Monthly Archives: October 2018
Bill Cosby elected not to testify at his retrial on sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania.The prosecution and Bill Cosby’s defence team are on Tuesday expected to begin closing arguments in the retrial of the US entertainer, who is accused of drugging and raping a one-time friend more than a decade ago.
Cosby, 80, faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, 45, a former administrator of the Temple University women’s basketball team, at his Philadelphia home in January 2004.
Cosby, who declined to testify on his own behalf on Monday, has denied wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact he had was consensual.
He also did not testify at his first trial on the same charges last year, when the deadlocked jury was unable to reach a verdict, leading prosecutors to try him again. The current trial, now in its third week, began on April 9.
About 50 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, sometimes after drugging them, going back decades. All the accusations, apart from Constand’s, were too old to be the subject of criminal prosecution.
If convicted of all three counts, he would probably face at most 10 years in prison as a first offender under state sentencing guidelines, although Pennsylvania law allows for a maximum penalty of three consecutive 10-year sentences, a prosecution spokeswoman said.
Earlier on Monday, Cosby’s lawyers used phone and flight records from January 2004 to try again to convince the jury that he was not at his Philadelphia home at the time of the alleged crime.
The timing is crucial, since Cosby was not criminally charged until December 2015, just days before the 12-year Pennsylvania statute of limitations would have expired. The defence has sought to show that a consensual encounter occurred earlier than January 2004.
Douglas Moss, an expert on aviation record keeping, said Cosby’s trips around the United States in January 2004 were accurately reflected in flight logs kept by his private jet pilot, who now suffers from dementia.
District Attorney Kevin Steele sought to show that Cosby could have used other modes of transport to travel to Philadelphia.
Australian Associated Press
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned of severe consequences if the US exits its nuclear deal.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned United States President Donald Trump to stay in the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers in 2015, or face “severe consequences”, as other signatories step up efforts to save the agreement.
Trump has said that unless European allies fix what he has called “terrible flaws” in the deal by May 12, he will restore US economic sanctions on Iran, which would be a severe blow to the pact.
The other powers that signed the deal – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France – have all said they want to preserve the agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting most sanctions.
“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will firmly react,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” he told a cheering crowd of thousands gathered in the city of Tabriz.
“Iran is prepared for all possible situations,” he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron is in Washington, trying to convince Trump not to tear up the accord.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any US attempt to sabotage the nuclear deal.
Iran has warned that it will ramp up its nuclear programme if the deal collapses.
Australian Associated Press
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits survivors of a bus crash which killed 32 Chinese tourists.North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has visited the hospital where victims of a bus crash, which claimed the lives of 32 Chinese tourists and four North Koreas, are being treated.
Two other Chinese tourists were seriously injured in Sunday evening’s crash when a tourist bus plunged from a bridge in North Hwanghae province in southern North Korea.
The North Korean government released photos on Tuesday showing Kim meeting with Ambassador Li Jinjun at the hospital and at the Chinese Embassy.
Medical teams and diplomats have been sent from China to assist the injured, China’s Foreign Ministry said.
Chinese tourists make up the vast majority of visitors to North Korea, where they often pay homage at sites related to China’s participation in the 1950-53 Korean War.
China and North Korea share a lengthy border and a traditional friendship. China remains Pyongyang’s largest trading partner, although commerce has dropped off by about 90 per cent under United Nations sanctions.
Only about 5000 Westerners visit the isolated, hard-line communist state each year.
Americans have been banned from travelling to North Korea without special permission from the US State Department since September amid concerns about the fate of those detained there in the past.
The cause of the crash was not mentioned. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV showed the mangled wreckage in the dark with rain falling and rescue vehicles on the scene.
Australian Associated Press
Senior NAB executive Andrew Hagger (r) has given evidence into alarming “social norms” at the bank.A number of National Australia Bank executives had their bonuses cut over the widespread incorrect witnessing of beneficiary forms that became a “social norm” in its financial planning business.
The banking royal commission heard the incorrect witnessing of the beneficiary nomination forms for superannuation funds could have potentially rendered the final wishes of 2520 NAB customers invalid.
Senior NAB executive Andrew Hagger said the bank had acted to ensure the customers were not affected, noting most of the clients had re-signed their forms.
“We have dealt very comprehensively to the client issue, and that was our prime concern that through our own sloppiness we had created this situation which could affect the peace of mind of 2520 customers,” Mr Hagger told the inquiry on Tuesday.
About 325 NAB staff, 204 of them financial advisers, were found to have failed to correctly witness forms setting out who individuals want to receive their superannuation funds when they die.
Mr Hagger said the staff thought they were taking a shortcut in the interests of the client but it was clear on the form that witnesses had to be present when it was signed.
“I think a social norm had crept in and become entrenched.”
NAB sacked one adviser, Bradley Meyn, who forged a couple’s initials on the forms, which Mr Hagger said crossed the line.
Other staff were given an amnesty to come forward, with those financial advisers losing 25 per cent of their bonuses.
The commission heard a number of regional wealth executives also suffered consequences as well as the leaders of NAB’s wealth advice business.
In a November 2017 email, NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn noted those involved in the issue had somewhere between 20 and 100 per cent of their bonuses reduced for the year.
Mr Hagger, the chief customer officer in NAB’s consumer banking and wealth management division, said customers expected action at the management and leadership level.
Mr Hagger had his 2017 bonus cut by about $60,000, but still received $960,000.
The inquiry heard NAB’s executive manager of wealth advice Greg Miller was among those opposed to any implications for the wealth leadership team.
“He said that this was an important cultural symbol and that what the organisation was really encouraging then was for ben noms (beneficiary nomination) style issues to be swept under the carpet in future,” Mr Hagger wrote in a file note.
“He said we risked key departures, and all at a time when there’s a possibility we will look to sell the advisory business or parts of it in the coming year.”
Mr Miller left NAB in December as part of a restructure of its wealth division.
He received no bonus for 2017, Mr Hagger said.
NAB Financial Planning general manager Tim Steele had his bonus shaved by 10 per cent.
Australian Associated Press
Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle has “not been well enough” to clear his name.Former Melbourne lord mayor Robert Doyle is too sick to defend allegations he behaved inappropriately in his past role as Melbourne Health chairman.
It means the latest investigation into claims against the 64-year-old has produced an inconclusive result.
The Victorian government on Tuesday released a report by investigator Charles Scerri QC, who looked at claims Mr Doyle touched a woman’s thigh and made inappropriate comments at a Melbourne Health awards ceremony in 2016.
At the time Mr Doyle was both the organisation’s chairman and city lord mayor.
“Mr Scerri has no reason to doubt, and at present does not doubt, the veracity of the complainant,” a summary of the findings read.
“However, because of ill health, Mr Doyle has been unable to respond to the allegations.”
The Melbourne Health allegations are not related to an earlier probe ordered by the City of Melbourne, which substantiated claims by colleagues of sexual harassment and misconduct by Mr Doyle.
Mr Doyle has repeatedly denied all claims against him.
His lawyer Nick Ruskin on Tuesday said Mr Doyle “has not been well enough to participate in the Melbourne Health investigation and has received no material from the investigator regarding the allegations”.
Mr Scerri also considered additional allegations against Mr Doyle by two women who declined to lodge formal complaints.
“I have not spoken to either person directly, but it seems that a concern about confidentiality was a factor that deterred them from making a complaint,” his report said.
The Scerri report comes the month after a City of Melbourne’s finding that Mr Doyle groped and tried to kiss two councillors after drinking “substantial amounts of red wine”.
The Ian Freckelton QC-led probe in March found the mayor grabbed then-councillor Tessa Sullivan’s breast when the pair were in a chauffer-driven mayoral car in May.
It also found Mr Doyle put his hand on councillor Cathy Oke’s thigh several times in 2014 and tried to kiss her following a meeting in either late 2016 or early 2017. Other allegations raised by the two councillors were not substantiated.
Mr Scerri found there was scope to improve the process for making complaints at Melbourne Health.
“A complaint concerning the chair was unprecedented. There was obvious awkwardness in the complaint being investigated by members of management, since management is appointed by the board, and reports to the board,” he wrote.
Mr Scerri proposed future complaints against board members be dealt with independently.
The Victorian government used to the Scerri findings to pledge $400,000 to help stamp out sexual harassment at hospitals.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy said two independent investigators would be appointed on a trial basis to take complaints from health workers.
Mr Doyle resigned as mayor and as Melbourne Health chairman in February, when he was hospitalised for stress-related conditions.
A new Melbourne lord mayor is due to be elected in May.
Australian Associated Press