January 20, 2006

Priest's Sex Abuse Trial to Start

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff Writer

A retired Roman Catholic priest who has admitted molesting 13 boys goes on trial as early as today on charges that he abused another boy one he denies ever fondling.

Father Michael Edwin Wempe is one of four priests from the Los Angeles Archdiocese to be charged with child molestation in Southern California since 2003, when similar charges were dismissed against nearly a dozen Catholic clerics part of a sex scandal that has rocked the U.S. Catholic Church.

He is using an unusual and experts say risky defense strategy in admitting to abusing the 13 boys. His lawyer contends that the charges Wempe faces were trumped up by the younger brother of two of those victims to keep the criminal case alive.

In 1988, after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a child, Wempe was placed in therapy by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and subsequently returned to priestly duties. Eventually, 13 children accused him of abuse, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled those cases too old for criminal charges.

Posted by kshaw at January 20, 2006 06:39 AM