January 24, 2006

Victim Testifies at Priest's Trial

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff Writer

The priest took him, a poor boy from a troubled Antelope Valley family, on a motorcycle trip to Hearst Castle, on water and snow skiing outings and to high school golf tournaments.

At the rectory at St. Elizabeth's Mission in Lake Hughes, the boy sat with Father Michael Edwin Wempe and the other priests, eating foods he'd never tasted before. Wempe even gave him an ATM card, warning him to limit withdrawals to $20 a day.

"As an adult, when I think about it, I feel like I prostituted myself. I feel disgusted," the former altar boy, now 40, told jurors Monday, describing the prelude to five years of molestations by the former priest.

Wempe, 66, is on trial for allegedly molesting a boy at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where Cardinal Roger M. Mahony assigned him in the 1990s after a stint of therapy triggered by an earlier sexual misconduct report.

Wempe has admitted through his lawyer to abusing 13 other boys, including the St. Elizabeth's altar boy, but denies the current charges. Wempe was originally charged with earlier abuse cases as well, but they were thrown out when the Supreme Court in 2003 barred retroactive prosecution for decades-old molestations.

Posted by kshaw at January 24, 2006 07:35 AM