Newton gets his hearing
Zoning expert Mike Sherman assails his tormentor from 25 years ago
(Hearing more bad news for Sembler)
(c) 1/25/2005 by Wesley Fager
Father Doctor2Cassian enters the hearing with an unidentified supporter. [foto by Kim]
Dateline Madeira Beach, Fl., 1/24/05 Well, a public hearing did indeed take place Monday night in the city hall. About 50 people showed. At issue, would Father Doctor2 Cassian Newton (formerly known as Reverend Doctor2 Virgil Miller Newton) be granted permission to operate private chapels in two homes in the quiet beach community. Apparently a private chapel is not open to the public like a church would be. Father Cassian and his entourage of young followers showed up in a caravan of SUVs. Father Cassian emerged from one wearing priestly garbs, black trousers and shirt with a white priest's collar. As Father Cassian walked in the door a woman started asking him questions about his academic qualifications. And that spells bad news for Melvin Sembler because the woman asking the questions was none other than Lee Drury De Cesare, the gutsy reporter for the nation's only trilingual newspaper La Gaceta. It was Ms. De Cesare who publicly asked Brent Sembler's life-long friend Attorney General Charlie Crist whether he (Crist) is gay. (Charlie Crist is being groomed to be the next governor of Florida.)


The cat's out of the bag; La Gaceta end-runs the Times
for first time PumpGate mentioned in print
"If Lee Drury De Cesare had been my English teacher, my newspaper would be a Pulitzer Prize winner today."
Wesley Fager, ed.
Despite all the attempts of Paul Tash and Andy Barnes to squelch the real story on Melville's favorite son, it just made a major leap into local journalism anyway. We tried to warn Ambassador Sembler and his accomplices that it was bad news the day Lee Drury De Cesare showed up at Father Cassian's zoning hearing (her husband used to be the mayor of Madeira Beach for Pete's sake). If they didn't want to hear it, then why didn't they just leave well enough alone and keep themselves out of the limelight. In the Jan. 28 issue of La Gaceta, Ms. De Cesare wrote, "Web pages reveal that he [Father Cassian] worked with Mel Sembler in so-called drug-treatment enterprises that got shut down for client abuse but popped up under other names. [La Gaceta is a newspaper in print-only, but you can read Ms. De Cesare's blog Madeira Beach Mayberry Machiavellis which also covers the story. Also read her related blog on "would-be governor" Charlie Crist in The Sphinx Crist. Here's our own updated Crist report.]

Mike Sherman, a specialist in zoning issues who represented one of Father Cassian's neighbors, gave a technical presentation on why Newton should not be granted a special use permit. At the conclusion of his talk he surprised the audience and Special Master Judge Herbert Langford Jr. who presided over the proceedings by turning to the Special Master and disclosing that he had been a client of Mr. Newton's in the early 80s. Other Straight Survivors sat quietly by, showing their support by wearing green ribbons. [See St. Pete Times Coverage by by Sheila Mullane Estrada.]

Lee Drury De Cesare and Marti Heath confront Father Cassian. Straight survivor Marti Heath (standing left) and La Gaceta reporter Lee Drury De Cesare (standing right) confront Father Cassian, sitting, in black, beside his wife Ruth Ann. [foto by Marti]

At one point La Gaceta reporter Lee Drury De Cesare walked out of the hearing, grabbed Straight survivor Marti Heath by the arm, escorted her inside, walked right up to Father Cassian and asked, "Did you break her leg?" Father Cassian replied, "no," whereupon Ms. Heath asked "so, you don't remember coming across two rows of chairs at me?" "Did you," implored Ms. De Cesare. At this point the priest allegedly answered, "Not with her." "What about ordering my face put in a drain," retorted Ms. Heath. At that the priest's wife Ruth Ann Newton allegedly replied, "so , why don't you sue?" Judge Langford announced he will render his decision in ten days. There's a good chance that whatever the judge decides will be appealed to the 6th Circuit. See photos; Related story: sptimes