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DNA evidence leads police to suspect in brutal Chicago rape that left teen in a coma

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Detectives said DNA evidence collected from a condom wrapper led them to a suspect in a brutal sexual assault in Chicago that left a 15-year-old girl in a coma.

Luis Alberto Pantoja, 25, was arrested Friday and charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

He was ordered held without bond Sunday by a judge. Authorities requested a sign language interpreter during the hearing because Pantoja is hearing impaired.

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The girl was attacked shortly before 5:30 a.m. Dec. 17 while on her way to catch a bus to meet her father, who was supposed to take her to school.

A neighbor found her half-clothed and bleeding from the head after the attack.

The girl was initially reported to be comatose with severe head injuries, but her condition improved late last month and she has spoken with police.

The victim remains in critical condition, police said.

“She’s doing better. Her and her family are taking it day by day, but we can only keep her in our thoughts and hope she improves. But she is doing better,” said Gary Yamashiroya, of Chicago police.

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Police submitted DNA evidence to a federal database and found a match to Pantoja, who was required to submit a sample after he was convicted in a 2007 fatal crash.

Pantoja was sentenced to six years in prison for his guilty plea to possession of a stolen motor vehicle and failure to report a traffic crash that involved death charges.

His criminal record dates to 2005, with arrests for theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, domestic battery after an order of protection was filed, trespassing, possession of cannabis, failure to report an accident involving death/reckless homicide, leaving the scene of accident and eluding police.

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Pantoja was arrested for criminal sexual assault in August, but a judge dismissed the case in September after finding no probable cause, but no further details about the case were available.


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Lady Antebellum changed their name for racial sensitivity — now they’re suing the Black singer who already used the name

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In June, as the national conversation about racial justice in the wake of the George Floyd killing pushed many groups and organizations to examine the racial connotations of their brands, the country music group Lady Antebellum announced they were changing their name to "Lady A" to remove reference to the slavery period of Southern history.

There was just one problem: an African-American blues singer in Seattle, Anita White, already went by that name. Now, according to Pitchfork, the band is going to court for the right to use the trademark.

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