AP News in Brief at 6:04 a.m. EDT


Clash over middle-school sex assaults: Did they happen?

ESTILL, S.C. (AP) — The numbers are horrific: At least four students, ages 11 to 14, victimized by as many as 30 kids in one of the largest single cases of sexual assault reported on U.S. school grounds.

And yet four years later, it’s as if nothing happened.

The sheriff’s office investigated and filed an incident report, but eventually stopped asking questions after multiple fruitless attempts to discuss the case with a prosecutor. Estill Middle School said it couldn’t determine what, if anything, happened in the gym bathroom. The former school principal couldn’t even recall the incident when asked about it.

But to the grandmother of two girls who claimed they were forced by classmates to perform oral sex, there is no doubt that something terrible happened. She filed a lawsuit against the school district for failing to keep kids safe from harm.

“They were at a schoolhouse, where they were supposed to be protecting my kids,” she said.

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AP: Sex assaults in high school sports minimized as ‘hazing’

The Georgia school district said it was investigating the baseball players for “misbehavior” and “inappropriate physical contact.” What it didn’t reveal was that a younger teammate had reported being sexually assaulted.

Even after players were later disciplined for sexual battery, the district cited student confidentiality to withhold details from the public and used “hazing” to describe the incident, which it also failed to report to the state as required.

Across the U.S., perhaps nowhere is student-on-student sexual assault as dismissed or as camouflaged as in boys’ sports, an Associated Press investigation found. Mischaracterized as hazing and bullying, the violence is so normalized on some teams that it persists for years, as players attacked one season become aggressors the next.

Coaches frequently say they’re not aware of what’s happening. But AP found multiple cases where coaches knew and failed to intervene or, worse, tried to cover it up.

The AP examined sexual violence in school sports as part of its larger look at student-on-student sex assaults . Analyzing state education records, supplemented by federal crime data, AP found about 17,000 official reports of sex assaults by students in grades K-12 over a recent four-year period. That figure doesn’t capture the extent of problem because attacks are widely under-reported and not all states track them or classify them uniformly.

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10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. FRANCE’S MACRON PREPARES TO TAKE THE REINS

The centrist defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen handily in the presidential vote, and now must pull together a majority for his year-old political movement by mid-June legislative elections.

2. AP: SEX ASSAULTS IN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS MINIMIZED AS ‘HAZING’

Sexual battery in boys’ sports are embedded in team culture and persist for years, and coaches fail to halt it or, worse, try to cover it up, an AP investigation finds.

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French president-elect gears for transition _ as do rivals

PARIS (AP) — French president-elect Emmanuel Macron is laying the groundwork for his transition to power, with plans for a visit to Germany, a name change for his political movement and an appearance Monday with the man whose job he assumes.

Macron defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen handily in Sunday’s presidential vote, and now must pull together a majority for his year-old political movement by mid-June legislative elections.

His party, En Marche (Forward) is tweaking its name as it prepares a list of candidates. Macron has promised that half of those candidates will be new to elected politics, as he was before Sunday.

The far-right National Front party is also gearing up for a name change — if not a makeover of its ideas — after Marine Le Pen’s decisive loss.

In interviews Monday, her campaign director, David Rachline, said the party founded by her father would get a new name as bait to pull in a broader spectrum of supporters in France.

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Macron election gives a gasping EU a breath of fresh air

BRUSSELS (AP) — Tuesday is Europe Day, and this year European Union leaders got to unwrap their present a bit early.

French voters elected as president Emmanuel Macron, whose platform espouses a stronger EU and a tough line in negotiations on Britain’s exit from the bloc. Perhaps just as important, they rejected far-right contender Marine Le Pen, whose EU bashing knows few bounds.

But if champagne corks are popping in Brussels, beware of the hangover: Brexit negotiations could go horribly wrong. Italian elections could see an anti-euro movement become the biggest party. Greek finances could wreck the value of the shared European currency.

Despite overwhelming support for Macron across the continent, the new French leader remains a political novice, untried and untested on European issues. And even as he celebrates European unity, he has argued that the bloc needs a fundamental retooling.

“It makes it tough to predict how he will act — in France and also in the EU,” said Hendrik Vos, a European policy analyst at Ghent University in Belgium.

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Ousted Obama official to speak on Trump aide’s Russia talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Obama administration official who warned the Trump White House about contacts between one of its key advisers and Russia is set to speak publicly for the first time about the concerns she raised.

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is testifying Monday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The highly anticipated hearing — it is Yates’s first appearance on Capitol Hill since her firing in January — is expected to fill in key details in the chain of events that led to the ouster of Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, in the early weeks of the administration.

The February resignation followed media reports that Flynn had discussed U.S.-imposed sanctions on Russia with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period, which was contrary to the public representations of the White House.

Yates is likely to testify Monday that she warned White House counsel Don McGahn on Jan. 26 that Flynn’s contacts — and the discrepancies between what the White House said happened on the calls and what actually occurred — had left him in a compromised position, according to a person familiar with her expected statements. The person was not authorized to discuss the testimony by name and requested anonymity.

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Appeals court to weigh challenge to revised Trump travel ban

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — After a series of stinging legal defeats, President Donald Trump’s administration hopes to convince a federal appeals court that his travel ban targeting six-Muslim majority countries is motivated by national security, not religion.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday will examine a ruling that blocks the administration from temporarily barring new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It’s the first time an appeals court will hear arguments on the revised travel ban, which is likely destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pointing to the Republican’s promises on the campaign trail to bar Muslims from entering the country, a federal judge in Maryland found in March that the policy appeared to be driven primarily by religious animus.

Attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department say the court shouldn’t rely on Trump’s statements, but on the text of the policy, which they say is necessary to protect the country from terrorism. The banned countries represent just a fraction of the predominantly Muslim countries worldwide, they note.

“The court should have focused on official acts, not perceived subjective motivations,” the attorneys say in court documents.

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Texas stokes immigration debate with ‘sanctuary cities’ ban

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas charged to the forefront of the national debate over immigration as Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a so-called “sanctuary cities” ban that lets police ask during routine stops whether someone is in the U.S. legally and threatens sheriffs with jail if they don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.

The new Texas law was blasted by opponents as the nation’s toughest on immigrants since Arizona’s crackdown in 2010. Opponents vowed to challenge it in court.

Abbott signed the measure on Facebook Live Sunday evening without advance notice, which critics said was to avoid protesters. Abbott spokesman John Wittman said they chose to sign the bill on social media because that’s “where most people are getting their news nowadays.”

The law allows police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they detain, a situation that can range from arrest for a crime to being stopped for a traffic violation.

It also requires police chiefs and sheriffs — under the threat of jail and removal of office — to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation. Republicans have a strong majority in the Legislature and shoved aside Democratic objections, even as President Donald Trump’s efforts to withhold federal funding for sanctuary cities have hit roadblocks in federal courts.

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AP Exclusive: China lawyer’s family says US helped them flee

BEIJING (AP) — Stuck in a Bangkok jail with a deportation order against her, Chen Guiqiu waited with dread over what seemed certain to come next. A Thai immigration official showed her surveillance video of the jail entrance, where more than a dozen Chinese security agents were waiting.

Within minutes, Chen feared, she and her two daughters would be escorted back to China, where her husband, the prominent rights lawyer Xie Yang, was held on a charge of inciting subversion — and where punishment for attempting to flee surely awaited her.

After weeks on the run, Chen was exhausted, and so was her luck. A Christian, she prayed: “Don’t desert us now, not like this.”

Help arrived, from America.

U.S. Embassy officials managed to enter the facility just in time to whisk Chen and her daughters out a back door. The Chinese agents outside soon realized what had happened and pursued them, finally meeting in a standoff at the Bangkok airport where Chinese, Thai and U.S. officials heatedly argued over custody of the family.

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MTV Awards salute ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Stranger Things’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Film hit “Beauty and the Beast” and Netflix newcomer “Stranger Things” were the night’s big winners with two trophies apiece as MTV partied with its Movie & TV Awards show.

For this, the 26th edition of what was formerly known as the MTV Movie Awards, TV was added to the mix. “Stranger Things” was decreed the Show of the Year, and its cast member, Millie Bobby Brown, was named Best Actor in a Show.

“Beauty and the Beast” was the Movie of the Year, with its star, Emma Watson, the Best Actor in a Movie.

But the awards had another trick up its sleeve, introducing a policy of breaking down gender barriers, as men and women competed jointly in the acting categories.

The policy was put into practice at the top of the show by presenter Asia Kate Dillion, who proudly noted she has been able to break down gender barriers as “the first openly non-binary actor to play an openly non-binary actor on a major TV show,” Showtime’s drama series “Billions.” (A non-binary person is someone who doesn’t identify with either gender.) Then she presented the award to Watson.