New Trial for Convicted Priest?
By Jillian Hartmann
February 3, 2016
A federal judge is deciding whether a former Central City priest convicted of having sexual relations with children during missionary trips should be granted a new trial.
Father Joseph Maurizio was found guilty on five of eight counts of abuse, a count of international money laundering, a count of possessing a photo that exploited a child and three counts of illicting sexual conduct with three separate victims.
Prosecutors said the abuse happened during his trips to Honduras from 2004 to 2009.
Defense Attorney, Steven Passarello argued in court that prosecutors withheld a statement by one of the victims claiming he was not abused by Maurizio. Passarello said the statement discredits his court testimony.
Justice Department Trial Attorney Amy Larson disagreed, saying Passarello was focusing on one line in a five-page questionnaire.
While jurors were deliberating a verdict, Larson said the translated version of the questionnaire from Spanish to English was received by her team.
Questioning the statement, an FBI agent in the case asked the victim about it.
The prosecution dismissed the statement because the victim didn't understand the definition of abuse. Larson said the victim didn't realize "fondling" was a form of abuse.
Maurizio's close family friend, Ed Dallape said he has known Maurizio for 50 years and said he should be acquitted.
"I think the government was weak on their presentation. The judge had to continue to bring her [Larson] on track on what was being done," said Dallape. "I think they definitely lied and I think it was proven that they lied."
Knowing Maurizio for nearly four decades, Dallape said he was surprised with the convictions.
"His mother was next to being a saint and the whole family is strong Catholics. I think Joe went down that road because he felt he wanted to do that. He's really committed to the community, he's committed to his family and he's committed to all of us," Dallape said.
Dallape said based on the questions the judge asked the prosecution, this can be a turn around for the case.
"I want him to be acquitted and I think he will," said Dallape. "The judge seems to be leaning in that direction."
Federal judge Kim Gibson said he will thoroughly analyze the new evidence and will decide whether to grant Maurizio a new trial at a later time.