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Accused Ex-Priest Is Denied Cut in Bail

October 10, 2002|ANNA GORMAN

A Superior Court commissioner refused to lower the $1-million bail Wednesday for a former Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting seven girls between 1947 and 1976.

G. Neville Rucker, 82, appeared in a wheelchair in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to be arraigned on the charges, but the hearing was postponed until Nov. 6. Commissioner Jeffrey M. Harkavy said he would consider bail again next week once he had more information about the former priest's finances.

Rucker's attorney, Don Steier, said his client is not in good health and is not a flight risk. "He's not fleeing too far, quite frankly," he told the commissioner.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Suzanne Freeman said $1 million was an appropriate bail "in light of the seriousness of the charges" and that Rucker had enough money to take a 64-day cruise.

Rucker was arrested last month after his cruise ship was diverted on the high seas to Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Prosecutors charged Rucker with 23 counts of child molestation, alleging that he abused seven girls while he worked at several churches in Los Angeles County.

One of the alleged victims, Tammy Helm, said outside court that she was thrilled bail was not reduced. "This man has been molesting kids for over 40 years," she said, adding that now he is in jail, "where he belongs."

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