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SC deputy caught in child sex sting by his own department
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uCOLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina sheriff’s department says it caught one of its own deputies last week in a child sex sting that netted over a dozen other people.

The State reports Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced the arrest of Deputy Derek Vandenham on Tuesday. Twelve other law enforcement agencies assisted in “Operation Relentless Guardian,” during which deputies pretended to be 13- to 15-year-old girls and chatted with men online.

The men who solicited sex from the “girls” were arrested at an agreed upon meeting site. Lott says the meetup site was changed so Vandenham wouldn’t know he was about to be arrested and the uniformed deputy arrived in his patrol car. He was immediately fired.

The sting also led to the arrest of former transportation commissioner 72-year-old John Norton Hardee.


uOHIO STATE UNIVERSITY SEEKS TO TRADEMARK THE WORD ‘THE’: COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University wants to trademark the word “The” when used as part of the school’s name on university merchandise.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the school submitted a trademark application this month to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The application requests a standard character trademark for the title “The Ohio State University” that would cover various items including T-shirts, baseball caps and hats.

University spokesman Chris Davey confirms the application. A statement from Davey says the school “works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks.”

The school has previously secured other trademarks, including names of football coaches Woody Hayes and Urban Meyer.

An Ohio State spokesman said last fall that the university had 150 trademarks in 17 countries and other applications pending.

u10 MEN ARRESTED FOR ENTICING MINORS AT STURGIS RALLY: STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — Federal court records show 10 men were arrested in an undercover sting operation targeting people using the internet to meet minors for sex at the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

The sting conducted this month involved law enforcement posing as girls and a boy age 15. The Rapid City Journal says it was conducted by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations, federal Homeland Security Investigations and local agencies.

Nine men have pleaded not guilty to enticing a minor using the internet. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A 10th man is charged as a convicted sex offender. Four of the men have been released from jail.

The operation targeted “online predators” by posting or creating profiles on Craigslist and dating and chatting apps.

uSCHOOLS MEET “IN GOD WE TRUST” REQUIREMENT WITH $1 BILL: LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A new state law requires Kentucky public schools to display the motto “In God We Trust,” and one school district has responded with framed copies of a $1 bill.

Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Wednesday that all schools in the district have been provided the framed copy to display.

Parent Brittany Pike posted a message on Facebook saying she was pleased to see the back of the dollar bill framed at an elementary school last week and said her children “don’t feel awkward or excluded for not believing in any God.”

Republican state Rep. Brandon Reed of Hodgenville filed the legislation that created the new law. He says he’s disappointed to see schools “spend time searching for silly loopholes,” noting the law passed with broad support.

uBALTIMORE TEACHERS CALL FOR DONATED FANS, DISTRICT RESISTS: BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore’s teacher union is calling for fans to be donated as classrooms are expected to reach sweltering temperatures when students return next month, but the district says electrical infrastructure may not be equipped to handle it.

About a third of public school buildings in the city lack air-conditioning. Union President Diamonté Brown tells The Associated Press the organization hopes to hand out 500 pedestal fans.

But Baltimore City Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Lynette Washington says some buildings can’t withstand several fans plugged in.

The union is pushing back. Brown says the district should fix the electrical infrastructure, adding that it is “disheartening” to see a building can’t handle 10-20 fans running.

The Baltimore Sun reports the district has an almost $3 billion maintenance backlog from decades of underfunding.

uMAN FLEES WITH HANDGUN AFTER ALLEGEDLY SHOOTING TEEN SISTER: LOS ANGELES (AP) — A teenage girl was shot and killed in her Southern California home, and deputies are searching for her 18-year-old brother, who they say is a suspect, authorities said.

Eddie Alvirez is believed to have run off with the handgun after the incident occurred around 5:45 p.m. in the desert city of Lancaster, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release Wednesday. Officials confirmed the 13-year-old victim was rushed to a local hospital, where she died. KCBS-TV reports her name was Marlena.

“My heart hurts she just started school. She loved going to the movies,” a relative wrote to The Associated Press.

Deputies say Alvirez shared a bedroom with the victim and another sister and that upon arrival, discovered that Alvirez had been in possession of a handgun. It is not yet clear what led up to the shooting, but family members say they believe he may have panicked after firing the gun.

“I know my nephew, I believe it was an accident. He didn’t intentionally hurt her. He’s loved his sisters from when they were babies,” family member Vanessa Zamora told KCBS-TV.

Alvirez was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, gray or black shorts and Air Jordan sneakers.

We just hope Eddie doesn’t hurt anybody else or hurt himself,” Sgt. Richard Biddle told the Los Angeles Times.  “We’re hopeful he will come and talk to us, or let us come and talk to him, or go to a sheriff’s station. His family has suffered enough tragedy.”