Former Glenn County sheriff’s deputy gets plea bargain
Matt Bently, a former Glenn County sheriff’s deputy who last year was charged with seven counts of statutory rape, agreed to a plea bargain this week that will cut his possible prison time in more than half.

Under the deal, Bently pleaded no contest to a single count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He faces a maximum of three years in prison.

Bently, who is married, was charged last July after a 17-year-old girl who was on a high school ride-along with him alleged that she had intercourse and oral sex with him several times in April 2000. The girl, who is the daughter of another Glenn County law enforcement officer, reported that the sex took place in Bently’s patrol car and in a substation.

Bently will be sentenced at a hearing next month.

Tank explosion survivor files suit
A Durham man who survived an oil tank explosion that killed his co-worker this week filed what will likely be a million-dollar suit against Shell Oil and Jesse Lange Distributor, among others.

Randall Barclay, 48, was removing oil sludge from one of five leaky 50-foot-high gas storage tanks on the Midway Feb. 13, along with Jack Nickerson, Jr., when the tank exploded. The blast killed Nickerson, and Barclay suffered second- and third-degree burns over nearly 70 percent of his body. His attorney, Francis Clifford of San Francisco, said it isn’t likely that Barclay will be able to work again and that he’s only recently been released from the burn center at UC Davis in Sacramento.

“He’s lucky he didn’t die,” Clifford said. “Most people who go through what he’s been through don’t make it.”

The suit asks for general and punitive damages against Jesse Lange Distributor, Inc., which owns the explosion site; Shell Oil Co.; Paul Oil Co., where the oil waste was to be taken; and Northern Lights Mechanical, the company that employed Nickerson.

“[Barclay] was just a bit player in this thing,” Clifford said. “He was just doing his job … and to [the oil companies] it was a comedy of errors.”

Esteban sanctions another student group after alcohol-related death
Chico State University President Manuel Esteban gave the Construction Management Association a temporary boot off campus after a student was killed on a group-sponsored water-skiing trip April 29.

John Barbaro, a 19-year-old university freshman, was killed when he was run over by a train near Lake Shasta that weekend. His blood alcohol level was found to be .25 when he died, and investigators speculated that he probably passed out on the tracks.

Esteban said a Union Pacific Railroad investigation into the accident revealed that vast quantities of alcohol were available to everyone on the trip. He called Barbaro’s death a “horrible tragedy” that “cannot be tolerated by the university” and banned the CMA from using all campus facilities until a university investigation into alcohol use by the group is complete.

Esteban permanently banned the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity from campus in December, after freshman pledge Adrian Heideman died of acute alcohol poisoning at a party. He called alcohol abuse a "crisis" at Chico State and emphasized that it would not be tolerated.