- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 24, 2006

Abusive priest flees to Mexico

SAN FRANCISCO — A priest who admitted sexually abusing a 12-year-old altar boy fled to Mexico after his bishop failed to immediately report the admission to authorities, a law-enforcement official said.

The Rev. Xavier Ochoa was suspended April 28 after admitting the abuse to the Roman Catholic bishop of Santa Rosa, Calif. Bishop Daniel Walsh didn’t notify law enforcement until three days later, giving Father Ochoa time to flee, according to church and law-enforcement officials.

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday filed multiple misdemeanor and felony charges against Father Ochoa related to three boys he purportedly abused. In addition to the altar boy, he also was charged with molesting two teenage boys more than 10 years ago when he lived in Cotati, Calif.

A spokeswoman for the diocese did not return calls seeking comment.

Senate votes to block aid

The Senate voted yesterday to block U.S. aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government and ban contacts with Hamas until the organization renounces violence and recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

The legislation, approved by voice vote, is similar to a bill the House passed last month but would give the president greater authority over the use of sanctions and is not as restrictive in cutting off assistance to nongovernmental groups working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Sailors’ data posted on Net

Social Security numbers and other personal data for 28,000 sailors and members of their families have been found on a civilian Web site, triggering a criminal investigation.

The Navy said yesterday the information was in five documents and included people’s names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. Navy spokesman Lt. Justin Cole would not identify the Web site or its owner, but said the information had been removed. He would not provide any details about how the information ended up on the site.

Lt. Cole said there was no indication so far that the information was used illegally, but individuals involved were being contacted and encouraged to monitor their bank accounts and credit cards.

Judge won’t delay smoking ban

DENVER — A federal judge refused yesterday to block a statewide smoking ban from taking effect July 1 despite pleas from bar owners that it will irreparably hurt their businesses.

Attorneys for bar owners and others had asked U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock to issue a temporary restraining order to delay the ban while they press their lawsuit seeking to overturn the measure.

Judge Babcock refused, saying the bar owners were unlikely to win their argument that the ban violates their constitutional rights. His ruling did not affect the lawsuit itself, which can still proceed even if the ban takes effect next week.

Two arrested in heroin probe

DETROIT — Two men were arrested in what law-enforcement officials are calling a breakthrough in their investigation into a lethal mix of heroin blamed for more than 100 deaths in the Detroit area.

Wayne County sheriff’s deputies and federal drug agents said the two suspects arrested Thursday sold a mix of heroin and the prescription drug fentanyl from the Jeffries housing project north of downtown.

Sheriff Warren Evans said investigators think one of those arrested, a 45-year-old Detroit man, was “the key player who supplied the Jeffries project,” while the other was a lower-level dealer caught selling drugs to an undercover deputy.

City to appeal cross ruling

SAN DIEGO — The city plans to petition the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to keep a giant cross standing on municipal property, the city attorney said Thursday.

The city wants the high court to review a federal appeals court decision that affirmed a May ruling that ordered the city to remove the cross atop Mount Soledad or be fined $5,000 a day.

The May ruling found that the city was demonstrating an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion over another by maintaining the 29-foot hilltop cross in a municipal park.

The cross was dedicated in 1954 as a memorial to Korean War veterans.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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