News Briefing

News Briefing

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Smithson pleads no contest to child porn

William F. Smithson, the Delaware County gay man convicted of killing a coworker, has pleaded no contest to charges that he had child pornography on his computer at the time of the 2006 homicide.

On June 26, Smithson appeared in the courtroom of Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Barry C. Dozor and entered the plea.

Dozor set sentencing for 9 a.m. Sept. 11 at the court house, 201 W. Front St., Media, after Smithson undergoes a psychological evaluation.

In November 2008, a jury found Smithson guilty of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of 23-year-old Jason Shephard. Smithson was sentenced to life imprisonment, but he continues to maintain his innocence.

In a recent letter to PGN, Smithson also denied the child-porn charges.

Several people had access to his computer, and the images in question were in a folder with someone else’s name on it, Smithson claimed.

“Let me make it clear: Any image depicting children in an abusive or inappropriate manner sickens me to my core,” Smithson wrote.

He said he pleaded “no contest,” in part, to facilitate his transfer to a state prison, where he no longer will be confined to his cell 23 hours a day.

Erica G. Parham, a spokesperson for the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, had no comment about Smithson’s statements. “We’ll have an opportunity on the day of sentencing to express our feelings to Judge Dozor, and so will Mr. Smithson’s counsel,” Parham told PGN.

— Tim Cwiek

DVLF hosts shopping party

Neiman Marcus in King of Prussia Mall, 160 N. Gulph Road, will open its doors to the LGBT community for a private shopping event at 6 p.m. July 15.

“The Art of Entertaining” will feature complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and will raise funds for local LGBT grantmaking organization Delaware Valley Legacy Fund.

Perry Monastero, executive director of DVLF, said the fundraiser will enable the organization to unite supporters from a variety of locales beyond the Philadelphia boundaries.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Neiman Marcus and to be reaching out to our constituents in Montgomery and Chester counties and other western-suburban friends and allies,” Monastero said.

House of Blahnik scholarships

The House of Blahnik is accepting applications for scholarship awards for the 2009-10 school year. The LGBT nonprofit, which has chapters in Philadelphia, New York City and other areas, focuses its work on the performing arts, specifically supporting the house/ballroom community.

The scholarship encourages LGBT individuals to aspire to their own educational goals while acting as role models for their peers in the ballroom community.

Completed applications are due Aug. 7.

For more information or to access an application, visit www.houseofblahnik.com.

— Jen Colletta


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