Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Andrew Rush / AP

A grand jury report on child sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses is expected to be released in the coming weeks, after two years of investigation.

Elaine Thompson / AP

An appeals court says a Pennsylvania school district can allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of the sex with which they identify.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania police using body cameras on the job should keep them on to record the entire incident under nonbinding guidelines just released by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

The model policy announced Wednesday also says the recordings should be treated like evidence when they involve potential criminal cases, logged in as evidence and stored securely.

The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh

Gardening is a satisfying hobby for many who have green thumbs, but for people with physical disabilities or other limitations, it can be an intimidating or impossible activity.

Randen Pederson / flickr

A Roman Catholic bishop in Pennsylvania says he won't try to block the release of a report detailing the findings of an investigation into how church leaders have handled allegations of abuse.

Matt Rourke / AP

The state Auditor General is urging Governor Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to pump more money into the commonwealth’s child welfare services.

In the wake of a report his office released on child welfare last year, DePasquale has been repeatedly calling the system “broken.”

Now, he has issued his own series of recommendations for correcting a range of issues.

Sentencing In Bill Cosby's Sex Assault Case Set For September

May 15, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Bill Cosby will be sentenced Sept. 24, almost five months to the day after he was convicted of sexual assault, a judge said Tuesday.

Lawyers for the comedian, who turns 81 in July and faces the prospect of the rest of his life in prison, had asked Judge Steven O'Neill to delay sentencing until the end of the year.

Cosby's convictions on three counts of aggravated indecent assault will likely be combined into one charge that carries a standard sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Veterans serving time in the Allegheny County Jail will now have their own specialized resources and residential section. The pod opened last month, and currently houses 34 inmates.

Several community partners are partnering with the jail to provide services such as support for post-traumatic stress disorder, resume building workshops and helping inmates enroll in the Veterans Affairs health care system.

"We're going to provide them with everything that we think they need to be successful once they leave here," Warden Orlando Harper said. 

Andrew Rush / AP

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said a year ago that its many parishes and church buildings could no longer be justified given current finances and clergy shortages.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is calling for the state's human relations commission to investigate what happened at a golf course last month when police were called on a group of black women who were told they were playing too slowly.

Black Men Arrested At Starbucks Settle For $200K Program

May 2, 2018
Jacqueline Larma / AP

Two black men arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything settled with the city Wednesday for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

Hearing Delayed In Penn State Frat Pledge's Fall Death Case

May 2, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

A judge's illness is delaying a hearing for members of a Penn State fraternity charged after the FBI recovered security camera footage from a basement bar area the night a pledge was fatally injured.

Twelve members of the shuttered Beta Theta Pi chapter face the Wednesday preliminary hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to send the charges to county court for trial.

Officials say a substitute judge may take over and preside later in the day.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Munir and Helay Zazai’s second-floor Knoxville apartment has just the essentials: a lone sofa in the corner of the living room and one IKEA cooking pot on the stove.

Matt Slocum / AP

The judge in the Bill Cosby case is weighing whether to publicly disclose the names of the jurors who convicted the comedian last week on sexual-assault charges.

Judge Steven O'Neill heard Tuesday from lawyers for The Associated Press and other news outlets, who cited a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that jurors' names should be made public under the First Amendment.

Prosecutors oppose releasing the names, citing privacy concerns. Cosby's lawyer didn't take a side.

AG Drops Manslaughter, Assault In Penn State Frat Death Case

May 1, 2018
Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania prosecutors are dropping involuntary manslaughter and assault charges against five Penn State fraternity brothers related to the death of a pledge ahead of a hearing to determine whether there's enough evidence to head toward trial on the remaining allegations.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the decision Tuesday, one day before the preliminary hearing for 12 members of Beta Theta Pi over the February 2017 death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey.

Matt Slocum / AP

As Bill Cosby awaits his sentencing date, one big question is brewing: What are the entertainer’s best grounds to appeal his conviction?

Bill Cosby Convicted Of Drugging And Molesting Woman

Apr 26, 2018
Mark Makela / Pool Photo via AP

Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America's Dad.

Department of Justice Western District of Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh played host to one of the largest cocaine rings in Western Pennsylvania history, according to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, who served 39 indictments related to the case on Wednesday. The organization spread through Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Los Angeles, with the cocaine sourced from Mexico.

"By taking down an entire multi-state organization at once, the impact on our region is immediately felt," Brady said.

Jury To Deliberate After Cosby Painted As Predator, Victim

Apr 25, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Jurors at Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial are poised to start deliberating after a marathon day of closing arguments that portrayed the comedian both as a calculating predator who's finally being brought to justice and the victim of a multimillion-dollar frame-up by a "pathological liar."

The seven men and five women sequestered at a suburban Philadelphia hotel will start weighing charges on Wednesday in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. They begged off a late Tuesday start, saying they were exhausted from 5½ hours of arguments.

In Closing, Defense Calls Cosby Accuser 'Pathological Liar'

Apr 24, 2018
Matt Slocum / AP

Bill Cosby's lawyers urged a jury Tuesday to acquit the 80-year-old comedian of sexual assault charges they said were based on "flimsy, silly, ridiculous evidence," arguing he was falsely accused by a "pathological liar" scheming for a big payday.

The first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era was nearly in the hands of a jury after the defense declared that Cosby himself was the victim of an elaborate frame-up.

Laura Benshoff / WHYY

More than two years after Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas announced the department would not renew its license, the Berks Family Residential Center is still housing dozens of families awaiting decisions about their immigration cases.

Tony Gutierrez / AP

A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

"I felt we were discriminated against," one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. "It was a horrific experience."

Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

Matt Rourke / AP

Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial is set to go to the jury on Tuesday, but not before closing arguments pitting the prosecution's portrayal of a serial predator against the defense's contention that he's the victim of a "con artist" who made up drugging and molestation allegations to score a big payday.

The defense rested on Monday after the 80-year-old comedian said he wouldn't testify, echoing his decision at his first trial, which ended in a hung jury last year.

Barry Sweet / AP

The opioid crisis has prompted a reckoning with the devastating effects of joblessness and isolation throughout rural and post-industrial America.

Judge Rules Jury Can Hear Bill Cosby's Quaalude Testimony

Apr 17, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

The jury at Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial can hear the comedian's decade-old testimony about giving quaaludes to women before sex, a judge ruled Tuesday, handing the prosecution a key victory in its effort to portray him as a serial predator.

Office of Governor Tom Wolf

A package of bills aimed to protect victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania has been signed into law. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A new Pennsylvania law is in place to help guide judges setting bail for defendants accused of domestic abuse.

Pennsylvania’s state police force is reviewing its interactions with the federal immigration and customs enforcement, in the wake of a series of investigative reports questioning the legality of troopers using traffic stops to detain people in the country illegally.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A woman charged with falsely accusing two state troopers of rape has been ordered to stand trial in northeastern Pennsylvania.

A district judge on Friday ordered 37-year-old Christine Cromer to trial in Luzerne County Court on charges of filing false reports and unsworn falsification.

Authorities allege that Cromer falsely accused a trooper of raping her in a police cruiser in November 2016 and also provided false information in a protection-from-abuse application when she said she was raped by another state trooper.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to have a more diverse workforce, the City of Pittsburgh is increasing its recruitment for people with physical and development disabilities. 

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