Priest Sentenced to Four Months for Molesting Girl

Associated Press
March 25, 2003

A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Tuesday to concurrent four-month jail terms after being convicted of fondling an altar girl. The Rev. Francis X. Nelson, 39, was a visiting priest from the diocese of Kattar, India, where he once investigated sexual misconduct by other priests. He was convicted in February of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Brooklyn District attorney Charles Hynes had no comment on Tuesday, but after the jury announced its verdict, Hynes said it "brings closure to the torturous experience visited on a young child who was abused by Father Nelson."

During testimony, the victim, now 16, told the jury that the priest showed up at her grandmother's apartment uninvited, then held her down on his lap and pushed his genitals into her buttocks.

The cleric also "put his hand ... under my bra and touched my breasts," she said, breaking into tears.

Nelson denied molesting the 12-year-old girl during the 1999 incident. "Never, absolutely not," he told the jury. He testified that he met the girl after she signed up for altar duty at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Brooklyn.

Frank DeRosa, a spokesman for the Brooklyn diocese, did not immediately return a call for comment. After the conviction, DeRosa said, "it is a time for healing the wound that deeply affects the parish."


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