Things That Matter

A California Woman Is Considering Charges Against An Apple Employee After He Sent Photo From Her Phone To Himself

A Bakersfield woman is planning to press legal charges against an Apple store employee who allegedly texted himself a sexual image of the woman from her phone. Gloria Fuentes scheduled an appointment with Apple’s Genius Bar for Nov. 4. She instinctually knew to delete social media apps and bank apps from her phone, knowing her iPhone would be in the hands of a stranger paid to repair her screen. The Apple employee, who she believes is named Nic, messed around with her phone for “quite a while.” She assumed he was just doing his job. Nic tells her that Apple won’t repair the screen, and directs her to her phone provider for further help.

When Fuentes returned home, she noticed that an unknown number was listed in her most recent messages. She views the conversation and “instantly wants to cry.” A single image of a deeply personal nature was sent to the unknown number. Now, she’s pressing charges against the Apple employee.

Gloria Fuentes wants every woman to hear her story, to ensure they, and their daughters, are safe.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“”*****PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!*****,” Fuentes shared in a viral Facebook post. “So last night, I went to Apple in the Valley Plaza (Bakersfield, CA) to get my phone screen repaired and I got a tech guy named Nic, although I’m not positive of the name because the workers there were being super unhelpful.” She recalled her intuition to protect her privacy. “So before I went I kind of had this feeling to delete things from my phone. I deleted any app that had any type of financial information or linked to my bank account in any way and also all of my social media apps because I didn’t want them going through them. I also did a backup before I went and then I was going to delete all the pictures from my phone too but forgot because they were texting me that they moved my appointment time up so I was trying to rush over there.”

The employee had asked for her passcode twice, and she didn’t think anything of it. She was there to have the screen’s hardware repaired. 

Fuentes describes how the violation has impacted her sense of safety.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“I walk in my house turn on my phone about to text someone and realize there’s a message to an unsaved number!!!!! I open it and instantly wanted to cry!!!” she shared in the vulnerable Facebook post. “This guy went through my gallery and sent himself one of my EXTREMELY PERSONAL pictures that I took for my boyfriend and it had my geolocation on so he also knows where I live!!!” The employee is clearly tech-savvy, and would be aware of how geolocations work. If a man has the audacity to sexually violate a woman in this way, it’s reasonable to fear for her safety.

“AND THIS PICTURE WAS FROM ALMOST A YEAR AGO SO HE HAD TO HAVE SCROLLED UP FOR A WHILE TO GET TO THAT PICTURE being that I have over 5,000 pics in my phone!!!!” she exclaimed. “I could not express how disgusted I felt and how long I cried after I saw this!!”

Fuentes went back to the Bakersfield, California Valley Plaza Apple store to confront the man, who admitted that it was his personal number.

Credit: Apple Valley Plaza (2701 Ming Avenue, Bakersfield, CA) / Facebook

“I went back to the store and confronted him and he admits to me that this was his number but that “he doesn’t know how that pic got sent ????!!” she shared. There is no reason why an Apple employee’s personal number should ever be in a customer’s phone, let alone personal photos be shared without consent. “The manager just said he’d look into it,” she said. 

Later, Apple confirmed that the store “immediately launched an internal investigation” and fired the employee.

Fuentes has filed a police report with the Bakersfield Police Department, which is actively investigating grounds for criminal charges.

Credit: Bakersfield Police Department / Facebook

Fuentes makes it clear that she’s sharing her story “because iPhones are like a must-have for teens now and I could just imagine that I’m not the only person he’s done this to and what if he’s done this to someone’s teenage daughter or even any other woman at all!!” What’s worse, is that she isn’t sure how many images he sent himself, and that she has “NO CLUE WTH HES GOING TO DO WITH THEM!!!” 

The mother of three said that she’ll be “pressing legal charges against him.” “This makes me cry thinking about it but I think he needs to be held accountable and anyone else that has had him work on their phone should be aware of the fact that there’s a possibility that he’s done this to them!!”

Bakersfield women, you can call the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

READ: Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent

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There’s A Mobile Día De Muertos Ofrenda Traveling Around Southern California To Commemorate Victims Of Covid-19

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There’s A Mobile Día De Muertos Ofrenda Traveling Around Southern California To Commemorate Victims Of Covid-19

Jan Sochor / Getty Images

Every year around this time, many Latino families setup their ofrendas and set out pictures and objects belonging to their lost loved ones – in celebration of Día de Muertos.

However, this year’s celebrations are looking very different thanks to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Not only have many families recently lost loved ones to the virus, they’re also struggling with ways to pay for the often extravagant celebrations as so many are left without work and income. Others are too afraid to gather with their families for fear that they may spread the virus to others. Meanwhile, in some cities, cemeteries (where many of the celebrations take place) have been closed to the public to avoid further contagion risk.

So, to help bridge that divide some communities are finding new and creative ways to help celebrate their lost loved ones amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A mobile ofrenda will visit some of LA’s neighborhoods most affected by the pandemic.

Día de Muertos takes on a special meaning this year as a deadly pandemic continues to disproportionately affect Latino communities. And although traditional celebrations and events have been canceled, Latino Health Access (a nonprofit that advocates for the health of the local Latino community) plans to bring the celebration to the homes of those most impacted by the virus in Orange County to honor the deceased.

“Many of the events have been canceled, but we still want to honor those people who have passed away this year because of COVID,” Karen Sarabia, program associate for the Latino Health Access COVID-19 response team, told the LA Times.

The group along with a few local artists are converting a 28-foot flatbed truck into the altar, much like a float in the Rose Parade. Residents will be able to take photos with the altar. They can also provide offerings or write down the names of their loved ones and place them on the altar to honor the deceased. 

Ofrendas like this one are a central part of Día de Muertos celebrations.

Credit: Jan Sochor / Getty Images

Giovanni Vazquez, a local artist from Anaheim helping to construct the altar, spoke to the LA Times about the significance of the Day of the Dead. 

“I think it’s important because … this is how we remember all the dead and how we also celebrate the living,” Vazquez said, “This is how we remember that we’re going to go too. No matter which pandemic, no matter what cause, we are also going to die too.”

He continued: “We would like to share the art and try to make people think that death is also colorful and something we can celebrate … Just being thankful that we met the people in our life, even though they have passed, we remember them.”

According to the group, the ofrenda will have the basic components of classical altars in Mexico, where the tradition of Día de Muertos originated. There will be candles, thousands of paper flowers, sugar skulls and many offerings. 

There will be a prominent large skull and several smaller skulls with butterfly wings. Vazquez said those represent “the sacred migration of the living.” Monarch butterflies, which migrate to Mexico in November, are important symbols of Day of the Dead. 

The ofrenda and campaign is more important than ever as Latinos and other minority communities continue to suffer the worst effects of the pandemic.

Latino Health Access is organizing the event as part of the Latino Health Equity Initiative. Orange County launched the program in June in partnership with Latino Health Access after data revealed that the Latino community, particularly in Anaheim and Santa Ana, has taken the brunt of the pandemic in Orange County. 

The Los Angeles Times reported in late September that while Latinos make up 39% of the state’s population, they account for 61% of the state’s cases and 49% of COVID-19 deaths.

Anaheim is 56% Latino and Santa Ana is 77%. The cities account for about 36% of the county’s COVID-19 cases. 

Through the initiative, Latino Health Access is offering testing, outreach, education and referral services. 

California is not alone as cities from El Paso to Chicago create their own Día de Muertos celebrations to commemorate Covid-19 victims.

Credit: Alfonso Castillo Orta / Mexican National Art Museum

At the Mexican National Art Museum in Chicago, the museum has launched it’s exhibit memorializing Latinos who have died of the virus. “Sólo un Poco Aquí: Day of the Dead” honors people who have died from COVID-19 in Chicago and globally, said Antonio Parazan, director of education at the museum.

The exhibit is “paying tribute and remembering … the numerous individuals from our community … during this terrible pandemic,” he said. 

“We’ve had some of the highest number of infections … and a high number of deaths, as well,” Parazan said, noting Latino neighborhoods in Chicago have been among the hardest hit by coronavirus.

Even in Mexico – which has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries – officials are thinking of ways to merge traditional Día de Muertos celebrations with remembrances of Covid-19 victims.

In the town of Xalapa, families are taking photos with a giant Catrina, which is one fo the most iconic symbols of the holiday. And in Mexico City, the cities annual parade is going digital and will feature a special commemoration for Covid-19 victims.

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ICE Just Deported A Key Witness in A Sexual Assault Investigation Against Them

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ICE Just Deported A Key Witness in A Sexual Assault Investigation Against Them

According to the Texas Tribune, the key witness in the ongoing sexual assault investigation at an ICE detention center has been deported. She was previously being held at a Customs Enforcement detention center in El Paso, Texas.

While the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General initially forbid ICE from deporting her, the office apparently reversed their decision on Monday. According to reports, the office determined that “further interviews could be done over the phone”.

via Getty Images

According to previous reports, the unidentified 35-year-old woman alleged that guards had “forcibly kissed” her and touched her on the private parts.

Documents, which were extensively reported on by ProPublica, described the harassment as a “pattern and practice” at this particular detention center.

The woman also alleges that the guards would attempt to extort sexual favors from her and other detainees when they were returning from the medical unit back to her barrack. One guard allegedly told her that he would help get her released “if she behaved”.

The unnamed woman reported the harrasment to her lawyers who then filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. The DHS then opened an investigation into the ICE Detention Center in El Paso.

The FBI has, since then, interviewed the woman extensively. According to documents, the woman gave investigators a tour of the facility where she showed them where the alleged harassment took place–in what were identified as security camera “blind spots”.

According to her, the guard told her that if she reported him, “No one would believe her”.

via Getty Images

Since the woman made these accusations, at least two other women at the same detention center came forward with similar claims. One of these women has already been deported.

According to previous reports, the unnamed woman accusing ICE officials of sexual assault was being held at the El Paso detention center for a drug-related crime and illegally entering the country. She claims she initially fled Mexico after a cartel member sexually assaulted and threatened her.

While ICE says that they have “zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse or assault against individuals in the agency’s custody”, the reality is much bleaker.

According to the advocacy group Freedom for Immigrants, ICE has had 14,700 complaints filed against them between 2010 and 2016 alleging sexual and/or physical abuse.

In the most recent statistics available, ICE reported 374 formal accusations of sexual assault in 2018. Forty-eight of those were substantiated by the agency and 29 were still pending an investigation. According to Freedom for Immigrants, only a fraction of these complaints are investigated by the Office of Inspector General.

The woman’s lawyer, Linda Corchado, has not been shy about expressing her displeasure over her client’s deportation.

“[The government] allowed their most powerful witness to be deported,” Corchado said. “How can we possibly take this investigation seriously now or ever pretend that it ever was from the outset?”

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