Alleged Abuse Victim Testifies against Former L.A. Priest

By Linda Deutsch
Associated Press, carried in Union-Tribune
January 27, 2006

LOS ANGELES – A young man who was allegedly molested by ex-priest Michael Wempe testified Friday about two instances of abuse, declaring "I hate Wempe!" and bursting into tears on the witness stand.

The 26-year-old, identified in court as Jayson B., cried and sighed intermittently for over an hour as he related his feelings and detailed the alleged abuse.

"Why do you hate him?" asked Deputy District Attorney Todd Hicks.

"He used his relationship with our family and the trust we had in him and my vulnerability to abuse me," said the witness.

Jayson was preceded to the stand by his older brother, Mark.

The former priest has admitted he molested 13 boys in the 1970s and '80s but has not been tried in those cases because of a Supreme Court ruling barring retroactive extension of the statute of limitations on old cases. Mark and another brother, Lee, were affected by the ruling.

Jayson came forward three months after the 2003 Supreme Court ruling. While the defense acknowledges that Mark and Lee were abused, it claims that Jayson's allegations were fabricated to seek retribution for his brothers.

Jayson said Friday that his two brothers did not tell him about their molestations before he began going on outings with the priest in the 1990s at age 12. Nor did he know that Wempe had been sent away by Cardinal Roger Mahony for residential treatment after complaints about his abuse of boys in the 1980s.

Mahony assigned Wempe as the Catholic chaplain at Cedars Sinai Medical Center when he completed his treatment in New Mexico.

Jayson B's testimony was often halting and much of it focused on descriptions of the hospital office where he claims the priest fondled him.

He gave two brief examples of being molested, both of them identical and both alleged to have occurred in the priest's office while he was showing him something on a computer. The witness could not remember what was on the computer but said he sat with the priest on a chair while Wempe used one hand to type and one hand to fondle him.

Asked if the priest said anything, Jayson replied, "He said, 'Sometimes this feels good.'"

It was the same phrase related by Jayson's brother and several other witnesses. Jurors have heard from seven prior victims of Wempe.

Earlier, Wempe's lawyer, Leonard Levine, asked Mark if he and his brother Lee got together with Jayson and suggested he make allegations that could result in Wempe's conviction.

"No," said Mark. "I'm an honest and truthful person and I would never do that."


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