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NATION IN BRIEF: Priest accused of molesting 200 deaf boys

Photo by Rick Wood

Photo by Rick Wood

Priest accused of molesting 200 deaf boys

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- Steven Geier said that four times in the mid-1960s, the Rev. Lawrence Murphy coaxed the then-14-year-old student into a closet at St. John's School for the Deaf just outside Milwaukee and molested him, using God to justify his actions.

Geier said when he told Murphy what was happening was wrong, the priest replied, ''Oh, yes. God sent me. This is confession.''

Geier, now 59 and living in Madison, was one of about 200 deaf boys at the school who say they were molested by the late priest decades ago in a case now creating a scandal for the Vatican and threatening to ensnare Pope Benedict XVI.

Some allegations became public years ago. But they received renewed attention this week after documents obtained by The New York Times showed Murphy was spared a defrocking in the mid-1990s because he was protected by the Vatican office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope.

NASA sets April 5 launch for Discovery

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has settled on April 5 as a launch date for space shuttle Discovery.

Senior managers met Friday and agreed unanimously on the launch date. They determined that leaky helium valves aboard Discovery would pose no safety concerns.

Discovery will haul spare parts and extra supplies for the International Space Station. The mission is one of four remaining shuttle flights. During the two-week mission, President Barack Obama will travel to Florida to discuss his post-shuttle plans for NASA.

Deputies raid 4 McDonald's, arrest 12

PHOENIX -- Sheriff's deputies targeting illegal immigration on Friday arrested 12 people during the raids of four Phoenix-area McDonald's restaurants, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

Deputies armed with search warrants raided McDonald's in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa, and a mansion in Paradise Valley on Friday morning. The mansion is owned by Richard Coulston, who owns the restaurants.

Arpaio said his deputies believe more than 50 employees working at the restaurants may have used fake or stolen identities to get their jobs.

More than 25 hit in rash of BB gun shootings

SALT LAKE CITY -- A rash of drive-by BB gun shootings in the suburbs around Salt Lake City has left police and more than two dozen victims wondering who is carrying out the apparently random attacks.

People waiting at bus stops, a bicyclist riding home from work and pedestrians of all ages have been shot over the last two weeks, authorities said.

One of the first to be shot was Vicky Fitlow, who was walking down the sidewalk of a busy South Salt Lake street to pick up her car from a tire shop.

Since then, police have investigated 27 other shootings in four cities, though some apparently missed their targets and damaged property.

Police: Man tried to revive dead opossum

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. -- Police say they charged a Pennsylvania man with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a long-dead opossum along a highway.

State police Trooper Jamie Levier says several witnesses saw 55-year-old Donald Wolfe, of Brookville, near the animal Thursday along Route 36 in Oliver Township, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

The trooper says one person saw Wolfe kneeling before the animal and gesturing as though he were conducting a seance. He says another saw Wolfe attempting to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Mom arrested after child found in car in desert

LAS VEGAS -- Police say a 20-year-old mother has been charged with felony child neglect after she locked her 1-year-old daughter in a car for more than 12 hours in the Nevada desert.

Police officer Barbara Morgan says Diana Ruiz was arrested Friday after telling police her Ford Focus got stuck early Thursday in a remote area while she tried to drive a shortcut in the dark from Las Vegas to Sandy Valley.

Ruiz told investigators she accidentally locked her keys and her daughter in the car before seeking help around dawn at a nearby home. A man with an all-terrain vehicle helped, but they couldn't find her car again.