Nuns at School

Accused of Abuse

BOSTON -- Nine former students at a Roman Catholic school for the deaf filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging they were raped, beaten and tormented decades ago by the nuns who ran the place.

They accused at least 14 nuns in the lawsuit, along with a priest and a male athletic instructor at the now-defunct Boston School for the Deaf, and a former top official of the Boston Archdiocese, according to their lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian.

The case is the first to allege widespread abuse by nuns in the Boston area since the sex scandal that engulfed the archdiocese began in 2002. The nuns named in the lawsuit are from the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston.

The alleged victims -- three women and six men -- ranged in age from 7 to 16 when, they allege, they were sexually and physically abused between 1944 and 1977.

* ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A Hmong American police officer was arrested on suspicion of carrying out two drive-by shootings that were part of a string of violent incidents within the city's large Southeast Asian community. Tou Cha, 35, was jailed on suspicion of aggravated assault with a firearm. No one was wounded in the shootings.

* TOPEKA, Kan. -- A judge struck down the state's system of educational funding, saying it is "inadequate and inequitable" and therefore unconstitutional. Shawnee County District Judge Terry Bullock said the state must close its public schools this fall while it fixes flaws in its system for distributing school aid. But because the case has already been appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, it was not immediately clear whether schools will close.

* TALLASSEE, Tenn. -- The world's largest aluminum producer agreed to preserve 10,000 acres of undeveloped Appalachian land that it controls, clearing the way for the company to renew its license to operate four hydroelectric dams on the Little Tennessee River. Alcoa Inc. signed the pact Monday with regulators and more than 20 environmental groups after seven years of negotiations.

* BOSTON -- The town clerk in Provincetown, Cape Cod's gay tourism mecca, said he will issue marriage licenses to out-of-state gay couples despite the threat of legal action by Gov. Mitt Romney (R). "We would rather be sued and be on the side of right than kowtow to the governor's personal wishes," Doug Johnstone said.

* BEAUMONT, Tex. -- Police arrested two young white men in the desecration of the grave of James Byrd Jr., the black man dragged to his death from the back of a pickup truck in 1998. As for what motivated the two to tip over Byrd's headstone, and etch racial slurs and profanities on a steel plate, Police Chief Stanley Christopher said: "Stupidity's all I can come up with."

* DENVER -- Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar decided not to file charges in nine alleged sexual assaults involving University of Colorado football players, citing concerns about the evidence and the reluctance of women to go forward with the cases.

* NEW YORK -- A Yemeni-born ice cream shop owner linked by prosecutors to terrorism funding left a federal courtroom smiling and praising America after a judge agreed to throw out his guilty plea to illegally transferring money overseas. Judge Charles Sifton said that Abad Elfgeeh had not understood the consequences of his October plea of guilty to transferring tens of thousands of dollars to bank accounts in Yemen, Switzerland, Thailand and China. Prosecutors said Elfgeeh acknowledged sending money to Yemeni cleric Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan Moayad, who has pleaded not guilty to charges that he funneled $20 million to terror groups al Qaeda and Hamas.

* TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's serious crime rate dropped for the 12th straight year in 2003, reaching a 33-year low, state officials announced. Gov. Jeb Bush credited tougher sentencing laws.

* GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A grandmother was sentenced to nearly six years in prison after pleading guilty to robbing two Michigan banks and admitting to 10 robberies in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Margaret Ann Thomas-Irving, 58, of Hartford, Conn., was arrested in July.

-- From News Services