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Laws governing conflicts weak

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2011

BY ED MAHON

Legal experts have debated whether District Judge Leslie Dutchcot should have set bail in the Jerry Sandusky case despite having ties to the charity he founded.

State rules governing standards of conduct for magisterial district judges say that judges should disqualify themselves from a proceeding in which “their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

But that decision is ultimately up to the judge.

“It’s a very gray standard,” said Louise Hill, a professor at Widener University School of Law.

Biographical information posted on the website of her law firm previously listed The Second Mile as an organization for which Dutchcot had volunteered, and Second Mile material lists her and her husband as among the donors who gave between $500 and $999 to the charity in 2009.

The chairman of the board of the nonprofit, Bob Poole, held two fundraisers in 2007 that brought in $2,400 for her district judge campaign.

Dutchcot and the Attorney General’s Office have declined to comment on whether she should have recused herself.

“Judges should be mindful of whether or not their impartiality might appear to be questioned, or whether there is the appearance of impropriety,” Eddie Ohlbaum, a professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law. He added: “It’s part of the foundation of our system, whether you’re sitting on the magistrate level or you’re sitting on the Supreme Court. You have to be above and beyond reproach.”

Read more: Laws governing conflicts weak.

Local firm out of State College swap suit

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2011

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BY ED MAHON

A federal judge has granted a State College law firm’s request to keep it out of a multimillion- dollar lawsuit between the Royal Bank of Canada and State College Area School District.

But the Harrisburg law firm Rhoads & Sinon, which also offered advice on the 2006 and 2007 financial deals, is still a third-party defendant in the lawsuit brought in federal court.

“We are gratified that the court permitted our claim against Rhoads & Sinon to proceed to discovery. We are confident that we will ultimately prevail in this lawsuit, but if the court rules that the swap agreement or the amendment was invalid under Pennsylvania law, then Rhoads & Sinon should to be held liable for its opinion letter that we relied upon to our detriment,” the bank said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The attorney representing the State College law firm, Miller, Kistler, Campbell said Monday afternoon he had not yet reviewed the judge’s decision and couldn’t comment. The attorney for Rhoads & Sinon could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit began in August 2009, when the attorneys for the State College Area School District asked a federal judge to declare the contract between the district and the Royal Bank of Canada void. The district’s attorneys argued that the two sides did not follow several provisions of the state law that authorized swaps, the Local Government Unit Debt Act.

The Royal Bank of Canada, meanwhile, argues that district leaders understood the risk of the deal, known as a qualified interest rate management agreement, and only wanted to back out after changes in the financial market worked against the district. The bank argues the district owes them about $10.37 million.

Read more: Local firm out of State College swap suit.

After scandal, PSU plays on

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Caption: A child in the stands holds a sign supporting Joe Paterno. Penn State lost to Nebraska 14-17 November 12, 2011. Nabil K. Mark

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2011

BY CURTIS TATE, MIKE DAWSON AND ED MAHON

UNIVERSITY PARK — A clear, sunny afternoon brightened the somber mood Saturday at Beaver Stadium, as Penn State played Nebraska in the last home game of the season — and the first in 46 years without Joe Paterno as head football coach.

While mixed feelings prevailed about the circumstances that led to Paterno’s absence, one sentiment was universal: Justice for the alleged victims of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is more important than the university’s football program or its reputation.

“Penn State is about more than football, Joe Paterno and this scandal,” said Cliff Plank, who graduated from the university’s architecture program in 2010.

While hardly any of Beaver Stadium’s 107,000 seats sat empty, the week-old scandal that resulted in the dismissal of Paterno and President Graham Spanier hung over the game. Penn State students wore blue shirts to call attention to child sexual abuse.

Sandusky been has charged with sexually abusing at least eight boys over a 15-year period, and a grand jury presentment shows that many people had direct or indirect knowledge of it but failed to report it, including Paterno, university officials and others.

Tailgater Chris Cherinka, of Dunmore, said the focus shouldn’t be on Paterno.

“We’re worried more about Paterno than who the real criminal is,” he said.

Several victims’ rights advocacy groups rallied at Beaver Stadium before and during the game. A few students, including Adam Lloyd, sold blue bracelets for $1, with proceeds going toward the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

“We just want to support the victims,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here. Everything else is trivial compared to what happened to them.”
Read more: After scandal, PSU plays on.

Man’s protest of PSU game draws mixed reactions

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2011

BY ED MAHON

UNIVERSITY PARK — John Matko put black tape over his cap’s Penn State logo.

He carried two hand-written signs that, at different points Saturday, prompted mockery, anger and sympathy from some of the thousands of fans who walked by him.

“The kids are what this day is about … not who wins or loses, or who lost their jobs and how!” Matko wrote on one of the signs. “Honor the abused kids by canceling the game and season now!”

Matko, 34, graduated from Penn State in 2000 and now lives in Pittsburgh where he does physical therapy work at a chiropractor’s office. He left his Pittsburgh home at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

By noon, Matko said one fan spilled beer on him and some others had knocked down his signs. One tried to debate Matko and called him an idiot when Matko walked away.

But some had compliments.

“Very nice,” one woman said after reading the sign for a minute. Another gave him a high five, and another shook his hand, saying he was an educator and appreciated the message.

Read more: Man’s protest of PSU game draws mixed reactions.

Penn State fans say pregame festivities more subdued in wake of scandal

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Caption: The football team gets off the buses and enters Beaver Stadium as the crowd is dressed in blue to support child abuse prevention. Penn State played Nebraska November 12, 2011. Nabil K. Mark

 

PUBLISHD AT CENTREDAILY.COM

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER  12, 2011

BY ED MAHON

Fans toasted to Joe Paterno, tossed around footballs, and chanted “We are Penn State. “

But many in downtown State College and at tailgates outside Beaver Stadium Saturday morning described pregame festivities as more subdued than usual.

“There’s just something missing, I think, from it all,” Randy Tubo, 58, of Houtzdale, said about an hour before the noon kickoff. “But I think once we get in the stadium, it’s gonna erupt.”

Bob Bender, a 1977 graduate of Nebraksa, made the trip from Bakersfield, Calif. for the game.

“Really somber compared to what we’re used to in Nebraska,” said Bender. “It doesn’t seem like they’re going to a football game.”

Jennifer Kroboth attended her first Nittany Lions football game when she was 7 years old.

She and hundreds of others waited near a Beaver Stadium entrance to greet the blue buses carrying  football players.

“There was cheering. When they actually came in we were very excited,” said the 37-year-old State College resident and elementary school teacher, “but before that, it was just, like, silent. And I’ve never experienced that before.”

Ed Mahon can be reached at 231-4619.

Categories: Penn State, State College

Second Mile, PSU had land deal in 2002

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Caption: There is no construction Monday, November 14, 2011 at the site of the new Second Mile learning center in Patton Township. Nabil K. Mark 

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2011

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BY ED MAHON

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State sold about 40.7 acres of undeveloped land to The Second Mile for $168,500 in April 2002.

The price is what Penn State says it paid for the land in August 1999 — and about $151,500 less than what a Pittsburgh man paid for it in 1990.

Penn State originally purchased the 40.7 acres of land as part of a much larger purchase.

“The property was acquired by the university to provide the opportunity for university use, but if the property was considered not of strategic importance to the university, other community uses were definite possibilities,” Daniel Sieminski, Penn State’s associate vice president for finance and business, said in an email Tuesday.

The land sale is another example of the close relationship between the two organizations, which are both embroiled in a child sex abuse scandal because of allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach and The Second Mile founder Jerry Sandusky.

Athletes and coaches with ties to Penn State were frequently the featured players at the annual Second Mile Celebrity Golf Classic. The event was the largest annual fundraiser for The Second Mile, and it raised $240,000 in 2009, according to IRS tax forms.

In the nonprofit’s 2009 annual report, the Penn State Altoona campus and the Penn State Professional Management Association donated between $2,000 and $4,999 to The Second Mile.

The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center donated between $1,000 and $1,999.

Several of the nonprofit’s major individual donors have ties to the university. For example, Lloyd Huck, a Penn State trustee emeritus, and his wife, Dorothy, are listed as members of the Arthur C. and Evelyn M. Sandusky Society, a designation for honored Second Mile donors.

The Second Mile, a charity in crisis, may not recover

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Caption: The Second Mile charity offices are located at 1402 S. Atherton St., December 2, 2011. Nabil K. Mark 

PUBLISHED IN THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 11, 2011

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BY ED MAHON

Guidance counselors in the State College Area schools have stopped referring students to The Second Mile’s early intervention youth programs.

Educators in the Bald Eagle Area, for now at least, don’t plan to hand out trading cards, with positive messages and the images of Penn State football players, that the organization distributes.

And whether a significant number of schools will continue to participate in the nonprofit’s leadership conferences is one of many uncertainties.

“We don’t know the status of that organization going forward,” said Dena Cipriano, spokeswoman for the Philipsburg- Osceola Area School District.

The future of The Second Mile has come into question since the Attorney General’s Office released a grand jury report Saturday, alleging that the organization’s founder,

Jerry Sandusky, sexually abused eight boys over 15 years. The report said he was introduced to the boys through The Second Mile programs.

Some educators said they felt betrayed by the news.

“I have been a public school teacher for 23 years. During that time I have referred many children to The Second Mile,” Bellefonte resident Susan Munnell wrote in a letter to the Centre Daily Times. “It makes me sick to now know that I could have been throwing them to the wolves — wolves that prey on innocent, at-risk children seeking acceptance and positive role models.”

Others cautioned against punishing an entire organization because of accusations against one person.

“We’re not going to paint everyone with the same brush,” said Penns Valley Area School District Superintendent Brian Griffith.