Jury choice begins in priest’s trial

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita However, Wempe cannot be prosecuted in connection with the other eight accusers because the alleged molestations occurred too long ago, Hicks said. Defense attorney Leonard Levine said he is not contesting the allegations of any of the other eight witnesses, but he believes that having so many testify could prejudice the case against his client. Levine, however, is challenging the allegations by the accuser in the current case. “We believe he came forward out of anger and revenge,” Levine said earlier. According to the attorney, the accuser, now 25, was unhappy that charges against Wempe involving the accuser’s two brothers were dropped because of a June 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The high court struck down a state law extending the statute of limitations retroactively in old molestation cases. Wempe was arrested in connection with the current case three weeks after the charges involving the accuser’s brothers were dismissed. The high court ruling on the statute of limitations precludes prosecution of Wempe on any of the allegations made by the other accusers, who claim they were abused in the 1970s and 1980s. The eight also can only testify about acts similar to those alleged by the current accuser. Attorneys said they believe jury selection will take about three days and that the trial will last about three weeks. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wempe was assigned to St. Jude’s Church in Westlake Village, Sacred Heart Church in Ventura and St. Mary’s in Palmdale. He also taught at Paraclete High School in Lancaster. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Jury selection got under way Tuesday in Los Angeles for the trial of a former Roman Catholic priest charged with molesting a boy in the early 1990s. Michael Wempe, 65, who was assigned to parishes in Palmdale, Ventura and Westlake Village and taught at a Catholic high school in Lancaster, faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted of five felony counts, according to Deputy District Attorney Todd Hicks. Two brothers of the alleged victim and six other accusers are expected to testify that they also were molested by Wempe when they were boys, Hicks said. Their testimony will help demonstrate that Wempe had a history of abusing young boys, he said. last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *