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Lecturer no longer at Stanislaus State

A California State University, Stanislaus, sociology lecturer with ties to a suspected cult is no longer with the college. Campus officials said Barry Gerard-Prendergast, 58, is not a member of the faculty, but declined to comment further. Gerard-Prendergast worked through the spring semester on a one-year contract, which wasn't renewed. Last year, a student looked him up online and found that he once was a member of the Children of God. Now called The Family International, the group is a self-described Christian missionary organization. But people who have left the group say it's a cult and have alleged that members have taken part in prostitution, sexual acts between adults and children, and child pornography. Gerard-Prendergast acknowledged in an e-mail to The Bee last winter that he had been a member of the group, but said that he had not been affiliated with The Family for 15 years. He said his past involvement did not affect his ability to teach sociology. Stanislaus State officials said their employee screening process did not routinely include Internet checks. A Google search showed Gerard-Prendergast on the faculty of Teikyo Loretto Heights University in Denver this academic year. -- Michelle Hatfield

Modesto police chief available via blog

Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden will participate in an online exchange with the public Monday from 2 to 3 p.m. Readers are invited to converse with him via the "Talking to the Top" blog. There are two ways to pose a question:

Send it in advance to jsly@modbee.com. You do not have to provide your name. Your question will be posted to the blog.

Wait until Monday afternoon and sign on to http://thehive.modbee.com/talkingtothetop. Write your question as concisely as possible. The chief has agreed to answer as many questions as possible during that hour.

If you won't be able to be online during that time frame, you can check later to read the questions and responses.

Yesteryears

50 YEARS AGO: A new Modesto Irrigation District electrical substation serving the Waterford area was put into operation. The Reinway Avenue substation had a 5,000-kilowatt capacity and voltage ranging from 69,000 to 12,000. A transmission line was being built to tie the station to the direct line from Don Pedro Dam.

25 YEARS AGO: The Merced County Board of Supervisors approved the use of dogs by the Sheriff's Department. The program would start with two dogs: Rebel, a German shepherd owned by deputy Michael Akers, and Zephyr, a Doberman pinscher owned by deputy Richard Debusk. Akers and Debusk agreed to sell their dogs to the county for $1 each. -- Karen Aiello

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