AP

DILLWYN, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday that he’s suspended a policy that allowed prison officials to strip search an 8-year-old girl who was visiting her father.

“I am deeply disturbed by these reports — not just as governor but as a pediatrician and a dad,” Northam told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in a statement.

“I’ve directed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to suspend this policy while the department conducts an immediate investigation and review of their procedures,” Northam said.

The Virginian-Pilot previously reported that prison officials had breached protocol when they strip-searched the girl before allowing her to visit her father. The father’s girlfriend accompanied the child to Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn just before Thanksgiving,

Diamond Peerman says she and the girl were circled by a Virginia Department of Corrections dog trained to sniff out contraband. Peerman was singled out by the dog and told by prison officials that both she and the girl had to be searched. Peerman says both she and the girl removed all their clothes and were searched, and that they were then allowed a visit, but only through glass.

DOC policy states that a legal parent or guardian must consent to a minor being searched. Peerman, the father’s girlfriend, says she told guards that she wasn’t the 8-year-old’s legal guardian and that they told her she had to sign the consent form anyway.

The staff member who approved the search didn’t have that authority, according to DOC Director of Communications Lisa Kinney. She said immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible will be taken.

The girl’s mother told the newspaper that her daughter already suffered from bipolar disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“She’s a minor, she’s a girl. She was traumatized,” the girl’s mother said. “She gets emotional, she will break down.”

The girl’s mother says the 8-year-old misses her dad but won’t be visiting him anymore because of the incident.

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Tre Jones was pleased that when No. 10 Duke fell behind early at Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils showed composure and gradually worked their way back.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski was glad he had Jones to lead the way.

“They follow his lead,” Krzyzewski said after Jones scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half as Duke rallied to beat the Hokies 77-63 Friday night.

On a team with many prominent freshman, the sophomore point guard said seeing his teammates respond in the right way was “huge for us tonight just like on Tuesday” when the Blue Devils won 87-75 at Michigan State. “Another big road game. A big crowd. In past years we’ve struggled here.”

Freshmen Vernon Carey Jr. and Wendell Moore Jr. added 12 points each for the Blue Devils (9-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had lost three in a row in Cassell Coliseum. They used runs of 12-2 just after halftime and 12-3 a short time later to take command after trailing for almost the entire first half.

“We played an outstanding 18 minutes in the second half,” Krzyzewski said, “although I’ll say this: We played an outstanding 12 minutes in the first half to stay in the game.”

P.J. Horne scored 15 points to lead the Hokies (6-3, 1-1), who lost their third in a row and ended their three-game home winning streak against the Blue Devils. Wabisa Bede and Tyrece Radford added 12 points each.

The Hokies made 10 of their first 14 shots and led by 12 early, but Duke slowly climbed back. The early 12-2 run in the second half gave them their first lead, 50-47, since the opening minute. After Virginia Tech pulled even at 52 on Horne’s 3-pointer with 11:10 remaining, the Blue Devils scored 12 of the next 15 points and gradually pulled away.

Jones had four in that latter burst, which ended with the Blue Devils ahead 62-55.

“Tre Jones is so disruptive. He’s made great progress with his game offensively but he is a mean dude defensively,” Hokies first-year coach Mike Young said.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils came in averaging seven 3-pointers and had three by the time Carey scored his first point (9:24 into the game) and six by halftime. Virginia Tech had 10 field goals before the game was 10 minutes old, and it took Duke 15 minutes to make 10 shots. Five of them were 3s, though, to keep the score close.

Virginia Tech: Landers Nolley II is the Hokies’ leading scorer (20 ppg) and is second on the team in assists. He had three first-half assists, each time feeding a teammate for an easy lay-in when the defense came toward him. But Nolley had an otherwise pedestrian night, finishing with seven points, eight rebounds, four assists and nine of their 14 turnovers. He also was called for a flagrant foul with the Hokies trailing 66-57 with 4:34 to play.

“I think they got up under his chin, and I didn’t think he handled it very well,” Young said.

STREAK ENDS

Carey arrived on a streak of seven double-doubles but played just 15 minutes and grabbed only five rebounds as Duke went with a smaller lineup.

UP NEXT

The Blue Devils don’t play again until Dec. 19 at home against Wofford.

The Hokies are at home against next Wednesday against Chattanooga.

___

Photo: Justin Fairfax Facebook

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax says he’s done everything he can to clear his name after two women accused him of sexual assault: he’s requested police investigations, taken a lie-detector test and begged the media to report on evidence he says exonerates him.

On Friday, he tried another approach as he went to federal court in Alexandria to pursue a libel lawsuit against CBS Corp. for airing interviews of the two women who accused him in a way that he says insinuated his guilt.

CBS’ lawyers on Friday asked the judge to toss out the lawsuit — they say they reported the accusations fairly and allowed Fairfax to respond with written statements after he declined a live interview. They also argue that Fairfax can’t meet the high legal standard for proving libel against a public figure, and that his real goal in filing the lawsuit is to give him a forum to attack his accusers.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga heard arguments but made no ruling, promising to issue a decision on the motion to dismiss “shortly.” If he allows the suit to go forward, Fairfax’s lawyers can begin taking depositions of people connected to the case who they say will further prove his innocence.

After Friday’s hearing, Fairfax said in a lengthy interview that the evidence already exists to prove he was wrongfully accused. While he’s particularly angered by CBS News’ reporting, he said media outlets across the board have been afraid to acknowledge they engaged in a rush to judgment when two women came forward with accusations earlier this year at a time when Fairfax was poised to rise to the governor’s post as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam faced intense calls to resign over a blackface photo that appeared in Northam’s medical school yearbook.

In particular, he says he has offered compelling evidence to prove that his second accuser, Meredith Watson, lied when she claimed Fairfax raped her in 2001 when both attended Duke University.

“It’s so obvious to people who are paying attention. … The inconvenient truth is Meredith Watson fabricated her story,” said Fairfax, who was not required to attend Friday’s hearing but did so voluntarily.

He points to a variety of evidence, but the most compelling piece, he says, came in July when he told law enforcement that there was an eyewitness to the sexual encounter he had with Watson who can verify it was consensual. Fairfax has declined to say publicly who that individual is, and he did not disclose the existence of an eyewitness until several months after CBS aired its interviews with Watson and the other accuser, Vanessa Tyson.

But Fairfax says CBS has known about the eyewitness since at least July and refused to update its reporting. Moreover, he says Watson and her attorney have refused to comment on whose dorm room the alleged assault occurred in and whether there was indeed an eyewitness.

“Because the media won’t ask these questions, we have to file this federal civil lawsuit” to get to the truth, Fairfax said.

A spokesman for Watson and her attorney, Nancy E. Smith, declined to comment on whether Watson can confirm the existence of an eyewitness, referring instead to an earlier statement from Smith in which she said, “We look forward to everyone testifying under oath, now that this matter is in court.”

Fairfax said there is also evidence that Tyson lied about her accusation that Fairfax assaulted her during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax says Tyson claims to have first met him on a day when Fairfax wasn’t even in Boston. He also questioned why Tyson didn’t feel empowered to tell people she was assaulted at the time, given that she volunteered for a rape crisis center.

Lee Levine, the lawyer for CBS, defended the network’s reporting.

“All CBS was doing was providing both sides of the story, and letting viewers make their own decision,” he said.

Fairfax’s lawyer, Sara Kropf, said the broadcasts went beyond neutral reporting, and included sympathetic comments from newscasters after the interviews aired, including one who commented, “It feels like she was forced.”

The allegations against Fairfax, a Democrat, came in February when Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam faced calls to resign after the blackface photo emerged on his yearbook page. But the allegations against Fairfax blunted the momentum for Northam’s resignation. Both Northam and Fairfax have remained in office, as has Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, who admitted around the same time that he had worn blackface in college.

DILLWYN, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday that he’s suspended a policy that allowed prison officials to strip search an 8-year-old girl who was visiting her father.

“I am deeply disturbed by these reports — not just as governor but as a pediatrician and a dad,” Northam told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in a statement.

“I’ve directed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to suspend this policy while the department conducts an immediate investigation and review of their procedures,” Northam said.

The Virginian-Pilot previously reported that prison officials had breached protocol when they strip-searched the girl before allowing her to visit her father. The father’s girlfriend accompanied the child to Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn just before Thanksgiving,

Diamond Peerman says she and the girl were circled by a Virginia Department of Corrections dog trained to sniff out contraband. Peerman was singled out by the dog and told by prison officials that both she and the girl had to be searched. Peerman says both she and the girl removed all their clothes and were searched, and that they were then allowed a visit, but only through glass.

DOC policy states that a legal parent or guardian must consent to a minor being searched. Peerman, the father’s girlfriend, says she told guards that she wasn’t the 8-year-old’s legal guardian and that they told her she had to sign the consent form anyway.

The staff member who approved the search didn’t have that authority, according to DOC Director of Communications Lisa Kinney. She said immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible will be taken.

The girl’s mother told the newspaper that her daughter already suffered from bipolar disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“She’s a minor, she’s a girl. She was traumatized,” the girl’s mother said. “She gets emotional, she will break down.”

The girl’s mother says the 8-year-old misses her dad but won’t be visiting him anymore because of the incident.

Photo: Justin Fairfax Facebook

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) – A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments on whether he should toss out a libel lawsuit filed by Virginia’s lieutenant governor. Justin Fairfax sued CBS in federal court in Alexandria after it aired interviews with two women who have accused him of sexual assault. The Democrat has said the sexual encounters were consensual. He argues that the CBS interviews were one-sided and reported the allegations in a way that implied his guilt. CBS says its reporting was fair and says the lawsuit is an attempt by Fairfax to silence his accusers.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia is moving toward dropping work requirements for Medicaid enrollees after Democrats won full control of the state legislature for the first time in a generation.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that his administration is hitting “pause” on its request for federal approval to requires some Medicaid recipients to have a job or participate in some form of approved community engagement and pay part of the premiums.

The provisions were key parts of a bi-partisan compromise nearly two years ago that saw Virginia expand Medicaid to low-income, able-bodied adults after years of steadfast GOP opposition. But Northam said Democratic victories in last month’s legislative elections, which gave his party total control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation, made it unlikely that the work-requirements and other provisions would ever be implemented.

“Virginians made it clear they want more access to health care, not less,” Northam said in a statement.

Republicans, who had previously expressed frustration with the lengthy projected timetable for implementation of the work requirements, said Northam was acting in bad faith.

“He gave his personal assurance that the long-term policy of the commonwealth would be Medicaid expansion with a work requirement. Broken promises like this are the reason so many people hate politics,” said Republican Del. Todd Gilbert, the incoming House minority leader.

Medicaid is a publicly funded health care program whose costs are split by the federal and state governments. Expanding Medicaid to low-income, able-bodied adults was a key part of former President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

Virginia was one of several states that initially rejected expansion. But after Democrats made huge gains in 2017 after campaigning heavily on the issue, several Republicans agreed to back expansion if it had the work requirement provision.

So far, more than 300,000 Virginians have enrolled in Medicaid after lawmakers approved expansion.

Republicans in other states that have expanded Medicaid followed a similar course in requiring that new enrollees either be employed or actively searching for jobs.

But Northam also cited the numerous legal challenges in those states as reason not to move forward.

Indiana is the only state where Medicaid work requirements are in effect, though officials said recently they would temporarily suspend enforcement until a lawsuit is resolved.

A federal judge has blocked Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire. And a federal lawsuit challenging Michigan’s plan to implement work requirements was filed last month.

A Virginia woman and her family have gifted coats to homeless people by leaving the winter weather gear hung about the city for years but may soon have to change tactics.Brenda Parker says she was told this year that the tradition is considered littering. The Virginian-Pilot reports Norfolk instead wants Parker to work with an outreach program. City spokeswoman Lori Crouch says that would ensure the coats are delivered in better condition than if left outside.Parker started the tradition on a snowy day when she was cozy inside her Norfolk home and realized others weren’t as lucky. She says she took her extra coats and hung them around the city. Each includes a note about the coat’s intended purpose. She says the coats are usually claimed within days.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A new report by the Virginia State Board of Education says there remains a persistent achievement gap for certain student groups and the state faces a growing shortage of high-quality teachers. The report was officially presented to lawmakers and Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday, and it calls for elected officials to rethink how schools are funded. The report says the increasing reliance on local funds versus state money to pay for public schools is “inherently inequitable.” The report said Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in the country but has a “regressive” system deprives high-poverty school systems of adequate money. The report also highlighted declines in reading proficiency by Virginia students on a national test compared to two years ago.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The University of Virginia and College of William & Mary are the latest schools to announce plans to become carbon neutral. The schools announced their goals Monday in a statement that said they hope to produce zero net greenhouse gas emissions. UVA and William & Mary said they will share information and collaborate. William & Mary said it’s exploring an agreement that could bring as much as 60% of its electricity from solar farms. Another challenge is the use of natural gas for heating and steam production. William & Mary said it will hire a consultant to provide advice. The goals go further than power consumption. UVA hopes to expand plant-based meal offerings and switch to sustainably raised meats. UVA is in Charlottesville. William & Mary is in Williamsburg.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A state report says medical care in Virginia’s prisons accounts for a fifth of operating expenses. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last week that the information on prison medical costs comes from the Virginia House Appropriations Committee. The report said the cost of inmate health care grew from roughly $140 million a year to more than $230 million a year during the past decade. The report also found that 14% of state prisoners are at least 55 years old. That’s an increase of more than 5% since 2012. One possible way to address the issue is expanding so-called “compassionate release” of prisoners who are terminally ill or permanently disabled physically. State Delegate Mark Sickles of Fairfax said he plans to reintroduce a bill to expand the program.