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Accuser Says He Hid Abuse by Priest

January 31, 2006|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

The man whose accusations could finally land admitted molester Michael Edwin Wempe in jail took the witness stand Monday and testified that he hid his abuse by the priest from everybody, even his mother.

The 26-year-old man, identified in court only as Jayson B., said that, at first, he thought it was normal that the priest touched his genitals. "It was Father Mike," he testified. "It was really difficult to think that anything he did could be wrong."

But he became disturbed when the abuse escalated to oral copulation, said Jayson B., who wept through most of his testimony.

"I said, 'What are you doing?' " Jayson B. testified. "And he said that I was a special boy and he loves me."

Wempe is accused of molesting Jayson B. from 1990 to 1995, beginning when Jayson B. was 11, while the priest was working as a chaplain at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony assigned Wempe to the hospital after sending him to residential therapy for treatment of pedophilia.

Wempe originally faced criminal charges for molesting Jayson's two brothers, but he walked out of jail a free man when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 barred retroactive prosecution of decades-old abuse allegations. Weeks later, Jayson B. came forward with his allegations. Wempe subsequently admitted molesting the brothers, but he denies touching Jayson B.

Wempe's lawyers say Jayson B. is lying to avenge his brothers and insist that the priest has not molested anyone since his therapy.

Jayson B. testified that Wempe twice fondled him in the priest's Cedars-Sinai office and while the boy was sitting on the priest's lap, steering his car. The priest also orally copulated him once in the hospital parking lot and another time during a driving lesson near the boy's Westlake Village home, he said.

Wempe, now 66, faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted on all five counts of lewd conduct and oral copulation with a minor. He was forced to retire in 2002.

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