Pedophile Priest Eligible for Parole in 2 Years
By Claire Galofaro
June 6, 2014
The Catholic priest sentenced last week to 15 years in prison for molesting an altar boy in the 1970s will have a shot at parole after less than two years.
The Rev. James Schook, 66, will be eligible for parole in April 2016, according to Department of Corrections records.
Schook, who is dying of cancer, was assigned to serve his time at the Kentucky State Reformatory in Oldham County, which has a nursing care facility and a hospice unit, capable of caring for terminally ill inmates.
There he will join another convicted pedophile priest. Louis Miller, 83, is serving a 30-year prison sentence for abusing 29 boys in Jefferson and Oldham counties over three decades. He was convicted in 2003, and became eligible for parole in 2009.
The Parole Board denied him release, and sent him back to serve out the rest of his sentence. His estimated date of release is now in October 2023. He would be 92 years old.
Schook's parole eligibility date was murkier than most convicts. The Department of Corrections had to calculate his eligibility based on formulas used 40 years ago, at the time his crimes were committed. They sat the date at April 14, 2016.
If the parole board denies him, Schook's estimated release date — including good time credits — is in July 2025.
The Vatican is meanwhile considering whether Schook should be defrocked. He was temporarily removed from ministry when the allegations against him came to light in 2009, then permanently removed the following year. But he retained the status of priest, and sent to live a life of "prayer and penance," a common punishment for disgraced priests who are old or dying.
The Archdiocese of Louisville said last week that it will send a report detailing Schook's trial and conviction to Pope Francis, who will determine whether he should remain a priest.
Schook was tried for molesting two boys. The jury convicted him of three counts sodomy and one court indecent or immoral practice for only one of the two victims.
Schook never denied that he had a sexual relationship with either boy.
The jury recommended the 15-year sentence.
Schook asked Judge Mitch Perry for leniency, citing his advanced age and illness.
But Perry rejected his request at his sentencing hearing last week.
Schook remained free as he awaited trial, delayed for years as his attorney insisted his client was on his deathbed and far too sick to proceed. Prosecutors countered that he was exaggerating his illness to avoid facing a jury.
At his sentencing hearing, Perry noted Schook showed no remorse for what he had done.
He ordered him immediately taken into custody.
Jeff Koenig, with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he has been pleased that Louisville authorities did not fall for what he calls "the collar effect" — pedophile priests shown mercy because of their status with the church.
But he's frustrated by the thought of Schook walking out of prison in less than two years.
"It really concerns me, especially for the people who come forward in the future who want to seek justice for crimes like this committed against them," he said. "That he'd be eligible that soon — it's a discouraging moment in the process."
Reporter Claire Galofaro can be reached at (502) 582-7086. Follow her on Twitter at @clairegalofaro.