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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Tuesday
Mar132012

Delta Plane Rolls Off Taxiway at Atlanta Airport

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- A Delta airplane sustained significant damage when it veered off a taxiway early Tuesday morning while undergoing maintenance at the world's busiest airport in Atlanta, local ABC News affiliate WSB-TV reports.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson, the Boeing 737-700 rolled off the taxiway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport around 5 a.m.

Eric Torbinson, a spokesman for Delta, said two maintenance workers were on board testing the jet's engines when the braking system failed.  No passengers were on the plane, and the two workers were unharmed.

The FAA said the incident has not led to any traffic delays at the airport.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Penn State Trustees Reaffirm Firing Joe Paterno for "Failure of Leadership"

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.) -- Just over four months after Penn State’s board of trustees fired iconic football coach Joe Paterno and the university’s president in reaction to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the board released a report Monday reaffirming its decision.

The report, posted on the university’s website, was commissioned after a major public outcry among students, faculty, and others in and around the university community, charging that the firings were improper.

Though the report applauded the legacies and contributions of both former University President Graham Spanier and Paterno, who died in January after battling cancer, it condemned Paterno’s failure to call police after a graduate assistant told him that he had seen former assistant football coach Sandusky molesting a young boy in a university athletic facility.

“The Board determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno,” the report said.

It also defined the board’s “overriding commitment going forward -- to remember the children who may have been victims of sexual abuse on or near the University Park campus over the last 10 or more years and to support their healing process as best we can.”

Trustee Ken Frazier was quoted in the report further explaining the board’s position: "[E]very adult has a responsibility for every child in our community. And…we have a responsibility not to do the minimum, the legal requirement. We have a responsibility for ensuring that we can make every effort that’s within our power not only to prevent further harm to that one child, but to every child.”

Not long after the report was posted, the Paterno family released a scathing retort: "The latest statement is yet another attempt by the Board to deflect criticism of their leadership by trying to focus the blame on Joe Paterno. This is not fair to Joe’s legacy; it is not consistent with the facts; and it does not serve the best interests of the university. The board’s latest statement reaffirms that they did not conduct a thorough investigation of their own and engaged in a rush to judgment.”

The Paterno family’s statement also decried what it called the board’s lack of leadership, concluding that, “Everyone who cares about Penn State is longing for strong, courageous, honest leadership. Today’s statement is anything but that.”

Meanwhile, Sandusky’s attorney Joe Amendola was back in court Monday.

During a short hearing Monday morning, he addressed his request for a more specific bill of particulars, arguing with prosecutors about how much information the defense should be allowed to see in regards to the accusers and their accounts of the alleged abuse.

Amendola argued that the accusers should be able to remember dates when the alleged abuse occurred. He said that if they cannot remember dates, he plans to motion to dismiss the trial, citing a violation of the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

“I think it’s fundamentally unfair to Mr. Sandusky’s due process rights and his chance to have a fair trial,” Amendola said.

But prosecutors said that any inability of the alleged victims to describe the abuse with more specificity is not surprising, considering their ages at the time, and the nature of the abuse. The alleged victims were all youths when the alleged assaults occurred. One boy was 10 years old.

Prosecutors also added that Sandusky gave up that right to ask those kinds of questions when he waived his preliminary hearing in December.

Sandusky did not appear in court Monday; Amendola said that he did not want to cause an uproar by bringing his client, whom he described as “anxious.” Sandusky is under house arrest in his Centre County home.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Md. Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion at Funeral Placed on Leave

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A priest who denied communion to a gay woman at her mother’s funeral mass has been put on leave by the Washington D.C.-area archdiocese, but the archdiocese said the suspension is not related to the communion controversy.

In a statement, the archdiocese said Father Marcel Guarnizo was placed on administrative leave because of “credible allegation that Father Guarnizo had engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others.”

The statement did not elaborate on what that behavior might have been.

Guarnizo, a suburban Maryland priest, had been criticized by Barbara Johnson and her family for his behavior at the funeral of Johnson’s mother. Johnson, who is a lesbian, said Guarnizo denied her communion at her mother’s funeral mass.

“He covered the bowl with the Eucharist with his hand and looked at me, and said I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin in the eyes of the church,” Johnson told ABC News affiliate WLJA in Washington.

“She was clearly distraught,”  her older brother Larry Johnson told ABC News.

Both Barbara and Larry Johnson wrote letters to the Archdiocese of Washington, saying they believe that Guarnizo’s actions then and during the rest of the funeral were unacceptable. The Johnsons say the priest walked out of the service while Barbara Johnson was delivering her eulogy.

Family members also say the priest failed to come to the grave site, and the burial was attended by a substitute priest found by the funeral director.

As for the decision to suspend Guarnizo, Larry Johnson told ABC News: “I think the actions of the diocese speak for themselves. Whatever the ultimate reasons were, as far as I’m concerned, this individual, for the time being, will not be in parish life."

“I think this is a pretty significant action that they took,” he said. “I don’t think they would have taken it lightly.”

The Johnson family issued a statement Monday saying that they “pray for the Archdiocese of Washington, Father Guarnizo, and all Catholics during this time of upheaval.”

“While we understand this letter does not pertain to the events that occurred at our mother’s funeral, we are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family,” the statement said. “We urge all Catholics to put aside political points of view, and pray that our Church will remain in Christ’s love."

But the head of DignityUSA, a group that focuses on gay and lesbian rights and the Catholic Church, said the incident is part of a wider problem.

“The reality is in some ways it is very emblematic of the hierarchy’s approach to gay people, transgender people,” Marianne Duddy-Burke said. “There are little messages of rejection that happen all the time.”

Guarnizo did not return an email asking for a comment about the communion incident.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement that indicated Guarnizo should have taken up the matter of whether Johnson could receive communion in private.

“When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion it is not the policy of the Archdiocese to Washington to publicly reprimand the person,” the statement said.

Duddy-Burke said the archdiocese’s response misses the point.

“I would hope that it provides a wake-up call to church leaders to make them see where the extremes of their policy are leading,” she said. “My concern is they will just see this as an isolated incident and fail to see the context.”

Larry and Barbara Johnson both received letters from the archdiocese apologizing “that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life…was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.”

Guarnizo has been in the Washington area for a year, after serving as a priest in Russia. The Archdiocese of Washington has launched an inquiry into his alleged intimidating behavior toward staff and others. In its statement, the archdiocese said, Guarnizo will remain on leave “until all matters can be appropriately resolved with the hope that he might return to the priestly ministry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Voter ID Laws Struck Down in Texas, Wisconsin

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal judges struck down two states’ voter ID laws Monday, throwing out government-issued identification requirements at the polls in both Texas and Wisconsin.

In Texas, the Justice Department ruled that the ID requirement would disproportionately affect the state’s Hispanic voters, 11 percent of which do not have the necessary identification and would thus not be able to vote.

The Wisconsin law, which went into effect last May, was struck down because, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess wrote in his ruling, it would “impermissibly eliminate the right of suffrage altogether for certain constitutionally qualified electors.”

Proponents of both states’ voter ID laws argue that the identification requirement would help prevent voter fraud. Opponents note that there are extremely few documented cases of the types of voter fraud that ID laws would prevent and that such laws would prevent a significant number of eligible citizens from voting.

“Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression,” Wisconsin’s Niess wrote. “Indeed, they are two heads on the monster.”

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is expected to appeal the decision later this week in an attempt to have the law reinstated before the state’s primary election April 3.

Texas has appealed the Obama administration’s injunction to the U.S. District Court in Washington.

“The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.

The former presidential candidate said that the administration’s "denial is yet another example of the Obama administration’s continuing and pervasive federal overreach.”

Texas is the second state to see its voter ID law shot down by the Obama administration, after a similar law in South Carolina was struck down in December.

After Republicans swept state house elections in 2010, seven states enacted voter ID laws. The Justice Department’s injunctions against the Texas and South Carolina laws mark the first time in nearly 20 years that the government has rejected a state voter ID law, the Washington Post reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Guilty Plea From Mom Whose Son Died After She Left Him in Minivan

Commonwealth of Va Dept of Corrections(PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va.) -- Karen Murphy, the Virginia mother who inadvertently left her two-year-old son in her minivan and found him dead hours later, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of misdemeanor child neglect and will not go to prison, ABC affiliate WJLA reported.

Murphy sobbed as she left the courthouse, WJLA said.

“She’s devastated by the loss of her son, she’s going to have to deal with that, and she is dealing with that,” said Edward MacMahon, Murphy’s attorney.

According to press reports and court documents, on June 17 Murphy, a veterinarian, left her son, Ryan, strapped in his car seat while she worked at an animal hospital. When she parked in the driveway of her home in nearby Bristow seven hours later, she saw the boy and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. He had died of heatstroke.

According to court documents, Murphy had previously left Ryan in the car while she worked at an animal hospital, back in January. Twenty minutes later, an employee of Ryan’s day care center called Murphy, who realized her mistake.

This pattern led prosecutors to charge Murphy with felony murder along with the two misdemeanors. The maximum sentence for all three charges could have been 40 years in prison.

On Monday, Murphy received a sentence of two years in prison, which was suspended, WJLA reported, adding she also got six years of probation and was ordered to do 400 hours of community service, to be served at an animal shelter.

The owner of a Facebook page titled “Supporters of Dr Karen Murphy, DVM” posted the following statement: “Today Karen received the compassion she’s shown & given to all of us through the years. The horrendous charges against her were greatly reduced and settled … Our prayers have been answered!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Two Dead, 10 Injured in Indianapolis School Bus Crash

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- A school bus carrying approximately 50 students between the ages of 5 to 16 crashed into a bridge in Indianapolis on Monday morning, killing the driver and a 5-year-old girl on board.

The driver was identified as 60-year-old Thomas Spencer II, of Indianapolis; the 5-year-old was identified as Donasty Smith, ABC News Indianapolis affiliate WRTV reported. Ten others were injured in the crash, two of them critically.

The area received light rain Monday morning, but it wasn’t immediately clear if road conditions played a role in the crash. “Witnesses told firefighters and police that nothing unusual occurred prior to the bus hitting the abutment,” Indianapolis fire Capt. Rita Burris said, according to WRTV.

Indianapolis School Bus Crash Kills Two

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"Tragic day in Indy,” Mayor Greg Ballard tweeted. “Concerned for families of crash victims and injured children involved in terrible bus accident on south side."

Indianapolis School Bus Crash: 911 Call

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

"Millionaire Madam’s" Alleged Partner to Turn Herself In

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The alleged accomplice of the "Millionaire Madam" Anna Gristina is reportedly expected to turn herself in soon, while a former call girl said Gristina is not the suburban hockey mom she has portrayed herself to be.

Jaynie Mae Baker might "surrender to the Manhattan district attorney's office as early as Monday or Tuesday," a source told the New York Daily News.

Baker was indicted last week along with Gristina for allegedly helping to build a base of clients that included politicians, bankers, executives, top law enforcement officials and other powerful individuals, according to the New York Post.

If convicted, Baker faces up to seven years on felony charges of promoting prostitution.

As for Gristina, she was expected back in court Monday where a judge will look at her finances to determine whether she should receive a court-paid defense.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for Irma Nici has come forward to say that she worked as a call girl and that Gristina referred her clients. Nici, who is originally from Bosnia, had a business relationship with Gristina for four to six years, lawyer Paul Jensen said. While Nici described Gristina as polite, supportive and pleasant, Nici's attorney said, there's more to Gristina than she is letting on.

"What I have been told is that Anna Gristina was providing prostitution services and would book Irma and other girls and that this took place over a period of years," Jensen told ABC’s Good Morning America.

Some of the clients included men who could afford to pay $2,000 an hour and "consisted of well-to-do and, in some cases, quite well-known individuals," Jensen said.

Authorities arrested Gristina on Feb. 22 while she was meeting with a Morgan Stanley banker to discuss ways to expand her alleged business online.

Gristina was allegedly caught on wiretaps and surveillance videos as part of a five-year investigation by the District Attorney's Public Corruption Unit.

Gristina has four children and lives in Monroe, N.Y., with husband Kelvin Gorr.  

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Rutgers Student Dharun Ravi Doesn't Testify as Defense Rests

ABC News(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Accused Rutgers student Dharun Ravi did not take the stand to defend himself against charges that he activated a webcam to peek at roommate Tyler Clementi and another man kissing and then encouraged others to do the same.

The defense rested its case Monday in the trial of Ravi, who told Judge Glenn Berman that he did not want to testify.

Ravi, now 20, is charged with invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering and hindering arrest. The charges stem from his alleged spying on Clementi's date on Sept. 19, 2010 and then encouraging others to do the same during Clementi's second date on Sept. 21.

Clementi, who was an 18-year-old freshman, killed himself on Sept. 22 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His death and the charges against Ravi sparked public outrage over cyber-bullying and gay-bullying among students.

Ravi, however, is not charged in connection with Clementi's death. Clementi left behind a note, but its contents have never been made public.

Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious of charges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Youth Basketball Coach Allegedly Bites Off Opponent's Ear

Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) -- Move over, Mike Tyson. A youth basketball coach in Springfield, Mass., has been arraigned after allegedly biting off part of the ear of an opposing team's coach at a game last Friday night, reported ABC affiliate WGGB-TV.

Timothy Forbes, 34, an assistant coach of fifth- and sixth-grade teams at Springfield's Catholic Youth Organization, is accused of attacking the coach of the winning team after a game at Holy Name School in Springfield, police told WGGB. As the players were shaking hands following the game, Forbes allegedly attempted to kick the other team's coach, and tried to punch the man in the face, Hampden County Assistant District Attorney Marie Angers told WGGB.

The other coach has only been identified as a 34-year-old man.

"While they were wrestling, [Forbes] then bit his left ear and chunk of it came off, [and] the defendant then fled," said Angers.

The injured man was taken to Baystate Medical Center, and the portion of his ear that was bitten off was later reattached, reported WGGB.

Forbes eventually turned himself in at court in Hampden County, where he was arrested and charged with assault and battery, mayhem, disorderly conduct, and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, police told WGGB. He is being held without bail until another hearing, scheduled for next Friday.

Forbes' attorney, Philip Lauro, told WGGB that his client had a clean record and "has dedicated his life to coaching his boys."

But Springfield police told a different story. They said Forbes was previously arrested in the Springfield area for several crimes, including kidnapping, assault and battery and destruction of property, according to WGGB.

Attempts to reach family members at Forbes' residence were unsuccessful. Forbes' attorney, Philip Lauro, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Anthony Cignoli, spokesman for the CYO Basketball League of Western Massachusetts, told WGGB that all referees and coaches for the league -- including assistant coaches like Forbes -- go through rigorous background checks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Bill Clinton on Bin Laden Raid: ‘I Hope That’s the Call I Would Have Made’

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Bill Clinton says in a forthcoming Obama campaign documentary that he hopes he would have made the same decision as President Obama to authorize the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

“He took the harder and more honorable path,” Clinton says in a newly released excerpt of The Road We’ve Traveled.  “When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, ‘I hope that’s the call I would have made.’”

The documentary, which is directed by Academy Award winner Davis Guggenheim and narrated by actor Tom Hanks, was produced by Obama’s re-election campaign in an attempt to shape the national debate about the president’s first term. It is set to premier at Obama campaign field offices around the country on Thursday.

Vice President Joe Biden also lends his voice to the effort, portraying Obama in the latest excerpt as a tough decision-maker. “It dawned on me, he’s all alone,” Biden says of the day the president faced the final call on the bin Laden raid. “This is his decision.”

Clinton, who is stepping up his role in the campaign to re-elect the president, will reportedly appear with Obama at several re-election fundraisers in the next few months.

Biden officially begins a campaign role later this week with the first of a series of battleground state speeches aimed at framing the key issues in the general election.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio