Lesbian Pastor Won't Return

To Wash. Methodist Church

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A lesbian Methodist minister who was acquitted in a church trial over her sexual orientation has chosen not to return to her church, a United Methodist official said Friday.

The Rev. Karen Dammann chose to remain on family leave rather than return to First United Methodist Church in Ellensburg, said the Rev. Ron Hines, superintendent of the Pacific Northwest Conference's Seven Rivers District.

In March, a jury of 13 pastors meeting in Bothell acquitted Dammann of violating Methodist law, even though she acknowledged she had a female partner.

Mother on Probation for

Contributing to Son's Suicide

MERIDEN, Conn. -- A mother whose 12-year-old son hanged himself in his closet was placed on probation after being convicted of contributing to his suicide in 2002 by keeping a filthy house.

Prosecutors said the squalid conditions in Judith Scruggs's home led to her son's body odor, which caused schoolmates to pick on him. The bullying drove the boy, J. Daniel Scruggs, to take his life, prosecutors said.

Scruggs's conviction on a risk-of-injury charge is believed to be the first time a parent has been found guilty of contributing to a child's suicide.

* DALLAS -- A Southern Baptist medical and retirement fund for pastors is being criticized within the denomination because it holds $14 million worth of stock in Carnival Cruise Lines, which is hosting a "Gay Days" voyage this month. The Southern Baptist Convention Annuity Board, which administers the health and retirement fund, already is restricted from investing in 300 to 400 companies because they are in industries not acceptable to the church.

* PHILADELPHIA -- A man dying of cancer called police to confess that he shot a stranger to death as they argued in a parking lot nine years ago, authorities said. Prosecutors said William Kovitch, 74, will not be charged because he is too ill to go to court. Kovitch told detectives last month that he shot the stranger in 1995, apparently after the other man pulled over to complain that Kovitch had bumped his car.

* DETROIT -- Two white men who threw white paint on a landmark sculpture of boxer Joe Louis's fist were sentenced Friday to 30 days in jail for a crime that raised suspicions of racism. Brett Cashman, 45, and John T. Price, 27, were also ordered to serve 18 months' probation and pay $1,000 each for malicious destruction of property.

* GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- All but one of the 26 runs of Pacific salmon listed as threatened or endangered species are likely to retain federal protection, the Bush administration said. The decision comes despite a proposal to count hatchery fish as equivalent to wild ones, even though biologists have long warned that fish introduced in the wild from hatcheries are harmful to the salmon gene pool.

-- From News Services