February 01, 2006

Judge drops child sex charge against priest

Democrat & Chronicle

Michael Zeigler
Staff writer

(February 1, 2006) A judge today dropped a sex charge against a Roman Catholic priest.

Rochester City Court Judge John E. Elliott said the prosecution failed to show sufficient evidence that the Rev. Dennis Sewar, 54, committed the misdemeanor of forcible touching of a boy in October 1999 while Sewar was a pastor of Church of the Annunciation in northeast Rochester.

The judge also said that the charge wasn't valid because the law under which Sewar was charged didn't take effect until Feb. 1, 2001 more than a year after the incident allegedly occurred.

"Somehow, the issue that the law was enacted on Feb. 1, 2001, apparently had been under the radar for everyone," he said after granting a motion by defense lawyer John F. Speranza to dismiss the charge.

Sewar, however, still is charged with a lesser misdemeanor of third-degree sexual abuse, which alleges that he touched the boy's genitals through clothing. Elliott scheduled his trial for April 3.

Posted by kshaw at February 1, 2006 04:33 PM