Priest Gets 111 Years for Sex Crimes
By Jim Walsh
The Arizona Republic
January 14, 2006
Relatives and friends of sex crime victims applauded a judge Friday for sentencing a priest to 111 years in prison, but they said no sentence can reverse the damage caused by the Rev. Paul LeBrun.
"We've seen justice, but it's still not going to repair the victims," Mary-Louise Hayes of Tempe said.
Hayes said her cousin was abused as a boy by LeBrun, 49, in South Bend, Ind., at a church where LeBrun was assigned before his 1986 transfer to Arizona. advertisement
A ruling by Judge Crane McClennen of Maricopa County Superior Court, who gave LeBrun the maximum sentence, allowed four victims from Indiana to testify on grounds that it could show the priest had a propensity to sexually abuse young boys.
"We absolutely have to get these men off the streets," said Sarah Pattison, a family friend of a West Valley victim. "I wanted to stand up and cheer when the judge gave him that sentence."
In all, six Arizona victims and four Indiana victims testified against LeBrun during his trial in November. Jurors found him guilty of three counts of sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of child molestation.
The guilty verdicts stemmed from his abuse of three boys who were 11 to 13 years old. Jurors hung on five other counts and found LeBrun not guilty of one other child molestation charge.
The abuse occurred between 1986 and 1991, when LeBrun was assigned to St. John Vianney Church in Avondale and Blessed Sacrament Church in Tolleson. Prosecutors said the sex acts occurred at the Avondale church and during camping trips.
"Physical scars can heal," McClennen said. "You inflicted emotional scars on people. I heard them from the witness stand. I don't think these scars will ever heel."
Ken Huls, LeBrun's attorney, said the priest "helped hundreds of thousands of people," ranging from troubled youths to death row inmates. He said LeBrun would appeal his conviction and sentence.
McClennen said he believes LeBrun did much good as a priest but still used his position of trust to do immense harm.
"You took from them their youth, you took from them their innocence, and in some cases, you took away their trust in God," he said.
Bob Huhn, a state Department of Corrections spokesman, said LeBrun will serve his time in a sex-crimes unit.
LeBrun is a member of the Holy Cross order of Catholic priests, and his status as a cleric has not changed.
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