News Briefing
Jan 16, 2014 | 867 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Charges amended in ’Hood beating

At a hearing Tuesday, a judge dropped several charges against two men accused of beating and robbing a gay man in the Gayborhood in November.

Citing a lack of evidence, Judge Bradley K. Moss dismissed robbery, theft and receiving stolen property charges against Miguel Maldonado and Matthew Morris, accused of attacking Nick Forte Nov. 11 outside Voyeur.

The pair still faces aggravated assault, simple assault, conspiracy and reckless-endangerment charges.

Morris is free on bail, and the judge this week denied another request from Maldonado’s attorney to decrease his bail. Maldonado continues to be held on $50,000 bail.

Forte contends Maldonado, who at the time was a bouncer at Voyeur but who has since been let go, struck him from behind with a flashlight and Morris then pummeled him while he was unconscious. The attack resulted in a number of broken bones.

Morris and Maldonado will face a formal arraignment 11 a.m. Feb. 4 in Room 1104 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert St.

— Jen Colletta
BEBASHI’s tax liens remain

BEBASHI Transition to Hope, a local AIDS agency. continues to have federal-tax liens totaling $130,249.80, according to court records.

In February, an IRS lien of $77,718.60 was filed against BEBASHI, followed by a June lien of $52,531.20.

Gary J. Bell, executive director of BEBSASHI, had no comment for this story.

Last year, Bell acknowledged the agency had occasional cash-flow problems.

BEBASHI, like many other nonprofits, has, at times, encountered challenges that have affected our cash flow,” Bell said.

BEBASHI is located in the Spring Garden section of the city. It was founded in 1985 in response to the increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS in the city’s African-American community.

Board revises advertising policy

The state Board of Pardons has decided to stop advertising upcoming Philadelphia clemency hearings in a Delaware County newspaper.

Beginning this month, the board will publish Philadelphia clemency hearings in the Philadelphia Public Record rather than The News of Delaware County.

According to state law, the board must advertise upcoming clemency hearings in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the crime occurred.

The News of Delaware County isn’t a newspaper of general circulation in Philadelphia, as it only circulates about 10 papers in the city.

“We’ve been working on this [advertising change] for a while,” said Tracy Forray, secretary of the board.

Concerns were expressed last month, when the board advertised the clemency hearing of Lois Farquharson in The News of Delaware County.

In 1974, Farquharson, who is a lesbian, was convicted of murdering Leon Weingrad in Philadelphia.

At presstime, Farquharson’s clemency request remained pending with the board.

Outreach continues in Morris case

About 15 people attended a Justice for Nizah committee meeting this week and pledged to continue gathering support for a state probe into Nizah Morris’ death.

Morris was a transgender woman who became a homicide victim in 2002, shortly after entering a Philadelphia police vehicle.

The case remains unsolved, and the committee wants Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane to intervene.

The committee already has obtained the support of several organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Philadelphia, GLAAD, Jewish Social Policy Action Network, Project SAFE and the Philadelphia chapter of Sex Workers Outreach Project.

At their Jan. 13 meeting, committee members said they’ll seek additional endorsements from political, religious and social-justice groups in the region.

Former state Rep. Babette Josephs voiced hope that the combined impact of the endorsements will persuade Kane to review the case.

“We don’t want to alienate her,” Josephs noted. “She’s a potential ally.”

Several friends of Morris attended the meeting and expressed concern that local authorities are covering up Morris’ murder, rather than investigating it.

Committee member Jackie Cassel was encouraged by the enthusiasm expressed at the meeting

“I’m very excited about all the headway we’re making with various organizations and coalitions supporting this vital endeavor,” Cassel told PGN. “I can only hope we’ll touch a responsive chord in the heart of Kathleen Kane. We’re in this for the long haul.”

The next J4N committee meeting will be 6 p.m. March 10 at the William Way LGBT Center, 1315 Spruce St.

— Timothy Cwiek
Church hosts global gay-rights presentation

The Central Baptist Church of Wayne will host the Rev. Stephen Parelli and his husband Jose Ortiz at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at 106 W. Lancaster Ave.

Parelli and Ortiz will recount stories of gay Christians whom they have personally worked with in various countries all over the world. They will also discuss the strategies they have designed to counter ignorance, fear and violence with relationship-building and education about biblical sexual minorities. A question-and-answer session will follow after the presentation.

More information about Parelli and Ortiz can be found at

Giovanni’s Room celebrates 40th

Giovanni’s Room will celebrate its 40th anniversary 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.

Store founders Tom Wilson Weinberg and Dan Sherbo will share the spotlight with second owner Pat Hill, past co-owner Arleen Olshan and current owner Ed Hermance. The five will share history and stories with the general public about how Giovanni’s Room became the country’s oldest LGBT bookstore.

Additionally, Hermance, who recently announced his retirement, will provide information about the future of the bookstore.

For more information, call 215-732-2220.

Latino community honors salsa classic

GALAEI and Raíces Culturales Latinoamericanas will present the first tertulia of 2014: “El Gran Varón: The Latin LGBTQ Community, 26 Years Later,” at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Crane Old School, 1417 N. Second St.

The tertulia, a Spanish term for a social gathering with literary or artistic overtones, will focus on the 1988 song “El Gran Varón” by Willie Colón. This song was one of the first by an established artist to specifically allude to the HIV epidemic of the time period.

Other contemporary creative works such as Louie-Ortiz Fonseca’s mixed-media project “The Gran Varones” will also be showcased, as well as a number of creative-writing and spoken-word pieces by GALAEI youth.

Members of the community are invited to join in the conversation and celebration in person or on Twitter using #ElGranVaronPhilly. Admission to the event is $10 for the general public and $5 for students.

— Jen Gregory

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