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FLUTE CAMP-SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Flute camp chief stands by flutist accused of sex misconduct
LITTLE SWITZERLAND, N.C. (AP) – A prestigious flute camp in North Carolina is standing behind an instructor who was the subject of a University of Cincinnati sexual harassment investigation.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Tuesday the Ohio university interviewed nine students and found evidence of “unwanted sexual advances” and other misconduct dating back to the 1990s during its 2016 investigation of then-professor Bradley Garner. Although the College-Conservatory Of Music’s interim dean recommended Garner’s firing last February, the 61-year-old star flutist retired in December.
He denied the accusations in a sworn affidavit.
Several students said they met Garner at the weeklong Wildacres Flute Retreat. Course Director Anna Thibeault told The Asheville Citizen-Times she’d never heard complaints about his behavior, and he’ll remain on faculty.
Former Wildacres teacher Helen Spielman says Thibeault called some teenage students “little nymphos” and rebuffed her concerns about Garner’s behavior.
Cooper’s new legislative chief used to lobby for energy firm
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper’s new legislative affairs director previously lobbied in Washington for the energy industry, including a company wanting to build a natural gas pipeline in North Carolina and two other states.
Cooper announced Wednesday that Lee Lilley is his chief lobbyist at the Legislative Building and will promote his agenda there. He succeeds Brad Adcock.
The governor’s news release said Lilley was previously U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s legislative director and most recently worked at McGuire Woods Consulting.
Multiple media outlets cite congressional disclosure records showing Lilley was among McGuire Woods employees registered to lobby for Dominion Resources. Virginia-based Dominion is a partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Cooper’s environmental department issued a key water permit for the pipeline two weeks ago.
Science teacher accused of trading porn, indecent liberties
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina teacher is accused of trading pornographic images with students and taking indecent liberties with a boy.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports 48-year-old Michael Earl Kelly was charged with indecent liberties with a student and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor Tuesday.
New Hanover County Schools spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum said the Isaac Bear Early College science teacher will be dismissed.
New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jerry Brewer says the FBI learned Kelly was involved in inappropriate behavior with a student who had child porn on his phone.
Warrants say Kelly had a pornographic picture of the 15-year-old boy. Prosecutor Connie Jordan says five more children are identified as victims.
Kelly said at his bail hearing that he’d “done a lot of good work” and “made some bad choices.”
COAL ASH-DUKE ENERGY
Duke Energy wants end of case to clean tainted groundwater
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A state appeals court will hear whether it should allow a five-year-old lawsuit trying to force Duke Energy Corp. to clean up groundwater contaminated by its North Carolina coal ash pits.
The Charlotte-based electricity utility argues to the Court of Appeals on Thursday that the lawsuit should be dismissed.
Duke Energy lawyers say the company is following deadlines set by a state law requiring excavation or other closure of the pits. Conservation groups pushing the case say Duke Energy is doing little on its own to clean up groundwater pollution that’s lasted for decades.
One of the country’s largest electricity companies last month agreed to pay an $84,000 penalty and stop potentially toxic waste at three coal-burning power plants from leaking into groundwater and nearby rivers.
SESSION RECONVENES-THE LATEST
The Latest: North Carolina Senate panel agrees to GenX bill
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A Senate committee has approved legislation described by supporters as the next step in studying largely unregulated chemicals found in North Carolina rivers.
The chamber’s environmental panel voted Wednesday evening for the measure focusing on emerging contaminants. These chemicals have gotten attention after the disclosure of GenX in the Cape Fear River, the chief water source for Wilmington. The bill directs the state Department of Environmental Quality to examine its water pollution permitting program and report findings to legislators. It also sets up a process with high-tech equipment on University of North Carolina system campuses to test for contaminants could help regulators if needed.
There’s $2.4 million for DEQ to carry out the law. But Democrats on the committee complained there wasn’t money designed to help the department address a backlog in permitting and testing. The measure next goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
No criminal charges brought in 2017 asthma death of inmates
(Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – County jail officials have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the death of a North Carolina inmate last year that sparked scrutiny about the jail’s medical provider.
Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill sent a letter to the State Bureau of Investigation Jan. 24 saying he found no criminal actions in the death of 39-year-old Deshawn Lamont Coley. Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brad Stanley tells The Winston-Salem Journal an internal investigation also cleared jail staff.
Coley died from complications of asthma less than two weeks into a six-month sentence for driving while impaired. His wife, Daniela Etienne, has said medical staff only allowed him to use his asthma pump every four to five hours, regardless of need.
Medical provider Correct Care Solutions didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
Deputy pepper-sprays high school student resisting arrest
(Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com)
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff’s office is reviewing a school resource officer’s use of pepper spray on a high school student.
Lt. Sean Swain with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office told The Fayetteville Observer that the deputy is not facing disciplinary action at this time for the Tuesday afternoon incident.
Swain says the deputy intervened when two female students got into a fight in the bus parking lot at Seventy-First High School, and they complied with his instructions. Swain said a 16-year-old male student attempted to get involved in the situation and was pepper-sprayed for resisting arrest.
That student was charged with resisting arrest and simple possession of marijuana.
Cumberland County Schools spokeswoman Renarta Clanton Moyd said in a statement that there are “consequences for our students’ actions.”
LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING-THE LATEST
The Latest: Judge upholds ruling on appeals court primaries
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge has refused to delay her order directing that North Carolina hold primaries for appellate court seats this year.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles rejected Wednesday the request of Republican legislators, who last fall decided to cancel primary elections for all judgeships in 2018.
The Democratic Party sued to restore those primaries. Eagles last week issued a preliminary injunction requiring primaries for the Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court, but allowed primaries for trial court seats to remain canceled while lawmakers debate redrawing judicial election districts.
Republicans already have filed an appeal at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but GOP state Rep. David Lewis said Wednesday he’s not that concerned about the state having to hold appellate court primaries if it’s required. Candidate filing starts next Monday.