Life in prison. A judge on Thursday sentenced a former member of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., to 40 years in prison for sexually abusing children. A jury in May convicted Nathaniel Morales, 56, of repeatedly molesting three teenage boys in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Popular author C.J. Mahaney was pastor of the church at the time Morales met his victims there. Testimony during Morales’ trial indicated some church leaders might have known about the abuse and failed to report it to police. Bestselling author Joshua Harris is now pastor of Covenant Life Church. He said church leaders are cooperating with an independent investigation the church has commissioned to look into the allegations of a cover-up.
Suffering revealed. Robin Williams was in the early stages Parkinson’s disease when he committed suicide. “Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” Williams’ widow, Susan Schneider, said Thursday in a statement. Williams had been open in interviews about his struggles with addiction and depression, but news of his Parkinson’s came as a surprise to his fans.
Safe and sound. Two young Amish girls returned safely to their families Thursday, a day after their abduction from their family’s farm stand in northern New York. Delila Miller, 7, and Fannie Miller, 12, were tending to customers while the rest of their family took care of the evening milking. Authorities have not released details of how the girls escaped, except to say they turned up Thursday evening at a house about 15 miles from where they were taken. Police said the girls have provided information they hope will lead to their captors’ arrest.
Prestigious pooch. In what one smart-aleck reporter for The Washington Post calls the golden age of American politics, the village of Cormorant, Minn., elected a dog as its mayor. The nearby TV station WDAY reported the Great Pyrenees named Duke has “even helped make his community safer by roaming around.” Cormorant is officially governed by a township board, whose meetings include agenda items to discuss the holes in yards and obtaining a VCR for the local exercise group.
Historic waterway. The Panama Canal turns 100 today. Whether it will last another 100 years is unclear. The canal is undergoing a multibillion-dollar expansion project plagued by cost overruns and labor strikes.