S.C. Priest Pleads Guilty in Abuse Case

The Guardian
April 25, 2006,,-5779197,00.html

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery, avoiding a trial that was about to start on charges alleging he sexually abused two boys more than 25 years ago.

The Rev. James Nyhan was sentenced to 30 years in prison after the plea Monday, but Circuit Judge Markley Dennis suspended the sentence to five years probation.

The plea included a charge involving a third victim in a case to be heard later.

Nyhan, 60, served in the Diocese of Charleston in 1979 and 1980 and later was a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston. He was removed from active ministry three years ago and now lives in California.

"I feel badly this colored my otherwise fruitful stay in Charleston," Nyhan told the court.

The plea came as a jury was being selected for the trial. Nyhan had been charged with committing lewd acts on children under the age of 14.

As part of the plea, Nyhan will also have to undergo sex abuse counseling and may not have any professional or social contact with children other than family members.

Two of the victims were prepared testify and both said they had second thoughts about the plea agreement after hearing the priest's statement.

Assistant prosecutor Debbie Herring-Lash said it could have been a difficult case because there was no physical or scientific evidence of the crime.


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