The U.S. at a glance ...
Cold case closed: A 27-year-old cold case that led to the creation of a national sex offenders registry was finally solved this week, after a man led police to the body of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling. Danny Heinrich, 53, later admitted in court to abducting, sexually assaulting, and murdering the boy. Jacob was cycling home from a video store in 1989 with his younger brother and a friend when they were stopped by a masked gunman. The man ordered the other two boys to run; Jacob was never seen again. Heinrich was one of the first people questioned in Jacob’s disappearance, and last October was arrested on child pornography charges. He agreed to lead police to Jacob’s body as part of a plea deal allowing him to avoid state murder charges. He instead pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and faces up to 20 years in prison. In 1994, Congress passed a law named after Jacob that requires states to establish sex offender registries.
Brock Turner released: The ex–Stanford University swimmer whose relatively light sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus drew national outrage was released from jail last week, after serving half of his sixmonth term. Following his early release for good behavior from California’s Santa Clara County Jail, Brock Turner, 21, was registered as a sex offender at the sheriff’s office near his parents’ Ohio home. He is now under three years of supervised probation. Turner was found guilty in March of three felony accounts stemming from the January 2015 sexual assault. A prosecutor argued that he should serve six years; Judge Aaron Persky opted for county jail time and probation, citing Turner’s show of “sincere remorse” and the “severe impact” a state prison term would have on the young athlete. Persky is currently the subject of a recall effort.
New York City
Fox settles with Carlson: Fox News moved this week to put an end to the sexual harassment scandal that has plunged the company into turmoil, agreeing to pay former anchor Gretchen Carlson $20 million to settle her lawsuit against ex-CEO Roger Ailes. The company apologized in a statement “for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.” Although Carlson, 50, did not name Fox as a defendant in her suit against Ailes, 76, whom she accused of sabotaging her career for rebuffing his sexual advances, Fox’s parent company will bear the entire cost of the settlement. Ailes, who denies all of the allegations against him, received a $40 million severance package when he resigned in July. During a Fox-commissioned investigation following Carlson’s suit, at least 20 women at the company reportedly came forward to make allegations that they had been sexually harassed by Ailes.
Fracking quake: Oklahoma state regulators shut down more than three dozen oil and gas wastewater disposal wells this week, after a record magnitude-5.8 earthquake shook the state. Officials declared a state of emergency in the small town of Pawnee, roughly 55 miles northwest of Tulsa and near the quake’s epicenter. Although some buildings were damaged by the temblor, which was felt as far away as Texas and Illinois, no serious injuries were reported. Oklahoma has experienced a sharp uptick in seismic activity in recent years; there were 890 earthquakes measuring 3.0 or higher in the state last year, up from just two in 2008, before the state’s fracking boom. Scientists say that the hydraulic fracturing industry’s method of disposing of wastewater— injecting it into ultradeep disposal wells—could be causing the quakes.
Georgetown’s slavery apology: Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic institution of higher learning in the U.S., pledged last week to atone for its historical role in the slave trade, and extended preferential admissions consideration to the descendants of more than 270 slaves that the university sold in 1838. University President John DeGioia said Georgetown would offer a formal apology for its actions, form an institute for the study of slavery, and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution. Founded by Jesuit priests in 1789, the college relied for decades on plantations in Maryland to finance its operations. The 1838 sale of 272 men, women, and children generated $115,000, or the equivalent of $3.3 million today; many of those slaves were sent to Louisiana plantations. The “original evil that shaped the early years of the republic was present here,” DeGioia said. “We must acknowledge it.”
Trump’s pay-to-play? Donald Trump defended himself this week against political pay-to-play allegations, denying there was anything improper about a $25,000 gift to a political group linked to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was at the time considering whether to open a fraud investigation against Trump University. The 2013 donation, made by the Donald J. Trump Foundation, violated federal rules that prohibit charities from donating to political candidates; Trump failed to disclose the gift to the IRS, reporting that the money had been given to an unrelated group with a similar name, a misattribution Trump blamed on a clerical error. Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year after reports about the donation surfaced. Bondi has said that she personally solicited a donation from the GOP presidential candidate, but Trump insisted that the two never spoke about the fraud investigation, which Bondi’s office ultimately dropped.