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Archive for Saturday, January 11, 2003

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January 11, 2003

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Las Vegas: Jehovah's Witnesses hit with abuse lawsuit

Four women sued the Jehovah's Witnesses claiming they were molested by a church leader in Nevada during several years beginning in the early 1970s.

Dawn Bradley, Amanda Cirone, Annette Reed and Donna Wilkes claim in the lawsuit filed Thursday in Las Vegas that they were abused by Daniel Steven Fitzwater, a former Jehovah's Witnesses congregation leader, from 1974 until the 1990s.

In seeking at least $30,000 from various Jehovah's Witnesses entities, the women -- now in their 20s and 30s -- allege church officials knew of the abuse but took no action.

"Outcries were made and they were not reported, and because they were not reported to law enforcement, other children were molested," said the women's lawyer, Kim Norris.

Fitzwater was arrested in 1997 and charged with lewdness with children in an unrelated case. He was convicted of two counts of sexual lewdness in 1998 and is eligible for parole in 2005. Fitzwater couldn't be reached for comment.

Detroit: U.S. abortion rate hits 29-year low

The U.S. abortion rate has fallen to its lowest level in 29 years, a trend triggered by fewer providers, more restrictive state laws and growing use of contraceptives, including the morning-after pill, a new study has found.

And, despite all the hoopla two years ago, medical abortions using drugs in the first seven weeks of pregnancy remain a tiny portion of all abortions, the study found. They also cost more and are more time-consuming.

These highlights are part of an annual abortion survey released Friday by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a family-planning agency that surveys abortion providers in America each year.

The report provides the first measure of medical abortion in America since federal approval in late 2000. Medical abortion uses several drugs to induce an abortion in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The most common drug, Mifeprex, is known also by its French name, RU-486.

Michigan: Severed fingertip leads to $100 million lawsuit

A woman whose fingertip was cut off with a 4-inch utility knife by a police officer trying to arrest her in a bar parking lot sued the city of Detroit Friday for $100 million.

Joni Gullas' left ring finger was severed at the top knuckle early Sunday when officer Anthony Johnson cut the sleeve off her jacket in an attempt to handcuff her.

The fingertip was recovered but could not be reattached. Another finger was deeply cut.

"This was a vicious attack. It is hard to explain how a man capable of such violence carries a badge and a gun," said Gullas' attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, who filed the suit on behalf of her and her husband.

Gullas said in a news conference that she was also punched in the face and hair was torn from her head.

Police asked prosecutors Tuesday to file charges against Johnson. Prosecutors had not made a decision as of Friday afternoon. Johnson has been suspended without pay.

Virginia: Judge refuses to close hearing in sniper case

A judge Friday rejected a defense request that he close a preliminary hearing next week for 17-year-old sniper suspect John Lee Malvo.

Juvenile Court Judge Charles Maxfield said defense arguments that publicity from the hearing would hurt Malvo's right to a fair trial were merely speculative. At the hearing, prosecutors will outline much of their evidence against Malvo.

Malvo and John Allen Muhammad, 42, have been accused of shooting 18 people, killing 13 and wounding five in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

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