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News of the Weird

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In January a Denver hospital clinic began a program to encourage pregnant inner-city women to come in for prenatal care by offering them free lottery tickets. And in May a private family-planning clinic in Wilmington, Delaware, began offering abortions at a 25 percent discount to women under age 18.

Miscellaneous New Rights

Philadelphia orthodontist Warren Graboyes filed a claim last fall with his insurance company, demanding $5,000 a month for his "disability" of "frotteurism," which is the compulsion to touch other people's private parts. Graboyes no longer works because he was convicted in 1991 of fondling teenage female patients, and evidence suggested he had been doing it for 19 years. And in September the Vermont Supreme Court turned down a similar insurance claim, from an optometrist who had been incarcerated and had lost his license due to a criminal conviction for pedophilia.

In February New York Supreme Court justice Richard Rutledge ordered Manhattan homeless man Larry Hogue released from a state mental hospital, saying he was not mentally ill but rather had only an "attitude problem." According to New York attorney general Robert Abrams, Hogue is incoherent, spends his government disability checks on crack cocaine, assaults elderly pedestrians, sets fire to cars, exposes his genitals, and throws objects such as park benches through plate-glass windows.

In May a Pennsylvania appeals panel ruled that a student in Hempfield, Pennsylvania, who was expelled for selling marijuana in the school hallway, should be reinstated because he has a "learning disability" that impeded his judgment.

In December Clemens Borntreger was jailed for six days in Sparta, Wisconsin, for refusing to purchase a state sanitary-code permit for his outhouse. He claimed that the permit system is improper government intrusion into his Amish life.

Troy, New York, inmate Ronnie LaMountain told the Record newspaper in April that she plans to sue the county for sex discrimination. LaMountain has partly completed a male-to-female sex change (has breasts but also a penis), considers herself female, and is upset that she is being housed alone instead of with either females or males.

Washington City Paper reported in January that police-officer candidates in Washington, D.C., are not disqualified for any criminal behavior engaged in as juveniles or for as many as six instances of drug use as adults. The head of the local police officers' union said a reform-school inmate could walk right in the police academy's front door and be in the running for a job.

Bad Times for Good Samaritans

When Lorne Murdock stopped along the road to aid victims of a car-truck collision in Los Angeles in May, someone stole his car. And Gary and Lisa Koffsky were headed for Atlantic City following their wedding in June when they stopped to help a driver slumped over the wheel in the center of a parkway in North Massapequa, New York; as they waited for help, another car hit them, sending them to the hospital for their honeymoon.

Last summer Greg Morris, 38, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, threatened lawsuits against several New Mexico state agencies because they failed to rescue him and his family soon enough after his plane crashed around Taos earlier that year. The plane crashed around 8 PM; a volunteer-only search operation began around 9 PM, and the crash site was discovered at 6:32 the next morning. Said the Taos town manager, "We had a lot of volunteer citizens who gave of their own time without any compensation to help them find that airplane crash, and later to provide the victims with emergency first aid and rescue."

In December Dorothy Pritchard of New Haven, Connecticut sued mechanic Doug Lopes for negligence in "repairing" her car. Lopes had stopped to help her on Interstate 95. He trimmed the radiator hose on the overheating car and topped off the radiator with spring water he had in his car. Pritchard claimed that 60 miles later the hose came loose again and sued Lopes for the hose, engine damage, the anguish of sitting with a broken-down car, and scratches in the car's paint job.

The Weirdo-American Community

David Michael Russell was arrested in June in a tunnellike attic above the Village Glen Plaza shopping center in Thousand Oaks, California, where he had been living for the last three years. Inside his "home," which was accessible only through a crawl space, police found rugs, bookshelves and books, a desk, a TV, a microwave oven, and a stereo system.

Least Competent People

USA Today reported in March that the West Virginia legislature was receiving calls from fishermen protesting a proposed law against stalking. The fishermen said they had heard the legislature was proposing to ban "stocking," as in the stocking of streams with fish.

I Don't Think So

In May a spokesperson for the district attorney's office in Newton, Massachusetts, said prosecutors were "leaning toward suicide" as the cause of death of a 52-year-old man found floating in the Charles River. The man's wrists were tied with rope and his mouth was covered with electrical tape.

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

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