April 28, 2005

Supreme Court ruling favoring defrocked priest reverberating


Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Federal and St. Louis prosecutors are weighing additional sexual-misconduct charges against a defrocked priest who could soon be freed from prison. His attorney questioned the scrutiny, calling his client "a sacrificial lamb" in addressing sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.

A Missouri Senate panel also took the first step Thursday in shoring up a statute the state's highest court narrowly deemed unconstitutionally broad two days earlier in scrapping the conviction of Beine, a former elementary school counselor also known as Mar James.

A U.S. appeals court already had thrown out Beine's federal conviction of possessing child pornography and the resulting prison sentence of nearly five years, ruling that investigators illegally seized key evidence.

It was unclear how soon Beine, 63, might be freed from the Farmington Correctional Center, where he has been serving a 12-year sentence on the St. Louis convictions in 2003. Generally, the state has 15 days from the opinion to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider, with the inmate remaining jailed until the state's intention is known.

Posted by kshaw at April 28, 2005 05:07 PM