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News of the Weird



Lead Story

Judge Salvador Rosas refused to permit Peter Erlinder to be represented by his lawyer of choice last December in a Saint Paul trial. Erlinder had been charged with slamming his fiancee to the ground during a domestic argument, provoking her to call 911 and accuse Erlinder of assault. Several days later his fiancee, lawyer Jeanne Chacon, said she suffers posttraumatic stress disorder from childhood sexual abuse and that it was "little Jeannie" (age 6) who made the accusation against Erlinder. She told police that big Jeanne said the "assault" was consensual and wanted to drop the charges. When the prosecutor declined, Erlinder asked the judge to allow Chacon to be his defense attorney.

Miscellaneous Eloquence

Constance Penley, a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told the Chicago Tribune in August tha the TV show Beavis and Butt-head is about "the arrogance of white male privilege. . . . The only people who get to be that stupid and live are white guys."

Unclear on the Concept

An August Associated Press report on the Pitkin County jail in Aspen, Colorado, contained only praise from former "inmates." The jail has a library, gym, videocassettes for rent, and luxurious views of Red Mountain. Dewi Sukarno, widow of the former Indonesian dictator, who once did 24 days for assault, said, "I will treasure [memories of the jail] the rest of my life."

In September near Queensville, Ontario, skydiving student Sharon McClelland, 26, amazingly survived a 10,000-foot plunge into a marsh when her parachute malfunctioned. After the fall she struggled to her feet and rushed to apologize to her instructor because she had not followed procedures to open her backup chute.

After a Church of England diocese fired the Reverend Anthony Freeman of West Sussex in July because he had admitted in a recent book that he does not believe in God, 65 of Freeman's colleagues signed a letter protesting their superiors' "intolerance." But in October in Oakland, California, Catholic bishop John Cummins, facing a shortage of clergy, reappointed the Reverend John Gilmore as a parish priest, knowing that Gilmore had secretly fathered two children in the 1980s.

In July Mikael Phillips cut off both hands with a power saw in the maintenance shop of a psychiatric hospital in Arcadia, Florida. He told authorities he thought hurting himself badly would convince them to release him from the hospital.

The Canadian Bar Association held a three-day meeting last February to discuss the special problem of sexism within the legal profession. The main social event at the meeting was a toga party. The party announcement called on "every Adonis and Aphrodite to slip on that favorite bed sheet."

Edward Curley, a senior test developer at Educational Testing Service, admitted to Cox News Service in July that coached test takers could answer reading comprehension questions very well on the Scholastic Aptitude Test without ever reading the appropriate passages. Curley said the test still measured reading comprehension. "When they read the questions, and [read] the wrong answer choices, and [read] the right answer choice, the students are reading hundreds of words," he said.

Organizers of a pop music concert at Hong Kong Stadium announced in October that they would accommodate nearby residents who expressed concern about loud noise. Organizers said they will give out 17,500 pairs of gloves for the audience to wear so that when they enthusiastically applaud their idols, they won't make very much noise.

Creme de la Weird

In April an Akron woman was sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing her seven-year-old son. The woman told police that the family dog had sexually attacked the boy, and indeed police found dog semen on the boy's body. But the boy later said it was his mother who assaulted him as punishment for a bad toilet habit. Also in Akron, Henry Heepe, 50, reportedly told police in November that he murdered his mother and removed several organs. According to police Heepe explained, "She was a vampire devil. I cut out both her hearts."

British gymnast Lisa Grayson, 21, announced in June that she had taken a teaching position in the United States, in large part to avoid her British stalker of six years, Robert Wall, 35. Wall has written her 5,916 letters and 509 songs and has proposed marriage. In court Wall denied he was obsessed with Grayson but said, "I admit I wrote the songs, but they were good songs."

In July Vermont health officials in protective clothing and gas masks removed about 80 five-gallon buckets of human feces from a home in rural Springfield. The tenants of 12 years had recently abandoned the home after a fire. Said a social worker at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, "We do see situations like that throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. People do live like that, unfortunately."

A Minneapolis man around 40 years old was handing out fliers on a municipal bus in July to lobby against allowing females to ride, according to the weekly City Pages. Among the claims on the flier: "Women cause too much trouble on the buses" and "They commit . >. . threats of pencil puncture to eyeballs and threats of cutting off testicles" and "Cattle cars would be appropriate [transportation for them]."

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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