Priest Gets 8-Year Term for Molesting Altar Boys

San Francisco Chronicle
September 7, 1996

Appearing yesterday in a Santa Rosa courtroom, an admitted child molester and Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to eight years in prison, the maximum punishment.

The Rev. Gary Timmons, 56, had pleaded guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor charge for molesting two altar boys during a 1989 church camping trip near Bodega Bay.

Then a priest in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Timmons met the boys, then 13, at his parish, St. Elizabeth Seton Roman Catholic Church in Rohnert Park.

As part of a plea bargain reached this summer, Timmons pleaded guilty to the felony charge of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14 and one misdemeanor count of child molestation.

The Sonoma County district attorney agreed to drop other criminal counts involving 11 men who accused Timmons of molestations dating back to the 1970s -- charges that were difficult to prosecute because of the statute of limitations.

Allegations against Timmons are among a series of priestly pedophilia scandals that rocked the Catholic church in San Francisco, Sonoma County and along the North Coast during the past three years.

Earlier this year, the 11 men who made allegations against Timmons -- along with four others who named Monsignor Patrick O'Shea and the Rev. Austin Patrick Keegan -- collected $ 2.5 million to settle civil suits.

Timmons, who still faces a felony charge in Humboldt County, worked as a priest for nearly three decades in Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

Two years ago, he was suspended by Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann of Santa Rosa and sent to a Catholic pedophile treatment center in New Mexico.

After his treatment, Timmons was transferred to Chicago. He was extradited to California after new criminal charges were filed.


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