Thursday, August 14, 2003

Priest gets 10 years in sexual abuse case

By Ellen R. Stapleton
The Associated Press

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. - A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for sexually abusing two young boys from a family he befriended years ago.

The Rev. Daniel Clark, 55, was convicted in June by a Bullitt County Circuit Court jury of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. The jury acquitted Clark on one sodomy charge.

Judge Thomas Waller followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Clark to five years in prison on each of the sexual abuse counts to be served consecutively - the maximum possible sentence.

"It is necessary that he be behind bars for the protection of the public," Waller said. "There is a substantial risk he will commit another crime."

Neither Clark nor the defense attorney, David Lambertus, chose to make any statements before the judge announced the sentence. Lambertus declined to comment afterward. The Archdiocese of Louisville did not issue a statement.

Clark will be eligible for parole in a year.

No one from the victims' family attended the sentencing.

Jodi Blair, a member of The Linkup, an advocacy group for clergy abuse victims, said she wished the sentence could have been longer.

"We're not going to let this die," said Blair, who attended the sentencing. "We'll be back in a year. We don't want him out in a year. He needs to serve the full 10 years because it's obvious he's not reformed."

The two young victims, who are brothers, testified they were abused by Clark in their home and on outings with the priest.

Clark took the witness stand in his own defense, denying that he had molested the boys.

Prosecutors said the abuse took place over a four-year period ending in 2002. The boys are now 13 and 12.

Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to sodomy and sexual abuse for molesting two boys at St. Rita Catholic Church in Louisville, where he was assistant pastor. He served 90 days in jail on a work-release program and five years' probation.

Archbishop Thomas Kelly removed Clark from public ministry after the first conviction but allowed him to volunteer for several groups and wear his priest's collar.

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