Here's what's trending for December 5.

The trial of a Northampton County man accused of four violent sexual assaults is underway.  During opening arguments Tuesday, defendant Seth Moll was accused by a county assistant district attorney of beating and raping his victims, than forcing them to stay in hotels against their will.  He also allegedly made at least one victim serve him as a prostitute and engage in sexual activity with other men.  Mull's attorney countered with a defense suggesting the victims were engaging in these activities under their own volition, even if the behavior sounds violent and bizarre.

A final vote tonight on a controversial project in Easton.  Easton's Planning Commission votes tonight on a final development plan for Lafayette College's McCartney Street residence Hall.  The project was first proposed two years ago, prompting a lawsuit from residents.  That lawsuit was tossed last week after residents and Lafayette reached a deal, which includes moving a home from Clinton Terrace to McCartney and Hart streets.  That home was going to be demolished.

Some neighbors of the Christ Church on Center Street in Bethlehem complained last year of noise problems and illegal activity at an emergency homeless shelter run out of the church.  Shelter manager Bob Rapp hopes to avoid similar problems this winter.  "We want to be diligent about what we do and policing our own activities and so we continue to make improvements to the shelter," Rapp says. He says the shelter has has brought on additional staff, hired a private security company and is now requiring shelter residents to get a background check from the Bethlehem Police Department before being allowed in the shelter.  The shelter opened this week for this winter.

Pennsylvania police departments are warning Christmas shoppers to watch for thieves.  Officers say that the Christmas season tends to give crooks more opportunities to steal.  Police say a thief can swoop in and steal something in a matter of seconds.

Two men are in custody accused of attacking a Pennsylvania Game Commission officer over the weekend in Schuylkill County.  Wade Winemiller and Thomas Kelly are accused of attacking and injuring the game commission officer during an altercation Saturday.  The officer sustained a broken nose.  Winemiller and Kelly were reportedly operating ATV's on land closed to vehicles when they met the officer.

Part of Pennsylvania's fireworks law is fizzling due to a court ruling limiting where people can buy more powerful fireworks.  The Commonwealth Court ruled that Roman candles, bottle rockets and other airborne fireworks cannot be sold at roadside tents and other temporary stands, adding lawmakers violated the state constitution because they did not impose safety standards for vendors who use those types of structures.  Two brick-and-mortar retailers filed a lawsuit over the matter, seeking to have the entire law thrown out.

If you think the City of Brotherly Love is a great place to be, you're not alone as GQ Magazine is naming Philly the USA's top city.  The magazine is calling Philadelphia the best city in the nation for a number of reasons, including its socially active politicians and athletes.  Of course, the Super Bowl champion Eagles helped elevate the city's profile, as has the restaurant boom currently underway.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi deserves a very strong response from the U.S.  "I am only solidified in that view after this briefing and it is my hope that the Senate will act," says New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who was in a classified briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel Tuesday.  He calls it an honest briefing and said he still believes that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was involved in Khashoggi's death.

A former campaign volunteer for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says the governor's administration did nothing to help her after she was sexually assaulted by a staffer, that is, until her allegations could have affected the governor directly.  Katie Brennan testified before a Legislative Select Oversight Committee for hours Tuesday, during which she described the response she received after being allegedly raped by Al Alvarez, who was chief of staff at the Schools  Development Authority at the time of the purported assault.  Among the difficulties she experienced while working in an organization where she'd occasionally cross paths with Alvarez, Brennan noted the then-Governor Elect's Transition Team, took no action against Alvarez despite knowledge of her allegations.  She further testified that no one in Murphy's administration did anything to address her assault and only after she told her story to the Wall Street Journal did Murphy publicly rebuke Alvarez.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says Katie Brennan is brave for the testimony she delivered concerning her sexual assault at the hands of one of his former staffers.  Brennan, a former campaign volunteer for Phil Murphy, testified before a Legislative Select Oversight Committee for hours Tuesday.  She described the response she received after being allegedly raped by Al Alvarez, who was chief of staff at the Schools Development Authority at the time of the alleged assault.  Murphy has since complimented Brennan for coming forward with her story and seeking justice.  The governor also says he has since called for investigations to determine how Alvarez was employed despite Brennan's accusations.

The brother of Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Derek Barnett is dead after being killed by a drunk driver Tuesday morning.  David Barnett died in a two-car accident in Nashville.  Derek Barnett, who is currently on injured reserve, was the Eagles' first-round pick in the 2017 draft.

Dan Holzman

Dan Holzman

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