Priest Denies Abusing Boys
Bullitt County Jury Considers Charges against Daniel C. Clark
By Andrew Wolfson email@example.com
The Courier-Journal [Kentuky]
Downloaded June 26, 2003
A Bullitt Circuit Court jury began deliberating yesterday in the case of the Rev. Daniel C. Clark, who denied that he molested either of two brothers, ages 12 and 13, he is charged with sexually abusing.
The jury broke up after deliberating more than three hours and was to resume its work at 9 a.m. today. The jury is considering the fate of the first priest to be tried on criminal charges since the clergy sex-abuse scandal erupted last year in the Roman Ca tholic Archdiocese of Louisville.
Testifying as the sole witness for his defense, Clark acknowledged on cross-examination that he violated the terms of his probation for a 1988 child-sex - abuse conviction that required him to stay away from children. He said he was alone with the two brothers when he drove them to football practice, took them skating and out to eat.
But when his lawyer, David Lambertus, asked, "At any time or in any way, did you ever abuse either of these children?" Clark replied: "No, sir."
Clark also said he told the boys about his conviction for molesting two boys in the early 1980s at St. Rita parish in Jefferson County.
Clark, 55, is charged with sexually abusing both boys and orally sodomizing the younger one, from 1999 to May 2002. If convicted on the more serious charge of sodomy, he faces 20 years to life in prison.
In a closing argument to the jury, Lambertus said the case was "all about money, " asserting that the boys' family was trying to cash in on litigation against the archdiocese. "We are all aware of the $25.7 million that the archdiocese has put into a fund for those who deserve it, and perhaps some who don't, " Lambertus said.
But Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann denied that money motivated the boys or their family.
"Look at who has a reason to get up and lie to you," Mann told the j ury of seven men and five women. "A person who is a convicted felon, or two young, sweet boys who would have wanted to be anywhere but in the courtroom telling these awful things that happened to them? "
TESTIFYING without any display of emotion, Clark admitted that in the early 1980s he molested Michael Mudd, now 33, who testified Tuesday on the first day of trial. "I was dealing with my own mother's drug addiction and heavily abusing drugs myself, " Clark said. "I reacted by acting out myself and by abusing Mr. Mudd."
Clark said he was depressed, humiliated and suicidal afterward, but sought counseling and participated in 12-step programs for addicts and court-ordered sex-offender counseling. "I admitted my guilt and took responsibility for what I had done, " he said.
Questioned by Lambertus about the current charges, Clark denied that he took the younger boy to a bowling alley, where the boy testified that Clark performed oral sodomy on him in a darkened parking lot.
Clark also suggested that the older boy's allegation - that Clark first abused him while they were watching television with other family members in their Bullitt County mobile home - was implausible because the home was so small.
During cross-examin ation by Mann, Clark admitted he violated a requirement of his probation and his recovery programs - that he avoid unsupervised contact with children.
"You were still under an obligation ... to not be alone with these boys?" Mann asked.
"Yes, sir," Clark replied.
"Yet you took them to practice and skating and other places?" Mann asked.
"Yes," Clark said. "I had some reservations about it, but practice was just around the corner from their trailer, and there were adults present."
WHILE THE jury was told of Clark's conviction, it wasn't told that 16 plaintiffs outside the boys' family also accused Clark of sexual abuse in lawsuits against the archdiocese.
Nor did Mann mention numerous documents in Clark's priest personnel file showing he was an admitted sex addict and considered himself such a threat to children that he once recommended against his own assignment to a parish; he was assigned to one anyway, archdiocese records show.
Mann declined to comment on why he didn't try to introduce that evidence or whether it had been excluded.
Attorneys for both sides agreed that Clark for years had helped the boys' family, making payments on their trailer and buying them groceries and new school outfits for the children.
Mann said that Clark's goal was to get access to the boys. "Ask yourself why , " Mann said of Clark's generosity.
But Lambertus said that theory didn't wash because Clark had helped out the family long before the boys were born.
The family, however, contends that Clark befriended it in the mid-1980s so he could sexually exploit the boys' uncles, Ralph and John Henry. They named Clark in suits against the archdiocese and were among the 243 plaintiffs who will share in the settlement forged earlier this month. The boys' mother, who sued the archdiocese and Clark on their behalf, also was among those plaintiffs. The portion of their suit that names Clark is still pending.
SUE ARCHIBALD, who has been monitoring the trial for Linkup, the clergy-abuse advocacy group for victims, said in an interview that Clark's "ingratiating himself with the victims' family follows a pattern we have seen across the United States."
Lambertus, however, told the jury that portions of the boys' allegations were "absolutely incredible" and that their mother "was just plain wrong" when she testified Tuesday.
He noted that she denied she was threatened with eviction in the spring of 2002, while in fact court records he introduced into evidence show that she was served with an eviction notice.
Lambertus also recalled that while she testified that she told Clark to stay away from her family in May 2002, and that she would have no further contact with him, phone records show calls were repeatedly placed from her home to his phone over the next two months.
"Why are they still calling each other?" Lambertus asked. "Could it be that she knew that Dan Clark hadn't done anything wrong?"
This case "is about money," Lambertus said. The boys' mother "is dead out of money. Dan Clark is dead out of money. The priest-abuse scandal is exploding and Uncle Ralph says, `Let's get some of it.' "
Waving a copy of the mother's lawsuit in front of the jury, Lambertus said, "Like any parent, she wanted to be able to feed her children and keep a home for them."
In his closing remarks, Mann urged the jury to consider the similarity between the two boys' allegations and how they matched Mudd's testimony about his own abuse by Clark when he was 11 years old.
All three said Clark began by putting his hand down their pants and fondling their penises, Mann noted.
And all three, Mann said, testified that Clark never asked them to touch him.
IF THE BOYS had made up the allegations at their family's behest, as Lambertus suggested, why, Mann asked, wouldn't they have accused him of doing even more?
Mann also scorned Clark for blaming the earlier sexual abuse on his mother. "He said he had problems once and that it wasn't even his own fault."
And the prosecutor noted that Clark - "the one person who knew he shouldn't be with young boys" - voluntarily placed himself with them.
Clark was removed from public ministry after his 1988 conviction and removed from active ministry last summer.
Lambertus immediately objected strongly when the older boy testified that Clark first mingled with the family when he was "dating " the boys' grandmother, Geraldine Henry. Church records show that Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly feared that Clark was having an affair with Henry; her children say he proposed marriage to her.
CLARK IS one of three Catholic priests and two former parochial school teachers who have been charged with crimes since April 2002, when the wave of lawsuits began against the church.
Charges are pending in Jefferson Circuit Court against the Rev. James Hargadon and former teachers Gary Kazmarek and Joseph B. Greene III.
The Rev. Louis E. Miller is serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to molesting 21 children in Jefferson County. He could get more prison time when he is sentenced Aug. 18 for abusing 14 children in Oldham County, where he also pleaded guilty before trial.
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