November 27, 2005

Arrested priest is guilty until proven innocent

The Arizona Repubolic

Nov. 27, 2005 12:00 AM

Ed Montini

No one charged with a crime in Arizona is "innocent until proven guilty," especially if he is a priest. Not after all the arrests, all the lawsuits, all the news reports.

A suspect may be presumed innocent in a courtroom, but out in the world it's pretty much just the opposite.

We live in a county where the most popular politician is a sheriff who revels in making life miserable for those in his jails. When told once that two-thirds of his inmates are pretrial defendants who are "presumed innocent" he said, "They are criminals. We don't run a first-class and a second-class section." He's been re-elected three times. advertisement

In civics classes, American children learn a principle of justice described by writer Sir William Blackstone, who said, "It is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

Outside of school, we no longer seem to believe that there are innocents.

Last week, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced that his office had filed a 10-count criminal complaint against Monsignor Dale Fushek accusing him of indecent exposure, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and assault against five boys and two young men in the 1980s. The complaint listing the misdemeanor charges described a series of lurid encounters alleged to have taken place between Fushek and the boys while he was pastor of St. Timothy's Church in Mesa.

Fushek's attorney, Michael Manning, said that the incidents "never happened" and that Fushek will fight them at trial.

Posted by kshaw at November 27, 2005 09:10 AM