National Roundup

Trial date set for man in missing child hoax

CINCINNATI (AP) - A federal judge has set a June 24 trial date for the 23-year-old man charged with impersonating a long-missing child.

U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett in Cincinnati scheduled pretrial conferences May 14 and June 13 in the case of Brian Michael Rini of Medina, Ohio.

Rini pleaded not guilty Friday to two counts of lying to federal agents and one of aggravated identity theft. The false statements charges carry possible sentences of up to eight years in prison and the ID theft would mean at least two years with conviction. Rini is being held without bond.

Police in Newport, Kentucky, say Rini claimed April 3 to be Timmothy Pitzen, who would now be 14, and that he escaped captors who sexually abused him. The Aurora, Illinois, boy disappeared in 2011.

Woman indicted in 1975 cold case dies before trial

PERRY, Ga. (AP) - The suspect in the 1975 death of a teenager in Georgia has died before she could be put on trial.

Georgia news outlets report that 16-year-old Cheryl White and then 18-year-old Mary Jane Stewart were roommates living in an apartment complex in the city of Warner Robins when White was found stabbed to death on the morning of Nov. 12, 1975.

It took decades to build the case but Stewart was arrested in White's death in 2017 in Texas and released on bond. Trial had been set for May.

But, authorities only recently learned that the 61-year-old Stewart died in hospice care in October.

Houston County assistant district attorney Eric Edwards says he hopes Stewart's arrest and indictment can help bring Cheryl White's family some form of closure.

Stewart's death certificate said she died Oct. 23, 2018, of acute chronic respiratory failure, Edwards said. Stewart had been ill earlier in the summer of last year but the prosecution had understood that she had recovered, Edwards said.

Edwards said he received the death certificate last week and wanted to first break the news to White's father. He took it well, Edwards said.

"He's had 43 years to make peace with it," Edwards told The Telegraph in Macon. "He was thankful we were going to give it a shot."

Edwards said he expects to file the formal paperwork in Houston County Superior Court this week to dismiss the case.

Stewart was accused of stabbing her former roommate in the chest and cutting her throat with a knife, according to the indictment. White was stabbed 15 times in her throat, arms and side, according to Telegraph archives.

Telehealth ­company sues state for ban on online eye exams

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A Chicago-based telehealth company that provides online eye testing is challenging Indiana's ban on doctors using online vision tests to issue prescriptions for corrective lenses.

Visibly, formerly known as Opternative, filed the lawsuit in Marion County, taking issue with the 2016 measure that was signed into law by then-Gov. Mike Pence, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported .

The telehealth law permits doctors to examine patients and prescribe treatments and drugs, but it notably contains exceptions for some categories such as abortion drugs, most opioids and any "ophthalmic device," which includes glasses, contact lenses and low-vision devices.

Thirty-nine states allow doctors to conduct vision examinations online.

Visibly argues that vision tests and eye prescriptions are not the same as abortion drugs or opioids, and they were incorporated into the ban because of pressure from optometrists and the eyeglasses industry.

The Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm, has also joined Visibly in the lawsuit.

The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and the state Director of the Consumer Protection Division, Betsy Dinardi, are listed as defendants.

The plaintiffs say Indiana's law was designed to increase access to health care, particularly for patients in rural areas and those who might struggle to be able to afford to travel to a doctor's office. They say it would give doctors permission to use new technologies to examine patients remotely and prescribe treatments and drugs.

"The purpose of this ban on Visibly's technology is not to protect the public health or safety," the 25-page complaint states. "Indeed, Indiana's telemedicine law recognizes that, in principle, telemedicine offers a safe and effective means of expanding access to care. The purpose of banning Visibly's technology, rather, is to protect brick-and-mortar optometrists from competition."

The lawsuit argues that the prohibition on online eye exams is unconstitutional, and forces "arbitrary, irrational and protectionist restrictions on the right to earn an honest living." The suit also asserts that Indiana's constitution bans the legislature from allowing exclusive or special rights to some groups but not to others.

LSU professor fired for vulgarity seeks to revive lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A former tenured LSU professor who was fired in 2015 for using vulgarity and discussing her sex life and the sex lives of students in her elementary education classes has asked federal appellate court to revive her lawsuit against the university.

The Advocate reports that Teresa Buchanan's suit was dismissed last year by a federal district judge in Baton Rouge.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed the dismissal. But, Buchanan's attorneys recently asked the entire 5th Circuit to rehear the case.

The lawyers contend that LSU's sexual harassment policies are too broad and that she was fired for "at least in part" for "constitutionally protected speech."

Buchanan trained elementary school teachers.

In dismissing Buchanan's lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick said the LSU Lab School and schools in Zachary, Port Allen and Iberville Parish had either banned Buchanan from their campuses or asked that LSU not allow her to mentor their student teachers because of her conduct and speech.

Buchanan claims the salty language was part of her teaching approach.

The 5th Circuit panel agreed with Dick that LSU did not violate Buchanan's free speech rights by terminating her because Buchanan was not speaking on a matter of public concern.

"Dr. Buchanan's use of profanity and discussion of her sex life and the sex lives of her students was not related to the subject matter or purpose of training Pre-K-third grade teachers," the panel stated.

It's unclear when the full court will issue a decision on whether to rehear the case.

Published: Tue, Apr 23, 2019