Priest found guilty of sex crimes
Sex crimes such as sexual assault sexual molestation are extremely serious crimes that can land people in jail for multiple life sentences if they are found guilty. If you have been accused of such crimes, it is imperative that you have a quality criminal defense lawyer to represent you in your case. On Tuesday, a Somerset County priest was found guilty of having sex with three boys at a Honduran orphanage that he supported through his nonprofit foundation. He was also found guilty of transferring money outside the U.S. to fund his illicit activities and possessing pornographic pictures of children. The 70-year-old priest provided no reaction when the verdict was read in a federal courtroom in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The priest’s two sisters and two nieces accompanied him at each trial and could be seen sitting with others from the Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Central City. A witness said they were beside themselves as the verdicts were read. Court documents show that jurors deliberated for more than twelve hours over two days and found the priest guilty of five of the eight counts against him. Two counts involving the money transfer were let go. The priest pleaded not guilty and did not testify during the week-long trial. The priest could be sentenced to a as long as 130 years in prison, which is the potential maximum penalty of ten years for the child pornography charge, and up to thirty years each of the other four charges. During her closing arguments today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Haines said the priest got away “…with horrific crimes against children” for more than ten years. The priest’s lawyer told jurors that when the Department of Homeland Security picked up the case a year ago, the FBI looked at the same evidence six years ago and had dropped the case. The priest’s attorney also spoke about the priest’s twenty-eight years with the church and his service in the Navy during Vietnam. The attorney also said that one of the alleged victims, who is not 24-years-old, retracted statements on the witness stand and told jurors that federal investigators pressured him into telling them the priest abused him. The priest’s three accusers and a witness who traveled from Honduras to testify for the government were brought into the courtroom to hear the verdict. They, too, provided no emotion as their interpreter told them the verdict. The priest’s family and lawyer left the courtroom through a side door to avoid reporters. The U.S. District Court Judge Kim R. Gibson will sentence the priest on 16 February 2016. If you have questions about sex crimes, call Pennsylvania sex crimes attorney Gary Gerson for a free consultation today at 412-219-6875.