Attorneys for James Harris, who was awarded $165,000 last month after alleging that a Philadelphia police officer sexually assaulted him, want the officer’s assets temporarily frozen while attempts are made to collect on the judgment.
Harris contends that Officer Michael Paige forced him to repeatedly perform oral sex on him while on duty at a secluded area of Fairmount Park on March 16, 2007.
Paige denies the allegations and was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in 2008.
But a federal jury last month awarded Harris $165,000 in civil damages.
Harris wants to collect on that judgment, but his attorneys are concerned that Paige may try to transfer or conceal his assets if they’re not frozen.
In a June 29 motion, attorneys for Harris requested a temporary restraining order, preventing Harris from substantially altering his assets in the interim.
U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly set a hearing date for 9:30 a.m. July 13 in Courtroom 11B of the U.S. Courthouse to consider the motion.
Attorneys for Harris also want a complete listing of Paige’s assets.
Paige may have to pay Harris about $500,000 — including the existing judgment, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys fees and costs, and fees incurred while trying to secure the money from Paige, according to the motion.
Attorneys for both sides declined to comment for this story.
Trans employment case moves forward
A federal judge has cleared the way for transwoman Bobbie Burnett’s employment-discrimination case to move to the discovery phase of litigation.
Burnett, 56, is employed by the city as a library assistant, earning about $30,299 annually.
In 2009, Burnett sued the city and four coworkers for allegedly violating her constitutional rights and creating a hostile work environment due to her transgender status.
She alleges ongoing workplace harassment and discrimination dating back to 2001, shortly after she transitioned to the opposite gender.
In November 2010, city attorneys asked U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones 2d to dismiss most of Burnett’s amended complaint on the basis that it lacked merit.
On June 25, the judge denied that request, clearing the way for the discovery phase of litigation.
Burnett’s allegations run the gamut, from being hassled about the restroom she could use to being denied work-related courtesies routinely offered to others to having denigrating slurs hurled at her from coworkers and supervisors.
In one incident, when she wished a coworker a nice weekend, he responded by saying, “Burn in hell,” according to the lawsuit.
She has been transferred to eight different work sites in six years, according to the suit.
Additionally, she alleges, she’s been harmed due to unreasonable disciplinary actions, a lack of promotional opportunities and an inability to earn the maximum income available to library assistants.
The lawsuit alleges constitutional violations of right to due process, equal protection under the law, freedom of expression and other rights.
She also alleges that four of her coworkers intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her.
Burnett is seeking an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.
Burnett’s attorney, John W. Beavers Jr., expressed confidence that she will prevail at trial.
“The jury would have to be asleep to think there was no wrongdoing here,” Beavers told PGN.
Shant H. Zakarian, an attorney for the city, declined to comment for this story.
Sandra A. Horrocks, a Free Library of Philadelphia spokesperson, also declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
— Timothy Cwiek
Lynn denied house arrest
A judge last week ruled that Monsignor William Lynn must stay in prison until his next court date, denying his petition to be placed on house arrest.
The former Archdiocesan official was convicted of child endangerment last month, making him the first high-ranking Catholic official in the country to be found criminally liable for covering up alleged sexual abuse within the ministry.
Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina agreed with prosecutors last Thursday that Lynn could be a flight risk if he’s released from prison, where he has been since the June 22 verdict.
Defense attorneys proposed that Lynn’s bail be doubled and he be placed on house arrest, but prosecutors contended that, in addition to the risk of flight, the release would amount to special treatment for the cleric.
At a previous bail hearing, Sarmina gave preliminary consent to a house-arrest agreement but said it could not be implemented until Lynn’s sentencing hearing. That proceeding had been scheduled for August but Sarmina agreed last week to move it up to July 24.
Lynn could face seven years in prison.
The Archdiocese last week announced that two more priests have been dismissed from the ministry for violating boundaries, while four other priests will return to ministry after allegations against them were found to be unsubstantiated.
A multi-disciplinary Archdiocesan team has been evaluating the cases of several-dozen priests placed on administrative leave following a 2010 grand-jury investigation — which resulted in the indictiments of Lynn and his co-defendant, James Brennan. A number of cases remain open.
Contribute to conference
Organizers of the annual LGBTQ Womyn of Color Conference are looking for ideas to help shape this fall’s event.
Contributors can submit workshop proposals, papers and art to be showcased and other materials that will “advance knowledge on and for LGBTQ womyn of color and, by extension, will enrich and broaden dialogue about LGBTQ womyn of color at all levels.”
The fourth-annual conference, themed “Flowing Further,” will be held Oct. 12-14 in Philadelphia.
Proposals will ideally address the conference theme within a number of areas — arts and education, gender expression, relationships, sexuality, social justice or spirituality.
Allies are also encouraged to submit ideas.
All proposals are due by Aug. 17.
To submit, email email@example.com
with subject line “Call for Submissions” and the applicant’s name. Workshop proposals must include a completed Workshop Submission Form, which can be obtained by emailing the organization.
Group launches for Delco gays
Gay men in Delaware County will soon have a new outlet for support and socializing.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County will launch Delco Dudes starting Sept. 5, with meetings held from 7-9 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month at the church, in Media.
While the nondenominational group, headed by the church’s Interweave Committee, will be geared toward gay men, anyone over 18 is welcome.
Those interested in getting involved with the group can participate in a planning meeting next month. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jen Colletta