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Man accused of kidnapping, raping girls

By wire services
Published May 23, 2005

PORT CHARLOTTE - A man was charged Saturday with kidnapping two girls from their homes and raping them, officials said.

Erick Thomas Knapp Jr., 31, of Port Charlotte, was charged with kidnapping, armed burglary and sexual battery. Police say he confessed to raping the girls, ages 13 and 7, and authorities said there could be more victims.

Knapp is charged with kidnapping and raping the 13-year-old girl early Thursday. Armed with a knife, he broke into the girl's home, tied her hands behind her back, blindfolded and gagged her, the arrest report states.

He walked her down the street and raped her in another house, the arrest report said. He then released her and threatened to kill her family if she told anyone about the attacks, police said.

The girl told her parents and during the investigation, the 7-year-old came forward with a similar account. She had not spoken of the attack because of the threats against her family, police said.

South's largest union picks a new leader

MIAMI - A high school English teacher was inaugurated Saturday as the new leader of United Teachers of Dade, the largest union in the South.

Karen Aronowitz, from Southridge High School, takes over today after coming back from a distant second-place primary finish to defeat Shirley Johnson, the hand-picked successor of disgraced former chief Pat Tornillo.

Johnson wasn't implicated in the crimes of Tornillo, who used union money to finance a luxurious lifestyle. He pleaded guilty last year to federal mail fraud and tax evasion, agreed to a 27-month prison sentence and paid more than $1-million in restitution, fines and back taxes.

"The model of Pat Tornillo is broken," Aronowitz said. "A union is not one person."

After his 2003 arrest, the union's parent group installed Mark Richard as interim director. He will remain as the union's attorney and consultant.

"I wanted my message to the community to be that there are people in UTD who could step forward and lead," Aronowitz told the Miami Herald .

- Wire reports

[Last modified May 23, 2005, 04:58:46]

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