April 22, 2005

Former priest sentenced in LA to six years in prison for molestation

San Luis Obispo Tribune

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Saying a former Roman Catholic priest had a "dark side" that supportive parishioners hadn't seen, a judge on Friday sentenced him to more than six years in prison for molesting three boys.

The judge said Fernando Lopez, 40, used his position of power to abuse the boys during a three-year period that began shortly after his temporary transfer to Los Angeles from Rome in 2001.

"The defendant robbed the victims of innocence and scarred them for life," Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan said. "He preyed upon their strong beliefs in the church. ... He destroyed their faith."

During a lengthy hearing Friday, two of Lopez's victims told of their lasting pain from the abuse, nearly two dozen parishioners praised their former priest, and Lopez defiantly lashed out at his accusers and proclaimed his innocence.

The slight, suit-clad priest, his scraggly black hair falling below his shoulders, held his hands out to the teen and young man in the courtroom. "I would like to offer my forgiveness to those who betrayed my trust and friendship," he said.

Posted by kshaw at April 22, 2005 09:55 PM