Beine Is Released from Prison

By Robert Patrick
St. Louis Post-Dispatch [St. Louis MO]
June 2, 2005

James Beine, the former Roman Catholic priest and elementary-school counselor who had his sexual misconduct convictions overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court, was released from prison Thursday.

Steve Welby, one of Beine's lawyers, said that after more than 3 years behind bars, Beine "was a very happy man."

Beine, wearing an orange short-sleeve jumpsuit, was dropped off at Welby's downtown St. Louis office at 2:30 p.m.

After changing, he made a brief statement citing his faith in God, his family and friends. "I knew that time would tell," he said. "I never committed any of these crimes."

Larry Fleming, another lawyer, said that a news conference was being planned for next week "so that he can tell his side of the story."

Police arrested Beine in 2002 after three students at Patrick Henry Elementary School, just north of downtown, said Beine exposed himself during the 2000-2001 school year as he urinated in a bathroom.

A jury convicted Beine in 2003 of four counts of sexual misconduct involving a child by indecent exposure and he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

But on April 26, the Missouri Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, said that the sexual misconduct statute is unconstitutional. In an unanimous decision, the judges said that there was not enough evidence on one of the charges.

Beine is now free of all criminal charges, although he still faces a civil suit filed last year.

Beine was convicted of a federal charge of possessing child pornography in March of 2003, but a federal appeals court overturned the conviction in December of that year, saying investigators lacked the necessary warrant.