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Rotting homes in Southeastern Pa., Johnny Bobbitt saga’s latest twist | Morning Newsletter

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A home shows damage caused by water infiltrating the outer stucco layer and deteriorating the wood structure beneath<br/>
A home shows damage caused by water infiltrating the outer stucco layer and deteriorating the wood structure beneath<br/> 9/18/2018.Read moreJon Snyder / Staff

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Having a new home built is a dream come true for many families. Unfortunately, not all dreams end well. Families across our region are finding their homes are rotting from within. Former Philly students are coming forth to share their nightmare, raising new allegations of sexual misconduct against their former high school chess coach. And the Johnny Bobbitt story sounded like something out of a movie. According to prosecutors, the Good Samaritan tale was nothing more than a lie and what started a feel-good story is headed for a bad ending.

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— Ray Boyd (@RayBoydDigital,

» READ MORE: Water in Pennsylvania homes turn American dreams to rot

Hundreds of families bought newly built homes in our area during the early 2000s housing boom — only to watch their American dream turn into a nightmare. An Inquirer investigation found that their homes were rotting from within due to extensive water damage — a problem that is hidden from the naked eye.

Shoddy construction work turned valuable assets into liabilities. More than 650 homeowners across 55 zip codes were left with houses that required massive repairs.

In some cases, water was creeping into these homes from day one. Even though some builders knew of the extent of the issues, many homeowners say they were never notified of what was happening inside their walls.

» READ MORE: Masterman alums describe unsettling behavior by famed chess coach

Allegations have painted a picture of decades of sexual misconduct from nationally acclaimed chess coach Stephen Shutt. Former students from Philly's Julia R. Masterman School say Shutt touched them and walked around naked or partially naked in front of them in the late 1980s through the mid-2000s.

The claims add to the list of allegations against Shutt — a list that includes former chess players from Frederick Douglass Elementary School in North Philly. Shutt taught there for two decades before leaving for Masterman in the 1980s.

Schutt denied the accusations brought by the Douglass students and has since referred all questions to his lawyer.

» READ MORE: Philly officials brace for pro-Trump rally at Independence Mall

The Pro-Trump rally set for Philadelphia tomorrow has drawn national attention over claims that white supremacists or other hate-related groups might attend. Opponents of the event have called for the National Park Service to revoke its permit and have vowed to hold their own counter-rally.

Organizers have tried to calm worries, saying they plan to hold a peaceful "pro-Constitution rally." Still, Mayor Kenney says police will be on hand and that anyone who causes harm will be "arrested and charged."

Bobby Lawrence, who was scheduled to speak at the rally, said, "we don't want extremism on either side spewing hate and racism and bigotry."

What you need to know today

  1. The Johnny Bobbitt story seemed like something out of a movie. Now, prosecutors say it was all a lie. Bobbitt and the couple who claimed to be trying to help him have been arrested and charged with making up a feel-good story to make money.

  2. As snow fell Thursday, police officers removed people in addiction from a heroin encampment in Kensington. Clearing the camp only marks a short-term goal in the city's battle against the opioid epidemic. Officials say there is still a lot of work to be done.

  3. Democrats Gov. Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey both won reelection in Pennsylvania, a battleground state that was key to President Trump's win in 2016. Their victories have our Clout team wondering, could they be in the running for Vice President in 2020?

  4. Allentown's Cadets drum corps is firing back against its former director. The group has filed a lawsuit against George Hopkins over the fallout of his sexual misconduct scandal and recent charges.

  5. Applying to Philly schools can be challenging. Experts argue that it's time to make things simpler by adopting a single application for all schools — district, charter, or private.

  6. Statewide on Thursday, officials unveiled The Future Ready PA Index — a tool that allows you to measure the progress of public schools in your district.

  7. Also, be careful as you navigate the region today. Thursday's snow continues to impact roads and trains and some schools are opening late.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

I couldn't agree more, @thejonarons. I'm feeling pretty torn about this mid-November snow.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we'll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

That’s Interesting

  1. The season's first snow brought hundreds of accidents on Thursday and at least a few odd sights. Yes, that was a camel strolling on Route 309. And how could we not enjoy Gritty seeing snow for the first time?

  2. Due to an offseason bet between coaches, the Eagles will be wearing green when they play the Saints in New Orleans Sunday. But why can't they wear Kelly green? My colleague Katie McInerney breaks it down for you disgruntled Birds fans.

  3. "A" is for "America," B" for "Border," and "C" is for "Culture." The Cherry Street Pier is now the home of "An Immigrant Alphabet" — an art installation that sheds light on people from one of Philly's most diverse pockets.

  4. Lushlife might be your favorite Philly rapper. But he also wants to be your kid's favorite author. His new children's book is all about one of the alphabet's dirtiest tricks.

  5. Germyce M. Harris' job is to recruit underrepresented students to Temple's Katz School of Medicine. But an eye-opening experience while visiting her father in the hospital made that mission click on a personal level.

  6. Jimmy Butler makes his home debut for the Sixers tonight. Despite Wednesday's loss, Butler is very confident that the Sixers will figure things out fast.


"I violated Pennsylvania election law – a ridiculous standard that actually encouraged me to vote twice!
— As you evaluate my transgression, consider that voting for me is sacrosanct.
  1. Today marks one year since the School Reform Commission's vote to disband. Joyce Wilkerson, the president of the newly formed Philadelphia Board of Education breaks down why she's proud of what they've done so far for Philly schools.

  2. Columnist Mike Newall writes that it's inexcusable that several Philly pharmacies still don't carry Narcan, despite the city's call for it.

What we’re reading

  1. Twenty years have passed since Bill Clinton became the first president to be impeached in generations. The Atlantic offers a fascinating look at Clinton's impeachment, as told by those who played a role.

  2. The sight of big green trash cans in front of every house might make you picture the suburbs. But as Billy Penn reports, it could become a Philly staple very soon.

  3. Speaking of getting rid of stuff, digital natives grapple with whether or not to delete old tweets all the time. Wired answers that question and explains the pros and cons of ancient tweets.

  4. In the mood for a good mystery? The Cut shares the terrifying tale of a New Jersey family who finally bought their dream house. It quickly became a nightmare when an anonymous letter arrived from someone who was watching them closely.

  5. If you need a little fitness motivation this morning, Philly Mag profiles local trainer Leroy Mapp. He leads six fitness classes a day and credits his energy to food from Philly vegan favorite, HipCityVeg.

Your Daily Dose of | Culture

Did you think Gritty only got wild-eyed about hockey? It turns out he loves music too and will be spending the holidays with the Philadelphia Orchestra.