Witness tells of assault, crash

first_imgOne of Michael Wempe’s sex abuse victims testified Thursday that the former priest stopped molesting him after they were involved in a 1986 car crash and Wempe “was sent away to pedophile camp.” The 36-year-old witness also said he believes the crash happened when Wempe lost control of the car while assaulting him. He acknowledged under cross-examination by Wempe’s lawyer that he previously said that while he “could not rule out the possibility” Wempe was molesting him when he crashed the car, he wasn’t certain. “I am now entirely sure,” said the man, identified only as Lee B. He is an older brother of the man Wempe is on trial for allegedly molesting. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Lee testified that the Catholic church paid for the crash and noted that he didn’t see Wempe for a long time afterward. “He was sent away to pedophile camp,” he said, a reference to a monastery in New Mexico that Wempe was dispatched to by the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese. After being treated there for inappropriate behavior with boys without specific evidence of molestation, he was assigned to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as a hospital chaplain. The 66-year-old former priest has acknowledged molesting 13 boys in the 1970s and 1980s, including Lee B. and another of his brothers. But he has denied assaulting the youngest of the siblings, identified in court as Jayson B. Charges could not be brought in the other cases because the statute of limitations had expired, and Wempe’s lawyer has said Jayson fabricated his story in an effort to seek vengeance for his brothers. Jayson, 26, testified previously about being in the car when it crashed, saying he still has a piece of glass lodged near his eye. He said he was in the back seat and couldn’t see much of what was happening in the front seat. Lee was the latest in a string of witnesses to testify about the molestations Wempe has admitted. All of the men said the priest’s enticements included allowing them to drive a car. At one point, he lashed out at the church, saying, “I think the behavior of the archdiocese was atrocious in my case and everyone else’s. They felt more about the reputation of pedophile priests than they did about children.” He was once quoted as saying Wempe’s victims might be tempted to “take things into their own hands,” but he testified Thursday that he would never commit violence against the priest. “He’s taken enough from me already,” he said. “I’m not going to trade my life for committing a crime.” He also said he fell into a deep depression after memories he had repressed for years began to surface in 2002.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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