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In January, new Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint a new director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The director’s term coincides with the governor’s.
The Attorney General's Office is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a judge's ruling which says gays can marry. But its top litigator insists it's not because he wants to stop same-sex weddings.
Former Tempe High School teacher Joel Calderon has plead guilty to three counts of attempted sexual conduct.
Only about one in four sexual assaults committed in Arizona is ever solved by police. One attack that hasn’t been solved by police is the brazen and savage attack by an unknown assailant on a 91-year-old woman in one of Tempe’s better neighborhoods.
‘Human trafficking is homegrown here,” said Cindy McCain, co-chairperson of Gov. Brewer’s Arizona Human Trafficking Council and wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a recent phone interview.
Friday's federal court ruling voiding Arizona restrictions against same-sex marriage raises a series of new questions about other state laws which discriminate based on sexual orientation.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona prison teacher has blamed state officials over an attack in which she says she was stabbed and raped by a convicted sex offender she was left alone with in a penitentiary classroom.
Her attorneys filed a lawsuit Tuesday saying the Arizona Department of Corrections failed to provide adequate security and the prison's health care provider didn't properly evaluate the prisoner charged in the assault.
The January attack has raised questions about prison security after reports showed she was put into a room full of inmates with no guards nearby. Authorities say the 20-year-old blamed in the assault had lingered behind after others left the room, then repeatedly stabbed the victim with a pen before raping her.
Arizona's workplace safety agency launched an investigation of prison policy after The Associated Press reported the details in June. The review is ongoing, a Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokeswoman said.
Corrections Director Charles Ryan, who is named in the lawsuit, was not immediately available, but prison officials have said they cannot comment on the lawsuit.
Corrections spokesman Doug Nick has called the attack "a cowardly and despicable crime, for which the inmate is rightfully facing prosecution."
He says the safety of all staffers is the department's "paramount priority, and we have reached out to the victim to offer our full assistance and support."
The lawsuit filed in Pinal County Superior Court doesn't seek specific damages. In a precursor July legal claim, attorney Scott Zwillinger asked for $4 million and wrote that the state could lose $10 million if the case went to trial.
Nick has said previously that "the department vigorously disputes allegations made in the employee's claim against the state, and new allegations being made to the media."
The lawsuit says Corizon Health, the state prison system's health care provider, improperly assessed Harvey's mental health. The lawsuit said that led prison officials to classify him as a relatively low-risk offender, allowing him access to the classroom. A Corizon spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment Tuesday.
In an AP interview, the 34-year-old teacher said she mainly blames Ryan, who she says allowed lax training, staffing shortages and poor security at the Eyman prison in Florence, south of Phoenix. The AP does not identify those who say they are victims of sexual assault.
Jacob Harvey, 20, has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault in the case. His lawyer has declined comment on the case.
At the time of the attack, Harvey was being held in a unit that holds about 1,300 rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders.
He was in the first year of a 30-year sentence after being convicted of raping a Glendale woman in 2011. Prosecutors said Harvey, who was 17 at the time, knocked on a woman's door asked for a drink of water, then pushed his way in and repeatedly forced himself on the victim, whose 2-year-old child was in the apartment at the time.
The prison teacher also describes a violent attack and says the department left her vulnerable and unprepared for it.
"I remember trying to fight him off," she said. "The only thing I remembered from self-defense was to tuck my head so he would not choke me."
She said she also remembers getting stabbed, screaming and being unable to activate a panic button on her two-way radio.
She said she had received only four hours of self-defense training before being placed in classrooms, which guards did not regularly monitor, despite regulations calling for three checks each hour.
During the interview, she said radios were prone to battery problems and in short supply. If one wasn't available, she'd be pressured to hold class anyway, she said.
The teacher says she feels traumatized by the attack.
"There's times where I think I'm doing good," she said. "Then I just come crashing down. I haven't been sleeping well."
Monday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to delay same-sex marriages in other states has no immediate impact in Arizona, but it could expedite gay marriages in the state if and when federal courts here decide the issue.
PHOENIX -- Having won benefits for current of gay state and university employees, attorneys are back in court demanding the same for everyone hired in the future. And if they win, count on them to start going after cities, counties, school districts and all government employers in Arizona.
Tara Borelli of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund wants U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick to permanently void a 2009 Arizona law that says benefits like health insurance are available only to those who are married. Borelli, the lead counsel on the case, said gay employees need benefits for their partners and children just the same as those who are married.
But Assistant Attorney General Charles Grube, in his own legal filings, effectively is urging Sedwick to butt out.
"Domestic-partner health coverage is not a fundamental right,'' he told the judge.
He said that means state lawmakers were free to decide to pass a law saying that benefits are limited to those who are wed. Grube said that is a financial decision well within the powers of legislators.
Grube said because the state provides no benefits for any unmarried partners, gay and straight, there is no discrimination against anyone because of sexual orientation.
But Borelli said that ignores one key fact: Straight couples have the option to get those benefits by marrying; a 2008 voter-approved state constitutional amendment denies that same right to gays, thereby making those same benefits inaccessible.
And that remains the case in Arizona unless and until federal courts rule gays can wed.
Gov. Jan Brewer is defending the law as one based not on sexual orientation but on budget considerations. She told Capitol Media Services the state needed the money it was spending providing benefits to the partners of its gay workers -- benefits Sedwick blocked her from cutting.
Borelli, however, said the effects are minimal, saying gays make up just 0.2 percent of all state employees getting benefits.
Arizona first provided domestic-partner benefits in 2008 when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano ordered state personnel rules rewritten to expand the definition of who is a "dependent'' for purposes of getting benefits. Those rules, which did not specify the gender of the partner, required a showing of financial interdependence and an affidavit by the worker affirming there is a domestic partnership.
But in 2009, after Napolitano resigned to take a post in the Obama administration, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved, and Brewer signed, a state law narrowing the definition -- and specifically excluding unmarried couples.
Sedwick issued a preliminary injunction blocking the change, at least as it applies to gay employees.
The judge acknowledged the change in law, tucked into a provision of the state budget, is not discriminatory on its face. But he said the denial has to be examined in light of the ban on same-sex marriage.
"As a result, (the law) denies lesbian and gay state employees in qualifying domestic partnership a valuable form of compensation on the basis of sexual orientation,'' he wrote in 2010.
Sedwick has since given the case class-action status. That sets the stage for the fight over whether the law should be permanently blocked.
Grube told the judge there's no basis for such an order. He said any disparate impact on gays is the result not of this law but of the other statutes and constitutional provisions which bar gays from marrying.
On a more practical level, Brewer said there's the question of cost.
"I think we all know that Arizona was in dire shape financially,'' she said of her 2009 decision to sign the law voiding the change in rules.
"We had to make some tough choices,'' the governor continued. "I believe that was one area we could cut costs, just like we had to do in behavioral health or education.''
Borelli, however, gave Sedwick figures -- produced by the state -- that show the cost of benefits for the partners of gay workers now covered is less than 0.3 percent of the total program, with the cost of claims for children at about 0.01 percent.
Brewer also brushed aside questions of whether the state should reconsider now that its finances are vastly improved from 2009.
"I would tell you that, almost today, no one can afford insurance,'' saying that is a question that can be taken up by the next governor and the next crop of legislators.
Finances aside, Grube said there's a rational reason for lawmakers providing benefits to those who are married versus those who are not.
"Under Arizona law, married persons have a legal duty to supply support to their spouses,'' he told the judge.
"A married person who fails to provide a spouse with necessary medical attendance actually commits a crime,'' Grube continued. "There is no such criminal statute for unmarried persons.''
But Borelli noted it is the state itself that prohibits gays from marrying in the first place and being subject to laws governing marriage. Beyond that, she said this is not a matter of criminal law.
"Plaintiffs rely on family coverage as an important part of their compensation for the same reason as their heterosexual colleagues: to provide shelter and protection to their families from the potential extreme stress of untreated illnesses and attendant financial burdens,'' she wrote.
And that, she said, goes to the other part of her discrimination argument. She said the gay workers are doing the same job as their heterosexual counterparts.
Brewer had one more reason to justify the Arizona law.
"The federal government also does not provide insurance to domestic partners,'' she said.
Borelli said that's true. But she also said it's unnecessary since the federal government recognizes the marriages performed in states where that is legal, allowing gay employees to get benefits for their partners.
It is only in states like Arizona, she said, where that is an issue.
Having won benefits for current gay state and university employees, attorneys are back in court demanding the same for everyone hired in the future. And if they win, count on them to start going after cities, counties, school districts and all government employers in Arizona.
Two women who said they were raped by the same person at two different hotels in Mesa are suing the hotels that hired the person, alleging they did not conduct a background check on a known sex offender.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is praising the work of a sex trafficking task force she set up 18 months ago.
PHOENIX (AP) — Roughly a third of 300 potential jurors were dismissed Monday in the penalty retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias after telling a judge they had seen too much media coverage of her first trial to be impartial or had already made up their minds about her punishment.
Other jurors were let go due to work conflicts or language barriers, among other reasons, as jury selection began in the second attempt by prosecutors to secure a death sentence in the Arizona case that became a tabloid TV sensation.
Arias, 34, has acknowledged killing ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008 at his suburban Phoenix home but claimed it was self-defense. He suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had his throat slit and was shot in the head.
Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.
Arias, a former waitress, was found guilty last year, and the murder conviction will stand as lawyers spar again over whether she should die for the crime.
Arias was previously found unable to pay for her own attorneys and the cost to taxpayers for her defense so far has topped $2.5 million, Maricopa County spokeswoman Cari Gerchick said. The cost will keep rising during the penalty phase retrial, which is expected to last into December.
Another 100 prospective jurors were set to be brought in Wednesday. No proceeding were set Tuesday in the case.
Arias glanced back at the media at one point on Monday and smiled just before jurors started arriving. The victim's sister and her husband also sat in the courtroom watching the proceedings.
Some of the prospective jurors who were dismissed said they had already seen so much media coverage of the first trial that they couldn't put it out of their minds and would not be able to make a decision based only on information presented at the penalty retrial.
The upcoming proceedings will not be televised live after the judge ruled that no video footage can be broadcast until after the verdict.
If the new jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty will be removed as an option and the judge will sentence Arias to spend her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.
Arias' five-month trial began in January 2013 and was broadcast live, providing endless cable TV and tabloid fodder, including a recorded phone sex call between Arias and the victim, nude photos, bloody crime-scene pictures and a defendant who described her life story in intimate detail over 18 days on the witness stand.
Alexander's family sat in the front row of the courtroom throughout the trial, often sobbing, looking away from horrific photographs, and wincing as Arias described the victim as an abusive boyfriend who wanted nothing but sex.
It was a far cry from the man Alexander presented himself to be publicly — a devout Mormon in search of his soul mate.
Trial watchers say the lack of live television coverage this time around will likely lead to less public interest in the case.
"It wasn't really until Jodi took the stand last time that it turned into a circus and built into a frenzy," said Phoenix criminal defense lawyer Dwane Cates.
Cates said the biggest problem prosecutors now face will be weeding out prospective jurors with an agenda, those "who want their 15 minutes of fame" and could potentially cause another mistrial.
About two dozen potential jurors who said they could not be impartial were dismissed Monday in the penalty retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias, as prosecutors again seek a death sentence in the Arizona case that became a tabloid TV sensation.
Authorities say a 22-year-old man is behind bars after admitting to sexually abusing a woman at her apartment in Tempe.
A 52-year-old man has been arrested for meeting at a Tempe hotel with the intent of having sex with a dog, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
A transgender man is entitled to get a divorce in Arizona from his wife even though he kept his uterus and bore children with her, the state Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
A judge has ruled that Jodi Arias can represent herself in the upcoming penalty phase of her murder trial, where jurors will decide whether she is put to death for killing her ex-boyfriend.
A Mesa police officer faces charges after he allegedly engaged in sexual contact with two female victims and molested a child under the age of 15.
The Chandler Police Department has released information about a convicted sex offender who has moved to the city.
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Sixteen men were arrested last week at a Tempe hotel during a prostitution sting, according to Tempe police.
A Tempe bar owner is accused of plying a young woman with drinks during a job interview and then groping her.
Lawyers for Arizona and a group of gay and lesbian couples who sued over the state's ban on same-sex marriage want a judge to decide the case without a trial.