May 19, 2006

Deacon seeking sentence leniency

WAILUKU (HI)
Honolulu Advertiser

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

WAILUKU, Maui A Catholic deacon who pleaded guilty this week to 62 sexual assault charges will seek a year of jail and 20 years of probation under a special "expedited sentencing program."

James "Ron" Gonsalves, 69, of Wailuku, is well-known in the island's Catholic community and was administrator at St. Ann Church in Waihe'e when he was indicted in July for sexual contact with a boy who was 12 when the crimes began in 2002. The assaults, which included oral sex and attempted sodomy, continued until June 2005 at Gonsalves' home and at the church.

Although other Hawai'i clergy have been accused of sexual abuse, Gonsalves is the first to face criminal charges since the problem became a national scandal for the Catholic Church. Other recent claims of sexual abuse by Hawai'i clergy have been made many years after the conduct was alleged to have occurred, past the statute of limitations for prosecution.

Gonsalves pleaded guilty Wednesday in 2nd Circuit Court to 30 counts of first-degree sexual assault, 30 counts of third-degree sexual assault and two counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault. The first-degree offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, and the third-degree charges by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Posted by kshaw at May 19, 2006 07:28 AM