- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006



Suspect in rape at school surrenders

A Tuscarora High School student turned himself in yesterday to face charges of raping a girl twice and sexually assaulting another at the school, the State’s Attorney’s Office said.

Michael Thomas Smith, 17, of Frederick, was being held at the Frederick County jail in lieu of $1 million bail, said Frederick County Deputy State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith, who is not related to the defendant.

He said the Smith youth is charged as an adult with raping a student April 23 in a girls’ restroom and again May 4 in a hallway entrance to an auditorium, where she had gone to avoid him. For each of those incidents, he is charged with one count each of second-degree rape, second-degree assault and false imprisonment.

The Smith youth also was charged Oct. 20 with the attempted rape of another student, a 16-year-old, who told police she was assaulted in a girls’ restroom.

The earlier victim came forward after the investigation of the October assault, the prosecutor said. If convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to up to 100 years in prison and fined $10,000.


Motel manager beaten with can opener

A group of men used a can opener to attack the manager of a Days Inn motel, the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office said.

The attack happened about noon Sunday. Police said that the manager on duty told deputies the men were at the motel and he was attacked after he talked to them about checkout time. He said two men beat him with a can opener while a third man held his arms behind him.

The victim was treated at a hospital and released.


Man pleads guilty to spying on wife

A Hagerstown man accused of using spy software to monitor his estranged wife’s computer use was sentenced to probation after entering an Alford plea Monday.

James Ostmann, 40, was arrested in April. The plea is not an admission of guilt but is a concession that prosecutors have sufficient evidence for a conviction.

Ostmann was given a suspended sentence, which included credit for the time served since the arrest.

Prosecutors said Ostmann used the software to monitor his wife’s correspondence with her divorce lawyer and to access records of her phone accounts.


Military transfers get college break

Employees who transfer to Maryland because of military base realignments will be excused from state residency requirements for college tuition — allowing their children to qualify immediately for cheaper in-state tuition.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Mary-land voted last week to waive the requirements for civilian employees of the armed forces who move to Maryland as a result of last year’s base realignment decisions. Currently, someone must live in the state for 12 months before declaring residency.

The Board of Regents adopted a similar resolution 10 years ago when a flood of military employees were transferred to the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Lexington Park.


Program to help released offenders

Somerset County officials are hoping a new program at the county jail will help reduce the number of offenders who end up back behind bars.

Warden Jim Henderson said released offenders who are homeless or lack transportation often miss court-ordered counseling sessions or probation appointments. Missing those appointments results in violations that put them back in jail.

Mr. Henderson is using a $25,000 state grant to supply inmates with an identification card that will act as a free pass on Shore Transit buses and allow them access to the county library computers.


Court rules in rape law case

The state’s second-highest court said Maryland’s rape law is clear — it is not rape if a woman withdraws her prior consent after intercourse has begun.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Special Appeals threw out a conviction Monday in a Montgomery County case, say-ing the trial judge should have explained that point of common law to the jury when it asked.

The decision startled activists, who say people have the right to say “no” at any time. Jennifer Pollitt Hill of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault called the law “insulting and dangerous.”

Delegate Jean B. Cryor, Montgomery Democrat, said the Women’s Caucus of the General Assembly likely would examine the decision during the next legislative session.



Elections board at odds with county

The State Board of Elections is threatening to take Chesterfield County to court over an election law that allows county election officials to deny absentee ballots to those who refuse to give their Social Security numbers.

Chesterfield General Registrar Lawrence C. Haake III said state law gives him the authority to require such information of voters to prevent voter fraud.

The State Board of Elections said the information can be requested but not required.

Kent Willis, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, agreed and said Mr. Haake’s action “violates the letter of Virginia law.” The ACLU is offering legal services to Chesterfield County voters who are denied absentee ballots.

Mr. Haake is backed by the county attorney and the county electoral board.

County officials have processed more than 2,500 absentee ballots and said only two prospective voters balked at providing their Social Security number.


Woman sentenced for keeping 135 rabbits

A Richmond woman who kept more than 135 caged rabbits — many of them dead — will spend eight months in jail as part of a plea agreement.

Sandra Sturman, 51, pleaded guilty Monday in Richmond General District Court to eight counts of animal cruelty.

She also was ordered to pay restitution, refrain from owning animals for three years and consent to unannounced visits by animal-control officers during that time.

After a January fire at Miss Sturman’s house, investigators found scores of rabbits, many of them kept in filthy metal cages stacked on the attic floor and hanging from rafters. Some were dead in cages that had no food or water.

Rabbit feces 1 feet deep covered the floor in places.

Prosecutor Alex Taylor said Miss Sturman was convicted of animal neglect in 2003 and was ordered to undergo counseling and pay restitution. That case involved ferrets.


Pro-amendment man rehired by company

A man fired for refusing to remove a sign from the back of his pickup truck urging passage of a state marriage amendment was rehired.

Luis Padilla, 40, said Cargill Inc. has agreed to pay him for the three weeks of work he missed at its Broadway plant and will change its harassment policy. The international food company also said it should not have fired him for insubordination.

Mr. Padilla, who works as a human-resources clerk, wrote “Please vote for marriage on Nov. 7” in white letters on his truck’s rear window before parking on company property.

Mr. Padilla said he is not asking for damages. He credited the support and prayers of numerous people he did not even know for success-ful resolution of his dispute.


Former VCU rector gives $2.5 million gift

Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry has received a gift of $2.5 million from former rector Baxter Perkinson Jr.

VCU officials said it is the largest gift in the dentistry school’s 113-year history and will be used to enhance facilities and technology as well as help with recruiting efforts.

Dr. Perkinson was a 1970 graduate of VCU’s dentistry program. He served on the dental faculty for 36 years and is the founder of Virginia’s largest dental practice.

Ronald Hunt, dean of the VCU School of Dentistry, said he will ask the university’s board of visitors to name a new four-story building in Dr. Perkinson’s honor. Ground-breaking is set for next summer.


Dump truck hits bus, injuring coach, players

Seven soccer players from Fredericksburg Christian School and their coach were injured Monday when their bus was hit by a dump truck.

Varsity boys coach Lee Hilton, who was driving the bus, and one player were taken by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital, emergency and school officials said. Mr. Hilton was in “very serious condition” when he was removed from the scene, said Assistant Chief Darren Stevens of the Fauquier County fire department.

Principal Sharon Roper said she thinks the coach and the player, identified only as a senior, will recover. She said that the student dislocated his jaw and cut his chin and that Mr. Hilton was talking and moving his arms and legs Monday night, but she couldn’t detail his injuries.

The six others were taken to local hospitals, where they were treated and released.

The team was returning from a game about 5:30 p.m., when the bus, with 11 passengers on board, attempted to turn left onto U.S. 17 from Route 28 when it was hit by the dump truck.

“The bus had a green light but did not have a green arrow when it came through the intersection,” Fauquier Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Gimmell said.

The driver of the dump truck was not injured, he said.

Charges are pending, Deputy Gimmell said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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