Alaska Digest

Diocese sells property to cover settlements

Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2006

Diocese sells property to cover settlements

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ANCHORAGE - The Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage has put up residential property for sale to cover settlements in priest abuse lawsuits.

The archdiocese must pay about $760,000 to cover its share of settlements in three lawsuits, said Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz. A fourth case is pending.

The Anchorage lawsuits recently settled include one against the Rev. Frank Murphy that involved five victims. Another accused a former Kenai priest, the late Rev. Robert Wells, of abusing a girl for eight years. In the third case, an Anchorage man accused the Rev. Robert Bester of asking him for sexual favors.

Counting previous payments and fees for lawyers and counseling, the Anchorage Archdiocese has paid out about $1.5 million to address sexual abuse claims, he said. Insurance policies have paid off additional amount.

The property for sale most recently was home to Schwietz in a West Anchorage neighborhood of older homes. There are two dwellings on the half-acre lot, a 3,655-square-foot main house built in 1966 and a cottage built in 1962. The homes used to be the convent for the Sisters of St. Ann. The order left the state 10 years ago.

Cleanup follows oil spill in Chena River

FAIRBANKS - Cleanup crews and firefighters in boats spent five hours trying to recover an estimated 100 gallons of lightweight oil that spilled into the Chena River, the waterway that runs through downtown Fairbanks.

The Department of Environmental conservation responded Tuesday after oil used in the Aurora Energy power plant's cooling system leaked from a tube in a turbine.

A turbine unexpectedly shut off an automated safety measure in response to the leak, said Buki Wright, general manager of Aurora Energy, the company that owns the plant.

The plant pumps water from the Chena River and circulates it through turbines as part of the cooling system. That water is then pumped back into the river.

Oil leaked into the cooling water and was released into the river. When the turbine shut off the water pump also stopped, so no more oil was released, Wright said.

Basketball players charged in thefts

FAIRBANKS - Two University of Alaska Fairbanks basketball players have pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing laptop computers from student apartments.

Christopher Adams, 23, and Christopher Jordan, 20, entered pleas Tuesday in Fairbanks Superior Court. They are charged with entering five unlocked apartments on Sept. 3 in the Cutler Student Apartment Complex and taking three laptop computers.

An employee of the school's financial aid office, Mina M. Nix, 30, is charged with helping hide two of the computers.

Jordan is a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Houston, Texas. Adams is a 6-foot-7 forward from San Bernardino, Calif. Both are juniors.

They were suspended earlier this month from the Alaska Fairbanks NCAA Division II basketball team for breaking team rules. University officials have said little about why they were suspended.

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