Saturday, September 09, 2000

Priest awaits decision

Judge to rule on shock probation for Bierman

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A judge won't decide until at least Monday whether to grant shock probation to a Northern Kentucky priest convicted of molesting six adolescent and teen-age boys in the 1960s and 70s.

Earl Bierman
        Public interest and media calls about the case so disrupted business in the Campbell Circuit Court office that the judge packed up the lawyers' briefs for the case and took them home to read.

        An attorney for the Rev. Earl Bierman has asked that his client — now serving a 20-year sentence at the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange — receive shock probation. If the motion is granted, the 68-year-old priest would spend the rest of his life at a church-run facility near St. Louis for troubled priests and brothers. Residents of the Vianney Renewal Center deal with such things as drug use, alcoholism, problems with authority and psychological conditions.

        Campbell Circuit Judge William Wehr had given lawyers until Friday to submit briefs in the case.

        “Now that the briefs have all come in, the judge went home to review all of the paperwork,” a court official said Friday. “With all of the interruptions from phone calls and people stopping in to ask about this case, he just couldn't get through everything. Now the judge can give all of his time and attention to this.”

        Father Bierman was sentenced seven years ago, after pleading guilty to 25 charges involving the molestation of six boys in Campbell, Kenton and Mason counties during the 1960s and '70s. When the abuse occurred, he was a priest, teacher and guidance counselor at St. Patrick School in Maysville, Covington Latin School and Newport Catholic High School.

        Bob Carran, Father Bierman's attorney, has said that his client would be electronically monitored at the Vianney Renewal Center, and could not leave the premises unaccompanied. If he stayed in prison, he would be released in December 2006.

        Sheryl Heeter, assistant Campbell County commonwealth attorney, has argued that state law prohibits shock probation for defendants convicted of sex charges.

        “Those laws were all passed after the offenses in this case occurred, and therefore, they cannot apply,” Mr. Carran said.


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