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Women Who Say a Famous Producer Abused Them Have Spent Years Seeking Justice

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When she finally escaped from the hotel room, Kristina Buch says, she tried to do everything right. It was a Sunday morning in May 2018, and Buch remembers the abuse happening intermittently all weekend: beating her head into a wall, leaning so close to her face to scream at her that he bit her lip, and, ultimately, rape. Her abuser was her mentor and most important career contact, the music producer Detail, and Buch says another singer—one of Detail’s other protégées—was also present for much of the abuse. Buch was 20 at the time, the other woman just 18. The second woman watched as Detail hit her, Buch says, bending over into an anguished prayer position, terrified, pleading with some higher power to stop what was happening.

At one point, Buch says, she was able to leave the hotel room. She got into her car and pulled it right outside the hotel, before she had to stop.

“I was so exhausted I couldn’t drive,” she told VICE News. “I wanted to drive and I couldn’t. I was so battered and dead. I opened my car door and threw up outside the car.” Then she crawled into the back seat and tried to sleep.

Soon enough, Buch says, the second woman, Detail’s other protégée, came and found her, persuading her to go back to the hotel room. The woman then left to go to an Airbnb where she was staying. That was when the rape occured, Buch says. It was not the first time. (The account Buch gave to VICE News is consistent with both a civil complaint she filed against Detail and a criminal complaint later filed against the producer.)

This time, though, things were different. The next day was Sunday morning—the one day a week Detail usually let her out of his sight, according to Buch. The other woman had left for the Airbnb in Buch’s car. In a miracle of quick thinking, Buch says, she managed to persuade Detail to drive her to her car, telling him she needed to go to her sister’s house.

“It was a spur of the moment thing,” she told VICE News. “I didn’t think he was going to let me. But he said, ‘Fine, go be with your sister.’” Shaking, Buch says, she drove to her sister’s house, where she collapsed, wept, and blocked Detail’s number.

“She took pictures of me,” Buch said of her sister, meaning pictures of her injuries. “And we went to the police the next day. The day after I left, I finally felt like myself again. I could feel my own energy coming back.”

Stories about sexual abuse are, at their heart, about two things: people with dreams, ambitions, and hopes, and the systems of power that fail them, leaving them open to violence and exploitation. Every story is its own monstrous little mystery: Who failed the survivor, and how? In this case, as in many others, the answer seems to lie in the decisions of one man, an industry that propped him up, and a legal system that seemed, for years, not to see him at all.

Kristina Buch is now 22, and with only intermittent public attention, she and several other women have been fighting a long and bizarre legal battle against Detail, who they say abused them, controlled them, and committed numerous acts of sexual violence against them. The accusations span a considerable length of time: One of the women has alleged in court documents that Detail drugged and raped her close to 10 years ago, but that the police did nothing until just months ago.

“The police came,” Shawn Holley, a high-profile attorney best known for her work on O.J. Simpson’s defense team who now represents the woman, told VICE News. “And then they proceeded, for reasons I don’t understand, to do nothing until nine years later, when a detective came to her door apologizing.”

Many of the women were aspiring young singers or otherwise involved in the music business; Detail, whose legal name is Noel Fisher, was an established and well-known producer who’d worked with the likes of Beyoncé, Future, and Lil Wayne. His work on “Drunk in Love” won him a Grammy. And he promised, the women have said in court documents, to launch their careers, too.

Detail’s attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn, told VICE News, “I don’t believe any rapes occurred, talking to my client.” He added, “I understand buyer’s remorse. If a woman has sex with a man she doesn’t want to, that doesn’t mean she didn’t consent in the moment. Just because she may wake up the next day feeling bad about herself, feeling embarrassed, that doesn’t mean it was a rape. Even if you don’t want to, that doesn’t mean you don’t consent. The same way some of my clients don’t want to plead guilty, but consent to plead guilty.”

He also claimed that the allegations are the result of a coordinated effort among the complainants in the criminal case, stating that Detail’s accusers were “trying to make it in this industry.”

“When things don’t go their way, one of the young women started rounding up other women saying, ‘This happened to me, let’s get together and get him,’” Person-Lynn said. “That’s the basis on why I don’t think it was rapes in these situations.”

Detail’s most recent civil attorney, Muammar Reed, declined to comment, and someone who answered the phone at Reed’s office said the attorney is “trying to withdraw” as the attorney of record in an ongoing civil case. In addition, someone describing himself as a representative of Detail called VICE News to discuss the story and the allegations, but ultimately did not give a statement on the record.

The oldest allegation on record is the case from 10 years ago; a woman who was at the time working as a music publicist alleged in a civil lawsuit that she was invited to a small gathering at Detail’s home in October of 2010, which she attended with a friend. Detail poured her a drink, the woman said in her complaint, and immediately began to feel unwell. (The woman is identified in the complaint as Jane Doe.)

“Approximately ten minutes after drinking a small amount from the glass given to her by Detail, Doe began to feel woozy and like she could no longer speak,” the suit said. Once the other people at the gathering left the room and they were alone, it added, “Detail forcibly took Doe down a set of stairs in his home to a dungeon-type room in his basement. This dungeon-type room was mostly empty, but contained a bed with a worn out mattress.” Once there, the suit alleges, Detail raped her both vaginally and anally, an attack that was only interrupted when her friend heard her cries for help and banged on the door.

The woman said in her complaint that she went to the hospital the following day, underwent a sexual assault forensic exam, and spoke to police. “Doe made a statement to the police but felt that they were uninterested and not listening to her,” the suit said. “After making her report to the authorities, Doe regularly followed up with law enforcement to check if Detail was being investigated. However, her calls and messages went unanswered, and eventually she became dejected and stopped calling.”

“She changed her life completely,” Holley, her attorney, told VICE News. She went from being a music publicist to working as a truck driver. Holley filed the civil suit on her behalf in mid-September; she’s also a complainant in the criminal lawsuit.

Three other women—Kristina Buch, Isabella Mack, and Janae Knox— who say Detail raped and abused them all also separately sued in civil court between 2018 and 2019. Each ultimately won a sizable judgment against him, in Buch’s case after he simply failed to show up or respond to the suit in any way. Buch’s was the largest: She was awarded $15 million in September of 2019.

Buch won a sizable default judgment against Detail after he simply failed to show up or respond to the lawsuit in any way.

Long after Buch’s judgment was won, Detail has resurfaced, demanding the case be reopened and claiming he had no knowledge of it at all. He has also claimed in court filings that restraining orders sought by Buch and another woman damaged his career, smearing his name and making it virtually impossible for him to work, as well as damaging his psyche so much he became homeless. (Buch’s lawyers have argued that his claim that he knew about the restraining orders, but somehow failed to learn about the lawsuits, strains credulity.) In court filings, Detail has also denied the assault allegations, writing that he has been “wrongly and falsely” accused of physical and sexual abuse, and that those allegations have taken a toll on both his career and his mental health.

“It’s unusual for someone to not respond,” said Genie Harrison, a prominent attorney in sexual harassment cases who represented Knox and Mack. (Through Harrison, both women didn’t respond to requests to be interviewed). “For someone to pretend like it’s not happening.” In Knox and Mack’s cases, she said, “He was ignoring it and the cases, and then coming in and making excuses. It’s pathetic, really.”

Recently, the case has finally spilled over into the criminal realm. After a long and balky investigation by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and L.A. District Attorney’s office, Detail was arrested on August 5 and charged with sexual abuse against six women, named by their initials in court documents. He remains in custody, with bail set at $6.2 million. One of those women is Buch, and another is the Jane Doe from 10 years ago; to her knowledge, Genie Harrison said, neither Mack or Knox are among the victims listed in the criminal case. In all, Detail is charged with 15 counts of sexual assault and five additional counts of felony assault.

On September 16, Detail pleaded not guilty. His next court date is October 20, when a bail review will be scheduled. In a statement issued after his arrest, the Special Victims Bureau of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said they’re still looking for more victims, writing,  “Based on the nature of the allegations, Special Victims Bureau detectives believe there may be additional potential victims and they are seeking the public’s help in identifying any such victims.”

While Buch says she’s grateful and relieved that Detail has finally been charged, she has lingering questions about why it took more than two years after she went to the police. She filed the police report detailing rape, abuse, and being held in that hotel room against her will in May 2018, and then—for over a year—she says she heard virtually nothing. She waited so long that her attorney advised her to file a civil suit, and then longer still, until, she says, Detail ultimately violated a restraining order against her. She only heard from investigators again, she says, after she’d won her civil case. (The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department declined to comment beyond a press release they issued about Detail’s arrest; the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declined to comment beyond noting that they’ve identified several additional possible victims after filing charges against Detail.)

“We had to push so hard,” Buch said, wearily.

“We had to push so hard,” she said.

Before that, though, as the Me Too movement unfolded in 2016, 2017, and 2018, so did Detail’s alleged abuse and exploitation. What was happening in the broader culture, according to Buch, didn’t touch the studios where the two worked, in a relationship that she says quickly veered from professional to violent.

Buch moved to Los Angeles from her hometown in Indiana in 2016, hoping to start a career as a singer. Her sister had been living in New York, and the two, who were always close, agreed they’d move to LA together. They found a place and both were signed to the same modeling agency, L.A. Models. But Buch was more interested in music, and when she met Detail in December of that year, at a studio where she’d been invited to hang out, it felt like an astoundingly lucky break.

“I looked up his name and saw he was a Grammy-winning producer working with all my favorite artists,” Buch said. So she did what most people would have: She went to his studio and started recording songs, which both she and Detail thought were strong. “From then on, he started being like, ‘This is it, you’re a star.’ I met his manager with Cash Money Records. We drew up contracts. That made it all real for me.” So did the fact that Detail started reaching out to her parents back in Indiana, telling them about his plans to make Buch famous.

“I felt like this was it,” Buch said. “This is what I’m supposed to do.”

Music is a field where people can rocket from obscurity to fame virtually overnight, and where one person—the right producer, the right manager—can make or break someone. Because of those things, and because there’s often a significant power and age imbalance between the singer and protégée, it’s ripe for abuse.

“The EEOC did a report about workplace sex harassment and one of the things they identified as places that are likely to have workplace sex harassment problems are places with big power differentials and high-value employees,” said Sharyn Tejani. She’s the executive director of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, founded in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein’s outing as a serial sexual predator to offer legal and public relations help to victims of sexual harassment and abuse at work. “No one will discipline this person.”

“From then on, he started being like, ‘This is it, you’re a star.’”

Time’s Up provided what they call “PR support” in Buch’s case; they reached out to VICE News on her behalf, and a PR person named Shayna Englin was present for our interviews. (Englin didn’t intervene in the reporting process in any way, and Buch confirmed privately that she was comfortable having her present.)

Though there’s a perception that the MeToo movement has begun winding down or losing steam, Tejani says that the number of people seeking help from Time’s Up has barely slowed, even with the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re currently providing legal support in 257 cases and public relations in 90.

Throughout the last two years, Tejani says, entertainment has been one of the more common fields in which people seek their help. Many are young women, which isn’t surprising, due both to the demographics of the entertainment industry and the realities of abuse. “One of the other places that the EEOC says it’s common to have sex harassment is [where there are] young workers,” Tejani said. “That’s especially upsetting; when you think about it, you’re setting people’s expectations about what’s supposed to happen at work. There’s a lot in the restaurant industry, which is many people’s first job. And so then your next job you think this is how it’s supposed to be. Nobody stopped it when you’re 17 and you think it’s normal in your next job at 25.”

When they first started working together, Buch says, Detail attempted to be “flirty,” but she briskly shut it down. “I was like, ‘No, it’s not going to be like that.’” Soon, his attempts at control and manipulation, she says, came out in other ways. He’d talk and talk at her for hours, blocking her attempts to say anything in response. He demanded that she dye her hair blue; soon after, she had a big modeling job and needed to dye it back to blonde, but he wouldn’t let her, Buch says, telling her that if she was serious about music, she’d drop the modeling.

“He made me wait so long to get a hair appointment,” Buch said, that it was too late. She told her agency she wanted to focus on music instead.

None of this struck Buch as necessarily unusual. That’s both because she was young and new to the industry, and because, to some extent, it’s not. An impresario and his protégée don’t have an exactly normal employee/employer relationship, and producers and agents make demands of clients in the entertainment business that would be outrageous in other contexts—asking, for instance, that they gain or lose weight, dye their hair, or make some other alteration to their image or appearance. It is, in other words, inherently a somewhat controlling relationship, and one that can be ripe for abuse or exploitation.

But there was also an early incident of alleged abuse in September 2017, which Buch to this day remains uncomfortable discussing. She will say that it happened in Miami, when Detail took her to work at Lil Wayne’s studio.

“All my biggest, wildest dreams were coming true,” Buch said, before Detail crossed a physical boundary. She declines to specify what precisely occurred, but says it left her feeling horrified and stuck with no good options. She was in Miami with no way to get back to LA without him. “I also felt like if I let someone know this happened now, then I’m a joke,” she said. So instead, she resolved to block it out, push it down, and hope it never happened again: “I was like, this didn’t happen.” She managed to “block out” the incident almost completely for almost two years, she said.

In September of that year, Buch says, another sexual assault occurred; as Buch remembers it, Detail came in, appearing to be on drugs, and woke her out of a dead sleep. “Since I left this whole situation, I’m still so freaked out when I get woken up out of my sleep. I get angry. I’m startled super easily.”

Throughout the rest of the year and into 2018, Buch says, “it started happening more often.” (In court filings, Buch’s lawyers as well as prosecutors for the LA District Attorney’s office allege that Detail raped her multiple times.) It wasn’t just sexual violence, she says. “He started drinking in that time, and it really started increasing in inappropriateness, in manipulation, in crazy experiences I had with him.”

Buch remembers Detail having her fly to a studio in Detroit, then getting inexplicably angry when she arrived. “I got there and he was like, ‘Man, you ain’t doing shit for me, you ain’t making me no money, why are you out here?’” He then called her mother, Buch says, and told her to get her daughter a ticket home.

Buch’s mother complied, and an assistant drove Buch to the airport. She says she curbside checked her bag, then looked in her wallet to find that her ID and credit card were missing. “I had to go back to the hotel,” she said, where she found her credit card in a pair of pants she’d left, but not her ID. As she searched the room, Detail took the credit card, she said. “He was holding onto it. He said, ‘You don’t need to go on this flight, you should stay here. I have a photo shoot for you you’ll make some money on.” Then, Buch says, he took her phone. She wasn’t able to call her mother, and her bag was in the sky without her. Detail called her mother and said, as Buch remembers it, “She needs to stay here, she’s fine.” Days later, she still couldn’t find her ID. When she told Detail, she says, “He takes it out of his wallet and gives it to me.” She was speechless.

“Every day was a journey,” she said. “Every single day was fucking crazy.”

Detail had also begun calling Buch’s parents frequently. Her mother, who asked that her name not be used to protect her and her husband’s privacy, said that at first, she viewed Detail as an almost paternal figure.

“In the beginning, we weren’t at all concerned,” she said. “I actually thought he was there and looking out for my daughters.”

Buch’s mother says, though, that she found his communications bizarre and frequently struggled to understand him. “He’d call and keep me up late at night and I would take notes trying to decipher it,” she told VICE News, page after page of notes on legal pads.

Detail, Buch’s mother said, “talked like somebody who writes. A lot of it was very difficult to understand, but I listened to everything because he was with my daughter and I wanted to know what was going on. A lot of talking about protecting the investment, protecting Kristina, making sure she was with him all the time.”

“Every day was a journey,” she said. “Every single day was fucking crazy.”

Buch’s mother said she was concerned by how difficult it was to decipher what Detail was saying. “I was always concerned because he was so out there and much different than anybody I’d ever met,” she said. She says she contacted Buch’s music attorney to ask, in her words, “Is this normal?”

The attorney reassured her, she said. “She said the industry was like a foreign country and their level of professionalism wasn’t the level we were used to, their ways of communicating.” (The attorney didn’t respond to a phone call requesting comment.)

Another of Buch’s family members was struggling at the time with a drug problem that would ultimately result in them going to rehab, and Detail involved himself in that too, telling Buch’s mother that to keep her from going down the same road, Buch needed to get out of the apartment where she lived in West Hollywood and move closer to him in Santa Clarita, a city north of Los Angeles. He promised to take over the rent payments on the West Hollywood apartment, Buch and her mother say, but didn’t do so consistently, and was “mad about it” when he did pay, Buch’s mother said. “It was a very stressful time for our family and my husband and I.” It became part of a larger dispute about what Detail called “Kristina’s budget,” her mother says—the amount of money they all needed to pitch in to make her a star.

“The whole summer was about Kristina’s budget,” Buch’s mother said. ”He said we should look at this like a college education,” and complained that “he was the only one putting money in it,” in her words. He also told her, she said, “Nobody is in the business of saving lives like me, and it doesn’t pay well.”

“Looking back at the conversations, he always thought he could have me on his side,” Buch’s mother added. At one point, he tried to convince her, she said, that Buch also had a drug problem, something her mother knew logically was simply not true. “I was like, ‘I don’t think so.’ I didn’t believe all the things he was telling me, but he still put doubts in my head.”

Buch’s mother said they were ultimately able to end the lease on the apartment in West Hollywood, but became increasingly concerned about Buch’s relationship with Detail, sensing that something wasn’t right. Buch never disclosed the physical abuse to them, she said: “I couldn’t come to terms with it myself.”

“I had no idea the depth of the problem,” Buch’s mother told VICE News. “I thought well, you know—I never imagined everything that took place.”

Since she was able to extricate herself, Buch’s mother said, “I’ve told Kristina many times, maybe it was meant to be. Maybe we can help somebody somehow so they don’t get in the same situation. It can happen to a normal family.”

Throughout their time together, Detail seemed aware of some of the currents of the Me Too movement swirling around the entertainment industry, and seemed to become concerned that it might someday impact him too, Buch says. According to her, he made frequent references in her presence to the lawsuit Kesha was then pursuing against her producer, Dr. Luke, saying suits like that would cause someone to be permanently blackballed from the music industry. (Kesha’s lawsuit against Dr. Luke became a drawn out and exceedingly complex affair. Her original case was dismissed, and Dr. Luke is now suing her for defamation and breach of contract.) The remarks usually weren’t directed to her, but to someone else in the room.

“If you have a lawsuit out,” he said, according to her, “nobody’s going to work with you.”

She took those remarks as veiled threats to stay quiet.

The broad outlines of what Buch alleges Detail did to her were described in a civil lawsuit she filed against him in 2018. In their own lawsuits, Isabella Mack and Janae Knox described similar patterns of control, manipulation, and sexual abuse. Knox, who said in court filings that Detail hired her as an assistant, accused him of “severe and pervasive sexual harassment and sexual assault,” while Mack claimed that Detail “forcefully held against her will while he masturbated,” according to the Associated Press, as well as demanding she pose nude.

In 2019, the Associated Press wrote extensively about the allegations, to date, against Detail; in statements to the outlet, both Knox and Mack called for him to be held accountable.

“I also hope that other music industry victims come forward because it is time to expose the system that enables men to abuse women in this business,” Mack told the AP in her statement.

Knox and Mack say in court documents that they’ve never received any of what they’re owed. Through Harrison, they are seeking ways to recover the money. “There are ways to enforce judgments,” Genie Harrison, their attorney, told VICE News, “and we’re pursuing that.”

Court documents show that Buch has been paid a fraction of the overall judgment she won, slightly less than $1 million. Before he was taken into custody, some of Detail’s civil attorneys were fighting an attempt by Buch’s attorney to retroactively add Detail Music LLC to the lawsuit, saying it is legally separate from the man himself and that it would be inappropriate to pay the rest of the judgment using funds belonging to the LLC.

Another of Detail’s alleged victims declined to comment when approached by VICE News, saying she wouldn’t consent to an interview unless she was paid for her time.

“It depends on if there is compensation involved or not,” the woman wrote. “If there is I would be happy to. I have had a rough time financially from this situation so I am just trying to use my energy and time wisely.” The woman also asked that her name not be used, writing, “I never wanted my name or any details to be publicized and have been trying since then to rebuild my life. Thank you for your understanding. “

VICE News declined to pay the woman; offering money or any other compensation to an interview subject is widely considered unethical. The woman responded, “You will be profiting from the story, and I have done nothing but suffer financially.”

After Buch escaped from the hotel room and went to the police, she wasn’t sure what to expect. At first, the investigation seemed to proceed normally. A detective flew to Indiana, where she went to stay with her parents, to interview her. They told the family that any charges could take a year, at least.

What followed was, as promised, a long silence. In May 2018, Buch and another woman finally took action in civil court. They filed for emergency protective orders against Detail, accusing him of rape. In response, several other prominent musicians tweeted about their own experiences with him. The singer Bebe Rexha tweeted (and cross-posted to Instagram) “Glad these women came out. It’s scary. He tried to with me, but I literally ran out of that studio. Karma is a bitch.” The singer Tinashe responded to Rexha’s Instagram post, writing in a comment, “The only session I’ve been in to this day where I left due to being soooo uncomfortable. Glad he’s being exposed for the fucking creep he is.”

Meanwhile, the young Canadian singer Jessie Reyez wrote on Twitter, “One night, over 6 years ago Noel ‘Detail’ Fisher tried this on me. I was lucky and I got out before it got to this,” she wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t know what to say or who to tell. I was scared. Fear is a real thing. The girls that came out are brave as hell.” She also revealed that a hit song, “Gatekeeper,” was about him. “Oh, I’m the gatekeeper/Spread your legs/Open up,” one verse of the song goes. “You could be famous/If you come up anywhere else, I’ll erase you.” (Rexha, Reyez, and Tinashe didn’t respond to requests for comment through their PR representatives.)

Responding to these allegations, Detail’s civil attorney at the time wrote in a court filing, “Several news outlets and websites, including, but not limited to, TMZ and Rolling Stone, picked up this story and wrote about Mr. Fisher. Additionally, a few music artists with huge followings on Twitter shared and posted links to these stories for their millions of followers to see and this further damaged his character and reputation.”

After successfully getting a restraining order, Buch said, it became obvious that the next step would be to file a civil suit, because the criminal investigation didn’t appear to be going anywhere.

“I didn’t hear anything for the longest time,” she said. “That happened for almost a year. I would keep asking. It was coming up on the statute of limitations for the first rape.”

“We became increasingly concerned with how slow the criminal investigation appeared to be going,” Buch’s lawyer, William Briggs, told VICE News. “I say that because i’ve been involved in a number of high-profile civil and criminal matters. I’ve represented a bunch of folks in the entertainment industry.” He knew, he added, how fast things could move when there was a motivation to do so.

“My lawyer helped discuss with me what our best interests would be,” Buch said. “To my knowledge it was to pursue him in a civil lawsuit, because that was the only way we could get the justice system to push the case.”

Pursuing a sexual abuser in civil court, though, is a complex decision. The vast majority of cases that Time’s Up handles are in civil court, because that’s where most workplace harassment comes up, but these cases have pitfalls of their own. Often, filing a suit requires breaking nondisclosure agreements that accusers are forced to sign. It can open up survivors to accusations that they’re trying to make money from the allegations. And the process can be as harrowing as any criminal trial, without the vindication or closure.

Louisette Geiss, a former actor and screenwriter, is one of more than 100 women involved in a class action against both Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company. Geiss says Weinstein invited her to a purported business meeting in a hotel in 2008, where he emerged in an open robe and told Geiss that he would help her career if she watched him masturbate.

The statute of limitations had run out in Geiss’ case and so she couldn’t pursue a criminal charge. The class action “was our only way,” Geiss said. “If money is power, and you can take the money away, then it at least dilutes the power and gives it back to us as women.” They also hoped to hold the directors of the Weinstein Company accountable for allegedly turning a blind eye to Weinstein’s abuse for so many years. “We wanted to say, ‘If you support a perpetrator like this it’s going to cost you more money and time than to keep them onboard.’”

But in a surprising July decision, a federal judge upended the proposed $25 million settlement for Geiss and the other women, saying he wasn’t convinced the women met the legal definition for a class action, and suggesting they pursue individual lawsuits.

It was a huge setback, and for Geiss, another bitter reminder of what Weinstein took from her. “I got out of the business because of Harvey,” Geiss said. While it wasn’t her only experience of harassment in the entertainment industry, “He was my last ‘I can’t take it anymore.’”

In Detail’s telling, according to court documents, he’s the one who’s been victimized, by a series of false allegations that he claimed have cost him his career. In a response he filed in January 2020 to Buch’s lawsuit—months after she’d won the $15 million default judgment against him—he said the restraining orders filed against him caused his career to almost immediately implode.

“My career went quickly tumbling and I hit rock bottom overnight when in May 2018 two aspiring musicians who I mentored, wrongfully and falsely accused me of physical and sexual abuse and filed restraining orders against me,” Detail wrote in a declaration. “The allegations in May 2018 ruined my career and took a toll on me mentally, emotionally, and financially. Record labels and artists stopped working with me after the allegations surfaced in May 2018.”

Detail also said in the declaration that he never intended to evade a complaint informing him of Buch’s case against him, something Buch’s legal team has accused him of doing. (A process server alleged that he was able to serve Detail with court documents, but that Detail denied being Detail while being served.) Instead, he said, he was never made aware of the suit because he was evicted during the proceedings and quickly became homeless.

“I did leave Los Angeles for certain periods of time to get away from all the chatter concerning the allegations,” he stated. Beginning in June 2018 and through the rest of the year, he wrote, “I was homeless and sleeping either behind a warehouse in the Castaic Lake area or on a couch in the living room of anyone who would let him [sic] stay in various places.”

“I was homeless and sleeping either behind a warehouse in the Castaic Lake area or on a couch in the living room of anyone who would let him [sic] stay.”

Detail asked that the judgment in the Buch case be set aside. Buch’s lawyers were still fighting this when the criminal case against him was filed and he was taken into custody in August.

Detail’s attorney Jaaye Person-Lynn alleged to VICE News that some of the complainants in the criminal case were involved in a supposed break-in at Detail’s home.

“They went to his home. Stole some things from his home,” he said. (Responding to the allegations of a break-in or coordination among Detail’s abusers, Buch replied, “Absolutely not.”)

Person-Lynn also told VICE News that the allegations as a whole should be viewed in the context of the way sexual assault allegations have been weaponized against Black men.

“This is America,” he said. “White women, as oppressed as they’ve been from white men, they’ve always understood their power when it comes to black men and sexual advances, and how much power they have by saying, ‘This black man, who in the mind of America is a sexual predator anyway, did something to me.’ Towns have been burned down. That’s what the movie Rosewood was about. That’s what Emmett Till got slaughtered for. That history is well documented. I think this falls in line with that.”

“My client is a Black woman,” says Shawn Holley, an attorney for the woman who says Detail raped her 10 years ago. “The Emmett Till metaphor doesn’t carry much weight.” (Buch is white; the ethnicity or race of the other complainants has not been made public.)

William Briggs, Buch’s attorney, told VICE News that he found the Till comparison objectionable. “I am personally offended as a Black man that Mr. Person-Lynn would equate his client, Noel Fisher, who has been credibly accused by multiple women of rape, with Emmett Till,” he wrote in an email. “Emmett Till was a 14-year-old boy who was accused of flirting with a white woman and he was subsequently lynched.  Noel Fisher is a 41-year-old man with a history of abusing women—Black, white, and other races—who has been arrested and charged after years of accusations and investigation.  There simply is no comparison between Fisher and Emmett Till, except perhaps in the mind of someone delusional or attempting to deflect from the facts and evidence with reckless race-baiting.”

The criminal and civil cases are both moving exceedingly slowly due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, whose Special Victims Bureau investigated the case, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office have been mired in their own controversies. The sheriff’s department has been roiled by ongoing reports that a number of violent gangs operate within the department, whose style of “aggressive policing,” as the L.A. Times put it, has cost the city $55 million in lawsuit settlements since 1990. Meanwhile, District Attorney Jackie Lacey is fighting for her reelection bid, and faces ongoing protests from Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and other groups calling for her to be unseated.

Lacey has faced criticism in the past for how her office handles sexual misconduct allegations, as well as, more generally, criminal accusations against powerful people. She’s been accused by activists and her opponent in the DA’s race, George Gascón, the former district attorney of San Francisco, of moving particularly slowly when the accused is rich or powerful.

One particularly fraught example in Los Angeles is the case of Ed Buck, a man who’s been widely but wrongly identified as a “megadonor,” who’s now facing nine felony counts from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California after two men died at his home over the last several years of methamphetamine overdoses. Relatives of the deceased men have accused Buck of preying on Black gay men with impunity. The L.A. Sentinel_,_ a Black-owned newspaper, has accused Lacey of failing Buck’s alleged victims, writing, “Her failure was a direct result of a lack of interest and political will.”

In the case of Harvey Weinstein, activists and Gascón accused Lacey of only filing charges shortly before the primary election in which the pair would face off, in March of this year. (Lacey’s office has denied being too slow to move on Weinstein charges, saying at a press conference, “It was very challenging to get those victims to open up and tell us what they needed to tell us.”).

Along with Detail, Lacey’s office is now pursuing an increasingly aggressive prosecution of porn star Ron Jeremy, filing 20 new charges against him at the end of August. In response to a request for comment from VICE News about why the Detail case took so long to investigate, Lacey’s office said, “Since the defendant’s arrest, several women have since come forward and made sexual misconduct allegations against him. Those complaints are under investigation. We decline further comment because it’s a pending case.”

Meanwhile, Detail’s most famous associates have had little to say about him publicly. Representatives for Future, Lil Wayne, and Beyoncé didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“It’s very easy to speak out against people with whom we don’t have personal relationships,” Harrison, the attorney for two of Detail’s alleged victims, says. “It’s very difficult to speak out against people perhaps with whom one does have a personal relationship. The reality is that Detail was allegedly engaging in this behavior prolifically and over extended periods of time. Maybe those with whom he worked knew or didn’t know. I don’t know. I don’t have a personal opinion. But it certainly is a deafening silence.”

Detail himself continued trying to contact Buch and her family, they say. Buch’s mother received an email from him at Christmas, addressed to her husband. She says it read, “Wishing you guys a merry Christmas, if i’ve ever done anything to offend you or make you mad, I’m sorry.”

The second time the family heard from him was in February, Buch and her mother say, not long after she’d won her default judgment.

“Happy holiday to you and your wife and children. I wanted to tell you that i miss all of y’all as a family. And as a family please forgive me for anything I did wrong that led us to separating. I really cared for you all then and still do now.”

In March of this year, Buch says, she ran into Detail in a CVS, where, in violation of the restraining order, he approached her and spoke to her.

“He came up to me and pulled his mask down,” she said. “And said, ‘Kristina, it doesn’t have to be like this. We can talk about this. I’m not mad at you, everything happens for a reason, I still love and care about you.’” Buch says she immediately left the store, got in her boyfriend’s car, and drove off.

Now that those criminal charges have finally been filed, Buch is feeling a mixture of relief—“I’m glad I’m finally getting justice”—and some other, murkier emotions, she tells VICE News.

“I’m glad I’m finally getting justice.”

“It’s a whole new chapter again that I have to be ready for,” she said. “To prepare myself for this whole new thing.” The process wasn’t painful, exactly, but deeply wearying, she said. “It’s really personal to keep reliving it all.”

Buch has been working intensively in therapy, cooking, and spending time with her sister. She’s also doing some college coursework online: psychology, English, and music. “Music is easy,” she said recently, laughing.

For many people, sexual abuse can be the end of trying to pursue a career in their chosen field. Buch is determined that that won’t be her. “I’m still modeling and trying to do music,” she said. “I’ve been working some and working on releasing a single soon.”

Buch’s mother, who’s attended a handful of business meetings with her daughter, says she’s been struck by the difference in the experience she’s had with music industry people post-Detail. “It’s been so different. I didn’t walk away confused like I often did with Detail.” She’s relieved that Buch isn’t “in some studio all night long,” as she puts it, but added, “I’m very leery of the music industry and always will be.”

“He told me so many times I wouldn’t be shit without him,” Buch said recently. “But I’m like, ‘Yes, I am.’ I can do this without you.”

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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year

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(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.

Coffee

Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.

Audio

Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.

Beauty

Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.

Home

Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.

Video

Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.

Travel

Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.

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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained

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Open Sourced logo

Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.
Twitter

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.
Facebook

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.


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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year

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From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.

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