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bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

SIU head coach Barry Hinson tries to hear what his players are saying in the first half against Jackson State at SIU Arena on Wednesday in Carbondale.

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Murphysboro investigators seeking others possibly victimized in child porn case
Provided by the Murphysboro Police Department 


MURPHYSBORO — A man charged with making a pornographic video of a local underage girl was a quiet neighbor who had lived on a street in North Murphysboro for more than 20 years, two of his neighbors said on Wednesday.

Last Tuesday, 67-year-old Paul Joseph Blaney was charged with videotaping an underage child as she was dancing nude, putting sex objects in her mouth and touching her private parts as well as his own. He was arrested Dec. 5, after a nearly 14-month investigation, and is being held on a $1 million bond.

Investigators found the video evidence during a search of Blaney's apartment on Dec. 1, leading to the five counts of child pornography, each a Class X felony. Conviction on each count of a Class X felony carries a sentence of six to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections; a conviction on each count is to be served consecutively.

Blaney was divorced, lived alone and had two children, according to court documents. He is retired.  From May 7, 2007, to Sept. 22, he worked as a security guard at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro. SIH Communications Coordinator Rosslind Rice said that prior to Blaney's hire, his references were checked and came back positive, and a criminal background check was completed and also came back clean. 

His preliminary hearing has been set for Jan. 2, 2018.

"The offenses span several years, and it is the belief of the Murphysboro Police Department that there are victims beyond those which have been identified during this investigation," Murphysboro police said in a statement.

Wednesday morning, Blaney's neighbors said they didn't know much about him, only that he had lived in an apartment off North Seventh Street for more than 20 years.

One neighbor, who said she'd lived on that street for 27 years, said Blaney had lived there for 25 years. She said she would see him, occasionally, when he retrieved mail from his mailbox. She described him as quiet.

Blaney's arrest came a few days after the Nov. 28th arrest of Eric Emil Deutsch, who is charged with 25 counts of possession of child pornography. The complaint alleges that Deutsch possessed videos and images of underage children being sexually penetrated by adults and other children and engaged in other sexual acts.

Murphysboro Police Chief Chad Roberts is investigating the Blaney case and said he could not discuss the case in detail, including how Blaney allegedly knew the child or how he came into contact with her.



"These two arrests (Blaney and Deutsch) are unrelated in the sense that the cases were developed from separate information and we have not found a connection between the two men at this time," Roberts wrote in an email in response to questions about the cases.

"As far as further arrests, all I can say is that we place the utmost importance on investigating this type of crime, and we will follow all leads."

"The images recovered from Blaney are of local youth," Roberts said. "At this time we have not found images from the Deutsch case which we believe are of local youth."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Murphysboro Police Department at 618-684-2121.

Mayor Will Stephens said the arrests show the need for people to get to know their neighbors. He did not know Blaney, but said he knew of Deutsch from his work with a computer company that worked with the radio station at which Stephens works.

He noted that the men are innocent until they are proven guilty of the crimes.

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SIU board mulls restructuring plan, tuition hike

CARBONDALE — At a standing-room-only work session Wednesday, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s new chancellor presented his controversial academic reorganization plan to the SIU Board of Trustees, eliciting an apparent mix of skepticism and support.

In the Student Center’s jam-packed Mississippi Room, SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno argued that his plan to eliminate the university’s 42 departments will allow for more interdisciplinary work and elevate the status of the university.

Montemagno pointed to the precipitous decline in SIUC’s enrollment and said next year’s freshman enrollment is projected to sink below 1,000 students.

“Things aren’t getting better. And it’s quite scary,” he said. “You’ll hear a lot of discussion about how we need to discuss this more, how changes are happening too fast, how they’re ill-conceived. What I want to point you to is some work that’s been done in this university for a very, very long time.”

Citing university committee reports from 2012 and 2013 that also recommended reorganization to eliminate redundancies in programming, Montemagno disputed the notion that “this is some quick, harebrained scheme that’s being rammed down the throat when in fact it’s been studied for at least seven years.”

The chancellor sketched out the structure of the proposed reorganization, which would trim the university’s eight academic colleges down to five. Those colleges would contain 15 schools, which would house programs.

Proposed new programs include: cybersecurity, bioinformatics, natural language processing, ecology, neurosciences, biochemistry and molecular biology, forensics, chemical and biochemical engineering, material science, robotics and automation, gerontology and rural health, landscape architecture, and fisheries and wildlife management.

He highlighted his new criteria for the university’s core curriculum, which would include communication skills, cultural competency, multidisciplinary foundation, leadership skills and emotional intelligence.

Richard Sitler / Richard Sitler, The Southern 

Gregory Wendt, Video Producer & Instructional Technology Specialist at the Center For Teaching Excellence, speaks during the open portion of the SIU board of Trustees' work session on Wednesday in the SIU Student Center in Carbondale.

He said his staff is working to improve student life by bringing major concerts back to the university and expanding activities for students.

“The soul of the SIU experience was removed over the past five or six years. You talk to any alumni, they’ll tell you the place is not the same as it was before,” Montemagno said.

A key element of Montemagno’s plan is the elimination of department chairs, which he contends would save about $2.3 million in administrative costs.

Trustee Shirley Portwood was critical of the plan. She pushed back against the idea that senior faculty members with teaching duties would accept the responsibility of leading programs without being compensated as department chairs. Montemagno said faculty members would serve in those roles because “they’re part of the community.”

Confusion surrounds future of graduate assistants at SIUC

CARBONDALE — A key sticking point in Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s newly unveiled plans for the university lies in the handling of graduate assistantships — the roughly 1,200 appointments for individuals who serve in teaching or research roles while pursuing post-graduate degrees.

“I see a lot of theoretical language. I don’t see much evidence of how it’s going to work and be successful,” Portwood said.

When Student Trustee Sam Beard said that Faculty Association, the Graduate and Professional Student Council, the Undergraduate Student Council had all passed resolutions opposing the unilateral elimination of departments, Montemagno said the FA and GPSC were not unanimous in their disapproval. He said the restructuring would not impact students.

Board chair Randal Thomas said it would take some time to review the hefty documents pertaining to the plan.

“This is our really first read, and we have our homework to do,” Thomas said.

“I have a real concern about SIU moving forward with an organizational structure that is totally different from any university in the country. … There’s no evidence that it’s the structure of the university that’s the problem,” Portwood said, prompting applause from the audience.

Trustee Joel Sambursky said he respectfully disagreed.

“We don’t have evidence that suggests what we’re currently doing is working, and we studied these challenges for many years, and we as a board made a decision to enact change, to pursue change,” Sambursky said.

The chancellor hopes to implement the changes July 1, 2018.

Tuition hikes

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Judy Marshall, SIU’s executive director of finance, proposed a 2 percent tuition hike for undergraduate students for the next academic year and an 8.5 percent increase for graduate students and School of Law students.

Marshall presented several scenarios for tuition increases and said her office recommended the 2 percent hike for domestic undergraduates, about a $200 increase per academic year for a student who takes 30 credit hours. She said that percentage is just below the current inflation rate and would cover expected increases in operating costs “while maintaining affordability for a Carnegie-ranked research university.”

Marshall noted that holding tuition flat does not necessarily have a positive bump on enrollment.

“During the last eight academic years, we’ve actually had two years where we did not increase tuition at all. The impact on enrollment of no increase was not actually positive or predictable,” Marshall said.

She proposed an 8.5 percent increase for graduate students, both in-state and non-residents, and for in-state students attending the School of Law. The non-Illinois resident tuition rate for the School of Law will be 1.5 times the in-state rate. 

Marshall said she was not recommending any increase in undergraduates’ mandatory fees, except for the optional student health insurance, which is purchased through an outside vendor.

Committee meetings will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, followed by the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Provided by the Murphysboro Police Department 




Void left by Bixby center closure still felt in Saline County

HARRISBURG — More than 41,000 adults in Illinois are survivors of domestic violence, with 8,000 children witnessing the violence, according to Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

For survivors of domestic violence living in Saline County and surrounding counties, finding services became more difficult in March 2015 when the Anna Bixby Women’s Center. It closed when the Illinois Attorney General’s Office brought charges against its director Barbara Wingo and assistant director Terrie Wingo Eichorn in March 2015.

Anna Bixby Women’s Center offered 24-hour crisis hotline for those experiencing domestic abuse, an emergency shelter, counseling, women’s support groups, children’s service and legal advocacy in Saline, Gallatin, Pope, White and Hardin counties.

“It is a big loss to Saline County, Harrisburg and the surrounding counties. It is bad for Southern Illinois. A lot of people relied on that place,” Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek said. “They did a lot for abused people in Southern Illinois. It’s a shame we don’t have the resource anymore.”

To help, the Women’s Center, a Carbondale-based domestic violence center, opened a satellite office at 540 N. Commercial St. in Harrisburg in December 2015 to serve Gallatin, Johnson and Saline counties.

According to Andrea Stephens of the Women’s Center Domestic Violence Program, the Harrisburg office provides legal and medical advocacy, group and individual counseling for adults and children and rape crisis services. Women and children seeking emergency shelter can access the shelter in Carbondale.

“Our numbers are pretty high there. We provided 180 hours of service to 142 people for one month in Saline County,” Stephens said. “There is a big need, especially in Saline County.”

Stephens explained that Johnson and Gallatin counties do not have a high level of need because they have a smaller population.

The center also provides a parenting class for Illinois Department of Human Services clients and gives presentations to schools, hospitals and police. They hosted a presentation on human trafficking in April.

A legal advocate from the Women’s Center is available from 7:30 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday in Saline County courthouse, and travels as needed to courthouses in other counties.

“They are all free services, no matter who you are. We serve everyone who is a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault,” Stephens said.

While McPeek is thankful for the services provided by The Women’s Center, he also is sad that women seeking immediate shelter from domestic violence no longer have an option in Harrisburg. He added that the Bixby Center had purchased property to build a new building, but that is now tied up in court proceedings.

“People need shelter sometimes. I know it’s is needed. I know of a couple incidents in Harrisburg in the last month, and we had nowhere for a family to go,” McPeek said.

“The need for our services is always there,” Stephens said. “The Women’s Center and ICADV know that it is very important to keep the services active. It can be a life or death matter.”

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, contact The Women’s Center in Carbondale at 618-549-4807, in Marion at 618-993-3178, in Harrisburg at 618-294-8641 or in Franklin County at 618-438-4118. A 24-hour crisis hotline is available at 800-334-2094.