Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Louisville priest gets 20 years for abuse

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A priest retired from active ministry was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for decades of sexually abusing children.

He asked his victims to forgive him and pray for him and said he would "stand before God to be judged later."

[IMAGE] The Rev. Louis E. Miller, 72, bows his head as he is sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday in Louisville for sexual misconduct against children.
(Associated Press photo)
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The Rev. Louis E. Miller, at the center of a sex-abuse scandal plaguing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, said he took responsibility for crimes he blamed on "my own moral sickness."

Moments before sentencing, Miller spoke directly to his victims, some of whom were seated in the courtroom. He confessed to sexually abusing children and asked for his victims' prayers.

"I am very, very sorry for all the pain that I have inflicted upon you, your families and your children and whoever else may be hurt because of this," he said.

Miller, 72, pleaded guilty in March in Jefferson County Circuit Court to 44 counts of indecent and immoral practices and six counts of sexual abuse.

The 21 victims are now all adults.

He is the first of four priests who faced criminal charges in the state; he also faces child sex abuse charges in neighboring Oldham County.

He was a priest for more than 40 years in the Louisville archdiocese.

He retired from public ministry last year, just before the first wave of child-molestation allegations surfaced.

Similar allegations have been made against priests in Greater Cincinnati; criminal investigations and civil lawsuits there have not yet been resolved.

In Northern Kentucky, a class-action lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of Covington of doing nothing to stop 21 priests accused of abusing more than 150 victims.

Miller's niece, one of his victims, said she was satisfied with the sentence, the maximum possible under current sentencing guidelines.

"He'll be out of the reach of children now, and that was the most important part for me," said Mary Miller of Louisville.

In a brief statement, the archdiocese said Miller's guilty plea and sentence was "important" for victims, the church and the community.

Miller also is accused of molesting children in 94 of the more than 250 lawsuits filed against the archdiocese since April 2002.

The plaintiffs contend that the church knew they were sexually abused as children by clergy or others connected with the church, but concealed it.

The archdiocese expects to spend more than $1 million on legal, settlement and counseling costs by June 30.

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