- Associated Press - Thursday, May 8, 2014
Ethics panel fines ex-lawmaker John Arnold

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold was fined $3,000 Wednesday for violating state ethics laws in a sexual harassment case in which three women state employees accused him of touching them inappropriately over a period of four years.

Wednesday was the second time the Legislative Ethics Commission found that Arnold violated state ethics laws. However, last month’s 4-1 vote failed. State law requires the nine-member commission to have at least five affirmative votes to take action.

That decision led to much public criticism and prompted leaders from both parties to call on the commission to re-hear the case. It even spilled over into Kentucky’s contentious U.S. Senate race, with Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell criticizing Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes for not returning a campaign donation from Arnold. Grimes kept the donation after two of the women who filed the complaint against Arnold told her to keep it.

The commission agreed Wednesday to hold a second public hearing.

They later voted 5-1 that Arnold used his position as a public official to violate the public interest. Commissioner Elmer George, an appointee of Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, was the lone no vote, he said because he does not believe the commission has the authority to punish former members of the legislature.

“We wanted the state to acknowledge that John Arnold assaulted us and has hurt us,” said Yolanda Costner, one of the three women who filed the complaint against Arnold and an adviser to House Majority Whip Tommy Thompson. “It has damaged our careers. It has damaged our relationship with our bosses. It’s something that has been going on for years.”


Police: Ex-employee, wife stole $1M from Ky. monks

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A former employee at a central Kentucky abbey run by an order of Catholic monks has been indicted on dozens of theft charges that allege he stole more than $1 million from the institution.

Police said John Hutchins was working as an accountant at the Abbey of Gethsemani when he began diverting money, with help from his wife, from an abbey-owned account in 2008.

Documents from the Nelson County Circuit Court clerk’s office say Hutchins was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on 87 counts of felony theft and 87 counts of unlawful access to a computer, along with 174 counts of complicity to commit those crimes, for a total of 348 indictments. Hutchins’ wife, Carrie Hutchins, faces the same charges.

Luke Morgan, an attorney for John Hutchins, had no comment on the indictments Wednesday. Morgan said the couple will plead not guilty at their arraignment later this month.


20 students taken to hospitals after bus crash

STANFORD, Ky. (AP) - A crash involving a school bus in Lincoln County has sent 20 students and the driver of a pickup truck to area hospitals.

Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Karen Hatter told media outlets the crash happened around 8 a.m. Wednesday on Kentucky 78. She didn’t know what caused the crash.

Hatter says the bus had at least 38 children aboard and those who were taken to hospitals didn’t appear to be seriously injured.

The driver of the pickup truck was air-lifted from the scene.


Bell County seeks volunteer firefighters

PINEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A southeastern Kentucky community is seeking volunteer firefighters in an effort to reopen two stations that closed nearly three years ago.

The Bell County Volunteer Fire Department board shut down stations in the Colmar and Brownies Creek communities during a funding dispute with the county.

Now, officials want to reopen the stations, but WYMT-TV (https://bit.ly/1fPeduB) reports they need more volunteer firefighters.

“It takes a lot of good hearted people, I guess would be the best way to describe this as a volunteer because you’re not getting self-gratitude, no pay, no reward out of it,” said Bucky Shelby, Bell County Volunteer Fire Department spokesman.

Each station would need between six and 12 volunteers, who must pass training courses before they can be firefighters.

Volunteer John McNab says it’s worth the effort to try.

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