Parties Prepare for Sex Abuse Trial

A DC Superior Court judge heard arguments on two motions in a sex abuse case set for trial later this month.

The defendant, a former Catholic priest, is charged with two counts of misdemeanor sex abuse. These charges were originally part of a seven-count indictment filed against him in May 2019, according to court documents. 

The following November, the defendant was convicted of three counts of second-degree child sex abuse and one count of misdemeanor sex abuse. He was then sentenced to a total of 15 years for these offenses and is now awaiting a non-jury trial for the other two misdemeanor sex abuse charges. These charges stem from the allegation that he touched a woman’s breast twice in 2017 after she went to him for confession.

The woman went to another priest from the same parish in November 2018. He contacted law enforcement on her behalf. She also told her mother on the same day of the alleged incident.

The prosecution had intended to include these reports as evidence in the upcoming trial, which is scheduled to begin on Nov. 29. Defense attorney David Ritcher motioned for these reports to be excluded as “inadmissible hearsay” in March 2020.

During the Nov. 18 hearing, Judge Juliet McKenna called it “unduly prejudicial” to introduce evidence of the reports made about the alleged incident to the priest, the victim’s mother and law enforcement.

Judge McKenna allowed the prosecution to introduce the report the victim made to her mother. She only allowed the prosecution to include limited statements to the priest or the Metropolitan Police Department.

The prosecution also gave notice back in September of their intent to introduce evidence stemming from one of the defendant’s second-degree child sex abuse convictions, which involved conduct similar to that alleged in the pending misdemeanor sex abuse charges, at the trial. The defense has opposed this.

However, upon learning that the defendant does not intend to use the defense that the alleged incident in question was a mistake or accident, the prosecution said they would no longer use the evidence.

Judge McKenna put the motion on hold rather than denying it as moot in case the defense changes their mind.

Two days have been set aside for the upcoming trial.