Across the region



Pastor denies claims in response to suits

ATLANTA --- A megachurch pastor accused of luring four young men into sexual relationships is denying the allegations in a response to the four lawsuits filed against him.

Bishop Eddie Long's attorney, Craig Gillen, said the motion filed Monday in DeKalb State Court denies the claims from the four men that the church leader abused his authority to lure them into sexual relationships.

Long has told supporters at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church he is "not going to be pulled into a street fight" but said that he would not let the legal troubles hinder his work.

The men say they were 17 or 18 when the relationships began. Long, a father of four, has been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, and his church has counseled homosexual members to be straight.

Teen fatally shot after Halloween egg prank

ATLANTA --- Authorities say a driver enraged after his Mercedes-Bemz was splattered with eggs on Halloween fatally shot a 17-year-old in the neck and leg as he tried to run away.

Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones says the driver confronted the teen and fired 10 shots at him around 8 p.m. Sunday.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner's office says the teen, Tivarus King, died as he was being taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

Investigating officers spotted a car fitting the vehicle's description and detained the driver. Atlanta Police spokesman Curtis Davenport says the person was arrested on traffic charges that were not linked to the shooting.

He said officers are investigating whether King threw the eggs and are searching for suspects in the shooting on the northwest side.


Employers get details on jobless tax changes

COLUMBIA --- Employers Monday began getting details on how much they'll pay to repair the state's unemployment insurance fund, and the news is good for more than a third of them.

South Carolina has borrowed $886.7 million to keep paying jobless benefits as the state's unemployment soared. The state's 11 percent in September was the nation's sixth worst and well above the national 9.6 percent unemployment rate.

Legislators approved a record tax increase on employers this year to repay the loans as they overhauled the agency administering benefits.

At least 30,000 -- or 35 percent -- of the state's employers will see their per-worker tax assessments drop by more than $75 yearly, said Erica Von Nessen, a special assistant to the agency's director.