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POLICE OFFICER-INAPPROPRIATE CONTACT
Authorities: Officer accused crimes against child kills self
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation says a Fayetteville police officer found dead was accused of crimes against a child.
News outlets report the SBI said Tuesday that 31-year-old Wade Lane Lee Jr. was found dead Sunday on an interstate median from an apparent self-inflected gunshot wound. The Fayetteville Police Department said Monday that it had received a criminal complaint against one of its officers on Friday and said that officer had died Sunday.
The department declined on Monday to identify the officer, citing concerns of “revictimizing” the complainant. Arrest warrants were obtained for the officer on Friday. Authorities haven’t specified what charges the officer faced. City officials say the officer personally knew the child.
The police department says the warrants have since been withdrawn due to the death.
N Carolina measure would require testing for all rape kits
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina politicians are promising to spend the $6 million needed to catch up on testing decades of ignored evidence collected from sexual assault victims, and also prevent the injustice from repeating.
Attorney General Josh Stein discussed the state’s strategy for testing long-ignored sexual assault kits on Tuesday, a day after recent DNA testing led to a South Carolina man’s arrest in a 1987 rape in Fayetteville.
Stein and a bipartisan group of legislators unveiled a legislative proposal that would spend millions to catch up on testing sexual assault kits stored and sometimes forgotten in local law enforcement custody. Investigators would be required to submit new samples for DNA testing within six weeks.
A Republican leader on criminal justice issues says he’s confident lawmakers will take action soon.
North Carolina lawmakers return as session begins in earnest
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina legislature is returning to work after a three-week break.
The session reconvenes Wednesday, so lawmakers will now file bills, hold committee meetings and take votes. The General Assembly met Jan. 9 to elect chamber leaders and make sure all 170 lawmakers had been sworn in.
Lawmakers and their allies also are holding news conferences Wednesday to highlight what they consider important topics for this year’s session.
The State Employees Association of North Carolina will release prison safety recommendations following recent fatal attacks on correctional officers and staff. House and Senate Democrats will discuss legislation to expand Medicaid, while Senate Republicans plan to discuss school construction funding.
Gov. Roy Cooper and fellow Democrats have more leverage this year in the Republican-controlled legislature following Democratic legislative victories in November.
CHINA-US MEDICAL SCHOOL COMPLAINT
China questions warning to Duke students to use English
BEIJING (AP) – A Chinese government spokesman has questioned the appropriateness of an email sent by a Duke University medical school administrator warning Chinese students to speak in English.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday it would be abnormal if a Chinese university banned students from speaking English.
Duke has moved quickly to offer apologies, launch an investigation and reassure a core group of graduate scholars after the email raised an outcry on and off campus.
Thousands of people in China commented on social media. Some called it racial discrimination and said Chinese universities should ban speaking English.
The administrator’s message came at a time when elite U.S. universities are trying to remain attractive to top international students despite negative rhetoric toward foreigners by President Donald Trump and other politicians.
VOTING RECORDS-NORTH CAROLINA
Conversations continuing on N Carolina voting records demand
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina state attorneys are continuing talks with U.S. prosecutors over subpoenas issued months ago demanding voting documents and ballots that could be used by federal immigration agents in election fraud investigations.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh initially asked for records last August. The state elections board decided to fight the subpoenas, citing their scope and timing. A federal lawyer told the board the subpoenas could be narrowed and responses delayed until this month.
State House elections committee leaders wrote state Attorney General Josh Stein and elections director Kim Strach on Tuesday seeking an update.
In an email, Stein spokeswoman Laura Brewer confirmed continued conversations with federal lawyers. She says Stein wants to support law enforcement efforts to combat fraud, while preserving the sanctity of the voting booth.
OFFICER CHARGED-SEXUAL BATTERY
Police: Woman says cop touched her inappropriately at club
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say an officer has been charged with sexual battery after a woman reported that he touched her inappropriately at a nightclub.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced that 30-year-old Officer Michael Santiago was served with a criminal summons Tuesday.
Police say a woman reported that a man touched her inappropriately at a club in Charlotte early Saturday. Police say officers working off-duty outside the club recognized the man as Santiago. News outlets report Santiago wasn’t working at the time.
Police say Santiago, a patrol officer who has been with the department since 2016, has been placed on unpaid administrative leave. An internal investigation is being conducted to determine whether Santiago violated any department policies.
A police spokesman didn’t have information Tuesday on whether Santiago has an attorney.
FORMER MINISTER-TAX CHARGES
Ex-minister gets 5 years in prison for failing to pay taxes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A former North Carolina minister has been sentenced to five years in prison for failing to pay taxes and assisting in the filing of false tax returns.
Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, announced that 51-year-old William Todd Coontz of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was sentenced Tuesday and must also pay $755,669 in restitution.
Coontz was minister of Rockwealth Ministries and also ran two for-profit companies. He also wrote books on faith and finances, such as “Please Don’t Repo My Car” and “Breaking the Spirit of Debt.”
Prosecutors say that from 2000 to 2014, Coontz filed delinquent income tax returns and failed to make timely payments. Evidence also showed Coontz underreported income on federal returns for 2010 through 2013 and engaged in a check cashing scheme.
Retired businessman Perry picked to join N Carolina Senate
GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) – A retired businessman will join the North Carolina Senate after Republican activists chose him as a successor to a veteran legislator who resigned this month.
The Goldsboro News-Argus reports that Wayne and Lenoir county GOP leaders on Monday picked Jim Perry of Kinston to serve out the rest of ex-Sen. Louis Pate’s term through the end of 2020. Pate cited health issues in stepping down Jan. 14. Pate had started his ninth legislative term in January.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is now required by state law to appoint Perry. The legislative session reconvenes Wednesday following a three-week break.
Seven Republicans initially sought to fill Pate’s vacancy.
Perry previous operated a business providing non-clinical support services to dental practices, and also worked with a chain of urgent care dental clinics.