05 24 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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Portland will become a national epicenter for progressive Christians this week when it plays host to the United Church of Christ's national Convocation on Racial Justice, titled "God is Still Seeking Racial Justice." The Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, whose columns on racial and social justice are often printed in The Skanner, will be among the convocation's featured speakers.

The gathering takes place from Nov. 10 through 13 at the Ambridge Event Center, 300 N.E. Multnomah St. It evolved out of plans to celebrate the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Hector E. Lopez, co-conference minister of the church's Central Pacific Conference. Lopez wasn't interested in a banquet or a party in his honor, said Andrea Cano, western regional organizer of UCC's Justice and Peace Action Network. Instead, she said, he wanted to go out the way he came in — focusing on pressing issues of racial, social and economic justice.

"Instead of having a big retirement party," said Cano, "(the Rev. Lopez) said, 'Let's have a convocation on racial justice and see where we are.' "

The convocation's four days will encompass a busy schedule of seminars, speeches, panel discussions, worship services, performances, breakout groups and workshops. Some of the topics to be discussed include "The Journey," with historical retrospectives on the nation's African American, Pacific Islander, Asian and Native American communities; "The Present," with presentations on modern multicultural ministries; and "The Future," with breakout discussions on the progress yet to be made in racial, social and economic justice.

The journey ahead will very much be a focus of the convocation. The United Church of Christ, which traces its roots back to the Mayflower pilgrims, has always made equality and justice a priority in its ministries, Cano said.

"We were part of the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement in the 1860s, and we are continuing our legacy in moving in a progressive direction," Cano said. "We helped to establish many of the major Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the South, and we have journeyed into being more inclusive as the demographics have changed in this country."

Although the UCC has long been a diverse denomination, Cano said, for many years it remained largely segregated into individual African American, European American, Latino American and other churches. About 20 years ago, she said, the Rev. Lopez advanced the policy that each congregation should strive to be culturally inclusive. She cited the Ainsworth United Church of Christ, Portland's most diverse and inclusive congregation, as an example of what the denomination is striving for.

But the church also has exerted itself toward the larger goal of equal justice outside its congregational walls. While the United States is certainly a more equitable place than it once was, Cano said, much progress remains to be made.

"The nature of racism changes as systematically as do the attempts to eradicate it," she said. "The expression of racism in one decade changes and shifts, so that it emerges as something else later on. When you think you've taken care of it, you haven't."

Readers of the Rev. Jackson's columns in The Skanner will recall that incidences of injustice in this country and around the world have been recurring themes for her.

"We're in the aftermath of two hurricanes, one of which devastated a whole region and forced the evacuation of a million people," the Rev. Jackson wrote in the Oct. 5 edition of The Skanner. "But while Americans were forced to look at the fault lines of race and poverty revealed by the disaster, we seem already to be denying what we saw with our own eyes.

We seem to be moving on to the next news item without dealing with the twin evils of racism and classism found not only in New Orleans, but across the nation."

The Rev. Jackson is slated to address the convocation at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12.

Ultimately, Cano said, the convocation is intended not only to develop a general assessment of the state of racial and social justice today, but to formulate practical solutions that people can put into effect in their everyday lives.

"One of the last plenary sessions is when people will offer some, hopefully, inspired solutions," she said. " … We've come together, we've listened, we've deliberated, we've decided, and now we're going to go back to our respective places and hopefully effect some change."

For a complete schedule of events and speakers, or to register for the convocation, visit cpcucc.org, e-mail centralpacific@cpcucc.org or call 503-228-3178. Registration cost is $75, and includes a Saturday evening banquet.

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