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Threats against RI atheist teen being investigated

January 13, 2012
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CRANSTON, R.I.—Police are investigating threats on social media directed at the 16-year-old atheist at the center of a legal battle over a prayer banner at her public high school in Rhode Island.

Cranston police Maj. Robert Ryan said Friday that authorities are questioning people who have threatened to harm Cranston High School West student Jessica Ahlquist.

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the removal of a prayer banner at her school. The Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union sued the city and School Committee last year over the prayer.

Ryan says investigators are focusing on five to 10 people, both minors and adults. He says most of the threats are from Cranston residents.

Ryan says police are increasing patrols around the school and Ahlquist's home. He says Ahlquist stayed home from school on Friday.

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