City News Service
February 5, 1996
A judge today dropped charges against a Catholic priest suspected of molesting dozens of young altar boys over a 20-year period, ruling the statute of limitations had expired.
But today's decision by Long Beach Superior Court Judge Bradford L. Andrews may not be the end of the case against Father Ted Llanos.
District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the ruling was not unexpected, based on current case law. But we do plan to appeal."
A new state law does away with the statute of limitations for future child molestation cases. But Andrews ruled that the law could not be applied retroactively in Llanos' case.
The judge's decision to drop 38 felony child molestation counts outraged the alleged victims, who showed up at the Long Beach courthouse for Llanos' scheduled arraignment.
I can't blame the judge, but that wasn't justice ...," one alleged victim told KABC-TV. By me, he's a murderer' walking the streets. He has murdered lives. He has hurt so many people."
Ellen Winkler, mother of one of the supposed victims, told KNBC: I've always been a person that supported the justice system. I brought my children up to do what was right, and I don't feel what happened here today was fair."
Thomas H. Economus, president of the Chicago-based Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse Linkup Inc., called it a major setback for the victims, and it's another one of those trust issues that we have.
We trusted the process, we trusted the people involved to bring forth some justice, and justice was not served today," he told Channel 4.
The 49-year-old Llanos, who began working at Southland parishes in the early 1970s, had been in a Catholic Church recovery facility in Suitland, Md., until recently.
He took a leave of absence from St. Lucy's Church in Long Beach immediately after the allegations were made last year.
Over the course of his career in Southern California, the short, balding priest was assigned to six parishes, usually those in which an elementary school was part of the complex.
Scott Griffith, now 23, was the first of 26 young men to come forward and make allegations against Llanos.
Following a hearing in late November, Sue Griffith alleged that Llanos admitted to some allegations before two of his superiors after her son came forward Sept. 16, 1994.
The 38 counts stemmed from the alleged molestations of five boys, dating back to 1972.
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