- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2007


Kidnapping added in runaway case

HARTFORD — Authorities added kidnapping charges yesterday against a man and two women accused in the yearlong disappearance of a teenage runaway who was found locked in a hidden room in their home.

Adam Gault, 41, and the women appeared briefly in court to face the new charges. They did not enter pleas, but all three previously pleaded not guilty to other charges, including reckless endangerment.

A judge denied their attorneys’ requests for lower bail.

“It is our belief that the manner in which Adam Gault pursued the juvenile was the equivalent of using force,” Bloomfield Police Capt. Jeffrey Blatter said. He said he could not provide details. The warrant is sealed for 14 days because it involves a sexual assault case.

Mr. Gault has denied having sexual contact with the girl, who authorities say ran away from her Bloomfield home in June 2006 when she was 14 and moved in with Mr. Gault, a man who had worked with her stepfather years earlier.


Real Harry Potter weathers Pottermania

BRADENTON — Sometimes it’s a hassle being Harry Potter.

Especially when you’re a 78-year-old man who happens to share the name of a certain fictional boy wizard who is famous the world over.

Each time a new Harry Potter book or movie comes out, Bradenton resident Harry Potter starts getting phone calls from children, interview requests from the TV networks and autograph requests.

“The kids want to know if I’m Harry Potter,” he said with a chuckle. “I tell them I’ve been Harry Potter for darn near 80 years!”

The real Harry Potter said he hasn’t had time to read any of the J.K. Rowling books or see the five hit movies.

“When Harry talks to the kids, they’ll ask about the owl and he’ll say, ‘Oh, he came by and brought the mail,’ ” said his wife, Jan. “Then, when they’re done, the mothers come on and say thank you for talking to the kids. He gets a big kick out of it.”


Tanker carrying gasoline explodes

SIOUX CENTER — Static electricity ignited vapors as a tanker truck loaded gasoline in the heart of town, causing an explosion that severely burned the driver and prompted the evacuation of about 2,000 people, fire officials said yesterday.

The driver, whose name wasn’t released, was loading the gasoline from a rail car Tuesday at the Farmers Co-op Society when the accident occurred. An investigation continues.

The fire melted the truck’s aluminum tank and burned the driver, who was taken to St. Elizabeth Hope Center in Lincoln, Neb.

Fire and hazardous materials crews had extinguished the flames by 9 p.m. No buildings were destroyed, and the evacuation order was lifted shortly before midnight, said Sioux Center Fire Chief David Van Holland.


Convicted soldier testifies in attack

FORT CAMPBELL — A soldier charged in the killings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family stood over his colleagues as they raped the girl and pointed his weapon at the door for security, another soldier testified yesterday.

Pfc. Jesse Spielman, whose court-martial entered its third day yesterday, was within a few feet of the others as they held the girl down kicking and screaming, and he did nothing to stop them, Sgt. Paul E. Cortez testified.

Military prosecutor Maj. William Fischbach asked Cortez if Pfc. Spielman objected to the rape.

Cortez, his lips trembling, replied: “He doesn’t.”

Cortez previously pleaded guilty to the March 2006 attack on Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and her family and was sentenced to 100 years behind bars.

Two other soldiers convicted in the attack also were expected to testify against Pfc. Spielman.


Man seriously ill with botulism

ALBUQUERQUE — A New Mexico man is paralyzed with botulism poisoning and state health officials said yesterday they are trying to determine whether he ate canned food involved in a nationwide recall.

Castleberry’s Food Co. has recalled more than 90 potentially contaminated products nationwide — including canned chili, hash and stew — over fears of botulism contamination. The recall includes two years’ production — tens of millions of cans — from the company’s plant at Augusta, Ga.

The 52-year-old man from New Mexico’s Sandoval County, whose name was not released, was hospitalized July 26 and is in serious condition, able to only wiggle his toes, state health officials said.

“We can communicate with him only by him basically moving his toes,” said Deborah Busemeyer, New Mexico Department of Health spokeswoman.


Court strikes down new governor’s veto

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s highest court yesterday struck down Gov. Ted Strickland’s veto of a bill on his first day in office, saying his action came two days past the deadline.

In a 5-2 decision, the state Supreme Court ordered Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to move forward with the bill, which prohibited lawsuits over lead paint.

The measure had been passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and former Gov. Bob Taft chose to let it become law without his signature. However, on Jan. 8, the day Mr. Strickland, a Democrat, took office, he had Miss Brunner return the bill to his office and he vetoed it.

Lawmakers sued, arguing that the veto violated procedures laid out in the Ohio Constitution.

The legislation says paint manufacturers can’t be sued under public nuisance laws. Mr. Strickland vetoed the bill because he felt it stripped consumers of the right to seek damages from the companies, his spokesman said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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