Good morning, Philly. Today, your 76ers are resting after one of the most important nights of a new era of Sixers basketball. The team defeated the Miami Heat to advance in the NBA playoffs in front of a raucous crowd in South Philadelphia. The crowd included many stars, but none more noticeable than Meek Mill. Hours before the game, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Mill released from prison — a decision celebrated by Mill’s many supporters. His music became the soundtrack to the Sixers’ win. A culture of secrecy has hidden abuses within the Jehovah’s Witnesses for years. As David Gambacorta reports, child sex abuse claims are coming to light as victims and families can no longer remain silent. Let’s begin.
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Two years ago, the Sixers won 10 games. Today, they are celebrating after advancing to the second round of the playoffs by defeating Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in a very physical five-game series.
From start to finish, the atmosphere was an electric one. Meek Mill kicked things off by ringing the pregame bell and the Sixers delivered a win led by a strong performance from J.J. Redick and poise from their young leaders, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered Mill’s release because of questions the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office raised about the credibility of the arresting officer in Mill’s case. After his release, Mill went straight to last night’s Sixers game.
The Meek Mill saga has been a controversial one that has sparked debate across the country about the state of the criminal justice system, leading to the rise of the #FreeMeekMill hashtag on social media and on signs at rallies.
Words can’t describe the horror that Martin Haugh experienced when he discovered his 4-year-old daughter being molested inside the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in York County. Haugh and his wife went to the elders of their congregation to report the incident, but received muted concern and threats.
Reporter David Gambacorta has taken a deep dive into the insular culture of the Jehovah’s Witnesses — a culture that creates a “recipe for child abuse.” Documents show that the Witnesses’ leadership have long encouraged secrecy in potential legal matters.
A growing number of court cases, criminal prosecutions, and whistle-blowers, have helped to shed light on some of the “monsters who lurk in the shadows.” The child abuse claims are just one piece of the complicated puzzle.
If you have a story or tip about sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can share your experience with us.
What you need to know today
- Authorities say a shocking murder-suicide, in a typically quiet Radnor neighborhood, was extensively planned and was sparked by a love triangle.
- The jury in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial heard the final pitches from both sides on Tuesday. The prosecution painted Cosby as a serial sexual predator as the defense took aim at the credibility of all the accusers in the trial — primarily Andrea Constand.
- Chris Christie is no longer New Jersey’s governor, but “Bridgegate” has not gone away. Lawyers are still debating whether the scheme was a federal crime and a class-action lawsuit is pending.
- The 2017 death of Penn State student Tim Piazza led to a deep examination of the culture of fraternities and earlier this week, Penn State’s president helped to lead a national meeting to address the problems with hazing in fraternity and sorority systems.
- According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, 1,217 people died of drug overdoses in Philadelphia last year. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is much more powerful than heroin, proved to be the most deadly.
- It’s still unclear whether the Eagles will celebrate their Super Bowl win with President Trump at the White House, but Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles has made his mind up about the visit — sort of.
- Residents in two West Philly apartment buildings received letters saying they had to move out as the city was ordering their landlord to cease operations, but the city says no such order was ever issued.
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
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- The closure of Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market is a major blow for shoppers who want to find fresh farm organic produce, but don’t worry. Food critic Craig LaBan shares a few other Philly spots that can fill the void.
- One way to make sure your teen’s phone stays in their pocket while driving is to put a little money in there. According to a study at the University of Pennsylvania, teens view cash rewards as the most enticing incentive to not text and drive.
- Must you rub it in? A funeral home in Pittsburgh posted a custom prayer card on social media, sending condolences to Flyers fans after their playoff loss to the Penguins.
- Colombian-born rock star Juanes played in Philadelphia for the Papal Visit in 2016. He returned to Philly last night — in front of a slightly smaller crowd — but first, he shared a little about his musical journey.
- The NFL Draft starts tomorrow, but there’s still plenty of time for speculation. Eagles reporter Les Bowen has the Eagles taking a running back at 32 in his mock draft, but admits they could go in a very different direction.
- Speaking of the Birds, Philadelphia will celebrate its “City of Champions” status with a new Eagles Super Bowl mural in Northeast Philly. Some Eagles legends will be on hand for the dedication next month.
“Philly, all of this killing over dumb stuff has got to stop. A bump, a look, some words, and the next thing you know, someone pulls out a gun and starts shooting. That’s what happened with Dominique Oglesby.“ — Columnist Jenice Armstrong urges anyone with information in the shooting death of Dominique Oglesby to help bring closure to the family.
- The Inquirer Editorial Board writes that President Trump and Congress are taking part in two-faced politics with the mishandling of the country’s immigration program for migrant workers.
- Columnist Maria Panaritis explains that the dismantling of Bill Cosby’s accusers by his defense team was a “sickening” display and a bad sign for the #MeToo movement.
What we’re reading
- Like Pennsylvania, Texas has a redistricting fight of its own. The Texas Tribune breaks down everything you need to know as the Supreme Court decides whether the state’s map was drawn to discriminate against Hispanic and black voters.
- A bill proposed by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker would guarantee a job to any American that wants one. Think that idea sounds crazy? A Bloomberg column argues that it might be more realistic than you think.
- You thought that party you planned was tough? Surely, it was nothing like an official state visit. This week, President Trump hosted his first with French President Emmanuel Macron. Business Insider explains how much attention to detail goes into these visits.
- This Esquire story about the efforts of World Central Kitchen, an organization that continues to feed hungry Puerto Ricans devastated by Hurricane Maria, will challenge any notion that the island is fine now.
- It’s crunch time for all of us trying to get more fit for summer, which means trainers are working overtime. Philadelphia Magazine breaks down all the ways we annoy our trainers. Here’s a tip: put your phone away.
Your Daily Dose of | Hustle
Playwright Michael Hollinger is keeping busy as he has two Philly plays that he’s preparing at once. Luckily, it isn’t his first time doing so.