Kimball Lawyer Targets Accusers

By Clark Mason
Press Democrat
March 29, 2002

The defense in the trial of the Rev. Don Kimball called four witnesses -- including two fellow priests -- Thursday in an attempt to refute testimony by women who say he sexually abused them as teen-agers.

First to testify was a childhood friend of Mary Agbayani, one of two women named as victims in the criminal complaint against Kimball.

Agbayani said she told two people soon after a 1977 incident involving Kimball: Monsignor Charles Jackson and her friend, Patricia Burt.

Jackson died in 1986, and Burt said Thursday she couldn't remember Agbayani's telling her Kimball had touched her inappropriately.

"Do you have any recollection of her reporting to you that Donald Kimball had touched her in any way, in a sexual manner?" defense attorney Chris Andrian asked.

"Do I remember? No," Burt replied.

As the defense completed the first full day of its case, a picture emerged of Kimball as a popular clergyman who traveled to youth seminars and conferences and wrote books in which he was described as "priest, poet, DJ."

"Many would gather around him at these conferences. Young people liked to talk to him," said Beth Jordan, a former director of youth ministry in Monterey who has known Kimball for 30 years.

The image was in stark contrast to the charges against Kimball: raping Agbayani at Resurrection Parish in 1977, when she was 14 years old, and lewd conduct with a 13-year-old in 1981 at St. John's rectory.

Burt said she attended the funeral for Agbayani's father at the church years later and saw Agbayani become upset.

At Agbayani's request, Burt said, she took a crucifix down from the wall.

Agbayani testified last week that when she was raped, she looked up at the crucifix and wondered why God was allowing it to happen.

The defense has tried do chip away at the credibility of Kimball's accusers, including five women who were allowed to testify as corroborating witnesses although they weren't named in the criminal charges.

In one instance, Santa Rosa Police Officer Dave Knecht said one of the corroborating witnesses said she was an adult when she had sexual contact with Kimball. But prosecutors also were helped by Knecht, who said Agbayani told him she was raped by Kimball when she was 14.

On Thursday, the defense summoned Monsignor Thomas Keys, formerly a top ranking cleric in the Santa Rosa Diocese, to establish that Jackson worked with troubled youth for many years and was unlikely to have dismissed a report that Kimball molested a girl.

Agbayani testified that Jackson said people wouldn't believe her and didn't pursue her complaint about Kimball.

Keys was on the witness stand very briefly, as was the Rev. Thomas Devereaux, who described the rectory at St. John's in Healdsburg, which is where Ellen Brem claimed she was fondled by Kimball in 1981 when she was 13.

Devereaux said Brem visited the rectory in 1998 with her lawyer, contrary to her testimony last week that she didn't go back to the site.

Asked when she went to St. John's, he replied: "Aug. 19, 1998, approximately 3 p.m."

At another point, the defense unfurled a "Snoopy" bedspread belonging to Kimball as part of an attempt to show Brem didn't remember distinctive things even though she said she visited his room many times.

The trial resumes April 8.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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