February 01, 2006

Witness Against Priest Turns Defiant

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff Writer

The tears of the key witness in the trial of admitted child molester Father Michael Wempe turned to open defiance Tuesday as the retired priest's lawyer cross-examined him about details of his alleged abuse.

The witness, who was identified in court only as Jayson B., had cried through three days of testimony about his alleged fondling and oral copulation by the priest, whom Cardinal Roger M. Mahony had assigned to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after sending him for treatment for pedophilia.

But when attorney Leonard Levine questioned his memory of being abused in a purple-blue Thunderbird three times from 1991 to 1995, Jayson B. refused to change his story. Levine said the car wasn't bought until 1995.

"You are asking me about a car I was in five times 15 years ago," Jayson B., now 26, said. "I'm not going to change what I remember."

The witness repeatedly told Levine these were details he had spent a lifetime trying to forget.

Wempe originally was charged with abusing five boys, including Jayson B.'s brothers, but was released from jail when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California could not retroactively prosecute decades-old abuse cases.

Posted by kshaw at February 1, 2006 08:47 AM