- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Inmates’ abuse claim can proceed to trial

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit accusing D.C. prison guards of abuse can go forward.

The class-action lawsuit says prisoners were injured when guards kept them in handcuffs that were too tight and denied them food and water on a trip from Ohio to Virginia.

The prisoners were in D.C. custody during the trip.

Attorneys for the District had asked the judge to dismiss the case. They argued that the treatment did not violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

But U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth disagreed, ruling that the facts of the 1999 incident would have to be determined in court.



Fire at nightclub ruled as arson

A fire at the Cancun Cantina has been listed as a case of arson, Anne Arundel County fire investigators said.

The Dec. 2 fire at the club in the 7500 block of Old Telegraph Road caused about $1.5 million in damage.

About 200 people and 40 staff members were safely evacuated. One firefighter suffered burns to his ears.


Stolen car crashes; three apprehended

A stolen car pursued by U.S. Park Police yesterday spun out and crashed on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at the exit to westbound New York Avenue.

The three men in the car bailed out and fled into nearby woods but were apprehended a short time later, said Lt. Scott Fear, Park Police spokesman.

“We had a U.S. Park Police helicopter in the sky and kept sight of them the whole time,” Lt. Fear said. “We apprehended all three of them close by the scene.”

The Park Police spotted a stolen green Acura on the parkway near Powder Mill Road in Beltsville about noon. They pursued the car southbound to the U.S. 50 exit, where the car crashed.


Prison guard admits distributing child porn

A Pocomoke City prison guard pleaded guilty yesterday to distribution of child pornography.

Federal prosecutors said Daniel Trader, 57, worked at the Eastern Correctional Institute when he sent child pornography to an undercover officer posing as a 15-year-old girl.

Court documents show Trader left Internet messages and had online conversations more than 30 times with a person he thought to be a 15-year-old girl.

During those conversations, Trader transmitted sexually explicit images of himself and other pornographic images.

He also sent money so he could see nude and sexually explicit images of the girl. He also admitted trying to make plans to have sex with the girl.


Six schools receive ‘Blue Ribbon’ awards

Maryland education officials have named six schools as this year’s Blue Ribbon schools for high achievement and dramatic improvement.

The schools are George Washington Elementary in Baltimore, Heather Hills Elementary in Prince George’s County, Hereford Middle in Baltimore County, Burleigh Manor Middle and River Hill High in Howard County and Winston Churchill High in Montgomery County.

Four of the schools are in the top 10 percent based on the Maryland Assessment Scores. Two of the schools are econom-ically disadvantaged schools that made substantial progress.

The schools also will be entered in the National Blue Ribbon School Competition.



Webb, wife welcome baby daughter

Virginia Sen.-elect James H. Webb Jr. and his wife, Hong Le Webb, welcomed a daughter yesterday.

Mr. Webb’s office announced that Georgia LeAnh was born at 12:51 a.m. at Inova Fairfax Hospital weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 21 inches long.

Mr. Webb’s office said mother and newborn are doing well.

The child’s name is derived from a combination of Mr. Webb’s maternal grandmother, Georgia Doyle Hodges, and Mrs. Hong’s Vietnamese family name, Le, and a common Vietnamese middle name, Anh.

Georgia joins Mrs. Hong’s daughter, Emily, and Mr. Webb’s children Amy, Sarah, Jimmy and Julia.

Mr. Webb won a narrow victory last month over Republican Sen. George Allen, helping tip control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats.


Localities to get more anti-gang funds

Two dozen Virginia localities will get up to $10,000 each as part of the state’s prevention-based anti-gang initiative, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said yesterday.

The federal grant money will be funneled through the governor’s initiative, which he announced in June.

State officials selected community organizations based on whether they could offer young people “safe, structured and more meaning-ful activities,” Mr. Kaine said.

Virginia law-enforcement officials think there are more than 300 youth gangs in the state and about 5,000 children and young adults who are gang members.

Among the 24 communities to win grants are Loudoun County, where 30 at-risk teenagers will work on community-service projects as part of a service-learning summer camp.

In Dinwiddie County, the Youth Connections Program will help youths who have been expelled from school. Those who complete a community-service program will be considered for early re-enrollment.

And in Harrisonburg, juvenile court officials, James Madison University, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Young Life nonprofit will work together on a mentoring and service program for 150 gang-vulnerable middle- and high-school youths.

Other grantees include Roanoke, Petersburg, Norfolk’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority and one regional program made up of Brunswick, Greensville, Sussex and Surry counties and the city of Emporia.


Pilot killed in crash was cancer doctor

The pilot killed in a single-engine airplane crash in the Charlottesville area was a Richmond doctor, authorities said yesterday.

The plane went down Sunday evening while approaching Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.

Virginia State Police said Dr. Christopher Desch, 51, of Henrico County, was killed when the plane developed engine trouble.

Dr. Desch was the national medical director of National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a not-for-profit alliance of cancer centers.

Sgt. David Cooper said Dr. Desch tried to make an emergency landing but crashed into a woodland area. The plane burst into flames.

Sgt. Cooper said the airplane was headed to the airport from Chesterfield County and had been cleared for landing when the pilot radioed the Charlottesville control tower about 1:30 p.m.

“He said he was having problems with the plane,” Sgt. Cooper said. “The engine was off.”


Group home oversight called insufficient

State oversight of group homes and other residential facilities for troubled youth is insufficient, putting children there at risk, a state investigative agency said in a report.

The report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) finds that state agencies in charge of the facilities are understaffed and don’t make the required number of inspections — and the inspections they do make are not thorough.

JLARC’s report, released yesterday, covers group homes, residential treatment centers and psychiatric facilities.

Residential treatment accounts for 18 percent of the services provided to troubled children provided under the Comprehensive Services Act funded by state, local and federal sources.

The report mentions one residential facility being cited for 25 critical violations in three years.

The violations include medication errors and residents injured by restraints or seclusion. But no enforcement action was taken against the center, which was not identified.


Zoo euthanizes popular ailing tiger

Ruby, a tiger that had been a top attraction at Mill Mountain Zoo since 1988, was euthanized because of failing health.

“It was the right decision,” Sean Greene, the zoo’s director, said during a short press conference Sunday. “It’s a tough day.”

Ruby was taken in by the zoo in November 1988 after being confiscated from a private owner in Danville. She was thought to be 19.

“You can say the word ‘Ruby,’ and everyone in this community knows who that is,” Mr. Greene said. “For her to live this long and have the life she did … I hope it was a great experience for her.”

Ruby began showing increased signs of old age this year.

Her fur had faded in color, and zoo workers had to alter her diet more than five times because of her flagging appetite.

This summer, she weighed in at 235 to 240 pounds, down from 350 pounds in her prime. She had arthritis in her left shoulder as well as hearing loss.

Ruby’s veterinarian, Dr. Bill Poage of Valley Animal Hospital in Roanoke, said if Ruby were a human she would be the equivalent of 80 to 85 years old.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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