Metro Beat: Ex-inmate claims halfway house counselor had sex with him

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – A former inmate at a privately run halfway house in western Pennsylvania has sued the center and a former counselor, claiming she had sex with him on the premises and in hotel rooms she rented.

The lawsuit, filed in February and first reported Thursday by local TV stations, accuses the counselor, Debra Stevens, of sexual battery and Renewal Inc., the halfway house, of negligence.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who claim to be victims of sexual abuse. The 37-year-old man’s attorney tells the AP that, even in jail, his client has rights.

Lawyer Jeffrey Weinberg said his client was doing time for an unspecified probation violation when the battery began in October 2013. Renewal Center inmates are generally free to work or search for jobs during the day but must spend the night at the center where they often receive drug, alcohol or other counseling.

The plaintiff, who is now in the Allegheny County Jail on another matter, contends Stevens was “forcing a sexual relationship and sexual acts upon him.” Weinberg contends they had sex about five times.

The counselor’s attorney, Erin Dolfi, said she normally doesn’t comment on litigation but added, “Ms. Stevens is a quality person and we will be fully and vigorously contesting any allegations” that her client had sex with the inmate.

The center has denied negligence and asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit in a motion filed last month.

In it, Renewal’s attorneys argue that the plaintiff must prove that the center knew about Stevens’ alleged propensity for committing similar acts and negligently disregarded them but has made no specific allegations to that effect. A judge has yet to rule on that motion.

Weinberg told the AP that county police also investigated his client’s clams, but the district attorney’s office decided not to prosecute.

DA’s spokesman Mike Manko said he wouldn’t be able to comment until next week.

Weinberg has his own idea about why charges weren’t filed.

“I think it’s a gender thing,” Weinberg said. “I think if it had been a female offender and a male counselor, they would have prosecuted.”

The county, which contracts with Renewal to help prevent overcrowding at the county jail, issued a brief statement: “We are aware of the allegation that led to the termination of the Renewal Center employee, but will have no further comment.”

Not a whopper: Pot-bellied pig creates stir at Burger King

BOSWELL, Pa. (AP) – Did you hear the one about the pot-bellied pig at Burger King? Pennsylvania State Police swear it’s not a whopper.

Troopers from the Somerset barracks were called to the restaurant on U.S. Route 30 near Boswell in southwestern Pennsylvania after the pet wandered from its home and took up residence near the fast-food restaurant Thursday morning.

The eatery was running a two-for-$4 special on bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, but the pig wasn’t promoting or participating in the deal. Rather, he was scarfing down hash browns given him by one customer and snapping at some others who got too close before police arrived.

Employee J.J. Nichols says it was a crazy morning and tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “I definitely don’t want to hear another pig joke.”

 

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