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Pennsylvania Court Quotes Taylor Swift Song in Decision on Free Speech

A federal judge in Pennsylvania quoted singer Taylor Swift‘s lyrics in its decision on a free speech lawsuit this week.

In a document filed Tuesday, Judge Joshua Wolson cited Swift’s diamond-certified hit “Shake It Off” in the memo of his order on Crash Proof Retirement LLC v. Paul M. Price.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the retirement-planning consulting business against Price, a former stockbroker who wrote about Crash Proof Retirement in an article for TheStreet.com.

“If free speech means anything, it means that you do not get to sue peop[l]e because you don’t like their opinion of you. In the immortal words of Taylor Swift,
although ‘haters gonna hate, hate, hate…,’ sometimes you just have to ‘shake it off.’ Taylor Swift, Shake It Off, MXM (2014),” Wolson wrote.

“‘Shake it off,’ however, Crash Proof Retirement did not,” the judge continued. “Instead, it sued Paul M. Price, claiming, among other things, that Mr. Price violated the Lanham Act by authoring an article that criticized Crash Proof’s investment strategy.”

The Lanham Act is a federal statute that governs trademarks and unfair competition and protects owners of trademarks against infringement.

Wolson noted that the statue regulates only commercial speech, which Price’s article was determined not to be.

“A plain reading of Mr. Price’s article reveals that it does not fall within the ‘core
notion of commercial speech’ because it does not propose a commercial transaction,” the judge wrote.

“Nothing in the article promotes any product or service, so it is not an advertisement,” the court document says. “Also, nothing in the article or the complaint suggests that Mr. Price was trying to persuade consumers to use a service that he sells instead of Crash Proof’s product, so he did not have an economic motive for the speech.”

Taylor Swift attends the Golden Globe Awards on January 5, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. A Pennsylvania judge quoted Swift’s song “Shake It Off” in a court order on Tuesday.
Frazer Harrison/Getty

Wolson, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2018, also said that Crash Proof’s claims that Price is a direct competitor because he promotes a different type of investment strategy show only that the two differ in opinion.

While the judge said the article did satisfy one factor by mentioning the business by name, “just mentioning a product by name does not convert protected speech into commercial speech.”

Wolson granted Price a motion to dismiss. Crash Proof will have until April 27 to file an amended complaint based on state law claims. If it does not, the case will be closed.

“Mr. Price told Crash Proof what it did not want to hear—that he thinks it’s a
scam. But as much as Mr. Price’s opinion may irritate Crash Proof, it is not illegal under the Lanham Act because it is just that: an opinion,” the judge concluded.

A spokesperson for Wolson told Newsweek that the judge often references and quotes pop culture sources in his decisions.

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Massive Milk Spill Turns River White in Alarming Images

On Wednesday, a Welsh river took on a decidedly ghostly appearance.

According to Euronews, the River Dulais started flowing white after a tanker truck carrying milk was involved in a nearby traffic collision.

The truck reportedly overturned, leading vast amounts of milk to spill into the waterway.

A video posted to Twitter by May Lewis captures the surreal scene, in which milky, opaque river water cascades off a ledge and over rocks. Lewis reportedly filmed her clip in the village of Llanwrda.

National Resources Wales (NRW), which manages the country’s natural resources, released a statement regarding the incident on Facebook.

“The tanker was carrying milk and an unknown quantity has escaped and entered the river,” they said. “This has led to significant discoloration along the river.”

They added that “NRW officers have been on-site” yesterday and today to investigate the potential environmental impact of the collision on the river’s ecosystem.

The freaky images of the all-white river have popped up on Facebook and Twitter, and people are using the platforms to share their reactions.

Many, understandably, are concerned about how the incident might affect the area’s wildlife.

“Oh no! This is awful! Hope the driver is ok! Milk is horrendous for the life in the river!” shared one Facebook user.

“I hope @EnvAgency are responding rapidly to this as the deoxygenation of the water can lead to significant fish kills,” added someone on Twitter.

Another commenter pointed out the huge waste caused by the crash: “That is so sad, all that those poor cows have to go through to give us milk, wasted – literally gone down the drain!”

Meanwhile, some viewed the strange scene as having potentially religious significance.

“All we need is the honey next and it’s totally biblical,” wrote one Twitter user.

Others, however, found humor in the absurdity of the situation.

“Please say it’s oat milk,” quipped one commenter on Twitter.

As of this morning, NRW has posted another Facebook update, saying that “the river is now clear.” Additionally, they added, “there is no evidence of dead fish to date.”

In terms of what happened to the milk, they say, “The ‘slug’ of milk is now making its way through the main Tywi downstream of Llandeilo which is causing local discoloration.”

This incident in Wales is not the first time a river has turned an alarming color. In 2018, China’s Xiangbi River started flowing red after nearby factory workers accidentally spilled paint into the water. Despite its simple explanation, the blood-red river “stunned onlookers.”

The River Dulais turned white due to an unlikely culprit.
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/Getty Images
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People Are Using Their Cats As Photo Backdrops in Bizarre New Viral Trend

Cats are the undisputed kings of the internet, with Caturday often trending and adorable kitten videos melting our hearts.

But it seems owners are finally putting their pets to work, by using them as bizarre backgrounds for product shots.

A twitter user, called out of context cats, started a viral trend online, after using their white feline as the backdrop for a lipstick shoot.

They shared a close-up of the Mac item on a luxe, furry background, alongside a second snap revealing it’s actually their pet.

The very casual cat is lounging on a keyboard against a computer, with the lipstick on their tummy.

Their owner can be seen taking the original lipstick photo, with the tweet blowing up on social media amassing more than 800,000 likes.

Fellow cat-lovers from all over the world soon jumped on the trend, posting side-by-side images showing close-ups of various items, alongside a zoomed-out version revealing it balancing on their cat.

Black, tortoise, ginger and grey cats have been used as models, with one tweeter even joking that the felines were now “influencers.”

And as well as make-up, animal lovers have been snapping perfume, phones, photographs, jewellery, coins and even dice on their four-legged friends.

Sharing a photo of their game pieces, cat owner Matthew wrote: “I’ve tried this with my homemade dice before! He’s so photogenic, even when he’s spacing out.”

While Parkner supremacy thought: “lmao yeah cats are the best backgrounds.”

Twitter user Jimin’s girlfriend simply said “so cute,” while Hugo Persson wrote “next level.”

Joe Golondrino thought: “Cat agent just acts as pad for photoshoot…”

Cat mom, Lucy, tweeted: “I have done this to poor Minnie.”

But it seems not all cat owners have been able to jump on the bandwagon, as one, called Mary’s Jewellery Bakery, admitted: “You think I wouldn’t have done this if I had a white or, at least, tolerant cat?”

Replying, Future Selena Gray (FSG) wrote: “Mine would probably kill me at the moment I tried…”

As the trend took off people began substituting cats for other animals, with one person photographing a duck, while another used their pet dog as a background instead.

“A dog can do,” Stargirl (Hallie) JUSTICE wrote alongside a snap of her canine wearing a floral bracelet.

Another, called Nikhil Thakur, shared a snap of their white rabbit, captioning the image: “I’m gonna use him for this.”

Stock image of a Bengal cat playing at home. A viral new trend has emerged online seeing people using their cats as photoshoot backdrops.
Ingus Kruklitis/Getty Images
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NASA Mars Ingenuity Helicopter’s First Flight Could Now Be Next Week

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars could be flying at some point next week, according to scientists working on the project.

In a public Q&A session posted online by NASA yesterday, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, and MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager, gave updates on the status of the mission.

NASA announced last week that the helicopter’s first flight had been delayed past its initial April 11 date to April 14. The agency later said this date would be pushed back even further, without providing a new one.

The reason for the delay is that engineers had encountered a software issue when they were conducting tests of Ingenuity ahead of its flight. A fix was identified, but it meant reinstalling the little helicopter’s flight software.

In Wednesday’s Q&A, Zurbuchen said: “The team is currently actively considering a bunch of options and is really making progress towards addressing the issue that has stopped us. And our assumption is, right now… we should be getting back to flight some time next week. That’s what we think right now.”

Ingenuity project manager MiMi Aung said the team had tested the fix they have developed on a test version of Ingenuity based on Earth.

She explained the issue was to do with a “watchdog” system on board Ingenuity, which is there to make sure the flight computers are working correctly. It does this using a very accurate timing system, which was ever so slightly out-of-sync.

According to Aung, this “led the watchdog to say ‘the computer’s not healthy’ even though they were. So that was the issue and so we have a workaround so that the timing is corrected.”

She added: “This was a very, very subtle timing challenge. It is about a watchdog that is looking for a healthy computer that can ‘stroke’ the watchdog regularly.”

“It’s a very, very tiny timing mismatch that varies very slightly and so that’s why we have just encountered it.

“In fact we have tested this exact environment on Earth, and in that time it did not occur.”

Zurbuchen said such timing variations do sometimes happen and they are not exclusive to Ingenuity. “These things really do happen, these timing issues. I remember having one on one of the instruments that I built in the past, so it just happens in space.”

When Ingenuity does fly it will be the first-ever powered flight on another planet. NASA hopes it will demonstrate technology that could be used in other Mars helicopters in future, and these could be used to transport things.

A computer-generated image of the Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars. The helicopter was dropped off by the Perseverance earlier this month.
NASA/JPL-Caltech
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Army Launches Jonathan Pentland Investigation Over Video, Urges Patience

Army officials have called for patience as they launch an investigation into a white sergeant seen shoving a Black man in a viral video.

Jonathan Pentland, 42, a U.S. Army sergeant first class stationed at Fort Jackson, was charged with third-degree assault and battery on Wednesday, according to Richland County Sheriff’s Department in South Carolina.

The charges came after Pentland was filmed repeatedly demanding that a young Black man leave a neighbourhood near Columbia and threatening him with violence. At one point, Pentland was seen shoving the young man hard in the shoulder, causing him to almost fall to the ground.

Fort Jackson’s commander, Brigadier General. Milford Beagle Jr., said Army officials had “begun our own investigation and are working with the local authorities.”

In a statement to Newsweek, Beagle said the U.S. Department of Justice was also looking into the incident.

Fort Jackson’s command team and agents from the Army’s criminal investigation division were among those “engaged with their professional counterparts and civil authorities to seek the facts,” according to Beagle.

“The leaders at Fort Jackson in no way condone the behavior depicted in the video,” he added.

Army sergeant Jonathan Pentland, seen shoving a Black man in a viral video, has been charged with third-degree assault.
Richland County Sheriff’s Office

Beagle also asked for patience, as the sheriff’s department reported that Pentland and his family had had to move from their home on Wednesday night after it was vandalized by protesters.

“I ask that our communities and leaders exercise a degree of patience, affording Sherriff Lott and law enforcement investigators [time] to account for the full measure of events before, during, and after the incident,” he added.

“I remain deeply concerned for the members of our Army family, the young man and his family, and the tensions that activities like this amplify over time; please be patient as facts are determined.”

The incident took place in a subdivision of the Summit neighborhood on Monday, according to Shirell Johnson, who posted the three-minute video on Facebook.

The footage, shared thousands of times on social media, starts with Pentland demanding that the young man leave the neighborhood.

Pentland asks him what he’s doing in the area and the man replies that he’s just walking.

“You either walk away or I’m going to carry your a** out of here,” Pentland says at one point. “You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*****. Get out.”

Towards the end of the video, a woman Pentland identifies as his wife can be heard saying the Black man had picked a fight with “some random young lady” in the neighborhood, which he denies.

Johnson said Pentland had also slapped the man’s phone out of his hand, cracking it. She added that deputies who responded to the incident only issued Pentland a citation for malicious injury to property.

Johnson did not respond to a message seeking further comment.

After social media users identified Pentland and tagged accounts associated with Fort Jackson, Beagle tweeted: “We will get to the bottom of this ASAP.”

According to Pentland’s Facebook page, which has since been taken down, he has been stationed at Fort Jackson since 2019.

In a news release, the sheriff’s department said that when deputies were sent to the neighborhood on Monday, they were told the young man in the video had allegedly committed two assaults in the area in recent days.

“Those incidents are each being investigated independently,” the department said. It added that the man had an underlying medical condition, which might explain his alleged behavior.

The department is “actively working to get him the help that he needs in an attempt to divert him from the criminal justice system,” the release added.

At a news conference, Sheriff Leon Lott said the Black man was not a juvenile, but did not identify him. He described him as the “victim” and said the man was “not facing any charges whatsoever.”

Lott said the man had been involved in other incidents in the neighborhood prior to the confrontation with Pentland, but added: “None of them justified the assault that occurred.”

Pentland was arrested on Wednesday morning, Lott said, and booked into custody. If convicted, he faces up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Pentland did not respond to a message seeking comment.

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These Six Senators Voted Against Anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill Debate

Six Republican senators voted against debating a bill aimed at improving efforts to tackle hate crimes against Asian Americans following attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the terms of the bill, the Attorney General would be instructed to assign a Department of Justice employee to review COVID-19 hate crimes.

COVID-19 hate crimes would include attacks on people based on the perception that one of their characteristics—such as race, gender or sexuality—links them to the spread of the virus. Federal guidance would also be issued to state and local law enforcement on how to create systems for reporting hate crimes online.

The Senate voted 92-6 in favor of proceeding to consideration of the bill on Wednesday. The New York Times reports a final vote is expected later this week.

The bipartisan support for debate on the measure signals it could stand a chance of passing the upper chamber, if deals are reached on amendments.

The Republican senators who voted against the motion to proceed with the bill were Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Cotton previously called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on hate crimes against Asian-Americans, citing a lack of this as a reason for pushing against the proposed bill.

A letter from Cotton to the committee chairman, sent alongside Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), said: “We are concerned to see that such an important issue has not already received Committee or Subcommittee attention. Instead, S. 937, the ‘COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,’ has been moved to the Senate floor with little commentary, factfinding, or Committee consideration.

“We believe the Senate should have the benefit of hearing from the Department of Justice before blindly acting on this issue.”

Newsweek has contacted senators who voted against the bill proceeding to debate for further comment.

The bill passed the Senate hurdle a few weeks after six women of Asian descent were killed in a shooting at an Atlanta spa in late March. The New York Times has analyzed media reports and found 110 episodes of such race-based hate nationwide since March of 2020.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the lead sponsor of the bill, said at a press conference on Tuesday that there was “no place in a democracy” for unprovoked attacks on people based on their race.

“It is very important we now have a president who speaks out and takes a stand,” Hirono told reporters. “It is now time for Congress to take a stand and pass this legislation against this kind of targeted, unprovoked attacks on AAPIs.”

Reacting to Wednesday’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted: “The Senate just sent a loud and clear message by taking the next step on the COVID Hate Crimes Act: Racism and violence against Asian Americans has no place in our society.”

Republican Senators Ted Cruz (L) of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri were among the six to vote against an anti-COVID hate crime bill.
Tasos Katopodis/Mandel Ngan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images
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Prince Philip Unseen Photos Released by Royal Family Ahead of Funeral

The royal family has released previously unseen photos of Prince Philip following his death last Friday.

Prince William and Kate Middleton shared a family photo taken at Balmoral Castle in 2015 that shows Philip and his wife Queen Elizabeth II with two of their great-grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

“Today we share, along with members of @theroyalfamily, photographs of The Duke of Edinburgh, remembering him as a father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” read the caption on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s official Instagram account. “This picture was taken at Balmoral in 2015.”

Another photo, taken by Kate in 2018 and shared by the official royal family account on Instagram, shows the queen and Philip with seven of their great-grandchildren.

The photo shows Prince Louis, Kate and William’s youngest child, cradled in the arms of the queen, in a rare display of affection from the monarch. Also in the photo are George and Charlotte, Zara Tindall’s daughters Lena and Mia and Peter Phillips’ daughters Savannah and Isla.

Since the photo was taken, three more royal great-grandchildren have been born: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s son Archie, Princess Eugenie’s son August and Zara Tindall’s son Lucas. Both August and Lucas have Philip as a middle name.

The Twitter account of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, also posted two photos to remember Philip—one a black-and-white image of the late duke and a young Charles playing polo.

Remembering The Duke of Edinburgh as a much-loved Father and Father-in-Law.

Members of The Royal Family are today sharing their memories of The Duke – see more on @RoyalFamily. pic.twitter.com/7lIGjhhYtQ

— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) April 14, 2021

Princess Eugenie also posted a tribute on Instagram on Wednesday.

“Dearest Grandpa,⁣⁣ We all miss you. ⁣You would be so touched by all the tributes that have been shared with me the past few days,” she wrote. “I will remember you in your children, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Thank you for your dedication and love for us all and especially Granny, who we will look after for you.”

On Monday, Prince Harry, who has flown home to the U.K. for the funeral, released a touching tribute to his grandfather.

“My grandfather was a man of service, honor and great humor. He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm—and also because you never knew what he might say next,” Harry wrote.

“He will be remembered as the longest-reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke.”

Prince Philip at Windsor Castle on July 22, 2020. His funeral will take place on Saturday.
Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images

Philip’s funeral will take place on Saturday at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Because of coronavirus restrictions, there will be just 30 guests.

The coffin will be carried to the chapel on a specially modified Land Rover with family members following in a procession.

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Jerry Nadler Refuses to Say If Democrats Plan to Pack Supreme Court

Rep. Jerry Nadler refused to confirm or deny whether Democrats were planning to expand the Supreme Court, when asked by Rep. Jim Jordan on Wednesday.

Jordan, a Republican representing Ohio’s 4th congressional district, cited an article from The Intercept during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Nadler.

The Intercept reported that Democrats plan to introduce legislation to increase the number of Supreme Court justices from nine to 13—and that Nadler will be one of the bill’s sponsors.

Nadler, a Democrat who represents New York’s 10th congressional district, refused to answer Jordan’s question, while another member of the committee said the Republican’s query was out of order.

“That is not the subject of the markup,” Nadler said.

A markup is the term used in Congress for the process of debating, amending or rewriting legislation in a committee.

“Expanding the Supreme Court, the report that the chairman is…” Jordan said. Nadler cut in, however, saying again: “That is not the subject.”

Jordan pressed on, expressing incredulity that legislation to expand the court being sponsored by the committee’s chairman “is not something to be talked about on the House Judiciary Committee.”

As Jordan speaks, another member of the committee can be heard calling out: “We’re in the middle of a markup!”

“I waited ’till the bill was over,” Jordan said. “I asked the chairman a question. If you don’t think it’s important about Democrats trying to extend the size of the Supreme Court … I think that’s a pretty important issue.”

Nadler tried several times to restore order before the committee could move on to the next item. Following the hearing, several major news outlets reported that Democrats intend to introduce legislation to expand the court on Thursday.

Nadler and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) will introduce the bill, according to NBC News. It will be co-sponsored by two Democratic representatives, Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mondaire Jones of New York. Both congressmen are members of the House Judiciary Committee.

It is possible to increase the number of Supreme Court justices via an act of Congress. Although there have been nine members since 1869, the figure has changed over the nation’s history.

Democrats are expected to announce the bill outside the Supreme Court building on Thursday. As the party has a majority in the House of Representatives, it may be successful there. The Senate is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, however.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) speaks to the media on July 9, 2020, on Capitol Hill. Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, refused to say on Wednesday if Democrats planned to expand the Supreme Court.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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When and How to Play Latest Game Early

It’s that time of year. Now that 2021 baseball campaign has begun, so has MLB The Show season.

While this year’s installment of MLB The Show is releasing a bit later than usual, there will be more players who can play the premiere baseball sim than ever before. That’s right: what was once a PlayStation exclusive can now be played on Xbox.

MLB The Show 21 is set for release early next week, but players can play it just before the upcoming weekend if they pre-order a certain edition of the game. If you want to know when you can play MLB The Show 21 as soon as possible, continue reading.

‘MLB the Show 21’ set to release on April 20.
MLB/PlayStation

HOW TO PLAY ‘MLB THE SHOW 21’ EARLY

Although MLB The Show 21 is set for release on Tuesday April 20, certain players can gain early access to the game.

By purchasing the special Jackie Robinson edition of MLB The Show 21, players will be able to play the game four days early. You read correctly: those who purchase this special edition will be able to play starting Friday, April 16.

The Jackie Robinson edition of MLB The Show 21 comes in two versions for both PS4/PS5 and Xbox One/Series X: standard and digital deluxe editions.

The standard Jackie Robinson edition can be purchased digitally or physically and comes with the following perks for $84.99:

  • Four days’ early access
  • 1 Diamond Choice pack
  • Jackie Robinson bat skin
  • 1 Ballplayer Equipment pack
  • 10K Stubs
  • 10 The Show packs
  • 3 Gold Choice packs

The Jackie Robinson digital deluxe edition comes with the following perks for $99.99:

  • Four days’ early access
  • 2 Diamond Choice packs
  • Jackie Robinson bat skin
  • 1 Ballplayer Equipment pack
  • 25K Stubs
  • 10 The Show packs
  • 6 Gold Choice packs

‘MLB THE SHOW 21’ RELEASE TIME

The general release of MLB The Show 21 is set for Tuesday, April 20. According to the official Microsoft Store listing, the specific timing of the game’s release is set for 12 a.m. EDT, which means those on the West Coast will be able to play late on Monday, April 19.

For those who purchased the game early, MLB The Show 21 will release at 12 a.m. EDT on Friday, April 16.

‘MLB THE SHOW 21’ XBOX GAME PASS

If you’re an Xbox user, you can get and play MLB The Show 21 on release day for free through the console’s Game Pass subscription.

Most Xbox users will already have Game Pass. But if you don’t, it may be time to consider signing up. Xbox Game Pass is an upgraded version of Xbox Live Gold, the subscription service that allows users to play online.

Xbox Game Pass allows for users to play games on Xbox consoles, PC and Android phones. You can get all the information on upgrading your subscription, here.

Once the game comes out on Tuesday April 20, Game Pass users will be able to download MLB The Show 21 for free as long as you pay the monthly fee.

Are you excited for the release of MLB The Show 21? Let us know which platform you’re playing on in the comments section.

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Elementary School Principal Kirk Ashton Charged with 9 Counts of Sexually Abusing Students

Kirk Ashton, the principal of Northwood Elementary School in New York state, has been arrested and charged with nine counts of sexually abusing students. He has pleaded not guilty.

The nine alleged victims were all male and between the ages of 9 and 12. They were also students at Ashton’s school, where the alleged abuse took place, according to WHAM-TV.

Last week, the Hilton Central School District (HCSD) placed Ashton on administrative leave. On Wednesday night, police arrested him at a restaurant and then brought him to Greece Town Court for arraignment. He remains in jail with a $500,000 bail or a $2.5 million bond.

Here’s Northwood principal Kirk Ashton being walked out of Greece Town Court moments ago after being arraigned on sexual abuse charges: pic.twitter.com/V21nD9h0U0

— Adam Chodak (@AdamChodak) April 15, 2021

Ashton has served as principal of the school since 2004. As such, his alleged abuses could have occurred for “not just years but decades,” according to Assistant District Attorney Sara Van Strydonck. The case into his past behavior remains active. Authorities may discover more victims as the investigation continues, New York State Police said.

“Anytime there’s allegations of kids being hurt, it’s upsetting to the community, and it should be,” Strydonck told reporters, according to WHAM.

Kirk Ashton, an elementary school principal in the Hilton Central School District of New York state, has been charged with nine counts of sexually abusing students. In this photo illustration, a child’s stuffed teddy bear has been stripped of its knit jacket and jeans.
filrom/Getty

“It’s upsetting as a parent, and I think the community is hurting right now, as they should be,” Strydonck continued. “Hopefully, at the end of this when we release more information, at least some lessons can be learned.”

On Wednesday evening, HCSD Superintendent Casey Kosiorek sent a letter to the district’s parents stating that the district had been fully cooperating with state police during the investigation. Kosiorek also provided a link where parents could learn about warning signs of childhood sexual abuse and a guide for age-appropriate discussions about the subject.

Child victims of sexual abuse can start having difficulty sleeping, experience sudden problems at school and with peers, return to bedwetting or thumb-sucking or start overtly exhibiting excessive sexual behavior, according to the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, an organization that addresses child abuse.

Child rape is a common problem in the U.S., according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Every nine minutes in the United States, agencies with Child Protective Services substantiate or find strong evidence indicative of child sexual abuse, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2016 Child Maltreatment Survey.

One in nine girls and one in 53 boys under the age of 18 experiences sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Roughly 93 percent of perpetrators are known to the victim, usually as an acquaintance or family member, according to a 2000 U.S. Department of Justice report entitled, “Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement.”

In August 2015, CBS News reported that prison inmates known for having sexual interest in minors sometimes face a “living hell” behind bars, often occupying the lowest rung of the prisoner hierarchy. Other inmates will sometimes defecate in their cells, use them as sex slaves or target them for violence and murder as a way to gain prestige.

Such offenders are sometimes placed into protective custody, but even there they’re despised by other prisoners who derisively refer to them as “Chesters,” “short eyes,” “tree jumpers” or “chomos,” a slang neologism made from “child” and “molester.”

Newsweek contacted the New York State Police for comment.