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Carjacking, Wawa shutdown highlight Relays weekend crime

(04/30/97 9:00am)

A rowdy crowd forced the Wawa convenience store at 38th and Spruce streets to close early Sunday morning, and a man was carjacked Saturday afternoon outside Franklin Field, highlighting a Penn Relays weekend that saw a slight jump from last year in the number of serious crimes. One aggravated assault, five robberies and 19 thefts -- including eight at Franklin Field -- were reported to University Police from Thursday through Sunday morning, compared with one simple assault, three robberies and 19 thefts last year, according to the police crime log book. Wawa assistant store manager Frank Ponzio explained that approximately 60 people threw glass bottles, cans and food across the store, prompting to shut down the "completely packed" store for the first time since last Christmas. The shop remained closed from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. "Next year, we'll probably close at two o'clock," Ponzio said, noting that unruly crowds -- which he claims consisted largely of individuals who were not University students -- have forced management to close the store nearly every year during the Relays weekend. Despite the fact that "12 or 13" employees were working at the time, he said "no matter how many employees we had here, we couldn't prevent" the chaos. Ponzio noted that Wawa regularly stops selling alcohol at midnight, so the crowd did not necessarily riot in order to purchase beer. "They rioted because they were all having fun," he said. In Saturday's carjacking incident -- which occurred outside Franklin Field on the 3200 block of South Street -- two or three men jumped out of a beige Saab and beat a man with baseball bats, forcing him out of his 1995 Ford Mustang, University Police Detective John Peterson said. The carjackers left the man on the street and drove away in the Mustang, while two other passengers drove off in the Saab, Peterson said. A Philadelphia Fire Department rescue vehicle transported the man to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was admitted in stable condition with injuries to the head and face, Peterson said. In two other incidents late Saturday night which were unrelated to the carjacking but probably related to each other, two men robbed two out-of-state residents at gunpoint on the 3900 block of Pine Street, then robbed five students at gunpoint on the 3800 block of Sansom Street, according to Peterson. The robbers took $45 in cash from the couple in the first incident and a total of $35 in cash from the group of students. Both incidents occurred shortly after midnight Sunday, Peterson said. And both sets of robbery victims gave University Police similar descriptions of the suspects. One suspect was described by the students as a 20- to 24-year-old, 5'11" black male, wearing a blue jacket with white shoulders and carrying a handgun, while the other was described as a 20- to 24-year-old, 5'9" black male, wearing dark clothing with his hood pulled over his head. In an unusual incident Saturday at Franklin Field, a woman suffered minor cuts when an unidentified person dropped or threw a pocket knife, striking the woman, Peterson said. Although University Police originally logged the incident as an aggravated assault with a knife, Peterson explained that the incident was probably not serious, since the bottle-opener tool was open and it appeared that the pocket knife slipped out of the owner's hands.

LCE to return for Hey Day, Relays

(04/25/97 9:00am)

Philadelphia Police will patrol the traffic near Franklin Field. After Spring Fling weekend passed with relative calm, the Division of Public Safety has again increased patrols and teamed up with the Pennsylvania State Police's Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement to patrol today's Hey Day festivities and this weekend's parties associated with the Penn Relays. Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said last week that undercover LCE agents will be on hand to patrol Hey Day and Relays just as they did a year ago. Rush was unavailable for comment yesterday, and Public Safety Managing Director Tom Seamon declined to comment on the University's safety and security efforts for the Hey Day and Relays festivities. Officials said security is tight for the Relays competitions and events in and around Franklin Field. Associate Director of Athletic Operations Tony Vecchione explained that approximately 100 Contemporary Security employees are handling venue security, ticket taking and ushering, adding that approximately 15 University Police officers are assigned to the Relays events. And Philadelphia Police Sgt. John Craig said 15 PPD officers are directing the often-heavy flow of traffic, while additional officers are keeping tabs on the numerous vendors for the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections. Vecchione said security guards are searching bags at gates to ensure that everyone feels safe at the Relays and at the Nike-sponsored carnival on the Lott Tennis Courts next to Franklin Field. "We're adequately staffed in order to maintain a carnival-festival atmosphere," he said, noting that the parking lot between the Ringe Squash Courts and Franklin Field was incorporated this year into the entire venue in order to relieve crowd congestion and provide extra space for food vendors. Although last year's Relays weekend passed without many incidents, police always hope to avoid a repeat of the 1994 Relays weekend, during which numerous assaults and robberies occurred and several large parties got out of hand. In 1994, University Police reported hearing gunshots in the area of 40th and Chestnut streets, the site of a large party where some crowd members smashed all the windows and tore off the antenna of a car that attempted to drive through the scene. In addition, a group of men beat three students after dragging them out of a car, a Domino's Pizza deliveryman was robbed at gunpoint in Superblock and a woman was stabbed at 40th and Spruce streets during that weekend. And in 1991, two bystanders were shot and wounded near the Penn Tower Hotel by a man who pulled out a handgun after being punched in the eye in a fight during the Relays weekend. Last year, 33 crimes -- including 13 thefts, six thefts from autos, three robberies and one simple assault -- were reported to University Police over the three-day weekend.

NEWS ANALYSIS: Rape suits could affect crime probe

(04/23/97 9:00am)

The suits touch on the same issues that spurred a federal investigation. The two lawsuits recently filed in federal court by a former student who claims she was raped in November 1994 -- along with two ongoing federal and state investigations into the University's crime reporting practices -- all add up to one big headache for University officials. But attorneys for the University, Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush and the male student who stands accused of rape adamantly denied all the charges in the civil suits and said they plan a vigorous fight in court. The plaintiff -- who waited two years to initiate the civil suit and dropped out of Penn because of physical and psychological distress caused by the alleged rape, according to her lawyer -- seeks $200,000 in compensatory damages in each lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Jay Waldman will decide approximately one year from now whether the University and Rush falsified crime statistics to federal and state authorities and failed to protect and offer assistance to the woman after she was allegedly raped Nov. 18, 1994 in the male student's High Rise South room. The U.S. Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office have been investigating the University's crime reporting practices recently after hearing charges that Penn has consistently under-reported its crime statistics by defining "on-campus" crime too narrowly. Although government officials refused to comment on the investigations upon learning of the lawsuits, the outcome of the suits may affect the investigations. In order to avoid a major blow to the University's image, defense attorneys must prove that a rape never happened in the first place, since statistics from the University's 1996 campus crime report -- as required by the 1990 Federal Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act -- show no on-campus rapes occurring in 1994. University Police records obtained recently by The Daily Pennsylvanian also list no on- or off-campus rapes in November 1994. An article from the Nov. 21, 1994 edition of the DP, however, quotes Rush -- who was then director of University Police's Victim Support and Special Services division -- as saying University Police were "handling a confidential [sexual assault] report involving a student on campus." The defense's official answer to the original lawsuit disputes the date that the plaintiff contacted Rush. The lawsuit states that Rush came to the plaintiff's room the evening after the alleged rape to take a report shortly after the plaintiff notified the Victim Support office. Rush's response denies that the plaintiff contacted the office on Nov. 18, 1994, but admits that Rush "responded to a call regarding plaintiff on Nov. 20, 1994." The case could also hinge on whether the plaintiff and the alleged rapist drank too much alcohol that night at Murphy's Tavern at 44th and Spruce streets. Attorney Jack Feinberg, who is representing the plaintiff, maintained that neither the plaintiff -- an 18-year-old freshman at the time of the incident -- nor the alleged rapist was inebriated at the time of the incident, even though the suits state that the rape occurred after the two returned from drinking at Murph's. Feinberg explained that the plaintiff would have no legal basis for the lawsuits if the two had been drunk. Yet the suit nonetheless charges the University with "negligence and carelessness" in failing to prevent the plaintiff from being served alcohol at Murph's and failing to report the tavern to police for liquor law violations. The lawsuits also contain several charges that rely on the doctrine of in loco parentis, which has been largely abandoned in universities across the nation. One such charge claims the University did not "have rules and regulations to prevent unwed males and females from being alone in the same room without adequate supervision." Arthur Marion, a lawyer for the student accused of rape, contended that the plaintiff's two-year wait to file the lawsuit raises doubts about the strength of the case.

Owners, officials to discuss fate of game room

(04/22/97 9:00am)

The District Attorney's office is scheduled to meet today with the owners of the University Pinball game room and University officials to discuss the fate of the business at 40th and Spruce streets, which the city shut down Friday, calling it a public nuisance. University officials claim that the 24-hour game room attracts unsavory characters who instigate fights, urinate in the street and possibly conduct drug transactions. Executive Vice President John Fry said he and other University officials recently have met several times with the game room's landlords -- who also own the property that houses Billybob's restaurant -- urging them to "clean their act up." But Fry said he is frustrated with the results of the meetings with landlords Billy and Bob Schoepe, whom he claims have not heeded suggestions he and University Treasurer Scott Lederman made for such changes as closing the businesses for part of the night instead of keeping them open 24 hours. "We tried to take the high road with these guys," Fry said. "I don't think the progress they've made is satisfactory." Hideo Omori and De Wong, who own both Billybob's and the adjacent Genji Japanese restaurant, voiced concern that negative publicity and a heightened perception of crime drive away their main clientele -- students. Omori -- who has owned Genji and Billybob's for approximately eight years -- said he recently opened a second Genji restaurant in Center City because many of his suburban customers refused to come to the University City establishment. "Genji is suffering because people are scared to come to this corner," said Omori, who has also met with Fry and Lederman. The 1992 closing of the basement in nearby Smokey Joe's tavern at 40th and Walnut streets significantly reduced late-night student foot traffic, Omori said, adding that it was once tradition for students to head over to Billybob's for a hoagie after a night in the Smoke's basement. "Now they don't come here because they are afraid of the drug pushers [at 40th and Spruce streets]," he said. Omori maintained, however, that Billybob's is an extremely safe place in which to eat, noting that the business has not seen a robbery, stabbing or shooting within its doors for the past 12 years. And Wong -- who became a partner in Billybob's with Omori less than one month ago -- proudly displayed a bill from the security guard firm whose employees often patrol Billybob's at night. "We are not sitting here and saying, 'We are going to bring the bad people'," Wong said, noting that he plans to add extra lighting and video cameras in order to deter crime. "I do care about the students." The University worked with the Public Nuisance Task Force of the District Attorney's office in order to encourage the Department of Licenses and Inspections to revoke the game room's Business Privilege License, officials said. Assistant District Attorney Carl Anderson refused to confirm, however, that the task force was also targeting Billybob's. "We are working with the community and the University on a few properties for investigation," he said, declining to identify those particular properties. Anderson added that the task force normally "works with community groups and city agencies to abate nuisance, illegal and other types of criminal activity at properties." Billy Schoepe did not return phone calls yesterday. Daily Pennsylvanian reporter Tammy Reiss contributed to this article.

City closes game room

(04/21/97 9:00am)

Calling it a public nuisance, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections shut down the University Pinball game room at 40th and Spruce streets Friday afternoon. Penn officials said they had worked closely with the District Attorney's office over the past several weeks to close the arcade, which they claim brings criminal activity to the area. A bright orange sign in the establishment's window reads "Cease Operations" in large capital letters. According to the sign, L & I revoked the game room's business privilege license -- which any city business must possess in order to operate -- "for causing or permitting a public or private nuisance." A yellow sheet of paper, with the words "Sorry Closed" written in green marker, is taped to the inside of the door. The establishment has been shut since 1:45 p.m. Friday and will remain closed until city officials work out an agreement with its management, according to Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush. "It will all shake out some time this week," Rush said. She explained that the game room -- which is open 24 hours -- has been a center of "really crass behavior," including fights, people urinating in the street and juvenile curfew violations. She added that University Police "have received information that there is drug dealing going on" at the game room, even though University Police have not actually handled any narcotics violations at the business. The district attorney's office normally handles this type of situation, Rush said. "They will routinely look at establishments that have created an environment in which people feel unsafe," she said, noting that the University is "very concerned about the safety" of area residents -- many of whom are students. "The game room has been a serious concern not just to the University but to the wider community," Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman said. When L & I officials, along with University and Philadelphia Police, shut down University Pinball Friday, all of the patrons quickly cleared out except for a young boy who was "8 or 9 years old," and who simply told police that "someone dropped me off," according to Rush. Eventually, the boy gave police the names of several people he knew, and police tracked down a woman who lived north of University City and was able to take care of the child. L & I spokesperson Tom McNally was unavailable for comment yesterday. Billy Schoepe, who co-owns the game room, Billybob's restaurant and numerous nearby properties with his brother Bob, has not returned telephone calls in recent weeks. West Philadelphia resident Brian Alemu, 19, said he was disappointed at the business's closing, adding that he thought police had unfairly singled out the game room in recent arrests of juveniles who violated the city's curfew ordinance. "I thought that was kind of a cool place," said Alemu. The game room has frequently been the site of problems throughout the past year. In an incident February 4, two men began harassing a male student inside the establishment, then assaulted him, giving him a concussion. When police attempted to arrest the two suspects, one of them allegedly kicked University Police Officer Len Harrison in the face, also giving him a concussion. In a separate incident, police apprehended a suspect March 27 at the game room in connection with that night's armed robbery of a University professor. The suspect was carrying 16 packets of crack cocaine. And Philadelphia Police arrested a man April 23, 1994 for shooting another man after a fight in the game room. The shooting victim had been standing in front of Allegro Pizza across the street from Billybob's.

Fling passes with fewer LCE busts, less disorder

(04/21/97 9:00am)

Some fraternities asked for donations, avoiding a law that bans door fees. and Randi Rothberg As the clock struck two yesterday morning, University Police swept through streets on and near campus, shutting down numerous fraternity and block parties and drawing a damp Spring Fling to a close. Although a final tally was not available yesterday, the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement issued fewer than 25 underage-drinking citations over the weekend, down sharply from last year's total of 180, Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said. University Police Capt. John Richardson said "students were armed with the knowledge that the LCE was on campus." Crime reported to University Police also fell slightly compared with last year's Fling weekend. Officials attributed the decrease to cold, drizzly weather, increased police and security patrols and students' awareness of the LCE's presence. "I think people just took it easier this year," Rush said. But after several parties were shut down, some students felt University Police intervened too much in the weekend's events. Police had few problems with a party on 39th Street near Sansom Street. And the annual party on the 3900 block of Sansom Street was relatively calm, as numerous Public Safety officials -- including Managing Director Thomas Seamon and Special Services Director Susan Hawkins -- kept tabs on the action from behind yellow barricades. Rush said last night that there were "no problems" and "no altercations" at the block party, and the trash level was considerably lower than at last year's party. "I wish I could have a snapshot of last year's street versus this year's street," Rush said. Rush and University Police Sgt. Michael Fink approached the band playing on the porch of 3916 Sansom Street at approximately 1:40 a.m. and exchanged some words with the band members. Seconds later, a band member announced that the next song would be their last of the night. "We're shutting them all down," Rush said as she and approximately 15 other officers charged south on 39th Street to shut down a party at the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house. Although University Police ended many fraternity parties in the early morning hours, no houses were cited for infringement of the Pennsylvania law which forbids charging admission to parties. To circumvent the law, several fraternities asked guests for donations to offset party administration costs during the Spring Fling festivities. But many students complained that they were forced to drop money in a jar before gaining admittance to parties. InterFraternity Council President Matt Baker, an Alpha Chi Rho brother and College and Engineering junior, said a chapter president suggested the voluntary donations as a short-term solution for raising revenue. "Mandatory donations is charging under another name, and it's illegal," Baker said. "Explicit pressure to donate is a complicated issue [but] any situation where you're not forced to donate is perfectly legal." He noted that University lawyers have yet to disclose the "full legal ramifications" attached to the process. Alpha Epsilon Pi President Faisel Khan said his fraternity hadn't planned on asking for donations, but decided to capitalize on the "gray area" of donations which the University is investigating. But the Engineering junior stressed that his fraternity, like many others who implemented the donation policy, admitted students who did not contribute to the party's costs. University Police Capt. John Richardson explained that the cancellation of Thursday's Penn Rocks for the Homeless charity concert, inclement weather and a greater police and security presence helped keep Fling relatively quiet and safe. But things were not quiet in the Quadrangle, where an unknown person pulled six fire alarms in Community House yesterday at approximately 3 a.m. The Philadelphia Fire Department responded to the alarms but found no evidence of a fire, Richardson said. Faculty resident and Regional Science Professor Stephen Gale is investigating the incident, according to Interim Community House Assistant Dean in Residence Jon Brightbill, a Wharton senior. "It was one person going around pulling them," Brightbill said, adding that the individual probably did not live in Community House.

Alleged rapist denies having sex with accuser

(04/18/97 9:00am)

Defense attorneys questioned the plaintiff's motives for filing the suit. An attorney representing the male student accused of rape in a lawsuit by a former University student said yesterday that his client never had sexual intercourse with the plaintiff and that the plaintiff is suing the student, the University and Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush only "for the money." Attorney Arthur Marion said the male student -- who still attends classes at the University -- "totally and completely denies any sexual situation" with the plaintiff, who alleges that the student raped her in his High Rise South room in November 1994. But plaintiff's attorney Jack Feinberg described Marion's claims as a "good story" that is "not factually accurate." "Everyone makes their own allegations, and I understand that," Feinberg said. In separate telephone interviews yesterday with The Daily Pennsylvanian, the two attorneys traded words over the plaintiff's motive in the lawsuits, when the lawsuits were actually filed and what actually happened in the male student's room. The lawsuits also charge Rush and the University with covering up the alleged rape by not reporting the incident to federal and state authorities as required by law. According to court documents, the plaintiff declared her intent to sue the three defendants Nov. 18, 1996, exactly two years after the suit alleges the rape occurred and the last possible day the suit could have been filed under the statute of limitations. While Marion contended that the two-year wait raises doubts about the strength of the plaintiff's case, Feinberg defended the delay, noting that it is "best to see how cases develop before you go to the firing line." Marion also maintained that the male student "never knew" the plaintiff before they met in Murphy's Tavern Nov. 17, 1994, and that the female student "picked him up in the bar that night." The attorney added that although "there may have been some touching," the two did not have sex and "anything that did occur was consensual." Marion also claimed that other friends of both the plaintiff and the alleged rapist were in nearby rooms at the time of the incident. But Feinberg dismissed Marion's charges and asserted that the two students were taking a Spanish class together and were already acquainted. And in response to Marion's accusation that the plaintiff -- who seeks $200,000 in compensatory damages in the suits -- is "in this just for the money," Feinberg said "there is no other remedy" under the law. "Either you go after dollars, or you go after nothing," Feinberg said, citing the cost of medical and psychological care as well as the plaintiff's potential lost income from missing two years of schooling. Still, Marion maintained that the male student "absolutely denies [the plaintiff's] allegations." "To pick this kid out after two years is to me somewhat shocking," Marion said. Contrary to previous Daily Pennsylvanian reports, Feinberg explained that the lawsuit against Rush in Common Pleas Court was not dropped after the suit against the University and the male student was moved to U.S. District Court. Feinberg noted that both suits were both moved from city to federal court March 5 because not all of the parties involved with the lawsuit resided or were incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania. Neil Hamburg -- who spent 11 years as University associate general counsel until resigning in 1995 -- and Hannah Schwarzschild are representing the University in this case. Because of limited resources, Penn's Office of the General Counsel frequently retains outside attorneys to represent the University in lawsuits.

LCE returns for Fling '97

(04/17/97 9:00am)

Undercover officers will patrol parties throughout the weekend, police said. Last year, the LCE issued 180 citations. University officials won't mess with success. Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said the presence of undercover state Liquor Control Enforcement agents during last year's Spring Fling proved so effective in controlling underage drinking that the University has invited the LCE back to campus to patrol this weekend's parties and events. The LCE, a branch of the Pennsylvania State Police, issued underage-drinking citations to 180 students during the 1996 Fling weekend, according to Rush. She said undercover LCE agents will patrol the most popular Fling hot spots serving alcoholic beverages this weekend, beginning with tonight's Penn Rocks for the Homeless charity concert in the Sylvia Arms courtyard on the 4000 block of Walnut Street. "Some real positive things have come out of last year's LCE presence," Rush said, noting that fewer students were sent to the hospital for alcohol poisoning than in previous years, and that the annual block party on the 3900 block of Sansom Street remained under control. She added that University officials are working closely with Penn Rocks organizers "so people can have a good time" without fear of being cited by the LCE. LCE Enforcement Supervisor Gary Kardisco noted that undercover agents will also patrol the numerous fraternity and sorority parties on campus, as well as the block parties on Sansom Street and on the 200 block of South 41st Street -- commonly known as "Beige Block." He added that agents will be present at tomorrow night's main Fling concert on Hill Field. "It's not our intent to ruin anybody's affair or, as they say, to rain on anyone's parade," Kardisco said. "We do expect compliance. We do want to prevent underage drinking." Wharton senior Denise Strum, who organized Penn Rocks, said bouncers will check identifications and issue bracelets only to concertgoers who are at least 21 years old. "I hope [the LCE agents'] presence last year won't deter people from coming this year," Strum said. "We've taken additional precautions this year to make the event run a lot smoother than it has in the past." Fling Co-Director Alyson Tesler, a College senior, said "most students know" that guards routinely search Hill Field concertgoers for alcohol, stressing that the Social Planning and Events Committee -- which oversees Fling -- plans "events that don't encompass alcohol to begin with." Kardisco explained that individuals issued citations for underage drinking have three options -- to pay a fine of approximately $300, take an alcohol-awareness class at a cost of $105 or plead the case in court. The "vast majority" choose to either pay the fine or take the class, he said, with the class being the most popular option because the citation is expunged from the student's record upon successful completion of the course. Rush added that Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon has written letters to local bars and taverns informing them that undercover LCE agents will perform spot checks for underage drinking in the establishments. But Palladium co-owner Roger Harman said Fling "has generally been a fairly slow time for us," noting that most students attend keg parties around campus rather than going to the tavern where "we don't give anything away for free." Rush said LCE agents will also patrol events associated with next weekend's Penn Relays. She added that the "whole [University Police] department" is working overtime this weekend, with additional uniformed and undercover University Police officers working "crime suppression beats" and "special details." "Our goal is to minimize any problems for people either through crime or personal injury due to alcohol," Rush said.

Rape suit carries far-ranging implications

(04/17/97 9:00am)

The suit raised concerns about Penn's crime reporting procedures. A recent lawsuit against the University by a former student who claims to have been raped on campus in November 1994 hinges on legal issues surrounding government investigations into the University's crime reporting practices, as well as the doctrine of in loco parentis. In her complaint, the student alleges that she was raped in High Rise South after returning from Murphy's Tavern, at 44th and Spruce streets. The following evening, the complaint states, the plaintiff contacted Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush, then serving as director of the University Police Victim Support and Special Services division. After Rush took an anonymous report from the student, the University did not report the incident to federal and state authorities as required under law or pursue any action against the alleged rapist, the complaint alleges. The U.S. Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office have been investigating the University's crime reporting practices recently after hearing charges that Penn has consistently under-reported its crime statistics by defining "on-campus" crime too narrowly. But government officials refused to comment on the investigations upon learning of the lawsuit. "There's not a lot of stuff I can tell you at this point," Department of Education spokesperson Stephanie Babyak said, noting that the department will make a formal announcement after completing its investigation into the University's campus crime reporting procedures. Babyak stressed that the department takes the University's alleged violations of the 1990 federal Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act -- which she confirmed that the department has been examining -- "very seriously." Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office spokesperson Sean Duffy, however, emphasized that the results of the lawsuit are unlikely to affect the state's investigation, comparing the situation to "two trains running on parallel tracks [that] don't necessarily intersect." The lawsuit also raises questions over the legal doctrine of in loco parentis. Although Jack Feinberg, the plaintiff's attorney, maintains that neither the plaintiff nor the alleged rapist was inebriated at the time of the incident, the lawsuit charges the University with gross negligence in failing to take action against underage drinking at Murph's -- where the plaintiff and alleged rapist met, according to the complaint. Feinberg claims that the doctrine of in loco parentis -- which means that the University takes the legal place of a parent -- is still relevant today and that the University should have taken steps against Murph's. And the suit charges the University with "failing to supervise the living quarters of students on the campus so as to avoid unwed males and females from being in the same dormitory room without supervision." But although Feinberg added yesterday that the concept of in loco parentis "has not been diminished" over the past several decades, Penn Associate General Counsel Brenda Fraser maintained that in loco parentis has been "dead" for "many, many years." There is some consensus among higher education officials that universities ceased to act in loco parentis after the 1960s student movements overturned strict regulations on many campuses. "It doesn't have any vitality," Fraser said, adding that the plaintiff's theory "has no legal viability."

U. faces lawsuit over alleged 1994 rape

(04/16/97 9:00am)

A former student said University officials covered up her report of a rape by another student on campus. In a potentially explosive case, a former student who claims to have been raped on campus has sued the University and her alleged rapist in U.S. District Court, charging Penn with failing to report the November 1994 incident to state and federal authorities after she filed an anonymous report with University Police. The woman seeks $200,000 in compensatory damages from the defendants in the case, according to her attorney, Jack Feinberg, who added that she is also seeking an additional undisclosed sum in punitive damages. The case is currently in the discovery stage, during which attorneys exchange paperwork and plan strategy. Attorneys on both sides said the case is not likely to be resolved for at least a year. In addition to charges of severe physical and emotional injury, the suit claims that the University violated campus crime reporting laws by not disclosing the incident. The U.S. Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office have been investigating the University's crime reporting practices recently after hearing charges that Penn has consistently under-reported its crime statistics, using too narrow a definition of what constitutes on-campus crime. "I think the bigger piece of [the lawsuit] is that [University officials] don't like to report crime accurately," Feinberg said. In its answer to the plaintiff's complaint, the University denied all of the victim's charges and defended itself and the alleged rapist from any liability in the case. Penn Associate General Counsel Brenda Fraser said the University intends to fight all of the charges in the lawsuit, adding that "we will defend it vigorously." But the Office of the General Counsel is not representing the University in this case, leaving the defense to attorneys Neil Hamburg and Hannah Schwarzschild of the Philadelphia firm of Hamburg and Golden. Schwarzschild declined to comment yesterday on specific parts of the suit -- even after being informed that the plaintiff's attorney had spoken at length with The Daily Pennsylvanian. "Where a plaintiff's counsel wants to talk and give one side of the story, you're going to get something very skewed," she said. In the suit, the plaintiff -- who was an 18-year-old freshman at the time of the incident -- claims she and her roommate met the male student in Murphy's Tavern at 44th and Spruce streets on the evening of Nov. 17, 1994. After another male student walked the plaintiff's roommate back to her dormitory room in the Quadrangle, the student allegedly raped the plaintiff in his High Rise South room, according to the complaint. The following evening, the complaint states that the plaintiff contacted Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush, then serving as director of the University Police Victim Support and Special Services division. Rush took an anonymous report in the student's room but "offered no other assistance, aid or support," the lawsuit charges. And the complaint alleges that after Nov. 18, 1994, Rush never contacted the plaintiff, informed her of any available counseling or medical services or took any action against the alleged rapist. Rush refused to comment on the case yesterday. The plaintiff never filed criminal charges against the alleged rapist because "she was discouraged from doing that [by University Police]," Feinberg explained. "It was her understanding that things would happen," he said, adding that the plaintiff waited nearly two years to initiate the civil suit and dropped out of Penn because of physical and psychological distress caused by the alleged rape. In what could be the plaintiff's most damning allegation, the complaint states that the University "did enter into a conspiracy and did conspire to falsely report rape statistics" to the proper state and federal governmental agencies, as required by law. Although the University's response denies that the alleged rape actually occurred, an article from the Nov. 21, 1994 edition of The Daily Pennsylvanian quotes Rush as saying that University Police are "handling a confidential [sexual assault] report involving a student on campus." The article notes that the University Police crime log book lists a confidential report of a sexual assault that was taken in High Rise South. Schwarzschild said yesterday that she was not aware of the DP story, which is the only article written on the incident. In addition, the University's March 1996 report under the 1990 federal Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act states that no rapes occurred on campus in 1994, as do University Police records obtained recently by the DP -- which also list no rapes having occurred in November 1994 on or off campus. Feinberg maintained that neither the plaintiff nor the alleged rapist was inebriated at the time of the incident, despite the fact that the plaintiff's complaint charges the University with "failing to protect plaintiff from being served alcoholic beverages" at Murph's. "If [University officials] said that they don't know that their students are attending that bar, then they'd better get their heads out of the sand," he added. University spokesperson Ken Wildes denied the charge of misreporting, and said the University would have no further comment on the case because it and the "Division of Public Safety take sexual assault and acquaintance rape very, very seriously." The plaintiff had originally filed two lawsuits in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in February. One named the University and the alleged rapist as defendants, while the other named only Rush. March 5, however, the University asked for the case to be moved to U.S. District Court, arguing that only a federal court is entitled to consider the plaintiff's charges that the University violated federal campus crime reporting laws. The request was granted, and the case against Rush was dropped in favor of the suit against the University and the alleged rapist. Feinberg said the request to move the case was "a unilateral decision by the University," but Schwarzschild said she did not feel comfortable commenting on the removal, describing it only as a "litigation strategy." Arthur Marion and Martin Trichon, attorneys for the male student named as the alleged rapist, were unavailable for comment yesterday. The student declined to comment on the case when contacted at home.

Judge dismisses most arson charges

(04/15/97 9:00am)

A judge yesterday dismissed most of the charges against three students accused of setting a fire in front to the Tabard Society house February 25 after a request from the case's prosecutor, according to an attorney for the defendants. Engineering junior Zayd Hammam, College sophomore Seth Schorr and Engineering sophomore Tim Young -- all Zeta Psi fraternity brothers -- will be on probation for the next six months, after which the charges will be expunged from their records, attorney Nick Nastasi said. Nastasi explained that the three defendants lit a lunch box on fire on the porch of the Tabard Society house at 41st and Pine streets "in response to a pledging incident that Tabard had initiated." He added that the students brought a fire extinguisher to the house in order to put out the flames. But University Police Detective Frank DeMeo, who investigated the incident, said the defendants' extinguisher didn't work, and police were forced to use another extinguisher to put out the fire. But after being informed that the charges against the three were dropped, DeMeo said the case "went the way I pretty much I thought it was going to go." Nastasi stressed that law enforcement authorities had "overcharged" the students. "To have criminalized this in the way that they had initially tried to do was really overkill," he explained. "There wasn't really damage or consequence." The entire case, however, remains under investigation by the University's Office of Student Conduct. DeMeo told The Daily Pennsylvanian last month that the case had been referred to the office within one or two days of the incident. Nastasi declined comment when asked about the current status of the case in the Office of Student Conduct. And Office of Student Conduct Director Michele Goldfarb was unavailable for comment yesterday. She has repeatedly declined to confirm whether her office was considering disciplinary procedures for the three students, noting that she would be violating the students' confidentiality if she discussed any aspects of the case. Assistant District Attorney Joseph Whitehead, who had been prosecuting the case, was also unavailable for comment yesterday evening. Zeta Psi President and College sophomore Carter Caldwell said last night that the three students had been reinstated into the fraternity after being suspended during the course of the criminal investigation.

Pranksters set off Quad fire extinguisher, alarm

(04/14/97 9:00am)

A chemical-based fire extinguisher discharged in a Quadrangle stairwell early yesterday morning, flooding the surrounding area with toxic smoke and powder and forcing more than 50 students to relocate to other parts of the dormitory for several hours. Residential advisors in the Quad's Community House said they are currently searching for the individual who discharged the extinguisher in the stairwell of the Thomas Penn section of the building at approximately 3:45 a.m. yesterday. An unidentified person also activated a fire alarm, causing the evacuation of approximately 200 students for about 20 minutes while the Philadelphia Fire Department investigated the area. Interim Community House Assistant Dean in Residence and Wharton senior Jon Brightbill explained that "about 50 to 60" students in Thomas Penn and the adjoining Cleeman section had to spend the rest of the night sleeping in friends' rooms or the Quad's Ashhurst lounge. He added that this type of incident has not been uncommon in the Quad in recent years. "We get a couple of these a year," said Brightbill, an RA on McIlhenny's second floor. "And they are messy." Firefighters did not discover any evidence of fire or smoke at the scene, according to Fire Department spokesperson Pat Smith and University Police Capt. John Richardson. Several RAs said they had heard that a smoke bomb had detonated in the dormitory around the same time that the fire extinguisher was discharged, but stressed that this has not been confirmed. University Police were unavailable last night for comment about the possibility of a smoke bomb. The RAs explained that the chemical substances inside the fire extinguisher accumulated at the bottom of the stairwell after the extinguisher tumbled down from the third floor. Brightbill said the residue was approximately 1/8 inch thick on the floor. Physical Plant employees "did a good job" of cleaning residue from the stairwell and adjacent hallways, he added. But College senior Jon Daves, an RA on the first floor of Thomas Penn, said some chemical residue remains on railings, floors and stairs, posing a health hazard to anyone who touches them. "If [students] put their hands in their mouth [after touching a railing], they will have problems," Daves said. College freshman and Thomas Penn resident Abby Kahn, who accidentally left her door open amid the confusion yesterday, said she "was shocked" when she returned to her room and discovered "a layer of this white stuff over everything." "It was really smelly and gross," she said, noting that the residue did not permanently damage any of her belongings. "Whoever did it is a real idiot." According to Brightbill, who is a former Penn Watch president, University Police Sgt. Laurence Salotti said the Community House incident was one of five false fire alarms on campus late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, including several in Superblock.

Police arrest suspect in robberies

(04/07/97 9:00am)

Police believe the suspect committed four robberies, including two which involved students in their residences. University Police arrested a suspect Friday night in connection with four recent armed robberies in which the perpetrator followed students into their residences and robbed or attempted to rob them at gunpoint. In addition to robberies March 27 and March 31 at houses on the 4000 block of Baltimore Avenue, the suspect -- who has not yet been officially charged with any crimes -- attempted two more robberies Friday night near campus just minutes before police caught him, University Police Sgt. Thomas Rambo said. No students were injured in any of the incidents, and all the victims have positively identified the suspect, Rambo added. Rambo explained that he and Officer Len Harrison wrestled Henry Blakely -- whom police described only as an African American male in his 30s -- to the ground at approximately 11 p.m. Friday on 41st Street near Pine Street. He was treated for minor cuts and bruises and released into police custody from Misericordia Hospital at 53rd Street and Cedar Avenue, Rambo said. At about 10:40 p.m. Friday, the suspect approached a male undergraduate as he walked into his residence on the 4000 block of Spruce Street, Rambo said. After the student entered his residence, the suspect forced his way into the house, brandished a black semiautomatic pistol and demanded money from the student. But when one of the student's housemates interrupted the robbery, the suspect fled the scene in an unknown direction, Rambo said. The student notified University Police, Rambo added, noting that University Police Detectives John Peterson and Peg O'Malley met the student at 41st and Spruce streets to obtain information on the suspect and on the attempted robbery. Blakely -- which might not be the suspect's real name, Rambo said -- then allegedly robbed two students in the same manner on the 4000 block of Pine Street, taking cash and several PennCards at approximately 10:50 p.m. Ten minutes later, Rambo and Harrison -- who are members of the University Police Special Response Team -- observed a man armed with a handgun and fitting the suspect's description walking on 41st Street, Rambo said. When Blakely attempted to walk away from the police officers, Rambo and Harrison chased after him and wrestled him to the ground before arresting him, Rambo said. One victim said yesterday that it was "awesome" that University Police arrested a suspect in the set of robberies. In the first robbery -- which occurred March 27 -- Blakely allegedly robbed College sophomore Ernest McMeans at gunpoint in his house on the 4000 block of Baltimore Avenue. The suspect had followed McMeans and his sister into the house before showing them a black semiautomatic handgun and demanding money, McMeans said. After McMeans told the man that he did not have any money, the robber stole a bicycle and two T-shirts before fleeing the scene.

With center, U. Police PAL up with kids

(04/04/97 10:00am)

The Penn PAL Center will provide athletic activities and tutoring to area youngsters. The Penn Police Department hopes to teach area youths a lesson -- on the basketball courts. The officers will get their chance April 14, as the Division of Public Safety and the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia open a new Penn PAL Center just blocks from campus in the Alexander Wilson Elementary School at 46th Street and Woodland Avenue. The facility -- open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer -- will provide athletic and recreational activities, along with tutoring services, to nearly 1,000 local youngsters, PAL spokesperson David Shafie said. Shafie added that PAL Commanding Officer and Philadelphia Police Capt. Charles Brown created the center in a "joint effort" with Penn Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon. "With the full support of Penn, our continued mission to work education into more programs by utilizing Penn students as volunteers and tutors will reach a higher level," Brown said in a PAL press release. University Police Officer Willard Cooper and Philadelphia Police Officer Darren Lindsay will supervise operations in the center, according to the release. Office of Community Relations Director Glenn Bryan and Center for Community Partnerships Director Ira Harkavy were also involved in the creation of the center, University spokesperson Phyllis Holtzman said. Executive Vice President John Fry -- who is on PAL's board of directors -- explained that he plans to raise an endowment of between $300,000 and $500,000 to fund the center. "This is something I'm wholeheartedly behind," Fry said. "In my mind, it's one of the best illustrations of how private and public sector institutions can come together and do something terrific for kids." Fry said he and Seamon have been working on opening the Penn PAL Center since Seamon first drafted his campus security strategic plan in December 1995. "I really do think that this is something that is going to work really, really well and involves all the right players," Fry said. "To tell you the truth, we can do a lot more of this in the future, and we should." Fry said the center is "truly an effort that involves our community people," adding that he believes it to be "a wonderful thing for the Spruce Hill community." Shafie noted that PAL sponsors tutoring sessions and homework clubs at its approximately 22 centers and awards $1,000 college scholarships to more than 170 students each year. "There's an emphasis not only on athletics but on education," he said, adding that one of PAL's slogans is "Not just sports." The center's recreational activities -- which are provided to children free of charge -- will initially include baseball, basketball, table tennis and assorted field trips to local sporting events and museums, the release said. PAL encourages Penn students to volunteer for the center to tutor or in any other capacity, Shafie said, adding that the league employs two full-time education coordinators to assist the center supervisors throughout the city. Approximately 24,000 6- to 18-year-old youths participate in activities at PAL centers throughout the city, he said.

U. mourns loss of Wharton grad student

(04/03/97 10:00am)

Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the recent death of second-year Wharton graduate student Elizabeth Kelsey. She was 26 years old. Kelsey died March 20 as a result of a medication overdose in what has been ruled a suicide, Philadelphia Health Department spokesperson Jeff Moran said. Approximately 300 people attended a memorial service for Kelsey March 26 at the Faculty Club. Friends said they were shocked by Kelsey's death and remembered her as a very intelligent and caring person who seemed bound for the upper echelon of the investment management profession. "My impression was that she was not only very talented, vivacious and bright, but she was actually really gifted in the field of investment management," said Wharton Graduate Associate Director Anjani Jain, who had periodically advised Kelsey after having taught her in an Operations and Information Management class. Jain -- who spoke at the memorial service -- added that Kelsey "seemed to have a calling for the field" of investment management. Kelsey had been chairperson of the Wharton Government Association's Special Projects Committee and assisted with the Wharton Fellows Fund, according to a Wharton press release. Before enrolling in Wharton, Kelsey graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 1992 and was a resident associate with the New York-based firm of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. Wharton Graduate Dean Bruce Allen -- who also taught Kelsey in a managerial Economics class -- said he and the entire Wharton community were very "saddened" by her death. Allen described the memorial service as "a major outpouring [of support] which showed how much the community cared," adding that it was packed with students, faculty members, administrators and Kelsey's co-workers. "It was a healing event for our community," Allen said. "It kind of brought us to a closure." Wharton Graduate Student Affairs Director Judy Rogers explained that she set up a counseling session for Kelsey's friends with the University's Counseling and Psychological Services and hopes to start a telephone or e-mail list this fall that may be used "when a student needs to reach out." She added that Kelsey's friends are working on "a way to serve her memory in a more permanent way." Rogers, who had met with Kelsey "a couple of times" to discuss various campus security initiatives, described her as "very energetic and dedicated and very focused on her goals and getting things done." And second-year Wharton graduate student Amy Klein called Kelsey's death a "tragedy." "She had a great spirit and just made you feel good to be around her," said Klein, who knew Kelsey from social circles. The Kelsey family requested that donations in their daughter's memory be sent to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation at 225 City Avenue, Suite 208, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004.

Police close to arrest in robberies

(04/02/97 10:00am)

Police are close to arresting a suspect wanted in connection with two armed robberies of students on the 4000 block of Baltimore Avenue recently, University Police officials said. In the two incidents -- which occurred Thursday and Monday -- a perpetrator followed the students into their houses, brandished a black semiautomatic handgun and threatened to kill them if they did not give him their money. Noting that the two robberies are "definitely connected," Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said University Police officers would "hopefully" make an arrest last night in connection with the incidents. "The investigation is going very nicely, and we think we're zeroing in on a particular individual," she said, adding that several additional undercover and uniformed University Police officers were scheduled to patrol that area last night. But as of late last night, officers had not yet made an arrest in connection with the two robberies. In the first incident, which occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m. last Thursday, College sophomore Ernest McMeans said a perpetrator followed him and his sister into his residence at 4009 Baltimore Avenue -- two houses away from the site of Monday night's robbery. The perpetrator, whom McMeans described as a 20-year-old male, had a "very unique gun" covered with numerous white lines. After McMeans told the man that he did not have any money, the robber stole a bicycle and two T-shirts before fleeing the scene. McMeans said the perpetrator "reeked of alcohol and other things," adding that he identified the suspect -- whose fingerprints were found on the house's front door and on McMeans' PennCard -- in a police mugshot. McMeans said he read about Monday night's robbery in yesterday's edition of The Daily Pennsylvanian and noticed that "this guy robbed us the exact same way." In the second incident -- which occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. Monday -- a man robbed College sophomores Lindsay Fletcher and Chris Page of $53 and a PennCard at gunpoint in their house at 4015 Baltimore Avenue, the students said. The perpetrator pushed Page and Fletcher into a first-floor storage room next to the front door, then took out a black semiautomatic handgun and threatened to shoot the students if they did not give him their money. Five of the students' housemates were home at the time but were unaware that a robbery was occurring. No one was injured in either of the incidents. And in an unrelated incident, Rush said University Police are also investigating two early morning robberies last Sunday, which they believe were committed by the same individuals, at 43rd and Spruce streets.

Police still investigating cause of weekend crash

(04/01/97 10:00am)

The cause of Sunday's five-car accident at 42nd and Walnut streets -- in which two University Police officers were injured -- remains unclear and is still under investigation, police officials said. No one was seriously injured in the crash, which occurred at approximately 8:40 p.m. Sunday when a car heading south on 42nd Street toward Walnut Street struck a westbound University Police car driven by Officer Len Harrison. Harrison and University Police Officer Mike Sylvester were treated and released from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Sunday for minor injuries including whiplash and shoulder contusion, according to Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush. Rush said it is still unknown whether Harrison failed to stop at a red light at 42nd and Walnut streets before the accident. "We're still investigating that," Rush said. The driver of the 1985 Ford Thunderbird that struck Harrison's vehicle was treated and released Sunday from Allegheny University's Hahnemann Hospital at Broad and Vine streets. Rush noted that the driver was likely to have had the right-of-way in going through a green light at the intersection. "It doesn't appear that [the Thunderbird's driver] did [run a red light]," Rush said, adding that the driver apparently did not "slow down in time" to avoid hitting the University Police vehicle. A witness to the accident said the University Police vehicle sped through a red light at 42nd and Walnut streets with its roof lights flashing, but without using its sirens. Bassam Lakish, an Allegheny University student who works in University City, said the University Police cruiser "came flying down the street." "I never saw a brake light come on," he said, adding that the explanation Philadelphia and University police officers gave The Daily Pennsylvanian Sunday night -- that the crash was merely an accident -- is "a bunch of baloney." But Rush maintained that Harrison was "not going fast, as [the officers] were attempting to get out of the way" of a Philadelphia Police van that activated its sirens after receiving a radio call to assist city police officers. She said Harrison attempted to swerve out of the path of the Philadelphia Police van as the vehicles approached 42nd and Walnut streets, but the Thunderbird crashed into the University Police vehicle, sending it careening into several cars parked nearby. Philadelphia Police Lt. Kevin Bethel explained that the officers in the van were responding to a dispatch call to assist other officers pursuing suspects from an earlier shooting. Rush said that while she is not sure when Harrison and Sylvester -- who are members of the University Police Special Response Team -- will return to work. Other officers will work overtime hours in order to keep the team at full strength. "We will ensure that staffing prevails," said Rush, who would not divulge the number of officers in the unit. She added that the Division of Public Safety will not have to replace the vehicle involved in the accident, as the car will only require some body work.

New police officers start on-the-job training

(03/31/97 10:00am)

Fourteen new officers will be deployed today, and five more will start after police academy training ends. In a move designed to relieve the strain many University Police officers have felt since the fall semester crime wave, 14 new officers will hit the streets today for a six-week period of on-the-job training. Division of Public Safety officials explained recently that last semester's crime increase -- in which numerous robberies culminated with the shooting of College senior Patrick Leroy on 40th Street -- expedited the hiring process, but stressed that the department had planned to hire the new officers well before September. Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon formally swore in the new officers Friday, charging the nine men and five women with upholding the "dignity? of all the members of the University community." Not all of the new officers will begin their training today, however, as five officers are still in the process of completing their training at the Philadelphia Police Academy. Those officers will bring the total number of new University Police officers to 19 -- not the 24 reported in a previous Daily Pennsylvanian article. Although Seamon said he was pleased to expand the University Police force, he noted that the total number of officers -- which will stand at approximately 100 after the five officers finish their time at the academy -- is not necessarily static. "What we tried to do is gauge what was the appropriate number of people," he said. "We want it to be the right size, but we don't want it to have any fat either. If conditions change, then we're going to have to look at that again." Seamon said that he is "real happy to get [the officers] out on the street," adding that the overtime burden many officers had felt since last semester "was a strain" on current University Police officers. In the final classroom session for the new officers Friday, which took place in the Van Pelt College House Seminar Room, Sgt. Thomas Rambo -- an 11-year University Police veteran --Elaid out several ethical questions he said the officers are likely to face during their tenure at the University. "If [someone] violates 52 [parts] of the vehicle code, is it legal to write 52 tickets?" Rambo asked. "Yes," he said, answering his own question. "But is it ethical? No." Rambo also asked the officers to consider their own "personal stress" if they repeatedly make decisions that are ethically questionable. "You're most likely not going to get caught if you do something one time," he said. "What happens, greed and ethical issues, they build up." Several of the new University Police officers -- a diverse-looking group of men and women mainly in their 30s and 40s -- expressed enthusiasm about their new jobs. Chuck DeShields -- who regularly walked through the Penn campus while growing up in West Philadelphia and attending nearby University City High School -- cited financial benefits, "personal attention" and a "more relaxed" atmosphere as the main reasons he decided to join the University Police force after previous stints with the Philadelphia Housing Authority and Pittsburgh city police departments. "The college environment is less stressful as opposed to the community," the 35-year-old DeShields said, adding that he sees a "refreshing attitude" among his colleagues and supervisors. Dominic DiLorenzo, another officer new to University Police -- but also a veteran officer familiar with the area -- said he thinks the Division of Public Safety does a "first-class job" and fosters a "very professional atmosphere." "It's a learning experience for me," said DiLorenzo, who spent the past 27 years working for the Philadelphia Police Department's 18th District, which encompasses University City. "I made a good career move." Rambo said the new group "should relieve a lot of pressure" on current University Police officers, and praised the high caliber of the class he helped to train. "It appears to be a real good group," he said. "This group should be ready to be on the road a lot sooner than some other groups we had." And although DiLorenzo's new job might be a change of pace for him, he still relishes one part of the police profession. "I like getting the bad guys off the street," he said.

Professor robbed at gunpoint Monday

(03/27/97 10:00am)

Three individuals were robbed at gunpoint in three separate incidents Monday and Wednesday, police said. No injuries were reported in any of the robberies. University Police arrested 20-year-old Charles Saunders and 22-year-old Robert Cooper in connection with a Monday night incident in which a University professor was robbed at gunpoint of $63 in cash, University Police Capt. John Richardson said. University Police did not have the addresses of the two suspects. The two suspects approached the professor as he was walking on the 4100 block of Locust Street at approximately 10:40 p.m., police said. One of the perpetrators brandished a black semiautomatic weapon and demanded money from the professor, police said. University Police Sgt. Thomas Rambo and Officer Al Sulpezio met the professor "immediately" after the robbery while officers Mike Sylvester and Len Harrison apprehended one of the suspects in the University Pinball gameroom at 40th and Spruce streets, Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush said. The officers apprehended both suspects on the 4000 block of Spruce Street, Richardson said, adding that one of the suspects was carrying 16 packets of crack cocaine. The suspects have been charged with robbery and related offenses. Rush said she is surprised that the increased University Police presence west of 40th Street -- and especially in the area of 40th and Spruce streets, which is home to Billybob's restaurant and University Pinball -- has not deterred criminals from targeting victims there. "We're crawling all over this area and [criminals] still have the nerve to rob people," Rush said. "Some of the people who come to partake in the fun and food at 40th and Spruce are also some of the people we've arrested." In an unrelated incident early yesterday morning, three men robbed another man at gunpoint at 40th Street and Baltimore Avenue, police said. The perpetrators took a portable cassette player, house keys and $1 in cash from the victim, police said. University Police Detective John Peterson explained that the suspects fled the scene in a blue-green Ford minivan heading east on Chester Avenue before turning west on the Schuylkill Expressway. University Police Sgt. Ivan Kimble relayed information to a highway patrol unit after observing the vehicle getting on to the interstate highway, Peterson said. Police stopped the minivan on the 2600 block of Bancroft Street in South Philadelphia but were unable to apprehend the suspects. The victim's property, however, was recovered in the incident, which occurred at approximately 2:15 a.m., he noted. And in another unrelated incident, police said that a University employee was robbed at gunpoint inside the trolley station at 36th and Sansom streets at approximately 5 p.m. Monday afternoon. Richardson said two men in their 20s robbed the employee at gunpoint while he stood on the eastbound trolley platform. No further information was available.

LCE investigated Palladium for weeks before recent raid

(03/27/97 10:00am)

The Pennsylvania State Police's Liquor Control Enforcement Bureau investigated allegations of underage drinking at the Palladium for weeks before raiding the campus restaurant and bar last week, University Police said Tuesday. And an LCE spokesperson said the State Police intend to investigate other businesses on and around campus that have been raided by the LCE in recent years. LCE agents cited 33 students for underage drinking at the Palladium during a midnight raid March 19. The agents also arrested the restaurant's owner and three of its employees. Palladium co-owner Roger Harman -- whose business could face hefty fines and the temporary loss of license from the raid-- and his employees spent a day in jail after the arrest. Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush explained that the LCE "said they had gotten several calls that Tuesday night was a heavy-duty night for underage drinking." She noted that the agents "couldn't believe their eyes" after counting the number of underage drinkers during previous visits to the establishment. And Rush maintained that University officials did not invite the LCE to campus over potential violations by the Palladium. LCE spokesperson Jeff Lawrence said he could not confirm that undercover agents had observed underage drinking in the Palladium prior to last week's raid, but he said the LCE did know of possible liquor-law violations there. "We were aware that there were minors in the Palladium," he said. He added that the LCE plans to "check [other establishments on and around campus] out," including institutions such as Smokey Joe's on 40th Street and Murphy's Tavern at 44th and Spruce streets that the State Police have targeted in the past. And Lawrence said the LCE intends to follow up on the Palladium raid by making "periodic checks" on the restaurant, noting this is standard procedure after the LCE cites minors for underage drinking in a particular establishment. Harman explained that the Palladium now photocopies "questionable IDs" and requests patrons to complete a standardized age-declaration form. "I think a lot of people are scared about this," Harman said, adding that he noticed a "real decline in questionable IDs" after an April 1995 LCE raid on the Palladium in which 32 patrons were cited for underage drinking. But he noted that business has remained steady since last week's raid and Tuesday night's business was approximately the same as last week's -- even though the restaurant had closed early the previous week as a result of the raid. Lawrence and Rush said it is standard LCE procedure to arrest the owner and employees of an establishment that serves alcohol to minors. Rush explained that the Palladium's employees violated the law at a "higher level" than the patrons because they sell -- rather than just consume -- illegal alcohol. But Harman criticized what he described as the excessive flamboyance of the LCE agents, whom he said damaged some of the restaurant's property during the raid. "I think maybe they have the best of intentions, but some of them are real cowboys," he said, adding that the agents entered the restaurant in a "real hee-haw" manner.