Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, February 19, 2006

Judge orders abuse evidence turned over

FAIRBANKS - Catholic church officials have been ordered to turn over documents sought by attorneys in a sexual abuse lawsuit scheduled for trial Feb. 27.

A Superior Court judge in Nome is expected to rule by Tuesday on whether to let the case proceed to trial.

Attorneys for the Fairbanks diocese and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, want Judge Ben Esch to dismiss the lawsuit filed by a woman alleging she was abused by the Rev. James Poole more than two decades ago. Church attorneys say the statute of limitations has expired.

In December, Esch severed Poole from the case, ruling that the plaintiff waited too long to report the alleged abuse. The woman, identified as Jane Doe 2, says Poole abused her repeatedly, got her pregnant at age 14, then suggested she have an abortion.

Esch on Friday ordered the diocese and Jesuits to immediately turn over documents requested by Doe's attorneys. Anchorage attorney Ken Roosa has asked the court to impose sanctions against church leaders for submitting thousands of documents after the disclosure deadline.

Cyanide blamed for death of moose

ANCHORAGE - A moose calf died of cyanide poisoning in an Anchorage neighborhood, state wildlife officials said.

The source of the cyanide was probably an ornamental tree or plant, based on an initial examination of the berries, seeds, leaves and stems found in the calf's stomach. Officials are still awaiting results of lab tests on the plant material, so the specific source of the poison has not been identified, said Kimberlee Beckmen, a veterinary pathologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Kathy Burek, a private veterinary pathologist who performed the necropsy on the moose, said the cyanide certainly contributed to the animal's death last month. But other factors might also have been involved, she said.

SE sawmill to reopen

KETCHIKAN - The owner of a Southeast Alaska sawmill plans to reopen for business on Wednesday.

Steve Seley recently closed the Pacific Log & Lumber mill on Gravina Island because of a shortage of timber. On Friday, he said the U.S. Forest Service responded to the news of the closure with efforts to make timber available.

Seley is now the apparent high bidder on the agency's Buckdance-Madder timber sale, about 22 miles northeast of the Ketchikan area mill. The sale contains about 13 million board feet of saw quality timber.

NOAA's spending faces reductions

FAIRBANKS - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would cut its Alaska spending budget by nearly half, under the Bush administration's proposed budget, U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens said.

The agency manages federal fisheries, operates weather forecasting offices and runs tsunami warning systems.

Stevens, R-Alaska, said NOAA's Alaska research activities were consolidated into a $51 million account in the current year's budget. This year, the administration proposes to spend $29 million in the account, he said.

The administration's proposed budget also eliminates $2 million Stevens had earmarked in the current year for the Tsunami Warning and Environmental Observation system for Alaska.

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