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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After 25 years and nearly 30 trials, Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has for the first time been handed a definitive sentence by the country's highest court.

The three-time-former premier was found guilty of tax fraud and given a four-year sentence -- of which he will serve only one year due to an amnesty aimed at cutting down on prison overcrowding.

The high court also ordered a lower court to reconsider whether Berlusconi should be banned from public office. Prosecutors had been seeking a five-year ban, but the lower court will have to review this part of the sentence, and will probably issue a three-year ban.

So what happens next? Once the sentence goes into effect in a few days, Berlusconi will have 30 days to decide how he wants to serve the one-year sentence. Jail isn't an option given that the former premier is aged 76, so the choice is between house arrest, and more likely, community service.

Then there is the question of whether Berlusconi, a member of Italy's Senate, is eligible for public office, now that he's been convicted of a crime. According to Italy's anti-corruption law, which was passed by Mario Monti's government in late 2012, Berlusconi will be ineligible to hold public office after he serves this sentence, independent of the outcome of the review by the lower court.

The Italian Senate will need to decide when Berlusconi's ineligibility begins. Does it apply immediately, which would result in him stepping down as a senator? Or does it apply after the current parliamentary term? Either way, as things stand, Berlusconi cannot run for office.

Once the public office ban is reviewed and completes its judicial journey, which will take months, it too would need a Senate vote for immediate enforcement, which could ban Berlusconi from holding public office for the duration of the sentence.

So what political implications does all this have on Enrico Letta's government and Italy's immediate political future?

The Senate vote will be the first critical step and is bound to lead to a ferocious divide in Letta's delicate "grand coalition" government, which is comprised of center-left parties and Berlusconi's center-right PdL party.

Even if Berlusconi was ineligible for office, there is technically nothing to stop him leading the center-right in an election campaign without running for office. The latest example of this in Italy is Beppe Grillo, the comedian turned politician, who leads his Five Star Movement despite being banned from public office due to a conviction over a road accident.

If the center-right won an election, the political office ban could be changed with a simple majority in parliament -- and with ineligibility out of the way, Berlusconi could at least technically become prime minister for a fourth time once the law is abolished.

Simply put, Silvio Berlusconi is down but definitely not out. A video statement he released Thursday confirmed this and read like a call to battle and the beginning of yet another very long election campaign.

We're in uncharted territory, and what happens next politically is nearly impossible to predict. But the possible outcomes include the downfall of the government.

What is certain is that in both the center-left and the center-right there will now be immense internal pressure.

With some pushing for an early election as a "referendum on Berlusconi" -- 43 percent of voters in one SWG poll released Friday believe Berlusconi is being persecuted by magistrates -- and others trying to maintain calm in order to keep the government alive in the name of national interest, it will be a question of who blinks first.

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