Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 26, 2012

News Digest

Chi-Chang Kao named new director of SLAC

An associate laboratory director at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has been named as the lab's fifth director, Stanford University President John Hennessy announced Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Chi-Chang Kao will succeed Persis S. Drell, who announced her intention to step down from the position late last year. Kao will formally take charge on Nov. 1.

Hennessy said Kao is respected in X-ray science, is known globally for his accomplishments and is a proven leader. He came to SLAC in 2010 from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, where he served as chairperson of the National Synchrotron Light Source. His research focuses on X-ray physics, superconductivity, magnetic materials and the properties of materials under high pressure.

A committee under the direction of Stanford Provost John Etchemendy chose Kao after a 10-month search. SLAC is operated by Stanford for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and Kao's appointment was made with agreement from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

"Chi-Chang is an excellent choice to lead SLAC at this exciting time in its history," Chu said. "He is an outstanding scientist, and he has earned the respect of all those he has worked with at the DOE. ... With his experience and expertise in X-ray science, Chi-Chang is the right person to set a vision for how this extraordinary machine, as well as SLAC's other excellent facilities and its world-class scientists, can revolutionize science in the years to come."

Scouts files allege molestation in Palo Alto camp

A former maintenance director at a Boy Scouts camp based in Palo Alto is among the thousands of people accused of sexually molesting scouts over the past four decades, according to a trove of documents that Boy Scouts of America released under court orders last week.

According to the documents, Ron Wentworth was working as a camp maintenance director with Troop 31 in the summer of 1971 when several scouts reported that he was making "homosexual advances" against them. The troop was based in Camp Oljato, which was administered from Palo Alto's Lucie Stern Community Center at 1305 Middlefield Road.

The incidents described in the report allegedly occurred between July 29 and Aug. 1 of that year and were reported by several boys from Troop 31. One of them reported that on July 29 Wentworth twice placed his hand on a scout's genitals and, in another incident, asked a scout to sit on his lap. Two days later, as the scouts were sailing with Wentworth, he reportedly held one of the scout's genitals and "attempted to put his hand inside his bathing suit, getting it part way in." The scout pushed him away.

Word of Wentworth's advances spread among members of the troop, according to the report. By the time the leaders of Troop 31 were aware of the sexual-molestation allegations, "almost all of the Scouts in the troop were aware of what had happened and were discussing it among themselves," the incident report states. Most scouts, it notes, "liked Ron, were sorry for him, and were afraid of him."

Wentworth, who now lives in Kentucky, did not respond to requests for comments.

The released documents also allude to two other cases of possible sexual molestation in Palo Alto but don't name the suspects in those cases.

Man steals leaf blower in Palo Alto armed robbery

Palo Alto police are looking for a man who threatened a gardener with a knife and stole her leaf blower Monday, Oct. 22.

The gardener was working in the front yard of a house in the 900 block of Channing Avenue at about 1:40 p.m. when she noticed a man rifling through equipment in the back of her pickup truck, which was parked on the street, a police spokesman said. The gardener told the man to get out of the truck but he refused, police said. The man then took a leaf blower from the truck, at which point the woman approached him and grabbed him by the collar, according to police.

The man brandished a silver, folding knife, and the woman picked up a piece of wood from the truck, prompting the man to say, "You don't want to do that," police reported. The man took the leaf blower and fled in his vehicle, which was described as a dark-colored, older model Acura with front-end damage.

The man is described as Hispanic, approximately 30 to 35 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. He was wearing black jeans, a black hooded sweatshirt, had collar-length hair, a goatee and "rotten teeth," police said. The gardener was not injured during the robbery.

— Tyler Hanley

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