Suspended Mesa Priest's Case Goes to High Court

By Jim Walsh
Arizona Republic
October 30, 2007

A suspended Roman Catholic priest won a legal victory Tuesday when the Arizona Supreme Court decided to grant review of whether he should receive a jury trial on misdemeanor sex charges.

Such reviews are a rarity, with more than 1,000 requests filed every year with the state's highest court and only 60 or 70 opinions issued, said Cari Gerchick, a court spokesman.

The issue of whether a judge or a jury would determine the guilt or innocence of Monsignor Dale Fushek has put his trial on hold since August 2006. Fushek's attorney, Tom Hoidal, argues that his client deserves a jury trial because he could be ordered to register as a sex

offender if convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and assault.

Prosecutors have argued that registration as a sex offender is not a severe enough punishment to require a jury trial. Appeals agreed, saying that registration as a sex offender would not be required if Fushek is convicted and would be left to the judge's discretion.

Fushek, the former pastor of St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Mesa, was once second in command at the Diocese of Phoenix. He was suspended when he was charged in 2005 with the misdemeanors.


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