March 24, 2005

Priest, 76, Aquitted Of Rape Charge


POSTED: 7:31 am EST March 24, 2005

BROCKTON, Mass. -- A 76-year-old priest was acquitted Wednesday of allegations he repatedly raped a young parishioner in the late 1980s in a church office.

The Rev. John P. Lyons closed his eyes and bowed his head as the verdict was read in Brockton Superior Court, where jurors began deliberating Tuesday after one day of testimony. He could have faced up to life in prison.

About two dozen parishioners from his church, St. Rose of Lima Church in Rochester, Mass., cheered the verdict while the accuser's family wailed, The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass., reported.

The accuser's mother cried out, "I can't believe you would do this to my son." She and other relatives were ordered out of the courtroom.

"I'm delighted," Lyons said after the verdict, declining to comment further.

The accuser, a former parishioner at St. Rose of Lima, testified that Lyons molested him from 1987 until 1989. Now 26, he was 8 years to 10 years old when the alleged abuse occurred.

The accuser testified that the abuse started slowly and escalated to sex acts as he met with Lyons in a church office for private religious classes on Saturdays.

Posted by kshaw at March 24, 2005 08:09 AM