​​Synagogue School Says Parents Waived
Right to Sue for Sexual Abuse of Childre
n

     ​A Washington, D.C., synagogue that operates a school for toddlers is arguing in recent court filings that parents gave up their right to sue for sexual abuse of their children when they signed waivers that were a condition of enrollment.
     The parents’ lawsuit says Edlavitch-Tyser Early Childhood Center ignored indications a child care worker was sexually abusing the toddlers, sometimes even leaving him alone with the children.
      D.C. law requires that at least two adults be present with toddlers in child development centers.
     D.C. police investigated the sexual abuse allegations but concluded there was “insufficient probable cause” for an arrest. The parents say the male employee abused 14 children.
     The Childhood Center, operated by Washington Hebrew Congregation, argued that parents relinquished their right to sue in its motion for summary judgment. 
     The waiver signed by the parents says “neither parents nor their children will bring claims against WHC or any of its employees for personal injuries sustained ‘as a result of’ a child’s ‘participation in these activities [of the Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Edlavitch-Tyser Early Childhood Center].’”
     The parents argue in court filings that they thought the waiver referred to “typical preschool activities.”
     “Not a single plaintiff parent who signed the release contemplated that it would cover injuries sustained as a result of their children being sexually abused by a trusted WHC employee,” the court filings say.
school activity.”
     Washington Hebrew Congregation says there is no proof the children were abused on school property, which would be a prerequisite of its liability.
     




House Panel Hears that Water Resources
Are Endangered by Underinvestment


     The security of water treatment facilities in Washington, D.C., and nationwide turned into an issue of law and politics last week during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.
     Water resource experts told a congressional panel that aging infrastructure and climate change are joining to ensure more crises with the nation’s water systems are just a matter of time.
     In recent years, the crises have been caused by flooding in Jackson, Miss.; lead and bacteria seeping into Flint, Mich., pipes and a hacker who changed the chemical mix for the water treatment system in Oldsmar, Fla.
     David L. Gadis, general manager of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, said the switch to automated treatment and pumping systems means cyber-defense is as important as protecting water pipes.
     In the 2021 Oldsmar case, a computer hacker increased sodium hydroxide levels in the municipal water system to extremely dangerous levels by tapping into software used throughout the water treatment industry called TeamViewer.
     The sabotage was stopped early when a water department employee noticed the cursor on his computer moving out of his control. The hacker changed the purification chemical sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million, a level that would be harmful to human tissue.
     The employee changed the chemical mix to its original level and notified the police.
     Gadis oversees one of the world’s largest water and sewer systems with a roughly $1 billion annual budget and more than 1,200 employees. Located in the nation’s capital, it also is at heightened risk of sabotage.
     He repeated warnings about overlooking the importance of water systems, saying, “I know today’s underinvestment is tomorrow’s crisis.”
     Abre Conner, director of the NAACP’s Center for Environmental and Climate Justice, said water system failures – like the one this summer in Jackson – often fall hardest on minority and low-income communities.





   









D.C. in Brief


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Supreme Court Gives Religious University
Second Chance to Oppose Gay Group

 
   A Washington, D.C.-based public interest firm says the legal fight isn’t over after the U.S. Supreme Court this month declined to overturn a state court order requiring Yeshiva University to give official recognition to a student gay rights group.
     The university said the court order trampled its First Amendment freedom of religion rights in a dispute with potentially far-reaching consequences for religious institutions.
     The group YU Pride Alliance sued to gain the same access to school accommodations as other student organizations by invoking New York City’s Human Rights Law. The law bans discrimination in public accommodations, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
     The university’s attorneys argued they should be granted a religious exemption to the law. 
     Similar human rights laws are found in the District of Columbia as well as cities and states nationwide but never have been challenged before the Supreme Court on religious grounds.
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Justice Dept. Considers Felony Charges
Against Former Trump Legal Advisor


     A recent District of Columbia Bar court filing shows the Justice Department is considering charges of false statements, conspiracy and obstruction of justice against former Trump administration attorney Jeffrey Clark.
     The D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility is pursuing disciplinary proceedings against Clark for assisting former President Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
     Clark asked the Board on Professional Responsibility for a deferral from the disciplinary proceedings, which the Board denied in its written response this month.
      The Board on Professional Responsibility gathered some of its evidence against Clark from the FBI and Justice Department’s investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and Trump’s discredited allegations of election fraud.
     Clark said his participation in the investigation means the disciplinary proceedings against him should be put off until after the Justice Department completes its prosecutions. More than 840 people have been arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.
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Legal Briefs

Senate Bill Seeks to Protect Local Media
Whose Content is Posted on the Internet


      A bill pending in the Senate would give journalism outlets a bigger share of the profits reaped by Facebook and Google as they face antitrust concerns.
     The bill, called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, would allow small to mid-sized journalism companies to bargain collectively with the Big Tech platforms before the social media giants could republish their news stories and photos.
     The bill would have a broad impact on the kind of news organizations found commonly in the Washington, D.C., area. It also would put a stop to largely failed unfair competition lawsuits the news organizations filed against Facebook, Google and other platforms.
     The current news distribution arrangements require separate boilerplate contracts with each news outlet.
     The news organizations complain the result is they rarely get paid for their republished stories and photos. Instead, Facebook and Google keep the advertising revenue other publishers create.​​
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