05 25 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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Marc Morial

On January 8, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary, Arne Duncan came to Baltimore’s historic Frederick Douglass High School to announce a comprehensive set of guidelines to tackle the problem of “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies in our schools.  As the National Urban League and others have been pointing out for years, students of color and students with disabilities receive disproportionately more and markedly harsher punishments for the same misbehaviors as other students.  This obviously discriminatory treatment is not only denying an education to thousands of minority students, it is funneling too many of them into the criminal justice system and feeding the school-to-prison pipeline.

According to data collected by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, African American students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as their White peers without disabilities to be expelled or suspended.  The New York Times, in its Sunday editorial,  called the treatment of disabled students “a national disgrace.”  The Times cites a finding by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California that “in ten states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware and Illinois, more than a quarter of black students with disabilities were suspended in the 2009-10 school year.”

The National Urban League has long stood with parents and others who have challenged so-called “zero-tolerance” policies that have unfairly targeted students of color and done more harm than good in many public schools.  In fact, in a 2007 essay in the National Urban League’s State of Black America, Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman wrote, “The growth in school expulsions and suspensions contributes to increasing numbers of children and teens entering the prison pipeline.  Discouraged teens who are suspended or expelled are more likely than their peers to drop out of school altogether.”

To respond to this challenge, the Obama administration guidelines direct educators to take three deliberate actions.  First, do more to create the positive school climates that can help prevent and change inappropriate behaviors.  Second, ensure that clear, concise and consistent expectations are in place to prevent and address misbehavior.  And third, schools must understand their civil rights obligations and strive to ensure fairness and equity for all students. The administration is distributing a resource package to schools and targeting grant money to train teachers and staff in ways to improve student behavior and school climate.

We applaud this action and believe the elimination of racially skewed zero tolerance policies must be an indispensable part of any future discussion of education reform. A growing number of school districts and schools, including Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High, have already begun to reform their approach to discipline and are seeing positive results.  Suspensions have dropped 46 percent at Frederick Douglass since 2007.  More schools should follow their lead.  As Attorney General Holder said, “Too often, so-called zero-tolerance policies – however well-intentioned…disrupt the learning process and can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long-term well-being of our young people – increasing their likelihood of future contact with juvenile and criminal justice systems.”  We cannot afford to keep putting our kids at risk or wasting their potential and jeopardizing the future of our nation with this misguided policy.

 

Marc H. Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, is president and CEO of the National Urban League.

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