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  • State briefs

  • From the state wire

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    State briefs

    By Compiled from Times wires

    © St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000


    FAU professor resigning in Web wagering inquiry

    BOCA RATON -- A Florida Atlantic University professor is resigning after school officials said he used school credit cards to wager $7,000 on Internet gambling.

    Associate chemistry professor Donald Baird placed bets ranging from $100 to $500 with three offshore gambling operations using FAU Visa cards, the Palm Beach Post reported Thursday.

    Florida Atlantic began investigating after the university accounting office flagged the charges, made between June 28 and July 18.

    School authorities said Baird, 46, placed the bets using four cards issued to staff in FAU's chemistry and geology departments. The officials said Baird is cooperating in the investigation.

    School officials said Baird suffers from Parkinson's disease and takes medication that impairs his judgment.

    Sex harassment case ends with $165,000 settlement

    MIAMI -- An administrator who claimed that he was fired by an Orlando medical group for complaining about the CEO's sexual harassment of employees received a $165,000 settlement, federal attorneys said Thursday.

    The chief executive of Medical Center Radiology Group, Dr. Hedrick Rivero, was accused of asking for sexual favors and having women employees model lingerie in his office during working hours.

    Joseph Waechter wrote a confidential memo to company lawyers asking them to step in to stop the harassment and to warn Rivero about the potential financial consequences.

    The settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission includes the maximum amount of punitive damages allowed by federal law against a company that size.

    Judge: Jailers share blame in inmate's death

    PENSACOLA -- Jailers were partly at fault for the death of an inmate during a fight, a judge has ruled after a nine-month inquest.

    Inmate Mark Stephen Bailey, however, also shares the blame for his Jan. 5, 1999, death after the altercation at the Escambia County Jail, County Judge David Ackerman found Wednesday. Ackerman wrote that at least one jailer "overreacted and administered extra, unnecessary, uncalled-for blows." He also found that Bailey, who was suffering from alcohol withdrawal, threatened the officers' lives and started the fight by breaking a female guard's jaw.

    Sheriff Jim Lowman defended the officers and pointed out that two jailers were hospitalized after the fight.

    Bailey, 39, died of an adrenaline rush that caused heart failure, but the medical examiner classified his death as a homicide because it came at the hands of other people.

    Principal reverses course on student's enrollment

    LAKE CITY -- Columbia High principal Terry Huddleston had a change of heart and will let a German exchange student enroll.

    Huddleston said he has not decided how he will deal with other exchange students, but the school will take into consideration how well it works out with Thomas Langer of Bulstringen, Germany.

    "I'm happy with the decision," Patricia Booher, Thomas' host, said Wednesday.

    Huddleston said a "spiritual experience" prompted him to reconsider his decision last week rejecting Langer, but a 90-minute interview with the student Monday was the deciding factor.

    "The first impression I had with him is that he has the ability to be far more successful than any previous exchange students," Huddleston said. "He has a little accent, but I expect his English to improve more during his year here."

    The 16-year-old senior said he has taken six years of English in school.

    A Columbia County School Board policy adopted in May requires exchange students to have a school's permission before enrolling, but Huddleston refused to accept Thomas. The policy was developed in response to students with poor English skills.

    When Langer was rejected by Huddleston, Booher began gathering signatures on a petition to present to the School Board.

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