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News in Brief

Lawmakers vote to expand rape law to include sex with teens

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky House has passed a bill to expand rape statutes to include instances when older adults have sex with 16 or 17 year olds.

The measure would declare that 16 and 17 year olds are incapable of giving consent to sex with adults aged 28 or older. The bill passed the House Thursday and goes to the Senate.

Such adults could be prosecuted for third-degree rape when having sexual intercourse with a 16 or 17 year old. Such an offense is punishable by one to five years in prison. Rep. Jason Petrie says the goal of his bill is to provide more protections for youngsters.

But Rep. Attica Scott worried an adult could still “use their ignorance” of a youngster’s age as a defense.

The legislation is House Bill 101.

Ex-Ky. House speaker running for re-election

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The former Kentucky House speaker who stepped down after signing a secret sexual harassment settlement is running for re-election.

The Secretary of State’s website shows that Jeff Hoover filed paperwork Thursday to seek re-election. Hoover resigned as speaker earlier this month after acknowledging he and three other GOP lawmakers signed a secret sexual harassment settlement involving a woman who once worked for the House Republican caucus. Hoover did not resign his seat in the legislature.

The Legislative Ethics Commission is investigating the settlement and plans to have a public hearing soon. Hoover has been in the House since 1997. He was elected speaker in 2017 shortly after Republicans won a majority for the first time in nearly a century.

Life sentence for man in W.Va. coal exec’s death

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — A second man has been sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after 15 years in the fatal shooting of a coal executive at a West Virginia cemetery.

News outlets report Mingo Circuit Judge Miki Thompson handed down the sentence Thursday for 20-year-old Brandon Lee Fitzpatrick, of Louisa, Kentucky. Fitzpatrick pleaded guilty last month in the killing of Bennett K. Hatfield, who was shot while visiting his wife’s gravesite in May 2016.

Fitzpatrick admitted he was with 22-year-old Anthony Raheem Arriaga, of Delphos, Ohio, when Arriaga killed Hatfield in a scheme to steal his GMC Yukon Denali and sell its parts. Arriaga was sentenced in December after being convicted of murder, robbery and conspiracy.

Prosecutor Duke Jewell said Fitzpatrick came up with the scheme to kill Hatfield and steal his vehicle. He said Arriaga shot Hatfield but panicked and failed to steal the vehicle.

Training offered to help organizations prevent child abuse

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Organizations that serve children are invited to participate in training that aims to help prevent child sex abuse.

A statement from Attorney General Andy Beshear says his office, the Kentucky Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky will offer two sessions on Feb. 22 at Kosair Charities in Louisville. The training will help organizations develop an “action plan” to protect children from abuse. The sessions will focus on entities that serve children such as daycares, summer camps and churches.

Kentucky Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers Director Caroline Ruschell says organizations that implement the right strategies can create an atmosphere that encourages open dialogue and decreases the possibility for abuse to occur.

Beshear said the new training is a key step in protecting children.

Police: Feces, racial slur put on apartment complex

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Police say a note with a racial slur was left with smeared dog feces on the wall of an apartment building near Western Kentucky University’s campus.

Resident Paige Glass told the Daily News that she reported the note left Wednesday to the Bowling Green Police Department. Feces were smeared on a window and in the apartment’s breezeway next to the note that read, “eat it up (racial epithet)” and “make America great again.”

Police spokesman Officer Ronnie Ward said officers had talked to several building residents about the note.

The local NAACP chapter and Bowling Green’s mayor condemned the act.

Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken told the Daily News that the perpetrator could be charged with criminal mischief and possibly a hate crime. Milliken says she was saddened it happened two days after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Missing person case leads to discovery of 2 men shot dead

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A missing person investigation has led to the discovery of two bodies in a Kentucky apartment.

Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Wayne Pryse told news outlets that 30-year-old Joshua Rice and 31-year-old David Kandelaki died from gunshot wounds Thursday night. They were found at an apartment near Bowman Field in Louisville.

Louisville Metro police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley says St. Matthews police had been investigating a report of a missing person, developing information that led them to the apartment. She says detectives believe foul play was involved in the deaths and evidence at the scene indicates the men suffered some type of trauma.

According to the coroner’s report, Rice lived at the apartment and Kandelaki had no known address. No other information about the missing person case has been released.

Indiana officer on leave, allegedly struck handcuffed man

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana police officer has been placed on leave amid allegations that he struck a handcuffed suspect.

The Clarksville Police Department says Sgt. Jason Tackett remains on paid administrative leave during an internal investigation into the alleged excessive force by the 12-year department veteran.

The News and Tribune reports body camera footage shows Tackett striking a handcuffed man lying on the ground once in the head with his arm.

Sunday’s alleged incident came after a suspected stolen vehicle Clarksville officers were following accelerated and crossed the Ohio River into Louisville, Kentucky, where it crashed in an alley.

Police handcuffed the 37-year-old driver, who slipped and fell on ice while allegedly trying to flee again. Officers then subdued him with a stun gun before Tackett allegedly struck the suspect.