[TW: Sexual abuse] New evidence has emerged in the case of a Pennsylvania death row prisoner convicted of murdering his sexual abuser. Terrance “Terry” Williams is scheduled to be executed next week for the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood. Norwood had sexually abused Williams over a number of years up until the night before Williams took revenge by ending Norwood’s life. Williams had been convicted of third-degree murder in a separate killing because the victim had also sexually abused him. But in the Norwood case, Williams had been sentenced to death because prosecutors had alleged he was committing a robbery that went wrong. In a new evidentiary hearing, Andrea Foulkes, the prosecutor who oversaw the case against Williams three decades ago, was confronted with her own notes showing the mother of another of Norwood’s abuse victims had told her that Norwood molested her son. For years, Foulkes has rejected the argument that Williams had a motive of seeking revenge against Norwood for sexual abuse.
[TW: Rape] Another Republican U.S. Senate candidate sparked a controversy on Monday with comments on rape, comparing his family member’s decision to have a child outside marriage to a pregnancy caused by rape.
Tom Smith, who badly trails Democrat Bob Casey in polls in their U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, stepped into political trouble after telling reporters that abortion should be banned without exceptions.
Asked how he would feel if his daughter or granddaughter bore a child produced by rape, Smith said he had experienced a similar situation when a member of his family had a baby out of wedlock.
"Put yourself in a father’s position, yes, I mean it is similar," he said, according to audio of his comments posted on the Huffington Post.
Smith’s comments came a week after Republican U.S. Representative Todd Akin said victims of “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant — a statement that national Republicans have rebuked him for.
On Wednesday, a Pennsylvania judge upheld a controversial voter ID law that critics say could disqualify hundreds of thousands of voters. Republican lawmakers have openly admitted the law was designed to impact the result of the November election. In June, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai listed off a number of legislative accomplishments. “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done,” Turzai said. Meanwhile, Florida, New Mexico and other states are being accused of purging voters ahead of the election. “Whenever states determine that they want to purge their rolls or clean up their rolls, it takes time. It has to be done efficiently and effectively. And waiting to do so so very close up to an election always raises concerns about why a state is doing it so close to an election,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery of the Brennan Center for Justice. “We’re always concerned about errors and the fact that innocent people, individuals who are indeed eligible registered voters, we’re always worried about whether those people may be erroneously kicked off the rolls.”
A Pennsylvania judge has upheld a controversial voter identification law that critics say will benefit Republicans this November. The measure requires voters to produce photo ID before they can cast ballots. Opponents of the law had sought to delay its implementation until after the November 6 elections. The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups say they will appeal to the state Supreme Court.
[TW: Child Molestation] A former top-ranking clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania has been sentenced to up to six years in prison for covering up child sexual abuse by Philadelphia priests. Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty of hiding the molestation by transferring predatory priests to unsuspecting congregations. He is the highest-ranking U.S. church official to be convicted of covering up child abuse to date.