News Briefing
Feb 13, 2014 | 532 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City maintains no liability in police-bias case

In a recent court filing, city officials contend they have no liability in the case of N. Melville Jones, a gay police officer who claims pervasive workplace bias due to his LGBT status.

“Any actions taken by [the city] with respect to the terms and conditions of [Jones’] employment were taken in good faith, in a reasonable manner and fashion and for legitimate and lawful reasons,” the Feb. 3 filing states.

The filing also states: “[Jones] was not subjected to any adverse employment action or hostile work environment by [the city].”

Additionally, the filing argues the city should be awarded “interest and costs,” to cover the expenses it has incurred due to Jones’ lawsuit.

In his suit, Jones contends that Daniel Castro, a former high-ranking police official, routinely harassed him at work.

Castro disseminated Jones’ sexual orientation throughout the police department and had him transferred to an undesirable night shift, according to Jones’ suit.

Co-workers accused Jones of having sex in public restrooms. Additionally, he was and sent out on patrol without proper attire and weaponry, according to the suit.

In January 2010, while Jones was out on sick leave, Castro circulated a staff memo identifying Jones as “Mel Cums Jones,” according to the suit.

Castro no longer works for the city. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion in an unrelated matter, and was sentenced to 60 months in prison.

The case is pending before Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein.

A non-jury trial is tentatively set for 10 a.m. Oct. 6 in Courtroom 246 of City Hall.

Hearing set in cop case

Michael A. Paige, a Philadelphia police officer who allegedly forced another man to perform oral sex on him, is seeking payment from the city for his legal expenses.

A hearing on Paige’s request is set for 10 a.m. March 14 in Room 480 of City Hall.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Jacqueline F. Allen is scheduled to preside.

In May 2008, James Harris sued Paige in federal court, claiming Paige forced him to perform oral sex in a secluded area of Fairmount Park the previous year.

A Philadelphia judge cleared Paige of criminal wrongdoing, but a federal jury awarded Harris $165,000 in damages in 2012.

Attorneys for Harris claim Paige owes them more than $400,000 in attorney’s fees.

City attorneys contend that Paige acted outside the scope of his employment during the alleged incident, and the city isn’t responsible for his legal expenses.

Neither side had a comment for this story.

— Timothy Cwiek
Gay man tossed from PA church

A Pennsylvania church recently denied membership to a longtime congregant because he is gay.

Bobbie Pierce, 20, had been a member of Ambassador’s Bible Chapel in Newberry Township, but Pastor David Slautterback announced to the congregation during a recent service that his membership was revoked because of his sexual orientation.

Pierce posted a letter he received from Slautterback to the York Daily Record’s Facebook page.According to the YDR, Slautterback said he wrote the letter out of concern for Pierce and told the paper he believes “that a homosexual person has to be homosexual any more than I believe that a person who is inclined to steal steals.”

Pierce told the YDR that he will continue to attend church services.

Tabu hosts HRC event

The Human Rights Campaign Athletes for Equality will host a social for LGBT athletes and allies from 4-7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Tabu, 200 S. 12th St., with proceeds to benefit Human Rights Campaign.

The event will include a meet-and-greet with the members of Running for Equality and other supporters and allies and will include drink and food specials, such as $3 seasonal drafts, $8 Absolut and Red Bull and half-priced tater tots.

The admission price is $5. For more information, visit

Equality Forum honors allies

Equality Forum will host the Equality Ball from 7-10 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Independence Visitor Center, Sixth and Market streets.

The event will honor two LGBT allies, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes and the Rev. Frank Schaefer.

The event will include restaurant tastings, open bar, live music and take-home gifts, as well as the chance to win tickets to a Lady Gaga concert. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at

EQPA kicks off grassroots work

Equality Pennsylvania is gearing up for its Philly kick-off meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Friends Meeting House, 1501 Cherry St., to mark its next phase of advocacy.

The meeting will address what Equality Pennsylvania’s newly formed grassroots team will do to move forward a statewide non-discrimination bill. Attendees will also be given the chance to learn how they can get involved in the fight for equality.

For more information, contact organizer Andy Kunka at or call 215-410-7470.

— Angela Thomas

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