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k0169 BC-MN-MNinBrief 10-22 0660

Minnesota news in brief at 8:58 p.m. CDT

Monday, October 22, 2007

Patchwork laws have allowed teacher sexual misconduct to flourish

EDITOR’S NOTE — In the final installment of a three-day series on sexual misconduct by teachers in America’s schools, the AP examines how a lack of decisive intervention in schools and legislatures allows abusers to keep operating.

By ROBERT TANNER

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AP National Writer

Every school has rules governing teacher behavior. Every state has laws against child abuse, and many specifically outlaw teachers taking sexual liberties with students. Every district has administrators who watch out for sexual misconduct by teachers.

Yet people like Chad Maughan stay in the classroom.

Maughan got in trouble twice for viewing pornography at schools in Washington state but was allowed to keep teaching. Within two years, he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in his school.

Legal loopholes, fear of lawsuits and inattention all have weakened the safeguards that are supposed to protect children in school. The system fails hundreds of kids each year, an AP investigation found. It undoubtedly fails many more whose offenders go free.

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——— Woman accused of lying about missing reporter changes plea

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A woman accused of lying to police about a missing Mason City TV reporter has pleaded guilty to making a false report.

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Cynthia Sweeney of Anoka, Minnesota, had pleaded not guilty in March, but she changed her plea Monday in Cerro Gordo County District Court.

The state has dropped a charge of malicious prosecution.

Sweeney traveled to Iowa in December and told authorities she was 13 when she saw six men kill Jodi Huisentruit (WHO’-zen-troot), a former KIMT-TV reporter who went missing in 1995.

A judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set sentencing for Nov. 28.

——— In India, Gov. Pawlenty looks to boost Minnesota’s overseas trade

AGRA, India (AP) — Gov. Tim Pawlenty is looking for the same kind of success in India that he found on a visit to China two years ago.

Since then, China has risen from fourth to second on Minnesota’s list of trading partners. Chinese imports of Minnesota goods have risen 46 percent to $1.2 billion since 2004. Only Canada imports more — $3.6 billion, up more than 14 percent in the past year alone.

Pawlenty has not claimed his trade missions accounted for such quick growth in Minnesota exports. Canada, after all, shares Minnesota’s northern border and has a long history of trade with the state, and the weak dollar has spurred Canadian trade with Minnesota, too. And Minnesota companies were already working hard to boost their Chinese sales before Pawlenty went there.

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Before leaving for Asia last week, Pawlenty held his thumb and index finger slightly apart and said, "I think we helped a bit."

"These trade missions are significant. I don’t mean to understate it," he said. "They do add value. But when you look at (Minnesota’s) 380 percent increase in trade to India since the turn of this decade and a similar percentage for China, there are a lot of factors that go into it."

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