|Ex-priest to Register As a Sex Offender
By Victoria Camron
November 20, 2008
GREELEY — A former Catholic priest who was found jogging naked in Frederick must register as a sex offender, a Weld County judge ordered Thursday.
“This incident is a manifestation of the substantial risk you pose to the community if you are left untreated,” Judge Timothy Kerns said to Robert Whipkey during the half-hour sentencing hearing.
State law requires Whipkey, 55, to register for 10 years, but the judge said he would have ordered it anyway. He also sentenced Whipkey to five years’ probation and 100 hours of community service.
Whipkey was convicted in June of misdemeanor indecent exposure after a five-hour jury trial. A year earlier, an off-duty Frederick police officer saw him walking naked on Fifth Avenue at about 4:30 a.m.
Whipkey — who then was pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Frederick, as well as of parishes in Mead and Erie — later told police he had been jogging at Frederick High School without wearing clothes so he could avoid sweating profusely.
A presentencing evaluation showed Whipkey’s exhibitionist behavior was a sexual deviation that, without treatment, could develop into a different problem, Kerns said.
“You must be held accountable, and you must address these issues in counseling,” Kerns said. Without the proper treatment, there’s “too great a risk” that Whipkey could harm others, the judge added.
As part of his probation, Whipkey cannot have contact with children younger than 18, even family members, or use the Internet unless his probation officer approves it.
The entire sentence, however, is on hold while Whipkey’s attorney appeals the conviction to district court. Lee Harrell said after the hearing that he has filed a notice to appeal.
Given the chance to address the court, Whipkey said, “This conviction has cost me ... my career and my life.”
Through counseling, he has changed the way he looks at the world and is now less selfish, Whipkey said.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Whipkey had exposed himself to the public on at least two previous occasions.
During sentencing, Kerns said the former priest has had about nine years of treatment.
“It appears to be very helpful,” Kerns said, encouraging the priest to continue.
Whipkey did not talk to reporters as he left the courtroom surrounded by a handful of supporters.
Victoria Camron can be reached at 303-684-5226 or email@example.com.
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