05 24 2016
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  • On Tuesday, a judge ordered the 78-year-old Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges 
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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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Four years ago, the discovery of 11 decomposed bodies inside an East Cleveland home seemed like the kind of devastating, once-in-generations event that would spur change for the better.

Then, this spring, came the shocking allegations of three women who told police they'd been held captive for years, sometimes raped and beaten, by a man named Ariel Castro, in a house just a few miles away.

Lightning had struck twice. But, surely, it couldn't happen again.

Yet it did. Last weekend, authorities found the bodies of three women, wrapped in plastic in a style reminiscent of the victims of serial killer Anthony Sowell, the man sentenced to death in the 2009 case.

It does raise questions: What's up with Cleveland? Why so many high-profile crimes in such a short span? Why such violence against the metro area's women?

It's the kind of question academics could spend an entire career researching and still not reach a satisfying answer.

After all, the murder rate in Cleveland's metropolitan area isn't out of line with that of other Rust Belt communities. And while more rapes are reported per capita than in many other cities, the director of a Cleveland rape center says there's nothing particularly unusual about sexual violence there, compared with other cities.

Cleveland's police department declined a CNN request to talk about the recent crimes.

But to those who study the city, some patterns do emerge: crushing poverty, dehumanizing unemployment and thousands of tumbledown vacant homes -- ideal places to rape and kill in the shadows.

"I hate to say this, but in a sense, to a large degree, we have an underclass in the city of Cleveland of those that truly are disconnected from the social fabric, from the mainstream economy and society," said Ronnie Dunn, an urban studies professor at Cleveland State University. "They're left without anything to grasp onto."

Cleveland and poverty are no strangers. Once a hub of the nation's industrial might -- shipping out seemingly endless streams of iron, steel, machinery and automobiles from its perch on Lake Erie -- the city that once housed nearly a million people now has barely a third of that population.

In East Cleveland, where authorities found the three bodies over the weekend, more than half of families with children under the age of 5 live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income is half that of the nation as a whole. And East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton says 2,500 vacant and abandoned homes crowd his city's three square miles.

Across Cuyahoga County, home to the entire Cleveland metro area, about 76,000 residences are vacant, according to Census figures.

It's a perfect environment for crime and social indifference to thrive, said Dunn.

But that doesn't explain what makes Cleveland different -- plenty of cities across the nation suffer from urban rot.

Maybe it's a history of extreme racial disparity in Cuyahoga County's justice system, crime author James Renner says.

He says such disparities drive a wedge between police and residents of impoverished areas, making them reluctant to go to authorities to report crime for fear they might be hassled by police themselves. That, he says, allowed criminals time and space to do their work and "created the perfect killing fields for these men."

Sowell, for instance, killed for at least two years before he was caught.

Castro snatched the first of his victims a decade before he was finally arrested.

And authorities have not said how long they believe East Cleveland's Michael Madison, charged in the three most recent deaths, may have been killing.

The bodies of his victims were badly decomposed, authorities said this week. One of them was found in an abandoned house.

Again, similar things could be said of many big cities, where pockets of social rot provide an ideal habitat for criminals to set up shop.

"Violence knows no boundaries," Norton, the East Cleveland mayor, told CNN's Martin Savidge. "Violence occurs in California. It occurs in Iowa. It occurs in Texas. It occurs in Ohio."

Indeed, Cleveland's raw violent crime statistics aren't particularly out of line with those of other big Rust Belt cities.

The city had 84 murders in 2012 and a violent crime rate of 1,386 for every 100,000 residents, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics figures. That's lower than Baltimore's crime rate and a pale shadow of Detroit's, where 386 people were murdered in 2012 amid a crime rate one and a half times higher than Cleveland's.

But the city's rape statistics do seem to paint a somewhat different picture. In 2012, police took reports on 92 rapes for every 100,000 residents -- more than double the rate in Baltimore or Detroit. Only a few cities had a higher rate of reported rapes.

That might suggest a particular problem with sexual violence against women in the Cleveland area, Dunn said.

"There are some things in the culture in this area where it appears that the lives of women in particular have been devalued," he said.

He said some men seem emasculated by their economic plight, and violence sometimes results.

"They manifest their lack of control in a violent manner against women," Dunn said. "It might not always result in murder, but it often does in physical abuse."

Sondra Miller, who deals with rape victims as interim director of Cleveland's Rape Crisis Center, doesn't think violence against women is any more a problem in Cleveland than in any other community. She believes that the data show that after years of high-profile cases in Cleveland, more people are willing to report rape and sexual assault.

Could it be just something in the city's DNA? Outrageous crimes are not a new phenomenon: In the 1930s, dismembered bodies kept turning up in the city's Kingsbury Run area, a string of killings that to this day remains unsolved. And, as crime author Renner points out, the city was once famous for its burning river, once dubbed the "Mistake on the Lake" and branded with an outsized inferiority complex after decades of being the butt of national jokes.

"You live here, you grow up here, and there is some kind of weird vibe in the air here that anything's possible," he said.

Whatever's going on, Miller says, residents can't help but wonder, "Why here? Why us?" as Cleveland's gritty side goes on display once again in the national media.

"I do think we're all asking how this happens in a city I love and care deeply about," Miller said. "We definitely have more questions than we have answers at this point."

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