Juror alleges priest abuse

Allegations of sexual abuse against a Catholic priest assigned to Grand Junction nearly five decades ago, claims raised in open court during a hearing on Friday at the Mesa County Justice Center, are the subject of an open case, a spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Heather Benjamin of the Sheriff’s Office said the agency is declining additional comment on the matter until Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison issues a ruling on a motion for a new trial for 72-year-old sex offender Rodney Eddy.

Eddy’s bid for a new trial was the subject of a four-hour hearing Friday before Robison.

A man who served as a juror during Eddy’s second Mesa County jury trial in August 2010 testified on Friday he was sexually abused by a priest in Grand Junction in 1965, at age 12. In a screening questionnaire sent out in advance of Eddy’s trial, the man answered “no” when asked if he’d ever been a victim of sexual abuse. He also told investigators he was interested in “payback” for wrongs allegedly committed against him, once he learned about the nature of the allegations in Eddy’s case.

Eddy was ultimately convicted on eight felonies for sexually assaulting an underage girl between 2003 and 2008 and he’s serving a prison sentence of 16 years to life in prison.

Mesa County Sheriff’s investigator Peter Burg testified Friday the regional leadership of the Roman Catholic Church told him they were unaware of any sex-abuse allegations against the priest.

“If a victim were to come forward, we’d act on it immediately,” the Rev. Michael Papesh, spokesman for the Diocese of Pueblo, said Tuesday.

Papesh said the Pueblo Diocese was recently contacted by Burg, who was seeking confirmation on whether a specific priest was assigned to Grand Junction.

Papesh said the priest at issue was assigned to Immaculate Heart of Mary in Grand Junction between 1965 and 1968, before being transferred to Sacred Heart of Jesus in Alamosa. Diocese records indicate he died in 1971 in Iowa after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Papesh said.

He was 34.


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