National Roundup

New Jersey
'Gay conversion' therapy group director testifies

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - The director of a nonprofit that offered so-called gay conversion therapy is defending his group's practices in a consumer fraud trial.

Arthur Goldberg headed the Jersey City-based Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing when it was sued in 2012 by four men. They underwent treatment they say they were told would turn them from gay to straight.

The men claim the group, known as JONAH, violated New Jersey consumer-protection laws by making fraudulent claims and misrepresentations about what it could do.

The 75-year-old Goldberg said Monday that JONAH doesn't keep statistics on success rates but relies on anecdotal evidence from counselors.

Plaintiffs' attorneys showed jurors emails and writings in which the group claims 65 to 75 percent of men successfully change from gay to straight using the program.

South Carolina
Ex-cop indicted in shooting of unarmed man

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A grand jury affirmed the state of South Carolina's murder charge on Monday against a white former North Charleston police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man trying to run from a traffic stop.

The shooting April 4 was captured on video by a bystander, showing officer Michael Slager firing eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott ran away, enflaming a national debate about how black people are treated by white police officers.

Slager was charged with murder by state law enforcement agents and fired from the police force immediately after the video surfaced.

Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson announced the indictment, which represents at least the fourth time in less than six months that a sitting grand jury in South Carolina has agreed that white officers should stand trial in the shootings of black men.

"The jury will make up its own mind after it sees the video and hears the other testimony," Wilson said. No trial date has been set.

Pennsylvania
Whistleblower: Penn State ignored frat abuse complaints

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A former student who blew the whistle on a Penn State fraternity's secret Facebook page featuring photos of naked women said the university ignored his complaints about sexual assault, hazing and drug use.

James Vivenzio of Great Falls, Virginia, said in a lawsuit filed Monday against the university and the suspended fraternity that he waited eight months for Penn State to take action before going to police in January.

Vivenzio said, as a freshman pledge, he was burned with cigarettes, force-fed buckets of liquor mixed with urine, vomit and hot sauce and made to guzzle alcohol as part of fraternity hazing rituals.

Vivenzio's lawyer said he went to police when he feared someone would die from the activities.

"I never intended to become a whistleblower," Vivenzio, now 21, said at a news conference on Monday. "I was afraid somebody could die unless the abuse, the Facebook 2.0 site, and all that was going on, were shut down."

Penn State recently suspended the fraternity for three years. The university and fraternity didn't immediate return messages.

Meanwhile, the national office of Kappa Delta Rho on Monday expelled 38 members at Penn State, saying they violated the fraternity's values.

Kappa Delta Rho executive director Joseph Rosenberg, however, cited chapter President Tom Friel for outstanding leadership traits and said that fraternity members who assumed responsibility for their actions wouldn't be expelled.

The fraternity expulsions have no effect on the students' status at the university.

Penn State said in March that its investigation found some fraternity members engaged in sexual harassment and hazing that included a "persistent climate of humiliation" for women.

The school won't recognize the fraternity again until 2018.

California
Suspect in cold case murderdied in 1988

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A convicted felon who was a suspect in the kidnapping and killing of a Swedish exchange student who disappeared in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1982 has long been dead, authorities say.

Henry Lee Coleman died Feb. 5, 1988, a Social Security Administration spokeswoman told The Marin Independent Journal. There was no record on where he died or a cause of death.

The U.S. Department of Justice matched seven bones discovered in a Fremont canyon five years ago to Elisabeth Martinsson. She was living with a family in Marin when she disappeared.

Martinsson's identity was released publicly last month. A cause of death was never determined.

When she disappeared, Martinsson had gone to the store in a yellow Volkswagen Rabbit she borrowed from the family she was living with.

Ten days later, police stopped the car in Boise City, Oklahoma, and found a man at the wheel and a woman in the passenger seat.

The couple initially lied to police about their identities and sped off while officers were talking to them. They were later arrested, and police determined the driver was Coleman, a then-31-year-old convicted rapist.

Coleman had served 10 years in prison on rape convictions in Oklahoma and was wanted on a robbery warrant out of San Bernardino County, authorities said.

The passenger was a woman he picked up in Seattle before driving east. Prosecutors dropped the case against the woman for lack of evidence, while Coleman was tried on auto theft charges but not for Martinsson's killing.

During court proceedings, a witness said she saw a man resembling Coleman approach a young woman resembling Martinsson at Larkspur Landing, and they got in a yellow car like the one Martinsson was driving.

Coleman eventually was convicted of auto theft and went to prison.

Jeffrey Callison, a state prisons department spokesman, said Coleman was as paroled in October 1986 and released from parole monitoring in November 1987.

Martinsson's remains were cremated for transportation to family members in Sweden.

Published: Tue, Jun 09, 2015

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