National Roundup

Judge orders state to explain redacting of info

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A judge has given a state agency 30 days to explain why it has redacted information in records two newspapers have requested on child deaths and near deaths.
Media reported Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd told attorneys for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services that the issue should have already been taken care, and he ordered the agency’s secretary to have a “high-level” official ensure it gets done.
The ruling came during a hearing on the 140 files that The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader have asked the cabinet to turn over. The files detail child deaths and near deaths from 2009 to 2010.
Christina Heavrin, general counsel for the cabinet, said the cabinet will make every effort to comply with the June 10 deadline.

Ex-state Senate candidate sues on school closure

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — A former state Senate candidate has filed a $21 million lawsuit against California for shutting down her one-room private university.
U-T San Diego says Xanthi Gionis sued last week in federal court, alleging breach of contract and state code violations.
Gionis founded Aristotle University in Carlsbad. Some students said class met once a week and consisted mainly of videos. The for-profit school was ordered to close in January.
The lawsuit names state officials, a former nursing instructor at the university and Sen. Mark Wyland, a Carlsbad Republican who’d reportedly called the school a “diploma mill.”
Wyland says the state Department of Consumer Affairs found the school was taking advantage of students but Gionis says she was the victim of a smear campaign that derailed her Senate run.

Suit accuses former priest of child sex abuse

CHICAGO (AP) — A lawsuit accuses a former suburban Chicago priest of sexually abusing a child for eight years and paying him to keep quiet.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the anonymous plaintiff filed the suit Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court. Now 28 years old, he alleges the abuse began in 1995 when he was 10.
At that time, he and his family attended St. Matthew Parish in Schaumburg.
The suit says that on some occasions the priest gave him alcohol before molesting him.
It also accuses the priest of paying him $3,000 when he turned 18 in exchange for a written assurance that he wouldn’t report the abuse.
A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago said church officials had not yet seen the lawsuit.

Man who killed his father sues Shawano County

SHAWANO, Wis. (AP) — A man institutionalized for killing his father is suing the Shawano  County Sheriff’s Department, claiming deputies mishandled his call for help which resulted in the homicide.
Joshua Johnson was found not guilty by reason of mental illness in the death of his father, Donald, in February 2012. Johnson is confined to a state psychiatric facility.
His lawsuit says he called 911 to report his father had sexually assaulted him, but that deputies failed to meet with him outside the presence of his father. Johnson called 911 again to say he had killed his father.
WLUK-TV says Johnson’s mother has filed a companion lawsuit, making the same claims. While Johnson’s litigation does not seek specific damages, Johnson’s mother, Lori Boris, seeks $250,000 in damages.
Corporation Counsel Tony Kordus says Shawano County has no liability.

Colorado Springs group files suit to ban fracking

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A group of Colorado Springs residents is suing the city in hopes of eventually banning oil and gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, within city limits.
Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights filed the lawsuit Thursday, urging the 4th Judicial District Court to overturn a city decision blocking a petition to amend the city charter to ban drilling. The city has denied the petition a title that it needs before it can be circulated.
Several Colorado towns are grappling with how to regulate fracking, which involves shooting water, sand and chemicals underground to release oil and gas.
The Daily Camera reports the Boulder City Council will consider a fracking moratorium in June. Fort Collins has banned the practice, as has Longmont, which faces a lawsuit from the state.

Priest defrocked over allegations of sexual abuse 

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A longtime Roman Catholic priest who served several St. Louis-area parishes has been defrocked over what the Archdiocese of St. Louis called “credible” abuse allegations.
The archdiocese said the Rev. LeRoy Valentine has been permanently removed from ministry for abuse that occurred in 1978 but only came to light last summer.
Phil Hengen, director of child and youth protection for the archdiocese, said in a statement on Thursday that the incident involved “inappropriate touching of a minor.” He also said an investigation began immediately once the archdiocese learned of the allegation, culminating with Valentine’s loss of priestly privileges on May 1.
The abuse claims were substantiated by an independent review board, Hengen said.
Valentine, 71, lives in an undisclosed retirement home and has no listed phone number. Valentine was ordained in 1977 and served eight parishes within the archdiocese.
He has been accused before of sexual misconduct with minors, first in a 1995 lawsuit and again in 2002. The archdiocese said it found no credible evidence in either case. Still, Valentine resigned as associate pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Florissant after the 2002 allegation and has not been involved in active ministry since.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, criticized the archdiocese for allowing Valentine to remain a priest in the years since his resignation.
“Three archbishops — Justin Rigali, Raymond Burke and Robert Carlson — evidently felt Valentine was too dangerous to work in parishes,” SNAP executive director David Clohessy said. “But for 11 years, they left Valentine free to live on his own with no supervision or monitoring.”
But Hengen said Valentine has been “monitored and supervised continuously” since 1999.
The archdiocese urged anyone with information about other potential cases of abuse to contact the archdiocese, Missouri’s child abuse hotline or police.


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