National Roundup

Ex-cheerleader sues website over lewd comments

CINCINNATI (AP) — A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader who had sex with her underage student and is now in a relationship with him is about to begin another court battle Tuesday.
Sarah Jones is a 27-year-old northern Kentucky woman who was convicted three months ago of having sex with her 17-year-old student.
She’s suing a controversial Arizona-based gossip website and its owner over lewd comments made about her online long before any accusations involving the teenager surfaced.
The trial over the lawsuit begins Tuesday with jury selection in Covington, Ky., just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.
Jones is seeking $11 million in damages.
If she wins, an attorney for the website owner says other websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter could be bombarded by lawsuits over material posted by their users.

2nd chemist said to have tampered with lab evidence

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — A chemist at a state crime lab tampered with drug evidence, authorities said Sunday in Massachusetts, where a chemist at another lab was accused last year of faking test results in a scandal that threw thousands of criminal cases into question.
Sonja Farak, who works at a lab in Amherst, in western Massachusetts, removed from a case file a substance that tested positive for cocaine and replaced it with one that didn’t, state Attorney General Martha Coakley said. Evidence suggests Farak stole drugs that had already been tested, prosecutors said.
Farak, of Northampton, was arrested Saturday. She also is charged with possession of heroin and cocaine.
The lab contacted state police on Friday to report a discrepancy in inventory, Coakley said at a Boston news conference. Officials do not believe Farak’s tampering will undermine evidence, she said.
“On its face, the allegations against this chemist do not implicate the reliability of testing done or fairness to defendants,” she said.
Last month, the other chemist, Annie Dookhan, was indicted on 27 charges in a case that threatens to unravel thousands of drug convictions. Dookhan, of Franklin, resigned in March during an internal investigation by the state Department of Public Health. She has pleaded not guilty.
State police said they closed the Boston lab where she worked in August after taking over its operation and discovering the extent of her misconduct.
The accusations against Farak, unlike those against Dookhan, don’t involve falsification of tests or dry labbing, visually identifying samples instead of performing required chemical testing, the attorney general said.
Farak does not have a listed phone number, and it was unclear whether she had a lawyer.
The Amherst lab has been closed temporarily, and chemists will be transferred to Sudbury, state police said.
The state’s district attorneys said they were undertaking internal case reviews to determine which, if any, of their prosecutions involved Farak.
The Massachusetts District Attorneys Association said Sunday prosecutors remain committed to ensuring the rights of defendants are respected and will remain proactive in identifying possibly compromised cases and notifying defense attorneys.
The association said the fallout from the Dookhan case includes experienced prosecutors being taken out of rotation to serve on Department of Public Health task forces. It urged lawmakers to give prosecutors the resources they need to ensure “proper functioning” of the state’s criminal justice system.
Farak is due to be arraigned Tuesday in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown.

New Jersey
Library displays drawing of slave having intercourse

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A library that covered up a drawing of a black female slave having sex with a white man after workers found it inappropriate is displaying it again.
The drawing, created by black artist Kara Walker, shows the horrors many blacks faced after the Civil War and during reconstruction and includes a depiction of a slave performing oral sex. It initially was hung during Thanksgiving in the Newark Public Library’s second-floor reference room, but officials reluctantly covered it with a cloth after one day because some workers complained it was insensitive.
The Star-Ledger newspaper reported Sunday that library officials and staffers have since met to discuss the drawing and decided it could be uncovered.
Library employee Kendell Willis told the newspaper that he had a better understanding of the library officials’ position after the meeting.
“They said there are a lot of things in artwork we don’t want to talk about, and that made absolute sense,” he said.
Library officials plan to invite Walker to speak about the drawing, artistic freedom and the role of black artists in society.
“The library should be a safe harbor for controversies of all types, and those controversies can be dealt with in the context of what is known about art, about literature, democracy and freedom,” library trustee Clement A. Price, a Rutgers university history professor, told the newspaper. “There’s no better venue in Newark where such a powerful and potential controversial drawing should be mounted.”
Price noted that the portrayal of the black American experience is a sensitive issue.
“Should we be depicted sentimentally, romantically?” he said. “Should some of the grotesque realities be depicted in art or movies?”

Ex-mayor must repay $19,000

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — The former mayor of a small town in southeast Ohio must pay back more than $19,000 after pleading guilty to theft in office.
A judge in Athens County also ordered that the former mayor of Jacksonville can never hold public office again.
The Athens Messenger reports that George Pallo apologized in court on Friday.
Pallo stepped down from his office two weeks ago after serving as mayor for more than 30 years.
Authorities say he deposited money designated for the village into a fire fund and used some of the money for personal use.
They say he also opened a credit card in the village’s name without authorization and bought a lawn mower.h