Testimony Begins in Priest Sex Abuse Trial
By Erin O'Neill
KSDK [St. Louis MO]
August 30, 2005
(KSDK) - Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of a former Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting a teenage boy at the Old Cathedral. Thomas Graham is accused of repeatedly molesting the boy starting in the 1970s.
The jury consists of 10 women and two men. Father Graham was in the courtroom seated next to his attorney. He was wearing a black suit with a blue shirt.
Opening statements wrapped up in the morning. The alleged victim was the first person to take the stand. He is now 43 years old and lives in St. Louis. He says the sexual abuse by Father Graham began when he was a young boy in St. Mary's where Father Graham was an Associate Pastor at the time.
The alleged victim described in detail to the court how Graham allegedly fondled him on several occasions as a young boy while riding in a car and again at the Old Cathedral years later when he was a teenager. He described Father Graham as a close family friend.
Defense lawyers have claimed the victim came forward too late. But St. Louis prosecutors say that until 1979, Missouri had no statute of limitations on sodomy. The Archdiocese placed Graham on administrative leave in 2002.
The alleged victim says he reported the sexual abuse to the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but no action was ever taken against Graham.
Grahams' attorney says the alleged victim is just looking for money.
It was a packed courtroom, which included members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
The Archdiocese says Graham had faced civil suits for the same allegations in 1996 and 1999, but those suits were dropped.
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