U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE ROY MOORE OF ALABAMA ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT WITH TEENAGE GIRLS: A month before Alabama's special election, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore abruptly faced lurid allegations Thursday of sexual misconduct with minors decades ago — and an immediate backlash from party leaders who demanded he get out of the race if the accusations prove true. The instant fallout followed a Washington Post report in which an Alabama woman said Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, had sexual contact with her when she was 14. Three other women interviewed by the Post said Moore, now 70, approached them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s. All four women spoke on the record to the Post.
VAN DER VAART PLACED ON LEAVE BY DEQ OVER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION APPOINTMENT: Donald van der Vaart, the DEQ secretary for a portion of McCrory's term, and his deputy John Evans took demotions at the end of McCrory's term, placing them in non-political jobs and making them harder to fire when Gov. Roy Cooper took office. Van der Vaart also signed on to an open letter shortly after last year's elections, urging incoming President Donald Trump to rein in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, putting him out of step with the Cooper administration. He and Evans have written a number of scientific papers together, and van der Vaart was named last week to an EPA science advisory board as the Trump administration removed a number of university professors from the group. DEQ leadership said this week that the department did not support that appointment and that van der Vaart wouldn't be speaking for the state on that board. DEQ spokesman Jamie Kritzer did not elaborate late Thursday beyond a brief statement saying van der Vaart and Evans "have been placed on investigatory leave." Citing state privacy rules for employees, Kritzer declined to answer questions earlier in the day after NC Policy Watch reported the two men had been absent from the office, with their job statuses uncertain.
CAMP LEJEUNE DRILL INSTRUCTOR CONVICTED OF ABUSE FOR TARGETING MUSLIM RECRUITS: A Marine Corps drill instructor was convicted by a military jury of physically abusing young recruits, sometimes while drunk, and focusing his fury on three Muslim-American military volunteers. The eight-man jury at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, determined Thursday that Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix was guilty of hazing and maltreatment of recruits at the Marine Corps' Parris Island, South Carolina, boot camp. The jury of five sergeants and three officers decided Felix punched, kicked and choked military hopefuls. The 34-year-old Iraq veteran could be sentenced to military prison, financial penalties and a dishonorable discharge. The jury was to begin sentencing deliberations Friday. Felix was accused in more than three dozen criminal counts of being a central figure in an abusive group of drill instructors at Parris Island that came to light after the March 2016 suicide of one of the three Muslim-American recruits Felix targeted.
CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST 3 DURHAM ACTIVISTS FOR DESTRUCTION OF CONFEDERATE STATUE: Charges for three people who are accused of toppling a Confederate monument in downtown Durham have been dropped, according to their defense attorney. According to defense attorney Scott Holmes, charges were dropped against Aaron Alexander Caldwell, Myles Spigner and Taylor Cook, citing that probable cause exists, but there was not enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. On Aug. 14, a group of protesters tore the statue of a Confederate soldier down after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., ended with one woman dead and almost two dozen injured. The events in Charlottesville sparked rallies around the country in support of counter-protesters.
ACLU WANTS TO BLOCK ALAMANCE COUNTY SHERIFF FROM FEDERAL 287(G) PROGRAM: The ACLU of North Carolina has published a letter it wrote to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security asking it deny the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office application to rejoin the 287(g) program. The Sheriff’s Office participated in the federal program geared toward identifying undocumented immigrants entering the county jail — leading to deportation in many cases — and housing inmates for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from 2007 until the government cancelled it in 2012 in the midst of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into accusations the ACSO profiled Latinos. The DOJ sued over the case, but a federal judge ruled in Johnson’s favor. Still, Alamance County lost millions in funding for housing federal inmates while the program was shut down. As the Times-News reported in June, the ACSO applied to rejoin the program under a new presidential administration.