Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse Gets Probation

By Jean Guccione
Los Angeles Times [California]
January 25, 2006,0,5680041.story?coll=la-news-state

A retired priest accused of molesting an Eagle Rock youth pleaded no contest Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Father Stephen Hernandez, 72, tried to kill himself when he learned four years ago that he was being investigated for alleged child sexual abuse.

He was not in court when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard E. Rico sentenced him to three years' probation and ordered him to stay away from children.

The retired priest had faced 10 years in prison on 10 counts of lewd acts with a child and two counts of using a minor for sex acts between March 2001 and January 2002.

Hernandez was accused of molesting a boy he met while counseling minors at Eastlake Juvenile Hall. The boy said the priest touched him at his home and at the priest's residence at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in El Sereno. The priest also took pictures of the boy in various states of undress.

The prosecution and Hernandez's lawyer, Don Steier, called the sentence appropriate. "There were issues with the case and we felt it was the most appropriate resolution," said Jane Robison of the district attorney's office.


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