- The Washington Times - Friday, February 29, 2008


Ruling: Fired workers should be rehired

Three child welfare workers who were fired for failing to help four young girls found dead last month should be reinstated, an administrative hearing officer ruled.

The employees, whose names were not released, should not have been fired because the city violated their due-process rights, the hearing officer said. The decision was made last week and announced Wednesday. The three workers are union members and therefore entitled to administrative proceedings.

The city’s interim attorney general, Peter Nickles, said the city has no intention of rehiring the employees, noting that the hearing officer’s findings are advisory.

“The culture in this town is that there is not a strict sense of accountability when people do not do their duty, and as a result, people are hurt,” Mr. Nickles said. “In this case, we had the ultimate situation where these four kids were killed. We’re not going to accept that.”

The District’s Child and Family Services Agency is expected to make a decision on the case Monday, an agency spokeswoman said. If the workers appeal the decision, the case will go to arbitration, the union said.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty fired six child welfare workers shortly after the girls’ bodies were found decomposing in their mother’s city row house Jan. 9. Mr. Fenty said the workers didn’t do enough to follow up on complaints about the girls’ care. The employees included front-line workers and a division director.

The girls’ mother, Banita Jacks, remains jailed without bail on murder charges.



Teen gives mother a graduation present

A high school senior in Anne Arundel County gave an unusual gift to his cancer-stricken mother — he graduated early.

Officials at South River High School held a graduation ceremony for Devon Washington, 18, after doctors said his mother might not live until the scheduled June ceremony.

Devon donned his cap and gown Wednesday before family and friends from Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware. Principal William Myers gave him his diploma as music played.

Joy Washington, 53, said she was proud to see her son graduate. She was diagnosed in 1999 with ovarian cancer, and the disease spread.

Devon’s father was killed in a car accident in 2001.

81-year-old escapee released from jail

A man arrested last week after 43 years on the run from Maryland authorities was released yesterday from a North Carolina jail.

Authorities said 81-year-old Willie Parker walked out of the Sampson County Detention Center about 2 p.m.

Jail administrator Maj. Kemely Pickett said Parker posted a $25,000 secured bond.

Defense attorney Andrew Jackson said he was waiting for Maryland authorities to decide whether Parker should be extradited.

Federal marshals arrested an ailing Parker on Feb. 20 at a home in Clinton, as he lay in bed.

During a review of old cases, Maryland authorities discovered Parker had a North Carolina driver’s license. Authorities said he had been arrested several times under different identities in places across the country.


Principal to return after false charges

An Anne Arundel County principal falsely accused of making students do push-ups for punishment will return to his charter school.

Two months ago, county social services workers started investigating Chesapeake Science Point Principal Fatih Kandil and math and physics teacher Ali Tuna.

County school system authorities said the charges were false and the investigation is closed. The two educators will return Monday to the Hanover School.

Mr. Kandil said social services officials discussed the investigation with him. He said it involved accusations he made students do physical exercise, including push-ups and abdominal crunches, as punishment.

Mr. Tuna declined to comment. School officials wouldn’t comment because they said it is a personnel matter.


No charges filed after noose incident

State’s Attorney Frank M. Kratovil Jr. in Queen Anne’s County dropped racial harassment and other charges brought against a Kent Island High School student after an incident said to involve a noose.

Mr. Kratovil said there wasn’t any evidence of a crime.

Bruce Settle, 18, of Stevensville, was charged by the county sheriff’s office in December after the mother of a 17-year-old black student said he made a racial threat to her son days earlier. Charging documents said Mr. Settle, who is white, made a rope into a noose and said to the younger student “did you want to try this?”

Mr. Kratovil, a Democrat running for Congress, said an FBI agent questioned witnesses and found inconsistencies. He also said the mother did not want to pursue the issue further.


Children, staff safe after day care fire

Smoke detectors alerted staff at a day care center yesterday and the adults and children were safely evacuated, fire department Capt. Roman Clark said.

The fire was reported about 11 a.m. at a duplex-type building in the 2300 block of Ocala Avenue. The children ranged in age from 6 weeks to 5 years old. Capt. Clark said three staff members and a parent took the children to the nearby Lebanon Baptist Church.

The day care operates on the first floor of the two-story building. The second floor is an apartment.

Capt. Clark said the fire was under control in about an hour. The cause is under investigation.


Rape warrant filed against Va. deputy

Ocean City police obtained an arrest warrant for a deputy sheriff from Northern Virginia involving a rape.

Police said Zachary Taylor, 31, of Ruther Glen, Va., met a 22-year-old woman Sunday at a night club. He is accused of taking the intoxicated woman to his hotel room, raping her, then leaving her in an elevator.

According to police, a hotel worker found the woman in the lobby, crying uncontrollably. Authorities said bystanders at the hotel identified Deputy Taylor as the suspect.

A spokesman at the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office said Deputy Taylor has been placed on administrative leave.

He is charged with second-degree rape.


Wal-Mart manager charged with theft

Bureau of Investigation officials in Worcester County arrested a Wal-Mart employee on charges that she stole $20,000 from the store where she worked.

Authorities said Linda Cline of Eden was under investigation for four months before her arrest.

Miss Cline, an assistant manager, is charged with felony theft. State police troopers arrested her at the store. The investigation began late last year.


Zoo awaits birth of baby elephant

The Maryland Zoo is expecting an unusually large blessed event.

One of the zoo’s new elephants is due to deliver her baby any day now. Zoo officials said it will be the first elephant birth in the zoo’s 132-year history.

The 24-year-old mother-to-be, named Felix, arrived at the zoo in December, along with a male named Tuffy.

The zoo staff is on a 24-hour watch for signs of labor. The new baby is expected to weigh in at more than 200 pounds.

The zoo, meanwhile, reopens to the public tomorrow after a two-month seasonal closure.

The elephant exhibit recently underwent a $1 million renovation, which doubled the indoor space for the elephants.



ACLU sues county over voter ID

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Prince William County elections officials on behalf of a man who said he was denied the right to vote because he didn’t carry identification on him.

The ACLU of Virginia said voting officials at a polling place in Woodbridge refused to allow R. Leigh Gillette to vote Nov. 6. The group said Mr. Gillette was not offered an Affirmation of Identity form, as required by Virginia law.

State ACLU Executive Director Kent Willis said the suit was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria and says county voting officials violated Mr. Gillette’s constitutional rights.

An elections official for Prince William County said officials had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.


Two teens charged with illegal racing

Fairfax police charged two 18-year-olds with illegal racing and seized their cars.

Police said an officer saw the teens speed away when a light turned green on Burke Centre Parkway late Tuesday evening. Police said the drivers had been revving their engines and spinning their tires before the light changed.

Police chased and stopped Oscar Cornejo and Louis Violetta. Both are charged with street racing and face a two-year license suspension, in addition to misdemeanor traffic penalties.

Police seized a 2003 Volkswagen GTI and a 1987 Toyota Supra.


Police say woman faked kidnapping

A Virginia Beach woman is accused of faking her own kidnapping.

Police said Lisa Kay Bradley, 41, was arrested near Richmond on Tuesday afternoon and was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses. She is in jail in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach police spokeswoman Margie Long said Mrs. Bradley’s husband reported Tuesday morning that she had been kidnapped after he received a text message from someone who demanded money and threatened to harm or kill his wife.

Detectives from Virginia Beach worked with state police and officers from Richmond and Henrico County. Mrs. Bradley was found in her vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 95.


School principal held in wife’s slaying

An assistant principal at a Chesapeake high school is being held without bond in Bedford County on a first-degree murder charge in the death of his estranged wife.

Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said yesterday that police arrested Wesley Earnest on Wednesday night at a home in Rustburg in Campbell County, the Roanoke Times reported.

Mr. Earnest’s estranged wife, Jocelyn Branham Earnest, 38, died of a gunshot wound to the head at her home in Forest on Dec. 20.

A spokesman for Chesapeake schools said Mr. Earnest has been away from Great Bridge High School for about a month.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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