November 20, 2005

Priest admits prior abuses

Pasadena Star-News

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - An attorney for a Roman Catholic priest expected to stand trial next week on child molestation charges said his client had molested 13 boys more than 20 years ago.

The lawyer for Michael Wempe made the admission Friday during a hearing in a criminal case in which the former priest is accused of molesting a boy when he was chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Defense attorneys Leonard Levine and Donald Steier opted to acknowledge previous clergy abuse in hopes of limiting damaging testimony about old cases.

Jurors probably "will say to themselves, `We don't care. We are not going to find him guilty for what he did 20 years ago,"' Levine told the court.

Wempe, 64, has pleaded not guilty to five charges that he sexually abused a boy over a five-year period.

Posted by kshaw at November 20, 2005 08:35 AM