated by the patient’s age and need for complex endocrinological follow-up.

Van Aalst said there were only four possibilities, with Rambam the clear choice when he realized that Jummana’s endocrine exams had already been performed at the Haifa hospital. In addition, he had particularly strong connections with the deputy director of Rambam’s oral and maxillofacial surgery department, Dr. Omri Emodi, as well as physicians and surgeons in Nablus.

“Why did we choose Rambam?” said van Aalst. “Because of all the connections here, it was simpler for the family, and in the end safest, because she had a major endocrine problem that would be quite complicated to treat once the tumor was removed.”

When Jummana’s doctors in the PA were contacted, they made a referral to Rambam via the PA Health Ministry, and while bureaucracy was being handled, Emodi set up the multidisciplinary team needed for the operation, which included the patient’s endocrinologist, a hemato-oncologist and the pre-planning to create the necessary prosthodontics.

It was a lot of preparation for a fairly routine surgery that would take just 90 minutes.

This included bringing her doctors from Nablus to Rambam to observe the procedure and learn more about her condition so they could better follow-up with her in Nablus and gain valuable knowledge for treating similar problems if diagnosed in the PA.

Van Aalst flew over for the surgery, as well.

“Omri didn’t need me for the surgery, but I wanted to be there. I had a personal sense of responsibility. I said to Omri: ‘You set the date and I’ll be there.’” He disclosed that nothing would have happened had it not been for the story within the story – Van Aalst’s mother was born in Tulkarm, near Netanya, and he is closely connected to family throughout the PA and West Bank so he wanted to contribute to the advancement of medicine there.

For the past decade, van Aalst has been working together with two surgeons from the West Bank, both of whom had happened to be Jummana’s doctors. In addition, he is a friend of Emodi.

“Every six months, I have been going to the West Bank and Gaza to operate. At the end of my time there, I visit Rambam to work with Omri. Three years ago, I introduced the surgeons from the PA to Omri; this is now their third trip here to Rambam.”

When it was decided that Jummana was going to come to Rambam, the team invited her Nablus physician to write the medical report. Because the doctors knew each other and were known to the authorities involved, it was easy to make the arrangements for the PA doctors to come with girl, van Aalst explained.

Now that the tumor has been removed, “We hope to be able to restore the calcium and the phosphate to her bones,” Tiossano said. “Given that her bone density is extremely low (a -8 Z-score), building her bones up again is the real challenge. This will be a long journey, but we are on track.”

Many doctors are interested in Jummana’s recovery because of the rarity of the condition. She will soon be released, but will return to Rambam for examinations; NIH rehabilitation experts will visit during follow-up to see how she is doing and learn how the intervention is helping her to return to normal bone density and function.

This is the goal of the “Bring the Patient, Bring the Surgeon” since bringing the patient’s own surgeon and physician helps create self-sufficiency in the ongoing care of the patient as well as in the care of future patients with similar problems.

Meanwhile, the life of a five-year-old boy from Syria was saved after undergoing open-heart surgery at Schneider Children’s Medical Center for Israel, in Petah Tikva.

He suffered from a congenital defect that caused his skin to turn blue because of inadequate oxygen reaching his body tissue.

The boy’s mother crossed the border into Israel, and brought him to Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya with help from the Israel Defense Force’s Northern Command.

He was then moved to the pediatric heart institute and the intensive care unit after the surgery by Dr. George Frankel.

“I thank Schneider’s medical team for treating my son so devotedly and saving his life,” the mother said.

Chicago Police Officer Plans To Sue Teenager He Shot And Killed

The Chicago police officer accused of killing 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier just after Christmas says he intends to file a lawsuit against the dead teenager’s estate, alleging that LeGrier assaulted the officer and caused him emotional distress.

Officer Robert Rialmo claims he shot LeGrier seven times because the teenager swung a bat at him. Rialmo also accidentally shot a neighbor, Bettie Jones, in the chest and killed her.

Rialmo’s plan to sue was revealed after a hearing for the victims’ wrongful death lawsuit against the city. Bill Foutris, an attorney for the LeGrier family, told CBS Chicago that the countersuit is a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that Rialmo shot LeGrier four times in the back without justification.

The events that led to the shooting are still unclear, but LeGrier called 911 and requested police assistance several times before he was killed. The dispatcher hung up on him and ignored his pleas for help.

Though Rialmo is planning to file a civil lawsuit for his emotional distress, it is not uncommon for police officers to criminally charge victims of brutality with assault, a tactic known as a “cover charge.” New York City prosecutors even charged an unarmed police shooting victim with felony assault, for causing police to accidentally shoot bystanders when they were aiming for him.

LeGrier’s shooting has fed city officials’ anxiety over police accountability after the city released a video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting another teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times. Since then, the pressure to punish the top decision-makers has grown. Several police officials have resigned or been fired, including Superintendent Garry McCarthy. On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel released his text messages from the week of LeGrier’s shooting. The conversations are dominated by a prevailing concern of how the media was responding. “Media acting breathlessly?” Emanuel asks the interim superintendent after LeGrier and Jones were shot. “You are positive no public negative reaction?”

The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the department to determine if there is a pattern of discriminatory and abusive policing. The publicity over McDonald’s shooting also revealed that Chicago police have tried to destroy misconduct records and intentionally tampered with dashcam recordings, presumably to hide evidence of wrongdoing.

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