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State digest

The Baltimore Sun

College group plans new ranking system

A national group of liberal arts colleges announced plans yesterday to develop its own college ranking system as an alternative to the annual U.S. News & World Report listings.

Yesterday, the majority of 80 college presidents attending a meeting of the Annapolis Group, an organization of liberal arts colleges, expressed their intention not to participate in U.S. News' "peer assessment" surveys about their fellow colleges and universities, according to a news release.

"I have a sense that we've reached a tipping point on a number of things in this country where people are sick and tired of the commodification of higher education," said Christopher B. Nelson, president of St. John's College in Annapolis, last night.

Nelson, who founded the group in 1993 and stepped down as its chairman yesterday, said a majority of the presidents in the room agreed to create an alternative system.

"What the Annapolis Group did was resolve that we would make our best effort to put together a far better data template for sharing with families and students information" about colleges, Nelson said.

In addition to data about enrollment and alumni giving, the magazine surveys school administrators about the academic reputations of other colleges.

The editors of the magazine say the peer survey covers elements that are absent from the statistics but that students would want to know before spending tens of thousands on private-college tuition.

In May, presidents of a dozen colleges, including St. John's College, signed a letter stating they would no longer fill out those surveys. Afterward, leaders of about 20 more, including McDaniel College in Westminster, joined the boycott.

Liz F. Kay and Gadi Dechter


Man accused of illegal marriages

A federal grand jury in Baltimore charged a Frederick man yesterday with illegally marrying nine women for profit in a bid to secure their immigration status in the country.

James Adjei Kyem, 52, is a naturalized U.S. citizen, according to an eight-count superseding indictment. From 1996 through this year, Kyem claimed 23 addresses in Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, federal authorities said.

During this time, prosecutors said, Kyem married nine immigrant women for profit. He has been detained in federal custody since May 23 on a perjury charge. A court appearance has not been scheduled in the marriage fraud case.

The Maryland U.S. attorney's office said Kyem could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of four counts of mail fraud; five years in prison for marriage fraud; 10 years in prison for each of two counts of perjury; and 10 years in prison for passport fraud.

Matthew Dolan

Carroll County

Wal-Mart evacuated over odor

A Wal-Mart in Eldersburg was shut down for three hours yesterday as authorities sought to determine the cause of an unidentified odor in the store.

Reported about 3:30 p.m., the odor prompted the evacuation of several employees and customers and caused at least two employees to receive treatment for eye irritation, said Sgt. Bill Rehkopf, a spokesman for the Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department.

Several other employees complained of eye irritation but declined medical treatment, he said.

Richard Irwin

Frederick County

Suicide victim had scratches

The body of a Salvadoran immigrant who hanged himself after killing his four children bore numerous minor scratches, scrapes and bruises, according to a newspaper report.

Frederick police officials declined to speculate on the source of the wounds found on Pedro Rodriguez's body during an autopsy.

Detective Sgt. Bruce C. DeGrange said such wounds are typical of suicides.

Records obtained by the Frederick News-Post also showed that Angel Rodriguez, 3, died from a fracture on the lower right rear of his skull.

Angel's sisters, Elsa, 9, Vanessa, 4, and Carena, 16 months, died of asphyxia caused by suffocation or smothering, the autopsy records show.

The whereabouts of Rodriguez's wife, Deysi Benitez, the children's mother, remain a mystery nearly three months after the bodies were found March 26 in the family's Frederick townhouse.

All four children were found dead in their beds, fully clothed and covered by bedspreads. Rodriguez was hanging from a stairwell banister.

Associated Press


Missing children found in Va.

Two children who were reported missing from Montgomery County on Monday night were located unharmed in Virginia with their father early yesterday, authorities said.

County police said investigators made telephone contact Monday night with Navid Eghterafi Nanaf Abadi, 43, of Germantown, as he drove his children along Route 66 in Virginia.

Police said the man had told family members he was taking the children, Juliette, 10, and Anis, 8, to Ocean City and had threatened to harm them. He was upset because he had lost an attempt in court to gain greater visitation rights after he and his wife divorced, police said.

But yesterday morning, officers pulled over his car and found the children unharmed and no weapon inside. Police said the three were returning from Deep Creek Lake. No charges were filed.

Staff reports

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