National Roundup

Man gets jail for pretending to be senator on tour

UPPER SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) - A teenager who toured an Ohio high school while posing as a state senator has been sentenced to jail.

A judge last week sentenced Marion resident Izaha Akins to three months in jail. But the 18-year-old will need to serve only a little over a month more because he's already spent close to two months in jail.

Akins pleaded guilty in March to impersonating a peace officer. The charge includes anyone who poses as a state employee.

Authorities say Akins spoke to a government class at Mohawk High School in Sycamore last December. School officials didn't realize they'd been duped until weeks later.

His attorney has said Akins is sorry for the negative attention he brought to the school, but he's glad it pushed schools to improve their security procedures.

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Teen changes plea to guilty in killing of grandparents

CONWAY, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas teenager has pleaded guilty to charges that he killed the couple who raised him as their grandson.

Justin Staton, who is now 15 years old, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of first-degree murder and other charges related to the 2015 shooting deaths of Robert and Patricia Cogdell. A Faulkner County judge accepted the change of plea and the agreement for Staton to testify against his co-defendant Hunter Drexler, who has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Staton teared up as Judge Troy Braswell sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He had faced up to life in prison.

Prosecutors allege the pair robbed and shot the Cogdells at their Conway home, about 30 miles north of Little Rock.

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Gay man settles with school that pulled job offer

BOSTON (AP) - A Boston man who had a job offer from an all-girls Catholic high school rescinded after administrators learned that he was in a same-sex marriage has settled a lawsuit with the school.

The Boston Globe reports 45-year-old Matthew Barrett's confidential settlement with Fontbonne Academy comes nearly five months after a Massachusetts judge found the Milton school had discriminated against Barrett.

Fontbonne Academy officials pulled their offer of a food service position to Barrett in 2013 after he listed his husband as an emergency contact.

Ben Klein, Barrett's attorney, says the settlement means that the December Superior Court ruling against the school will stand, establishing a legal precedent that employers have no religious justification for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Fontbonne released a statement saying it "expresses deep gratitude to Mr. Barrett for his willingness to come together with us in a spirit of conciliation."

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South Carolina
Muslim family considers suit against Citadel

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The Citadel military college has decided a newly accepted Muslim student cannot wear her traditional Muslim headscarf if she enrolls.

The South Carolina school announced Tuesday that Commandant of Cadets Geno Paluso decided that allowing the student to wear the head covering known as a hijab wouldn't be consistent with the school's policy of having cadets look similar.

The school in Charleston is known for its buttoned-up uniforms and close-cropped haircuts that represent the sacrifice of one's self for the greater goals of the unit.

"Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model. The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college," Citadel President retired Lt. Gen John Rosa said in a statement.

The Citadel will continue to provide for any cadet's spiritual needs when it can, such as providing special diets or time for prayer and driving cadets to their places of worship if they don't have a car, Rosa said.

The president said he hopes the student, whose name and hometown have not been released, still attends The Citadel in the fall.

But the woman will not attend the school unless there is a change, a spokesman for the family, Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., said Tuesday.

Hooper said the family is considering legal options after the school's rejection. The names of the student and her family have not been made public.

The woman was crying this morning after getting the call, Hooper said.

She told the commandant that it wasn't fair that she had to choose between going to the school and her faith, Hooper said.

"It's the same issue faced by African-Americans and women in this situation," Hooper said. "We view it as a continuation of the civil rights movement."

"The diversity of religions and cultural backgrounds represented in the Corps enriches the overall cadet experience and better prepares graduates to become principled leaders in all walks of life, underpinned by The Citadel's core values of honor, duty and respect," Rosa said.

While The Citadel has had a number of Muslim students, the request to wear the headscarf was unique, school spokeswoman Kim Keelor said.

Citadel cadets are required to wear uniforms nearly all the time. The school has a 35-page booklet of rules and regulations addressing military courtesies and uniforms.

Strict discipline and tradition are the cornerstones of The Citadel and the school in the 1990s fought the enrollment of women cadets before relenting.

There is no reason to stick with this tradition since the American military itself has changed its views and offers a variety of religious accommodations on uniforms, Hooper, the family spokesman, said. There are Muslim women wearing hajibs in the American military now, he said.

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Lawyer freed on $250K bond in sex assault case

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - A San Antonio lawyer has been charged with 35 counts of sexual assault and compelling prostitution for allegedly coercing some clients into have sex with him.

Mark H. Benavides was freed late Monday on increased bond - $250,000 - following his indictment last month.

The ex-South Texas judicial candidate was arrested in November on a charge of compelling prostitution, then freed on $15,000 bond.

A Bexar County grand jury in April indicted Benavides on additional counts involving nine alleged victims. Prosecutors say the encounters since 2009 - including dozens allegedly videotaped by the suspect - happened in motels, the attorney's office, vehicles and a courthouse.

A judge on Monday upped the attorney's bond and also required Benavides to wear an electronic monitor.

The defendant declined comment.

Published: Wed, May 11, 2016