Catholic Priest Sentenced

United Press International
August 30, 1983

A Catholic priest has been sentenced to one year in a Multnomah County jail after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of sexual abuse involving boys under the age of 18.

Circuit Judge R. William Riggs ordered The Reverand Thomas Laughlin to serve time at the medium-security Multnomah County Correctional Facility. A priest for 35 years, Laughlin, 57, also was ordered Monday to complete a treatment program in New Mexico for priests who are sexually attracted to juveniles.

Riggs told a packed courtroom audience that the year in jail was the maximum for a misdemeanor charge and that it "is not possible to render sentences suggested to me" in letters from families of victims and church members.

Deputy District Attorney John D. Colby said Laughlin's interviews with police indicated that the priest's involvement with minors dated back 15 to 20 years.

Laughlin pleaded guilty June 29 to charges that he engaged in sexual contact with two males under the age of 18 between July 15 and Sept. 15, 1980.

Defense attorney Jeffrey A. Babener urged Riggs not to impose jail time and to order Laughlin to complete a five-month treatment program for priests with psychological problems called Foundation House at a remote site in New Mexico.

He said Laughlin resigned from All Saints Parish and sought help at Foundation House soon after he entered his guilty pleas. He said Laughlin would not receive the psychological treatment he needed in jail.

Laughlin told Riggs that he has lived with the problem for several years.

"Frequently I made mistakes of judgment," he said. "I take total responsibility for that."

He said that he has "gone through the torture of hell" in the nearly three months since he learned that he was being investigated by Portland police.


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