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Minnesota House gets sexual harassment training

Minnesota State adopts affirmative consent policy; student arrested over threat at Orono High School; elder-abuse hearing; and more.

Minnesota House
Minnesota House

Duly noted. Youssef Rddad of the AP informs us, “All 134 members of the Minnesota House paused their legislative duties Wednesday to attend an all-day training course on sexual harassment and discrimination. Minnesota has been at the center of a nationwide reckoning with workplace sexual harassment. In the span of just a few weeks, Republican state Rep. Tony Cornish, Democratic state Sen. Dan Schoen and U.S. Sen. Al Franken resigned after a flood of sexual misconduct claims. The training Wednesday on the second day of the legislative session was a piece of a broader discussion underway in Minnesota’s Capitol, re-examining decades-old sexual harassment policies and reporting procedures in both the Legislature and the 33,000 state government workers.”

Related. The Strib’s Maura Lerner says, “ … the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have formally adopted an ‘affirmative consent’ rule to clarify what constitutes sexual assault. And the new standard will apply not only to students, but to employees and the board of trustees. The rule, which trustees approved Wednesday, changes how ‘consent’ is defined under the board’s sexual violence policy. It says that consent must be ‘expressed either by words or clear, unambiguous, and affirmative words or actions.’ Otherwise, under the policy, students, faculty or staff could be held responsible for sexual misconduct.”

At MPR, Solvejg Wastvedt reports, “A couple hundred students walked out of school in Minneapolis Wednesday to call for stricter gun control. The students gathered just after midday in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in south Minneapolis. Their rally happened on the same day as a demonstration in Washington, D.C. by students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where a gunman killed 17 people last week. … Minneapolis school district policies do not discipline students for protesting peacefully, but on its website the district says students who walk out may receive an unexcused absence. Students are also not allowed to return to school for afterschool activities after walking out. District leaders said in a statement they’re meeting this week ‘to discuss further considerations for national walkouts planned in March and April.’” How do we know they weren’t all “crisis actors” hired by George Soros?

In this moment. Jeff Wagner’s WCCO-TV story says, “It was a scary day for students and their families at Orono High School on Wednesday, but everyone is safe. A threat around lunch time forced the school to go on lock down, keeping students locked in classrooms until late in the afternoon. All after-school activities have been canceled. Orono police say two threats were made to Orono Public Schools on Wednesday. One threat was vague, while the other was a direct threat of gun violence at Orono Schools. Police said they made an arrest in connection with the threats Wednesday afternoon. A student was arrested on suspicion of terroristic threats. Police say the threat came from a student inside the school. The student was arrested at Orono High School.”

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This is bad. In the PiPress Christopher Magan says, “Lawmakers on the Senate aging and long-term care committee got a startling and intimate look Wednesday at the abuse and maltreatment seniors and vulnerable adults have suffered at facilities that are supposed to be overseen by the state. One after another, for nearly two hours, family members told their horrific, graphic stories to a group of lawmakers who listened, stunned. … Debbie Singer, a veterinarian, told senators about her 92-year-old mother who died in a nursing facility and how her body sat in her room for days because no staff members performed the required check on her.”

Not that this will make you feel any better. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “Twin sisters with diminished mental and behavioral capacity were raped, starved and beaten, and subjected to long stretches of captivity in chains by their father in their south Minneapolis home, according to charges filed this week. The abuse continued for years, the criminal complaint and other court filings read, until one of them escaped to alert authorities last May. Charges filed Tuesday against 51-year-old Jerry Lee Curry and a protective order against him also reveal that he fathered two children by one of the twins, one born in June 2014 and the other in October 2017. The sisters are now in their early 20s.”

More out of the Starkey trial. Says Dee DePass of the Strib covering the on-going Starkey Hearing Aid trial. “[Scott Nelson, Starkey’s former chief financial officer] told jurors that [CEO Bill Austin’s stepson Brandon Sawalich] — who is now the Eden Prairie-based company’s president — was seen as a ‘liability’ by executives because of his lavish company expenses and because of a history of extramarital affairs with Starkey employees. Starkey ended up paying a ‘six figure’ settlement when one of the women filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, Nelson said. Asked if Sawalich was  viewed inside Starkey as a ‘serial harasser of women employees,’ Nelson said yes. Defense attorneys showed Nelson pictures of at least eight ‘Jane Does’ and Nelson said he was familiar with relationships between Sawalich and all but one of the women.”

Gas up the blower. MPR’s Paul Huttner tells us, “All major forecast models agree it will snow across most of Minnesota Thursday and Thursday night. There are a few differences in timing and totals, but the impact is basically the same. It’s going to get slick out there again. … I’m impressed with the physical dynamics of what at first looked like a run of the mill system. The upglide over departing cold air can be an efficient snow producer. I think widespread snowfall totals of 2″ to 5″ look likely across Minnesota by Friday morning. I think some local 6″ totals are possible from the Twin Cities to Duluth.”