Teacher accused of filming sex abuse is held on bail

A former Newton elementary school teacher accused of sexually assaulting two children and filming the abuse has been ordered held on $100,000 bail.

David Ettlinger pleaded not guilty Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court two counts each of aggravated assault and battery on a child under 14, posing a child in a state of nudity and secretly photographing a nude or semi-nude person.

Prosecutors said Ettlinger undressed and fondled the victims, identified as two girls both under the age of 14, as they slept in 2009. Authorities say he video recorded both assaults.

Ettlinger has pleaded not guilty to Middlesex County charges that he assaulted a child he baby sat.

The former Underwood Elementary School teacher is not accused of assaulting any of his students.

Senate votes to make it easier to get tested for HIV

The state Senate has voted to relax regulations requiring patients to consent in writing before they can be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The bill designed to expand HIV screening was approved on a voice vote Thursday. It would replace a requirement for written permission with a requirement for verbal informed consent. That would bring the state closer to federal guidelines calling for routine, voluntary screening for HIV infection for all adults and teenagers.

Massachusetts and Nebraska are the only states that require written consent.

The legislation leaves intact a requirement that patients give written consent before doctors can share any HIV-related medical information. Many doctors oppose that restriction.

Doctors say prompt detection of HIV can slow the onset of full-blown AIDS and reduce the risk of infected people transmitting the virus.


Legislator: Law governing teacher layoffs is disruptive

Rhode Island state Rep. Jon Brien said Thursday that a law requiring school officials to issue layoff notices to teachers before they know how many may be terminated is causing great uncertainty in his community.

Brien, a Woonsocket Democrat, said his school district was forced to send layoff notices to all 600 teachers in the district, even though school officials don’t yet know how many teachers they may have to terminate. Many are expected to keep their jobs.

Brien said a law requiring districts to notify teachers of potential layoffs by March 1 is needlessly disruptive. He’s introduced legislation to move back the notification date to June 1 to give school officials more time to craft their budgets before warning teachers of looming layoffs.

House: No more suspensions for kids who skip school

Rhode Island lawmakers say it’s counterproductive for schools to suspend students for playing hooky.

The state’s House of Representatives voted this week to prohibit school officials from placing students on suspension solely for skipping class. Instead, administrators would have to find other means of disciplining truant students.

Supporters said suspending a student for skipping class only makes it harder for them to catch up on the class work they already missed.

Students could still be suspended for other school violations.


Officials hope to figure out how many lynx live in state

Officials are trying to determine how many endangered Canada lynx live in Vermont.

This week wildlife officials on snowmobiles are conducting the state’s first lynx survey. They hope the new snow will help them get an idea of lynx activity in the northeastern part of the state.

They are using a search system used in Maine, where the population is in the hundreds.

Chris Bernier of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says biologists hope to determine if the animals in Vermont are breeding.

WCAX-TV reports that the lynx numbers have always been small in Vermont. Since 1998, there have been eleven confirmed sightings of the cats, ten of them in northeastern part of the state.


Scrap metal company fined for accepting items with lead

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s office says a Salem scrap metal company has been fined $20,000 for accepting hazardous materials containing lead.

Assistant Attorney General Daniel Licata says Gateway Resource Recovery admitted in Rockingham Superior Court that it should not have taken the waste.

Licata says the company accepted 14 buckets of lead powder from a Massachusetts contractor. Each bucket contained up to eight gallons of the powder, residue from weapons fired at the Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

The Eagle Tribune says the Air Force launched an investigation after realizing some of the powder disappeared. New Hampshire authorities were contacted in summer 2009.

Licata says not enough evidence was found to charge the contractor.

Gateway spokeswoman Sarah Boggess says the company has accepted responsibility.

–From news service reports