2 Feb 2009

Former Priest Sentenced for Molesting 9-Year-Old

MSNBC - February 2, 2009

Los Angeles -- A former Catholic priest was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for molesting a 9-year-old boy about two decades ago while he was assigned to a Pacoima church.

George Miller, 70, pleaded guilty in December to a single count of committing a lewd act on the boy between March 1988 and March 1989.

As part of his plea, the former priest -- who had once been assigned to Guardian Angel Church in Pacoima -- acknowledged molesting the boy's older brother and two other boys.

Charges involving those boys were dismissed in August 2003, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a California law that had retroactively extended the statute of limitations on sex crimes was unconstitutional.

The boy's older brother, who is now in his mid-30s, spoke at the sentencing hearing, and said Miller molested him from the age of 9 until he was 16 years old.

"I look at God and what had God given me -- you," he told Miller.

He said the priest was supposed to "teach me the ways of the Lord, not the ways of hell."

He also said his younger brother, who is now in his 20s, began abusing drugs after being molested.

Another victim, who is now 42, said Miller molested him between the second and sixth grades, and that he knew of at least eight other boys the ex-priest had molested.

"I have no sympathy for him," he said.

Miller was charged in the current case in July 2007 and had been free on bail pending today's sentencing by San Fernando Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ulfig.

"We hope that today's sentencing brings some measure of comfort to George Miller's victims," said Tod Tamberg, director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Tamberg said Cardinal Roger Mahony -- who is currently under investigation by a federal grand jury for allegedly covering up sexual abuse by clergy -- removed Miller from the ministry in 1996.

The boy's mother first told church authorities in 1977 that Miller had molested her son, but the priest denied the allegation, and then-Cardinal Timothy Manning allowed him to remain in the ministry, Tamberg said.

In 1981, Miller was accused of "boundary violations," which Tamberg said does not necessarily mean sexual abuse.

When more reports of sexual abuse by Miller were made to the archdiocese in 2002, church officials reported them to the Los Angeles Police Department, Tamberg said.

He said the archdiocese promptly turned over Miller's personnel file to authorities when it was requested.

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