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May 31, 2012

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Video purportedly shows NYC student making out with his teacher
May 31st 2012, 15:06

By Becky Bratu,

A New York high school senior allegedly won a bet with four friends to see who could hook up first with their 26-year-old global studies teacher, the New York Post reported.

A video recorded Friday by a Manhattan Theatre Lab High School pupil shows fellow student Eric Arty, 18, kissing a woman on a park bench in lower Manhattan.

Arty denied to the Post that the woman he is seen with at Bleecker Playground in Greenwich Village is teacher Julie Warning.

“Yeah, that’s me. I’m kissing a girl,” Arty told the newspaper when confronted with the photo. “That’s not my teacher that I’m kissing in the picture. It’s just a girl I know.”

Arty refused to say who the woman was.

The teacher also denied the involvement, telling the Post: “He is my student, but I’ve never had a relationship with him or any of my students. That is inappropriate. I think that this is a misunderstanding.”

A spokesperson for the city's school district confirmed to the incident was being looked at.

Laurel Wright-Hinckson, public information officer for the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District, told an investigation had just been started, and would likely take a couple of months to complete.

The student who filmed the two kissing said Warning is "the most appealing teacher in the school.”

“She always wore nice skirts, and she had appealing tattoos all over her body,” he told the Post.

Arty and four of his friends each contributed $100 to a pool, the newspaper said. The first to win Warning's affection would win the cash.

Some students told the Post that Warning tried to resist the teenagers’ flirtations at first.

“She would try to avoid it because she was [Arty's] teacher," a student told the paper. "She was a nice teacher and didn’t want to report him, and she would throw him and his friends out of class for trying to flirt with her,” the student said.

According to the Post, Warning was reassigned on Tuesday to an administrative position at the school, which is north of Manhattan's Lincoln Center.

A Department of Education spokesperson told Warning didn't report to her new desk job Wednesday.

It wasn't clear whether Warning reported for her reassignment on Thursday.

Job at stake, but no possible charges
Warning does not have tenure at the school and could lose her job, but she wouldn't face criminal charges because Arty isn't a minor.

The teacher's father, Pete Warning, told the Post this didn't seem like something she would do.

“All of her students, like 85 percent, are gonna pass their Regents for the first time," Peter Warning said, speaking of the standardized tests students take in New York State. "They all love her. My heart’s broken.”

Earlier this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the school chancellor and State Senator Stephen Saland announced new legislation to better protect New York students from inappropriate sexual contact with teachers.

Under current law, outside hearing officers decide on these cases and impose penalties – including whether or not a teacher is fired. The new legislation would make it easier to remove a teacher who is found to have engaged in sexual activity with students.

“If a school employee is found to have engaged in sexual behavior or made sexual comments towards students, the chancellor should have the final say on what action to take and the legislation we are proposing would provide that authority,” Bloomberg said Tuesday in a press release.

“Every child deserves a safe learning environment and every parent has the right to know that his or her child is safe while at school,” he said. 

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Father accused of leaving 8-month-old in car to gamble for 7 hours
May 31st 2012, 15:00

By Bob Connors,

Connecticut State Police have charged a father with leaving his infant son in a car for seven hours while he gambled inside the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville.

Kyuyoun Lee was arrested Wednesday at 10 a.m. inside one of the casino's parking garages. Police said Lee had been gambling inside the casino since 3 a.m. Lee's 8-month-old son was left alone in a car in the parking garage for the entire time, according to police.

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Lee, 32, of Waterbury, was charged with leaving a child unsupervised, and risk of injury to a child. He was released on $5,000 bond and will be in court June 14.

The baby is now in the custody of The Department of Children and Families, according to police.

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Appeals court: Denying federal benefits to same-sex couples is unconstitutional
May 31st 2012, 14:34

By staff and news services

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denies a host of federal benefits to same-sex married couples, is unconstitutional.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled Thursday that the act known as DoMA, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against gay couples.

The law was passed in 1996 at a time when it appeared Hawaii would legalize gay marriage. Since then, many states have instituted their own bans on gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, led by Massachusetts in 2004, and followed by Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington state and the District of Columbia. Maryland and Washington’s laws are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.

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In 2010, a federal judge in Massachusetts declared the heart of the law unconstitutional in two separate lawsuits. The judge found that the law interferes with the right of a state to define marriage.

"We are thrilled that another court -- this time, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals -- has ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny respect to the marriages of lesbian and gay couples," said Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. “We congratulate our colleagues at GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) for achieving this wonderful victory."

Earlier: Illinois same-sex couples sue for right to marry

During arguments before the court last month, a lawyer for gay married couples said the law amounts to "across-the-board disrespect." The couples argued that the power to define and regulate marriage had been left to the states for more than 200 years before Congress passed DoMA.

An attorney defending the law argued that Congress had a rational basis for passing it in 1996, when opponents worried that states would be forced to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. The group said Congress wanted to preserve a traditional and uniform definition of marriage and has the power to define terms used to federal statutes to distribute federal benefits.

More than 1,000 benefits in question
Two California federal judges earlier said the act violated constitutional standards.

Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland ruled May 24 that the law legalized bigotry by withholding more than 1,000 federal benefits -- such as joint tax filing, Social Security survivor payments and immigration sponsorship -- from gays and lesbians legally married under state law.

Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco also declared DoMA unconstitutional and ordered the government to provide family insurance coverage to the wife of a lesbian court employee. White's ruling has been appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear the case in September.

President Barack Obama withdrew his administration's defense of the law in February 2011, saying he considered it unconstitutional, but it is being defended by lawyers hired by House Republican leaders.

On May 9, Obama declared in an interview with ABC News his unequivocal support for gay marriage, becoming the first president to endorse the idea.

Obama said, "I have hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient." He added that he "was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word 'marriage' was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth."

Now, he said, "it is important for me personally to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married."'s Miranda Leitsinger and Jim Gold and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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