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.

— Ray Boyd (@RayBoydDigital, morningnewsletter@philly.com)

Ben Simmons fielded a few questions about Meek Mill (left) before asking reporters to focus on the game, just like he was.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Ben Simmons fielded a few questions about Meek Mill (left) before asking reporters to focus on the game, just like he was.

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.  

Luckily for Embiid, the Sixers will sit back, relax, and wait to find out who they will take on in round two as the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks continue to battle.

Judge Genece Brinkley's decision to sentence Meek Mill to two to four years in prison on probation violations was immediately greeted with outrage.

Since Mill was sentenced, a number of high profile individuals visited him in prison, including Al SharptonMayor Kenney, and shortly before the order, comedian Kevin Hart.

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

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

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That’s Interesting

  • 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.

Opinions

April 25, 2018
Signe Wilkinson
April 25, 2018
"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.

What we’re reading

Playwright Michael Hollinger (center) watches as the crew works on part of the set for “Hope and Gravity” at Plays and Players Theatre.
David Maialetti
Playwright Michael Hollinger (center) watches as the crew works on part of the set for “Hope and Gravity” at Plays and Players Theatre.

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.