Falsely Accused Priest Acquiited

I find the media reporting of the case in the OP interesting. Every article I find simply says the judge acquitted him or found him not guilty. No mention about a jury decision. It would seem that it was likely a directed verdict. Judges normally are hesitant to do this unless the case against the accused is very week and should never have been brought to trial in the first place. Certainly video evidence should have been conclusive long before it ever came to trial.

There should be more information out there, but I have to wonder why the case was ever prosecuted. It would seem a sign that our judicial system is still quite unfair when priests are involved.

Glad it is resolved, but I think it should lead to a little more uproar.

Ok, I found a little more. It was a bench trial (that lasted less than one day). Which means that the Rev. Jagoe had waived his right to a jury trial, and the prosecutor agreed. Still am wondering why it came to trial.

If the legal facts of a case are pretty clear cut, an attorney will often opt for a judge instead of a jury. Why did it still come to trial? He was a priest. No servant is better than his master.

I completely agree with this.

and how about prosecutorial misconduct here too. If the video evidence proved this did not take place why and how did the prosecutor bring charges?

Sometimes prosecutors can become fixated on a particular alleged crime and stick to a hypothesis no matter the facts and evidence. It is a peculiar form of blindness, driven partly by ambition. For a compelling example of this I recommend Dorothy Rabinowitz’s No Crueler Tyrannies, which has nothing to be with priestly child abuse, but rather a much earlier case of alleged child abuse in a daycare center. Ms.Rabinowitz persuasively argues that not only were the accused innocent, but that the alleged crimes never happened. And yet, people went to jail for crimes that ever happened. Yes, when prosecutors get fixated, this can occur.

If the accuser testified falsely in open court, he can be charged and convicted of perjury, which is a felony.

I know a priest in the Joliet, Illinois diocese who was falsely accused, but that case never went to court when investigators discovered that the accuser already had two felony convictions, and a third felony could have meant life in prison. He even agreed to pay the legal expenses for the wrongly accused priest.

I am currently discerning a vocation to the priesthood. One of the things I’m afraid of is that someone will falsely accuse me, and I will be immediately suspended, possibly laicized, and maybe thrown in prison. In today’s society, it seems as if accused priests are “guilty until proven innocent.” All of this might happen because someone wants to steal from the Church.

At times, I’ve had doubts about becoming a priest because of this. But then I remember that Christ will protect me, even if I’m killed in prison by other inmates because of the false accusation.

Let us pray for all falsely accused priests. :signofcross:



Praise God!

You mean not all priests are molesters? And that we can’t always believe someone because they claim to be a victim?

Someone better tell the excuse-making Catholics who’ve left the Church and the progressives!

The case went to trial most likely for a couple of reasons:

  1. The sex abuse crisis didn’t taint only Church leaders. In heavily Catholic areas police and prosecutors came under fire for helping bury allegations. As a result some may be more likely to press on with a weak case to avoid the appearances of collusion.

  2. There is very little detail from the news search that I did. Its unclear whether there is actual video from the elevator. The only reference to video detail I was able to find only mentioned video from the chapel area, not the elevator where the bulk of the allegation took place. It doesn’t appear the video disproved the accusation but rather made it seem highly unlikely. While that makes for a very weak case it doesn’t automatically disprove the allegation in a manner that would make going to court a waste of time.

This is not unique to priests. This danger comes with many public professions: teachers, police, firefighters, etc. They all face immediate suspension pending the investigation of an accusation.
This danger while real is also pretty rare. I have priest friends in several dioceses and in our experience its pretty rare for a false accusation to happen. In those cases the false allegations are usually discovered pretty quickly.
Suspension of a priest for a baseless allegation is even rarer. There normally needs to be some kind of prima facie case to be made. The accusation needs to at least make sense on its surface before a bishop would suspend a priest. As I said, this isn’t unique to priests, it happens in other public professions as well.

At times, I’ve had doubts about becoming a priest because of this. But then I remember that Christ will protect me, even if I’m killed in prison by other inmates because of the false accusation.

There’s risk in every choice we make, we can’t live in fear. Christ never promised a Church without persecution, we must all take up our cross when asked…

What is particularly terrible about such an accusation is that many Catholics immediately assume the priest is guilty. Then an innocent man faces great persecution from Catholics too. I have a strong imagination, and think of how they will treat him if he shows up at his parish, or at any parish in the area, or passes them on the street. In fact, I am afraid, even when he is cleared, many Catholics will continue to believe he was guilty.

What you say is likely to happen. But the following is what Jesus would say about it:

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” - Matthew 5:11

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