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  Judge Orders Priest to Be Held for Jury Trial
Jury to Decide Convicted Priest's Fate

By Joe Nelson
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin [Ontario]
July 15, 2002

San Bernardino — A jury will decide if a Catholic priest who formerly served at two San Bernardino parishes and was convicted of molesting five boys should remain in state custody for further treatment or be released, a judge ruled Monday.

The decision by San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Keith D. Davis to hold Edward Lawrence Ball, 63, over for a jury trial to determine if he is a sexually violent predator quashes Ball's chances of being released from the California Institution for Men in Chino this week.

Ball, who sat in Davis's courtroom Monday wearing shackles on his legs and arms, was scheduled to be released from custody Wednesday, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Kewin.

But county prosecutors believe Ball - convicted of molesting two altar boys from Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church and three boys from Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church - would remain a danger to society if released. Two psychologists affirmed that belief Monday, testifying that Ball fits the profile of a sexually violent predator and would likely molest again if released from prison.

Dr. Barry Hirsch and Dr. Christopher Matosich were ordered by the state Department of Public Health to evaluate Ball's psychological profile in April and May.

Although Ball, at the request of his attorney, refused to be interviewed by both psychologists, evaluations were penned from information gleaned from police, doctors' reports and other records from Ball's case file.

"In my opinion, he is likely to recidivate if he goes untreated in the general community,' Hirsch said of Ball in his evaluation written in May.

Hirsch said the methodical nature in which Ball lured his victims, and the physical nature of the sex acts, met the criteria for the classification of a sexually violent predator.

"What he did to these minors was a sexually violent act on their bodies, and he did it over and over and over again,' Hirsch testified.

Matosich, who evaluated Ball in April, found "maladaptive traits' characteristic of a personality disorder, he said during testimony.

Some of those traits included compulsive behaviors such as Ball's longstanding struggle with alcoholism and his attraction to pre-pubescent boys, he testified.

Ball pleaded no contest in December 2000 to molesting the two altar boys from Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church. The youths, brothers, are now 33 and 31 years old.

The mother of those two boys, who asked not to be identified, sat in Davis's courtroom Monday, pleased with the outcome.

The former choir director of Our Lady Of the Assumption said she hasn't been to church since 1997.

"There is no church,' she said.

For her two sons, she said the pain will always be there.

"It's going to be with them the rest of their lives. There'll always be scars,' she said.

Ball was convicted in 1992 of molesting three boys, two of whom were altar boys, from Our Lady of Fatima Church.

Ball was a priest at both parishes.

Ball's attorney, Jeff Lowry, said he wasn't surprised by Davis' ruling.

With the recent scandal surrounding the Catholic Church across the nation, Lowry said Ball couldn't have come up for parole at a more inopportune time.

"It's a Catholic priest who has come up for release at this particular time, and it's not the best time,' Lowry said.

He said county prosecutors and the psychologists failed to address the treatment Ball has undergone since he was incarcerated.

"He's already been punished,' Lowry said of Ball. "I just have some problems as to the way the rules and criteria were applied to Ball.' Ball remains in custody at county West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. He will next appear in court Aug. 19.

 
 

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