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News Quirks 05.24.06 

Curses, Foiled Again

Federal authorities said that Gary E. Peel, 62, a lawyer in Madison County, Ill., had an affair with a 16-year-old girl who was his sister-in-law, then 32 years later tried to use sexually explicit photographs of the girl to leverage his ex-wife out of her share of their divorce settlement. Instead, he was arrested and indicted for possessing child pornography -- the photos of the ex-sister-in-law.

Two Thumbs Down

A Roman Catholic organization in India urged Christians there to protest the release of the movie The Da Vinci Code by starving themselves to death. Joseph Dias, the secretary general of the Catholic Secular Forum, declared that the "fast unto death" would demonstrate "the extent that our feelings have been hurt" and that it is "a more Christian way of doing things rather than pulling down things and tearing them up." About 2 percent of India's 1.1 billion people are Christian.

-- Promoters of the movie Mission: Impossible III put devices in newspaper boxes in Los Angeles to play the theme from the movie whenever customers bought a paper. Receiving reports of the suspicious plastic device with wires hanging out of it, however, the Los Angeles County sheriff's arson squad blew up a Los Angeles Times box in an upscale suburb. Meanwhile, at the Veteran's Administration hospital in West Los Angeles, more than 50 patients and dozens of staff were evacuated after a clerk bought a newspaper from a box inside the hospital, causing, according to hospital official Beverly Fitzgerald, "so much chaos."

Cutting-Edge Medicine

Authorities in Charlotte, N.C., charged three men with performing castrations on apparently willing victims. The Associated Press reported that Danny Reeves, 49, Michael Mendez, 60, and Richard Sciara, 61, admitted performing at least eight surgeries, including castrations and testicle replacements, in the basement of their rural home. Investigators who searched the home found scalpels, sutures, bandages, anesthetic, artificial replacement testicles and videotape of the procedures.

NIMBY

A married couple pleaded no contest to charges that they were running a brothel across the street from a police station in Concord, Calif. Contra Costa County investigators said that Ernest Watts, 63, and Debra Watts, 52, ran the brothel for a year in an apartment, located a few hundred feet from the police station, and used the Internet to solicit clients. As part of their probation, the couple, who recently moved to Las Vegas, are prohibited from working in any business related to prostitution.

Man of the People

Unable to make ends meet on his salary as mayor of Federal Heights, Colo., a Denver suburb, Dale Sparks, 55, took a night job as a doorman at a local strip club. He was on duty when police raided the club and arrested several dancers on various charges, including prostitution. "I didn't know any of this was going on," Sparks said after being questioned and released, insisting that he always stayed at the door. "I don't know what goes on back there." The Rocky Mountain News reported that the mayor quit the night job, declaring, "I don't want a house of ill repute in our city, period."

Wrong Arm of the Law

Police Officer John Scavotto was arrested in East Windsor, Conn., after an accident at roll call in which Scavotto, an 18-year veteran of the force, pointed his Taser gun at another officer. Investigators said the Taser accidentally fired two darts, injuring the other officer in the mouth and neck.

Mensa Reject of the Week

Police in Chesterton, Ind., reported that Michael Morris, 17, suffered a broken leg after he asked a friend to hit him with his car "for fun." The friend, Stephen Domonkos, 18, who told police that they had done the same thing on other occasions, said that this time he was driving about 25 mph when he hit Morris in the parking lot of a restaurant where Domonkos works, shattering the car's windshield. From his hospital bed, Morris told a reporter, "I won't do this no more."

Hot to Trot

A Pennsylvania man and woman were cited in connection with an incident that resulted in a fake penis being microwaved at a convenience store in McKeesport. According to Police Chief Joseph Pero, Vincent Bostic, 31, had filled a fake penis with his urine that his friend, Leslye Creighton, 41, planned to use to pass a drug test she was taking to get a job. Creighton asked a store clerk at the Get Go gas and convenience store to microwave the device so the urine inside would be body temperature and fool those giving the drug test. Police couldn't explain why or how Creighton chose to use a device that mimics the male sex organ to pass her drug test.

Defense attorney William Difenderfer insisted there's no proof his clients had any criminal intent to damage the microwave -- the basis for the criminal mischief charge against them -- but said that they want to settle the case, in part by reimbursing the store for the microwave, which cannot be used for food because bodily fluids were cooked inside it. "I'm certainly not saying it wasn't a stupid thing to do," Difenderfer said, "but there's a lot of bizarre stuff that we don't always have a remedy for in the crimes code."

Open-and-Open Case

Police in Oakland, Calif., accused Eugene Rutledge, 31, of robbing several fast-food restaurants repeatedly, including a Taco Bell four times. The Oakland Tribune reported that the Taco Bell workers considered Rutledge such a regular that they opened the cash register as soon as they saw him coming.

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Bio:
Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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