4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review

Worst tropical depression: Ernesto hits Virginia September 1, killing at least six people and causing $33 million damage in the state. 

Worst sex scandal: Five former Whisper Ridge staffers are indicted August 21 on charges of sexually abusing their teen-age wards who were suffering from mental health issues or drug abuse problems, Rob Seal reports in the Daily Progress. Former Whisper Ridge director of operations Bianca Nicole Johnson is charged with taking custodial indecent liberties for allegedly making a graphic sexual proposal to a 15-year-old male resident. Johnson denies the charges.

Best upstanding-citizen-caught-with-child-porn plea: Former youth basketball ref Richard Bonnie Lakes, 61, pleads guilty to 12 counts and faces up to 60 years in prison when he's sentenced December 5, according to the DP. Police found about 1,500 porn images on his computer.

Worst crack-smoking, would-be-rapist: Joseph E. Osborne, 43, pleads guilty to three counts after forcing his way into an Ashcroft home April 7 and attempting to sexually assault a 13-year-old girl. Osborne is looking at life in prison when he's sentenced December 5. Liesel Nowak has the story in the Progress.

First UVA pedestrian casualty of the school year: Third-year Sasheer Moore is struck on Emmet Street August 28 by speeding soccer player Nicholas Colaluca, who was driving illegally northbound in southbound turn lanes, the Cav Daily reports. Moore required stitches and suffered bruises and scrapes; Colaluca is charged with reckless driving.

First major vandalism of the school year: Vandals spray-paint 11 cars parked on Jefferson Park Avenue early September 3, causing what police say is approximately $15,000 in damage, according to the CD.

Best branding/worst branding: Broke UVA grad Meghan Fitzpatrick, class of 2004, is selling her old designer duds on eBay as "UVA Grad's Goods" to pay her bills, Christina Tkacik reports in the Progress.

Latest in the "Painter of Light" saga: The FBI is investigating allegations that artist Thomas Kinkade and some of his top executives fraudulently induced investors to open galleries, according to a Washington Post article. Jeff Spinello and Karen Hazlewood, who opened a gallery on the Downtown Mall in 1999 and closed it 2003, were awarded $860,000 by an arbitration board February 23.

Least hospitable: Senator George Allen objects to the State Department's issuing a visa to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, who is scheduled to speak at an invitation-only event in the Rotunda Dome Room at UVA and at the Washington National Cathedral September 7, according to Bob Gibson in the Progress. And the Cav Daily reports Khatami will also speak at the UN September 6 and at Harvard September 10.  

Best get: Mega-selling authors Stephen King and John Grisham stump for Democratic Senate challenger Jim Webb with September 24 readings at the Paramount, Bob Gibson reports in the DP. Fundraiser tickets start at $100 and skip up to $500 and $2,100.

Most unusual Republican platform: Mary Maxwell, a Republican candidate for the 2nd District congressional seat in New Hampshire, tells the Nashua Telegraph editorial board that the U.S. government was complicit in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks so it could make Americans hate Arabs and allow the military to bomb Muslim nations like Iraq.

Thirty-fifth best college for African Americans: Black Enterprise ranks UVA in its top 50 schools.  

Latest publicity for a recent HotSeat: Scarpa owner Amy Gardner's abode is featured in a six-page spread in this month's Cottage Living.