Time Has Run out on Molestation Case
By Patrick Malone
The Pueblo Chieftain [Pueblo CO]
October 13, 2005
A former Catholic brother accused of molesting students at Roncalli High School during the 1960s and 1970s has time on his side.
The local criminal investigation of William Mueller is essentially closed because the statute of limitations has expired, although civil suits against him are still pending.
Pueblo police Sgt. Troy Davenport on Wednesday said the probe is dead unless more recent allegations against Mueller surface.
"We have talked to everybody that we know of who has made the allegations (locally)," said Davenport. "So far, everything we have been able to discover is outside the statute of limitations."
After researching the statute of limitations, the district attorney's office decided that a crime can be prosecuted within 10 years of a juvenile victim's 18th birthday, said Terry Hart, chief of staff for the district attorney's office. The decision contradicts the preliminary interpretation by the district attorney's office that a crime can be charged within 10 years of the time it is reported.
Hart said prosecutors reviewed the accusations against Mueller and studied historical statutes of limitations that govern sex crimes before reaching a conclusion.
Former Roncalli High School students who have accused Mueller of molesting them reported the allegations recently and are in their 40s or 50s.
Mueller was last known to be in Pueblo in 1971, when Roncalli High School closed. The school was operated by the Pueblo Catholic Diocese and staffed by the Order of Mary. Mueller taught music and religion at the school from 1966 through 1971.
Three lawsuits have been brought locally by former Roncalli students against the diocese and the Marianists. The suits allege Mueller used the guise of asking students to participate in a psychology experiment, then disabled them with ether and molested them.
The suits claim the diocese was aware of the allegations against Mueller, but allowed him to continue teaching at Roncalli and did nothing to warn other schools where he subsequently taught.
A Marianist spokesman has acknowledged that Mueller was treated in New Mexico for "odd behavior" before leaving the religious order in 1986. Lawyers for the former Roncalli students suing the diocese and the order have said Mueller was in New Mexico seeking treatment for pedophilia.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in Missouri and Texas, where Mueller also taught. Lawyers for the Pueblo plaintiffs have said more suits are expected to be filed here.
A Marianist spokesman said the religious order surrendered Mueller's records to investigators in St. Louis after they were subpoenaed for a grand jury probe.
Mueller lives in San Antonio. Davenport said he has not been interviewed by Pueblo police.
"At this point, to talk to (Mueller) would be premature," Davenport said. "We don't have anyone that's reported a crime that could be prosecuted."
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