2013-09-13 / Community

In the News

Teens charged with animal cruelty

SOUTH PORTLAND – Two 15-year-old female students at South Portland High School have been summonsed on charges of cruelty to animals as police investigate a video that allegedly shows them putting a cat into a microwave.

The six-second video was posted on Vine, a mobile app that allows users to record and share short videos through social networking sites such as Twitter. It shows a teenage girl placing a cat into a microwave, turning the microwave on and turning to walk away before another individual opens the microwave to let the cat out.

Lt. Frank Clark of the South Portland Police Department said in a written release that police were alerted Friday, Sept. 6 to the video circulating on Twitter. The suspects, whose names are not being revealed because they are juveniles, were summonsed Monday, Sept. 9.

The investigation into the video remains open as of Wednesday, , Sept. 11. Clark said in the release police have turned the case over to the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office for review, and formal juvenile charges are possible.

According to Clark, the cat is “displaying no ill effects at this time.” However, its owners released the cat to the city’s animal control officer, who sought a veterinary evaluation.

“The department wants the public to know that the matter is being addressed and referred to the Juvenile Justice System,” Clark wrote. “We want to say thank you to those who reported this matter to the department, and would ask for the public’s patience in letting the system do its job.”

Court rules in favor of city employees

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a Superior Court ruling that South Portland’s city policy of prohibiting employees from participating in school board elections violated the First Amendment rights of two part-time employees.

School board member and part-time circulation librarian Karen Callaghan and Burton Edwards, a part-time employee in the parks and recreation department and former school board member, brought the suit against the city in 2011.

Callaghan’s name was placed on the school board ballot in 2011 despite the policy because the city manager considered her status “grandfathered,” as she served on the board before a 2010 policy amendment. Edwards chose not to pursue his interest in a school board seat in 2010 after he was advised of the policy.

The employees argued their part-time employment should not inhibit their First Amendment right to campaign for a school board position and serve on the board if elected.

The city argued the policy is fair to avoid a conflict of interest if an individual were to serve as a legislator in one department and a city employee in another.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in favor of the employees, but vacated the Superior Court’s ruling declaring the policy unconstitutional for all other city employees. Justice Andrew Mead wrote in the court’s majority opinion the decision to limit the scope to the two employees who challenged the city follows the Supreme Court’s standard to avoid providing relief to nonparties “when a narrower remedy will fully protect the litigants.”

City Manager Jim Gailey wrote in a press release after the Supreme Court’s decision the city of South Portland is “disappointed with the decision, as the city believes the decision does not adequately balance the city’s interest as an employer to promote fair, efficient and effective operations against any First Amendment interests of city-side employees in running for, or serving on, the school board.”

Gailey wrote the city could petitionthe U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. However, no decision has been made as to whether that action will be taken.

Man faces multiple charges after stop

A 19-year-old Portland man faces multiple charges after allegedly evading a South Portland Police officer after a traffic stop on Main Street.

Timothy Berry, 19, of Portland, faces charges of operating without a license, illegal attachment of registration plates and eluding a police officer. He also is charged with violating conditions of release. At the time of Tuesday morning’s arrest, Berry was out on bail for burglary and theft.

Lt. Frank Clark of the South Portland Police Department said in a media release Berry drove off at a high speed after he was pulled over by Officer Chris Gosling just before midnight Monday, Sept. 9. Gosling allegedly found the plates of the Honda Accord Berry was driving belonged to a Ford F-150. According to Clark, Gosling approached the driver’s side door and saw the driver before the driver fled.

Berry allegedly drove through the Thornton Heights section of Main Street, then was spotted driving east on Broadway from Scarborough. Clark said Sgt. Kevin Gerrish also attempted to stop the vehicle, but it once again took off and entered the Maine Turnpike off Skyway Drive.

A short time later, around 12:35 a.m. Tuesday morning, Sept. 10, Clark said Portland police responded to a business alarm on Brighton Avenue and notified South Portland police they may have located the suspect from the earlier incident. Gosling then identified Berry as the man who eluded him earlier.

The Honda Accord Berry allegedly used to flee from South Portland police was reported stolen from Brunswick Ford. Clarke said additional charges are likely.

– Compiled by Staff Writer Jack Flagler

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