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Archive for Thursday, April 11, 2002

Briefly

April 11, 2002

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Washington, D.C.

Prison inmate growth slows

The number of people in prison grew last year at the slowest rate in three decades, the Justice Department reported Wednesday.

The total population in all prisons and jails rose a bit more than 1 percent, nearing 2 million, according to the annual report. As of June 30, 2001, one of every 145 U.S. residents was behind bars.

The population in U.S. and state prisons combined rose 1.1 percent, the slowest annual growth since 1972, when there was a 1 percent decline.

West Virginia

Internet fraud costs tallied

Nearly 10,000 Americans reported losing $18 million in online scams last year, according to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center's annual report.

The average loss for those scammed was $435. Almost half of the 16,775 fraud cases investigated by the center in Charleston were people complaining they were duped in online auctions. Other scams included nondelivery of promised merchandise and credit card fraud.

Victims of Internet cons ranged from 10 to 100 years old and were scattered worldwide.

Indianapolis

Gay-bias protest is silent

Thousands of high school and college students around the nation vowed not to speak Wednesday to protest anti-gay bias in schools.

The silence is meant to draw attention to the isolation that can drive gay students to higher rates of suicide and substance abuse.

Some took a nine-hour vow. Others ate at silent lunch tables during the protest, now in its seventh year. Organizers said the Day of Silence has grown from 200 schools a year ago to 1,776 schools in 49 states this year.

San Francisco

Priest arrested for abuse

A Roman Catholic priest was arrested on child-molestation charges dating from 1979 after the alleged victim recently wore a wire and confronted the clergyman, police said.

The Rev. Robert Freitas, 51, pleaded innocent Tuesday to committing sex acts with a minor at the now-closed Santa Paula Catholic Church.

The alleged victim, who was 15 at the time and is now 38, came forward after recently returning home to live with his parents during his battle with AIDS. After learning Freitas was still saying Mass at the Sisters of the Holy Family convent in Fremont, the man decided to press charges.

He wore a recording device and met with Freitas at a cafe two weeks ago, police said. Freitas was released from jail Tuesday on $50,000 bail.

Los Angeles

Runaway jet crashes fence

A parked jetliner waiting for maintenance began rolling and smashed through an airport fence Wednesday, coming to a stop with its nose blocking a side street.

"It was parked overnight outside a hanger for maintenance. Somehow it moved. They don't know how. No one was on it. It's under investigation," Los Angeles International Airport spokesman Harold Johnson said.

Investigators were trying to determine if the American Airlines 767's parking brake was properly set.

There were no injuries, and airport operations were not affected, he said.

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