March 30, 2006

Defrocked priest released from prison, put in jail

Wichita Eagle

Robert Larson, a longtime priest in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita who admitted molesting altar boys in the 1980s, was released from Lansing Correctional Facility on Wednesday after serving five years in prison.

Larson, 76, was transferred to the Harvey County Jail, where he will stay until a judge determines whether probable cause exists to have the former priest declared a sexual predator.

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline filed a petition in Harvey County last week seeking that declaration. State law allows offenders who are designated sexual predators to be held in state mental hospitals to undergo treatment indefinitely, even after their prison sentences are up.

"We're doing everything we can to make sure that he is not put in a position to re-offend," said Whitney Watson, a spokesman for Kline.

Larson pleaded guilty in 2001 in Harvey County District Court to abusing three altar boys and a 19-year-old man while he was pastor at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton in the mid-1980s. As part of a plea agreement which was offered to Larson in 2001 by then-Harvey County Attorney Matt Treaster, the state agreed not declare Larson a sexual predator.

Posted by kshaw at March 30, 2006 08:40 AM