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.

Report On Pennsylvania Priest Abuse To Be Most Extensive Yet

Jun 11, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

The results of a lengthy probe into the handling of sexual abuse claims by Roman Catholic dioceses throughout Pennsylvania, which victim advocates say will be the biggest and most exhaustive ever by a U.S. state, could be made public within weeks.

A statewide grand jury spent nearly two years looking into the abuse scandal, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has said he plans to address the panel's findings by the end of June.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Matt Rubin

Thousands are expected to hit the streets of downtown Pittsburgh this weekend to celebrate the LGBT community. 

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

A networking program to connect immigrants and refugees to established Pittsburgh professionals is underway in the city.

The Pittsburgh Connector Program will set up one half-hour-long meeting between a recent arrival with professional experience and a Pittsburgher in the same career field. The local shares three professional contacts with the immigrant, and then those contacts each share three more.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh police training now includes a half-day session on the role of law enforcement in Nazi Germany.

Chris Gardner / AP

Pennsylvania's newest prison has been formally dedicated near Philadelphia and officials say they will start transferring inmates there this month.

Lawmakers and other officials gathered Friday to dedicate the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Women account for 50.5 percent of the population of the United States, but across the country, that number is not reflected in boardrooms, which are only 12 percent female. In Pittsburgh that number is a little higher, hovering now at 17.5 percent. Despite the evidence that diverse boards make for stronger companies, corporate culture has been slow to change

PA Prosecutors Focus On Charging Dealers Who Sell Fatal Doses Of Heroin

Jun 1, 2018

Midstate counties are charging more drug dealers who sell a fatal dose with a crime known as 'drug delivery resulting in death.'

Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts data shows York County tops the list, with 10 percent of the cases statewide.

Lancaster, Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, and Lebanon also rank among the top 10 counties.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said some counties, including his, view the stricter interpretation of the state law as one more way to combat the opioid crisis.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Former Pittsburgh police chief Cameron McLay is among three finalists  named to become the chief of the Seattle Police Department. 

Allyson Ruggieri / WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto signed a pair of executive orders Tuesday meant to increase local minority hires in municipal construction.

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police / Twitter

June will mark national Pride Month, which celebrates the LGBT community, and Pittsburgh Police are showing solidarity with a rainbow-adorned patrol car. 

It was unveiled Tuesday and will be on display downtown throughout June. 

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officials said in a press release that it’s part of the department’s “ongoing community outreach efforts.”

Tony Dejak / AP

The suicide rate among young black children is double that of their white peers, according to a new study co-authored by a Carnegie Mellon University statistician. 

bioLinia and Paul Murdoch Architects / National Parks Service

A new sound installation is in progress at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County.

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.

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