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Colorado Springs priest accused of sex crimes

Law enforcement officials announced yesterday that they'd arrested a Colorado Springs priest on suspicions that he committed sexual assault on a child.

The priest, 77, has been under investigation by police since January. The Diocese of Colorado Springs placed him on administrative leave at that time, after learning of the investigation.

He has been at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church since 2007, moving here from St. Louis, where he'd served at three Catholic parishes.

The priest has apparently been in declining health and had planned to retire this spring. Because of the investigation, his retirement was moved to late February.

Back in May of 2010, a Colorado Springs woman, the family friend of a teenager, 15, reportedly noticed a close relationship between the priest and the boy.

The teen is the son of the woman's friend. She said that at first, the boy, who had an interest in Catholicism, was paid by the cleric to clean his house. Later, the woman told a media source, she noticed a change in the relationship. She said that at times, the priest behaved as a "jealous lover" regarding the boy, wanting to know the boy's whereabouts at all times, and repeatedly calling and texting.

The boy, whose mother is a single parent, often spent nights with a teenage friend, the woman said. While there, he would get frequent calls from the priest, she said.

The woman said this behavior is what prompted her to call police back in October of last year and report the priest.

While the woman might well have found the behavior alarming, the priest is entitled to a presumption of innocence, and if you read the account of his behavior, it's not difficult to interpret it as a sign of concern by a priest for a teenager.

In similar situations, defendants do well to discuss their legal options with an attorney with a record of successfully defending clients accused of sex offenses.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, "Colorado Springs priest arrested on allegations of sex abuse," May 22, 2012

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