February 08, 2006

Defense challenges molestation claims as LA priest case nears end

The Press-Enterprise

The Associated Press


In its third week, the molestation trial of retired priest Michael Wempe is drawing to a close with the defense calling witnesses to challenge the truthfulness of a man who says Wempe abused him in the 1990s.

The dates are crucial because earlier prosecutions of Wempe and other priests were barred by a statute of limitations. Now, the defense is seeking to show that the man who claimed to have been molested more recently by the priest made it all up.

Attorney Leonard Levine called as his first witness a car leasing agent whose testimony suggested that Wempe didn't drive a bright purple-blue Thunderbird at the time that his accuser, Jayson B., claims he was molested in the car.

Car leasing agent Robert A. Smith, said Wempe did not take possession of the car until 1995 when it was leased for him in connection with his job as chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He said the car's color was called "chameleon blue" because it changed color depending on the light.

Posted by kshaw at February 8, 2006 09:11 AM