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  Santa Rosa Ex-Priest Sought
Molestation Charges Involve Girls under 14

By Pamela J. Podger
San Francisco Chronicle
March 25, 2000

A felony arrest warrant was issued yesterday for a former Santa Rosa priest and youth leader on criminal charges involving sexual crimes against two young girls.

Sonoma County District Attorney Michael Mullins issued a four-count felony complaint and $50,000 arrest warrant against Donald Wren Kimball, who lives northeast of Santa Rosa. If convicted, he could serve as much as 15 years in state prison.

In 1977, according to the complaint, Kimball twice assaulted one girl under the age of 14. He committed lewd acts with the minor on one occasion and then raped her on a separate occasion, the complaint stated.

In 1981, Kimball allegedly committed lewd and lascivious acts on another girl under the age of 14.

Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Tom Schwedhelm said detectives tried to serve the warrant about 4 p.m. yesterday, but Kimball was not at his home or at his business.

Kimball's Santa Rosa lawyer, Chris Andrian, was not available for comment.

Deputy District Attorney Gary Medvigy said the charges were corroborated by nine other victims. No lawsuit has been filed on their behalf, however, either because the crimes were committed outside of Sonoma County or because the laws on the books in 1970s and '80s did not cover those sexual offenses.

"There are so many potential victims in the case that it took a lot of time to sift through," Medvigy said. "We wanted to be as inclusive as possible. It was a complicated filing process."

Medvigy said filing of charges was made possible by a ruling by the California Supreme Court in October that eliminated the statute of limitations for certain sex crime offenses.

Santa Rosa Police Cmdr. Scott Swanson said detectives have been working on the case for months with the district attorney's office.

"We are continuing to investigate this case, and should there be additional victims, we would definitely want to know that," Swanson said.

Spokesman Maurice Healy said the diocese of Santa Rosa was not paying for Kimball's legal representation and declined to speak on the legal particulars in this case.

"We do express our deep sorrow, sincere contrition and heartfelt concern to any and all victims of past sexual abuse by priests. The church has a moral imperative to do all it can to protect children . . . ," Healy said. "We ask forgiveness for those times that members of the church have failed to do so."

Earlier this month, the diocese reached a tentative $1.6 million agreement on a civil sex crimes lawsuit filed against Kimball. The settlement is likely to include apologies by the diocese to the victims and establishment of panel that will oversee church-financed counseling.

The diocese is also reeling from a sex scandal involving Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann, who resigned in July and left the church mired in $16 million in debt.

 
 

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