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69 Counts Of Abuse

Missouri- A man accussed of kidnapping two teenage boys and holding one for more than four years was yesterday charged with molesting them nearly 70 times.
The charges were the first time authorities have openly accused Michael Devlin, a 41- year-old pizzeria manager, of molesting the boys. Both were found inside Devlins apartment on January 12.
Devlin who had previously been charged with two counts of kidnapping was charged with 69 counts of forcible sodomy.

Herald Sun (7-2-2007)
Christopher Leonard


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Kidnap Link To Lost Kids

FEDERAL, state and local investigators in the US will examine whether the man accused of abducting two boys may have snatched other children still missing.
Michael Devlin is charged with kidnapping two boys who were found on January 12 in his apartment in St Louis, Missouri.
The search for Ben Ownby, who vanished after getting off a school bus on January 8, led police to Devlin's home, where they found the 13-year-old and Shawn Hornbeck, now 15, who had been missing for more than four years.
Several experts and police have judged it unlikely that someone would commit such brazen crimes without any precedent. Devlin was 36 when Shawn was abducted on October 6, 2002.
"There are the possibilities that there may be other kids involved," Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said.
Authorities are looking into the cases of two boys and one girl who disappeared from towns on the outskirts of St Louis dating back to 1988.
One detective called Devlin the "most viable lead" in another missing boy case, mostly because of striking similarities between Shawn's abduction and that of Charles "Arlin" Henderson, 11 when lost in 1991.
Lincoln County detective Chris Bartlett said the boys were the same age when they vanished and both were taken while riding their bikes on rural roads about an hour's drive from St Louis. Shawn, Ben and Arlin each weighed about 45kg.
On a morning TV show yesterday Shawn's stepfather, Craig Akers, said the boy was surprised to find his room as he had left it.
"There was a T-shirt in that drawer that did fit him," Akers said. "He was tickled pink everything was just the way it was."

Sunday Herald Sun (21-1-2007)
Christopher Leonard

Kidnapped Son Abused: Parents

THE parents of a 15-year-old American boy rescued last week after he was allegedly kidnapped four years ago said in an interview they believed their son had been sexually abused.
Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Craig and Pam Akers nodded their heads in affirmation when asked if they thought their son Shawn Hornbeck had been sexually abused while he was in captivity.
When asked if they suspected their son was tortured, his mother said: "That I do not know yet."
His stepfather said there were no signs of physical torture but that his boy had undergone emotional trauma.
"There is more than one kind of torture. There's mental torture, there's physical torture," he said. "I have no doubt that mentally he's not the same boy he was."
In a case that has attracted intense media attention, the parents' comments came as the man accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck, Michael Devlin, faced charges in a second kidnapping.
Police in the state of Missouri found Shawn last week as they were looking for another missing boy at Devlin's apartment in suburban St Louis, Missouri. Ben Ownby, 13, had been missing four days.
Devlin, 41, has been charged in connection with both kidnappings and could face life imprisonment.
Today he pleaded not guilty in the Ownby case, appearing on closed circuit television at Franklin County court, as the two boys live in separate jurisdictions.
Asked how he wanted to plead, Devlin told the court: "I'm not guilty."
But Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Parks said when Devlin was taken into custody "he did confess that he kidnapped Ben Ownby from Franklin County".
One of Devlin's lawyers, Michael Kielty, however argued that there were procedural problems and that entering a guilty plea was never an option.
The judge "has neither the jurisdiction or the authority under state law to accept a client's plea of guilty even if that is what he intended to do and we're by no stretch of the imagination asserting that is what he ever intended to do", said Mr Kielty, insisting there is still a presumption of innocence.
A preliminary hearing was set for March 15 for the Ownby case.
But Mr Parks said more charges could be forthcoming as the investigation continues.
Shawn Hornbeck's abduction in October 2002, when he was just 11, has fuelled questions after he was returned to his family at the weekend, as he never raised the alarm even though Devlin apparently allowed him relative freedom.
Shawn, who Devlin had presented as his son for four years, was allowed to ride his bicycle, have sleepovers, go to the mall, and use the Internet.
Devlin was charged in Washington County court overnight for the Hornbeck kidnapping, but no hearing has yet been set.
Shawn Hornbeck spent his four years in captivity living as Devlin's son, friends and neighbours said. During that time he hung out at fast food joints with his friends, and was even stopped by police for violating the town's curfew.
Washington County Sheriff Ken Schroeder said yesterday that it was unfair for people to speculate why Hornbeck did not try to flee.
"What I suggest people do is educate themselves that this is something so bizarre that the normal individual cannot grasp what this little boy went through," he told the St Louis Post Dispatch.
"I feel like I'm in a dream," his mother, Pam Akers, said earlier, once her boy had been returned home. "Only now it's a good dream, not the nightmare I've had to live for the last four and a half years."

AAP (19-1-2007)


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