Alleged Molest Victim Testifies about 'Rage'

By Linda Deutsch
The Associated Press, carried in Monterey County Herald
January 26, 2006

LOS ANGELES - A man who claims that as a boy he was molested by now-retired priest Michael Wempe testified Wednesday that he reacted with rage when he heard that charges against the clergyman were dropped because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

"I broke things at the house. I was very upset. I did a lot of crying and I did a lot grieving," a witness identified as Greg J. testified in Wempe's trial on new molestation charges involving another alleged victim.

In testimony Tuesday, Greg J. told the Superior Court jury how Wempe bonded with him, particularly while the priest was his golf coach at a Roman Catholic high school.

Returning to the stand Wednesday, the 39-year-old man said that after the priest left him, "I was very confused about whether I was homosexual" and at the age of 18 he became an alcoholic.

He said he tried suicide a few times and then began violently abusing himself.

"I would viciously punch myself in the face, head and neck and I was drunk almost all the time," he said.

On cross-examination by defense attorney Leonard Levine, the witness said, "I continue today to have problems with anger and rage." But he said he is seeing a therapist who has helped him.

Wempe was once charged with molesting 13 boys in the 1970s and '80s. Those charges were dismissed after the Supreme Court struck down a California law that allowed retroactive prosecution of decades-old sex crime charges involving children.

Wempe is now being tried on allegations made by a man who came forward later to say he was molested by the priest in the 1990s.

The prosecution began its case, however, by calling some of the men who made the now-dismissed allegations, including Greg. J.

Wempe's defense attorney does not contest that he committed many molestations in the 1970s and '80s, but does deny that Wempe molested the alleged victim in the case now on trial.

Greg J. testified Tuesday that Wempe told students in his Paraclete High School class that masturbation was "God's gift to relieve sexual tension" and demonstrated how to do it with hand motions.

After golf games, Greg J. said, Wempe gave him massages which turned into masturbation and he tried to perform oral copulation on him. Asked why he didn't tell anyone, the witness said, "I didn't want to disappoint him or God."

He said Wempe lured him with speeches about "how I was special in God's eyes and in his eyes."

When the intimate touching began, Greg J. said, "He reminded me what he had taught us about God's gift of masturbation.... He told me if it was not OK in God's eyes, God would not allow him to be a priest."

Greg J. said it was Wempe's stature among his peers that convinced him he must be telling the truth. He said he wondered: "How could somebody who was so well liked do something wrong?"

Greg J. testified after other men said Wempe trapped them in a web of sexual molestation that began in their childhoods and shadows their lives today.


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