February 10, 2006

L.A. Priest Abuse Trial Goes to the Jury

Washington Post

The Associated Press
Friday, February 10, 2006; 1:46 PM

LOS ANGELES -- Jurors began deliberating Friday in the sexual abuse trial of a retired priest, whose own attorney denounced his past as a child molester but argued that he didn't molest this accuser.

Michael Wempe is charged with sexually abusing a boy, identified in court only as Jayson B., from 1990 to 1995.

The 66-year-old former priest has acknowledged that Jayson's two older brothers were among 13 boys he abused in the 1970s and 1980s _ crimes for which he cannot be prosecuted now because the statute of limitations has expired. But he denies molesting Jayson.

In closing arguments Thursday, defense attorney Leonard Levine urged jurors not to convict Wempe based on what they know of his past actions.

"No matter how much hatred and contempt you have for what that man did in the '70s and '80s, it's about what happened in this case," Levine said.

Deputy District Attorney Todd Hicks told jurors Wempe is as guilty of sexually abusing a boy in the 1990s as he was decades ago.

Posted by kshaw at February 10, 2006 01:51 PM