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Nation in brief: Geneticist guilty of molesting girl

A jury on Wednesday convicted a renowned geneticist of molesting the daughter of a colleague, rejecting the defense’s contention that he was only a kindly mentor to the girl.

William French Anderson, 69, is widely credited as the “father of gene therapy,” a promising but controversial experimental medical treatment that involves injecting healthy genes into sick patients. His successful treatment of a patient this way in 1990 launched the field.

Anderson was convicted of one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child under age 14 and three counts of committing a lewd act on a child.


DNA-cleared prisoner released

A man who was wrongfully convicted of rape and served 23 years in prison was released Wednesday after DNA tests indicated someone else committed the crime.

Johnny Briscoe, 52, walked out of a state prison in Charleston a day after he was declared innocent by a judge. He was in seclusion with his family and authorities said he was expected to speak to the media today.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who was not the prosecutor when the case was tried, called Briscoe’s incarceration a “terrible mistake.” He said it was exacerbated by the county crime lab’s failure to locate evidence when the prosecutor first requested a review six years ago.


Pair face more terrorism charges

Two men already accused of discussing terrorism targets with Islamic extremists were indicted Wednesday on charges of undergoing paramilitary training in northwest Georgia and plotting a “violent jihad” against civilian and government targets, including an air base in suburban Atlanta.

The new indictment accuses Syed Ahmed, a 21-year-old Georgia Tech student who was arrested in March, and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee of traveling to Washington, D.C., to film possible targets, including the U.S. Capitol and the headquarters of the World Bank, and sharing the recordings with another alleged terrorist based in Great Britain.

Both men are U.S. citizens who grew up in the Atlanta area. They previously were accused of traveling to Canada last year to meet with Islamic extremists to discuss “strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike,” including military bases and oil refineries, according to prosecutors.


Gates grants will fund AIDS research

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday it’s awarding $287 million in grants over five years to create an international network of scientists to speed up the development of an AIDS vaccine.

The collaboration is critical to making HIV vaccine development more efficient, said Dr. Nicholas Hellmann, acting director of the Gates Foundation’s HIV, TB and reproductive health program.

Hellmann acknowledged that an effective vaccine may still be 10 years away.

Each of the 165 investigators in 19 countries who will get money in this series of grants had to agree to share their findings in real time and compare results with others.


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