Priest's Abuse Conviction Reversed

Associated Press, carried in Kansas City Star
November 8, 2006

Jefferson City — The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the conviction of a Roman Catholic priest found guilty of sexually abusing a child, saying the statute of limitations had run out.

The Rev. Thomas Graham was convicted in August 2005 and later sentenced to 20 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a boy in the late 1970s in the rectory of St. Louis' Old Cathedral.

Graham has denied the allegations. The St. Louis Archdiocese said when Graham was convicted that it investigated the allegation in 1994 and "did not find it to be substantiated."

Graham has been free on bond, but his attorney would not say Tuesday where he lives.

Graham's attorneys appealed the constitutionality of the 1969 statute used to indict and prosecute him. They contended there was a three-year statute of limitations, which would have run out decades ago.

But prosecutors said the 1969 law imposed no statute of limitations for certain "abominable and detestable crimes against nature."

The court said in a unanimous opinion that when a statute is unclear, it must be interpreted in favor of the accused.


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