Minister Convicted of 1997 Molestation of 10-Year-Old Niece

Associated Press, carried in
November 3, 2006

Carlisle, Pa. - A former minister was convicted in a retrial on charges that he molested a 10-year-old niece while staying with her family nearly a decade ago.

Lane Hurley, 56, of Norfolk, Va., buried his face in his hands and moaned as a Cumberland County jury convicted him Thursday night of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, corruption of minors and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

The jury deliberated two hours following Hurley's second trial in three years on charges that he sexually abused the girl while living with her family in Dickinson Township in the summer of 1997.

Hurley will face a minimum of 5 years in state prison when sentenced next month. After the jury delivered its verdict, Judge J. Wesley Oler Jr. doubled Hurley's bail to $300,000, ordered him to surrender his passport and barred him from having contact with children other than his 5-year-old daughter.

The victim, now 19, and members of her family sobbed as the verdict was read.

The niece, still crying, hugged First Assistant District Attorney Jaime Keating and state police Trooper George Kelly Jr. as Hurley, formerly the minister of First Christian Church in Ghent, Va., was led away in handcuffs. Hurley's two grown daughters also hugged Keating.

Hurley's attorney, Norris Gelman, had challenged the victim's account, noting she did not make the allegations until she suffered a nervous breakdown in 2001.

Gelman presented testimony by a psychiatrist who said the abuse accusations were based on false recovered memory stemming from the breakdown.

"If you're looking for accurate information, you don't ask someone who's psychotic," Gelman told the jury.

Keating argued that the niece had been reluctant to speak out.

"The girl kept Hurley's dirty little secret for years because she knew it would hurt her mother," he said.

Oler had sentenced Hurley to 5 to 10 years in prison when he was first convicted in 2003, but later overturned that verdict on grounds that Hurley's original lawyer was not effective.


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