PA overhauls child sex abuse laws: AP PA Headlines, Features, Scores & Skeds

AP PA Headlines 11/27/19

READING, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania overhauled its child sexual abuse laws Tuesday, more than a year after a landmark grand jury report showed the cover-up of hundreds of cases of abuse in most of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses over seven decades.  The central bill signed by Gov. Tom Wolf gives future victims of child sex abuse more time to file lawsuits and ends time limits for police to file criminal charges.

The grand jury report spurred many states to change their laws and others to begin similar investigations.  Wolf said the new laws will help repair “faults in our justice system that prevent frightened, abused children from seeking justice when they grow into courageous adults.”  The legislative package was based on recommendations in last year’s report on six of eight dioceses in the state.

Wolf, a Democrat, also signed bills to invalidate secrecy agreements that keep child sexual abuse victims from talking to investigators, and to increase penalties for people who are required to report suspected abuse but fail to do so.  Wolf signed the bills at Muhlenberg High School near Reading, in the home district and high school of Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a champion of the legislation who has spoken publicly about being raped as a 13-year-old by a Roman Catholic priest.  “We know our work is not done today, it’s going to continue,” Rozzi said.

The grand jury report prompted a lengthy battle in the Legislature that pitted victims and their advocates who unsuccessfully sought the two-year window to file claims over past abuse against top Senate Republicans, who argued it would be unconstitutional. Senate Republicans, however, blocked it amid opposition by bishops and insurers, and as an alternative offered the slower process of amending the state constitution.

The multi-year amendment process has begun, but the bill must again pass both the House and Senate in the 2021-22 legislative session before voters will decide its fate in a statewide referendum.  Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said the eliminated time limits meant prosecutors could file charges against only two priests after the report was issued. He said that if the new legislation had applied, some 100 priests could have been charged.

The report put the number of abusive clergy at more than 300, with most cases between 1970 and 2000. More than 100 of the priests had died.  Wolf and Shapiro urged lawmakers to take up legislation to allow the two-year window for lawsuits rather than wait for the amendment process to play out.  “By waiting, we are robbing the very victims who made this day possible, we are robbing them of the only closure before them,” Shapiro said.

The main bill in the package ends any statute of limitations, in future cases, for criminal prosecution of major child sexual abuse crimes. Current law limits it to the victim’s 50th birthday.  Victims would have until they turn 55 to sue, compared to age 30 in current law. Young adults ages 18-23 would have until age 30 to sue, where existing law gives them just two years.

Police could file criminal charges up to 20 years after the crime when young adults 18-23 years old are the victims, as opposed to 12 years after the crime for victims over 17 in current law.  About two dozen states have changed their laws on statutes of limitations this year, including neighboring New York and New Jersey, according to Child USA, a Philadelphia-based think tank that advocates for child protection.

In New Jersey, lawmakers expanded the civil statute of limitations from two to seven years. The bill opened a two-year window, which starts Dec. 1, to victims who were previously barred from suing by the statute of limitations. It also allows victims to seek damages from institutions.

New York raised the victim’s age for which prosecutors can seek a felony indictment from 23 to 28. The law also gave anyone a year starting in August to file child sex abuse lawsuits against individuals and institutions, and civil lawsuits going forward can be filed until the victim is 55, up from 23.

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A former police officer in northeastern Pennsylvania is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to violating the civil rights of two women by sexually assaulting them.  A federal judge on Tuesday accepted the guilty plea from 30-year-old Mark Icker of Dickson City for the attacks that occurred last December, while he served as an Ashley borough officer.

His lawyer, Bernie Brown, says Icker expects pending state charges to be dismissed once he’s sentenced. The plea agreement calls for a term of 12 years.  Icker was fired from his position with Ashley borough and from part-time jobs with police in the nearby towns of Sugar Notch and Jessup.  Brown says that as part of the plea deal, Icker relinquished his certification to serve as a Pennsylvania police officer.

READING, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania law ending time limits for authorities to file charges in future child sexual abuse cases is now in effect with the signature of the state’s governor.  The legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Tom Wolf also gives future victims more time to sue. A landmark grand jury report last year found that 300 priests sexually abused Pennsylvania children over seven decades.

The Democratic Wolf has also signed companion legislation to invalidate secrecy agreements that prevent child sexual abuse victims from talking to investigators.  A third bill he signed increases and clarifies penalties for people who are required to report suspected abuse, but don’t.  Lawmakers have also begun the multi-year process of trying to amend the state constitution to give now-adult victims of prior abuse a two-year window to file lawsuits.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A federal court is being asked to force Pennsylvania to rescind its certification of a voting machine newly purchased by Philadelphia and at least two other counties in the state ahead of 2020’s presidential election.  Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and several supporters filed court papers Tuesday accusing Pennsylvania of violating their year-old agreement in Philadelphia’s federal court by certifying the ExpressVote XL touchscreen system made by Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software.

The plaintiffs say the system violates their agreement, in part because the machine doesn’t meet the agreement’s requirements for a voter-verifiable paper ballot. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration isn’t commenting.  The lawsuit, filed after 2016’s presidential election, had accused Pennsylvania of violating the constitutional rights of voters because its voting machines were susceptible to hacking and barriers to a recount were pervasive.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania school district can continue to call its sports teams “Redskins,” but it must educate students about Native Americans to prevent stereotypes.  The state Human Relations Commission on Monday issued its decision in a long-running dispute with the Neshaminy School District.  The panel also said the district must remove any logos that “negatively stereotype Native Americans.”

The high school’s baseball team hats feature a tomahawk, the basketball team’s logo is a profile of a Native American warrior and the football team is known as the “Skins.”  The dispute dates back to 2013 when the panel received a complaint which resulted in the commission filing its own charge accusing Neshaminy of violating a state human-relations law.  The district’s lawyer is reviewing the ruling.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Features

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump couldn’t resist riffing on the House impeachment inquiry Tuesday as he continued the tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, generating holiday-season laughter at the expense of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, one of his chief antagonists in Congress.  Trump joked that the pair of North Carolina-bred turkeys he was about to pardon had been raised to “remain calm under any condition,” a trait that he said will be “very important because they’ve already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday.”

“It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey,” Trump told guests seated in the White House Rose Garden, where he was flanked by his wife, first lady Melania Trump. But he told the turkeys that, “unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met. It’s very unusual.”  Trump’s Republican defenders in Congress had criticized Schiff for holding closed-depositions in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, which Democrats said was necessary for the investigation. Trump has criticized the impeachment inquiry as both a “scam” and a “hoax.”

Trump also has claimed to barely know some of the witnesses – including Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union – who testified during public impeachment hearings chaired by Schiff, a California Democrat. Testimony from several officials showed that Sondland had been in frequent contact with Trump around the time Trump spoke with the president of Ukraine about doizg a politically beneficial “favor.”  Schiff is leading the House impeachment inquiry for his committee. Meanwhile, as the White House ceremony was about to begin, the House Judiciary Committee announced it has scheduled an impeachment hearing for Dec. 4, when Trump is expected to be in London for a NATO conference.

Trump’s latest act of clemency benefited Butter, a 47-pound (21-kilogram) turkey granted a “full and complete” pardon. Trump said he was also sparing Butter’s alternate, named Bread, who weighs 45 pounds (20 kilograms) from being served up on a Thanksgiving table.  Both gobblers will get to spend the rest of their lives on a farm at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.  Turning serious, Trump gave thanks for the “newfound prosperity and spirit” that he said is taking hold across the country and predicted “it’s going to be a great Thanksgiving.” He also expressed gratitude for U.S. service members who will spend the holiday stationed in hot spots around the world.  President George H.W. Bush established the annual turkey pardon tradition in 1989 by sparing a 50-pound (23-kilogram) bird.

NEW YORK (AP) — It remains to be seen how last this month’s televised impeachment hearings will play out for President Donald Trump. But we have an idea of how it worked out for those who aired the five days of hearings. For cable news networks, it was good news. Nielsen reports daytime audiences ranged from a high of 13.8 million on the first day — to a low of 11 million on the third day. The news wasn’t as good for broadcast networks, where viewership numbers were below those received by the usual offerings of talk shows, daytime dramas and game shows. CBS led with 1.82 million viewers. That’s lower than the 3.3 million who tune in to the network’s regularly scheduled fare.

NEW YORK (AP) — The latest round of movie award nominations is out. And if you’re a Millennial, you might reply to the list with an eye roll and an, “OK, boomer.” The list is from AARP — and it doesn’t contain any movies like “Frozen 2” or the superhero films that seem to come out every other week. On the AARP list of nominees for best picture for its Movies for Grownups awards are “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Bombshell,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “The Farewell,” “The Irishman” and “The Two Popes.” The awards will be handed out Jan. 11 — and will air Jan. 19 on PBS.Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits.

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s probably one of the last places you’d think about enjoying a Thanksgiving meal: a New York City subway train. But that’s exactly what happened over the weekend when riders on the L train were treated to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Video of the literal movable feast is online, showing riders standing around a white-clothed table laden with turkey, mashed potatoes and other side dishes. Stand-up comedian Jodell Lewis says he organized the dinner to “bring a little excitement to commuters” — and feed any New Yorkers who might be hungry.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — It was quite the interesting catch for a Michigan angler who uses a magnet to pull things out of the water. WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids says Joseph Alexander fished out a World War I-era grenade from the Grand River. After posting images online, Alexander said people told him it was, indeed, a grenade — and he should call police. Authorities say the device was German-made — and will be stored until it can be detonated safely.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — Fake money can be used to buy things in the movies. But prop money has bought a Virginia man nothing but trouble. The Virginian-Pilot reports a man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for using movie props to buy stuff. The man, 25-year-old Amaud Brown, pleaded guilty to counterfeiting and weapons charges earlier this year. Court papers say Brown used the fakes to buy electronics — and sold $1,000 blocks of bogus money. A Secret Service agent says movie prop bills make up about 4% of the counterfeit money making the rounds last fiscal year.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

 

PA Sports, Scores & Skeds.

 

Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation Sports Schedule

 

Tonight:

  • Penn State Basketball: Mississippi vs. Penn State – NIT Tip-Off – 4:30pm on WKOK and WKOK.com

 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two-time Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks said pressure of trying to live up to a new contract led to an anxiety attack that forced him out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ game last Sunday. Brooks has dealt with anxiety for several years but has started 50 straight games, including the playoffs. But he recently signed a four-year, $54.2 million contract and it weighed on his mind.  The Eagles play on our sister station Eagle 107.

 

PITTSBURGH (AP) — It’s officially “Duck season” again in Pittsburgh. Coach Mike Tomlin says rookie quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges will start when the Steelers face Cleveland. Hodges came on in relief of an ineffective Mason Rudolph in a 16-10 victory over Cincinnati, throwing for a 79-yard touchdown to James Washington on his third snap that gave Pittsburgh the lead for good. Tomlin said the decision is for one game only and does not impact Rudolph’s role with the team going forward.  The Steelers play on our sister station 100.9 The Valley.

 

Here are the scores from yesterday’s sports events:

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final    L.A. Clippers  114      Dallas  99

Final    Denver            117      Washington     104

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Final    Boston 8          Montreal          1

Final    Minnesota       3          New Jersey      2

Final    Chicago           3          Dallas  0

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TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Final OT          Stephen F. Austin       85        (1)Duke           83

Final    (3)Michigan St.           93        Georgia           85

Final    (4)Kansas        71        BYU   56

Final    (18)Auburn     79        Richmond       65

Final    (21)Colorado   71        Clemson          67

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TODAY’S SPORTS SCHEDULE

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Brooklyn         at         Boston 7 p.m.

Detroit at         Charlotte         7 p.m.

Orlando           at         Cleveland        7 p.m.

Utah    at         Indiana            7 p.m.

Sacramento     at         Philadelphia    7 p.m.

New York       at         Toronto           7:30 p.m.

Miami  at         Houston          8 p.m.

L.A. Clippers  at         Memphis         8 p.m.

Atlanta            at         Milwaukee      8 p.m.

Minnesota       at         San Antonio    8:30 p.m.

Washington     at         Phoenix           9 p.m.

L.A. Lakers     at         New Orleans   9:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City            at         Portland          10 p.m.

Chicago           at         Golden State   10:30 p.m.

___

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Calgary            at         Buffalo            7 p.m.

Philadelphia    at         Columbus        7 p.m.

Toronto           at         Detroit 7 p.m.

Carolina           at         N-Y Rangers   7 p.m.

Boston at         Ottawa            7 p.m.

Vancouver       at         Pittsburgh        7 p.m.

St. Louis          at         Tampa Bay      7 p.m.

Florida at         Washington     7 p.m.

Vegas  at         Nashville         8 p.m.

Anaheim          at         Arizona           9:30 p.m.

Edmonton       at         Colorado         10 p.m.

N-Y Islanders at         Los Angeles    10:30 p.m.

Winnipeg         at         San Jose          10:30 p.m.

___

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(3)Michigan St.           at         UCLA 2:30 p.m.

Dayton            at         (4)Kansas        5 p.m.

Alabama          at         (6)North Carolina        2:30 p.m.

Maine  at         (7)Virginia       4 p.m.

(8)Gonzaga     at         Southern Miss.            7 p.m.

(11)Oregon      at         (13)Seton Hall 9:30 p.m.

 

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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