Former L.A. Priest Pleads Guilty to Molesting a Child 20 Years Ago

By Richard Winton
Los Angeles Times

December 3, 2008,0,216355.story

A former Los Angeles priest pleaded guilty Tuesday to molesting a young boy 20 years ago and admitted to three other cases that he cannot be charged with because of a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the district attorney's office announced.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Marie Wise of the Sex Crimes Division said the admission by George Miller, 70, means that the three victims whose cases cannot be prosecuted will be allowed to address the court when he is sentenced Jan. 30 by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ulfig.Miller, who has been free on bail since his arrest in July 2007, faces a three-year prison term, Wise said. He must serve at least 85% of that term before being eligible for parole consideration.

"No amount of prison time is sufficient for the crimes he has committed," Wise said.

The defendant was charged with molesting a boy that he met while assigned to the Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima. Authorities said Miller befriended the victim's mother and became a frequent guest at the family home.

He was charged with molesting the boy between March 1988 and March 1991.

In 2002, Miller was charged with molesting the victim's older brother and two other boys. But those charges were later dismissed after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the California law that had extended the statute of limitations on child molestation for decades-old sexual abuse.

The district attorney's office also had to dismiss more than a dozen other cases against priests or former priests accused of child molestation.

The new case against Miller was filed in July 2007 after the victim came forward. The defendant was charged with six molestation counts.

Miller pleaded guilty to a lewd act on a child under the age of 14. The remaining counts will be dismissed after Miller is formally sentenced.

Miller's victims were among the more than 500 civil plaintiffs who received a record $660-million settlement last year from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Miller's confidential church files are the subject of a more than four-year court battle involving the district attorney's office and the archdiocese. Church officials argued that their disclosure to a county grand jury would violate priest-bishop communications and priests' privacy rights.

The archdiocese yielded after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 declined to hear an appeal.

Church officials said they got complaints about Miller in 1977 and 1989. In both cases, he denied wrongdoing.

In 1996, after Miller was accused of molesting a child, he was placed on leave. Church officials said Miller never returned to ministry and was reduced to lay status by the pope in May 2005.

Winton is a Times staff writer.



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