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The Odd Truth, April 8, 2004

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum.

The Passion Of The Bunny

GLASSPORT, Pa. - First, the Passion of the Christ. Now, the torment of the Easter Bunny?

It may not have been as gruesome as Mel Gibson's movie, but many parents and children got upset when a church trying to teach about Jesus' crucifixion performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs.

People who attended Saturday's show at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

Melissa Salzmann, who brought her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. "He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped," Salzmann said.

Patty Bickerton, the youth minister at Glassport Assembly of God, said the performance wasn't meant to be offensive. Bickerton portrayed the Easter rabbit and said she tried to act with a tone of irreverence.

"The program was for all ages, not just the kids. We wanted to convey that Easter is not just about the Easter bunny, it is about Jesus Christ," Bickerton said.

Performers broke eggs meant for an Easter egg hunt and also portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman, said Jennifer Norelli-Burke, another parent who saw the show in Glassport, a community about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

"It was very disturbing," Norelli-Burke said. "I could not believe what I saw. It wasn't anything I was expecting."

Crack Concealed In Belly Fat

OKEECHOBEE - Authorities in Florida charge that inmate Jonathan Wilson was packing more than doughnuts on his 350-pound frame. According to guards at the Okeechobee County jail, Wilson hid crack cocaine under a roll of belly fat. An initial strip search didn't reveal any contraband. But officials say a second search turned up a cigar holder stashed in a fold of Wilson's ample flesh. According to guards, the tube contained nearly two grams of crack. Jailed on sale and possession of cocaine charges, Wilson faces
an additional charge for introduction of contraband into a
detention facility.

Woman Performs C-Section To Save Baby

CHICAGO - Doctors say a rural Mexican woman used her farming skills to perform a C-section on herself - and delivered a healthy baby boy.

The effort is described as "heroic."

The authors of a medical journal report say there are cases of women performing Caesareans on themselves, but none where mother and child both survived.

The woman lived in a dirt-floor house with no electricity or running water and was alone when she went into labor with her ninth child.

There were complications - and the woman's experience slaughtering animals helped her perform the crude C-section. Having lost a baby during childbirth, she was determined to save this one.

A local nurse later closed the incision with an ordinary needle and thread. She was later taken to a hospital.

The report on the 2002 incident appears in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

The Best Car Thief Ever!

SHEFFIELD, England - Colin Sadd might be the man you'd prefer to steal your car, but he's going to jail again.

Sadd, 41, who has 155 previous convictions, was sentenced Wednesday to six years in jail after pleading guilty to stealing five cars and admitting responsibility for 31 other thefts.

Sadd's modus operandi is to dress up in a suit, go to an auto dealer and ask for a test drive. The car never returns, but is abandoned after being spotlessly cleaned.

"He looked after the cars he stole better than me," said his wife, Mary, who added that Sadd has never owned a car.

"He only takes brand new vehicles, drives them around for a couple of hours, then he cleans them inside and out. He will even buy a tin of polish to give them an extra sparkle and sometimes takes them to a car wash to get them extra clean."

Psychiatrists have said that Sadd has a compulsive disorder, and a judge in a previous case described him as "the man you would most want to steal your car."

"He has never hurt anyone and he desperately needs help with his obsession," his wife said. "If he was a pedophile or a mugger they would be falling over backwards to help him, but because he is fascinated with taking cars and cleaning them nobody wants to know."

NATO Troops Face Prostitute Discrimination

VILNIUS, Lithuania - The NATO troops dispatched to this Baltic state are being discriminated against by prostitutes who charge them more than three times as much money as Lithuanian clients, the country's police commissioner said.

In recent days, prostitutes have been arriving in the city of Siauliai, where 100 NATO soldiers are stationed as part of a team to service four Belgian F-16s that patrol the skies above Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Police Commissioner General Vytautas Grigaravicius told journalists.

Prostitution is illegal in the country of 3.5 million residents.

The police commissioner said the sex workers were hiking their rates for the Western troops, who come from Belgium and Norway.

"Prostitutes take $35 an hour from Lithuanian citizens, while NATO troops are asked to pay $125 an hour," he said, calling it a clear case of discrimination.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were inducted into the U.S.-led alliance on March 29 along with four other ex-communist countries. Moscow expressed particular anger at the entry of the Baltics, which share borders with Russia, and criticized the deployment of the NATO fighters.

Last week, two NATO soldiers were beaten up, prompting outrage across Lithuania and calls for better protection for troops sent here to defend Lithuania.

Grigaravicius met with acting Lithuanian president Arturas Paulauskas Thursday and pledged to boost the number of police in Siauliai, 120 miles northwest of the capital, Vilnius.

Man Charged With Place-Kicking Dog

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A man was arrested on charges of killing his neighbor's 17-year-old dog by place-kicking it like a football.

Chad Daniel Crawford, 23, was charged with cruelty to animals and vandalism Tuesday in the death of Gizmo, a 2-pound miniature Yorkshire terrier. Crawford was freed on $25,000 bail.

Jalani Lewis said he was in his apartment complex when he saw one of three men holding the dog like a football and then saw Crawford kick the animal.

Lewis said the dog flew through the air in a high arc, hit the pavement and rolled under a parked car. The dog was apparently dead when it hit the ground and the men were laughing, Lewis said.

Crawford said the accusations were false but declined further comment.

A Sticky Situation

STAMFORD, Conn. - Election day left its mark on one local man and he's not happy about it.

Robert Bonoff wants the city to pay for a new suede coat that he said was ruined during the March 2 presidential primary by an "I voted today" sticker.

Bonoff said he showed the coat to a dry cleaner who said the sticker's mark cannot be removed. He has filed a claim with the city seeking $106, the purchase price of the coat, including sales tax.

When the damage was brought to her attention, Democratic Registrar of Voters Alice Fortunato said she told Bonoff to get the coat cleaned and bill the city. When that didn't work, she forwarded his case to the city attorney.

"I'm very sorry that he feels that the sticker ruined his coat," she said. "But there's not much this office can do in that regard."

Stamford Director of Legal Affairs Tom Cassone said Bonoff will not be compensated. The city is not liable for damage caused by stickers handed out at the polls, city-sponsored blood drives or other events, he said.