NorCal Rapist charged
Authorities arrested a man believed to be the so-called NorCal Rapist last week, the latest high-profile criminal caught by using a genealogy website. Roy Charles Waller, a 58-year-old safety specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, is accused of raping at least 11 women between 1991 and 2006. Investigators entered DNA found at crime scenes into the website GEDmatch, which came close to matching another user of the site. Detectives then constructed a family tree that led to Waller, whose age and weight matched descriptions of the rapist. DNA from a trash bin outside his house matched evidence collected in 2006. A similar investigation led to the April arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer who committed at least 13 murders and 50 rapes from 1974 to 1986. While family DNA has led to crime-fighting breakthroughs, its forensic use has also raised questions about privacy.
Politics trumps family
Six siblings of Rep. Paul Gosar attacked their brother in a TV ad on behalf of Gosar’s Democratic challenger, David Brill. The siblings say Gosar, a member of Congress since 2011, “doesn’t have your interests at heart.” Gosar, the oldest of 10 children, called his filial antagonists, who don’t live in Arizona, “disgruntled Hillary supporters” who “put political ideology before family.” He added, “To the six angry Democrat Gosars—see you at Mom and Dad’s house!” Gosar is a heavy favorite to retain his seat, having won his 2016 race by more than 40 points. Representing mostly rural western Arizona, he is known for anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant stances. The Phoenix New Times reports an upcoming ad features one of Gosar’s sisters saying, “It would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.”
China’s farm lobby
An official government newspaper of China purchased a four-page insert in The Des Moines Register this week, describing the harmful effects of President Trump’s trade war on Iowa farmers. The supplement from the English-language China Daily said “the president’s folly” would force China to abandon Iowa soybean farmers in favor of South American competitors. The insert also touted the importance of U.S.-China trade and even described President Xi Jinping’s “fun days in Iowa.” It was China’s first direct appeal to Americans affected by trade wars, which are projected to cost Iowa farmers $2.2 billion. Trump has ordered tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, and China retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion worth of American goods. Three days after the insert appeared, Trump punched back, accusing China of meddling in U.S. elections.
Forty-one undocumented immigrants were arrested this summer after volunteering to care for migrant children in government custody. The arrests came to light when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement senior official testified before Congress last week, defending the agency’s practice of screening potential “sponsors” for detained minors who are in the U.S. without a guardian. Between July and early September, ICE arrested 29 volunteers for immigration violations and 12 more for crimes found in their background checks. Some of those arrested may have been relatives of the kids. ICE began screening caretakers after getting criticized for losing track of recently released children. Yet some fear the screening policy risks scaring away would-be sponsors. The number of migrant kids in U.S. custody has hit record levels and now exceeds 13,000.
Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison this week for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby, 81, was categorized as a sexually violent predator and ordered to begin his sentence immediately. More than 60 women have accused the legendary stand-up comedian and Cosby Show star of sexual misconduct. In her victim impact statement, Constand said Cosby “took my beautiful, healthy, young spirit and crushed it.” Cosby assaulted Constand when she was 30, after she took a job at Temple University, his alma mater. “Now, almost 15 years later,” she said, “I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.” Cosby, who is legally blind, will be housed near the infirmary in a maximum security prison.
Job in flux
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s job hung in the balance last week over reports of disoyalty to President Trump. A New York Times story said that he had suggested secretly recording Trump last year, and had advocated removing him from office via the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein denied those accusations but was prepared to resign, multiple outlets reported. He was summoned to the White House, and reportedly expected to be fired Monday, but was given a reprieve until a meeting with the president. Rosenstein has faced intense criticism from Trump and congressional Republicans for his oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into the president, Rosenstein has had authority over Mueller’s probe. He has staunchly defended Mueller, putting himself in the line of fire from Trump and his congressional Republican defenders, who call the investigation a witch hunt. ■