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News of the Weird

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Lead Stories

Extreme political protest: At a city council meeting in Eugene, Oregon, in August, an unidentified man who had been sitting in the audience walked up to controversial mayor Jim Torrey, leaned over, and vomited on his shoulder. He then walked out. A council member who was watching the man during the meeting said the act was clearly premeditated.

Philip Wright, 18, charged with assaulting his parents, was given a suspended sentence by a magistrate in Newquay, England, in July. Philip had become violent when his parents suggested that his long-standing obsession with models Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova was getting out of hand. He had recently legally changed his name to Philip Herzigova-Schiffer.

The price of sex: In Hong Kong in July, former journalist Kwong Yiu-hong, 58, was sentenced to two years in jail for stealing from his employer in order to finance a bad $25,000 investment he had made with a woman with whom he had had a one-night stand in 1986. During his efforts to pay for the deal over the years, the debt grew to about $180,000. And during the Autumn Jackson extortion trial in New York in July, Bill Cosby testified that he had given Jackson and her mother about $100,000 in support over the years. Jackson claims that Cosby is her father based on a one-night tryst her mother had with him.

Compelling Explanations

Police in Duluth, Minnesota, arrested Randall Dean Adams, 27, in the early morning hours of June 6 inside a basement after a neighbor called 911. When an officer found Adams and asked what he was doing, Adams allegedly said that he had been hired for a remodeling job and had come to look things over.

Speaking to reporters from his bed at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in April, 16-year-old Mohd Zulkhairi Khalid said it was both a shock and a rush when he was hit by a stray bullet during a shootout between robbers and police. He told the Star that, though he had seen such things on television, he felt thrilled to experience for himself the excruciating pain.

In May Scripps Howard News Service profiled former lawyer James Kelley of Washington, D.C., one of a small group of regulars at his local church who are enthusiastic Episcopalians but do not believe in God. Said Kelley, "We all love the incense, the stained-glass windows, the organ music, the vestments, and all of that. It's drama. It's aesthetics. It's the ritual. That's neat stuff. I don't want to give all that up just because I don't believe in God."

A federal judge in Rock Island, Illinois, ruled in February in favor of defendant Martin Herman, who had been charged with sexual harassment because he sometimes belched, spit, urinated, scratched his genitals, and passed gas in the presence of female coworkers at the Mercer County highway-department office. After hearing several witnesses, the judge concluded that Herman is just a rude person who behaves that way in front of both males and females.

In January Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda of India, who suffers from a reputation for being lazy, told a meeting of government employees in Bangalore that he is actually a workaholic. Photographs allegedly showing him dozing off during official meetings have been misinterpreted, he said. "Most of the time I am in deep thought about various welfare programs for the people."

Reverend Robert Schuller, accused of roughing up a United Airlines flight attendant during a June trip from Los Angeles to New York, agreed in August to enter a first-offender program to settle the charge. The flight attendant said Schuller grabbed and shook him while demanding a fruit cup without cheese. Schuller said that he was merely "trying to share the love of God" with the man and that "I am a hands-on person."

Jennifer Lee RoGala, 30, was arrested in March in Anthony, Alabama, and charged with aggravated child abuse after she playfully chased and wounded three neighborhood children with an air-powered pellet gun. According to a neighbor, RoGala was unremorseful: "She said they used to do it all the time up north, and couldn't understand what the big deal was about shooting kids with pellets."

Men Behaving Badly

A 51-year-old man pleaded guilty in May in Hanover, New Hampshire, to stealing underwear from women's homes, including those of students at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. Police said they recovered a handwritten list of women whose pictures had been in local newspapers, along with two photo directories of Tuck students.

Jeffrey Maurice Young, 19, of Troy, Michigan, was arrested in Gastonia, North Carolina, in July and charged with assault and attempted theft. According to police, Young hid beneath a table at the Bloomin' Onion Steakhouse, lay on his back, and touched the legs of two women who sat down to eat. He ran away after he was discovered, but police later found him hiding on a shelf at a nearby Circuit City.

In August former Baptist minister Don McCary, 53, was reported to be planning to act as his own lawyer in four impending retrials on sexual assault charges in Chattanooga, Tennessee. "I made a lot of stupid mistakes," he said, "but I did not rape those four boys." He was convicted of the charges in 1992, but the Tennessee supreme court ordered new trials because the district judge had allowed "prejudicial" evidence against him, including McCary's diary, in which he described his yearning for young boys, and pornographic magazines, which he was clutching when police found him hiding among some choir robes.

In June government religious officers in the Perak state of Malaysia announced they are investigating a report that schoolgirls are allowing men to caress their cheeks for about 20 cents and other parts of their faces for slightly more money.

The Weirdo-American Community

According to testimony in June at a kidnapping trial held in Chicago, Richard Romero, 36, befriended a local 13-year-old boy in a chat room on the Internet and arranged to take him to Saint Petersburg, Florida. An acquaintance of Romero's, self-described faith healer Kim Wistey, said Romero told him he was a genetically engineered mutant programmed by the federal government to die at age 30, but a benevolent alien race called the Vagans had proved that "extracting the energy from pornography" could stop his cells from dying. Romero allegedly said that if Wistey put him up for a while, he'd work on computer databases to find a cure for Wistey's mother's cancer. Wistey said Romero was also enthusiastic about the "Five-Cent Plan," by which the two men would get rich tapping into an IRS fund that supposedly contains a nickel from every tax return ever filed. Said Wistey, after the prosecutor asked if he had believed all of this: "I didn't want to be closed-minded."

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 by Shawn Belshwender.

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