Priest Conviction is Overturned

Associated Press Writer

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court has overturned the sexual abuse conviction of a former priest.

In the majority opinion written by Justice John Minton, the high
court ordered a new trial for Daniel C. Clark, who is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted in 2003 on charges that he abused two boys ages 8 and 9.

The ruling drew immediate response from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a 7,000-member group. "Our hearts ache for these brave victims who did everything society asks crime victims to do," said spokeswoman Barbara Dorris. "They came forward, helped law enforcement, endured a tough legal struggle, and now must feel as though all their strength, risk and effort was wasted."'

Clark is the only former priest who has had a case heard before the state Supreme Court following the sexual-abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Louisville. Four priests and two lay teachers within the Archdiocese have been convicted of abuse since 2002.

Clark was removed from the priesthood in 2004 after his sex abuse conviction.

Louisville attorney David Lambertus argued in November that Clark deserved a new trial because the Bullitt County jury that convicted him was not properly instructed before it began deliberations. Lambertus also argued that the trial judge erred by allowing prosecutors to introduce evidence that Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexual abuse and sodomy.

Lambertus couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The Supreme Court overturned the conviction based on those two arguments. Justices didn't rule on a third argument: That Bullitt County Judge Thomas Waller should have allowed a videotape to be introduced as evidence because it showed the children being coached by a social worker.

The justices said the videotapes were not part of the court record.

Clark was accused in 19 lawsuits against the Louisville Archdiocese, including one that involved a child in the Bullitt County case. The archdiocese settled all the cases.

Dozens of priests were accused in lawsuits against the archdiocese, but many had died. In some cases, victims did not pursue criminal charges or the cases could not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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