Cleared Priest Returns

To Parish in Mass.

NEWTON, Mass. -- Monsignor Michael Smith Foster made an emotional return to his parish yesterday for the first time since he was cleared of child sexual abuse allegations.

"Your letters, cards, phone calls and prayers kept my spirit alive," he said, thanking friends and strangers for their kindness. "You will never know how grateful I am."

Foster was the highest-ranking clergy member accused of abuse since the crisis erupted in January, when court documents revealed the archdiocese shuffled abusive priests between parishes. He is the presiding judge of the archdiocesan tribunal that handles annulments and canon law issues,

The Mass at Sacred Heart Church was packed with those who steadfastly supported the priest when he was accused of sexual abuse and twice suspended before being reinstated last month.

As he made his way up the aisle toward the altar, shaking hands and greeting parishioners, the congregation broke out in applause for about 30 seconds

Foster's case revealed deep wounds within the church, spurring accusations from clergy and laity that the archdiocese mishandled Foster's case and has failed to protect its priests.

N.Y. Woman Charged

In Fatal Hit-and-Run

BRIDGEHAMPTON, N.Y. -- A Hamptons real estate broker was charged in a hit-and-run accident that killed a farm worker after she brought her car into an auto body shop, saying she had hit a deer, police said Saturday.

The owner of the Southampton car repair shop called police Thursday after Leslie Jennemann, 44, came in for repairs to her badly damaged silver Jeep, police said.

The car matched a description in news reports of the vehicle that hit Henry Anthony Yarrell and drove away just before midnight Wednesday. Yarrell, 38, died at the scene.

Jennemann, who lives in an affluent Bridgehampton neighborhood where model-actress Christie Brinkley also has a home, was arrested Thursday and freed on bail Friday. She was charged with leaving the scene of an incident involving death and tampering with physical evidence.

Subway Work Resumes

After Deaths in N.Y.

NEW YORK -- Maintenance work on city subway tracks was to resume yesterday under special safety precautions after two workers were struck and killed by trains.

Transit officials were preparing to review procedures and meet again with representatives of the track workers' union.

Meanwhile, measures such as maximum lighting used to warn oncoming trains would be in place, said Lawrence Reuter, president of New York City Transit, which operates the city's 24-hour bus and subway system.

The agency had announced a 24-hour freeze on non-emergency track work Saturday after two workers were killed by trains in as many days.

Both deaths remained under investigation.

* SAN RAMON, Calif. -- A minor earthquake rattled the San Francisco Bay area early yesterday. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages. The magnitude-3.9 quake struck at 6:54 a.m. about two miles southeast of San Ramon and about 26 miles east of San Francisco, according to a preliminary report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

* PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Disney workers spent hours disinfecting a Disney cruise ship Saturday after more than 200 passengers fell ill with a stomach ailment on a seven-day cruise last week. A crew of more than 1,100 sanitized the 964-foot Disney Magic ship, hoping to eradicate the stomach bug before the ship left port about an hour after its scheduled 5 p.m. departure for another Caribbean voyage.

-- From News Services