News briefing Dec. 26, 2014-Jan. 1 2015

News briefing Dec. 26, 2014-Jan. 1 2015

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Reading appoints out commission member

The city of Reading has appointed a prominent LGBT event executive to its Human Relations Commission.

 

Mayor Vaughn Spencer nominated Richard L. Spangler, president of Reading Pride Celebration, to the commission, a decision approved unanimously by City Council Nov. 24. He was sworn in Dec. 9 and will take his seat on the commission Jan. 14.

“I hope that an openly gay presence on the commission will help to reflect the cultural make-up of the city while allowing furtherance of justice over discrimination,” Spangler said. “I view my appointment as an extension of president of Pride, a position in which I advocate for equality for the LGBT community.”

The city of Reading has had laws that protect people from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodation since 1955. In 2009, an amendment was passed adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law, a move Spangler helped fight for as president of Pride.

His term on the commission expires Feb. 14, 2018.

— Ryan Kasley

Appeals court orders more records in sex-assault case

The state Superior Court has ordered a Philadelphia judge to provide more records pertaining to an appeal by Jeffrey J. Marsalis, who’s convicted of sexually assaulting two local women, then raping a lesbian in Idaho.

Marsalis seeks a new trial, claiming ineffective assistance of his trial counsel.

Last month, the Superior Court directed Common Pleas Judge Steven R. Geroff to provide all records “necessary and relevant to allow for a complete and judicious assessment of the issues raised on appeal.”

Geroff previously provided numerous records to the court, but Marsalis argued they were incomplete.

As of presstime, the additional records hadn’t been provided to the court.

Marsalis also claims the Philadelphia District Attorney’s officer should be removed from the case, since one of his accusers served as an assistant D.A. at the time of his 2007 trial.

Marsalis, 41, remains incarcerated at a state prison in Marienville. 

His scheduled release date is Jan. 17, 2017. Then, he must begin serving a 14-year prison sentence in Idaho for raping a lesbian in that state, according to court records.

Plans for vacant church unknown

The former Church of the Assumption remains vacant about 20 years after it was vacated by the Archdiocese, and plans for its future remain unknown.

“This project has been on hold, “ said Mika He, a co-owner of the structure, without elaborating.

The building is located at 1123-33 Spring Garden St.

Siloam, an AIDS-services agency, is located adjacent to the building.

Neighbors have blocked a proposed demolition of the building, noting its ties to two local saints, John Neumann and Katharine Drexel.

But concerns have been expressed about the building’s structural integrity.

Last year, city attorney Andrew Ross said city inspectors would inspect the interior and exterior of the building. 

“We are in the process of re-inspecting the exterior and interior of the structure and will take appropriate action based on the findings of the inspection,” Ross said in a December 2013 email.

But according to city records, the re-inspection hasn’t yet taken place.

In an email sent this week, Ross said: “Unfortunately I have no more information on this. I have not heard anything from Licenses & Inspections in some months. So I don’t know whether they have re-inspected more recently or not.”

— Timothy Cwiek

 


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