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  Priest to Go on Trial in Sex-Abuse Case Clark Was Convicted in 1988 of Molesting 2 Boys in Bullitt

By Andrew Wolfson awolfson@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal [Kentucky]
Downloaded June 23, 2003

A Bullitt Circuit Court jury will be asked in a trial scheduled to begin tomorrow to consider whether the Rev. Daniel C. Clark, a Roman Catholic priest who was convicted in 1988 of sexually abusing two boys, molested two boys between 1998 and May 2002.

If he is convicted, Clark, 55, could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison.

He is one of three priests and two former parochial school teachers who have been charged with felonies in the child sexual-abuse scandal that has engulfed the Archdiocese of Louisville since April 2002, culminating in the $25.7million settlement earlier this month between the church and 243 plaintiffs.

Charges are pending in Jefferson Circuit Court against the Rev. James Hargadon and former teachers Gary Kazmarek and Joseph B. Greene III. The Rev. Louis E. Miller is serving a 20-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to molesting 21 children in Jefferson County between 1957 and 1982, and he could get more time when he is sentenced Aug.18 for abusing 14 children in Oldham County.

The two boys who are the prosecution witnesses in Clark's Bullitt County trial came forward last year, after hearing relatives discuss their own alleged abuse at Clark's hands in the 1980s, according to police records.

Ralph W. Henry, 22, told a Shepherdsville police detective that he and his brother, John Henry, 32, were describing the allegations at a family meeting last July when the two boys reluctantly acknowledged that Clark had fondled and orally sodomized them during frequent visits the priest made to their grandmother's house.

"They were pretty upset," Ralph Henry told Detective Brent Dawson, according to a transcript of the interview that has been filed in Clark's case.

One of the boys said Clark threatened that if they reported him, "He would stop taking his medication and he would kill himself," Henry told Dawson.

The boys were 11 and 12 when Clark was arrested and charged last Aug. 7.

Clark has pleaded innocent to the charges against him, two counts of sodomy and two counts of sexual abuse; he has been in the Bullitt County Jail on $500,000 bail since his arrest.

Bullitt Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann has said in court papers that he will seek to introduce evidence of Clark's conviction and "bad acts" to prove that his more recent alleged sexual abuse is part of a pattern of misconduct, not a "mistake or accident."

Clark pleaded guilty in 1988 to sodomy and sexual abuse for molesting two boys about six years earlier at St. Rita Catholic Church, where he was assistant pastor. Those boys also were 11 and 12 at the time. Clark was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was required to serve only 90 days in a work-release program and five years' probation.

According to court records, Clark, asked why he did it, told one of his victims in a telephone conversation recorded by police that it was "because I was sick - I was very mentally ill, which is obvious. ... No one in their right mind would do something like that."

After that conviction, Clark was removed from public ministry by Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly but was allowed to wear his clerical collar and serve as a volunteer for several organizations, some of which did not know that he had been convicted or that he was required to stay away from children as a condition of his probation.

Archdiocesan records show that officials talked with Clark about voluntarily leaving the priesthood, but that after he declined, Kelly decided not to petition the Vatican to defrock him.

Last summer Kelly removed Clark from all ministry, although he remains a priest. He has declined requests for interviews, and his lawyers, David Lambertus and Jonathan R. Heck, have declined to comment on the charges.

Clark was accused of sexual abuse in 20 of the lawsuits against the archdiocese, including complaints by Ralph and John Henry and another by the mother of the two prosecution witnesses in the Bullitt criminal case.

Her suit also named Clark individually as a defendant, and that portion of the complaint was not resolved by the settlement with the archdiocese that was announced June10, said her lawyer, John Cox.

Cox said he does not know whether there is any plea bargain under consideration.

Heck said the negotiations are confidential. Mann, who is prosecuting the case, did not return telephone calls

 
 

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