February 09, 2006

After claims from many, LA priest abuse case rests on one man

The Press-Enterprise

The Associated Press


After three weeks of tears and accusations from a parade of eight past molestation victims, jurors are being asked to decide whether one additional man, Jayson B., is telling the truth when he says he was abused by retired priest Michael Wempe.

The eight who testified and five others whom Wempe's lawyers admit were abused decades ago are not the issue in this first trial of a priest whose past misconduct could not be prosecuted because of legal time limits.

Jayson alone, now 26, has brought Wempe to court and his is the only case that could send the former priest to jail. Wempe's defense lawyer spent the last day of testimony Wednesday casting doubt on Jayson's veracity, suggesting he made up his story of abuse to avenge his two brothers who were abused by Wempe years earlier.

Both sides were to present final arguments Thursday, the prosecution portraying the 66-year-old Wempe as a pedophile who habitually preyed on young boys and the defense saying he was cured during a church ordered treatment in 1987 and never molested again.

Posted by kshaw at February 9, 2006 08:28 AM