American Scene: R.I. Schools say dad-daughter dances violate law

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CRANSTON — A Rhode Island schools superintendent has ended the district’s father-daughter dances and mother-son ballgames to comply with a state gender discrimination law, prompting some to complain that the move is an example of political correctness gone awry.

Cranston Mayor Allan W. Fung said Tuesday he was “utterly disappointed” that the Cranston schools superintendent nixed the events in what the mayor called “the name of political correctness” after the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union complained last spring.

The ACLU complaint in May came on behalf of a single mother whose daughter had no father in her life but was precluded from attending the father-daughter dance, ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown said Tuesday.

In a letter to school organizations last month, Superintendent Judith Lundsten said that school district attorneys reviewing the complaint found that, while federal gender discrimination laws exempt such events, Rhode Island law does not.

TEXAS

Town’s rental ban to get second hearing

DALLAS — A Dallas suburb’s long, expensive fight to ban illegal immigrants from renting homes will get perhaps its most important hearing Wednesday before a largely conservative group of judges with the power to influence the national immigration debate.

Farmers Branch was sued four years ago after it passed an ordinance allowing the city building inspector to evict any illegal immigrant renters. Its case will now go before the full membership of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, comprised of 10 active judges appointed by Republican presidents and just five by Democrats.

So far, no court has allowed Farmers Branch to enforce any form of the ordinance.

PENNSYLVANIA

New civil suits allege priest abuse

PHILADELPHIA — Eight new civil lawsuits allege the Archdiocese of Philadelphia covered up child sex assault allegations made against seven Roman Catholic priests.

The lawsuits were filed Tuesday by a total of nine plaintiffs.

Michael McDonnell and Andrew Druding said the abuse they suffered as children still haunts them. They said they wanted to go public to help other victims.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said their clients decided to come forward when former archdiocesan official Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty of child endangerment and received a three- to six-year prison sentence. The 61-year-old is the first U.S. church official convicted of endangering children by keeping predator priests in ministry.

Named in the latest lawsuits are Lynn, Archbishop Charles Chaput, his predecessor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and the priests accused by the plaintiffs of sexual abuse.

CONNECTICUT

Navy: Sub commander faked death to end affair

HARTFORD — Navy investigators say the commanding officer of a Connecticut-based nuclear submarine faked his own death to end an affair with a woman.

Navy Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II was relieved as commanding officer of the USS Pittsburgh last month. He had taken command of the submarine a week earlier.

Investigators found Mr. Ward sent his mistress an email from a fictitious person named “Bob” stating Mr. Ward had died. The report was obtained Tuesday by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, a submarine group spokeswoman in Groton, Conn., said Mr. Ward was found guilty of Uniform Code of Military Justice violations including dereliction of duty. He received a letter of reprimand.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pittsburgh, county settle 911 blizzard death suit

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died at home after waiting 30 hours for help despite 10 calls to 911 during a record-setting snowstorm.

The attorney for Curtis Mitchell’s family told the Associated Press on Tuesday that terms of the settlement won’t be disclosed until city and county officials can approve the deal in the next few days.

The lawsuit was thrown out of federal court last year, but remaining claims under state law were scheduled to go to trial Friday in Common Pleas Court.

Medics couldn’t reach Mr. Mitchell’s home during the February 2010 blizzard and asked him to walk to them instead.

The city solicitor confirmed the settlement to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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