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11 church members accused of abuse



Published: Sat, January 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



11 church membersaccused of abuse

ATLANTA -- The pastor and 10 members of an Atlanta church that backs the corporal punishment of children were charged with child abuse Friday, accused of beating two boys during services last year.

The aggravated assault and child cruelty charges are the latest development in the highly publicized investigation of the 130-member House of Prayer church.

Those indicted include the Rev. Arthur Allen Jr., 69, and 10 parents of children who were taken into protective custody during the investigation.

Allen said he and members of his congregation will plead innocent.

"I will call for a trial by jury," Allen said at his church Friday. "I'm delighted for the opportunity to face these charges, to resolve everything one way or another."

The indictment charges that church members twice beat the boys, then 7 and 10, during services in February, causing "cruel and excessive mental pain." According to prosecutors, Allen directed the beating in which the children were held in the air by congregants while being struck.

Prosecutor Paul Howard said the spankings left both boys with open wounds near vital organs. He said the boys were beaten after refusing to cooperate and just "being kids."

Report lays blamefor E. coli outbreak

TORONTO -- A judge's report released Friday blamed the provincial government and two others for E. coli contamination that killed seven people and sickened more than 2,000 nearly two years ago.

The report by Justice Dennis O'Connor concluded a nine-month public inquiry involving 114 witnesses into Canada's worst E. coli outbreak.

Flooding on May 12, 2000, washed cattle manure into a town well in Walkerton, a southern Ontario farming community of 5,000 people 90 miles west of Toronto.

O'Connor said brothers Stan and Frank Koebel lacked the training and education to manage the water supply, and lied to regulators to protect their jobs.

Police investigating the case have yet to file any criminal charges. Under the rules of the inquiry, none of O'Connor's findings or conclusions can be used as evidence in a criminal case.

The report also cited the Ontario government's "distaste for regulation," noting it privatized laboratory testing of drinking water in 1996 but failed to enact new rules.

The Ontario government ignored warnings that its spending cuts could increase the possibility of water problems in the province, O'Connor said.

6 killed in crashof sightseeing plane

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A sightseeing plane carrying six people slammed into a mountain in southern New Zealand today, killing all aboard, officials said.

The Air Fiordland single engine Cessna 207 was on a scenic flight from Te Anau to the pristine fiord of Milford Sound, the company's chief executive Russell Baker said.

He said the dead were a 26-year-old pilot, two British and two Canadian tourists, and one New Zealander.

Further identification was being held until relatives could be notified, Baker said in a statement.

He said the cause of the crash wasn't known.

"It was a clear day with beautiful skies. He was an experienced pilot and highly skilled and I can't even think what could have happened," Baker said. "We only know at this stage that he flew into the side of the mountain."

A disaster victim identification team was preparing to head to the remote site to recover the bodies and a Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigator was expected to visit the site Sunday, Baker said.

Sign switched back on

ATLANTA -- The neon sign outside Ebenezer Baptist Church was turned on Friday for the first time in nearly 12 years, once again lighting the entrance to the home church of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King, who was baptized in the small, red brick church, eventually followed his father and grandfather to its pulpit. It was the site of his funeral in 1968 and, six years later, the assassination of his mother.

The sign, which bears the church's name, was installed in 1956 but has not worked since it was damaged in a 1990 ice storm, said Saudia Muwwakkil, spokeswoman for the King historical site.

With its new white neon letters, the sign is now the highlight of a $1.8 million renovation of the historical site. Tours of the church, halted during the renovation, will resume today.

Although a large, modern church across the street has housed the Ebenezer congregation since 1999, the smaller building remains a magnet for people paying tribute to King.




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