• Photo Gallery: BacaUnder renewed fire for freeing Paris Hilton, Sheriff Lee Baca faced racism charges Monday from the Rev. Al Sharpton, a lawsuit from a double-amputee incarcerated in the same jail as the celebrity heiress and a campaign to boot him from office.Baca has survived a barrage of controversy since taking office in 1998, ranging from releasing dangerous criminals early to kowtowing to celebrities — including last year’s handling of actor Mel Gibson’s drunken-driving arrest and anti-Semitic tirade.Hilton is now back in jail after a judge ordered her to complete what is expected to be a 23-day sentence. And political observers doubt whether she’ll be Baca’s downfall. But they say the whole affair is bound to further erode his credibility and teach the veteran lawman a Hollywood lesson.“He’s fallen into the swamp that seems to happen to all public people when dealing with celebrities,” said Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton.“It’s the blind spot in Los Angeles politics.”Baca’s decision last week to release Hilton from jail after serving only three days of her sentence drew immediate calls of injustice from around the country.Baca has denied any special favors for Hilton. Baca said her release was based on a medical reason, but he has refused to elaborate. Sharpton met with Baca on Monday to talk about what could be done to address the reality that many people in jail are not released early or provided the medical attention Hilton has received.“I feel that Miss Hilton … was afforded a kind of treatment that was not afforded to many people that are working class, of poor economic status of any community, and in the African-American community of any economic status,” Sharpton said.“The most disturbing thing to me was the perception that because of Miss Hilton’s economic standing and race that she was given treatment that others held in jail in this county were not given.”Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the meeting was productive.“He believes that everybody, bringing the best minds together, can come up with the best solutions,” Whitmore said.”And they will continue to have dialogue.”At a press conference earlier in the day, attorney Gloria Allred said she had filed a $1 million claim on behalf of Los Angeles resident Pamela Richardson, 51, alleging that while incarcerated at the Lynwood jail the African-American woman was treated far worse than Hilton. The suit alleges Richardson was treated poorly because of her race and her disability.On Feb. 28, Richardson, a U.S. Army veteran who suffered a double amputation of her legs, was arrested in a case of “mistaken identity” and jailed, the suit says. While her left leg was reattached, it never fully recovered and remains weak. She wears a prosthetic replacement on her right leg and a brace on her left leg.In jail, the devices were removed from her and she was handcuffed to a gurney. When she sat up, she suffered a hernia, Allred said.Although she filed several complaints, she received no treatment and was often left to “crawl like an animal” to use the toilet and shower, Allred said. She was also denied medication she needed as a result of having suffered from cancer.“I thought Paris got treated like a queen compared to how I was treated,” Richardson said. “It would have been a big thrill if they had just listened to me.”Andrew Ahlering, a former candidate for county supervisor has launched the www.recallbaca.com Web site and campaign to recall him. He said the campaign has gotten a lot of attention, including an interview on CNN.“We’ve already received offers of support,” said Ahlering, 27, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California and is a former county employee.Experts said the Richardson case may be the first of many to be filed against the county by inmates alleging poor medical care in the jails.Since the controversy erupted last week, the Board of Supervisors has been bombarded with hundreds of e-mails from irate people across the nation calling for Baca’s removal. The supervisors’ offices have also received numerous requests from inmates who “want to leave jail for the same reasons that Paris Hilton claimed,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for Supervisor Michael Antonovich.In an irony only Hollywood could create, the Hilton saga is inadvertently drawing attention to the need to improve inmate medical care, Sharpton said.“I think it’s ironic that it would take this for us to look at itBut, you know, I’m a preacher. People tell me God has a sense of humor. This is an example of that.”email@example.com(213) 974-8985160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
“Superbad” was super good at the box office, proving that a no-name cast could hold its own amid A-list summer blockbusters. The teen comedy from Sony, the misadventures of two high school buddies trying to score booze, took in $31.2 million to debut as the weekend’s No. 1 movie, according to studio estimates Sunday. “Superbad” knocked off the previous weekend’s top flick, New Line’s “Rush Hour 3,” which slipped to second place with $21.8 million, raising its total to $88.2 million. The Warner Bros. sci-fi tale “The Invasion,” starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig in an update of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” opened a weak No. 5 with $6 million. “Superbad” maintains the pattern of producer Judd Apatow’s earlier hits, “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which he directed. Apatow and his collaborators, including “Knocked Up” star and “Superbad” co-writer and co-star Seth Rogen, have a knack for packaging crude, R-rated humor with clever, authentic dialogue far smarter than what’s normally seen in summer comedies. Shot on a modest $20 million budget, “Superbad” had a slightly better debut than “Knocked Up,” which opened in June with $30.7 million and went on to become a $100 million hit. “I think a genuinely funny movie always has a shot at doing well, because so few movies are really funny,” Apatow told The Associated Press as he headed to the “Knocked Up” premiere Sunday at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland. “Superbad,” co-written by Rogen and his high school best friend Evan Goldberg, stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as pals on a quest for alcohol to impress the foxy host of a party. Rogen co-stars as an inept cop who ends up carousing with the teens, while Christopher Mintz-Plasse proves a scene-stealer as Hill and Cera’s super-geeky friend. Though centering on high schoolers, “Superbad” drew in older crowds, with 40 percent of the audience over 30, said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. “The Apatow comedy machine itself is a brand now, and it’s a brand that has created movies that appeal to older audiences who now follow whatever he does, even in the teen genre, which is very unusual,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. TOP 10 MOVIES Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released today. 1. “Superbad,” $31.2 million. 2. “Rush Hour 3,” $21.8 million. 3. “The Bourne Ultimatum,” $19 million. 4. “The Simpsons Movie,” $6.7 million. 5. “The Invasion,” $6 million. 6. “Stardust,” $5.2 million. 7. “Hairspray,” $4.3 million. 8. “Underdog,” $3.6 million. 9. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” $3.54 million. 10. “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” $3.5 million.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!