Thursday, October 9, 2003

Ex-priest awaits decision

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A judge is expected to decide today whether to throw out charges of sexual abuse against former Cincinnati priest George Cooley.

The charges were filed earlier this year after a man told prosecutors Cooley molested him when he was 8 years old in 1984.

But at a hearing Wednesday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, Judge Richard Niehauswas skeptical that Ohio law would allow prosecutors to proceed with charges involving an accusation that dates back nearly 20 years.

"That's a stretch," the judge said after hearing from prosecutors.

The problem for prosecutors is that police extensively investigated claims against Cooley in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cooley admitted molesting four boys as part of a plea deal in 1991 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

The man who now claims he was abused in 1984 was not part of that plea deal because when police questioned him in 1991 he denied he had been abused.

Cooley's lawyer, Scott Croswell, said prosecutors had their chance to file charges against Cooley in 1991 and decided not to.


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