Today’s news:

GAVEL TO GAVEL

Four decades

to repent

A Brooklyn spiritual leader accused of molesting a young girl was sentenced from 10 to 40 years in prison this week, officials said.

According to prosecutors and published reports, Pastor Dieuvais Surin, 72, who preached to the faithful at the Original Church of God and Prophecy in Northern Brooklyn, was convicted of 22 criminal sex abuse charges back in June for the repeated attacks on an 11-year-old girl back in 1998.

He was accused of picking up the girl from her middle school and molesting her in his van.

Cops also charged him with a number of repeated sex attacks which took place in the apartment as well as the basement of the church.

Surin was sentenced on September 28. Since each count ranged from one and 1/3 years to four years – some to run consecutively, some to run concurrently – he was ultimately sentenced from 10 and ? years to 40 years, officials said.

The religious leader’s attorneys have vowed to appeal the decision.

Some members of the congregation were at the sentencing, officials said.

Laying the blame

A Brooklyn judge was charged with determining if the city was in any way responsible for a woman’s death last week.

In recently filed motions, the city asked for a summary judgment to dismiss the case against them by the family of Fanisha Sotamba, who was killed during a car accident back in December, 2005.

The Sotamba family claim that Fanisha was walking across the corner of Broadway and Myrtle Avenue in Williamsburg when she tripped on a defective sewer grating and fell right into the path of a dump truck as it made a right turn from Myrtle Avenue onto Broadway.

The Sotamba family said that since the woman tripped over the sewer grating, the city is partially responsible for her death and should be held liable.

City attorneys objected, claiming that there is “no evidence of any defect in the crosswalk where the accident occurred,” as well as “no competent evidence of how the accident occurred sufficient to causally relate any purported defect to the accident which resulted in Ms. Sotamba’s death.”

Even her husband, who was with her when she died, could not recount exactly what happened.

He explained in court papers that he was walking behind his wife when he stopped to secure their then three-year-old child into a stroller.

While he was administering to his child, Sotamba fell under the truck.

When he looked up, he didn’t see her and first assumed that she had crossed the street.

The horrid truth became abundantly clear moments later, he said in court papers.

While there were no witnesses, Sotamba’s family hired the services of an “accident reconstructionist,” who showed how a defect in the street could have led to the woman’s death.

The reconstructionist said that if Sotamba had not tripped and was standing upright when she was hit by the dump truck, the rear wheels of the truck would have struck her hips, not her head, as the accident report indicates.

Yet Judge Robert Miller found the reconstructionist’s report speculative at best.

“None of the evidence submitted on this motion creates an issue of fact concerning whether Ms. Sotamba fell into the path of the truck as the result of a defect in the crosswalk,” he wrote.

“[The reconstructionist’s] opinion is not based on competent evidence but is grounded on speculation and therefore does not raise triable issues of fact.”

Miller wrote that the claim that a defect in the street could have led to Ms. Sotamba’s death “cannot be reached by this court in the absence of any competent proof of the cause of Ms. Sotamba’s fall.”

“Neither plaintiff’s counsel nor plaintiff’s expert nor any witnesses has firsthand knowledge of whether Ms. Sotamba fell and if so, the cause of her fall,” he wrote as he granted the city’s request for dismissal. “There is no means identifying any defect concerning which the question of prior notice can be analyzed.”

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