Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves a military courtroom on Naval Base San Diego with his wife, Andrea Gallagher. (Andrew Dyer/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS).

A military judge has removed the lead prosecutor who was accused of misconduct in Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher’s case, a move that has signaled momentum in favor of the defense for the Navy SEAL who awaits his court-martial for murder charges.

Gallagher’s defense team last week argued motions to both remove Cmdr. Chris Czaplak and also to dismiss the case entirely. While the judge, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh, has not yet ruled on the dismissal, he determined Monday that Czaplak is to be removed from the case because he might be investigated for “wrongdoing,” signaling a possible conflict of interest, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“The Navy is complying with the judge’s order,” said Navy Region Southwest spokesman Brian O’Rourke, the Union-Tribune reported. “The senior trial counsel will be replaced by a qualified Navy attorney. Chief Petty Officer Gallagher is entitled to a fair trial, and the Navy is committed to upholding that principle.”

Andrea Gallagher, Eddie Gallagher’s wife, posted to Instagram on Monday night a photo of Czaplak with the phrase “you’re fired” imposed over his face, saying, “We are pleased with the Judge’s decision as it validates our position that CZAPLAK has overseen and coordinated a concerted effort to deprive Eddie of his constitutional rights.”

 

Rugh had released Gallagher from all pre-trial confinement on Thursday in a move to try and remedy what Gallagher’s defense team has said is gross prosecutorial misconduct, including the recent attempt to spy on defense attorneys and the media.

Czaplak had admitted to spying on defense attorneys and a member of the media with email tracking malware, Tim Parlatore, one of Gallagher’s civilian defense attorneys, had confirmed to American Military News.

Gallagher, a 15-year Navy SEAL, is charged with premeditated murder, accused of stabbing and killing a critically wounded ISIS fighter during a 2017 deployment to Mosul. He is also accused of shooting at unarmed civilians. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial was set to begin May 28.

The Navy SEAL’s court-martial has been delayed until at least June 10, as Rugh now weighs whether or not to dismiss the case entirely, this as President Donald Trump has said he is considering pardoning Gallagher and other U.S. service members convicted of war crimes, which The New York Times first reported in May.

DNA leads police to suspect 25 years after murder of 9-year-old Angie Housman
The grave of Angie Housman is decorated by artificial flowers in Laurel Hill Memorial Gardens at St. Charles Rock Road and Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Photo by Robert Cohen,

Child molester. International internet child pornography king. Disgraced Air Force veteran.

And now, prosecutors allege, a 61-year-old civilly committed inmate has another title: child killer.

Sources familiar with the case say his DNA links him to the murder of 9-year-old Angie Housman in 1993. The case sat cold for 25 years until a DNA test earlier this year connected him to the crime.

His life is extensively documented in court files, military records and media coverage of some of his previous arrests involving children, but the records are also unclear on some aspects of his history.

He has not been charged in connection with the Housman case, so the Post-Dispatch is not naming him.

According to records, he was born and reared in the St. Louis area. He had two older sisters and two younger brothers.

He told psychologists that his parents were heavy drinkers and that he saw his father rape his mother when he was 7, according to documents from his court martial proceedings. His father died when he was 12. The alleged killer described “his life as having ended when his father died,” according to the records.

A year later, his mother married a U.S. merchant mariner, also a heavy drinker who verbally and physically abused him, his mother and his siblings, the suspected killer told psychotherapists.

At one point, his mother used a wheelchair after his stepfather severely beat her and pushed her down stairs, according to the documents.

He told psychotherapists he began running away from home and drinking at the age of 12.

After graduating in 1975 from Jennings High School, the suspect joined the Air Force. He trained in computer operations at the Air Force Technical School in Biloxi, Miss., and served as a computer operator for five years.

His military records show that he was on active service from September 1978 to October 1984, and discharged at the rank of a basic airman.

His criminal record begins at Rhein-Main Air Force Base near Frankfurt, Germany.

In 1982, he was convicted of sexually molesting four girls, ages 7 to 11, for whom he babysat while in Germany. He was sentenced to eight years at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, but was released early. Records are unclear about how much time he served.

Overland police arrested him in October 1989, after he allegedly had inappropriate contact with two 7-year-old girls at the movies and a park not far from where Angie disappeared, according to court documents.

St. Louis County prosecutors charged him with assault, but eventually dismissed the case. Again, records are unclear about why.

But his arrest was enough to revoke his parole, and he was sent back to Fort Leavenworth to serve more of his sentence for the offenses in Germany. He remained there from January through December 1992.

Off the radar

The suspect had to give an address upon his release from prison, so police believe he gave the last address he knew: his mother’s former home along Wismer Avenue.

It’s about a half mile from Angie’s bus stop.

It’s unclear whether he lived there at the time of her abduction.

He told psychotherapists he moved in with a married woman in Ferguson not long after his release, but he had at least two relatives whom he frequently visited near his mom’s old address, police said.

Eleven months into his freedom, Angie disappeared.

And so did the suspect — from the criminal justice system at least.

For about the next 10 years, it appears he didn’t face any new criminal charges.

He moved out of the married woman’s home in 1996, and at some point moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., according to court documents.

As the internet was becoming more mainstream, he found a new purpose in online child porn.

Sometime in 1997, police say, he put his knowledge about computers to work and became a ringleader in the international child pornography network known as the “Shadowz Brotherhood.”

Users who posted a certain number of images were promoted within the group and could gain access to even more images. He oversaw the network’s online bulletin board group known as “The Panty Raiders/Lolita Lovers” for years.

He attracted the attention of law enforcement in November 2002, when he sent sexually explicit emails using the screen name “YoungStuff” to an undercover FBI agent he thought was a 14-year-old girl named “Brenda.”

Prosecutors said the suspect sent “Brenda” money to travel from Virginia to Colorado so she could be his “sex slave.” He told the girl to wear a short skirt, red tube top and no underwear. When he met her, he said only, “You don’t look 14,” before police moved in to arrest him.

The moment marked the unraveling of an underground child porn network that authorities worldwide had been trying to bust for years. And Angie’s alleged killer was one of its leaders, according to court documents.

Federal agents found more than 45,000 still images and videos of child pornography on his computer. The discovery led to multiple search warrants. Children seen in some of the images and videos were rescued, including one little girl who had been abused by her own father.

About 60 people were arrested in 11 countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, according to a newspaper account.

Prosecutors in the United Kingdom referred to the suspect and the other “administrators” of the site as “the life blood of the pedophilia community,” according to court documents.

He was sentenced to 120 months and three years of probation.

Just months before his projected release date in 2011, federal prosecutors applied to certify him a sexually dangerous person under the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

The act allows the government to keep offenders incarcerated as part of a legal status known as a “civil commitment” beyond a completed criminal sentence.

The finding came near the end of a two-day hearing that wrapped up just 10 days before Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher is due to stand trial in a case that has drawn the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Gallagher is charged with murdering a helpless, wounded Islamic State fighter in his custody, and with two counts of attempted murder in the wounding of two unarmed civilians, a schoolgirl and elderly man, shot from a sniper’s perch.

The charges stem from Gallagher’s deployment as a platoon leader to Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, in 2017.

He has pleaded not guilty to those and other charges, including obstructing justice. If convicted, the decorated career combat veteran could face life in prison.

Gallagher says he was wrongly accused and that fellow SEAL team members testifying against him, several under grants of immunity, are disgruntled subordinates who fabricated allegations to force him from command.

His defense team has filed motions seeking either to dismiss the charges altogether, or remove the lead prosecutor from the case, on grounds of alleged misconduct by the prosecutor and agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

The defense specifically has accused Navy lawyers of conducting illegal surveillance of defense attorneys and news media using electronic tracking software secretly embedded in emails sent to the defense.

In court, prosecutors have said the email “auditing tools” they used were designed merely to detect the flow of emails without revealing their content, and were aimed at pinpointing the source of leaks from case files sealed by the judge.

The judge, Navy Captain Aaron Rugh, adjourned the hearing without ruling yet on the defense motions. But Rugh said he had already found the prosecution’s conduct amounted to a violation of the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights to a fair trial under the U.S. constitution.

Even if the judge refuses to dismiss the case, removing the lead prosecutor, Navy Commander Christopher Czaplak, would probably result in a lengthy delay.

A ruling on the motions could come any time, and momentum seemed to be moving the favor of the defense.
At the end of Thursday’s proceedings, the judge unexpectedly ordered Gallagher released from base confinement at a nearby military hospital center in San Diego while he awaits trial.

He was transferred there from a military brig at a Marine Corps air station in California in March at the direction of Trump, who cited Gallagher’s “past service to our country.”

Trump last Friday said he was considering pardons for a number of service members accused of war crimes, and Gallagher’s case is widely believed to be one of the cases under review.

Soldiers salute the U.S. Flag

Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than their white comrades to wind up in front of a general court-martial, a report issued last week by the Government Accountability Office found.

Worries of racial bias have haunted the civilian justice system for decades, but the military was largely considered the nation’s best example of racial harmony. But investigators say the military faces the same issues as the rest of society.

“Black, Hispanic, and male service members were more likely than white and female service members to be the subjects of recorded investigations in all of the military services, and were more likely to be tried in general and special courts-martial in the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force,” the report says.

The report stopped short of determining why more minorities wound up in court more often. The report found no evidence of selective prosecution.

But what the report did find triggered alarm bells in the Pentagon. Military leaders are proud of their record on race. The military integrated its ranks in 1948, when much of America was still under Jim Crow laws. The military has also been a leader in the acceptance of women and gays.

Allegations of racial discrimination in the Pentagon’s ranks result in swift investigations and sharp punishment if bigotry is found.

The report was ordered by Congress during a revamp of the military’s law book, the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It examined records from 2013 to 2017.

But trying to tease conclusions on racial disparity from the military’s databases proved frustrating for investigators, because services didn’t consistently track the race of defendants and suspects. The Coast Guard didn’t have racial data in its justice files, and the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines offered inconsistent data, the report found.

“The military services collect gender information, but they do not collect and maintain consistent information about race and ethnicity in their investigations, military justice, and personnel databases,” the report found. “This limits their ability to collectively or comparatively assess these data to identify any disparities.”

The agency asked the military to come up with a better system for tracking racial data to determine if the military’s justice system is fair.

The agency wants race tied to military justice records, from nonjudicial punishment to investigations. Having that data available would allow a complete assessment of the impact of race on military justice, investigators said.

The military is moving on with a plan to fix its record-keeping by the end of 2020.

Hours after allegations that Neymar raped a Brazilian woman in Paris came to light, the soccer superstar posted a video on social media in which he denied the accusations and claimed that the woman had tried to extort him.

In the video, Neymar admits to having sex with his accuser, but claims that both parties consented to everything that happened. Here’s an excerpt of Neymar’s recorded statement, as translated from Portuguese by the BBC:

“I’m very upset but from now on I’ll expose or tell all about what happened with that girl. It was an intimate thing but I have to open myself up to prove that nothing exceptional happened.

“What happened that day was a relationship between a man and a woman, within four walls, like with any couple. And the next day nothing much happened. We kept exchanging messages. She asked me for a souvenir for [her child].”

The first half of the video shows Neymar professing his innocence in the matter, claiming to have fallen for an extortionate “trap” set by his accuser. After that, the video switches to a screengrab of a series of WhatsApp messages Neymar says were sent between him and the woman. The messages shown in the video begin in early March and cut off on March 16, the day after the alleged assault took place.

The video of the WhatsApp conversation depicts several photos and videos the woman allegedly sent Neymar showing her in various states of undress. In the video, the images of the woman have been lightly censored with a blur effect to conceal the most intimate areas of her body.

In an interview on Brazilian TV before the posting of the video, Neymar’s father, Neymar Santos Sr., explained why he and his son believed it was necessary to confront the case so publicly. “This is a tough moment,” Neymar Sr. said, per Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte. “If we can’t show the truth quickly it will be a snowball.”

Neymar’s father also explained the extortion allegation in the interview: Neymar Sr. said that after the woman had returned to Brazil from Paris upon learning that Neymar did not want to continue a relationship with her, a lawyer who claimed to represent the woman contacted Neymar’s representatives and threatened that the woman would go to police with a charge of rape against Neymar if he did not agree to pay her some sum of money.

According to the New York Times, Sao Paolo police have confirmed that a report has been filed against Neymar.