News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EDT

Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Jury convicts ex-priest in sodomy case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A jury convicted a former Catholic priest Wednesday on three counts of sodomy for sex abuse that happened at a church parish in the 1970s.

James Schook, 66, was also convicted on one count of indecent or immoral practice with another. Schook, who did not testify at the trial, is suffering from terminal skin cancer and requested several delays of the trial after his indictment in 2011.

The jury threw out two sodomy charges, including one for an alleged encounter between Schook and witness Michael Stansbury, who testified that Schook abused him on one occasion.

The other witness, Richard Whitfield, testified that he and Schook carried on a yearslong sexual relationship that began when he was 13.

David Lambertus, Schook’s attorney, challenged the witness accounts, and told the jury during his closing argument that the witnesses may not be able to accurately recall their ages at the time or the dates of the alleged abuses. He also suggested they may be coming forward now in order to seek money through a civil lawsuit.

The prosecutor, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Balliet, commended the witnesses and said they had nothing to gain by coming forward after four decades.

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Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - TV’s “Science Guy” Bill Nye said he underestimated the impact of a February debate in Kentucky on evolution and creationism that drew a massive online audience.

When Nye agreed to the debate at The Creation Museum with its founder Ken Ham, he said he believed it would draw about as much attention as presentations he makes on college campuses.

But the Feb. 4 event was widely promoted by the museum, “and soon it seemed like everyone I met was talking about it,” Nye wrote in a 3,000-word letter published in the May/June issue of Skeptical Inquirer.

“I slowly realized that this was a high-pressure situation,” he said.

The event was streamed live on the Web and it was widely discussed on Facebook and Twitter, alongside the witty hashtag (hash)HamonNye. The Creation Museum said its metrics showed that 750,000 computers logged into the debate, and thousands of groups gathered to watch, putting the viewer estimate into the millions. About 70 media representatives attended, and Nye and Ham were interviewed on network and cable news shows.

Nye wrote that despite no score being kept during the debate with Ham, by “a strong majority of accounts, I bested him.”

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