Last month Bob Hunter lost his race for a seat on the Toronto city council after voters learned of a nonfiction book he'd written 13 years earlier about a trip around the world that included group sex with underage girls in Thailand. The book cover described the stories as "all true," but Hunter now says the sex part was just a middle-aged man's fantasy to make a satirical point about the "collapse of Eastern culture and the decadence of Western culture."
In August the University of South Florida medical school settled out of court with two faculty members who had brought suits for religious discrimination; Dr. James Rowsey, the former chairman of their department, had denied equipment to researchers based on religious admonitions from his wife, whom he considered a prophet, and had urged complaining faculty members to pray for a larger department budget.
Faced with a dramatic AIDS epidemic, King Mswati III of Swaziland last month ordered all teenage girls to abstain from sex for five years and to identify themselves publicly with green-and-yellow tassels; married teens are exempt but must wear red-and-black tassels.
Send Up the Clowns
The recently retired Quacky the Clown (Jacob L. Tarner, 53) was arrested in August and charged with having molested a ten-year-old girl last year in his vehicle, in Michigan just north of the Indiana state line. In Indiana the maximum sentence is 45 years, but in Michigan, Quacky faces life....That same month, Smiley the Clown (Christopher Bayer, 29) reported back to jail in Riverhead, New York, after his bail for child-molestation charges was revoked (a judge had misread state law when releasing him)....And in September a judge in Moline, Illinois, acquitted Chuckles the Clown (Kimble McLain, 42) for performing at a Wal-Mart store with his genitals clearly visible; Chuckles convinced the judge that he had no idea his zipper was down until someone told him.
The Litigious Society
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in July that a woman was suing the Atlanta Braves and outfielder Andruw Jones after being hit in the head by a ball Jones had flipped into the stands. Many players reward their fans by tossing them the ball after the third out of an inning; teammate Brian Jordan complained, "We're trying to give people souvenirs and now some lady wants to sue."
In July the Mississippi Court of Appeals overturned the divorce of Jack Bodne and Alice Susan King, ruling that while Bodne's cursing and crude jokes were rude and unkind, they failed to meet the legal standard of "cruel and inhuman" treatment.
People With Issues
In July, Cincinnati police arrested 42-year-old Anthony Searles after he allegedly tossed a handful of his own saliva on the clothed backside of a female undercover officer. The undercover operation was a response to numerous reports of a male suspect tossing spit at well-dressed women on the street....And in June, Dallas
police admitted that they still had no leads in capturing the man who has been biting and licking women's arms for nearly a year.
Least Competent Criminals
Maria Riano, an illegal immigrant from Peru, was arrested in Tampa, Florida, in July after trying to buy an airline ticket to Newark with eight bulging duffel bags behind her. Asked the standard question "Did you pack your own bags?," Riano snapped, "Why do you need to know that?" Airport security officers summoned to the scene opened the bags and found about $25,000 worth of shoplifted clothing.
In July, 50-year-old Patrick Murphy of Boulder, Colorado, was acquitted of harassment charges brought by a dog owner he videotaped failing to pick up after his pet at a school park. Murphy, a dog-hygiene activist, recently used global positioning satellite equipment to document that the park was littered with 663 dog piles.
In the Last Month
The sheriff's office in Orlando, Florida, apologized to Adalberto Ruiz Hasselmyer, a black man who is five-foot-eight and weighs 360 pounds, after police mistook him for fugitive Jorge Adaberto Ruiz, a white man who is five-foot-four and weighs 150 pounds....The Thorupgaarden nursing home in Copenhagen, Denmark, admitted that it regularly shows pornography on its in-house TV channel because it relaxes patients, even some women....And Michael McMillian of Philadelphia, accused of driving under the influence, sat patiently on the witness stand as his lawyer reached over and removed McMillian's glass eye, hoping to undermine the arresting officer's claim that the defendant appeared "glassy-eyed." The judge convicted McMillian anyway, saying his other eye was glassy as well.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.