January 29, 2005

Abused boy not alone in being used

East Valley Tribune

By Mary K. Reinhart, Tribune Columnist
The young man with the crew cut sat quietly in the front row of the Mesa courtroom.

He stared straight ahead as people stood before the judge and called him a liar and an extortionist.

He met the eyes of the Rev. Karl LeClaire as the former pastor of Mesa’s Queen of Peace Catholic Church turned and apologized to him. Then LeClaire told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens what a wreck his life has become since the young man accused him of child molestation.

"It has been a nightmare. Three years of hell," LeClaire said at his sentencing Friday. "Being robbed of my priesthood and my parish."

The young man listened as Stephens imposed the maximum sentence under LeClaire’s plea deal — three years’ probation and a year in jail — and required him to register as a sex offender. He watched as deputies handcuffed LeClaire and led him away.

He heard LeClaire’s supporters gasp and sob. A travesty of justice, they said. A brilliant career in ruins. A flock adrift without their spiritual adviser. Their beloved priest set up as a fall guy for the true sex offenders in the Roman Catholic Church.

Posted by kshaw at January 29, 2005 10:17 AM