COAST GUARD ASSAULT
Coast Guard convicts petty officer in assault case
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A jury of eight Coast Guard members, after a weeklong court-martial in federal court in New Orleans, has convicted one of their own in a sexual assault of a female Coast Guard member in late 2012.
The jury of five women and three men deliberated for more than 12 hours over two days before finding 22-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Joe D. Newmans guilty Friday on two counts of sexual assault and one count of assault "consummated by a battery" under military law.
NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune reports Newmans was acquitted on one count of the latter charge in connection with the Nov. 29, 2012, incident.
Newmans was sentenced to 90 days confinement, reduction to E-1 - the lowest enlisted pay grade - and a bad conduct discharge.
Senate votes to limit drones on private property
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana Senate has changed its mind on drones.
A day after rejecting the bill, senators voted 22-16 Tuesday for Sen. Dan Claitor's proposal to restrict the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana.
Claitor's bill would make it illegal to use drones to photograph people on private property without their permission, with a list of exceptions, including for law enforcement.
The Baton Rouge senator said the limits would protect privacy.
Senators raised concerns about the bill's scope, saying it could ban useful services that can be carried out by drones.
Despite the concerns, Claitor was able to persuade enough of his colleagues to change their minds and support the proposal. It heads next to the House for consideration.
Senate agrees to rework laws on drilling damage suits
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Senate unanimously agreed to rework the laws governing disputes over how to handle the clean-up of environmental damage done in drilling years ago.
The bill heading to the House for debate would change the complex legal process for dealing with so-called "legacy lawsuits" that seek millions of dollars in damage claims and that the oil and gas companies claim are inhibiting energy exploration.
But Senate approval in a 37-0 vote Tuesday came only after Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, decided against trying to rewrite his bill (Senate Bill 667) so that the new rules would have retroactively covered dozens of long-running existing lawsuits.
Adley said while he believes the measure should be retroactive, he didn't want to drag the Senate into a long, angry debate over the issue. Sen. Jody Amedee, R-Gonzales, suggested he didn't think Adley had the votes to pass the bill if it was retroactive.
Compromises over legacy lawsuits were supposedly reached in 2006 and 2012, but follow-up court rulings have revived disagreements. Adley said his bill addresses confusion that has been created by both areas of law involved, the civil code and the state mineral code.
Among the changes, the proposal would spell out the types of damage that can be recovered in the lawsuits and the standards for recovery. It also would define contamination to clarify what type of environmental damage is covered for recovery. It would declare that remediation plans devised by the Department of Natural Resources are considered the most feasible for environmental cleanup.
"This goes a long way in addressing some of the common concerns that have plagued our state for years," said Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches.
Eunice Police officers arrested for malfeasance
EUNICE, La. (AP) - Two Eunice police officers accused of not helping another officer in a fight in early April have been arrested for malfeasance in office.
Sheriff Bobby Guidroz tells The Advocate that Officers Jade Weaver and Tayla Fruge, both of Eunice, were booked Monday and placed on administrative leave while the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office investigates. Weaver and Fruge each posted $2,500 bond and has been released. It was not immediately known if either is represented by an attorney.
The alleged incident occurred April 1. Guidroz did not provide further details. He says Eunice Police Chief Roland Dies asked the sheriff's office to investigate.
Panel delays vote on Churchill Downs' Fair Grounds
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Louisiana State Racing Commission has delayed action on a new 10-year license for Churchill Downs Inc. to hold horse racing and operate slot machines at The Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.
The commission's decision to delay action Tuesday follows complaints from the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and others about conditions at the track. NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune reports that the Racing Commission scheduled a special meeting May 1 to discuss the licensing.
Fair Grounds president Tim Bryant issued a statement saying the track has provided the commission with a plan to improve facilities and operations.
Meanwhile, a bill moving through the state Legislature would require that 10 percent of net slot machine proceeds at the track go to maintenance and capital improvements.
Tulane football recruit arrested, accused of rape
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A Tulane University wide receiver has been arrested, accused of raping a high-school student while she was passed out in his roommate's bed in a campus dormitory.
According to a New Orleans Police Department arrest warrant, the 18-year-old girl told police that she awoke at 4 a.m. on April 14 to find 17-year-old Niguel "Teddy" Veal, on top of her having sex with her.
NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune reports Veal, of Gretna, was booked Tuesday with one count of simple rape. Bond was set at $20,000. It was unclear if he has an attorney.
Veal, recruited from West Jefferson High School, enrolled at Tulane this year and is considered one of the school's top recruits. Tulane spokesman Michael Strecker says Veal has been suspended from the team.
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