News, January 23rd

INDIANA PEDOPHILE BUSTED IN GLENWOOD SPRINGS

Glenwood Springs–A pedophile convicted of sexually molesting young children is going to federal prison for a long time thanks to the undercover work of a special agent based in Glenwood Springs. According to a release from the United States Attorney John Walsh, 35 year old Steven Raines of Fort Wayne, Indiana was sentenced yesterday to just over 34 years in prison for attempting to coerce, entice and engage in sexual activity with children. The investigation began on April 1st of last year when Raines went on a chatline to talk about his vast collection of child pornography and fascination with and a desire for very young girls. Unbeknownst to him, he was chatting with an undercover Homeland Security Agent based in Glenwood Springs. The agent posed as a single mother of two daughters under the age of 16. Subsequent online chats led to Raines planning a trip to Garfield County for what he hoped would be a sexual encounter with the agent and her supposed daughters. When Raines arrived at the Garfield County address, he was immediately taken into custody. Authorities seized his cell phone which contained over 200 images and videos of explicit child porn. Raines was charged July 2nd and indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver seven days later. He pled guilty in October and was sentenced yesterday. In addition to prison time, U.S. Attorney Walsh says Raines will be under strict supervision for the rest of his life when he’s released sometime in 2047.

RIFLE PRISON ON THE BUDGET CHOPPING BLOCK

Rifle–The minimum security prison outside of Rifle is once again in danger of being shut down. Officials with the city and Garfield County are going over the budget for the correctional facility to present it to the state legislature. The Rifle facility was nearly closed by Governor Bill Ritter in 2009 for budgetary reasons but public outcry convinced him to keep it open.

CIVIL UNIONS

DENVER (AP) – Democrats are expected to take the first step to grant Colorado gay couples rights similar to marriage with a civil unions bill that’s one of the most emotional issues for lawmakers this year. A Senate committee is hearing testimony Wednesday from gay couples and supporters of traditional marriage on the civil unions legislation. It’s the first of several votes before the bill becomes law. Supporters say gay couples deserve rights similar to married people so they can protect their families, like the ability to make medical decisions for their loved ones. Opponents say the bill undermines traditional marriage and doesn’t protect the religious beliefs of those who oppose civil unions. Democrats tried unsuccessfully the last two years to pass civil unions. House Republicans have defeated the measure, but Democrats now control the Legislature.

UNIONS GAINING FAVOR IN STATE LEGISLATURE

DENVER (AP) – A labor question that could test Democratic solidarity in the Colorado Legislature has gone in favor of the unions – for now. A Senate committee voted 3-2 along party lines Wednesday to guarantee collective bargaining rights by professional firefighters, even in areas where local voters have opposed the idea. The bill has fractured Democrats in the past. Four years ago, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed a similar bill after the Democratic Legislature approved it. It’s still unclear whether current Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper would sign the firefighter measure. The bill now awaits a vote by the full Senate. Democrats on the committee also rejected a Republican-sponsored bill to make Colorado a so-called “Right To Work” state.

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