State News in Brief


Lawsuit nixed against clerk who fought gay marriage

FRANKFORT (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against a Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning issued orders Thursday dismissing the lawsuit brought by two gay couples and two straight couples against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.

Bunning’s orders come after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Davis’ appeals last month because of a new state law that removes the names of county clerks from marriage licenses.

Davis spent five days in jail for refusing a judge’s order to issue the licenses. Her deputy clerks issued the licenses for her while she was incarcerated. Davis’ attorney Mat Staver declared victory, calling it a win for everyone who wants to remain true to their religious beliefs.

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Despite order, Bevin says UofL board should continue to meet

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican governor says the ousted board of trustees at the University of Louisville should continue to meet despite a judge temporarily stripping them of their authority, a move the attorney general said “encouraged the defiance of a court order.”

Gov. Matt Bevin abolished the University of Louisville board of trustees in June. He replaced them a few weeks later with a new board, which then accepted the resignation of longtime president James Ramsey.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued, saying Bevin’s order was illegal. Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd temporarily blocked Bevin’s order, stripping the new board of its authority and putting the university back under the governance of the former trustees.

Wednesday, WHAS radio host Terry Meiners asked Bevin if he thought the board he appointed should continue to meet.

“The new board is not enjoined. The new board has authority to meet and they should do exactly that,” Bevin said. “Judge Shepherd overstepped himself, and it’s why, if you’ve seen, he’s been trying to walk this back, he literally is trying to walk it back and ask me to work out a negotiation.”

Shepherd’s order, issued last month, says the authority of board Bevin appointed is “temporarily enjoined” pending a final decision in the case. In a hearing after the ruling, Shepherd said his order was not a criticism of the governor. He also said he wanted to hear more about whether the board Bevin replaced complies with state law mandating proportional representation from political parties and racial minorities.

In a news release, Beshear said Bevin’s comments encouraged defiance of a court order.

“This is a serious action that should concern all Kentuckians. We live in a country governed by the rule of the law, which must be respected,” Beshear said.

Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said Bevin “firmly believes the law should be followed,” but that Shepherd’s order “ignores the law by enjoining a legitimately appointed, very qualified board.” She said Bevin’s attorneys filed an appeal of Shepherd’s ruling and “will request a prompt hearing.”

The lawsuit is one of several pending between Bevin and Beshear. The attorney general has also sued Bevin over his abolishment of Kentucky Retirement Systems board of trustees and his decision to reduce the allotments to public colleges and universities without legislative approval.

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Attorney: ABC commissioner wasn’t told reason for removal

FRANKFORT (AP) — An attorney representing the former commissioner of the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission says his client wasn’t given a reason for his dismissal.

Louisville attorney Kenneth Handmaker told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Steven Edwards was fired on Aug. 5 and has received no explanation as to why.

Gov. Matt Bevin filed an executive order Monday to remove Edwards from his post, saying he had “lost confidence” in his ability to lead. Bevin referred to “matters” being brought to his attention, but did not elaborate.

Before Edwards was commissioner, he served on the ABC board and was the distilled spirits administrator. He is also the former division chief for claims at Fort Knox.

Edwards served in an appointed position that paid $100,000 annually.

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W. Ky. police officer charged with sex abuse

HOPKINSVILLE (AP) — Kentucky State Police have charged a Hopkinsville police officer with five counts of first-degree sex abuse.

Police said in a statement that 32-year-old Ian L. Damber was arrested Friday after an investigation that began Wednesday stemming from a complaint alleging he had sexual contact with a minor.

Hopkinsville police said Damber resigned from the department Friday after being suspended due to the charges. He had been an officer with the department since 2013.

State police say he was taken to the Christian County Detention Center. Online jail records don’t say whether he has an attorney.

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City, pastor sue over county’s alcohol sales vote

CATLETTSBURG (AP) — The City of Ashland is suing the Boyd County clerk and elections board over an alcohol sales vote.

The Daily Independent reports the city and local pastor Charles Shields filed the lawsuit in circuit court Wednesday, seeking a restraining order that would prohibit county officials from moving forward with next week’s election.

The lawsuit says the process officials used to order a “wet” election on alcohol sales expansion countywide is “fatally flawed.”

County clerk Debbie Jones says she knows about the suit, and the county’s board of elections will hold a special-called meeting Friday to discuss the litigation.

Voters in all 46 Boyd County precincts — including Ashland and Catlettsburg — would decide if they want to change the alcohol sales status of the entire county to “wet” in Tuesday’s election.

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Officials vote to close Monroe Co. jail on Aug. 31

TOMPKINSVILLE (AP) — Officials in Monroe County have voted to close the local jail because it can’t meet new state regulations that call for more staffing.

WBKO-TV reports Monroe County Judge-Executive Tommy Willet said it was the toughest decision he’s made while serving on Fiscal Court. Officials voted 5-1 to close the jail on Aug. 31.

Police officers had warned that it could affect public safety, especially if a dangerous call comes in while the transport officer is gone.

Willet said officials can’t afford to hire more staff at the jail to stay in compliance.

In September, those arrested will be sent to the Barren County Jail in Glasgow. Monroe County will pay about $36 per day for each inmate, which will end up saving the county money.

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3 defendants strike deals in teen sexual assault case

HOPKINSVILLE (AP) — Three defendants charged in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy at a house party in Hopkinsville have struck deals to testify against their alleged accomplice.

The Kentucky New Era reports that Colton Cavanaugh, Samuel Miller and Tyler Perry agreed to testify against the only remaining defendant still facing charges, Dayton Jones.

Cavanaugh entered a guilty plea Thursday to amended charges of first-degree sodomy and first-degree wanton endangerment. His plea came a day after Miller and Perry also pleaded guilty to various charges.

The four are accused of assaulting the incapacitated 15-year-old at Miller’s house during a party. Police reports say the boy suffered severe internal injuries following the assault.

Jones’ trial is set to begin Monday. Final sentencing has been set for Nov. 1.

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State fair offering new culinary treats

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Kentucky State Fair has some new food offerings this year.

Sivori Catering says it is introducing totchos, a creation of tater tots covered in nacho toppings; butt fries, which are french fries topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce and other items; and sweet tater supreme, featuring deep fried potatoes smothered in caramel and marshmallows.

The company says its most popular item, the donut burger, is also being served. Other returning treats include deep-fried Derby Pie, deep-fried Oreos and deep-fried cookie dough.

Sivori Catering also has a recharging station set up near the Sivori Country Music tent.

The fair opened Thursday at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville and runs through Aug. 28.

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Ex-substitute teacher gets 10 years in prison for child porn

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — A former Kentucky substitute teacher will spend 10 years behind bars after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

The Daily News of Bowling Green reports a U.S. District judge sentenced 50-year-old Leon W. Lussier of Bowling Green on Wednesday on possessing and transporting child pornography charges.

Court records show Lussier was also fined $50,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 to victims in a case involving the sexual abuse of children and the sharing of online child pornography across national borders, including in Canada.

Records state authorities traced an online user account last year to a computer belonging to Lussier, and found more than 800 videos stored on it and 11 DVDs.

At the time, Lussier was employed as a substitute teacher in the Bowling Green Independent School District.

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