November 16, 2005

Editorial: Is a priest guilty until proven innocent?

Oakville-Mehlville Journal


Merely the word of an accuser without any physical evidence recently was sufficient for a jury to find a Catholic priest guilty of sodomizing a minor.

It happened to Father Thomas J. Graham, a highly-respected priest of the St. Louis Archdiocese and the same could happen to any clergyman in this era of suspicion against Catholic priests.

The St. Louis circuit attorney's case against him rested solely on the shaky and inconsistent testimony of an accuser who could not keep his "story" straight.

Observers of the four-day trial including several attorneys, retired lawmen and a veteran court deputy walked away shaking their heads in disbelief that the 30-year-old case had been brought to trial and that the jury could have found the accuser credible.Advertisement

A steady flow of Father Graham's supporters, lifelong friends and former parishioners attended the trial as observers or witnesses. All were stunned by the verdict.

The jury found Father Graham on Aug. 31 guilty of one count of sodomy and recommended 20 years in prison in essence a life sentence for the 72-year-old priest.

Posted by kshaw at November 16, 2005 08:55 PM