National Roundup

Cross-bearing 'Jesus' arrested for trespass

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A man who calls himself "Philly Jesus" has a new cross to bear: He was arrested at a Philadelphia Apple store on a trespassing charge.

Philly Jesus' real name is Michael Grant. He dresses like Jesus, carries a large cross, preaches on sidewalks and poses for photos. He also performs baptisms in city fountains.

Police say the Apple store's manager told them Grant refused to leave Monday night despite being asked multiple times. They say his cross was blocking an aisle. He was handcuffed and arrested.

According to online court documents, Grant was charged with defiant trespassing and disorderly conduct. He was released after an arraignment early Tuesday.

Jury: School failed to protect female student from rape

HONOLULU (AP) - A jury has found that Hawaii's public school system failed to protect a special education student who says she was raped by a classmate.

But the verdict Monday also says the state Department of Education and a special education teacher at Waianae High School didn't act recklessly or intentionally.

Jurors deliberated over two days in a lawsuit filed by Mariana Harris' mother saying the girl, now 19, was raped by a boy from her special education class in a unisex bathroom in 2013. The AP doesn't usually identify sex assault victims unless they choose to go public. Harris and her mother say they want to help other victims.

The jury awarded $810,000 in damages. Lawyers had asked for $3.2 million.

Anti-abortion activist goes to trial over letter

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas anti-abortion activist faces trial in federal court this week over a letter she sent to a Wichita physician saying someone might place an explosive under the doctor's car.

Opening statements are expected Tuesday morning in the 2011 lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against Angel Dillard under a federal law aimed at protecting access to abortion services. The civil case highlights the federal government's heightened concerns about perceived threats to abortion providers in the wake of Dr. George Tiller's murder in Wichita.

The government has accused the Valley Center woman of sending a threatening letter to Dr. Mila Means, who was training to offer abortion services. At the time, abortions had not been openly performed in Wichita since Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers, was fatally shot in May 2009 by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder as the physician served as an usher at his Wichita church.

Dillard wrote in her 2011 letter that thousands of people from across the United States were scrutinizing Means' background and would know her "habits and routines."

"They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live," the letter said. "You will be checking under your car everyday - because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it."

Defense attorneys have argued that the letter is constitutionally protected speech. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the decision about whether the letter constituted a "true threat" should be left for a jury to decide.

"The context in this case includes Wichita's past history of violence against abortion providers, the culmination of this violence in Dr. Tiller's murder less than two years before Defendant mailed her letter, Defendant's publicized friendship with Dr. Tiller's killer, and her reported admiration of his convictions," the court panel wrote in its decision.

Means has testified that her fears were heightened after reading a news story by The Associated Press that quoted Dillard in a July 2009 interview saying she had developed a friendship with Roeder while he was in jail awaiting trial.

"With one move, (Roeder) was able ... to accomplish what we had not been able to do," Dillard said in the interview. "So he followed his convictions and I admire that."

Means eventually decided not to offer abortion services at her medical practice.

The lawsuit - filed by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act - seeks a court order that keeps Dillard from contacting Means or coming within 250 feet of Means, her home, car or business. It also seeks damages of $5,000 to Means and a civil penalty of $15,000.

AG's office wants Hershey School board changes

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) - The state attorney general's office is seeking the resignation of three board members at the Milton Hershey School for disadvantaged children over concerns the board may be violating terms of a 2013 settlement.

The resignations would amount to an overhaul of the 10-member board that runs one of the nation's richest charities, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

According to a Feb. 8 letter obtained by the newspaper, the attorney general's office asked the Hershey Trust to reduce board compensation and wants members to pay for a conflict-of-interest investigation.

On Friday, John Estey, a top official at the Hershey Trust Co., which manages the charity's finances, agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud for pocketing thousands of dollars from a fake company set up by the FBI to investigate public corruption in Pennsylvania.

The Hershey Trust board fired Estey. His charges were unrelated to the charity.

Chuck Ardo, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the letter pertains to a 2013 settlement agreement over an investigation into the costly purchase of a golf course to serve as a buffer zone for the private boarding school.

The trust paid an inflated price of $12 million for the money-losing Wren Dale Golf Club in 2006. Several dozen local investors, including The Hershey's Co.'s then-CEO, Richard Lenny, profited from the sale.

After an inquiry, the Hershey charity agreed to a laundry list of changes, including limiting compensation to a base pay of $30,000 a year.

The letter says the attorney general's office seeks a "reduction in board compensation to the parameters set forth in the 2013 agreement" and the "reimbursement of all excess compensation."

The most recent pay has not been disclosed in tax filings with the IRS.

The attorney general's office also wants board members who have served more than 10 years to resign by July 31.

The Hershey School is the sole beneficiary of the trust's $12 billion in assets. The charity owns HersheyPark and a controlling interest in the Hershey chocolate-manufacturing company.

Published: Wed, May 04, 2016