Court Won't Review Priest Molestation Case


July 10, 2008

The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case against a now-former Catholic priest convicted of molesting two teens and sexually battering a young man while assigned to a Los Angeles church.

The state's highest court rejected the defense's petition to consider the case against Fernando Lopez.

It was the second time the case had been before the California Supreme Court. In January, the justices ruled that a prosecutor's arguments did not constitute misconduct in Lopez's trial in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

That decision disagreed with a 2-1 ruling from a panel from the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal, which had agreed with the defense's contention that there was prejudicial conduct and reversed Lopez's conviction.

Since then, the same state appellate court panel rejected Lopez's claim that errors were made in instructions given to the jury.

Lopez was convicted in March 2005 of four felony counts of committing a lewd act with a child, one felony count of sexual battery by restraint, two misdemeanor counts of child molestation and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery. The charges involved two boys, aged 14 and 16, and a man of 19 or 20.

Lopez was sentenced in April 2005 to nearly seven years in state prison, after saying that he offered his forgiveness to those who had "betrayed" his trust.

Lopez, who is from Colombia, was on temporary assignment at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Los Angeles from his home diocese in Italy at the time of the crimes, which occurred between 2001 and 2004.


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