Nation briefs 9/28/04

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Massachusetts bishop indicted for sex abuse

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Just hours after an indictment against former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre was unsealed Monday accusing him of raping two boys in the 1970s, the county prosecutor refused to pursue the case because the statute of limitations has expired. The decision by Hampden District Attorney William Bennett means that, though Dupre is the first Roman Catholic bishop to face criminal charges in the sex abuse scandal still plaguing the U.S. church, he won't go to trial for them. Still, Dupre's legal troubles are far from over. He faces lawsuits filed against him by his accusers, and Bennett said he plans to turn over the results of the grand jury investigation to authorities in New Hampshire, New York and Canada, where some of the abuse allegedly took place. Bennett said those jurisdictions may not be hamstrung by the same statute of limitation issues.

Congresswoman asks for probe into re-enlistments

DENVER -- A Colorado congresswoman called Monday for an investigation into allegations that Iraq war veterans near the end of their duty were given a choice between re-enlisting or being sent back to Iraq. Democratic Rep. Diana Degette, in a letter to House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., asked him to look into whether the "White House or civilian Pentagon officials are pressuring the military to use coercive tactics to get soldiers to re-enlist in order to maintain the force levels necessary to fight the war in Iraq and war on terror." According to newspaper reports, soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team were told they faced reassignment to units bound for Iraq or Korea if they did not either re-enlist by the end of the month or extend their duty until the end of 2007. Those who re-enlisted or extended would stay with the 3rd Brigade, which already was deployed for a year in Iraq.

Tobacco attorneys want memo kept secret

WASHINGTON -- Tobacco industry attorneys asked an appeals court Monday to keep a potentially damaging memo out of the federal government's ongoing racketeering trial against cigarette makers. Justice Department attorneys believe the memo could strengthen their argument that tobacco companies committed fraud by lying about the dangers of smoking and hiding that information from the public. The memo by London-based lawyer Andrew Foyle advises an Australian subsidiary of British American Tobacco Co., PLC., on whether the company should keep or destroy internal paperwork in light of increasing litigation.

Commerce Dept.: Sales of new homes remain brisk

WASHINGTON -- Sales of new homes rose by 9.4 percent in August, the Commerce Department said Monday, as mortgage interest rates remained at low enough levels to continue enticing buyers worried about future rate hikes. New home sales climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.18 million homes, up from a revised 1.08 million sales pace in July. The increase was the largest since December 2000, when new home sales jumped by 11.7 percent. In July, new home sales fell by 7.3 percent.

-- From wire reports

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