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Headlines for Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Here's a look at the latest Kansas news headlines from the Associated Press.

Number of Victims in VA Hospital Sex Abuse Scandal Climbing

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former physician assistant is accused of sexual battery and other crimes involving at least seven patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kansas, and a lawyer says more victims will emerge. Three civil lawsuits filed in recent weeks in U.S. District Court in Kansas accuse Mark Wisner of conducting unnecessary and improper genital examinations at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center. He also faces criminal charges of aggravated criminal sodomy, solicitation and sexual battery in Leavenworth County. Wisner surrendered his medical license last year after seven patients accused him of abuse. He acknowledged in a consent decree that he had sexual contact with some patients, made inappropriate sexual comments and overprescribed. His attorney has said little except that Wisner is innocent until proven otherwise.


Kansas Supreme Court to Consider Right to Abortion 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the conservative state's constitution guarantees the right to an abortion as part of an appeal of a groundbreaking appeals court ruling. The appeal comes after the Kansas Court of Appeals refused to implement the state's first-in-the-nation ban on a common second-trimester abortion method. In a split decision, the court said the Kansas Constitution protects abortion rights independently from the U.S. Constitution. If upheld, the ruling would allow state courts to protect a woman's right to end her pregnancy beyond federal court rulings. Critics fear it also could be used by abortion rights supporters to challenge other state laws restricting abortion. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss on Monday granted the request to hear the case.


Kansas Governor Holds Ceremony to Sign Juvenile Justice Bill

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill overhauling the Kansas juvenile justice system during a ceremony outside the courthouse of the state's most populous county.  Representatives from a national advocacy group, legislators and Kansas Department of Corrections officials joined the signing event Monday outside the Johnson County Courthouse in Olathe.  The new system will keep more low-risk juvenile offenders in their homes as they can participate in community-based programs that focus on anger management and other behavioral changes. The system overhaul will divert money from the construction and maintenance of jails to alternatives to detention.  The measure was in part a reaction to 2013 U.S. Department of Justice data showing that the state had the sixth-highest incarceration rate for young offenders in the nation.


Kansas Governor Vetoes Blight Bill, Citing Property Rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has vetoed a bill designed to make it easier for local communities to attack blight by taking over abandoned properties.  The Republican governor cited property rights in his veto message Monday to legislators. Brownback said the aim of the bill was laudable but said it "takes a step too far."  The bill would have changed the definition of abandoned property to include blighted real estate that has been unoccupied for a year. It would have allowed a district court to give a local government or nonprofit group possession.  Current law allows only organizations to seek temporary possession of homes with two years of delinquent property taxes and vacant for 90 days.  Brownback said he heard concerns that the bill would hurt poor and minority neighborhoods disproportionately.


Guard, 6 Others Accused in Kansas Prison Smuggling Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A guard at a Kansas lockup for federal detainees is accused with two inmates and four other people in a scheme to smuggle methamphetamine and other contraband into the prison.  U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced the charges Monday against 28-year-old guard Anthon Aiono of Platte City, Missouri. He works at the Leavenworth Detention Center, which is run by U.S. government through contractor Corrections Corporation of America. It is separate from the federal prison in Leavenworth.  Authorities allege that the scheme involved smuggling into the lockup methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes.  Online court records do not show whether the seven defendants have attorneys. Their detention hearings are scheduled for Thursday.  Grissom says the investigation began last year after authorities learned contraband routinely was making its way into the prison.


Husband of Woman Shot at Kansas Jewish Site Sues Gun Sellers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The husband of one of the three people killed by a white supremacist at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City is suing over the sale of the shotguns used in the April 2014 attack.  The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit, filed late Monday afternoon in Jackson County (Missouri) Circuit Court by Jim LaManno, names Wal-Mart and several other entities.  Seventy-five-year-old Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. was sentenced to death last year for the shooting that killed LaManno's wife, Terri, and two others in Overland Park, Kansas.  Miller was a felon and prohibited from purchasing guns. The lawsuit says Miller used two weapons that were purchased by a friend at a gun show and a Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart didn't immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.


Kobach Says He Advised Trump Campaign on Immigration, Mexico Border Wall

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he has advised Donald Trump's campaign on immigration issues, particularly the GOP candidate's plan to force Mexico to pay for a border wall.  Trump has proposed making Mexico pay for the wall by cutting off remittances that Mexicans living in the U.S. send back to their homeland, unless Mexico makes a one-time payment of $5 billion to $10 billion.  Kobach, who has built a national reputation for fighting against illegal immigration, says the remittance plan is consistent with advice he gave Trump's campaign. He says he has spoken to Trump directly and the candidate was receptive to his ideas.  The Trump campaign didn't respond to a request to elaborate on Kobach's involvement with the campaign.


Wichita Mosque Hit by 2011 Arson Now Vandalized with Graffiti

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A west Wichita mosque that was the site of a 2011 arson has been vandalized with graffiti.  Wichita Police Sgt. Steve Yarberry said Monday that someone vandalized the mosque owned by the Islamic Association of Mid-Kansas sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  The Wichita Eagle reports  symbols including stars and pitchforks were spray painted on the south side of the building and a fence. The symbols are several feet tall and visible to traffic and neighboring homes. Damage was estimated at $500.  An arson fire was set at the mosque in November 2011, causing $150,000 damage. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the arson.


Officials Advance Permit Request to Reopen Kansas Racetrack 

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (AP) — Local officials are recommending approval with multiple conditions for a request to allow a Kansas City, Kansas, business to reopen as a racetrack, electronic gaming venue and entertainment facility. The Kansas City Star reports that the city's planning commission heard testimony Monday on a special use permit application request for The Woodlands. The commission voted to send the request on for further consideration by the Unified Government Commission. More than a dozen stipulations, including a main building of at least 85,000 square feet, were attached to the approval. The plan by Ruffin Woodlands LLC calls for a horse racing, electronic gaming and entertainment facility on 317 acres of a 400-acre site. The company is headed by billionaire Phil Ruffin, who owns other racetracks or casinos in Kansas and Nevada.


Itch Mites Survive Winter, Bite Again in Wichita Area 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Some oak leaf itch mites that fell from trees and bit people in the Wichita area last fall have managed to stay alive over the mild winter and are biting again. Sedgwick County Extension Education Center agent Matthew McKernan says the office has received about a half-dozen calls over the past couple of weeks from people who have been bitten. The Wichita Eagle reports that the oak leaf itch mite isn't an issue most years and that during a normal winter, low temperatures would have killed them. But some that are living in in leaves fallen from oak trees are too small to see. McKernan says that mites lasting through the winter doesn't necessarily mean there will be another bad crop of new ones later this year.


Syrian Father Surprised by Fast Move from Jordan to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The patriarch of the first Syrian family to be moved to the U.S. under a "surge" program designed to quickly resettle refugees says he was surprised when his family was approved for resettlement so soon, and that he's grateful and now feels safe.  Ahmad al-Abboud told reporters Monday that he, his wife and five children were given 20 days to pack up their belongings in the single, windowless room they had shared in Jordan.  The family, who also lived for a while in a refugee camp in Jordan, fled Syria's civil war three years ago. They arrived in Kansas City last week.  The 45-year-old father from Homs said through an interpreter that he hopes to find construction work and that his children, aged 1 to 12 years, learn English quickly.


Kansas Couple Will Appeal Custody Ruling; Drug Use Suspected

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas appellate court says five children of a Navy veteran and his wife were taken into state custody because of suspected drug use and neglect, not because of his use of medical marijuana.  A Kansas Court of Appeals panel determined Friday the children don't feel safe returning to Raymond and Amelia Schwab.  The appellate court found that Raymond Schwab tested positive for methamphetamine and opioids during a court-ordered blood screening last year.  Raymond Schwab says he has used medical marijuana to treat PTSD, even though Kansas has not legalized medical marijuana. He alleges the state "kidnapped" the children in April 2015.  The Schwabs' case has become a rallying cry for marijuana decriminalization advocates.


Wichita Police Official Accused of Fraud over Part-Time Job 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita police lieutenant is charged in federal court with making fraudulent reports so she would be paid for working a part-time job while on duty. Forty-year-old Heather D. Bachman faces seven wire-fraud counts and one count of making a false statement to a federal investigator. The indictment accuses Bachman of defrauding the Wichita Police Department by working part time for Orion Security Services while on duty and being paid by the department. The city says she has been suspended without pay. Prosecutors allege Bachman made a claim for mileage with Orion, even though she used a Wichita police patrol car. She also is alleged to have electronically filed a state tax return that didn't accurately report part-time earnings. A message left Tuesday with Bachman's attorney, Cyd Gilman, wasn't immediately returned. 


Serial Arsonist Gets Another Three-Plus Years in Prison 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A man serving almost six years in prison for setting fires to a vacant Salina motel has been sentenced in another case. The Hutchinson News reports that Dustin James Gordon was sentenced Monday in Reno County District Court to another three years and four months in prison. The judge ordered the sentence to run consecutively with the sentence he is serving for a series of arson fires in Salina. In the Reno County case, Gordon pleaded guilty last month to a single felony count of arson. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dismissed a second arson count. Prosecutors say Gordon set fires in May 2014 that destroyed a vacant two-story farmhouse and a mobile home used for storage.


Kansas Reports Decline in Number of Abortions Last Year

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas says the number of abortions performed in Kansas declined 4.4 percent last year and dropped below 7,000 for the first time since 1987.  The state Department of Health and Environment issued a preliminary report Monday saying that 6,974 abortions were reported in Kansas or by its residents in 2015. That's 320 fewer than for 2014.  The totals include reports for several dozen Kansas women having abortions in other states. In both years, nearly half of the reported abortions were for patients who came to Kansas from elsewhere, mainly Missouri.  Kansas has tightened abortion restrictions in recent years and last year banned a common second-trimester procedure.  But a lawsuit has kept the ban on hold, so Kansas saw only a small decline in the affected method, to 629 last year.


New Kansas Website Aims to Aid Residents' Financial Literacy

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state of Kansas has launched a new financial literacy website in an effort to fight some of the money management challenges residents face.  The site includes the Kansas Financial Learning Center, an interactive tool with 16 informative modules on a variety of financial topics.  A recent WalletHub report says Kansas was the top state in its WalletLiteracy test, which scores the financial literacy of a state's residents.  President and CEO of Fidelity State Bank & Trust Co., Allan Towle, says financial literacy is a critical issue and that all ages can benefit from learning information that guides them to making good financial decisions.  Chris Burk, supervisor at Topeka's Housing and Credit Counseling Inc., says tackling money challenges early on can make a big difference.


Police: Hutchinson Man Fatally Stabs Wife's Dog

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A man has been arrested after Hutchinson police say he fatally stabbed his wife's pit bull for keeping him awake.  The Hutchinson News  reports that the 59-year-old man was arrested around 11:30 p.m. Saturday on suspicion of animal cruelty and disorderly conduct. Hutchinson police Lt. Marty Robertson said that the man was trying to sleep and the dog was being loud. According to Robertson, the man put the dog outside, but it kept barking and he told his wife that if the dog did not stop, he would kill it.  Police say the man's wife told officers that she heard a loud yelp from the dog and ran outside to find her husband with a bloody knife.  She took the dog to a veterinarian, but the dog did not survive.


Frank Lloyd Wright Home in Wichita Opens for Regular Tours

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has re-opened to the public on a regular basis nearly 100 years after being built.  From 1992 until recently, the buff-brick house on a residential street in College Hill was open only by appointment because the zoning of the house didn't allow it to be open every day.  Applying for a zoning change has been on operation manager Amy Reep's to-do list since she started her position last week. Reep, the home's first full-time employee, says she recently began opening a couple mornings a week, and that the schedule is expected to expand for garden parties and twilight hours, with the ultimate goal of being open every day.



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