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    Take a look at the top talent in the Class of 2019.

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    The cast and crew was arrested Jan. 18 as they attempted to bring a roller bag through security at Newark Liberty International Airport. Watch video

    fakebombFilmCrew.JPGThe Transportation Security Administration provided this photo showing the device that led to the arrest of the CNBC film crew. 

    Turns out a suitcase brought to security at  Newark Liberty International Airport by a reality TV crew wasn't intended to be a fake bomb.

    The cast and crew of  "Staten Island Hustle" that tried to get the suitcase through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint was arrested in January and accused of pulling a stunt.

    However, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino said Friday his office couldn't prove that the cast and crew intended to commit a criminal act and dismissed all charges.

    "This is not a case of gotcha where they're trying to sneak contraband past the TSA," Laurino said at a press conference. "They were hoping to show that the invention was TSA compliant so it could be marketed." 

    A spokesman for the show's production company said the company was "gratified" by the prosecutor's decision.

    "As we stated in January, the cast and crew of CNBC's 'Staten Island Hustle' were simply producing an episode about a new product that allows travelers more room for clothing, and there was no intention whatsoever to cause an incident at the airport," said Joe Schlosser, the company's senior vice president of communications.

    Laurino said the TSA and Port Authority Police Department, took the correct action based on what they knew at the time.

    "They were confronted with a bag that contained PVC piping, wiring and a motor and a passenger who said he was not taking the flight for which he had just checked a bag," Laurino said. "They were justifiably concerned particularly in light of this global threat environment."

    Laurino also said the TSA is considering whether to bring a federal civil action against the network, which would involve possible fines.

    The cast and crew was arrested Jan. 18 as they attempted to bring the roller bag through security. Unfortunately, the materials used to make the vacuum are similar to those used in an improvised explosive device, according to the TSA.

    The cast and crew were all charged with creating a false public alarm, interference with transportation and conspiracy. The crew was taken into custody and later released without posting bail.

    All nine pleaded not guilty Feb. 2 through their attorneys. The cast and crew: Ronald M. Montano, 44, of Staten Island, New York; Samuel Micah Berns, 39, of Hollywood, California; Jacob M. Towsley, 34, of Portageville, New York; Michael L. Palmer, 51, Staten Island, New York; William Oaks, 36, of Brooklyn, New York; Philip K. Nakagami, 26, of Jersey City; Carlos F. Gonzalez, 33, of Queens, New York; Timothy S. Duffy, 34, of Sparta, and Adolfo Lacola, 51, of Staten Island, New York.

    The bag and trip to the airport was all part of an episode of the reality show, which follows friends and businessmen in Staten Island who are looking for investments. The show debuted this spring and runs on Wednesday nights. The production company, Endemol Shine Group, also produces MasterChef and The Biggest Loser.

    Endemol, a Dutch production company that contracts with CNBC, called the incident a "misunderstanding" and apologized after the arrest. And Harold Ruvoldt, the attorney for seven of the men, said he was confident prosecutors would determine that no crime had been committed and no grand jury would indict on the evidence. 

    However, Port Authority Chairman Kevin J. O'Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton pointed to the large number of Port Authority police officers who had to be pulled away from security duties to deal with the device, and announced they expected an "aggressive prosecution" against the crew.

    Tom Carter, TSA's Federal Security Director for New Jersey, said at the time that what the crew did was akin to, "yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theater or using a toy gun to rob a bank and then claiming that it was just a toy.

    Staff writer Jeff Goldman contributed to this report.

    Allison Pries may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AllisonPries. Find on Facebook.


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    A conference-by-conference breakdown of the top teams and players in N.J. girls lacrosse this week.

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    The fight against pollution has been churning for decades, yet New Jersey's waterways are still trashed. Watch video

    It is Earth Day weekend 2018, and around the Garden State thousands of volunteers will wade into streams and rivers to pull hundreds of tires and tons of  bottles, bikes and all other types of trash out of rivers and waterways.

    Since the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, new laws fighting the most toxic and dangerous pollution of land, water and air have continued to improve the  environment. But while environmental health in New Jersey has improved drastically since 1970, problems persist.

    The most visible problem? Litter.

    To this day, trash continues to make its way from roadsides to riverbeds in massive quantities.

    The culprit? Humans.

    The good news is that efforts have sprung up all around the Garden State to fight the trashing of our waterways.

    Meet the crew who cleans up the Passaic River

    Along the 21-mile long Passaic River, the Passaic Valley Sewer Commission has used a trash skimming boat to pull garbage directly out of the water since 1999. Since the program began, the skimmer has pulled about 3,050 tons of plastic bottles, styrofoam containers, aluminum cans and other garbage out of the Passaic.

    In 2005, the PVSC began supplementing the skimmer operations with community cleanups of the river banks. PVSC spokesman Doug Scancarella. Scancarella said more than 270,000 volunteers to date have helped clean more than 9,000 tons of trash off the banks of the Passaic.

    The constant stream of litter flowing into the Passaic, combined with the trash brought in with the tides, is frustrating to the people who work to clean the river. But Scancarella said that doesn't diminish the work being done.

    "It's hard to quantify what [the river] would look like if we weren't doing it," Scancarella said.

    In Central Jersey, Bill Schultz, the Raritan Riverkeeper, says work to clean trash out of the Raritan has surged in recent years.

    "We're seeing a resurgence in interest in the Raritan River," Schultz said.

    Schultz said that dam removal and toxic site remediation has helped the Raritan regain its health, but garbage in the water and on the river banks remains a persistent problem.

    "Litter is a human behavior. That's one of the concerns that I still have," Schultz said. "I'm not sure that we're making the progress that we need to."

    Schultz points to the Central Jersey Stream Team, a small nonprofit, as a model of volunteer river cleanups.

    "This is the gang that is in the mud," Schultz said. "They are digging tires out of the riverbed. It's fantastic."

    Jens Riedel, the president of the nonprofit, said they've pulled more than 4,000 tires and tons of trash out of the Raritan River and its tributaries to date.

    The group has cleaned the entire main stem and south branch of the Raritan from Clinton to Piscataway at least once since the cleanups started.

    Riedel says most of the trash they find is plastic bottles and food containers, but bicycles and mattresses have been pulled up before. They've even helped dig three cars out of the river in Bridgewater, near Duke Island Park

    Gallery preview 

    Along the Shore since 1985, Clean Ocean Action organizes two major "beach sweeps" each year in April and October. The events typically take place at more than 60 locations simultaneously, drawing thousands of volunteers.

    "It's really exciting to me to see the thousands of people that turn out," said Cindy Zipf, the executive director of Clean Ocean Action. "I think it shows the Jersey pride that we have for the Jersey Shore, but more importantly that people are recognizing the impact."

    The state gets in on the cleanup action too. Since 2011, the state Department of Environmental Protection has organized "blitzes" of Barnegat Bay aimed at cleaning up litter throughout the important South Jersey watershed. Larry Hajna, a spokesman for NJDEP, said that about 27,000 volunteers have picked up about 4,200 cubic yards of trash since the program started.

    The clean up work across the state is important, but it only mitigates the larger pollution problem.

    "Clean ups are great, but we are advocating to stop plastic pollution at the source," said Sandra Meola, the policy and communications director for NY/NJ Baykeeper.

    For her group, Meola said, that means pushing for a statewide fee on plastic and paper bags, a statewide ban on styrofoam food containers in public schools and universities and a statewide ban on the intentional release of balloons.

    There's a common theme shared by waterway advocates across the Garden State: Cleaning up trash is important, but the positive effects are diminished by people continuing to dump garbage and litter across New Jersey.

    "As a society, we have to learn that our rivers are not acceptable garbage cans," Schultz said.

    Michael Sol Warren may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MSolDub. Find on Facebook.

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    In an emotional plea, a Burlington County resident who voted for Murphy confronted him about the lack of state aid for schools. Watch video

    When pressed for an answer, Amy Jablonski said Friday she'd know the exact date at which she could start questioning her vote for Gov. Phil Murphy.

    "On July 1, once the state has officially adopted its budget," said Jablonski, a school board member in Chesterfield and assistant principal in a Holmdel.

    That move -- signing off on the $37.4 billion budget that Murphy has proposed --would potentially set into motion the $1.5 billion in new taxes and underfunded state aid for schools districts, like the one where Jablonski lives. 

    Jablonski said she was speaking for herself when she peppered Murphy with questions about equal school funding during a town hall meeting in Newark on Thursday. At one point, she began to tear up. She said underfunding in the Chesterfield school district in Burlington County -- about 15 miles south of Trenton -- threatened the education of her daughter, Emma, who stood at her side.

    amy jablonski, murphy school quesion.jpgAmy Jablonski, a resident of Chesterfield, Burlington County, questioned Murphy at a town hall. (Facebook)

    "I want to believe you're going to do the right thing for my kids," Jablonski said at the town hall, fighting back tears. "I'm afraid that I can't believe in your agenda anymore."

    Murphy, who has been governor for just over three months, urged Jablonski to "hold on."

    "Help is on the way," he said.

    But Jablonski continued to have doubts Friday.

    "Often times the governor speaks in vagaries," Jablonski said. "We know those lines that get him a lot of applause are just lines."

    Murphy has proposed a $37.4 billion plan that includes more than $1.5 billion in new taxes and he's been taking his town hall events to communities all over the state. Earlier this month, in Willingboro, Burlington County, he was met with similar criticism from residents of school districts that are underfunded. 

    Jablonski said she knows Murphy has just entered office, but said he still had control of adjustment aid to districts around the state. She said Chesterfield -- a 21-square-mile town of just shy of about 7,700 residents -- is being funded at 20 percent of what it should receive in adjustment aid while some districts are being funded at up to 131 percent.

    When the current funding formula was passed in 2008, some districts would have lost money in the first year. So, lawmakers created a category of funding called adjustment aid, better known as "hold harmless" funding. Essentially, money was awarded to those districts solely so that they did not lose any state aid. Designed as a temporary measure, the aid has remained in the budget ever since.

    Jablonski is part of a group known as the Fair Funding Action Committee, that extends beyond just her community and into districts like Kingsway Regional in Gloucester County. The group advocates equitable funding across every district.

    "We accept that the formula isn't right...I just got here three months ago," Murphy said at the town hall. "I'm on your side. We're committed to figuring this out. You have my word."

    Jablonski said she wants to believe Murphy, but she's looking at the calendar.

    "I hope this governor does the right thing," she said Friday. "We are going to be relentless in getting this done for our children."

    Staff writer Adam Clark contributed to this report.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.

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    Who are the top seniors in the Garden State?

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    The U.S. senator is also slated to speak at several other commencement ceremonies this year.

    One of New Jersey's most influential political figures will take the stage at Temple University next month to address its newest class of graduates as they head out into the post-college world. 

    U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will address the class of 2018 at the May 10 commencement ceremony and receive an honorary degree, the Philadelphia-based university announced this week. 

    A Temple spokesman did not immediately respond to a question about whether Booker will be paid for his speech. 

    Booker, who in 2013 became the state's first Black senator, was previously a two-term mayor of Newark. He was born in Washington, D.C., and moved with his family to Harrington Park in Bergen County. 

    He earned undergraduate and master's degrees from Stanford University, attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and got a law degree from Yale University. His political career began when he served as a Newark city councilor for four years before he was elected mayor in 2006. 

    Booker is also scheduled to deliver the commencement speech at other colleges this spring, including Kean University and Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. He will speak to Princeton University students the day before commencement. 

    Last year, he addressed the University of Pennsylvania's class of 2017 at their graduation. 

    Booker previously spoke at Temple in 2014 at a memorial service for the late Trustee Lewis Katz, whose name is on the university's medical school. 

    Robert Bogle, the president and CEO of The Philadelphia Tribune, and Meryl Levitz, the president and CEO of the tourism company Visit Philadelphia, will also receive honorary degrees from Temple.

    Marisa Iati may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Iati or on Facebook here. Find on Facebook

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    Four New Jersey veteran political newcomers running for Congress

    It doesn't take a political historian or analyst to see the correlation between long-time partisan stalemates in Congress and the declining number of veterans in the Senate and House.

    From the 1960s to the 1990, veterans made up between 50 to 75 percent of Capitol Hill. That number is now 20 percent.

    Of course, there are other reasons for the political chasms. Count vitriolic posturing in the media as one, and the rising influence of lobbying dollars as another, just to start. Everybody digs in to their own trench.

    But the dearth of veterans is easily chartable. From a high of 75 percent in the 70s and 80s, it has been steadily declining. The percentage of Americans who serve in the military, too, is at an all-time low in our draft-less society.

    They call it "the service" for a reason.

    "Serve the country."

    "Serve the people."

    "Serve the party" just doesn't have the same to ring to it, does it? Sounds like something more out of the Kremlin than Washington.

    But maybe the cavalry is coming. Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are becoming more politically involved.

    An organization called With Honor ( is tracking and endorsing veterans that put "principles over politics." It says more than 150 veterans are running in the Congressional mid-term primaries. Four are from New Jersey and none has ever held office. Primary Day is June 5 and here is one vote in favor of them doing well.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns

    I'm not a political columnist - the world doesn't need another - and this isn't a political column. But it is a column about hope. Because as a veteran myself, I hope former military people can go to Washington and prove America can still work.

    "When you go on a mission, you don't ask, 'Who is a Democrat and who is a Republican?'" said Mikie Sherrill, an Annapolis graduate, former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor running for the 11th District seat as a Democrat. "We (veterans) have worked with people from different backgrounds and with different ideas and know how to get the mission done."

    Antony Ghee, a Republican, also running for the 11th District seat, is a major in the Army reserves. Though he and Sherrill are from opposing parties, he shares her view that "mission" is missing in Washington.

    mcgeeAntony Ghee, Army Reserve JAG officer, running for the Republican nomination in the 11th District. 
    "We are trained to support and defend the Constitution, and accomplish missions by solving problems, not creating them," he said. "I unapologetically want to get back to that basic premise and get away from the petty politics that are undermining our democracy."

    To that point, neither Ghee, nor Peter De Neufville, who is also running in the 11th District, or Josh Welle, a candidate in the 4th, trumpet which party they are affiliated with on the home pages of the websites.

    "I wouldn't say it was a conscious decision to not include that I'm a Democrat," said Welle, a former class president at the Naval Academy. "Today, political parties carry too many negative connotations. I'm a strong Democrat - government should be invested in people, in schools, in health care - but I see running as another call to service. The institutions, and the Constitution, we fought to defend are under attack."

    De Neufville, a Republican candidate and former Navy intelligence officer, said "national interest has to come before partisan politics. The traffic jams caused by both Democrats and Republicans at the policy level has led to federal government failing us in many regards."

    Ghee and Welle, though in opposing parties, were both brought to politics because of the economic plight of the middle class.

    "I see what the national debt is doing to the country," said Ghee, an African-American bank executive. "I saw how the recession was devastating to all people, but especially African-Americans.

    "We all want the same thing," he said. "Safe communities. Fair wages. Opportunities for success. Opportunities for the future. I want to see the Republican Party to go back to be the party of inclusion and tolerance. We were the party that freed the slaves! People forget that."

    Welle was at a high school reunion when he met a classmate who was a public school teacher, but also working a second job as a landscape architect but still couldn't make ends meet. That pushed him to run.

    "I thought, 'Things have to change.' There is a social contract between government and the people to ensure success and financial security," Welle said. "We should have a higher moral compass. We should be able to transform lives."                 

    DeNeufvillePeter De Neufville, a former Navy intelligence officer is also running for the Republican nomination in the 11th District. 

    "Will veterans bring more comity and less partisanship to Congress? One part of me says yes," Teigen said. "Members of the military have volunteered years of their life that prioritized teamwork first, nation first, and mission first. They are socialized to work as teams toward common goals.Jeremy Teigen, a professor of political science at Ramapo College, is the author of "Why Veterans Run," (Temple University Press) a history and analysis of military-in-politics, beginning with George Washington.

    "Yet, the incentives and realities of Washington, D.C., will confound these characteristics," he said. "Partisanship is valued on the Hill and party leadership expects freshmen to back parties' national agenda. So, maybe veterans will get to Washington better able to resist these impulses -- they are probably better equipped than others, but it will be despite the institutional norms and incentives offered by Congress."

    There is one thing veterans hopefully will be able to resist. Unnecessary military conflict.

    "We need combat vets in Congress because decisions about war and peace should rest in the hands of people who understand the implications," Welle said.

    In other words, anyone who has been in combat, or seen the residual effects of combat, won't send troops to war lightly.

    "The human and financial cost of our ongoing military activity, in light of the duplicity of some of these governments, calls into the question the scope of our engagement," said De Neufville.

    "For the most part, people making decisions about our wars don't have skin in the game," said Sherrill. "Their children don't serve; their friends' children don't serve. They don't have a sense of what combat means. We have to make sure we're not sending people off to be killed for improper missions."

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook. 

    DSC00059(1)Josh Welle, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, is running for Democratic nomination in the 4th Congressional District. 

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    Newark Mayor Ras Baraka debated Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, who is challenging him for the mayor's seat.

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    Police said they confiscated nine loaded weapons, five of which are assault weapons.

    A raid on a Newark apartment Saturday yielded an AK-47 and eight other loaded weapons, city police said. 

    Cops said they recovered a loaded CAI Romanian AK-47 7.62, a ranch rifle, an AR-15, a sporting rifle, a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun, a revolver, two additional handguns and a 50-round capacity gun magazine from an apartment on the 100 block of First Street.

    Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said Newark police have seized 60 more guns and had 35 fewer shooting victims so far this year than at this time last year. 

    "It is utterly pathetic how these guns make it to our inner cities," he said in a statement. 

    No arrests have been made in this incident, and an investigation is ongoing.

    Marisa Iati may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Iati or on Facebook here. Find on Facebook

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    This year's late blooming missed the the 42nd annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival.

    The cherry blossoms are finally out in Newark.

    This year's late blooming largely missed the the 42nd annual Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival in Newark, which rans from April 7 to 15 in Branch Brook Park.

    The historic, 360-acre park is home to 5,000 trees -- the largest collection of cherry blossoms in the United States -- bigger and far more diverse than the display in Washington, D.C.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.

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    Rescues and shelters throughout New Jersey have pets available for adoption.

    This information on dog safety was compiled by members of the Dog Bite Prevention Coalition -- the U.S. Postal Service, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Humane Society, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance.

    *  If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Parents should also remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

    *  People often assume that a dog with a wagging tail is a friendly dog, but this is far from the truth. Dogs wag their tails for numerous reasons, including when they're feeling aggressive. A tail that is held high and moves stiffly is a sign that the dog is feeling dominant, aggressive, or angry.

    *  Dogs, even ones you know have good days and bad days. You should never pet a dog without asking the owner first and especially if it is through a window or fence. For a dog, this makes them feel like you are intruding on their space and could result in the dog biting you.

    *  ALL DOGS are capable of biting. There's no one breed or type of dog that's more likely to bite than others. Biting has more to do with circumstances, behavior, and training.

    *  Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures. You can tell how a dog is feeling (sad, tired, happy, angry, scared) by looking at the position of a dogs' ears, mouth, eyes, and tail.

    *  Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That's why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack -- their human family members. Dogs that are tied up or chained outside are frustrated and can become aggressive because they are unhappy. They can also become very afraid because when they are tied or chained up, they can't escape from things that scare them.

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    The state rankings have a new look after this past week's action.

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    From shot put supremacy to stardom in the 3,000, these athletes are set for big showings at Franklin Field.

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    Where are the top games this week?

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    The university found "serious credibility concerns regarding both parties," according to the investigator's report.

    The accusations were damning.

    She said he gained her trust, then violated it by forcing her into a sexual relationship that left her emotionally unhinged. He vehemently denied every allegation and called himself the victim of her relentless stalking.

    She asked investigators to analyze a semen stain she said was his on a pair of pants. He declined to take a DNA test, saying it was an invasion of privacy.

    After nearly five months, the investigation into a Rutgers University graduate student's claims of sexual misconduct and harassment against her 75-year-old mentor at the Rutger-Newark Business School amounts to a 'he said, she said, situation. "Based on the parties' various statements and documentary evidence, neither party can be believed," according to the report obtained by NJ Advance Media.

    Even though, the university did not find evidence to substantiate the 29-year-old woman's claims of sexual assault, harassment or retaliation against Professor Nabil Adam, it harshly criticized his "extremely troubling' behavior. The investigator, Carolyn M. Dellatore the Office of Employment Equity associate director noted the professor did not fully cooperate with investigation and blasted his decision to not take a DNA test.

    In making the final determination, Lisa Grosskreutz, the office' director, determined there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations. "I am not able to find that Dr. Adam sexually assaulted (the student) and/or that there was a sexual relationship of any kind between the Parties," according to the April 17 letter.

    Adam, the former Vice Chancellor for Research and Collaborations and a computer and information systems professor at the Business School, remains on administrative leave, which began when the complaint was filed in November, said Peter Englot, the chief of staff and senior vice chancellor for Public Affairs at Rutgers-Newark. Both sides are permitted to file an appeal within 10 days of the report's release, on Tuesday, he said.

    "Dr. Adam remains on administrative leave and is strictly prohibited from entering campus, engaging with students and participating in any university activities," Englot's statement said. "The University investigation in this matter raised concerns that are serious and significant. Appropriate action will be taken at the conclusion of any appeal."

    The initial investigation began last summer when the student first made an informal complaint against Adam, but she recanted that complaint. In November, she filed a formal complaint, and turned over a pair of her pants stained with what she claimed to be the professor's semen.

    "While he professed that he cooperated fully during the investigations but 'drew the line" at such an invasion of privacy, the reality is that Dr. Adam misrepresented and withheld information throughout this entire process, and this final refusal to validate or discredit the one purported piece of material evidence is extremely troubling," according to the report.

    Adam also never reported to the university that the student had threatened to commit suicide on multiple occasions, or that she was stalking him. In her complaint, the student admitted she grew obsessed with Adam. The report contains a sample of the barrage of texts and email messages she sent him, with some demanding he leave his wife or she would hurt herself.

     "It is astounding that he would not report her behavior to university administration," the report said.

    Bruce Atkins, Adam's attorney, said the university's "exhaustive" examination  exonerated his client. Adam has denied there was anything other than a professional relationship, and told the investigator he felt "terrorized" by the student.

    "Dr. Adam cooperated in the investigation to the fullest extent that he could do so consistent with his continued desire that his personal privacy and professional sensibilities were at all times maintained," Atkins said in a statement. "He did so while being subjected to claims admittedly filled with falsehoods and this student's obsessive conduct, which the University investigators appropriately found victimized him in violation of University policies."

    Rutgers professor, 75, accused of sexually harassing 29-year-old student

    The student who made the accusations said she was "frustrated" by the outcome of the investigation.

    "This is overwhelming, after (waiting) four months," said the student, whom NJ Advance Media is not identifying at her request, and because she claims to be a victim of sexual abuse.

    By refusing to consent to the DNA test, Adam "obstructed" the investigation, she said. "I don't know what direct proof (the) university expects from me."

    Have you been sexually harassed?

    The student alleged Adam had sexually assaulted twice in January 2016 -- six months after he became her dissertation adviser. She said she told Adam to stop and he agreed. He suggested she find another advisor, but she remained with him, according to her account.

    The student said she eventually grew infatuated with Adam. She said she spent nearly every day working with him, including most weekends. She claimed they engaged in an 18-month relationship in which she became so dependent on him that she attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills when he refused to leave his wife in July 2017.

    At that time, she sent emails notifying school administrators of the alleged affair, but declined to cooperate in the investigation, out of fear of retaliation, she said. The matter was closed, and the university notified her in writing she had violated the harassment policy by making false allegations against Adam.

    "Given her previous statements that she lied about the purported relationship, I cannot discount (she) may have developed a one-sided infatuation with Dr. Adam that, in her mind alone, grew into a mutual romantic relationship," according to Dellatore's report.

    The student also changed the timeline of her account when presented with contradictory evidence. She denied being outside the professor's home -- until she was shown a photograph of herself at his front door, the report said.

    However, Dellatore also noted that Adam never refuted any of the student's allegations when she emailed or texted him, including accusations of rape.

    "I asked Dr. Adam why, if he never had sex with (her), he did not respond to any of her emails and deny her accusations. He stated that he believed that by 'arguing' with her, he would encourage more obsessive behavior, so he chose to ignore her messages,' according to the report.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    There's plenty of good softball games and events on this week's schedule.

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    After the main event, audience members who had brought instruments played John Williams' "Main Title" from "Star Wars" in the lobby.

    This weekend, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra billed their concerts as "McGegan Conducts Beethoven & Mendelssohn."

    True enough. 

    The accomplished baroque music specialist also conducted Handel, music from the 18th century that's more associated with McGegan. But the program also featured three much newer pieces, none of which the British maestro conducted, that were arguably more interesting than the ones he did.

    Friday night's concert at NJPAC began with four young cellists from NJSO's CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project) youth program. The four student musicians played long sustained notes that intertwined with each other for just over two minutes. It was a simple piece, and not always played with meticulousness, but it did hold one's ear.   

    When it was over, it was announced that the work was titled "Peace in the Cosmos," and was written by the four young musicians. Applause followed and then out came McGegan for Handel's Suite No. 2 from "Water Music."  

    The NJ band didn't start strong. The horn playing was a little wobbly and the phrasing not so crisp. Luckily, by the third movement Minuet, the pace became more stately and the playing more secure. The NJSO aren't specialists in this period, and even though McGegan ran a major Handel festival for two decades, the piece sounded merely pleasant rather than impassioned.

    What followed is more the N.J. band's specialty, thanks to their current music director's penchant for the core romantic repertory. They joined forces with soloist Robert Levin to perform Beethoven's first piano concerto.

    Levin may not be the greatest virtuoso soloist, but he's an excellent listener at the keyboard. In the early passages his playing seemed to become part of the larger orchestra in a fascinating way. Only in his solo passages did his firm, but elegant playing ring out. When it did, his sound was always articulate, if not exactly glistening.

    Levin also played his own cadenzas, which were informed and diverting. The Beethoven was good all around, but Levin's listening and improv skills were even more on display after intermission, when Levin took melodies and phrases from the audiences, one by C.P.E. Bach, which he then improvised into a nine minute piece. 

    Any feelings that this was a gimmick or parlor game were diminished as Levin's piece unfolded. He said that he wanted the piece to be in the style of the cadenzas he performed in the piano concerto, and indeed it was. Like before, his approach was understated but effective. The audience at Prudential Hall roared with approval when Levin was done.

    After that, McGegan returned to the podium to lead the band in Mendelssohn's youthful Symphony No. 5, written back in 1830 when the composer was only 20 (only a few years older than the CHAMPS players). It's a diverting piece, and McGegan elicited a buoyant, lithe performance from the orchestra, notable for some wonderful flute playing in the last movements.

    And yet, while this was the last piece on the official program; after the concert, in the lobby, the NJSO had an Accent Event titled #Orchestra U.

    Eighty-seven audience members brought instruments to the concert, and the NJSO set up stands and seats so that this pickup group would play John Williams' "Main Title" from "Star Wars."

    And so, after the long concert, many audience members lingered to hear NJSO Youth Orchestras Interim Artistic Director Jose Luis Dominguez take up the makeshift podium and lead the collected musicians (who had never rehearsed as a group) in the inimitable "Star Wars" theme. 

    Was it good?

    Hardly. Lots of errant notes, balances were all over the place -- it was a mess.

    But more the important question: Was it "Star Wars?"


    The power of Handel, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and yes, Williams, is such that with a full orchestra -- even an unrehearsed grab bag of an ensemble -- the power (if not the precision) of their genius can be felt, even if its not always heard.

    James C. Taylor can be reached Find on Facebook

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    Women's prison is roiled by sex abuse claims, but advocates say there are also daily indignities being suffered by inmates.

    New Jersey's only women's prison faces growing scrutiny over allegations of sexual abuse, but former inmates and their advocates say prisoners there face other daily indignities.

    A state lawmaker said Monday she was introducing legislation requiring more oversight to prevent physical and sexual abuse, free feminine hygiene products for female prisoners and stronger parental rights for inmates with children.

    "A prison sentence is punishment enough," said Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, D-Middlesex. "This experience must not be coupled with abuse and a lack of basic rights."

    Joined by former inmates and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker during a roundtable discussion at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Newark, Lopez said the bill was modeled on similar legislation introduced by Booker in the U.S. Senate.

    Text of the bill obtained by NJ Advance Media shows it would require major changes in how New Jersey's prisons and jails treat women as well as male inmates who are the primary caregivers of children.

    The measure, which has not yet been formally introduced, would create a new special ombudsman in the Department of Corrections to handle claims of physical and sexual abuse as well as mistreatment of female prisoners.

    N.J. failed to stop abuse behind bars, inmates say

    It requires jails and prisons to make accommodations for parents behind bars, including free phone calls and expanded visiting hours, and sets up a pilot program for "overnight visits" with children.

    It also mandates free feminine products of inmates and prohibits shackling and solitary confinement for pregnant prisoners. 

    New Jersey only has one women's prison: the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County. State and county officials are investigating allegations of sexual abuse of inmates that have led to charges for seven corrections officer and one civilian employee. 

    The controversy has stalled the nomination of state Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan, who was appointed by former Gov. Chris Christie but asked to stay on by Gov. Phil Murphy. 

    Spokespeople for Murphy and the Department of Corrections did not respond to questions about the proposal. 

    Booker, who co-sponsored the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, said the federal version was still awaiting a vote in the Senate. But he noted that lawmakers in 10 other states have enacted portions of the bill and called on New Jersey state lawmakers to do the same. 

    "When you punish women in such an inhumane manner, it doesn't stop there," Booker said. "It goes to entire families. It affects children, it affects communities."

    Booker told NJ Advance Media he had spoken to Murphy about the legislation and said the governor was "very open to supporting to these kinds of efforts."

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter. Find on Facebook.

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    Fewer New Jersey hospitlals earned an A for safety in the latest Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades report. Check out how your local hospital fared.

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