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News Wrap: Judge Orders Trial for 2 Penn State Officials

December 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A Pennsylvania judge today ordered trials for two Penn State officials accused of lying to a grand jury.

It stems from a probe of sexual abuse charges against Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach. The judge’s ruling involved Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, who is now on leave, and Gary Schultz, a former university vice president.

Earlier in the day, assistant football coach Mike McQueary testified that he — quote — “has no doubt” he saw Sandusky molest a boy in a locker room shower in 2002.”

As many as 20,000 children have been sexually abused in Roman Catholic institutions in the Netherlands since 1945. An independent commission announced that finding today, after investigating incidents at schools, orphanages and seminaries. The report said some 800 priests, pastors and laypeople were implicated, but only about 100 are still alive.

After the release, the archbishop of Utrecht issued an apology.

WIM EIJK: I feel ashamed, and I feel deeply touched and affected by what I have read in the report.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The archbishop said victims will be compensated from a commission established by the church last month. Individual payments could go as high as $130,000.

Baseball’s home run king, Barry Bonds, escaped a prison term today on his conviction for obstructing justice. A federal judge in San Francisco gave him 30 days house arrest and two years probation, plus community service time. The judge then delayed the sentence pending appeal. Bonds was found guilty of misleading a federal grand jury during a probe of steroid use in professional sports.

On Wall Street today, stocks finished out a tough week as worries over European debt continued. The Dow Jones industrial average lost two points to close at 11,866. The Nasdaq rose 14 points to close at 2,555. For the week, the Dow lost more than 2.5 percent. The Nasdaq fell 4 percent.

BP will receive $250 million from the maker of a blowout preventer that failed during the Gulf oil spill last year. Under a legal settlement announced today, both companies will drop all claims against one another. Next February, a federal trial will determine who was at fault in the spill.

Japan has moved a step closer to lifting evacuation orders around a nuclear plant ravaged by the tsunami. The government announced the Fukushima Daiichi plant has reached a stable state known as cold shutdown. Three reactors there went into meltdowns after the disaster last March. It became the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said one major concern has been resolved, but there’s still a long way to go.

YOSHIHIKO NODA (through translator): Although phase two is complete, our battle with the nuclear accident has not ended. For now, we need to move on from stabilizing the nuclear reactors to decommissioning the nuclear reactors.

HARI SREENIVASAN: A 12-mile zone around the plant will likely be off-limits for years to come. But today’s announcement could lead to letting some of the 100,000 evacuees return to less contaminated areas.

Tensions flared in Egypt today as soldiers stormed a protest camp in Cairo. At least three protesters were shot to death, with more than 200 injured. The troops battled crowds outside the cabinet building, where demonstrators had camped for three weeks, demanding an end to military rule. And TV footage showed security officers throwing rocks at protesters from atop the building.

Thousands of people in China gathered for a memorial service today in a small fishing village that has seen months of unrest. They mourned a local butcher who fought against farmland being seized for development without the owner’s consent. He died Sunday after being detained for rioting, but family members said his body showed signs of abuse. Local authorities reported the man died of heart failure.

Outspoken writer Christopher Hitchens died last night of pneumonia after a long struggle with esophageal cancer. The British-born Hitchens was known for biting commentary on politics and religion, including his 2007 book “God Is Not Great,” a manifesto for atheists. Christopher Hitchens was 62 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.