Priest Sentenced in Sex Assault Case

Associated Press [Houston]
January 11, 1988

Jurors who sentenced a Roman Catholic priest to almost 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy said probation would have been too lenient.

"There were those who felt strongly that the sentence should be probation," said jury foreman Jacqualine Brown. "Others of us felt that there was no way in good conscience that probation would be acceptable."

Donald Stavinoha, 44, showed little emotion as the nine-year, nine-month sentence was read Saturday. He also was fined $10,000.

Stavinoha pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault. He was arrested April 30, 1986, when a police officer reported seeing him performing oral sex on a boy who attended his church, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Houston.

"At issue was the fact that he held a position of authority and trust, like a police officer, a teacher or a scoutmaster," Ms. Brown said. "I find it very offensive when a person uses that position to commit a crime."

"Hopefully the little boy will recover from this eventually _ also the mother," juror Mildred Ridgeway said. "They trusted this man, and he wasn't trustworthy."

Edward Mallett, Stavinoha's attorney, said he planned to appeal.


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