- - Thursday, December 2, 2010

ARKANSAS

Sex convictions of Alamo upheld

LITTLE ROCK — A federal appeals court upheld the criminal convictions of Tony Alamo on Thursday, finding that the 76-year-old evangelist took underage girls across state lines with the primary purpose of sexually exploiting them.

Jurors convicted Alamo last year on 10 counts of violating the Mann Act, a century-old law originally aimed at stopping women from being sold into prostitution. Prosecutors said Alamo traveled the country with his young “wives,” including one who testified that she was 8 years old when she was forced to enter a “spiritual marriage” with the preacher.

A federal judge had handed down a 175-year prison sentence, which Alamo is serving in a prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

Alamo — born Bernie Lazar Hoffman — disputed the charges and argued that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove his guilt.

CALIFORNIA

Prop 8 judge refuses to recuse

A federal appellate judge said Thursday he will not step down from the Proposition 8 trial, which begins Monday.

“I have not hesitated to recuse from cases in the past when doing so was warranted by the circumstances,” but in this case, “I will be able to rule impartially … and I will do so,” said Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Dec. 1, backers of the voter-passed Prop 8 amendment, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and reversed a California Supreme Court ruling declaring gay marriage a right, asked Judge Reinhardt to disqualify himself because his wife, Ramona Ripston, is the longtime executive director of the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ms. Ripston and her group took “a lead role” in opposing Prop 8 and even assisted the plaintiffs “in this very case” that Judge Reinhardt will hear Monday, argued Protectmarriage.com and its allies.

Moreover, they said, federal law requires judges to recuse themselves if their spouses would be affected by the outcome of a case.

Judge Reinhardt promised he would file a memo “in due course” about his reasons for not stepping aside. The hearing before the three-judge panel is scheduled for Monday in San Francisco.

MASSACHUSETTS

Mayor hospitalized after reaction to meds

BOSTON | Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has returned to the hospital after having a negative reaction to the antibiotics he’s taking for an infection.

A Menino spokeswoman says the 67-year-old mayor was readmitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital on Wednesday night. It’s not clear how long he’ll be in the hospital, but the stay isn’t expected to be lengthy.

Mr. Menino was hospitalized two days before Thanksgiving after developing a bacterial infection in his left elbow during a trip to Italy, where he was attending a conference. He also had a minor operation to drain fluid from his arm.

He was released Saturday, but according to his office had a negative reaction to oral antibiotics he was given.

His spokeswoman says the infection is clearing up.

MONTANA

Lawmaker pleads no contest in boat crash

KALISPELL — An outgoingstate state senator has pleaded no contest to felony criminal endangerment for crashing his boat after a night of drinking, injuring all five on board.

The Missoulian reports state Sen. Greg Barkus, of Kalispell, entered the plea Thursday as part of an agreement that would dismiss two other felony charges and recommend a three-year deferred sentence.

Barkus crashed into the shore of Flathead Lake on Aug. 27, 2009, injuring U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, two of his staffers, Mr. Barkus and his wife. Prosecutors say Barkus’ blood alcohol level was 0.16 percent after the crash.

District Judge John McKeon says he’ll decide whether to accept the plea agreement after a pre-sentence investigation is complete. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20.

The Republican was prevented form running for re-election this year owing to term limits.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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