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Prosecuting child abusers In a recent article by Tresa Baldas ["When Children Take the Stand," NLJ, Sept. 1], the NLJ correctly observes that prosecutors have benefited from training in their efforts to interview child witnesses and understand the reliability of their testimony. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the types of training that are available through the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) and its affiliate organizations, the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI) and the National College of District Attorneys (NCDA). The NDAA is a membership organization representing the nation’s state and local prosecutors. APRI is the research, training and technical assistance affiliate of the NDAA. APRI has offered training for child-abuse prosecutors since 1985. NCDA also trains prosecutors in trial-advocacy skills. For APRI training, please call (703) 519-4253 or visit www.ndaa-apri.org. Steven D. Dillingham Alexandria, Va. The writer is chief administrator of the American Prosecutors Research Institute. Smutty librarians “No Smut at Work Please” [by Gary Young, NLJ, Sept. 15] predicted collisions between sexual harassment law and the First Amendment. It cited as examples a Minneapolis library that paid $400,000 to settle a harassment lawsuit based on patrons accessing Internet porn on its computers, and a hypothetical library about sexual problems sued by employees who work there. But most such collisions can be avoided simply by obeying Title VII’s statutory requirement that sexual harassment must occur “because of [the plaintiff's] sex” for it to be actionable. In the 1998 Oncale case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the conventional wisdom that “harassment between men and women is automatically discrimination because of sex merely because the words used have sexual content or connotations.” Although some courts continue to ignore the “because of sex” requirement, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals applied it to quash a harassment lawsuit in 2001, ruling that a sexual parody did not violate Title VII where it was motivated by the plaintiff’s union activities rather than her sex. Under that standard, a library collection focussing on sexual problems is not harassment, since it does not discriminate against employees of either gender. And the Minneapolis library wouldn’t have been liable for the porn on its computers, although it might have been liable for failing to prevent the stalking and intimidation directed at female librarians in that case by porn-obsessed patrons, since that deplorable behavior was presumably based on their status as women. Hans Bader Falls Church, Va. Stop bashing Republicans In response to “Republicans (gasp) at ATLA convention,” [by David Hechler, NLJ, Aug. 4], I am officially an independent. I left the GOP when Read My Lips became the Great Big Lie. Many a time has come and gone when I have been tempted to leave ATLA because of the shrill tenor of our organization’s attack on our president and various Republican themes. I, too, favor personal responsibility, for persons and corporations. I firmly believe it is in our nation’s best interest to preserve state’s rights and the right to a trial by jury. ATLA would be a stronger, more effective organization if it embraced and utilized its Republican and independent members instead of shouting down any non-Democrat who dares to voice an opinion not consistent with the Democratic Party line. Tony Brock Lincoln, Neb. Marquis v. Spence Gerry Spence takes a lot of ink to blast me for calling him to account for his inaccurate recollections of a murder trial he lost to me in 1985. He attempts to profit by once again assassinating the character of an innocent woman who had to watch her husband gunned down, only to be branded a killer by Spence on scanty evidence and no testimony. Spence likes to boast he’s undefeated in the courtroom-the claim is on his books, his Web site and is relentlessly pushed by his publicists, but he can’t have it both ways. Since two of his most vaunted victories were either reversed ( Penthouse) or partly reversed ( Silkwood) on appeal, he either lost those and beat me or he won those trials and lost in Newport, Ore., in 1985. But Spence is correct on two points: He went to great lengths to keep me out of the courtroom after losing the first trial. Yes, it does bother me to see a man murdered and no one held legally accountable. It was the body of Wilfred Gerttula that drove me to seek justice in that case, and crimes like that are the reason I remain a prosecutor these 18 years later. And the day I forget about the victims of these crimes is the day I quit practicing law. Joshua Marquis Astoria, Ore. The writer is the district attorney of Clatsop County, Ore.

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