Woman sues, saying friar abused her
A central Pennsylvania attorney says a woman claims to be among more than 50 former students who intend to sue church and school officials they believe are responsible for their alleged molestation by a Franciscan friar who committed suicide.
Altoona attorney Richard Serbin says his latest client is the first woman to claim abuse by Brother Stephen Baker when he served as an athletic trainer or was otherwise in or around Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown from 1992 to 2001.
Baker committed suicide Jan. 26 at a monastery in Newry more than a week after the Youngstown, Ohio, diocese disclosed financial settlements involving 11 students who claimed Baker abused them at a Northeast Ohio school in the late 1980s.
Dozens of former students in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan have since come forward with abuse claims.
Special judge to handle rape investigation
A large following of “nameless bloggers” alleging a cover-up of a rape investigation spurred an eastern Ohio judge to ask that someone from outside the community oversee a grand jury looking into new charges related to the assault.
Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. also asked that outside judges be appointed to prosecute any individuals the grand jury might charge.
In response, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the State Supreme Court on Thursday appointed retired Summit County Judge Patricia Ann Cosgrove to oversee the grand jury, which meets in April.
Victim’s parents met with killer’s father
The parents of one of the 20 first-graders killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre met with the gunman’s father for more than an hour in an effort to bring some closure to the tragedy, asking him about his son’s mental health and other issues.
Alissa Parker told “CBS This Morning” in an excerpt of an interview that aired Thursday the meeting with Adam Lanza’s father, Peter Lanza, was her idea. Her 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, died in December’s shooting rampage.
“I felt strongly that I needed to tell him something, and I needed to get that out of my system,” Alissa Parker said. “I felt very motivated to do it, and then I felt really good about it and prayed about it. And it was something that I needed to do.”
It was unclear what they discussed or when the meeting took place. CBS planned to show the rest of the interview with Alissa and Robbie Parker this morning, revealing more details about their meeting with Peter Lanza.
54 schools set to close
Tens of thousands of Chicago students, parents and teachers learned Thursday their schools were on a long-feared list of 54 the city plans to close in an effort to stabilize an educational system facing a $1 billion budget shortfall.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the closures are necessary because too many Chicago Public School buildings are half-empty, with 403,000 students in a system that has seats for more than 500,000. But opponents say the closures will further erode troubled neighborhoods and endanger students who may have to cross gang boundaries to attend school. The schools slated for closure are all elementary schools and are overwhelmingly black and in low-income neighborhoods.
Bill would expand background checks
Gun-control legislation the Senate debates next month will include an expansion of federal background checks for firearms buyers, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday in a victory for advocates of gun restrictions.
The announcement underscores that Democrats intend to take an aggressive approach in the effort to broaden the checks, currently required for transactions involving federally licensed firearms dealers but not private sales at gun shows or online.
President Barack Obama and many supporters of curbing guns consider an expansion of the system to private gun sales to be the most-effective response lawmakers could take in the wake of December’s elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. The system is designed to keep guns from criminals, people with serious mental problems and others considered potentially dangerous.