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Gospel Singer Arrested On Abuse Charges
BlackLegalIssues.com Mar-13-2009 777 0


A star of gospel music is accused of assaulting his ex-wife on Valentine's Day weekend.

Debra Winans said her former husband BeBe Winans pushed her to the ground in front of their children. The two were married for 16 years before divorcing in 2003.

The alleged assault happened when BeBe Winans showed up at his ex-wife's Nashville home and the two began arguing about custody issues. Debra and BeBe Winans have a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

According to an affidavit, what started out as a "verbal altercation" turned into assault when Debra Winans was "pushed to the ground."

Later, the Grammy-winning Gospel recording artist and judge of the Black Entertainment Television reality show Sunday Best was arrested.

"When you're married to someone known all over the world, it has serious challenges," said Debra Winans.

Debra Winans said people of faith are held to an even higher standard, and many Christians suffer through abuse rather than reaching out for help.

"Until you realize something's not changing, you pray all day long. The power of God is real, but one thing he's not going to do is go against someone's will. We make choices," said Debra Winans.

She said she is not afraid of her former husband and hopes by speaking out she will help others.

A spokesman for BeBe Winans said the singer is in Atlanta working as a judge on a BET program. As of Thursday evening, there was no statement from BeBe Winans regarding his ex-wife's allegations.

Debra Winans said she is working with other abuse victims in hopes of helping them find healthy solutions to their problem.

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Dylan Baddour Jun-02-2015 110 0
Just after 2 pm on Tuesday, as Houston recoiled from dramatic floods the night before, Richard Lee got an unexpected phone call.

It was a deacon at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church, where Lee attends, calling to tell the 65-year-old that his the casket of his late wife, buried in 2007, seemed to have unearthed and floated about 100 yards away. He told the deacon that was unlikely; his wife was buried in a concrete vault.

But after a long drive from work around flooded freeways, Lee, 65, arrived near the historic Riceville Cemetery on Keegans Bayou and instantly recognize the casket he'd bought.

"I didn't want to look inside because I'd never get that out of my mind," he said.

The burial of his wife Carolyn Lee, a school teacher and social worker who died of lung disease at age 57, had cost $11,000. He couldn't imagine how the casket had gotten out, and no one had an answer. The door of the burial vault was shut. And church officials told Lee he'd have to repay a reduced fee for the reburial.

Now Lee is suing the Robinson Funeral Home in Silsbee, Texas, which laid wife to rest, for negligence in the burial process.

"Clearly something went wrong here," said Annie McAdams, attorney for Lee. "Bodies are not supposed to come up."

An inspector hired by Lee concluded the vault lacked the proper holes which would let water pass in and out in a flood, and that it had been inadequately sealed.

The lawsuit also alleges mental anguish incurred to Lee, which Lee said includes having his wife's "charcoaled and sunken" face described to him when the casket surfaced.

The Robinson Funeral Home declined requests for comment.

Lee is also filing a temporary restraining order against the Mount Olive Baptist Church to prevent any interference with the gravesite so inspections can determine what went wrong. McAdams alleged that the vault must have been closed by church personnel, because only through an open door could the casket have escaped.

Lee won't have to front funds for a reburial; The Geo. H. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home and its suppliers have volunteered to donate a burial, casket and vault to Lee at no charge.

"We are honored to take part in returning Mrs. Lee to her final resting place," said Geo. H. Lewis CEO John Onstott in a statement.

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Rachelle Blidner Jun-02-2015 135 0
A California teen with special needs was fatally shot in front of his mother because he refused to take off his red shoes, his family said.

Tavin Price, 19, and his mom, Jennifer Rivers, were heading to the beach when they stopped at a South Los Angeles car wash Friday, KABC reported.

When Price went to buy cigarettes, a man demanded he take off his shoes because the color red was associated with a gang in the area.

Price told the man he was not in a gang and went back to the car where Rivers was vacuuming.

As the pair rushed to get back in the car, the gunman shot Price four times in the back and chest, KTLA reported. Price later died in surgery, Rivers said.

Rivers chased after the gunman, but he got away. Authorities are still searching for him.

"All I can see is my son’s eyes rolling to the back of his head, grabbing my arm right here saying, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to die. Mommy, please don’t let me die,’” Rivers told CBS Los Angeles.

A vigil was held for Price on Monday — what would have been his 20th birthday — at the car wash. People sang "Happy Birthday" and released balloons in his memory.

But Price looked much younger than his age at 4 feet, 11 inches tall and 99 pounds, his family said.

"(It's) senseless," his sister Nisha Canson told KABC, crying. "He looked like a kid. He looks like a 13-year-old kid. Why would you do that?"

LAPD detectives are reviewing surveillance footage from the car wash and have not released the tapes.

They confirmed that Price was not in a gang.

A woman who was with the gunman is charged with aiding and abetting, the Los Angeles Times reported. Her name was not released.

Price's family wants the gunman to turn himself in.

"I want him to live miserably for the rest of his life," cousin Ceritha Daily said with her arms around Canson. "Because we going to live miserably for the rest of our lives."

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Jun-02-2015 255 0
The handwritten letters have arrived with the same return address: Lawrence Phillips G-31982, Kern Valley State Prison, P.O. Box 5101, Delano, CA 93216.

Yes, that Lawrence Phillips.

The star running back on University of Nebraska’s national championship teams in 1994 and 1995. A first-round pick, sixth overall, in the 1996 NFL draft. A convicted felon — sentenced to 31 years for driving his car into three teenagers and assaulting an ex-girlfriend — under suspicion for the recent death of his cellmate in a maximum-security prison 140 miles north of Los Angeles.

Authorities have said little about the investigation since finding the body of Damien Soward, a former gang member serving 82 years to life for first-degree murder, unresponsive in his cell on April 11. That same day, a second inmate was named as a suspect in the death of his cellmate in the prison designed to hold fewer than 2,500 inmates but that currently houses more than 3,700 inmates, a prison spokesman said.

Phillips, 40, appealing his sentence, has made no public comment outside of the courtroom in more than a decade. But USA TODAY Sports obtained copies of letters he has written over the past 18 months that offer insight into his state of mind and situation.

He wrote several of the letters to Tony Zane, who coached Phillips at Baldwin Park High School in Southern California. Phillips transferred to the school before his junior year, and Zane recalled starting him at wide receiver, rather than running back, in the season opener. “Shows you what I know,” Zane said with a chuckle.

Zane moved Phillips to running back that next game, and Phillips helped transform Baldwin Park into a powerhouse as the coach and player developed a strong and lasting relationship. Zane said he has regularly sent Phillips care packages that have included everything from a TV to gym shorts to snacks.

Here are Phillips’ letters to Zane and other coaches. (They have been edited for length and clarity.)

JAN. 14, 2014

Dear Coach Zane, How are you doing? I’m doing well. As you might have noticed on the envelope, I have been moved from the cell I was in. I spent some days in the hole for refusing to room with a gang member. They have now took my privileges, which include yard (exercise), canteen, vendor packages, and all personal property for 180 days. I will of course appeal this decision as I was refusing to room with gang members after already having had incidents with gang members. At any rate, I just wanted to write to you and let you know in case that the package I requested was returned. I have not received any mail since moving, so I do not know if you sent the package. They are supposed to re-route mail, but they usually don’t check and make sure they guy in the cell is the correct guy to receive the mail. At any rate, I will appeal the situation and I should get relief due to my several incidents involving gang members. We are on lock down at this time due to a murder and the stabbing of five other dudes. I hope you and your family are well and had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Several letters have been written to Ty Pagone, a retired vice principal and former football coach at Baldwin Park High. Phillips was living at a boys home when he transferred to Baldwin Park and Pagone helped Phillips get on track academically so Phillips would be eligible to accept college scholarships. Phillips and Pagone, a close friend of Zane, also developed a close relationship.


MAY 29, 2014

Dear Coach Pagone, We are still today on lock down due to some stabbings and assaults between black and white inmates. It has been ongoing for sometime. I am glad to hear Marie’s wedding was great. Usually an open bar leads to a lot of dancing. I do not have a cell mate. All of these dudes want to use drugs and (illegible) weapons in the cell. I’m in the process of applying for single-cell status. I will let you know how that goes.

JUNE 15, 2014


Dear Coach Pagone, I received your letter and package a day apart. We do get the packages in lock down as the companies do not really want the items back. We have been in lock down about 80% of the time. You would be surprised at what these altercations are about! Nonsense! But when your world is this small all one has to care about is nonsense. That is why I do not want any of these idiots in the cell with me. All they they want to do is the drugs, make knives and make alcohol. Then they say when they get out they will not come back. I tell them of course you will. You are doing the same thing that got you locked up. Of course they do not want to hear that. It is like speaking to a brick wall. Now I understand how people must have felt talking to me. So needless to say I have zero friends inside here. Not one person is in line with my way of thinking. Well that’s all from here, Pagone. I will stay out of trouble. I might have to endure some write-ups for refusing a cell mate though. Better that than them getting me into serious trouble.

JULY 6, 2014

Dear Coach Zane, I hear you were in Hawaii. I am sure you had a good time. Remember when we went out there and kicked their butt in the all-star game and they tried to hold up our bus and all that crap? Good times. Well there is not much happening here. We are still on lock down because they found a hacksaw in someone’s cell. Apparently people use the saw to cut up the bunks and make knives. It is completely nuts in here. It is pretty much a free for all.

SEPT. 14, 2014


Dear Coach D, Huskers kicked butt out there. I only listened to the radio. The game was not televised here. (Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah) has a real chance at the Heisman and the Huskers could win the Big 10, although the Big 10 is a bit watered down with the injury to O-State Q.B. (Braxton Miller). NFL is going through some stuff. Unfair to blame the NFL for what guys do. … These misdeeds by the players (are) being used by the liberal parties and the media to further their particular interests. Next they will be forcing out owners like they did with the Los Angeles Clippers owner (Donald Sterling). Well, there is nothing new happening here. We are still locked down. One of the guards was assaulted so it may be awhile. Coach D, this place is a jungle. Trouble everywhere. One must swallow his pride constantly or one will always be in the hole. But we must deal with the situation we put ourselves in.


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Trymaine Lee Jun-01-2015 133 0
Police officers in Missouri were 75% more likely to stop black drivers though white drivers were more likely to be caught with illegal contraband, according to a report released on Monday by State Attorney General Chris Koster.

The racial disparity in who police officers targeted for vehicle stops in 2014 was the highest since 2000, according to the report.

The annual Missouri Vehicle Stops report comes amid widespread calls for police reform in the wake of last summer’s killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown Jr. by a former Ferguson police officer. Supporters of Brown and his family say Brown was unfairly targeted and that his killing was part of a broader system of racially biased policing that pervades not just the state of Missouri but communities across the country in which blacks are mistreated by law enforcement.

The state legislature passed a racial profiling bill in the summer of 2000 in response to allegations of racial profiling by police, including inappropriate use of race when making a decision to stop, search or arrest drivers.

According to this year’s report, black drivers were not only more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts but police were 73% more likely to search a black driver than they were a white driver. But white motorists were nearly 6% more likely to be found with illegal contraband.

Related: Cleveland to face stringent policing standards

“As it has in the past, the disparity index for African-American drivers continues to be of significant concern,” Koster wrote in his analysis of the report’s findings. “These findings continue a disturbing trend for African-American drivers in Missouri. The disparity index for African-American drivers has increased steadily over the last fifteen years, with only slight, temporary drops.”

Despite noting a continued and dramatic increase in the disparity between who the police choose to stop, who is searched and what group is more likely to have illegal contraband, Koster said there is no single explanation for the disparities and no evidence to prove that police officers are “making vehicle stops based on the perceived race or ethnicity of the driver.”

Meanwhile, the trend lines continue to widen in shocking fashion.

In the state’s first motor vehicle stops report in 2000 black drivers were just 31% more likely to be stopped by police compared to 75% more likely fourteen years later.

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Ben Kochman Jun-01-2015 124 0
The 4-year-old Yonkers girl who accidentally shot herself in the face has died, officials said Saturday.

Little Mikalyla Manners, who cops said shot herself Monday in her family’s apartment, died Friday at Jacobi Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Officers help several people leave the Walnut St. building Tuesday where the little girl accidentally shot herself the night before.
Louis Lanzano/for New York Daily News

Westchester authorities continue to investigate how a semiautomatic handgun wound up in Mikalyla’s hands in her Walnut St. apartment. No arrests have been made.

A crowd of relatives and friends set up a makeshift memorial Saturday outside the girl’s apartment, according to numerous reports.

Yonkers police are asking anyone with information about the tragedy to contact detectives at (914) 377-7724.

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TOBIAS SALINGER May-31-2015 177 0
The D.C. mansion murder suspect reportedly identified with forensic evidence on a pizza crust at the crime scene doesn’t even enjoy eating pizza, an attorney hired by the family of Daron Wint told the Daily News.

Robin Ficker, who said he completed a two-hour consultation with Wint, 34, on Saturday at the D.C. Central Detention Center, sliced into official accounts of the alleged quadruple homicide in an interview with the News.

“He doesn’t like pizza, he doesn’t order pizza,” Ficker said. “If you don’t like pizza and you’re holding people hostage in a house, aren’t you going to look in the refrigerator for something else?”

Police arrested Wint on May 21 in connection with the brutal murders of American Iron Works CEO Savvas Savopoulos, 46, his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47, the couple’s 10-year-old son, Philip Savopoulos, and the family's housekeeper, Vera Figueroa, 57.

The family members and their domestic helper allegedly spent a day trapped inside the Savopoulos' home in the tony Woodley Park neighborhood, and firefighters found their lifeless bodies on May 14 when witnesses reported a fire emanating from the $4.5 million house.

But Ficker, who has represented Wint in past cases on the ex-con’s long rap sheet of assault, domestic violence and theft, maintains he’s not capable of killing someone and called the reputed Domino’s pizza connection “hurried analysis.” The popular pies aren’t “a big thing” in Wint’s native Guyana, Ficker noted, saying he plans to speak with forensic experts on Wint’s alleged link to the food.

“When you eat a pizza, you’re not getting the inside of your mouth on the pizza,” he said. “You’re trying to convince us that a touch of someone’s lips on a pizza crust means that a murder was committed hours later by the pizza biter? This pizza stuff is a stretch.”

Police arrested four other unidentified people on the day they collared Wint but later released them. Law enforcement officials are working to locate additional suspects for the heinous murders they say couldn’t have been completed alone.

Relatives and friends of the Savopoulos family will hold a ceremony for three of the victims on Monday, ABC News reported.

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May-31-2015 191 0
Police have shot and killed 385 people in the U.S. in the first five months of 2015, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

The newspaper scoured public documents, local news reports and witness accounts to document acts of heroism, scenes marked by chaos, and — in less than 1% of the cases — criminal charges against the cops involved.

But the bottom line rate of around 2.6 deaths per day in the country dwarfs FBI records over the previous decade, which count roughly 400 fatalities per year and about 1.1 deaths daily. The finding illustrates the state of data surrounding the controversial shootings, experts told the Post.

“These shootings are grossly under­reported,” said former police chief and Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”

In just one of several cases that have already sparked controversy, Tulsa reserve sheriff's deputy Robert Bates says he accidentally shot Eric Harris while reaching for his taser during an undercover sting on April 2.

The numbers also demonstrate a few overarching trends in a time marked by a fraught debate over police interactions with marginalized communities. Over 80% of the shooting victims were armed while 16% either had no weapons or toy weapons. Almost a quarter of the people killed were identified as mentally ill, the Post report found.

And, although the number of white and minority suspects killed was roughly the same, 66% of those killed while unarmed were either African-American or Latino. African-Americans died at three times the rate of other groups when the newspaper adjusted its data according to the population of the areas surrounding the shootings.

A Daily News analysis released in December showed that 222 people died in New York City in officer-involved incidents in the previous 15 years. About 27% of the victims were unarmed, 86% of those identified by race were black or Hispanic and only one officer involved in any of the deaths was convicted of a crime, the report showed.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch's Justice Department agreed to a wide-ranging settlement with the Cleveland Police Department after the feds uncovered years of alleged civil rights violations at multiple chains of command late last year. Cleveland is one of many cities where killings of African-American suspects at police officers' hands have incited controversy in recent months.
The NYPD hasn’t turned over data about the number of people killed by the police to the FBI since 2006, The News found.

Fewer than 3% of the country’s 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies have taken the voluntary step of submitting data to the FBI about fatal police shootings since 2011, according to the Post.

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ap May-31-2015 161 0
While acknowledging he can't appeal an acquittal, an Ohio prosecutor says a judge made serious errors before finding a Cleveland police officer not guilty in the deaths of two unarmed suspects, and he wants an appeals court to order the judge to correct the record.

Cuyuhoga County Assistant Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in Friday court documents posted on The Plain Dealer website (http://bit.ly/1QgnV5G ) that Judge John O'Donnell's reasoning in the voluntary manslaughter trial of Officer Michael Brelo could set a legal precedent that would "endanger the public."

McGinty said Brelo's acquittal last Saturday in the 2012 deaths of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell in a storm of police bullets was based on the judge's mistaken analysis of laws concerning police use of deadly force and on homicide involving more than one shooter. He said the judge also considered the wrong lesser charge — felonious assault — when he should have considered attempted voluntary manslaughter or aggravated assault.

"As it stands, the trial court's verdict will endanger the public, allow for one of multiple actors to escape culpability, and lead to more unnecessary deaths by police-created crossfire situations," McGinty said in his filing with the appeals court.

"This court must return the case with the corrections of law to the trial court with instructions to deliberate and reach a verdict with the correct application of the law and correct determination of lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter — attempted voluntary manslaughter or aggravated assault," he said.

The judge wasn't available for comment earlier Friday on McGinty's request, the newspaper said.

Brelo's case is one of many nationwide that has sparked protest over deadly police confrontations. About 70 people were arrested following the verdict, although the protest was relatively quieter than others after grand juries decided against indicting white officers in the deaths of black unarmed suspects in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York.

In the Ohio case, Brelo and other officers fired 137 shots at a car with Russell and Williams inside it on Nov. 29, 2012. The shooting occurred at the end of a 22-mile chase involving more than 100 Cleveland police officers and 60 cruisers after Russell's car backfired while speeding past police headquarters. During the chase, an officer reported that he thought he'd seen Williams with a gun. At the end, police mistook police gunfire for shots from Russell's car.

Brelo fired 49 of those shots that night, but it was the final 15 fired into the windshield while he stood on the hood of Russell's car that led to his indictment and a four-week trial.

In his Friday filing, McGinty said that reasonable use of deadly force doesn't extend to Brelo's actions.

"The United States Constitution does not provide cover for those officers who abandon all cover and place themselves and other officers in danger, using deadly force not as a last resort but, like Brelo did, in a manner inconsistent with reason, inconsistent with training, and inconsistent with established federal law."

But "... the law as stated in the verdict places no restraint on the tactics civilian police officers are to use, finding the use of any tactics to be justifiable so long as the officer perceives a subjective fear of his or her life," McGinty said.

The prosecutor also said the judge mistakenly reasoned that the state must prove one person among the several who fired that day was the sole cause of the two deaths.

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Hugo Daniel May-31-2015 188 0
The California plastic surgeon who operated on Kanye West’s mother before her sudden November 2007 death blames the hip-hop star’s cousin for the demise of Donda West.

And Dr. Jan Adams now wants the 21-time Grammy winner to clear his muddied name.

“It baffles me when nobody wants to know the truth,” Adams said in an emotional tell-all interview. “I think (Kanye) should stand up and tell the truth, and the truth will set you free.

“I think the truth needs to be out there. If he had any b---s or if he was any kind of man he could (speak up). But the real answer is he probably won’t.”

Adams claims he was scapegoated after Donda’s death, and points to mistakes he claims made by West’s cousin Stephan Scoggins following Donda’s lengthy liposuction, tummy-tuck and breast-reduction surgery.

Ed Winter, Los Angeles County Coroner's Assistant Chief of Investigations, said his office received a terse letter from the state nursing board announcing its probe of Scroggins was dropped.

Scroggins then never followed through on promises to install patient monitors in Donda’s bedroom when she returned home after 5 1/2 hours of surgery, Adams charged. Pictured are Kanye West and Donda West holding his three awards backstage at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in 2006.

Scoggins then never followed through on promises to install patient monitors in Donda’s bedroom when she returned home after 5 1/2 hours of surgery, Adams charged. Pictured is Donda West's home where she died.

“Allegations not sustained,” the letter read. “Case closed.”

“Most people that I run into think she died on the table, they don’t even know this lady was home for a day,” said Adams. “The truth hasn't been revealed.”

He then never followed through on promises to install patient monitors in Donda’s bedroom when she returned home after 5 1/2 hours of surgery, Adams charged.

He also left her under the care of untrained friends one day after the surgery, heading out to a baby shower and ignoring phone calls for help about the ailing patient, according to Adams.

In addition, Donda West took as many as 20 pain-killing Vicodins in less than 24 hours — and wound up choking on her own vomit because she was allow to lie flat on her back in bed, the doctor said.

"She aspirated the food contents into her lungs and that’s that,” said Adams. “And four minutes later you’re dead. Jimi Hendrix, that's how he died. It ain't magical."

She was pronounced dead at Centinela Freeman hospital on Nov. 10, 2007, after a desperate 911 call from her home in Playa Del Ray, Calif.

The coroner’s report, while unable to determine the exact “manner of death,” found both vomiting and “medication use for pain” as contributing factors. Adams was not faulted by the coroner.

Department of Corner Investigator's narrative regarding the death of Donda West.

The report claims that there is no evidence of a surgical procedure problem leading to hemorrhage or infection post-operation or during the procedure.

The official conducting the autopsy report says in their opinion that Donda West died from pre-existing coronary artery disease and several post-operative factors after her surgery. The report also says that the manner of her death could not be determined.

A complaint form claims that Dr. Jan Adams intended for Donda West to be at a center where professional post-operative care could be provided, but instead was seen by a friend and a personal assistant.

The report continues to claim that arrangements to care for Donda West that were claimed to take place did not happen.

Donda West, 58, spent more than 20 years on the English Department faculty at Chicago State University before retiring to oversee her son’s career.

“It’s a complete tragedy,” said Adams, now 61.

“Don't get me wrong, it makes me sick. She was a nice person. I do feel sad about what happened.

“... It didn't need to happen, that’s why it’s sad. She should still be alive."

Scoggins, speaking at his north Hollywood apartment, denied Adams’ allegations about his role in Donda’s death.

“It is absolutely not the case, it’s not, so thanks for stopping by,” said Scoggins, who received his nursing license in 1990.

He brushed off a question about his absence for the baby shower: “That is actually an account that is so long ago and of course the details of that are not even all completely true, but certainly nothing I continue to discuss.”

Adams also came under fire from other doctors after the death, with some charging the operation was reckless because of Donda’s health issues.

She was 5-foot-2, weighed 188 pounds, and battled high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

A rival Beverly Hills plastic surgeon even said he refused to operate on her before she turned to Adams.

But Adams still insists Donda was perfectly healthy for surgery and died only because of her botched aftercare.

Adams recalled speaking twice with Donda on the day of her death — once in the morning, and again at 3:30 p.m., about five hours before her death.

He assumed that Scoggins was on the job, and heard nothing about her condition that caused any alarm.

“I can’t tell you what she said to me, that’s doctor-patient (privilege),” said Adams.

“I think it's fair to say as a patient she had normal post-op pain. It concerned her and for most people post-op, at least first day, that’s their overriding concern: They hurt.”

Adams said he intends to keep fighting to restore his unfairly tarnished reputation — and to keep the pressure on the platinum-selling West.

“What he needs to know is it’s never going to go away,” the doctor vowed.

“It's out there and it ain’t going to go away until we deal with it.

“I don't have to worry, I have truth and God on my side, on this one I'm absolutely correct.”

A rep for West did not return a request for comment.

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