Daily Briefs

Pastor cannot testify about teenager’s confession to assault
DETROIT (AP) — A pastor who told police about a teenager’s confession to a sexual assault cannot testify against him, the Michigan appeals court said Wednesday, ruling that such admissions between clergy and a church member are confidential.

Samuel Bragg, accompanied by his mother, spoke to the pastor of Metro Baptist Church in Belleville about the assault of a 9-year-old girl, according to prosecutors. The Rev. John Vaprezsan notified the girl’s family in 2009, talked to police and was expected to be called as a witness at trial.

The appeals court said Vaprezsan’s testimony would violate a 1949 Michigan evidence rule, which classifies certain admissions as confidential if clergy hear them in the context of their work.

“Once Vaprezsan convinced the defendant to speak about the sexual assault, the pastor prayed with defendant. This was not a secular conversation,” the three-judge panel said. “If Vaprezsan had not been a pastor, the communication would not have occurred.”

Prosecutors said the pastor’s testimony should be allowed, partly because Bragg was with his mother, a church secretary, when he talked to Vaprezsan. The appeals court, however, said the mother's presence doesn't make a difference.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. The trial has been on hold during the dispute over Vaprezsan's role in the case.

SEC sues ex-Detroit mayor for influence peddling scheme
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is facing federal civil charges of taking part in an influence-peddling scheme involving the city’s public-employee pension funds.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says Kilpatrick and ex-city treasurer Jeffrey Beasley received $125,000 in private jet travel and other perks from an investment firm. The SEC says that was in exchange for getting the city’s pension fund to make an investment favoring the firm.

Kilpatrick and Beasley violated federal securities laws, the SEC alleged in a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Detroit.

In-house counsel event to benefit foundations
An “African American In-House Counsel Round-Up” (for in-house counsel only) will be hosted Thursday, May 17, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Beans and Cornbread, 29508 Northwestern Highway in Southfield.

The event costs $20 and includes a soul food buffet with any net proceeds going to the D. Augustus Straker Bar Foundation and Wolverine Bar Foundation.

Hosting the event are Vernon Baker, general counsel, Meritor; Lois Bingham, general counsel, Yazaki North America Inc.; Michelle Carter, general counsel, Allied Human Services Inc.; Ronald Hall, general counsel, Bridgewater Interiors; Sharna Hatcher, general counsel, Saturn Electronics & Engineering; Angelique Strong Marks, general counsel, Behr America; and Richard White, general counsel, The Auto Club Group.

Register by sending a $20 check payable to Angelique Strong Marks, Behr America Legal, 2700 Daley Drive, Troy, 48083; and by sending an e-mail to Angelique.StrongMarks@us.behrgroup.com.

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