San Diego When University of California president and San Diego favorite son Richard C. Atkinson announced his planned retirement last week at the age of 73, saying he was returning to La Jolla, his hometown Union-Tribune provided a glowing history of his career, lavishing special attention on the role the paper said Atkinson had in promoting local commerce. But the U-T conspicuously omitted one of the biggest headlines from Atkinson's five-year tenure as UCSD chancellor during the '80s: an ex-Harvard professor's allegation that Atkinson got her pregnant and then pressured her into an abortion. The story began in September 1982 when education professor Lee H. Perry filed a $1 million lawsuit charging that -- after she became pregnant in 1977 during an affair that had begun in Paris in 1976 -- Atkinson promised to father another child within a year if she would follow his wishes and abort her pregnancy. As the tempest grew, Atkinson and his wife Rita held a press conference in which Atkinson acknowledged knowing the 36-year-old Perry but denied having an affair with her. He claimed he had been "grievously wronged" and implied Perry was a gold digger. "The allegations are false and are so far-fetched that it is hard to believe they can be the basis of a lawsuit," Atkinson said. But Perry's attorney, Marvin Mitchelson, famous for his pioneering paternity case against actor Lee Marvin, said financial remuneration was not this client's main objective. "The money is not near as important to her as the child. She'd gladly trade one for the other," Mitchelson said. "This baby was very important to her, considering her age and time of life. She'd bargain for that. She'd drop her suit if he'd artificially inseminate her." The lawyer also claimed he had documentation proving that Atkinson had accompanied Perry to a Boston abortion clinic. Perry later showed up in front of her Harvard psychology class vowing to soldier on despite the publicity. "I'm not going to change my name and go to Hawaii. I look forward to teaching this course." The case was finally settled in 1986, when Atkinson, still denying the charges, agreed to pay Perry $225,000. But it continued to haunt Atkinson nine years later when abortion opponents questioned his fitness to become president of the university system. "I have never in my life at any time advised anyone to seek an abortion," declared Atkinson, the choice of then-governor Pete Wilson. "That is really all I have to say about the matter."
SONGS-1 of the South The power plant at San Onofre has one less contaminated nuclear reactor to worry about, but the folks in Charleston, South Carolina, aren't exactly celebrating. Last month San Onofre operator Southern California Edison removed the decommissioned reactor, known as SONGS-1, and put it on a barge destined for the East Coast. It turns out that California's radioactive loss is South Carolina's dubious gain, and some of the local citizenry are upset by the prospect of the 700-ton reactor package being shipped through the port of Charleston and dumped forever into a "low level" nuclear waste site in Barnwell. "These reactors are very hot components. Ultimately, they are a big waste problem. This is a trend, and it's really going to be a curse to South Carolina," Glenn Carroll of Georgians Against Nuclear Energy told the Charleston Post and Courier last week. Not to worry, So Cal Edison's Ray Golden told the paper. "The reactor does contain radioactive material. I don't want to dismiss that." But for anybody who happened to be near the used reactor, "The dose would be very low."
A block off the old chip When Las Vegas securities lawyer Max Tanner was sentenced last week to eight years in federal prison for masterminding a multimillion-dollar scheme of tax evasion and stock fraud, his son was present to provide moral support. "I wish I had not made the poor decisions I made," Tanner the elder told the court, according to an account in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. An excommunicated Mormon, Tanner operated telephone boiler rooms to sell stock in Maid Aide, a phony outfit that bilked thousands out of their life savings. One retired IRS agent testified he'd lost $500,000. "I considered suicide, but that would only end my sorrow and misery and make more for my loved ones." Tanner's son Daniel, 21, listened quietly in the back of the courtroom. He's one of four young video entrepreneurs charged in San Diego with making the infamous Bumfight tapes ... Mark Salerno, that Carefree, Arizona, doctor who turned up in the trunk of his car in Balboa Park last May after faking his own kidnapping, then went home to face charges, has been arrested in Pennsylvania after staging yet another disappearance.