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Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 3, 2011

News Digest

St. Raymond pastor on leave after incident with teen

Father William Myers, pastor of St. Raymond Catholic Church in Menlo Park, has been on leave since May 27 following an incident with a 17-year-old boy, according to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Describing the incident as a "boundary violation" that involved no physical contact, the archdiocese said San Francisco police determined there was no criminal activity and that the archdiocese's independent review board will also evaluate the situation.

The police were called at the request of the youth's father after he became upset during a trip with his son and Myers to a Ross store in San Francisco on April 19, according to the archdiocese's spokesman.

However, more than a month passed before the church found out about the incident. Director of Communications George Wesolek said the archdiocese was notified by a source on May 26.

"We don't know," he said when asked why the delay. "If we had been notified on April 19, we would've taken action on April 20."

Since the police found no criminal activity, Wesolek said, no policy required notification, but the delay was not in the church's best interest.

"It's one of those things, we have learned that we cannot step back and if there is something like this that's gone to police, we have to take action immediately and put our process into play," he said.

Wesolek said that to his knowledge, no other allegations have been made against the priest in the past.

Myers is seeking treatment for a sexual addiction to adults, according to the archdiocese. He joined the parish in 2007, transferring from St. Brendan Church in San Francisco.

The archdiocese asked that any allegations of sexual abuse involving Myers be reported to the police and to its victim assistance coordinator, Barbara Elordi, at 415-614-5506 or elordi@sfarchdiocese.org.

Staff at St. Raymond directed questions to the archdiocese.

Simitian's bill to limit cough-medicine sales to minors advances

Joe Simitian's bid to ban sales of certain cough medicine to minors easily sailed through the state Senate Tuesday afternoon (May 31).

Senate Bill 514 specifically targets medicine with dextromethorphan (DXM), which produces intoxication and hallucinations when ingested in high quantities — a practice known as "robotripping." The bill was proposed in 2004 by two Palo Alto police officers, Wayne Benitez and Ron Lawrence, as part of Simitian's annual "There Oughta Be a Law" contest.

Though the bill proved a tough sell the first time around and ultimately died in the Legislature, Simitian revived it this year. On Tuesday, the Senate approved the bill 37-0.

Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said in a statement that the idea of banning DXM sales for minors was "ahead of its time" when initially introduced. Today, he said, the problem is better understood.

He cited a report from the California Poison Control System that claims that DXM abuse calls for children younger than 17 have increased by 850 percent over the past decade, making it the most commonly reported type of abuse in this age group.

"Back in 2004 Officers Benitez and Lawrence were on top of an emerging problem," Simitian said in a statement. "But most of my colleagues had never heard of 'robotripping' or 'skittling,' and figured if they'd never heard of it, then it probably wasn't a problem."

Simitian also noted in his statement that the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the California Peace Officers Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the California State Board of Pharmacy all support the new bill.

SB 514 would make it an infraction to sell drugs with DXM to minors unless they have a prescription.

Man killed by train in Mountain View

A southbound Caltrain struck and killed a man Wednesday night (June 1) on the tracks south of the San Antonio station in Mountain View, according to a Caltrain spokeswoman.

The man was struck at about 6:50 p.m., spokeswoman Christine Dunn said. The incident remains under investigation, and two hours after the incident officials had not yet determined whether the man's action was intentional or accidental, she said.

The 400 passengers aboard train No. 382, which operates on Caltrain's Baby Bullet express service and makes select stops, were transferred to another train that would continue south to the San Jose Diridon station.

Dunn said a bus was provided for passengers on the following Baby Bullet train, No. 386, which was scheduled to reach the Sunnyvale station at 7:21 p.m.

This is the seventh fatality on the Caltrain tracks this year, of which three were determined to be suicides and three remain under investigation. Last year there were 11 fatalities.

— Bay City News

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