Prosecutors to Recommend Sentence for Bishop Friday

Associated Press, carried in The Arizona Republic [Phoenix AZ]
March 18, 2004

Prosecutors were expected to lay out their sentencing recommendations Friday for Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien, convicted last month of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

O'Brien, believed to be the first Roman Catholic bishop in U.S. history to be convicted of a felony, could receive anything from probation to three years and nine months in prison when he is sentenced March 26. Prosecutors declined Thursday to say what kind of sentence they would seek.

The former head of the Phoenix diocese was convicted Feb. 17 of leaving the scene of the accident that killed pedestrian.

Last week, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gerst heard testimony from Reed's family members and people who say they were victims of sexual abuse by clergy during O'Brien's tenure.

In the weeks before the accident, O'Brien had signed an immunity deal with prosecutors to spare him from indictment on obstruction charges for protecting priests accused of molesting children. Evidence about that deal was not allowed during the hit-and-run case but was allowed during the pre-sentencing hearing.


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