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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Teressa Raiford at PPS board meeting

Local Don’t Shoot PDX activist Teressa Raiford approached the Portland Public School Board meeting with a story to tell -- the life and death of Andre Dupree Payton, her nephew.

Nearly five years ago, on September 26, 2010, Payton was shot on the corner of NW 2nd and Couch at 2 a.m. Raiford said he died in the same year that he graduated, making him another young man whose graduation pictures were used for his funeral.

She said Payton had been enrolled in culturally competent education since he was seven years old, but his education didn’t address his lived experience.

“These children aren't getting to 21 years old and they are coming through this system. This is a system, that I would think… would be competent enough to help those that have the biggest disadvantages,” she said.

Raiford and fellow Don’t Shoot PDX member Maria De Silva asked the PPS board to be more accountable to their most vulnerable students. They challenged PPS’s equity programs, calling these efforts a failure for Black students.

The activist group asked for an audit of all spending related to PPS’s equity department, including conferences, speakers, contracts, trainings and seminars. The organization also asked for an audit of publicly funded alternative programs for students who left PPS.

“We need strong oversight of our programs and spending because we are not getting the results we need for our kids,” De Silva told the board.

In 2014, the Oregon Department of Education fined PPS for disciplining Black special education students at a higher rate than other students. In response, PPS was ordered to spend 15 percent of its funding from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to reduce discriminatory discipline.

This $1.5 million sanction was to be used during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Don’t Shoot PDX wants to know how this money has been spent so far.

According to PPS, in July of 2014, Superintendent Carole Smith set goals to reduce the number of exclusionary discipline incidents for Black, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander students. These incidents of suspension and expulsion had occurred at a higher rate for these underserved students.

In the 2012-2013 school year, 14.8 percent of Black students were expelled or suspended out of school, compared to 3 percent of White students. The number of excluded Black students dropped to 10.5 the next year and 6.9 percent for the 2015 school year.

In a presentation to the Portland City Council, PPS said the number of students excluded has been dropping since 2007, but Black students still experience the largest rate of expulsions. The report named key strategies to reduce expulsion disparities such as culturally responsive teaching and restorative justice conflict resolution.

De Silva told the board that the drop in exclusionary discipline for Black students over the last year is due to principals being pressured into making their numbers look good.

“A PPS principal came out to us, confidentially, and said principals are being directed to achieve the superintendent’s equity goal, but are not given any guidance, support or tools to achieve these goals,” De Silva said. “They are told they cannot provide SpEd services to Black kids, they cannot suspend or expel Black kids - no matter what.”  

The Don’t Shoot PDX activists asked the board to freeze all outside spending until the equity audit was completed. PPS Board member Mike Rosen told Raiford and De Silva that outside contracts had already been negotiated and would be paid.

Rosen, who chairs the auditing board for PPS agreed that equity programs should be assessed.

“One of the things we are talking about … is performance measures, so that we understand the return on the investment for the dollars we are spending,” Rosen said.

The meeting of Raiford and De Silva with PPS was a challenge to demonstrate the effectiveness of equity programs. Raiford also asked the board listen to grassroots leaders of the community, such as herself.

She said appointed equity directors couldn’t speak for children growing up in foster situations, families that have been affected by the criminal justice system, or parents whose children have been killed.

“If you are not knocking on our doors and speaking to us directly, you are not talking to anybody that has any kind of opportunity to speak on our behalf,” Raiford said. “We are not happy with the numbers that are coming out of this district as it pertains to the successful outcomes for our children.”

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