Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment at 8:20 p.m. EDT

October 06, 2018 - 12:00 am

SUPREME COURT-KAVANAUGH-THE LATEST

The Latest: Trump calls Kavanaugh's past 'squeaky clean'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he is a "hundred percent" sure that the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school named the wrong person.

Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday by a 50-48 vote. His Supreme Court nomination was roiled for weeks by allegations of sexual misconduct and drunken behavior when Kavanaugh was a high school and college student.

Trump tells reporters on Air Force One that one of the reasons he chose Kavanaugh "is because there's nobody with a squeaky-clean past" like him.

Trump also says he believes a rally speech in which he mocked Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh proved to be a turning point for the nomination.

The remarks drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.

BC-POMPEO-ASIA-THE LATEST

The Latest: Pompeo seeks allied unity in dealing with NKorea

TOKYO (AP) — America's top diplomat left Tokyo for Pyongyang on Sunday after pledging that the U.S. will coordinate with allies Japan and South Korea on efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

On the eve of his fourth visit to North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saturday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The American is trying to unify the countries' positions as he looks to arrange a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and chart a path toward denuclearization.

Japan has been wary of Trump's initiative, fearing it could affect its long-standing security relationship with the U.S.

Pompeo said it was important to hear from the Japanese leader "so we have a fully coordinated and unified view."

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT-HOLLYWOOD PROSECUTIONS

Charges rare for Hollywood figures in year since Weinstein

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The #MeToo movement has sent dozens of once-powerful Hollywood players into exile, but few of them have been placed in handcuffs or jail cells. And it's increasingly apparent that the lack of criminal charges may remain the norm.

Harvey Weinstein has been charged with sexual assault in New York, and Bill Cosby was sent to prison in Pennsylvania in the year since stories on Weinstein in The New York Times and The New Yorker set off waves of revelations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood. But those two central figures are exceptions.

A task force launched last November by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to handle the surge in allegations against entertainment figures has taken up criminal cases involving nearly two dozen entertainment-industry figures. None has been charged.

The lack of prosecutions stems from a clash between the #MeToo ethos, which encourages victims to come forward years or even decades after abuse and harassment that they've kept private, and a legal system that demands fast reporting of crimes and hard evidence.

The task force has considered charges against 22 suspects, including Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, director James Toback and former CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, all of whom have denied engaging in any sex that was not consensual.

Charges have already been rejected for most. Cases involving six suspects, including Weinstein and Spacey, both of whom have multiple accusers, remain open.

In 14 of the closed cases, charges were declined because the allegations were reported too late and thus outside the statute of limitations. The rest were turned down either for insufficient evidence or because the accuser refused to cooperate with investigators after initially reporting the incidents.

While disappointed in the lack of results, several accusers said they were still glad they talked to police and prosecutors, for a variety of reasons both practical and emotional.

"For me it was not necessarily closure, but one of the healthiest things I've ever done for myself," said Melissa Schuman, whose case dating to 2003 against Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys was rejected over the statute of limitations. "It felt therapeutic to tell the authorities, to be able to take it out of my body and out of my mind and report it."

Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women's Law Center, which oversees the Time's Up legal defense fund, said for some "the act of reporting, putting it on the record is critical, even if they're beyond the limitations."

When law enforcement agencies welcome women to report their experiences, it can eventually result in more prosecutions, she said.

"In too many cases law enforcement has sent a signal that they won't treat these issues," Goss Graves said. "If you've created a climate and space that is friendly to people coming forward, more people will come forward."

Schuman said she found just such a climate. She was well treated by task force investigators and the police in what could have been a much tougher process.

"I really felt supported, and listened to, and cared-for and believed," Schuman said.

Carter has denied the allegations from the start. He said through his lawyer when charges were declined that he felt confident there would be no basis for charges and was happy to put the matter behind him. A representative did not respond to a request Friday for further comment.

There can be more tangible benefits to reporting. In California, simply filing a police report entitles victims to benefits that can include free psychotherapy. The reports also create additional claims that can help in newer investigations or be brought into court to show a pattern of conduct, as they were for Cosby's trial.

"It just gives me peace to have it documented and filed," Schuman said, "and if my abuser does it again, the authorities told me they could use me to help corroborate."

The sexual assault case that sent Cosby to prison was from 2004 and long pre-dated the #MeToo movement. It was filed just as the statute of limitations was expiring.

California requires that charges be brought within a year for many sexual crimes and within 10 years for many of the most serious crimes, including rape and felony sexual assault.

The task force has been looking at allegations of incidents that are sometimes decades old. One rejected case against Spacey dates to 1992. The allegations against Moonves date to the late 1980s. One case for Toback dates to 1978.

In documents released by the task force explaining why charges were not brought, some officials simply declare the effort pointless and say little else. In other cases, prosecutors provide long and sometimes detailed descriptions of acts and the laws they may have violated, only to reluctantly conclude that too much time has passed.

Page after page of the documents end with the same phrase, "prosecution is declined."

Aside from confirming which cases it is considering and has declined, the district attorney's office declined comment for this story.

California has already altered its laws to help victims, eliminating the statute of limitations for rape and other forms of felony sex abuse. But courts have ruled that statutes of limitations cannot be altered to include suspects who are already past them, so the new laws only apply to crimes from 2017 onward, meaning the practical effects likely won't be felt for years.

Many of the old cases taken under consideration would probably never have reached prosecutors before the Weinstein story broke and cultural attitudes began to change.

Even beyond the time-limit problem, "It would be next to impossible for an investigative agency to find witnesses to corroborate and gather evidence," said Alan Jackson, a former prosecutor in the district attorney's office who ran against Lacey in 2012 and now works as a defense attorney.

Many accusers whose cases were considered by the task force have filed civil lawsuits that may have more staying power.

Goss Graves said it's desirable to leave open as many options as possible.

"What accountability and ultimately healing looks like for survivors is going to vary," she said. "In many ways, we're not in the middle of this process. We're in the beginning."

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Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .

AP-SAUDI-ARABIA-MISSING-WRITER-THE-LATEST

The Latest: Post says Turks think writer slain at consulate

ISTANBUL (AP) — The Washington Post is reporting that two officials have told it that Turkey believes a prominent Saudi Arabian journalist who contributes to the Post was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi officials had no immediate comment.

The Post said Saturday night that the anonymous officials with knowledge of the Turkish investigation gave it the information about missing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The newspaper reported that the officials said "a 15-member team came from Saudi Arabia" and that "it was a preplanned murder."

One Turkish official told The Associated Press earlier Saturday night: "The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate." The Turkish official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

The 59-year-old Khashoggi went missing Tuesday while on a visit to the consulate for paperwork to marry his Turkish fiance. The consulate insists the writer left its premises, contradicting Turkish officials.

Khashoggi has written columns for the Washington Post critical of Saudi Arabia's assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report from Beirut.

CHICAGO POLICE-LAQUAN MCDONALD-BLM

Chicago verdict raises hope of police being held accountable

A rare scene in the American justice system unfolded in a Chicago courthouse: A white officer stood before a mostly white jury and was convicted of killing a black teenager.

Jason Van Dyke was convicted Friday of second-degree murder and multiple counts of aggravated battery for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

The conviction in the 2014 shooting came two months after a Texas officer was convicted in the killing of a 15-year-old unarmed black boy.

The pair of guilty verdicts could signal a shift in momentum after years of delayed arrests, non-indictments and acquittals.

Activists and advocates say their efforts, along with the ubiquity of cellphone camera evidence, could be changing the power balance between police and black communities.

MELANIA TRUMP

Melania Trump puts on happier face during Africa tour

CAIRO (AP) — It took Melania Trump's first solo international trip for her to show a different side of herself. The happier one.

The U.S. first lady hopscotched across Africa this week without President Donald Trump, commanding a spotlight that belonged only to her. In doing her own thing, the very private first lady essentially peeled back the curtain ever so slightly and showed her happier side — one that contrasts with the serious face she wears around Washington.

She also did some new things, like wave to journalists watching as she boarded a U.S. government aircraft for the grueling five-day, four-country tour across multiple time zones. With big smiles on her face — sometimes paired with the unfamiliar sound of her laughter — she cuddled babies and fed elephants.

And she danced.

LATVIA-ELECTION

Ethnic Russians seen as having weight in Latvian election

HELSINKI (AP) — Polls have opened in Latvia, where a party catering to the Baltic nation's large ethnic-Russian minority is expected to place first in a parliamentary election.

Voters are choosing from a field of more than 1,400 candidates and 16 parties Saturday to fill Latvia's 100-seat parliament, or Saeima.

Latvian public broadcaster LSM's latest poll had the left-leaning Harmony party favored by ethnic-Russians securing the greatest share of the vote, 17.2 percent.

Members of the minority account for about 25 percent of Latvia's 2 million people, a legacy of nearly 50 years of Soviet occupation that ended in 1991. The country now is a NATO member.

The poll had Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis' centrist Union of Greens and Farmers in second place, with 9.4 percent.

RONALDO-RAPE LAWSUIT-PORTUGAL

Portugal PM defends Ronaldo amid rape accusation

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has spoken out in defense of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been embroiled in a rape accusation.

Speaking to television on the Spanish island of Lanzarote on Saturday, Costa made an appeal to the presumption of innocence, as well as Ronaldo's successful career.

"People need to understand one and for all that there's one thing that is presumption of innocence," Costa said. "It is not enough for someone to be accused of something to be guilty of it."

Costa added: "If there's something we have proof of is that he is an extraordinary professional, an extraordinary sportsman, an extraordinary footballer, and someone who has honored and given prestige to Portugal, and certainly what we all wish for is that nothing can ever stain that record of Ronaldo."

Last week, Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. saying she was raped by Ronaldo in Las Vegas in 2009. Police have re-opened an investigation.

Ronaldo has denied the accusation.

Ronaldo's Italian club Juventus sent a statement of support and called him a "great champion," but his sponsors Nike and video game maker EA Sports have expressed concern about the allegation.

Ronaldo is Europe's all-time leading scorer in international matches. He helped Portugal win the European Championship in 2016.

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VATICAN-SEX ABUSE

Pope OKs study of Vatican archives into McCarrick scandal

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has authorized a "thorough study" of Vatican archives into how a prominent American cardinal advanced through church ranks despite allegations that he slept with seminarians and young priests.

The Vatican issued a statement Saturday saying it was aware that such an investigation may produce evidence "that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues."

However, it said the Vatican would "follow the path of truth wherever it may lead."

The statement did not address allegations that Francis himself knew of sexual misconduct allegations against now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013 and rehabilitated him anyway. Francis has said he would not say a word about those allegations.

The Vatican knew as early as 2000 that seminarians reported McCarrick pressured them to sleep with him.

MELANIA TRUMP-AFRICA

Melania Trump in Egypt to tour pyramids, Sphinx

CAIRO (AP) — Melania Trump is in Egypt to wrap up a four-country tour of Africa by visiting the pyramids and the Great Sphinx.

The U.S. first lady arrived in Cairo on Saturday after a flight from Kenya. She planned to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his wife, first lady Entissar Mohameed Amer, before heading to the nearby city of Giza to see the pyramids and Sphinx to highlight U.S.-backed preservation efforts there.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has been working with the Egyptian government for the past several years on a project to lower groundwater levels to prevent additional damage to the landmarks. Saline content in the water can erode their foundations.

Egypt is the final stop on Mrs. Trump's tour of Africa. She also visited Ghana and Malawi.

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