Financial Cleanup Promised

For Civil Rights Group

ATLANTA -- The new president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference promised to get the troubled group back to its work of fighting injustice.

"The SCLC is moving forward," said Charles Steele Jr., a former Alabama state senator. "We've set together in a new direction, not only throughout this country but throughout the world."

Steele, who had been the SCLC's executive vice president, replaces the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who resigned Wednesday, citing the organization's entrenched internal strife and financial problems.

The SCLC owes $43,000 in state and federal taxes. The group's pool of dues-paying members has shrunk; membership has dwindled from tens of thousands to about 3,000.

Steele pledged to pull the organization out of financial problems by raising money through private and corporate donors.

Fla. Mother Gets Probation

For Leaving 2-Year-Old Alone

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A mother accused of leaving her 2-year-old daughter alone in a locked apartment for 19 days pleaded no contest Friday and was placed on 18 months' probation.

Dakeysha Lee entered a plea to one count of child abuse under an agreement with prosecutors. She had been charged with child abuse and child neglect, and could have received five years in prison for each.

Circuit Judge Henry E. Davis withheld adjudication, which means Lee will not have a criminal record if she successfully completes the terms of her probation. She is required to take a parenting class, receive a psychological evaluation, perform 50 hours of community service and pay $338 in court costs.

The no contest plea deals only with leaving the child alone on Sept. 10, 2003, the first day Lee was jailed on unrelated charges. The girl's father, Ogden Lee, said he found his daughter alone in his estranged wife's apartment on Sept. 29, 2003.

* NEW ORLEANS -- A security guard shot a student in the foot at a New Orleans high school. The guard told police she believed the student was reaching for a weapon when she fired, a police spokesman said. The shooting at Booker T. Washington High School happened behind the school, under a large tree near an open space full of athletic equipment. Suspected marijuana was found at the scene. The student was taken to Charity Hospital for treatment. Police said the injury was not life-threatening.

* OKLAHOMA CITY -- One of the prosecutors in bombing conspirator Terry L. Nichols's murder trial was arrested in a police prostitution sting, officials said. Assistant District Attorney Lou Keel was accused of trying to hire a woman for sex Thursday evening. The woman was an undercover police officer, authorities said. Keel was suspended with pay pending a review of the police investigation.

* EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- A commuter van carrying workers from two aerospace companies collided head-on with a tractor-trailer Friday on a Mississippi River bridge, killing four people and injuring four others, authorities said. The wreck closed the busy, four-lane Martin Luther King Bridge between East St. Louis and St. Louis for about five hours. The bridge is one of three crossing the river at St. Louis.

-- From News Services