Charlottesville Breaking News

Broken trust: Sex allegations against therapist prompt investigation

Patients came to him in their darkest hours, going through divorce, struggling with substance abuse, perhaps grieving over the loss of a loved one. But while some call Albemarle County social worker Howard Vidaver a therapist of rare talent and insight, court documents suggest he has been betraying one of the bedrock rules of his profession by engaging in sexual contact with patients. If true, the allegations suggest that he violated therapist/patient trust– and that it happened after he had already been disciplined by the state licensing board for similar behavior.

In a divorce complaint filed last November in Albemarle County Circuit Court, Vidaver's wife, Laurie Vidaver, alleges her husband "engaged in acts of adultery and sodomy" with multiple female patients at various locations, including in his Charlottesville office, for more than 15 years.

"It's devastating," says Laurie Vidaver, reached by phone. "Several families have been torn apart by this."

According to experts, it's a serious problem. A 1991 study of 958 patients who had been sexually involved with a therapist found that about 90 percent of those patients were harmed by the experience– with about 11 percent requiring hospitalization, 14 percent attempting suicide, and one percent committing suicide.

Of those harmed, only 17 percent fully recovered, according to the study by Kenneth Pope and Valerie Vetter.

Currently, 23 states make sexua...

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Front yard slaying: Two felons arrested in dog-shooting case

Two and a half months after a 10-month old Siberian Husky named Mattie was shot and killed in an Earlysville-area front yard, police have made two arrests.

Twenty-six-year-old Justin Tyler Riggs of Charlottesville was arrested Tuesday, March 29, and charged with possession of a firearm as a violent felon, cruelty to animals, and illegal hunting for his role in the January 15 shooting. Twenty-one-year-old Brian Charles Tichner of Dyke, arrested March 30, has been charged only with possession of a firearm as a violent felon, suggesting investigators believe Riggs pulled the trigger.

In the days after the incident, Mattie's owners, Yvonne and Ed Scarborough, put up a $10,000 reward and expressed their horror that someone would have killed the friendly pup, who was contained by an electric fence in their Fray's Grant subdivision yard.

"He probably called her," Yvonne Scarborough theorized of the shooter in a pre-arrest interview. "He shot her right in the chest. He just shot her in cold blood."

When the family beckoned their dogs in that night, only Max, Mattie's littermate, responded. The Scarboroughs' teenaged son went out looking for Mattie and discovered her in the yard, lying dead in a pool of blood.

"She probably thought he wanted to pet her," said Scarborough, breaking into tears.

The human members of the Scarborough family weren't the only...

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nTelos Pavilion: Naming rights headed to telecom co.

The Charlottesville Pavilion is losing its old name. Henceforth the Downtown Mall landmark will be known by a more corporate (and curiously-capitalized) moniker: nTelos Wireless Pavilion. (It could be worse; the Nissan Pavilion in northern Virginia got a new name last year that sounds like something behind the counter at the local video store: Jiffy Lube Live.)

Although the site of the Charlottesville Pavilion is owned by the public, in 2004 the city leased the property to music/real estate mogul Coran Capshaw, via CEDA, the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority. And all along, Capshaw's company, Charlottesville Pavilion LLC, has held the naming rights.

"That's pretty standard in arenas and pavilions," says CEDA director Aubrey Watts. "That's part of the revenue stream for developers and promoters."

The name has to be approved by City Council and CEDA, and Watts sees no reason that won't happen– unless the sponsor happened to be Marlboro, Trojan, or another corporate brand that might be considered unseemly for children.

The city lent Capshaw $2.4 million to build the pavilion, contributed another $1 million, and demands that he operate the place for 20 years with at least 10 days a year for city-sponsored events, according to the lease [PDF below].

While Capshaw's...

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Equinoxer to activist: The making of a soldier in the war against the war on drugs

"Just say no." –First Lady Nancy Reagan

Jamie Graham did not say no. He said yes. In fact, he said yes many times. Yes to that bottle of champagne his friends were passing around in high school at a New Year's Eve party, yes to the guy who said "chug it." He said yes to trying marijuana on that very same night, though it never actually got him high the first few times. And, in the summer before college, Graham said yes to LSD. He'd been reading all about Ken Kesey and the Day-Glo acid trippers of the 1960s, and he'd gotten curious.

The only problem was, this Eagle Scout, debate team captain, and high school track star with a 4.5 GPA didn't know anyone who did acid. So he bounced the idea off of some of the students he tutored after school. Some of them had long hair, smoked, and looked like they knew how to get a hold of the stuff. Most of them laughed at their clean-cut 18-year-old math tutor when he asked about getting acid. But one did not. And within a few weeks, Graham had the first of what would be many experiences with LSD.

He said yes to the University of Virginia when he was offered an academic scholarship. And he said yes to Tau Kappa Epsilon when they asked him to pledge. He said yes to parties and long hair, yes to Grateful Dead concerts and Gulf War protests, and yes to the new world of freedom that is college life. And of course he said yes to his studies, maintaining a...

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Wet zero: Worrell's wastewater gadget cleans up in SF

Once again, Worrell Water Technologies, the company founded by ex-Daily Progress owner Tom Worrell to develop earth-inspired wastewater re-use technologies, has sold one of its state-of-the-art Living Machine systems to a major buyer. This time, it's the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which wants to display the system in its new 13-story headquarters. 

Back in December, the U.S. government purchased a Worrell system for a new border control facility in Otay Mesa, California; and another Living Machine is operating in the 10-story headquarters of the Port of Portland, the entity that runs Portland International Airport, where water from sinks, showers, and toilets is reused for use in toilets (and where about only 20 percent of the water typically used in a conventional office building is consumed).

“The new San Fransisco office building shows how we can begin to transition to decentralizing energy and water systems, even in a dense urban area,” says Will Kirksey, senior vice president at Worrell Water Technologies, in a release that notes that the company now has more than a dozen major systems in operation around the world.

But there are none in Al...

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