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Guilty as charged



In August, the mother of high-school student Justin Burnett filed a lawsuit in Chicago against the school board and shop teacher Philip Rush, who had admitted shocking disruptive students by hooking them up to a spark plug and a current-producing crank, sometimes, according to the lawsuit, for as long as 30 seconds. According to the school superintendent, Rush said the disciplinary stunt was a "teaching tool" for kids to see how electricity worked.

Suspicious minds

In March, Alan and Christine Davies of the Welsh city of Rhondda were awarded about $200,000 from the driver who caused a collision that, according to doctors, left Alan with a rare brain injury. He developed "Capgras' syndrome," a separation of visual perception and emotion that causes the victim to imagine that a familiar person (in this case, Christine) is actually someone impersonating her. Alan is convinced that the real Christine died long ago and refuses to become intimate with the "impostor." A psychiatrist called Alan's condition permanent.

Queer and present danger

Prominent Christian conservative psychologist Paul Cameron told Rolling Stone in a March interview that he feared gay sex would supplant heterosexual sex unless a vigilant society repressed it. "Marital sex tends toward the boring," he said. "Generally, it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does." If all one seeks is orgasm, he said, "the evidence is that men do a better job on men, and women on women." "[H]omosexuality," he said, "seems too powerful to resist."


In February, based on a prosecutor's complaint that a boy, Ayman Khadari, had roughed up a 2-year-old neighbor girl, a judge in Alexandria, Egypt, declared the boy (who was not in court) guilty of assault. The judge sentenced the boy to six months in jail and instructed the prosecutor to have him arrested. The complaint had not stated the boy's exact age, and only when the father brought him to an appeals court to challenge the ruling was it discovered that the newly convicted hoodlum was only 18 months old. (The girl's parents, who instigated the complaint, had long been feuding with the boy's parents.)

Gavel to gravel

In road-rage incidents in Rochester, N.Y., in February and Delaware, Ohio, in June, the alleged maniacs were judges. Rochester judge William Bristol, reportedly miffed that a confused driver had stopped in the middle of the road, was accused of pounding on her windshield "like a lunatic" and following her home so that he could tell the police her address. In the Ohio incident, judge Michael Hoague was convicted of threatening a 24-year-old woman whose car he said he had observed being driven recklessly. According to the woman, Judge Hoague had tailgated her at high speeds while yelling profanities, and he later ordered her to his courtroom despite the fact that no charge had been filed against her.

Vein boast

In Wichita Falls, Texas, former elementary-school principal Terry Hitt said in October he would challenge the state's attempt to revoke his teaching certificate. He said his teaching ability was a "gift from God," despite his having admitted earlier in the year that he had stolen his students' Ritalin, melted it down and shot up with it.

Talking shop

In December, Gina Tiberino, 32, a secretary for the Spokane, Wash., sex-crime prosecutors, was fired a month after she reported that she'd been raped. She attributed a work slowdown to typical post-traumatic effects, noting that she'd never received negative job evaluations before the assault. Her superiors said, though, she had become "too focused on [her] personal tragedy."

Crisis of vision

In December, Texas' Commission for the Blind (which provides workplace support to the visually impaired) was found by the U.S. Department of Justice to have discriminated against two of its own sightless employees and so paid $55,000 to settle the complaints. The commission had previously issued printed employee manuals but had no Braille or large-type versions.

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