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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State Reps.Tommie Pierson, left, Karla May, center and Brandon Ellington, right, of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus talk to Associated Presss reporter Alan Zagier outside the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Mo. They were there to talk to students and faculty about issues on campus. The meetings were closed to media. (Justin L. Stewart/Missourian via AP)

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The criticism was blunt: Blacks at the University of Missouri are harassed and threatened, the university has too few African-American faculty members, the administration doesn't seem to care, and all of that needs to change.

A list of grievances issued this month by a student group is strikingly similar to those from 1969. This time, though, it appears the university is listening.

Recent racist incidents, and the perceived lack of response by administrators, led to protests, a student hunger strike and a threatened boycott by the football team. It culminated Monday in the resignations of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

The interim president appointed Thursday, Michael Middleton, made it clear that he hears the concerns. Unsurprising, since Middleton, 68, was a founder of Missouri's Legion of Black Collegians who issued that set of demands 46 years ago.

"It is clear to me the first step is to devote attention to addressing those demands," Middleton said at his introductory news conference. "It is imperative to hear from all students and do everything we can to make them comfortable and safe in our community."

In fact, the university has already addressed several of the eight points on the list. Chief among them was the removal of Wolfe, but other moves have followed.

One day after the resignations, a veteran associate law school dean, Chuck Henson, who is black, was named to the new position of interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity. The university's governing board also pledged more support for those who experience discrimination and said diversity and inclusion training will become mandatory for faculty, staff and students. On Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon named Yvonne Sparks to the Board of Curators, the second black member of the nine-person panel.

The university also hired the lobbying firm of Andy Blunt, who is Sen. Roy Blunt's son and campaign manager, to represent it in Jefferson City, agreeing to pay $10,000 per month in a contract signed Monday.

Many students are hopeful, but want to see more action.

"Really it just comes down to holding these people accountable," said Shelbey Parnell, an organizer of Concerned Student 1950, the group that issued the demands. "They're saying a lot of these things in the moment."

Many of the issues cited nearly five decades ago persist. The 1969 document cited physical threats by whites against blacks, with frequent threats made to what was then known as the Black Culture House. This week, the university's black culture center reported a threat, and its sign was spray-painted by vandals.

The 1969 list expressed concern about the "nonchalant attitude on the part of the university," saying it made it "a haven for comprehensive institutionalized racist and political repression." Those feelings were echoed by many protesters this week.

Meanwhile, the university's low percentage of black faculty and staff remains a point of contention.

The 1969 document noted that just 19 of Missouri's 1,600 faculty members (1.8 percent) were black. The percentage today is just 3.25 percent of full-time faculty. About 7 percent of staff members are black.

The 2015 demands call for increasing the percentage of black faculty and staff to 10 percent by the 2017-18 school year.

Getting there will be tough, but not impossible, said Leslie Fenwick, dean of the education school at historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C. — though she noted that few traditionally white colleges and universities have reached that level.

"I think it requires, more than anything, a will and a compulsion, an acknowledgement that something is deeply wrong in 2015," Fenwick said. "We're almost two decades into a new millennium, and the concerns these young people have harken all of us back 40 to 50 years."

The University of Missouri's student population is 7 percent black in a state that is about 12 percent African-American. Data provided by the Missouri Department of Higher Education shows that four public universities in the state have higher percentages of black students. Two of those are part of the four-campus University of Missouri System — Missouri-St. Louis (14 percent black) and Missouri-Kansas City (12 percent black). The other two are historically black universities — Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis (83 percent), and Lincoln University in Jefferson City (35 percent).

About 71 percent of white students at Missouri's Columbia campus graduate within six years, compared to about 55 percent of black students.
Fenwick said it is "very disturbing" that the Columbia campus is so lacking in diversity.

"Why do we have the circumstances where black people are paying tax dollars without sufficient access to state institutions?" she asked.
___
Associated Press reporter Summer Ballentine in Columbia contributed to this report.

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