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State Briefs

by the associated press • Jul 5, 2019 at 8:00 AM

West Michigan congressman quitting Republican Party

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, the only Republican in Congress to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, said Thursday he is leaving the GOP because he has become disenchanted with partisan politics and "frightened by what I see from it."

In an opinion article published July 4 in the Washington Post, Amash said partisan politics is damaging American democracy.

Amash had been the only Republican in Congress to say Trump engaged in impeachable conduct, drawing the ire of many fellow Republicans and Trump. He was roundly criticized by fellow Republicans and withdrew from the Freedom Caucus of conservatives in Congress after the group disavowed his views.

Amash had filed in February for re-election in 2020 as a Republican in a race that has since drawn three primary challengers, his first intra-party challenge since 2014. Amash's chief of staff said Thursday that Amash plans to run as an independent.

6 children injured when vehicle hit Amish buggy, police say

DEERFIELD TWP. (AP) — Authorities said six children have been injured in West Michigan after a vehicle struck an Amish buggy.

The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office said one of the children is in critical condition. The other five were also hospitalized and are listed in fair condition.

Deputies responded to the accident after 10 p.m. Wednesday. A vehicle allegedly struck the horse-drawn buggy carrying eight people.

The vehicle's 63-year-old driver wasn't injured.

Authorities said alcohol was not a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation.

School agency to pay $450K to close sexual harassment case

ALLEGAN (AP) — An education agency in southwestern Michigan has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit on behalf of two teachers who said they were sexually harassed.

The settlement was filed Wednesday in federal court. The agreement requires the Allegan Area Educational Services Agency to train employees to properly handle complaints of sexual harassment. The agency is required to keep the government informed about complaints and any resolution over the next 18 months.

One teacher will receive $250,000 and the other will get $200,000.

Jonathan Garcia was a principal at the education agency, which serves school districts in Allegan County and offers programs to children with disabilities. He was accused of groping the women and forcing one to perform sex acts.

Garcia went to prison for 2 ½ years.

Man, 18, arrested in May death of homeless camper

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — An 18-year-old man is in custody in the slaying of a homeless man whose body was found by hikers near a Traverse City lake.

Police said Joshua Vandehoef turned himself in early Wednesday. He's charged with murder in the death of 62-year-old James Chisholm, whose throat was slashed.

Vandehoef appeared in court by video and was jailed without bond.

Defense attorney Jesse Williams said he was contacted Tuesday evening by prosecutors. Williams then contacted Vandehoef, who he said was arrested without incident.

Chisholm's body was found May 29, about 15 yards from Boardman Lake. He had been living in a tent. Police believe he had been in the area about three weeks.

TV station WWTV, citing court documents, said Vandehoef admitted his role to someone on Snapchat, and said he walked home and washed blood off himself.

Judge scolds man involved in fatal crash for Facebook posts

MUSKEGON (AP) — A judge says Facebook posts by a man involved in a West Michigan crash that killed an 83-year-old man showed disrespect for the elderly victim.

Jon Kevin Middlecamp, 55, was sentenced this week to three months in jail for the May crash that killed Jerry Huston of Egelston Township and seriously injured Huston's wife, 80-year-old Patricia Huston, the Muskegon Chronicle reported.

Middlecamp earlier pleaded guilty to misdemeanors including moving violation causing death. His attorney said the crash "truly was an accident."

Several Facebook posts attributed to Middlecamp, including one using profanity that said the elderly motorist "doesn't need to be drivin," were read aloud in court. Muskegon County District Judge Raymond Kostrzewa said the Facebook posts "show a complete lack of respect for this person's life."

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