Ex-USA Gymnastics trainer has sexual assault count dropped
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a sexual assault charge against a former trainer who worked alongside imprisoned ex-sports doctor Larry Nassar at the famed Karolyi gymnastics ranch in Texas. Debra Van Horn had been awaiting trial in Huntsville, Texas, on a June 2018 count of second-degree sexual assault of a child. However, Walker County District Attorney Will Durham said Friday that there was insufficient evidence to take Van Horn to trial. Van Horn's attorney, Heather Barbieri, has not responded to a request for comment. Nassar is serving decades in prison for sexual assault and possession of child pornography in Michigan.
AP Exclusive: AT&T under pressure to defy Maduro's censors
MIAMI (AP) — Venezuela’s opposition together with the Trump administration is looking to recruit AT&T in its fight to oust Nicolás Maduro. State Department officials met in December with from AT&T executives to discuss how they can work together to disarm Maduro’s propaganda machine. Maduro’s opponents want AT&T’s DirecTV unit to restore a number of channels it was required to take down from its lineup. International channels including CNN en Espanol fill an important void for information inside Venezuela after a number of broadcasters critical of the government disappeared from the airwaves. But forcing AT&T to do the political bidding of Maduro’s foes could lead to retaliation.
APPEALS COURT-GENDER PRONOUNS
Appeals court rules against convict over gender pronouns
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court panel in New Orleans has voted 2-1 against honoring a transgender woman's request to be referred to with feminine pronouns. Judge Kyle Duncan wrote for the majority on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel. He said no legal authority requires the court to use feminine pronouns at a defendant's request. In dissent, Judge James Dennis said Duncan's opinion "creates a controversy where there is none." Dennis said many courts honor such requests out of respect for the dignity of the people making them.
Search suspended days after deadly collision off Texas coast
GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for two crew members missing after a deadly collision between a fishing boat and an oil tanker just off the Texas coast. Officials say the search following Tuesday's collision covered nearly 50 miles before it was called off Thursday. Two other crew members of the fishing boat were pulled out of the water Tuesday, but one died shortly thereafter. The cause of the collision near the entrance to Galveston Bay remains under investigation.
MIGRANT GIRL-HISPANIC CONGRESSMEN
Congressmen help migrant girl with Down syndrome get into US
A delegation from the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus has helped a 6-year-old migrant girl with Down Syndrome and a heart condition get paroled in the United States. U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico said Friday he and other members accompanied the girl to a Port of Entry in Brownsville, Texas, and asked federal immigration authorities to allow the girl into the country to seek medical treatment. There are exemption for vulnerable people in the Trump administration's “Remain in Mexico” policy for migrants seeking asylum. The girl and her family had previously been denied entry.
Ex-police chief accused of taking $134,000 in bribes
SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) — San Angelo's former longtime police chief has been indicted on bribery and fraud counts accusing him of taking $134,000 in bribes to help a radio communications vendor obtain $11 million in city contracts. Timothy Ray Vasquez made an initial court appearance Friday in federal court in San Angelo. He had served as police chief from 2004 until 2016, when he was already under investigation and lost his re-election bid to present chief Frank Carter. If convicted, Vasquez could be sentenced to as many as 70 years in federal prison.
Ex-Texas nurse pleads guilty in 1981 death of 11-month-old
A former Texas nurse suspected in the killing of dozens of children has pleaded guilty in the 1981 death of an 11-month-old. Sixty-nine-year-old Genene Jones received a life sentence Thursday that a prosecutor says will likely ensure she dies in prison. Jones was sent to prison in 1984 after being convicted in the death of one child and for giving an overdose to another. She had been set to be released from prison in 2018 under a mandatory release law in place when she was convicted. But prosecutors in 2017 filed five murder charges related to the deaths of children in the 1980s. The other four cases have been dismissed.
Police: Suspended student stabs 2 classmates at Texas school
ABILENE, Texas (AP) — Officials say a recently suspended Texas high school student stabbed two of his classmates before fleeing campus. Police spokesman Rick Tomlin tells KTXS-TV that officers took the student into custody about 30 minutes after the 8 a.m. Thursday attack at Abilene High School. Medics took both victims to a hospital in ambulances. Their condition is unknown. Tomlin says all three students are male and “around 16” but declined to identify them because they are minors. He says the attack seems to have been targeted. He says at least one of the victims had a “previous altercation” with the attacker.
Toyota shifting pickup production to Mexico, no US jobs lost
PRINCETON, Indiana (AP) — Toyota will stop making its Tacoma small pickup in San Antonio next year as it shifts production to Mexico. But the company says no U.S. jobs will be lost. To make up for the lost work, the San Antonio plant will build the Sequoia large SUV. Its 3,200 jobs will be preserved. Currently the Tacoma and full-size Tundra pickups are built in San Antonio, and the Tacoma also is produced at a factory in Baja California, Mexico. Late last year a Toyota plant in Mexico also began building Tacomas. Tacoma production in San Antonio will wind down in late 2021, and Sequoia production will start in 2022.
Column: MLB whistleblower deserves applause, not criticism