A former Fresno teacher gets six months in jail for having an affair with a high school student, a federal trial puts the spotlight on Fresno police officers' use of force, eatery owners say the flagging economy forced them out of business, and ridership on the Valley's railroad line set a record in 2012.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: An ex-Hoover High School teacher was sentenced Wednesday to six months in Fresno County Jail for having a prolonged sexual relationship with an underage student. Megan Denman, 30, of Fresno also will serve three years on probation but will not have to register as a sex offender when she is released.
What it means: Judge Ralph Nunez said he hopes the jail sentence will send a message to other teachers who have sexual relationships with students. Prosecutor Lara Clinton said a male teacher in the same situation would face jail or years of prison time.
What readers said:
"I don't believe a bit of her apology. She was just sorry she was caught, that's what she should have said. Also, she was stupid and lacked judgment when she allowed this young man to use her car without insurance and license. As others have commented, she got away because she's a female."
-- Al Per
"It amazes me that a doctor -- not named -- and the judge were really the ones who set this teacher free from being named as a sex offender. As a female, I don't think she should be treated any different than a male teacher who was caught in the same kind of scandal. Not all women believe that just males can be predators. Remember that many women are now liberated to do whatever they want to do -- or so it seems."
-- Dawn Simpson Case
"The message from this DA is: Male pedophiles go to prison, but Female pedophiles get away with child molestation, probation or only 6 months jail time. All child molesters should be treated the same, why are women given a pass? They destroy a childs innocence and well-being as much as any man could."
Fresno cops on trial
What happened: A federal criminal trial will explore whether Fresno police officers used excessive force arresting a domestic-violence suspect seven years ago and then tried to cover it up. The officers are charged in U.S. District Court with civil-rights violations and obstruction of justice charges.
What it means: The case is another chapter in a long-running controversy over whether the Fresno Police Department uses excessive force when tangling with suspects.
What readers said:
"So a wife beater is upset that he got his rear end kicked? Had he not stalked his gf/ex, broke into her home, assaulted her, ran when the police showed up, disregarded their orders to stop, disregarded their orders to stop resisting ..... maybe this wouldn't have happened. Well, i don't have much sympathy for him."
"We all know the majority of the cops are hard working and courageous. But giving any organization "carte blanche" with no "checks and balances" is a bit dangerous to the "greater good" don't you think?..."
What happened: The end of 2012 was a bloodbath for the Fresno restaurant scene. In the past 21/2 weeks, five restaurants and bars closed. They followed a smattering of closures of restaurants and nightclubs over the last few months.
What it means: The lethargic economy has taken its toll, and many likely have been barely hanging on for months -- even years -- before finally deciding to call it quits. The closures highlight just how difficult it is to run a restaurant or other business that depends on discretionary income.
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.