Priest to Get 3 Years for Abuse
He Pleads No Contest to Charges He Sexually Molested Two Brothers from His San Bernardino Parish Two Decades Ago
By Tim Grenda
Press Enterprise [Riverside]
December 30, 2000
A Catholic priest pleaded no contest Friday to charges he repeatedly sexually molested two young brothers more than 20 years ago when the victims were preteen altar boys at a San Bernardino parish.
Edward Lawrence Ball, 62, will be sentenced in March to three years in state prison for the 31 felony counts, in keeping with a plea bargain that he struck with a judge.
The charges against Ball stem from his 1978-84 tenure at Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church in San Bernardino. He later was pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, also in San Bernardino. Ball was living at a Catholic monastery in the Chicago area when he was arrested in October 1999. He agreed to return to San Bernardino and face trial.
Prosecutors allege Ball befriended the boys' mother, who was unmarried and raising four children on her own. He had the victims stay overnight at his San Bernardino residence to do yard work and other chores, prosecutors said.
While there, the boys were fondled and otherwise sexually abused by Ball, prosecutors said. Ball also molested the boys on frequent trips to places as far away as the East Coast, prosecutors said.
The two victims are adults and still live in the area. One is a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy and the other works in construction, prosecutors said.
Ball had faced as long as 66 years in prison if convicted of all the charges, but San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville offered the gray-haired priest a deal to end the case.
In exchange for Ball's plea of no contest to all the charges, McCarville would sentence him to three years in prison, a deal Ball accepted Friday.
Deputy District Attorney Steve Malone had offered Ball a sentence of six years in state prison if he pleaded guilty to two of the felony charges. The rest of the case against Ball would have been dismissed.
Malone did not agree to the judge's plea bargain with Ball.
Ball's attorney, Philip Kassel, had argued that the two victims were close friends of Ball who did not allege abuse until 1997, almost 20 years after it allegedly began.
Kassel contended the victims and their family were motivated by money paid to two other young altar boys who made similar claims of molestation against Ball in 1992.
Ball admitted molesting those victims and served nine months in jail. The victims' families later sued Ball and the San Bernardino Catholic Diocese and in 1993 received a financial settlement from church leaders. The amount was not disclosed.
Ball was allowed to remain out of custody on bail until he is sentenced.
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