News briefing Dec. 19-25, 2014

News briefing Dec. 19-25, 2014

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Former Mazzoni CFO waives arraignment

The former finance head of Mazzoni Center last month waived his arraignment on dozens of charges connected to a series of DUI incidents.

Nicholas Chaban will next be in court for a pre-trial conference Jan. 26.

Chaban was arrested five times for DUI and drug charges from December-September; bail was granted in each case but revoked in September. He has since been in Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Several new DUI-related charges were added to the case last month.

Chaban was employed by the LGBT health facility in some capacity for nearly 20 years and was dismissed by Mazzoni Center in September.

The agency has since hired Racquel Assaye as its CFO. Assaye worked in the organization’s finance department since October 2009 and has more than 20 years of accounting experience.          

— Jen Colletta


HIV-bias suit continues

The plaintiff suing a Lancaster County medical practice for dismissing him and his family upon learning his HIV-positive status is requesting anonymity in the case.

The motion was submitted Dec. 2 by Ronda Goldfein, co-counsel at AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, on behalf of her client, who has been identified in court papers as “Husband Jones.” The filing states that Jones is requesting pseudonyms for himself, his wife and his daughter in order to protect his daughter’s identity.

The motion stated that Jones fears that widespread knowledge of his HIV status might lead to further stigma and discrimination against his daughter. Further, the motion states that the Joneses would not be likely to pursue this litigation individually and on behalf of their daughter unless they are permitted to proceed under pseudonym.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has granted pseudonyms to HIV-positive plaintiffs in the past, recognizing that such plaintiffs “are in a highly sensitive position and therefore should be allowed to proceed anonymously,” according to Roe v. City of New York.

— Ryan Kasley


Williams court date delayed

A pre-trial status conference in the homicide case of transwoman Diamond Williams has been postponed until next year, the presiding judge said this week.

Charles N. Sargent stands accused of stabbing to death Williams, then dismembering her body in July 2013.

A pre-trial status conference in the case was slated for Dec. 18. But Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner told PGN the proceeding has been postponed until early next year, due to scheduling conflicts.

In a related matter, Sargent recently sent a letter to the court, according to court records. But Lerner said he hadn’t yet received the letter, and didn’t know its contents.

According to a statement Sargent allegedly gave to police, he admitted inviting Williams to his Strawberry Mansion residence during the early-morning hours of July 14, 2013.

Sargent claims he stabbed Williams in self-defense, after she demanded a pre-arranged payment of $40 for having sex with him — which he says he refused to pay since she had male genitalia.

Sargent, 45, is charged with murder, abuse of corpse and possessing an instrument of crime. He remains incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Settlement conference set in Scouts case

A settlement conference has been scheduled in the case of Patricia Evasew, who claims her son’s molestation by his Scoutmaster contributed to his suicide.

Earlier this year, Evasew filed suit against Charles “Chris” Morris and the Boy Scouts of America Chester County Council in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

Evasew claims Morris, a former Scoutmaster, repeatedly molested her son, Thomas, while he was a teenager in the 1980s. In February 2012, Thomas, 38, shot and killed himself in the parking lot of a building where his Boy Scouts troop met.

Morris, of Paoli, couldn’t be reached for comment.

In court papers, Morris acknowledged being a Scout leader for BSA Troop 67 of the Chester County Council between January 1987 and December 1992.

But he denied molesting Thomas or contributing to his death in any way.

The settlement conference is set for 9 a.m. June 1, 2015, in Courtroom 246 of City Hall, with Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein presiding.

Evasew is seeking more than $50,000 in damages, according to court records.

Judge assigned in cop case

On Dec. 10, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Linda A. Carpenter was assigned to rule on the city’s request to dismiss the case of N. Melville Jones.

Jones is an openly gay Philadelphia police officer who alleges pervasive anti-LGBT workplace bias. Jones filed suit against the city last year, alleging extensive harassment and discrimination due to his sexual orientation. 

He also claims that a supervisor outed him throughout the police department after seeing him leave a gay bar in Washington, D.C.

But the city claims Jones’ lawsuit is meritless, and wants it dismissed.

At presstime, Carpenter hadn’t ruled on the city’s request.

Efforts to settle the case have been unavailing and, if Jones’ complaint isn’t dismissed, a non-jury trial is expected in September 2015, according to court records.

— Timothy Cwiek

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