The Week in Review
MONDAY, JANUARY 30 This week of concrete progress, one riveting civic tableau, and child molestation so diabolical you'll hunger for a public execution kicks off with an age-old question: What do you do with a drunken sailor? This chantey-based query became a real-life conundrum for an 80-year-old woman in Bremerton, who yesterday awoke to find a navy serviceman stumbling into her bed. Details come from the Seattle Times, which identifies the confused bed-enterer as Dalton C. Pierson, a 21-year-old stationed at Naval Base Kitsap. "[Pierson] was drinking and playing video games at a friend's apartment... early Sunday when he left and mistakenly walked into a neighbor's home," writes the Times' Christine Clarridge. "Deputies were called by the resident's son, John Jaeger, 56, who said... that he awoke to see a stranger urinating 'all over the floor.' As Jaeger got up to investigate, he heard his mother cry out..." Thus we come to the drunken sailor in the old lady's bed, with Evelyn Whitney telling Kitsap County deputies that she'd been fast asleep when Pierson climbed into bed with her, causing her to scream. (According to the sheriff's report, Mrs. Whitney asked her surprised bedmate what he was doing, to which Pierson answered, "Passing out"; props for honesty.) Deputies soon arrived to remove the "visibly intoxicated" Pierson, who was released to his friends and is unlikely to face criminal charges. "Pierson apologized and promised to pay the cleaning bill," reports the Times. "Whitney, meanwhile, said she was very impressed because Pierson's supervising officer 'made him sit down and listen while I scolded him. After that, I felt much better.'"
TUESDAY, JANUARY 31 In much worse news, the week continues with this sentence, printed in today's Los Angeles Times: "A teacher who taught for three decades at Miramonte Elementary School in South LA has been arrested and charged with lewd acts on 23 children for allegedly tying them up, placing giant cockroaches on their faces, and possibly feeding them his semen from a spoon." Please allow your mind to be distracted from these horrific specifics by the ridiculous manner in which this alleged cavalcade of abuse was exposed. "In the fall of 2010, a drugstore photo technician was running a batch of 35- millimeter film when a disturbing image tumbled out of the machine—a child, blindfolded with a white cloth and gagged with clear packing tape," reports the Times. "From that first photograph, detectives spent the next year following a trail that led them to a South Los Angeles elementary school... There, officials alleged today, a veteran third-grade teacher sought sexual gratification by spoon-feeding his semen to his students." Yesterday, the veteran third-grade teacher—identified as 61-year-old Mark Berndt—was arrested and charged with 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children. "Berndt is also accused of placing a 3-inch-long Madagascar cockroach on his students' faces and mouths," reports the Times. "Much remains unclear about the case."
•• Meanwhile in Clovis, California, an elementary-school teacher stands accused of using "his darkened, empty classroom to take video of a blindfolded second-grade girl giving him oral sex in what he called 'the lollipop game,'" reports the Fresno Bee. Yesterday, the accused teacher—43-year-old Neng Yang—appeared in US District Court to plead not guilty to a charge of producing child pornography.
•• Meanwhile in a thousand other American cities, millions of teachers did nothing criminal, creepy, or inappropriate at all. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, the creepy teacher gets the ink. But thank you, non-creepy teachers.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1 In much better news, today we travel to Olympia, where this evening a bunch of senators gathered to debate and vote on the extension of marriage rights to Washington's same-sex couples. Even better, the pro–marriage equality bill passed, with "24 Democrats and four Republicans voting yea, and three Democrats and 18 Republicans voting nay," as The Stranger's Eli Sanders reported from the scene. "It now goes on to the state house, where it's assured passage, and then to the governor's desk, where it's assured her signature." See page 9 for more. Hurrah and onward!
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2 The week continues in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood, where this afternoon Last Days had the good fortune to stumble upon a most beguiling civic tableau. The players: a man and his three attending nurses, who carefully positioned the man, his wheelchair, and a small oxygen tank at the top of a set of cement stairs leading from the Harborview lookout to the long, thin stretch of green-space-with-a-view below. The man was wearing a hospital robe over pajamas, and on his head was one of those tidy canvas baseball caps that, to anyone who's seen Margaret Edson's Wit, will forever say, "I have stage four cancer. There is no stage five." The nurses interacted with each other and the man as if they were a long-functioning unit, but there was a sweetness in the nurses' attentiveness that suggested a G-rated version of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends, hovering around a man they mysteriously adore. It was late afternoon, 4 p.m. or so, and all four of them stayed at the top of the steps looking out at the sun hanging over the city and Puget Sound for a good 15 minutes, with the nurses wrapping the man in blankets midway through. Just as this gorgeously serene tableau threatened to tilt into Hallmarkishness, help arrived in the form of a Harborview helicopter, which we'd watched fly toward us from downtown and which was now ready to land on a platform resting just a couple hundred feet away from the man and his nurses. In a flash, the scene changed from Hallmark Movie of the Week to Michael Bay blockbuster, with the ever-closer chopper winds enveloping the man and his nurses (all of whom were cracking up) in a mini-hurricane of whipping blankets, scattered hairdos, and one wildly flying baseball cap. It was wonderful. (And if the guy in the cancer hat was just getting checked out for a stubbed toe, all the better.)
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3 Nothing happened today, unless you count the several million teachers who refrained from subjecting their students to semen tastings, "lollipop games," and upsetting cockroaches.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 4 Nothing happened today (unless you count a gloriously sunny day in the Puget Sound region).
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5 The week ends with the worst story in the world since the last worst story in the world. Today's diabolical star: Josh Powell, whose wife, Susan Powell, disappeared two years ago in Utah, with Utah authorities pegging Josh Powell as the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance. But no charges were ever filed, and so Josh Powell was free to set up residence in Graham, Washington, where today a Pierce County caseworker dropped off Powell's two sons—7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden—for a home visit with their dad. Soon after, Josh Powell's house exploded, with authorities finding Powell and both boys dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. "The medical examiner also said one of the boys suffered chop injuries to the neck, and one suffered chop injuries to the neck and head," reports KIRO. Condolences to all (especially that caseworker).
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