Ex-Priest's Penalty Will Amount to Just Months

Tucson Citizen [Arizona]
December 16, 2006

- The Arizona Republic

A former Roman Catholic parish priest in Chandler who pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual conduct with a minor will likely serve only about three months behind bars under laws that were in effect at the time of his crimes.

On Friday, a judge sentenced Joseph Briceņo to nearly two years in prison and three years' probation. Briceņo, 60, must also register as a sex offender.

But because Briceņo's crimes were committed in the 1980s, he will have to serve only a fraction of that sentence, about 90 days, his attorney, Karla Momberger, said.

Because Briceņo has been incarcerated for more than a year, that more than satisfies the sentence, she said.

This year, Briceņo was on trial for seducing then-teenager Joaquin Bustamante, who attended St. Mary's Catholic Church. Bustamante's sister alleged that she was inappropriately touched by the priest as a young adult. In the midst of trial, Briceņo agreed to a plea deal.

It took Bustamante, now 41, 10 years to come forward, and it took another 10 years for prosecutors to file charges. Briceņo was indicted in 2003.


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