January 29, 2005

Priest given 1 year in jail

The Arizona Republic

Jim Walsh
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 29, 2005 12:00 AM

Supporters of a priest gasped Friday as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge sentenced Father Karl LeClaire to a year in jail for sexually abusing a former parishioner.

Judge Sherry Stephens imposed the maximum sentence possible under LeClaire's plea agreement over the objections of supporters jamming a Mesa courtroom and pleading for leniency. LeClaire must serve the entire sentence without opportunity for early release.

Anthony Chacon, 24, said he was disappointed in the sentence, which also requires LeClaire, 48, to register as a sex offender. The former pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mesa also got three years' probation.

"He's a great friend. There's no doubt in my mind this didn't occur," Chacon said.

But Joe Baca of Chandler, a member of SNAP, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, said LeClaire's supporters are in denial. "In that one incident, he took that child's faith and murdered his soul," Baca said.

Posted by kshaw at January 29, 2005 06:49 AM