National Roundup

Pennsylvania

'ZOMBIE' vanity plate leads to Pa. stun gun arrest

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- A Pennsylvania woman who allegedly hit a man with a stun gun during a pedestrian hit-and-run was arrested after police say her vanity license plate made her easy to track down.

Allentown police say Yardley Joy Frantz was promptly arrested Friday after witnesses spotted her "ZOMBIE" license plate.

Investigators say Frantz ran into a man and his nephew with her car around 7 p.m., then zapped the man's son with a stun gun after he confronted her.

The Morning Call of Allentown reports Frantz claimed she didn't know who had been driving her car.

Frantz is free on bail as she faces charges including aggravated and simple assault. A phone number for her could not immediately be located.

Massachusetts

Town OKs $20 fines for swearing in public

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Residents in Middleborough voted Monday night to make the foul-mouthed pay fines for swearing in public.

At a town meeting, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Officials insist the proposal was not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

I'm really happy about it," Mimi Duphily, a store owner and former town selectwoman, said after the vote. "I'm sure there's going to be some fallout, but I think what we did was necessary."

Duphily, who runs an auto parts store, is among the downtown merchants who wanted take a stand against the kind of swearing that can make customers uncomfortable.

"They'll sit on the bench and yell back and forth to each other with the foulest language. It's just so inappropriate," she said.

The measure could raise questions about First Amendment rights, but state law does allow towns to enforce local laws that give police the power to arrest anyone who "addresses another person with profane or obscene language" in a public place.

Matthew Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot prohibit public speech just because it contains profanity.

The ordinance gives police discretion over whether to ticket someone if they believe the cursing ban has been violated.

Middleborough, a town of about 20,000 residents perhaps best known for its rich cranberry bogs, has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But because that bylaw essentially makes cursing a crime, it has rarely if ever been enforced, officials said, because it simply would not merit the time and expense to pursue a case through the courts.

The ordinance would decriminalize public profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for a traffic violation. It would also decriminalize certain types of disorderly conduct, public drinking and marijuana use, and dumping snow on a roadway.

Segal praised Middleborough for reconsidering its bylaw against public profanity, but said fining people for it isn't much better.

"Police officers who never enforced the bylaw might be tempted to issue these fines, and people might end up getting fined for constitutionally protected speech," he said.

But Duphily said, "I don't care what you do in private. It's in public what bothers me."

Georgia

Pastor's daughter told 911 she felt threatened

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (AP) -- A 15-year-old girl who told a 911 operator she was allegedly punched and choked by her televangelist father, Creflo Dollar Jr., also said on the call she felt threatened being in the house with her father.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported more details Monday of the audio recording and said the teenager told the operator: "It was not the first time it's happened."

The megachurch pastor was arrested after his daughter called 911 early Friday and told sheriff's deputies she and her father argued when he wouldn't allow her to attend a party.

Dollar denied her accusations Sunday from the pulpit of his megachurch, World Changers Church International.

Ohio

Jail fights women guards' discrimination suit

AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- The federal government has put its weight behind a discrimination lawsuit filed by female jail guards in Ohio who say a new personnel policy amounts to demotions because they're barred from most jobs overseeing male inmates.

The lawsuit was filed last year against the Summit County jail in Akron. The U.S. government's top civil rights attorney asked a judge last week to allow the government to join the case against the jail.

The women claim a personnel policy that went into effect this year limits job options because they are mostly assigned to oversee female inmates. Eighty-two percent of inmates and 80 percent of deputies are male.

The jail says female guards with seniority were bidding on jobs that jeopardized privacy issues involving strip searches and cellblock showers.

Texas

Sheriff: Dad kills daughter's alleged attacker

SHINER, Texas (AP) -- A father beat to death with his hands a man who he said tried to molest his 4-year-old daughter after the little girl was heard screaming at the family's rural Texas ranch, authorities said.

Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon said the father, whose name has not been released, will probably not be arrested for Saturday's killing and that no evidence so far has led investigators to doubt his story.

"There doesn't appear to be any reason (for the killing) other than what he told us," Harmon said Monday.

Harmon said the victim was a 47-year-old man from nearby Gonzales with no apparent prior criminal history. Authorities withheld his name because they had yet to track down any of his family.

The victim was an "acquaintance" of the father who had come to help care for some horses, Harmon said. He did not know how long the two men had known each other. The girl was taken to a hospital to be examined and has since been released, Harmon said.

The father called police late Saturday afternoon and told them he attacked a man he caught trying to sexually assault his daughter, Harmon said.

Harmon said a grand jury will decide what, if any, charges the father will face.

Published: Wed, Jun 13, 2012