AP-NC Newswatch

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January 23, 2020
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January 23, 2020
AP-NC Newswatch



Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST



Lawsuit: Woman reported sexual harassment, then got fired
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina grocery store worker who says she was fired after reporting sexual harassment at work has filed a lawsuit against the company. The Charlotte Observer reports the 54-year-old woman accuses an Ingles assistant store manager of inappropriate touching and crude comments toward her while on the job. She says the man also repeatedly expressed his desire to have sexual intercourse with her. The woman says she reported the behavior to the store manager and was fired. The woman filed the federal lawsuit Friday against the Asheville-based chain for employment discrimination. The supermarket didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.



North Carolina pastor charged with more than 100 sex crimes
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) – áA North Carolina pastor has been charged with more than 100 felony sex offenses involving three children, who were as young as four years old. The Wilkes County Sheriff’s office says 58-year-old Rodney Luffman was arrested without incident at his home. He’s a pastor at Open Arms Outreach Ministries in Elkin. Luffman is accused of abusing three victims beginning about 20 years ago, when they ranged in age from 4 to 15 years old. Det. Amanda Boyd said the crimes allegedly continued for 15 years. Luffman remains jailed and it’s not clear whether he has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.



Court orders North Carolina to pay $102K in remapping case
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina judges have told the state to pay $102,000 to the winning side in a recent legislative redistricting case and the outside expert who helped analyze redrawn district lines. A three-judge panel directed the bill on Wednesday to Republican legislative leaders who were sued by Common Cause and Democrats. The court in September threw out dozens of state House and Senate districts drawn in 2017, saying Republicans fashioned them with extreme partisan bias designed to keep the GOP in power. About two-thirds of the money will pay for the plaintiffs’ depositions and expert witnesses for a trial last July.



Venezuelan sentenced in $250,000-monthly ATM skimming scheme
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A Venezuelan man who pleaded guilty to stealing debit and credit card information from ATMs has been sentenced to four years in prison. Ricardo Abdel of Doral, Florida, also must pay nearly $20,000 in restitution. Attorney Robert Higdon Jr. said in a news release on Wednesday that Abdel and his conspirators installed pinhole cameras at ATM machines in Georgia, Florida and California to record card and pin numbers, and then used them to create counterfeit cards to withdraw about $250,000 a month from ATMs. Abdel was caught after trying to make a withdrawal in Wilmington, North Carolina, with thousands of dollars in cash and equipment for making counterfeit cards.



Portrait of judge taken down because of his ‘racist past’
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina county has removed a portrait of a 19th-century state Supreme Court justice from a courtroom at the request of a judge who cited the justice’s “racist past.” áThe Orange County government says in a news release that Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Carl Fox requested last week that the portrait of Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin be removed. Ruffin wrote a notorious 1829 ruling about slaves that said “the power of the master must be absolute.” Ruffin’s portrait had hung in the courtroom since 1993. Meanwhile, Ruffin’s portrait in the state Supreme Court has also sparked controversy.



Medical center apologizes for billing victims for rape kits
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A medical center in North Carolina is apologizing after it charged sexual assault victims for the cost of a rape kit. WNCN reported Tuesday that the bills were as high as $5,000 and were sent to at least 17 victims. North Carolina law bars patients from receiving bills for rape kits, and hospitals are supposed to offer the exams for free. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center said the bills were sent out in error while it was switching to a new electronic record system. But victim advocates said it keeps happening.



NC appeals court hears arguments over voter ID challenge
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Legal arguments to North Carolina’s voter photo identification law are still being heard in state courts even after a federal judge blocked the mandate for the March primary. Lawyers for voters who sued over the ID mandate and for Republican legislative leaders who helped enact the 2018 law argued Wednesday at the state Court of Appeals. A trial court last summer denied the voters’ request to block voter ID. The voters appealed that decision. Their lawyers say it’s still important to seek the injunction despite a federal injunction already being issued last month because it could be overturned before the November election.



Cunningham unveils first ad for his N Carolina Senate bid
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham is highlighting his military service in his first television ad of his campaign.áCunningham’s campaign committee said the 30-second spot would begin airing Wednesday in the Raleigh TV market.áCunningham says in the ad he’s running for the Senate to fulfill the oath that he took when he joined the Army Reserve to defend the Constitution. Cunningham, state Sen. Erica Smith and three others are running for the Democratic nomination. Republican incumbent Thom Tillis is the heavy favorite to win the GOP primary. The elections are March 3.



AP-WF-01-23-20 1620GMT