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Ferris High School coach cleared

Fri., Nov. 21, 2008

The Ferris High School boys basketball coach accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl was cleared Thursday after the girl said she made the story up, her lawyers said.

Don Van Lierop will return to the classroom and basketball court today after two weeks on paid administrative leave, said Terren Roloff, spokeswoman for Spokane Public Schools.

A 16-year-old girl told police Nov. 5 that Van Lierop raped her at a private residence when she was a student at Ferris last school year. Her lawyers, Jeff and Scott Morris, determined the charge wasn’t true, according to a statement issued Thursday by the Morris brothers and Van Lierop’s lawyer, Kevin Curtis.

The girl’s family apologized to Van Lierop and his family in the statement and said the girl is seeking counseling.

Van Lierop, a social studies teacher, led the powerhouse Saxons varsity boys’ basketball team to state championships in 2007 and 2008.

The 2008-09 team began practice Monday with an interim coach.

Meghann M. Cuniff


Judge sets hearing on Duncan appeal

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has issued an order setting a hearing for Monday morning on killer Joseph Duncan’s appeal of his death sentence, to determine whether Duncan actually wants to appeal.

Although his standby attorneys filed a notice of appeal on Monday, federal prosecutors objected and said Duncan didn’t want to appeal, and only he can make that call. Duncan himself then sent a letter to the court saying an appeal was “contrary to my wishes.”

Lodge said he was scheduling the hearing “in order to preserve Mr. Duncan’s right to appeal, should he desire to exercise it.” The hearing will determine whether Duncan is knowingly and voluntarily choosing to act as his own lawyer, as he did during his federal capital sentencing trial; whether he gave permission for his lawyers to file an appeal; and whether he’s waiving his right to appeal.

Duncan has been sentenced to death for the murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene in 2005, which came as part of Duncan’s attack against the Groene family of Coeur d’Alene that left four people dead. Only then-8-year-old Shasta Groene survived.

Betsy Z. Russell


Help sought finding Subway robber

Spokane police are seeking the public’s help in finding an armed man who robbed a South Hill Subway on Wednesday.

The suspect is described as 5-feet-8-inches tall and about 175 pounds. He was wearing a red, long-sleeve hooded sweatshirt, a black bandanna across his face and dark sunglasses, said Spokane police Officer Dave Daddato. The suspect had a black handgun.

About 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, the suspect went into the sandwich store at 3012 E. 29th Ave., pointed the handgun at a worker and demanded cash, Daddato said. The man fled south on foot.

Anyone with information is asked to call (509) 242-8477.

Jody Lawrence-Turner

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