Around the Nation

Around the Nation

Monday, January 26, 2009

At Church Founded By Haggard, an Apology

COLORADO SPRINGS -- Two days after new allegations surfaced about the sexual behavior of the founder of a megachurch, the current pastor of New Life Church said Sunday that he was "sorry that this wound has been reopened for many of you" and said the church would recover from the latest report.

"One day we may have a little scar tissue, but the wounds will not define us," pastor Brady Boyd told the congregation.

Church officials learned more than two years ago about the alleged relationship between a male church volunteer and then-pastor Ted Haggard, Boyd said Friday.

Haggard left the church in late 2006, after a male prostitute in Denver said he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard. The former pastor has declined to comment on the new claim, reported by a Colorado Springs television station.

Boyd said an "overwhelming pool of evidence" pointed to an "inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship" between Haggard and the male volunteer for an extended period of time.

The pastor said that under a legal settlement the church reached with the man in 2007, neither side was to discuss the matter publicly. He said he went public only after learning that the man had talked to KRDO-TV.

Boyd said that the man was in his early 20s at the time and that he was certain the man was of legal age when the relationship began.

Another Arson Fire In Philadelphia Suburb

COATESVILLE, Pa. -- The latest in a string of suspicious fires in this Philadelphia suburb tore through a block of row houses, damaging 15 homes, leaving several dozen people homeless and prompting city officials to declare a state of emergency.

At least 30 arsons have been reported since the beginning of 2008, about half of them in the past three weeks. Police said the blazes may be part of a gang initiation, but there was no clear information about who was committing the crimes or why.

The latest fire was reported late Saturday at the rear of one house and quickly spread to adjacent homes in the Chester County community.

"This is an arson, no question about it," City Manager Harry Walker said Sunday.

The emergency declaration gives the city, about 45 miles west of Philadelphia, powers to deal with the situation without worrying about the budget, such as boarding up the buildings, assigning police to protect them and helping the families involved, Walker said.

Fifteen houses were damaged and some may have to be demolished, Walker said. Damage was estimated at $1.2 million, bringing the total fire damage since last summer to $3 million.

2 Killed Outside Portland Club

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A gunman opened fire outside an under-21 nightclub in Portland, killing two girls and injuring eight other people before shooting himself in the head, police said. Police spokeswoman Mary Wheat said there was no indication that the man knew any of the people he shot while they were standing in front of the nightclub and a neighboring bar late Saturday. It was unknown whether they were waiting to enter the club. Police late Sunday identified the alleged gunman as Erik Salvadore Ayala, 24. He was in critical condition with the self-inflicted wound, Wheat said.

-- From News Services

© 2009 The Washington Post Company