Latest News

Morning Lookout: Lawsuit resurfaces decades-old sex abuse allegations, drought worsens and more

Good Morning! It’s Friday, May 7. Expect another day of intermittent clouds and a high of 69.

Earlier this week, our Nick Ibarra went to Solano County to collect the court filings in a recently filed lawsuit filed against SLVUSD administrator Ned Hearn. The documents reveal decades-old sexual abuse allegations against Hearn by a woman who is now 40.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz County got an upgrade yesterday, but not in a good way. New data reveals we’re in an “extreme drought,” and experts say it’s only a matter of time before it gets worse.

One last thing before we get to the news: If you want to stay abreast of all the big goings-on, as they’re happening, I suggest you sign up for our free Breaking News Text Alerts here or text the word BREAKING to (831) 387-7662.

Here are your headlines:

Decades-old sexual abuse allegations against SLVUSD administrator resurface in lawsuit

Litigation filed in September is seeking damages from an SLVUSD administrator.
Litigation filed in September is seeking damages from an SLVUSD administrator over allegations he sexually abused a high school student while he worked at another district in the 1990s.
(Nick Ibarra / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A woman’s claim of sexual abuse she suffered as a high school student more than two decades ago is continuing to haunt a San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District administrator. Texas resident Melissa Chowning alleges in a civil lawsuit filed in September that SLVUSD Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Ned Hearn sexually abused her on at least 15 occasions when she attended Dixon High School in Solano County. Hearn continues to deny allegations. Read more and view key court filings from our Nick Ibarra here.

CATCH UP ON PAST COVERAGE:

Two SLV High teachers on paid leave as district investigates misconduct allegations against four employees

‘This is a pattern’: At least five people now raising misconduct allegations against SLV High teacher

‘Inappropriate and shameful’: SLV superintendent apologizes, promises full probe of misconduct allegations

Former SLV High teacher headed to trial on child molestation charges

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

A new partnership between UC Santa Cruz and United Way will support community-engaged research and offer UCSC...

Santa Cruz drought intensifies from ‘severe’ to ‘extreme’

The Loch Lomond reservoir in 2019.
(Santa Cruz City Water Department)

The U.S. Drought Monitor, a joint effort from several U.S. government agencies along with the University of Nebraska, was updated Thursday to reveal that the drought has worsened in Santa Cruz County. The new data shows Santa Cruz has moved from a D2, or “severe” drought classification, to D3, “extreme drought.” The monitor uses a combination of metrics including soil moisture and precipitation. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

READ ALSO: Removal of 100-year-old dam in Santa Cruz Mountains a ‘win-win’ for coho salmon and Davenport residents (Cypress Hansen)

#BOLO: Rail Trail project in limbo after Thursday’s RTC meeting

The defunct Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line
The defunct Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line runs alongside a recently completed section of the trail portion of the Rail Trail corridor through Santa Cruz. Whether commuter trains will ever run next to the trail remains an open question.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In Lookout’s preview of yesterday’s Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Committee meeting, we signaled there could either be fireworks or crickets regarding the controversial Rail Trail proposal to build a commuter rail line next to a recreation path between Watsonville and Santa Cruz. In the end, no formal vote occurred, and there were still facts to be sorted through late Thursday. So Be On the Lookout today for our report on the future of the project, which one RTC board member described as now being in a “timeout.”

Statewide beat

Caitlyn Jenner's Twitter page had already begun soliciting donations for a political run.
(Screengrab via Twitter)

Q&A: Caitlyn Jenner talks running against Gov. Gavin Newsom, vaccinations and more: During her first big campaign week since announcing she would run to unseat Gov. Gavin Newsom in the coming recall election, Caitlyn Jenner talked about who she thinks is her natural political base and how she might fix some of California’s problems if she prevails. We have the LA Times interview of Caitlyn Jenner here.

Report shows breadth of anti-Asian racism with attacks from Alhambra to Michigan, in schools, restaurants: A report from Stop AAPI Hate released Thursday shows the breadth of anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Racist attacks, some verbal and some physical, were reported in places with both large and small Asian populations. The attacks took place in schools, restaurants, stores, subways, sidewalks, fitness classes and Zoom meetings. Read more from the LA Times here.

California condors party on, trash woman’s deck for days: Giant California condors are rare — but not at Cinda Mickols’ home. About 15 to 20 of the giant endangered birds have recently taken a liking to the house in the city of Tehachapi and made quite a mess. Mickols’ daughter, Seana Quintero of San Francisco, posted photos of the rowdy guests on Twitter.

Read the full Associated Press story here.

Sign up today! The Tannery Arts Center, in partnership with Arts Council Santa Cruz County and Intersection for the...

Around the county …

Santa Cruz Works Green Tech discusses sustainable energy, showcases technical advancements (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Local organization provides workshops to help small businesses thrive (KION-TV)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer. You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing through the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

To ensure you’re staying informed about all the goings-on in Santa Cruz, consider becoming a Lookout member. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor

Stay connected & support local journalism
We’re all about Santa Cruz County, from north to south and in-between. Members have unlimited access to our 24/7 local news coverage.