3 Catholic Congregations

Protest Orders to Close

BOSTON -- Parishioners at two Roman Catholic churches marked for closure by the Boston Archdiocese continued sit-ins Thursday after a legal setback in their battle against the plan, and members of a third church planned their own occupation.

The parishes -- St. Albert the Great in Weymouth, St. Anselm in Sudbury and St. Bernard in Newton -- are among 82 that Bishop Sean P. O'Malley ordered shut by year's end in a restructuring prompted by falling attendance and economic woes caused partly by the clergy sex abuse scandal that began in Boston.

St. Albert parishioners, who have occupied that church since Aug. 29, went to court seeking an injunction to stop the archdiocese from selling church buildings and other assets, arguing that the church belongs to them, not the archdiocese.

Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Connolly rejected their argument Wednesday, citing the First Amendment and saying the court could not involve itself in a dispute between church members.

Student's Fatal Beating

Prompts Charges Against 6

MEMPHIS -- Six teenagers were charged with homicide in the beating death of an eighth-grader who agreed to the fight as part of a gang initiation.

"To join the gang, you had to engage in a fight," District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said. "And it was a fight that got out of hand."

Tarus DeShawn Williams, 15, died at a hospital Tuesday after being found unconscious in a restroom at a Memphis school. A medical examiner said Williams died from a blow to the chest that crushed the left chamber of his heart. No weapons were used in the fight, authorities said.

Three of the teens charged with reckless homicide in the attack are 13 years old. One is 14, and two are 15. The suspects were taken into juvenile court custody and face imprisonment until age 18 if found guilty.

* AUSTIN -- Judge John Dietz declared Texas's share-the-wealth system of school financing unconstitutional Wednesday and gave the legislature a year to find a new solution. The system is nicknamed "Robin Hood" by some because it takes money from rich schools and gives it to poorer ones. The more than 300 school districts in the suit contended it violates the state constitution by failing to provide enough money to give equal education to all students.

* CHICAGO -- An Iraqi-born man accused of being a "sleeper agent" sent to this country by Saddam Hussein's intelligence service was ordered released on $250,000 bond and placed on house arrest pending trial. Sami Khoshaba Latchin, 57, is charged not with espionage -- stealing classified defense secrets -- but with making false statements to immigration authorities on his 1998 U.S. citizenship application.

* ST. LOUIS -- A woman who spent 16 years in prison before her murder conviction was set aside will get $7.5 million in a settlement with the St. Louis suburb where the slaying took place. Ellen Reasonover, 47, sued the suburb of Dellwood over her 1983 murder conviction in the killing of a gas station clerk during an attempted robbery.

-- From News Services