Judge Drops Child Sex Charge against Priest

By Michael Zeigler
Democrat & Chronicle [Rochester NY]
February 1, 2006

A judge today dropped a sex charge against a Roman Catholic priest.

Rochester City Court Judge John E. Elliott said the prosecution failed to show sufficient evidence that the Rev. Dennis Sewar, 54, committed the misdemeanor of forcible touching of a boy in October 1999 while Sewar was a pastor of Church of the Annunciation in northeast Rochester.

The judge also said that the charge wasn't valid because the law under which Sewar was charged didn't take effect until Feb. 1, 2001 — more than a year after the incident allegedly occurred.

"Somehow, the issue that the law was enacted on Feb. 1, 2001, apparently had been under the radar for everyone," he said after granting a motion by defense lawyer John F. Speranza to dismiss the charge.

Sewar, however, still is charged with a lesser misdemeanor of third-degree sexual abuse, which alleges that he touched the boy's genitals through clothing. Elliott scheduled his trial for April 3.

If convicted, Sewar faces a penalty ranging from probation to 90 days in Monroe County Jail.

The maximum penalty for the charge that was dismissed was up to one year in jail.


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