News of the Weird has often mentioned cases of bestiality, but the death of a 45-year-old man in Enumclaw, Wash., in July was extraordinary. The death was reported in the local media as having occurred after "sex with a horse," but bestiality usually involves the human as the penetrator. In this case, though, the man died of acute peritonitis from a perforated colon, indicating that the horse was the penetrator.
Investigators reportedly also seized videotapes of the activity, which took place at a nondescript farm that was apparently known in Internet bestiality chat rooms to be a covert haven for sex with livestock. (Washington is one of 17 states without a specific anti-bestiality law, and authorities said that the act was probably not a crime, in that the state's animal-cruelty law would require showing that the horse suffered.)
SINS OF THE BABYDADDY
In court papers filed in 1994 but which only recently drew public attention, lawyers for the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., challenged a child-support claim against a priest by pointing out the culpability of the mother herself for failing to use birth control (even though the church regards using birth control as a grave sin).
The 1994 document came to light when the woman went back to court in July 2005 for an increase in child support, but the court turned her down in deference to Father Arturo Uribe's vow of poverty, although Uribe's ordaining order subsequently volunteered more support. (The man who was archbishop of Portland during the 1994 case recently assumed Pope Benedict's previous job as the Vatican's chief doctrinist.)
BIRTH OF THE UNCOOL
In July, Jeanette Passalaqua, 32, filed a lawsuit in San Bernardino, Calif., against the Kaiser Permanente medical organization for the death of her husband in June 2004, when he passed out from watching his wife receive an epidural anesthetic, fell over and fatally hit his head. According to the lawsuit, hospital personnel had asked the husband to hold and comfort his wife while the needle was being inserted and therefore were at fault.
In July, a team of South Korean scientists made history by cloning an Afghan hound, but many experts view as even more important the team's revelation that, two months earlier, they derived 11 stem cell lines from clones of patients with specific diseases. The leader of the team, Hwang Woo-suk, told the journal Nature Medicine then that Koreans have an advantage over westerners in delicate laboratory work because of "Oriental hands. We can pick up very slippery corn or rice with the steel chopsticks."
In August, Ronald Schueller, convicted of attempting to hire someone to knock his estranged wife unconscious and kidnap her, told Port Washington, Wis., prosecutors that he was just trying to reconcile with her, based on an idea from a Dr. Phil TV segment in which the host said that sometimes people need a good scare to realize their delusions.
Finally, also in August, Jessica Stakelbeck of Franklin, Ind., 22, was charged with neglect when two of her diaper-clad toddlers were found on the side of a highway. She blamed her lapse not on being high from her admitted methamphetamine habit but on sleepiness from missing her meth for several days.
HIGH BUT NOT SO DRY
Steven Newell was hospitalized in London, Ontario, in June after his large plastic swimming pool, which he had just placed on his second-floor balcony and then filled with water, caused the balcony to collapse and plunge to the ground. The pool, 8 feet in diameter and filled with water as it was to a height of 20 inches, would require about 640 gallons, weighing more than 2.5 tons. Newell had relocated the pool to the balcony in order to avoid the safety requirement of building a fence around it.
LIVE AND LET PARTY
Eric Laverriere, 25, filed a federal lawsuit in Boston in July, claiming the Waltham, Mass., police violated his constitutional right to be drunk when they arrested him at a private New Year's Eve party even though there was no evidence that he was disturbing anyone. (The law in many states requires police to detain someone who is incapacitated and who might be a threat to himself, and indeed, some police departments have been sued if they fail to detain someone who later injures himself.)
And in July, Britain's High Court declared illegal London's 9 p.m. curfew for those under age 16 who are not with an adult. Lord Justice Brooke said "everyone" should have the right to "walk the streets without interference from police."
THANKS FOR DROPPING IN
In Old Saybrook, Conn., in October 2004, Alan Hauser, who was sitting with his mother-in-law in his parked car with the engine running, accidentally hit the accelerator, causing the SUV to jump a curb and plunge down an embankment into the Connecticut River, where rescuers, who were later cited for heroism, pulled the woman out 30 minutes later. (Hauser managed on his own.)
The woman, 75, suffered serious brain damage from being submerged, and in August she filed a lawsuit against the city for not having guardrails, not having regular patrols of trained and equipped rescuers, and not having more signs warning people of the danger of falling into the river. She also sued Hauser, but the original plan, to sue individual rescuers, was scuttled.