News Briefing: Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2014

News Briefing: Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2014

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Police antibias case ongoing

The federal antibias lawsuit filed by Luis Berrios against the city of Philadelphia and several police officers has moved closer to a jury trial.

Earlier this month, both sides in the dispute notified U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones 2d that they’ve been unable to reach a settlement.

“Parties have not reached a settlement agreement and wish to continue with the litigation as this court schedules,” both sides stated in a joint Aug. 6 filing.

Berrios, who is gay, alleges that several Philadelphia police officers used excessive force against him and his partner, as well as homophobic and racist language, when they were called to his house for a domestic disturbance.

The incident occurred four years ago, and Berrios’ lawsuit has been pending since 2012.

Neither side had a comment for this report.

Judge redacts gay cop’s medical records

Common Pleas Judge Idee C. Fox has redacted the medical records of an openly gay city cop who’s suing the city for pervasive anti-LGBT workplace bias, prior to sending them to city attorneys.

In an Aug. 21 filing, Fox said she redacted portions of N. Melville Jones’ medical records because they aren’t relevant to his antibias lawsuit.

The city had requested all of Jones’ medical records since 2008. But Jones’ attorneys contended the city was needlessly intruding on their client’s privacy and harassing him.

Fox said she sent the medical records to city attorneys via the U.S. Postal Service.

She was given a complete set of Jones’ medical records during a brief court proceeding July 10 and promised to redact all irrelevant portions prior to sending a copy to city attorneys.

Neither side had a comment for this story.

The case is in the discovery phase of litigation, and a non-jury trial is expected in December.

Convicted antigay basher to live in Philly

The state Board of Probation and Parole this week confirmed that convicted antigay basher Herbert Haak 3d will live in a Philadelphia halfway house after he’s released from prison.

Haak, 43, has spent 15 years in prison for allegedly assaulting a gay man.

Laura Treaster, a board spokesperson, said Haak was eligible to be paroled on Aug. 18.

According to state Department of Correction records, he continues to be incarcerated at a state prison in Frackville.

“I’m unable to confirm or deny why Mr. Haak is still [incarcerated past Aug. 18], due to our regulations,” Treaster said in an email.

Treaster said she couldn’t divulge the exact location of the halfway house in which Haak will reside.

She also said she didn’t know how long Haak will live in the halfway house.

“All offenders need an approved home plan when they are [released from the halfway house],” Treaster added. “Reviews of proposed home plans are investigated by board-parole agents and the final determination is reviewed by parole supervisors/directors in the field.”

In 1995, Haak and co-defendant Richard Wise assaulted a gay man with a tuna can and stole his jacket.

A Philadelphia jury convicted Haak of robbery and criminal conspiracy.

In a separate bench trial, Wise was convicted of aggravated assault and related offenses.

Wise, 38, was paroled in 2010.

The incident took place near Schuylkill River Park, a gay-cruising area at the time, and police termed the incident a “gay bashing.”

Three days earlier, Kimberly Ernest was raped and murdered while jogging in Center City. Haak and Wise were accused of her murder, but they were acquitted by a jury in 1997.

Haak contended that local authorities retaliated against him for the acquittal by unfairly linking him to the gay-bashing incident.

If Haak were required to serve his maximum sentence, he wouldn’t be released until Aug. 18, 2029, according to DOC records.

— Timothy Cwiek

LGBT conference held at Rutgers

Garden State Equality, in partnership with the Out-of-Home Youth Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s LGBT Rights section, will host an LGBT-focused conference for youth-service providers next month.

Becoming Visible is a free and public training for professionals who work in fields such as juvenile justice, children’s welfare and corrections and probation systems. The conference will help professionals in those fields better identify the needs of LGBT youth.

Speakers include Family Acceptance Project director Dr. Caitlin Ryan, an expert in LGBTQ cultural-competency training.

The event will take place from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 18 and 19. The first conference will be at Rutgers University’s Camden campus and the second at its New Brunswick location.

For more information or to register, visit

Fundraising group explores diversity

The local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals will host a workshop called Diversity in Fundraising: Myth or Reality from 8:30-11 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St., Room 108.

The workshop will feature a panel discussion about the challenges involved with working, leading and seeking competitive employment as a diverse fundraiser. The event is free for chapter members and $40 for nonmembers. For more information or to register, visit

LGBT employment group to stage Philly meeting

Pride at Work will host an organizing meeting for the Pennsylvania Chapter of Pride at Work.

Pride At Work is a nonprofit organization that mobilizes LGBT union workers.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Service Employees International Union office, 1706 Race St., third floor.

For more information, email Michele Kessler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

—Angela Thomas



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