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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Certified Medical Assistant Tamika Dukes draws a blood sample from Alaia Croom, 7, at the Eisenhower Elementary School, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 in Flint, Mich. The students were being tested for lead after the metal was found in the city's drinking water. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

 

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Environmental and civil rights groups want a federal judge to order the prompt replacement of all lead pipes in Flint's water system to ensure that residents have a safe drinking supply, a demand that Gov. Rick Snyder said on Wednesday might be a long-term option but not an immediate one.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks an order forcing city and state officials to remedy alleged violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, including a failure to properly treat the water for corrosion, test it for lead, notify residents of results and accurately report if the correct sample sites are being selected. Flint residents are currently unable to drink unfiltered tap water, and tests have shown high lead levels in some children's blood.

"The only way to permanently and completely fix the problem of lead in drinking water is to conduct the full replacement of the lead-containing pipes and solder in a water system," said Sarah Tallman, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council. The group filed the complaint on behalf of citizens along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Melissa Mays, a Flint resident.

Snyder's administration has estimated it could cost up to $55 million to repair what officials have estimated are 15,000 damaged lead service lines leading from water mains to homes and other buildings. The complaint says the pipes should be replaced at no cost to customers.

The governor, speaking at a news conference in Flint, said "a lot of work is being done to even understand where the lead services lines fully are. ...

The short-term issue is about recoating the pipes and that will be based on third-party experts saying the water is safe."

He announced that the state will have an increased administrative presence in Flint and called it the beginning of a long-term effort. And Flint Mayor

Karen Weaver said she hired a Virginia Tech professor whose extensive testing helped bring the city's lead problems to light.

Marc Edwards will oversee all water testing done by the state and federal governments. She added that he will be "fully independent," report to her and get paid through private donations.

She also touched on the issue of residents' water bills. A House-passed spending bill pending in the state Senate includes $3 million to help the city with unpaid water bills.

"Flint residents should not have to pay for water they did not and are not using," Weaver said. "Once we have more accurate numbers from the Flint water department, we will revisit what is right for our citizens."

It remains unclear when residents will be able to resume drinking unfiltered water.
State Department of Environmental Quality Interim Director Keith Creagh said water samples show "things are trending better," but he stressed they are not statistically valid because he cannot guarantee homeowner-provided samples are from homes at more risk — those with lead pipes or with no filters.

"Now we need to figure out ... is there a protective barrier" being recoated on the inside of the lead lines by anti-corrosion chemicals, Creagh said. "Yes or no? ... We're not going to guess."

He said officials are working to identify neighborhoods with no lead pipes, so those residents can get the all clear on their water.

It remains unclear how badly the pipes were damaged after the decision in 2014 to use the Flint River as the city's drinking water source without adding a chemical to control corrosion. That caused lead to leech into the water for a year and a half and contributed to the spike in child lead exposure before state and officials fully acknowledged the problem in early October.

Flint has reconnected to Detroit's water system while awaiting the completion of a new pipeline from Lake Huron.

The suit expresses doubt about whether the city can maintain optimal corrosion treatment when it switches to the new water source later this year.

Much of the blame for the emergency has been put on the state Department of Environmental Quality because staff told Flint water officials not to treat it for corrosion until after two six-month monitoring periods. But the suit also focuses on problems with the city's monitoring of lead. It alleges the city is not providing comprehensive, reliable information to identify locations with lead lines and is under-testing homes with a higher risk of lead exposure.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week issued an emergency order directing the state to take actions to protect public health and said it would begin sampling and analyzing lead levels.

At least three other suits have been filed since the crisis was exposed in the fall. Two seek class-action status and financial compensation; another asks a judge to declare that users do not have to pay their water bills.
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This story has been corrected to reflect the proper name of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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