Keeton says she tried to bargain

Student's motives were questioned, documents claim

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The Augusta State University counseling graduate student who is suing the school because of an alleged free-speech violation was willing to undergo, and even signed, a remediation plan designed to increase her understanding of the homosexual community before retracting her agreement days later out of concerns she would be forced to abandon her biblical convictions about homosexuality.

Jennifer Keeton (left) shakes hands with Pam Tebow at the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center banquet, Oct. 26, 2010.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Jennifer Keeton (left) shakes hands with Pam Tebow at the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center banquet, Oct. 26, 2010.

In court documents filed Tuesday as a response to the school's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, attorneys for 24-year-old Jennifer Keeton describe her professors as adamant that Keeton could not complete her degree program unless she fundamentally changed her beliefs.

Keeton's account of the events leading up to her lawsuit against the school paints a picture of a faculty whose "core concern" was that she believed her biblical views were universal and not just personal preferences, which they said was unethical.

Keeton, on the other hand, was willing to undergo a remediation plan designed to increase her contact with homosexual communities -- telling them she had "determined that she could both maintain her biblical beliefs and affirm the dignity of her clients."

The faculty, specifically Dr. Paulette Schenck, openly questioned Keeton's sincerity, writes her attorney, Jeffrey A. Shafer, of the Alliance Defense Fund.

"Dr. Schenck responded by questioning her motives, suggesting that Miss Keeton was agreeing to participate in the Remediation Plan in order to stay in the ASU counseling program, not because she was committed to reconsidering her views on (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) matters," court documents say.

The documents show that both sides were close to reaching an understanding that would have skirted legal action, but which fell through after neither was willing to compromise.

Schafer argues that school officials' "highly partisan retelling" of the events surrounding the lawsuit in their motion to dismiss the case omits critical facts that show Keeton's rights were violated.

To defend their claim, Keeton and her attorney spend several pages detailing the events from Keeton's point of view. In them, they describe the school as formulating a remediation plan "designed to counter, undermine, and change (Keeton's) convictions" by having her attend workshops, readings and a scheduled Augusta Gay Pride parade in order to become more knowledgeable about the homosexual community.

In a June meeting about the plan -- the group's third -- Schafer writes that Keeton again told her professors that she "would not impose her beliefs on clients, but noted that she could not affirm homosexual conduct." She was then told by defendant Dr. Mary Jane Anderson-Wiley that it was not possible for her to both complete her degree and maintain her biblical convictions on homosexuality.

"She additionally urged Miss Keeton to not even attempt the Remediation Plan if she was not willing to affirm clients' homosexuality, and urged her to consider completing her degree at another school whose program is more consistent with her beliefs," Shafer wrote.

In an e-mail sent to the defendants after the meeting, Keeton writes that she would help her clients work toward their own goals, but she was not willing to affirm behavior that she thought was immoral, listing abortion and homosexuality as examples.

"I can't alter my biblical beliefs, and I will not affirm the morality of those behaviors in a counseling situation," she wrote.

Later, Shafer argues that the school's actions chilled Keeton's speech during a summer session psychology class.

Shafer said the class was holding a discussion on human sexuality and gender that conflicted with Keeton's views, but that she chose not to speak up in class because of the "unfavorable attention and consequences" that happened earlier.

In their motion filed in September, school officials said their intention was to only ask Keeton to "make certain her own beliefs and values do not interfere with her ability to counsel clients who do not share those same values," according to the filing.

Attorneys for the defendants filed a notice of intent Wednesday to reply to Keeton's filing.

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cmcupp
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cmcupp 11/03/10 - 07:21 pm
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Ms. Keeton states very

Ms. Keeton states very clearly, according to this article, that she is not able to uphold the ACA Code of Ethics. I do not see where the lawsuit comes from. She obviously cannot put her own views aside long enough to do the job she apparently is getting a degree for. Why did she go to a state-run, government sponsored university if she obviously wanted a degree geared more towards helping those who uphold the same theological values as her? Also, from my friends pursuing a Psychology degree at ASU, she was apparently very vocal about her unwillingness to help individuals that offended her "moral" values. These are problems she should have addressed before pursuing the degree she did, where she did. I don't think we should be paying the tax dollars to try this case because of her ignorance and bigotry.

DanK
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DanK 11/03/10 - 07:29 pm
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ASU did not target her

ASU did not target her beliefs, SHE targeted her beliefs. The academic requirements of ASU's program have been in place for many years and apply to every student. Keeton wants her beliefs to take precedence over the academic requirements of the university and the code of ethics of counseling professionals.

Keeton is free to adhere to her faith and practice her beliefs. But she cannot force other people to agree, and she cannot force institutions of higher education or professional governing bodies to drop their standards just to accommodate her beliefs.

Backing down on an issue like this would set a terrible precedent for a university. Consider the next person coming through who is an atheist and demands that he will counsel Christians to abandon their faith, and then the Catholic who comes through and demands that she will counsel Jews to convert to Catholicism, and then the pagan who would counsel patients to worship trees and dance naked in the woods.

Professionals do not discriminate against patients, and universities that hope to maintain their academic accreditation will not grant degrees to people who do not meet the standards of professional practice.

This young woman needs to go to a Christian college of her particular flavor of Christianity to get her degree.

ron_rlw
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ron_rlw 11/03/10 - 07:32 pm
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Actually all Keeton is

Actually all Keeton is wanting for the Government code of ethics not to dictate what her religious belief are.

Have a good night.

alycias
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alycias 11/03/10 - 08:26 pm
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cmcupp: It seems to me YOU

cmcupp: It seems to me YOU are the ignorant one here. Maybe if you read your B-I-B-L-E like you should be doing, you would be enlightened and knowledgeable, as Ms. Keeton is.

alycias
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alycias 11/03/10 - 08:44 pm
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To DanK: Who says ASU would

To DanK: Who says ASU would be required (by Ms. Keeton, if she had her way) to "drop their standards" or in any way adjust their "standards" to accomodate Ms. Keeton's beliefs?? Ms. Keeton is simply wanting to be able to express her beliefs to a client. That client would most likely also be expressing their own beliefs to her. Why can't both client and counseler share beliefs if they so desire? One can be tolerant of others beliefs that are not in line with one's own, but still let the other person know where one stands ...and both parties be respectable to each other. No one should have to drop their standards for anyone else. People have differences...isn't that what makes us all individuals? Ms. Keeton is right where she belongs, at ASU---in the real world, the secular world. That world constitutes the majority! And if the code of ethics AND ASU really want the students to be prepared for the real world and be all they should/can be, they will see this and agree to what she is saying.

what is really going on
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what is really going on 11/03/10 - 09:07 pm
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I am pleased to see a student

I am pleased to see a student from the college of education stand up for their beliefs. As a potential professional counselor it it vital that the therapist be aware of their own values, Ms. Keeton is clearly aware of hers. I find it sad that the teaching staff at ASU use remediation, which jepordizes the students ability to complete the program. I find that ironic because as a therapist Ms. Keeton may at some point choose the population she wants to work with. Master therapist know that no one is bias free, it would be unethical for Ms. Keeton to work with a population that would not benifit from her services. It is more than possible to believe that Ms. Keeton's back was against the wall when facing remediation. How dare the staff question Ms. Keeton's "real" motives about agreeing to the remediation, it's really like a catch 22 for the student, she was damned if she did and damned if she didn't.
Counseling has strong emphasis on being authentic, it's truly sad that this student spent her time, money, energy, and efforts and she isnt allowed to be her authentic self.

themaninthemirror
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themaninthemirror 11/03/10 - 09:08 pm
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It seems to me that one of

It seems to me that one of the Christian standards promotes healing, both pyhsically and mentally. If Mrs. Keeton held herself out as a true Christian, she should welcome the opportunity to counsel those who practice an alternative lifestyle, and point them in the right direction.

alycias
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alycias 11/03/10 - 09:12 pm
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I do not believe Ms. Keeton

I do not believe Ms. Keeton is saying she would not be willing to councel those with different beliefs. She's not stupid. She knows lots of her clients will have different beliefs than her. I think she is just wanting tolerance and the ability/permission to state her own beliefs to her clients. If she was not willing to councel those with differing beliefs, she would have had the sence to go to a Christian college.

alycias
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alycias 11/03/10 - 09:19 pm
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You can let others know where

You can let others know where you stand and still help them through thier difficult time, whatever the problem is about, (when their beliefs may be different than your own). But both parties must be tolerant and respectful of each other. For example...lots of people have gay friends, but they are not gay themselves. But they still love their friends and care about them. there just has to be a mutual understanding and respect.

lildevil
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lildevil 11/03/10 - 09:26 pm
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I have had to bite my tounge

I have had to bite my tounge quite a few times when I hear or read anything about this and I have to agree with ASU on this one. Keeton wants to abide by her beliefs, all well and good, but who does she think she is. She sure is not God and last time I looked this still is America. To counsel anybody ON anything, young, old, gay, straight, black, white the list goes on and on.... You need to respect their ways, morals or beliefs, and if you can't do that you have made the wrong choice. I think if americans would stop shoving their own agendas and "beliefs" down everyones throats, we would all be better off. After all Judgement day will come to us all like it or not.
I'm just sayin..

rjv
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rjv 11/03/10 - 09:35 pm
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lildevil MAKES A LOT OF SENSE

lildevil MAKES A LOT OF SENSE ! MAYBE KEETON JUST NEEDS TO SETTLE FOR A JOB AT WALMART ! I DON'T THINK THIS "TROUBLEMAKER" WILL EVEN MAKE IT THERE , SINCE "THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT" POLICY IS ONE SHE CAN'T SEEM TO FOLLOW !!!!

bclicious
676
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bclicious 11/03/10 - 10:17 pm
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So really? There is really a

So really? There is really a code of ethics that says that everyone has to like everyone, and that psychologists are not allowed to refuse to treat a patient?

I am not saying that Keeton is right, but do you mean to tell me that regardless of the circumstances, I can walk into any psychologist's office in Augusta, and as long as I am a paying customer, they have to treat me. WOW!!!!!!

SouthernChic
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SouthernChic 11/04/10 - 12:42 am
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bclicious...I am an RN. By

bclicious...I am an RN. By law, any doctor or nurse may not discriminate against treating a patient. That is regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexuality.
There is a very simple solution to this whole mess. Keeton should transfer to a secular school which may help her get a better grip on counseling and remaining true to her faith.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 11/04/10 - 02:29 am
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So according to the school's

So according to the school's own words Keeton had to not only undergo remediation, but had to change her core beliefs in a manner that convinced the professors trying to brainwash her? Brilliant! So much for a "learning inviroment" at ASU.

kareyclark
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kareyclark 11/04/10 - 03:25 am
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What ASU claims Ms Keeton is

What ASU claims Ms Keeton is doing, they are doing it to her. I hope Ms Keeton the best and strength to overcome this double standard.

MajorPaul
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MajorPaul 11/04/10 - 05:51 am
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Miss Keaton is very willing

Miss Keaton is very willing to counsel those with different beliefs, she just does not plan on giving them the old party line.
If the school wants to be fair, they need to provide remediation for several other students also -- those who would counsel students to get abortions, and those who would counsel students that being a homosexual is not a sin. Perhaps they could go hang around with some fundamental church people to get the exposure they need.
If they are going to counsel that the choice to practice homosexuality is not a sin, and is a viable life choice; in order to stay within their own parameters they must also counsel alcoholics and drug users that their choices are also perfectly valid.
It is just as much a religious answer to say that homosexuality is not a sin as it is to say it is.
ASU's school of counseling has already shown they need to have their accreditation taken from them.

dougk
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dougk 11/04/10 - 06:17 am
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It is amazing how many
Unpublished

It is amazing how many posters on here have so very little clue about what a counseling involves and the professional standards required of a counselor. It's not an open exchange of personal beliefs over a cup of tea.

InChristLove
22468
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InChristLove 11/04/10 - 06:24 am
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"In an e-mail sent to the

"In an e-mail sent to the defendants after the meeting, Keeton writes that she would help her clients work toward their own goals, but she was not willing to affirm behavior that she thought was immoral, listing abortion and homosexuality as examples.

"I can't alter my biblical beliefs, and I will not affirm the morality of those behaviors in a counseling situation," she wrote."

This is the core of the problem. Ms. Keeton IS willing to counsel, she just isn't willing to tell you what you are doing is okay. If she feels your conduct and attitude is the problem then she's willing to help you meet your goals but she's not a "patsy". If you're being unfaithful to your spouse, if you are thinking of an abortion, if you are involved in a homosexual relationship......I think she is willing to help you work out your problems, she's just not willing to tell you what you're doing is okay. (That is ASU's issue with this).

dougk
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dougk 11/04/10 - 07:16 am
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Yes, I think that's pretty
Unpublished

Yes, I think that's pretty much it. It is not illegal to have an abortion, engage in homosexuality, or have an extramarital affair. And, each are not held to be universally "moral" behaviors or "immoral." I think that's the point Ms. Keeton misses and what the faculty at ASU were trying to reinforce through remediation.

justfred
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justfred 11/04/10 - 07:23 am
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Shoot her! We can't have

Shoot her! We can't have folks with religious beliefs at ASU. Nor can we have counselors who may practice differently than prescribed by the worldly professors at ASU. There is a simple solution. Rather than asking Ms Keeton to transfer to a religious school, why can't ASU add a question or 2 to their admissions packet? Do you have any religious beliefs? Do you believe in the Bible? If either of these questions are answered affirmatively, don't admit them.

dougk
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dougk 11/04/10 - 07:30 am
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God bless the faculty at ASU
Unpublished

God bless the faculty at ASU for protecting us (especially my grandkids in the school system) from Ms. Keeton and others who have such a self-centered and narrow-minded view of the world.

roebling
25
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roebling 11/04/10 - 07:40 am
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Keeton's rejection of her

Keeton's rejection of her school's politicized pretense of scholarship should have compelled her to leave, to find an objective, healing-oriented program of study. That a government school should promote government agendas is not less appropriate than that a privately funded school should work for the people who pay its bills.
Homosexuality is wrong on every intellectual level and no sentient, honest writers will pen otherwise. That all religions recognize that fact may be interesting but its not relevant because Augusta's not attached to a religion.
Her objections noted, Keeton should find a school that functions on an intellectual level and not simply on a political one. That she realizes the limitations of Augusta's degree program is a reason for her to leave, not a reason for taxpayers to pay her.
The government's program in Augusta prepares students for working in government, something an intellectually honest program couldn't do.

Not_Again
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Not_Again 11/04/10 - 08:19 am
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I am a school counselor and I

I am a school counselor and I have had my own private practice. In addition, I have met Ms. Keeton. Regardless of court filings, Ms. Keeton has said several times that if she were to counsel individuals who are homosexual, she would blatantly tell them that their behavior is morally wrong. Here is where the problem lies. As a counselor, one canNOT make moral judgement. A counselor must refer a client to a spritual advisor (pastor) to address matters of morality. This is fundamental to our profession. We are not to impose our moral beliefs on our clients. ASU is absolutely correct in taking issue with Ms. Keeton obtaining a degree in a field where she cannot uphold the tenets of the profession. I fail to see why this has become so controversial.

maddog
27
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maddog 11/04/10 - 08:30 am
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I find it hard to believe

I find it hard to believe that ASU is in Augusta Ga. That policy is something I would expect for a College in a third world country, not the USA.

cmcupp
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cmcupp 11/04/10 - 09:23 am
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This isn't an ASU policy, it

This isn't an ASU policy, it is the ACA Code of Ethics. Ms. Keeton provided enough evidence to prove that she could not uphold the ACA Code of Ethics, and ASU did not see her fit to be awarded this degree on that point alone. However, if she proved she could be openminded and able to help anyone, despite offending her own personal "beliefs", then she would be allowed to graduate. I still do not see where the arguments are coming from. Her ignorance and bigotry got her in this mess; I do not see how the same ignorance and bigotry is going to get her out. Like it has been stated in many threads, she should have sought a degree from a secular school--not a state-run, government sponsored institution (where they care if their professionals uphold ethics that provide equal rights and treatment to all). Again, she should have looked into all of this before starting the program at ASU.

inittowinit13
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inittowinit13 11/04/10 - 09:27 am
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why why why is this even in

why why why is this even in the news again. This article tells nothing (NOTHING) new. The only new thing I see here is a better picture (because the last one was getting sad and pathetic to look at).
There is better and more important new "news" to attend to...every angle has previously been argued under the comment section of other dumb Jennifer Keeton related articles.
Did the AC run out of things to talk about? Need to sell more papers? Do they really want to fuel a fire and create more anger toward people on opposing sides?
Bottom line, what each individual believes will supersede the "evidence" (he said/ she said) presented; stop feeding into the drama...move along there are murders, suicide, poor homeless people, child abuse and neglect....save you're passion (time, energy and brain cells) for causes that deserve attention

JustSpeakingMyMind
193
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JustSpeakingMyMind 11/04/10 - 11:15 am
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As many times as this story

As many times as this story has been in the paper, it still amazes me how the very people who argue that Miss Keaton can not council someone if she can not put her beliefs aside; Fell to realize they are essentially doing the same thing. If every counselor had to put their own beliefs aside to council someone who believed differently we wouldn't have any counselors, nor would we need them.

gaspringwater
3
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gaspringwater 11/04/10 - 11:18 am
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The lady is publicity chasing

The lady is publicity chasing and that'll put money in her pocket but the issue will be decided in court. ASU should do justice to the state's taxpayers and sue Keeton to recover their legal expenses.

Fiat_Lux
15146
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Fiat_Lux 11/04/10 - 11:41 am
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Gasp, that 11:18am comment is

Gasp, that 11:18am comment is probably the shallowest analysis of this controversy that I have read or heard. You might want to dig a little deeper.

Fiat_Lux
15146
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Fiat_Lux 11/04/10 - 11:52 am
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Personally, I believe the

Personally, I believe the bottom line is that the women who run the counseling show at ASU are the same kind of tyrannical moral relativists that most "progressive" liberals are. They have ever right to their own opinions and conclusions regarding homosexuality and the morality of its open expression, just as Keeton herself does.

However, ASU is a public, state tax-payer funded school, and it has the mandate of accepting and educating all Georgians who are intellectually, academically qualified to enroll without regard to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference or religious faith.

She was willing to do what they asked of her, apart from giving up her religious faith. I can only wonder how these presumptuous women believe that refusing to let Keeton continue the program because she will not and cannot change her beliefs-- something well within her legitimate, legal rights-- complies with the mandate of non-discrimination by a public institution.

Get ready, friends and neighbors, and gird your loins. The tyranny of moral relativism is beginning its assault in earnest against people who believe in moral objectivity, ie, people who believe there is a God who has opinions about such things.

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