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Sunday, 01 December 2013 09:05

Ohio still home to 'A Christmas Story'

CLEVELAND (AP) — Fans of the 1983 movie "A Christmas Story" still can't get enough of its quirky humor and heart-warming family theme and are relishing this season's 30th anniversary celebration.

Hundreds stood in line Saturday to get into the Ohio home in Cleveland, where some of the movie was filmed and 9-year-old Ralphie dreamed of getting an air rifle for Christmas. The story's 1940s trappings are all there: the iconic leg lamp, a typewriter and globe, a BB gun range in the backyard.

At a hotel in the city's Public Square, some of the original cast members signed autographs. And thousands were thrilled during the city's annual winter festival when a gigantic image of a leg lamp was projected onto a tower.

Published in National News
Thursday, 19 September 2013 15:29

Jury: Ex-Ohio deputy, baby sitter guilty of rape

MARION, Ohio (AP) - A former Ohio sheriff's deputy and correction officer has been convicted of raping a 5-year-old girl while he was baby-sitting.

State Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Thursday a Marion County jury found 28-year-old Randy N. Spencer guilty of four counts of rape. His office says Spencer raped the girl between June 2012 and April.

Defense attorney Rocky Ratliff says Spencer denies the charges. He says Spencer is disappointed with the jury's decision and will appeal his conviction. He says prosecutors had no physical evidence against Spencer, whose girlfriend runs a baby-sitting business.

The Columbus Dispatch reports Spencer baby-sat the girl and other children when his girlfriend wasn't available.

The Marion resident faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He's scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 27.

Published in National News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A lesbian teacher challenging her firing by a Roman Catholic school in Ohio will not get her job back as part of a settlement reached with the Diocese of Columbus.

The attorneys for Carla Hale and the diocese on Thursday announced that as part of the agreement, she will receive "acknowledgement" for her years of service at Bishop Watterson High School. Both parties declined to give details of the settlement.

Hale is a physical education teacher. She had argued she was fired after her mother's obituary included the name of Hale's partner and someone complained.

Bishop Frederick Campbell had said Hale was fired not because of sexual orientation but because she violated the church's moral teaching by having what he described as a "quasi-spousal relationship" with a woman.

Published in National News

   LANCASTER, Ohio (AP) -- Police say an instructor at a central Ohio gun safety class has accidentally shot a student.

    The Columbus Dispatch reports 73 year old Terry J. Dunlap Sr. was demonstrating a handgun at a training facility on Saturday when he fired a bullet that ricocheted off a desk and into the right arm of 26 year old Michael Piemonte.

      The student says the .38 caliber bullet hit him between his elbow and armpit. He says many of the students in the class were nurses who helped stabilize him before he was transported to a Columbus hospital.

      Piemonte tells the newspaper it appears Dunlap didn't know the gun was loaded. Dunlap hasn't responded to requests for comment.

   A police report lists the shooting as accidental.

Published in National News

AB InBev is announcing another purchase today, albeit a smaller one than Wednesday's $20 billion deal for Grupo Modelo.

The mega-brewer is purchasing a group of Ohio distribution companies. The amount of the sale was not disclosed. The deal was on hold for most of the year while Ohio lawmakers debated a bill that would have prevented breweries from directly acquiring distributors. 

 

Published in Local News

   COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat who represented eastern Ohio in Washington for two terms after winning a write-in campaign, died Sunday in a Florida hospital, the Ohio Democratic Party announced. He was 70.

   Wilson had suffered a stroke in February while vacationing with his family and was recovering at a rehabilitation center, Democratic Party officials said. He fell ill Saturday night and was admitted to a hospital in Boynton Beach, where he died at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday with his family by his side, the officials said.

   Wilson spent 14 years in Columbus and Washington championing for the people of eastern and southeastern Ohio. He secured federal funding for police departments, airport improvements and small business incubators, among other project.

   Before being elected to Congress, Wilson served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1997 to 2005. He then served two years in the Ohio Senate.

   "I served with Charlie in the State Legislature for six years and he was a loyal friend in good times and bad," Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said in a statement. "An outspoken advocate for working people, Charlie never wavered in his service to his constituents or his lifelong pursuit to help improve the lives of others."

   Wilson won his first congressional campaign in 2006 as a write-in candidate, filling the seat vacated by Gov. Ted Strickland. He had failed to gather enough petition signatures to qualify for the state's primary, requiring him to run as a write-in for the 6th Congressional District stretching from Youngstown's southern suburbs to the tip of the Ohio River near Portsmouth.

   Wilson, who represented a coal-heavy district, served on the House Committee on Science and Technology.

   He lost bids for Congress in 2010 and 2012.

   U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who defeated Wilson in 2012, said he was saddened to hear of his death and expressed condolences to his family.

   "Although Charlie and I were political opponents, we were never enemies. He served with honor in the Ohio state legislature and in Congress," Johnson said in a statement.

   Before entering public service, Wilson was owner of several small businesses throughout the Ohio Valley. He attended Ohio University in Athens and while still in college, worked as a UAW member on the assembly line at the Ford Automotive auto plant in Lorain.

   Wilson is survived by four sons, one of whom served as his campaign manager in the 2006 race and went on to succeed him in the Ohio Senate.

   "Throughout his extraordinary life, Congressman Wilson was motivated by a desire to serve his country and a passion for the causes most important to the constituents of Southeast and East Ohio," his family said in a statement. "Congressman Wilson served with honor, dignity and an unwavering sense of civic responsibility to the families of our region. Charlie will be remembered for his boundless energy, his honest approach, and his dedication to improving the lives of our future generations."

   Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Published in National News
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- Two members of the high school football team that is the pride of Steubenville were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Rust Belt city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community's athletes.

Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond were sentence to at least a year in juvenile jail, capping a case that came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video. Mays was sentenced to an additional year in jail on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, to be served after his rape sentence is completed.

The two teens broke down in tears after the verdict was read and later apologized to the victim and to the community. Both were emotional as they spoke, and Richmond struggled at times to talk through his sobs. Richmond's father, Nathaniel, also asked that the victim's family "forgive Malik and Trent for the pain they put you through."

Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after an alcohol-fueled party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house.

The case roiled the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community of 18,000 that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry. Their arms linked, protesters who sought guilty verdicts stood outside the courthouse Sunday morning, some wearing masks. The trial opened last week as a contest between prosecutors determined to show the girl was so drunk she couldn't have been a willing participant that night, and defense attorneys soliciting testimony from witnesses that would indicate that the girl, though drunk, knew what she was doing. The teenage girl testified Saturday that she could not recall what happened the night of the attack but remembered waking up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party. The girl said she recalled drinking, leaving the party holding hands with Mays and throwing up later. When she woke up, she said she discovered her phone, earrings, shoes, and underwear were missing, she testified. "It was really scary," she said. "I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything." The girl said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself taken that night, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn't explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was. "They treated her like a toy," said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter. Evidence introduced at the trial included graphic text messages sent by numerous students after the night of the party, including by the accuser, containing provocative descriptions of sex acts and obscene language. Lawyers noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for contemporary teens. A computer forensic expert called by the state documented tens of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation. In sentencing the boys, Judge Thomas Lipps urged everyone who had witnessed what happened in the case, including parents, "to have discussions about how you talk to your friends, how you record things on the social media so prevalent today and how you conduct yourself when drinking is put upon you by your friends." The girl herself recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened. "They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me," she testified. "I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video." In questioning her account, defense attorneys went after her character and credibility. Two former friends of the girl testified that the accuser had a history of drinking heavily and was known to lie. "The reality is, she drank, she has a reputation for telling lies," said lawyer Walter Madison, representing Richmond. The two girls testified they were angry at the accuser because she was drinking heavily at the party and rolling around on the floor. They said they tried unsuccessfully to get her to stop drinking. Nathaniel Richmond urged during the sentencing that parents speak to their children about "the dangers of alcohol and how it can lead to bad decisions that will affect the rest of your life." He said he himself was an alcoholic. The accuser said that she does not remember being photographed as she was carried by Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond, an image that stirred up outrage, first locally, then globally, as it spread online. Others have testified the photo was a joke and the girl was conscious when it was taken. The photograph led to allegations that three other boys, two of them members of Steubenville High's celebrated Big Red team, saw something happening that night and didn't try to stop it but instead recorded it. The three boys weren't charged, fueling months of online accusations of a cover-up to protect the team, which law enforcement authorities have vehemently denied. Instead, the teens were granted immunity to testify, and their accounts helped incriminate the defendants. They said the girl was so drunk she didn't seem to know what was happening to her and confirmed she was digitally penetrated in a car and later on a basement floor. Ohio's attorney general planned to announce later Sunday whether additional charges will be brought against others in the case. Mays and Richmond were determined to be delinquent, the juvenile equivalent of guilty, Lipps ruled in the juvenile court trial without a jury. The length of their sentence beyond the minimum one year will be determined by juvenile authorities; they can be held until they're 21. Lipps said that "as bad as things have been for all of the children involved in this case, they can all change their lives for the better." The Associated Press normally doesn't identify minors charged in juvenile court, but Mays and Richmond have been widely identified in news coverage, and their names have been used in open court. The AP also does not generally identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes.
Published in National News
WARREN, Ohio (AP) - Investigators are focusing on speeding as a key factor in the crash of a sport utility vehicle carrying eight teenagers, six of them killed when it slammed into a guardrail and flipped over into a swampy pond.

Authorities are citing an unspecified "high rate" of speed, but would not speculate on whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash about 7 a.m. Sunday.

The Honda Passport veered off the left side of a road and overturned, coming to a rest upside down in the swamp. It sank with five of the victims trapped inside. A sixth person thrown from the SUV during the crash was found under it.

Two boys escaped from the submerged vehicle and ran a quarter-mile to a home to call 911.
Published in National News

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