National Roundup

FLORIDA

Dispatcher faces discipline over response to call

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A Tampa 911 dispatcher faces disciplinary action because of his response to a mother who called for help after her 10-month-old son accidentally locked himself in her car while playing with a set of keys.

The Tampa Tribune reports Shana Dees put her son Jack into his car seat while she moved a cart in a store parking lot Saturday afternoon. The boy hit the lock button.

Dees dialed 911 and says the dispatcher told her they couldn't gain access to the vehicle unless the child was in distress and they'd probably have to smash her window. He hung up without getting additional information.

An off-duty officer at the store called 911 again, and got help to come. The child was fine.

Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy says the dispatcher faces disciplinary action.

CONNECTICUT

Offerman appeals judgment in bat attack case

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Former major league baseball player Jose Offerman is appealing a federal court order that he pay $940,000 to a catcher injured during a minor league brawl in 2007.

A jury last month awarded the money to former Bridgeport Bluefish catcher Johnathan Nathans, who says he suffered career-ending injuries when Offerman hit him in the head with a bat. Photos show a bat-wielding Offerman charging the mound after being hit by a pitch. But he denies swinging it at anybody.

Offerman's lawyers argue in court papers filed Tuesday that the jury improperly found his client liable for assault because he charged the mound, after determining he was not guilty of battery on the catcher.

Nathan's lawyers also are appealing, seeking damages from the Long Island Ducks, for whom Offerman was playing.

SOUTH CAROLINA

State court: Workers' comp OK for kickball injury

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Have you ever been hurt in a company softball or kickball game? The South Carolina Supreme Court says you may be entitled to workers' compensation.

The court ruled Wednesday that Stephen Whigham, who was injured in a company kickball game, is entitled to workers' compensation benefits because he was required to attend the game as part of his job.

Whigham worked for Jackson Dawson Communications, a public relations firm. He organized a kickball game as a team-building event for employees. During a game, he shattered two bones in his leg trying to avoid a tag and ultimately needed a knee replacement.

Workers' compensation commissioners initially denied Whigham's claim. The high court said Whigham had to be there because he organized the game, so it had become part of his job.

RHODE ISLAND

Cops: 3rd Brown player cited in sex assault probe

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Two Brown University football players who were investigated in an alleged sexual assault case referred to a third player being involved, according to law enforcement documents.

Search warrant affidavits for the emails and cellphone records of the players, filed in Rhode Island state court Tuesday, disclosed the alleged involvement of a third player for the first time, The Providence Journal reported.

A Providence County grand jury declined to indict the two players on Monday. The attorney general's office provided no explanation for the decision and declined to comment Wednesday. Court rules prohibit the office from discussing grand jury proceedings.

The two players were told to leave campus and were removed from the team roster after the allegations came to light. The third player remains on the team, according to the Journal. He has not been charged.

An 18-year-old Providence College freshman told investigators earlier this year she believes she was drugged at a bar in November and sexually assaulted. She said she woke up in a dorm room at Brown.

In the new affidavits, police said the three men discussed the incident, shared a picture of the woman naked on top of one of the men and made fun of her, the Journal reported. In an instant message, the two players referred to the third allegedly assaulting the woman, calling it "classic" and saying, "No invite just walks in and starts raping her."

Brown University has declined to comment on the grand jury probe. A spokesman for the school could not say Monday whether the two players would be returning for the start of classes next week, and their lawyers said they were undecided about their plans.

KENTUCKY

Appeal for soldier convicted in '03 grenade attack

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A soldier sentenced to death for killing two fellow service members and wounding 14 others in a grenade attack in Kuwait will have an appeal in military court.

The hearing for 43-year-old Hasan (ha-SAHN' ) K. Akbar (AK'-bar) is scheduled for Nov. 18 in Washington.

Prosecutors say that as a sergeant in 2003, Akbar threw four hand grenades into tents as members of his division slept, then fired his rifle at soldiers in the ensuing chaos. Air Force Maj. Gregory L. Stone was killed by a grenade. Army Capt. Christopher S. Seifert was fatally shot in the back. Fourteen soldiers were wounded, mostly from grenade shrapnel.

Akbar was sentenced to death in 2005. His appeal challenges his trial counsel's performance.

Akbar was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He's being held in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

NEW MEXICO

Prosecutors seeks to drop charges on sheriff's son

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Federal prosecutors want to dismiss charges against the son of an indicted northern New Mexico sheriff who was accused along with his father of roughing up a driver during an off-duty traffic stop.

U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez said Wednesday that prosecutors have filed a motion to dismiss charges against Thomas Rodella, Jr.

Rodella and his father, Rio Arriba County Sheriff Thomas Rodella, were indicted this month for conspiracy to violate a motorist's civil rights during the March encounter.

Court papers say the sheriff wasn't in uniform when he chased down the motorist, jumped out of his personal SUV with a gun and shoved his badge in the motorist's face.

Prosecutors say the younger Rodella may lack the cognitive ability necessary to prove the charges against him.

MASSACHUSETTS

Men shooting searches of women unconstitutional

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that allowing male guards to videotape strip searches of female inmates at a western Massachusetts jail is unconstitutional.

The judge in U.S. District Court in Springfield ruled Tuesday that allowing men to videotape nude female inmates at the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center is "antithetical to human dignity" and "deeply humiliating."

The class-action lawsuit was brought on behalf of 178 former and current inmates against the Hampden County sheriff's office, which runs the Chicopee jail.

The plaintiffs said the policy was a violation of their protection against unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment.

The sheriff's department said the male guards were trained to turn their heads and take video only from the neck up.

The sheriff's spokesman and legal department did not immediately return calls.

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