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Bandon Dunes and ARK Project hold charity drive
Clothes and food being accepted until Nov. 20

COOS COUNTY — Homeless children are relying on the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and the ARK Project this winter.

Bandon Dunes and the ARK have teamed up this month in a food and clothing drive. Homeless liaison and ARK Program Manager Melinda Torres initially went to the resort as a way to get more of Coos County involved in helping out the homeless.

“I asked if we could put out a clothing barrel back in March or May,” Torres said. “It was approved and I’ve been getting clothes out of there every other week.”

However, Director of Caddie Services Vince Quattrocchi decided to put on a food and clothing drive to get the whole resort involved.

“On top of what they contribute every month, they want to really push this for the holiday season and it turned into a big competition where whoever brings in the most items gets a party and bragging rights,” Torres said.

Not only that, but the resort gives out turkey vouchers to employees and some of the caddies decided to donate their vouchers to the ARK.

“They did this on their own without me asking and I want to give them a shout out for being willing to do so much for us,” she said.

Torres has been focused on expanding the ARK’s reach across the county and making sure services and the public know it helps homeless families and individuals in more than just Coos Bay and North Bend.

“None of us want to see a child go hungry or have no clothes to wear for school or have no blankets at night,” she said.

Since putting out clothing barrels at the resort, Torres has been collecting seven to 10 bags of clothes, as well as canned food items.

“Having warm clothes is very important with the rainy season right now,” she said. “We still have families camping or living out of their car or RV. So far this year, I’ve had close to six or 10 homeless families on the caseload. Some did just get into housing, which doesn’t usually happen so quickly or this often before winter, so it’s great to see good things like that especially as the weather turns.”

The food and clothing drive is running from now until Nov. 20.

All canned food items are being accepted.

“We have a lot of hungry families,” she said. “Also right now I have more kids living on their own or living with other families that need food. They might spend their food stamps way too fast, so making sure they have an emergency food box or making sure they are in our cooking class this year so they can learn how to budget their food stamps, especially since they are on their own, is important.”

Right now the ARK has 12-to-16 kids living on their own on the caseload and are seeing more new families sign up for services.

“Let’s help out kids who don’t have homes to go to, clothes to wear, tooth brushes and toothpaste, food to eat and a warm place to sleep,” read a press release from Bandon Dunes and the ARK. “School at any age is hard enough.”

Clothes and food can also be dropped off at the ARK located at 755 S. 7th Street, Coos Bay.


Haga indicted on sexual abuse charges

Sean Haga

COQUILLE – More charges were filed Monday in the child pornography case involving Sean Jeffrey Haga, a former computer lab educational assistant and track and basketball coach in the Bandon School District.

Haga has now also been indicted on sexual abuse charges in Coos County Circuit Court.

Haga was arraigned Monday afternoon in Coquille after a grand jury handed down a secret indictment in October charging three counts of first-degree sexual abuse, one count of first-degree sodomy and one count of incest. The charges stem from a victim who is under the age of 12.

Haga, 32, has been in custody in Medford since July 2016 on charges of three counts of child pornography. He has not faced trial on those charges. While Haga was initially to face trial in September 2016, there have been requests for continuances in the case, according to Johnnie-Kaye Montgomery, case administrator for the U.S. Department of Justice in Medford,

Haga’s federal trial is now set for Tuesday, March 13, at 9 a.m. in federal court in Medford.

In the federal case, Haga was indicted on one count of sexual exploitation of children – production of child pornography, one count of sexual exploitation of children – parent or guardian permitting the production of child pornography, and one count of transportation of child pornography.

Haga initially faced 15 federal charges related to child pornography following his arrest June 18, 2016, in Bandon.

If convicted on all three counts in the federal case, Haga faces a 15-year mandatory prison sentence, with a possible maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Monday's Coos County indictment is related to the same investigation, explained Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier.

The Coos County case alleges, in part, that sometime between April 1, 2016 and June 18, 2016, Haga “did unlawfully and knowingly subject a person under 14 years of age to sexual contact.”

Frasier said the case has taken so long to get to the Coos County Circuit Court system because the local DA’s office was not involved when it was started last year. He said he was contacted by the FBI at the end of last year and asked if he would look into potential state charges of sexual abuse that had been uncovered during their investigation.

But with no state agency involved in the initial investigation, Frasier had to wait until federal agents could supply the county with the reports that had been produced in the case. He said he did not receive all of the requested materials until early September, then had to wait to get permission to allow a federal agent to testify before the grand jury.

Frasier said he was not certain why the U.S. Department of Justice did not charge Haga with sexual abuse, but he guessed that there needed to be federal jurisdiction for them to prosecute such a crime.

If a federal and state government both have jurisdiction, sometimes both agencies look at the punishment available in each system and refer the case to whichever agency can get the longer sentence, he said.

“For example, in the Oregon State Penal system, as the victim in this case was under 12 years of age, if Mr. Haga is convicted of sodomy 1, he is looking at 25 years in prison under Jessica’s Law and he would have to serve every day,” Frasier said.

Frasier said because Haga is in federal custody, he will be returned to Jackson County in the next couple of days. He will be transported back to Coos County for his next court appearance, which is Dec. 18.

Security was set at $500,000 and Don Scales, an attorney from Medford, was appointed to represent Haga.


Trump Jr.'s WikiLeaks exchange adds intrigue to Russia probe
Trump Jr.'s WikiLeaks exchange adds intrigue to Russia probe

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's oldest son released a series of private Twitter exchanges between himself and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election, including pleas from the website to publicize its leaks.

Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the messages on Twitter came hours after The Atlantic first reported them Monday. In the exchanges — some of them around the time that the website was releasing the stolen emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman — WikiLeaks praises his father's positive comments about WikiLeaks and asks Trump Jr. to release his father's tax returns to the site.

The revelations are sure to increase calls in Congress to have Trump Jr. testify publicly as part of several committee probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And they add a new element to the investigations that have been probing for months whether Trump's campaign colluded in any way with the Russian government.

In an intelligence assessment released last January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the DNC and "senior Democratic officials" to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of emails it released, including those from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The private messages released by Trump Jr. show him responding to the WikiLeaks account three times, at one point agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumor about an upcoming leak. The messages began in September 2016 and ran through July.

Trump Jr. downplayed the exchanges as he released them.

"Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping 3 responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak," he tweeted. "How ironic!"

Trump Jr.'s lawyers had released the exchanges to three congressional committees that have been investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether there were any links to Trump's campaign.

In a statement, Trump Jr.'s lawyer said thousands of documents had been turned over to the committees.

"Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum," said Alan Futerfas.

Futerfas didn't say which forum he was referring to, but Trump Jr. was interviewed behind closed doors by Senate Judiciary Committee staff in September. A person familiar with that meeting said the private Twitter messages were discussed. The person declined to be identified because the transcript of that interview hasn't been made public.

In one message dated Oct. 3, 2016, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent Trump Jr. an article that included critical comments Clinton had made about WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and said "it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story."

Trump Jr. replied: "Already did that earlier today. It's amazing what she can get away with."

Two minutes later, Trump Jr. sent another message: "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?"

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone had tweeted the day before that on Wednesday, "Hillary Clinton is done," referencing WikiLeaks.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account never responded, but days later WikiLeaks started rolling out Podesta's stolen emails. After the emails were released, WikiLeaks sent Trump Jr. a searchable link of the emails. Trump Jr. tweeted that link two days later, on Oct. 14, 2016, The Atlantic noted.

The rest of the messages are one-sided, with WikiLeaks sending Trump Jr. messages through July 2017. They include praise for his father for mentioning them on the campaign trail, a plea to release Trump's taxes to the site and advice on Election Day that Trump should not concede if he lost. One message suggested Trump encourage Australia to appoint Assange as U.S. ambassador.

In July, the Twitter account messaged Trump Jr. to ask him to give the site emails surrounding a meeting he and other Trump associates held with Russians during the campaign. Trump Jr. then released them himself.

Vice President Mike Pence responded quickly to the revelations, issuing a statement through his press secretary that he knew nothing about the situation.

"The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks," said spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. "He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight."

Assange tweeted after The Atlantic report that he couldn't confirm the messages but then defended them after Trump Jr. released them.

"WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest," Assange tweeted.

Democrats swiftly reacted to the report, saying Trump Jr. should provide more information. California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, says it "demonstrates once again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance."

Schiff also pointed to Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for Trump's campaign and reached out to WikiLeaks before the election about obtaining emails related to Clinton, according to the company's CEO.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel should subpoena the documents and force Trump Jr. to publicly testify.

"There seems to be no reasonable explanation for these messages," Blumenthal said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had said he would call Trump Jr. to publicly testify after the private interview in September. But negotiations over witnesses broke down last month amid disagreements with Democrats on the panel.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are also expecting to interview Trump Jr., but those interviews are expected to be behind closed doors.