Priest gets 17 years in prison for molestation

A suspended Pennsylvania priest convicted of sexually assaulting poor street children on missionary trips to Honduras was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 17 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors in Johnstown had sought up to 30 years in prison for Joseph Maurizio Jr., 71. But defense attorneys for Maurizio argued for leniency based on the priest’s age, charitable works and his Navy service during the Vietnam War. U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson also fined Maurizio $50,000 and ordered him to pay $10,000 in restitution to each of two victims.

The sentencing came a day after the Pennsylvania attorney general issued a report saying that two former bishops in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese covered up child sex abuse by more than 50 priests over more than 40 years.

— Associated Press

Child-porn conviction for headmaster tossed

Delaware’s Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a former preparatory-school headmaster sentenced to 50 years in prison on child-pornography charges.

In this Sept. 9, 2015 file photo, Rev. Joseph Maurizio is led by U.S. Marshals into Federal Court for jury selection in Johnstown, Pa. (Todd Berkey/AP)

In a ruling Wednesday, the court said that search warrants obtained by police investigating Christopher Wheeler were unconstitutionally broad.

Wheeler was convicted last year on 25 counts of dealing in child pornography. He waived his right to a jury trial after a judge denied a defense request to suppress evidence seized by authorities.

Wheeler is the former headmaster at Tower Hill School in Wilmington, whose graduates include former DuPont chief executive Ellen Kullman, U.S. Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and television personality Mehmet “Dr. Oz” Oz.

The ruling follows a January hearing in which the justices expressed concerns about the validity of the search warrant that led to Wheeler’s arrest in 2013.

— Associated Press

Court stays Fla. execution: The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed the execution of an inmate while lawmakers determine how to change the state’s death-penalty sentencing system to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found it unconstitutional. The court stayed the March 17 execution of Mark Asay, a Jacksonville man sentenced to death in 1987 for killing two men. Asay’s is the second scheduled execution to be halted since the January ruling by the high court, which found that Florida’s method of sentencing people to death is flawed because it allows judges to reach a different conclusion from juries. Florida legislators are working on a new law that would require at least 10 out of 12 jurors to recommend execution.

Racism claims at Boston school reviewed: Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts have launched a civil rights investigation into the elite Boston Latin School after African American students charged that its administration ignored incidents of racism on campus. The oldest high school in the nation has been under a harsh spotlight for the past few weeks after black students reported that school officials failed to investigate alleged instances of racial insults, including one case in which a student threatened to lynch a black classmate. Eight civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Boston branch of the NAACP, last week called on U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz to open a probe into the alleged instances of racism.

— From news services