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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Jun 28, 2018 at 9:00 AM

No liability for Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese in abuse case

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — The Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese isn't liable for a sexual relationship between a high school tutor and a student, the state appeals court said in affirming a decision by a Kent County judge.

Church and school officials had no knowledge of the relationship between Abigail Simon and a teen boy in 2013, even if there were concerns among staff about how she publicly acted with students at Catholic Central and West Catholic high schools, the court said.

Simon, now 38, turned down a plea deal and was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. She was sentenced to at least eight years in prison and is eligible for parole in 2022.

The victim, who was a 15-year-old Catholic Central student, filed a lawsuit against the diocese and school officials, alleging negligence and liability. The appeals court affirmed a decision by Judge George Quist in favor of the defendants.

"Simon's personal space and professionalism issues failed to convey an unmistakable propensity to sexually abuse minors, and cannot be considered an inevitable prelude to criminal sexual conduct," the court said Tuesday.

Simon acknowledged having sex with the student, but she claimed that he had coerced and intimidated her. A prosecutor at her trial called that defense "garbage."

Inmates use stolen van to ram jail fences in escape attempt

BLACKMAN TWP. (AP) — Two jail inmates attempted an escape this week by ramming a stolen service van into an interior fence at the facility in Jackson County.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office said the inmates then tried to ram perimeter fences at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, but the crash with the first fence disabled the van.

Deputies subdued the inmates with stun guns and chemical spray. They could be charged with vehicle theft and attempted escape.

The Sheriff's Office says the van was on jail grounds when the driver was threatened by one of the inmates who took the vehicle's key.

The damaged fences have been repaired.

Man charged after high-pressure sprayer used to clean dogs

WARREN (AP) — A 49-year-old Detroit man faces misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after a high-pressure car sprayer was used to clean his two dogs.

The Macomb Daily reported the owner of the self-service car wash in Warren, just north of Detroit, called police Sunday after viewing security video on her cellphone.

Officers arrived to find soap on the dogs, but let the man leave with his pets. Police later reviewed the video and saw that the sprayer was used to rinse the dogs.

Police said the man indicated both dogs were "covered in feces."

Charges were authorized Wednesday. He has not been arraigned.

Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said the man took the dogs to a veterinarian and that they suffered no serious injuries. The man has volunteered to give them to new owners.

Sculpture commemorating Hemingway's Michigan ties is missing

BEAVER ISLAND (AP) — A sculpture that's part of an effort to commemorate author Ernest Hemingway's ties to northern Michigan is missing from outside a library where it once stood.

The Petoskey News-Review reported the Charlevoix County Sheriff's Office is investigating the apparent theft of the sculpture from outside the Beaver Island District Library on Beaver Island, which is located in Lake Michigan off the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

Charlevoix County Sheriff Chuck Vondra said the roughly 9-foot-tall, 200-pound orange metal sculpture featuring cut-out images was discovered missing earlier this month.

Hemingway was born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois. His family spent summers at their cottage on Michigan's Walloon Lake. Hemingway's adventures in the area inspired many of his early short stories, particularly those involving the character Nick Adams.

Doctor who gave away free hams charged with health fraud

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area doctor who wrote prescriptions for more than 2 million painkiller pills has been charged with health care fraud.

Dr. Frank Patino appeared in Detroit federal court Wednesday. He was returned to jail to await a Friday hearing to determine if he'll stay locked up without bond.

Patino is accused of submitting claims to Medicare and Medicaid for health care that wasn't performed or wasn't necessary. The value of the alleged scheme is pegged at $112 million.

The indictment says opioids and other drugs were resold on the street. Patino is charged with receiving kickbacks and bribes to refer patients to certain labs.

Defense attorney Brian Lennon said Patino expects to be "fully vindicated." In 2014, he distributed 300 free hams for struggling Pontiac residents.

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