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World Briefs I

Strawberry Processor Sued Over Illegally Imported Shipments

Los Angeles Times

The San Diego processor that sliced and froze the Mexican-grown strawberries implicated in the hepatitis A scare last week in Los Angeles-area schools was sued Monday by its new corporate owner.

In a suit filed in federal court in Oregon, Epitope Inc. is seeking $20 million in actual and punitive damages. It also wants to undo the $7.7 million stock swap in December by which it bought the processor, Andrew & Williamson Sales Co.

Epitope, a biotechnology company based in Beaverton, Ore., alleges that the former owners of the processor defrauded Epitope, violated federal and state securities laws and breached contracts by falsely certifying that strawberries sold to the federal government's school lunch program were U.S.-grown.

"Our first concern is to do everything we can to cooperate with the (U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration) and others in protecting the public's well-being," Epitope Chief Executive Adolph J. Ferro said in a statement.

The uproar over the possible exposure of more than 9,000 Los Angeles-area students and adults to hepatitis A - and Epitope's response in court - helps demonstrate why biotechnology investment requires patience and nerves of steel.

Founded in 1978 as a paternity testing company, Epitope has never turned a profit. And now it is scrambling to cope with the fallout from its seemingly innocuous purchase of Andrew & Williamson.

Woman Sues; Alleges Liddy Called Her a Madam for DNC Call Girls

The Baltimore Sun

Nearly 25 years after the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, G. Gordon Liddy still finds himself at the center of Watergate.

This time, he is being sued for $5 million by a Louisiana woman who says Liddy, now a talk show host, has been telling his listeners that she was a madam for DNC call girls.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., Ida Maxwell Wells says Liddy has damaged her reputation by giving air time to a Watergate "prostitution theory" cooked up by a felon who is a mental patient.

In addition to naming Wells on the air, Liddy also mentioned her in a speech a year ago at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and in an interview with Accuracy in Media, the suit says.

"Liddy's conduct is particularly outrageous because he is a first-hand participant in the break-in of the DNC," the suit says. "Liddy was in charge of the break-in. He of all people knew why the break-in was planned, how it was planned and that in the planning process in 1972 there was no mention of (Wells)."

PA spokesman for Liddy's show said Liddy would have no comment until he read a copy of the lawsuit.

Liddy, 66, went to prison for more than four years for his part in the Watergate burglary. He was released in September 1977.

Sergeant Admits Sex with Students At Military Training Base

The Baltimore Sun

Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson Monday became the first Aberdeen Proving Ground drill instructor to publicly admit having sex with female students, pleading guilty to 16 counts of violating Army rules that prohibit relationships between soldiers of different rank.

Simpson, 32, denied raping any of the women, but his testimony portrayed Aberdeen's Ordnance Center and School as more of a hormone-rich college dormitory than an elite Army training post.

In often-lurid detail, he recounted having sex with recruits on his office sofa, in his on-post quarters and at an Andrews Air Force Base hotel. He also admitted pursuing five other female soldiers by inviting them to Baltimore hotels, hugging them in his office, and asking them to report in workout clothes without wearing underwear.

Simpson, a 13-year Army veteran, could receive a maximum jail sentence of 32 years for the crimes he admitted to Monday - crimes that helped trigger a military-wide investigation of sexual misconduct. He will stand trial later this week on 78 remaining counts, including 21 rape charges that could put him behind bars for life.

On Tuesday morning, Johnston, Army prosecutors and Simpson's lawyers will begin selecting what will likely be a 10-member military jury for his court martial.