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Archive for Saturday, March 6, 2004

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March 6, 2004

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WASHINGTON, D.C.

Teacher suspended over showing of 'Passion'

An elementary school teacher was suspended this week after school officials learned that he showed students excerpts from the movie "The Passion of the Christ."

Ronald Anthony, who teaches at Malcolm X Elementary School, was placed on paid leave while investigators look into the incident, Elfreda Massie, the interim superintendent for District of Columbia public schools, said Friday.

Massie said Anthony acknowledged showing some of his sixth-grade students portions of the R-rated film on Tuesday. The movie depicts the crucifixion of Jesus and includes violent scenes.

School officials learned of the incident when a parent complained, Massie said.

New York

Roman Catholic priest charged with sodomy

A Roman Catholic priest accused of sodomizing a 6-year-old boy was jailed Friday, prosecutors said.

The Rev. Barry E. Ryan, a resident of Palm City, Fla., since 1997, signed a statement confessing to the sexual assault last year at the home of acquaintances, Dist. Atty. Thomas Spota said.

Ryan, 56, was arrested Thursday in New York and charged with first-degree sodomy. He pleaded not guilty at Friday's arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip and was in jail, unable to post bail.

Georgia

Lawsuit begins against crematory operator

A former crematory operator accused of dumping 334 bodies on his property and passing off cement dust as ashes broke a sacred trust, the plaintiffs' lawyer said Friday.

In her opening statements, Kathryn Barnett urged jurors to punish the operator of the family-owned Tri-State Crematory for engaging in a culture of "disrespect for the dead."

Ray Brent Marsh allegedly stopped performing cremations in 1997. In 2002, dozens of decomposing corpses were found stacked in storage sheds and scattered in woods outside the crematory in rural northwest Georgia.

The suit seeks unspecified damages against Marsh for about 1,600 people who accuse him of negligence and fraud. He also faces 787 felony charges for the uncremated bodies.

Virginia

Court strikes provision in cross-burning law

The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday unanimously struck down a provision in the state's cross-burning ban that says the act alone proves an intent to intimidate.

The high court ruled 7-0 that the provision is overly broad and could impinge on freedom of speech. The ruling means that to win a conviction, prosecutors will have to prove that the cross-burner meant to intimidate someone.

The U.S. Supreme Court last April upheld the core provisions of Virginia's 50-year-old cross-burning law but ordered the lower court to review the narrower question of evidence necessary to prove intimidation.

Kentucky

Louisville police officer charged with murder

A white police officer whose fatal shooting of a black teenager raised racial tensions in Louisville was indicted Friday on murder charges.

McKenzie Mattingly, 31, has been on leave since the Jan. 3 slaying of Michael Newby, 19, who was shot in the back during an undercover drug buy.

"Just because you have a badge on your chest doesn't give you the right to just shoot anybody," prosecutor David Stengel said at a news conference.

Newby was the seventh black man fatally shot by Louisville police in the past five years. None of the officers involved in the previous shootings was charged.

PHILADELPHIA

Brothers found guilty of slaying seven people

Two brothers were convicted Friday in one of the city's worst mass killings, 18 months after prosecutors acknowledged that the first group of men jailed for the crime were innocent.

Dawud Faruqi, 29, hung his head and sighed as the jury delivered its verdict: guilty of seven counts of first-degree murder. His brother, Khalid Faruqi, 28, appeared overwhelmed and disoriented.

The brothers were charged with being part of a gang of masked robbers who massacred seven people and wounded three others in a West Philadelphia drug den in December 2000.

Massachusetts

Prosecutor: Abuse may have been covered up

Prosecutors investigating child molestation claims against retired Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre say other abuse may have been covered up during the cleric's nine years heading a western Massachusetts diocese.

"Our preliminary investigation indicates that a number of communications to the diocese regarding sexual misconduct by Dupre were concealed and never provided," said Hampden County Dist. Atty. William Bennett.

Bennett said he was asking a grand jury to look into allegations of a cover-up.

On Thursday, Bennett announced he would pursue sex abuse charges against Dupre, 70, who is accused of abusing two boys who are now 39 and 40 years old.

Ohio

Shooter convicted in cornfield killing

A man accused of shooting to death a prankster who threw tomatoes from a cornfield was found guilty of misdemeanor negligent homicide Friday night and sentenced to time served.

Marion Weaver, 58, had been charged with murder, which could have resulted in a sentence of 18 years to life in prison.

Weaver was found guilty in the Sept. 1 death of Steven L. Keim, 23, of Apple Creek. Keim was in a group of people throwing tomatoes at passing vehicles, an annual prank in the Holmes-Wayne County area that has the largest Amish settlement in the world.

Angry that his car was hit, Weaver came back to the cornfield with a shotgun. He said he had aimed into the air when he fired.

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