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  Aurora Priest Pleads Innocent to Charges in Sexual-Abuse Case

By Don Babwin
Chicago Tribune
August 27, 1993

A 71-year-old Aurora priest pleaded not guilty in a Kane County courtroom Thursday to charges that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy three years ago.

Wearing a black suit and clerical collar, Rev. Augustine K. Jones stood quietly as he was formally charged with four felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of the teenage boy.

If convicted of all charges, the penalty ranges from probation to a prison sentence of up to 28 years. Each charge also carries a fine of $10,000.

Jones, a member of Marmion Abbey, an independent Benedictine order, is charged in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred in November 1990 at St. Therese's Catholic Church in Aurora, where Jones had gone to offer mass.

Jones, who pleaded guilty to a similar charge in 1968, is alleged to have touched the boy's genitals and placed the boy's hands on his own genitals during a meeting in the church sacristy after the priest had offered mass.

Kane County Circuit Judge James Doyle allowed Jones to remain free without bail.

After the hearing, David Clark, spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said that the judge who signed last week's indictment determined that Jones was not a risk to flee the area. Therefore his office did not object to a request by David Camic, Jones' attorney, that Jones not be required to post bail.

Jones was ordered to return to court Sept. 23. He was also given until Tuesday to go to the Aurora Police Department to be booked on the charges.

The hearing and interviews with Camic and prosecutors afterward shed little light on the charges against the priest.

In fact, the hearing even raised some questions about whether the alleged crimes occurred on the same occasion. During the hearing, it was disclosed that Jones is charged in connection with two separate acts.

Clark, who answered questions for his office, would not elaborate, leaving unanswered the question about how long it was between the first and second incident, or whether they even occurred on the same day.

Speaking in general terms, Clark said that as long as two incidents are distinct from one another, separate counts can be filed.

The alleged 1990 incident comes 22 years after Jones pleaded guilty to a similar charge involving a 14-year-old boy.

Court records show that before the conviction, officials at Marmion Military Academy, where Jones was a teacher, removed him from the faculty because of his "problem with homosexuality," according to a letter from a priest there to a county probation officer.

According to Rev. Mario Pedi, school officials hoped that such a move would "prevent contact" with the students.

Further, the probation officer wrote, the abbey was getting Jones psychiatric help.

Abbey officials would not comment on the case, refusing to discuss any psychiatric help Jones might have received, or details about Jones' work at churches outside the abbey.

Rev. James Campbell, who was the pastor at St. Therese's at the time of the alleged 1990 incident, said he was not told of Jones' 1968 conviction before the abbey sent Jones to say mass at the church.

The abbey routinely sends priests to churches in the area to offer mass, church officials said.

"I would just call over there and say I needed a priest, and they would send one over," said Campbell.

Campbell said he was not angry at abbey officials, saying that they would not have sent over a priest if he was thought to be a danger to the community.

 
 

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