Today's News-Friday, October 31st, 2008
Pastor charged with sexual assault and related charges
An Auburn minister is locked up in Schuylkill County Prison on charges he sexually assaulted a teenaged girl. Schuylkill Haven state police say Alan Ray Sienkiewicz is alleged to have sexually assaulted the girl, now 14 years old, on several occasions between January, 2007 and April of this year while she was in his care. The incidents took place at Sienkiewicz’s home in Auburn, at the church parsonage on Beaver Dam Road and in the man’s company truck. Charges filed include 6 counts of aggravated indecent assault, 6 counts of indecent assault and 3 counts of corruption of the morals of a minor. Sienkiewicz was arraigned via video conference at the county prison, and bail set at $50-thousand-dollars. Sienkiewicz is pastor of churches in Ashland and Lavelle.
Fire damages Schuylkill Haven home
A fire damaged a home in Schuylkill Haven today early this morning. Crews were called to the Moyer home at 135 Haven Street right after midnight, and were on scene for several hours. Stay tuned for more details.
Voters may wait Tuesday to cast votes
Voters can expect longer lines at the polls Tuesday according to county election officials. Voter bureau director Betty Dries says that voter turnout is expected to be heavy, but people can help to make the process easier by having proof of identification ready for poll workers if required. If voters are unsure of your registration status, contact the Election Bureau at 420 North Centre Street by calling 628-1467. Dries stresses that the importance of casting your vote far exceeds any inconvenience that may occur.
Tamaqua man jailed after Wednesday night incident
A Tamaqua man is in the county prison following an incident in the borough Wednesday night. Borough officers were called to 222 Pine Street, where 22-year-old Norvell Young was intoxicated, and was demanding money from a woman as she returned home from work. Young reportedly threw the woman down and threatened her, keeping her from leaving the basement of the home. Young was arraigned on charges of terroristic threats, false imprisonment and other charges.
All tickets taken for Phillies rallies at stadiums
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - All tickets for the Phillies World Series celebrations at the stadiums are taken. The Phillies made free tickets available on their Web site for rallies at their own ballpark and at the nearby football stadium. They were all spoken for quickly. Those without tickets can watch the parade going down Broad Street from the central business district to the sports complex in South Philadelphia. The parade begins downtown at noon on Friday, and is expected to take about 90 minutes to make its way to the sports complex.
Pa. judge rules in ACORN, voter attire cases
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Commonwealth Court won't force a community activist group to turn over a list of the 140,000 Pennsylvania voters it says it has registered. A judge says he's not convinced the Republican Party can prove that ACORN is fostering voter-registration fraud.
In another election-related case, the court hasn't resolved whether wearing campaign T-shirts and buttons counts as "electioneering" that's banned by state law in polling places. But the judge says the state had the right to give an opinion to counties that it's OK for voters to wear such items. He says, however, that he's concerned about the legal basis for allowing voters to wear them, but not poll workers or watchers.
Rendell identifies $311M in Pa. state budget cuts
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell says he's found $311 million in cuts to help Pennsylvania cope with declining tax revenues. The Democratic governor announced Thursday that agencies under his jurisdiction exceeded his target of $200 million in reductions. Rendell says the savings will be $39 million higher if the General Assembly and other independent state entities cut 4.25 percent from their own coffers. The governor's office says Community and Economic Development is cutting $35 million. The State System of Higher Education found $22
million worth of belt-tightening, and Corrections is slashing expenses by $27 million. But the biggest reductions are $72 million for public welfare and $78 million for education.
Little League birthplace draws political spotlight
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - One visit alone from a major-party national candidate five days before Election Day is unusual for north-central Pennsylvania. But in an embarrassment of political riches, Williamsport is getting two in one day, both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. Dave Troisi has worked at the Williamsport Sun-Gazette for 34 years, the last 15 as editor. He says when national candidates come, it's usually earlier in the campaign. They tend to be done
with the region by this time. Biden, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, had his rally
at a gym at Lycoming College. Palin, his Republican counterpart, spoke at Bowman Field, an old, minor-league ballpark. Biden also spoke in Allentown the Palin also spoke in Erie.
Murtha seeks campaign cash
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democratic Congressman John Murtha has brought in a high-profile adviser and is scrambling to raise money to shore up support against Republican challenger William Russell. Murtha's new adviser is Tony Podesta, Pennsylvania manager for Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid and former President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election. The challenger has gained momentum since Murtha said some residents of his western Pennsylvania home base were racist. The 17-term Democrat was considered safe for re-election until
he recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area." He apologized, but then later told WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, that "this whole area, years ago, was really redneck."
US appeals court weighs local Pa. immigration law
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal appeals judge has questions for a small Pennsylvania city that wants to bar illegal immigrants from working or renting apartments in town. Circuit Judge Theodore McKee asked both pragmatic and philosophical questions about Hazleton's law at Thursday's hearing. Where would asylum-seekers live after their visa expires but before
they learn if they will be granted asylum? What due process do alleged violators have? And he wondered what other rights cities might deny illegal immigrants. If they can be denied shelter, might they be denied the right to buy food? Earlier, a federal judge ruled Hazleton's law was
unconstitutional, but an appeals panel in Philadelphia is now considering that decision. There's no word on when a ruling is likely. Whoever loses is likely to make another appeal.
Pa. judge found to have broken conduct rules
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A Luzerne County judge accused of professional misconduct has been found to have violated the state Canons of Judicial Conduct. Former employees of Judge Ann Lokuta testified before the Judicial Conduct Board that Lokuta was as an overbearing and
abusive boss. They testified that she snapped over minor issues, compromised security in the courtroom and had a former employee do chores at her house. Lokuta has 10 days to decide whether to file an objection to the board's opinion, which was released Thursday. Her lawyer, Louis Sinatra, says he's reviewing the opinion, which is more than 200 pages long, and will decide after that what to do. If no objection is filed, another hearing will be held to determine a penalty. That could go as far as removal from office.
Suburban Phila. woman guilty in church slaying
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia woman has been found guilty of first-degree murder for shooting another member of her church. Bucks County authorities say 66-year-old Mary Jane Fonder of Springfield Township shot 42-year-old Rhonda Smith on Jan. 23.
Prosecutors say Fonder had romantic feelings for the pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and was jealous Smith was getting attention from him. The jury convicted Fonder on Thursday evening after a nine-day trial. Fonder did not testify and her lawyer, Michael Applebaum, presented no evidence. Applebaum told jurors that the circumstantial evidence left a reasonable doubt about who shot Smith.
YUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - John McCain plans to spend a second traight day rumbling across Ohio by bus. He'll be pushing his conomic plan in the hopes it'll persuade enough voters to give him Ohio's 20 electoral votes. Barack Obama will start the day in Iowa, before swinging home to see his kids for Halloween. He'll wrap up with a stop in Indiana.
UNDATED (AP) - John McCain trails Barack Obama by 13 points in the latest CBS News-New York Times poll. That lead narrows when Bob Barr and Ralph Nader are taken from the mix. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 points.
ZIARAT, Pakistan (AP) - A Pakistani official says the death toll from the earthquake earlier this week will likely rise above 300. So far 215 people are confirmed dead, but officials are still
getting reports of more deaths from remote areas of the country.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Child welfare authorities in Texas have released all but 37 children from court oversight in their case against a polygamist group. At one time there were 439 children in
state custody, amid fears underage girls were being forced into marriages and sex and that other children were at risk of abuse.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A new study suggests women running for elected office need to appear both competent and attractive. But it says men just need to show competency. The study can be found online in the journal PLoS ONE.