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Archive for Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Briefly

May 4, 2004

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Ohio

Grand jury indicts priest in nun's death

A Roman Catholic priest has been indicted on an aggravated murder charge in the slaying of a nun 24 years ago.

A grand jury met Friday in Toledo to consider the charge against the Rev. Gerald Robinson, but its decision was not announced until Monday.

Robinson was arrested April 23 in the strangling and stabbing of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, 71, during Easter weekend in 1980. He was long a suspect in her death.

The nun's body was discovered in a chapel at Mercy Hospital, covered by an altar cloth. Investigators have described it as a "ritualistic" slaying that has the Toledo Diocese looking into claims of satanic sex abuse by priests.

Robinson was released from jail Monday after supporters put together enough property to post a $400,000 property bond to cover his bail.

Robinson's attorney, Alan Konop, said his client would plead not guilty. He cannot face the death penalty because it was not in effect at the time of the killing.

Georgia

Court overturns teen's underage sex conviction

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday threw out a black high school football star's conviction and 10-year prison sentence for having sex with an underage white girl -- a case that led to allegations of racism and heavy-handed prosecution.

Marcus Dixon, 19, was released on his own recognizance later Monday after 15 months behind bars.

The court ruled 4-3 that Dixon, who was 18 at the time, should have been prosecuted solely on the lesser charge of misdemeanor statutory rape rather than aggravated child molestation. Dixon had claimed he was targeted by prosecutors because he is black and the girl, who was 15 at the time, is white.

Dixon was acquitted of rape but found guilty of aggravated child molestation, which carries a mandatory 10-year sentence, and statutory rape. The high court let stand the statutory rape conviction, punishable by up to a year behind bars -- more time than Dixon served.

Texas

Party barge flips near nude beach

A double-decker party barge capsized when dozens of passengers moved to one side of the boat as it approached Texas' only nude beach.

Sixty people on the boat were rescued Sunday from Lake Travis, including two with minor injuries, authorities said.

The accident happened during Splash Day, a semiannual event at the clothing-optional area by the Austin Tavern Guild, a gay and lesbian bar association.

Witnesses said that all of the people aboard the barge moved to one side after it was tied up at Hippie Hollow, the only public nude beach in Texas, creating uneven distribution and making it tilt.

"As the captain was running upstairs to tell them to move away from the railing, it capsized," dumping its passengers into about 39 feet of water, Travis County sheriff's spokesman Roger Wade said.

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