Sex-Abuse Trial: Siblings Testify Priest's Behavior Worried Them

By David Crumm
Detroit Free Press [Detroit MI]
January 11, 2005

The older brother and sister of a Detroit boy who has accused a Catholic priest of sexual abuse testified in the priest's trial Monday that they were more concerned about the priest's behavior than their parents were.

National attention is focused on the Wayne County Circuit Court trial of the Rev. Luis Javier de Alba Campos, a visiting priest from Mexico who was pastor of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Detroit in early 2004. In court, his attorneys have admitted that the priest got drunk during a pastoral visit with the family and spent the night sleeping it off in a bedroom in their southwest Detroit home.

At issue is whether the priest also sexually abused one of the children, a boy who was then 7 years old, in the bedroom they shared one night last April.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said people across the country are following this case. Most accusations that surfaced during the Catholic sex-abuse scandal over the last three years involve incidents that occurred years ago.

"Bishops desperately want us to believe that this is ancient history," Clohessy said. "Of course, this proves that it's not."

The boy's father, who testified last week, and his mother, who testified Monday, insisted that their son suffered no ill effects, whatever happened in the bedroom. They admitted urging their children to keep details of the evening a secret.

On Monday, the boy's sister, who was 16 at the time of the incident, testified that she told a youth worker at a nearby church, which led to a police investigation.

The boy's brother, then 13, told jurors Monday that he was worried about the priest's behavior even before everyone went to bed. At one point, the boy testified, the priest made him uncomfortable by pulling him down onto his lap.

"He was drunk and he was asking me questions, like did I want to sleep with him," the boy said.

The boy's father, who also was drunk, said it would be great for his 13-year-old son and the priest to share a bed and have a chance to talk, the son told jurors.

However, the boy said, he had no intention of getting into bed with an intoxicated priest. Instead, he went to a different bedroom and pretended to fall asleep.

The priest faces two counts of second-degree criminal sexual contact and could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of fondling the 7-year-old son. The Free Press is not identifying the family because it does not generally publish the names of sex-abuse victims.

Testimony is to resume today before Judge Patricia Fresard.


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