Sex Files Used against Priest
Police Wade through Videotapes, Ledgers, Computer Disks

By Kelly Pearce
Arizona Republic
April 1, 1993

It was the Rev. Wilputte Alanson "Lan" Sherwood's attention to detail that helped law-enforcement officials build a sexual-misconduct case against the Chandler priest, police said Wednesday.

Authorities displayed hundreds of homemade videotapes, card catalogs, ledgers and computer floppy disks that they said Sherwood has maintained since 1984.

That evidence has helped authorities indict the 47-year-old former pastor of St. Benedict Catholic Church on seven felony charges and one misdemeanor count.

Lt. John Summers, a Chandler police spokesman, said it took more than 40 police man-hours to wade through about 75 of the 272 homemade and commercially produced pornographic videos. And that's with keeping a steady finger on the fast-forward button, he said.

"It's the most detailed document I've ever seen," he said. "That was the daunting part of the investigation."

Sherwood was arrested March 11 after a 17-year-old hitchhiker from Tucson accused him of exposing himself and showing the youth pornographic videos in the priest's residence at the church rectory.

Although the priest kept logs indicating that he had sexual encounters with 1,840 adults and juveniles, no other victims have come forward since his arrest, according to police.

On Tuesday, a Maricopa County grand jury handed up the indictment, charging Sherwood with one felony count each of furnishing obscene or harmful materials to a minor, transporting a person for the purpose of prostitution or other immoral purpose, attempted child prostitution, sexual conduct with a minor and sexual exploitation of a minor. He also is charged with single felony counts of sexual conduct and sexual exploitation.

In addition, Sherwood was charged with indecent exposure, a misdemeanor.

He was taken into custody Tuesday evening in Prescott, where he was visiting a friend.

"The focus of the investigation was to determine whether or not Mr. Sherwood committed crimes against juveniles," Summers said.

He said the names of 22 juveniles were discovered in the priest's ledgers.

Twelve of those minors appeared on videotape, and authorities have said the youngest victim is 14.

Since his arrest, Sherwood has resigned from his position at the west Chandler church and been placed on paid administrative leave by the Phoenix Diocese.

Attempts to reach Sherwood's attorney Wednesday were unsuccessful.

On Wednesday morning, the priest appeared in Prescott before Justice of the Peace Robert Kuebler Jr., who set bail at $84,000 and ordered Sherwood to stay away from the 17-year-old hitchhiker.

Sherwood was expected to be transported to Maricopa County within a few days, authorities said. No arraignment date has been set.

According to a police report released Wednesday, Sherwood offered money to some of his victims to perform sex acts or merely because he liked them.

Police said that Sherwood had videotaped a small number of women but that none had any sexual contact with him.

According to authorities, Sherwood kept index cards on which he rated liaisons on a scale of 1 to 10 for each of four categories: face, body, experience and personality.

He also listed names of victims, where he picked them up, their hair colors and their ages. In addition, he checked off categories describing what type of activity they participated in, including kissing and oral sex.


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