The president of the L.A. chapter of the NAACP has resigned over questions about the organization’s ties to disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling was banned for life from the NBA this week after being caught on tape telling a female friend that he didn’t want her bringing blacks to games. The NAACP then rescinded a humanitarian award it planned to give the 80-year-old Clippers owner. It would’ve been the second award the group had given to Sterling, despite evidence that the real estate mogul engaged in racially discriminatory housing practices. NAACP local president Leon Jenkins said Sterling was picked for the award because of his donations to scholarship funds and charities. Critics say that honoring Sterling damaged the credibility of the civil right’s organization. Jenkins served as a judge in Detroit in the 1980s, but had been disbarred over charges that he solicited and accepted bribes.
Attorneys for plaintiffs in the Miramonte Elementary School sex abuse case plan to reveal today what they allege was a cover-up by the LAUSD. They say the district destroyed records of reported child abuse dating back to 1988. Teacher Mark Berndt is serving a 25-year prison sentence after pleading guilty last fall to almost two dozen counts of lewd acts. The charges did not include allegations that Berndt touched children or had them touch him. The new accusations are detailed in a report by the L.A. Sheriff’s Department. L.A. school officials have agreed to a $27 million dollar settlement with dozens of Berndt’s victims and their families. But about 100 former students and parents are moving ahead with civil lawsuits.
The man charged with the worst mass killing in Orange County history pleaded guilty to eight counts of murder today. Scott Dekraai gunned down his wife and seven others at a Seal Beach hair salon three years ago. Dekraai’s lawyer says the 44-year-old former tugboat operator admitted his guilt to spare families of the victims the agony of a trial. There is no deal, however. Prosecutors have not agreed to wave a special circumstance charge tied to one of the murder allegations – and they say they will continue pushing to have Dekraai sentenced to death. Dekraai’s lawyers have accused prosecutors of misusing a jailhouse informant and failing to turn over evidence. They say the death penalty should be taken off the table.
Pasadena’s top health official has been placed on leave after city officials got wind of controversial statements that he made about homosexuality and evolution. Public Health Director Eric Walsh is also a preacher with the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In sermons posted on the Internet, Walsh criticizes gays and calls evolution “a religion created by satan.” The issue came to light after Pasadena City College picked Walsh to be its commencement speaker this spring. That job was originally given to Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. College officials disinvited Black after they found stolen photos posted on the Internet of him and an ex-boyfriend engaged in sexual acts. Black accused college administrators of trying to shame him for his sexuality. They’ve apologized and he’s now re-invited to speak.
Scientists are trying to pinpoint the cause of massive die-off that’s decimating Pacific Ocean starfish populations from Alaska to Mexico. The event is responsible for the demise of hundreds of thousands of sea stars – many of them in California coastal waters. The die-off is affecting numerous species, including the ochre star, the most dominant starfish in this region. Sea star wasting syndrome was first detected last summer in Washington. Biologists say the creatures develop lesions and lose their rigidity – eventually discarding their limbs and pulling themselves apart. The die-off has even affected sea stars at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.