Asides: A former captive sympathizes with three in Cleveland

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regional story of the week did not happen in Western Pennsylvania but in not-so-distant Cleveland, Ohio, where three women -- Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32 -- were held in captivity for a decade until found in a house in a rundown neighborhood Monday night and freed. A suspect has been charged. This horrible story of youthful lives stolen is not without hope for the future -- and that comes from the experience of a local woman, Tanya Nicole Kach. She disappeared at age 14 on Feb. 10, 1996, and did not regain her freedom until March 21, 2006, saying she had been held by a former school security guard in his McKeesport house. Now 31, she told a Post-Gazette reporter last week that she is engaged and has a "pretty normal life" in Clairton, looking after two stepchildren. She wants the three women in Cleveland to know she is there for them if they need someone to talk to. Her tormentor is still in prison.

ANOTHER major story last week involved a woman, who, while not a monster, betrayed the public trust and deserved to be sent to prison. Instead, former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was sentenced to three years' house arrest and two years' probation and must pay $55,000 in fines and court costs for charges related to conducting political campaigns on state time. She also must serve three days a week in a soup kitchen and can leave the house to attend church. But Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus added a requirement that was creatively laughable: He ordered her photo taken in handcuffs so that she can write an apology on the back of copies sent to all the judges in Pennsylvania. This is still not the slammer and Orie Melvin got off easy by any reckoning -- any reckoning, that is, except that of her husband, Greg Melvin, who after the shockingly light sentence was imposed accused Judge Nauhaus and another jurist of being the most corrupt judges in Allegheny County. It's hard to know what's more shocking: the lenient sentence or the husband's bizarre criticism of the judge who had just given his wife a big break.

NOT ALL THE NEWS last week was bitter, some of it was also sweet -- and no story conveyed mixed emotions more than the announcement that Joe Greene at age 66 was finally retiring from the Pittsburgh Steelers after a 27-year career, 13 years as player and then as an assistant coach and a special assistant for college and pro personnel. While sadness attends the departure of this Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle, the mention of his name will always cause Pittsburghers of a certain age to recall his glory days in the Super Bowl dynasty of the 1970s. Mean Joe Greene leaves as Esteemed Joe Greene.



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