|Trial for Suspected Naked Jogging Priest Begins
Whipkey Accused of Indecent Exposure
June 11, 2008
GREELEY, Colo. — Jury selection began Monday morning for a priest accused of indecent exposure for running naked very early in the morning.
The Rev. Robert Whipkey, 53, is on trial in Weld County District Court. He was arrested last June in Frederick, about 25 miles north of Denver, after an officer said he was seen walking naked on a street at 4:35 a.m.
The jury selection process is expected to last through Tuesday.
Even though he is a Roman Catholic priest, the judge has approved a defense motion to exclude any references to Whipkey's profession during the trial because it has no bearing on the charge.
But the judge did allow previous allegations, including those that Whipkey has been seen walking around his home and swimming nude, to be admitted at the trial.
When he was arrested, Whipkey said he sweats profusely if he wears clothing while jogging, according to the arrest report. Police said he told them he had been running naked at the track at Frederick High School and didn't think anyone would be around that time of day.
Robyn Ciaravola, who lives across the street from Whipkey's home at the St. Theresa rectory in Frederick, told the Longmont Times-Call last summer that she has often seen Whipkey walking around naked through a window of his home during the three years she's lived in the house.
"All of his drapes are always open, and he's basically nude in the house," she said. "I have no problem with what someone does in his house, but he should close the drapes."
He also allegedly appeared nude at a summer camp for Catholic boys in 1999. A parishioner at St. Anthony's Parish in Sterling told the Rocky Mountain News that Whipkey was naked in front of several boys but that no charges were ever filed. The parishioner said several families left the church as a result of the incident.
"He was shaving with his clothes off and some of the boys saw him," said Larry Graham, former police chief for Sterling, Colo. Graham said his investigation revealed there had been no sexual contact between the priest and boys and that no laws had been broken.
If convicted of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, Whipkey would have to register as a sex offender, prosecutors said.
He has pleaded not guilty.
The Denver Archdiocese has placed Whipkey on administrative leave.
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