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  Lawyers: 'Smooth Operator' Has Gift for Manipulation
Abusive Priest Worked Way into Life of Sb Family

By Chris T. Nguyen
San Bernardino Sun
June 30, 2003

He was a runt as a boy. Kids picked on him at school. He had medical problems, too, including a couple of hernia operations at a young age.

But the Rev. Edward Lawrence Ball of the Diocese of SanBernardino overcame his weaknesses, according to attorneys who worked on cases in which he was charged with molesting boys.

Ball, now in his mid-60s, developed a cunning charm with words.When he spoke, people overlooked his wimpy, diminutive stature. He manipulated the altar boys who viewed him as a man they could trust.

"He's got the skill of language. He's a smooth talker,' saidRiverside attorney William Light, who represents two San Bernardino County brothers receiving $4.2 million for experiencing years of sexual abuse by Ball.

"He insinuates himself in correspondences and conversations.That made people trust him. He has the facility of manipulating people,' Light said. "This is a guy who can't be trusted. He's a political mastermind.' Ball worked his way into the lives of the two brothers, David T.and Troy T., Light said.

The brothers came from a poor family. They were toddlers whentheir parents divorced. They were raised by their mother, who was on welfare and wanted her kids to grow up in the Roman Catholic church.

The brothers did just that, serving as altar boys at Our Lady ofthe Assumption Church in San Bernardino beginning in 1978. David T. was 10 then, and Troy T. was 7.

That's when Ball "integrated himself into the familystructure,' Light said.

Ball took the boys to football practices. He was there, bearingpresents, when they blew out the candles on their birthday cakes.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Ball worked as a priest at two churchesin San Bernardino, Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of the Assumption.

After his 1992 conviction for lewd acts with three boys, forwhich he served nine months in county jail, Ball returned to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the religious order in Aurora, Ill., that ordained him in 1966.

He stayed with the order for about six years, until he wasarrested in 1999 for criminal charges stemming from a civil lawsuit by David T. and Troy T.

He was under house arrest at the order and only allowed to workwith elderly nuns, said the order's San Bernardino attorney Raymond Dolen.

"He seemed to do a good job. He seemed to be someone who couldget things done,' Dolen said.

"Molesters ... some of them are very good at manipulatingpeople and I get the sense he was good at this. I know that witnesses have testified how manipulative he was ... he's a smooth operator.'

 
 

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