By: David Rice Re: In The News PANAMA CITY, Fla. (ITN) A county sheriff was convicted Frid

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By: David Rice Re: In The News PANAMA CITY, Fla. (ITN) * A county sheriff was convicted Friday of coercing five female inmates into performing oral sex on him in exchange for jail privileges. Al Harrison wept and insisted he was innocent after the federal jury returned its verdict. "I swear to God I didn't do it," Harrison sobbed. His denials grew louder as Harrison was led from the courtroom. He could be heard sobbing uncontrollably, saying: "Oh Lord, I served my people, I served my country. I didn't do this, I swear to God, Jesus Christ. I'm a Christian." Harrison's family joined in the emotional outburst and his wife, Bonnie, had to be restrained as she tried to go to him. The jury of eight women and four men found Harrison guilty of seven civil rights counts and innocent of three. All of the charges were misdemeanors. He faces up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of $700,000. Defense lawyer Don Modesitt said he would appeal. On Thursday, Harrison, 52, tearfully denied the accusations, saying semen stains in his office at Port St. Joe may have been left when he had sex with his wife during a hurricane emergency in 1985. Mrs. Harrison took the stand and corroborated his story. His lawyer argued Friday that his accusers were "a bunch of criminals" bent on revenge for their arrests and were being helped by the sheriff's political enemies. "How can you believe these people?" Modesitt asked. Harrison, former Air Force military policeman and state trooper, was taken into custody pending his March 28 sentencing. He was suspended last June. ___---------------------------------------------------- BOSTON (ITN) * A man charged in two deadly abortion clinic shootings was obsessed with Catholicism and had visions of "an evil birdlike figure," his parents said Friday, expressing regret they hadn't helped him seek mental treatment. In their first public comments since the shootings, John C. Salvi II and his wife, Anne Marie, said they might have prevented the attacks if they had recognized the seriousness of their son's torment. They also extended their condolences to the families of the two receptionists killed in the shootings. "We only wish we could bring them back and erase the pain of their loved ones. Unfortunately, we cannot," Salvi read from a statement at a news conference as his wife sat weeping nearby. John C. Salvi III, a 22-year-old apprentice hairdresser from Hampton, N.H., is charged in the Dec. 30 rifle assaults on two suburban Boston abortion clinics. Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols were killed and five others were wounded. The following day a clinic in Norfolk, Va., was raked by gunfire. No one was hurt, but Salvi was arrested minutes later. In a low voice, the elder Salvi detailed his son's bizarre behavior. He also urged other parents not to dismiss similar expressions by their children, as he and his wife had. The couple refused to answer questions. "John has been obsessed with his Catholic faith and has had delusions about conspiracies against Catholics, the end of the world, the need for currency printed by the church and the presence of an anti-Christ among us," Salvi said. He said his son had once claimed to "have seen a big, black evil birdlike figure over his shoulder" in the family's home in Naples, Fla. Another time, the younger Salvi told his parents he had seen evil in a rented apartment and "stayed up all night in prayer to keep it away from him." "We took his silence and recent behavior as an improvement over things that have happened in the past," the father said. "We know now how wrong we were. ... If we had gotten him help, maybe this terrible tragedy might not have happened." The younger Salvi is charged with two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. He is being held without bail. He also faces state charges in Virginia and federal charges. His next court date is Feb. 1. William D. Crowe, the parents' lawyer, said the Salvis had noticed a rising religious fervor in their son since he was a teen-ager, expressed most recently through regular Bible readings. The attorney for the younger Salvi, J.W. Carney Jr., plans to meet with U.S. Attorney Donald Stern on Monday in an effort to sway federal authorities from seeking the death penalty. Crowe said the Salvis plan to write to Stern on their son's behalf. "Quite simply, the Salvis position is that their son is suffering from a very serious mental condition. He is not a candidate for the death penalty," he said. ___ * OFFLINE 1.58 * No, but you sure as hell implied it, Gerbil Boy.

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