January 28, 2006

Judge refuses to close hearing of priest accused of sexual assault

The Coloradoan


The public will be allowed to attend an upcoming hearing in the case of a former Fort Collins Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a child, a judge ruled Friday.

District Court Judge Jolene Blair rejected a motion by lawyers for Timothy Evans, 43, who argued that allowing the public and media into a pretrial hearing could violate his right to a fair trial. She didn't comment on her reasoning.

The motion to close the preliminary hearing was opposed by the Fort Collins Coloradoan and The Denver Post, who argued that barring the public from the pretrial hearing would be an extreme step not supported by evidence. Lawyers for the two papers argued that the defense had other less drastic means to protect Evans' fair-trial rights.

David Mestas, one of Evans' defense attorneys, said he was not surprised by Blair's ruling.

"It's a pretty drastic move for a judge to make," he said, adding that he and his co-counsel, Erik Fischer, worry that the public has been influenced by news regarding the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Posted by kshaw at January 28, 2006 07:06 AM