February 02, 2006

Witness: Former priest charged with sex abuse must be punished

The Press-Enterprise

The Associated Press


A man whose account is crucial to the prosecution of a retired priest ended four days of testimony, saying Michael Wempe should be punished and the Roman Catholic Church held accountable for the former minister's sexual abuse.

The 26-year-old witness, identified as Jayson B., left the witness stand Wednesday after an intensive inquiry by Wempe's lawyer, Leonard Levine. The attorney accused him of fabricating his story and highlighted discrepancies between Jayson's claims two years ago and his current account.

Jayson said he remembered things differently and more clearly now than he did when he first went to police and testified at a preliminary hearing.

"For the past two and a half years I have been forced to think about this every day," he said, adding that helped clear his memory.

He claimed a flawed memory on some issues, however, including which parking lot Wempe used when the priest allegedly molested him several times in his car. Jayson blamed the passage of time for that.

"And the reason you can't remember is because they never happened?" asked Levine.

"No," the witness said calmly. "The reason is it happened 15 years ago."

Posted by kshaw at February 2, 2006 06:46 AM