Friday, March 14, 2003

Tristate A.M. Report



Compiled from staff and wire reports

XU rally protests play's cancellation

Xavier University students and faculty will rally at 3 p.m. today to protest the administration's initial decision this week to cancel three productions of the play The Vagina Monologues.

Student organizers say students and faculty members are expected to speak in front of the Gallagher Student Center.

The play has been controversial because it involves strong language and frank discussions about women's sexual experiences.

Xavier president the Rev. Michael Graham said Tuesday he canceled the program over concerns about the language and themes in the play.

Nancy Bertaux, an economics professor, then said Wednesday she will include the production as part of her human resources class.

Productions will be at 8 p.m. today and 5 and 9 p.m. Saturday in the Gallagher Student Center theater.

Drug agent arrests suspected traffickers

Two men are facing felony drug charges after a Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit officer uncovered about 15 kilograms of cocaine in their van during a traffic stop on Interstate 74 Wednesday afternoon.

Martin Alejandro Larios, 22, and Jose Manuel Castro Perez, 23, also known as Jose Manuel Felix, are each charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, Hamilton County sheriff's deputies said. Their addresses are unknown.

The RENU officer stopped the men's 1994 Ford van speeding on I-74 about 2:15 p.m. A narcotics dog was called after the men provided evasive answers.

The agents discovered the cocaine in an electronically controlled hidden compartment beneath the rear floor of the van, deputies said.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the cocaine was being transported from Chicago for distribution in Greater Cincinnati, authorities said.

The cocaine has a street value of about $1.5 million.

Hutzel to take oath as Warren prosecutor

LEBANON - Rachel Hutzel will officially become Warren County's first female prosecutor when she is sworn in at 3:30 p.m. today during a ceremony in Common Pleas Court.

The county Republican Central Committee voted to appoint Hutzel to the job Tuesday in a 57-54 vote that edged out David Fornshell.

Hutzel, an assistant prosecutor for nearly 10 years, will be sworn in by Juvenile Court Judge Michael Powell, a former colleague on the prosecutor's staff. She must run to keep the job in 2004.

Hutzel replaces Tim Oliver, who received a governor's appointment to the Domestic Relations bench Feb. 20.

Funding arranged for OTR apartments

The state of Ohio this week approved a $100,000 grant that will help the Over-the-Rhine Housing Network develop 13 apartments in five Over-the-Rhine buildings.

Other funding sources for the $1.7 million Community Views project that will yield three market-rate units and 10 low-income apartments include $465,000 from the city of Cincinnati and a $60,000 loan from the Cincinnati Development Fund. The balance of funding will come from low-income and historic tax credit financing.

City seeks to have verdict set aside

Attorneys for the city of Cincinnati asked a federal judge Thursday to set aside a jury verdict that found the city unfairly demoted a police officer who is changing gender from male to female.

The city claims that the officer, Philecia Barnes, was awarded a $320,000 jury verdict because her lawyers improperly attacked a city law that prohibits gays and lesbians from receiving protection from discrimination.

During the trial last month, Barnes' lawyers argued that the city law, known as Article XII of the city charter, created a climate that encouraged supervisors to discriminate against her.

But in a legal brief filed Thursday, city lawyers said the jury never should have been allowed to hear testimony about Article XII because it was not relevant.

Food mart robbery suspect in custody

FORT WRIGHT - A 36-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in Cincinnati in connection with two convenience store robberies in Northern Kentucky.

Jeffrey P. Smith is charged with first-degree robbery in connection with the Sunday robbery of AmeriStop Food Mart in Crescent Springs.

Charges are pending against Smith for a Tuesday robbery of another AmeriStop Food Mart, in Fort Wright. In that robbery, the suspect had a .45-caliber handgun.

Smith was arrested at the Fulton Manor Hotel in Walnut Hills. District 4 officers went there about 7:45 p.m. after a tip from Fort Wright.




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