05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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(CNN) -- The U.S. Justice Department's inspector general found 14 employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responsible for management failures in the botched Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation, according to a report released Wednesday.

The inspector general's report referred the 14 for possible disciplinary action, but did not recommend criminal sanctions.

The report found that Attorney General Eric Holder was not informed of the controversial ATF operation until 2011, after the death of a Border Patrol agent ratcheted up the political ramifications of the program.

The botched investigation was designed to expose the illicit networks responsible for illegal gunrunning to Mexico. The ATF launched the Fast and Furious program in Arizona to track weapons purchases, but lost track of nearly 2,000 firearms, two of which turned up in the 2010 killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

Since then, a contentious political drama has unfolded in the wake of the program, including a contempt lawsuit against Holder.

Republicans have used the issue to attack Holder and the Obama Justice Department.

"Our review of Operation Fast and Furious and related matters revealed a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment, and management failures that permeated ATF headquarters and the Phoenix Field Division, as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona," the report concluded.

Moments after the report was released, the Justice Department announced the departure of two employees who were faulted in the report.

Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division, resigned. The report said he failed to pass along key information about the flawed tactics being used in Fast and Furious.

Former acting ATF Director Ken Melson, who had already stepped down from that role but was still working for the department in another capacity, has retired.

The report by the department's office of the inspector general was highly anticipated by both the Obama administration and its critics, and could figure into November's presidential election.

Both sides released statements saying that the report's conclusions backed up their arguments.

Holder said that the conclusions were consistent with what he and other department officials have said all along. Namely, that the flawed strategies dated back to 2006, during the Bush administration, and that the department did not attempt to cover up information or mislead Congress.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a leading critic of the administration on this issue, called on President Obama to "step up and provide accountability" for the program.

"The Inspector General's report confirms findings by Congress' investigation of a near total disregard for public safety in Operation Fast and Furious," he said.

"Attorney General Holder has clearly known about these unacceptable failures yet has failed to take appropriate action for over a year and a half," Issa said.

Holder said the report found the opposite: that the leadership did not know or authorize the tactics.

Holder had said he was awaiting the report to determine what actions to take against individuals involved in the case. Up to now, Holder has promised Congress that such "gun walking" of weapons into Mexico would never again be allowed.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer acknowledged last November he had learned that guns were allowed to "walk" to Mexico, and apologized for not informing other senior Justice Department officials. A letter from the Justice Department to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, which had said no guns were allowed to walk, was later retracted by Justice officials.

A standoff over internal Justice documents erupted after the Obama administration said it was asserting executive privilege in the Fast and Furious case to shield documents that include internal deliberations traditionally protected from outside eyes.

That prompted the House to vote a civil contempt charge against Holder. The vote along party lines was followed by the House taking the contempt issue to court, where it is expected to linger until well after the presidential election.

It marked the first time in U.S. history that the head of the Justice Department has been held in contempt by Congress.

Democrats protested the vote vehemently as being purely political.

 

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