What were you reading on Noozhawk this week?
Noozhawk columnist Diane Dimond writes provocatively on controversial topics, often delving into difficult social issues like family law, the death penalty and sexuality.
Earlier this year, she tackled the case of Kaitlyn Hunt, a Florida teenager who was charged with statutory rape for sexual acts with her 14-year-old girlfriend, and expelled from her high school.
Dimond suggested it was time to re-examine the laws on sexual contact between teenagers, arguing that the age limits are arbitrary at best.
Last week, however, she walked that back — at least as it related to the now-19-year-old Hunt. Dimond found that Hunt was far from an innocent young girl who was just following the fickle desires of a teenage heart. In fact, she learned that Hunt was 18 years old when she first closed the deal with the younger girl. Does it make a difference? It kiiiinda does.
What's more, it turns out that Hunt's parents had launched a PR blitz to hide that fact and to try to keep the media focused on their contention that their daughter was 17 when love struck. When that excuse started to unravel, they pulled the gay discrimination card.
Meanwhile, in violation of a February court order barring contact with the younger girl, Hunt apparently had sent her a staggering 20,000 text messages since March 1, and prosecutors say the pair had sexual relations as recently as late July.
The judge was furious and last week ordered Hunt to be held in jail until her unscheduled trial. He also added a new felony charge for transmitting material harmful to a minor by electronic equipment.
While Dimond remains sympathetic to some of Hunt's circumstances, she's got no patience for the young woman's parents.
"If you've got a teen in trouble with the law, do them a favor," she wrote. "Tell them to wipe the smirk off their face and take court proceedings very, very seriously."
For Kaitlyn Hunt, if the lesson was learned at all, it's likely too late.
Carmen Alexander was a healthy and fit 43-year-old mother of three, and a popular teacher at Santa Barbara's Open Alternative School. The Samarkand resident died unexpectedly in 2012, felled by a mysterious flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Earlier this summer, Alexander's family filed a lawsuit against two local doctors and the hospital where she was admitted, alleging that she wasn't diagnosed for necrotizing fasciitis or treated quickly enough to save her life.
The plaintiffs in the case are Alexander's children — Rebeca, John and Alexander Hsu, all minors — along with their guardian, Vadim Hsu. The suit lists Drs. Sylvia Kim and John Wheelock, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and Cottage Health System as defendants. According to the suit, Kim, an emergency medicine physician, and Wheelock, a radiologist, provided care to Alexander from the time she was admitted to the hospital on Feb. 19 through her death two days later.
Cottage Health System officials would not comment on Alexander's case, but said patient safety is of utmost concern.
"Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital holds safe, effective patient care as its highest priority," Chris Ponce, vice president for advancement and public affairs, told our Lara Cooper.
"The hospital and its medical staff do everything possible to protect patients from any kind of harm. Any allegation of patient harm is taken extremely seriously, and we have rigorous procedures in place to thoroughly investigate every allegation in a timely manner."
Alexander's family says medical negligence resulted when the defendants failed to adequately diagnose and treat Alexander for necrotizing fasciitis in a timely manner. Early diagnosis and referral for aggressive surgical treatment prior to the development of signs that the infection has spread to the bloodstream are essential for survival, the lawsuit states.
Attorneys for Cottage Hospital have denied the allegations, countering that the "plaintiffs' own negligence was the sole and proximate cause of the accident and any injuries they sustained," and that they "did not exercise ordinary care on plaintiffs' own behalf."
The case is being heard by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Colleen Sterne.
Carter Thicke is a 16-year-old Laguna Blanca School student but he's also a major player in a new reality TV show documenting the lives of his star-studded family, which includes his dad, actor Alan Thicke, and his older brother, pop sensation Robin Thicke.
Tentatively titled The Thicke of Things, the show hasn't been picked up yet but many of its scenes will be set in Santa Barbara and environs, including the family's Carpinteria ranch.
Our Gina Potthoff dropped in during a recent shoot at Palazzio restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. The storyline had Carter getting his first-ever job, which included order-taking, table-clearing, dishwashing and the always-popular toilet scrubbing.
The high jinks practically write themselves, don't they?
A Delta IV-Heavy rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 6 on Aug. 28. Both the rocket and its contrail were visible from Santa Barbara and throughout the Central Coast before it disappeared into a bright blue sky.
A Santa Maria woman has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in a June 29 collision that killed Leticia Sanchez, a Santa Maria teenager who was walking across the street with her younger brother.
According to police, a car driven by Kelsi Lynn Sullivan, 21, struck Sanchez that night as she was attempting to cross Miller Street in an unmarked crosswalk at Newlove Drive. Sanchez died of her injuries, but her 13-year-old brother, Lisandro, was unhurt.
"Generally ... misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter occurs when a death results from the negligent operation of a motor vehicle," District Attorney Joyce Dudley told our Lara Cooper on Aug. 26.
"In this case, the alleged negligent act by Ms. Sullivan was failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection."
There was no evidence that Sullivan was under the influence of any intoxicating substances, Dudley said.
Sullivan will be arraigned Sept. 3.
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Who won't watch a rocket launch?
(30th Space Wing video)
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.