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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • May 17, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Michigan State agrees to pay $500M to settle Nassar claims

LANSING (AP) — Michigan State University has agreed to pay $500 million to settle claims from more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by sports doctor Larry Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history, officials announced Wednesday.

The deal surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, though the Nassar agreement involves far more victims.

"We are truly sorry to all the survivors and their families for what they have been through, and we admire the courage it has taken to tell their stories," said Brian Breslin, chairman of MSU’s governing board. "We recognize the need for change on our campus and in our community around sexual assault awareness and prevention."

It is not clear how much each victim will receive, although the money will not be divided equally. It is also unclear where the money will come from.

University spokeswoman Emily Guerrant said school leaders will now work on a way to pay the bill.

Cross removed from state land after complaint

GRASS LAKE TWP. (AP) — A large white cross that's been in Jackson County for nearly 70 years has been taken down after a complaint over the religious symbol standing on state-owned land.

The Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists asked the state Department of Natural Resources to remove the Grass Lake Ministerial Association's cross in March after a resident complained. The cross has stood on Sackrider Hill since 1950.

The ministerial association voted to take down the cross after meeting with agency officials.

"Basically, it came down to, there was a cross that we didn't own that was on land that we did own," said John Pepin, the DNR’s deputy public information officer. "We worked with the people that owned the cross and they voted to support removing it to a permanent location."

The activist group said that the cross' placement on public land amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of a religion.

A volunteer group, Grassroots Jackson, said this week that it was shocked and disappointed by the removal of the cross. The group started an online petition in March called "Save the Jackson Cross," which gathered more than 2,500 signatures.

Michigan jobless rate unchanged at 4.7 percent in April

LANSING (AP) — Michigan's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.7 percent in April.

Figures released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget show Michigan's jobless rate was eight-tenths of a percentage point above the national rate of 3.9 percent last month and three-tenths of a percentage point higher than the state's April 2017 rate of 4.4 percent.

The agency said total employment increased by 6,000 during the month and the number of unemployed in the state fell by 2,000.

Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer said some industry sectors such as construction and leisure and hospitality services reported lower than normal April seasonal job gains, probably because of the weather.

Man sentenced to jail for posing as an ambulance medic

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — A man who authorities say posed as an ambulance medic for an evening in West Michigan and helped with patients has been sentenced to nine months in jail.

Anthony Mario Fortuna, 42, learned his punishment Tuesday in Grand Rapids for impersonating a medical services employee. Fortuna apologized, saying he was "totally out of line,” the Grand Rapids Press reported.

On Jan. 19, Fortuna received permission to be on an ambulance ride-along and helped load patients. Authorities said he falsely told workers he was a former medical transportation company employee.

Kent County Circuit Judge Donald Johnston said Fortuna also started an IV on a patient and may have administered medicine.

Fortuna previously was sent to federal prison for falsely warning about possible explosive attacks in Michigan.

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