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Catholic priest gets 15 years for sex abuse

Published:Sunday | June 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP):

A former Catholic priest dying of cancer was sentenced last Friday to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a teenage boy at a church, with a judge saying it was time for the former clergyman to "face the consequences".

James Schook, who sought several delays to his criminal case, glanced at his family members in the courtroom before being taken into custody.

Schook, 66, made no statements and did not testify during his April trial.

The trial had been repeatedly delayed after Schook was indicted on sex abuse charges in 2011. He had argued that he was too frail from late-stage skin cancer and on too many medications to stand trial.

During the sentencing hearing, Schook's attorney, David Lambertus, urged the judge to keep Schook out of prison by allowing him to serve out his term on probation. Lambertus also asked if Schook could remain out of prison on bond while his case is appealed.

"It would make a joke of the appeal if Mr Schook goes to prison, dies there and then an appeals court finds an error in the criminal trial," Lambertus said.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry denied both requests.

Schook's accuser at trial said he was 13 when he began carrying on a years-long sexual relationship with Schook at St Rita Catholic Church in Louisville. He said the two would often meet in Schook's room in the rectory.

Other victim

Another alleged victim, Michael Stansbury, who also testified at the trial, said that he was relieved to see Schook being led away to prison. Schook was charged with one count of abusing Stansbury at a different church in the 1970s, but the jury did not convict on that charge.

"It felt very good to see him finally led away into custody instead of always walking out of the courtroom," said Stansbury, who was the first alleged victim to come forward with allegations against Schook. "So that did give me a sigh of relief, it helps bring down the anxiety a little bit."

Lambertus declined to comment outside the courtroom, but he expressed reservations to Perry during the hearing that Schook would not get the care he needed in prison.

John Balliet, an assistant county prosecutor, said the state's prisons deal with lots of sick inmates.

"We think the prison system is up to the task and will take care of him," Balliet said.