Miller Gets 10 Years in Oldham
Priest Guilty of Sex Crimes Expresses Sorrow for Actions
By Andrew Wolfson
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
September 27, 2003
Another chapter in the sexual-abuse case of the Rev. Louis E. Miller drew to a close yesterday when he was sentenced to 10 more years in prison for molesting eight children in an Oldham County Catholic parish in the 1970s.
Rejecting Miller's plea for leniency, Oldham Circuit Judge Paul Rosenblum ordered the sentence to run consecutively to a 20-year term that Miller is serving for abusing 21 children in Jefferson County between 1956 and 1982.
Miller, 73, pleaded guilty in both counties to indecent and immoral practices with another. He will be eligible for parole after serving six years.
The sentencing in LaGrange featured a dramatic exchange between Miller and Michael Turner, whose lawsuit in April 2002 unleashed a torrent of more than 250 lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville.
Testifying before Miller received his sentence, Turner, one of the priest's more than 90 victims, said he had forgiven Miller and realized that Miller had a disease.
"You were a great priest, and I understand that," Turner said. "I hate to see you in chains."
But Turner said Miller deserved more time in prison and should use it to write about pedophilia - "to tell the world why this happened."
Leaving the witness stand, Turner walked over to Miller, shook Miller's shackled hand and patted him on the back.
"Today was a day for both forgiveness and justice," Sue Archibald, president of The Linkup, a national support and advocacy group for victims of clergy abuse, said after the proceeding. "I hope this brings some closure to ... victims."
Miller's lawyer, Mike Mazzoli, asked Rosenblum to run the sentence concurrently, citing his client's cooperation in the civil litigation against the archdiocese, which was settled in June for $25.7 million. Mazzoli said that without Miller's help, the case could have taken many more years.
Mazzoli acknowledged that Miller's crimes caused "terrible pain and suffering" but urged Rosenblum to "look at the man - Lou Miller is not the same man he was when he committed these offenses."
Mazzoli said 13 years of therapy had reduced the risk that Miller would re-offend.
In a rambling statement in which he apologized to his victims, Miller said he lives "a life of penance and prayer" and that "I am the lowest creature in God's world."
He also said his victims are "good people" and that he knew they had been traumatized. "I feel very, very sorry," he said.
But he told Rosenblum that while he suffers from an addiction, he poses no more of a risk "than for an alcoholic to be out on the street many years after having his last drink."
Oldham Commonwealth's Attorney Kim Snell, however, said victims told him they believed that Miller deserved additional punishment for his Oldham County crimes.
"These were separate offenses in a separate place," Snell said.
Miller could have gotten up to a 20-year sentence in Oldham County, but Snell said victims told him they didn't want the maximum. In an interview, Turner said he concurred with the prosecutor's recommendation because he didn't think Miller would live long enough to survive the maximum term.
Turner was one of two victims who addressed the court.
The other, Mark Gootee, 43, who was molested as an altar boy and seventh-grader at St. Aloysius, was barely audible as he said he wanted to speak directly to Miller.
"It has taken me a long time to do this," Gootee said. "We all fall short of the glory of God. I pray for you daily. I just want you to have peace with glory. I hope you know what you have done. That is all I have to say."
Turner told reporters later that he thinks Miller must be in prison but is no longer angry at him because he realizes he suffers from an illness.
"I forgave him," Turner said. "I forgave him entirely."
Turner said he was less forgiving of the archdiocese, which he said has yet to apologize to him directly for covering up its knowledge of Miller's abuse. "The only thing I've heard is how the archdiocese is hurting," he said.
Rosenblum ordered Miller to undergo sex- offender therapy in prison and to register for life as a sex offender.
Appearing before Rosenblum June 9, Miller said he didn't remember all the offenses but nevertheless was pleading guilty to molesting seven boys and one girl while serving at the St Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley between 1973 and 1975.
Miller, who remains a priest but was removed from ministry by Louisville Archbishop Thomas Kelly, has been incarcerated at the Kentucky State Reformatory since May 27, when he was sentenced after pleading guilty to 50 counts of molesting children in Jefferson County.
The Corrections Cabinet has said measures in place at the reformatory should prevent attacks such as the one that killed former Catholic priest John Geoghan in a Massachusetts prison last month. However, spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said yesterday that for Miller's "own protection and the security of the prison, we are not disclosing his security or custody level."
Miller was one of three Catholic priests and two former parochial school teachers who have been charged with crimes since April 2002. The Rev. Dan Clark was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison for molesting two boys. Charges are pending in Jefferson Circuit Court against the Rev. James Hargadon and former teachers Gary Kazmarek and Joseph B. Greene III.
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